Business Of The House
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what extra business he proposes to take to-day?
After Ways and Means, we hope to take the Committee stage of the Aerial Navigation Bill, the Second Reading of the Pensions (Governors of Dominions) Bill, and consideration of Shops Act (1912) Amendment Bill.
Loss Of Steamship "Titanic" Inquiry (Legal Costs)
Mr Scanlan's Vote
I wish to call your attention, Sir, to an incident which occurred in connection with the discussion in Committee last night. The Committee were discussing the Vote of £16,000 for legal expenses in connection with the "Titanic" Inquiry, and after a full discussion the Deputy-Chairman put the Question, "That the reduced sum of £15,900 be granted to His Majesty for the said service." In that Division the hon. Member for North Sligo (Mr. Scanlan) voted in the "No" Lobby. I wish to ask you, on the general question, whether a Member who has a direct financial interest in the question under discussion is entitled to give a vote in this House. I have had an opportunity since last night of going through the different statements of your predecessors during the last 300 years, but I can find no parallel for a case of this kind. I do not propose to bring to your notice the very early rulings of your predecessors, but may I call your attention to a ruling of 17th July, 1811, when Mr. Speaker said:—
He then said:—"The rule was very plain. If they opened their journals they would find it established 200 years ago. and then spoken of as an ancient practice that a personal interest in a question disqualified a Member from voting."
On 11th March, 1892, a Resolution was brought forward in this House to disallow the votes of three Members who had voted in favour of a Grant-in-Aid of the cost of the preliminary survey for making a railway from the coast to Lake Victoria Nyanza. The First Lord of the Treasury, who was Leader of the House at that time, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) said:"But their interest it should be further understood must be a direct pecuniary interest, and separately belonging to the persons whose votes were questioned, and not in common with the rest of His Majesty's subjects or a matter of State policy."
I pass over all the other rulings and come, Mr. Speaker, to your own ruling when Chairman of Ways and Means, in 1904 particularly, when you referred at some length to the previous rulings of your predecessors on a Motion in connection with the Licensing Bill of 1904. The then Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, rose in his place after a Division, and moved that a Member of the Conservative party who had voted in favour of that licensing question in which he was indirectly interested should have his vote disallowed. On that occasion, Sir, you said—in the first place you quoted from previous Speakers' rulings, and then, coming to 1898, you quoted:—"The principle which has been laid down from the Chair, and which I think is embodied in most books on this subject, is that no man shall give a vote if his interest in it be of a direct personal character. That principle must evidently be interpreted by the particular occasion on which the House is called upon to apply it."
[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Yes, but I may call the attention of the House to the further point, that when Mr. Speaker, as Chairman, gave that ruling, he did not put the concluding sentence of that 1898 ruling. It was as follows:—"The rule of the House is well understood. There must be a direct pecuniary interest of a private and particular character, and not of a public and general nature. Where the question before the House is of a public and general nature and incidentally involves the pecuniary interest of a class which includes Members of this House, they are not prevented by the rules of the House from voting."
That was the ruling given by Mr. Speaker in 1898, when there was under discussion by the House the Local Government Board Vote. The hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs went on:—"If it were otherwise, it is obvious that on any proposal for altering the law of rating anyone who is either a landlord or a ratepayer might be prevented from voting."
You, Sir, then said this:—"I understand that Mr. Speaker's ruling was that where the pecuniary interest was incidental the general rule would not apply."
It is true there have been decisions by your predecessors, particularly in 1899, when the question was raised as to whether the vote given by the Attorney-General in relation to his own salary would not bring him within the scope of this ruling. In reply, Mr. Speaker said that this was a very different question: the Motion to reduce the salary was made merely to raise the question as to the conduct of the hon. and learned Gentleman. Sir Erskine May on this question is perfectly clear. The whole point, I submit to you, turns upon what is meant by the word "incidental." I submit to you that the House has always in these matters been very careful indeed about its ancient privileges, that no Member should vote who had a direct personal interest. Sir Erskine May has said—but I do not wish to trouble the House by going into details. The whole question, I submit, so far as I am able to get into the matter, is what comes under the term "public policy." Does the vote that the hon. Member gave last night come within the term "public policy?" I submit it does not, because there never can be a vote given in this House which must not necessarily be one in which public policy is not involved. Therefore, I respectfully submit to you that according to the usages and long traditions of this House, that any hon. Member who has a direct personal interest—as in this case, an hon. Member having the direct financial interest of £500 in the particular Vote—has no right to vote. The hon. Member ought not to have voted. In conclusion, I may say that I have never spoken to the hon. Member in my life till yesterday. He is quite a stranger to me, and I am not raising this question on personal grounds at all."I know that view was taken by the hon. Member, and by a great many other hon. Members, but I think he will admit that it is not the universal view. There is also this to be said, that it is perfectly possible that the hon. Member's position will not be affected in any way. The interest of the hon. Member is not of that direct personal character to which the ruling of Mr. Speaker refers."
I take no exception to the form in which the hon. Member has stated the general ruling. He has collated some of the dicta that has fallen from my predecessors, and added one of my own. I believe that they are all harmonious. I think that the rule as it appears from what he has said, is perfectly clear. I do, however, take exception to his raising the matter now. I think the proper time for him to have raised the matter was in Committee as soon as the vote was given. [HON. MEMBERS: "He did."] Well, the hon. Member made no Motion. A Motion could have been made that the vote of that particular Member should be disallowed. We, sitting here to-day, are not necessarily the same individuals as were sitting here last night and who heard the discussion. We are not in a position to judge of the case which ought to have been treated instanter. In the well-known case which occurred in regard to the directors of the British East Africa Company, it is true that one or two days elapsed between the disallowance of the votes of those individuals, and the time when the Division was taken in which their vote was challenged, but that was by reason of the fact that the Committee in regard to that particular question of the East Africa Company were not sitting. This Vote was taken in Committee with the Chairman of Committees in the Chair and with presumably the interested parties present. I think the hon. Member is out of time in raising the question now. It ought to have been raised at once. If he had made out a primâ facie case the Chairman of Ways and Means, or the Deputy-Chairman, would have allowed the matter to proceed at once and to be settled there and then.
The Chairman ruled against the hon. Member.
If the matter was settled then by the Chairman it cannot be reopened now. The action of the Chairman precludes it. That information from the hon. Member shows how difficult it is to raise, with me in the Chair, a matter which occurred, and that the hon. Member says was settled last night when the House was in Committee.
With great respect, Mr. Speaker, might I ask you, as the guardian of the rights and privileges of the House, as to whether you might not give an opinion on the general matter, because it is a very serious question; it affects every Member of the House?
I do not know that there is any doubt whatever in regard to the general view. The general view is that a Member is not entitled to vote who has a direct personal pecuniary interest in the subject under discussion.
Yes, Sir; but the hon. Member concerned had not a direct pecuniary interest. I may remind you, too, that every day the Law Officers of the Crown vote for their own salaries. The question has been raised in reference to them, and it has been decided that it is perfectly right that they should vote.
On that point may I just call your attention, before you answer the hon. and learned Gentleman, that your predecessors have stated that the vote given in connection with the salary of the Attorney-General was one which enabled his conduct as Minister to be brought under the review of the House; that is an entirely different matter. On the general question may I say this: that the Deputy-Chairman of Ways and Means prevented me raising the question last night; therefore I had no opportunity to ask him whether the House was or was not entitled to review the matter at any time. I do not wish in any way to reflect upon the ruling given by the Deputy-Chairman. I was merely asking your view on this general question, and having got that I am perfectly satisfied.
There is no doubt that the decisions of the Chairman are open to review, but that must be done upon a proper formal Motion, on which the House is asked to reconsider the decision and, if necessary, to set it aside. I am not a Court of Appeal from the decision of the Chairman in Committee.
I do not want to put down a Motion.
May I, by way of personal explanation, say a few words as to what took place yesterday, as my position might be misunderstood? In giving my vote last night in Committee on the Motion for a smaller sum than was proposed in the original Estimate, I believed I was not doing anything wrong, and I maintain I did not do anything wrong, subject, of course, to what you, Sir, may say. My position was this: I was employed, not by the Treasury or the Board of Trade, but I was instructed by a solicitor who represented the National Union of Seamen and Firemen, and at a public inquiry I represented a private client. The Wreck Commissioner, Lord Mersey, in the exercise of the powers conferred on him under the Merchants Shipping Act—and any hon. Member who takes the trouble to read the Act will know he has such powers to award costs against any party appearing at an inquiry—awarded costs against the Board of Trade, and directed, amongst other matters, that the costs of the clients I represented should be paid by the Board of Trade. These costs were paid by the Board of Trade. Of course I would have been paid my fees by my clients in any event. In these circumstances I submit that in giving the vote I did give I was as disinterested as any Member of the House, including the hon. Baronet who raised this point; and, although I was not shaken in my view of what was right in the matter, in order not to have any question, I did not vote subsequently in the Division by which the full amount was voted to the Board of Trade.
After what the hon. Member has said I think it will be quite clear to the whole House, first of all, that the hon. Member has no direct pecuniary interest; and, secondly, that the Deputy-Chairman was therefore right in not allowing the question to be raised.
Farm Servants' Holidays Bill
"To give powers to local authorities to fix provisionally Holidays and Half-Holidays for Farm Servants." Presented by Mr. PRIMROSE; supported by Mr. Pringle, Mr. Wedgwood, Mr. Watt, and Mr. Towyn Jones; to be read a second time To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 364.]
Local Government (Scotland) Act Amendment
I beg to move that leave be given to introduce a Bill to "Amend the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1894."It is not too much to say that the Report of the Committee on the social conditions of the Highlands and Islands has come as a shock to every Member who has made himself acquainted with the contents. I do not propose to allude further to the Report, except with reference to one matter on which the Committee lay special stress, and which cannot be met by any amount of Treasury Grant, and as it is the particular grievance from which many of my Constituents have suffered for many years, and can get no redress, that induces me to bring forward this Bill, which I trust will command the unanimous approval of the House. I allude to the difficulty experienced in the Highlands and Islands, and indeed in other districts in Scotland, with reference to the difficulty of obtaining suitable housing accommodation for doctors. The minister of the parish is provided with a good manse, the schoolmaster and mistress are invariably provided with comfortable houses, but the doctor has got to camp where and how he can, and the parish council, who know well the urgent necessity of having a doctor in their midst, are powerless to assist. Hon. Members who have perused the Report will have noticed a special reference to the Island of Eday, Orkney; there the rent asked for a house which was erected by a former tenant and cost the landlord nothing, and which is the only house in the island available for a doctor's house, is absolutely extortionate, compared with the rent of other houses in the island. An adjoining case is much worse, and I regret very much that it is not made public in the Report of the Committee. This case, for sheer disregard for the safety of the lives of the islanders, is difficult to match. The estate is managed by a factor, and the mortgagee has no connection with the island or the people beyond that created by his mortgage. The islanders have for a long period, over twelve years, been striving to get a decent house for a doctor in their midst, and some ten years ago raised, by subscription, a considerable suns of money for the building. They were at first met in an uncompromising spirit of hostility, and the mortgagee or his advisers definitely refused to either sell, lease, or grant us a site for the house. We were powerless, but always hoped for a better spirit of Christian charity, and a little later we thought we were home, as the lawyer represent ing the mortgagee professed sympathy, and the islanders thereupon appointed him treasurer of the building fund, and the money was deposited in his bank. We now thought we were home, and were thankful; and the House will judge of our surprise when we found renewed hostility greater than ever, and that the money we had raised, and which had been placed in his agent's bank, was likely to remain there. The islanders have struggled to keep a doctor in their midst, and from time to time have been able to find a lodging somewhere for him or for her in a crofter's house, or such like place. They formed a medical committee and voluntarily subscribed annually to pay the medical officer of the parish council an additional sum to encourage him to come to and stay in the island. Hon. Members will hardly believe that the mortgagee in possession strained every effort to prevent them having a doctor in their midst, mid even appealed to the Scottish Local Government Board to find that it was illegal for the parish council to keep a medical officer and rate for his salary, but I rejoice to say he was unsuccessful in his efforts to take away that little crumb of comfort enjoyed by the people. Thanks to the intervention of the Scottish Secretary, some further light was last year thrown on the matter in a letter, from which it appeared that the mortgagee had always professed his willingness to give or grant a site and the best title in his power. This offer was never made known to the committee charged with the conduct of the matter, and directly it appeared was immediately accepted and immediately withdrawn. We then tried to find out what reason there could be for this determined refusal, and imagined it might be that the landlord feared some small extra liability for rates. In order to get over this difficulty, I offered to enter into a bond to relieve the landlord of any possible liability under this head, and was assured that the offer would be transmitted to their client and a reply sent me. From that day, over six months ago, we have had no reply. There the matter rests. The awakening of the public conscience by the publication of the Report seems to afford a suitable opportunity for bringing this disgraceful state of matters before His Majesty's Government and the House of Commons. The island is separated from any other by a dangerous sea, where high tides render communication additionally difficult, sometimes impossible; and those of us who have seen our near and dear ones suffer from want of a little timely aid will appreciate the anxiety of the islanders to have a doctor in their midst. The Bill is merely for the purpose of slightly enlarging the powers of the parish councils in Scotland, and to enable them to acquire land for the purpose of obtaining a site for a house for a doctor and nurse, and to make a grant from the rates for that purpose, as the councils are already empowered to do in respect of other matters.
In rising to oppose the introduction of this Bill, needless to say I do not do so on the general principle of the Bill outlined by the hon. Member, but I do think it is reducing this House to an absolute farce when an hon. Member sitting on the Government side brings in a Bill within three or four days of the conclusion of the Session. The Bill outlined by the hon. Member would, from the sentimental point of view, appeal to all classes and sections of political opinion in the House and in the country, but that is a very different thing from taking sensible action in a matter of this kind. Why could not the hon. Member wait until next Session, which, I understand, is to begin on the 10th March, to bring in his Bill? That would give all hon. Members an opportunity of examining it from the point of view of seeing how it conforms to the principle which the Government have already announced in granting something like £10,000 for the removal of the very state of affairs which the hon. Member complains of. One effect of allowing this Bill to go through would be that the hon. Member would get ahead of his Scottish colleagues in this way, that his Bill would be in print, and the Government, having announced their intention of making a Grant at an early date to the isolated parts of Scotland where the doctors have not proper facilities, and not only giving a Grant but of making inquiries to see what further is necessary in these widely-scattered areas, the hon. Member's Bill would be looked upon as a sort of guide in the matter, and therefore would prejudice the scheme which the Government intend to introduce as a whole. Without any desire of criticising the kindly spirit of the hon. Member who has presented this Bill, although tainted I am afraid by a little of the spirit of vote-catching in his own Division, and without impugning the sentimental character of the object of the hon. Member, I appeal to him not to press this Bill at this late stage of the Session, unless he intends it to take the same rank as the other large measures put forward by the Government under the Parliament Act. I do not know whether the hon. Member has sufficient support amongst the various log-rolling groups to get his measure starred by the Government, but I say that it is reducing the whole thing to absolute ridicule for such a staunch supporter of the Government to introduce a Bill like this, three days from the end of the Session, and in a Session, so far as length is concerned, which is without parallel within the memory of most of us. I think the hon. Member must feel that this Session we have carried more than enough legislation. For those reasons I oppose this Bill.
Question put, and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Cathcart Wason, Mr. Ainsworth, Mr. Barnes, Sir John Dewar, Mr. Leicester Harmsworth, Mr. Hogg, Mr. Lyell, Mr. Murray Macdonald, Mr. Macpherson, Mr. Morton, Mr. Munro, and Mr. Eugene Wason. Presented accordingly, and read the first time; to be read a second time to-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 365.]
Railways (No 2) Bill
Order for Committee read.
The following notices of Motion appeared upon the Order Paper:—
"That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to consider the desirability of making provision for requiring railway companies to provide sleeping accommodation for third-class passengers on all trains on which sleeping accommodation is provided."
"That it be an Instruction to the Committee to consider the desirability of requiring railway companies to separate their trading accounts so that the approximate cost of dealing with passengers, goods, and mineral traffic, respectively, can be ascertained by the public."
"That it be an Instruction to the Committee to consider the desirability of requiring railway companies to separate their trading accounts so as to enable traders and others interested to ascertain if one branch of trade is being charged for the increment cost of working other branches of trade."
"That it be an Instruction to the Committee that it be a condition precedent to putting in operation the provisions as to increased rates that every increased rate which includes conveyance and station terminals has been shown in the book of rates kept by a company under Section 14 of the Regulation of Railways Act, 1873, as a station to station rate, and that there has been included in the matters shown in the said book of rates a statement setting out the separate amounts charged for the station accommodation provided, and for each of the several services performed by the company as part of the increased rate."
"That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they be empowered to limit the operation of the Bill as to increases of rates or charges by railway companies to increases of the rates or charges on goods imported from abroad and on minerals."
"That it be an Instruction to the Committee that provision shall be made for the taking into consideration of the element of economy, as well as of increased cost due to improvements made in the conditions of employment in the staff of any railway company, in deciding whether an increase of rate or charge is justified."
The first Instruction standing in the name of the hon. Member for Sutherland (Mr. Morton) proposes to insert provisions in the Bill in order to provide sleeping accommodation for third-class passengers, and that is beyond the scope of this Bill.
May I point out that on the Second Reading the House discussed railway nationalisation, railway accounts and other matters connected with third-class passengers, and I wish to know why I am precluded from dealing with the same questions?
I cannot go back on the Second Reading. I have only to deal now with the Instructions as they appear on the Paper. To insert now any Clause dealing with third-class sleepers is quite irrelevant to the subject-matter of this Bill.
You stopped me discussing this question on the Second Reading.
As I have already pointed out, you cannot go back upon the Debate on the Second Reading, and I am now dealing with the Instructions on the Paper. If the hon. Member objected to anything I said on the Second Reading he should have raised it then. The next three Instructions, standing in the names of the hon. Member for Mansfield (Sir A. Markham), the hon. Member for East Bradford (Sir W. Priestley), and the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto), are all mandatory Instructions, and therefore are out of order in Committee of the Whole House. The Instruction standing in the name of the hon. Member for Chippenham (Mr. George Terrell) proposes to limit the operation of this Bill as to increases of rates or charges by railway companies to increases of the rates or charges on goods imported from abroad and on minerals. That can be done, if the Committee think fit, by Amendment in Committee. The last Instruction, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Wilton (Mr. Charles Bathurst), is also a mandatory Instruction, and cannot be dealt with in Committee of the Whole House.
Bill considered in Committee.
[Mr. WHITLEY in the Chair.]
Clause 1—(Increased Expenditure Due To Cost Of Improved Labour Conditions To Be Treated As A Valid Justification Of Increased Rates)
Where on a complaint with respect to any increase (within the maximum) of any rate or charge under Section one of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1894, the railway company proves to the satisfaction of the Railway and Canal Commissioners—
The first Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Morrell) is outside the scope of the Bill.
May I ask on what ground my Amendment has been ruled outside the scope of the Bill. The object of my Amendment, with the consequential Amendments which follow, is to limit the cases in which it can be shown there has been improvement in the conditions of those cases which are mentioned and surely that is within the scope of Section 1 of the Act of 1894.
This Bill deals with increases of rates or charges made for the purpose of meeting a rise in the cost of working a railway due to improved labour conditions. The hon. Member's Amendment goes far in advance of the general question. The first Amendment in order is that standing in the name of the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood).
I beg to move, after the word "complaint" ["where a complaint"], to insert the words "made on or before the nineteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and thirteen." If my Amendment is carried the Clause will read:—"Where on a complaint made on or before the 19th day of August, 1913, with respect to any increase (within the maximum) of any rate or charge under Section 1 of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1894, the railway company proves to the satisfaction of the Railway and Canal Commissioners." My object in moving this Amendment is, so far as I can, to limit the Bill to carrying out the definite pledge which the Prime Minister made to the railway companies in August, 1911. The terms on which the railway companies consented to have the strikers back again in their employ included a promise from the Prime Minister that if they did so, and if they raised the rate of wages owing to that strike, then the Government would allow the railway companies to use that increased rate of wages as evidence before the Royal Commission that specific rates should be raised against the traders of the country. My Amendment accurately carries out the pledge of the Prime Minister. In any case I do not think it binds the rest of the House, although it binds the Government, but I believe the Government could accept this Amendment and still be keeping to the letter and the pledge they gave to the railway companies in August, 1911. This Amendment says that complaints made before a certain date shall be allowed to take into account the rise of wages, and it limits the operation of the Bill in this way, that in the case of any rise in wages made subsequent to the present date utterly unconnected with the late railway strike of August, 1911, the company should not be able to plead those rises in wages as a ground for increasing the rates against the traders. It says to the companies "You shall be allowed to plead the increase in wages which was directly due to the great strike, but you shall not be allowed to plead for all time that any rise of wages in any part of the land is ipso facto a good ground for a general increase in railway rates. I maintain that if we put this Amendment into the Bill we shall be doing all that the railway companies can reasonably require of the Government, and at the same time we shall be conferring an enormous benefit upon the whole of the trading community. If this Bill passes as it is drawn it stands to reason that at any future date, it may be fifty years hence, if a trader complains of some rate being increased—it is true that everyone knows that the maximum is 50 per cent. above the present rates—he will have pleaded against him some rise in pay which makes that increase in rate justifiable. If this Amendment is put in, you make it quite definite that the railway company must raise the rate within a certain period, and must not come along 50 or 100 years hence, and say because we raised wages in 1911 we now rule you out and we say that as traders you have no right to complain of our increased rates. I appeal to hon. Members whether it is not fair and right in the interests of the trading community, and also in the interests of the consumers, that we ought to say that this measure only refers to increases in wages made during the great strike, and that it shall not be possible for railway companies, years and years hence, to use a rise in wages given them as an excuse for a subsequent increase in the rates charged to the traders. Agriculture has suffered already sufficiently by high rates. Every reform in regard to small holdings and intensive cultivation is hampered by charges upon market produce, and owing to the want of co-operation and poverty those engaged in agricultural pursuits are unable to bring before the railway companies and the Railway Commissioners complaints in regard to any increase in railway rates. You are putting those people in an unfair position, because they never know how far back the railway companies may go to discover in some hole-and-corner manner a trivial increase in wages, and use that against the interests of the agricultural small holder, who, if we pass this Bill as it stands, will have no power to resist the plea put forward by the railway company. If we pass this Bill without limiting the period during which the railway companies will be able to plead excuses of this kind, we shall be putting an unfair penalty on the small trader, and the consumer, and giving an unfair bonus to the vested interests of the railway companies. I do not think vested interests have any right to ask from Parliament the power to transfer to the back of the consumer an increase in their charges due to their paying, for the first time, a living wage to their men. I do not think this House would be well advised to increase or go forward with this precedent which was made in the hard times of a national strike. Even if the House agrees that we should give to this vested interest the bonus which this Bill confers upon them, I think it should be limited within the bounds of reason, and we ought to lay down that after such and such a date—I am not particularly anxious about fixing the date as the 1st of July, 1913, because any subsequent definite date would suit me—so that the traders may know that this can only apply after that date. I ask the Government, at any rate, to give us some hope of a limitation in this direction.
I do not think my hon. Friend quite understands the effect these words would have. If the words were accepted the Clause would read:—"Where on a complaint made on or before the 19th day of August, 1913, with respect to any increase—" etc. It appears to me if these words were passed it would be immensely to the disadvantage of the trader, because, if the Railway and Canal Commissioners agreed to the proposed rate, it would then come in force. The 13th of August, 1913, is not very far off, and, if they did not make complaint before then, they would be precluded under the Amendment from making any complaint at all. I am sure that is not the object my hon. Friend has in view, but it is the effect of his words. I understand his object is that this undertaking shall not continue indefinitely, but only for about one and a half years, during which time the increases made shall be subject to the consideration of the Railway and Canal Commissioners, and that after a certain period no further increases in rates shall be made under the Bill. I think it would be a very great mistake from every point of view to fix any period, because the first result would be that the railway companies, being limited in the period during which they could make their increases, would obviously make them at the earliest possible moment, and that would certainly not be to the advantage of the trader. They would also naturally recoup themselves to the fullest possible extent in the period which the Act allowed. That also would not be to the advantage of the trader. My hon. Friend said the only increases which ought to come under the Bill were those made during the strike.
Those made as the result of the strike.
I do not know whether my hon. Friend is aware that the Conciliation Committees under which these increases are practically made will in many cases continue in existence until 1914, and, if they are working satisfactorily, they will undoubtedly continue after that time, probably indefinitely. I do not think therefore there is any justification for limiting, and certainly I should not consider the Government were carrying out their undertaking if they limited it to such a period. It would be altogether contrary to the spirit and the intention of the undertaking, and I think it would be to the great disadvantage of the traders themselves. I pointed out on the Second Reading, and I think it was generally understood, that the object of the Bill was to facilitate and induce railway companies to improve the conditions of their employés, and to remove the stumbling block which already exists in the way of their doing so. That stumbling block, it seems to me, should be removed for as long a period as possible, and I think from the point of view of the traders, and certainly of the employés, the Amendment would be really injurious, and I hope under those circumstances my hon. Friend will not press it.
On a point of Order. May I ask whether the Debate on this Amendment will make any further debate on the Amendment standing in my name impossible?
To which Amendment does the hon. Member refer?
My Amendment limiting the operation of the Act to three years. It is a new Clause.
I think I shall have to be guided by the nature of the present Debate; it has hardly developed far enough yet.
I am sure there is no one in the House who feels more strongly than I do with regard to the administration of the railway campanies as affecting the welfare of the traders, and particularly the farmers and small holders to whom the hon. Gentleman opposite has referred, but I am bound to say, after carefully studying the Amendment, I cannot see how the traders will benefit, and I am quite certain the employés of the railway companies will suffer. I represent a considerable number of railway employés, and, as representing their interests as well as those of agriculturists, I am opposed to the acceptance of this Amendment. It seems to me, if this limitation is inserted, it is bound to operate against any increase of wages to employés after August next, and for that reason I shall oppose it. I may remind the hon. Gentleman that the Railway and Canal Commissioners already have jurisdiction to allow increases in railway charges if there is an improvement as regards wages in the condition of those employed by the railway companies, so, supposing this Amendment were passed, if it could be shown the railway workers had benefited, that would still be sufficient justification for an increase in rates.
I hope my hon. Friend will not press the Amendment, because the effect from every point of view will be disadvantageous both to the trader, the railway companies, and the railway employés. Whatever his motive may have been, if he reads the Amendment as it will be when it comes to be put into the Bill, he will see the only effect will be to restrict the complaints that can be made, and I therefore hope he will not press it.
If that were the effect of the Amendment I should be opposed to it very strongly, but I cannot see that is the effect at all. The Amendment does not suggest that complaints are to be restricted, far from it. A railway company can only raise this new question of more money having been paid to employés where a complaint is made under Clause 1 of this Bill.
A railway company raises the rate first, and then a complaint has to be made. When the complaint is made the Railway and Canal Commissioners have power under Clause 1 to consider the question of the better conditions of the employés. The Amendment does not interfere with that in any way. It provides that Clause 1 shall not apply to any complaints unless they are made before August, 1913. This Bill refers only to increases in the rates of wages of railway employés and improvements in their conditions made by the railway companies to settle the strike of 1911. If it were not for that, I am sure the House would not have consented on Second Reading to pass a Bill of such far-reaching importance at this late stage in the Session. I entirely disagree with those who have suggested that a Bill of that kind would be a good Bill. There may be a difference of opinion. Some hon. Gentlemen may think that would be a good Bill, and I may think it would not; but I hope all will agree that this stage of the Session is not the time to discuss and finally decide a wide-reaching proposition of that kind. The Amendment, I submit, would do what the Government announced they intended to do, and, without which announcement, I do not think they would have got the Bill through on Second Reading. I know a large number of Liberal Members voted for the Second Reading, not because they were in favour of the Bill at all, but because they consider the Government had bonâ fide made a promise for the purpose of settling a great strike, and they felt called upon to back the Government up in carrying out that promise. I therefore say my hon. Friend is quite justified in attempting to confine the Bill to what the Government promised. It was certainly very far from the Government's promise that railway companies should be entitled to unload the whole cost of every rise in wages and every change for the better in the conditions of the men upon the trading public of the country. They did not promise any such thing.There was a strike, and the men asked for certain wages and certain improvements in their conditions. The Government said if the railway companies would give those wages and grant those improvements in the conditions they would introduce a special Bill to allow them to add it to their rates. That is the question before us. The Bill was passed on Second Reading, after very inadequate discussion, because it dealt with that single point. I was very anxious to deal with the principle of the Bill on Second Reading, but I had no opportunity, because it was closured by the President of the Board of Trade. I do not think for a moment he would do that for the purpose of suppressing discussion of a very important question, but he did it because the Bill dealt with that single point, because we were at the end of the Session, and because the Government wanted to carry out their promise. I do not blame him for closuring it under those circumstances, but I do protest against such a very wide principle as is contained in Clause 1 being allowed to go through under the circumstances in which we are here at the present time. I suggest that the Government, in order to be fair with the House and to get the Bill through, should accept the Amendment. I protest very vigorously that it is not an Amendment which will prevent traders making a complaint. It will prevent the railway companies pleading Clause 1 before the Railway and Canal Commissioners except with regard to complaints that are made as to rises in connection with the strike in August, 1911. Under those circumstances, I support the Amendment very strongly. I have had the opportunity of discussing the matter very intimately with railway employés, of whom my Constituency is largely composed, and I know they are very much opposed to this Bill, and expect, if possible, to have it confined in Committee by Amendments such as this to the circumstances under which the Government actually made the promise, and under which they have got the Bill through the House on Second Reading.
I confess that, while I quite agree that we are bound in honour by the promise of the Government, and while I think that if this Bill was presented immediately after the strike was over we should have passed it with very little comment, yet as it is now, there is not the slightest doubt that there has been a very considerable amount of disturbance, and a considerable amount of opposition has been generated against this measure. Therefore it is well we should criticise the Bill, whilst giving legislative effect to the promise of the Government, and that we should seek to keep it within the limits of that promise. I venture to suggest, in spite of the discussion that has taken place on this Amendment and the various criticisms upon it, that really the effect of the Amendment is to carry out the bare promise of the Government, and not to allow the companies to use this Bill for extracting still further tolls out of the traders who use their lines for purposes of transit. The situation is very serious indeed; there are very few traders who can afford any in- crease whatever upon the cost of transit. I have many complaints from my own Constituency with reference to this Bill and to the Clause which is now under discussion; and it is for those reasons necessary that we should calmly and judiciously consider this proposal. The situation, as I understand it, is that the Government made a promise to the railway companies that if they would agree to certain advances of wages, they on their part would agree to this Bill being passed to enable them to recoup some of the expenses they had incurred in making that improvement. The Clause which we are now discussing says to the companies, "You shall have no powers practically beyond what you now possess." It says that the rates must be still within the maximum, but, even so, traders can complain that the freights charged are excessive, and when the trader does make such a complaint it will be open to the company to rebut that complaint on the part of the public, and to the Railway and Canal Commissioners to take into account the amount of wages which has resulted from the negotiations which took place a year ago, and the increased cost of transit which has resulted from those wages. So far as they could prove their case, that shall be on the part of the railway companies an answer to the complaint, even if the freight is still within the maximum.What does the Amendment say? It proposes to put after the word "complaint" the words "made on or before the 19th day of August, 1913." That allows the rates to be raised by the railway companies on account of the extra expenditure which they say has resulted from the settlement of the dispute a year ago, and then, if the trader complains of that rate on the ground of it being excessive, it puts a limit to that defence by the railway company by the period mentioned in the Amendment. After that the railway companies shall not be entitled to use the remaining Sections of the Clause for the purpose of rebutting that complaint. At the same time, unless these limiting words are inserted, you will give them carte blanche, so that at any period, it may even be ten years hence, when a complaint is made by the traders of excessive freightage the answer of the companies can be that recently, or during the nine or ten years, wages have been so improved that they are entitled to make this increase, and that must be considered by the Railway and Canal Commissioners, if proved, as a sufficient answer to the case of the traders. That is not quite the sort of cheque which we ought to write and give to the railway companies. We should limit it to the increase which has resulted from the strike which the Government settled by making this promise. If, on some future occasion, any dispute takes place, and the railway men are able to make another demand and extract another concession from the railway companies, then the companies ought to come again to this House for a similar measure. What it amounts to now, as a matter of fact, is that for the future they will be able to use this Bill whenever they pretend they have made a concession to their workpeople. I quite agree that some kind of proof that they have made this concession will have to be given before this would be an answer on the question of increased rates. I venture to suggest on many grounds that this Amendment is necessary. First, on the side of the men. I have 800 railway men in my Constituency, and I represent them to that extent, and for their own sake, for their own purpose, for the purpose on some future occasion of extracting still another increase for these men, we ought to retain this power in our own hands, and not give carte blanche to the railway directors to say that this is an answer to any suggested improvement in the condition of the workpeople. Still more in the interests of the traders it ought to be limited. Take my own Constituency; the whole population there are practically ruined by railway freightage as it is to-day; it is well known, and shows how necessary some limit of the kind is, that it costs as much to take a crate of goods from Longton to Romford, a distance of some 37 miles; it is exactly the same sum, I am informed by the President of the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, which is charged to put the same crate on board a ship, take it across 3,000 miles of sea, put it on board an American railway truck, and take it across 2,500 miles of American railway. The cost is exactly the same for 37 miles as it is for 7,000 miles.
I do not think we can enter upon this Bill into a general discussion of railway rates. The Bill is closely limited in its title and scope, and it only deals with the proposed increase of rates suggested to meet the increased cost of working in view of increase of wages.
I quite understand that I am bound to keep within the terms of this Bill, or else one could show where a good deal of this useless expenditure on railway management goes at the present time, representing a sum which would be sufficient to meet all that the workmen have got in increases of wages. I merely use that argument to show that we must have some kind of limitation as to how far the complaints of the traders can be rebutted by the railway companies. We must see that they cannot always use this, Section, and that they shall be limited to some time, so that if there is any future bound forward in wages, which would justify Parliament in interfering again, they shall be bound to appeal to this House and to prove their case before they are granted such a concession. If the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme goes to a Division I shall support him. We want to be able to say to the railway companies, "If you want to meet the objections and complaints of the traders you must show that there has been a positive improvement since the last rate was made." There must be some limit—I do not say these are the exact words, but they cannot have carte blanche for ever. They may say that porters' wages at such and such a station have been improved or that platelayers have got sixpence more or are working half an hour less than they used to do, but they should not be able to use this Clause for ever as an answer to the complaint, made by the traders. That is an absurd proposition. I think this Amendment represents the promise made by the Government when they settled the dispute.
I intend to keep closely to the actual Amendment. It seems to me the Committee should bear in mind that there is not a single word in the actual undertaking given by the Government stating that their offer to the railway companies shall be limited exclusively to the increased rates due to the late strike. Therefore it seems to me that several of the speeches made on the other side are based upon an entire misconception of the situation. On one point I agree with what has been said on the other side, and that is that this Bill requires some limitation, but we have reasonable Amendments down to carry that into effect, and I do hope that this subject will be properly discussed. I found myself in agreement with the President of the Board of Trade when he said that it would be undesirable. both from the point of view of the wage-earner and the trader, that the whole question should be rushed in the next few months, as proposed by this Amendment. I believe the result would be to produce exactly that state of industrial unrest which is so undesirable, and which would present an insuperable incentive to the railway companies to rush all their increases of rates through in the next few months and disorganise the trade of the country. I am also entirely in agreement with the hon. Member who spoke in the interests of agriculture in saying that, so far as the agriculturists and traders of the country are concerned, a reasonable limit to the operation of this Bill is desirable, but this particular Amendment is most undesirable. I am opposed to it for one additional reason, which is that the hon. Member for Stoke, who has just spoken, said that in desiring to limit the operation of this Bill exclusively to the results of the crisis of last year he deliberately wished—and that, I assume, is concurred in by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme—to lay down that if at any time we have a strike on the railways we should have to pass another Bill through this House to deal with the situation. If that were to be the result of this Amendment it would be a most unfortunate result, in addition to the unfortunate results I have already enumerated. I hope, therefore, that there is not the slightest chance of the Amendment being carried.
I hope the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme will not press his Amendment, and I am speaking on behalf of the traders. As I read it, and as I am advised, the only result of it is to limit the time in which traders can make complaints in regard to this matter before the Court of the Railway and Canal Commissioners. It says "where any complaint made on or before the 19th August, 1913." If no complaint is made by the 19th August, 1913, the trader is entirely out of court.
My hon. Friend says we shall go back to the old law. I am very doubtful on that point. I am advised by very competent legal authorities that his interpretation is incorrect. If we want to carry out the hon. Member's intentions, we had much better wait until we get to the Amendment which limits the duration of the Bill. I think this Amendment is certainly detrimental to traders. I speak on behalf of the organisation of traders, whose legal adviser I have consulted, and that is their view. It will not be in any way to their advantage, nor will it carry out the object desired. The result of the Amendment, if carried, is rather absurd, for if any complaint made after August, 1913, comes under the old law, obviously no complaint will ever be entered under their present Bill at all, and it becomes so much waste paper.
If that is what my hon. Friend wants, he ought to say so. The Amendment would destroy the chance of traders complaining under the Bill. I do not think that traders at the present time are desirous of doing either of these things, for one simple reason that it will keep alive for ever friction between the railway employés and the railway directors or managers, and there will be continual reference to the House of Commons to settle the dispute, either on behalf of the railway men or the companies. That would be a most unfortunate thing. I cannot understand anyone who represents labour interests supporting this Amendment. The point some hon. Members have in their minds does arise in the later Amendment limiting the duration of the Bill to a definite number of years. The whole question can then be discussed, and in these circumstances I ask my hon. Friend not to press the Amendment.
Some of the speeches and statements have been very interesting, but they have certainly not been germane to the Amendment we are discussing. If the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward) is, as he says, speaking in the name of the men, I can quite conceive that he is doing his best, as he believes it to be, in the interests of the men, but I would respectfully suggest to him and to others that they should save their enthusiasm for some of the later Amendments which tend to improve the Bill in a genuine sense. The position appears to me to be that we are likely to have this Bill. That being so, I want to fashion it in the interests of the men. It is evident that the Amendment is not what the Mover intended it to be. We are not dealing with his speech, nor with the speech of the hon. Member for Stoke. We may agree with much that they have said, but they were not dealing with the Amendment. As it appears on the Paper, the Amendment is absolutely the reverse of what his speech indicated that he intended it to be. That being so, it will be much better, in order to get on to the Amendments that do matter, for the hon. Member to withdraw the Amendment.
I appeal to my hon. Friend to withdraw this Amendment. A good many Members on both sides of the Committee are in favour of limiting the duration of this measure, and I believe that the proper time for discussing it is when we come to the new Clause limiting the duration of the Bill to a certain number of years. I do not think the Amendment now before the Committee will carry out the intention of the hon. Member, or of those who have supported the Amendment, and it may have the result of putting in jeopardy the Amendments which will really limit the duration of the Bill. I hope the Committee will consider this question on the new Clause of the hon. Member for the Wilton Division (Mr. C. Bathurst), which is an Amendment agreeable to all sections of the House. I hope the President of the Board of Trade will agree to some limitation of the measure in the interests of everyone.
I cannot profess to speak with the authority of the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) on behalf of railway employés, but I do represent a good many of them in my Constituency, and they have been unanimous, so far as I can understand, in wishing this Bill not to proceed. Nor can I speak as the hon. Member for Swansea (Sir A. Mond) did on behalf of the people employed on the railways and traders who have dealings with railway companies. He must combine in himself a very extensive power if he can represent those elements at the same time. It seems to me that this Bill was introduced for a specific purpose—to deal with the settlement effected after the railway strike, and if that cannot be dealt with by August of this year, I do not see what the object of this Bill is at all.
I want, if possible, some statement made by the Government before we go to a vote on this matter. I can quite understand that the words suggested by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood) may not carry out exactly what he is aiming at. It is clear to my mind that the Bill as framed does for all time give to the Railway Commis- sioners the power to grant increases to the railway directors. I do not want that. On the other hand, I think that the Amendment, if literally applied, would make nonsense of the Bill, because it limits the whole operation of the Bill. It has been suggested that it only limits the power of the trader to make a complaint. In doing that it limits the scope of application of the Bill until next August, and thereafter it becomes defunct, therefore the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for the Wilton Division (Mr. C. Bathurst) would be a better one to adopt. I only want to ask the Government if they will assent at some later stage, if this Amendment is withdrawn, to some limitation being put into the Bill. I would much rather vote for the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for the Wilton Division, but it is of no use disguising the fact that it is down a dozen pages later on the Amendment paper, and it is not very probable that we shall reach that point. At all events, we ought to have the application of this Bill limited to three or four years, or whatever time it may be, after which the railway directors shall not have the right of pleading, in justification of increased rates, that they have increased wages. Unless we have some statement from the Government as to their intention to put in some limitation of the duration of the Bill, I shall certainly vote for the Amendment.
It is quite clear from the discussion we have had that the question of the duration of this Bill does not really arise in regard to this Amendment. There are Amendments down later on limiting the duration of the Bill, which will undoubtedly be reached, and which the Committee will have an opportunity of considering. I shall then endeavour to show that limiting the duration of the Bill in these circumstances, in the first place, would not be carrying out the undertaking of the Government; and, in the second place, would be injurious to the whole objects of the Bill, to the men themselves, and to the other interests concerned. I do not propose to enter upon a discussion of that now, because I think we should have a better discussion when we get to that point rather than on this Amendment, which travels over a good deal of ground which is not germane to it. That is my answer to the hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes). I am prepared to discuss the question on its merits.
On a point of Order, Sir. In the event of this Amendment being negatived, shall we still be able to raise the question of the duration of the Bill upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Wilton Division?
Before you decide the point of Order, may I urge that the discussion of this Amendment has nothing whatever to do with the discussion of the Amendment put on the Paper by the hon. Member for the Wilton Division. This Amendment says that complaints made before a certain date shall come under this Bill, and that complaints made after that date shall come under the present law. It prevents the railway companies having any advantage in arguing with a trader after a certain date, and it leaves them after that date in exactly the same position they are in to-day. If the Amendment put on the Paper by the hon. Member for the Wilton Division is moved, the discussion on that will be on quite a different point, namely, how long this Bill is to last, not how long before that date complaint is to be made, but how long the Bill is to be in operation. I submit that that is a totally different question. Although it is true that some of the speeches made on this Amendment have been germane to the other subject, yet on the actual facts of the case the Amendment he desires would be entirely different.
It seems to me that the hon. Member's own speech was more directed to the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Wilton Division (Mr. C. Bathurst) than to the Amendment he has moved, namely, the question whether the Bill should be limited or not. If the Debate proceeds any further on that line, I shall certainly be bound not to allow it to be raised again.
Do I understand from my right hon. Friend that when we come to discuss the question of the duration of this Bill, and whether it should be limited or not, the Government's attitude will be they will not agree to the Bill being limited?
It is quite clear that if we are going to deal with that question now it must be once and for all.
The point is an entirely different one.
Can we have your ruling, Sir, on the question put by my hon. Friend?
I think that was the point I was endeavouring to answer namely, whether this Amendment would exclude the subsequent one on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for the Wilton Division. Is that the point?
We have been debating this matter for an hour, and almost every speech I have heard has been on the question whether the whole Bill should be limited in its duration. I am obliged to be guided by the nature of the Debate, as well as the actual words of the Amendment. I have already said that if the Debate proceeds on that line any further it will be my duty to exclude the other proposal.
I suggest that you, Sir, put the Committee in a perfectly impossible position. For instance, suppose I ask leave to withdraw this Amendment a single railway director can refuse leave, whereupon the Committee would be compelled to vote upon my Amendment, which is one in effect practically negativing the Bill, and they would be unable to discuss the subsequent Amendment.
I wish the hon. Member had made that clear at the beginning, because I should have ruled his Amendment out of order and we might have saved an hour. I think he had better withdraw it quickly.
As the Amendment to which reference has been made stands in my name, I would ask your definite ruling as to whether if this discussion continues, it will be ruled out of order. I entirely agree with the hon. Member (Mr. Wedgwood) that his Amendment has no relevance whatever to the Amendment standing in my name to the effect that the operation of the Bill should last for three years only.
Would not the simplest way out of the difficulty be that if any future speeches are made beyond the true limits of the present Amendment, they should be ruled out of order?
My difficulty was that I did not understand the purport of the Amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. Wedgwood). If he had explained it at first as he explained it in a word just now, I should certainly have ruled it out at the beginning, but I am not always able to apprehend what Members are attempting to achieve in their Amendments. In reply to the hon. Member (Mr. C. Bathurst), I have been endeavouring for the last few minutes to avoid a ruling that this would exclude the future Amendment, but I am bound to hold if the Debate proceeds that it must have a serious effect on the subsequent one.
If the Amendment is withdrawn now, shall we still be able to discuss a limitation of time?
Yes, I think that is so.
In these circumstances, would it not be better to rule my hon. Friend's Amendment out of order now?
I quite understand the position, but the fault is not entirely mine. It is largely due to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Buxton). My Amendment is in effect one negativing the Bill—that is to say, the Bill will only be operative if complaints are made before a certain date, and naturally no trader would complain until after that date. In so far as it is an Amendment which will deprive this Bill of any sort of value to the railway companies, it is an Amendment negativing the Bill.
Then I at once rule it out of order.
May I point out that the hon. Member's construction is not the real meaning of the Amendment at all, and that, therefore, it is in order notwithstanding the view that my hon. Friend takes of it?
I have already given my ruling.
I beg to move to leave out the words "the maximum" ["any increase within the maximum"], and to insert instead thereof the words "any limit fixed by an Act of Parliament, or by a Provisional Order confirmed by an Act of Parliament."
I accept that Amendment.
I should like to know what is the exact effect of changing the word "maximum" into the sentence which appears on the Order Paper, because if it is a mere case of drafting there is nothing to be said against it, but if it has got any sort of practical effect I think the Committee ought to know what that practical effect is.
This is only taking the words already in Clause 1. It is better to have it quite clear on the face of the Bill what maximum is intended.
Are there any rates at all fixed by Provisional Order?
Some of them.
Amendment agreed to.
The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member (Mr. George Terrell) I have a little doubt about. If it is within the scope of the Bill at all, there can be only a very limited discussion dealing entirely with the increase proposed in this Bill, and not entering into any general question as between the rates on agricultural produce at home and abroad.
I beg to move, after the word "charge" ["of any rate or charge"] to insert the words "for the carriage of goods other than agricultural produce the products of the United Kingdom."I quite agree that the scope is limited. The object of the Amendment is that no alteration should be made in railway rates which would prejudice our farming industry. We are all at this moment full of sympathy with the labourer, because if you hit the farmer it stands to reason that you hit the labourer, and the surest way of attacking a man is to attack him through his job. We want to encourage our farming industry. It is heavily handicapped at present, and bears a heavy burden of taxation in various forms, and I am extremely anxious that if the Bill goes through in its present form it will seriously handicap the people. Last week I raised the question of the rates on milk coming from France to London, and according to the answer which I obtained—
That is not a point which can be raised on this Amendment. It must be confined solely to the question of this new suggested increase, and cannot deal with existing differential rates.
I was not raising the fiscal question in any shape. I wanted to show that there is a through rate from the Continent to London, and likewise a through rate from most of our towns for milk. I think within a 100 mile radius, the rate is 1d. per gallon from most towns. By this Bill we give the Railway Commissioners power to increase the rate, and at the same time we do not raise the other rates. We increase the handicap which the English farmer already has. We can make it all fair as between the various farmers in our own country, but when we come to a through rate, which is partly a railway rate and partly a shipping rate, that would be continued, and some of our people would be put to a very great disadvantage. Of course, taking the case of the English farmer, there is no competition as between two railways. In most cases the farmer is served by a single railway station, and he cannot get a lower rate. It is arbitrarily fixed. But when it is a case for foreign produce, there is competition, and all the railway companies try to attract to their steamers or railways, and you get a totally different state of affairs. The present rate from Southampton to London is 1d., but when milk is consigned at a through rate from a French port to London, the through rate would not be increased. That would be a considerable increase in the difficulties which people already have to bear. One penny a gallon on milk is a matter of very great consequence. A very important dairy farmer told me the other day that if he could get an extra penny a gallon for his milk he would give everyone of his able-bodied labourers £1 a week. He would like to do it, and I take it we should all like to see him do it, and we do not want to whittle down the small margin of profit which he has by unconsciously increasing the importer's advantage. I hope what I have said will appeal to hon. Members opposite who profess to represent the working classes. To my mind, it is really a very shabby thing to attempt to recoup the railway companies at the expense of such a very poor, struggling, and deserving class as the agricultural labourer, because, as sure as you hit his job, however slightly, you will check the tendency to give him more money. We are all trying to get him more money. We are all thinking, on both sides of the House, how more money can he obtained for this deserving class, and I suggest to the Government that it is undesirable in any way to further burden what we all know is an industry which has been carried on under very struggling conditions.
The hon. Gentleman gave reasons why it was disadvantageous that agriculture like other industries should pay high rates. With that we all agree and sympathise, but I do not know why under this particular Bill agriculture should be picked out and given separate treatment. If agriculture were to be put in a preferential position, there would be objections made on the part of those interested in other forms of traffic. I do not think the hon. Gentleman gave any valid reason why agriculture should be exempt from any increase put on the general rates charged by railway companies, which is due to increased cost of working and increased wages for labour. As conditions exist now, the rates charged are under the Act of 1894, and if this Amendment were carried, it would put other classes of traders in a very detrimental position, not only as regards this Bill, but also under the Bill of 1891. If agriculture is in such a position generally in regard to railway rates, and if it can be shown that agriculture should be treated differentially, that is not a matter to be dealt with under this Bill, though if the question were raised on a proper opportunity, it is one which ought to receive reasonable consideration. But there is no reason why agriculture should be selected for advantageous treatment, not only in regard to those increases of rates that may be made under this Bill, but put in a preferential position as regards the Act of 1894. I think that question ought to be dealt with under a general Act, and not in this Bill.
I must confess I am exceedingly disappointed with the answer the right hon. Gentleman has made. My opposition to this Bill, so far as it goes, is purely an agricultural one. I am chairman of the Labour Committee of the Central Chamber of Agriculture, and therefore I may claim to know how agriculturists feel with respect to this Bill. Although they are strongly against the Bill, and have passed resolutions against it, I think if this Amendment could have been accepted, it would have lessened their opposition to the measure. Agriculturists are in a hopeless position in these matters. It is impossible for the small farmer to take care of himself in regard to such proposals as are contained in the Bill. If my hon. Friend presses the Amendment to a Division, I will support him.
I agree with all the arguments adduced by the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment. It seemed to me that they were conclusive. It also seemed to me that an equally good case could have been made out for every other industry in the country as well as the agricultural industry. I shall certainly support the Amendment if it goes to a Division, because I am opposed to the whole Bill. I voted against the Second Reading of the Bill, and I would like to see some Amendment introduced which would render it entirely inoperative. [An HON. MEMBER: "To knock the bottom out of it."] Yes, to knock the bottom out of it. There is no doubt that the agricultural community is going to be very much harassed under this Bill, but the working-class community in my Constituency will be very much harassed also if they have to pay more for milk and all kinds of agricultural produce that comes into London. The only chance they have of getting their supplies carried at cheap rates is to get them from foreign countries. Foreign importers have a chance of getting their goods carried cheaply on our railways. There is no chance of the home producer getting his goods hauled at a decent rate, but if goods come from California or Argentina the railway companies are prepared to carry them at a fifth or a tenth of the rate at which they carry home products to the great City of London. I shall have the greatest pleasure in supporting the Amendment, and I do hope the hon. Gentleman who moved it will go to a Division upon it. I am thoroughly satisfied that if such an Amendment were carried it would meet with the approval of the whole country. I am satisfied that no Bill has been discussed in this House—Home Rule Bill or Welsh Disestablishment Bill—that is so thoroughly detested as this one, and were it not for the fact that the Government inadvertently, and in a sort of panic, made a promise to the railway companies which hon. Members on this side of the House, as well as on the other side, think they ought not to have made, the Bill would have been more strongly opposed.
The hon. Member's speech would be more appropriate on the Second Reading than on this Amendment.
Perhaps that is so. I had a speech prepared for the Second Reading, and was shut out by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. I think that argument can be adduced for speaking as I did when supporting the Amendment. If we cannot discuss questions of this kind without the Closure, what kind of question can be discussed? It is almost necessary to transgress a little. I shall try not to do it again, but the temptation is very great. We had no Second Reading Debate at all. We had only a few perfunctory speeches, which did not deal adequately with the matters involved here.
With reference to the argument that we ought not to give a preference to agriculture, I would point out that every other trade is affected by that industry. Agriculture has the great defect that it suffers very much from the variations of weather. Those engaged in the industry, in the past year, suffered most serious losses on that account. Agriculture is an industry which is affected by weather in a way that other trades are not affected at all. I wish to say on behalf of the fruit trade especially that I do hope the Amendment will go to a Division. I think it is most important, so far as small traders are concerned, that the Amendment should be carried.
I wish to ask whether the statement that appears in the "Times" to-day that the Government have agreed to eliminate the rates charged for the carriage of passengers is true or not. If that statement is true, it is going to have a material effect on this Amendment. The announcement in the "Times" is that the Government have given an undertaking that no rates are to be increased for passengers. If that is so, the extra cost for working the railways will have to fall on goods and mineral traffic, and therefore, on behalf of a poor and struggling industry, I would be inclined to leave out the word "agriculture" and insert the word "mineral." If that was done there would be nothing left to tax at all. I wish to know from the President of the Board of Trade whether the Government have agreed to insert an Amendment that all charges are to fall upon goods and minerals, and not on passenger traffic?
I have an Amendment on the Paper which would have exactly the opposite effect. The hon. Baronet will see that I am going to propose to exclude the cost of carrying passengers. I shall explain the Amendment later on when we come to it. I have obtained the assent of the railway companies to this proposition, and so far as the cost of carrying passengers has increased owing to wages or conditions that part of the additional cost will be taken out of the Bill altogether, and instead of that addition falling on goods, as in other circumstances it would have done, the charge will disappear from the Bill, with the result that the burden on goods will be lighter than it would otherwise have been.
I would support the Amendment most heartily if the suggestion of the hon. Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Martin) could be carried out by extending it to the productions of the United Kingdom. I shall support the Amendment, because the conveyance of agricultural produce in this country is much more expensive than the conveyance of agricultural produce imported from abroad. I hold it is most unfair to the agricultural industry and the fruit-growing industry that they should be penalised in respect of produce coming from abroad. We find that railway charges are very much heavier on agricultural produce coming from the provinces to London than upon products coming from America or even further afield than that. Hence, any increase of the present charges would tell oppressively on the agricultural interest in this country, which is already handicapped and at great disadvantage. In fact, the difference in the charges on home agricultural produce as compared with foreign agricultural produce is so great that it amounts really to protection to the foreigner against the home producer. While I wish to support the Government in carrying out the promise made to the railway companies, I do contend that we have a right in the interests of the protection of trade and of producers in this country to see that a limit is put upon the powers placed in the hands of the railway companies, so that the trading community will not suffer in consequence of this Bill. I think we can support this Amendment without being unjust to other industries, although I would be glad to see this exception made in reference to all things produced in the United Kingdom.
The Constituency which I represent is agricultural and highly industrial. I intervene to draw attention to a point which I think fair and reasonable. If the House will look at the Memorandum published on this Bill they will see the undertaking in these words:—
There is no suggestion there that there should be any exemption for any particular class or classification of traffic. We have had the agricultural interest asking for exemption and the hon. Member for Mansfield speaking for minerals. I think if we try to adhere to the spirit and intention of the undertaking given by the Government and given with the consent of all parties in this House we ought not to make any special exemption."The Government will propose to Parliament next Session legislation providing that any increase in the cost of labour due to the improvement of conditions for the staff would he a valid justification for any reasonable general increase of charges within the legal maxima, if challenged under the Act of 1894."
This is a Bill to enable railway directors to recoup their shareholders for any increase in wages to their staff, but I cannot think that those whose wages are increased would care to think that this was done at the expense of the agricultural labourers, who receive the lowest wages of anybody in the country. The railway men live side by side with the agricultural labourers in country districts and they are well aware of the fact that their wages are higher. I think that they would be as ready as anyone to agree that we should not put any increase on agriculture that would act even indirectly so as to burden the agricultural labourer. I think that is some answer to the President of the Board of Trade, who says that he can see no reason for differentiation. This House is always careful to avoid put- ting any new burden on the food of the people of this country, and it should remember that if the rates of agricultural produce are raised, it will tend to increase the cost of living. I hope that my hon. Friend will go to a Division.
I am surprised that the party which is so strictly pledged to Imperial Preference should not have seized this opportunity of bringing it in, because it would have been quite easy to have restricted from the operation of this Bill the Dominions and various parts of the Empire. I cannot quite agree with the hon. Member for Mansfield, who said he would like to leave out—
I did not say so.
With regard to the weak position of agriculture we should have a little more reassurance from the Government, because undoubtedly the heavier duties imposed under this Bill will probably affect agriculture. It is the most vulnerable industry because it is the worst organised. Its labour is not organised, and has not been able to fight as other trades have. We should have some assurance that the produce of agriculture would not be unduly penalised.
I am not quite sure how wide the scope of this discussion can properly be made, but if it is open to discuss the question whether imported produce can be given a preference in this Bill over produce raised in this country I think that the railway companies ought to be urged to put up the rates of Continental produce so that English agricultural produce should not suffer. If this applied solely to the rates upon agricultural produce as compared with the rates on manufactured produce, then, in answer to the President of the Board of Trade, I may point out that there is a clear line of demarcation between agricultural produce and other kinds of internal produce as affected by railway charges. First, agricultural produce is very largely perishable produce, and is always carried, unfortunately, at owners' risk rates, and very often nowadays it is subject to very considerable delay, which means that the owners or consigners of the produce suffer far more seriously from the delinquency of railway companies than any other body of traders in the country. The rates charged for agricultural produce are much more serious than those charged for minerals or any other kind of produce, and the strongest reason of all why this differentiation should be made is, as is common knowledge, the agricultural industry is comparatively unorganised as regards the producers themselves and their employés, and they are wholly unable not merely to put effective pressure on the Government of the day as railway employés are fortunately for themselves able to do, but they are unable to put effective pressure upon the Railway and Canal Commissioners, who alone are to consider the questions of increases under this Bill. We have the fact that these producers whose interests we are now considering are, comparatively speaking, poor producers, and the very fact that they are unorganised means that their complaints will never come at all before the Railway and Canal Commissioners. They will, in fact, receive no benefit under this Bill. If the rates are raised against them they will never complain, because the machinery which alone is at the service of traders, when they are penalised by the railway companies, will be of no use to the agricultural producers. For these reasons I think there ought to be some differentiation made between the producers of agricultural produce and other producers in the country, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will see fit to accept, the Amendment.
I have every sympathy with the agriculturists, with regard to this Bill. I think that they have made a very strong case, and I am perfectly certain that if this Bill is carried in its present form we shall see a rise of rates on our food supplies. And I am surprised that upon Second Reading so many of the hon. Gentlemen who now make their voices heard failed to go into the Lobby against it. With regard to my own position, I am bound to consider my own Constituency.
All of us who have spoken against it on behalf of agricultural constituencies voted against this Bill.
A great many hon. Members opposite who represent agricultural constituencies did not vote. I sympathise with the agriculturists and with the views of hon. Members who have spoken on their behalf. But I must consider the case of my Constituents. They are not so much interested in the carriage of agricultural produce; they are interested in the carriage of raw cotton and of cotton goods. I would like therefore to move an Amendment to this Amendment to leave out the words "agricultural produce or," and to insert instead thereof the words "raw cotton or cotton goods manufactured within." The cotton trade is a highly artificial trade and works on a very narrow margin. if there is any serious rise in the cost of carriage we may lose a great part of our cotton trade in some of the neutral markets of the world. And not merely my own Constituency, but the whole population of Lancashire would be sufferers in consequence. I am sure that I shall have the support of the hon. Member for Bolton (Mr. Gill) for the Amendment which I am moving.
For the convenience of the Committee I think it would be much better to dispose of this Amendment first and then if the hon. Member has any Amendment with regard to any particular industry in which he is especially interested, he can move it.
If this Amendment is carried it will directly penalise my Constituents.
On a point of Order—
I do not want any discussion on a point of Order. I have just made an appeal to the hon. Member.
I understand that I am entitled to move the Amendment.
If the hon. Member insists upon it I do not think that strictly it is out of order, but I think it is distinctly against the convenience of the Committee. It is almost impossible to follow the Amendment as the hon. Member has stated it. Perhaps he would hand it in at the Table.Question proposed, "That the words 'agricultural produce the products of' be left out, and that instead thereof the words 'raw cotton or cotton goods manufactured within' be inserted."
What is the purpose of the Amendment before the Committee, and I want to know whether, after it has been disposed of, I shall be in a position to move an Amendment exempting the articles produced by manufacturers in my own Constituency? It really seems to me that those who support this kind of Amendment are aiming at the destruction of the Bill. I would like to see the Bill destroyed, and I manifested my desire by voting against the Second Reading. In regard to the Amendment before us, I suppose we are bound to accept it as seriously proposed. The original Amendment relates to agricultural produce, and the Mover based it mainly on the fact that foreign produce has a preference in the English markets.
On a point of Order, Sir. Is the hon. Member entitled to refer to agricultural produce on the Amendment before the House?
The discussion, of course, has reference to the words of the Amendment relating to agricultural produce within the United Kingdom, and it is proposed to leave out those words in order to insert the words "raw cotton or cotton goods manufactured within," and the discussion, therefore, is between agricultural produce and cotton goods.
I am simply applying myself to the question of the Amendment, and the point I make is applicable to either agricultural produce or cotton goods. We hear a great deal about the pernicious principle of foreign produce having preferential rates to the home markets, and it is proposed to remedy that by giving certain industries preferential rates as against other industries. For example, if cotton goods or agricultural produce have exemption in this respect it must necessarily follow that they can only secure that exemption to the detriment of some other industry. If this Amendment were carried I am bound to say I should feel called upon to submit an Amendment in the interests of my own Constituency. I again respectfully submit that if the design is to destroy the Bill altogether, then all those who are in opposition to it should have given effect to that opposition on a Second Reading, for after all that would have been the proper occasion on which to raise these questions. For my own part, I should like to destroy the Bill, but, as the House has accepted the Second Reading, it is my duty to fashion the measure, as far as I possibly can, in the practical direction I desire.
I do urge that if we are to continue this discussion the result of these Amendments must prove inconvenient, and the Debate must degenerate rather into a farce. As my hon. Friend below the Gangway said, quite rightly, if this Amendment were carried, then, as his constituents do not happen to be interested in cotton goods or cotton produce, he would be bound in the same way to move an Amendment in regard to manufactures in his constituency. In my case I should have to move an Amendment to exempt biscuits. In the constituency of each hon. Member there is some industry which would desire to be protected. Surely, once the Second Reading has been accepted, the Committee should endeavour to fashion the Bill in such a way as will best carry out the views of the House. I trust my hon. Friend will withdraw his Amendment, so that we may dispose of the original Amendment.
I think hon. Members ought to be particularly interested in the Debate we have just had. It is an example of what tariffs would introduce. I think anyone who has seen the log-rolling that we witnessed this afternoon must understand not only what a tariff would mean, but also—
The hon. Member cannot raise that subject on this Amendment.
The point I want to make is that directly you introduce legislation giving power to one industry to penalise the rest of the community, you immediately give to the community who are going to be penalised an opportunity to make out an admirable case for the exemption of their own particular industry. Hon. Members opposite have spoken for the fruit industry and for the market garden industry with great ability. My hon. Friend near me has spoken equally well in favour of a special preference for the cotton industry. I do not propose to take part in this sort of Dutch auction, but I do ask the Committee to consider, not merely the vested interests of the producers, but also the vested interests of the consumers. In my Constituency they make pottery, or only some of them make pottery, whereas all of them eat. Is not this Amendment entirely on the question of foodstuffs? All my Constituents consume food stuffs, and I think therefore that there is a specially strong case to put forward in favour of exemption from this penalising tax on food stuffs. I am quite confident that the main penalising effect of this Bill will fall upon the agricultural industry. It seems to me that in connection with that industry this exemption, moved by the hon. Gentleman opposite, is required. I do not take the view of my hon. Friend the Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes), that to exempt agriculture would be in effect protecting certain industries and thereby be disadvantageous.The ordinary railway company cannot raise the rates in most cases. It will not raise the rates further towards the maximum, because trade is already paying the highest rate that it can afford to bear; it is already paying the highest rate which is consistent with the particular railway carrying the goods. If the railway company shoves up the rates it is not the traders' complaint that it is afraid of. The railway company is afraid of losing traffic, and this fear of losing traffic does not apply to the poor small local farming industry. There there is no competition to fear; there the railway company is absolutely able to take full advantage of this Bill, and full advantage it will take. In the case of my trade, the pot-making trade, I am quite certain they cannot raise the rates upon us, because traction along the roads and along the canals is there to compete. The railway companies are unable to beat the manufacturers and traders, but when it comes to deal with the market gardeners, the fruit growers, and the fishermen, and people of that description, then you will see the value which the railway companies put upon this Bill. If you make inquiry among railway directors you will find a very curious state of affairs at the present time. You will find that the directors of the big railway companies, whose railways run through the big manufacturing districts, like the Lancashire and Yorkshire, the Midland, or the London and North Western, are saying quite frankly and openly that there is no value in this Bill for them; whereas, if you come to the directors of railway companies whose lines pass through agricultural districts, the South Eastern and Chatham and Dover, the South Western, and parts of the Great Western, you find that they are all for this Bill, because they are the only sort of railway companies which are in a position to take advantage of this measure. In Lancashire there are admirable waterways, canals, seaports, and so forth, which manage to check the railway companies in their endeavurs to put up the rates upon the cotton industry—
It appears to me that we are going into a general discussion upon the merits of the Bill—a Second Reading discussion. I think the Committee might come to a decision upon this Amendment and get to matters more closely concerning the details of the Bill.
I was trying to confine my argument strictly to the Amendment before the House, which, originally, is that special terms shall be granted to agriculture, and by Amendments to the proposed Amendment, that special terms should be granted to cotton spinners. I wanted to show why agriculture stands in a position by itself. In the first place, it is the food of the people which is concerned; and, in the second place, it is the agricultural industry which is most likely to suffer from the rise in rates threatened by the railway companies. I want to bring forward the point which is even more important than all the others, that so far as as foreign food stuffs are concerned you have at present the keenest possible competition between the different railway companies, running sometimes their own steamship lines and owning their own ports, to import food from abroad. There is far more competition in the importation of foreign food stuff to places like Birmingham, the Potteries, or even London than in any other form of railway traffic in the country. Obviously, if that be so, the increased wages of our railway servants will not be used to raise the competitive freight rates of the different railway companies carrying the food products. They will be reserved for increasing the rates of the local traffic of the local food producer, so that you hit the local food producer in two ways. Not only can you not raise the through rate upon the foreign food products, but in order to recoup themselves the companies are able to plead, first, that the wages have risen, and, secondly, that they have not been able to get back that increase in wages out of the competitive through rates. Therefore the whole of the increase in wages is going to be thrown, not upon traders or manufactures, not upon the foreign food importer, but simply on the local food importer, the man who can be bled, and who cannot escape the railway companies' thrall. Agriculture, especially intensive agriculture, which is growing all over the country, suffers intensely from our present system of national rates. There you have every important effort to increase production penalised by your national or local rates. If in addition to that you are going to give the railway companies still further powers of increasing their penalising rates I think you must say good-bye to intensive cultivation, for which the hon. Member for Wilton (Mr. C. Bathurst) has so ably argued over the length and breadth of the country for the last few years. We want to see more men on the land, and I know you do, too, and we go about bringing more men on the land in this way by putting special penalties upon those people who employ themselves on the land in producing that which is a necessity to us all, the food stuff of the country. I
Division No. 595.]
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Alden, Percy||Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Baker, H. T. (Accrington)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)|
hope my hon. Friend will go to a Division, and I shall never give a vote with more satisfaction than for the Amendment.
In response to the appeal of the Attorney-General, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Having regard to the speech just delivered, I should like to say a few words. I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman that agricultural produce grown in this country is that which the railway companies are most likely to raise the rates on, and I should have thought it would be the very last thing, because after all railway managers are not fools altogether, and they know perfectly well that the agricultural produce which is grown in this country cannot afford to bear higher rates than it does at present. This Amendment can be supported on quite different grounds altogether. Agriculture in this country is even now the greatest industry in the country. It is not confined to one part of the country, but I am glad to say it is an industry which affects every part of England and of Ireland and Wales and Scotland. Although it is such a very large industry, yet, as my hon. Friend has pointed out, it is a very badly organised industry, and the individuals who are engaged in it are, as a rule, not rich men, and they are men who could not very well take advantage of the tribunal to which they would have to go under this Bill. Having regard to that fact, the agricultural industry is in a special position as contradistinguished from other industries, and also, having regard to the fact that I do not believe the railway companies in this country intended to increase the rates which are now imposed upon agricultural produce which is grown in this country, I should have thought those who represented the railway companies in this Committee might well accept this Amendment.
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
Question put, "That the Question be now put."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 241; Noes, 128.
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Henry, Sir Charles||O'Malley, William|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick)||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Higham, John Sharp||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Hills, John Waller||O'Shee, James John|
|Bentham, G. J.||Hinds, John||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Parry, Thomas H.|
|Boland, John Pius||Hodge, John||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Hogg, David C.||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph (Rotherham)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Pointer, Joseph|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Hughes, S. L.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Illingworth, Percy H.||Price, Sir R. J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Radford, G. H.|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Reddy, M.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Clough, William||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Clynes, John R.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Joyce, Michael||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Keating, Matthew||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Kellaway, Frederick George||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Kerry, Earl of||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Kilbride, Denis||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Crooks, William||King, J. (Somerset, North)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Cullinan, John||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Roche, Augstine (Louth)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eiflon)||Larmor, Sir J.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- Cardigan)||Leach, Charles||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Sbeehy, David|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Doris, William||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Duffy, William J.||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Smyth, Thomas F, (Leitrim)|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Lundon, Thomas||Spicer, Rt. Hon Sir Albert|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lynch, A. A.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||McGhee, Richard||Sutton, John E.|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Falconer, James||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Macpherson, James Ian||Thomas, James -Henry|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Ffrench, Peter||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Toulmin, Sir George|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||M'Laren, Hon. H.D. (Leics.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Furness, Stephen||M`Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs.,Spalding)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Gill, A.H.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Ginnell, Laurence||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wadsworth, J.|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Mason, David M.(Coventry)||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Glanville, H. J.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Wardle, George J.|
|Goldstone, Frank||Meagher, Michael||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||Millar, James Duncan||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Molloy, Michael||Webb, H.|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Molteno, Percy Alport||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|Gulland, John William||Money, L. G. Chiozza||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Mooney, John J.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Hackett, John||Morgan, George Hay||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Morison, Hector||Wiles, Thomas|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Muldoon. John||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Munro, R.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Needham, Christopher T,||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Neilson, Francis||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Nolan, Joseph||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Hayward, Evan||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||O'Doherty, Philip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir A.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Dowd, John||Markham and Mr. Denman.|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)|
|Astor, Waldorf||Barnes, G. N.||Beckett, Hon. Gervase|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Barnston, Harry||Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)|
|Baker, Sir Randall L. (Dorset, N.)||Barrie, H. T.||Bird, Alfred|
|Blair, Reginald||Guinness, Hon. W.E, (Bury S.Edmunds)||Primrose, Hon. Neil James|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Gwynn, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Rawson, Col. Richard H.|
|Boyton, James||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Henderson, Major H. (Berks)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Rowlands, James|
|Butcher, John George||Hogge, James Myles||Royds, Edmund|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Campion, W. R.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Carille, Sir Edward Hildred||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Cassel, Felix||Hume-Williams, W. E.||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p.,Walton)|
|Cator, John||Hunt, Rowland||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Jewett, F. W.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kimber, Sir Henry||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Strauss. Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Swift, Rigby|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Magnus, Sir Philip||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Martin, Joseph||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Meysey-Thompson. E. C.||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Touche, George Alexander|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Morrell, Philip||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Mount, William Arthur||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Fell, Arthur||Newdegate, F. A.||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport).|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Newman, John R. P.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Newton, Harry Nottingham||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||O'Grady, James||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset. W.)|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Parkes, Ebenezer||Younger, Sir George|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Peto, Basil Edward||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Gretton, John||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Wedgwood and Mr. Beck.|
Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."
Division No. 596.]
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mio)|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Fletcher, John Samuel||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Gilmour, Captain John||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Baird, J. L.||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Greene, W. R.||Primrose, Hon. Neil James|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Gretton, John||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Barrie, H. T.||Guinness, Hon.W.E. (Bury S.Edmunds)||Rawson, Col. Richard H.|
|Bathurst, Han. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, N.E.)||Rowlands, James|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Royds, Edmund|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Rutherford, John(Lancs., Darwen)|
|Bird, A.||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Blair, Reginald||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue||Hinds, John||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Boyton, James||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'1, Walton)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Hunt, Rowland||Swift, Rigby|
|Campion, W. R.||Jewett, Frederick William||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Kimber, Sir Henry||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Cassel, Felix||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Touche, George Alexander|
|Cator, John||Knight, Contain E. A.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Cautley, H. S.||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Macpherson, James Ian||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Martin, Joseph||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Clynes, John R.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||White, Sir Luke (Yorks., E.R.)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Willoughby. Major Hon. Claud|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Mount, William Arthur||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Yate, Col. Charles Edward|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Newdegate, F, A.|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Newman, John R. P.|
|Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Newton, Harry Kottingham||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Nield, Herbert||G. Terrell and Mr. Barnston.|
|Fell, Arthur||O'Grady, James|
The Committee divided: Ayes, 106; Noes, 242.
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||O'Dowd, John|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Harmsworth, R. L.(Caithness-shire)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Malley, William|
|Alden, Percy||Harvey, T. E, (Leeds, West)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Allen, Arthur A, (Dumbarton)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Shee, James John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hayward, Evan||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Parry, Thomas H.|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Henry, Sir Charles||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Higham, John Sharp||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Hills, John Waller||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Pointer, Joseph|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick Burghs)||Hodge, John||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Hogg, David C.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Hodge, James Myles||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Bonn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Pringle, William M, R.|
|Bentham, G. J.||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Radford, G. H.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Reddy, M.|
|Boland, John Pius||Hughes, S. L.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Isaacs, Rt. Hon Sir Rufus||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Brady, P. J.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Jones, Haydn (Merioneth)||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Jones, Leif Straiten (Rushclifte)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Joyce, Michael||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Keating, Matthew||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Robinson, Sidney|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kerry, Earl of||Roch, Walter F.|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Kilbrlde, Denis||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||King, J.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Clough, William||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Larmor, Sir J.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Lawson, Sir W. (Curmb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Sheehy, David|
|Cotton, William Francis||Leach, Charles||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Levy, Sir Maurice||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Crooks, William||Lewis, John Herbert||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Cullinan, J.||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Sutton, John E.|
|Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Lundon, Thomas||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardiganshire)||Lynch, A. A.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Thomas, J. H.|
|Dickinson, W. H.||McGhee, Richard||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Doris, W.||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Duffy, William J.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-In-Furness)||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Wadsworth, J.|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs.,Spalding)||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Wardle, George J.|
|Falconer, J.||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Webb, H.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Meagher, Michael||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Millar, James Duncan||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|France, G. A.||Molloy, M.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Furness, Stephen||Molteno, Percy Alport||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Gill, A. H.||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Ginnell, L.||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Wiles, Thomas|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Mooney, J. J.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Glanville, Harold James||Morgan, George Hay||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Morrell, Philip||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Goldstone, Frank||Morison, Hector||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Muldoon, John||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Munro, R.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Needham, Christopher T.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Neilson, Francis|
|Hackett, J.||Nolan, Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Illingworth and Mr. Guiland.|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon, L. (Rossendale)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
had given notice of the following Amendment: After the word "Commissioners" ["Railway and Canal Commissioners"], to insert the words—"(a) that every rate which has been increased on account of the operation of this Section and which includes conveyance and station terminals has been shown in the book of rates kept by a company under Section fourteen of the Regulation of Railways Act, 1873, as a station to station rate, and that there has been included in the matters shown in the said hook of rates a statement setting out the separate amounts charged for the station accommodation provided and for each of the several services performed by the company as part of the increased rate; and."
The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Devizes (sir. Peto) is outside the scope of the Bill.
May I make one or two remarks on your ruling?
Certainly not. The hon. Member cannot do that.
I beg to move, after the Word "Commissioners" ["Railway and Canal Commissioners"], to insert the words—"(a) that no adult person in the employment of the company is in receipt of a wage of less than one pound per week." I do not know what condition the Government are in, but I should think they feel a little uncomfortable in consequence of the discussion which has taken place to-night. I feel almost ashamed to move this Amendment, asking that the minimum wage paid to railway men shall not be less than 20s. per week. I am hoping that all the Members who are in favour of passing this Bill will vote for my Amendment, because I am absolutely certain that when the railway directors knew that this minimum had been inserted, they would at once run to the Government and ask them to withdraw the Bill. For some time the Labour party has been endeavouring to get a minimum wage recognised in Railway Bills, and I am very pleased that at last the Chairman has given us the privilege of moving this Amendment. I hope it will be the forerunner of other Amendments, if not at this stage, at any rate later on, so that railway men will receive much better wages than they have at the present time. I understand that this Bill is being brought forward in order to give railway companies an opportunity of increasing the freightage not only upon agricultural produce, but upon minerals and other classes of goods. I think it could be proved without trouble that there is absolutely no need for this Bill at all. The "Standard" a fortnight ago published a statement purporting to give the sections of men to which increases had been given; I dare say the figures can be contradicted or corroborated by my hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas). The same writer stated that in consequence of increased railway fares for week-end and excursion tickets, the companies had more than recouped themselves. If that is so, I think every Member will be justified in voting for this Amendment, which would no doubt cost the railway companies a considerable amount of money. I may be charged with inconsistency in moving this Amendment, because I say, on the one hand, that the railway companies have no right to increase the freightage on the ground that they have given an increase in wages, and, on the other hand, I ask the railway companies to give more wages, which will impose a greater burden on the companies, and in consequence, it will be said, they will be in duty hound to increase the freightage in some form or another. I believe the proposal is wrong in principle. Once the Labour party agree to recognise the principle that a company can claim a statutory right to increase freightage simply because they have given an increase in wages, the argument can be applied all round, and no doubt employers in other directions will do exactly the same. The other night the hon. Member for Bolton (Mr. Gill) said that when they increase the wages of cotton operatives the employers are in a position to place the extra cost upon the commodities. I am not quite sure that that is true. Competition to a very great extent prevents it from being done. But in this case there is practically no competition at all. The railway companies have their monopoly, and can do very much as they like. In the debate on the Second Reading one Member asserted that there were something like 100,000 men working on the railways receiving less than 20s. per week. That is a very deplorable state of things if it is so. Therefore one recognises at once, if this Amendment is carried, that it will be the means of increasing the wages of many thousands of working men over the railway system. One reason why I am in duty bound to vote for this Amendment, and against the Third Reading of the Bill, is because whatever anybody may say to the contrary, I do not believe the railway companies are going to put the extra charge upon agricultural produce at all. My own view is that they will put it on minerals. Placing the extra charge upon minerals is going to handicap all our manufactures in different parts of the country. The competition now is exceedingly keen. I know that when I am called upon to interview employers, blast-furnace managers, and so on, they will say at once to me, "You voted for a Bill to give the railway companies the absolute right to increase the freightage upon raw materials, upon coal, iron-stone, coke, and the other raw materials that go to make pig-iron." Then they will say that it is no good asking us for an increase of wages for the men when you recognise the principle of the railway companies doing certain things. I have pleasure in moving my Amendment. I hope it will be carried by a large majority. If it is, I feel sure that to-morrow morning the railway companies will withdraw this Bill.
I am not sure that I quite follow the main argument of any hon. Friend who has just sat down. I understand him to argue that when wages have been raised in an industry that suffers from competition there is a difficulty in the way of raising the prices in that industry because of the competition. I suppose, if one wanted to state the whole economic facts, one would reply: If there is a rise over all the industry the rise would be assented to all over the industry. Then he argued that foreign competition might have the effect of preventing any rise in wages. He went on to say that in the case of a railway company, where there is a monopoly, there is no such difficulty. if I understood him it was that the railway company having a monopoly can do what they like in the matter of raising wages. Obviously, if the railway company can do what they like they have no occasion to ask for this Bill. My hon. Friend argued that the companies did not need any such power. So far as I followed his argument it seemed to me to destroy itself. But perhaps the better course is to turn to the merits of this Amendment, and in doing so might I call attention to what is the real purpose of the Bill that we are engaged on. It is to encourage the railway companies to raise wages. It is only in so far as they raise wages that they can claim any relief—such as this Bill affords. If they do not raise their labour bill—that is not merely as regards the amount of wages paid but by paying more for a given amount of work—then the Bill does nothing at all for them. It is only where they have deserved well of the community by raising their payments for labour that they can claim any relief in the matter of raising rates.What does the hon. Gentleman's Amendment aim to do? It as good as says to the railway companies: "We will not encourage you to raise men's wages from 15s. to 18s., but we will encourage you to raise them from 19s. 6d. to 20s." An Amendment that operates in that way is not really conceived in the interests of the workers. We know that the conditions of railway labour include this: You may have in rural districts railway porters who perhaps only get 15s. per week, sometimes with a garden. As regards passenger porters their low wages are eked out with tips The effect of the Amendment in these cases would be to prevent altogether the operation of this Bill. If it can be shown that there is such a case, or that a man has 18s. or 19s. a week with a garden, then the Bill would not be allowed to operate to relieve the company of the matter of the rates. Let the hon. Member remember the main tendency of the Amendment would be to force back wages to the level that they were at before. I am sure this House is not desirous of seeing the railway industry thrown back into that state of acute strife in which it was, and which was brought to a conclusion by an arrangement and a pledge of which this Bill is the result. May I remind the hon. Member that there are a number of scattered employés under railway companies, men who have received accidents, men with one arm or one leg who do odd jobs such as attending to lavatories, crossings, and so on, and in these cases the labour is often quite light. These men are paid less than 20s. a week. Some of this employment the railway companies might really dispense with, but in some of these cases, or in one of them, it is obvious that if the Amendment is carried and put into force, it would be sufficient to prevent the Bill operating on behalf of the railway companies. The purpose of the Bill, I repeat, is to encourage the railway companies to raise wages. The Government thought this was the best way to effect this, and I sincerely trust the hon. Member will not press his Amendment.
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has not done himself full justice. He has put forward a view, and I think specious arguments against the Amendment of my hon. Friend. He first tells us that there are many men with wooden legs and one arm, and that therefore they are not entitled, I suppose—so I understand his argument—to a minimum wage. It seems to me that if the hon. Member had said that these men had wooden stomachs, there might have been something in his argument. But I fail to see that because a man has a wooden leg or one arm that he takes less food, or that it is less costly to maintain him—especially if he has a family—than it does to maintain the ordinary man who has two legs and two arms. We are told that this Amendment is to prevent the men with 15s. per week having that amount raised to £1, while it might raise a man from 19s. 6d. to £1.
What I said was that it would not encourage the companies to raise the wages from 15s. to 18s., though it might raise the 19s. 6d. to £1.
It is the same thing, it seems to me. The Amendment is in perfectly explicit terms. It says that no man shall have a less wage than £1 per week. The literal interpretation of this Amendment is that a man with 15s., like the man with 19s. 6d., should be raised to £1 per week. I desire to associate myself with my hon. Friend, though it seems to me we should be ashamed to put such an Amendment forward. Here we are in the twentieth century, with all the advantages of civilisation and the wonderful power that we have of producing wealth, and we put forward a miserable £1 a week as a living wage for a full-grown adult person. A few weeks ago Mr. Rowntree told us that 23s. 9d. was the lowest sum upon which it was possible to keep a family, yet we are, in this Amendment, asking the monopolistic companies, who are given immense power by this House, to pay 3s. 9d. below that sum. In seconding this Amendment, let me say that if anybody puts forward an Amendment for a minimum wage of 25s. per week, I shall certainly ask my hon. Friend to withdraw in favour of that Amendment. This Amendment really seeks to give some definiteness to the Bill.What does the Bill say? It authorises the Railway Commissioners to give relief to a railway company by charging higher freights and fares if they can say that they have made some improvement in the conditions of the employment of their staff. That may mean anything or nothing. The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken said that the company had to give proof that they have increased the wages of their staff. It seems to me that they have to prove a general improvement in the general conditions of their staff. If they do that that is sufficient to comply with the conditions of this Bill. If the Amendment is passed—let me say it does not exclude any of these Sub-sections—they would still have to comply with the other heads, and (a), (b), (c) and (d) would only become (b), (c), (d) and (e). If this Amendment is passed, in addition to complying with the other conditions of the Bill, the companies would have to comply with this very definite condition that no man should have less than £1 per week. We are getting into the same controversy that we had when the Mines Bill was on. We asked for a minimum, I think, of 5s. and 2s. We did not get it. I take it the position of the Labour party is just exactly the same now as then. If we are going to pass a Bill of this character, like my Friends, I hope that those who vote for us will not be limited to those who want to kill the Bill. I appeal to all those, who want to kill the Bill or not, and those who want to give some definiteness to it, to vote for the Amendment, which would, I think, make a radical improvement in the Bill.
I was very sorry, like my hon. Friend below me, to hear that the Government were not prepared in any way to consider this Amendment. Surely this does not go outside the scope and object of this Bill? The Amendment is a very reasonable one. This is a Bill for giving certain relief to the railway companies if they improve the conditions of employment of their servants. But we want to be satisfied, when we are passing this Bill, that the improvements in the conditions of employment shall be adequate in the first place, and in the second place—and this is a point I want specially to press upon the Committee—that the improvement in the conditions is to go to the right people—those who need them most. Supposing a railway company goes and shows to the Railway Commissioners that they have made the conditions of the employment of inspectors better! By means of this Amendment we shall do something to secure our object, and for this reason I would appeal to my hon. Friend who spoke on behalf of the Government once more whether he would not consider some Amendment of this sort. I am not now arguing specially whether 20s. a week is a right or a wrong minimum, or whether that minimum should be 35s. or 30s.; though the Amendment seems to me to put forward a reasonable minimum in spite of what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade said. At any rate I do submit that we are carrying a very unbusinesslike Bill if we carry a Bill of this sort without any provision that the improvement that is contemplated should get to the people who need it most.
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out the words "one pound," and to insert instead thereof the words "twenty-five shillings."
On a point of Order. I should like to ask the ruling of the Chair as to whether the Amendment of mine which is on the Paper for a minimum wage of 25s. per week does not deal with the point suggested by the hon. Member who has just risen?
It is the same question, but it is quite competent to raise it on an Amendment to the proposed Amendment.
7.0 P. M.
I submit that this is the only consistent Amendment, when we consider what were the circumstances responsible for the Bill we are now considering. This Bill is introduced ostensibly for the purpose, to use the language of the right hon. Gentleman, of encouraging the railway companies to improve the conditions of their staffs. Surely that carries with it this further proposition, that the railway companies prior to this were not anxious to improve conditions, because we have got in this matter to differentiate as between one company and another. It is perfectly true that there are a number of railway companies that have never paid a copper in dividend. From our standpoint, we say that labour should be a first charge upon industry, but apart entirely from that it is quite true to say that there are railway companies that have not only paid 5, 6, and 7 per cent. dividend, but have paid 10 and 12 per cent. dividends.
The hon. Member is opening up a wider question than his proposed Amendment suggests.
I was trying to show that when the promise of which this Bill is the result was made, it was natural to assume that it was not necessary for every railway company, because the promise was ostensibly made in order that railway companies could do something which they said their poverty did not enable them to do before; and surely if there were at that time railway companies paying such dividends as 10 per cent., I submit that I am justified in saying that that argument, so far as poverty is concerned, should not apply to them. Our experience has been that it is equally as difficult to get an advance of wages when they are paying 6 or 10 per cent. as it is from those who are paying nothing. Who are the men for whom we ask this wage? In the discussion on the Miners' Minimum Wage Act, it was clearly pointed out that the real object of legislation at that moment was because of the public service rendered by the miners. I think everyone will admit that the primary argument used in favour of the Minimum Wage Bill was because of the services to the public rendered by the miners. I submit we are dealing with men here who equally render public service. We are dealing with a class of men who not only render public service in the fact that they work the great arteries of the nation, but the death and accident mortality upon our railways prove conclusively what a tremendous risk these men run. At the time this promise of this legislation was made, there were I think 100,000 men getting less than £1 a week. I think at the present moment that number is reduced to 50,000. Under the proposal I am submitting, we are asking that the railway companies should increase this amount, and we are not simply saying that the railway companies by increasing the minimum to 25s. should bear the whole cost. They will be able to go before the Railway and Canal Commissioners and justify that increase, and get redress under this Act. Therefore I submit that not only is this a justifiable proposal to make, but having regard to the fact that we have already heard that the primary object of this Bill is to encourage the railway companies to increase wages, I submit that the sum of 25s. a week is not too much to expect for a man performing public services who has to support a wife and family.
