§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. William Graham)
With your permission, Sir, and that of the Committee, I wish to make a suggestion in regard to the course of business on this Bill. The Government hope that, by to-night, we shall have disposed of this part of the Bill dealing with the establishment of the National Industrial Board and also one or two of the minor provisions in Part IV of the Bill as originally printed. I ought to say at this stage to hon. Members opposite that I am quite willing to postpone the consideration of Clause 12 which deals with certain definitions, because those definitions are bound up very largely with Part I of the Bill which has already been postponed and, therefore, the consideration of those subjects will be very much better taken in the order which I have suggested. May I add that the Government have always recognised that a proper discussion of this Bill is essential, and I wish to pay a tribute to the spirit in which the whole Committee, irrespective of party, have so far approached this subject. Hon. Members generally will recognise, however, that there is great pressure on Parliamentary time. Accordingly, without binding ourselves finally, I suggest, that we should tomorrow and Thursday proceed to the discussion of the amalgamation Clauses in the hope that we may dispose of them by Thursday night. As hon. Members are aware, the Committee stage of the Bill will not be taken next week, but the Government trust that we may be able to overtake Part I of the Bill in three full days of Committee discussion when the Committee stage is resumed and that then two full Parliamentary days should be allotted to the Report stage and 68 Third Reading. That may seem a rather stiff programme in parts, but I trust it will be overtaken, because, frankly, the Government have no desire to apply the Guillotine to this Measure, and we have no desire to use the Closure unduly. I trust, therefore, as far as this week is concerned, that we may be able to deal with the Board and the amalgamation proposals bearing in mind the suggestion which I have offered as to the later stages of the Bill.
§ Sir PHILIP CUNLIFFE-LISTER
The right hon. Gentleman has said with perfect truth—and I am obliged to him for saying so—that in the stages through which this Bill has passed hitherto, it has received nothing in the nature of obstruction.
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Shinwell) did not say so at Bo'ness on Friday. He said the opposite.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
One does not always find exactly the same thing being said by all Members of one party. However, I am confining myself to the very proper statement made by the Minister in charge of the Bill, and certainly the arrangement made with him as to Clause 9—which I thought was a reasonable arrangement—was carried out in the spirit and the letter and the right hon. Gentleman got his Clause. But when he goes on to make suggestions, not only as regards the procedure to-day, but the future procedure on the Bill, he can hardly expect me to give him any undertaking as to time. As to Clause 10 it-is not our intention to engage in any obstructive Debate, but that Clause does not lend itself, as Clause 9 did, to a general full-dress Debate in which we could raise all the necessary points and then proceed to one or two Divisions. This Clause raises, in the first place, a great question of principle, namely, whether we ought to have a board of this kind or not and discussion on that point would preferably take place on the Motion that the Clause stand part of the Bill. But it also raises a number of entirely distinct questions of detail which do not lend themselves to combination in discussion, and on which, if we attempted to follow that course, the Committee would become hopelessly involved. Amendments have been put down on these points from all quarters of the 69 House, and I am sure it is the right hon. Gentleman's desire that all these distinct points, whether raised from this side of the Committee or not, should be properly debated before a decision is taken upon them. Therefore, I cannot give any undertaking to the right hon. Gentleman that he will get this Clause to-night. I do not know how long the discussion may take, but I am sure that we must have a proper discussion, both on the important question of principle involved and on these various points of detail.
Then the right hon. Gentleman suggested—assuming that we shall dispose of Clause 10 to-night—that we should dispose of the amalgamation Clauses in two days. The Committee do not sit again next week because, I understand, the right hon. Gentleman has an engagement elsewhere. I am rather sorry he has that engagement, and we shall have something to say to him when he comes back from it. However, the Committee are to resume in the following week, and then the right hon. Gentleman hopes to get Part I of the Bill in three days. We on this side are in an extraordinarily difficult position, for this reason. We have not the least notion of the form in which the right hon. Gentleman is going to propose either the new Clauses (the amalgamation Clauses) or the form which Part I is going to take. I am not quite sure on this point, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will make it clear. I understand, provisionally, that he has said the last word on the Amalgamation Clauses and on Part I and that he is going to propose the Amalgamation Clauses as they stand, and Part I substantially as it stands. If that be the position, then we know where we are, and, as far as the Government are concerned, we can debate the matter. We have put down Amendments to the Amalgamation Clauses which will require very full discussion. The principle of the Amalgamation Clauses will require full discussion before we can proceed to the discussion of the details. In the same way, as regards Part I of the Bill, I have given timely notice of the Amendments which my hon. Friends and I wish to move in connection with it. But those Amendments have been put on the Order Paper on the assumption that the Government proposals stand as set out in the Bill and the new Clauses. Meanwhile, however, I understand that there 70 have been discussions. I understand that some agreement has been made. We said a day or two ago that we have not the least objection to any number of discussions the right hon. Gentleman likes to have with the Liberal party or any section of it. That is his own affair; but we are entitled to have notice of any agreement which may alter the form and conduct of this Measure. There is not a single Amendment down to the new Clauses or to Part I either in the name of the right hon. Gentleman or in the name of any right hon. or hon. Member below the Gangway. If it is suggested that we should go on as soon as Clause 10 is dealt with, whether we finish it to-day or whether it goes into to-morrow, that might be a matter of reasonable debate in this House. But where do we stand, after all? Are we to see on the Order Paper the agreement which has been made between the Government and a section of the Liberal party?
I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that there is no Question before the Committee. The President of the Board of Trade was allowed to make a statement concerning the intentions of the Government for the convenience of the Committee and of course the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to a brief reply, but in the absence of any Motion before the Committee I cannot allow a lengthy discussion on that statement.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."
