I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
When I was interrupted a few nights ago, I was going to say that I, in common with many other Members of this House, was very much disappointed with the Debate of the first two days, and yesterday did not relieve the disappointment which I felt. The reason I felt that disappointment was because almost all the speakers who opposed the Bill seemed quite unable to realise the great gravity of the situation which confronts us at the present time.
They spoke as if it would be quite easy to continue the industry without any change with regard to hours or wages. They did not realise that we are confronted with a situation which is described by the Royal Commission itself as "one of disaster hanging over the mining industry." [Interruption.] Thos, are the words which I have taken from the Royal Commission's Report. I know that we all take leave to agree with some parts of that Report and to differ from others, but nobody who understands the question at all can really deny the truth of that observation. If over 70 per cent. of the coal of this country is at this moment being got at a loss, that is a serious situation which cannot be remedied without very drastic measures. [Interruption.] The Debate took the line, first of all, of abuse of the Prime Minister. [Interruption.] Anybody who knows what the Prime Minister has done from the very beginning of this business knows that his patience has been inexhaustible and that, though his temper has been tried, he has never been ruffled. [An HON. MEMBER: "He has done nothing!"] To say that he has not used every ounce of his strength in the cause of peace is to say something which everybody knows is not true. [Interruption.] Yet that is said by those who profess to speak on behalf of those who have not moved one inch—[Interruption].
You, Sir, know very well that I have no intention to be provocative, but I have sat here for two days while I and other people have been called "murderers," and, if I defend with all the warmth I can the Leader of my party in this House, I am not provoking, but resenting provocation.
I want also to refer to the accusations that have been made against the Government for having done nothing until they introduced this Bill. That accusation was made no more emphatically than by the light hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) with a lack of fairness which is very unusual in him. He said it surprised him that the Government, after all the time taken to consider the Report, should come here at last and state, "There is a thing which we are going to do, and we put it in the foreground." Anybody who read that. statement would think that the Government had done nothing, when everybody knows perfectly well that the first thing the Government did, although they did not believe in all the recommendations of the Report, was to put their own feelings in that matter on one side and to say that, if the other two parties would accept the Report, they would accept that part of it which required legislation.
As it happened, one of the parties appeared to accept rather grudgingly the Report and the other party entirely refused. That was the first step of the Government. From the same quarter from which the complaint came that the Government had done nothing, entirely ignoring the fact that they had offered to put the Report into operation, came yesterday the accusation that what we ought to have done was to have gone on with the Report when one side at any rate refused to accept it, and the other perhaps did not whole-heartedly accept it, though I am not quite sure what their attitude was. The next step was a proposal made by the Government which differed very little from the Memorandum which the Chairman of the Commission produced at the time of the general strike. Practically, the only difference, I think, was that whereas he recommended resumption of work with a limited subsidy the Government declined to increase the subsidy or go beyond the £3,000,000 limit which had already been declared. That was the second step, and it was rejected by both parties. [Interruption.] I am dealing with the complaint that the Government did nothing. Having taken those steps to deal with wages and wage reductions and those steps having been refused, the Government then withdrew their former proposals, set themselves free of that matter, and proceeded to deal with the question of reorganisation.
Yes. I do not want to weary the House repeating what everybody knows perfectly well. The next step, as I say, after the Government had withdrawn the proposals that were not accepted, was to set reorganisation in motion and to fall back on the last alternative of longer hours. There are certain steps in reorganisation which have already been drafted in a Bill which is now in Committee upstairs. There are other steps with regard to reorganisation which are being considered. Some can be done without legislating at all and the Government are doing what they can to put them forward. Others possibly may require legislation later if there be any chance of a settlement by that means. One question was referred to—I think by the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson)—as not yet having been put into a Bill by the Government, and that is the question of pit committees. It is a question in which I have always had a very special interest, because it was part of the Mining Industry Act, 1920, which I assisted—I was then Secretary for Mines, or Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, I forget which—in drafting. Those who remember the history of it, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) will remember it well, will know that those arrangements setting up pit committees were, if possible, to be done by agreement with both sides. First of all, the representatives of the miners objected to them, and then, when the Bill had been passed and the time came—it was a year that had to elapse before it became abortive—the mineowners would not appoint their representatives on the pit committees. The miners declined at first, and then wanted them, and the mineowners agreed at first and then did not want them, and the thing dropped. That is the history of it. Those who remember the occasion may also remember the correspondence published between the mineowners and myself in which I begged them not to continue their resistance to the passing of their part of the Mining Industry Act. Therefore, no one can say, so far as I am concerned, that I have any hostility to that proposal. There is this to be said, and I think it is worth consideration. If a settlement of this miserable business can be arrived at, and pit committees can be set up by agreement between the representatives of the owners and the men, there is more probability of their working smoothly than if they were forced on either party.
I never give up hope, however violent the language I hear, that some day reason may take the place of unreason. I have mentioned the steps which the Government took before resorting to this proposal for longer hours. I ought to say that, whatever anyone may think about the value of reorganisation, or the financial effect that it will have upon the industry, I am not one of those who attach very great importance to its effect. I think it certainly will have some effect, but I do not believe that its effect will be so great as to make a very great difference in the cost per ton of coal. I hope I may be wrong. Whether it does or not, the effect of reorganisation cannot be felt for some very considerable time, and, as the Report of the Commission says, we are confronted with an immediate situation. It is that immediate situation with which we are trying to deal.
Some of it is in the Bill. Nobody disputes that the immediate situation must be dealt with long before reorganisation proposals can have any material effect. We have been attacked in what I think is an inconsistent way. We have been told over and over again that this Bill is part of a direct attack upon w a g es—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—and that the Conservative party are out to make a general attack upon wages. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members admit that that is what has been said. I am in a position to advance one or two arguments to show that the charge is not true. First. of all, if we were so anxious to make an attack upon wages, how was it that against the wishes of many of our supporters we asked the House of Commons to spend £23,000,000 in a subsidy? Was that an attack upon wages?
I am giving my arguments to disprove such a charge. Another argument, and, perhaps, a stronger argument, is that every lowering of wages which has ever been consented to by the Conservative Government, or by the Government in which I had the honour to serve under the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), has been accompanied by a distinct guarantee that if prosperity came wages would go up. [Interruption.]
I must be allowed to say what are the facts. I represented the Government in the signing of the Coal Mines Agreement on behalf of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs. The essence of that Agreement was that the moment the industry progressed, then, by the process of ascertainment, any surplus profits that were derived should be divided in certain proportions between wages and capital. [interruption.]
The hon. Member made a very long speech himself. I would ask to be allowed to proceed. That Agreement was based upon absolutely sound principles, and Mr. Frank Hodges declared at the time that it was the greatest advance in collective bargaining that had been made in this country, and the greatest advance in the distribution of profits in industry. I think he still holds that view. I certainly do.
I am glad to be in his company. Its principles were (1) that the first charge on industry should be a reasonable wage; (2) a reasonable return on the money that is put into the industry, and (3) if there is anything left over, there should be a fair distribution—I do not say that the proportion was right—between capital and labour. Those were the principles of that agreement, and I believe them to be absolutely right. We should never agree to any system of lowering wages which meant fixing them at a low point at any particular time and then leaving the capitalist to make what he could and to become rich, without a parallel rise in wages taking place. It. has always been our principle that wages should fluctuate and go up if the industry prospers, and on that principle they must necessarily suffer to a certain extent if the industry does not prosper.
I have been asked by the right hon. Gentleman what is the object of the Bill. I should have thought that it was perfectly plain that the object of the present Bill is to enable those who are engaged in the industry to see what is possible in the way of wages if an eight-hours day is worked. The other object, undoubtedly, is, according to the recommendations of the Royal Commission, to lead to cheaper production and to enable the country to recapture lost markets abroad, and possibly to obtain increased trade at home. It is a very curious thing that such a rigid disciple of Cobden as the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley should have come. to the conclusion that, if we do succeed in getting cheaper production, we shall not be able to sell the extra coal that may be produced. Is that the idea of Free Trade to-day? Has he given up the idea, always preached by his friends in the past, that cheap production means more trade and more manufacture? Why should it be different in this particular case?
I want to be very fair, but it is not very easy to pursue an argument of this kind and to be perpetually interrupted. The whole object of reorganisation, from which hon. Members opposite, both below and above the Gangway, expect a good deal, is in the direction of cheaper production. Why do they go in for reorganisation, if cheaper production is not going to be of any use, and if the coal produced is to be left unsold on the markets? That was one of the right hon. and learned Member's arguments, and I think it is an extremely fallacious argument. There is no reason to suppose that the buying capacity of the world at large is not capable of great expansion. Except in certain parts of Europe, the baying capacity of almost every other country in the world is stronger than it has been for some time. Our difficulty is not that there is no prospect of expansion in the buying capacity of the world, but that we have lost markets which we had before. We have lost them to other European countries. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because of the price. We have lost them to Germany, for instance. Another argument of the right hon. and learned Member is that if we increase the working day of the miners in this country other countries will increase their hours, and therefore we shall be in the same difficulty we are in now. That is merely a counsel of despair; it is telling us that we must give up any idea of snaking any competition with our competitors.
The arguments against longer hours are very familiar. Nobody supposes that in fair weather any such proposal as this would have been made by any party in this House. It is because we are in a time of foul weather that we have to adopt every possible method of improving the situation. The Leader of the Opposition raised a point the other day with respect to the accidents, and he drew from the information in his possession the inference that accidents would become much more numerous under an eight-hours day than under a seven-hours day. When I was at the Mines Department I tried very hard to follow all the different curves of various accidents, and to find out the reason for them. It is extremely difficult. to draw any deduction. The right hon. Gentleman himself said so. I have made inquiries about this matter lately from authoritative people, and although I think what he said is perfectly true, that a larger proportion of accidents occur during the last hour, there is nothing to show that that proportion has in any way diminished since the time when we went from an eight-hour to a seven-hour -clay; at any rate not from that cause. There has been a steady diminution the whole way through, but when one looks at the curve I am told by the inspectors of the Mines Department that one cannot discover that there is any particular line or bump noticeable at the moment when the change from eight hours to seven hours took place.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has read the information given to me yesterday from the Mines Department, of which he was in charge for some years? If he will take the averages during the nine years under an eight-hour day and the six years under a seven-hour day, he will find that there is a considerable bump down of 260 accidents each year.
I do not want to labour this point, but the figures are to be found in Columns 1139 and 1140 of the OFFICIAL REPORT for the 30th June. I was answering a. question, in which I am much interested, asked me by the right hon. Gentleman. I proceeded to ask what was the general idea as to the cause of accidents happening more frequently at any particular time in work generally, and the answer I got was that it was generally thought now that speed of production was the greatest cause of accidents, and that, of course, accounted for the increase in the last hour of the time, because the men were trying to make up to a certain quantity in the last hour. If that be so, and men have rather longer time to work in under this Bill, it might be supposed that, if anything, the accidents due to speed of production will lessen.
It is easy to say they are wrong, but we all have a right to our own opinions. What are the alternatives to our proposal Several have been mentioned. I think it was the right hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) who said that in introducing this Bill the Prime Minister was reversing the engine. Well, it is not a bad thing to do, when you are getting near a precipice. [An HON. MEMBER: "There is a precipice behind as well!"] What are the alternatives? One is a continuance of the subsidy. That has not been very strongly pressed, even by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, though the right hon. Member for Shettleston finished his speech with a conclusion which obviously meant that the State had to pay anything which was lost on the industry. I am quite sure that neither the House nor the country would agree to the Government spending any more than the £3,000,000 up to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said he is prepared to go to assist in the transition from the time of settlement, when it comes, for the first few months, to make the transition a little easier. The offer of the £3,000,000 originally was made to ease what is called the bump, that is, when we were considering wages. It is quite possible that there might be other methods of making use of that money, and we. reserve a perfect right to allot it to whatever seems to us most required, whether it be to assist the transference of workers or to promote research more rapidly than we have done yet. I, for one, attach a great deal of importance to the promotion of research, and believe that more money could very usefully be spent upon it. As I say, the subsidy is one alternative. Another alternative is a very severe cut in wages, and that has not found acceptance with the representatives of the mining community. The third alternative is keeping the wages where they are, closing nearly half, or more than half, perhaps, of the pits of the country, and throwing a large number of miners out of work.
I do not expect you to. The fourth alternative is the one which is proposed in this Bill, and surely it is not too much to ask that at any rate it will be possible for those who are concerned to consider what would be the effect of this proposal. The House has already been told by the Prime Minister. [Interruption.]
On a point of Order. Is it fair that the right hon. Gentleman opposite should quote figures and his colleagues' speeches without giving us the matter? His figures are alright, but he is wrong.
I want to appeal to you, Mr. Speaker. If I make a statement in this House, or if any other hon. Member here does, we are asked for our authority. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has the authority, but he is making misleading statements instead of reading it, and he knows it.
That is not a point of Order. But if the hon. Member asks for my decision, it is that we ought to hear both sides of the case, and hear them in an orderly manner, without interruption.
I do not know what. all this fuss is about. The Prime Minister told us on the 15th June that on the basis. of an eight-hours clay he had ascertained from the owners that the men during July, August and September would be guaranteed the following wages. He said:
There are certain districts, producing approximately half the output of the country, in which the men will be offered a continuance of their existing wages for July, August and September, and over more than halt the rest of the country the reduction asked, if one is asked at all, will be something materially less than the 10 per cent. drop."—[OFFICIAT, REPORT, 15th June, 1926; col. 2152, Vol. 196.]
In no case, he said would the wages offered be lower than the 1921 agreement, which, with the price of money what it is now, is 30 per cent. better than what it was at that particular time. That is the quotation for which the hon. Member asked. We feel—and, I think, rightly—that it is only fair that those who are confronted by this impending disaster in the industry should have the opportunity of seeing what is possible for them under such an arrangement. It would certainly, if it was
accepted, either reduce unemployment or produce very much less unemployment than any of the other alternatives. When hon. Members summarily reject it, as hon. Members opposite are inclined to do, I think they are, as I said at the beginning, not taking quite a sufficiently serious view of the situation. If a ship is likely to founder, and it is necessary to save what lives you can, the captain of the ship does not say: "Anybody who can swim can get away as well as they can, and those who cannot swim will have to go to the bottom." He says: "I have got boats, and as many as possible can save themselves in the boats." If they then say: "That is not enough to save all the people," he says: "I have got lifebelts." If that situation arose, would the people on the ship say: "We have not used lifebelts for six or seven years. They are very uncomfortable now, and rather than take that chance of being saved, we will not use them at all"? That is the same thing as refusing to accept this Bill. We think it is our duty to give those concerned in the industry this choice, and it is for them to make up their minds. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Evan Davies), whose speech I did not hear last night, but have read to-day, did say:
If the Government intended the Eight Hours Bill to be a sensible proposal in order to meet the economic conditions of the present situation, I think they should have gone as far as to say that they were introducing eight hours to be worked in the uneconomic pits."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 30th June, 1926; col. 1276, Vol. 197.]
That is one of the effects that might be the result of this proposal, and it is merely opening up the opportunities for negotiation, with a full view of the whole of the horizon that has to be taken into consideration, and all that we are asking the House to do, in giving the Third Reading to this Bill, is to give a free choice to free men.
I have been listening very attentively to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, as I always listen in this House to others' views, whether they are views with which I agree or views with which I disagree, and I have been carefully following what the right hon. Gentleman has said, in the hope that at some stage in his speech we should be told how the Government imagine that this Bill is going in any way, to any extent, to solve the problem with which the coal industry is faced. During the last fortnight we have had speeches on this subject from more Ministers than have addressed the House on any one subject since I have been a Member. We have had the Prime Minister, the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Mines, the Minister for War, and now the First Lord of the Admiralty.
Now we have a Bill for extending or making possible the extension of hours in the mining industry. This Bill has been introduced ostensibly for the purpose of coping with the disastrous conditions obtaining in the industry, which was brought to light by the Coal Commission's Report but which was known to most of us formerly. I would very much like if one of the Ministers speaking on behalf of the Government had really made an attempt to show how, if this Bill were put into operation, it would tend to solve the difficulty with which we are faced, prevent unemployment, prevent the closing down of mines, set the industry on its feet, and enable us to get from the present deplorable state of affairs to a state of prosperity. If they could show that it would have that effect, it would at any rate have been some kind of justification for the Government's policy. Whether it can be defended on other grounds or not, if they could show that it would constitute a solution, that would be some sort of defence. As far as I have seen, this Bill will not only not solve the coal problem but it, will not begin to solve it. As a matter of fact, it does not touch the problem. It ignores the very nature of it, and I am satisfied that its effect in operation will be to intensify the complexities already existing in the industry. Surely no one is going to contend that this Bill provides a fair deal as between miners and other sections of the community and I suppose nobody imagines it will settle the present stoppage. This Bill unquestionably will add considerably to the duration of the stoppage. I do not think there is a shadow of doubt about that. Every mining Member, and I hope every Member on the Labour Benches will be wholeheartedly opposed to any settlement in any shape or form which involves the adoption of the provisions of this Bill. As far as I am personally concerned, I have made up my mind that, if Cook or anyone else advocates surrender, I shall be advocating resistance, and I hope that will be the case with every miners' agent.
A fortnight ago I went to some trouble to endeavour to show the House that the nature of the coal problem is such that it is quite impossible to solve it by longer hours or reduced wages. I gave facts and figures, not one of which, in any of its essential features, has been shaken or challenged. All that the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Mines and the Prime Minister have done throughout this debate is to call attention to the position in the exporting districts. We have been told over and over again that we must either have an eight-hours day or close half the mines. Is that not an awful prospect to contemplate? Certainly it is; but does any Minister really imagine that if this Bill is put into operation the effect in Northumberland, Durham and South Wales is to be any different?
That reply shows a lack of appreciation of the facts of the situation which is absolutely indefensible. It is true that in Northumberland, Durham and South Wales, according to the Commission's Report, in the last quarter of last year there was a. loss of 3s. a ton. I shall be showing in a few moments how the industry got into that position and the responsibility that rests on the Government for having got it there. Here we have in Northumberland, Durham and South Wales a loss of 3s. to 3s. 3d. a ton. What is to be the saving in cost resulting from an eight - hours day? I gave the figures which the employers submitted on a previous occasion in a very elaborate statement in Table 6, which showed that the result of all their savings would be 'bankruptcy to most of the mines in the country. But the Secretary for Mines replied to that and said, "Yes, but you did not tell the House that the Commission challenged the accuracy of the figures put in by the coalowners and did not accept them." That is quite true. But let us look at figures which have not been challenged. The coal-owners put in figures which are not challenged, and which the Commission have accepted. They said that in Scotland the saving under an eight-hours day would be 1s. 10d. a ton, in Northumberland 1s. 6d., in Durham 1s. 7d., and in South Wales 3s. They said these figures had been arrived at after the closest inspection of all the available data by agents and managers acquainted with the conditions of the respective districts So we have this remarkable position. In Northumberland and Durham we have a loss of 3s. a ton, and all that is contended by the owners and managers and agents is that, if the eight-hours day were put into operation, it would bring about a reduction in costs of 1s. 6d. If you get Is. 6d. reduction in cost, you have still a loss of 1s. 6d. left on every ton raised. Does not that dawn upon the right hon. Gentleman opposite?
I do not object to that, but I thought by the right hon. Gentleman's expression that he did not appreciate my point. The name of Mr. Robson, the President of the Durham Miners' Association has been mentioned. it would be most interesting to know how this Bill is to prevent half the milling industry in his county being closed down. All we have to go upon is this simple fact, that you have a 3s. loss at present and the eight-hours day is estimated to reduce costs by Is. 6d., which leaves the coalfields still in a state of bankruptcy, and that all the time on the assumption that all this saving would take place and that there would be no reduction in price on account of the increased volume of production. Conceding all that, and with that set of facts staring them in the face, we have the Government putting this Bill before us without any attempt to show that it will have the remotest effect on a situation such as this. How has the industry got into this position? Without any subsidy being paid in January-June last year, we have in Northumberland a loss of 1s. 3d. per ton, in Durham 9½d., and in South Wales 10½d. As a direct result of the manner in which the Government imposed that subsidy, prices have gone down and the margin between cost of production and price has been widening month by month until to-day you have a gap which spells ruin and disaster. Now the Government come forward and say, "You must fill the gap as best you can," and an attempt is being made to throw in the eight-hours Bill to fill the gap.
We have to face the simple fact in the coal trade that, in respect of half the industry, private enterprise has completely collapsed. No one can dispute that who looks at the facts, and the Government has to do one of two things. It has either to take this industry over as a national concern and put it under State ownership and control and make the nation responsible for it, or it must insist upon such reorganisation by the private owners themselves as will ensure to the industry a solution of its problems. No, Sir, there has not been given to the House even the beginning of an explanation, or any excuse, to say nothing of justification, for this Bill. Where is the authority for it? If there was one thing which the Commission analysed more carefully than anything else it was the question of the eight-hours day, which they took into consideration from several points of view. They said, first of all, that the number of hours worked in this country and in foreign countries is a subject that is germane to this question of export trade. They took the necessary steps to ascertain what are the actual hours worked in the different countries in which export business is done. Having made investigations, they came to this conclusion: They said:
Even on the daily time he (the British miner) may be slightly better off—that is, spend a few minutes less underground each day than does the average miner in France or Belgium.
That is the position. But they went on to ask:
What would be the effect of adopting the Mining Association's proposal and restoring the hour taken off in 1919?"
The answer is:
It would make the working day of every British miner longer by half an hour to an hour than that of miners in any European coalfield of importance, except Upper Silesia."
There you have a Commission declaring that 7½ hours is at present being worked by British miners; the same in France and Belgium; slightly longer in Holland, Germany, and Czechoslovakia; and afterwards declaring that if you place another hour on the British miner's day he would be working longer by half an hour to an hour than any other workers in Europe. They decided that no excuse could be afforded on social grounds for introducing an eight-hours day. From the economic standpoint they discussed it, and came to the conclusion That any saving from increased hours due to an eight-hours day would be lost by reduced prices that would follow. In finishing up they say:
We are unable accordingly to recommend the acceptance of the main proposals of the Mining Association for a return to the 8½ day."
In their summary, they make this very definite and emphatic decision:
The standard length of the working day, which is now on the average 7½ hours underground, should remain unaltered."
If the English language can have any meaning at all, and if any declaration can possibly be emphatic, what words could have been used to convey that emphatic declaration more decisively than the passage I have read? We are not disposed to view this eight-hours day with any favour at all. I think it may be taken for granted that both on the side of the employers and the miners the result of passing this legislation will be to harden the position and seriously extend the duration of this stoppage The coalowners are not going to commence negotiations or make any attempt to effect a settlement in the industry except on the basis of an eight-hours day, and for months to come there will be no attempt made by the miners to fix up a settlement on such a basis.
