§ [THIRD READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.
§ Moved that the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Avebury.)
§ THE EARL OF WEMYSS
My Lords, instead of simply moving that this Bill be read a third time this day six months, it appeared to me, so important are the principles involved in the Bill, that it would be better to proceed by Resolution. I therefore drew up the Resolution which stands in my name on the notice Paper, and which is as follows—"That legislative interference with freedom of contract and the liberty of labour of full-grown persons is contrary to the hereditary rights of a free people, That these rights are taken away by the Shops (Early Closing) Bill; and this House declines to proceed further with a measure hurtful alike to trade and industry, which would press cruelly on small shopkeepers and their working-class customers, and for the first time in modern legislation limits the hours of free adult labour. Now, my Lords, I venture to think that your Lordships cannot deny the truth of the propositions here laid down. Can anyone deny that legislative interference with freedom of contract and the liberty of labour of full-grown persons is contrary to the hereditary rights of a free people? Further, can anyone deny that those rights are taken away by this Bill, and that the Bill is hurtful alike to trade and industry, and would press cruelly on small shopkeepers and their working-class customers? The import- 596 ance of this measure cannot be ex aggerated. It is not a question of the hours of shop assistants, but of freedom of trade and adult labour, and this Bill, for the first time in modern legislation, attempts to limit the hours of free adult labour. In moving this Resolution I do not intend to go into the provisions of the Bill. It does not matter to me how the Bill is put into operation. The question with me is its principle, and it is to the principle of the Bill that, with your Lordships' kind indulgence, I would direct your attention. In so doing, I propose to show whence this sort of legislation comes, whither it infallibly leads, and what hope or chance there is of putting a stop to it. Now, my Lords, whence comes this kind of legislation? I give my noble friend, Lord Avebury, full credit for his action in this matter. I believe him to be moved by the purest and truest philanthropy. He has for over twenty years been working on this question. Now philanthropy is a very good thing in its way. We are all, I believe, kindly disposed to our fellow creatures; but there should be discretion even in philanthropy. There is ill-regulated philanthropy in social life. Where does that lead? It leads to the divorce court. There is ill-regulated philanthropy in legislation. Where does that lead? It leads to such a Bill as that of my noble friend. Therefore I am quite willing to accept philanthropy as the bed-rock upon which my noble friend rests his Bill; but, my Lords, there are other considerations in politics which also enter into the principles of legislation.
To my great surprise, and I have no doubt to the great surprise of your Lordships, in the early part of this session my noble friend, Lord Ribblesdale, gave notice of a Bill of the same kind as that now before the House. I naturally thought that my noble friend was acting in harmony with Lord Avebury; that Lord Avebury, having found it difficult to carry his Bill across a rather stiff country, had gone to my noble friend, the ex-Master of the extinct Royal Buckhounds, in the hope that he would be able to carry it more successfully; but very soon afterwards Lord Avebury's Bill itself appeared, and the Lord Chancellor, thinking, no doubt, that you ought not to allow in this House poaching 'on other people's measures, 597 shunted that Bill, with the result that we now have my noble friend Lord Avebury's Measure alone before us. I do not think we should be hard on Lord Ribblesdale for the course he took. He is a good party man. He has the letters C.B.—I do not mean the Companionship of the Bath-well burnt into his breast. He naturally felt it would never do, in these days when Liberalism means something different from what it used to mean, to allow a Liberal Unionist to carry a measure which would be so popular with a certain class of voters, and that therefore he and his Party must go in for it. This is confirmed by what has passed lately with reference to Liberalism. When Lord Rosebery seceded from the so-called Liberal Party there were no end of speeches made about the true principles of Liberalism. What are those principles? The principles of the Liberal Party we now know are those of labour. I think it was Lord Tweedmouth who first suggested that the Liberal Party should go in for labour, and now Liberalism reads "Labourism"—it has nothing to do with Liberty.
Thus, what have we had within the last few days but a sign of the times showing what Liberals are doing? We had Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman asking for a day for Mr. Asquith's Motion, of want of confidence consequent upon the nonintervention of the Government in the labour dispute at Lord Penhryn's slate quarries, which was moved in the House of Commons yesterday. There and then the Campbell-Bannerman party and the Rosebery-Asquith party both plunged collectively head over heels into the hot and troubled waters of Bethesda, in the full belief that thus all this Party's ills would be removed, and the sore that existed in the Liberal Party would be cured. Thus there is no hope, I think, of support for my Resolution from noble Lords on the Liberal side of the House. We know, too, the active part which Earl Spencer took—at any rate, if not he himself, which his carriage took—in the Woolwich Election. [Earl SPENCER dissented.] Well, the noble Earl got the credit for it. I read that all the Liberal carriages had been sent down there, and that the procession of carriages was headed by my noble 598 friend's family coach. The newspaper reporters were evidently in the wrong, as the noble Earl denies having sent his carriage. I think I have clearly shown that this kind of legislation has its origin in philanthropy plus popularity. Having thus shown the origin of this sort of legislation, I now ask your Lordships to consider, if you pass the Third Reading of such a Bill as this, containing such novel, and, I hold, such evil principles, however well-intentioned, whither will it lead? The end is certain. Read the list of Bills in another place bearing on this question. There are three or four Shop Bills, whose success will be the natural sequence of your passing the Third Reading of the Bill now before the House. There is the Wages Boards Bill to create Wages Boards to fix the minimum rate of wages to be paid to workers. Then comes the question of eight hours in mines. Is there a single noble Lord who hears me, and who has a grain of common sense, who does not feel that, as certain as the sun will rise to-morrow—although we do not often see it in London—if you pass this Bill you will be compelled to pass the Bill for eight hours in mines? Further, there is a Bill in another place to deprive all persons employed on tramways of their liberty to work more than eight hours a day. Now, who are the persons who bring forward these Bills? They are Sir Charles Dilke, Mr. John Burns, Mr. Tennant, Sir Albert Rollit (a Socialist Conservative), and Mr. Keir Hardie.
I have a letter in my hand from the Scottish Trade Protection Association asking me to withdraw my Resolution against this Bill. I naturally answered that here was a Bill which interfered with trade, with hours of labour, and everything else, and I asked if a National Trade Protection Society did not resist such a Bill what were they formed to do. I pointed out that if they approved of this Bill they must be prepared to see the hand of the State in all their concerns, to see everything regulated by the State, and this is the end your Liberal Socialist has in view; for, three years ago, in answer to a question from me at a discussion at the Society of Arts on Municipal Trading, Mr. John Burns admitted that the Party he represents desire that property of all kinds—lands, houses, shops, mines, everything, including shop distribution—should be under the control of a labour-governed 599 State. That is what you have to look to as the result of the legislation for which my noble friends have gone in. But they should bear in mind that we have in this country labour that is organised and labour that is not organised. Out of the labour population of the country only one in ten are members of trades unions. There are nine labourers who are not organised to every one who is, and they do not wish to be interfered with by this sort of legislation, and yet it is for the support of the organised one that political Labourism is labouring.
I have now, I think, shown whither this legislation leads. It remains for me to ask your Lordships to consider what possible check there can be on such a tendency. You already know by sad experience that there is not one of your Lordships' homesteads in England or in Scotland, in connection with which the principles of the Irish land legislation have not been more or less established, and I ask, what possible check can there be now upon the like spread of evil principles in this Bill to trade and industry of all kinds? If my noble friend the Duke of Devonshire and the present Government choose to go on racing with the labourists on the socialistic race-course, they must infallibly be beaten, for, no matter what the state of the labour-socialistic horse may be—broken-winded, spavined and everything else—if you try to run your mild socialism against it, you cannot help being beaten. The labourists are sure to go one worse than you. What then is the proper thing for you to do in your own interests? What have the Liberals done? They have cast the old Liberal flag into the gutter. Let then the Conservative Unionist Government take it up—cleanse it—hold it aloft, and all men who love Liberty will rally round it regardless of Party. Lord Rosebery had this chance, but he lost it—threw it away. Suppose, in blindness, the Conservative and Unionist party go on racing for these socialistic measures with the other party, is there any other hope of checking them? Yes, and that hope rests with your Lordships. Your Lordships are the highest court of appeal in this kingdom. Instead of blindly following the Front Bench, whether their measures be sound in principle or not, you should take your stand according to your rightful position in this constitutional State and say, "No! Principles before Party. 600 We have had enough of Government without principles. We intend to put our foot down and pass no measure which is not sound in principle, and, above all, we will not pass a measure which for the first time in our legislation limits the trade of a trading nation, and the hours of free adult labour." I believe that to be our only hope. I am afraid the Government support this Bill. I wish them joy. If they do, all the Bills of a cognate character to which I have referred will be very soon on the Table of your Lordships' House.