When I entered the House this afternoon, I had no idea of addressing the Committee on the important subject under discussion, but in view of the Amendment proposed by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I should like to say a few words. The first comment I have to make is one of criticism on the Amendment moved by the Labour party. I will take the Committee into my confidence at once, and say, I feel compelled to vote for the first Amendment for many reasons, sonic of which I should like to state briefly. Before doing so I venture to pass a measure of criticism on the Labour party in, after holding frequent meetings for the purpose of framing Amendments to this Bill, they come here with an Amendment moved by the hon. Member for West Ham, and they immediately follow that up by an Amendment to that Amendment, moved from their own benches. That surely lays the Labour party open to legitimate criticism. First of all, they are open to the criticism that they approach the consideration of this important Bill without knowing their own minds.
The hon. Member says "No, no," but I say that if after the number of meetings they are known to have had they tabled an Amendment for a minimum wage of 20s., and then we find another Member rising in his place and proposing an Amendment to that Amendment for a minimum of 25s., it is not an unreasonable proposition to submit to the Committee that they are open to the criticism of not knowing their own minds. As a matter of practical politics, I put it to the Labour party arc they not by this Amendment to the Amendment running the risk, if I may say so without offence, of fouling their own nest? I believe there are many hon. Members in the House who would support the principle of increasing what I think is still a grossly inadequate wage for railway workers, but who would not be ready to go so far as to say that the House of Commons has at present the right to support a wage of 25s., which would undoubtedly put an enormously increased burden upon the railway companies. I urge the Labour party to fall back upon the original Motion moved by the hon. Member for West Ham, with the idea of establishing this principle and getting it carried through the House, as we have done in connection with coal mines. If that is done I, for one, would follow the hon. Member for West Ham into the Division Lobby.I was not impressed—I am seldom impressed—by the arguments used by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. I do not think there was any one of his objections to the Amendment of the hon. Member for West Ham which could not be efficiently dealt with by his Department. Let me take one of his objections. He says that one of the objections to giving a minimum wage of 20s. is to be found in the fact that you could not deal with men who, for instance, had lost a limb and were employed by the railway company, that that would be impracticable, and that it was impossible to suggest that the railway company should pay to these men a minimum wage of £1, while able-bodied men only got the same amount. I say the natural answer to that criticism is that if this Amendment is passed and the principle is adopted, the Board of Trade would be well able to introduce on the Report stage some Clause which will make an exception in the case of these men, who are perhaps in the receipt of compensation and who are employed purely out of charity by the railway companies in whose services they were injured. If that policy is accepted it is quite evident that many Members would support the Government in what I think is a reasonable point of view, and, at any rate, that in beginning this legislation exception should be made in order to cover the cases of those men who have been kept on by the railway companies while they are in receipt of compensation because of injuries they sustained in the employment of the particular company. I would like to say one word about the principle of the Amendment. I do not know how many hon. Members in this House have during their experience been in the homes of some of our working-class labourers, and particularly those who work in railway districts. I am sure there is no Member of the House who has not had some experience of the homes of the very poorest of our working classes. I do not know how any hon. Member in this House who has an idea of the homes of working men employed in one of the great railways in a country which has always boasted as being the greatest nation in the world could feel satisfied that these men, with a wife and family to keep, can possibly keep them as efficiently as they ought to be kept on a miserable pittance which we often find as low as 15s. a week. Though I may be open to criticism by those who do not know me, I assure the Committee I speak on this matter from experience and with the deepest sincerity, because I think it is tragic that men working on these railways should receive wages so low. I do not approach this matter from the point of view from which it is approached very often by Members of the Socialist party. I approach it from the point of view of one who can realise that when you place this burden upon our railway companies you run grave risk of increasing fares and increasing the cost of travelling facilities and freights on our railways. I do not believe that any of our great railway companies should be asked to work for charity. Let us face this matter rather than continue the present existing evil, whereby more than 50,000 men are paid less than £1 a week. It is the lesser of the two evils. After the last railway strike, when I went to the railway station to buy my week-end ticket, I found the fares were up, trains were less frequent, and the service was not so good. One grumbles, but one feels that that was part Of the price to be paid for a great reform, and I would infinitely prefer to see passenger rates raised higher and railways run more economically and less advantageously to the public, rather than see the perpetuation of what I think is a grave social scandal in our midst. I am not asking the railway companies to face this situation without foreseeing their application, and their legitimate application, for still further increased rates, and I think it would be better, whatever price is to be paid, that it should be paid by the upper middle class for the benefit of those who most require the assistance which this House has an opportunity of rendering by means of this Bill. Those, shortly, are the views which I hold, and I appeal to the Labour party, if they really want to get this principle established, to withdraw the last Amendment, because that will alienate my vote, not because I think 25s. is too much, but as a matter of practical politics it is an unpractical suggestion to make at the outset. Let us first establish the principle, and in order to do that I ask hon. Members to allow the Committee to vote on that principle.
I was very pleased, indeed, to hear the remarks of the hon. Member who has just spoken, but I cannot see, having regard to the opinion he has expressed, why he should hesitate to vote for a 25s. minimum wage for workmen, because every one of the arguments he used went in that direction. He talked about the beggarly homes and the struggle for existence, and yet said he could not see his way to support a 25s. minimum wage. He pointed out that it was a disadvantage to the Mover of the 25s. minimum to press his point. If the 25s. minimum is not carried, may I point out that we shall still be able to vote on the 25s. minimum which the hon. and learned Gentleman has expressed himself strongly in favour of. Such an opportunity will come just as well a few minutes after. The hon. Member for Tyneside (Mr. J. M. Robertson) says that men with wooden legs and wooden arms would be out of employment. I may not understand the law, but I understand that when men are injured in the service of a railway company they are entitled to receive half of their ordinary wages, and, consequently, if they have been working for 16s. a week, they would be entitled to 8s. The railway companies would get their lavatory attendants for 12s. a week, and they could not get anything so cheap in the open market.We realise that the railway companies will reap advantages under the circumstances which have arisen. One advantage they reap is that of being exempt from paying any extra expense incurred in consequence of the natural increase in wages that would come along, especially having regard to the tendency of present and future legislation. They also reap the advantage of not having to pay the expense if they happen to be defeated in a strike instead of being victorious as they were on the last occasion. The Government has a responsibility, and I shall support them if they realise the position. The Government stepped in on behalf of the nation to settle the strike and they made pledges to the railway companies. But they have other responsibilities, and they cannot arrange with railway companies to settle a strike unless they realise that there is a responsibility devolving upon them to deal with other aspects of the question. The railway companies can, just as the humour suits them, either raise or not raise the wages of the men, but the onus rests on the Government to see that a proper reasonable living wage is paid to the men who turned out in that strike. The time has gone by when Governments can ignore their responsibilities in that respect. The Government accepted this responsibility; they stepped in and they cannot stop half way. A Government that could introduce a Sweated Industries Bill cannot stop now because they do not think this is a sweated industry.
The hon. Member is now going into a large general question, much larger than the one which arises on this Amendment. I must remind the hon. Member and the Committee that the point we are discussing is whether it is desirable in this Bill as one of its conditions, to insert the proposal "that no adult persons in the employment of the company is in receipt of a wage of less than one pound per week." An Amendment has been moved to leave out "one pound" and insert "twenty-five shillings," and the arguments must be confined between those two sums.
There are in my Constituency a considerable number of railway workers working for 22s. and 23s. per week, and they are not working ten hours but a good deal more, just as they happen to receive their orders from the company. There are porters working for £1 a week, many of them married men with families, and they receive 21s. at the end of one year, and a maximum of 22s. at the end of four years. [An HON. MEMBER: "And tips."] No; the workers I allude to do not get any tips, because they work in the goods yard. The onus is upon us to face this position, and I do not think we ought to leave this matter to the railway companies to deal with just as they feel disposed. I am rather ashamed to be standing here advocating a minimum wage of 25s. I have advocated a minimum wage of 30s. years ago, and it is in the hope of catching the vote of the hon. Member for Warrington that I am advocating this Amendment, although I think it fixes an absolutely inadequate wage. Parliament has discussed the wages question in recent years, and I am sure this process of education in the House of Commons will go on in the future. I shall be very pleased to support this Amendment.
I do not think the House is sufficiently informed to be able to decide between a minimum wage of 20s. and 25s. a week as an adequate wage for adult railway servants. I am bound to say that when you are dealing with a public utility service an adequate wage should be insured to the workers, and when you are dealing with a monopoly it becomes absolutely essential that such a wage should be safeguarded to those workers. Surely the proper way to deal with this matter is through the same machinery which this House has set up in the case of the minimum wage for miners. That is the only other great monopoly in the country, and in that case Parliament agreed that the proper course was to have a Wages Board, which should decide in each district and judge by the circumstances in those districts as to what was an adequate wage to give to the workers in that industry. These two great industries stand alone in the country and require exceptional treatment.
The coal industry is not a monopoly, because anyone can sink a pit.
I have the privilege, or the misfortune, of being the chairman of a colliery company, and I say that the coal industry is the biggest monopoly of this country, with the possible exception of the railway industry. There is no outside foreign competition in regard to these two great industries, and therefore you can face the question of a minimum wage without seriously affecting the prosperity of these industries. When you deal with agriculture other factors have to be considered, and you may very easily endanger the prosperity of that industry. That would not be the effect in the case of the railway industry, because we should only be acting in consonance with what we have already decided in this House in regard to a similar industry if we agree that there should be some minimum wage, and we should allow the monopolistic industry to decide this question by the same machinery you have set up in the case of coal mines. I am prepared to support the suggestion on those lines, but I cannot see how this House is properly equipped to decide whether 20s. or 25s. a week is the proper wage to pay to those workmen.
Holding the views I do, I welcome the remarks of any hon. Gentleman opposite who is prepared to support the principle of a minimum wage. I am quite certain that more and more in the future this House will be forced to consider questions of this kind. We have an opportunity in the Amendment we are now considering of declaring that for a great mass of workers in one of the most vital industries of this country it shall be made a condition that no man in that industry, taking risk to life and limb, shall be paid a lower wage than what we consider is necessary in order to secure physical efficiency. I am going to vote in favour of that principle, and, as between the two proposals, I shall first vote for the 25s. minimum, and if we are beaten, then I shall support 20s. I do not think this case has been adequately met from the Government Bench. The logical chopped straw with which this case was met was very dry and unnourishing food, and you have to meet it with something better than mere logical dilemmas. The Committee is asked to consider that you can adequately maintain the physical efficiency of a British workman—
The hon. Gentleman is now discussing the general question. The point before the Committee is if a rate is advanced complaint against it shall be held justified unless so-and-so happens. We are not now discussing, and we must not discuss, the question of a general minimum wage.
I certainly intend, Mr. Whitley, to keep within the limits you have laid down. If a railway company is not in a position to pay this wage of 25s., I say it ought to be in that position. I think it should be possible for the railway industry by economies to carry out this reform, without putting any undue burden on the trading classes. I voted in favour of a minimum wage to miners, and I shall certainly vote for a minimum wage for railway men.
I think it is time that some one reminded the Committee of the existing machinery for fixing the wages of railway men, which every speaker who has supported this Amendment seems to have studiously avoided. When the strike was finished in August, 1911, through the intervention of the Government, a bargain, or an understanding, was arrived at by which the railway companies undertook to accept the findings of a Royal Commission, which was to be immediately appointed to make such recommendations as they might think fit. The railway companies unhesitatingly said they would accept in toto any such recommendations, and in return the Government agreed to bring in a measure such as the one we are now discussing. What did the Royal Commission recommend? They recommended a system of Conciliations Boards to be established by each company to regulate the rate of wages within that company.
I should like to know, Mr. Whitley, whether we are now discussing Conciliation Boards? You were pretty tight on some of my colleagues.
The Noble Lord is quite in order. He is simply giving to the Committee a reason why the existing machinery should settle wages in the railway industry.
I was answering the argument of the hon. Member in regard to the fixing of the minimum wage. Those Conciliation Boards consist of men on one side, chosen by their fellows, and of directors and officers on the other; and in the event of their being unable to arrive at a common decision, the final decision is referred to an arbitrator. That system has worked in the most admirable manner, and has conduced, I am glad to say, to a large amount of conciliation between the boards, the chief officers, and the men they employ. As long as that system exists, it is surely premature to endeavour to introduce questions of the minimum wage. The only effect must inevitably be to smash up the whole structure of these Conciliation Boards. Do not let the Committee lightly undertake such a duty as that. Once you break up these Conciliation Boards, which are working for the benefit of the men, the companies, and the community at large, you will create a condition of chaos, the end of which no one is able to see, and I earnestly ask the Committee not to be led away by such a proposal, made no doubt in perfect good faith, but to carry on the system of Conciliation Boards until the period, some two and a half years hence, has come to an end.
I am sure every hon. and right hon. Member of this House must be very sorry so many of our railway men are paid such low wages. I believe even railway directors sympathise in that respect, and are anxious to raise the wages of railway men. I was inclined when the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. W. Thorne) moved his Amendment to go into the Lobby with him, because I am anxious that every railway man should receive at least £1 per week in wages, but as the hon. Member went on with his argument I felt he was defeating the very object for which he was pleading, because he confessed, if this Amendment were carried, the Bill would be withdrawn, and, if the Bill is withdrawn, the £1 per week is, I take it, also gone. The hon. Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) said this Bill is to encourage railway directors to give better wages to their employés—
I took those words as being the words of the right hon. Gentleman, and I accepted them.
It amounts to the same thing. If this Bill be defeated we shall not encourage railway directors. It is all very well to dream dreams and to see visions. I should like to see every working man have 30s. per week, but, if the Bill is going to be defeated we do not encourage railway directors, and I would suggest that my hon. Friend should withdraw his Amendment. It is confessed that the object of the Bill is to encourage the raising of wages. Let us pass the Bill and watch railway directors very narrowly to see if the men are put in a better position. Then if they are not, let the hon. Gentleman bring forward this proposal another time, and I will most gladly go into the Lobby in support of it.
I would like to hear once more from the opposite side their opinion on the suggestion made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Warrington (Mr. H. Smith). There is at least one point of similarity between him and my hon. Friend who has moved the Amendment to the proposed Amendment. The hon. Member for Warrington pointed out that my hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) has acted without the authority of the Labour party, and contrary to the first decision of the Labour party in respect of the Amendment that was to be moved to the Bill. The hon. Member for Warrington has announced that while he can support the first Amendment he cannot support the second. I would suggest that some responsible leader of the party opposite should get up and announce that if the second Amendment is withdrawn they will vote for the first. We do not ask them to vote for both, but I think we should have some assurance that if the way were made easy they would be quite prepared to vote for the one. The Noble Lord who has just addressed the Committee (Lord Claud Hamilton) appears to have forgotten what has been frequently stated in this House and outside it by railway directors with respect to the wages of the lowly paid men on the railway. They have asserted that it was a gross exaggeration to state there were many men on the railways paid less than £1 per week. If it be true that there are only a few men on the railways in comparison with the total number employed who are in receipt of these low wages, why do they fear this Amendment? The acceptance of the Amendment would rid them of a charge that has been commonly made, and that has done something to damage the reputation of the railway directors of this country.The railway service, as far as directorships are concerned, is well represented at the moment on the benches opposite; indeed, it looks to me to be more like a directors' meeting than a sitting of the House of Commons. I claim that if this Amendment were passed, and £1 per week were guaranteed to the lowly paid men, it would interfere in no way with the continuous smooth working of the Conciliation Boards, which would be still required to regulate and deal with the working conditions and wages of hundreds of thousands of men who are already paid more than £1 per week. We have recently had suggestions from the Chancellor of the Exchequer with regard to the low wages paid to workers in the country. Hon. Gentlemen who voted for the last Amendment did so to a large extent because wages are so low that an increase in the price of food is an intolerable strain for a large section of the community. If they wish to be consistent, they must now vote for raising the wages of the lowly-paid workers. The arguments they used in support of their previous Amendment can still be adduced in support of the one now before the Committee. It has been hinted that we may ultimately land at £1 per week for agricultural workers. The hon. Gentleman who very ingeniously spoke on behalf of the Government against this Amendment made an entirely unconvincing speech, and talked to us about men who are lamed and maimed in the railway service, and who might lose their occupation if the law compelled their employers to give them £1 per week. My own view is that there is not a man in railway employment who does not earn his money. No one, so far as I know, is employed on any basis of charity, and surely men who have been maimed in the service have some title to consideration from the railway directors of this country. It is not porters in villages and at wayside railway stations and in the agricultural districts who are affected by this Amendment. There are men working under the hardest conditions on exceedingly dangerous work where accidents are frequent in goods yards and at railway sidings in large industrial centres, continually exposed to the very worst conditions of weather, summer and winter alike, who have less than £1 per week. Those are the men who would very largely profit if this Amendment were carried. The principle of this Amendment is already in force in the case of very many public bodies. A large number of city and town councils have by the decision of the ratepayers, or by the decision of the elected councils, resolved to pay, not £1 per week, but in many cases 26s. per week. In the city of Manchester, corporation employés, no matter at what labour they are engaged, must not be employed at less than 26s. per week, and I say there is not in all the branches of the railway service any class of labour worth less than £1 per week. These men employed at goods sidings, and following dangerous work, have no kitchen gardens, are not in receipt of tips, and do not enjoy any of those excuses which have been given to the House by the spokesman of the Government; and in the interests of this class of man who has not profited, and cannot profit by any operation of the Conciliation Boards, I would appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite to show some consistency, and to show that the talk of their leaders and many of their followers on platforms in the country recently, has meant something. If they really are in favour of higher wages, let them give a vote in support of the first Amendment that the wages shall not be less than £1 per week.
