§ Read 3a (according to Order), with the Amendments.
§ Clause 1:
§ Hours of employment in coal mines for boys.
§ 1.—(1) There shall be a period of at least seven consecutive hours between the hours of ten at night and six on the following morning during which no boy shall be employed in, or allowed to be for the purpose of employment in, any coal mine below ground. Nothing in this section shall apply to any boy who has been lawfully employed in any coal mine below ground before the passing of this Act.
LORD GAINFORD had given Notice of Amendments to make subsection (1) read as follows:
In relation to every mine, being a coal mine, there shall be specified in a notice affixed at the mine by the manager a period of at least seven consecutive hours between the hours of ten at night and six on the following morning and daring that period no boy shall be employed in, or allowed to be for the purpose of employment in, that coal mine below ground. Nothing in this section shall apply to any boy who has been lawfully employed in any coal mine below ground before the passing of this Act.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Amendments which stand in my name. The object of the Amendments is merely to make the Bill effective,
and to ensure that those who are at work at any particular colliery shall know the hours at which boys of under sixteen will not be allowed to work underground. It is merely intended to ensure that a notice shall be posted at the pithead. I beg to move the first of the Amendments.
Clause 1, page 1, line 6, leave out ("There shall be") and insert ("In relation to every mine, being a coal mine, there shall be specified in a notice affixed at the mine by the manager").—(Lord Gainford.)
I would have liked to have some guidance from the noble Earl, but I have had an opportunity of a private conference with him and I understand that the Departmental view is that this is a drafting Amendment, and there is no objection to it.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
I understand that the three Amendments on the Paper are purely drafting Amendments.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 1, line 8, leave out ("during which") and insert ("and during that period")
Page 1, line 10, leave out ("any") and insert ("that").—(Lord Gainford.)
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
My Lords, in moving that this Bill do now pass I have to say on behalf of my noble friend Lord Snell that he is sorry he had to leave your Lordships' House because he was going to make a very emphatic protest against the way in which the Bill was mutilated and emasculated in Committee. In his absence I shall do my best to make that protest as strongly as I possibly can, against, I am sorry to say, the betrayal of the noble Earl who speaks for the Ministry of Mines. The noble Lord, Lord Gainford, with his eloquence and great powers of persuasion in your Lordships' House, was able to cut the heart out of this Bill. I happen to know that the mining members in another place are very incensed indeed, and they intend to make all the trouble they can and endeavour to put the Bill back into its former shape. The noble Lord may congratulate himself on having aroused the 219 antagonism towards your Lordships' House of a very worthy and able body of men in another place.
§ Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Strabolgi.)
§ LORD GAINFORD
My Lords, I do not like the words of the noble Lord to pass without some reference to the attitude which has been taken with regard to the Amendments to this Bill. It was introduced in another form in the other House, and was amended in a way which was not in keeping with practice or consistent with the safety of the boys in the mines. It is all very well for Lord Strabolgi to come here and suggest that he is speaking in the interests of the boys. I am speaking in the interests of the boys when I say that the Amendments which your Lordships have passed through this House are Amendments which will help to preserve the life and health of the boys. It is to enable the boys to have sufficient time for educational purposes, to enable them to be liberated with the men and in conjunction with the men, and to go down the pit with the men and come out with the men, that the men and the boys themselves prefer that these Amendments should be put in. They were not put in arbitrarily by the owners against the interests of the boys, as suggested by Lord Strabolgi. Quite the contrary. The Government asked the Joint Committee of representatives of the owners and the miners what their views were upon this Bill and I have in my hand the record of the proceedings of that Joint Committee. I am going to read from the minutes of the meeting of the Joint Committee which all the leading representatives of the miners themselves attended.
There was Mr. J. Jones, the President of the Mineworkers' Federation, there was Mr. Bowman, representing the Northumberland Miners, Mr. A. Clark, representing the whole of the Scottish miners, Mr. O. Harris, representing the whole of the South Wales miners, Mr. Hicken, representing the Derbyshire miners, Mr. Lawther, the Vice-President who is the distinguished leader of the Durham miners, Mr. McGurk, representing the Lancashire miners, and Mr. Ebby Edwards, the Secretary of the Mine-workers' Federation. All these men were present at the meeting when this matter 220 was raised by the Government for the consideration of the Joint Committee, and the record of the Joint Committee is as follows:Sir Evan Williams said although the owners had no objection in principle to the prohibition of boy labour during the night shift, the contemplated restrictions would have the effect of causing boys either to leave work in the pits before the conclusion of the afternoon shift or to go to work after the commencement of the morning shift. Mr. Lee had suggested that the desired effect could be obtained by amending the Bill to provide that at every colliery there should be specified a period of seven hours lying between the limits of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. during which no boys should be employed under ground.The Committee agreed to suggest to the Mines Department that the Bill should be amended in this way.It is because of that desire of the Joint Committee that the Bill should be amended in that way that I introduced the Amendments which have been accepted by your Lordships.
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
My Lords, perhaps I might say one word on this Bill before it finally leaves your Lordships' House to go back to another place, I want also to emphasise again that the Amendment which was moved by the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, in the Committee stage was one which had the approval of the Joint Consultative Committee. That Committee was composed of representatives both of the owners and of the miners, and it appeared appropriate to the Government to give effect to the desires of such a body, composed after all of men who are intimately connected with the industry as a whole. Indeed, the work of the whole of this large industry is one with which they are extremely familiar. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, will realise that there has been no betrayal on the part of the Government, but solely a desire to give effect to the suggestions made by the Joint Consultative Committee.
My Lords, I do not know whether the word "betrayal" was too strong, but I think that Parliament has been coerced. It is a new doctrine in Parliament that an outside body should dictate to the Government and to the Parliament of this country in a matter of this kind. That is the view taken by my honourable friends in another place who speak for the miners, and who are elected by the miners. As to the acquiescence of certain miners' leaders, I 221 tried to give an explanation of that on the earlier stages of this Bill, and that is a matter that will be settled between the leaders and their followers. I can only say that these Amendments are not acceptable to the interests which are promoting the Bill, and I am very sorry that they have been made by your Lordships.
§ On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons.