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Ministry Of Mines Bill

Volume 41: debated on Thursday 5 August 1920

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House again in Committee (according to Order).

[The EARL OF DONOUGEMORE in the Chair.]

Clause 18:

Cessation of Part II in certain eventualities.

18. If at the expiration of one year from the passing of this Act it appears to the Board of Trade, on the recommendation of the Minister of Mines, that the scheme of this Part of the Act has been rendered abortive by reason of the failure on the part of those entitled to appoint representatives as members of the pit and district committees, area boards, and the National Board to avail themselves of such right, the Board of Trade shall issue and publish in the London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Gazettes a certificate to that effect, and thereupon all the provisions of this Part of the Act shall cease to have effect.

moved to delete "shall issue and publish in the London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Gazettes a certificate to that effect, and thereupon all," and to substitute" lay a report of the facts before Parliament, and thereupon, if a resolution is passed by both Houses of Parliament that".

The noble Marquess said: I am afraid your Lordships will think I am presuming too much on your attention in again addressing you although upon a matter which does not require the vigorous statement which the last debate seemed to call for. Your Lordships will remember that Clause 18 was introduced into the Bill in the House of Commons in order to meet a difficulty which presented itself. This Bill was not very well received by the miners representatives. I do not wish to associate myself with their criticisms but I regret that they are, apparently, opposed to Part II of the Bill, and intimated not only that they would take no part in the discussion but that they would not work it when passed into law. Part II is really the very essence of the Bill as it provides that the miners representatives should serve upon the several committees provided—the pit committees, district. committees, area committees, and the National Board.

I think that when the Bill comes to be worked that it would be found to be too elaborate, at any rate too elaborate to start with. The Government would have done far better to have been content with one or two committees instead of four. However, that is hardly germane to my Amendment. My Amendment deals with the method which the Government have adopted in order to answer the threat of the miners not to work the Bill. I think the Government, so far, arrived at a just conclusion. It would be impossible to work Part II of the Bill unless the miners to-operated and they propose that when the miners have refused to work the Bill that the President of the Board of Trade should have the function of putting an end to Part II. I think that is an undue power to give to a Minister. After all Part II will then be an Act of Parliament, a very important part. of a very important Act, and to give to the Minister alone by his own ipse dixit the right to put an end to the operation of Part II seems to me a very strange, almost an unprecedented, proposal. The noble Viscount is so often armed with precedents with which to confute me that he may, if I may say so, have one up his sleeve.

The last one was not a very good one. Perhaps it is hardly respectable to talk about noble Lords having "anything up their sleeves." Let me say "in reserve." The position may very well be a difficult one. If it was a perfectly simple decision that no miners had been willing to accept and work the Bill then I agree that it does not much matter in whose authority you trust it, because it is obvious that Part II could not then be worked. But it may be a rather difficult point to decide whether or not the miners have in effect and in fact declined to work that part of the Bill, and if that is so—if it is a difficult point to decide, and it may be—I submit that it would be very improper for the Minister alone to have the right to put an end to an important part of an Act of Parliament. The proposal I make—I had hoped that the Government would have accepted it because it really is an attempt to improve the machinery of the Bill—is that upon the event happening, then the authority to decide whether the Act should be put an end to should be both Houses of Parliament by Resolution. That would seem to me to be a proper way of treating it. Then the responsibility would lie upon your Lordships' House and the House of Commons and not be vested in a Ministry. I do not know after the somewhat heated character of our recent discussion whether I might very respectfully suggest that it is not quite certain when this issue comes to be settled that the present Ministers will be in office. There might be a different Minister at the Board of Trade and one very different from my noble friend, in whom I have every confidence and one to whom many of your Lordships would not like to see so vital a power entrusted without power of appeal. Therefore I suggest that the proper course is to leave it to both Houses of Parliament, and I hope the Government will accept my Amendment.