The idea of a minimum wage naturally appeals to all of us, and if it could be successfully applied, we should be in favour of its application, but it does not seem to me to be really germane to the particular proposal before us. It would, as far as I can make out from the speeches which have been made, render the Bill quite unworkable. It has already been well said by my hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth (Mr. S. Collins), that the object and desire of this Bill is to encourage railway companies to improve the conditions of service and to remove the difficulties which are at present in the way of an improvement in the rates of wages. It would appear from one or two speeches that it was not absolutely obligatory on a company, in the first instance, to improve the rates of wages and conditions of labour on their system. Before they can go to the Railway and Canal Commissioners for any increased rate they have actually got to make an absolute increase in the rate of wages paid or to improve the conditions of service. They have to prove that up to the hilt before the Railway and Canal Commissioners. The result is that this Bill is a real incentive to railway companies to improve the conditions of service of men on the railways. I would especially ask the attention of my hon. Friends below the Gangway to one fact, which is very germane to the question, whether the House at the present time and in connection with this Bill should lay down a minimum rate of wages. The House is in one difficulty, as has already been pointed out. One hon. Member proposes a minimum wage of 20s. and another hon. Member, one of his colleagues, immediately gets up and proposes a minimum wage of 25s. There is nothing to prevent others proposing 35s. or even 40s. I do not think the House of Commons, without much more information than is now in its possession, is in a position, even if they admit the principle of the minimum wage, to say this afternoon what that minimum wage should be.It is practically impossible to come to a conclusion. Exactly the same position arises as arose in connection with the fixing of a minimum wage under the Coal Mines Regulation Bill. There we had very largely, in fact almost, the same position. There was a desire in this House that there should be a minimum wage in connection with that industry. What did the House do? After discussion it came to the conclusion by a large majority that certain proposals were impracticable, that it was not in a position to decide for itself what the minimum wage should be, and that it ought to be referred to the Conciliation Boards, representing the two sides and having power to come to a decision on the facts and to settle what the wage should be. We are in practically the same position, I am glad to think, in regard to the railways of this country. We have the equivalent in the Conciliation Boards to deal with the question of wages and conditions. The House on both sides was a party to these Conciliation Boards, on which the men are equally represented with the companies, and in addition to that, in the event of a dispute arising, they have an independent chairman to decide what the wage should be. We may well believe that even if the two sides cannot come to a conclusion and decide the matter, the independent chairman will fix a reasonable rate of wages. Having heard on the one side the company and the men on the other, he would be in a better position to say what the rate of wages should be than the House of Commons is to decide that question this afternoon. An hon. Member has said that this Bill leaves it to the companies to deal with the question of wages as they like. That is not so. Under the Conciliation Boards they have power to deal with it in the first instance, but it is left to be finally referred to the independent chairman of the Conciliation Board. I do appeal to the Committee, quite apart from the question of a minimum wage, and apart from the best method of arriving at what we all desire, which is to improve the conditions of service on the railways, to leave the matter, as it is at present, in the hands of the Conciliation Boards and not to endeavour to fix an arbitrary rate, as to which the House has not agreed and cannot very well agree. I hope the House will not insert this Amendment in the Bill, but will leave it to the Conciliation Board to do, as we all desire to do, what they can to improve the conditions of service.
It seems to me that everybody in every part of the House is agreed in the desire that a reasonable living wage should be paid not only to every employé of a railway company, but to every other person who has to earn his living in the country. It also seems to me that everybody recognises the difficulty of formulating a minimum wage for any class of industry in the country. The difficulty has been emphasised of dealing with the minimum wage in this particular Bill. I suggest that if ever there was an opportunity given to the Members of this House to deal with the question of the minimum wage that opportunity has been given by this Bill, because, as I understand it, this Bill is one which is to give to the railway companies of this country certain advantages, provided that they show that they have so far improved the conditions of the employés as to justify them in having those advantages, and I utterly fail to see why, when this Committee is fixing other standards of advantage and improvement, it should not also fix a standard of wage improvement. The Committee is now discussing a Clause which provides for the point at which railway companies are to have the advantages which will be given to them by this Bill, and I do not see in a case of this kind any of the difficulties which are ordinarily associated with the question of interfering with the minimum wage. I fail to see the difficulty of saying to the railway companies, "You are not to have the advantages of this Bill unless the improvements which you have made in the conditions of the employment of your men amount, at any rate, to this standard," or "unless they approach to this particular standard you shall not have the advantages of this Bill." You are not by this Clause fixing a minimum wage, and it is a mistake to talk about the Amendment of the hon. Member below the Gangway as fixing the principle of a minimum wage or fixing a minimum wage for railway servants. This is simply an Amendment which specifies that the railway companies, among the other improvements, must, at any rate, attain to this standard.We say to them, "You are not to come and ask the public to pay you money which you say you are paying for your improvements unless the public have got an assurance that you are not employing people at less than 25s. a week." I am not going to vote for this Amendment. I think the figure of 25s. is too high for this House to set as a standard at the commencement. When I am told that there are adult men earning 16s. and 18s. a week and many of them in large towns, I say I think it is wrong, and I shall vote for an Amendment which will refuse to give recognition to any railway rate, or to any demand by the companies from the public for repayment for something they have advanced to their working men, unless they have at least a standard of £1 a week. I do not think this House is in a position to fix a minimum wage. I do not think the Committee is in a position to judge between £1 and 25s., and whilst I voted in this House in favour of the principle of a minimum wage for coal miners, I always refused to put into it the 5s. 3d., or to specify the figure, because I thought this House was not justified in doing it. I cannot imagine any man in the House or outside who will really say that anything under £1 a week is sufficient to justify the railway companies in going and asking the public to repay them. As I understand this Bill, you say to the railway companies, when they come to the public, "you must show that you do improve the conditions of the labour of your men before you ask us to give you back the amount which you have had to spend." I say that before the railway companies are entitled to go to the public, they ought to be able to assure the public that they are not paying less than £1 a week to anybody in their employment. Although I am not going to vote for the 25s. a week, which is in the Amendment, I shall very cheerfully go into the Lobby with those Members below the Gangway in supporting the principle that the railway company shall not have this right of getting this money from the public unless they are paying, at any rate, a wage of not less than £1 a week to those in their employment.
I do not think that anyone in this House can be surprised, after the fixing of a minimum wage for miners last year, that this question of fixing a minimum wage should be carried further, and especially in connection with low wage-paid labour. One of the greatest social evils we suffer from is that low wage-paid labour, especially in the towns. I think that is a question which will have to be considered. I do not think the House of Commons can fix a minimum wage by an Amendment to this Bill in the circumstances of this evening. I do not think that the proposals that have been made for a minimum wage are in the least, exaggerated; it is not possible for a man to keep a decent home and bring up a family upon a week. I believe we shall have to fix a minimum wage in the towns at something like. 25s. I think that what we have done already will bring us to that, and I believe that in the low wage-paid labour the fixing of a minimum wage is most required. I certainly think that in the payment of railway employés it would not be possible off-hand to fix a wage, because there is the element of the night employment to a large extent, and also the question of tips among other classes of railway employés. The whole subject would have to be gone thoroughly into, in the same way as the minimum wage was gone into in the case of miners; it would have to be gone into by an independent authority. I believe that we shall come to a minimum wage on the railways and other employments in the towns. I just want to suggest one homely example of what I mean. In the district where I come from, the farm servant or labourer is paid £1 a week; lie has a free house and perquisites; that means a wage of 25s. When you compare that with the wages of 19s. and £1 a week in the towns, I believe it will be found impossible for that kind of wage to be paid. I am entirely in sympathy with the proposal, much more in sympathy with the proposal to raise the scale of pay of any low wage-paid labour than I was in favour of the minimum wage in the case of miners. I think it is a stronger case and one which will have to be met, but it will have to be met with much greater care and greater examination and consideration than we could possibly give to that subject this evening. On that ground, and in order to aid the Government to fulfil its pledge, I shall vote with the Government.
I agree with the last Member who spoke, that this is mainly a matter of fulfilling the pledge of the Government, and I hope the Committee will remember the circumstances in which that pledge was given. The circumstances were very acute. The Government asked the railway companies to make certain concessions in the course of an industrial dispute. The Government as a Government pledged themselves to the railway companies, to the extent of the loss which the railway companies incurred, a loss which otherwise they would not have undertaken, that the Government would introduce a Bill to recoup them. Anybody who has any regard for the dignity of government in a representative institution must feel a strong prejudice to support the Government which has given a pledge in these circumstances. When a Bill for the fulfilment of that pledge is introduced I do not think it is quite fair for sections on either side of the House to try to get an advantage out of the Bill which is simply a fulfilment of an elementary obligation. No matter what may be his political complexion, I believe that any Member who cares for representative institutions must feel, and the House ought to bear in mind, that the Government for the sake of the country at a particular crisis in the country's affairs gave this pledge. Whatever may be hon. Members' views on other matters, which may be promoted upon the Bill, which is introduced to fulfil that pledge, they must feel a sympathy with the Government in their endeavour to fulfil it. I ask hon. Members below the Gangway opposite not to think for one moment that I am wholly rejecting their views as having no weight at all. I similarly think that the demands put forward by chambers of commerce and persons interested in every form of industry concerned in this particular measure are being made on an inappropriate occasion. Those demands might fairly be discussed by the House at any other time, but we stand in a very exceptional position to-day; the party in Opposition may be in power to-morrow, and those hon. Members below the Gangway opposite who are merely supporting the Government may find themselves in Opposition to-morrow. Wherever hon. Members sit they should remember that it is due to the dignity of the House, when the Government, for the sake of the country at a crisis in the country's affairs has given a pledge, that they should not, except on the strongest provocation, be the means of the Government's breaking their pledge. I fail to understand how my hon. Friend the Member for St. Helens (Mr. Rigby Swift) can find it a matter of principle to vote for a minimum of 20s. and on principle be opposed to a minimum of 25s. I can understand it being a principle to object to a cash minimum being named, and that it is objectionable to have a minimum at all, but I cannot understand an hon. Member who says, in two successive sentences, that he thinks it is contrary to principle to vote for a minimum of 25s. but that he is wholly in favour of a minimum of 20s.8.0 P.M. We have had three definite examples or tendencies since 1909 of the introduction of the minimum wage into legislation. In the spring of 1909 we had the Fair-Wage Resolution. In the latter part of 1909 we had the Trade Boards Act, which, among a number of other provisions, made it possible for minimum wages to be established in notoriously sweated trades, and in such other trades as the Board of Trade by Provisional Order might bring within the purview of that Act. It is significant, as being indicate of public opinion, that from 1909 up to the present moment no other trade has been brought within that Act. Then in 1912 we had the Coal Mines Act, when the House did sanction the principle of the minimum wage, but it never went so far, in any of these instances, as to impose any minimum wage in figures. The conditions vary so much in different locali- ties—the urban as against the rural locality is an elementary instance—that it is impossible to impose a minimum in one district which can approximate the proper minimum in another. The cash figure has never been named up till now, and I think it would be a great misfortune if this Committee were to commit themselves to it. I think they would be ill- advised in the interests of the workmen themselves. A minimum must always tend to be a maximum. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] I am expressing my own opinion, and hon. Members may disagree with it if they like.
We cannot have a general discussion on the minimum wage. The hon. and learned Member should confine himself particularly to this Amendment, which is whether there shall be a sum of 25s. or 20s.
I will loyally accept your ruling, Sir. The tendency of fixing a minimum is to discourage the good worker in favour of the bad. By fixing a minimum of 20s. or 25s. you will not make the bad worker good, but you will be apt to discourage the good worker and raise the bad worker to the level of a good one. To make the workers all of one value is a bad principle. The whole of the prosperity of this country is based upon individual effort and the recognition of individual ability, skill, and industry, which can only be attained by leaving the price of labour to be determined by its results. I therefore think it would be a great misfortune if this Amendment were to be accepted. The House, while admitting the principle in an emergency, has never fixed the amount in any case. I strongly object to the introduction of this particular Amendment, because every hon. Member who remembers the circumstances in which this Bill was promised must recognise that the introduction of questions of this kind, which I agree in themselves are important, cannot be permitted.
We have listened to an interesting discussion to-night, and I am one of those who hold the opinion that discussions of this character are entireiy in place in the House of Commons. It is amazing to listen to lawyers laying down the conditions that should attach to men who are earning a £1 or 25s. a week. We get in this House chunks of philosophy and delightfully interesting lectures from Members of the House who are following the legal profession, which would be far more fitting for some literary and debating society than for people engaged in business, and who have knowledge of the subject. We have just been told that the minimum wage always tends to become a maximum. May I remind the hon. and learned Member that for 6s. 8d. you can get a solicitor, but you cannot get every solicitor to accept 6s. 8d. From the figures got out by the Board of Trade it appears that the purchasing power of one sovereign has, since 1895, dropped by 3s. 9d. When we consider that we have to deal with 50,000 people working on the railway systems who are receiving actually less than £1 a week, whose wages have varied little if any during the period I have mentioned, it is obvious to anybody in the Committee that the position of these people to-day must be deplorable. It is a matter we ought seriously to face. It is a matter of common knowledge to us. We cannot escape it, and we cannot pretend to be ignorant of the fact that these men, owing to the rise in the price of commodities, are in a three and ninepenny worse position than they were in in 1895. There is another important point, probably the most important we shall dig up during this Debate. I have seen figures obtained from different movements in this country giving the degree of danger in various industries and occupations. I have seen alarming figures regarding those connected with the drink trade, the brewing of beer and the selling of beer and spirits in public houses, but there is one thing that has always astounded me which is that if you take all the dangerous trades and avocations you will find that the people who are working for £1 a week or less have a death rate which is the most excessive of any section of the community of this country. Many years ago there was a Member of this House—Mr. Samuel Plimsoll—who was instrumental in fixing a load line for ships. He took strong action to bring that load line into operation, and there is no Member who will to-day dispute that that action has been instrumental in saving thousands of the lives of the men who go down to the sea in ships. It is the business of the President of the Board of Trade not only to see that the load line is on the ship, but, through his officers, to see that when the ship is loaded, the load line is not exceeded. The Amendment before the Committee is an endeavour to fix a load line below which human life shall not be depressed in this country.
The remarks of the hon. Member would undoubtedly be quite revelant to the Second Reading of a Bill dealing with a minimum wage, but I do not think he has touched upon the subject with which the Amendment before us deals, namely, to insert 25s. instead of 20s. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but he must confine his remarks to that point.
This is the first opportunity we have had of discussing whether 20s. should be paid to the railway workers on this Bill, and surely, therefore, it is necessary to consider what will be the effect of this fixing of a minimum standard, not only on railway workers but on other people and on other grades of labour.
May I point out that the fact of inserting the Amendment, will not of itself give any human being a penny piece. It will depend on a complaint being made by a trader.
I am very familiar with the operation of the Act which this Bill sets out to amend, and it is with that knowledge in my mind that I am directing the hon. Member's attention to the fact that there is a comparatively narrow point in connection with the minimum wage which is sought to be set up here. I regret that I must ask the hon. Member to confine himself strictly to that, and not to go into the general merits of the question of the minimum wage or otherwise.
I will do my best to keep within your ruling, but the point you have laid down seems to be rather obscure. The position, I take it, is that if Parliament passes this Bill with this Amendment, it will justify the railway company in obtaining increases in the rates which they charge for the carrying of goods. Without this Amendment I am against the Bill, and shall vote against it as religiously and diligently as anyone in the House. But my whole course of action will be changed entirely if this important Amendment is adopted. Most Members are compelled to take an interest in this question, especially after the country was faced with the recent dispute among the railway people. We are all concerned in that. We should all be affected by it because, if we were faced with a tremendous cessation of labour, we should be within a very few days or weeks of starvation. I see in this Amendment an opportunity of giving the railway companies power to obtain higher rates and at the same time taking away from them the disabilities they are labouring under to-day to justify the scandalously low wages that exist on the railway systems. I take it that that comes within the scope of the Amendment. It lays it down that great companies asking for powers and privileges shall receive them on certain conditions. There are, of course, many conditions covering the various Railway Bills to-day. This House is omnipotent in this matter, and it is within its power to extend those conditions which way it will, and so far as I have been able to discover, there is no power in this country to prevent the House putting those conditions to those who seek to run the railway systems of this country. The railway companies are to-day at a great disadvantage. They have things to defend that possibly they do not like. If the Amendment was carried, it would give them the chance to raise their rates and to pay a higher and better wage, and would not entail upon them endeavouring in any way to justify some of the conditions that exist to-day. The Parliamentary Secretary raised a point with regard to men who were injured on the line.
I did not say necessarily "on the line."
The hon. Gentleman alluded to the fact that men were there with wooden legs, and I have yet to discover that railway or any other companies go out of their way specially to employ men with wooden legs. There is no preference for wooden legs in industry in this country, and I think we may take it that the great bulk of men who are fitted up in this way on the railway system, have met with railway accidents. The point I want to deal with is that the mere fact that a man has lost his leg is no justification for paying him less than the rate of wages mentioned in other Amendments before the House. Rather, it is an indication that he has been, in a sense, misused and abused. It is not a reason for reducing his wage or position, but rather an opportunity given to the railway company to deal fairly with the man, and see that he does not suffer in any way. There has been during the past eighteen months or two years a great movement of labour unrest. For the past twelve or four- teen years of my life, I have been engaged in trade union work affecting men receiving less than £1 a week. We have succeeded. There can be no question about this. Any employer in this House will agree that there have been hundreds of thousands of workmen who, prior to this unrest, were receiving less than £1 a week, and I say it to the eternal credit of an overwhelming number of employers in this country, there has not been any very great difficulty in showing them that wages of less than £1 a week were unfair, and would not enable a man to maintain himself, his wife, and his family; and it has been one of the easiest things possible to raise the wages of hundreds of thousands of men from 17s. or 18s. a week to £1 a week. This is tremendously to the credit of the industry of this country, and it gives the men a chance such as they could not hope to have under the old and bad conditions. Imagine a man with a wife and two or three children, endeavouring to live on £1 a week! It is because I know they cannot do it that I am begging the House to give this matter serious attention.