And now, when I speak of adult labour I shouldlike just to say one word with regard to myself and my position. It is more than forty years since, in another place, I brought in and carried a Bill which was called The Master and Servant Act. Before that, there was one law for the master and another law for the servant. If the master broke his contract he could only be prosecuted civilly, but if the servant broke his, he was treated criminally. It was my good fortune to be able to carry a Bill which placed the two on an equal footing. Later on, for two years, I had the honour of sitting on the Trades Union Commission. That Commission—I being one of those assenting—gave trades unions the power, which they are now in the habit of abusing by picketing, to combine in the way that might seem to them best. So far I have not shown myself hostile to labour. On the question of Early Closing, I think it was in the early sixties, I had the honour of presiding at a meeting held in St. Martin's Vestry Hall for the purpose of inaugurating an Early Closing Association, but it was a voluntary association. The Duke of Westminster, I recollect, was there, and many others, and that association still exists. I hold in my hand a letter from its President, Sir J. Blundell Maple, in which he states that this sort of legislation will put an end to the voluntary closing of shops which is going on. I am only interested in the principle of the Bill, but here is the opinion of a great trader in the Metropolis, a Member of Parliament, a strong Conservative, and I think his views must have some weight with your Lordships. Sir J. Blundell Maple states that my noble friend's Memorandum attached to the Bill contains a great many statements more or less correct, but leaves out important facts.
601 What are the important facts? It is true, as my noble friend states, that there has been a Second Reading of a Bill of this kind carried in the House of Commons, but Sir J. Blundell Maple says that it was a catch Second Reading, and that no debate at all took place. What my noble friend has omitted to state is this: that another Bill of this kind was defeated in the House of Commons by three to one in 1888, in which Division Sir J. Blundell Maple and that wise, brave, truthful man in all social questions, the late Mr. Bradlaugh, were Tellers. Therefore, I cannot help thinking that my noble friend in his very full statement would have done well if he had mentioned that little pregnant fact. Sir J. Blundell Maple writes, further, as to the expenses of the working of the Bill, the constant annoyance of visitations, and he states that, if nine o'clock is fixed under the Bill for closing, there will be no rest for the small retail shop keepers, but attempts will be made to fix an earlier hour. I do not think that can be denied. Sir J. Blundell Maple states his determination to work hard to defeat the Bill, and expresses the hope that this grandmotherly legislation will not be allowed to pass your Lordships' House. You have there a much more important practical opinion than mine upon this question. Now it is always said that, however hard the Bill may be on the small traders, all the big traders are in favour of it. Here you have one of the biggest traders in Great Britain opposing the Bill on principle, because it will have the effect of preventing the greater spread of the voluntary movement. At my time of life this legislation cannot much matter to me, although it may matter to those who come after me. I was born free, and I should like to feel that my children and my grandchildren will also be free, but at the pace our rulers are going there is little chance of that. What I might readily do would be to accept the French saying—"Aprés moi le déluge," sit quietly by with folded arms and see the game going on between the two Front Benches. But I hold that French maxim to be a most miserable one, and I think there is another which is much more worthy of acceptance—"Fais ce que doit advienne que pourra," and for myself, as long as life is left to me, I shall endeavour to fight in this House and 602 elsewhere for what I believe, and what I know, to be right, aye, and in this intance what your Lordships, in your inner consciences, also know to be right.