Amendment moved—

Page 13, lines 15 and 16, leave out from ("shall") to ("the") in line 16 and insert ("lay a report of the facts before Parliament, and thereupon, if a resolution is passed by both Houses of Parliament that").—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

I do not know if I might ask the noble Viscount a question before he replies to the speech of the noble Marquess. It is as to what is intended by the words of the section, "that the scheme of this Part of the Act has been rendered abortive." I think before we come to a decision on the principle as to whether it should be left to the judgment of the two Houses of Parliament, or to the judgment of a Minister of the Crown on the recommendation of a Parliamentary Secretary or a Minister of Mines, that we should know what is really intended to be conveyed by these words. It is quite conceivable that the miners might in a majority of cases not support by a majority the formation of pit committees, and yet it is conceivable that the other three bodies, the district committee, the area board and the National Board, might be accepted. In that event, although the pit committees were not in operation, would it be regarded that the scheme had become abortive when one particular class of committee had not been generally adopted in the country? Or I might take another case which is more probable, having regard to the attitude announced by the men. The district committees in Clause 11, which deal with wages, might not be supported by the men, although they might be quite prepared to follow out the Regulations which would function the pit committees, the area committees, and the National Board. Now I want to know whether in the mind of the Government they think that the scheme, as a whole, must practically be put into operation, and, if it is not put into operation as a whole, it would then become abortive. My own feeling inclines to the view that either one thing or the other will take place, and that there will not be a very delicate question for either the Minister or Parliament to decide, as to whether these provisions in Part II of the Bill have become abortive or not; but of course it is conceivable that it might be a delicate point.

My inclination is to leave it to the judgment of an individual who has been responsible for the functioning of these various bodies rather than to the two Houses of Parliament, and I will give this as my reason, that in the event of it not having been functioned there must be a good deal of controversy raised as to why Part II has not been put into operation, and pressure would be placed upon the Government in Parliament by a section of Peers and by representatives of constituencies in another place, which might raise awkward questions, such as questions relating to nationalisation, which I think in the interest of general harmony ought to be avoided. I should like, however, to hear what the noble Viscount has to say before I come to a definite conclusion as to whether I can support the Amendment or not.

The noble Marquess raises a question as to whether this power of deciding whether Part II of the Bill, and the schemes under it, have been abortive or not, should be left to the decision of a Minister. He thinks that it is too large a matter to be felt to the decision of a Minister, and that it should be decided by a Report placed before both Houses of Parliament. Of course the principle that Parliament has really decided in Clause 18 is that in certain circumstances Part II shall not be worked, because as the noble Marquess knows, really a certain portion of the Bill—the questions of the setting up of all these committees, their representation and the corresponding duty of the Minister, if he approves, of giving them really formal acceptance and making them definite and compulsory—all that portion of the Bill is really bound up with the existence of these committees and must either stand or fall as a whole. Therefore Parliament is saying that in certain circumstances these committees shall not longer function, and this portion of the Bill shall be dead, because I think he agrees that it would be inadvisable that this kind of scheme should be left waiting for a long time, and that if it is not accepted say in twelve months it cannot go on, and the management of the industry must take a different line. That is definitely settled by Parliament, and all Parliament says is that the duty of deciding that question of fact, whether that portion of the Bill is abortive, shall be left to the decision of the Minister of Mines.

I should be very glad if the noble Viscount will tell us what would happen in this case? Supposing the miners were prepared to work it in half the pits but not in the other half, or were prepared to work it in three-fourths of the pits and not in the remainder, what would then happen?

I was going to discuss that a little later in reply to Lord Gainford. I thought that would be the second part of what I was going to state. I am now really on the question whether this duty should or should not be entrusted to the Minister of Mines, and I only wish to point out one or two reasons why your Lordships should not accept the Amendment. The Minister of Mines and the persons working under him would be the persons most competent to form an opinion on this question because they would be working the whole measure and in touch with the industry, and all the information which the Government have and could lay before Parliament would really come from the Ministry of Mines.

I think the great objection to saying that this Part II should not be abortive until both Houses of Parliament have passed a Resolution is this, that the whole object, or at all events the great object, of this Bill is to produce some peace and harmony in the coal industry, and if, unfortunately, these schemes do not work, and if they have to be declared abortive, we will say at the end of the year, there would, of course, have occurred a great deal of discussion and trouble already as to the causes why it had, or had not, been worked.

Is it in the interests of the industry itself, and of harmony, that all these questions shall be debated afresh in Parliament, and that the whole question shall come before it, and everything connected with nationalisation, and all these questions which by that time might be to some extent slumbering, should be wakened up by this question being brought before Parliament and debated. I suggest that it is not always a good thing to have a debate in Parliament. The noble Marquess is a Parliamentarian, and, in a humble way, I suppose I am myself, and we all like Parliamentary debate and want to discuss everything we can. But to be constantly discussing a problem is not always of value to the nation.