That being the case, we are faced with the most hopeless situation. This position is one for which there can be no excuse on the part of the Government. They have had this condition of things running on now for a good part of two years. There is really nothing new in the problem. It is exactly the same in its main characteristics as it was when Mr. Justice Sankey and his Commission investigated the problem. What the last Commission has done is to bring the data up to date. All the facts revealed precisely the same problem in all its essential characteristics as was revealed to the Sankey Commission which sat in 1919. Having regard to the fact that for nearly two years we have had this situation developing, this stoppage becoming inevitable unless the necessary and correct policy was pursued by the Government, and, although this should have been regarded as an inevitable development to be provided against, yet even now, in 1926, at the end of nine weeks of stoppage. the Government appear to have no proper appreciation of the problem that they are dealing with. How can these measures affect the situation at all?
This Bill will have the effect of worsening the position of the miners of this country and placing them in a position worse than that of any European miners. They may accept that position, but it will only be after they have been beaten. We know that the British miner has been, during the last 25 years, urging through international conferences the European miners to get reductions in their working hours, and as a result of the international miners' movement, initiated by the British miners and carried through in their international conferences, the effect has been to reduce the hours of miners in all the Continental countries. Now, at the end of it all, we are to be asked to start the reverse voyage. The effect of this Bill will be to place the British miners in the worst position of all the European miners. But that will only be for a time. The ultimate effect will inevitably be a depressing of the standard of life of all the miners throughout the world. This Bill may be passed through this House—and probably will be—and it may go through the Lords, and it may be placed on the Statute Book, but it is not going to solve the problem we are faced with; and for a very long time, if at all, it is not going to be put into operation.
I just want to say a few words with regard to some matters that were raised by the First Lord of the Admiralty as to what the Government has done. He referred to there being no difference, or very little difference, between the Samuel Memorandum and the proposals of the Prime Minister. I do not understand a responsible Minister making a statement of that sort. The Samuel Memorandum said, "Get the men back to work on pre-stoppage wages, get on with negotiations, discuss organisation, and when you have done all that, get down to the question of a wage agreement; and when you get to the wage agreement, see that these limitations and restrictions and safeguards are embodied in that agreement—first of all, there is to be no reduction for the low-paid wage men; second, see that each grade of workmen must have assured to them wages below which the percentage shall not fall." Those were two safeguards which they sought to have embodied in that wage agreement. Now let us see what the Prime Minister said. He said, "Get back to work on a 10 per cent. reduction straight away, go on with that for a blank number of weeks; and while you are doing that we will appoint a Committee of three workers' representatives, three owners' representatives, and an independent chairman, who will determine and give their decision within three weeks on an hours and wages agreement, and when the time came at the end of three weeks no one knew what sort of wages and what sort of hours the mine workers would have. After that had been done something might be considered about reorganisation." With reference to the low-wage-paid men the Prime Minister suggested 7s. 6d. per day. Those getting 8s. were to be cut down to 7s. 6d. —37s, 6d. a week with a five-days week—that was the Prime Minister's idea.
If that is what he regards as snaking a genuine attempt to solve this great problem I do not wonder at all at there being no settlement and that we have got into the state we have reached at the present moment. The First Lord of the Admiralty referred to the reorganisation proposals in the other Bill upstairs. We are making an attempt to find in that Bill a basis on which to build a settlement and it is possible, if the Government will change its policy, to find some sort of basis for establishing and securing and bringing into operation effective reorganisation of the mining industry. If our amendments would be adopted there would be some hope for the industry in the future. Apart altogether from this eight-hours day legislation, the so-called reorganisation Bill is the emptiest thing that could possibly be placed before the industry in the position in which we find ourselves. On this side of the House we regard this as a dastardly attempt upon the miners of this country. As one who has had a great respect for the Prime Minister, as one who would have trusted him, I have come to the conclusion, and I am perfectly certain that every miner in Britain, and I believe every worker, ultimately will come to the conclusion—that the greatest enemy of the working classes that this last generation has produced is the present British Prime Minister. I very much regret having reached that conclusion. I do not suppose the Prime Minister will care a toss what my impression is—not a bit—but that the British Prime Minister should use the position he occupies in this country to throw the whole weight of the Government machine in this country behind and around the coalowners of this land for the purpose of depressing the standard of life of men who are risking their lives every day, men who are engaged in the most hazardous occupation of any men in this land—that he should throw the whole weight of the Government machinery behind and around the coalowners for the purpose of depressing the standard of life and increasing the hours of the miners—I say will win for him the appellation I have given, not only from myself but, I believe, from all the workers of the country.
I claim the consideration of the House while I express my view of this Bill. I should like to say how deeply I regret the depressing speech to which we have just listened, and especially the concluding remarks regarding the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) said that he did not think the Prime Minister would care very much what he said about him, but everybody in this House regards the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken with respect and anything he says is carefully considered. We have had several speeches from him on this question, which is a very difficult one, and we have realised that he has tried on every occasion to deal with it fairly and justly and to present a case which he believes to be practical. But on this occasion, I am afraid, he has rather overstated the case as regards the Prime Minister. We are dealing with a very difficult situation. We have listened during the last three or four days to a good many speeches on the subject. We have learned that the miner's life is a strenuous one, demanding great physical efforts under conditions which are hard and dangerous, and which at times are associated with tragedy and horror. The hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) told us that the conditions are of such a kind as to be really cruel. I should be the last to question the truth of any one of these statements. Anyone who has been intimately associated with mining for any length of time and has become familiar with its conditions, knows that such things do exist. We must accept that as true, and, in considering anything which affects the life and well-being of the miner, this side of his life must he considered.
Having said that, I would turn to the other side of the millet's life, for there must be another side. There must be some recompense, some compensation, something which tends to draw men to the industry and develop the manhood which we see in that industry. [An HON. MEMBER: "Bread and butter!"] No. That is a very low standard to take. It is a much higher standard, or it could never have the effect it has. If the miner's life is so depressing, so corrosive and so destructive, it would not be long before there would be no miners in this country or in any other country, and it is certainly the fact that this great industry would not be so forcibly and so powerfully represented in this House. It is more powerfully represented here than any other industry, and those who have listened to the speeches will not for a moment question the courage and ability and eloquence of those hon. Members who have risen from the mining class.
If these are the dominant features of the mining class, what is it that makes the miner what he is: what is it that makes him what we know him to be? Miners, by virtue of the very life they live, are what they are. It is a life of extremes. They go daily from light to dark, and this has a tendency to make a man adaptable. He passes from comparative safety to imminent danger. He is constantly danger, which calls for the exercise of all his faculties in order to protect him. This stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and feeling. In addition to that, his life calls for the highest kind of physical development, which makes him, therefore, the all-round man, the man who is familiar with danger, and who is capable of controlling himself and keeping all his faculties about him in the face of danger; his great physical development gives him confidence. All those who have watched the career of the miners for the last 15 or 20 years realise that it is a class from which we can always expect courage of the highest order, strength and powers of endurance, and it is no wonder that from its ranks men rise to positions of honour, power, and influence.
In an interesting speech last night an hon. Member on the Opposition side of the House made a reference to sentiment. He said the miner was a man of sentiment. I should be the last to deny that, for I realise that sentiment is a great power. When we attach thoughts to a thing when we bring the spiritual to the material we often put into force powers which lead to great achievements and the noblest sacrifices. I could give many instances from my own knowledge of the life of miners where this sentiment has urged men to great efforts. I summarise the effect in this way, that they will on occasion risk their lives, not only to save life but also to save property. They risk their lives, not for increased remuneration — because increased remuneration is very seldom offered to induce men to risk their lives—but from a pure sense of duty, in order to preserve the industry upon which they depend to provide that which is necessary for their wives and families and afford them opportunities for developing themselves in the future. They work not merely for bread and butter. These are the men we. are asking to-day to work longer hours and at reduced rate of wages. We are doing that under urgent stress and necessity. There is nobody, either on this side of the House or the other, who approaches such a condition with anything but regret, and I for one am not surprised at the passionate resistance offered to it by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. But those who have gone intimately and closely into the matter have come to the conclusion that it is an absolute necessity. It is a reduction of wages. You cannot ask a man to work longer hours for the same wages, and say that it is not a reduction in wages. It is. If a man works seven hours and gets 14s. a day, that is 2s. an hour, and if you ask that man to work eight hours for I4s. a day, you are asking him to work for Is. 9d. an hour; and it is a reduction in wages. Therefore, it is with feelings of great anxiety and distress that we approach this problem in this way.
I have risen more particularly to state what my own personal attitude is with regard to the present situation. Before the Coal Commission 'issued its Report, I had looked at this question from the standpoint from which I have always been accustomed to look at questions where the working man is concerned, that is, from his standpoint, and I sought to find whether it was possible to meet the economic conditions in the coal industry without either an increase of hours or a reduction of wages. Being limited in my sphere, I confined myself to investigations in the colliery with which I am closely associated. I found that in that colliery, if I could get 500 more men, if I could establish a better spirit which would stimulate men to work more constantly, arouse in them a desire not merely to get their bread and butter, not, merely to be satisfied with the minimum wage, but to earn all that they could earn, if I could raise the standard of those men who did not put forward their best efforts to the standard of those men in the mine who did—I assure the House that the men in the same occupation earn in some cases 10s. a day and there are others who earn as much as 24s. a day—there would be no question either of increased hours or a reduction of wages. But it implied and necessitated a continuance of the subsidy until such time as this transfer of men could have been secured.
The Coal Commission's Report came out and dealt with the question on a national basis. They give you a wider and deeper understanding of the question. We sought to find a solution of the problem in that Report. I, for one, would gladly have accepted the whole Report, and I believe most of the mine-Owners, or at least the majority of them, would have gladly done so, although I have no authority whatever to speak for the Mining Association. I have never belonged to them, but I have always associated myself in times of necessity with the district organisation, and I shall continue to do so in the future. Then the strike took place, and I wish to say here that this strike took place under rather disappointing conditions: in this way. Notices were given to expire on the 1st May at the collieries in our district, but the men came out under orders from London on Friday afternoon. That is hardly doing the right thing. They broke their contract on that occasion—and it is somewhat of importance in this respect. Naturally, when you anticipate a stoppage, you take a few days before the stoppage begins to make preparations for it. We were deprived of that opportunity and it was a serious deprivation.
I am glad the hon. Member agrees with me. I feel sure the men in that district will do their best to remedy that matter because it was done unintentionally, as far as they were concerned. A month ago, after the stoppage had already lasted for some time, I came to the conclusion, independently, that a step ought to be taken to solve this problem and bring about a resumption of work. I put forward a scheme—a formula —which I will submit to this House in the light of what has been said already and with the desire that hon. Members will earnestly consider it. It applies more particularly to the middle-class collieries. The collieries with which I am associated are not among the best in the country, but certainly they are not among the worst, and they are among the best in the district.
My proposal implies, first, an eight-hours day and, second, a 10 per cent. wages reduction. Those are the sacrifices that are asked from the men. I couple with that proposal the following conditions: That out of the first profits a certain amount should he laid on one side in order to meet the necessities of the industry, to build it up again and to meet the requirements specified in the Commission's Report as necessary in order to bring the industry to the highest possible stage of efficiency. That amount might be 4d. or 6d. or 8d. a ton or whatever the particular mine called for. After that has been laid aside, the first profit should go to repay the 10 per cent. reduction. That is to say, if the industry earns any surplus whatever, it shall go first of all to restore to the men that standard to which they have been accustomed. It is not proposed that the subsistence-wage men should be reduced at all, and after those who do suffer a reduction have received back their 10 per cent., then the subsistence men, who are low enough paid already, should receive a rise of 10 per cent. After that has been done, the owners' profit of 1s. 3d., which is the amount agreed upon in the past shall he put on one side, and all profits beyond that shall be divided between the workmen and the owners, in the proportion of ST per cent. to the men and 13 per cent. to the owners. But this proportion shall go to the men directly, and shall not be paid on the district computation and swamped by the collieries which are losing money. It shall be paid direct in cash or in such way as the men would like to have it paid.
That is what I proposed. I gave four days' notice to the men to come to work if they wished on those terms. I gave them notice because I was anxious that the Miners' Federation should deal with it first and that they should not come in after the men had returned to work and call them out again. They came beforehand and urged the men to stand loyally by the union and, no matter what offer was made, not to accept it. We can all sympathise with and admire that loyalty and unanimity of effort, but it can go too far. If what the right hon. Gentleman has said turns out to be true, and if this strike goes on for months and months until the miners are brought back to work by starvation, then I say there is no hope in this country for the mining industry. There is no hope for any industry in this country unless we can come together, as the right hon. Gentleman in a former speech declared, unless we can meet with an earnest desire to see that whatever sacrifices are made, provision shall be made to ensure the repayment of those sacrifices at the earliest possible moment. Whatever is done. let the men receive all to which they are entitled, and all the industry can possibly afford them. and let the owners receive only that to which they are fairly entitled as remuneration on their capital.
I hope that a change of attitude such as can take place and ought to take place will he seen among the men of the mining population. I was born in a mining village 67 years ago. I have been actively engaged in mining in this country and other parts of the world for 53 years, because I began when I was only 14. I have worked for myself, without help or assistance from anybody, and I know the miner. I know his capabilities, his generosity of character, and his courage, and I believe that when he understands what are the necessities of this country, he will be prepared to make sacrifices for his country on this occasion.
The hon. Member who has just resumed his seat began by the declaration that he regretted the depressing speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn). I wish to analyse the not very cheerful information which he himself has just imparted to the House. He told us that in all good faith he made an offer to his men which entailed a reduction of 10 per cent. on an eight-hour day. He had previously given an illustration of the fact that any increase of working time, if the same wage be maintained, is in reality a wage reduction. His illustration was that a seven-hour day at 14s. a day was equal to 2s. an hour, whereas an eight-hour day at the same wages was only equal to 1s. 9d. an hour. That is a reduction of 12½ per cent., which, added to the 10 per cent. already off the wage, means a reduction of 22½ per cent, under the proposal which the hon. Member, in his desire for a settlement and in all charity, made to his men. The hon. Member tells us that his is a middle-class colliery. If that be the case in the middle-class collieries, then I borrow the hon. Member's own phrase, and I say there is no hope for the mining industry in this country.
I wish to say that while I put this forward, it is applicable to the district, and it will meet the requirements of those collieries which are not as good as ours. In the case of the better collieries, the 10 per cent. reduction would never operate. I hope and believe it would not operate in my own.
The House must be relieved to know that they have heard the worst, and that this proposal will meet the needs of collieries worse situated than those belonging to the hon. Member. If I recollect aright, I think he said that he was not affiliated with the Mining Association, and that the increased wage which is in prospect for his men would accrue as a result of calculations of his own working, and not on the average for the district. If that be so, and if he is suggesting something in connection with his own collieries, which is really in the interest of those not so well situated, I submit he has no right to take that action.
I listened intently to the speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty, who devoted some time to a defence of the Prime Minister. He said the Prime Minister's patience was exhausted. I agree, but incidentally the Prime Minister has exhausted, not only his own, patience but the patience of quite a lot of other people. I wish that the Prime Minister had been a little less patient. I wish that the Government had made up their minds as to what the Commission recommended, and what were the needs of the industry, and had drawn their plan accordingly and had stood by it. It might not have been acceptable to me but, at any rate, that course would have been understandable, and would have been absolutely pleasing by contrast with what we have actually experienced. The First Lord went on to say that we had blamed the Government for not introducing its proposals until the stoppage actually occurred. They had in their possession the Report of the Commission from 11th March until 30th April, and it is late in the day now to attempt to defend the Government on the ground that they did make a proposal sometime about 16th May.
Further, the First Lord said their proposals did not materially differ from those contained in the Samuel Memorandum. They differ in this respect, that the Samuel Memorandum suggested a return to work on the status quo. The Government were not sufficiently honest to tell us what were the terms upon which we were to return to work. True, they presented us with a set of proposals, but the figure of the reduction which they deemed necessary was left blank. When pressed upon the point as to how they would fill in that blank, they said in a casual way, "Well, we think 10 per cent." That was by no means the worst of the Government's proposals. That was only to go on for five or six weeks, after which the miners of the country were to receive a wage dictated by an independent body. I do not know that is much to boast about and the First Lord might have spared us that attempted defence of the Government.
The philosophy which still seems to animate the minds of the Government, as it does those of the coalowners, is that if you can make an article sufficiently cheap people will buy it, whether they want it or not. I thought the experience of the last few months had exploded that theory. I know that as regards gramophones and fountain pens, and other largely advertised goods, there may be a modicum of truth in it. But coal is a purely utilitarian article. If people want it, they buy it: if they do not want it, they do not buy it. I wonder how the tenets of the Free Traders which were described by the First Lord as Cobdenism, would pan out as applied to the coal trade. The matter has been thoroughly tested and the results of that test need not be repeated, except to say that in the first quarter of this year, as compared with the first quarter of last year, we sold 88,000 tons of coal more and we received £1,750,000 less.
I wish the Government would alter their ideas and cease thinking that we are going to absorb a huge mass of men into this industry on slave conditions and that it will be to the benefit of the country to do so. I wish they would turn their attention, not to the production of increased quantities of coal for the same price but. if need be, to producing the same quantity at a less price. We are prepared to face all the implications of that policy, but we tremble to think of what would be the result of pursuing the other policy.
I only intervened in this Debate because I am one who has taken some little risks in the interest of peace. I only want to say this much—if I am in order in so doing—whereas I attempted to make that peace, seeing that I was repudiated by my own people, ignored by the Government, attacked by the coalowners, I am eminently fitted to speak on this matter. Whatever success may have attended my efforts. whatever I hoped to achieve along the line that I have pursued, have all been rendered nugatory and of non-effect by the action of the Government. I have lost everything I hold dear in the attempt I have made, but I was prepared to go on. I want, however, to say this: that the Government's scant treatment of my efforts have made me not a peacemaker, but a belligerent. I am going back to Nottingham to undo what I have attempted to do in the direction of peace. The Government, of course, were entitled to ignore, if they thought well, what has been done, but I could have wished that they had carried out their first intentions, in fact their first promises, which were that they were prepared to accept the Report of the Commission. Considerable numbers of oar own men were not prepared to accept the full implications of the Report, and it was, therefore, with great hesitation that I did what I did. Any man adopting that attitude was entitled to receive from the Government a very different kind of treatment, because, having regard to my own national prejudices, and my feelings as an ex-miner, having regard to my representative capacity, and to the declarations of the men with whom I was then, and am still, working, I did attempt to adhere as closely as possible to the recommendations of the Commission.
The Government have absolutely gone out of their way to throw sand into the wheels of the machinery, which some of us were constructing. It may be that knowledge of the fact that I had no support from. my own people was the reason why they lacked encouragement to proceed along similar lines, but the men are entitled to be suspicious of Governments of all kinds. Many of the men are older men. They are, at any rate, older in the experience of the treatment they have received from successive Governments. They were not confiding and trustful, as I was prepared to be. But they find every justification for the attitude they adopted towards my proposal, in the Bill which the Government have proposed. It is a pity. It is a tragedy that in the ninth week of the strike, lock-out, stop- page—call it what you will—that after 11 o'clock to-night, or thereabout, we shall have spent four days in recriminations and charges from this side, and extenuations and apologies from the other, on a Bill which does not affect the situation in the slightest degree, and which will leave the position exactly as it is, except that those of us who were prepared in the interest of peace, in the interest of the men, and in the interest of the nation, are so much worsened in the estimation of our fellows.
If this Bill does all that is claimed for it it ought to increase the output of the country, but the Government, instead of proving to us where lie the economics of this matter, simply put forward the coalowners' one-sided case. I am very much concerned for this aspect of the question, because it seems to me it does not really matter what a man gets per shift; what really matters is what he gets in a year; if the effect of increasing his working time is simply to let the man keep the wages ho is now receiving, by working a quarter or a half of a shift less in the week then at the end of the year he will be in exactly the same position as he is now—with this difference—that the extra quantity of coal will have been produced by fewer men and a bigger degree of unemployment.
I could have wished that those who had answered for the Government and expressed the hope that the alternative put forward would meet the case, have endeavoured to prove it. The district from which I come, using a simile of the hon. Member for Crewe (Mr. E. Craig), who spoke in this Debate when he spoke of his collieries as being of the middle class—we should be in the aristocratic class !—in our district, which is one of the best situated in the country, and with the lowest cost of working for the year 1925, the outlet for our coal was such that if the men had worked every minute of the time available to them, the average on the. whole would have been 4.72 shifts per week. Therefore, without any extension of the hours at all, we could put out 15,000,000 tons per annum more in the eastern area if it were required.
In June of last year there was no demand for coal, and we had the seasonal underemployment. The output of the area in this month was 5,800,000 tons. In July the people became apprehensive as to the possibility of a national coal strike. They began to buy coal. We worked full time. The result was that we put out 8,230,000 tons, as against the 5,800,000 tons in the preceding months. The effect of that increased output was a reduction in costs, other than the wages, of 1s. 36d., and we could, therefore, produce Much more coal and at a still lower cost.
It is said that this Bill is permissive, and that therefore. we need not adopt it if we do not want to. But it has been introduced in the hope and expectation that it will be adopted, and if it is not adopted the position will not be altered in the slightest. What I fear is that an attempt will be made by the coalowners of this country to get the more timid men to work the additional hour. I do not want to make out that our people are any better or any worse than any other section of the community, but in all grades of society there are men who do not play according to the rules of the game if certain coalowners try to trade upon the avarice and stupidity of certain of our men they will accept the eight-hours day, and thereby set man against man, and so intensify the difficulties of the industry at the present time. What. will be the result of that? What will be the result of this Bill if it comes into operation In my opinion the immediate result will be that there will be thrown on the unemployment market thousand of men more than are necessary. I see no possibility of the situation being eased under the circumstances. I wish I could. We have been told about the menace of foreign competition and talk about endeavouring to capture again the markets for our coal. But the markets are not there now, nor ever will be again, in my opinion. Moreover coal is being used to-day far more in the direction of yielding potential energy than ever before, and it will be so in the future in every properly constituted State. That is nothing to mourn over. Is the miner in such an attractive, healthy occupation that we should mourn when, perchance, a large number of people escape from it, as I did, at the, earliest? The one result, the one thing that this Bill may be expected to do, as in the Eastern Division of which I know, is to make matters infinitely worse. I am not afraid of facing the implication of the Commission's Report in so far as wages and hours are concerned. But I say this, at any rate, in extenuation of the one alternative proposal of lessened wages rather than the other, at a time when, in the county of Durham, we are told that the loss, as shown by the ascertainment runs to 2s. 10d.; in South Wales to 2s. 11½d.: while in the Eastern Division there is a profit of 9.87d. In the Eastern area of England, where we have the labour of 320,000 men producing 86,000,000 tons per annum, more than one-third of the total output of the country, there is no need whatsoever in the existing circumstances, either to have a penny off the wages or a minute on the day. There always have been variations, and there always will be in the wages paid, but an alteration of hours will apply to all whether necessary or not. South Wales was on it during the whole of the time. That meant that we had the higher wage during the whole life of the 1921 Agreement, with the single exception of the month of August, 1922. If the alternative offered by this Bill is chosen in preference to a discrimination against wages, does anyone imagine that the Eastern area coalowners are going to take advantage of its permissive character, as suggested by the First Lord, and say, "We will retain the seven-hours day, and let the rest of the country work eight hours?" Of course, they will not. We have in the Eastern Area some of the best men who ever went into business, but they would be blind idiots if they gave an advantage of that character to their competitors, and they will not do it.
