§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ * MR. PAULTON (Durham, Bishop Auckland)
, in moving the Second Reading, said he made no excuse for bringing the subject before the House. It was one of considerable importance to his constituents, a large mining and industrial community, whose industrial welfare was largely bound up in the strength and soundness of their trade union organisations. The position of those organisations had become so critical that the state of the law urgently demanded the attention of Parliament. Last year the Bill was opposed on the ground that a Royal Commission was not sitting; this year the primary objection would probably be taken that it was premature to deal with the subject because a Royal Commission was sitting. The political arena was blockaded with Royal Commissions; 959 they were as thick as submarine mines at Port Arthur; and the ship of State could not move in any direction without knocking against one or other of them. There was always the hope that an explosion would shatter any project of legislation. Several Reports had been waited for and heard. A good many explosions had occurred amongst the vessels which the Government decked out so gaily at the general elections of 1895 and 1900. Old-age pensions had been blown sky-high; local taxation, temperance, Port of London, and other important matters were stranded on the mud banks; and even agriculture lay a helpless prey to undersized flat fish. If the Government had desired that this particular Royal Commission should carry due weight, they would have done well to appoint upon it some more direct representation of those most immediately concerned. But nobody believed that the Commission was appointed for the purpose of enabling the Government to deal with the subject by legislation. It was appointed as the result of a debate, last year, and the suggestion of a Royal Commission possibly enabled certain Members to escape from the difficulty in which they found themselves. The position was sufficiently serious. The law on the questions of picketing and conspiracy was in a state of chaos, and the status of trade unions had been so profoundly affected by recent interpretations of the Courts that their very existence was threatened, if not endangered.
The object of the Bill was to restore the law to what Parliament deliberately intended it to be in 1875, and what it was understood to be prior to the decisions to which he had referred. The Bill laid down in plain and simple language the broad principle on which it was desired that the present law should be defined and amended, and it was with the broad principle alone the House was concerned on the Second Reading. As regarded picketing, he held that it was unwise and dangerous to disable workmen from using peaceful methods of conducting a strike effectively. It was a shortsighted and a one-sided policy to allow law to prohibit or hinder peaceful persuasion, as men were thereby almost incited to defy an unjust law and to 960 resort to methods of terrorism. He hated terrorism and desired to remove every inducement to make use of it. The law should be made equal as between man and man, employer and employed; and then workmen would be the first to support the enforcement of penalties and punishment upon those who broke it. In the present state of the law, no lawyer could define what would or would not constitute conspiracy. Ital most appeared to be anything that a Judge disliked. There was nothing in the Bill to absolve a person from the consequences of a criminal act, or to prevent the police from dealing with disorderly conduct on the part either of individuals or of a crowd. Doubtless the judgment in the "Quinn v. Leatham" case would be quoted to the effect that many men might coerce where one could not, but to make numbers the test would strike at the very root of the right of combination. Trade unionists held the law to be unfair in that it afforded to employers in strikes and lock-outs rights which were denied to workmen. But the real crux of the matter lay in the pecuniary liability. The clause dealing with that point excited alarm and consternation in some quarters, and doubtless the Lord Chancellor would regard the mere proposal as an outrage for which perpetual imprisonment in the Clock Tower would be a mild and insufficient punishment; but as it merely sought to restore the law to what it was intended and believed to be, it was in the true sense of the word a conservative measure, and should be regarded by hon. Members opposite as such. Trade unions were now in danger of overwhelming attacks upon their funds, and that danger was welcomed by many who in their hearts would like to see trade unionism swept out of existence.
Some people were imbued with the delusion that trade union funds were for the most part employed in promoting or conducting strikes. That nothing could be farther from the truth was shown by the Board of Trade's Returns for the last available year, which set out that, taking 100 of the principal trade unions in the country, out of a total expenditure of £1,655,000, £1,072,000 was spent on benefit grants, payment of sickness, accident, superannuation allowances, funeral expenses, and unemployed relief; while not more than 961 one-sixteenth, or £200,000, was spent on disputes. These figures afforded the strongest argument, first against the notion that trade union funds were mainly used to promote strife; and, secondly, in favour of the demand for the safeguarding of their property. In opposing this Bill were hon. Members applying their doctrine of the rights of property quite fairly? He would not pause to ask whether this money was spent more for the moral, social, and material welfare of the nation than the £150,000,000 spent on drink; but hon. Members who were deaf to the demand for the safeguarding of trade union funds eagerly responded to the cry of the liquor trade for protection of their property and for the virtual endowment of a vast and wealthy monopoly. It might be said that the action of the Party to which he belonged was equally inconsistent in the two cases, but it should be remembered that whereas the Conservatives sought to uphold inequality of treatment in favour of the wealthier portion of the community, their opponents sought to lessen the inequality by affording just and reasonable safeguards to the property of workmen.
He hoped the rumour was true that the Government intended to leave the matter an open question. Trade unions and workmen sometimes did foolish things; so did Governments. But the fact had to be faced that organised labour was daily gaining more and more of the influence and political power to which it was justly entitled. Was it not better frankly to recognise that the best—indeed, the only—way to teach men the wise use of political power was to imbue them with a sense of responsibility? Would that he could adequately impress upon the House the fact that the first desire and the greatest interest of trade unions was the maintenance of industrial peace! He urged the House to entrust them with the duty of maintaining that peace, and to endeavour to remove any rankling feeling of injustice which at present existed. If that were done, all experience showed that the confidence would not be misplaced, and with that earnest conviction he begged to move the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ MR. JOHNSON (Gateshead)
in seconding the Motion, said the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland had exactly expressed the views of Labour Members, in repudiating the idea that the object of trade unions was to promote strikes. The great object of combination was to secure by reasonable and lawful means such a condition of existence for the workers as would conduce to a truly human life. This Bill was caused by the recent decisions of the Courts. He did not say that those decisions were not accurate, but trade unions undoubtedly believed there was a great difference between the findings of the Judges and the opinion of the workers, a fact which gave colour to the assertion, that one's opinion did depend a great deal on the side of the shield from which one's observation was taken. The recent interpretation had had a detrimental, if not a destructive, effect on the whole character of the movement. It was all very well to say that strikes were legal, but if they were so hemmed in by restrictions as to be rendered abortive in effect, there was not much to be gained from such legality. Did the Government not realise that the interpretation which had been placed upon the law bore hardly upon the workmen? The Government appointed a Royal Commission and the hon. Member who had preceded him said it was a very convenient thing to appoint a Royal Commission because it was an easy way of shelving most urgent questions. As trade unionists they had refused to have anything to do with that Commission because of its composition. He did not impugn the intelligence or the honour of the gentlemen forming that Commission, but in order to secure the confidence of the workmen there should have been on that Commission a representative of the trade unions. Consequently trade unionists had refused absolutely to attend the inquiry.
He thought the House ought to be very chary of interfering with the usefulness of trade unions. Trade union funds were not subscribed mainly or chiefly for the purpose of trade disputes, but a great part was devoted to benevolent and other objects. He had the figures of 100 of the principal trade 963 unions from 1901. Their income that year was £2,061,501 and their expenditure £1,655,635. That was an enormous income and expenditure, but he asked the House to examine how that expenditure was made up. They paid to the unemployed £325,866; for sickness and accident £344,834; for superannuation benefits, £202,952; funeral benefits, £98,815; grants £99,805; and for working expenses £378,846. What be wished the House to note was that in that time for disputes there was paid £204,517 only, which clearly indicated to any reasonable man that the danger which many hon. Members entertained with respect to trade unions was absolutely fallacious when they considered their great benevolent objects and purposes. He would give a few figures of the society to which he belonged, which would show that they were not extravagant in their strike proclivities, but, on the contrary, took every precaution to see that their disputes were legitimate and legal. He was not going to repudiate strikes altogether, because he believed that there wore times when an individual had to take off his coat to fight just as it was honourable sometimes to go to war, however much they might deplore it. As with individuals and with nations, there were times when men would strike before they would submit to dishonour, and strike with a vengeance, to maintain their rights and the rights of their fellows. So far as the responsible trade unions of this country were concerned, they were disposed to use every legitimate means in their power to settle grievances amicably rather than resort to strikes. Take for example, the Durham Miners Association with which he was connected. For the year 1902–3 their income was £109,736. He would give a few of the items of expenditure. They paid for the death benefits £4,819; for sickness and accidents £40,015; breakage of machinery £1,049; and relief allowances for men out of work through depression of trade £5,935. What he wished to impress upon the House was that in that year, in face of all the danger apprehended by hon. Members of the House and by those outside the House, with respect to strikes and lockouts they only paid for strikes £5 10s. He thought those figures were very con- 964 clusive, and therefore he asked the House to be very careful in its interference with trade unions, lest they destroyed their effective usefulness, not as a striking machine, but as an organisation to help their fellow workmen who were out of employment in order to keep them out of the workhouse. Trade unions existed largely for benevolent purposes, and by undue interference there was a danger that the House might destroy and frustrate their efforts and make it impossible for workmen to put their pence together to provide old-age and superannuation allowances for their declining years, in order that they might have an honourable old age, and look back upon their past life with the reflection of having done the best they could.
What did this Bill ask for? They asked to be placed upon an equality with the employers in regard to persuading men to abstain from working just the same as employers had the power to persuade men to work during a strike. He thought that was only fair. They were asking for nothing unreasonable. If there happened to be a strike they ought to have the same privilege as the employers, and when men came to a place where there was a strike they ought to have the privilege of indicating to them that they were doing a wrong thing by offering to take the places of the men on strike. He thought that was quite fair, because the employers had that privilege, whilst the workmen, if they assembled together, must not say anything, and yet the employers could go to the free-labour party and by persuasions and inducements get men to "blackleg" and take the place of the men in strike. That was not fair, for what was sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander. In Clause 2 they did not ask that the men should do a criminal act, but that they should have power to act in combination. The whole opposition to this Bill was that trade unions wanted to do something illegal and criminal. On behalf of trade unions he wished to say that they were men of honour and would deprecate most strongly any criminal acts, and they were not asking to have criminal acts legalised for the purpose of gaining their ends in a strike. They were claiming that if it was legitimate for one man to 965 do a certain thing it should be made legitimate for two or ten men to do the same thing, and he hoped the House of Commons would show its sense of justice to the workmen by giving them this opportunity of combining. The third clause sought to guard trades union funds. Because an indiscreet individual illegally gave a certain order in an impulsive manner, why should the whole trade union funds be liable and why should trade unions be mulcted in damages because of the foolishness of some rash individual? They were not afraid of being answerable for their acts in a proper, constitutional way, and he for one would be the last man in the world to give advice that would lead to a criminal breach of the law. He hoped the House would take into consideration the points he had indicated.