These discussions are not always valuable to the nation. To have these questions debated again in Parliament in the short space of a year would, I suggest, be of very little value to the general peace of the country, and certainly not to the peace of the coal industry. I am very much impressed by the strong support on that point which came from the noble Lord, Lord Gainford, who speaks with such knowledge on this subject.

The other point put is a more difficult one. The question asked by Lord Gainford and pressed by the noble Marquess was, "How many committees are you to establish in order to decide whether there has been or has not been a failure to establish the scheme?" and the specific point put was this. Supposing the pit committees did not work, and supposing the district and area committees and the National Board are set up, would you then consider that the scheme has failed? I think it is quite clear that no one then would consider that the scheme had failed, because far more important duties are performed by the district and area committees and by the National Board than by the pit committees. First the committees make representations and then those representations can be put into force if assented to by time Minister. Therefore, their action is not only on wider subjects than those dealt with by pit committees but has much more operative effect. The pit committees no doubt will be of very great value in making suggestions and in giving advice to the management or to the miners in a particular mine, but they are for a small area and of limited importance compared with the much greater importance of the other committees. Therefore I think the answer that I should give on behalf of the Minister to the noble Lord on that point is that it would not be necessary to consider that the scheme has failed because a number of pit committees had not been set up.

The other question is, I think, a little harder to reply to. It is whether, if certain districts fail to set up their committees we should regard the scheme generally as having failed. It is rather difficult beforehand to define, without knowledge of the circumstances existing at the time, the precise extent to which there might be a shortage in certain committees. But I think the real answer was given by the noble. Lord himself when, speaking with his knowledge of the trade, he said that it will not be a matter of defining with great subtlety or by very careful weighing whether or not the scheme has failed. The scheme will either succeed or it will fail. And there will be a general disposition on the part of the miners to work it, or a general disposition on their part not to work it. The Minister will not go into an elaborate set of calculations as to whether here there is a committee and there there is a committee, but will have only to register what will be a patent fact to everybody—that the scheme has either been a success or it has been a failure. That really is the answer I think that I should make to the inquiry. It really becomes less necessary than ever for Parliament to engage in interminable discussions on the position of the industry. Parliament is, wisely I think, leaving it to the Minister simply to be the recorder of what only will be an accomplished fact.

I am sorry the noble Viscount has taken that line. I do not think that he has grappled with the immense difficulty that his answer presents to us. He says it will be patent to everybody. Does he really think that?

Surely it will not be patent at all? And as to its escaping discussion in either House of Parliament, he is under a delusion. He thinks that by leaving it to the Minister the whole will be settled privately without anybody's attention being called to it, and that it will be passed sub silentio. Does the noble Viscount really think that? On the contrary, I think the Minister will be exposed to every kind of pressure in another place. There will be all sorts of irregular pressure—I do not mean improper pressure, but pressure on the floor of the House, and pressure of every kind.

The difference between the noble Viscount's proposal and mine is this—that mine will leave the definite decision to both Houses of Parliament. It will not be decided merely by the pressure of some interested group. The kind of pressure that you might usually get would be that vigorous Members of Parliament would say to the Minister, "Look here, unless you agree to suspend this part of the Act or not to suspend it, we will keep you a week longer in August." The noble Viscount knows well that that kind of pressure may be exercised. If the Government accepted my Amendment the matter would be brought to a definite test, and if there was a majority in both Houses of Parliament for the suspension the suspension would take place. If that were done the Minister would be immensely relieved, and he would not be the target of such pressure as that to which I have referred. He would say, "If you can persuade the House of Commons and the House of Lords to do it, by all means let it be done." He would be relieved of all kinds of pressure.

I am rather afraid that if I put your Lordships to the trouble of a division the result would be that we should not be able to proceed any further with the Bill this evening, because I observe the attendance in the House is not very large. I do not want to do that. and I suggest to the Government that they should promise to consider this. If they will do that between now and the next stage of the Bill, I would be satisfied with that. I think if the noble Viscount would refer it again to the Minister he might then think, in the light of the observations which I have ventured to submit to the House, that this clause as it stands ought to be amended, and I hope that he will do that.