I think this is the most convenient thing I can do in order to help the right hon. Gentleman, because the right hon. Gentleman has made a very important proposal to the Committee. I quite appreciate that as you have called upon the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) we cannot debate this on his Amendment and, therefore, in order that we may know where we stand, and get a further statement from the right hon. Gentleman, and, I hope, from the right hon. Gentleman below the Gangway, I formally move to report Progress. We have not, as I said, seen on the Order Paper any Amendment to the amalgamation Clauses, or any Amendments standing either in the name of the right hon. 71 Gentleman or the names of right hon. or hon. Members below the Gangway. If we are to be invited to facilitate the course of business, and to go into a friendly discussion on the amalgamation Clauses, and, indeed, even to go into an intelligent discussion on those Clauses, we really must see on the Paper what Amendments the right hon. Gentleman proposes to make, or else he should state to us plainly now—and I invite him to do it—that he is not going to alter the amalgamation Clauses as they stand in his name—nor to alter Part I as it stands in his name. If that is his position, then we know where we stand, and then I should say that we can discuss his proposals as soon as we come to them, but if, a a result of these negotiations, we are to be confronted with not even 24 hours' notice, but to find to-morrow morning on the Order Paper, or the morning of the actual day on which we are invited to discuss proposals which are vital to this Bill, some new proposal, then the right hon. Gentleman really cannot expect to carry on that discussion as rapidly as he otherwise might. Therefore, I invite him to say now precisely what are his proposals about amalgamation and what are his proposals about Part I—whether the Government propose any variation of the proposals either in regard to amalgamation or Part I, and, if they do, at what date may we see those proposals specifically made?
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
It is a little difficult on this Motion to deal with a complicated question of this kind, or to go into details as to what exactly is proposed. Let me dispose of the reference to Part I of the Bill. It is quite true that these discussions have taken place and that I hope substantial agreement will be reached regarding controversial features in that part of the legislation. I cannot go beyond that this afternoon, but I can say to the right hon. Gentleman and those for whom he speaks, that at the earliest possible moment, and I should think in fair and ample time for discussion here, he will see the nature of any Amendment which is proposed to Part I, assuming that the Government decide to take that course. Now the immediate point is the reference to the amalgamation proposals which we propose to take to-morrow and on Thursday of 72 the present week. On that point, I have no hesitation in telling the Committee that, as far as the Government are concerned, the proposals will stand substantially in the form in which we have them on the Order Paper, but, there may be Amendments—I ought to give my right hon. Friend notice of these -regarding the form of appeal, and regarding bases of valuation for the purpose of amalgamation. But the broad point before the Committee is compulsory amalgamation as a whole, and the plan outlined in the proposals which the Government have had on the Paper for several weeks—I think that is a reasonable reassurance to my right hon. Friend and hon. Members in all parts of the Committee. Beyond that statement, I do not think they will expect me to go this afternoon.
§ Sir HERBERT SAMUEL
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister) has invited a statement to be made from these Benches, and in the course of his invitation he made some uncalled-for observation about "a section of the party," which, perhaps, comes with somewhat ill-grace from that Bench just at this moment. In answer to his invitation, I can say that, as far as we are concerned, we are not proposing to put down any Amendments of substantial importance to the new amalgamation Clauses, which fairly fully meet the request that we made on Second Reading, and if there are any Amendments put down, they will le purely of a machinery character. With regard to Part I of the Bill, we have still a fortnight before that Part comes up for discussion, and there is plenty of time for Amendments to be considered, drafted and placed on the Order Paper. With respect to to-day's proceedings, I understand that in any case the right hon. Gentleman opposite would not propose to take new Clauses, even if discussion were unexpectedly expedited, and that we should not find ourselves suddenly beginning the discussion of the amalgamation Clauses. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would confirm that.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
On that point, I will be perfectly frank to the Committee. As regards the Amendments on the Paper, I thought there would be reasonable progress if we overtook the Clause regarding the National Industrial Board to-night, and also the non-controversial Clauses in Part IV of the Bill, excluding 73 Clause 12, which will be postponed. If we overtake that ground to-night, the Government will be reasonably satisfied, but, of course, if we reach that before 11 o'clock, I am afraid that we are bound to use the remainder of the time, though I should be surprised if there is any such time.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
The right hon. Gentleman has given a very fair reply with regard to the amalgamation Clauses. I agree that there is nothing—at least, I hope that there is nothing—as far as I see in Clause 11, or not much, and Clause 13 relates only to the Short Title. He is postponing Clause 12, and I assume that he is postponing the Schedule. I do not think much can be said on Clause 11, but, of course, we must have, as he himself has indicated, a full discussion upon all the different points raised in Clause 10. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion and Question, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
I beg to move, in page 14, line 1, to leave out the word "seventeen," and to insert instead thereof the word "eleven."
I should like to make it quite clear to the Committee that in any Amendment I propose to this Clause, I must not be taken as admitting that there should be such a board. I gather from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister) that the general discussion of the broad principle will be taken on the Question, "That the Clause stand part." Therefore, in moving this Amendment I am only doing what hitherto we have tried to do, and that is to make what we regard as a very bad Bill a little less objectionable. My object in moving to reduce the large and, I think, excessive number of this National Industrial Board from 17 to 11 is, first, that I question altogether whether such a number as 17 forming a committee or a board is really necessary, even having regard to the purposes and functions of this industrial board. The next point is whether a board consisting of 17 members is likely to be an efficient board. The Committee will notice that part of that board is to consist of representatives of the Mining Association of Great Britain and the Miners' Federation of Great Britain 74 —six a side. That seems to me to suggest something more in the nature of a football match than a discussion, and I claim that three a side in a matter of discussion as to an industrial dispute, a wages dispute, or conditions of employment is much more likely to be an effective and expeditious body than one consisting of double that number, putting six on each side to balance one another.