What were the objections which the owners had to this Bill? The primary objection was the fear of the power of the trade unions to combine. He had received an admonition from a gentleman in his district, who said—The effect of these alterations would be to enormously extend the powers of trade unions to interfere with the liberty of persons in the exercise of their legal rights, and would place these unions in a position to use such extended powers without responsibility for any evil consequences, or for the loss and damage caused to the business of the employers, or to those workpeople who may not be in agreement with the unions.That statement, in his judgment, ought not to have come from the district from which it emanated. He was very well acquainted with the district from which that document came, in the North of England, and he denied that they had ever taken a course of action officially that would make such a state of things possible. They had frequently done the opposite, for when the men had done anything illegal they had advised them to undo it. When a trade union broke the law and appealed to them for strike pay they refused to grant it, simply because they had taken an illegal course of action. The last objection he would deal with was that of intimidation. He would like to ask hon. Members who were the chief offenders under this head? Not the workmen. Workmen were human like other people, and might sometimes take rush courses of action which were to be 966 deprecated, but nine-tenths of the intimidation came from the employers' side. He could give case after case where, not for peaceful persuasion of workmen to do a certain action in itself largely innocent, a workman and received his notice—ostensibly for that, though really because he was a member of a trade union. There were other cases in which men had been discharged because their children had left an employer for the purpose of bettering their condition elsewhere. He knew a case of a man who sent his boy to work in a co-operative society, having a desire to get him out of the pit. What did the manager of the colliery do? He did not go and peacefully persuade the father, but gave him notice and sent him about his business. Cases might be multiplied to any extent of the intolerance and intimidation practised upon workmen. He hoped the House would give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ COLONEL PILKINGTON (Lancashire, Newton)
, in moving the rejection of the Bill, said he was rather surprised at the observation made by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland that this was a Bill to restore the law; it was a proposal, not to restore the law, but to very much alter it. He represented most of his friends on that side of the House when he said that there was not the slightest desire on their part to interfere with the usefulness of trade unions; their wish was to protect, as they believed the present law did protect, the property of the workmen, and to see that their property and the property of the rich were on the same basis and had the same protection; their desire was to uphold the law for they believed it protected the liberties of workmen. The believed also that it protected him in has home, on his way from his home to his work, and at his work. He disagreed with the hon. Member for Gateshead with regard to intimidation. Intimidation there might have been in bygone times, but he did not believe that, generally speaking, there was any intimidation now, nor did he believe there was any more intimidation on the part of masters than there was on the 967 part of trade unions. There might be faults on both sides, but it must have been an extreme case which the hon. Member for Gateshead referred to where a father got notice of dismissal when his son left the pit where he had been working. In his experience as an employer, and as a resident in a thickly populated part of Lancashire, he had never heard of a case like that, and he hoped there was no possibility of such a case arising. He did not at all dispute the word of the hon. Member, but he thought these were events of the past. There was no doubt that the present Act, passed in 1875, and called the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, had gone through the usual phases of an Act of Parliament, no doubt cases had been brought up and decided in the Law Courts in connection with it, and when a party in a case lost he was usually not satisfied and thought the law had been wrongly interpreted; but the question was whether the law was just, and whether the decisions were just, to the whole community.
The object of the present Bill was to alter the Act of 1875, to amend the law of conspiracy, and to protect the funds of trade unions from liability. Why was the Act of 1875 passed, and what was its purpose? Before it was passed strikes were conducted with a great deal of violence and disturbance, and there were a great many outrages. A Commission sat on the trade outrages at Sheffield which were notorious at the time, and it was in consequence of those riots and disorderly and unprincipled proceedings, and the way in which things were conducted, that this law was passed. But this state of things he hoped had passed for ever. The combination which brought about the strike in 1875 was illegal, and the Act of that year practically made it possible to strike legally. What was the difference between the law as it stood and the law as this Bill desired to alter it. The proposal in the present Bill was this—It shall be lawful for any person or persons acting either on their own behalf or on behalf of a trade union or other association of individuals, registered or unregistered, in contemplation of or during the continuance of any trade dispute, to attend for any of the following purposes at or near a house or place where a person 968 resides or works, or carries on his business, or happens to be—It was at present illegal for a number of persons to attend at a colliery or workshop, or go to a man's house and intimidate him; but under this Bill it was very possible that in an exciting time a crowd of people might legally surround a man's house, and they all knew what pressure could be put on a man by a crowd. He instanced a case within his own knowledge where a number of men were terrorised. He knew trade unionists in their hearts and conscience did not think this a fair thing, and that it ought to come to an end, but probably it would be very difficult for them to stop, for under the new Bill it could be done legally. The Judges had given certain opinions on this question of peaceful picketing, and he would read the judgment of the Master of the Rolls in the case of "Lyons v. Wilkins." He said—
- "(1.) For the purpose of peacefully obtaining or communicating information;
- "(2.) For the purpose of peacefully persuading any person to work or abstain from working."The truth was that to watch and beset a man's house with a view to compel him to do or not to do what it was lawful for him not to do or to do was wrongful and without lawful authority unless some reasonable justification for it was consistent with the evidence. Such conduct interfered with the ordinary comfort of human existence and the ordinary enjoyment of the house beset, and would support an action for nuisance at Common Law; and proof that the nuisance was for the purpose of peacefully persuading other people would afford no defence to such action. People might be peacefully persuaded, provided that the method employed to persuade was not a nuisance to other people. It was all very well to talk about peaceable persuasion, and to draw fine lines between persuasion and giving information. The line might be fine; but in this case there was no difficulty whatever in coming to the conclusion that what was done was watching and besetting, as distinguished from attending in order merely to obtain or communicate information.The difference between the old law and the proposed law was enormous. Picketing now could only be done by one man to obtain or give information; but under the proposed new law any number of men might gather, and peaceably persuade if they could. It also legalised not only a crowd round a man's dwelling house, but a crowd assembling before the gates of a colliery or a workshop. There was nothing, so far as he 969 could see, to stop the Miners Federation, or the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, or the Railway Servants Society from doing this. It would be absolutely legal under the Bill to put a large crowd of people in any road leading to a workshop or a colliery. This was an alteration which he did not think ought to be made, and he wondered that the trade union leaders had brought in this clause. They had power, and he did not say they used that power badly—there were trade union leaders in the House of whom they were justly proud—but he did not think they required the overwhelming power which would be theirs if the Bill were passed. He hoped the House would not countenance any change in the law in regard to peaceful picketing. Judge after Judge and lawyer after lawyer had said that picketing, in the way it was generally done, was not legal, and he hoped the trade union leaders would not think of pressing this clause. He now came to Clause 2, which set forth that—An agreement or combination by two or more persons to do, or procure to be done, any act in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute, shall not be ground for an action if such act when committed by one person would not be ground for an action.Well, if one person did a thing it might not amount to very much, but where a great number of persons gathered together to do the same thing it might form a strong conspiracy to injure industry and commerce; and this he considered very objectionable. An eminent Judge had said that numerous persons might annoy and coerce where one might not; and it seemed to him that the House ought to look carefully into this matter. He admitted the power of big battalions, bat he did not think it was in the interests of such a country as this that the trade union leaders should rely upon physical force. They ought to rely on justice. Such large organisations as the Miners Federation, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, and the Railway Servants Society were strong enough to effect anything they desired by legal means, and it seemed to him that, because they could not carry everything they wished, they ought not to desire to make themselves supreme. If this 970 Bill became law there would arise sooner or later a state of things under which it would be impossible for ordinary work to be carried on in ordinary places, and in all probability they would drive trade out of the country. He, and those who agreed with him, wanted to see things conducted decently and justly. They wanted room for both small and large employers and both small and large trade unions; but they did not want to have the trade of the country injured or almost stopped by the strong force of numbers. Did, he asked, the trade union leaders think it was in accordance with their dignity that a numerous, powerful, and intelligent body of men, having possession of very large funds should shrink from the responsibility of their acts? Was it not a fact that all through the country corporations were liable for their servants? Every Member of Parliament was liable for the acts of his servants, and why should trade unions seek to screen themselves in such a way that they might organise and conduct a strike and never put their money in jeopardy in the slightest degree. He had been astonished that the trade union leaders refused to take full responsibility for what their members did. Was that English I Was it just? Was it right? He was certain that if they took full responsibility for their actions they would increase their dignity, power, and usefulness. He did not intend to quote any particular case, but he would just like to refer to that of "Quinn v. Leathem," in which a man was ruined because a certain number of workmen took his willing workers from him and thereby destroyed his business. That was an exceptional case; but it was the cruel exceptions with which the law now dealt. Leathern got £200 damages, and something more; but very often thousands and thousands of pounds were wasted by these strikes. Men's wages were lost, and the employer's profits were dissipated. Why should not the trade unions be responsible before the Law Courts of the country for the action of their members and take the consequences? The Lord Chancellor had expressed the following opinion—If upon these facts so found the plaintiff could have no remedy against those who had thus injured him, it could hardly be said that 971 our jurisprudence was that of a civilised community.The law as it stood declared that if there was intimidation and if men were forced to leave their employment and so ruin themselves and their employers, then those who caused it ought to pay for it. They would not have heard of this Bill, but for the case in which a railway company lost many thousands of pounds through a strike of their workmen, promoted by the Railway Servants Society. He was glad to see the hon. Member for Derby in his place. Every Member in the House respected him; but he was sure he would not make a mistake of a similar character in the future. When a great industry was attacked by the trade unions, the trade unions ought to be responsible for the consequences. Were the trade unions to be placed in a position beyond the law and more powerful than that of the Government itself? Such ought not to be the case; and he would be very much surprised indeed if the House passed the Second Reading of the Bill, which would favour the trade unions and put the liberty of everybody else—of all workmen who did not belong to trade unions and of some who did belong to them—in jeopardy. He maintained that, in the interest of the working men of the country, the House ought to stand between those men and the enormous and powerful combinations who wanted to interfere with them in a wrong way and prevent them from working. The trade unions had plenty of influence as it was, and if that influence was to be increased and all restraint swept aside, he would like to ask where the interests of industry and commerce would be? He had no objection to legitimate power being placed in the hands of trade union leaders and their societies, but they had to see that the liberties of the individual were not interfered with and injured. He begged the House of Commons to refuse the Second Reading of the Bill, and he accordingly moved that it should be read a second time that day six months.