I am not at all in favour of the proposal of the noble Marquess. The miners on the whole will either accept the Bill or will refuse to accept it. If they do not accept the Bill the probability is that they will take no part in any committees. Suppose, however, that some districts accept the conditions and others do not. In such an event the Minister would probably say, "Let those districts that wish to have the benefit of these committees have them, and let the other parts of the country use the committees that are already in existence." We have now some excellent committees. We have not a pit committee like this, but every mine manager has the checkweighman accompanied by several representatives of the union to approach and discuss with him, whenever they like to do so, any matters which concern them. I think that it would be very much better if it is left in the hands of the Minister to decide. I have been connected with Parliament for a very long time, and I know perfectly well that once you introduce any particular question into Parliament you never know where it ends. I think it would be very much better to leave the matter as it is in the Bill and allow the Minister an opportunity of making the final decision.

Before my noble friend replies I should like to suggest to him that there is another view differing from that which has just been put forward. A great many of us think that all this trouble has arisen from the fact that the matter has not been discussed in Parliament but in an irregular fashion by the Prime Minister and other Ministers with the representatives of Labour. Many of us think that it is the absence of Parliamentary discussion and control which is responsible for much of the present trouble.

May I also further suggest that Parliament and the whole country has a very great interest in any scheme which is meant to provide more harmonious working in this particular trade and, in fact, in any other trade, and that it is because of the great interest of Parliament and the people in this, question that there is rather a special case to be made for bringing it before Parliament before it is actually decided? It would only come before Parliament in the sense that there was a doubt. If there was a doubt it would arise from the fact that. the scheme was working partly, that certain initial difficulties had been met, and that there might be great hope of an improvement in the working if it were continued. I think Parliament has a practical interest in the matter.

I am certainly quite ready, as the noble Marquess presses it, to reconsider the point again before Report. There is, of course, a great deal to be said on both sides in a case of this kind. I should like, to say, though not by way of suggestion, the noble Marquess is rather forcing discussion on Parliament because, according to his drafting, the Report cannot be acted upon until both Houses have passed a Resolution in its favour. That is forcing discussion upon Parliament, even supposing Parliament does not want to discuss it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 18 agreed to.

Clause 19:

Schemes as to drainage.

19.—(1) It shall be lawful for the Minister of Mines after consultation with a district committee or area board or holding such other inquiry as he may think fit, and subject to the approval of the Board of Trade, to make schemes with respect to any group of mines as to the drainage thereof, and as to the apportionment as between the owners of the mines in question of any expenditure for a common purpose that may be required by any such scheme, and any such scheme may amend or repeal any local Act of Parliament in connexion with such drainage.

(2) The provisions of section eighty-six and Part I of the Second Schedule to the Coal Mines Act, 1911, which relate to general regulations shall apply with the necessary modifications to schemes under this section.

moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "area board" and insert "committees concerned." The noble Lord said: The Amendments which I move on this clause involve a technical point. There is a provision in subsection (1) that "any such scheme may amend or repeal any local Act of Parliament in connection with such drainage." So far as the coal trade are aware, there is one such scheme in existence to which it relates, and that is in South Staffordshire. That coal field has made representations to the Coal Controller, and I understand the Government have met it to the extent covered by the words which I have put on the Paper. If your Lordships wish it I can go into the matter, but as an arrangement has been made between the Government and the only party concerned perhaps it is not necessary to say anything further.

Amendment moved—

Page 13, line 21, leave out ("area hoard") and insert ("committees").—(Lord Gainford.)

I accept the Amendment. There are also, I think, drafting Amendments which might be made.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Amendments moved—

Page 13, line 29, after subsection (1), insert the following new subsection:

("() For this purpose the Minister may adopt with or without modifications any scheme relating to the drainage of any group or mines proposed by all or any of the owners of such mines.")

Page 13, line 30, after("eighty-six") insert ("and one hundred and seventeen of").— (Lord Gainford.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Clause 19, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 20:

I have in manuscript a drafting Amendment, which I desire to move on this clause.