I have quoted one opinion, that of a member of the other House, to strengthen my case, but I wish to conclude with a quotation which cannot fail to have great weight with your Lordships, as it is from one of the most distinguished members of your Lordships' House. It is a quotation from a speech made ten years ago at the Freemasons' Tavern on the occasion of a dinner under the auspices of the Liberty and Property Defence League. The orator who proposed the toast of the evening said, with reference to the League—I cannot but feel that the principle of this League, which rests upon a basis as true and eternal as the law of gravitation itself, must ultimately prevail.We might just as well, continued the noble Lord, preach down the law of gravitation as attempt to reverse economic laws, which were independent even of the wisdom of Parliament. He then spoke of liberty and said that the most sacred property a man could possess, and the most inviolable, according to the law of all just States, was his right to dispose of his labour as he liked. If this Bill passes, he will no longer possess that right. The noble Lord concluded—We are on the eve of attempting to prevent grown men working as long as they like. This may be all very right, though at present I cannot think it is, but, whatever it is, it is not liberty.These words were uttered by a distinguished Member of your Lordships' House—by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor. They are as true now as they were then, and I call upon my noble friend, whose heart I know is with me on this question—I would indeed be surprised if it were not—I call upon him to help me in resisting a Bill which sins against economic law and would take from us and from our children the priceless heritage of liberty.
To leave out all the words after ('that') and insert ('this House resolves that Legislative interference with freedom of contract and the liberty of labour of full-grown persons is contrary to the hereditary rights of a free people. That these rights are taken away by the Shops (Early Closing) Bill; and this House declines to proceed further with a measure hurtful alike to trade and industry,
which would press cruelly on small shopkeepers and their working-class customers, and for the first time in modern legislation limits the hours of free adult labour.'"—(The Lord Wemyss.)
§ LORD AVEBURY
My noble friend who has just sat down has made, as usual, a very interesting and vigorous speech. He has referred to a great many subjects—to Irish land legislation, to Tramways Bills, to The Eight Hours Miners Bill, to the Woolwich Election, and to the family coach of my noble friend Lord Spencer, and almost the only subject to which he has hardly alluded at all has been the unfortunate Bill the rejection of which he has just moved. I really cannot imagine from his speech that the noble Earl can have read the Bill. For my own part it seems to me that his Resolution, with the exception of a few words, is a most admirable Resolution; but what in the world it has got to do with the question now before your Lordships' House I have been puzzling over ever since I saw the terms. My noble friend referred to a letter which has appeared in to-day's newspapers from Sir J. Blundell Maple. Well, Sir J. Blundell Maple has consistently opposed all legislation dealing with the hours of labour in shops.
§ LORD AVEBURY
My noble friend says "quite right." That may be his opinion. But he again cannot have read this Bill. He describes it as a Compulsory Closing Bill which may shut up shops against the will of the shopkeepers. In the first place, the Bill cannot be brought into operation at all unless the local authorities are satisfied that two-thirds of the shopkeepers are in favour of it. Surely, then, it cannot correctly be described as a compulsory Bill. Then he blames me for not referring to the Bill of 1888 in the Memorandum. I did not refer to that because it had nothing whatever to do with this Bill. It was a totally different Bill. It proposed to shut shops everywhere at the same hour. In the discussion on that Bill, Member after Member pointed out that the circumstances of different places, different seasons, and different trades were so varied that you could not fix any 604 single hour of closing as applicable to the whole country, and that you must leave particular localities to deal with the needs of their localities. Acting on the general sense of the House of Commons in that debate, I brought up a Resolution in 1893 upon which this Bill was founded. It was discussed at considerable length and was supported on all sides of the House, and was eventually unanimously adopted. It was on that Resolution that this Bill—of course without Lord Salisbury's Clause—was introduced in 1893. It passed its Second Reading without division, was referred to a Select Committee and passed through that Committee, and was only lost because I had no opportunity of bringing it forward for Third Reading. In 1895 I brought it in again in the House of Commons. It was referred to the Grand Committee on Trade, and passed through that Committee with a few verbal alterations. But again we were prevented from bringing on the Third Reading. What has been the history of the measure in your Lordships' House? Two years ago your Lordships appointed a strong Committee to consider it. I think those of your Lordships who heard what Lord Salisbury said when he agreed to that Committee, will confirm me when I state that the opinion he then expressed was not very encouraging. I am speaking in the presence to-day of several members of that Committee, and they, I think, will corroborate me that the evidence brought before that Committee was so overwhelming that the Committee made a unanimous Report, and it is upon that unanimous Report that this Bill is founded.
I am very sorry to occupy the time of the House in restating the provisions of the Bill, but I may just briefly mention what they are because I am sure nobody who heard my noble friend's speech would have the least idea of the provisions of the Bill, but, on the contrary, would have a most erroneous idea as to the objects for which it has been introduced. The first provision is that nothing whatever can be done under the Bill unless two thirds of the shopkeepers agree as to the hour of closing. If two-thirds of the shopkeepers desire to close earlier they may memorialise the local authority. The second safeguard is that the local authority need not act on the desire of the shopkeepers unless they think it reasonable. In that case they may then go to the Home Office, and if the Home 605 Office are of opinion that what is suggested is wise, they may lay a Provisional Order on the Table of both Houses of Parliament, and if Parliament does not dissent, then the Provisional Order becomes effective. We have never disguised our opinion that the question whether in a particular town the hour of closing should be eight, or half-past eight, or nine o'clock, is one you might very well leave to the shopkeepers and the local authority, and that to bring in the august interference of the Home Office and of Parliament is unnecessary. But your Lordships' House were of opinion that it was necessary. Surely, however, everybody must admit that the safeguards, if they are not unnecessarily full, are, at any rate, very ample in the matter.
My noble friend asks the House to say that legislative interference with freedom of contract is contrary to the hereditary rights of a free people. I quite agree with him. Freedom of contract is really the basis of civilisation, and deeply should I regret any interference with it; but my noble friend omitted to point out in what part of this Bill we interfere with freedom of contract. Then he said the Bill interfered with the liberty of labour of full-grown persons. Where does the Bill interfere with the liberty of labour of full-grown persons?
§ THE EARL OF WEMYSS
If a shop assistant wishes to work till, say, ten o'clock at night in a shop which has been ordered to close at eight, he or she cannot do so.
§ LORD AVEBURY
One of the objections brought against this Bill is that although shops may be shut, there is nothing whatever in the Bill to prevent employees from being worked after the doors of the shop are closed. I have always said that if you made such a provision as that you would be interfering with the liberty of labour, but while we submit that shutting up shops is no more an interference with the liberty of labour than shutting up public houses, we believe that in the long run, if you shut up shops in the way proposed, the shop assistants will be greatly benefited. My noble friend next says the Bill will be hurtful to trade What trade will it be hurtful to? No doubt to some extent the factory legislation has somewhat hampered English trade and commerce, but we put up with 606 it because on the whole we believe that that is a minor evil and that in other ways it does a great amount of good. But in this case the Bill cannot interfere with trade in the least. No shopkeeper will sell a pound of tea or a yard of ribbon less, when this Bill becomes law, than before. The trade of shopkeepers will go on exactly as before. Indeed we had a good deal of evidence before the Committee from shopkeepers to the effect that, in their judgment, they would do more trade, because, if this Bill passed, more money would be spent in the shops and less in the public houses.
My noble friend next contends that the Bill would press cruelly on small shopkeepers. This cannot be; the small shopkeepers are the great majority, and the Bill cannot come into operation unless two-thirds of the shopkeepers are in favour of earlier closing, and the small shopkeepers will certainly not agree to an hour which would be inconvenient to them or to their customers. The small shopkeepers all over the country, who are the most concerned, are our strongest supporters. They are the backbone of the movement. Then my noble friend speaks about the Bill pressing cruelly on the working-class customers. We had before us the secretaries of the Trade Councils of England, Scotland, and Ireland. They all told us that in the opinion of their councils this Bill would not be injurious to the interests of the working classes. Trades Unions all over the country say that the only complaint, they make is, that the Bill does not go as far as they would wish. Surely, if the Bill were hurtful to trade and industry, and pressed cruelly on the small shopkeepers, we should have heard something about it. I do not say that the trades unions are always wise advisers of what are the true interests of the working classes, but I do think that in a matter like this, which comes home to them all, you may fairly take it that the trades unions do represent the feelings of the working classes in this country.