§ * SIR ALFRED HICKMAN (Wolverhampton, W.)
said he sympathised with the professed objects of the measure if it went no further than to protect the funds 972 the trade unions, and in that case it would have had no warmer supporter in the House than himself. Some time ago he had an interview with a deputation of workmen in regard to this subject, and he offered to introduce a Bill, or to induce the Government to bring in a Bill, to protect trade union funds. That Bill proposed (1) that no action should lie against a trade union for damages in respect of any act done by a member of the society which should be in contravention of the rules of the society, provided that such rules had always been strictly enforced and any contravention of them had been followed by instant dismissal in the case of any official and permanent exclus on from any of the b nefits of the society or participation in any of its funds. (2) That in the case of a trade union having a separate fund for sick pay and old-age pensions, such fund should not be liable to any damage or costs which might be incurred by such society in connection with any trade dispute, provided that such fund were kept distinct from any other funds of the society and were confined entirely to provision for death, sick pay. and old-age pensions, and there was no power to apply it to any other purpose. (3) That no action should lie against any trade union for any act done in furtherance of any trade dispute for which an action would not lie against any combination of employers under like circumstances. The local trade union authorities having considered these proposals wrote to him that they contained the essence of all they required, and the gentleman who signed that letter said be had sent them on to the Executive Council for its consideration and opinion. He had, however, heard no more about it, and he presumed that it did not meet the views of the Executive Council. He submitted, however, that it fairly met every legitimate grievance; and he renewed his offer. He undertook to use his best endeavours to induce the Government to give facilities for it to pass or to take it up itself; and if the supporters of the Bill really wanted no more than protection for their trade fund, this surely was an effectual way of getting it, whereas their present proceedings would most certainly be ineffectual, at any rate for some time to come. 973 Whatever might be the result of the division, it was quite certain the Bill could not become law this session, and it was equally certain it would never become law without the assistance and support of some Government. He submitted that it was not only the duty of Parliament to protect the funds of trade unions, the right to strike, and to combine, but also to maintain the liberty of non-unionists in the country, who, after all, were the great majority of the working men. These men ought not to be compelled to join a strike against their will, and they ought not to be compelled to join a trade union if they did not wish to do so.
He characterised Clause 1 as unnecessary, because the present law provided that attending to communicate information was no offence, if one or two men called and tried to persuade there was no offence, but it was a different thing to watch and beset a man's house and make his life a burden to him. Clause 2 provided that whatever was lawful for one was lawful for a thousand.
§ * SIR ALFRED HICKMAN
retorted that they could put it at 10,000 if they liked. If 10,000 surrounded a man at his place without actual violence or even threat, no man dare oppose Lord Lindley, in the case of "Quinn v. Leathem," had said—Numbers may annoy and coerce where one may not. Annoyance and coercion by many may be so intolerable as to become actionable and produce a result which one alone could not produce.The third clause was, he thought, a monstrous proposal. Trade unions had rights, held property, and were recognised by law, and surely it was fair that they should have some responsibility for the actions of their authorised agents. According to this clause, if it were passed into law, however violent an action might be, and though it might cause enormous loss to the employer and bring ruin on innocent persons who wanted to work, trades unions would be in no way liable. The hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill said it would be amended in Com- 974 mittee, but he (Sir Alfred Hickman) could not believe the House would confirm the principle of such a proposal as this. It was absolutely objectionable and contrary to all propriety. He fully recognised the value of trade unions, not only for the protection of the men's interests, but also for the prevention of strikes by offering organised representation; but it was not good for anybody, even men of culture, such as the Labour Members in the House of Commons, to be entrusted with unlimited power without responsibility; and he strongly hoped the House would not leave the unorganised labour without protection.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months'."—(Colonel Pilkington.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
By an ambiguity in our methods of procedure, a vote on the Second Reading of a private Member's Bill, especially if that Bill comes on somewhat late in the session, may be taken either to imply full assent to all the proposals in the Bill, or simply to be an abstract expression of opinion that the subject is one which deserves the attention of the House. I do not mean to raise any objection to any hon. Member who gives his support to the Second Reading of this Bill on the second of these grounds rather than the first; but, personally, I find myself precluded from taking that course. Of the general objects at which the Bill aims, as explained by the hon. Gentleman, I have no complaint to make. My difficulty is as to touching a question which will have effects far outside the apparently limited scope or intentions of those who have introduced the Bill, and to accepting those principles without a preliminary examination into one of the most complicated branches of our civil life. Last year I expressed opinions pretty much of the same character, and suggested that a Commission should be appointed to inquire into the subject. Two criticisms have been passed on my 975 proceeding—in the first place, that it was intended, or possibly intended, to shelve the question for an indefinite period; and, in the second place, that it was not a Commission that had really earned the confidence of the trade unions, because there was no trade union member upon it. I think those two suggestions are inconsistent one with the other. I had two courses before me with regard to this question. I could either appoint a small Commission which would deal with relative rapidity with the subject, but could not profess to represent every interest, or I might have proceeded by the other method, more familiar to our practice, and have had a large Commission in which there should have been an attempt to represent different classes of employers and workmen, trade unionists from different parts of the country, and so forth. I chose the first, simply in order that the question might not be indefinitely shelved, and I chose it after having given full notice to the House as to the difficulty in which I felt myself as to these two alternatives, and after having made such investigations as I could into the views of Gentlemen on the other side. I am aware that an unfortunate result has been that the trade unions have refused to send representatives to give evidence before the Commsision.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am very sorry that any class interested in this measure should have refused to support a Commission which I think its severest critics will admit was honestly appointed. I, personally, feel the question to be so difficult and delicate, and touching such great public interests at so many points, that it is impossible for me to support the Bill until I have the information which the Commission, hampered as it is, is qualified to render. I am sanguine enough to think that I could convince even those who most earnestly support the measure that my course in this respect is not unreasonable. The mover of the Second Reading drew a contrast which he supposed to exist between the procedure of the Government in regard to the liquor traffic 976 and my procedure in dealing with trade union funds and disputes. May I point out that my procedure has been the same in both cases? In both cases I think the House is more concerned with the broad aspects and the large equities of the subject than with the details of what the law is or is not rightly or wrongly supposed to be. And may I remind the House what are the broad aspects and equities of this Bill in which we are concerned to-day? The hon. Member for Gateshead—I am not sure whether it was his first speech in this House, but, in any case, it was a very admirable speech which has proved that we have in the House a valuable addition to the Labour Members, who have never, in my Parliamentary experience, lacked able representatives here, and have probably never been so well represented as they are at this moment—the hon. Member said the objection to this Bill arose from a fear of trade unions, and implied, I think, that it arose from a desire to support employers against trade unions. I assure the hon. Member that, so far as I am concerned, that is not the case. I am not an employer, but if I were, I think I should be able to look at the question in a broader spirit than that of my own personal interests as an employer.
Let us, then, consider what this Bill does and what are the arguments in its favour. The hon. Member for Gateshead asked whether it was not hard that union funds provided for purposes of old-age pensions, for the support of men who are out of work, and for other legitimate and laudable objects, should be liable to seizure because certain responsible officials of trade unions might have rendered themselves and their societies liable at law. In enforcing that argument he pointed out how very small a fraction of the total of the trade union funds was really used in these cases of disputes. He also said that he thought strikes a very great but, occasionally, a necessary evil, and compared them—and I think the comparison absolutely just—with national war, as being struggles on which no one willingly enters but into which every man who desires to preserve great interests must be prepared at times to enter. But I think the hon. Gentleman 977 failed to see that we ought eminently to strive for some solution of the difficulty which would only relieve what may be called the benefit-society portion of the funds from a charge that may be unexpectedly imposed upon it if, in a trade dispute, trade unions are guilty, as I dare say employers are sometimes guilty, of doing something beyond the law. The mere fact that these funds can be used, and are principally used, for benefit purposes is not of itself sufficient reason for saying that trade unions alone shall be exempted from the restrictions imposed on all corporations in the country.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
I think that is a perfectly gratuitous remark, and that my interjection has been very rudely received.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Then I apologise—in the first place, because I do not wish to be rude to anybody, and, in the second, because the hon. Gentleman is the last man in the House to whom I should wish to be rude. I hope he is now satisfied. Do the trade union leaders, I would ask, really desire that their societies, even in so far as they are not benefit societies, should be placed in a position which no other society in the country occupies? I think they cannot help feeling that the matter requires much consideration before we can get over it, and that it is desirable to see whether we cannot, before deciding upon it, gain assistance from the gentlemen who are now considering the whole subject.
I now come to the question of conspiracy. The hon. Member for Gateshead really attacked the whole law as it has been conceived by British Judges. He asks whether it is not absurd that an act which is legal if done by one man should be illegal if done by more than one. I think if the act was actually the same in the case of the one man and the number of men an anomaly might really exist, but it may happen 978 that a thing done innocently by one man may become a source of terrorism if done by a sufficient number, and it is quite evident that this bold and simple abolition of the law of conspiracy could not be entertained in this House without careful consideration of it in all its bearings, and in regard not only to trade unionists but to all classes of society. That argument really covers all I have to say as to peaceful picketing. I can see no objection to peaceful persuasion if it is peaceful persuasion, but the difficulty is that, if too many people try peaceful persuasion at the same time, the persuasion may cease to be peaceful and may become a nuisance at Common Law. I will do the trade union leaders, in and out of this House, the justice to say that I do not believe they desire to terrorise any man. I believe their object is, honestly, peaceful persuasion, but are they sure that this Bill does not go much beyond peaceful persuasion in the true sense of the word? I greatly fear that the words, as they at present stand, would not carry out what I believe to be the objects of the promoters of the measure, and we have no evidence before us that other words can be found —or, at least, have yet been found—by legal ingenuity for preventing what might prove a serious interference with the liberty of the subject. I am convinced that on the whole the effect of trades union organisation has been beneficial, and that it has, in particular, diminished terrorism—I believe that unorganised labour disputes were far more prolific in deplorable scenes of terrorism than are the organised efforts made by able and responsible persons— but, while I gladly and most sincerely pay this tribute to the action of the trade unions, we must remember that, if we try to add to the power of any class in the community by the methods proposed by this Bill, we may seriously endanger that most valuable of our possessions—individual liberty.
In passing a Bill of this kind we have not to consider in the first place the interests of employers or of workmen, or the merits or demerits of trade union action—we have to consider the interests of society as a whole; and I would earnestly beg the House, in any effort 979 it may seriously make to reform the existing law as to trade unions and trade disputes, to remember the higher responsibility which is east upon it—one far exceeding any that may exist in regard to any particular body or occupation. It is because I am not able to see my way, in the absence of such assistance as might have been derived from the Commission appointed last year, to any solution of these evils, and because I see in the actual provisions of the Bill great risk that the broad principles of law applicable to all classes and interests may be abrogated by this measure, and because the liberty of individual citizens may be interfered with, that I think the Bill is not likely to carry out the objects that the trade union leaders have in their minds, and cannot give it my support.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
said he was glad that the right hon. Gentleman had said that he did not propose to ask Ministerial Members o vote one way or the other in regard to the Second Reading of the Bill. He had asked them to wait for the Report of the Commission, but he (the speaker) believed that the trades unions were not satisfied with the composition of that Commission, and, believing themselves inadequately represented, had not offered evidence before it. With regard to the merits of the Bill, the first clause proposed to legalise peaceful picketing—that was to say, peaceful persuasion. The Prime Minister had said with truth that peaceful persuasion might end in persuasion which was not peaceful, but non-peaceful persuasion would not be legalised by the Bill, and, if there was any apprehension that the wording was too general, he thought no objection would be raised to the insertion of words which would make it more definite that actual peaceful picketing alone must be practised. As to the second clause, that had been rendered necessary because the law had become absolutely unintelligible. According to the Judges, any combination of persons which had the effect of injuring men in their trade was indictable and subject to action unless it was done with justification or with lawful excuse. The question, however, was — what was justification and lawful excuse? 980 The Judges indicated apparently that a definition was impossible; and really the interpretation was left to the sweet will of the Judges themselves. He had no doubt that they would endeavour to do their duty honourably and impartially, but it was quite indefensible to leave to the Judges that which ought to be determined by Parliament. The law was not in effect, though it doubtless was in intention, the same for employers as for workmen in the matter of conspiracy. Last year the present Colonial Secretary took the Mogul and another case, pointed out the impossibility of reconciling the two cases, and admitted that what was held to be lawful on the part of employers in the Mogul case was held to be unlawful and punishable on the part of the workmen in the other.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
said he could not give a satisfactory answer to the Prime Minister without engaging him in a conversation of at least half-an-hour's duration. It was the most complicated and difficult subject that could be imagined. There were many points in the Mogul case connected with the action of the employers which he thought might fairly be mule amenable to the law. Under these circumstances, what was done in the Bill? The promoters had adopted the language now on the Statute-book as applicable to criminal conspiracy, the only difference being that it also applied to actions at law. The words of the clause would be found in the Act of 1875 relating to criminal conspiracy, though it was true that certain exceptions were there enumerated; but he had no doubt that if any language could be found having a similar effect in actions at law there would be no difficulty about its acceptance, if necessary, to prevent injustice. He submitted that it was right that these things should be looked squarely in the face, and the real history of the matter examined. It was not a sufficient answer to refer to certain abominable and wicked acts of forty or fifty years ago. If punishment were not provided both civilly and criminally for acts of that 981 kind he would be the first to speak and vote in favour of an amendment of the law to meet the need. But there had never been any great social struggle, such as that of the trade unions to secure emancipation, which had not been attended by scenes of disorder and even of bloodshed, compared with which the earliest and most blameworthy instances of misconduct on the part of persons connected with trade unions were simply trifling.
§ COLONEL PILKINGTON
explained that he made the reference merely to show that the Act of 1875 was the result of a long period of difficulty.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
said that one had to look at things as they were, and his opinion was that the bringing of trade unions within the pale of the law had been productive, not of disorder, but of order.
The third clause relating to the protection of trade union funds was probably the most disputable of the whole Bill. It should be admitted at once that this clause proposed that I where a number of individual members of a trade union had broken the law in the conduct of a strike, the collective funds of the union should not be liable for damages. At first blush, that seemed to offend against one's idea of justice, but second thoughts were sometimes best. What was the history of the matter? Before 1871, strikes were unlawful as well as picketing, and trade unions were not lawful, on the ground that they were in restraint of trade. The result was that, being unlawful associations, the trade unions had no power to protect their own property and were liable to be plundered at will. But, although pillaged in secret and persecuted openly, they staunchly stuck to their guns; the struggle on the part of the workmen for the right of combination never diminished, and at last the workmen were successful in checking employers in acts of oppression which were admittedly common at that time. The unions built up their funds for benefit and superannuation purposes in order to make the hard lot of their members easier; and at last, as always happened in this country, the sense of justice of 982 the community revolted against treating trade unions in the way they had hitherto been treated. It was next considered whether the unions should have the rights and the liabilities of a corporate society, and Parliament, afterfullconsideration, determined not to confer those rights. Had that full status been given, the Courts would have been liable and bound to interpose at every stage, and hence, Parliament did something short of that—they legalised trade unions, stating at the same time that no remedy at law should exist for the benefits claimed No trade union could be registered as a company or as a benefit or industrial society. In other words, the anomalous position of 1871 was created of set purpose for a good reason. This view was so strongly held, not only by the public, but also by lawyers, that in 1900, in the Taff Vale Railway case, the Court of Appeal held as a matter of law that trade unions could not be sued, and that their funds were not liable. In the belief that they were secure, people contributed very largely to the benefit funds, with the result that a great system of mutual relief had been built up. Then in 1901 the bombshell burst, and the I House of Lords decided that the funds of trade unions were liable to actions at the suit of employers for damages, arising from strikes. He was not saying a word against the Law Lords who came to that decision; they were extremely fine lawyers, and for them he had the greatest possible respect. But the interpretation they had given was not the intention of the law, and the object of the present Bill was simply to restore the law to what it was intended and believed to be until the House of Lords gave its fatal and unfortunate decision—that was, to the position in which it was laid down by the Court of Appeal in 1900.
The House had to consider what was the fair and right thing to do. In the belief to which he had referred the movement had gone on for thirty years, and immense funds had been contributed. The system had worked extremely well. All sorts of complaints had been made, but during the whole period he had never heard it made a subject of complaint that trade union 983 funds were not accessible, or the claim made that they should be rendered accessible. Would it not be well, therefore, to leave things alone? Why not let it be discussed in Committee whether or not this clause restored the status quo ante? Apart from that, if it was res intacta, was it right or fair that trade unions should be exposed to the risk now demanded of them? He thought not. Trade unions were to be liable for the acts of their agents. But who were their agents? An employer of labour or the owner of a house had servants with defined duties, but in the case of a strike every man who took an active interest was, in the eye of the law, to be treated as an agent of the trade union. Stray members over whom the union had no control whatever might be guilty of illegal acts, and thus render the funds of the union liable for the whole consequences of the strike. It had been suggested that instead of the sweeping language of the third clause there should be a reference to "acts authorised by the managing committee." Such a provision, however, would be futile, as the managing committee never authorised these things. As to the suggestion of the Prime Minister that the benefit funds should be separated from the other funds, by all means let it be tried, but even then the law would have to be altered, because by the decision of the House of Lords all the funds were liable. If the right hon. Gentleman meant that he would protect the benefit funds, it would be interesting to see the clause by which it was proposed to confer such protection. The Prime Minister might not be aware that that point was considered by the Royal Commission of 1879, who came to the conclusion that the proposal was impracticable. Trade union funds ought not, especially under the circumstances in which they were collected, to be dissipated. His own conviction was that Parliament would have to do one of two things: either they must leave the law as it stood, with all its consequent injustice, or they must alter it in the only way in which they would find, on reflection, it could be altered—viz., in the direction of restoring the old status, which had worked well and about which there had been no complaint. The matter was really ripe for de- 984 cision, and he hoped the House would not allow itself to be influenced by the dilatory suggestions of Royal Commissions.
§ MR. CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)
said that so far as general matters were concerned in connection with this Bill, he found himself in agreement with what had been stated on general grounds on both sides of the House. Nobody on that side of the House would take up any antagonistic attitude to trade unions, or to the trade union movement, and he might illustrate that argument by stating that the most important Act which legalised the action of trades unions was the Act of 1875, which was passed by the Conservative Party. He did not think that questions of general sympathy with trade unions ought to be looked upon as a Party matter between the two sides of the House. If this Bill in any sense carried out what was suggested by the mover and seconder, he should not find himself in opposition to it at the present moment. The mover of this Bill said his desire was to restore the law as laid down in the Act of 1875. If that was the only effect of this Bill, or if it could be made in Committee to have only that effect, he certainly should not oppose it. But in his view it sought radically to alter that law, and to alter it in a way inconsistent with what the Prime Minister said were the claims of individual liberty and freedom, and he based his opposition to the Bill on that belief. He would give the maximum possible amount of freedom and liberty to the action of trade unions and to the use of their funds, subject to this limitation—that they must not press that freedom and liberty to the extent of interfering with the claims of other persons to the same freedom and liberty. The real test was, how could they best get a maximum of liberty either as regarded individuals or combinations. Every person was entitled to do what he liked with a due regard to the rights of others, and there the law must step in, otherwise they would have license instead of liberty and a system which would interfere with all members of society. With those limitations he would like to examine very shortly what the proposals of this Bill were, and to consider how far they were really likely 985 to conduce to a better system of freedom and liberty; or whether they were likely in their present form to interfere with that individual freedom and liberty which the Prime Minister had referred to.