Amendment moved—

Page 13, lines 34 and 35 leave out ("and eighty-seven") and insert ("eighty-seven and one hundred and seventeen").—(Viscount Peel.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 20, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 21:

Establishment of fund for improvement of social conditions of colliery workers:

21.—(1) There shall be constituted a fund to be applied for such purposes connected with the social well-being, recreation, and conditions of living of workers in or about coal mines and with mining education and research as the Minister of Mines, after consultation with any Government Department concerned, and subject to the consent of the Board of Trade, may approve.

(2) The owners of every coal mine shall before the thirty-first day of March nineteen hundred and twenty-one, and before the same day in each of the subsequent five years, pay into the said fund a sum equal to one penny a ton of the output of the mine during the previous calendar year, and the sums so payable in respect of any mine shall be defrayed as part of the working expenses of the mine and shall be recoverable either as a debt due to the Crown or by the Minister of Mines summarily as a civil debt:

Provided that in the case of the first payment the amount shall be calculated with reference to the output during the six calendar months ending the thirty-first day of December nineteen hundred and twenty.

(3) The duty of allocating the money from time to time standing to the credit of the said fund to the several purposes aforesaid shall be vested in a committee consisting of five persons, appointed by the Minister of Mines, of whom one shall be appointed by him after consultation with the Mining Association of Great. Britain, and another after consultation with the Miners. Federation of Great Britain. The committee shall have the assistance of three assessors appointed by the Minister of Health, the Board of Education and the Secretary for Scotland respectively; the assessors Shall have the right of attending meetings of the committee and of taking part in the deliberations thereof, but not of voting; and different persons may be appointed by the above-mentioned departments to act as assessors in relation to different matters.

(4) The committee may invite a local authority to submit a scheme for any of the purposes to which the fund may be applied, and if such scheme be approved by the committee they may make such grants in aid to the said local authority out of the fund and upon such conditions as may seem to them desirable:

Provided that in no case shall any grant be made out of the fund for building or repairing of dwelling-houses.

(5) Payments out of and into the fund, and all other matters relating to the fund, and moneys standing to the credit of the fund (including temporary investments thereof) shall lx made and regulated in such manner as the Minister of Mines, subject to the approval of the Treasury, may direct.

(6) The Minister of Mines shall in each year cause an account to be prepared and transmitted to the Comptroller and Auditor-General for examination showing the receipts into and issues out of the said fund in the financial year ended the thirty-first day of March preceding, and the Comptroller and Auditor-General shall certify and report. upon the same, and such account and report shall be laid before Parliament by the Minister of Mines.

In connection with the several Amendments to this clause which stand on the Paper in the name of Lord Joicey and myself, perhaps I may be allowed to say that we have discussed our proposals with the representatives of the Government and it has been pointed out to us that, while we are very anxious that the money raised in a locality for the purposes defined in Clause 21 should be spent in the locality, it may be desirable not to tie ourselves too tightly to that principle. It is suggested that there might be certain objects of national importance in connection with higher research work for mining at one of the great universities which would be matters of national interest to which we should all be called upon to contribute. Therefore, although we are anxious that schemes should be arranged in the locality and that they should be considered fairly on their merits, we do not desire absolutely to tie the Government to spending all the money in the locality in which it may be raised. The words which have been agreed to, so far as Lord Joicey and myself are able to represent the trade, are those standing in the name of my noble friend beginning. "Provided that," to be inserted after subsection (3),

moved, after subsection (3), to insert the following proviso—

"Provided that the committee shall take into consideration any scheme submitted by a district, committee and that before allocating any money for a local purpose, they shall consult with the district committee concerned."
The noble Lord said: I think this is a very proper proposal. Of course it is very necessary that the district committee should have some knowledge of any scheme and any expenditure that is going to take place—

Amendment moved—

Page 14, line 41, at end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Joicey.)