There is another point. The Committee will notice that whereas the representatives of the mining industry, employers and workmen, are to consist of 12 out of the 17 members, the representatives of what the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, in his speech on the Financial Resolution called the consumers, are to be only four. Taking that view of this Board, I do not think 12 to four is a fair proportion. I think that six to four would be much more reasonable. It is quite true that hon. Members may say that wages and conditions of employment in the industry are primarily a matter concerning those engaged in the industry, whether employers or employed, but the whole purpose of this Bill is to make coal mining in this country more or less of a sheltered industry. It is to be hedged round, under Part I, with all kinds of arrangements under which the consumer would have very little to say. Therefore, under those conditions, even a matter of wages and conditions of employment are a matter which certainly concerns the consumer, and that is recognised by the fact that the Government propose to have a representative of the Federation of British Industries, and one of the National Confederation of Employers' Organisation on the one side, balanced on the other side by a representative of the Trade Union Congress and one of the Co-operative Union. These four are supposed to represent the outside public on the National Board.
Therefore, from that point of view, I regard my Amendment as much more reasonable than the proposal in the Bill, because if this is to be a Board consisting of 16 members and a chairman, the four representatives of the outside public or the consumers would have very little say in the matter. I recognise that this is not one of the major Amendments but a minor one, but I notice that there are a number of other committees set up 75 under the Bill of one kind and another. Under Part I there are 21 district committees and a national committee for considering the regulation, production, supply, and sale of coal, and all these district committees are, I think, very wisely limited to five in number, and the national committee is limited to nine. The cost of all these committees, the right hon. Gentleman told the Committee on the Financial Resolution, he estimated roughly at £35,000 a year. Of course, that is a trifling sum compared with the really gigantic cost of the proposal for compulsory amalgamation and the consequent setting up of a board of three or four great experts, which is asked for by the Liberal party. The cost of that, the right hon. Gentleman told us, would be £250,000 a year, but the Financial Resolution itself says of the National Board now under discussion:Such remuneration (if any) to the chairman of the Coal Mines National Industrial Board to he constituted under the said Act, such travelling and subsistence allowances to the chairman and members of that Board, such remuneration to the Secretary of that Board, and such other expenses of that Board as the Board of Trade may, with the approval of the Treasury, determine.It is quite clear that the greater the number of members of this Board, the greater will be the amount of travelling expenses, subsistence allowances, and so on, and I should like to call attention to what the right hon. Gentleman said in introducing that Resolution. Speaking of this particular Board, he said:But there, again, no one can venture on an exact estimate as to the aggregate expenditure which year by year will be required. A very great deal will depend upon the number of questions remitted to such a National Industrial Board, upon the character of those questions, whether they are simple or otherwise,"—and this is what I particularly want the Committee to notice—and involving long or short sittings, as the case may be."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th January, 1930; col. 891, Vol. 234.]My contention is that if you have two bodies of six men each, representing employers and workmen, you are calculated to have much longer sittings and much more discussion than if you limit, the numbers to three on each side. Not only will the whole of these 12 members be brought from different parts of the country, 76 with the necessary travelling and subsistence allowances, but the very uncertain item to which the President referred, namely, the length of the sittings, will be materially affected by the size of the Board. So far, I have not been able to see what is the reason for this particular Board consisting of such a large number, when the Government seem to have recognised in other cases the very sound general principle that the smaller the committee or board the more expeditious and effective it is likely to be. I should like particularly to be assured as to the proportion of the members of the mining industry itself, namely, 12, to the very small number of representatives of the outside public, namely, four. In view of those considerations, I think the Government would be well advised to limit the number on this Board without diminishing in any way its efficiency or fairness. Indeed, I think it would add to its efficiency and to the fairness of its operations.
§ Captain TODD
In allowing my name to be put upon the Paper in support of this Amendment, I should not like it to be thought that I was in any way favourable to the Clause, but, like my hon. Friend the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto), I think we should try and better the Bill, whether or not we approve of its every detail. We have just been appealed to, as an assembly, to get on with the business and to get the work done with as little talk as possible. There are some young Members, like myself, who would very likely agree to a reduction in the numbers of this austere assembly, but it is hardly logical to appeal to this House to reduce the talking and at the same time to pass a Bill setting up a committee composed of unnecessary numbers. After all, the way to get on with the business and to stop talking is to provide fewer people to do the talking.
Then there is the question of the consumer. We, on this side, have opposed this Bill all through because in it the consumers appear to be completely ignored. On a board of this size, consisting of 16 members and a chairman, it is obvious that the consumers, if they are represented by only four members, might just as well not be represented at all. It is merely increasing the weight 77 in the scales against the consumers' interests, and I appeal on their behalf to the Government to accept the Amendment, so as to balance the scales more truly in favour of the consumers.
I would like to stress the question of economy. We all know that the less public money is spent the better, and it cannot be wise for us here to increase expenditure on a large committee when we know the enormous number of really valuable works that are waiting for the money to be available. I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade and his colleagues do not always wait—they seem to bring in Bills before the money is available—but I cannot believe that they want to spend public money on this quite unreasonable board, which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Barnstaple has pointed out, is bound to absorb a considerable sum of money. We all know that committee members have fairly heavy expenses. They are doing hard work, and they are entitled to them. I appeal, therefore, to the right hon. Gentleman to consider this small Amendment particularly from these points of view, and to realise that we, on this side, are trying to help and not to hinder.