If the hon. Member will think for a moment, he will see that if I allow him to pursue that line of argument I must allow replies, and we shall be launched at once into a discussion of the minimum wage in general. I am sorry to interrupt his speech, but I really must ask him not to continue that line of argument any further. If he has any further remarks to make, he must confine himself strictly to the question of giving 20s. to the railway workers of the country.
I shall endeavour to keep within your ruling. I thought I was well within it in the remarks I was making. I am endeavouring in my own way to deal with some of the arguments which have already been used. For instance, we had one argument from the Noble Lord (Lord Claud Hamilton), who represents the railway companies in this House, and a constituency as well, I suppose. He said the Conciliation Boards which had been brought into operation were working very smoothly and doing very fine work, but this particular Noble Lord fought for all he was worth against the establishment of Conciliation Boards, and it is rather late in the day for Members of the House of this type to come here and make speeches in this way when we are proposing to give the House a chance to say whether the House will give railway companies power to pay the wages the Amendment seeks to put in the Bill. It seems to me that the Noble Lord should have thanked the Mover of the Amendment and dealt with the position in the terms of the hon. Member for West Ham, because it would ease the minds of railway directors in the country when they have to defend the condition of a large number of their employés who are receiving less than the wage proposed by the Amendment. I hope the House will seriously consider the Amendment. It may be that some who cannot make up their minds will say this is not the time and that some other is the time for doing this. That is an argument we always hear—not this year, or next year, but never. We are asking the House to face the difficulty and realise that we are dealing with flesh and blood, and to see whether we cannot set a bottom limit, a sort of Plimsoll line, as to the wages of men engaged on railways. I do not see any reason, if this House is to make a start, why we should not start with the railway companies, which are the greatest and wealthiest monopolies in the country. If ever a case could be made out for carrying such an Amendment, it is the case before the House to-night.
I can assure the hon. Member (Mr. C. Duncan) that I entirely share with him the sympathy expressed for the under-paid railway workers of this country, and, indeed, his desire to improve their conditions. I was glad to hear that in his experinece among employers of labour in other industries a material increase in wages has been obtained by the employés—an increase up to a living wage.
A pound a week.
Let me assure the Committee that whenever any well-considered and effective scheme is proposed for remedying the evils which undoubtedly exist at the present moment among the underpaid railway servants of the country it should have my entire support. [An HON. MEMBER: "There is now."] I was going to state why I cannot find it possible to support this Amendment. In the first place, I understand if the Amendment is carried it would kill the Bill. I was assured from the other side of the House that that would be the effect, and I think there is every probability that it would be. For my part, I do not wish to risk that, for I consider this Bill is in the interest of railway servants. I think it will induce railway companies to raise the wages of their employés in cases where those wages are too low. Therefore I should be exceedingly sorry to vote for any Amendment which would endanger the safety of the Bill or prevent it from passing. There is another, and I think even a stronger, reason why I cannot support the Amendment. If we want to establish a minimum wage on the railway system of the country, I think this Amendment goes the wrong way about it. I think the only possible way in which you can establish a minimum wage in any great industry, like the railway or coal-mining industry, is the method adopted last year in regard to coal mining. You should put no fixed sum in the Bill, but establish local boards which will consider the different grades and interests of the workers in the different districts, and see what is the appropriate minimum wage for each district. It would be perfectly impossible for us, knowing the variety of conditions under which railway men are employed, to insert any definite wage in the Bill, and to say that is the minimum rate to be paid for all workers on the railways. Therefore, if we are to establish the principle of a minimum wage at all, I am satisfied that the only way to do it is to follow the precedent of the Coal Mines Act and establish local boards to say what the minimum wage shall be. For these reasons, while sympathising with the desire of hon. Members opposite to remove the cases of under pay on the railway system, I cannot support the Amendment.
I think the speech we have listened to is typical of a good many other speeches by hon. Members who represent railway constituencies. They are all in favour of a minimum wage, and they think that 25s. is the very lowest a man ought to have, but they say, "This is not the proper time or method; these are not the ideas or principles upon which any real politician should work if he wants to get a minimum wage for railway workers." I do not think it is necessary for us to argue with that sort of speech. The question before the House is perfectly simple. It is simply whether we are to confine the benefits to those railway companies who already pay decent wages to their men. I, for one, should regard it as a premium on bad wages if we were to say to some railway companies in the country, those who pay the lowest wages, that they will get the biggest benefits out of the Bill, and to say at the same time to those who are already paying good wages that they are to get the lowest possible benefits. This Amendment stops privilege being given to the worst railway companies, and says to them, "Before you get the advantages of this Act you must set your house in order, and when you are paying a decent living wage to your men you will have the benefits of the Act, and where rises of pay are given they will be taken into consideration." It seems to me that on this line the Amendment has strong ground for support. My hon. Friend (Mr. Robertson) was very much down on the logic and economics of the hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment. It does not seem to me that the Government's position is any more sound than its economics.What was the argument used by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade? He rides two horses at once. First of all he says he cannot support the Amendment in its details, and then he says, "The Bill is to carry out a Government pledge. We must have the Clause line for line, and phrase for phrase it must go through." Then he rides off on another horse and says to the hon. Member for North-West Ham that, apart altogether from the question of pledge, this Bill, in the opinion of the Government is an admirable Bill and is going to be an inducement to all the railway companies to raise wages at the expense of the community. You cannot have it both ways. If this Bill has got to be saved in order to satisfy a Government pledge, let us leave it at that. Let us admit its faults and take it simply as a satisfaction of the Government pledge. On the other hand, if this Bill as it stands is only a bribe to the railway companies to give higher wages at the expense of all the workers of the country, then there is every argument for extending it far beyond the railway companies to all employers. We know very well that this is not a Bill which the Government support on account of its merits. We are asked to drop this Amendment and pass the Bill in its original form simply on account of the Government pledge and nothing else. The hon. Member for Thanet lectured those of us who voted against the Second Reading as if we were wanting in honour and as if because a pledge was given by the Government, therefore we must accept it as drafted by the Government. I protest in the name of the independence of Members of this House against any such theory at that, because the Executive Government for the time being decide on a certain line of action and give a pledge, therefore every Member of this House, to whatever party he belongs, whether he supports the Executive or not, should support the Government and see as a man of honour, that what the Government said went. That is the last argument of despotism, and if accepted by the House would put the seal upon all our liberties in this country. This Amendment does not enact a minimum wage at all. A lot of my hon. Friends hesitated about enacting a minimum wage. It merely says to the railway companies, "You shall not get the advantage of this Bill unless you happen to pay 20s. or 25s." It cannot by any twisting of words be made to be an enactment of a minimum wage merely to presuppose decent conditions before any privilege is given to the railway companies concerned. The hon. Member for Tyneside brought in the question of the old men and the lame men. That is not worthy of the hon. Member, because we have had it brought up over and over again. In the Workmen's Compensation Act, the Coal Mining Act, and the Minimum Wage Act, the case of the old men and cripples has been specially considered, and exception will always be made in special cases such as theirs. The only thing we have to consider is whether we ought to give railway companies who pay starvation wages this special privilege. I say we should not. If by passing this through in the amended form we thereby do get one or two railway companies raising the minimum wage to 20s. or 25s., very soon we shall find all other railway companies following suit. They will be compelled to do so by force of public opinion. I believe we should have, if we passed the Bill in its amended form, one or two companies taking advantage of it and seeing that their fully paid, whole-time men are given a reasonable minimum, and we should have other railway companies following suit, and no sooner would you get the whole of the railway companies paying a decent minimum wage than you would find the employers of the low-paid labour or the rest of the country almost compelled by comparison with the railway companies to raise their wages to the same level. You are raising the standard of comfort to the working classes in this way. The standard has risen, and it will take a great deal of driving on the part of the employers to reduce that standard again. For all those reasons I hope that this Amendment will be carried. I hope it will be carried with the 25s. minimum. If it is not carried the House will have an opportunity of voting on the 20s. minimum, and those who consider 25s. too much will have an opportunity of voting for 20s. I think that the House owes a debt of gratitude to the hon. Member who has brought this forward, and I hope they will see it, by hook or by crook, embodied in the Bill before it becomes an Act of Parliament, and that we shall see a real improvement in the standard of remuneration of the railway workers of the country.
I have always believed in workmen having good wages; 20s. or 25s. may not be excessive wages, and in some cases may be far too little for men on the railways, but that is not the point. The question is whether this House has the proper facilities and a proper understanding of the conditions to settle wages. The settlement of wages ought to be by boards of experts, and not by a miscellaneous body like the House of Commons. I have had a great deal to do with the settlement of wages myself during the last twenty years, and I should be very sorry indeed in the trade with which I am connected to ask the House of Commons to settle its wages, because I know that they would make a thorough muddle of it. I would ask the hon. Member whether there are any men who work for low wages in the potteries?
Yes, far too many.
Would the hon. Member like the House of Commons to settle the various wages paid in the potteries?
Yes, I would very much.
And also regulate the different rates of wages in that district? He would find it impossible to do anything of the kind.
I should refuse to give to any pottery manufacturer special privileges by Act of Parliament unless he paid a decent living wage.
It all depends on what you call a "decent living wage." If you admit the principle that this House ought to settle the minimum rate of wages, you cannot apply it only to one community, like railways or mines. You should allow it to operate all over the country. If that is the case, it reduces it to an absurdity, because the time of this House would be taken up entirely, and more than taken up, in settling wages in different places in the country. I know a trade in which the wages have to be settled every two months, and if the House of Commons were called upon to settle wages, and to settle fluctuations in wages of that kind up and down the country, the whole thing would become absurd and ridiculous. A wages Board of masters and men would be much more likely to give working men increases than would be the case if the question were left to be settled by the House of Commons.
The hon. Member is going rather into general questions, which I have already, in the case of one or two Members, ruled to be out of order.
The railway companies and the Government settled this question in 1911. The matter was submitted to arbitration and to a Commission, and I understood that the Labour party agreed that there should be Boards to settle the matter.
We did not attempt to settle it, and it was in 1907 that certain Boards were set up. In August, 1911, we complained that those Boards were not working properly, and so the matter was submitted to a Commission. The Boards were set up in 1907.
I was referring to 1911, when the principle was established that these matters should be settled between the masters and the men, but now you are departing from that principle, which was decided by the Commission, and I submit that it is quite out of order to raise the question of a minimum wage in the House. I do not believe altogether in settling wages in this House; I believe it to be the wrong tribunal, and not qualified for the work at all. These questions are much better settled by a Board composed of masters and men who know all the conditions of the case.
It is true that there are Conciliation Boards established for the settlement of wages, and we do not desire, in moving these Amendments to the Bill, to depart from those Conciliation Boards. What is done in these Amendments is simply to fix a minimum upon which to raise the superstructure of wages. That, I hold, is quite a different principle, and quite a different matter entirely, from taking the question of the settlement of wages out of the hands of those Boards. Let me remind the hon. Member that the Board of Trade and the railway companies, in presenting this Bill to the House of Commons, are asking the House to agree that the rates shall be raised in order that improved wages may be given to the staff; and while they are about it, why do they not make a good job of it? Why do they not say so far as the men are concerned that they will raise the wages, and that nobody shall be paid less than a living wage? That would be some justification for this Bill; otherwise, so far as I am concerned, I do not see that there would be any justification for it. In many cases, where improvements of wages have been obtained, there has been observed by the Conciliation Boards no principle such as that which is sought to be established by these Amendments. Certain railway companies, I admit, have largely adopted the £1 a week minimum, but not in every instance. There are some isolated cases where they have not fixed it, while others have been trying to bring it up to the pound a week. It is, however, not general or universal. If the House of Commons were to insist that no adult person on the railways shall be employed for less than £1 a week, or, as I should prefer, 25s. a week, then I think there would be some justification for this Bill.
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put"; but the Deputy-Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question. Debate resumed.
The discussion we have had to-day certainly shows that the House of Commons is not the place for dealing with the settlement of wages. Undoubtedly it was decided between the Government and the representatives of men on occasion of the railway strike that the wages were to be settled by boards and not by the House of Commons. Equally, without doubt, this Amendment is going back on the understanding arrived at on the occasion of that settlement.[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]. Hon. Members who represent the Labour party in this House were parties to that settlement, and what is now occurring shows the House and the country the difficulty there is in dealing in these matters with the Labour party. In regard to the fixing of the minimum wage in this House, I submit that we are encroaching on a most dangerous principle which, if adopted, would ultimately destroy in the country the authority and influence of this House. The Amendment is for £1 a week; but even to-night there is the further suggested alternative of 25s. a week. Once the principle of the minimum wage was accepted, there would be constant proposals. You would have candidates of one party proposing 21s., and opposing candidates of another party proposing 22s.; so that in every industrial constituency great political questions would be lost sight of, and electors would be asked to vote for the candidate who offered to vote in the House of Commons for the higher wage. Such a cause would be a degradation of this House and destructive of its authority to deal with great national questions. The only way in which this House can intervene in any way whatever in industrial disputes is by establishing tribunals of arbitration to deal with them outside of the authority of this Assembly, and on the merits of the question submitted; those tribunals to be composed of persons well acquainted with the industries concerned, and of judicial mind to decide the cases placed before them. As one Member of this Assembly, I cannot support the principle of a minimum wage, because I believe that the House of Commons cannot properly deal with that subject, and if it attempts to deal with it, it will destroy its authority and power to engage in great national questions.
I fail to see why this Bill, which is to "amend Section (1) of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1894, with respect to increases of rates or charges made for the purpose of meeting a rise in the cost of working a railway, due to improved labour conditions," is incompatible with the House of Commons laying down a minimum wage for the improvement of labour conditions. It seems to me that it is essentially within the province of this House to lay down such a minimum. There are many on the Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Benches who are well acquainted with the conditions of labour on the railways of the country. This does not apply, as the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. E. Parkes) suggested, to all the trades in this country. We are not called on to give an opinion of all trades, but only as to this very important industry, which is more or less a monopoly, which derives its powers from Parliament, a fact which casts a responsibility on Parliament to see that the industry is carried on under fair and equitable and right conditions for those employed. We are shirking our responsibility continually by saying this does not come within our province, and is against economic principles. I fail to see why it is against economic principles. I have been a student of political economy all my life, and I do not see how it is incompatible with political economy to lay down a living minimum wage. If the trade of the country was not profitable or was impossible to carry on, then there would be some justification for saying that it would be a dangerous thing to lay down a minimum wage. We know that this is an abnormally rich country, with trade good, and for the House of Commons to refuse to accept a minimum of £1 or 25s. per week seems to me, for us men of business who are acquainted with the conditions, to show that the House has no courage to do what we believe to be right in the interests of the public. I think we ought to take our courage in both hands and say we will vote a living wage. It is absurd to say that a wage of £1 or 25s. would disorganise the railways or the whole working of industries. I hope the Government will, even at the eleventh hour, take this question into consideration. We had an eloquent example when we voted for the five and two minimum. The same arguments were applied then. The men in this instance are in the hands of those whom I call, with respect, monopolists, and in an industry which is more or less a monopoly. The Noble Lord (Lord C. Hamilton) told us we must have regard to Conciliation Boards, and let the matter be settled by them. We all know the normal state of the industrial market, and that workmen often have difficulty in getting work. There is frequently a great surplus of labour and two or three men for a certain job. The result is the men have a great difficulty in getting a living wage, and that it is only by the House of Commons coming to their help that they have any real chance or possibility of advancing their economic position. When the men go before a Conciliation Board they are content with a small advance in their wages. Why should we not come to the assistance of the men? We know the conditions of life in this country, and the conditions under which a great many of the people live, and we should therefore lend the people the powerful weight of the House of Commons to get a minimum wage. It has been argued that a minimum will become a maximum. Those who contend that are generally the most powerful advocates of the economic theory. They say wages are governed by the law of supply and demand, and that skilled labour commands a high price because it is highly skilled. You cannot argue that way and at the same time say that a minimum would become the maximum.
The hon. Member is now referring to the general question.
I do submit the point is one which should command the united support of all parties. We all wish that men should be able to live, and even from the economic point of view it is sound economically and financially that men should be adequately paid. It would be in the interests of the companies and of the men and of the industries generally since it would lead to a higher standard of living all round. If we pay the porters who are depending on tips a proper wage, they will be better men and more able to carry out their work, and benefit will accrue to the companies and the community and industries all round. I hope many other hon. Members will join in supporting the proposal to which I give my most hearty support.
I observe from the numerous speeches that it is rather a difficult matter to keep within the narrow limits which you have prescribed, not unwisely I think, as the course this Debate should take. I do not know whether I shall be more fortunate in treading the narrow path, but at least I will do my best. I have been very much struck by the argument used by the other side, that this House as a whole is a pack of noodles who cannot discover a way out of a difficulty which every social reformer and every social party has been pleased to acknowledge existed. I do not think we are doing anything out of the ordinary course in seeking to make the Committee stage of this Bill an opportunity of bettering the conditions of labour for those working on our railways. Neither do I think we are guilty of any breach of past promises by using the present occasion in this way. We are not seeking to use this House as the proper body for fixing wages. Our attempt is something much simpler than that. We agree that this House is a most unsuitable body for fixing conflicting and varying rates of wages. All that we are attempting is to say to the railway companies, "You are asking us for a privilege. It may be that it is a privilege which you claim as a right in view of the pledges given to you. Nevertheless, it is a privilege, and we want some quid pro quo, which, as far as we are concerned, will take the shape of the condition that no railway company which does not give what we believe are rock bottom, decent conditions of labour shall have the privilege that this Bill is designed to grant." That, broadly, is the position that we are fighting for. We shall be asked presently to determine between the respective merits of a minimum wage of 20s. and one of 25s. To be perfectly frank, I shall vote for 25s., and if that is beaten I shall then vote for 20s. Let me give the reason why I shall vote for 25s. I think this argument ought to have some weight with the President of the Board of Trade. A distinguished Leader of his, the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, once said that there were 12,000,000 of our fellow subjects living on the verge of hunger. How did he arrive at that figure? He based his calculation—