I am afraid I must dissent from the arrangement which has been come to. I do not value Lord Joicey's Amendment very highly, although no doubt it goes a certain way, and I think I should have been much better satisfied had I known that there was to be some kind of arrangement between the noble Lord behind me (Lord Gainford) and the Government. The Amendment is of the vaguest type, and it is such a trivial matter that it is hardly worth putting in. I recognise that there may be some special case where it would be wiser to go outside the district, but, if drafting could be arranged of a description which would cover that, perhaps it might be considered. But broadly, it is not right that the money which is collected in one part of the United Kingdom should be expended in another part of the United Kingdom for a purpose of this kind. The effect will be that it will be looked upon simply as an ordinary tax, and there will be none of the moral effect, which is what one desires to have; people should realise that an industry like the coal industry is responsible for the well-being of its employees. That is a valuable principle, which I should like to have seen enacted. I would not confine it to the pit—that would be too small; but the district would be a very reasonable unit; this contribution raised from the coal gotten should be expended in a particular district for the well-being of the employees. This proposal, however, is really a national proposal. It is a method of raising a very large sum of money, which may be expended in any sort of way all over the Kingdom, and I think it would not have a very good effect. It would really minister to the idea that all these things should be done upon a national basis. That is exactly what we want to avoid. We want to maintain local freedom. I do not propose to resist the Amendment, but I am afraid I think it of very little value, and I must reserve to myself the right to recur to this matter on the Report stage. On the other hand, I should have liked to support an Amendment which we have now passed in the name of Lord Gainford, if he had moved it.

I would ask my noble friend to consider the principle of this matter. As the Bill stands at present, supposing a Labour Government came into power I imagine they might use the whole of this fund to support their Labour colleges, which are entirely devoted to the cultivation of the doctrines of Karl Marx and the nationalisation theory; whereas this fund is intended for the direct personal benefit of the miners engaged in the operation of coal mining. It would he quite possible, while limiting the application of the fund to the kind of area that my noble friend suggested, to leave an opening for that kind of utilisation of the fund to which Lord Gainford referred.

I think it would be entirely contrary to the scope of Clause 21 if a Labour Government desired to devote the whole of this mining fund to Labour colleges; we could hardly say that they were purposes connected with recreation, conditions of living, and social well-being.

And then, the education is wholly limited to mining education and research. Surely the committee of five who manage this business could hardly so pervert the funds so allocated as to use them entirely for Labour purposes.

I do not see that this Amendment really affects the question of the national expenditure of the money, as noble Lords think, because, after all, it simply gives power for a district committee to submit a scheme, if they think fit, and they know the requirements of the locality far better than anybody else. Before they allot anything for local purposes they must consider such a scheme. I do not think there is anything unreasonable about that. I do not think that your insisting upon this money being dealt with in a national way would enable them to put up a Labour college. I believe that in the county of Durham, the county council having got rid of everybody who is connected with mines, there is some thought of putting up a Labour college out of the rates. Whether they can do that or not I do not know. However, to some extent they might have a power of dealing with it, if the money were dealt with in a national way. But I feel sure that those who have the power of dealing with this money will treat local requirements in a fair way. The only reason why I should like to see some power given to make it a national expenditure is that some scientific professors might be appointed to the local colleges. For instance, in Durham we have a very fine college, and it would be a very good thing if you could either assist or appoint some scientific man to endeavour to bring information into the mining industry. It is the same in Manchester and various other places. I think really there is no serious objection to the Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

We now come to two alternative Amendments on the Paper, one in my name and another in the name of Lord Joicey, and I think, on the whole, Lord Joicey's is the better Amendment, as it provides for the maintenance of baths after the termination of powers conferred in this Bill. The importance of this question is that the section dealing with the supply of baths under the Coal Mines Act, 1911, has to a large extent become absolutely inoperative, and it is with a view of enabling baths to be put up and to be supplied under the provisions of Clause 21 that it is suggested it would be an advantage, with a view to establishing baths in at any rate certain districts, that this provision should be inserted.

I move, after subsection (4), to insert the following new sub-section—

"(5) Where money is allocated for the purpose of meeting the cost in whole or in part of providing accommodation and facilities at a coal mine for the workmen taking baths and drying clothes, and such accommodation and facilities are so provided, section seventy-seven of the Coal Mines Act, 1911, shall apply as if such accommodation and facilities had been provided under that section, provided that (a) cost of maintenance shall not be deemed to include any interest on capital expenditure so far as that expenditure was met out of money allocated from this fund, and (b) the contribution of the workmen to the cost of maintenance shall be reduced by the proportion which the money so allocated from the fund bears to the total capital expenditure."
This Amendment is to make Section 77 of the Coal Mines Act, 1911, apply. That section provides that the men have to contribute one-half of the maintenance of the bath, which means that if any grant is made to these baths the interest upon the capital which has been given from the fund is not to be charged to working expenses but to be taken off the contribution of the men. I think it is an Amendment which is necessary.

