§ Order for consideration, as amended (by the Standing Committee), read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended, be now considered."
§ *MR. STRACHEY () Somersetshire, S.
, who had given notice to move "That this House regrets that so many agricultural labourers will be excluded from receiving any compensation for death or injury under the Bill," said the Bill had been considerably altered, and its scope restricted, since the Government had taken it out of the hands of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lowestoft, who originally had the conduct of it. The Bill originally provided for the agricultural labourers coming within the Act of 1897. By the alteration which had taken place in Committee, through the introduction of the word "habitually" a very large number of labourers would be precluded from the benefits of the Bill. He regretted that the Government should think it necessary to put such a limitation on the Bill, because it would make invidious distinctions and set up two classes of men, one of whom would have privileges under this Bill whilst the other would not, for it was right that agricultural labourers should come within the provisions of the Act, and if that proposition was granted the only way to deal with the matter was to give compensation to all men working on big or small farms, whether by the year or only for the summer quarter. It was said that the burden of paying compensation to all would be too great. If that were so, why 526 did not the Government accept the proposal made by him in the Standing Committee? His proposal was that the owner and not the occupier should be responsible for compensation, and he had been able to show that the cost of insuring against such liability was very small indeed, and would be no appreciable burden upon landlords. He did not propose to move the Amendment standing in his name, but he desired that some explanation might be given by the Government as to why it was necessary to mutilate the Bill originally introduced.
§ MR. GALLOWAY (Manchester, S.W.)
The hon. Gentleman began his remarks by complaining that the Bill had not been taken charge of by the Government. I am not aware that the Government have adopted a different position with regard to this Bill from what they always adopt in Grand Committee. I always find that the Minister responsible for a Department to which a Bill refers is present. It was essential that the Government should advise the Committee of the effect of the proposals contained in the Bill. In this particular instance the Government have adopted the same position as in former cases. We received valuable assistance from the Government in the Grand Committee. The hon. Member said there were a large number of agricultural labourers whom the Bill would exclude from the benefits to be conferred. That was an indefinite statement. He gave us no proximate idea of the large number to be excluded, and entirely based his argument on a word which occurs in Clause 1. When the original Act was introduced the Home Secretary told us that he estimated that there were roughly 13,000,000 persons employed in the various trades and employments throughout the country, and he estimated that of that number 6,000,000 would come 527 under the Bill and 7,000,000 would be excluded. In the estimate of 7,000,000 he estimated the number of agricultural labourersatl,700,000.I have no doubt these figures are proximately correct. I want to know how many of these 1,700,000 are employed by farmers who habitually do not employ workmen during the course of the year. It is necessary that the farmer should employ one or more workmen throughout the course of the year to come within the scope of the Bill. I do not believe that the number to be excluded are any large amount at all. I certainly think that before the hon. Gentleman suggests that my hon. friend who has charge of the Bill is excluding a largo number of agricultural labourers he should give us some data to go on. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to make out what a horrible Government this is, and how they have "left" the agricultural labourer, he should go down and explain his case to the constituencies. I would then be able to understand his remarks, but for any other purpose I fail entirely to understand the reason for his observations. I hope the House will agree to this Bill now being considered, and I sincerely trust that we shall make it as good a Bill as it can be made. I do not think it is by any means a perfect Bill.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
It is hardly fair that the Government should be attacked for the limitation which has been inserted in this Bill, because the limitation did not proceed from the Government. I think the first limitation was one of my own in regard to properties of one acre. Immediately after that a great number of further amendments were placed on the Paper. The Standing Committee were almost unanimous that some limitation was absolutely necessary. The only question was whether it should be the slight limitation suggested by myself, or the large limitation suggested by some hon. Members. I do not think we can attack the Government in regard to that matter. At the same time my hon. friend is, I think, thoroughly justified in raising the discussion on this Bill, for it is one of extreme difficulty from the legal point of view, and all who were present at the Standing Committee will be aware of the fact that the House cannot too carefully scrutinise the Bill. We need not discuss whether there has been an 528 undue amount of litigation in the matter. There has been a great deal of litigation, and we ought to take every possible means in our power this afternoon to prevent a recurrence of litigation similar to that which has taken place under the principal Act. This Bill appears to be more than a mere extension of the other Act. The Bill contains two other different uses of the word "workman," both of which are different from the definition in the original Act. If we are not very careful in the wording of the Act there will be a terrible amount of litigation arising out of it. I cannot but regret that this Bill should stand on the paper immediately before the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors to Children Bill. I am personally in favour of that Bill, but those who take part in the discussion of the Compensation Bill seem to be open to the charge that they desire to prevent the discussion of the next Order on the Paper. I can assure the House that is not the case with many Members, who, while deeply regretting the possibility of standing in the way of that measure, are bound, out of regard for the interests of their constituents, to discuss the measure before the House. The Government have assured the promoters of this Bill that they will find time for it; and they seem to attach more importance to it than to their own measures. It would, therefore, be better if they took the Bill into their own hands, so that there should be no failure at this or any other stage. There is another matter that makes it difficult to discuss the Bill to-day. It is the absolute absence of the Irish Members from the House. The Bill affects Ireland in a larger degree than this country. All the difficulties that arise on this Bill are difficulties which will be much greater in the case of Ireland, and yet we are discussing the Bill in the absence of the Nationalist Members. It is a most unfortunate fact that there were no Irish Members on the Standing Committee, and here we are going to discuss a Bill which will have a most extraordinarily close bearing on the affairs of every parish in Ireland in the absence of those who are supposed to be most nearly in touch with the small Irish farmers. The question of limitation we can only deal with on the report stage. The answer to the suggestion that the liability should be thrown on the landlord and not on the occupier is that in many cases the owner and occupier were the 529 same person. In my own constituency there are 3,500 workmen freeholders who would all have been within the Bill as originally drawn. When we discussed the mother Act some of us pointed out how difficult it would be to apply the measure, because unless you have some sort of Government guarantee, State insurance, or State control, you give a merely illusory security. It is impossible to throw the responsibility in certain cases on the owner instead of the occupier, because the owner and occupier are the same man. That is a case for some limitation or exclusion unless you have Government insurance or responsibility which we cannot contemplate in this Bill.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. LONG,) Liverpool, West Derby
I do not know whether it is really necessary to speak at this stage on behalf of the Government, because the case for the Government has been put by my hon. friend the Member for South-west Manchester, and by the right hon. Baronet, who has dealt with the subject in another way. It is not quite accurate to say that the position of the Government in respect of this Bill is one of actual responsibility. In the Grand Committee the Government have shown that they are prepared to support it and to make it effective. Where difficulties have existed the Government have suggested alterations in order to remove them, and the suggestions made in the Grand Committee are in the main accepted, while the Government also undertook to assist hon. Members responsible for the measure in securing such further amendments as would make it clear and workable. I think I may say on behalf of the Government that there is only one desire in regard to the Bill—namely, to make it as comprehensive as it justly and fairly can be made, as well as clear and effective. I am not so afraid as the right hon. Baronet that litigation will be likely to arise from the passing of the Bill. The experience gained from the working of the parent Act has undoubtedly thrown a flood of light on the question of employers' liability, and that question is now in a more satisfactory position than it was previous to the passing of the last amending Act. I do not think that there will be 530 any material difference as to agricultural employment. The assurance societies are prepared to offer reasonable terms to employers for insuring their men, and the liability, therefore, of the employers will be removed from them. The difficulty, no doubt a serious one, will be to bring home to the smaller employers the liabilities which they incur after the passing of the Bill. That is a difficulty which the Board of Agriculture will endeavour to meet by circulating the fullest information as to the effect of the measure. It has been said that the Bill will exclude a vast number of labourers from its operation. I do not believe that anything of the kind will occur. I do not think it will be possible to make the Bill apply to all agricultural employment. Everyone who knows how the smaller kinds of agriculture are conducted is aware that labourers employed in a better class of local employment make it a practice for their own advantage to employ casual labour and to devote themselves to the wage-earning labour. To throw upon one labourer a liability of this kind in respect of casual employment on allotments would, I think, be a great injustice. I agree with what has been said as to the difficulties of the question and the importance of the Bill. I have made it my business, along with the Home Secretary, to consult with those who have placed. Amendments on the Paper to clear up doubts and difficulties. We have received, the advice not only of the Attorney General, but of the legal advisers of the two Departments, and I have every reason to believe that if the House accepts some of the Amendments the Bill will be made as clear and as effective as it is possible for the Government to make it. I admit that there is a good deal to be said in favour of the criticism of the word "habitually"; but we have not been able to find a better word. It conveys the meaning better than any other word which has been suggested, and without it the Government could not assent to the passing of the Bill. If the application is not limited in this way the result will be to cast responsibility upon a large number of very small people who may have to compensate men no worse off' than themselves. This would be a great injustice, because these men are only casual employers for a short period of the year. I hope that the House will see fit to proceed with the measure.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
I am sure that the House will cordially accept the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the Government are prepared to do all they can to give effect to the Bill. I was a little disappointed, however, that the right hon. Gentleman has not given a more favourable reception to the appeal of my right hon friend that the Government should themselves take charge of the Bill and find the necessary time for its passing. Everyone must feel that this is one of the most important Bills of the session, if not the most important, Its operation will be very wide, and no doubt it is a measure which will lead to a great deal of controversy. The right hon. Gentleman ought therefore to take the responsibility of ultimately passing the Bill, for, after all, it is the Board of Agriculture that ought to be held responsible by the agricultural labourers and the country for the framework of the Bill. They were responsible for the Compensation Bill. There is no doubt that the private Member in this case has performed an extremely valuable duty in bringing to the birth a measure which but for him would never have seen the light. Then the nurse of the Bill ought to be the Government, and they ought to see that the Bill is brought to maturity in a form which will give satisfaction. I know I have been a party to the ousting of private Members from a great deal of their time, but when there is a Bill of this kind which has reached this stage I do think that the right hon. Gentleman below the gangway is right in saying that the Government ought to undertake it. I venture to say that they have no Bill in reserve of anything like the importance of this. This Bill, as my right hon. friend has said, must take a considerable time in discussion. There will be discussion, for instance on the one word "habitually" in the Bill. You cannot expect that these controversies will not take some time. There will be a great deal of difference of opinion on this subject. I confess that I take a very considerable interest in the Bill that is immediately to follow this Bill. I understand that private Members are to be deprived during the rest of the session of Wednesdays, with two exceptions, and I think the time now at the disposal of private Members ought to be relieved of curtailment by the Government under- 532 taking to watch over the further progress of this Bill. If the Government will only undertake the conduct of this Bill, as they have done more or less in the Grand Committee, then. I think, a difficulty will be removed.