By this alternative solution you are asking us to make a sacrifice in the interests of the coalowners of the eastern area with no guarantee whatever that we shall reap any share of the increased reward which will accrue to them. In 1921 we in the eastern area felt that we could not hope to gain anything by the fight, and we cannot hope to gain a great deal by this fight; but now that their hours are attacked our men have an added interest in this fight, and I am sure that whatever weakening there was, attributed as it may have been to advocacy of alternative policies by myself, prior to the introduction of this Bill, will no longer exist. I do not say the men of Nottinghamshire will never go to work. The man who talks about "never" in connection with anything in this world is an idiot; but they will never go to work while they can possibly manage to live without it. Subject to that qualification, I say that whereas there may have been a little weakening before, there will be no weakening any longer. I do sincerely hope the Government will not tell the Rouse of Commons that this is the only contribution they can make to a solution of the problem with which we are confronted. If they will do nothing at all, then let them do nothing at all, let them stand aside; but let them not take sides against us in the interests of those whom temporarily we regard as our enemies, in the hope and expectation that they are going to beat us to our knees, and that then a solution will be found. It will not. That consummation may be brought to pass, but it will be no solution. We have been down before, we have risen again, we may go down this time; but these constant goings-down and comings-up, leaving bitterness in the heart, are no good to anybody. What this industry more than any other requires and desires is that after this great effort there shall be an honourable and a lasting settlement, and we hope this Government will make a better contribution towards it than is contained in this Bill.
There are in this House so many hon. Members, the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Varley) being an example, who speak from first-hand knowledge and intimate personal experience of mining, that I hesitate to intervene even for a few moments. The record of experts in their attempts to deal with the situation is not, however, encouraging to those who have placed their faith in them. I am not an expert, but I have at least this qualification, that I represent a constituency on the north-east coast of England, a part of the country which at this moment is sorely stricken. It has been so for the past three or four years, but at no time more than now. Probably there is no part of the country where the withering and chilling effects of the industrial depression have been felt so acutely as on the north-east. coast: This is not the time to refer to the state of shipbuilding or of the iron and steel industry, upon which so many in that area depend for their livelihood; but if one wishes to realise the state into which this country has come, nowhere will it be seen more clearly than in the yards and works upon Tyneside. The works there which have been able to survive these difficult years are struggling along with skeleton staffs; and in the streets and in the homes of places like Tyne-mouth there is only too tragic evidence of the state to which things have come. As if the trouble of these past years had not been enough we have now come to a trial greater, perhaps, than all of them, this stoppage in the mines. Again and again figures have been quoted which should bring home to the people of this country the dire state to which the mining industry has come. We are told that 73 per cent. of the coal produced in the quarter ending December last was produced at a loss. In Northumberland the position is worse even than that. Every ton of the coal produced in that area was produced at a loss, and I have heard it said over and over again in this House that no matter what settlement be reached there will be thousands of men who will never again be employed in this industry to which they have looked for so long for their livelihood. Some say there will be 150,000, and some say 250,000; it seems difficult to estimate exactly what the result is going to be even when we have got a settlement.
I cannot help expressing the dismay and anxiety undoubtedly felt in areas like that of Northumberland as to what is to happen. There is an area which was prosperous hitherto, and in past times was a pioneer in the coal industry. What is to be the position there after the settlement, and what proportion of that 250,000 men who are living now in Northumberland and on Tyneside cannot reasonably hope to return to their former employment? It may be thought this is hardly relevant to a discussion on the Third Reading of this Bill, but it is in the light of these circumstances that I approach the consideration of it. This Bill can never be, nor was ever intended to be, a solution of the coal problem; but there are many who think that at least it opens up a way along which we may arrive at some amelioration of this dreadful state of affairs.
I confess quite frankly that I am not in the least enamoured of this Bill. There are few Members on this side of the House, and I doubt whether there be any on the Front Bench on this side, who are in the least enamoured of a Bill of this kind. It is to be deplored that the long train of events and circumstances, not merely of the past weeks and months, but of the past years, have led up to such a state of affairs that there is no other course open to any Government than to bring forward a Bill of this kind. [HON. MEMBER: "Nonsense!"] I hope in the few remarks I make that I shall be able to demonstrate that clearly. It is quite true to say this Bill does affect the standard of life of the mining community. It is foolish to say that, if men formerly working seven hours a day may have to work eight hours a day, it does not involve a change in their standard of life. Of course, it does. It not only affects the leisure of the miners, but adds one hour more of hard and difficult toil under trying circumstances. But I ask hon. Members to consider what is the standard of life of the mining community at this moment. Anything that affords the least possibility of a way out of the present state of affairs calls for the support of all right-thinking men and women. I venture to think that no party has felt more constant care and concern for the life of the people of this country than the party sitting upon this side of the House.
I say that because I believe it, and I venture to say that the issue that has been in the forefront of all the other issues at the different elections in recent times and the issue that has been really at the back of the minds of the people of this country has been which party is right by its policy and by its practice in maintaining and improving the standard of life of the great masses of the people of this country. That has really been the issue at the back of the mind of the people of this country. There are on this side of the House many hon. Members who represent purely and simply industrial constituencies, and have been returned clearly for the reason that those who are most concerned are of opinion that the standard of life of the people is more likely to be maintained by this party than any other party in the House. This is, of course, a Bill that will affect the standard of life of the people, that is those people who take the opportunity the Bill affords of working eight hours.
The other point to which I should like to refer is this. Hon. Members opposite have twitted the Government because they have been unable to show in what way this Bill is likely to affect the mining industry at the present moment. After all, the question of the reduction of wages or the question of the lengthening of hours are not questions which have been raised for the first time by this Government. They were questions raised by the Royal Commission. It was suggested that there were two ways by which the present state of affairs could be met. One was by an increase of hours which the Royal Commission did not approve; and the other was by a reduction of wages. The Government at the outset suggested an increase of hours, and they were prepared to accept the Report of the Royal Commission, although there was much of it they did not approve of. Nevertheless, they were prepared to accept the whole of that. Report, involving, as it did, a reduction of wages, The whole Report was rejected again and again, and we have heard that not for a moment will it be tolerated. The miners say they will not listen to any suggestion for a reduction of wages.
After some nine weeks of the lock-out or stoppage, the Government at last have brought in a Bill, not to impose upon the miners of this country a longer day, but merely to open up a way to increase the field upon. which those responsible for the conduct of the industry may carry on their negotiations. I daresay it is within the recollection of the House that during the War there were soldiers in high command who before the War, and in the early stages of the War, enjoyed great popularity and achieved much, but for some reason or other there came a time when the moral of the troops was affected, and without being able to bring any specific charge against those in command, in the interests and on behalf of the moral of the troops, it was necessary to relieve those soldiers of their command. I suggest that the time has perhaps come in this crisis, in this industrial dispute, when, those who hitherto have been in command and have been conducting the negotiations, having brought things to this deadlock, and the moral of the country being such, it is necessary that new leaders and new negotiators should be brought in, and I think that would be a considerable contribution towards a settlement of the dispute.
The solution lies not in this Bill nor in the suggestions put forward by the Royal Commission, but in the commonsense and goodwill of those who are responsible. It is a very remarkable fact that. the other great basic industries of this country are able to negotiate and come to a settlement of their particular disputes, but in this one great industry, somehow or other, there have been introduced elements which have made the efforts to find a solution up to this moment futile, and which unless removed are likely to postpone a settlement for some considerable time. It is that common-sense and goodwill which exists in regard to other big industries in the country that should be made more manifest in the mining industry, and that is the only way in which we are likely to bring about that settlement which is so much desired.
The introduction of a Measure like this will not in the least help to bring about the settlement of the trouble, but it will rather intensify it, and I am sure nobody wishes to do that. I feel that the Government and the Prime Minister have taken steps directly opposite from those that would bring about an easing of the situation. I move about among the miners in my own constituency, and I am sure that the introduction of the Eight Hours Bill will only solidify their opposition to negotiating a settlement. There are one or two things which must be dealt with, because ever since we have been in negotiation with the Government and the coalowners, the Prime Minister has always made the declaration quite clear that, if the other two sections of the industry could agree upon the report, then the Government themselves would accept it. I never looked upon it as being possible: for the two sections of the industry absolutely to agree upon the acceptance of the Commissioners' report. Nevertheless, I fail to see why the Government should pin their faith on that point.
The Commission was appointed by the Government, it has reported, and it was expected that the Government would accept their Report. They have not done so, and by this Bill they are going against the findings of the Royal Commission. This Measure brings many things into prominence and introduces a lot of illfeeling, and the Commissioners' Report has been absolutely left out of the question. If there was one thing upon which the Commission were definite, it was that the working day should not be lengthened. I should like to clear up one or two misapprehensions, because we have heard it stated during the four days' Debate that the seven-hours day was a very short one for the miners. Very near to my own home there is a colliery working under the seven-hours system plus one winding. The men have to go down the pit at 5.40 in order that they may begin to work at the coal face at 7 o'clock. Then it takes one hour and 25 minutes to withdraw the men in the afternoon, so that the last man comes up at 3.25, which makes it possible for the men to be down below ground for over eight and a-half hours. I should like to point out that in this particular colliery there is no provision made whatever for carrying the men to the coal face. There is not a single part in that colliery where such provision is made, and the men have to travel a distance of between 2,000 and 2,500 yards before they get to the working face. If you want to economise in the way of getting greater production, then you will have to reorganise the collieries in such a way as to give the men the greatest length of time at the coal face.
It has been pointed out that on the Continent of Europe the miners work longer hours than they do in Great Britain. I should like to contradict that statement, because eight hours from bank to bank in foreign countries is nothing like so long as the working hours in the majority of mines in Great Britain. In Lancashire there are a number of collieries which take 60 minutes letting the men down the mine and 60 minutes bringing them back. All these things very much hinder a greater output when the men are at work, and they impose upon them a very much longer time below ground than ought to be the case. The standard of life of those in the mining industry will certainly be reduced by this Bill. It may be said that it is an Eight Hours Bill, bet it is one which means a direct reduction of wages to the pieceworkers of Great Britain, and certainly to all the day workers, because they will have to work eight hours in place of the seven hours they are now working for the same wages. If that has to take place, and we produce our coal so much more cheaply and in so much greater quantity, what are we going to do with the increased output, in view of the fact that we have no market for the coal we have at the present time? We definitely say that, if the collieries were working regularly and the men had real facilities for transport, so that they could get to and from the coal face without delay, the total output of coal in this country would be very greatly increased as compared with what it is now. Not only would there be in this way an increased output from the mines, but it would also increase the confidence between the employers and the workers, because the shortage of material in the mines leads to a certain kind of bitterness which we can hardly explain—one man is set against another, the officials and workmen get quarrelling quite regularly, and it does not help from any point of view to bring about that conciliatory state of mind which he so much desires.
The Report of the Royal Commission is definitely against the extension of hours. They have pointed out that it would mean either a reduction of the personnel in the mines by something like 120,000 to 130,000 people, or an increased output of something like 30,000,000 tons of coal. What are we going to do with the increased quantity of coal? The heavy responsibility which is going to Lie placed upon the nation by the greater number of people unemployed will certainly have to be faced by the. Government. I would ask the Prime Minister whether the Government are prepared to meet the very heavy charge that will be involved by the displacement of 130,000 men from this industry. If they receive unemployment benefit, it will cost something like £7,000,000 per annum. That is a very heavy loss to the nation and to everyone concerned, and against it we only get a comparatively small gain. I do not think that this proposal will afford any solution of the problem. I think it will create greater trouble and greater difficulties. It will certainly create greater disaffection, and will lower the confidence between employers and employés. I am not going to appeal to the Government to withdraw the Bill. They can do what they think is right. They can pass the. Bill if they like, but I say that I shall do my share to prevent any man over whom I have any control at all from putting it into operation. I believe the remedy is much worse than the disease, and I believe the miners will not accept this reversal of policy.
It has been said that the miners arc only working something like five and a quarter hours at the coal face, but the time they are working at the coal face depends upon the organisation of the colliery, and upon how long it takes them to get to and from the coal face. If they have Three-quarters of a mile or a mile to walk, it is very hard work, and it is bound to eat into the time when they are supposed to be doing other work. If they had facilities for transport from the pit bottom to and from the coal face, it would not only increase their output, but would increase their comfort and would ease the physical strain upon them. If the miners' day is lengthened, it only means that there is a greater strain upon the man physically and mentally, and whether he is able to bear that or not remains to be seen. It curtails his opportunities, not only for physical, but for mental improvement. I have known what it is to work eight hours, nine hours, and even more; I have known the time when it has really been all work and sleep. If these long distances have to be travelled underground, the men are not going to have any great opportunity of improving their physical and mental abilities, and it will prevent them also from taking part in the social life of the nation, and will lower their standard of life from every point of view. Whether we can stand by and allow these things to take place is a question that we have to consider in this House.
I would ask hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches to try for a few minutes to visualise, if possible, the working life of the miner. I do not think it is possible, however, by any stretch of imagination, for anyone who has not seen it really to visualise what is means. It is a great pity, as has already been said by one speaker, that more Members of this House have not had the opportunity of knowing what the work in a coal mine actually means. The Prime Minister made a declaration in this House that he had positive assurances from the coalowners—he had not seen them himself, but some of his colleagues had. I want to say here that he has had definite assurances from the miners as well for a long time. Why he should separate himself entirely from the Miners' Federation, and accept the assurances of the coalowners, is beyond my comprehension, because we have been working together trying to get a common agreement. It is stated in the Report of the Commission that it must, of course, he by agreement that any extension of hours can take place. We have made it clear all the time that we could not accept any extension of hours, but the Prime Minister seems to have succumbed at last to the wiles of the coalowners and to have adopted their policy by this Bill. I should think that the assurance of the mine workers, who number considerably over 1,000,000 men, ought to be equal in value to the assurances given by the body of coalowners, because it is really the men who are working at the coal face who have to undergo all the difficulties, who have to suffer all the hardships which will be imposed upon them by this extension of hours. I do not understand why the Prime Minister has decided now to legislate against the findings of the Commission.
It is only by making people more comfortable and happy in their work that the country can prosper. There is no happier set. of men than the miners, provided they are getting a wage which will keep them in comfort, hut when they come into periods of depression such as have now been in existence for a number of years, when they go through hardships year in and year out., it certainly tends to compel the growth of an ugly spirit which cannot be wiped out by any fine words. It is something which is beneath the surface. I should like to advise the Prime Minister, before he goes any further with this kind of legislation, to try if possible to get to know the exact feelings of the men who are directly affected by this Bill. The present hours are long enough if the mental and physical health of the workman is to be maintained, and the seven hours plus one winding time is longer than is worked on the Continent in many cases at the moment. It increases the working hours by something like 14 per cent., and, as I have pointed out, an equivalent was given for the last hour when the seven-hours day was introduced. I would ask whether hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in this House expect that the output will be increased by 14 per cent. if the time is extended? I am sure it is not possible, because, in the case of the miner who is working at the coal face, his rate of work must depend upon the number of hours his physical and mental abilities will allow of, and, as a consequence, you cannot expect, with an extended time, that the man will be able to put the same energy into his work as he could put in during the shorter working day. There is also, as one of my hon. Friends has already pointed out, the question of the accident rate, which will be greatly increased, and then there is the question of industrial diseases. We have a great increase in miner's nystagmus, and I want to point out to the House that an extension of the working hours will increase that as well as other industrial diseases. Surely, the disease and accident rates are heavy enough now, and, the longer the working day, the greater Ns ill be the- danger and the less the efficiency.
To sum up, I would say that this Bill, in my opinion, is likely actually to pro-lone the stoppage, by stiffening the determination of the miners to resist. I believe the men now are more willing to fight on this question than they were a week ago. They know that this Bill was going to be introduced, and we have had many questions at our meetings on the matter. I am as sure as that I am standing at this Table that they are stronger and more stubborn in their resistance to a settlement under an eight-hours day than they were under the seven-hours day that we have in operation. It is plain that, if a settlement is founded on such a basis as this, the reorganisation of the industry will not merely be postponed, but will go by the board. The Sankey Commission in 1919 recommended reorganisation of the industry, but, during the whole of the seven years that have passed, very little reorganisation has taken place. Although there have been two Commissions and two inquiries, the position is not very much better than it was in 1919. The workmen have lost confidence in the promises of coalowners as to what they are prepared to do. This proposal may be necessary from the coal-owners' point of view, but it is not just, and I lay great stress upon that, because I believe that the settlement ought to be a just and honest settlement, and not merely one that is suited to one side, while penalising the other. It is not just. that the miners should pay for the faults of organisation for which they are not responsible, and I believe that from that point of view the workmen are going to be penalised once more. They are going to be asked to suffer a depressed standard of life, they are going to be asked to work longer in an occupation that is the most. hazardous of any.
No one can gainsay the fact that the great prosperity of our nation and our
Empire has been built up more upon the coal industry than upon any individual industry, and there has been no more loyal citizen of Great Britain than the miner. I would appeal to the Prime Minister to follow the declaration which he made during the general strike, and to do all that he possibly can to carry it out and clear away some of the misapprehension and bitterness which has been engendered by the introduction of this Bill. He said during the general strike:—
I wish to make it as clear as I can that the Government is not fighting to lower the standards of the miners or any other section of the workers. That suggestion is being spread abroad. It is not true. I do not believe any honest person can doubt that my whole desire is to maintain the standard of living of every worker, and I am ready to press the employers to make sacrifices to this end, consistent with keeping the industry itself in order."
I am sure the Prime Minister still has that feeling. There is no doubt that a setlement of the whole question can be brought about by means much better than legislation for extended hours of employment. I am sure this Bill will be resisted by the workmen in the districts. I do not think it will lead to any good purpose. I am sure it will embitter the men. It will make them more solid and more determined than ever to fight in order to secure what may be looked upon as a decent standard of life, and their standard of life has never yet been anything that the nation could boast about.
Mr. GOODMAN ROBERTS:
I should like to preface my remarks with three assurances. The first is that I shall be very brief, because speeches are to be delivered which are of far greater importance than mine. Another is that I am in no way connected, directly or indirectly, with the coal industry; and, lastly, if anything I say exacerbates feeling, it will be through lack of experience. I am anxious not to introduce any spirit of partisanship or say anything which may try the temper of anyone. It seems to me that in the long-drawn-out discussions we have listened to in the last two or three days one fact has perhaps not. sufficiently emerged. It is only by a long-drawn-out and ghastly war of attrition which everyone would deplore that the miners will in the end give in. We must remember that the converse of that is not true. The converse of it is that if the miners' leaders have constructive proposals which they were able to lay before the House with authority, and if they took, and the public saw they took, real account of the economic facts of the situation, the owners would be forced to listen to them and to accept the proposals if they were accepted by the House. That is why I think one unfortunate circumstance that we have to face in trying to thrash out this problem is that we cannot get assurances on the other side, in spite of speeches made by many hon. Members opposite, full of goodwill and a real desire for setlement, that what they advocate would in the end be accepted by the Miners' Federation or its responsible plenipotentiaries. It is unfortunate that Mr. Herbert Smith and Mr. Cook are not Members of the House. If they were here and realised the economic facts and realised that we were anxious to get to a decision, sooner or later we should get something which would bind one side in this dispute.
I am perhaps straying rather far from the Bill, but I feel that, after all, it is an attempt to open the door to some solution which may in the long run be accepted by the plenipotentiaries. Here we can do no more than say we are anxious for a solution that the leaders on both sides may feel disposed to accept. I feel that in some ways more might be done to remove the psychological difficulty. I am sorry that, in the proposals the Government are bringing forward, the proposal compulsorily to acquire the mining royalties has been dropped. I do not say that because I believe it would have a great effect upon the industry as such, but it would have a remarkable psychological effect, and I feel we ought not to boggle at small principles but should try to make it possible for those who disagree with us most, and suspect us most, to realise that we are anxious to do away with their grievances and remove their suspicions and heal the old wounds which have existed.
I am sure there are hon. Members opposite who are deeply suspicious of some of us, but know very well that there are in my party a number of young men who would never dream of attacking the standard of life or lowering the conditions the miners have to face. In that group of young men in the country there are a number of us who would not associate ourselves with any Government if we believed any sort of attack was being made upon the standard of living. It is because in this House there are no plenipotentiaries to give effect to the decision of the miners and to come to grips with the situation and make it easy for the Government to help the disputants to get to grips that we feel we must support the Government in opening another avenue which may, at the hands of those whom hon. Members opposite must follow but never lead, produce a real and lasting solution. I would say for the younger members of the Tory party that we would not support the Bill if we believed it was a compulsory, permanent Measure to lower the standard of living. We support it because we believe in the necessity for a real settlement. We hope its provisions, in so far as they may tend to depress conditions, will be rendered nugatory by those who are anxious, within and without the House, for a settlement, but we support it with the full knowledge that there are those unfortunately in the House, as well as without, who will try to make such capital out of it as may cause new difficulties.
If there are hon. Members opposite who are really anxious to bring about a settlement, will they endeavour to get to grips with those who are really responsible for taking the decision? Let them tell the Government what proposals will be accepted. We were told weeks ago that a reduction of wages simply would not be listened to. Now that the Government bring in a Bill dealing with hours we are told, "If you had not lessened the hours we might have listened to something about a reduction of wages." That is not quite playing the game, and I ask hon. Members to get into touch with the leaders of the Miners' Federation and give the Government a fair chance to see on what lines they can produce legislation to embody the best features of the Deport and lead to an amicable solution of the difficulty.