§ Commodore DOUGLAS KING
The Committee will realise that several hon. Members on this side have other Amendments to propose which are a little more drastic in character than this, but I think there is a great deal in what my hon. Friend the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) said, namely, that the smaller a committee is, the better it works. As at present proposed to be constituted, the Board gives such a predominance to those who are interested in the industry. It has been pointed out that there are 12 representatives of the industry and very few representing independent opinion. The representatives of the Mining Association and the Miners' Federation are extremely interested persons. The function of this National Industrial Board is quite different from that of the wages boards in other industries, because in other industries the decision that has to be come to is probably on some question merely between the employers and the workmen, but in this industry we have, as shown in the Schedule to the Bill, no fewer than 21 districts, each of which could come forward 78 to have some local disagreement heard by the National Industrial Board.
The predominance, as I say, is of those who are interested in the industry, but the interests may be almost personal to districts rather than interests covering the whole of the industry. One can imagine that a dispute coming up from, say, Durham might be heard by representatives who had no personal interests in Durham at all, but whose districts might have interests conflicting with those of Durham, and their judgment in dealing with questions of industrial dispute might be prejudiced in their own favour and against the interests of the particular district under consideration Therefore, I submit that certainly we should cut those representatives down to the lowest possible limit; or later Amendments which are to be proposed, leaving out such representation altogether, so as to have no representatives whatever either of the Mining Association or the Miners' Federation, might be better. That would allow the Board to be entirely independent, and you would have no personal feelings coming in, no district feelings, and no conflicting interests as between the different districts. I think that is a point which has to be considered, not only on this Amendment, but also on some of the Amendments which follow.
It is essential, whatever Board we have, if it is to function properly and equitably, that it shall be of a free and independent mind, without any possibility of being prejudiced either one way or another by the interests of the different districts. There are bound to be conflicting interests between all these districts, and a decision either on one side or the other might prejudice the district that brought up a case, in favour of the districts represented by those who were judging it. That is certainly not a situation that we ought to allow to arise under this or any other Bill. I certainly support the remarks of my hon. Friend with regard to cost; it is essential that the cost should be cut down as much as possible by reducing the number.
§ Mr. TINKER
In putting his case on the need of consumers' representation, the hon. and gallant Member for Northumberland (Captain Todd) misunderstood the purpose of this Clause. There is no question of consumers in this case; it is a question of regulating wages 79 or any dispute. The people, therefore, who ought to be on the board are those with a knowledge of what is happening, and there should be on the Board representatives from as many districts as possible.
§ Sir B. PETO
I did not call them "consumers," but the "outside public." I did quote the word "consumers," because that is what the President of the Board of Trade called them when he said, "four representatives of the consumers, two on each side."
§ Mr. TINKER
I am not dealing with the hon. Member's remarks, but with those of the hon. and gallant Member for Northumberland.
§ Mr. TINKER
Let me refer to Subsection (4), which authorises the Board to inquire into any disputewhere there exists, or is apprehended any dispute between the owners of and the workers employed in or about the coal mines in any district as to the terms of a proposed agreement between such owners and workers providing for the regulation of wages or other conditions of labour throughout the coal mines in the district, and there has been a failure to settle the dispute in accordance with the arrangements existing in the district for the settlement thereof.So the purpose of the board is to deal with wages and disputes, and it is, therefore, necessary that the two sides which know most about the dispute should be represented. It is essential that there should be a fair number, because the mining industry is a vast industry, and six on each side are not too many. The right hon. and gallant Member for South Paddington (Commodore King) said that it was just possible that there might be a representative on the board from a district which was concerned in a dispute. That is so, but is it not better to have an adequate representation from the industry, so that, if there be a representative from that district, there will be a chance of his opinion being over-weighted by the rest of the districts? The ground to be covered ought to have as many representatives as possible; there is a wide field to be covered, and the representation laid down in the Bill is not inadequate.
§ Major GEORGE DAVIES
The discussion on this Amendment has covered a wider ground than the Amendment, which really deals with the numbers of the board. It has been said that the larger a committee, the more difficult and more clumsy and complicated is its work liable to be. That is very true, generally speaking. The ideal committee consists of one, and the more you add to one, the more you tend to lengthen the time of the discussions of the committee. That, however, must be modified by taking into consideration what the functions of the committee are supposed to be. Therefore, this Amendment must be considered in connection with Sub-section (4), under which the activities of this board are confined to cases in which there has been a failure to come to an agreement on matters of wages or other conditions of labour in some particular area, and they are to inquire into the dispute and report thereon to the owners and workers concerned. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) that, if that is to be their function, if they are to be somewhat in the position of a bench of magistrates who are hearing the protagonists of a dispute. It will unnecessarily load up their work to make the bench as large as 17. When the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) suggested that that number is desirable because there should be representation from as big an area of the coalfields as possible, he is introducing into this Clause something that even those who framed it did not contemplate. They contemplated an ad hoc court of appeal, and the cases that are to come before them are confined to those mentioned in Sub-section (4). That being the case, in order to get quick action in a matter which has already become a question of dispute, a board reduced as the Amendment suggests is likely to facilitate the object of the President of the Board of Trade rather than a board lumbered up with such a large number as 17.
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
I hope the Government will see their way to accept the Amendment. They are setting up under this Clause what we on this side consider a futile and unnecesasry body, but, if they are going to set up a board, it might at least be such as will work as efficiently as possible. Most hon. Members have 81 had experience of committees, and most of them will agree that any committee on which they have sat was too big, even if it were only a committee of two.