MR. GRANT LAWSON (Yorkshire, N. R., Thirsk)
I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. This subject is one eminently suitable for treatment by a private Member. It is a question on which both political parties are agreed, and the only thing to do is to so carefully word the Bill as to carry out what we all desire. Surely that is a matter that may be taken in hand by private Members. From my hon. friend's speech, I gather that his opposition to the Bill before the House is based on his opinion, not that so many agricultural labourers will be excluded from the operation of the Bill, but rather that so many agricultural labourers who are interested will not receive compensation. I am one of those who put down in Grand Committee this limitation which has been adopted by the Government. I put it down then and I support it now because of the difficulty which would arise in the payment of compensation by small and occasional employers. These small holders who occasionally employ a man to do an occasional job have no wage bill, and it is no good telling them they can insure against their liability. The premium may amount to only a few shillings on £100 of wages, but where the wage bill does not amount to £100 in ten years any premium would be a very substantial increase to the sum the man has to pay. It is an unfortunate necessity that any agricultural labourer should have to stand outside the benefits of this Act. We might consider whether the number who would be so excluded would be large or small. Such a point does not affect the principle of the matter, but it does affect the practical consideration of the question. In the first place, I doubt very much whether there are a large number of labourers in this country who always work in casual agricultural employment. The hon. Member for South Somerset rather suggests that the men who only casually employ a labourer form the larger part of the farmers. It is almost impossible to call such men farmers at all. The man we propose to protect is a man who is practically a labourer 533 himself. There are hundreds such in every country district; they work one day for themselves on their own allotments or gardens, and the next day perhaps work for their neighbour on his allotment or garden. It would be absurd to say if A was working on the plot of B on Monday and was injured, B should compensate him, whereas if B the next day was working on A's plot and was injured, the compensation should be the other way. It seems almost impossible to adopt such a suggestion as that. But will the accidents in regard to the casual employment of such very small men as that be numerous? I am glad to think that the number of accidents in rural districts is very small compared with the number of accidents in almost any other employment. Agriculture may not be remunerative, but it is more or less safe. If there are accidents they occur mainly from three sources, namely, the use of machinery, the use of spirited horses, or from the liability of men to fall from high stacks or ricks. In the case of these very small men machinery is not employed, so that that source of danger may be ex- eluded from the point we are considering. Nor are their horses spirited. They usually have but one horse, and it is generally of a chastened spirit. I do not suggest that the owner does not take proper care of it, but it has much work to do, and such horses do not bring about accidents by their high spirits. Then the stacks of these men are not high. I wish these men had more to put into their stacks, but as a matter of fact the stacks are not very high, so that that source of danger to the agricultural labourer does not apply. The hon. Member for South Somerset said there was no fund from which compensation could properly be drawn, and he suggested that the landowners should pay. I believe there are some owners who do, as a matter of fact, insure the workmen of their tenants. But I see a very practical difficulty in the case of these casual labourers on very small holdings. Insurance companies base their rates of premium on the wages bill. One fills in a schedule of the amount of wages it is anticipated will be paid in the year, and at the end of the year that is adjusted with the company. If you have paid more wages you pay a little more premium; if you have paid less wages the company makes you an allowance. But how could that be done in the case of 534 a landowner insuring the casual labourers of his very small tenants? He would have to go round and ask every single cottager on his estate how many times he had had A or B to do a job for him and paid him a shilling or two for his services, and the making up of a wages bill would be a matter of considerable practical difficulty. Moreover, if I was a director of an insurance company, which I am not, I should say, "We insure you employers against accidents to workmen, but we rely on your exercising some discretion as to the men you employ." Now, if a landowner indirectly insures the labourer of his very small tenant, he has no control over that labourer. He might be a man whose intemperance was such that it was extremely probable to bring about an accident, and I very much doubt whether insurance companies would undertake to insure owners against accidents to men over whom they had no control whatever. But these poor men, whose case we are considering, will not go absolutely without any help. The great friendly societies of the country provide accident funds, and a man, if he belonged to one of these societies, would be able to go on the funds of his society. It is one of the glories of this Parliament that we have provided so much compensation for so many workmen who are injured in the course of their employment, and that we have done it by encouraging the system of insurance, without injuring the employers. We should, however, be doing harm and not good to the labouring population if we taught them to throw all their cares on the Government and to make no provision for accidents happening to themselves. If any labourer said, "I am so fully insured under the Workmen's Compensation Act that I need not continue my subscription to my club," he would be acting foolishly, because an accident may happen to him when he is working on his own plot or allotment, or when he is not working for anybody at all, and then if he has taken his name off his club he will receive no compensation whatever. The hon. Member for South Somerset says that we should look closely at the words of this Bill. That is very true, especially as regards the third version of the words which has been laid before us for carrying out the object we all desire. I have compared the Bill as brought into this House with the Bill as it left the Grand Com- 535 mittee, and I think there are only about five words in the first operative clause which are in the same position now as when the Bill was read a second time. We have, therefore, an entirely different wording from that which we originally had to consider. I go a step further. If anybody will look at the Amendments on the Paper they will see that the Amendments proposed by the promoters of the Bill will again so change the substance, at any rate, of the wording as to make this a third Bill brought in during the present session. That being so, it is practically before us to consider which of the three wordings carry out our intentions in the best and wisest form. That is surely a matter, considering the greatness of the subject, which might absorb the attention and energy of this House upon this Wednesday afternoon. I am very glad that, whether on account of this or some other Bill, there is so large an attendance on this occasion, because in the multitude of counsellors that I see present perhaps we shall have an accumulation of wisdom. It is an opportunity for getting this Bill into the very best phraseology—a phraseology which even lawyers will understand, so that they will not have to fight over the meaning of it in the Courts; and to get such a phraseology as that will be a very worthy use of a Wednesday afternoon.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
With regard to the small employer, my opinion and experience differ entirely from the view put forward by the hon. Member for Thirsk. The small employer is the man who has the worst machinery, the worst plant, and the most inefficient appliances; and also with regard to the one horse kept by these small employers my experience is different from that of the hon Member. These men have not means adequate for the proper conduct of their business, and they have to buy horses that nobody else will buy; they have not the money to buy a good horse, so they get a "jibber," and a "jibber" is the most dangerous of all. I would much rather deal with the most spirited horse than with a "jibber." The most terrifying few minutes of my life during recent years were the result of the action of the only horse of one of these small farmers. My life, whatever it was worth, was in great danger, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I earnestly wished there 536 were no such horses in the hands of small holders. A man is much safer in the employ of a large farmer than of a small employer. That of a large corporation is always the safest service in which to be engaged. The man serving under a farmer who only occasionally employs labour is under far more dangerous conditions than the man serving under a farmer who habitually employs labour; therefore the only logical course is to omit altogether the word "habitual." But I understand that to attempt to force that is to wreck the Bill. That is the position taken up by the Government, and I am not prepared to do anything calculated to have that effect. If there are any means of improving the measure without endangering its passage I will support them. On this Report stage I shall take precisely the same action as I took in the Grand Committee—namely, that of adopting such policy as I think is best calculated to ensure the passing of the Bill. The sensible appeal made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean does not appear to find favour with the only representative of the Cabinet present; therefore I take it that we must go on with the Bill, for the position is that we must have the Bill to-day or not at all. I am for having the Bill with all its defects. In this Bill, as in most Bills, there are many defects; this Bill to a large degree is full of defects. I entirely adopt the view of the hon. Member for South Somerset, that a very large number of labourers will be excluded from its scope. It is all very well to ask for statistics; it is easier to ask than to supply; but we all know that with regard to the Act of 1897 probably the larger proportion of the workers are outside of it. With regard to this present Bill probably the larger part of the agricultural labourers will come within its scope, but there will yet be a large number excluded. If the Government would agree to the omission of the word "habitual" I think they would make this a better, stronger, and more logical Bill. On the other hand, I recognise the danger of imposing upon a man who is himself only a labourer in degree the fearful responsibility which might be imposed upon him by the omission of the word "habitual"; and that brings me to this one point. In 1897 I expressed the opinion that there would 537 be no final settlement of this question of compensation until a part or the whole of the compensation due to the workers was paid by the State. That is the only resting place, and to that point it will, in my judgment, ultimately come. There is no sound argument against it, and it will be impossible to give the workers full compensation until some measure of that kind is passed into law. I exceedingly regret the exclusion which will occur under these words. An accident is an accident and a loss is a loss, whether it is met with in the service of a poor or of a rich employer. This measure does not do all that we want, but we shall have to take what we can get, and I sincerely trust that such a policy may prevail this afternoon as will see the Bill through in an hour or so, so that we may get on to another interesting subject.