The first section of the Bill purported to deal with two matters. He wished to make this statement, that for a very long period in this country, long before even the Act of 1871 or 1875, peaceful picketing was lawful, and had been recognised as lawful by the Courts of this country. What was meant by "peaceful picketing" in the sense in which it was decided by Mr. Russell Gurney, who was at that time the Recorder of London? His decision was adopted by Mr. Cross, the Home Secretary in 1875, and that statesman attached so much importance to it that the decision was printed and sent round to the magistrates in order that they might see what the view of the Home Office was. What he laid down was that trade unions were entitled to picket in a peaceful way, without using intimidation or molestation, provided they did not interfere with the legitimate or proper rights of any other third party. But, as he read Clause 1 of the Bill, trade unions desired to have a power of picketing which would allow them to infringe the legitimate rights of others and take away any legal remedy which those other people had at the present moment. The moment they came to define "peaceful picketing" in that sense, then he said the law ought to be maintained in its present form, and any change in the law in the direction proposed by the Bill was not in the direction of freedom and liberty, but in violation of those principles on which freedom and liberty really depended. This same view was taken in regard to a similar clause in the Bill of last year by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife, who was a great authority on subjects of this kind. He pointed out that really the only difference between a clause of this kind and the existing law was that a clause in this form did allow interference with the rights of others, whereas the existing law allowed peaceful picketing subject to the due limitations laid down by Mr. Russell Gurney. One did not attribute to trade unionists anything but ordinary human nature. He did not attribute to them a double dose of original 986 sin, but at the same time he did not attribute to them a double dose of original virtue. He thought they should be dealt with as all other persons were dealt with, and it was their duty to see that they observed the law as other people did in their ordinary daily life. But, as he read Clause 1 of the Bill, trade unions desired to have a power of picketing which would allow them to infringe the legitimate rights of others and take away any legal remedy which those other people had at the present moment. He said most distinctly that as the Bill stood it would sanction what had been called a nuisance of that kind. If it did not, then the clause was merely a recognition of the existing law, and was not necessary. He did not wish to go into matters of controversy, but if any hon. Member opposite could show that Clause 1 was limited in that sense he would for his part withdraw his objection to it. He did not think it could be so limited. He had no hesitation in saying that peaceful picketing in the true sense of the term was not only allowable now, but had been allowable for the last half century or more in regard to trade disputes.
He now came to Clause 2. It was extremely important to see what it really meant, and in order that he might emphasise his view of it he would refer to a passage in a speech made last year by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Haddingtonshire, who was a great authority on topics of this kind. In that speech he said that what might be a peaceful act when done by an individual might not be when committed by a multitude. They were not discussing what was a multitude, at the present time, but that, to his mind, was the whole basis of the civil law of conspiracy as apart from any question of criminality. If it was true that certain acts done by an individual were not harmful, whereas the same acts done by a number or a multitude—he used the expression of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Haddingtonshire—such acts became a menace to social liberty and social life of the most stringent kind that could be brought to bear. He thought that combinations ought to have the same rights as individuals, but what was sought to 987 be sanctioned here? In the case of a strike—he did not say connected with matters of violence, but connected with matters of strong feeling; he did not find any fault with strong feeling in matters of this kind—there might be a multitude who in terms used peaceful persuasion, and did not use molestation, or obstruction, or force, or anything of that kind, but was it conceivable that under the circumstances they did not coerce individuals who, apart from that, would take some other course? That was the question he should like to ask the hon. Gentlemen who represented trade unionism in this House. If they did not seek to interfere with the individual liberty of other workmen, they had the power they wanted under the law as it stood at the present moment and without any addition. The amendment proposed by Clause 2, that an act done by two or more persons should not be ground for an action if such an act when committed by one person would not be ground for an action, would give them that coercive and tyrannous power which was inconsistent with the ordinary notions of freedom and liberty. He thought the hon. Members would be the last to assent to that when they appreciated the true meaning of the proposal.
With regard to the funds, he thought it was exceedingly hard that a sick and provident fund should be liable in actions such as the Taff Vale case. But the trade unions had the remedy in their own hands and no legislation was necessary to achieve it. He was certainly not prepared to relieve from the ordinary law as to damage and liability funds used for strike purposes. If funds were so used, they and those who used them must be subject to the ordinary law as to damage. He did not think that any legislation was necessary on this matter. It was perfectly easy to have a remedy under the existing conditions. Let the trade unions separate the strike fund from the benefit and sick fund. Let them put the benefit and sick fund under the conditions of a proper trust, and then he was perfectly certain that, as regarded any liability in such a decision as the Taff Vale case, that fund would be entirely outside and could not be touched at all. Surely that was the proper remedy. He should like to ask the trade unions 988 leaders why it was that they wished to mix up all these funds. If they did, although he was exceedingly sorry in regard to the sick and provident funds, there was no alternative except the taking of the whole of the funds. They could put it right to-morrow if they liked. They had only to consult any lawyer and get the sick and provident funds put, under a proper trust. These funds if separated from the rest would not be liable to the extent of a farthing under the conditions of the Taff Vale decision. Again, he should like to ask the trade union leaders in this House what objection they had to a simple remedy of that sort. He did not believe they would get, nor did he think they ought to have a remedy in the wider form. It could not be suggested that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife was an enemy of trade unions or that he was hostile to trades union leaders. He was struck by an expression used by the right hon. Gentleman last session. He said he was against asking Parliament to lay down a principle that large trade organisations, possessing large funds, and directed by a controlling authority, should not be responsible for unlawful acts shown to be committed by their agents within the scope of their power. Was that not right? Let them not use the words trade unions at all. He did not wish to apply any different law or principle in their case to that which should be applied in the case of others. Take the case of a large association controlled by authority, possessed of large funds, and doing injury or damage for which some one was justly entitled to recompense. Would anyone in those circumstances say that the organisation should be relieved from responsibility for the acts which were done under the tutelage of its own agents? He did not believe that Parliament would ever assent to a principle of that sort. He thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife was quite right in what he said.
Let them see what would happen if, in regard to combinations generally, they were allowed to do any injury they liked to individuals — injuries which eventuated in legal damage. If that were allowed they would have a 989 most monstrous system of tyranny in this country. They would have an irresponsible imperium in imperio in this country of the worst kind. They must recollect that in dealing with these great questions the danger at the present day was not only one connected with the combination of workmen. At least he did not think it was so in this country. The danger was also from capital which formed so large a part in their industrial life. He did not say that there should be no trust or combination of that sort. That would be going too far, but if all these large bodies and associations were by that means to get large and extraordinary powers it would be better to exempt them altogether from liability. He could not imagine anyone getting up in this House and stating a principle of that kind as one which ought to receive general acceptance with regard to combinations and centralised authority. As a matter of justice and of principle, they ought not to allow bodies like trade unions to have a power of doing injury without giving the person injured the ordinary remedy against any funds under the manipulation and control of such a combination. He did not think there should be any change in the law, but he did think there was need for definition. There was a need for putting matters of the sort they were discussing in as definite a way as possible in order to avoid those varieties of opinion which necessarily arose either as regarded Judges or juries, but he could not agree that this Bill was the proper method of arriving at that result. It was a great mistake, in his opinion, when they had a chance of dealing definitely and finally with this matter, that they should attempt to hurry legislation which could not possibly be effective and which could only serve an electioneering purpose on the one side or the other. That seemed to him to be the case when a Bill of this character was introduced by a private Member at this time of the session. Of course, it could not go further without the assistance of the Government. The Prime Minister had laid down most distinctly that this question could not, legitimately, be pushed further until they got the Report of the Royal Commission. He 990 should vote against the Bill in its present form, because he believed it afforded opportunities of tyranny and injustice, and that the law as it stood, if properly defined and administered, would give perfect freedom and liberty to the combinations on the one side, and protect the freedom and liberty of the individual on the other side.
§ * MR. BELL (Derby)
said that as a layman he had a big position to fill in following such an expert lawyer as the last speaker. He would, however, endeavour to answer a few of the questions put to the trade union leaders and to his friends on that side of the House, and also some of the criticisms and observations made by the mover and seconder of the Amendment. After all that had been said he had yet to learn that those who had spoken against the Bill and in favour of its rejection had actually realise I what was asked for. The trade unions of this country had existed for thirty years prior to the judgment given by the House of Lords and they never heard of the great ruination, the great tyranny and oppression, to which the hon. Members had referred. No effort was made in this House, or out of it, to bring about legislation by which that ruination of industry and commerce would be put an end to. So far as he knew the hon. Members who moved and seconded the rejection of the Bill were very successful employers of labour, and during the thirty years of this great tyranny of trade unionism they seemed to have flourished very satisfactorily indeed. He expected to hear fro n them as employers of labour on a very large scale, some concrete cases of the injustices that trade unions had committed on them as employers, but not a single concrete case had been adduced during the whole of the arguments that afternoon to justify the rejection of the Bill. On the contrary, all that he had heard was theoretical. The arguments put forward by the Mine-owners Association were arguments to show that if this Bill were passed into law, industries would almost have to close down, and that the Measure would encourage tyranny on the part of the trade unions. He denied that it would do anything of the kind. They asked for no such liberty. During the thirty years that trade unions had 991 been in existence some of them, more or less, had unfortunately been compelled to take part in strikes and disputes. He regarded a strike in labour or industrial matters as something equally as deplorable as war in national affairs. He gathered from what was said by the hon. Members who moved and seconded the Amendment—and he knew that others agreed with them in their opinion—that they cherished trade unions as long as they put gloves on their hands when fighting. They were not there today to consider whether a strike was evil or good, but to regard it as they did a war. When they were obliged, in the interest of the nation, to go to war, they did not take away the guns and armaments from the soldiers.