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
I agree not always futile, but sometimes, and that alone would be a reason for reducing the Board. If there is one committee worse than another, which leads to more inefficiency and more waste of time than another, it is the committee of experts—
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
An expert is a gentleman who thinks he knows everything. These experts waste more time than anybody else, and this Bill sets up a very large committee of them. The late General Booth once said that if the Children of Israel had set up a committee to tell them how to cross the Red Sea, they would have been on the other side still. The same thing applies with regard to this Board. The analogy with a bench of magistrates has been drawn, and the point has been raised whether anybody interested in a dispute or from a district which had anything to do with a dispute, might sit on the Board. If anybody on a bench of magistrates is interested in a case, the magistrate in question, by custom, does not sit. It were better that he should not be on the bench and in the case of this Board, an interested member should be removed from it.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
No one can complain of the spirit in which hon. Members opposite have promoted this Amendment, but I trust that a very brief explanation, concentrating as far as possible on the point of numbers on this National Wages Board, will remove most, if not all, of the difficulties that they have in mind. This matter was very carefully considered during the long negotiations which preceded the introduction of the Bill, and, as was indicated during the Second Beading Debate, the Government came to the conclusion that there was at least a broad analogy in the machinery that was set up under the Railways Act of 1921, when the large scale amalgamation in that industry was introduced. Regard had to be had to the interests of the railway amalgamations on the one side and the railway trade unions on the other, and that of the general 82 public. So the representation was made on the basis of six, and six, and four, and, finally, an independent chairman, which is, of course, the machinery now in existence for dealing nationally with any dispute that arises as to hours or wages in the railway world.
In this connection, hon. Members recall that, following 1926, there has been no direct contact on a national scale between the Mining Association and the Miners' Federation, and, whatever view we take of that crisis two or three years ago, I have never heard anyone dispute that it is entirely in the national interest that we should have some machinery of this kind, representative in character for the purpose of dealing with problems which may arise in this industry, and which, if unsettled, may inflict appalling losses on the community as a whole. If that be the consideration before us, I do not think that 17 is excessive. Strictly speaking, it is a small number from many points of view, having regard to the magnitude of the interest involved. I share the desire of my hon. Friend the Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) for small committees, and I think that some of us at recent conferences have suffered at the hands of experts, so that there is no particular difference between us on that point. This, however, is a very important national body, and we must be satisfied that in numbers it is representative in character.
Let me apply my mind to the question of costs, which has been raised by one or two Members in support of this Amendment. The aggregate cost of £35,000 falls to be added to the £250,000 annually attributable to the amalgamation schemes, making, as I said on the Financial Resolution, £285,000 in all. Of that £35,000, the overwhelming part goes to the committees of inspection or supervision in the 21 districts which, of course, are districts for dealing with coal production at the pit head; and only a trifling proportion—£1,000 or £2,000, or a very small sum like that—is strictly attributable to this National Industrial Board. As cost is related to numbers, I cannot give the House a figure, but that figure will be determined by the number of cases which come up from the different districts which have not been settled in those districts. I want to remind the House that the whole object of this part of the legislation is to use the district 83 machinery for all it is worth. That is the desire of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, and it is certainly the desire of the Government. Therefore, only where there is complete failure on hours or wages in a district, does the problem come for consideration to this national board. Therefore, on that point of costs, I do not think that any hon. Members can make a serious case regarding the numbers.
Several hon. Members have said that this is related to the interests of the consumers, and, if I have accidentally misled the House, in a statement on the Financial Resolution, by employing that term, when I was really thinking of the public—though, of course, they are consumers—I must apologise. When the Board under the Railways Act of 1921 was set up, the Federation of British Industries, the chambers of commerce, the Co-operative Union, and the Trade Union Congress were brought in, not so much as representatives of consumers of railway services, as representatives of a wider public interest applied to the discussion of wages problems in the railway world. That is the essence of the case in the proposal now before us. As regards consumers, the pithead price of coal will be dealt with when we come to Part I. There committees are established with a right to independent arbitration, and the arbitrators' decision in certain circumstances is to be final in any disputes as to price. That point is really not before us in regard to this Board.
There is only one last consideration, because I have said enough to indicate that the Government must adhere to this proposal. The Board is designed to be representative in character, but if the number of miners' representatives is limited to three the obvious result must be to confine their representatives to two officials and one other, and it is desirable that there should be others than officials on the Board. I think all the miners' representatives here would agree that they would like to see on the Board one or two others beside the men who are necessarily engaged every day in the detail administrative work of the Federation. There are certain trade unions in the coal mining industry, affiliated to the Trade Union Congress, which may by 84 agreement with the Miners' Federation seek a place on this National Industrial Board. I am making no comment on that nor am I indicating any Government view, but I think hon. Members opposite will agree that if the number is restricted to three it would be very difficult to reach any agreement about that should the Miners' Federation come to us later with such a suggestion or themselves, in the administration of this part of the Bill, wish to provide for the presence of one representative from another Union with which they were in co-operation. On all those grounds I think the Government are bound to resist the proposal to restrict the numbers.
There is one final point, which is national in character. Coal is produced in very large quantities in Wales, in England and in Scotland, three countries; there are 21 wage ascertainment districts; there is on the one side a great organisation representing the employers and on the other side a trade union which covers a substantial proportion of more than 900,000 men who are engaged in the industry at the present time. Having in view those facts, I do not think seventeen is an excessive number, and the Government must adhere to the proposal in the Bill.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
We are all very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his very full and courteous reply. I do not think this Amendment raises any question of principle. The principle of this Clause can be discussed when we come to the question of the Clause standing part of the Bill; and the principle of whether the Board should consist of miners and outsiders or exist as an arbitration board composed of outsiders only is raised in another Amendment, and I will say nothing on that point now. I will assume for the moment that the decision, when we reach it, is adverse to the Amendment, which is going to be moved and deal with the contention of the right hon. Gentleman that we must not have a smaller number than 17 or we shall not give adequate representation to the mineowners and the miners. He told us that there are 21 districts, with 21 wage ascertainments. That would be an argument for having 42 members on this Board, if it were an argument for anything.