I addressed the House on 10th December last in connection with the mining situation, and I should like to draw the attention of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Mines to what took place on that date. I urged them to take note of the details and the figures I gave as to what would be the result if attention was not given to the economic situation. Nothing whatever was done until the mining industry came to a stop, and I attribute the liability more to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Mines than to anyone else, because they were warned not only by me but by many others. I should like to say a few words first in connection with hours. I am the man who submitted the ease on behalf of the workers 'of the country to the Royal Commission for the shortening of hours in 1919. I was hoping on Tuesday last to get into the Debate. Whilst I have no desire to mix up the two points let me say this—and I mean it or I should not say it—that the miners look more seriously on the proposed increase of the hours than they do on the question of wages. I have heard the statement of Mr. Smith quoted that he would prefer a reduction of wages to an increase of hours. I was on the platform with Mr. Smith before an audience of 14,000 or 15,000 members of the mining constituency at Barnsley when he made that statement. He did not intend to infer, and it must not be inferred by anyone, that he was getting towards the acceptance of a reduction of wages. He was expressing his mind, as I am now, on the question of hours, and he said that was more important even than the question of wages.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Bridgeman) dealt with the question of accidents in mines. In submitting this case to the Royal Commission in 1919 I based the claim for shorter hours—for six hours, and not for seven—first, upon the loss of life in mines, secondly, upon the better standard of living, and the third point I tried to make was to get. rid of the slavery in our mines as I have seen it in my time. On the first point, I have said on the platform for well nigh 40 years, and I say it now, that the more you increase the hours the greater the loss of life, and I am going to prove it. Between 1907 and 1916 there were 12,400 men killed. In 1913, the year with the biggest. output of tonnage in our history—not the highest output per individual—we lost 1,753 lives. After bringing the Seven Hours Act into operation the figure for 1923—I am not going far back—was 1,247, and in 1924 it was 1,201. It may be said that the number employed and the output might affect the figures. It does nothing of the kind, because the output of 1913 was high and the employés in 1913 were fewer than in 1923. and the figures for the two years, 1923 and 1924, were almost identical. That shows that, by seven hours work as against longer hours, we save lives in the mines. No man can deny that. I have always held that long hours mean danger to life and limb. With shorter hours the brain is less fatigued and the body less exhausted. At that inquiry, I was cross-examined by the experts in the mining industry as to how I established the position for shorter hours. I had the honour afterwards of being congratulated by the Chairman of that Commission on the evidence I submitted. The fact remains that we established a case. We got seven hours with a promise of reconsideration that another hour should be taken off, because we were asking for six and not for seven. This House has recognized before to-day the principle of a shorter day. In 1908 this House passed a Bill giving to the miners eight hours from bank to bank. What happened when it reached another place, which is the name for the House of Lords, was that the Bill was dropped, and never came into operation, although this House had established the principle. The miners are entitled to shorter hours. Hours, so far as Yorkshire is concerned at the moment, are not, seven hours as outsiders believe. The average in Yorkshire is seven hours and 40 minutes, and a man can be down a colliery in Yorkshire eight and a-half hours. If you add that hour on, it means that the average down the collieries will be eight hours and 40 minutes. Large numbers of our men have to travel long distances from home to the collieries, some by tram, some by motor, some on bicycles, and so forth, and have to walk underground. You can have, from home to home, at least two hours, making it 10 hours and 40 minutes.
Therefore, I suggest that this House will make a sad mistake if it believes that the miners will accept the increased hour. We shall fight the hour harder than anything else, and it will only be sheer starvation that will compel the miners to go to work an extra hour as compared with the hours worked prior to the
stoppage. If hon. Members opposite insist upon thus helping the coalowners, what will happen? You have in your minds that the men will bow down and accept this Bill. You make a sad mistake. There is none of us here but wants the mines working if possible, but the work is such that the men cannot take less wages or work longer hours. It is not only the miners who say that. I have a letter from the officials of the mines in Yorkshire. The. deputies—these are the firemen—in Yorkshire, have their organisation, and these are the men the coal-owners look to to keep the mines in order. I will read the whole of the letter, if necessary:
We respectfully appeal to you to use all your influence and votes to resist the proposed increase of working hours in our mines."
That is from the officials of the collieries, the deputies in our pits, and that is a letter which has come to me from our Yorkshire friends. I have another letter here which I think ought to be read. It has come from the Corporation of Barnsley, and I want to draw the Prime Minister's attention to it to show him how the trend of opinion is going. The letter says:
That this Council is of opinion that the demand of the mine owners for a reduction in the scale of wages of the workers or an increase in the number of their daily working hours is unjustified, and that the time has come when the Government should endeavour to put an end to the present coal stoppage, which is causing such great suffering among the men, women, and children, and ruining the trade of the country; and we request the Government to take action at once to secure the immediate withdrawal of the lock-out notices in the mining industry and carry out the reorganisation of that industry."
A copy of that Resolution has been sent. to the Prime Minister. I suggest to the Prime Minister that he should take note of these things. Even the Tories of the country are beginning to get uneasy and are appealing to the Government to undo what they are doing, and are saying that they.are making a mistake. The trouble of the moment has arisen, as I pointed out on 10th December, on the lowering of selling prices. The figures are continuous. There is no stoppage from quarter to quarter during the last year and up to date. At the end of March last year the
selling price was 18s. 6d. per ton, leaving out points of a penny. The following quarter, the June quarter, of last year, it was down to I7s. 5d.; the September quarter 16s. 4¾d.; the December quarter 15s. 11½d. At the end of March of this year it was 15s. 9[...]42d. There is an indication of what the coalowners are doing; continuously reducing the selling price of coal. What does that mean? I told the Minister on the 10th of December, in connection with the subsidy, that £9,000,000 would not meet it. I told him then he would want another £5,000,000. He asked me where I got the figures from. I worked them out; I ascertained them for myself. If any Member on the other side of the House imagines you will do this as easy as some people are thinking you will not realise your ambition.
I remember in 1886 when we were asking for.an increase in wages the employers told us it was not there. They had not it in the books. What did we do? We had a strike, and we won, and it went in the books, although it was not in. We got 10 per cent. advance. We had another national fight, with the exception of Durham, Northumberland and Wales, in 1893. The owners said, "We cannot afford to pay. It is absolutely impossible." But we won. They were asking for a very large reduction in wages. Because we won, they could afford to pay, and did pay, and the men went back as they came out. Let us assume now that the coalowners were beaten—and they may be. The moment the owners are beaten the Prime Minister's ground will be taken from under his feet. What will happen will be this. If the mine owners are beaten, then they turn to the miners. They increase the price of coal to meet the requisite amount to proceed to carry on the industry, and the Minister will have no say in the matter. The coalowners are appealing to the Prime Minister to help them out of this difficulty. Up till a fortnight ago I had a high opinion of the Prime Minister as far as fairness and determination were concerned. I have lost it. I have come to the conclusion that he has no firmness at all. His proper duty was to bring in a Bill and settle the present difficulty. He has not done it.
I appeal to the Prime Minister now, and I appeal to that side of the House to withdraw this Bill. If it passes, I tell the House, the country will not accept it so far as the miners are concerned. If we have to accept it by slow starvation what will happen? Let me say to hon. Members on the other side of the House that even though we are beaten and have to resume work we will not set the industry going. I have never been a man who has advocated or desired workmen to run slow and work canny. I have always opposed that. If the Government and the coalowners combine to impose on the miners this condition, the miners can make the industry uneconomic and unprofitable. If you are going to put us in that position I warn the Government now what may happen. I shall myself advocate ca' canny and defeat you in another way if you try to starve the miners as you are doing today. It is all against my feeling, but I will get down to it. I ask hon. Members, "Think of what you are doing before you do it," and I ask the Prime Minister now not to pass this Bill but to take some other course for meeting the present situation. It will pay, not only him, but the country. It will relieve the country of anxiety.
There ought to be no need for struggles. This Bill does not meet the situation. It will not touch the trouble in any shape or form. It is left optional. Do hon. Members expect that that will have the desired effect, and that coalowners will be able to apply it? If it become law, it will not be worth the paper on which it is written. If the owners accept it, we shall not accept it. The owners will not accept it, because, if the men will not work as they ought to work, it means the uneconomic condition of the mines, and the owners know that. They have tried working the longer hours, and they have found it uneconomic. They found that it did not pay. Men will not work on the long hours, and they will not work under this Bill. I ask the House to reject the Bill and to let the Prime Minister use his influence and his intelligence, if he has any, to find a better solution.
I have listened with great interest to the hon. Member who has just spoken; and I felt that if ever I were going tiger hunting there is no one I would rather have by my side than the hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Potts). The House has spent several days in devoting themselves to a discussion of this Bill. In the course of the discussion they have treated various phases of the present dispute, and if now at this stage I add one more speech to the many that have been delivered, it will only be to try to explain in the simplest and barest terms what the, position is to-day as I see it, and why the Government are taking up the position which they have taken up. I must apologise for going over a great deal of the ground which has been covered in the last four days. That is a necessary corollary, I fear, in the present circumstances.
The Royal Commission, of which we have heard a great deal, issued a Report last March. It made a number of recommendations which fell naturally into two categories, one immediate and temporary, and the other spread over a number of years. We have begun with the second group in a Bill which has gone upstairs. That is the beginning. There are other steps which will have to be taken, and they will be taken subsequently. I hope shortly to be in a position to announce the personnel of certain very important Committees connected with such subjects as selling agencies, large trucks, and so forth, and I hope to secure the co-operation of those whose knowledge is greatest in whatever quarter of the House they may sit. We may not be going as far or as fast as many would like to see us go. I can only assure the House that we shall not fail to make sincere efforts to get the best results within the reach of Government action.
I speak designedly, as I have always done on this subject, in very temperate language, because I have always held that there can be nothing more unfair than to promise great results, until you are certain that they can be obtained. I adhere to-day strictly to what I said at the end of April, that with regard to those parts of the Commission's Report which deal with various aspects of reorganisation, we shall use the whole weight of the Government to see that progress is made, in the hope that the results may justify the expectations of those who think most of them. The Report did lay down, and this has been said over and over again, that a temporary sacrifice of wages was inevitable. The miners throughout the negotiations refused to
consider this. They did say, I do not think very clearly, but I inferred it, that they would consider the question when the fruits of reorganisation were realised and harvested. The Commission laid it down that this sacrifice, as they called it, is required to help bridge the gap between selling prices and the cost of production. The miners refused to bridge the gap in that way. The interim period was never really faced by them unless it could be bridged by a subsidy in some form or another. This was, in effect, the attitude that was taken up by that extremely able representative of their point of view who appeared before the Royal Commission and put before them a complicated and very thorough scheme. I think it would be of assistance to the House to consider two or three questions and answers which were given before the Royal Commission, to show what I mean. The gentleman in question is Mr. Tawney, for whom everyone in this House has great respect. The question was put to him by the chairman:
It would in the most favourable circumstances necessarily take a considerable time for these proposals (Mr. Tawney's), if approved by Parliament, to come into effect. It would be optimistic to think that a year from now the whole machine would be in working order. I presume it would probably be a matter of two or three years at best. Would you say that?
Mr. TAWNEY: Yes.
The CHAIRMAN: Have you any suggestion to make"—
this, of course, is the difficulty that we haveup against all the time
as to the method by which the present economic situation of the industry could be met meanwhile?
Mr. TAWNEY We have not any proposal to advance at this stage; but the Federation will be glad to consider any proposal which may be made by the Commission or by the owners.
The CHAIRMAN: Your own evidence to-day suggests means of dealing with the industry, necessarily after some interval, but you have not any suggestion to offer to the Commission which would help it in its task of attempting to find a solution of the problem which, will present itself. in May?"
That was the direct problem of the Commission.
Mr. TAWNEY: No; we are not now putting forward an interim policy at all.
You say you have no constructive scheme at the present moment of how you are
going to get through the gap in time before such a scheme could be brought into being?
Mr. TAWNEY: That is so; we have not submitted any proposals for the interim period. If proposals arc put forward, the Federation would be glad to consider them; but we felt that in this evidence we should confine ourselves to the larger question of the future organisation of the industry.
Does that necessarily mean that you would contemplate that the industry should be supported as it is now by the rest of the community until such time as this can. be carried into effect?
Mr. TAWNEY: Oh, no; I think it would be quite wrong to assume that.
There we have Mr. Tawney turning down the subsidy, and at the same time offering no suggestion for that most difficult problem, how to bridge the gap. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is plain that for the interim period the Federation have no policy of that kind, and they have had as a Federation no policy since. I lay stress on that, because I want the House to realise that that has been, and I am afraid is still, the greatest practical difficulty that we are up against when people say that the Government should bring an end to this disastrous stoppage. It was because we could make no headway along that way that. we were driven to see if any progress could be made by a modification of the hours.
It was stated, and very fairly and reasonably put by the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson), that the representatives of the Federation have said that they would not in any circumstances consider wages or hours; both were on an equal footing. As I have said before in this House, it was obvious that if the gap were to be bridged, as suggested by the Royal Commission, the wage sacrifice in some parts of the country would be greater than could be contemplated as possible to be accepted, even were the Federation willing to consider a reduction of wages. Therefore, we are thrown back on the alternative which was mentioned in the Report—which is the one the Report said they hoped would not arise—and that was, that if the reduction should be so agreed it might be eased by this other method, and if the parties could agree, then the Commission felt, in spite of their objection to that course —I will have a word to say about that in a moment—it would not be unreasonable, although they hoped that it would not come to that.
We were asked during the Debate why, if we hold this view, we did not tackle the hours question earlier. The reason is, that we clung up to the last moment to the hope that a settlement would be possible on the lines of the Report, and it was on the lines of the Report that we attempted to bring the parties into negotiation just before the final severance took place. I should like to remind the House, in case it escaped their attention, that these proposals which the Government put. forward in the hope that both parties would agree to negotiate on them, were tentative proposals, not definite proposals for settlement, to offer a basis for negotiation. The tragedy of the situation is that there has been no negotiation on that. I asked the representative of the Miners' Federation at that last meeting, to put before us any phrase, any condition laid down in these tentative proposals, to which they took objection, or where they thought improvement might. be made. I gave an undertaking that I would do all I could to meet their wishes, but nothing was put before us. Once more we were at a complete deadlock in that matter, as we had been before.
Now, with regard to the economic position of hours, those very able men who sat on the Royal Commission did not like any lengthening of hours. That is quite clear, although they envisaged the possibility. They represent, among them, men of distinction in economies; but opinion is divided on this matter. I am not speaking at present of the view either of the owners or of the men, but of economists outside, because only to-day I have seen a letter from a very distinguished economist, who has a fairly intimate knowledge of the coal trade, Sir Josiah Stamp, a very fair-minded man, and he takes a different view from that taken by the Royal Commission. He thinks that in the circumstances it is the less difficult way, or should be the less difficult way, of bridging this gap and meeting the difficulty. I just put this to show that among men who have no reason to take any strong a priori view on this matter you have a genuine difference of opinion.
We have heard much in the course of the Debate of over-production and the consequent displacement of labour, and the figure has often been mentioned, which is mentioned in the Report, of about 130,000 men. No one can say, of course, apart from practice, whether those figures would be realised or not, but, assuming the figure to be correct, what would the displacement be on the policy so far recommended by Mr. Herbert Smith? That displacement again is pure conjecture, but I heard him myself make estimates of the pits that would be thrown out of work in the parts of the country that are suffering most to-day, and I do not think it is an unfair estimate to say that the figures might easily run in the neighbourhood of half-a-million, a very much greater figure. In any case, we have great figures to deal with, and I just want to say in passing that whatever may be the difficulty of dealing with the displacement of 130,000 men, it would be as nothing compared with the difficulty of dealing with figures approaching half-a-million.
I think that that is the essence of the position as it was stated in the simplest terms, and I want to say here that I recognise—I hardly like to use the word "sympathise," because it is a little out of fashion, but I recognise—the moderation with which the case was made by the right hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. W. Adamson) and the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Spencer); and let me say this: I will not use the word "sympathy," but I will say that I agree with them in this, that no one likes to make a breach, whether that breach is taken advantage of or not, even though it be a temporary one, in a standard of hours which have been secured gradually, with difficulty, and after great struggles. No one could have listened without a deep appreciation of the feeling way in which the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Whiteley) spoke on this subject two or three nights ago. It is not difficult to understand the feeling, but the position of the industry is critical. That is not my language, it is the verdict of the Report, and when a patient is in a critical condition, you have to suggest measures—the patient need not take them unless he likes—that you would never dream of suggesting if that patient were in good health.
It is quite true, as the right hon. Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) said yesterday—I did not hear his speech, but I looked at it—that the Bill will be permissive. [Interruption.] It is difficult to follow hon. Members when they make sounds of disagreement with a statement like that, because we have heard from those benches speeches denying that. the Bill is permissive, and implying that it is going to force men to do something which they do not want to do, we have had equally powerful speeches saying that in no case will the Bill work, because the men in no circumstances will work under it, and we have had from the last speaker, the hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Potts), who has a very wide and extended knowledge of the whole subject, the opinion that neither owners nor men would work it, so that it is a little difficult for us to know exactly where the truth lies, and until I can be convinced by unanimity on the other side, which does not at present exist, I prefer to stick to my word "permissive."
There is another thing that I think it might be worth our while thinking about for a few minutes to-night, and I do not think that among the many speeches that have been made this side of the trouble has been very much developed. The Report has drawn attention to a fact of which we are all aware, that there are too many people to-day dependant on the raising of coal. The reorganisation of this trade is proceeding, not wily in this country, but in most countries that produce coal, and it would be interesting to hon. Members who like to follow what is going on in Russia to see how this problem is being dealt with there. This problem is found amongst the most highly and amongst the least highly organised countries in Europe, and we all have to settle it, somehow or another, to the best of our ability. Now the whole industry is suffering from transitional strains and pressures to-day, not at all dissimilar from those that appear in the coal seams themselves. We have in the country more knowledge of the data of this industry, owing to the various Commissions that have been held, than of any other industry, and that is undoubtedly the reason why the nation as a whole has undoubtedly had a good deal of sympathy with the miners, while the same process has been going on in other industries which have passed comparatively unnoticed because they have not been so much before the public eye. The searching analysis to which this industry has recently been subjected shows that you have pits of every conceivable kind of efficiency in existence to-day, and various factors contribute to this result.
The broad reason, think, probably is that the whole industry is in a process of transition, which has already been begun for some time, between the old and the modern methods of working. Not all mines are benefiting equally, I think everyone would admit, from the application of modern plant, modern organisation, and modern ideas. There are conditions inherent in certain pits which no kind of stimulus can make profitable or keep in business, and undoubtedly those pits will have to yield place and go out of action under any settlement that can be made, but, after all, full as our thoughts are to-day of this transition and its results, other trades have had to weather through, though they have been less observed and less analysed, and I rather want to consider this for a moment, not to impute blame, not to draw any other lesson than this that I believe that when the settlement. comes—if it be one, as I still hope it may, that may be an agreed one—when that time comes, I believe that this industry, as the Royal Commission's Report says, will weather its way through into a better condition than it has been in fur some time.
The reason why I want just to think of how one or two other industries in times past have succeeded in this is only to draw that lesson, that these things can be done, and I have faith in the industry and in a spirit which I believe I discern amongst some of the responsible men in it. I believe that there is in the coal industry a real quickening of dry bones, and I believe that when it does get to work again—and there I disagree with the hon. Member who said he thought things would go back just as they were if work were resumed—I believe that in the whole country now there is enough quickening leaven to impose itself on the rest of the industries, both in the coal industry and in others.
Now look back just two or three generations ago to the time when our great weaving industries were passing over from the hand loom period to the machine period. That was a transition that took place in a decade or two, but while it was proceeding it was found that the new and well-equipped factories could afford both to pay much larger wages and to produce cheaper goods than those which struggled along under the old processes. But bitter and cruel was that transition. There was no unemployment benefit at that time. I will not go into the history of the process. There was that, as I have just said, and also there was this, that there had never been imposed on that industry uniform rates of wages both to the progressive and to the retrogressive, so that the retrogressive, after making sacrifices in wages that would be inconceivable to-day, were squeezed right out of existence, and the trade got into the hands of those who were efficient, of those who employed modern methods, and of those who had capital to develop. The difference to-day between a really well-equipped modern pit and some of the old ones in the country is not dissimilar from the difference between power loom and a hand loom. You find to-day many pits which cannot be carried on economically, which are hardly possible of improvement owing to their conditions and where their only chance of carrying on is like some of these old works, to offer wages which no one in these days would take. As I have said, those pits will have to go in any circumstances, and one of the problems will be what shall be done with the displaced men from pits of that nature.
Of course, you have under modern conditions, a kind of industrial thermometer in the shape of a changing minimum wage. The minimum wage acts as the minimum wage in every class of pit, whether it be one of the good kind or one of the bad kind. It seems to me that there always has been a danger under a unified system of wages of getting that minimum unduly depressed by the kind of pit for which very little can be done and the difficulty of adjustment that the Miners Federation have is to try and negotiate the right point where that minimum should stop, and get what they believe to be an adequate minimum for their people and, at the same time, to throw out of work as few people as possible. It is an extremely difficult problem, and it is one to which I have no doubt in the past they have devoted the greatest amount of attention. It is a grave situation for those responsible to-day for negotiating on this matter. This transition stage in coal has to be faced, and it has to be overcome. There is no doubt, as I have said before, that quite apart from the men that may be displaced by the terms that may be ultimately agreed upon, it is quite obvious that you will have large numbers of men displaced from the worst pits and in so far as reorganisation is successful, it is quite possible that you may have that number added to by the less numbers that may be needed under a thorough and modern reorganisation. We have attempted to deal with this only partially and in a comparatively small way by, restricting the enlistment of men into the mining industry who had not hitherto been members of that industry. That in itself will tend to absorb large numbers over a term of years but it cannot meet the whole case, and as I said, one of the great problems to be faced, in which I hope that the.Government will have the aid of both the present combatants in this dispute to solve that problem; will be in seeing how to remove the displaced miners, how we can find work for them and what can be done for them.
I want to make one or two observations on one or two remarks that have been made by hon. Members.
The hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Farley), I understand, made a complaint that certain suggestions he had thrown out had met with no response from me. I understand that to be his complaint. I should regret it very much if he really felt that, but I would observe this. I did pay a tribute in this House to his courage in putting forward any suggestions, but had I attempted to negotiate with him I should immediately have been accused of trying to go behind the backs of the officials of the Miners' Federation, and I do not think it would have helped either him or me in bringing matters nearer to a settlement. The hon. Member for Wigan—and I should like to pay a tribute to the moderation of his speech, knowing how strongly ho feels on the matter I think perhaps did me less than justice in this. In the early days of this dispute, I put a great deal of pressure on the owners in this direction in my attempts, not to settle the question, but to bring the two parties into negotiation. That has been my endeavour the whole time, to bring them into negotiation. The miners and the owners took different views as to the meaning of that passage in the Commission's Report dealing with national negotiations. My own view coincided with that of the miners. I succeeded in inducing the owners to take the same view, and, further, when there was a question of the national minimum I succeeded in getting an offer on the basis of a national minimum. I do not say that I had any idea how that might have been modified under negotiations. That offer was unacceptable, and I have no complaint about that, but the offer was made and it was made on a basis to which they had been until then strongly opposed. The whole of my influence has been used to bring these two parties together. I have had no success with the Federation in getting them to look at the question on which I began these observations, the question of meeting the immediate difficulty by a sacrifice in wages, although, as has been said in this House in the last two or three days, Mr. Herbert Smith for the first time has said that he would rather consider the question, as I understand it, of a reduction of wages than touching the hours.
I would just like to read to the House a brief quotation from a newspaper by no means friendly to me but representing a point of view held by a great many people in this country. It is as follows:
There are many Labour leaders who are perfectly ready to accept the Coal Report as the basis of a settlement. It may be that they who are addressing themselves to the task of mediation find that it is not the Government but the Miners' Federation to whom they should first turn their attention. The Government cannot produce a settlement out of its pocket not even on the basis of the Report. The Report is a lifeless document until the Miners' Federation is willing to bring it to life."
That is the view of the "Manchester Guardian," and though that paper very properly and naturally says after that that the Government are very glad to throw over the Report, or something like that, to which I need pay no attention at all, the whole object of the Bill, as I have said before —and I do not for a moment expect that hon. Members will believe me—is
to enable us to help the two parties to negotiate on the widest terms of negotiation possible, that is to say, to envisage the possibility of wages on a seven-hours basis and on the various increases of hours inside the limits of the Act. If no one will negotiate or accept those terms the question falls to the ground, but unless negotiations can take place I see very little hope of anything being done, and I would ask hon. Members opposite, "Are you all of you absolutely satisfied in your own hearts of the wisdom of the policy of the Miners' Federation?"
If the Miners' Federation, even now, can accept the Report, with all that that Report implies, which is what we were struggling for in April and I believe which was urged upon them by many of their best friends, I believe that, even now, a settlement satisfactory to both sides can be arranged.
We have had during the last four days and we have had today speeches from right hon. Members occupying very responsible positions, but in no single case have we heard a word of vindication of the policy of the Government in bringing forward this Measure. I was hoping that from the Prime Minister himself we would hear an explanation as to the reasons why the Measure was brought forward and the hopes upon which the Measure was founded. I have listened with great attention, but I have failed to find a single reason advanced by the right hon. Gentleman why this Bill is produced. Speaking of the industry itself, he said the physician had pronounced the condition of the patient to be critical. That is quite true, but while he is taking the diagnosis of the physician, he is prescribing the one remedy that the physician has condemned. I do not know whether the Government are prepared even now to accept the Report as a whole, or whether they believe in the Report or whether they are prepared to take some portions of it and accept them and reject other portions. But what they are rejecting, or at least what they are accepting, one might say, and what they are embodying in this Bill, is the one thing upon which the Commission has been most emphatic in condemnation. How, on the one hand, we can be invited by the Prime Minister to accept the diagnosis of the doctor as being an efficient doctor in attendance on the patient, and yet, on the other hand, reject absolutely the methods or the medicine suggested by the doctor, I cannot understand.
The real reason, we are told, is that the condition of the mining industry is critical and that disaster is impending over it. Well, why should there be in the case of the mining industry any treatment different from that in other cases? Let it be understood that it is not true that the condition of this industry is critical. It is not true and it never has been. There has never been a greater fraud imposed on the intelligence of the public or of this House than the idea of the mining industry being in a critical condition. In the last. 4½ years it has made profits at a greater rate than any industry in the country. There is no industry which employs so many people with so little capital invested, or which has made throughout as great a rate of profit as the mining industry. Only yesterday the Secretary for Mines admitted—he was really supposed to be contradicting it—that from the 1st July, 1921, until the end of 1925, it had made £62,000,000 of profit. There is not a single person who has ever said, and the most vehement advocates of the colliery owners have never said that more than. £200,000,000 is invested in the industry. The fact is that, a very great deal less than that is invested. But if you take £135,000,000 of ordinary capital and £50,000,000 of debentures and preference shares, the return upon the whole of the capital invested during the last 4½ years has been not a penny less than 10 per cent. each year. I wonder what other industry as a whole, has paid that figure, yet we are told and we have been told so, repeatedly, that they were losing money. Why, at the beginning of this Agreement—-the method of ascertaining the profits and the wages in relation the one to the other—we were told, six years ago, that the uneconomic pits would very shortly have to disappear. Is there a single one of them which has dis- appeared? They are all still going, and going very strongly. The profits made in this industry and in the associated undertakings connected with the industry are as great now and probably greater than ever have been the profits in the mining industry.
As I say, there never has been a greater fraud on the intelligence of the public or upon this House than the repeated and continued fraud that the mining industry was losing money, and that sooner or later, unless the men were prepared to consent to a reduction of their wages, or longer hours, the whole thing would disappear. A disaster is impending on the industry There is no truth in it, and if the colliery companies were left to themselves now, not a single one of them would disappear. Which of them is there which is prepared to admit itself to be uneconomical? There is not a single one of them which is willing to admit that it is in an uneconomic condition of itself. I have made this statement in a place where it shall have the greatest. possible publicity, and I am prepared to say that not merely £06,000,000, but a good many more million pounds in addition, have been made during the last four and a-half years. When we see the profits continually being given in the published balance sheets, we can quite see that as between the statement of an impending disaster and the actual facts there is a world of difference.
We are told by the right hon. Gentleman that this Bill is a permissive one. I have always given the right hon. Gentleman credit for being honest in the use of words, honest in his language, and that his language expressed an honest. mind, but I ask him, when he knows the power and the right of employment is possessed by the colliery owner, when he knows that it is impossible for a workman to sell his labour except under the conditions which that employer commands, when he knows that the employers nearly two years ago formulated the policy of reversion to the eight-hours day, and as far back as January last laid it down as a fundamental condition that the eight hours should be reverted to, and when, I again repeat, he knows that the power of employment rests with them and the power of refusal of employment rests with them unless their conditions are complied with —when he knows these things, how can he really say that this is a permissive Bill? There can surely be no genuine meaning in that language employed under those conditions, As I view it, and I believe the vast body of the working people in the country view it, it is because of the deplorable social reaction which it will have. Is there any justification at all for the addition of this hour? Let it be noticed that it is 17 years ago since the Eight Hours Act was passed. It is 18 years really, hut it is 17 years since the Act came into operation. It came into operation in 1909, 17 years ago this very month. Really hon. Members ought to be mindful of the fact that there has been a tremendous change in mining conditions during those 17 years. Every new take during the last 16 years has had to go down to a very much lower level. The leases have had to cover far more comprehensive areas. In my own county of Lancashire, our average depth is about 1,500 feet, but a recent shaft, which I think is the deepest in the country, is 987 yards deep—an enormous undertaking with galleries, when the place is properly worked, covering miles of ground.
You have to have large bodies of men to work these big leases, and the consequence is that a tremendous time must be allowed for the lowering and raising of the men. Therefore, the piece-workers particularly, who are, speaking broadly, down the first, are also, in a very large number of cases, up the last, because their wage depends on the amount of coal they can send up. They are taking the advantage of the earlier part of the winding time and the later part of the ascending time. As my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson) pointed out, in one colliery quite near his own home, the lowering time is one hour and 20 minutes, and the raising time one hour and 25 minutes. Therefore, you have 2¾ hours divided by 2, which is 1 hour and 22 minutes, plus the 7 hours, being the average time for the people who go down. Now that is 8 hours and 22 minutes, and, in addition to that, you are going to add another hour on to it.
Let the right hon. Gentleman not allow himself to be deceived that this Bill is permissive. It will be made a condition of employment. In every colliery in the Kingdom this will become a condition of appointment, and labour will not be given at all unless the men are prepared to sign a document making this eight-hour day a recognised condition of employment during the period named in the Bill.
The Prime Minister himself has a wide commercial experience and also a wide political experience. He knows perfectly well how conditions of employment are imposed. He has so much knowledge of colliery life that he understands how conditions of employment are imposed at a colliery. In 1881 the Employers Liability Act came into operation. That was to be a permisisve Act, but as a matter of fact hundreds and thousands of miners had to sign a document at the colliery contracting out. Just in the same way they will be compelled in this case to contract in. The Government must know that this Bill will become, and is intended to become, compulsory; and, as a matter of fact, some of the leading coal owners in the kingdom have already stated that in no circumstances will they reopen their pits except on an eight-hour basis. In such conditions what possible weight can be attached to the reply of the Government that this is a. permissive measure? Hon. Members opposite know that this kind of compulsion is the very first thing to be applied in the case of employers who own the right of employment and have the power to refuse it.
I spoke just now about the changed conditions of mining, and I say to the Government that if they were to take the average times permitted by the inspectors for lowering and raising the men, they will find that it is nearer eight hours to-day than seven hours. It, was considered about 7.39 hours 18 years ago, but, as the Prime Minister knows well, coal mining has changed entirely because of the tremendous depths at which the coal has to he extracted now, and these lower levels and enormous depths give you a temperature in which it is almost impossible for people to live. It was stated at an inquiry held not long ago that the actual working temperature at the face in one particular mine was between 90 and 100 degrees, where it is almost impossible for animals to live but which human beings, being inured, can withstand for a short time. But that is becoming more general, and when you have regard for the earlier times at which workers must leave their homes in order to reach the mine, sometimes three and four miles away, up early in the morning, much before daylight, and coming back when the light is verging into twilight, it is true to say that from the time they leave in the morning until they reach it again in the afternoon or evening, in the vast majority of cases nine and 10 hours elapse before the worker reaches his home again. This in its social result does not damage the older men so much, but it is very much worse in the case of the younger people, and to increase hours to the younger people is really to place a physical disadvantage upon them as well as a social disadvantage, which must result in the most evil effects in the coming years.
You say it is only for five years, and that it is the economic condition—I am assuming it is the economic condition—of the coal mining industry that has caused the Government to bring forward this Bill. But the economic causes that have forced the Government to bring this Measure forward will not be relieved in one jot or title by it; they will be intensified by its operation. Why do the Mining Association press for this policy They say that by an extended hour they will be, able to raise so much more coal; the result will be a greater output per head per miner, and, as a consequence of the greater output, their costs of production will be lessened. They also say that the gap which separates world prices from our present working costs will be lessened by this process and that it is a self-evident solution of the difficulties surrounding the industry. That clearly means that more coal will be produced. As a, matter of fact we are producing more coal now than can be profitably sold; is the figures show the moment the subsidy came into operation from that moment prices simply toppled over themselves. There had been a slight fall—and here I appeal to the Minister of Labour for corroboration—in the quarter ending March, 1925, and a slight fall in the quarter ending June, 1925, but in the quarter ending September, 1925, the figures went down by 3s. and 4s., whereas hitherto they had only gone down by a few pence. Take South Wales. It was the subsidy that led to the tremendous fall in prices. One of the coalowners who is now dead, Mr. Charles Markham, said it was money for nothing, and they simply threw on the market huge masses of coal at prices which they would never have submitted had it not been for the operation of the subsidy.
In these circumstances it is clear that at the present time we are raising far more coal than can be effectively disposed of, but if you are going to increase that production by 20,000,000 tons or 25,000,000 tons—it cannot be less than 20,000,000 tons because the operation of another hour, or 14 per cent. extra working time, will give you at least a 10 per cent: increase in production, and that 10 per cent. will give you very nearly 24,000,000 tons, I am putting it at 20,000,000 tons, which is an under-estimate, in order not to err on the wrong side—it can only have the effect of depressing still further markets which are already congested, which will result in lower selling prices and a decrease of the miners' wages. It was said that the agreement under which the miners are working gave a reasonable minimum at the beginning, but the reasonable minimum was 32 per cent, on the basis of 1911. When that particular minimum was fixed, the purchasing power of money had fallen by more than 100 per cent. from 1911. That is to say, the actual purchasing power of the minimum wage given was actually only about half what the figure had been in 1911. That is what the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty described as a reasonable minimum.
Even on those figures, which were then agreed to, there has been, as I have repeatedly told the House, up to 1923 a 52 per cent reduction. When I speak of a 52 per cent. reduction, I mean a reduction in regard to all those whose wages, as workmen, went into the ascertainment. There was no reduction in regard to the officials or those engaged in the higher reaches of the management. It is only in the actual wages of the workmen that there has been, as I say, a reduction of 52 per cent. up to September, 1923. The Secretary for Mines stated, in answer to a question, two days ago that the wages for 1925 of all workers in the mines was £132 in the year as compared with about £220 in 1920. There has been a fall between 1920 and 1925 of from £225—I think that is the exact figure—to £132, giving evidence at once of the enormous reduction which has taken place in mining wages. That £132 includes all the body of men who are guaranteed a six-days week like the safety men, the engine men and many others whom I need not specially name. About 15 per cent. are guaranteed a six-day week as against the four and a-half or four and three-quarter day week which falls to the lot of the ordinary workers. To suggest now that a Bill should pass which will at once reduce the wages of large masses of the men by at least 10 per cent. on the figures I have just quoted, is to place upon the miners of the nation a burden which is too grievous to be borne. It is not consistent with any of the speeches made by the Prime Minister in which he expressed his keen desire to maintain the standard of life. How can he reconcile this Bill with the statements which have been made that where the standard of life had to be lowered to maintain a trade, the trade was not worth it.
This is a reactionary Measure. It is the first real Measure of social retrogression which has taken place since the repeal of the Combination Laws in 1825. Parliament has never gone back in the past upon its own record. It may have made progress slowly at one stage and more quickly at another, but the statesmen of every party, the philanthropists, the sociologists, the men of good will, such as the Prime Minister speaks of, have seen to it, in the past, that the social life of the nation was, steadily, even if slowly improved as the days went on. This is the first occasion in the history of the 19th or 20th century, in which a backward process has been started by a Bill introduced by a responsible Minister. It is because of that we feel so bitterly about this Bill. We know how serious will be the effect of this Bill, mainly upon the young miners of the nation. Already they spend a- very large portion of their time in the mines. I have shown that the seven-hour day, so-called, has always been a great deal nearer an eight-hour day in fact, and in a vast number of cases it is very much over eight hours, even now. When this Measure becomes law, as I suppose it will, the working day of tens of thousands of young working people will be nearer nine hours than eight hours. Every word I say is strictly true. There is no single word exaggerated or overstrained.
I believe that right hon. Gentlemen opposite in their own minds are not nearly as resolved on this Bill as they ought to be upon a Measure with such far-reaching consequences, introduced by their Government. Is it too late, even now, to ask that a settlement of this great difficulty should be sought upon other lines and that this Measure should be withdrawn? There is no loss of dignity involved. I am sure the vast mass of Conservative Members are good party men and are loyal to their leaders as they have a right to be, in ordinary times of controversy, when they are entitled to support their own Government. But I am also sure if the minds of the Members of the Conservative party in the House could be ascertained, they are by no means satisfied that Parliament is proceeding upon proper lines in this Measure. I feel sure that many hon. Members opposite are not as easy as they ought to be in their minds when a Measure of far-reaching consequence is shortly to be placed on the Statute Book by their Government. Everyone of my colleagues has borne witness to the fact that this Bill has embittered the feelings of our people in the country. It was difficult enough before this, God knows, to get the owners and the workmen into conjunction, but there was a hope. There was a lifting of the controversy. There is no hope now and there can be no hope on these lines.
If it should be the last word I ever utter in this House, I appeal to the right hon. Gentlemen opposite to help once again to bring the parties together and to see if there is not some way, other than this, of removing these difficulties.
There would be no possible loss of dignity, in any sense of the term, if the Government withdrew this Bill. I am quite sure that the Government could be sufficiently broad-minded, sufficiently noble in its conception of public duty, and in its action to be capable of such a fine—I do not like to use the word!—but it would be one of the finest gestures in this great controversy—one of the finest possible gestures—and I am as sure as I am of my own existence that it would immediately tend to a settlement of this grave quarrel. The Prime Minister has shown himself, on mote than one occasion, a man capable of brave action, capable of rising to a great height. Is it too late, even now, shorn, as I know this Bill is, of that wholehearted support that it ought to possess before such a Measure is placed upon the Statute Book, and placed there at the cost of much bitterness? That bitterness will remain in the mining areas so long as this source of quarrels, this eight-hours day remains, and which, really, as has been shown, will be nearer 9½hours in a great number of cases. So long as this remains a constant cause of quarrel you will never have that settlement, that peace in the mining industry which is a basis of any real progress. One of the finest things that ever came to the industry was the passing of the Eight Hours Act. The very moment that Act became law there was a change for the better in the peacefulness that come over the industry. It was even better when the Seven Hours Act was passed. Reverse that process and you go right back upon the whole line of social progress that has hitherto been established. My last word of appeal is once again to the Prime Minister, in the interests of all parties, to withdraw the Bill.
I wish for a few minutes to speak on this question of hours, from the point of view of one who has practised for over a quarter of a century as a general practitioner in the industrial and mining areas of Lancashire. Personally, I have no sympathy and never had, with the present-day tendency further and to still further restrict the hours of labour. In the early part of my professional life, for the first 25 years, I worked not only through the week, but on Saturday afternoon and Sunday because Sunday made little, if any difference. I found that the people who called upon me to work on a Sunday were the very people who had the most to say about restricting the hours of labour. In my experience I have never found any suffering from long hours of labour, and particularly manual labour. Not withstanding the fact that during this controversy we have been regaled both inside and outside this House with many sloppy speeches about the hardships of the miners, about driving them into the bowels of the earth, and so on, I would remind the House that the miner's calling is one of the healthiest of occupations in this country. It is far healthier than the work of many people who work in the cotton trade of Lancashire, at weaving, or in the spinning mills. I have heard during this Debate about the miners working in temperatures at almost boiling point, but the spinner works in an even higher temperature and in a humid atmosphere, which is a very different thing. To hear all this ridiculous nonsense in this House amazes me.
While mining is one of the healthiest occupations in the world, I admit that it is a dangerous occupation. But it is not the only dangerous occupation. The occupation of a sailor and railwayman is dangerous. I will go further and say that the occupation of a doctor is more dangerous than that of a collier.
I am merely concerned with my own personal experience which is the experience of a quarter of a century. [Interruption.] I am not at all surprised at the fear among hon. Members on the Socialist benches opposite of this Bill, because I think they believe there is in it the germ of a settlement. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh if they please, but that does not worry me. There is the laugh, we arc told, that shows the vacant mind. I am not surprised at the fear which many hon. Members on the Socialist benches—I do not say all—display about this Bill. They fear that in it there is the germ of a settlement, and that is the very last thing they desired. [Interruption.] Their occupation will be gone, because their stock-in-trade, in a large measure, is industrial unrest. As I have said, for years I worked practically all the hours that are sent, and if I had not done so, if I had pleaded for a seven-hours day and five-days week, my occupation, like that of the miners, would have gone. If I had refused to attend to calls on Sundays on the plea that I worked only six days in the week, I should have ended in the workhouse—there was no dole in my days! Hon. Members opposite describe this Bill as reactionary. I cannot see anything reactionary in a Bill which seeks to restore the liberty of the individual collier to work as many hours as he wishes. The Bill restores to the miners the liberty of action which was taken away by the Seven Hours Act. [Interruption.] Under this Bill he will be able to work, if he chooses, eight hours, and I hope he will be allowed, if he wishes, to work longer.
I have spent the last few week-ends in the mining districts of South-West Lancashire. I have been in St. Helen's, which the hon. Member for St. Helen's (Mr. Sexton) will agree is a colliery district. In those districts what I saw on the Saturday before last was crowds of men outside the public houses waiting for them to open and queues of men and boys waiting outside the picture houses in order to get in.
It refers to what has been said in this House as to the distress in the mining districts. In addition, I conversed with a good many miners. I know the miners, I have known them all these years. The British miner, if he is left to himself is one of the most loyal, honest and trustworthy men in the world. It is his very honesty and trustfulness that render him an easy prey to the sinister propaganda and the Communist influences of those who, for the moment—and I am happy to say only for the moment—have arrogated to themselves the position of leaders. I conversed with dozens of miners.
From what I heard from those miners, they are prepared not only to work eight hours, but many of them said they would work nine or ten hours rather than lose their jobs.
For the same wages. They will not consent, and very rightly so, I think, to accept any lower wage; but they are rapidly coming to this conclusion that they have been mistaken, and that it is hopeless to fight economic facts.
More than that, and this must interest some of my hon. Friends opposite, they are beginning to ask very awkward questions. They are beginning to ask, "What has happened to the money that we have paid into our unions since 1921? How is it that after we have paid into our unions for week after week, and month after month, now we can get only one or two weeks' strike pay?—When this dispute is settled, they will want to have some very clear explanation of what has become of that money. Personally, I have a very shrewd idea where that money has gone. Further than that, in regard to the money that has come from Russia, I was assured by many of those miners in Lancashire that, however much money has come from Russia, certainly the miners of Lancashire have never had a copper. [Interruption.] I personally, along with my mining friends, because I regard them as friends, think we know what has become of a good deal of that money. [Interruption.] As I said a few moments ago, an hon. Member opposite, I think it was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw), described this Bill as reactionary. To my mind this Bill is not reactionary. It is a method of restoring liberty.
This Bill will be the means of restoring to the men liberty to dispose of their own labour, a liberty taken away by that unfortunate Measure passed in 1919 when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) was head of the Coalition Government. I regard this Bill as highly necessary, because I believe that when it is on the Statute Book, as it most assuredly will be in the course of another few days, hundreds and hundreds of miners who at the present moment are eating their hearts out in Lancashire—I will not speak of other mining areas, because I only speak of those of which I have actual experience—but there are hundreds and thousands of miners Lancashire—
I was taking Cheshire into account, because there are many miners in.the County of Cheshire; but what I was saying would hold good if there were only 50,000 miners. There are scores and hundreds of miners in Lancashire who, when this Bill is put on the Statute Book, will seize the opportunity and cheerfully, willingly and gladly go to their work in the miner.