Amendment moved—

Page 15, line 8, after subsection (4), insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Joicey.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

May I ask the noble Viscount, with regard to the proviso to subsection (4), what exactly is the object of leaving out all questions of repairs to houses? Personally, I hold very strong views that large companies ought to have the responsibility for housing their employees. To put myself in order, I will move that the words of the proviso be omitted.

I hope the noble Earl will not move that, because, strictly speaking, the last Amendment of Lord Joicey's went in after line 8. But this can be done on the Question that the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Amendment moved—

Page 15, lines 14 and 21, omit the words ("Minister of Mines").—(Viscount Peel.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

On Question, That Clause 21 stand part of the Bill—

Might I be allowed to repeat the question I have already asked? Perhaps the noble Viscount will explain why the proviso I referred to has been inserted.

With regard to the point raised by the noble Earl, Lord Midleton, a good many mine owners have a great objection to this money being applied to building houses. Mine owners are accustomed to provide houses for their men. For instance, in Northumberland and Durham we supply free houses, and we have the very greatest objection to giving our money for the purpose of building houses for people in other parts of the country who may be our competitors and who have neglected to build houses themselves. We think it would be very much better that the money should not be applied to that purpose.

On the Question that the clause stand part of the Bill, I should like to make a protest on behalf of the trade in connection with the reflection which apparently has been cast upon the trade by this provision. No other trade, I think, has ever done so much in the way of finding accommodation for their workmen as the coal mining industry has. I go further and say that there is no industry in the country, with the possible exception of the chocolate trade, in which greater interest has been taken in providing for the welfare of those who are employed in it. One objection that the coal trade have to this proposal is that it is somewhat demoralising to the men employed. Hitherto in making provision for the welfare of our men we have always had in view the question of trying to secure certain payments from the men themselves in order that they might become directly interested in expenditure which has been promoted for their welfare. Under these proposals the men are called upon to pay nothing whatsoever, but all the money is to come eventually out of the consumer's pocket, because it is to be a charge upon the industry. When an institute, for instance, has been erected in a mining village it has been usual to arrange that the men shall at any rate pay the interest on a portion of the outlay, or contribute in some form or other to the institute in which mining classes or other lectures may be given to interest and possibly to help to educate the men.

I might give many other illustrations. It is because there is a departure from that principle that I think it right to draw the attention of the Government to the fact. We feel, as a trade, that there ought not to be any reflection cast upon us, because we believe we have already done more than any other industry to spend money in connection with welfare. But we recognise the importance of attention being paid to the welfare of those whom we employ. Therefore I do not propose that this clause be omitted—I think it would be an ungenerous act on our part to do that—but at the same time I wish to make it quite clear that we think that if these kind of impositions are going to be placed compulsorily upon the coal trade they ought equally to be placed upon other industries in the country for the benefit of those employed in them.

When this clause was originally drafted it was based upon the Interim Report of the Sankey Commission, which dealt with the question of housing. In all the evidence given by the miners, housing was almost entirely discussed. The statement in the Report that housing in some colliery districts is very bad is immediately followed by a recommendation that one penny a ton, realising about £1,000,000 a year, be applied for this purpose. I would ask the noble Viscount whether it would not be possible, before the Report stage, for the Government to excise the reference to housing, and whether he could not give some clear indication as to how this money is to be spent, as the reason for it has so largely been removed. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, pointed out on the Second Reading that the definition of the objects was somewhat vague, and I think if the provision of housing is removed it should be possible to give some clearer indication than is at present given in the Bill as to what the new objects are.

First of all, on behalf of the Government, I take note of the observations made by Lord Gainford generally on the clause, and I will certainly convey to the Minister the pertinent criticism he had made of the way in which this fund is levied, falling solely upon the industry for the benefit of the miners.

As to the other point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Vernon, I think he complains that there is some inconsistency on the part of the Government, from the fact that originally housing was one of the chief objects for which this fund was going to be raised, whereas at present, as he very pertinently points out, housing is the one object which is entirely excluded. I understand housing was excluded for this reason. As the noble Lord very well knows, the Government has other schemes under which funds are provided for the provision of houses, and it was considered, and the argument had great weight in another place, that there was bound to be a good deal of overlapping if there were to be two sets of authorities building houses for the miners, possibly in the same district, one the local authority and another under this scheme of betterment.