85 Then he said it would be very unfair to have no more than three miners' representatives or three mineowners on the Board, because in some cases parties directly interested might have no representation there. As there are 21 districts and there will be only six miners' members, obviously the betting is going to be a little over three to one against any miner having a seat on the Board when a matter in which he is interested comes up for discussion, and therefore I submit that the argument that we must have a sufficient number to give full representation to the districts falls to the ground. If it is desired that the representatives of the miners and of the mineowners should not always come from the same area, it would be easy to arrange for that by having two panels, and, during a period of a year or six months, taking three members from some districts and, in the succeeding period, three members from other districts. The representation could be varied by some such method as that. If the argument for giving each district representation falls to the ground, as I submit it does, we are driven back to the question, Is 17 a reasonable number for the Board? I suggest that it is not. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman or any other hon. Member of the House who had to get some business carried through would collect a committee of 17 to do it. I should be absolutely terrified at a committee of 17 having to carry through any practical operation in which I was interested.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I always thought it was argued that the Cabinet was too large. On general principles, I would have a committee as small as possible.
§ Mr. MAXTON
A committee of one? The Amendment would give 11, and that is not the smallest possible number.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I am not laying down any hard-and-fast rule as to the number. There might be cases in which five people would be an admirable number for a committee; but, all the same, if you could get on with three, so much the better. It is a matter of practical convenience. I should much prefer 11 to 17, because I think the Board would get through their business 86 a great deal quicker and more effectually, and I think it is the experience of governing bodies of any kind, whether industrial companies or any others, that it is necessary to delegate a great deal of the active work to small executive bodies. There is very little to be said for this magic number of 17. The real answer to the right hon. Gentleman's contention is to be found in the action of himself, or one of his colleagues, when it was desired to have the best possible inquiry into a wage dispute in the West Riding of Yorkshire. What did he do? He did not collect six wool-combers and six employers and a member of the Co-operative Union, and a member of the Trade Union Congress, and another of the Federation of British Industries, and one more from the Chamber of Shipping. He did not collect 17, he did not even collect 11, he secured one man, Mr. Macmillan, and said, "You are the best court of inquiry. Wherever there is a dispute you had better go down and act entirely on your own." From what I know of Mr. Macmillan, I do not suppose there could have been a much better man for the purpose. I would rather have one Macmillan than 17 other people. The right hon. Gentleman cannot have very much affection for a body numbering 17 when in the other case he preferred to leave it to Mr. Macmillan.
The right hon. Gentleman found an analogy for the Government's proposal in this case by a reference to the Railway Act of 1921. That, however, was a different proposition. In that case there were three quite distinct railway unions, and each was to appoint two members on the Board. That is not the proposal here. Here it is proposed that all the miners' members shall be appointed by a single body, the Miners' Federation. Whether in the case of the employers or the employed, a single body is to appoint their representatives. That analogy, I submit, also falls to the ground. Then, if I did not misunderstand him, the right hon. Gentleman said, "We must carry the parties with us in this matter." If he had said all the miners and all the mineowners were agreed that this court is necessary and desirable, and desirable in this form, I think it would have great weight 87 with this House, but I am sure the right hon. Gentleman really did not wish to convey that impression.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I do not think I said the mineowners were agreed. I said the Miners' Federation of Great Britain.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
The right hon. Gentleman is always very accurate in his language and what he really should have said is, "We must carry one of the parties with us." There is not agreement between the two parties either as to the nature of the Board or as to its constitution. As the parties are not agreed upon this Board and have not come to Parliament to say they would like this particular form of proceedure, then it is left to hon. Members here to make up their minds upon it. The proposal put forward in this Amendment has been supported by reasons which have not really been traversed by the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman, it is a reasonable and practicable proposal, and if it goes to a Division I shall certainly vote in favour of it.
§ Sir B. PETO
I would like to say that I am not satisfied with the explanation which has been given by the President of the Board of Trade. My reasons are to be found in Sub-section (3) which lays down thatIt shall be the duty of the National Board to record any agreement so sent.You do not require a Board of 17 members to record agreements. I think the
provision in Sub-section (4) is more important because the Board have to
inquire into the dispute and report thereon to the owners and workers concerned.
I submit that the Board could not inquire into a dispute of that kind without going down to the district where the dispute was apprehended, and it is unreasonable to take 17 people down to a district simply to inquire into an apprehended dispute. For such a purpose I think 11 members would be quite as effective as 17. After inquiry the Board have to make a report in these cases of apprehended disputes, and, obviously, it is necessary to have expedition. Therefore, in the interests of serving the public I think 11 members would be much better than 17. I am not satisfied with the reasons which have been given by the President of the Board of Trade for refusing to accept this Amendment.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Sir B. PETO
I do not know whether there is any such practice, but, undoubtedly, if you were dealing with a dispute which is only apprehended, it would be more expeditious to deal with it in the way I have suggested.