What was the accusation which my noble friend, I thought rather ungenerously, brought against Lord Ribblesdale. He said his Bill had been introduced because he knew that this measure would be so popular in the country. For my part, I believe he introduced his Bill with a desire to benefit the class concerned, but at any 607 rate, if this Bill is so popular that it would strengthen any party that brought it in, surely that is not an argument against the Bill, but rather in its favour. Bills of this kind have been before the country for a great many years. They have been discussed in every large city and town; they have been brought before every association of shopkeepers throughout the country, and discussed by them; and, as your Committee report, out of over 300 associations of shopkeepers, there were only two who opposed the Bill. Therefore, you may take it that the opinion of the shopkeepers is overwhelming in its favour. Again, there have been petitions signed by thousands of persons in favour of the Bill, and in the last five years the petitions against it have not comprised 100 signatures. It is no exaggeration to say that there is no measure which could affect so largely the health and happiness of a large section of the people as to which there is such an overwhelming consensus of opinion in its favour.
With regard to the medical evidence, we have had it stated on the highest authority—I see my noble friend Lord Lister opposite, who is a warm supporter of this Bill—that some such measure is absolutely necessary if we are to improve or even maintain the standard of health in our great cities. The Committee of your Lordships' House took a great deal of evidence, and came to a unanimous report. They expressed the opinion that the earlier closing of shops would be an immense boon to the whole of the shopkeeping community—to shopkeepers and shop assistants alike—and that the present hours are grievous and injurious to health, especially in the case of women. It is not only on behalf of the shop assistants that I hope your Lordships will pass this Bill. I speak also as representing the shopkeepers' associations all over the country, and in their name I implore the House to reject the Amendment of the noble Earl on the Cross Benches, and to pass the third reading of the Bill.
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE
My Lords, as I had the honour of playing a rather disjointed part in the progress of this 608 Bill through the House, perhaps I may be permitted to say a few words. I associate myself with the final remarks which fell from my noble friend, and would ask the House to have nothing to do with the Resolution which has been proposed by the noble Earl on the Cross Benches. I do not, however, agree with Lord Avebury that this is in any sense an admirable Resolution. It would be a very admirable Resolution for a mechanics' institute, but put at this time of the development of civilisation to your Lordships' House it seems to me the kind of Resolution which we should accept with extreme caution. The latter part of it, that which deals with the matter before the House, namely, Lord Avebury's Bill, is entirely subject to anybody being able to define what the hereditary rights of a free people are. I quite understand what the hereditary rights of your Lordships' House are, but when you talk about the hereditary rights of a free people at this time of day—well, the tax collector's visit and the nearest policeman discount that abstract proposition. Therefore I object to a Resolution which, in the latter part, is precise and deals with a particular question, being governed by what I believe to be an abstraction.
I pass from the general to the particular, the particular being the Bill now before the House. I do not want to repeat myself. I have already spoken on this subject, and I am sure the House must be quite tired of all the champions on Shop Bills. The stock of human ideas is extremely limited. I believe Ecclesiastes, Montaigne, Lord Rosebery, and Mr. Arthur Balfour are all working on the same ideas, and it is only by new combinations that any novelty is given to them. I have no such skill of combination at my disposal, and, unlike Mr. Pickwick, I am not a rapid or powerful thinker when I have to make a debating speech. The noble Earl on the Cross Benches made me, so far as I am concerned, the perfectly agreeable target of some of his best arrows. I do not at all take it that there was anything ungenerous in what he said, but he referred in rather a cryptic way to certain letters which, like the strange device in "Excelsior," I am supposed to carry on my breast. I 609 understood that those letters were "C. B." I cannot pretend to say I do not know what he meant by that reference, but if it is to be a case of In hoc signo vinces, then, as far as I am concerned, the sooner the better. At all events, their being there gives me no such inconvenience as I believe the scarlet letter gave the hero of Hawthorne's remarkable novel. In the compliments which the noble Earl paid to my party he threw some doubt upon my object in introducing my Bill. Those doubts have been to some extent dispelled by Lord Avebury. What I understood the noble Earl to say was that the only reason I rushed into the arena with a Bill at all was to prevent noble Lords opposite having the credit for passing this measure. I assume that something of the same sort, was in the mind of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack when——