Under the scheme of local authorities houses are to be built for various classes of the population including the miners, and it is thought the work ought not to be done again. That was the reason why housing was excluded. I cannot say much more as to the particular objects because they are set out generally and clearly in the clause—the social well-being, recreation, conditions of life—and the noble Lord will be able to form his own opinion as to how best the money can be spent on recreation.

Is it not possible that a certain amount of money might be available, without overlapping, towards housing, and a certain portion given toward housing men connected with the industry? It is a tenable idea that the industry should to a certain extent be responsible for the housing of the men.

It would be a most unreasonable and unfair thing to penalise the various collieries which have built houses and maintained them in good condition for their workers by taking money from these particular collieries and spending it in improving and building houses for collieries which have neglected to do their duty. I feel sure it would meet with the strongest opposition on the part of the coal industry in various places; it would only benefit those collieries which have neglected their duty. I do not think any industry does more in the way of gifts for chapels, churches, and schools than the coal industry. Let me give you one illustration. During the war the coal-owners of Durham and Northumberland allowed to the wives of the men who went to the front the free use of the house, gave them free coal, and in many cases a money contribution. I know of one company which spent £270,000 in this way, and I do not admit that the coal trade require to be mulcted in this way in order to do their duty. There may be exceptions, but as a rule the coal trade endeavour to do the best they can for the workmen.

Clause 21, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

First Schedule agreed to.

Second Schedule: Part II.

Coal Areas.

Names of Areas.Coal Districts included.
1. ScotlandFife and Clackmannan, The Lothians, Lanarkshire, and Ayrshire.
2. NorthernNorthumberland and Durham.
3.MidlandsCumberland, Lancashire, and Cheshire, North Wales, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Nottighamshire, Derbyshie, South Derbyshire, North Staffordshire, Cannock Chase, South Staffordshire and Worcestershire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Shropshire.
4. Southern Forest of Dean, Somerset, Bristol, and Kent.
5. South Wales South Wales
6. Ireland Ireland.

moved to leave out—

"2. NorthernNorthumberland and Durham"
and to insert—
"2. NorthumberlandNorthumberland.
"3. DurhamDurham"
The noble Lord said: Durham and Northumberland have been associated together in the public mind, but they are very distinct coal areas. Their coal fields are quite distinct, geologically; the character of the coal is different; the markets they obtain are different, and industrially and commercially there is no affinity between the two counties. The customs are quite separate. Conciliation boards have existed for a long time with quite separate individuals representing the owners as well as the miners, and although the two counties have been consulted as to whether they would amalgamate with a view of being placed in one district under the Bill they are to a man opposed to being driven into one district.

Amendment moved—

Page 20, line 6, leave out

("2. NorthernNorthumberland and Durham")
and insert
("2. NorthumberlandNorthumberland.
3. DurhamDurham")—

( Lord Gainford.)

In opposition to what the noble Lord has said, I think there is a great deal to be advanced in support of combining them into one area; but the noble Lord has so forcibly put his case, and he is so well acquainted with the districts themselves, that I should be very unwilling to oppose his Amendment. I am quite ready to accept the Amendment, and as a little bargain I hope he will not press the next one.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

moved, in "4 Southern," to leave out ("and Kent") and insert—

"5. KentKent"

The noble Lord said: Although I only move the Amendment pro forma I feel bound to express the views of the West of England, Somerset, Bristol, and the Forest of Dean coalfields, that they do not desire to be connected with Kent. They believe there is no affinity between them, and the

men of Kent are of the same opinion. The Kent coalfield is, of course, in an immature stage, but in ten years' time. I anticipate that the output from Kent will be very different from what it is to-day. There are, however, provisions in the Bill which will enable districts to be rearranged, and having regard to the way which the noble Viscount has met me I do not wish to press the. Amendment.

I am much obliged to the noble Lord. I do not know the precise connection between Kent and the West of England, but I do know that only about 2,000 men are engaged in the Kent collieries, and it does not seem to justify making it a separate area. When the whole area of Kent is covered with pits and collieries it may be possible to constitute it an area.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Second Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

House adjourned at ten minutes past eight o'clock till tomorrow, a quarter past three O'clock.