There was no use in having trade unions under the present conditions, because they were absolutely of no good. They were not trade unions, they had simply been reduced to, and their proper title should be, friendly societies. And why? Not because they desired any special legislation or any additional powers to those which they believed they enjoyed, at any rate, up to 1900. They were simply asking to be put in the same position as they were in until the judgment of the House of Lords upset them. There were regrettable acts committed by individuals during the course of disputes. Unfortunately, he knew scores of them. What was the result? That those who committed offences against the law—that those who committed criminal acts during the progress of a strike had invariably been tried before a magistrate, and where the offences had been proved against them they had been imprisoned. The trade unions did not seek any relief from that now. They wanted to allow that matter to remain as it was now. He remembered that in 1898 there was a great dispute in South Wales between the miners and their employers. On that occasion the employers locked out the miners. It was not really a strike of workmen against employers, but of employers against workmen. The workmen were out for something like six months. He did not hear any sympathetic remarks such as the hon. Member who moved the Amendment made about 992 the wives and children of the working men who suffered in consequence of the employers having locked out the men on that occasion. They cared little what became of the wives and children at that time. [Cries of dissent.] The locking out of the men was part of the warfare. He was not complaining about it. The hon. Member raised this question to suit his purpose, and he was only putting the converse side. David Morgan, a miners' agent, who was responsible for a large number of men in the Aberdare district of South Wales, and who had since then passed away, committed, or, at any rate, was alleged to have committed, some offence against the law. It was intimidation or coercion against those who did not come out on strike. The case was taken to the assizes, and David Morgan was sent to prison for two months. They did not in this Bill seek relief in that matter. If the agent of a union, be he general secretary or any other man, was silly enough, and fool enough, to do acts which were contrary to common sense and reason and which were breaches of the criminal law, let him answer for his own action, and if imprisonment should be the penalty let it be inflicted. What they objected to was that any individual, acting in his own capacity, should incriminate an organisation and endanger the funds by acts for which they claimed that their organisation was in no way responsible.
The hon. Member for the Stretford Division put several questions to their side of the House, and said, with respect to one of them, that if he got a satisfactory reply he would support the Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman wanted to know what they were really aiming at. He ventured to say (and he was speaking the sentiment of every one of the trades unions in the United Kingdom) that they sought nothing more nor less than the position they believed they were in during the thirty years preceding the Taff Vale judgment. In reterring to peaceful picketing, some hon. Members seemed to put a sarcastic emphasis on the word "peaceful." What they meant by "peaceful picketing" was that they claimed the same right to persuade men not to work for an employer as the employer enjoyed to persuade non-union 993 men to work for him, and to think that they would be better off outside a union than by being members of it. There was really no harm in that. They regretted that such influences should be used, but, on the other hand, if union men used similar influences to get men to join the union they claimed that they should have the absolute right and liberty to do so. In the case of a dispute between a body of workmen and their employer it seemed to have been forgotten in the debate up to now that the employer was a combination in himself. The difficulty of putting a workman on an equal basis with his employer was that one workman was not equal to his employer, and that if two or more workmen combined together to do a certain thing it was conspiracy. The employer could do the same thing as the workman desired to do, but in his case it was not conspiracy because he was an employer. They were not on an equality there. What they had to consider was not what the hon. and learned Member for Strct-ford said was the law, but what they found defined as the law by the Judges. That was the reason why they came to the House to have it declared that the law was what he said it was, and what they believed it was until the House of Lords' decision in 1901. Since then three or four more Judges had given decisions at other Courts. The Judges themselves did not know what the law was, because they varied in their judgments, and the Court of Appeal varied from them, and kept on altering and reversing the judgments in the Courts below.
The hon. Member who seconded the Amendment spoke of the possibility of a thousand men besetting a man's house. He had never seen a thousand, or even a hundred, men besetting a man's house, and it was not fair for the hon. Member to exaggerate the matter in that way. But if two or three men went to a workman to convey information that a dispute existed for certain reasons, and endeavoured to persuade him not to work for an employer under the circumstances when men were on strike, they claimed the right and liberty to do that. The employer, through his agents, went to workmen and tried to persuade them by 994 all sorts of arguments, and not only by arguments, but by drink and bribery and all sorts of things. He was speaking now from experience. He happened unfortunately to be connected with the Taff Vale case, and hence he knew what took place on both sides. In order to get workmen in that instance the employers through an agent paid so much per head for men obtained to work for them. The men were collected at prison gates and public-house corners to take the place of men on strike and they were brought down to Cardiff in saloon carriages on the Great Western Railway. The agent who did this was not in the employ of the Taff Vale Company: he was an outsider; he was simply an agent of the Free Labour Association. What was the result? These men having been collected through bribery, drink, and money payments, and their fares having been paid to Cardiff, he himself met them at Cardiff station. He met these thirty men and told them what the strike was for, and he did peacefully persuade them not to work for the Taff Vale Company. That he claimed he had a right to do, and he also paid their fares back. Whatever the law might be, they understood they would not be interfered with if they peacefully persuaded the men. It had been done before with no such consequences as had followed the Taff Vale case. He maintained on behalf of trade unionists the right to fight their battles in a similar manner to that which the employers adopted without creating any offence against the criminal law. How could a law which forbade such action on one side only, be just? There was a very strong feeling among the working men on this question. Depend upon it they were not going to lose £45,000 or £95,000 for maintaining the right to follow the course which the employers did. The South Wales miners stop-day action was another illustration of the inequality of the law. It had been the custom for many years for the employers, when they thought the prices were likely to go down, to close the pits for a few days, without notice to their workmen, in order to restrict the output, thereby inflicting hardship on the workmen. On the other hand, the workmen, when their wages were going down, adopted the employers' 995 practice and stopped work for a few days, yet they were mulcted in damages for so doing. Would any hon. Member get up and say that the Miners Federation should be mulcted in damages for doing what the employers had done themselves? He held that what was asked for in this Bill was not unfair, and only what was already enjoyed by the employers.
He wished to say a word in regard to the mixing up of funds. The trade unions of the country had gradually built up their funds, and some of them had accumulated very large sums indeed for benefit purposes. If the trade unions had known in 1871, or 1876, what the position of the law would eventually become, the large benefit funds would not have been attached to the unions at all, and he was inclined to believe that if those funds were not attached to the unions, they might be more aggressive than at the present time. He knew that many men who subscribed to these funds were most careful that the unions should not embark in disputes that could be avoided, and which would lead to the funds being spent. They were looking forward to their old-age pensions. He was positive that if the trade union funds had been disassociated from the benefit funds, there would not have been the practical industrial peace experienced during the last thirty years. He hoped that the Second Reading of the Bill would be passed. Everyone who had spoken against the Bill seemed to argue that they wished to encourage trade unions except when they wanted to do anything wrong. Trade unions, and those responsible for them, desired nothing but what was right and equitable. When the Licensing Bill was introduced the other day the Home Secretary gave as one of the reasons for the Bill that, although according to the strict letter of the law licences were held for one year only, by long custom and by a practice of long standing in course of time security of renewal came to be recognised. He would adopt the same argument in support of the present Bill. For thirty years trade unionists understood that they were free from any liability for the action of individual members. It now turned out that that was not so, and what they asked was that they should be allowed to resume the position which 996 they believed they were in up to December, 1901. No one in the House had any reason to fear that trade unions were going to do the evil things suggested of them. He was happy to say that industries had prospered during these thirty years; people had got much richer; and the trade unions had helped in that direction. There was a growing feeling among the workmen of the country about the manner in which every tort was dealt with. If the strong feeling entertained by trade unionists was to be bottled up by the law as now interpreted, they might be driven to secret work and resort to processes not unknown previous to 1870. Again he hoped the House would give a Second Reading to this Bill. All they wanted was to be liberated from the liability under criminal law for the acts of individuals, and they asked for nothing more than that everyone should be responsible for his own act.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said that his position in regard to trade uinons had always been friendly; but he had some difficuly in approaching the consideration of this Bill, because its provisions differed so much from the professions of those who had introduced and supported it. It was true that promises had been given to make changes in the Bill at some future stage if the Second Reading was passed; but as these otters were indefinite and binding on no one, the House was obliged to take the Bill as it stood. His hon. friend had said that the Bill would create a great deal of tyranny and injustice. Most likely that was the case, for his hon. friend was a great authority on unions; but even if that were not so, he found himself faced by another difficulty. It seemed to him that the Bill proposed to confer on certain classes—not trade unionists alone—privileges which were not granted to other sections of His Majesty's subjects. These privileges might be odiously exercised in order to inflict damage on other sections of the people. It would give to trade unions and to employers' associations alike the power to collect crowds to effect their objects, and thus to poison the wells of argument and persuasion by means which were now condemned by law. He had the gravest doubt whether the privileges proposed to be given by Clause 1 were 997 really desired by the rank and file of trade unions. His chief objection to the Bill was that it would place the provident funds of trade unions in the greatest jeopardy; for, if the restraining influence of the Taff Vale decision on the action of the unions were removed, the temptation to spend these funds on objects for which they were not intended would be tremendous.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin County, N.)
said that, as one of the fifty Nationalist Members who had crossed from Ireland the previous night to support the Bill, ho desired to say that the Irish trade unions and organisations had suffered in their industrial disputes from the law on workmen's organisations as recently defined by the Judges. But the effect of these judgments had not been confined in Ireland to trade disputes alone. In analogous disputes between landlord and tenant, they, in Ireland, had suffered a greater injustice than the trade unions of England had suffered through the Taff Vale decision. Speeches delivered on the other side of the House showed that no one had the courage to oppose the Bill on principle; and it seemed to him that those who voted against the Second Reading would be contradicting their own speeches. The arguments for the Bill could be very briefly put. Thirty years ago three things were legalised after a desperate fight between employers and workmen. The first was peaceful persuasion; second, that two or more persons might combine to do, or procure to have done, an act which would be no ground for action if done by one person; and third, the funds of trades unions and organisations were most carefully protected. Now, every one of these things which for thirty years they understood to be legalised had been repealed or taken away by the Judges. This Bill would reinstate the old state of things, and tell the Judges that they were wrong. The only objection he had heard to the principle of the Bill was that the whole matter was now under consideration by a Royal Commission. He wished to speak frankly and fairly the feelings of his constituency on this matter. It was the deliberate opinion of the working classes in his constituency that they might as well expect a just and true 998 finding from the Royal Commission as a just and true verdict from a packed jury. He believed that the Royal Commission was of no use, except for the purpose of obscuring the issues.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL (Oldham)
expressed the hope that the House would not resent his taking part in this discussion. Although he had not ventured to intervene in previous discussions on this question during the present Parliament, he had been forced by the interests of his constituency to pay the closest attention to the debate and do his best to study the question. It appeared to him that there were two questions before the House, both important, both controversial, and each distinct from the other. There was the question of object and the question of method. So far as he could see, the object which the mover of this Bill had in view was to restore the trade unions to the position they occupied before the law in the quarter of a century which had followed the legislation of 1875; and, that being so, he intended to vote for its Second Reading. He was unable to pronounce whether the provisions of the Bill would achieve the object its promoters had in view; whether it would fall short of that object or overshoot it. The Government could have drafted a better Bill, perhaps, but they had shown no desire to move in the matter. If after the debate upon this question last year the Prime Minister had called together a small informal judicial expert Committee to examine into the state of the law, and advise the Government with regard to it, and as to some effective legislation, the House might today have been discussing a better Bill than this; a Bill backed by all the authority of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman, however, decided otherwise and appointed a Commission, which, after tiding over the Parliamentary exigencies for the time being, had had the effect of hanging up the whole matter indefinitely. The Commission which had been formed to examine into the state of trade union law was not a Commission of action but of delay, and he did not wonder that the trade union leaders had declined to have anything to do 999 with a body which was destined to stave off this matter indefinitely. In the absence of any practical proposals on the part of the Government, and the absence of any desire on their part to make any practical proposals, those who be-believed there was reason and force in the arguments of trade unions in this matter were forced to take this opportunity to affirm the legislation of 1875, and their desire to place the trade unions in their old position.