§ Question put, "That the word 'seventeen' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 221; Noes, 139.91
|Division No. 147.]||AYES.||[5.3 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Burgess, F. G.||Edmunds, J. E.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Egan, W. H.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Caine, Derwent Hall.||Elmley, Viscount|
|Alpass, J. H.||Cameron, A. G.||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Cape, Thomas||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)|
|Angell, Norman||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)|
|Arnott, John||Charleton, H. C.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Chater, Daniel||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Church, Major A. G.||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)|
|Ayles, Walter||Cluse, W. S.||Gill, T. H.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Gillett, George M.|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Compton, Joseph||Glassey, A. E.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Cove, William G.||Gossling, A. G.|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Cowan, D. M.||Gould, F.|
|Bennett, Capt. E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Daggar, George||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Dallas, George||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).|
|Benson, G.||Dalton, Hugh||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Blindell, James||Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Groves, Thomas E.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Brothers, M.||Duncan, Charles||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Ede, James Chuter||Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Markham, S. F.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Hardie, George D.||Marley, J.||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Marshall, F.||Shinwell, E.|
|Haycock, A. W.||Mathers, George||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Matters, L. W.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Hayes, John Henry||Maxton, James||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Messer, Fred||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Mills, J. E.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Montague, Frederick||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Herriotts, J.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Horrabin, J. F.||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Mort, D. L.||Sorensen, R.|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Isaacs, George||Muff, G.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Johnston, Thomas||Nathan, Major H. L.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Noel Baker, P. J.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Oldfield, J. R.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Owen, H. F. (Hereford)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Palin, John Henry||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Palmer, E. T.||Tout, W. J.|
|Kelly, W. T.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Townend, A. E.|
|Kennedy, Thomas||Perry, S. F.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Kinley, J.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Turner, B.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Phillips, Dr. Marlon||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Lang, Gordon||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Viant, S. P.|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Pole, Major D. G.||Walker, J.|
|Law, A. (Rosendale)||Price, M. P.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Lawrence, Susan||Quibell, D. J. K.||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor|
|Lawson, John James||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Watkins, F. C.|
|Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Rathbone, Eleanor||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Leach, W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||West, F. R.|
|Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Romeril, H. G.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Lees, J.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Longden, F.||Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Lowth, Thomas||Sanders, W. S.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Lunn, William||Sandham, E.||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Sawyer, G. F.||Wise, E. F.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Scott, James||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Scrymgeour, E.||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|McElwee, A.||Scurr, John||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|McEntee, V. L.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|McShane, John James||Sherwood, G. H.||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Paling.|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Shield, George William|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton|
|Albery, Irving James||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Colville, Major D. J.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Atkinson, C.||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Beaumont, Mr. W.||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Berry, Sir George||Dalkeith, Earl of||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Boyce, H. L.||Dixon, Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Duckworth, G. A. V.||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Elliot, Major Walter E.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Everard, W. Lindsay||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Butler, R. A.||Ferguson, Sir John||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Fermoy, Lord||Llewellin, Major J. J.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Ford, Sir P. J.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Long, Major Eric|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Fremantie, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lymington, Viscount|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Margesson, Captain H. D.||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Marjoribanks, E. C.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Todd, Capt. A. J|
|Meller, R. J.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Ross, Major Ronald D.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Mond, Hon. Henry||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Muirhead, A. J.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Salmon, Major I.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf' ld)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|O'Neill, Sir H.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Savery, S. S.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Peake, Capt. Osbert||Skelton, A. N.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Power, Sir John Cecil||Smithers, Waldron||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Purbrick, R.||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ramsbotham, H.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Sir George Penny and Sir Victor Warrender.|
|Rawson, Sir Cooper||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast, South)|
|Reid, David D. (County Down)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
§ Sir SAMUEL ROBERTS
I beg to move, in page 14, line 4, to leave out from the word "consult" to the first word "the," in line 6.
This Amendment is undoubtedly a much more drastic one than that which the House has just voted upon. The effect of my proposal would be to withdraw from the National Board all the representatives both of the owners and the miners. I admit that that proposal will change the character of the Board as proposed to be set up by the Government, but, although it will change its character, I submit that for the purposes which the Government have in view, a board such as I am suggesting would be far more practical. I understand that the object of the Government is to coordinate the various agreements that may be come to in the different districts of the country. A most important function of the Board is that it will act as a board of conciliation, and it will be the final mediator to act when all other attempts at conciliation have failed.
That being so, I think the great thing to secure is that the decisions of the Board should be as authoritative as possible, so as to give as much weight as possible to the decision arrived at, because that decision will have considerable effect upon the minds of the disputing parties and the general public. When these disputes assume a national character, the attitude of the general public does have some effect upon the issue of the dispute, and the length of the stoppage. I look at this Board from the point of view of how best to secure an authoritative decision. I think the most authoritative decision we could get would be one which was unanimous, because very little could be said against such a decision.
92 I want to visualise the Board which the President of the Board of Trade proposes to set up. On the one side, you will have the coalowners determined and quiet, and on the other side you will have the representatives of the Miners' Federation equally determined but possibly not so quiet. These two parties meet together probably after the dispute has been carried on for some time and after all other methods of conciliation have failed. It reminds one of what happens when an irresistible force comes up against an immovable object. Two things may happen—either a cataclysm resulting in total destruction, or nothing at all. I think you would find that the answer to that question would be nothing at all, and that these twelve representatives on the Board would cancel each other out.
Then we come to the four other representatives appointed by the employers' associations and by those who are associated with or allied to the trade union movement. However desirous these gentlemen may be of being absolutely fair, they certainly are there with a bias, possibly sub-conscious, on one side, and certainly each pair of them will be looked upon as allies by the respective groups of six who are what I might call the protagonists on the Board. The coalowners will expect support from the representative of the chambers of commerce and so on, and the miners will expect support from the representatives of the trade unions, and each of these pairs will be watched with meticulous care by the six who look upon them as allies, to see if, by any sign or word or gesture, they are giving away the case of the side which they are thought to be there to support. If there is one thing that most Englishmen object to, it is to laying themselves open to any possible charge of not playing for their side, and I think it will be 93 found that in a great many cases these two pairs also will cancel themselves out, so that in the end the decision will be left to the Chairman. He occupies a very responsible and very important position, but at the same time it will be the decision of one man, and you will get as far away from unanimity, and as far away from an authoritative decision, as is possible. That seems to me to be a matter of very considerable importance, and one to which the President of the Board of Trade should give due weight.