§ *MR.TOMLINSON (Preston)
When the Bill was before the Standing Committee the hon. Member for South Somersetshire and the hon. Member for the Lich-field Division were the only members of the committee who supported the proposal for solving the problem of bringing the whole body of agricultural labourers within its scope, by throwing the liability upon the owner of the land instead of upon the employer; and amongst others, the hon. Members for Leicester, Morpeth, and Battersea voted against this Amendment. They knew perfectly well that such a proposal was inconsistent with the principle of the original Act, which was that the burden should fall upon the employers actually interested, so as to make them feel pecuniarily the responsibility of looking after the safety of those whom they employed in the discussions on the Act of 1897 representatives of the working men insisted over and over again that their object was not to obtain money compensation, but to secure greater safety of employment. The proposal under discussion would make this Bill not an extension of the Act of 1897, but a reversal of the principle of that measure.
§ MR. BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)
With regard to the suggestion that exceptional measures should be adopted for the passage of this Bill, there will be plenty of time, if it is found that Wednesday is not sufficient, for the right hon. Baronet then to urge the Government to take other steps. There is no 538 reason to depart now from the usual course and to take a private Member's Bill out of its regular place on the Paper in the midst of the discussion, especially when we have at least three hours for its consideration. I am glad that we have this opportunity of discussing what is undoubtedly an extremely important measure. I am rather inclined to agree that a certain number of workmen will be excluded from the operation of this Bill. I am sorry the hon. Member opposite did not give any statistics or grounds for that supposition; I was most anxious to hear on what he founded that belief. But undoubtedly the inclusion of the word "habitual" must to a certain extent deprive a number of men of the benefits of this measure. In 1897, when the Workmen's Compensation Bill was before the House, I voted against the inclusion of agricultural labourers within the scope of that measure, because I thought that agriculture was in such an extremely bad condition that it would not be able to stand the heavy charges which such an inclusion would involve. Since then we have seen that the cost of insurance is considerably less than was anticipated, and that on the whole the Act of 1897 has worked well. It seems to me, therefore, that we have good ground for bringing the agricultural labourers within the operation of the Act. But if you bring in agricultural labourers at all I cannot conceive why every agricultural labourer should not be brought in. The agricultural labourer employed by a small man may be injured just as seriously as the man employed by the big farmer, but if the word "habitual" is left in he will not get the benefits of the Act. The object is to include all men who are injured in the course of their avocation, and therefore I hope that, if, as I understand, the Amendment to leave out the word "habitual" cannot be accepted, some means may be found by which these men will not be deprived of the benefits we wish to see extended to them. I cannot agree with the suggestion that the charge should be put upon the landowners. The effect of such a course would be to discourage care on the part of farmers in seeing that their appliances were in good order and in doing everything they could to enable their labourers to carry out their work without injury, as there 539 would be no incentive to the farmer to take ordinary precautions. Nor can I agree with the hon. Member for Thirsk that in every instance the poor-employer has the best appliances. I rather agree with the hon. Member for Leicester on that point, though I do not believe that the "jibbing" horse is such a dangerous animal as he would have us suppose. I have had several such horses myself, and it is my belief that the "jibbing" can be cured if the horse is treated properly. The absence of the Irish Members has been alluded to and urged as a reason for the postponement of this Bill. The measure has been down for a considerable time, and every Member of the House must have been fully aware that it was coming on to-day. If the Irish Members do not consider the Bill to be of sufficient importance to them to be present, that is no reason why the House should postpone the consideration of the Bill because of their absence.
§ MR. H. C. RICHARDS (Finsbury, E.)
I must express my astonishment that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Forest of Dean should have made the remarks he has done. It is only another proof, if proof were needed, that hon. Members sitting on that side of the House have no real sympathy with the working man, but only the idea of punishing owners of property.
§ MR. H. C. RICHARDS
I am not to be intimidated by the interruptions of the right hon. Gentleman in any remarks I have to make. I know he has been in the House longer than I have, and on more than one occasion he has interrupted me when I have attempted to address the House, and, as a young Member, of course I feel it very keenly. I am one of those who have always supported the Government and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies in their efforts from time to time to deal with this question and to extend this principle, but one of the small points upon which I was not in accord with my party was the omission of the agricultural labourer from those who were to enjoy the benefits of the Workmen's Compensation Act. There 540 seems to be a desire on the part of the Opposition to delay the passage of this Bill, and the reason, no doubt, is that, having assented to the Second Reading because it was not convenient to divide against it, they are now, at the present stage, endeavouring to smother the measure in their embraces. The House is absolutely at one in the view that the agricultural labourer ought to enjoy the same privileges as those included within the operations of the present Act, but it would be an extraordinary proposition, and one which finds no parallel in the existing law, that the owner of the property, although he is not the employer, should be made responsible for the accident, because the employer of the person injured is not in a sufficiently solvent position to meet the claims which may be made upon him. One of the most amusing of the reasons put forward to delay the passing of this Bill is that of the absence of the Irish Members. If this House is to delay the passing of beneficent legislation because Irish Members do not think fit to attend, motions for adjournment will be most constant, especially when matters vitally affecting the Empire are brought forward. Personally, I should be the first to assist hon. Members from Ireland if I thought any injustice was being done to them, but I fail to see any legitimate argument based upon the fact of their absence.