He admitted it was difficult to find a logical reason for relieving trade unions of their responsibilities and leaving them their power, and, after all, if they followed out the line of logical argument it led to the conclusion that the responsibility should be with the power. But if there was no logical argument in its favour there was the practical answer that for twenty-five years this illogicalness was the law of the land, and nobody suggested that it ever did any harm. The law of 1875, which amended the legislation of 1871, was the charter of the trade unions. That law was the work of a Tory Government; it was introduced by so good a Tory as Lord Cross, had the imprimatur of Disraeli, and was one of the great agencies by which what was called the Tory democracy had been built up in this country. The Tory Party then was less a manufacturers' party than it was now, but legislation was changed by that Act. Under it trade unions obtained great power; under it they had been corrected for their abuse of power; under it they had learned and flourished, and under it had become more highly organised, more highly educated, and less violent and unjust in meeting arguments and friendly observations when settlements were being arrived at. Under that legislation they had enjoyed a period of peaceful trade in the country undisturbed by any strikes or violent industrial commotions. The Trade Unions Congress went out of its way to record its deliberate approval of this legislation, and had said that the law as it stood had, for a number of years, acted perfectly fairly as between employers and employed. That was a tribute from its political opponents to the Conservative Party in the days when t was not the sham it was now, and 1000 was not afraid to deal with the problem of the working classes.
No one would deny that the law of 1875 had not been altered. It had not been altered by authority, but had been altered in practice which was much the same thing, and it had been altered consistently to the disadvantage of the trade unions, and to the advantage of the employers. The law on this question was difficult and obscure. All must realise that upon the smooth and plain foundation of the legislation of 1875 there had grown up a vast superstructure of legal decisions, which seemed to conflict with each other and which were very difficult of interpretation; and that there was a wide sense of doubt and distrust among both employers and employed as to what exactly might, or might not, be done in the conduct of a strike or lock-out; and when they turned for information to the great authorities of the legal profession they were told that the law had got into such a state that no man could tell what it was. Not only had the law been made more severe with regard to trade unions, but it had been made much more uncertain, and upon the top of all had come the Taff Vale decision. At the moment when the law on this subject had become more doubtful, the consequences of a breach of the law became more serious and more far-reaching. If, in the conduct of a strike, any act of an agent, done in haste, or ignorance, or malice, transcended the shadowy and uncertain border line of what was peaceful persuasion, it immediately became the ground for an action for damages; and if the action was successful trade union funds, accumulated shilling, by shilling during many years, and inextricably mingled with moneys intended for friendly and provident purposes, might be swept away. That was a situation which had produced profound anxiety all over industrial Lancashire, and it was not one that could be contemplated with equanimity. He did not understand that the hon. Member who moved this Bill, or the House desired that the law should be altered from what it was, or that trade unions should have more power, but he believed the House had made up its mind that trade unions should not have less 1001 power; and, above all, they wished that the law should at any rate be made as clear as the judiciary and Parliament could make it. It could not, he thought, be said that labour bulked too largely in English politics at the present time. When they considered how vast the labour interest was, how vital, how human, when they considered the gigantic powers which by the consent of both Parties had been given to the working classes, when, on the other hand, they considered the influence in this House of company directors, the learned professions, the service Members, the railway, landed, and liquor interests, it would surely be admitted that the influence of labour on the course of legislation was even ludicrously small. The hon. Member here faltered in the conclusion of his speech, and, amid sympathetic cheers, resumed his seat, after thanking the House for having listened to him.
§ MR. ROBSON (South Shields)
said many speakers had expressed the opinion that this Bill intended to make some change in the law as we knew it, and that it proposed to create a privileged class. All those who had described the first clause relating to peaceful picketing had described it as a clause which would enable vast numbers of pickets to stand at the gate of a works and by peaceful argument to turn men away who were going to their employment. A more complete misstatement could not be conceived. The Bill not only described peaceful picketing but also contained greater safeguards. Let hon. Members who dealt with this subject keep steadily in mind the fact that the employer had a right to choose the tribunal which should decide any dispute he had with his men; he had the right to choose what might be called the special jury. What did that mean? It was of vital importance to the dispute. It meant that the employer might constitute the tribunal from classes sympathetic with his own view; a tribunal in which the working man had no place. No workman had a right to be summoned to a tribunal where a master was trying a trade dispute. Let them imagine what that meant. The Bill did not propose, and those who promoted it did not propose, to alter that system, though it might work great injustice. That being so, it 1002 was idle to pretend that menace or intimidation or any illegal conduct could be let in under the provisions of this Bill. One hon. Member opposite had put very strongly and very forcibly the proposition that a trade union, like any other organisation, ought to be made responsible for the action of its agents. If a trade union and its members were to be treated on the strict analogy of the relations of principal and agent, then it ought to have the right to enforce contracts against its members. Under the existing law a trade union had no right of action against its members, and that was a matter which would have to be taken into consideration. It was also formerly supposed that to establish conspiracy there must also be established an illegal object, but that was no longer the law so far as trades unions were concerned, because if a trade union chose to call out its men because they did not care to work with non-unionists—and none could say that that was an illegal object;—that was repeatedly made the gravamen of the case in legal proceedings. It had hitherto been regarded as every man's right to do his work under conditions which seemed to him fair, and that he ought not to be called on to state his motives for declining to work under certain conditions, but now trade unions were, according to the highest authorities, bound to go to Court and justify the calling-out of men by their officials. In other words, such an official could not incite the men of his trade to leave their work without being liable to have to satisfy a jury that the reasons for calling them out were perfectly just. Then, if the jury thought the reasons given in sufficient, the union might be ruined and the official driven into bankruptcy. How, under such circumstances, could the right of combination be said to exist? It had, under recent decisions, become a mere snare and farce. It was also certain that the exercise of the ordinary functions of a trade union official had become dangerous.
§ THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
said he would like to state, shortly, the reasons why he felt unable to vote for the Second Reading. He agreed with everything that had been said as to the excellent work 1003 which had been done by trade unions in this country—indeed, every one who carried his mind back to the time before trade unions were legalised would recognise what we owed to trade unions. He agreed also with everything that had been said as to the admirable way in which labour and trade unions were represented in the House. He had the highest respect for the motives in pursuance of which the Bill had been introduced, but he believed that it was fraught with consequences which those responsible for it had not sufficiently considered. The third clause of the Bill was by far the most important. If that was enacted nothing else would be wanted by the most ardent supporters of these immunities of trade unions, because the effect would be to give entire immunity in respect of all civil proceedings for any wrong that might be done in the course of any trade dispute. Of course, it might be said that any person who committed a criminal act would be amenable to the criminal law. That might apply to the punishment of the grosser cases; but in no case would it afford any redress to the person, be he employer or workman, who had been injured by the wrong committed. It was idle to talk of suing the individual workman. Such an action must be fruitless. The question, then, was reduced to this—was the House, by enacting that trade unions were not to be liable for the acts done by persons acting under them and within the scope of their authority, to give entire immunity from civil redress to those powerful and wealthy organisations when they were responsible for wrongful acts which might result in serious damage to individuals? His hon. and learned friend the Member for Dumfries had said that on first thoughts it would strike anyone that it was unjust to pass such a law; but on second thoughts he might come to another conclusion. Might he remind his hon. and learned friend of the saying of Bishop Butler, that in questions of right and wrong first thoughts were always the best? He could not agree with much of his hon. and learned friend's history of trade unions. He had said that trade unions had not been made corporations and he seemed to think that the reasons for that was that it was not desirable that they 1004 should be liable to be sued. It was true that it was not considered desirable that they should be liable to action by their members, or that they should bring actions against their members. If such actions were allowed, it would be reducing a great part of the population to a condition of serfdom. No such thing was known to the law as an injunction against the workman as to the way in which he should or should not employ his labour. Then his hon. and learned friend had said that the benefit funds had grown up in the belief that a trade union was not liable to be sued. It was true that that opinion had prevailed before the decision of Mr. Justice Farwell; but what was to prevent a trade union separating all funds it held for benefit purposes and putting them in trust for those purposes, so that they could not be employed for fighting purposes nor made liable for damages for the wrongful acts of the union officials? The hon Member for Derby had said on a former occasion that that could never be done, but why was it impossible?