I am prepared to wait and see, because I am confident of what I say, from my intimate relations with the men—and the relationship between a doctor and a workman is probably more intimate than with anybody else. [Interruption.] When I was in general practice I knew more of.the working conditions of the men and women in Lancashire than—or quite as much as—any hon. Member on the Socialist Benches. I, personally, welcome the Bill, and I hope it will be the forerunner of many similar Measures which will have for their object the removal of Government, control and, what is worse, trade union restrictions on the industries of this country.
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has been talking about our organisation. May I say that I know of no organisation that is more tyrannical than the British Medical Association I am anxious after the speech which has been made by the Prime Minister to ask that the last-sentence of his speech should be answered again or at least that some questions should be raised in connection with it. I understand that the Prime Minister told us that there is a possibility even now at this late hour of getting an agreement based on the Report of the Royal Commission. If that is the opinion of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet at the present moment, I think it would be only a reasonable request to ask that this Debate should be adjourned. This coal question might be settled by an adjournment for a week in order to sec what could be done. After the whole of the Debate we have had during these lour days, I believe alter the suggestions which have been made and the statements put forward by the Prime Minister, some effective work could be done to remove this unfortunate lock out. The Prime Minister said in his speech that the leaders of the Federation have a very grave responsibility at the present moment. May I say that I know of no one who has a graver responsibility than the Prime Minister himself, because, us has been stated over and over again in this Debate, the Royal Commission was appointed by the Government, and it made a Report to the Government, and the Government alone is responsible for that Report. I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister will take some steps, and I say that no better step to carry out what he himself has suggested on many occasions—he says that he is anxious for peace and ready to do anything to secure it— than to agree to-night that this Debate should be adjourned for a week.
It is no use speaking of this Bi!! as a permissive one. I have had a. long experience of coalowners and miners and I have worked in mines myself for 18 years. Therefore, I know something about work in mines. The coalowners in South Wales ever since the Seven Hours Act became operative have continually agitated against it, and they have made every effort to make it ineffective. Whenever we have had occasion to discuss a new price list or make a new agreement the whole question has been raised, and we have been told that if we could get back to eight hours a day everything would be all right. That is the one thing for which The coalowners of South Wales have been agitating, and in the anthracite districts which have made very large profits during the last few years, and especially during the War, the coalowners have said lo the miners: "We will open our collieries and we want you to work eight hours, and then we will only ask you for a 5 per cent. reduction in wages instead of 10 per cent." This is not merely a question of getting permission to work eight hours, because subsequently it will be laid down definitely by the coalowners that the men must work eight hours, and that will be the rule throughout the British Isles. I cannot understand why there is onslaught on wages and hours every time there is a dispute. We have never been able to get a reasonable settlement except through a strike or a lock-out. There always has been a strike whenever we have tried to improve our position or tried to get a fair day's wage, and this has been the case more particularly with the coalowners of South Wales. That has been the history every time in the case in every new agreement I have been connected with in South Wales. We have always had to strike before getting anything whatsoever from the coalowners. That is one of the reasons why this Royal Commission was appointed, and it is one of the reasons why the Government made this nine months' armistice and paid £23,000,000 to the coalowners. That was done because it was said we were going to get a settlement, and something laid down that would give security to the miners of this country.
It is all very well to talk in this way, but I have here a pay ticket for the last week worked by a practical miner who has worked 35 years in the mine underground, and some 10 years in and about the collieries. His tonnage works out at about 5s. per ton. That is the earnings at the face and the face cost to the owners. It works out at 16 tons 6⅓ cwts. Including the 14.2, it works out at £4 2s. ld. per week. This miner, out of that sum, has to pay his helper £1 7s. 6d., and in addition to that there is a further deduction of 17s. 6d. He has to pay 12s. 6d. in rent per week. I would also point out that in this case the doctor is secure, and this is something we cannot get for the members of our organisation. The doctor's payment is secured by the owners deducting the money from the wages, and this particular miner I am speaking of has to pay 8d. out of his wages to the medical man, and the medical man is paid from the colliery office. We cannot get security like that in our organization.
I know the miner gets his payment under the National Health Insurance, but he also has to pay 8d. to the medical man and this is entered on the ticket and signed by the representative of the colliery company. That brings us down to this, that the miner with £4 2s. ld. has deductions amounting to £2 5s., which leaves him with £1 17s. Id., and that is what he takes home to a wife and five children. This collier has earned his minimum wage because deductions are not counted when the minimum wage is brought in. I do not know why there is all this criticism of the miners. It has been said over and over again that there are no more loyal men in this country than the miners, but when a man goes home with 11 17s. 1d. for his wife and five children, how is it possible for that man to live? Then he is asked to work eight hours a day, which will not increase his wages, because the 14.2 is included in the present amount of wages, which is equivalent to the hour that will be added to his 7-hour day. He will, therefore, actually take home the same wages as he was taking before, namely, £1 17s. ld. In addition to that, we are told by the coalowners' that they are going to place before the miners next week an additional reduction of 10 per cent.
Criticism has been levelled against the miners, and the question of reorganisation has been raised. When the suggestion was made to the Miners' Federation that they should accept the Report, they accepted it conditionally on reorganisation of the mines commencing at once. That, however, was refused. It was said that there was plenty of time for the re- organisation. I know that in the case of some collieries working the same seams, because in some cases they are inefficient and have not property equipped their mines, 10 cwt. more per man comes out of some of them than comes out of others. That is because the men can produce the coal if the place is properly equipped. We say that that is the responsibility of the owners, and not of the men at all. We say that something should be done immediately as far as the mining industry is concerned. We cannot get a settlement with the owners, and it is useless going back to them, because we shall only have the same thing happening as has happened before. I want to say here that the responsibility for additional costs in the mining industry, particularly of late, is not solely upon the eoalowners and the miners. The Minister of Labour is responsible for some of the expenditure, because, during the last year, numbers of men have been taken off the roll of the Employment Exchanges and put on to the guardians, with the result that there has been an increase in the rates demanded from the colliery owners all over the country. I think, therefore, that the Minister of Labour is responsible for some of the increased rates.
I should like to remind the House that the miners are not getting any perquisites at all. They are different from the majority of the working classes of this country. They have no pensions, however long they may work in the mines. We were told to-day by the Secretary for Mines that 2-6 per cent. of men over 65 years of age are working in the mines to-day. If that be the case, there are men working in the mines to-day who are 70 years of age, some of whom have given 55 and 60 years of service to the mine owners, and still they are not entitled to any pension from the mines, they are not entitled t-4 any sick pay, nor are they entitled to, and they do not get, any holidays at all with pay. In these days we are told by the Government that the Eight Hours Act has got to come into operation. I have never been in favour of a strike; I do not believe in strikes; but, at the same time, this pressure has been brought to bear by the Government. The Prime Minister has said that he has not been told by the coalowners to carry out this instruction, but I believe he has been told, and, personally, I believe the Government have been told, because, on the two previous occasions when the Eight Hours Bill was before this House, I find that the present Prime Minister was one of the men who stated on the Floor of this House that eight hours was going to ruin the industry, and, when the time for voting came, he voted against eight hours for the miners. He is quite consistent in what he is carrying out to-day with what he argued on the Floor of the House of Commons in 1908 in connection with the Eight Hours Bill. I say that, if this proposal is going to be enforced, you may depend upon it that the miners will not accept it, and, although I deplore this stoppage, because I feel for the miners and their children and their wives, at the same time, if this proposal is going to be enforced, I shall do everything I can to make the Eight Hours Act inoperative in the mining industry.
My reason for rising to say a few words on this Bill is that my constituency includes Immingham Dock, and the dockers are practically entirely dependent on the coal trade, so that, naturally, owing to the stoppage of the mines, they are suffering very acutely. I think it would be very wrong if the feelings of these men, and the feelings of the general public as a whole, were not placed before the House. The House has listened with great patience and, naturally, with great attention, to those who are experts in the industry, whether they be owners or whether they be miners, but I think the House will realise that the general public as a whole has not much use for either the leaders of the owners' party or the leaders of the miners' party. To speak quite frankly, I think they would like to see a completely fresh start. One of the reasons why I blame the mine owners particularly is that they have got out of touch with their men. That process has been going on for some years. If they had been able to keep in touch with their men, and had been able to persuade them that any changes which took place in the past were necessary, and if they had taken part in their social activities, this crisis might not have happened. To the miners' leaders I would say that they have done their best to widen the breach between owners and men. I think that, if they had not already put a plague upon the
general public, the general public would say
A plague on both your houses!
When we listen in this House to tales of hardship and suspicions from the leaders of the miners, I say that, when we come into touch with the miners themselves, they do not bear out those tales. If you ask a miner to leave his job, I think you will have to go to many hundreds of miners before you will find one or two that are willing to leave their jobs. I also think that, while it is quite true that the miner's job is not one that many of us would like, yet many of them much prefer to be down in the mines out of the wet and fairly warm, to doing, say, a builder's labourer's job outside in the open. While the miners are quite right in putting tales of hardship before the House, I think that, at any rate, they exaggerate. I could tell tales of practically every industry in Great Britain where all these hardships, and worse, could be brought out. No one would be foolish enough to say that the mining industry was a safe industry; everyone will agree that it is a dangerous one; but there are plenty of other dangerous industries, and I would ask, would this trouble ever have arisen if the mining industry had not been able to put a pistol at the head of the general public and say, "If we stop, you suffer?" If other industries, like cotton, wool, and some of the great staple industries of this country, get into trouble, the public can get on for quite a long time without them, but it has always been the fortune of the mining industry that, whenever the owners and men in that industry get into trouble between them, either the owners or the men, or both of them, say to the Government., which represents the general public, "Get. us out of our trouble, or you will suffer for it." That is what we are suffering from now. It is perfectly right that the voice of the public should be expressed. Take some of the arguments which have beer put forward by the miners' representatives. One objection put forward is that an extension of hours here would lead to an extension of hours abroad. That may or may not be true. It. can only be true if the economic conditions permit it and if the price of coal is such as to make it necessary to extend the hours. But
if that is true, it is equally true of a reduction of wages. A reduction of wages here would lead to a reduction abroad also. It would also be true of any scheme of amalgamation. A scheme of amalgamation brought off at home would lead to a scheme of amalgamation brought off abroad, and how would you be better? It would also be true of reorganisation. Reorganisation schemes at home would lead to reorganisation schemes abroad. The arguments of hon. Members opposite about conditions at home and abroad are, in result, an entire fallacy, although to a certain extent they may be true. It is no argument for your side any more than for any other side.
But there is a very much more serious matter which has been raised for the first time and that is the unwarranted attack on the Prime Minister. The lines of that attack are not only unjustified, but extremely foolish. The hon. Member took the attitude that because the Prime Minister was interested in the industry, which everyone knew, therefore he should not take part in these Debates. But the leaders of the miners and the trade union are equally interested in profits. Their salaries entirely depend on the coal industry, and if the Eight Hours Bill is successful they will be taking. a share in the profits of the industry. [Interruption.] It may be strange to you, but the public will appreciate some of these points. Those curious statements which appeared in the paper, I suggest are not original. They arc copied from a publication called "A Thesis on the Lessons of the English General Strike" drawn up and unanimously adopted by the Executive of the Communist International published in the "Izvestia." Among those theses it says:
Propaganda must be issued with the slogan. 'Down with Baldwin'.
I think hon. Members opposite may be congratulated on the way they are following their masters in Moscow and obeying their orders. The British public does not like any kind of interference with individuals or concerns dictated by foreign countries, and as far as that goes we in this House are entitled to voice our opinion or the opinions of our constituents. So if this Bill is a step towards a solution of the coal problem, or if more legislation is required on these or any other lines, we are prepared to support
the Government. We hope it will lead to a lasting settlement, but that can only be obtained if the mining industry as a whole wakes up, settles its troubles itself, and ceases to put a pistol to the head of the community. There are many industries to-day that are giving up coal. There are many industries that are capable of turning to oil fuel, and the installation of high-pressure pumps for oil fuel and cheaper grades of fuel are coming, and the coal mining industry will find that other indutries are less and less at its mercy. For these reasons I trust the mining indutry will take the lesson to heart.
I have refrained from intervening in these debates because I considered the question as essentially a mining matter. My excuse now is that, although not a miner, I represent what is almost exclusively a mining constituency. It is my native heath. I was reared among the miners and when, at the age of 10, I put my nose to the grindstone, I worked in the industry for a few days, but the experience was quite sufficient for me. It came as a great surprise to me when an hon. Member, who represents a mining constituency, expressed himself utterly unaware of the existence of St. Helens. I should like to inform the hon. and gallant Gentleman that St. Helens has not only a local and a. national, but an international reputation. It has actually produced the Premier of one of our Colonies, New Zealand.
We have had some remarkable speeches in this House. Two of the most remarkable have just been made on the opposite side. St. Helens has done even more than that. In a political sense it has produced me. It has sent me here to assist my colleagues to guide the intellectual wisdom of the nation in the right direction. My native modesty prevents me going any further. May I be permitted, without, trespassing upon the generosity on the House, to take a short survey of the mining industry as I know it? I can look back to the time when, as a lad at St. Helens, I was associated with the mining industry and I have been in touch with the miners for a good portion of my life. I can look back upon a period when women were doing laborious work at the pithead. Some of them are yet doing it in Lancashire. I have often thought, shades of Lord Shaftesbury! He should turn in his grave to-day at the conditions that prevail. I can remember as a boy the existence of the nefarious and pernicious conditions previous to the Truck Act. When the weekly pay day came round the miners were often in debt to the colliery owners for supplies in kind.
I wonder if right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who talk so glibly about the condition of the miners have considered the actual facts of the miners' life. We have had some remarkable speeches in this House, but the most remarkable of all was delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour. He made two speeches lately, one at Newport, and the other in this House. This is what he said.
We stand by the Report, and we are doing our best to carry it, out.
How in face of all the evidence, and in face of the Bill now before the House, can the right hon. Gentleman assert that they are doing their best to carry it out when the present Bill is a travesty, not only of the principle but of the spirit of the Commission's Report. He said:
What surprises me is the attitude towards the Report of those who have criticised it on the question of hours. On this point the Commission explicitly left the door ajar, and in the interests of the miners we have thrown that door wide open.
The right hon. Gentleman is really too modest. He has not only thrown the door wide open; he has thrown it, off the hinges. He has pulled the windows out of the wall. He has taken the slates off the roof. May I give the House another quotation? Speaking again on the hours question the right hon. Gentleman said:
It, enables a better wage to be paid to the miners, and so avoids an otherwise necessary reduction. We also have to think of the other great trades, the steel trade and the shipbuilding trade, to whom cheap coal means the difference between ruin and prosperity.
If that is true, that cheap coal means prosperity to the shipbuilding trade and the steel trade, may I ask this pertinent question? Why this objection to the subsidy, in view of the fact that you want cheap coal? We are told by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who has published a book on it, that coal is power; that cheap coal is cheap production all round; that cheap production means more markets; that more
markets mean more employment. If that is so, if we can lift the burden of unemployment off the shoulders of this country, might I respectfully suggest to the right hon. Gentleman opposite that it would be a good investment for this country to relieve unemployment if they paid 1100,000,000 a year to get a return, for what they lost on the swings they would gain on the roundabouts. The
right hon. Gentleman said:
As regards the other proposals in the Report, we are going forward with them, but just remember that we are only human. We cannot do anything in a moment. If we did the result would only be half baked.
Might I respectfully suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it is not only half-baked, as it is, but, like King Alfred, he has burnt it to a cinder. There was some uneasiness among some of my friends as to the Title which should be given to this Bill. A Title has suggested itself to me. The most difficult thing in the world, once you surrender a thing, is to get it back again. At the end of those five years it is very likely we will have a Labour Government in power, but, even so, the thing is to get back a thing you surrender like this without a fight. Therefore, the Title I would suggest for this Bill would be "the Kathleen Mavourneen Bill "—-
It may he for years, and it may be for ever.
That is the stage we have reached today. It is a question of Hobson's choice. The alternative is, take it or leave it. Take it, reduce your purchasing power, reduce the conditions of living. If you leave it you starve. Every step this Government has taken in this matter has been a deplorably disastrous one. That is why I shall vote against this Bill. I look upon the Bill as another nail in the coffin of this Government, when the time comes for the electorate to give their opinion upon them, and that will not be long delayed.
I have listened to the Debate during the whole of this week. I am not in any way connected with the mining industry, but there are many hundreds of miners who work and live in my constituency, and I know that as a result of this unfortunate dispute many of our people are suffering under great difficulties. When the Commission was appointed by the Government, I thought that a way had been opened out of our difficulties, and I said that I was prepared to accept the findings of the Commission, after I had seen the personnel. I stated in my constituency that I was prepared to accept their findings, however difficult it might be for my convictions. When the findings were published, I was very happy to see that the Prime Minister said that on behalf of the Conservative party and on behalf of the Government he was prepared to put them into effect. He said the Government were prepared to give effect to the findings as a result of the nine months' work done by the Commission. That is the basis on which we work our business in Lancashire.
The reason why I favour the findings of the Commission is that I strongly deprecate trade disputes being settled across the Floor of the House of Commons. By this method of trying to settle disputes we are setting up a precedent, and we may be spoiling the miners in the process. It may not be for their good that the miners should think that, if they get into a fix, they can come to the Government to get them out of it., and if the Government cannot get them out of it, then they can put the responsibility upon the shoulders of the Prime Minister. If every trade in Great Britain which had a difficulty came to this House to get a settlement of the difficulty, we should be nothing more nor less than an industrial debating society, and we should defeat the function for which we were elected.
I appeal to the coal-owners also. I do not think that we in London realise the full effect of this dispute. I am connected with certain industries which should be using many hundreds of tons of coal per week. The position to-day is that this dispute is striking a blow at our vitals. We were just getting into the position when we could go on to full-time working. The indications of the trade of Lancashire were such that we could look forward with some hope of getting the Lancashire industry on its feet again. The position to-day is that half of industrial Lancashire is stopped owing to tins dispute. Our people are out of work. During the time that the Commission was sitting, I went round the mining districts and the cotton-spinning districts, and I expressed the hope that the trouble would be satisfactorily settled by the Commission. Instead of that, we have this unfortunate stoppage. I say to hon. Members, You can have your strikes; you can ruin the Lancashire cotton trade and other industries, and you can starve us; but in the end you will have to come round a table and discuss what can be done and what cannot be done. You cannot take more out of the coal industry than has been put into it; you cannot take more out than there is in it; and you cannot take more out of the cotton industry than there is in it. If the basis of the coal industry is such that every few years there is to be a strike or a stoppage we must solve the problem some way.
I have gone round buying all sorts of stuff to burn in place of coal during the stoppage. Last week we were trying to mix oil and various substances in order to try to keep up 180 lbs. pressure on a 2,000 horse-power engine, but we could not do it and had to give it up. If the coal industry is to have a strike every three years, it is about time something was done. We traders to-day have contracts for coal for the rest of 1926 in connection with seven different places with which I have intimate knowledge, at an average price of between 19s. 6d. and 22s. 6d. per ton, delivered. Last week we bought at 67s. a ton certain stuff which was dumped on us, and it was poor coal. Is it fair to the teeming millions in Lancashire, who are not all colliers, that they should be placed in this position? Surely they are entitled to consideration. I tell the Miners' Federation that it is badly led, and that the people who are responsible for the present situation will be responsible to the country far more than the Government for any legislation that may have to be passed. Our miners would be glad to be working. The whole dispute so far has been absolutely futile. It leads nowhere. I say to hon. Members and to the miners' leaders, that we shall still carry on. Although they may drive us to some other method of power, we shall get through. The alternative is that we have to go in for some other method of power which will not be good for the colliers and will not be good for the country, because we shall have to purchase the raw material from abroad.
I have been trying to show the futility of this strike. I admit that it is not a one-sided mistake. The coalowners are also to blame. They are making profit with the price of coal at 60s. a ton. We have been going on for 50 days without any coal being lifted from the earth. Our consumption in the whole country was over 200,000 tons per day, which gives a cash value of £15,000,000 of money. Some days ago I and several other Members of this House signed a letter, which appeared in the "Times," asking that the Commission should be re-opened and. saying that we should accept from them any findings, not ambiguous findings, which could be accepted as a settlement. To-night the Leader of the Conservative party has said that he is prepared to accept the findings of the Commission and I, speaking on behalf of the trading fraternity in Lancashire, say that we are prepared to accept the findings of the Commission. If the miners' leaders continue their cry of "Not a penny off and not a minute on," I say that someone else should be appointed to negotiate for the miners, and that fresh representatives should he appointed for the mine owners and that, as suggested by the right hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn), there should be a round-table conference. As the right hon. Member for Carmarthen (Sir A. Mond) said yesterday, the present brains in this industry have got stale. Let us have a few of the younger minds brought round a table, and we can settle this between now and Monday morning.
I wish to address myself very briefly to the Bill now before the House. I have listened to many speeches to-day, and I am afraid that the greater part of them have been devoted, not so much to a discussion of the merits of the Bill, as to the general conditions that now surround the mining stoppage. I shall not follow that example, because I think it is desirable that the House should clearly understand what are the economic implications of this Measure and what exactly is the part that the Government are playing in this matter. I am going to make no appeal to the Government, either to modify the terms of the Bill or to withdraw the Bill. I know, as everybody on this side knows, that any appeal of that sort would be perfectly useless, and I am going to address myself to the issue that really prompted me to rise, which, I think, is a rather serious issue. I question if a single vote in the forthcoming Division, and if a single vote that has been cast during the former stages of this Bill, will be, or has been, influenced by any speech made in this House, and I think that in saying that I am saying something which is rather a serious consideration to those of us who still believe in Parliamentary institutions and methods. That brings me to the main point that I wish to emphasise.
Quite apart from the economics of this Measure and from the economic situation of the coal industry to-day, I think that very serious consequences will follow the passage of this Bill into law. I assume that it is to pass into law. Nobody here can dispute that already the mere discussion of the Bill has caused very keen resentment, in the minds not merely of the miners, but of every section of organised workers in the country. I do not think I exaggerate when I say that there is an overwhelming majority, so far as the public opinion of the country is concerned, against the provisions of this Bill. I assume, of course, in spite of that, that the Measure will find its way to the Statute Book, and my main concern is as to what will follow as a natural consequence of the passage of the Bill into law. I believe in Parliamentary institutions and methods, but I do not require to pose as a prophet when I say that the passage of this Measure into law will not end this matter. Nobody can pretend that this Measure is a serious contribution to the solution of mining troubles. As a matter of fact, this Bill will pass into law, and we may be assured that, to the extent of their power, the miners of this country will do their best, and will be entitled to do their best—they will do it with our support, on this side of the House—to make this Measure a dead letter, a mere scrap of paper.