§ MR. ABRAHAM (Glamorganshire, Rhondda) rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ MR. H. C. RICHARDS
I am delighted to find that there is, at any rate, one Member from Wales who is in earnest on this matter, but if he is really anxious that this measure should be passed into law, I am sure he will not wish to burke discussion upon it, unless he feels that that discussion will tend to open the eyes of the people as to the way in which this Bill is being treated by certain Members of this House. With some experience of the working of the older Act, I am glad to think that the Standing Committee have made this Bill what I may call a short Bill and, as far as Acts of Parliament can be, one that is fairly easy to understand. We are all familiar with the number of appeals which have from time 541 to time been brought before the Courts and carried to the final Court of Appeal at great expense to the working classes. I must express the hope that nothing will induce the Government to alter the view they have expressed as to "habitual" employment. In my opinion that word is a most material portion of the measure, but it might be well that that word "habitual" should be dealt with in some explanatory way, otherwise there will probably be some expensive test case with regard to the matter. When we deal with the question of the servant of the small employer, who is in some counties the first person to be considered, I do not see how he can look or hope for inclusion. Unfortunately the tendency in all departments is for the small man to be pushed out. With all respect to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, his remarks with regard to State insurance are quite beyond the subject. We have not yet come to a position in this country when State insurance can be undertaken, and all we can do is to ensure for the agricultural labourers the same privileges as are possessed by the workmen in towns. The provision in Clause 1 that the occupier shall be deemed to be the undertaker within the meaning of the Act is, I venture to think, as far as this principle can be carried, and if it is carried out in a spirit of perfect justice to the workman and a spirit of equity to the small employer of labour in agriculture, the latter will suffer no more than the small employer of labour in towns is suffering, and must naturally suffer, under this Act if his machinery is deficient. As a lawyer I object to what I may call loose and careless drafting which will lead to a great amount of unnecessary litigation. I should like these points dealt with in an explanatory clause, so that the County Court Judges may have some idea of what the legislature in its wisdom meant. Lord Justice Smith, in dealing with the Workmen's Compensation Act, has made some remarks which are the reverse of complimentary to the wisdom of Parliament. [Opposition cries of "Hear, hear!"] I am glad to find that there are hon. Members on the opposite side of the House who agree with Lord Justice Smith in the attention which he has drawn to this question. I would suggest that the House should deal fully and clearly with the words and specify 542 clearly what is meant. With regard to the 15th line of the Bill the expression "workman"—
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Member is following a rather unusual course in discussing all the Amendments on the Paper upon the motion that this Bill be now considered.
§ MR. H. C. RICHARDS
I will not dwell further upon that point, but on behalf of the London Members and of those who take a great interest in this principle, I trust the House will, without further delay, agree to the Amendment which has been moved.
§ Question put, and agreed to. Bill considered.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
When this Bill was before the Standing Committee on Trade, at the conclusion of the proceedings of that Committee I asked the senior Law Officer of the Crown whether the word "workman" which appears in line 6 and line 9 meant the same thing in each case, and he said there was a very considerable difficulty in the interpretation of the word, and he was doubtful whether it meant the same thing in the second case as in the first, and he promised to consider that point.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
It was at the conclusion of the proceedings of the Standing Committee on Trade that I raised this point. For the purpose of asking a question upon this point as to the meaning of the word "workman," I propose to move an Amendment to leave out the word "workman" at the end of line 6 and insert the word "labourer." The word "workman" is employed in line 6 to define the persons who are to receive the benefit of the Act. In line 9 the word "workman" is again used, but in a different sense, for there it provides for persons who "habitually employ for hire one or more workmen," and those persons are to be deemed employers from whom compensation may be claimed. My first question is whether it is the intention of the Government that the word "workman" should mean the same thing in the first case and in the second case, and whether the word "workman" shall have one moaning in the whole of this Bill. In line 15 there is a definition of the word 543 "workman," which provides that "the expression 'workman' in the case of agriculture, means every labourer in agriculture." I understand that the motion is to be made to leave out those words. It is also provided that this Bill is to be read as one with the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1897, but in that Act the word "workman" means something quite different from what it means at common law. In that Act the term "workman" includes persons who obtain their living "by manual labour or otherwise." That provision immensely extends the definition of "workman," as it has hitherto existed. The words "or otherwise," which are to be read as one with this Act include clerks in the employment of firms, and I should like to know if that is the intention in this Bill. Possibly the courts might interpret the words in a different way. I want to know whether the word "workman" has the same meaning in line 6 as it has in line 9, where it is again used. In the first case you are dealing with the man who obtains the advantage of the Bill, and in the second place you are dealing with the man who has to pay compensation under this Bill. When I put this question on the Standing Committee on Trade I put a concrete case. In the cider industry there are people employed in pressing. The small occupier takes apples from other persons and manufactures them into cider, and he employés workmen really in a workshop, and who are not workmen engaged in agriculture under the words contained in line 15. Are those men to be included in the term "workmen" in line 9? That is a plain question with a plain concrete illustration. This Act is to be read as one with the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1897, and there the definition of "workman" is different to that given at common law. My contention is that three different meanings are attached to the word "workman"—one by the original Act, one in line 6, and another different one in line 9. This matter is one so vital to the working of this Bill that it ought to be cleared up and placed beyond all doubt, because it is probable that lawyers with the definition of "workman" contained in line 15 would construe the word "workman" as meaning something different in lines 6 and 9. It is an important point, because the wider the meaning of 544 the word "workman" in line 9, the wider will be the effect of this Bill. If you limit it to workmen employed in agriculture the measure will be much narrower in its operation.
In page 1, line 6, to leave out the word' 'workman, 'and insert the word' labourers" instead thereof."—(Sir Charles Dilke.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'workman' stand part of the Bill."
MR. GRANT LAWSON
When this; Bill was before the Grand Committee I looked up a great many books of law to ascertain the various terms that could be used. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman's proposal is to leave out the word "workman" and insert the word "labourer."
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
No. I am quite indifferent as to the word used, and I have merely suggested the word "labourer" for the purpose of raising the question.
MR. GRANT LAWSON
If the word "labourer" is adopted it will load to very-great confusion indeed. I find that in the case of Morgan v. The London General Omnibus Company a labourer is described as—A man who digs and does other work of that kind with his hands. A carpenter or a bailiff, or a parish clerk is not called a labourer.It is obviously intended that a bailiff should come under this Act, and if the word "labourer" is left in the Bill a bailiff would be excluded from the benefits, of the Act. In the case of Lowther v. Radnor, Chief Justice Ellenborough decided—Neither would a labourer include a skilled artisan, there being, as I take it, a distinction; between a journeyman in any art, trade, or mystery, or other workmen employed in the different branches of it, and a labourer.Then, again, it was stated in the case of The Queen v. Sibrishi that—It is doubtful whether the word 'labourer' in the Sunday Act extends to an agricultural labourer.So that it is clear that the word "labourer" seems to have troubled the Courts, and if you put in this Bill the 545 word "labourer" it will certainly be brought up again for the reconsideration of the Courts. There is one expression, however, which has been interpreted by the Courts, and the House will agree that we should try to get a definition which has been before the Courts. If we do that we shall get a judicial opinion without having to pay for it. The expression "servant in husbandry" occurs in a great many Acts of Parliament; it occurs in the definition of "workmen" in the Employers' and Workmen's Act of 1875, in the definition of "workmen" in the Employers' Liability Act of 1880, and in the Truck Act of 1887. So that it is an expression with which the Courts are familiar. In one case quoted in Stroud's Judicial Dictionary the definition given of a "servant in husbandry" is—A person, whether male or female, whose chief employment is in the work of husbandry— that is, the culture or keeping of the ground, or the management, or working of horses or cattle, or the gathering in of crops or any other work strictly pertaining to the manual labour required by farmers. Therefore a farm bailiff is not, but a dairymaid, who also does household work, is a servant in husbandry.That is a judicial decision given in the Queen's Bench, and which would guide any future Queen's Bench decision. I venture to suggest to my right hon. friend the Attorney General that he should consider whether it would not be as well to adopt in this Bill the expression "servant in husbandry."
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
I think my hon. and learned friend who has just spoken has given conclusive reasons against the introduction or retention in the Bill of the expression "labourer." It is highly undesirable to have any definition like that in this Bill, lest we raise again in the Courts disputes regarding its interpretation. I cannot say, however, that my hon. and learned friend has converted me to the proposal that he has made in regard to the phrase "servant in husbandry." He began with a quotation from a most interesting and valuable work by Mr. Stroud, a work on the English language employed by Judges. The expression "servant employed in husbandry" has received definition from the Courts several times; but we are now dealing with the principal Act of 1897, and surely it is much better to retain the 546 expression which is defined by that Act, and which it is fortunate has not yet given rise to any controversy. I think everyone in this House, whether lawyer or layman, will agree to retain an expression which has that recommendation. In answer to the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, I have to say that of course the Bill is subject to amendment at the hands of the House on Report stage, and the ultimate construction of the Bill must depend on the way it emerges from the Report stage. But assuming that the word "labourer" is to be eliminated from the Bill, I should say that the word "workman" in the Bill will be read as in the principal Act, for this Bill is to be read along with the Workmen's Compensation Act of 1897.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
Yes, in both cases. There "workman" includes "every person who is engaged in an employment to which this Act applies, whether by way of manual labour or otherwise, and whether his agreement is one of service or apprenticeship or otherwise, and is expressed or implied, is oral, or in writing." The limitation would be if he is a workman employed in agriculture, and that means that agriculture is his principal employment. In regard to a workman engaged in making cider, if the person was an agricultural workman engaged in the operations of agriculture, and only on occasion used in the manufacture of apples into cider, he would fall under the section as it probably will emerge from the Report stage. His principal employment would be agriculture; his employment in cider-making would be only occasional. If, on the other hand, the person was not employed in agriculture, but was engaged in the manufacture of the cider, he would not be an agricultural workman within the meaning of the Act.