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
did not agree with that. The only reason the hon. Member had given that day was that, if the funds were separated, it might tend to promote a warlike spirit in the unions. He confessed he had some doubts about that; but he was convinced that, if such a separation was carried out, it would prevent funds which were intended to provide for widows and sick persons from being used for fighting purposes. Surely there was nothing wrong about that. What was there to prevent the subscriptions sent in from being divided, in whatever proportion the members might determine—so much for the benefit funds and so much for trade union warfare.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
said he apprehended that the whole funds were at the disposal of the governing body, whereas he was suggesting that the fund for benefit purposes should be held in trust for those purposes. It seemed to him that the trade unions held the remedy in their own hands. Whatever their services to the working man, why should trade unions be put above the law? Language had been used in the debate which seemed to imply that there was one law for trade unions and another for other associations or companies, but law was exactly the same for trade unions and other ordinary companies and corporations. No liability was imposed on a trade union for acts of its members or officials which was not imposed on any trading company. It was said that in the South Wales case when the union had ordered the men to stop work they were only doing what the owner of the mine had previously done; but there was a great difference between the two cases. The owner was not breaking his contract when he stopped work, whereas the trade union called out men who were under a contract to do the work. If the owner broke his contract with the workmen he would be liable to them, and if the men broke their contract with the master they ought to be liable to him. Complaint had been made of the decisions in particular cases. He supposed there never was an unsuccessful litigant who did not think it his right and privilege, almost his duty, to grumble at the Judge and jury. A suggestion had been made which seemed to mean that in Middlesex juries were not to be trusted in such matters.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
I think that is a very undeserved aspersion. But the 1006 hon. Member for South Shields goes further and has a distrust of all special juries.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
said that was to say that, having been unsuccessful in certain cases before special juries, the hon. Gentleman had an inveterate animosity against them, but he did not think there was any ground for the suggestion that trade unions? did not get justice at the hands of special juries. He had said that if the third clause were passed the trade unions would want nothing else; but, in view, he supposed, of the possibility of that clause not being passed, two other clauses had been inserted in the Bill. One of these clauses dealt with the law of conspiracy. The proposal was that the law of conspiracy should be left intact in all cases except trade disputes. He did not consider that a reasonable method of dealing with the law. It simply came to this—that when a man suffered damage by the action of persons engaged in a trade dispute he would be deprived of his civil remedy. The law in the matter of conspiracy was absolutely the same for masters and workmen. Reference had been made to a speech delivered last year by the Colonial Secretary with regard to the Mogul case and another case in which a trade union was involved. Might he be allowed to express doubts as to whether his right hon. friend's observations were perfectly accurate in that respect? The truth was, as pointed out in that speech, that, if we were to alter the law of conspiracy, it would be a very serious question whether the alteration should not be in a totally different direction, and whether we should not make it for the purpose of dealing with some of those great combinations which, though beneficial in some instances, might in others be fraught with danger to the public welfare, He was speaking of trusts. But this Bill tended in the opposite 1007 direction. It proposed to do away with the remedy which existed for a civil wrong done by a combination.
The remaining clause dealt with the question of picketing. Peaceful persuasion taken by itself did not entail either civil or criminal liability; but, if in the course of carrying out that peaceful persuasion a wrong was committed, penceful intentions did not exempt the persuader from liability for the wrong. He did not agree with the Member for Dumfries in regard to the limited effect of the clause in legalising picketing. The terms of the clause were perfectly general and sweeping. This very point had been discussed on a previous Bill, when the Member for Dumfries said that if there was any doubt an Amendment might be introduced providing that the clause should not apply where picketing was a nuisance. It was only reasonable to conclude that, as no such proviso stood in the present Bill, it was feared that it would undo the practical effect of the clause. Picketing might be very innocent or it might entail the greatest possible hardship. Persuasion depended up an time, and place, and numbers. While it might be very well for a few man to persuade another on a proper occasion, it was another thing for that man's house to be watched and beset by people who entered on their course of peaceful persuasion every time he came
§ out or went in. For those reasons he was entirely unable to support the Second Reading of the Bill. When the matter was before the House last year, the First Lord, in answer to appeals from the other side, offered to appoint a Royal Commissioner. He had since done so, and everyone who glanced over the names of those constituting it would regard it as a very strong one indeed. It was most unfortunate that, merely because no trade unionist was upon the Commission, the trade union should have come to the decision to place no evidence before it, but it would no doubt go on with its work, with beneficent results. In conclusion, he appealed to the House to recognise that the great principle on which they should proceed was, that in these trade disputes there should be perfect freedom for everyone concerned—that the employer should be free to employ whom he liked and the men free to work or not as they pleased, but that no one ought to have the liberty to coerce others. However benevolent the intentions of the promoters of that Bill might be, its effect would be to enable certain persons to coerce others, and therefore he should vote against it.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 238; Noes, 199. (Division List No. 91.)1011
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Burke, E. Haviland-||Crean, Eugene|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Burns, John||Cremer, William Randal|
|Allen, Charles P.||Burt, Thomas||Crooks, William|
|Ambrose, Robert||Butcher, John George||Cullinan, J.|
|Asher, Alexander||Buxton, Sydney Charles||Dalziel, James Henry|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Caldwell, James||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Cameron, Robert||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan|
|Austin, Sir John||Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Delany, William|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Devlin, Charles Ramsay (Galway|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Causton, Richard Knight||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Cautley, Henry Strother||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John R.|
|Harry, E. (Cork, S.)||Cawley, Frederick||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Channing, Francis Allston||Dobbie, Joseph|
|Black, Alexander William||Chapman, Edward||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Brigg, John||Churchill, Winston Spencer||Doogan, P. C.|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Clancy, John Joseph||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Duncan, J. Hastings|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Edwards, Frank|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Elibank, Master of|
|Emmott, Alfred||Levy, Maurice||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Evans, Sir Francis H. (Maidstone||Lewis, John Herbert||Roche, John|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Lloyd-George. David||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||Logan, John William||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Lough, Thomas||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lundon, W.||Rose, Charles Day|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Runciman, Robert|
|Ffrench, Peter||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Russell, T. W.|
|Field, William||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Rutherford, W.W. (Liverpool)|
|Fisher, Willam Hayes||M'Crae, George||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||M'Kean, John||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||M'Kenna, Reginald||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||M'Killop, W. (Shgo, North)||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||M'Laren, Sir Charles Benjamin||Seely, Maj. J.E.B. (Isle of Wight)|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Shackleton, David James|
|Gilhooly, James||Markham, Arthur Basil||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Mellor, Rt. Hon. John William||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh, N.)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Grant, Corrie||Mooney, John J||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Slack, John Bamford|
|Groves, James Grimble||Morley, Rt. Hon. John (Montrose||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Moulton, John Fletcher||Smith Samuel (Flint)|
|Gordon, Sir W. Brampton||Murphy, John||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R. (Northants|
|Harcourt, Lewis V. (Rossendale||Newnes, Sir George||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)|
|Harcourt Rt Hon Sir W (Monm'th||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Harwood, George||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Norman, Henry||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Helme, Norval Watson||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid||Thomson, F. W. (York. W. R.)|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Tillet, Louis John|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Tomkinson, James|
|Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.||Toulmin, George|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Hope, J. F. (Sheffied, Brightside||O'Dowd, John||Ure, Alexander|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||Waldron, Laurence Ambrose|
|Horniman, Frederick John||O'Malley, William||Wallace, Robert|
|Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.)|
|Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Parrot, William||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Jacoby, James Alfred||Partington, Oswald||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Pemberton, John S. G.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Joyce, Michael||Perks, Robert William||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Pirie, Duncan V.||Whiteley, H. (Ashton und. Lyne|
|Kemp, Lieut.-Colonel George||Power, Patrick Joseph||Whitely, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh)||Priestly, Arthur||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Kilbridge, Denis||Randles, John S.||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Kitson, Sir James||Rea, Russell||Wilson, Henry J. (York. W.R.)|
|Lambert, George||Reckitt, Harold James||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Reddy, M.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Langley, Batty||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Huddersf'd|
|Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.)||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries||Young, Samuel|
|Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Rickett, J. Compton||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Ridley, Hon. M. W. (Stalybridge|
|Leamy, Edmund||Rigg, Richard||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Paulton and Mr. Bell.|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Leigh, Sir Joseph||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Leng, Sir John||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Baird, John George Alexander||Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Balcarres, Lord||Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Mich. Hicks|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Baldwin, Alfred||Beckett, Ernest William|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Balfour, Rt. Hon. A.J. (Manch'r||Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O||Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds||Bignold, Arthur|
|Arrol, Sir William||Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Bigwood, James|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Blundell, Colonel Henry|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Bond, Edward|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gunter, Sir Robert||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Bull, William James||Hamilton, Marq. of L'nd'nderry||Pease, Herbt. Pike (Darlington|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Percy, Earl|
|Campbell, J.H.M (Dublin Univ.||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Heath, A. Howard (Hanley)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Cavendish, V.C.W (Derbyshire)||Heath, James (Staffords., N.W.||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Helder, Augustus||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W.)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Pryce-Jones, Lt-Col. Edward|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A (Worc.||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Pym, C. Guy|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hobhouse, Rt Hn H (Somers't, E||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)||Ridley, S.Forde (Bethnal Green|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H.A.E.||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Coddington, Sir William||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Robinson, Brooke|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hutton, John (Yorks, N.R.)||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Colomb, Rt. Hon. Sir John C.R.||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Kerr, John||Samuel, Sir Harry S. (Limehouse|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||Kimber, Henry||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Knowles, Sir Lees||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Cust, Henry John C.||Lawson, Jn. G. (Yorks., N. R.)||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Davenport, William Bromley-||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chatham||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Stroyan, John|
|Denny, Colonel||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Long, Col. Charles. W.(Evesham)||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lowe, Francis William||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Dixon-Harlland,SirFred Dixon||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Tuff, Charles|
|Dorington, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Lucas, Reginald J.(Portsmouth)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Maconochie, A. W.||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Welby, Lt.-Col. A.C. E (Taunton|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Fison, Frederick William||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir H. E. (Wigt'n||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Wills, Sir Frederick|
|Flower, Sir Ernest||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.|
|Forster, Henry William||Milner, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Fyler, John Arthur||Milvain, Thomas||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Mitchell, William (Burnley)||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Gardner, Ernest||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Gordon, Maj Evans- (T'rH'mlets||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Younger, William|
|Goschen, Hn. George Joachim||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Colonel Pilkington and Sir William Tomlinson.|
|Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Muntz, Sir Philip A.|
|Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Gretton, John||Newdegate, Francis A. N.|
Bill read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be committed to the Standing Committee on Law. &c."—(Mr. Paulton.)
§ Debate to be resumed upon Friday next.
§ Adjourned at nineteen minutes before Six o'clock till Monday next.