Now that is a very serious statement to have to make, for what does it involve? It involves that the Government, in pressing this Measure on the country, are taking a step that will breed in the minds, not only of our mining population but of the workers generally, disrespect and more than disrespect—contempt—for this House of Commons and for our Parliamentary methods. We may be assured of this, that if the miners see that in this Bill they have a Measure that they can resist and of which they can make a dead letter it is not difficult for them to go a little bit further in this direction and say: "It does not matter really what the House of Commons does on any occasion for the solution of our troubles. We have to look, not to the Parliamentary machine, but to other methods that we shall devise ourselves." I shall not stay to outline now what those methods are, but, I ask the House to realise that the passage of this Bill is not merely the enactment of a muddle-headed, futile Measure, but that it is a dangerous Measure from the point of view of constitutional and peaceful national progress.
I represent a mining constituency that is deeply interested, not only in mining, but in the transport of coal and in the export of coal. It is a typical mining constituency. I have heard a very great deal in recent days in this House as to the need for the introduction of this Measure, and generally the necessity for it has been stated in terms of the need that now faces the nation to get cheap coal for our manufacturers and consumers, and to enable us to keep up our end in the field of foreign competition. But the need for this Measure has been urged on us on the ground also that the coal industry itself is in a difficult position financially and cannot be made to pay without either a State subsidy or something that would enable the owners to get their labour cheaper and to employ their workmen for longer hours per day. Representing a mining constituency, I have for a very long time tried to master the history of this industry and its intricacies, financial and industrial, and I have never known an occasion in the past, either in recent times or in times long gone by, when the coal industry was not in a deplorable and losing condition, from the point of view of the coalowners, nor have I ever known an occasion in the past when the miners, seeking improvement in their conditions, have not had to fight every inch of the way in order to attain to the status of the conditions which they now enjoy. When, therefore, I hear people talk to-day about the mining industry being a losing industry, and that you cannot get more out of it than you put into it, I say frankly to the House that I am not moved. In the county, a part of which I represent, what I do know is this, that in the past and up to the recent stoppage miners generally have been in receipt of bare subsistence wages while, on the other hand, vast fortunes have been made by the mineowners of that county, and that county is a typical county.
As a matter of fact, the working agreement between the mine-owners and the miners which lapsed at the end of April last was an agreement that enabled the coalowners not merely to swindle the miners in the matter of wages, but to delude the public in regard to their real financial position, and the Coal Commission put its finger on a very interesting point in this connection when it said that a large proportion of the coal is sold by the mine-owners to associated industries, and the most important of these Amendments suggested for the better condition of the mining industry relates to the price at which those transfers are made. That is a most suggestive part of the Commission's Report, and it justifies what I said a moment ago. The coalowners have been deliberately wangling their accounts in order to hide their real financial state. I can take anybody interested to competent authorities in the mining industry who will be able to tell them that in recent years the coalowners have been hiding their profits by a method that the Coal Commission did not have brought to its notice in the same way as it had that which I have just quoted. They have been improving their plant and their workings out of current accounts and they have been meeting these improvements for the better equipment of their collieries generally in that way instead of meeting it out of capital account. I am not impressed at all with the talk of the mining industry being in a losing condition, but even if I were more convinced in that direction than I am now, I should still hesitate before I supported a Measure of this sort merely in order to give consumers of coal in this country cheaper coal than they have got in the past.
I am not sure that hon. Members realise exactly what this cheapness means in its application. So far as I am concerned, I look on this Bill as I try to look on all Measures affecting working-class interests, not so much from the point of view of the consumer, as from the point of view of the producer. If you are, going to maintain your export trade in coal by reducing the economic status of the British miner to the level of the lowest-paid miner in Europe, then the sooner your export trade in coal goes the better. Our home trade in this and in other connections should be our main concern. This is the view I take of the eight-hours day. This Measure will aggravate the main trouble in the mining industry. What is the great difficulty in that industry? The difficulty is to find a market to absorb our products. The trouble in the mining industry is exactly the same as the trouble in every other great industry; the trouble of a gulf between our productive and consuming power. Will this Measure be a bridge to enable us to get over that gulf? Instead of being a bridge to span the gulf between production and distribution, this Eight Hours Bill, if it is going to have any effect at all, will increase the difficulties. It will increase the number of unemployed, and aggravate all the evils that now exist in the industry. I cannot imagine how any responsible Minister can dare come to this House and suggest, as the Minister of Labour did, as the Secretary for Mines has done, and as the Prime Minister did to-day, that this Eight Hours Bill can find the slightest justification in anything contained in the Report of the Coal Commission. Not once, nor twice, but half a dozen times in that Report the Commission emphatically condemns an increase in the miners' working day. The difference between an increase in the working day and a reduction of wages is after all more apparent than real. Hon. Members in various parts of the House have to-day and yesterday argued to show that the one was better than the other. So far as I personally am concerned, I regard an increase in the working day as very dangerous as far as the future of the miner is concerned. The miner may suffer a reduction of wages now, which, when an improvement comes he may be able to recover, but it is a more difficult matter to upset an enactment like this when it finds its way to the Statute Book. But the economic effect of an increase in the working day and a reduction of wages is the same in the sense that an increase in the working day will mean for the average miner that he will be working part of his working day in order to produce the value which he gets back in wages, and he will be working the longer period for those who live on the unpaid labour of the miner, on rent, or interest or dividends or profits. I regard this Measure as a most mischievous Measure. It cannot be defended on anything in the Coal Commission's Report, and I sincerely hope that if it is passed into law, as I suppose it will be within the next few days, the miners will receive a continuance of that measure of public support which they have got to-day, and which will enable them to resist this Measure and to make it impossible of operation.
We are now groping through the fourth day of a very important and protracted Debate, which has been of a character that has naturally for the most part confined itself to those who are experts. I make no such claim, but, having a large number of miners in my constituency and being in the position of finding it my duty from time to time to confer with them on matters so directly affecting their welfare, I am anxious on their behalf to express the views that I have formed in regard to this matter. I have realised first-hand that the miners in this country are not the extreme men that some people point them out to be. They are moderate, reasonable, fair, level-headed men. All they ask for, as I have learned from first-hand knowledge, is a square deal, and this four days' Debate in the British House of Commons has convinced me that the only chance of their ever getting a square deal is by the men coming to a round table. The suggestion that was thrown out in the early portions of these discussions by the right -hon. Gentleman the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) seems to me to have been the wisest advice that could have been offered, and I sincerely regret that it has not been already accepted by the Government.
But we have arrived at a stage in which I have some hesitation as to what our actual position is, and I chiefly rise in order that I may learn and report to my constituents what the present position of the Government really is in regard to the proposals now before the House. I listened some time since to the speech of the Prime Minister. I have very great admiration for the Prime Minister; I hold him in the very greatest respect; I believe that he is absolutely sincere in all that he is striving to do, though I believe that he is overridden by a reactionary Cabinet. Listening to that speech I have been given room for doubt, and I feel that that doubt is entertained by a good many Members in this House. What was really meant by the Prime Minister's concluding words? The effect of those concluding words, as I understood them, was that he told the hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway on this side of the House that the Report of the Royal Commission was still open for their acceptance. If that be so, and if I rightly interpreted what the Prime Minister said, and the Report is still open for their acceptance, then, if they accept it, it means that this Bill has got to go by the board. The very terms of this Bill are absolutely inconsistent with the acceptance of the Report of the Royal Commission.
Consequently, I want to know from that standpoint exactly where we are. Is that the Government's definite proposal to the Members of this House and to the country, that, if the mining-representatives will accept the Royal Commission's Report in full, the Government will support them in carrying it into operation? Do they accept the necessary corollary that this Bill must be absolutely withdrawn as being absolutely inconsistent therewith? I think we are entitled to know and I hope that, before this Debate closes to-night, the right hon. Gentleman, who I understand is going to reply, will give us a definite and categorical answer to that point. During the course of one of his speeches he told us that this was the only Bill that held the field. He said there was no alternative, but now, if I understand the Prime Minister, he indicates that there is no alternative. In that case this Bill does not hold the field and we have a right to know what the actual position is in regard to this very vital and important matter.
Until we have an answer to that, we have to assume that this Bill is being proceeded with. If it be proceeded with, as one without any expert knowledge, but as an ordinary Member of the House trying to understand his duties in a very difficult situation, trying to appreciate the arguments which have been adduced for and against this Measure, I submit—and I have had a longer experience of the procedure of this House than I like to think of—that every Bill that is introduced in this House must be justified by the arguments offered in support of it. I submit that this particular Bill demands a justification altogether in excess of any other Bill that I have ever heard introduced into this House, and for four reasons especially. This Bill runs counter to the whole of the humanitarian tendencies of recent years. This Bill runs counter to all the legislative tendencies of recent years. This Bill is in the face of the most urgent and solemn warnings as to the effect it must inevitably have upon competition abroad. This Bill also is in the very teeth of the recommendations of the Commission set up by the Government for their guidance. I submit that, in face of all those obstacles to this Bill, the evidence offered in favour of it must be overwhelming.
Having listened to many debates in this House, I have never heard weaker or flimsier arguments than those which have been adduced in favour of the present Bill now before the House. Leaving aside altogether the remarks of the Prime Minister to which I have referred, the weakest and flimsiest of all the arguments have come from the official supporters of the Measure. I do not make that argument in any derogation of the capacity of those geneltmen, but the more you eulogise their capacity the more you emphasise their failure in spport of this Measure. The weakest support I have ever listened to has been in favour of this Measure, and consequently I am convinced that a mistake has been fatally made in bringing this Bill forward, and I am compelled, in view of the arguments that have been raised and answered, to give my vote finally against the Bill.
These are many points in regard to it to which I would like to refer, but I refrain from doing so as many other Members wish to speak. I only wish to make one further remark on a matter which was referred to in the speech of the hon. Member who preceded me. I am one of those who are looking with intense anxiety to the future of this country. The effect of this Measure may be all that has been prophesied on these benches. On the very end of this long Debate we come to a position in which the whole, not only of the mining representatives, hut of the Labour representatives in this House are all united in their determined opposition to this Bill, saying distinctly that so far as their influence goes they will do all in their power to prevent this Bill being put into operation. I say that that, rightly or wrongly, is a very serious state of things and one which requires the most anxious consideration. In view of that what hope have the Government got of success if long months are to pas before this Bill is to operate? What of the condition of the trade of this country in the meantime? But if eventually it does operate, and it operates by men sporadically and individually being driven back into work, what effect is that going to have upon the stability of the institutions of this country I believe, and always have believed in trade unionism. I believe that discipline of that kind is vital to the stability and welfare of this country. I can imagine nothing more dangerous to that stability than the results of this Bill are likely to be.
I close as I began, by appealing to the Prime Minister, whom I am delighted to see is now in his place, and by asking him if he will satisfy the doubts of many of us as to the effect of the speech he delivered in this House a little while ago. He told us then—I venture to repeat it now that he is in his place—that the Coal Report was now open to the acceptance of the mining industry and the Labour Members of this country. My submission is that, if that be so, this Bill has got to go by the board as being absolutely inconsistent with that Report being left open to their consideration. I ask him, therefore, following the appeal made in that behalf by colleagues of mine who have already spoken, if he will at this stage now, to avoid all the misery that will come upon this Bill being passed and put into operation, consent to the Adjournment of the Debate so that we may understand where we are, and instead of something in the nature of a fraticidal strike taking place we may have something in the nature of an industrial peace.
I do not intend to stand for more than a few moments between the question which has just been put by the hon. Member and the reply of the Government, but before that takes place I want to make a practical suggestion to the Government in connection with this dispute. One thing that has struck me, as it must have struck everyone who has listened to the debate of the last four days, is the extraordinary confusion of thought which appears to have arisen in regard to this Bill. I have heard hon. Members over and over again say that by this Bill the Government are compelling miners to do certain things, and immediately afterwards, indeed almost in the same sentence, they say that the miners will not in any circumstances do these things. The two statements are not consistent. If hon. Members who have spoken in this way will read their own speeches they will understand in the end that there is nothing in this Bill which forces the miners to do anything which they do not want to do.
I will answer that question if I can in a few minutes at my disposal. The point I want to make is this. I very strongly object to an extension of hours in the mining industry or any other industry. I object just as much to an extension of hours as I do to a reduction of wages, and I do so—I hope hon. Members will give me credit for a desire to improve the standard of life of the people—for a very practical reason. I go quite as far as any of them in believing that the prosperity of the industries of this country in the end depends entirely on the spending power of the people, and that means a higher standard of living. If you reduce that standard by lowering wages or lengthening of hours—both have the same result—you affect not only the capacity of the people for enjoyment but their actual standard of life and thereby you arrive at a condition in which you destroy trade. We have had appeals to the Report of the Commission, and we have had objections raised to various points in it. Anyone who has read that Report will agree that the Commission face the fact that there must be some temporary measure to tide over the time until reorganisation, if and when it comes, will, in fact, make the industry a prosperous one.
The whole problem is what to do in the temporary period. If, therefore, the miners and the mineowners prefer an extension of hours to reduced wages for a temporary period. all that this Bill does is to make it possible for them to agree. It is in that connection that want to make my suggestion to the Government. Those who know that a fight has been going on in this country over a long number of years for a better standard of life and shorter hours cannot but fully appreciate how the miners, or any other class of workmen who sympathise with the miners, must face a movement which appears to be going to lower their standard of life. It is only natural that they should fight to the utmost against that movement. Is it not possible for the Government to induce the mineowners to make this suggestion to the miners: "You are afraid that this is an attack on your standard of life. We want to make it clear to you that we are not attacking your standard of life"? [Interruption.] I ask hon. Members opposite, for the moment, not to mind whether they agree with my argument or not, but to listen to it. Let the Government say to the miners: "We are not attacking your standard of life," and let them try to induce the mineowners to go to the miners with this proposition: "According to the Report of the Commission and according to what we know and what you know, it is impossible to go on over this temporary period without either a revision of hours, a reduction of wages or a subsidy. Of these alternatives, the best to us appears to be the extension of hours. If you agree to that, we will agree on our part that on the first move towards prosperity in the coal industry, the first charge upon it will be the reduction of the hours to the old standard."
Is it not possible to say to the miners definitely "There shall be no profits beyond what may be agreed upon at a round table conference as the lowest basis possible for the industry, there will be no prosperity, no dividends, no returns beyond a certain figure, until the hours of work are reduced to the seven hours standard." Is it not possible, by making a definite, proposition of that kind to induce the miner to see that this Measure is only for a temporary period. Is it not possible to secure a round table conference, to have a basis laid down and to say that above that basis there shall be no returns until the effect of this right to work eight hours—and the Bill gives nothing more than that—has passed away and until, in fact, we have returned to the conditions of the present moment. I urgently ask the Government, even at the last moment, to try to induce the mine owners to put a definite proposition before the miners on those lines. I know something about the coal mining industry, though I have not the actual experience of some hon. Members. I have, however, been down a mine and I frankly say that I would not like to work eight hours in any mine. At the same time, I have lived in mining districts where you cannot get men to do any other work, but I realise there is an aspect of that life of which I do not know. While these things are true, I think if such a proposition were put forward, the miners and the mine-owners might be brought together. I say let us try it and let the end of it be that when prosperity comes to this industry—as it will come—the miners themselves are to have a definite part in that prosperity, even greater than they have now.
I do not think the House realises the gravity of the step which it is asked to take to-night. I wish to correct the general impression that the miner is now to be asked to work eight hours per day. These terms "eight hour day" and "seven-hour day" are misleading in this connection and it should be emphasised very definitely that the term "eight hours" applies only to the time occupied in working the coal. What is now suggested is that the miners shall work underground an average of eight hours and 40 minutes per day. That will be the average time spent in the mine, and we can calculate that the miner will work a week of 52 hours underground. That will be the average time for the whole of the workmen engaged in the industry.
There is another point, that is in connection with Section 7, Sub-section (2) of the Act, and I should like to ask if it is true to assume that certain classes, deputies, firemen, examiners, on-setters and other classes, who come under that Section, will come under this Measure if passed and be expected to work extra time. If so, they will work no less than 9½ hours per shift, or a weekly total of 57 hours. I do not think the Mouse of Commons realises that they are at present seemingly giving extra work to the men in the way I have suggested, and that these men will work 57 hours per week underground; that they are going to ask the majority of men so engaged to work from 51 to 55 hours per week—to ask these men to work more time underground than any class of, labour surface workers. That is what this Bill will do. So it will end in the thing becoming habitual in the mining districts. For many years it has been usual on the surface to work half an hour or three-quarters more than the men work underground. If we pass this Measure to-night it is going to establish hours of work of an average of 54 per week, and make it possible for the employers to demand 55 or 56 from the surface workers.
Let the House contemplate that! Does the House know that this will affect all the various agreements in respect to the revision of hours of labour which have come from Geneva? Are they prepared for others to say that we have helped to go back to long hours? This Bill will not only not relieve the difficulties under which we suffer; it will accentuate our troubles. The Bill will confer an advantage upon the good pits, and make the disparity between them and the bad pits greater. It is a Measure designed to close many of the collieries, which will follow from the extension of hours.
There is another point which I would like to put and it is this: The Minister of Labour yesterday, and others to-day have stressed the point that this is a permissive Bill. The word "freedom" has been often used. The Minister of Labour said this was only giving freedom to a man to work longer hours, and an hon. Member on the other side tonight said that this freedom to work any number of hours a man chose was quite in acordance with his view. "Freedom" is a much abused word. There will be no freedom to work anything less than eight hours if this Bill goes through. There will be no freedom to deviate from the maximum hours of the Bill. Some years ago the late President Wilson gave a series of addresses on the new freedom. I should like some of the Members of this Government to read those addresses, and see whether they can find in them any justification for the application of the new "freedom" to what is their policy at the present time. There was a war for freedom some time ago, all the people in this country were invited to join in, and the War was won. Was freedom won? Is this the first instalment of the freedom? Is this the interpretation of the new Tory democracy?
This Government, pledged to Constitutionalism, the custodian of the Constitution, are bringing in a Bill which is not in the interests of the people of this country; a Bill unwanted by the people whom it is going to affect; a Bill which the 1,250,000 people who will have to live under it are unanimously opposed to; a Bill brought in at the behest of the coal-owners indeed, a Bill brought in by coalowners who are represented themselves on the Front Bench opposite. They talk of themselves as being Constitutionalists, and ask us to take a ballot of the workmen to see what they think of the terms offered. Are the Government prepared to accept a ballot of the miners on this point? Suppose they put this question to the miners? Will they go one step farther and accept the verdict of the people of this country on this Bill? Will they have half-a-dozen test elections during the next few weeks? They can easily be arranged—an election in a mining district, one in a city, one in an agricultural area. Let them take any six constituencies in this country and submit the contents of this Bill to the electorate, and accept the verdict of the people expressed in that way. This Bill is brought in against the wishes of the people, brought in in an unconstitutional way, brought in in the interests of the coalowners, but the mistaken interests of the coalowners. It is not going to benefit the coalowners. It is not going to bring peace.
I do not know whether the Secretary for Mines is going to reply, but I understand there is a question or two to be put from this side, and I do not want to stand in the way; but I want to say definitely that if anyone assumes that this Bill is going to make peace he does not know the mining population. There is no peace to be found this way. Some of us have grown up in this industry and who have given our lives to this industry would like to see a period of peace. We are tired of fighting. We have been fighting all our lives. But I am speaking the minds of those whom I represent and of the miners in this House when I say that we shall unite more solidly than ever before in making it difficult for the mineowners to win this battle—make it very difficult. I do not say they will not win. There is no inconsistency in saying that. One set of people say this is not a permissive Bill and that the coalowners will be able to impose the eight-hours' day, and other people say they will not he able to do so. We will see to it that if the coalowners are intent upon imposing these terms they will have to pay the heaviest price possible.
I remember my experiences as a boy, 33 years ago, listening to an old trade union organiser, in the days when there was no Miners' Federation, and when there was no South Wales Miners' Federation, when Moscow was unknown to the Welsh miner, and when there was no talk of Socialism. I remember as a boy of 12 listening to the miners' agent trying to organise the men, and among the pleas for unity and for co-operation amongst the working men he held out the great ideal of an eight-hours day. The older men in the pit were enthused and enthralled, and I thought a great time was coming; and I remember the next day being so disappointed when listening to the older men down the pit. They said "Isaac"—that was the organiser's name—"is a very decent man"—this was spoken in Welsh, but I would not be allowed to say it in Welsh here—"but is he not an optimist to believe that we can get an eight-hours day? These are dreams." I have lived to see the eight-hours day and even a seven-hours clay, but I never dreamed I should live to see a reversal of those reforms. Hon. Members opposite are bent upon refusing to face the realities of the situation. I remember Sir George Elliott, a name well respected amongst hon. Members on the other side of the House, in putting forward a scheme for reorganisation, once said that his object was to bring science face to face with nature. We want to remove all these obstacles, and we cannot do it by adopting the retrogressive path or by driving us back to the degradation of long hours. That is not the way to solve the mining problem. By lengthening the hours of labour the health of the miners must suffer.
I do not think enough has been said about the loss to the miners of the medicinal value of sunlight and life. I have heard medical men-who support this Bill support the summer-time Bill on the ground that more sunlight was necessary. The time of this country has been varied in the spring and autumn in order that we might derive more sunshine. What are you going to do for the miner who must of necessity in following his occupation lose all the benefits of the curative properties of sunlight? They are going to be asked to spend one hour more in darkness. That will cause a much heavier rate of illness and more accidents, and it means a great deal more discomfort in the home. If the Members of this House were left free to act according to their own judgment I am quite sure they would find a much more reasonable and effective alternative to meet the problem than the retrogressive and futile method put forward in this Bill. I make an appeal to the Government to withdraw this Bill, and if they cannot do that I appeal to them not to adopt it finally to-night. I ask the Government to adopt this course in order that the passage of this miserable and futile Measure may be averted.