§ MR. GALLOWAY
Then the expression in line 16, "every labourer in agriculture," will go out of the Bill?
§ *MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
The idea of the Government now is to leave 547 the definition of "workman" as it stands in the principal Act?
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
I may say the object I had in view in formally moving the Amendment has been attained. The reading of the Attorney General is an improvement on what I understood in the Standing Committee. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *MR. GOULDING (Wiltshire, Devizes)
Objection was raised in the Grand Committee to the clause as it stands at present, on the ground that it might apply only to farmers and might not include landlords and other persons, and that it might not bring all classes of employment in agriculture within the Bill. I therefore move, as an Amendment, to leave out the words "the occupier of any farm or promises used wholly or in part for the business of agriculture who habitually employs for hire one or more workmen, and any such occupier shall be deemed an undertaker within the meaning of that Act" (the Act of 1897), and to substitute the words "any employer who habitually employs for hire one or more workmen in such employment." I propose to substitute the term "employer" instead of "occupier," as it will remove these doubts. On the Second Reading both sides of the House recognised the desirability of doing something to safeguard the interest of the small man against the operation of the Bill—the man who is little better off than the agricultural labourer himself. The Government in committee proposed to limit the liabilities to the employer who "habitually" employs, and no one has proposed any other word which will limit less the scope of the Bill. I sincerely hope that the House will accept my Amendment, which, while it safeguards the small man who employs another workman once or twice a year, includes all the larger class of employers.
In page 1, line 7, to leave out from the word 'by' to the word 'Act,' in line 10, inclusive, and insert the words 'any employer who habitually employs for hire one or more workmen in such employment.' "—(Mr. Goulding.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'the occupier' stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. GALLOWAY
My hon. friend's. Amendment will take out the whole: definition of "undertaker," which is very-important. In the original Act the "undertaker" in every particular trade is defined.
§ *MR. MOULTON (Cornwall, Launceston)
It is to be hoped that the House will not accept the Amendment, because it will make a complete alteration in. the construction of the Bill, and its effect will be very far reaching. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment has forgotten that this Bill, when passed, is to be read with the principal Act. The Amendment would exclude the operation of the general definition of the word "undertaker"; and the consequence would be that a large portion of the provisions of the original Act which it is intended to apply to-agricultural labourers would be absolutely meaningless and inapplicable.
§ MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)
I do not quite see how the acceptance of the Amendment would very materially alter the Bill. The object of my hon. friend, in proposing the Amendment is to restrict the operation of the Act to a certain extent. It is quite clear that by the Bill as it at present stands compensation might be exacted at the hands of certain employers of labour who are themselves more in need of, and deserve, compensation than to be called upon to pay it. I hope the House will accept the Amendment.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (Yorkshire,. E.R., Holderness)
There is nothing more certain than that persons who do not habitually, but only occasionally, employ labour will not insure against the possibility of accidents, and if an accident did occur it would be very serious for them. We have got to deal with people as they are, and not as they ought to be. My hon. friend, in proposing his Amendment,. seeks to remove a blot on the Bill. I do not quite know whether the phraseology is right — whether we ought to say "usually" or "habitually." It seems to me that "habitually" either goes too far or not far enough, and some other word might be employed.
§ MR.CRIPPS (Gloucestershire, Stroud)
I hope that this Amendment will be adopted, as it will extend the scope of the Act, and get rid of undesirable technicality.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
I quite agree with my hon. and learned friend that the effect of the Amendment will be to extend the operation of the Bill. For instance, suppose land is in the occupation of a tenant but the timber is reserved for the landlord, and the landlord is having his timber cut, that would be an operation of agriculture within the intention of the Bill. But, if we retained the Bill as it came from the Standing Committee, it would be impossible to say that the landlord who employed the men to cut the timber was in the occupation of the farm, so as to be liable if any accident took place. By getting rid of the expression "occupier" we get rid of a host of difficulties. Take another case. A man who has bought a growing crop on a farm is not an occupier when he sends men to reap it. Other cases of doubt might be suggested, but sufficient have been quoted to show that there is something to be said for the proposed Amendment. The principal Act deals with employers, and uses the expression in the first section that "the employer shall be liable to pay compensation." But when you come to the end of the Act the employer is denned as meaning the undertaker in respect to certain enterprises—railways, factories, quarries, laundries, mines, and buildings. The reason of that is obvious. The scope of the Act of 1897 was, for reasons sufficient to Parliament, limited to these particular undertakings. The reasons for adopting the language of the original Act in the present Bill are overwhelming.
§ MR. S. T. EVANS (Glamorganshire, Mid)
I agree with what the Attorney General has said, that the language of the Amendment is much better than in the clause as it stands, because it extends the operation of the Bill. The learned Attorney General did not deal with the last three words of the Amendment, "in such employment," which seem to me to restrict the operation of the Act somewhat. The fight hon. Gentleman says that the word "workman" in line 9 was intended by 550 the Government to be wider than that in line 7.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
On the contrary, I said the interpretation of the word "workman" would be the same in both lines, and the same as is defined in the principal Act.
§ MR. S. T. EVANS
I understood the Attorney General to say in answer to the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean that it would be better to preserve the term "workman "in line 9 because it would have a more extended meaning than in line 7.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
What I said was that the word "workman" was used in the same sense as in the principal Act, and that it would include persons engaged in agriculture who do not work with their hands.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
The Amendment as it stands does two things: it turns "undertaker" out of the Bill, and puts in "employer" instead of "occupier." If "undertaker" is turned out of the Bill, a deal of reconstruction will be required, and something like Clause 4 of the original Act in regard to contractors will have to be introduced. For instance, if an owner of property employs persons to erect fences or gates, surely these ought to be included within the scope of a Bill like this, but they would not be in the Bill as it at present stands.
§ Question put and negatived.
§ Remaining words omitted.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *MR. STRACHEY
My object in moving to leave out "habitually" is to make the clause wider, and not to restrict the advantages to be derived under the Act to agricultural labourers on big farms, and to prevent even on big farms the exclusion of men who thatch, drain, and do other work which is not by its nature continuous. When discussing the Bill earlier in the day the objection to this state of things was met by saying that we were only dealing with cases where a labourer employs another labourer, but 551 hon. Members who use such an argument are only trifling with the House. If they are really sincere in what they profess is their object, let them put in, as they could easily do, words which will strictly limit the operation of the Act to such cases. In numberless cases men are only employed on farms during the summer time in the hay and corn harvest, and these would be excluded from receiving compensation for death or injury under this Bill.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment—
To leave out the word 'habitually.'— (Mr. Strachey.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'habitually' stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ *MR. LONG
I hope the House will riot accept this Amendment. Although the hon. Gentleman says it is quite easy to find words to express the limitation, he does not assist the House by proposing such words. The hon. Gentleman suggested that there was a lack of sincerity in the hon. Members who support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Devizes. I think the hon. Gentleman is rather carried away by the excess of his devotion to the interests of the agricultural labourer, and this leads him to disregard the just interest of the agricultural employer. I must say that if this Bill were carried in its present form, a grave injustice would be inflicted upon the smaller class of agricultural employers who are in many cases no better off, from a financial point of view, than the labourers they employ; and that injustice would outdo any benefit the Bill would give to the agricultural labourer. If a claim for compensation were brought against, say, a small farmer with only three or four acres of land, who occasionally casually employed a labourer, it would result in the ruin of the unfortunate man, and there would be a popular outcry against the measure. If this is to be a really beneficial measure there must be a limitation. An obvious difficulty arises in regard to the fact that a man is sometimes employed on purely agricultural work, and at other times on not purely agricultural work. My hon. friend thinks, and the Government agree with him, that these workmen ought to be 552 granted compensation when an accident occurs, whatever the employment they are engaged in at the moment; but there must, in justice, be a limitation. I have no particular admiration for the word "habitually." The Attorney General has carefully considered this, and has sought to find some word that would be agreeable to the House, and more suitable than "habitually"; but no one has as yet succeeded in getting such a word. The hon. Member for Holderness has suggested the word "usually," but I do not know that the word "usually" would be better than "habitually." The word "habitually" means the case where a master is in the regular course of employing labourers on his farm. It does not follow that he employs the same man from the 1st January to the 31st of December, but that it is his regular business as an agricultural employer to have labourers on his farm, and he ought in that case to have the same liability in regard to injuries as other employers of labour. On the other hand it would exclude men who only want assistance occasionally for a day or two. That is the best suggestion that has been made, and I hope the Committee will agree to the Amendment.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE (Hereford)
My objection to the word "habitually" is that a small farmer will be unable to find an insurance company to insure him against the risk of injuries to a labourer whom he cannot define, or about whom he can give no information as to where and when he is to be employed. There are hundreds of small employers who would be ruined if casual labourers were brought within the scope of the Act; and it is absolutely necessary that the word "habitually" should be retained.