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE
Perhaps the noble and learned Lord will allow me to say what I was going to say before he assures me of anything? I assume that something of the same sort was in the mind of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack when, on the occasion of what is known as the shunting of my Bill, he said that I had only got it before the House at all by Parliamentary tactics. Everything the noble and learned Lord says has a pregnant meaning, and I submit that his observation must either have meant that or nothing. Therefore I submit that when the Lord Chancellor used the words "Parliamentary tactics" he must have been labouring under something of the same sort of delusion as the noble Earl on the Cross Benches appears to have been when he laid to my charge motives which I knew not of, and said that I introduced my Bill in order to snatch what seems to be really a very insignificant Party advantage. I gave my reasons for my action at the time. I placed my Bill on the Paper of your Lordships' House because I thought it a better measure than the one standing in 610 the name of Lord Avebury. As your Lordships will remember, I laid it upon the local authorities to do what was wanted in their own districts in the matter of the earlier closing of shops. I did so because it seemed to me that that was part of the general policy now being pursued by Government, of co-ordinating everything by giving to local authorities powers to legislate for the needs of their particular districts, and because I thought that the success of any legislation of this kind was largely a question of circumstances and locality, which, presumably, local authorities are the best judges of. The reason why I have never liked Lord Avebury's Bill, though a great deal in it is better than my own, is that the legislation which everybody admits is required for the public advantage must, by the provisions of this Bill, be initiated by a particular class, that particular class not being the class most affected by the long hours but the people who keep the shops open. That is the whole of my objection to Lord Avebury's Bill, and I have seen a great deal to confirm me in that objection. Since the Second Reading of this Bill there have been meetings of the shop assistants at Manchester and at one or two other places, and the proceedings at those meetings, reports of which, have been sent to me, go a long way to qualify the statement which is made in the memorandum that this Bill has the support of the shop assistants, because the shop assistants' unions have said they do not like this Bill. But I do not wish to reopen this controversy. I only rose to put myself right on the personal ground, to disclaim any wish to snatch anything like a party advantage in the matter, and merely to state again that I introduced my Bill because I thought it a better Bill than my noble friend Lord Avebury's. On the other hand, I said, when I introduced my measure, that if I could not get my Bill I would loyally support the Bill standing in the name of Lord Avebury, and in those circumstances I shall vote against the Resolution moved by the noble Earl on the Cross Benches.
§ On question, whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the Motion.611
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 45; Not Contents, 21.
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Stamford, E. [Teller.]||Kinnear, L.|
|York, L. Abp.||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Kinross, L.|
|Devonshire, D. (L. President.)||Waldegrave, E.||Lawrence, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Churchill, V.||Lindley, L.|
|Ripon, M.||Peel, V.||Lister, L.|
|Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Steward.)||Carlisle, L. Bp.||Macnaghten, L.|
|Chester, L. Bp.||Overtoun, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Avebury, L. [Teller.]||Poltimore, L.|
|Ducie, E.||Balfour, L.||Reay, L.|
|Hardwicke, E.||Chelmsford, L.||Ribblesdale, L.|
|Lathom, E.||Denman, L.||St. Levan, L.|
|Lytton, E.||Dunboyne, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Mount Edgcumbe, E.||Ellenborough, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Romney, E.||Farrer, L.||Tweedmouth, L.|
|Sandwich, E.||Kilmarnock, L. [E. Erroll.)|
|Spencer, E.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Bedford, D.||Headley, L.||Stalbridge, L.|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.)||Hylton, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.) [Teller.]|
|Lauderdale, E.||Lamington, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Manners of Haddon, L. (M. Granby.)||Suffield, L.|
|Aldenham, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.) [Teller.]|
|Allerton, L.||Newton, L.|
|Ardilaun, L.||Sherborne, L.||Wimborne, L.|
|Blythswood, L.||Sinclair, L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
§ Bill read 3a accordingly.
§ Amendments (privilege) made.
§ Bill passed and sent to the Commons.