The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. G. Thorne), a short time ago, put a question in which he asked whether, if the Miners' Federation were definitely to accept the Report of the Royal Commission, this Bill would be withdrawn. That, of course, at the present moment, is a purely hypothetical question. No one, as far as I know, has, any authority to make such an offer, and, therefore, I am bound to say that it is a question to which no answer can be given. The hon. Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell), who has just spoken, asked at the close of his speech, "What are you going to do for the miners?" I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will give the Government credit to this extent, that although they may think we are entirely mistaken, although they may think we are entirely wrong in the method which we are adopting, I hope they will give some of us credit by believing that the motives which, in the heat of Debate and in the excitement of the moment, they attribute to us, are not really those which we have behind us.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Hartshorn) said that no case had been made out for this Bill. I think that he will admit, and that hon. Members opposite, if they are fair, will admit, that we have not been given a very good chance to make our case. I hope that at this stage I shall he given, in the short time that I have, an opportunity of making some case for the Bill, and I shall certainly try to do so. I think the best way in which I can illustrate what I believe to be the case for the Bill will be to take some of the statements which the right hon. Gentleman himself made to-day. He gave the case of Northumberland and Durham, and said, as he has said before, that this Bill cannot possibly help districts like that; but he then proceeded to say that figures taken from the Report of the Royal Commission showed a loss of 3s. per ton in that district, and that the change to the eight-hour system would only mean a difference of 1s. 6d. Is not that a very considerable difference? If you can reduce the loss over a district from 3s. to 1s. 6d., is it not perfectly certain that a much larger number of collieries will be working in that district than if the loss remained at 3s.? The result would be that not only would there be a considerably larger number of pits working in that district, but also that the horrible risk that we have now of districts being entirely, or practically entirely, without employment, would disappear. The right hon. Gentleman may say that that might not happen, but we believe that it will happen, and that it will be a considerable advantage if this system is adopted.
The right hon. Gentleman also said that neither longer hours nor reduced wages would do anything to save the situation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] If he says that, and if hon. Gentlemen opposite cheer it, it means that they do not accept the view, of the Royal Commission, and yet they are always telling us to accept it. Again, the right hon. Gentleman says that unification is the only method of saving the industry, but that, again, is contrary to the Commission's Report. What I would say to the right hon. Gentleman is this, and I have said it before in this House. He is constantly talking to us about unification; he gives us strings of figures which he takes from various reports; but he gets to a certain point and never gets any further. He tells us that these figures show that a system of unification is required, but, although we ask him how he is going to apply that system, how he is going to control it, how he is going to finance it, how he is going to manage it, he has never up to this moment shown how that is to be done.
The hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Varley) made a very remarkable speech earlier to-day. He spoke of the effect of the Bill on his men in Nottingham. He is certainly qualified to know what the opinion of the men in Nottinghamshire is, but the men's leaders have absolutely refused to take any step which will help the Government in the various negotiations and the attempts they have made to effect a settlement. We suggested that they might accept the Commission's Report. We suggested arbitration. We tried every possible way of arriving at a settlement but never did we get any response from the Miners' Federation. The hon. Member said it is not necessary to have the eight-hours system in Nottingham. There is nothing in the Bill which prevents them making any settlement they like to make. This dispute can only be ended by a settlement between the parties and the only effect of the Bill is that it widens the opportunity.
I should like to deal also with the statement made by the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Paling) about accidents. The figures he used, quite in good faith, were based on figures I gave him in answer to a question yesterday, but the conclusions he draws from them are very misleading. He says that during the years when the seven-hours system was in operation there was an average of 260 fewer accidents per annum than during the period under the eight-hours system. The figures I gave him are quite correct, but they require to be qualified. During the eight-hours period the figures were certainly higher, but the end of the eight-hours period coincided with the time when stone dusting came in, and there was a marked and welcome reduction in coal dust explosions. In the first period there were 150 deaths per annum from accidents due to explosions, but during the second period there were fewer than 20. That shows that a large poportion of the accidents were due to explosions and not to fatigue or the physical condition of the men, and that entirely vitiates 'his conclusions.
All I say is that the figures prove that accidents from explosions came suddenly to an end between the eight-hour and the seven-hour period, when stone-dusting was becoming prevalent. The deaths were reduced from 150 per annum to 20 per annum, and that shows that the conclusions the hon. Member arrived at, in good faith, are not to be relied on.
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me at what date stone-dusting came in, which apparently was responsible for the diminution in the number of explosions. As a matter of fact the facts do not bear out his inference.
The hon. Member will give me credit for having official figures and having had them checked. If he can prove that my figures are wrong let him ask a question and I will admit it. I should like now to deal with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh). I understand he said that the industry had made £62,000,000 profit in four and a half years, which represented 10 per cent. on all the capital in the industry. I have already pointed out that during a similar period no less than£961,000,000 was paid in wages. During the period in which the £62,000,000 in profits was made £601,000,000 was paid in wages, and the proportion of profits to wages which was agreed upon in the 1925 agreement was 87 and 13. I would like the House to notice that the proportion £62,000,000 bears to £691,000,000 is much more in favour of wages.
It is my desire that the right hon. Gentleman should speak on this: whether upon the capital invested those profits have been made and whether the figures I have given are correct. It is not a question of the relation of profits to wages. I was dealing with the point that had been repeatedly made that no profits were being made in the industry, and I said that upon the capital invested at least 10 per cent. had been made on the day when this ascertainment started, and that, as a matter of fact, more than that had been made if the figures were properly brought out. Is that admitted?
I was just coming to that point when the right hon. Gentleman interrupted. The Royal Commission distinctly said that it is impossible to say exactly what the capital invested in this industry is. The Commission, with all its resources, was unable to say what the capital is. How can the right hon. Gentleman say?
Whatever the right hon. Gentleman may say about the Sankey Commission, the statement that Sir Josiah Stamp made before the Commission was, that the average profit which had been made was extraordinarily low. On page 219, the conclusions of the Royal Commission show that the right hon. Gentleman cannot know what the capital is:
The following points seems to be well established: First, that the profits per ton in four years since decontrol have in real value been well below the pre-War level, and though not below those recorded in a depressed period such as 1894–98, would not be sufficient as a permanency.
In relation to capital in the mining industry it is a matter of extreme difficulty. It is impossible to give either a satisfactory definition or a satisfactory estimate of the capital against which profit has to he made. I think that definitely shows that the right hon. Gentleman had better go a little more carefully into his figures.
My time is short. Finally, I would refer to the very remarkable letter which has been addressed by Sir Josiah Stamp to. the "Times" this morning. There is not a man in this House who will not recognise Sir Josiah Stamp as a master mind on this subject, and when we find that he comes to the conclusion that of the three alternatives, (1) that of the Miners' Federation, (2) that of the Commission and (3) that contained in this Bill, this is far the best in the interests not only of the miners, but of the whole industry of the country, I am sure his opinion will carry very great weight. We have had a long and rather heated Debate, and I now commend this Bill to the House in the hope that it will pass into law.
|Division No. 312.]||AYES.||[3.49 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Burton, Colonel H. W.||Elveden, viscount|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Butler, sir Geoffrey||England, Colonel A.|
|Alnsworth, Major Charles||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)|
|Albery, Irving James||Calne, Gordon Hall||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Campbell, E. T.||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)|
|Allen, S. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Cautley, Sir Henry S||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth. S.)||Fairfax, Captain J. G.|
|Apsley, Lord||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Fermoy, Lord|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Fielden, E. B.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Chapman, Sir S.||Finburgh, S.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Forrest, w.|
|Baltour, George (Hampstead)||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Frece, Sir Walter de|
|Balniel, Lord||Clarry, Reginald George||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Clayton, G. C.||Gates, Percy|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Gllmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Goff, Sir Park|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Cooper, A. Duff||Grace, John|
|Berry, Sir George||Cope, Major William||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Bethel, A.||Couper, J. B.||Gretton, Colonel John|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Grotrlan, H. Brent|
|Birchall, Major J, Dearman||Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H,|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey, Calnsbro)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. sir F. (Dulwlch)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hanbury, C.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Braithwaite, A. N.||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Harland, A.|
|Brats, Captain w.||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Harrison, G, J. C.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Cllve||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Dixey, A. C.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Drewe, C.||Hawke, John Anthony|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)||Edmondson, Mafor A. J.||Henderson, Capt. R.R.(Oxfd, Henley)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.c (Berks, Newb'y)||Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.|
|Burman, J. B.||Ellis, R. G.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Savery, S. S.|
|Herbert, S. (York, N. R.,Scar & Wh'by)||Margesson, Captain D.||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Sheffield, sir Berkeley|
|Hilton, Cecil||Meyer, Sir Frank||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Milne, J. S. wardlaw||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Holbrook, sir Arthur Richard||Mitchell, S.(Lanark, Lanark)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst)|
|Holt, Capt. H. P.||Mitchell, W. Foot(SaffronWalden)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Hope, SirHarry(Forfar)||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Slaney, Major P.Kenyon|
|Hopkinson, sir A. (Eng. Universities)||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Klnc'dlne.C.)|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Moore, lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Howard, Captain Hon. Donald||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T C.||Somerville, A. A.(Windsor)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Morden, Col. W. Grant||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)|
|Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whitah'n)||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Nall, lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Streatfelld, Captain S. R.|
|Hutchison, G. A. Clark (M Idl'n & P'bl'[...])||Nelson, Sir Frank||Strickland, Sir Gerald|
|Inskip, sir Thomas Walker H.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F, S.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Styles, Captain H. Walter|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Nicholson, 0. (Westminster)||Sueter, Rear-AdmiralMurray Fraser|
|Jacob, A. E.||Nicholson, Col. Rt.Hn.W.G.(Ptrsl'ld.)||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|James, lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Nuttall, Ellis||Thompson, Luke(Sunderland)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Oakley, T.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Oman. Sir Charles William C.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wallace, Captain D.E.|
|Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Perkins, Colonel E.K.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Perring, Sir William George||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Kintoch-Cooke, sir Clement||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Plelou, D, p.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Lamb, J. Q,||Power, Sir John Cecil||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Pownall, lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carilsle)|
|Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Radford, E. A.||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (WoodGreen)||Raine, w.||Wheler, Major Sir Granvllle C. H.|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O.(Handsw'th)||Ramsden, E.||White, lieut.-Colonel G. Dalrymple|
|Loder, J. de V.||Rawson, sir Alfred Cooper||Williams, A.M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Looker, Herbert William||Remnant, Sir James||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Lougher, L.||Rentoul, G. S.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Luce, Major-Gen. sir Richard Harman||Rice, Sir Frederick||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Lumley, L. R.||Roberts, E.H. G. (Flint)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Macintyre, I.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|McLean, Major A.||Rye, F. G.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Macmlilan, Captain H.||Samuel. A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Sandeman, A. Stewart||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Sanders, SirRobert A.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Sanderson, SirFrank|
|Maltland. Sir ArthurD. Steel-||Sandon, Lord||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Major Sir Harry Barnston and|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Gillett, George M.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Gosling, Harry||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Kirkwood, D.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lansbury, George|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Greenall, T.||Lawrence, Susan|
|Barnes, A.||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Lee, F.|
|Barr, J.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Livingstone, A. M.|
|Batey, Joseph||Groves, T.||Lowth, T.|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Grundy, T. W.||Lunn, William|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Guest, Haden (Southwark, N.)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)|
|Briant, Frank||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Mackinder, W.|
|Broad, F, A.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||March, S.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Montague, Frederick|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Hardie, George D.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Cape, Thomas||Harris, Percy A.||Murnin, H.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Naylor, T. E.|
|Cluse, w. S.||Hayday, Arthur||Oliver, George Harold|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hayes, John Henry||Palln, John Henry|
|Connolly, M.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Paling, W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hirst, G. H.||ponsonby, Arthur|
|Dalton, Hugh||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Potts, John S.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hore-Bellsha, Leslle||Purcell, A. A.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Hudson, J. H. Huddersfield||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Riley, Ben,|
|Dennison, R.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Ritson, J.|
|Duncan, C.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Dunnlco. H.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Fenby, T. D.||Kelly, W. T.||Sexton, James|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Kennedy, T.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Westwood, J.|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Thorns, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Whiteley, W.|
|Smillle, Robert||Thorne, W. (Wast Ham, Plalstow)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Tinker, John Joseph||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Smith, Rennie (Penlstone)||Varley, Frank B.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Viant, S. P.||Wilson, R. j. (Jarrow)|
|Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)||Wellhead, Richard C.||Windsor, Walter|
|Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Stephen, Campbell||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermllne)|
|Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sullivan, J.||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.|
|Sutton, J. E.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joslah||Allen Parkinson.|
|Taylor, R. A.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Division No. 313.]||AYES||[10.57 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Moseley)|
|Alnsworth, Major Charles||Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Horllck, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.|
|Albery, Irving James||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Curtis-Bennett, Sir Henry||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Davidson,J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Huntingfield, Lord|
|Ansley, Lord||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hutchison, G.A.Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent,Dover)||Dixey, A. C.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. F. S.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Drewe, C.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)|
|Baltour, George (Hampstea[...]||Eden, Captain Anthony||Jacob, A. E.|
|Bainlel, Lord||Edmondson, Major A. J.||James, Lieut -Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|flanks, Reginald Mitchell||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Barclay-Harvey C. M.||Ellis, R. G.||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Elveden, Viscount||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Beamish Captain T. P. H.||England, Colonel A.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Erskine, Lord (Somerset Weston-s,.M.)||Kindersley, Major Guy M.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Bann, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Everard, W. Lindsay||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Bennett, A. J.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Berry, Sir George||Falle, Sir Bertram G||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Bethel, A.||Fermoy, Lord||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Fielden, E. B.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Flnburgh, S.||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Ford, Sir P. J.||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Forrest, W.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Loder, J. de V.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Looker, Herbert William|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Piece, Sir Waiter de||Lord. Waiter Greaves-|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vanslttart||Fremantie, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lougher, L.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Galbraith,.J. F. W.||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Brass, Captain W.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Gates, Percy||Luce, Maj.-Gen, Sir Richard Harman|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Gibbs. Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Lumley, L. R.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Goff, Sir Park||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Broun Lindsay, Major H.||Gower, Sir Robert||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus|
|Brown. Ma[...]. D. C. (N'th'I'[...]., Hexham)||Grace, John||Maclntyre, Ian|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newby)||Grattan Doyle, Sir N.||McLean, Major A.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Gretton, Colonel John||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Grotrian, H. Brent||McNeal, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F.E. (Bristol, N.)||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Burman, J. B.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Maitland, Sir Arthur L Steel-|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hall, Lieut.-Cot. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervy[...]|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hammersiey, S. S.||Mailer, R. J.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hanbury, C.||Merriman, F. B.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Meyer, Sir Frank.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Harland, A.||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Harrison, G. J. C.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon, Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hartington, Marquess of||Monsell Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Moore, Lieut Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Moore.Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Haslam, Henry C.||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Hawke, John Anthony||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Headlam, Lleut.-Coionel C. M.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Henderson Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Clayton, G. C.||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Neville, R. J.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||ewton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn.W.G.(Ptrsf'Id.)|
|Cockerill, Brigadler General G. K.||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hills, Major John Waller||Nuttail, Ellis|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hilton, Cecil||Oakley, T.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon, Sir S. J. G.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Couper, J. B.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Courtauid. Major J. S.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Penny, Frederick George|
|Courthope. Lleut.-Col. Sir George L.||Holland, Sir Arthur||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Holt, Captain H. P.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Perring, SIr William George|
|Cralk. Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Shepperson, E. W.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingstomon-Hull)|
|Pielou, D. P.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Power, Sir John Cecil||Sinclair,Col.T.(Queen's Univ., Beifst)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Skelton, A. N.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Radford, E. A.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Raine, W.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine,C.)||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Ramsden, E.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Rawson, Sir Alfred Cooper||Smithers, Waldron||White Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Remer, J. R.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Rentoul, G. S.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)||Williams, C. P. Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Rice, Sir Frederick||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Chts'y)||Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Storry-Deans, R.||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Renner, Major L.||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||Streatfeild, Captain S. R||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Strickland, Sir Gerald||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Rye, F. G.||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Withers, John James|
|Salmon, Major I.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Styles, Captain H. Walter||Womersley, W. J.|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Staiyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Sandeman, A. Stewart||Sugden, Slr Wilfrid||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Sanderson, Sir Frank||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Sandon, Lord||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Savery, S. S.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)||Turton, Edmund Russborough||Major Cope and Captain Margesson.|
|Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (File, West)||Guest, Haden (Southwark, N.)||Sakiatvala, Shapurji|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hllifsbro')||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvill)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Scurr, John|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hardie, George D.||Sexton, James|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Harney, E. A.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Barnes, A.||Harris, Percy A.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Barr, J.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Batey, Joseph||Heyday, Arthur||Short, Allred (Wednesbury)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Hayes, John Henry||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Smillie, Robert|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hirst, G. H.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Briant, Frank||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Smith, H. B. Lees (KeIghley)|
|Broad, F. A.||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Smith, Rennie (Penletone)|
|Bromley, J.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Snell, Harry|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Buchanan, G.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||John, William (Rhondda, west)||Spoor, Rt, Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kelly, W. T.||Sullivan, J.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Kennedy, T.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Taylor, R. A.|
|Connolly, M.||Kirkwood, D.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lansbury, George||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Crawford, H. E.||Lawrence, Susan||Thurtle, E.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lawson, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Lee, F.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Livingstone, A. M.||Walsh, Rt. Han. Stephen|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lowth, T.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Lunn, William||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Dennison, R.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Ab'ravon)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Duncan, C.||Mackinder, W.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Dunnico, H.||Mac Laren, Andrew||Walsh, J. C.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||March, S.||Westwood, J.|
|Fenby, T. D.||Montague, Frederick||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Whiteley, W.|
|Gardner, J. P.||Murnin, H.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Glebins, Joseph||Naylor, T. E.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Gillett, George M.||Oliver, George Harold||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Gosling, Harry||Palln, John Henry||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Paling, W.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W,||Windsor, Walter|
|Greenall, T.||Potts, John S.||Wright, W.|
|Greenwood, A, (Nelson and Coins)||Purcell, A. A.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Riley, Ben||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Groves, T.||Rltson, J.||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Charles Edwards,|
|Grundy, T. W.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Division No. 314.]||AYES.||[11.10 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Couper, J. B.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St.Marylebone)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Albery, Irving James||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington.N.)||Holland, Sir Arthur|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Holt Captain H. P.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hope, Sir arry (Forfar)|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Apsley, Lord||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel.J. N.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Curtis-Bennett, Sir Henry||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Howard, Captain Hon. Donald|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John.J. (Kent, Dover)||Davidson, J. (Hert'fd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Huntingfield, Lord|
|Balniel, Lord||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Dixey, A. C.||Hutchison, G.A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Drewe, C.||Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. F.S.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Eden, Captain Anthony||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Jacob, A. E.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Ellis, R. G.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Elveden, Viscount||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Berry, Sir George||Erskine, Lord (Somerset,Weston-s.-M.)||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William|
|Bethel, A.||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Betterton, Henry B||Everard, W. Lindsay||Kindersley, Major Guy M.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Kinioch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Fermoy, Lord||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Fielden, E. B.||Lamb. J. O.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Finburgh, S.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Ford, Sir P. J.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Phillip|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Frece, Sir Walter de||Locker-Lampson, G.(Wood Green)|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Loder, J. de V.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Galbraith,.J. F. W.||Looker, Herbert William|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Ganzonl, Sir John||Lord, Walter Greases|
|Brockiebank, C. E. R.||Gates, Percy||Lougher, L.|
|Brown-Lindsay, Major H.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Goff, Sir Park||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newby)||Gower, Sir Robert||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Grace, John||Lumley, L. R.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Gretton, Colonel John||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus|
|Burman, J. B.||Grotrian, H. Brent||Macintyre, Ian|
|Burney. Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol,N)||McLean, Major A.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Hall, Lieut.-Col, Sir F. (Dulwich)||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Caine, Gordon Hall||Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Hammersley, S. S.||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hanbury, C.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt.R.(Prtsmth. S.)||Harland, A.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Harrison, G. J. C.||Meller, R. J.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hartington, Marquess of||Merriman, F. B.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Haslam, Henry C.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Hawke, John Anthony||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Moore, Lieut-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-J. T. C.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Henderson. Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Morden, Col. W. Grant|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Nail, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Colfax, Major Wm. Phillips||Herbert, S. (York. N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hills, Major John Waller||Neville, R. J.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hilton Cecil||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Cope, Major William||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell.|
|Nuttall, Ellis||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Oakley, T.||Sandon, Lord||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Savery, S. S.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Penny, Frederick George||Shaw, Capt. W. W, (Wilts, Westb'y)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Shepperson, E. W.||Watson, Rt. Hon, W. (Carlisle)|
|Perring, Sir William George||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Sinclair, Col.T.(Queen's Univ.,Belfast)||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Skelton, A. N.||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|Plelou, D. P.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Power, Sir John Cecil||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Smithers, Waldron||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Radford, E. A.||Somerville, A, A. (Windsor)||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Raine, W.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Ramsden, E.||Stanley,Col.Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)||Winby, Colonel L. P.|
|Rawson, Sir Alfred Cooper||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G.(Westm'eland)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Remer, J. R.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Rentoul, G. S.||Storry-Deans, R.||Withers, John James|
|Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Rice, Sir Frederick||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Strickland, Sir Gerald||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Ropner, Major L.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||Styles, Captain H. Walter||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Rye. F. G.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Salmon, Major I.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Commander B. Eyres Monsell and Colonel Gibbs.|
|Sandeman, A. Stewart||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Palling, W.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Groves, T.||Potts, John S.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grundy. T. W.||Purcell, A. A.|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Guest, Haden (Southwark, N.)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Riley, Ben|
|Barnes, A.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ritson, J.|
|Barr, J.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hardie, George D.||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Harney, E. A.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Bens, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Harris, Percy A.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Scurr, John|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hayday, Arthur||Sexton, James|
|Briant, Frank||Hayes, John Henry||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Broad, F. A.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Bromley J.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hirst, G. H.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Buchanan, G.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smillie, Robert|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Snell, Harry|
|Connolly, M.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kelly, W. T.||Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)|
|Crawfurd, H. E,||Kennedy, T.||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Dalton, Hugh||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Kirkwood, D.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lanubury, George||Sullivan, J.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lawrence, Susan||Sutton, J. E.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Lawson, John James||Taylor, R. A.|
|Dennison, R.||Lee, F.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Duncan, C.||Livingstone, A. M.||Thorne G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Dunnico, H.||Lowth, T.||Thurtle, E.|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Lunn, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Fenby, T. D.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Varley, Frank B.|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Mackinder, W.||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Gardner, J. P.||MacLaren, Andrew||Watson, W. M. (Dumfermline)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||March, S.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Gillett, George M.||Montague, Frederick||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Gosling, Harry||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Murnin, H.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Naylor, T. E.||Westwood, J.|
|Greenall, T.||Oliver, George Harold||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Palin, John Henry||Whiteley, W.|
|Wilknson, Eilen C.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Williams, David (Swansea, East)||Windsor, Walter||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)||Wright, W.||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Charles Edwards.|