§ MR. WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
As to the statement of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down that insurance companies would not insure against injuries to occasional labourers, I believe that that is not correct, and that insurance companies will insure such cases. [An HON. MEMBER: The minimum premium is 5s.] That puts the possibility of insurance within the means of small men. Words have been suggested over and over again to protect the small employer, but this not only protects the small employer, but it cuts out a very large proportion of 553 the agricultural labourers throughout the country, and curtails the Bill in a way never originally intended by the promoters. That will be the effect in various parts of the country. There are cases in which a farmer who works his farm with the assistance of a son or two takes on men during the harvest, and in such cases it would be a great hardship if the labourer did not get the benefit of the Bill. As originally introduced it contained none of these curtailments, but the Government and the Minister for Agriculture have nursed it, with the result that it is now restricted as far as it possibly can be. These clauses were not introduced by the promoters of the Bill, but by the Government, who, while professing themselves anxious to carry the Bill, are endeavouring to curtail it as much as possible. I hope my hon. friend will persist in his Amendment, and that he will receive the support of hon. Members on the other side who do not desire that the Bill should be restricted to a small number of agricultural labourers.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL
May I ask the Attorney General if he thinks in the case of a small employer who does not employ men ordinarily, but only during certain seasons of the year, that the Courts would interpret the word "habitually" so as to bring him within the scope of the Act?
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
I do not think so. I do not think that occasional employment at a particular time of the year would constitute habitual employment.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
I do not think that would be habitual employment, even if it happened every year.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 205; Noes, 120. (Division List No. 150.)557
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Coddington, Sir William||Garfit, William|
|Aird, John||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Goldsworthy, Major-General|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry E.||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Gordon, Hon. John Edward|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Graham, Henry Robert|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd)||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Arnold, Alfred||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Gretton, John|
|Baillie, J. E. B (Inverness)||Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Gull, Sir Cameron|
|Balcarres, Lord||Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leonard H.||Gunter, Colonel|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Halsey, Thomas Frederick|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds)||Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)||Hardy, Laurence|
|Banbury, Frederic George||Curzon, Viscount||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Banes, Major George Edward||Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Dalkeith, Earl of||Heath, James|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Beach, Rt Hon Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Davies, Sir Horatio D(Chatham)||Helder, Augustus|
|Beach, W. W. Bramston (Hants.)||Denny, Colonel||Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Hickman, Sir Alfred|
|Bethell, Commander||Donkin, Richard Sim||Hoare, Edward B. (Hampst'd)|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Doughty, George||Hobhouse, Henry|
|Biddulph, Michael||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Houston, R. P.|
|Bill, Charles||Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S.||Howard, Joseph|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Hutton, John (Yorks. N.R.)|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F.(Middlesex)||Faber, George Denison||Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies|
|Brassey Albert||Fardell, Sir T. George||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse|
|Brown, Alexander H.||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir J (Manch'r)||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Campbell, Rt Hn J. A. (Glasgow)||Finch, George H.||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.|
|Carlile, William Walter||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Fisher, William Hayes||Keswick, William|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.||Knowles, Lees|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Flower, Ernest||Lafone, Alfred|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Forster, Henry William||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Lawrence, Sir E Durning-(Corn.)|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Fry, Lewis||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)|
|Lea, Sir T. (Londonderry)||Nicholson, William Graham||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Lecky, Rt. Hn. William Edw. H.||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Stanley, Edward Jas.(Somerset)|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||O'Neill, Hon. Robt. Torrens||Stanley, Sir H. M. (Lambeth)|
|Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Sw'ns'a)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)||Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington)||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.|
|Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Pierpoint, Robert||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller||Pilkington, R. (Lancs, Newton)||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Lowther, Rt. Hn. James (Kent)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Plunkett, Rt. Hn. Horace Curzon||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Lucas-Shadwell, William||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Maclure, Sir John William||Purvis, Robert||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Pym, C. Guy||Usborne, Thomas|
|M'Killop, James||Renshaw, Charles Bine||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H. (Sheffield)|
|Malcolm, Ian||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Marks, Henry Hananel||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. H.|
|Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. E.||Robinson, Brooke||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Melville, Beresford Valentine||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Welby, Lt-Col A. C. E.(Tauntn)|
|Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenham)||Welby, Sir C. G. E. (Notts.)|
|Milward, Colonel Victor||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Monk, Charles James||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm)|
|More, Robert J. (Shropshire)||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. E. J.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Morgan, Hn. Fred. (Monm'thsh.)||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Mount, William (George)||Sidebottom, William (Derbys.)||Younger, William|
|Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Mr. Goulding and Mr. Pretyman.|
|Myers, William Henry||Smith, J. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Newdigate, Francis Alexander||Smith, Hon. W. F. D.(Strand)|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Galloway, William Johnson||Murnaghan, George|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Asher, Alexander||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Gold, Charles||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)|
|Bainbridge, Emerson||Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley||Oldroyd, Mark|
|Baker, Sir John||Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Percy, Earl|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Gurdon, Sir William B.||Philipps, John Wynford|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Billson, Alfred||Harwood, George||Price, Robert John|
|Bramsdon, Thomas Arthur||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Priestley, Briggs|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Hazell, Walter||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Hedderwick, Thomas C. H.||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Holden, Sir Angus||Richardson, J. (Durham, S. E.)|
|Burns, John||Holland, William Henry||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Burt, Thomas||Horniman, Frederick John||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Runciman, Walter|
|Caldwell, James||Jacoby, James Alfred||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cameron, Sir Charles (Glasgow)||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. Hn. Sir U||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Carew, James Laurence||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarshire)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Kitson, Sir James||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Labouchere, Henry||Souttar, Robinson|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Langley, Batty||Spicer, Albert|
|Colville, John||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Crombie, John William||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)||Steadman, William Charles|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Lewis, John Herbert||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Dewar, Arthur||Lough, Thomas||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Lyell, Sir Leonard||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Duckworth, James||M'Crae, George||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dunn, Sir William||Maddison, Fred.||Wallace, Robert|
|Edwards, Owen Morgan||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Walton, J. Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Mather, William||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Evans, Saml. T. (Glamorgan)||Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel)||Wason, Eugene|
|Fenwick, Charles||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Whiteley, George (Stockport)i|
|Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||Morley, Rt. Hn. J. (Montrose)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Wilson, Charles Henry (Hull)||Wilson, John (Govan)||Mr. Strachey and Mr. Courtenay Warner.|
|Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.||Woods, Samuel|
|Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)||Yoxall, James Henry|
Question put and agreed to.
MR. LLOYD MORGAN (Carmarthenshire, W.)
I should like the Attorney General to consider what the words "employs for hire" mean. Take the case of a fanner who works a farm of 150 acres, and who has no regular servants in his employ, but is assisted by two sons residing at home, who take the place of farm labourers. They receive no fixed wages as remuneration for their services, but they get board and lodging and clothes and a small sum from time to time as pocket money. If I understand the Bill aright, that farmer would not come within the scope of the Bill. Take a second case—that of a farmer with an adjoining farm of smaller size. He has got one boy in regular employment, and it seems to me that unless the words "employs for hire" cover the case of the farmer with one or two sons we may find ourselves in rather an anomalous position after the Bill becomes law, because a man who works a farm to the extent which necessitates the employment of two regular labourers would not come within the scope of the Act whereas a man with a smaller farm would. That seems to me to be a substantial objection, because I take it that the object of those who are in favour of the Bill is to extend the operation of the Workmen's Compensation Act to as many agricultural labourers as possible.
§ SIR ROBERT F1NLAY
Clearly the words "employs for hire" mean employment for wages, for hire means money. They would exclude a case in which assistance was given, although habitually, by sons living with their father at the farmhouse. That would, no doubt, be habitual employment, but not employment for hire unless they were taken on for wages.
§ MR. S. T. EVANS
I think the answer of the Attorney General renders it necessary to move that these words be omitted. The object of the Bill is to give compensation for workmen's injuries, and if we have the case of a large farm on which possibly two sons are constantly employed, although not for wages, why should they be precluded from obtaining 558 compensation if they are injured? The case is a perfectly simple one, and I think the arguments are overwhelmingly in its favour. I beg to move to leave out the words "for hire."
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment—
To leave out the words 'for hire.'"—(Mr. S. T. Evans.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'for hire' stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ MR. JEFFREYS (Hampshire, N.)
I am no lawyer, but it is perfectly apparent that these words ought to be left in, because according to the Act a certain proportion of the wages is to be given to an injured man, and if he gets no wages how can he get any compensation?
§ MR. S. T. EVANS
That does not refer to the injuries to sons, but to injuries of workmen employed on the same farm.
§ MR. JEFFREYS
It seems to me perfectly clear that these words "for hire" would limit compensation to men in receipt of wages.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
May I put this case to the Attorney General? Suppose we take a farmer who has two sons habitually working on his farm, but not working for hire; suppose at the busy season, such as the harvest, he takes on additional hands, and during the harvest an accident unfortunately happens to one of them, what will be the position of that labourer? There is no one habitually employed by the farmer, because the two sons are not regarded as labourers working for hire. In the case I have suggested what would be the position of the injured man? Under the Bill, clearly, it seems to me he would have no claim whatever. That is manifestly 559 unfair, and I hope it is not the desire of the Government that it should be the case.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
May I, by permission of the House, answer the question? I agree with the view expressed by the hon. Gentleman. As the Amendment stands at present, unless one or more men are habitually employed for hire, the Act would not apply in the case of a man assisting during a season of the year.
§ MR. GALLOWAY
I should like to ask the Attorney General whether this Amendment would be affected by the words which I have placed on the Paper —"not being his father or son." Would not that meet the case?
§ MR. JOHN WILSON (Durham, Mid)
I hope the Government will see the necessity of accepting this Amendment, otherwise there will be this anomaly: You will have two farms of the same extent, one of which is worked by the farmer with the assistance of his sons and the occasional employment of a labourer; while in the other the farmer has to employ two labourers habitually. Because the first farmer has two sons who are not employed for hire, he is not to come within the Act, whereas the other farmer is. I submit that that would be a most glaring inconsistency. I hope the Government will accept the Amendment, as it would simplify the Bill and make it more just.
§ *MR. LONG
I hope the House will be willing to agree to the suggestion that these two words should be omitted. I think they constitute a practical difficulty and one which would involve a departure from the standard we have suggested. I think the difficulty would be well met by the adoption of the Amendment, subject, if I may say so, to the Government giving their careful consideration to the removal of these words in order to ascertain that their omission would have no further effect than that desired by the mover of the Amendment—namely, to put a man working a farm with the assistance of his sons in the same position as a man working a farm with 560 hired labour. That does not go beyond the original intention of the Bill.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL
I would wish to ask the Attorney General to consider whether the point raised by the hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division would not be covered if, after the word "habitually," the following words were added, "or at regular seasons." Perhaps the Attorney General would be good enough to give the matter attention when the Bill is under consideration in another place. Words of this kind would meet the points which have been made.
§ MR. LOYD (Berkshire, Abingdon)
said he desired to point out that the words "for hire" in this clause were intended primarily to confine the benefit of the principal Act to the paid workman. It had now been objected that the indirect effect of those words, occurring where they did, would be to exclude all but paid workmen from being taken into consideration in estimating the position, importance, and responsibility of the employer. It might be well to strike out the words where they had that effect and insert them at a still earlier point in remodelling the clause, which would then run, "From and after the commencement of this Act the Act of 1897 shall apply to the employment for hire of workmen in agriculture."
§ Question put and negatived.
§ MR. S. T. EVANS
As I intimated earlier, I will now move the omission of the words "in such employment." I have solid ground for doing so. It is obvious to anyone reading the clause that the insertion of these words will limit the benefits of the Bill very much. I should be very glad if this Amendment had been moved by the promoter of the Bill. I am not at all sure that when these words come to be construed in a court of law they may not be held to mean employment of the particular class or kind in which the accident happened to the workmen. That would enormously limit the benefit of the Act. If these words are left in we may, perhaps, have a man employing a 561 very large number of persons in another employment, and very well able to pay compensation, escaping. These words were not in the Bill as it passed upstairs, and there is no reason why they should be in the Bill now, and I hope the Government will see fit to omit them.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment—
To leave out the words 'in such employment.'"—(Mr. Samuel Evans.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ *MR. LONG
I hope the House will not accept the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I do not think it is correct to say that the adoption of these words involves a departure from the Bill as amended upstairs, or indeed from the intention of the promoters of the Bill. I have carefully followed the debates, and, as I understand it, the intention of the promoters is that the Workmen's Compensation Act should be extended to agricultural labourers as a body. The Amendment would have precisely the opposite effect to that stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman. The words which the hon. and learned Gentleman says will bear a certain interpretation are clear enough. I am not a lawyer, but my right hon. and learned friend agrees with that view. The intention of the Bill is to apply the Act to agricultural labourers, and I therefore hope that my hon. friends who are responsible for the introduction of the Bill will not approve of the suggestion of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite.
§ Words, as amended, inserted.
§ CAPTAIN PRETYMAN (Suffolk, Woodbridge)
Before moving the Amendment which stands in my name, dealing with the question of contracts, I may be allowed to give two or three instances to explain its effect. There are three classes of cases concerned. In the first case, which is common in the east of England, a certain number of the hired men on a farm form themselves into a gang under the leadership of one of themselves, and 562 contract with the employer to carry out the work of the farm, the employer giving them the necessary machinery. In the second case, a similar gang of men, not usually employed by a particular employer, such as sheep-shearers, contract to do work. In these two cases the labourers are banded together for the purpose of taking a contract, and it is certainly desirable that a man who has taken a job by the piece instead of by the day should not be excluded from obtaining compensation for injuries. It is very desirable that these two cases should be included. In the third case the conditions are entirely different. It refers to a man, generally a large contractor, who is in the habit of lending out steam plant, such as threshers, ploughs, and other agricultural machinery. He employs highly paid men to work the machinery. They are not really agricultural labourers, but are in charge of the machinery, and execute work on various farms in a district, being usually assisted by the farm labourers employed by the farmer himself. In this case it certainly appears desirable that the farmer should not be liable for compensation in the case of injury to the servants of the other man, who is probably a good deal better off. Of course any man employed by the farmer himself should be compensated by him. That appears to be a reasonable way of dealing with the matter. In regard to this particular Bill, it is quite evident that there is complete agreement as regards the principle, but when questions of verbiage arise as to whether a particular Amendment would carry out the intention desired, there is great difference of opinion. I think this Amendment, with one slight alteration which I propose to add, would carry out the principle which I have just laid down. It is divided into two sub-sections. The first sub-section deals with the first two cases I referred to—the cases of contracts entered into by the labourers themselves;. and the second sub-section deals with the case where a contract is entered into by a farmer to have his work carried out by machinery. I should wish to add to the Amendment as it appears on the Paper, after the word "contractor," the words "provides and." It is very necessary that the contractor should provide the machinery as well as use it. With that explanation, which I think sufficient for the purpose, I beg to move the Amendment.
At the end of Clause 1, to add, '2. Where any such employer agrees with a contractor for the execution by or under that contractor of any work in agriculture, Section 4 of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1897, shall apply in respect of any workman employed in such work as if that employer were an undertaker within the meaning of that Act. Provided that where the contractor provides and uses machinery for the purpose of threshing, ploughing, or other agricultural work, he, and he alone, shall be liable under this Act to pay compensation to any workman employed by him on such work.'"— (Captain Pretyman.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words he there inserted."
§ MR. JOHN WILSON (Durham, Mid)
I think we should have some intimation as to the views of the Government on this matter.
§ *MR. LONG
Certainly. I did not rise, because I thought my hon. friend, in moving the Amendment, had really covered the whole ground. In a case where the farmer contracts with another man to do agricultural work of the class referred to in the proviso, the other man should, we think, be responsible for any accident to the man he employed, for it would be manifestly unjust to throw upon the farmer the burden of compensation in such a ease, where he chose to adopt that system of getting his work done. In the same way where an employer employs his own machinery for the purpose of threshing, it would be unjust that he should escape the liability for injuries to his own servants.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said the second part of the Amendment seemed to destroy the first part. He was not an agricultural professor, but he did wish to assist the House, and he thought it would be well if the point he had suggested were considered.
§ MR. MOULTON
I quite sympathise with the object of the clause, but I am afraid that when a court of law gets hold 564 of the word "machinery," difficulties of interpretation may arise as to what really constitutes "machinery." It is most important that the second part of the clause should be restricted to the case of the opulent person with a large capital vested in agricultural machinery, which he lets out. Will the Government consider whether they cannot introduce some words to qualify the word "machinery"?
§ *SIR CHARLES WELBY (Nottinghamshire, Newark)
I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name. I raised this question upstairs, and the President of the Board of Agriculture appeared to recognise the importance of the point. I have hopes, therefore, that he will accept this Amendment, for I feel sure that its effect will be to do away with some of the criticisms which have been given expression to to-day. The object of the Amendment is to bring within the scope of the Bill a class of cases which are excluded from its operation as it now stands. I feel it is unnecessary that these restrictions should be left in the Bill. They seem to be unwise, and eminently calculated to produce friction and litigation, which everyone recognises should be avoided as far as possible. Under the Bill as it stands a genuine agricultural labourer might meet with an accident, but unless he were engaged upon strictly agricultural work, he would not be entitled to compensation. It is a not uncommon thing for a labourer to be taken off his regular farm work in order to do some special job, for instance to quarry stone to be used in the erection of some church or chapel, or to cart coals for a parish charity. And should he be so engaged at the instance of his employer, he would, if he met with an accident, have no claim to compensation. Now, I think he should be protected in such cases. I will take another illustration in which hardship might arise. The labourer might be directed to drive his master's wife to a neighbouring town. If she was going there in connection with agricultural business, and an accident occurred to the man, he would, of course, come within the scope of the Bill. But if, on the other hand, she was merely going 565 away for a holiday, then the man would have no claim to compensation. I can imagine nothing more certain to lead to misunderstanding and litigation. Having accepted the principle of compensation, the sound method seems to be to define the genuine agricultural labourer, and then to entitle him to compensation in the case of accident, whether the work on which he may be employed at the time of the accident be strictly agricultural or not. I understand, on good authority, that the widening of the scope of the Bill in the way I have suggested will not make any difference to the rate of insurance at which companies are prepared to insure employers. I believe their attitude is one of preference for the widening of the Bill, in order to simplify the matter and to obviate possible litigation. I believe the same argument will appeal to employers. I beg to move.
Clause 1, page 1, line 10,after' Act,' insert 'Where any workman is employed by the same employer mainly in agricultural but partly or occasionally in other work, this Act shall apply also to the employment of the workman in such other work.'"—(Sir C. Welby.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that a man shall not be excluded from the benefit of the Act by reason of the fact that the accident occurs off the farm? I believe that under the original Compensation Act it has been decided by the Courts that in the case of a shipbuilders' yard the liability to compensation—
§ MR. CAWLEY (Lancashire, Prestwich)
I have to move an Amendment to render liable, under this Act, all persons who keep horses. I daresay it carries the Act rather further than has been intended. I certainly think that livery stable 566 keepers should be brought within the operation of the Bill. Many of these establishments have no land attached to them, but they consume a good deal of agricultural produce, and I wish to bring these, as well as hunting establishments, under the operation of the Bill.
§ MR. CAWLEY
But the produce consumed in these establishments comes off the farm, and, therefore, I ask, will not people employed in the livery stable come under this Act?
§ MR. CAWLEY
Well, my Amendment is designed to bring them under the Act, and I therefore beg to move it.
In page 1, line 12, after the word 'land,' to insert the words 'or premises.'"—(Mr. Cawley.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'or premises' be there inserted."
§ *MR. LONG
The Amendment will not secure the object aimed at by the hon. Member. This is a Bill which proposes to extend the benefits of the Workmen's Compensation Act to labourers employed in agriculture. Men engaged in livery stables do not come within that definition, and if we were to concede the point raised by the hon. Member the Bill might at once be made to apply to the whole community, simply because it consumes agricultural produce. These men are not in any sense agricultural employees, and their case therefore cannot be dealt with in a Bill which is solely intended to extend the benefits of a certain Act to agricultural workmen. I hope the hon. 567 Gentleman will not insist upon his Amendment.
§ MR. SOAMES (Norfolk, S.)
May I ask how this Bill will affect men employed in market gardens which are covered by glass?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR CAMERON GULL (Devonshire, Barnstaple)
I wish to move the omission of the last three words of Sub-section 2. I do so because they are very vague and might give chances for litigation.
In Clause 1, page 1, line 14, to leave out 'and the like.'"—(Sir Cameron Gull.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ SIR CAMERON GULL
I have another Amendment of a drafting character, and I believe that earlier in the day the desirability for making it was admitted.
In Clause 1, page 1, leave out from beginning of line 15 to 'agriculture,' in line 16."—(Sir Cameron Gull.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfarshire)
The Amendment which I have to propose has for its object to insure that in the ease of an agricultural labourer who meets with an accident in the course of his employment, although he may not be actually engaged on the farm work, he shall not be excluded from the benefits of this Act. It appears to me it is necessary that we should insert 568 a safeguard of this kind; otherwise the compensation provided for under this Bill will be of a very limited character. I am told that my Amendment as it stands on the Paper is rather too wide, and I propose it, therefore, in a rather different form.
In page 1, line 16, after the word 'agriculture,' to insert the words—' A workman employed in agriculture shall not be excluded from this Act by reason only that the accident arose outside the farm or premises of his employer in the course of his work.'"—(Captain Sinclair.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words. be there inserted."
§ *MR. LONG
This Amendment extends the Bill to all kinds of accidents which may befall all kinds of agricultural labour. I would point out that it is not really necessary. In the original Act the liability is closely connected with the premises on which the industry is conducted. But in this Bill there is no connection between the accident and the place of employment. All that is necessary is that the employer shall be an employer in agriculture, and that the man shall be a servant also employed in agriculture. Wherever, therefore, the accident takes place the man will come within the purview of the Bill so long as the conditions I have named obtain. There is, therefore, no necessity for the addition of these words.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR
After the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *MR. GOULDING
I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name. In a recent decision in the High Court it has been laid down that a man who has not been in continuous employment for fourteen days is outside the scope of the parent Act. Now, it certainly was. never contemplated by Parliament that such a rule should be laid down, and I have drafted an Amendment the adoption of which will ensure that a similar injustice is not created 569 under this Bill. The men affected are very often the poorest, and are therefore the most deserving of protection, and I cannot possibly understand how it can be held that men who are in a certain employment for four, five, or six days shall not be entitled to the same protection as is granted to other men who are fortunate in being longer employed. I understand that no difficulty would arise with the insurance companies through the adoption of this Amendment. They do not require the names of the employees; they only ask that they shall be supplied with the total number of men employed and the amount of their wages, and they are quite willing to take the risk, for they are assured that no master would allow any man to apply for compensation unless he was entitled to it. I hope that the Government, who have already done so much for social reform, will accept this Amendment.
Amendment proposed —
In page 1, line 10, after the word 'agriculture,' to insert the words, 'The expression "average weekly earnings," in the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1897, shall, for the purpose of this Act, be deemed to mean six times the workman's average daily wage during his employment with the employer in whole service he shall sustain personal injury by accident, although he may not have been so employed for a period of two weeks prior thereto.'"— (Mr. Goulding.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *MR. LONG
I regret extremely that my hon. friend has thought it necessary to move this Amendment. It is obvious that any proposal on our part to accept it would load to prolonged discussion. It may or may not be desirable to include what is called "casual labour" within the purview of the Bill. But if it be desirable in the case of agriculture, it is still more so in other industries where such labour is employed to a far greater extent. Personally, I should be disposed to offer strong resistance to the acceptance of this Amendment dealing with the matter in this limited form. But it is impossible now to enter upon the merits of the proposal, and as I am very desirous that the Bill should pass through the Report stage this afternoon, I appeal 570 to my hon. friend to withdraw his Amendment.
§ MR. JOHN WILSON (Durham, Mid)
I would like to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that this Amendment does not relate solely to casual labour, meaning men employed a day or two. It affects men permanently employed. It has been decided in the Appeal Court that where a miner is engaged in Lancashire at Cs. a day, on the second day of his employment he is not a casual labourer'. I believe the framers of the Act of 1897 intended that, however short a time a man may work for his employer, he should benefit by the Act. It was not intended that he should first work a complete fortnight, although it has been laid down in one case that an average weekly wage cannot be fixed unless the man has worked a full fortnight. I hope this matter will be pressed to a division.
§ *MR. H. S. FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
I rise to make an appeal to my hon. friend to withdraw this Amendment. I hope he will not allow it to be said that he, as one of the promoters of the measure, talked it out. We have had some very valuable concessions from the Government, and I would point out to my hon. friend that he will have an opportunity of again raising his question, if he wishes, by moving to re-commit the Bill on the motion for its Third Reading.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn;
§ Title amended.
§ Bill to be road the third time on Wednesday next, and to be printed. [Bill 257.]