There are, however, exceptions. I want to deal with real possibilities of unfairness or injustice happening, so to say, subconsciously. I remember, about five years ago, hearing the present Secretary for Mines, in a Committee upstairs, make one of the kindliest and shrewdest remarks that I have ever heard in this building. He said, "Most folks are decent folks, and try to do what is right." I have always remembered that remark. At the same time, we all admit that we are influenced by our surroundings and by bias which is sub-conscious. A conscious bias we can counteract, but a subconscious bias is very difficult to counteract, because we are hardly aware of its existence. I want to put to the Committee this illustration of where bias will come in. The coal trade is a keenly competitive industry. Not only is there competition between each pit and its neighbouring pit, but there is competition as between district and district. It is not very difficult to imagine a dispute, say, as to whether there shall be a rise or a fall in wages in the county of Durham, the effect of which would be either to intensify or to ease the competition between, say, the Tyne and the Humber in the export trade. At the same time the Midlands would be competing by rail in the London market and the Tyne would be competing in the same market by sea. The price of coal on the Tyne and the price of coal in the Midlands are essential factors in that competition, and, therefore, such a dispute, whether it were about a rise or a fall of wages in Durham, would have a direct effect upon the competitive power of that county, and so would have an effect upon the competitive power of its neighbours in other districts. Therefore, even if Durham had one representative on the Board, there would be a bias, probably sub-conscious, 94 in the minds of his fellow coalowners on the Board—the right hon. Gentleman will see what I mean—who may feel, in their own minds, "It does not matter if that chap up there has his costs put up by 6d.; it will help me."
That is a very important matter. It makes this Board entirely different from the Railway Board. The railways compete, but they do not compete on the question of wages or on the question of freights. Their competition is in regard to better advertisement and better service; they do not compete in regard to that particular factor in the cost of production, and, therefore, the analogy of the Railway Board is rather different from the Board which the right hon. Gentle-man is proposing to set up. I want to visualise another exception to the rule that each side will cancel out the other. If there were, for instance, a dispute in Nottinghamshire, in which the non-political union was involved, I should find it difficult to imagine the Miners' Federation appointing a representative of the non-political union as one of the six. I can imagine, also, that the six who would be there would have this sub-conscious bias against the non-political union, so that there also there is the possibility that the miners' representatives on the Board might, quite unwittingly, do an injustice to their colleagues who are working in that particular coalfield. These are two exceptions to the general rule that the representatives would cancel themselves out and leave the matter for the Chairman to decide.
My final point is as to the idea that this should be a Conciliation Board, where there would be a final chance of peace. Although it will come later in the discussion, I should like to say now that I am rather afraid that the setting up of this Board will prevent conciliation from taking place. I rather fear that people will say, "We will just carry it one step further." They will want to take the case to the final court of appeal, and, from the point of view of conciliation, I do not think it would be possible to pick out an industry in which a Board of this kind could have a worse effect. We have got to face facts, and we have got to realise that in past years, when individual representatives of the Miners' Federation and of the Mining Association have met across a table during those 95 troublous times, the attitude of the two parties to one another has been, to put it very mildly, distinctly antipathetic.
I have very often thought that, if both the miners and the coalowners could change the personnel of their representation, if the gentlemen who have been meeting together for the past 10 years were to retire to the management of their pits or to the working of coal, and let other representatives come forward, there might be a better chance of peace, because they have met together so often in war that it is difficult for them as individuals to meet without the old feelings being revived in their breasts. It would, however, be difficult for the Government to appoint other than the representatives sent forward by these two bodies. They would certainly have the power to do so, but in point of fact I think that the appointments made by the Board of Trade will in 99 cases out of 100 be the appointments recommended. The Board of Trade could not go to these various bodies and say, "You must not send Mr. So-and-So." They would be practically bound to take the representatives sent, and I do not think it is reasonable to ask these bodies to send different representatives. The consequence is that some of the old protagonists will meet once more at the Philippi of this National Board, and I do not think that that is going to make for peace or conciliation. I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that this Board, instead of being the home of peace, will become the arena for new gladiatorial shows. I sincerely hope that, if we are to have this Conciliation Board, it will be a board that is likely to conciliate.
I am not at all tied to numbers. In my Amendment and in the consequential Amendments that I have put down I have put certain numbers, because I surmised that the word "seventeen" would stand part, and I set out my Amendments on the surmise that the last Amendment would be defeated. In order to save the time which would be involved by setting out entirely new proposals, I simply took the bodies alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman and inserted various numbers. I should, however, like to see a larger number of representatives appointed direct by the Board 96 of Trade. I think that, if the right hon. Gentleman will inquire into the working of the Agricultural Wages Board, he will find that on that Board there are several representatives appointed direct by the Minister of Agriculture. The result in that case has been, I understand, very much on the lines of my own forecast of what would happen. The farmers' representatives all vote as a side; those representing the labourers all vote as a side; and then there are three or four independent gentlemen who come to the decision. I would say, certainly have representatives of the trade unions, certainly have representatives of the Federation of British Industries, and certainly have representatives of consumers generally, but, if possible, I should like to see a larger number of independent representatives.
Seventeen is perhaps too large a number, but at any rate that would give a body of men who would meet together, not, I hope, too frequently, but at any rate at fairly frequent intervals, and these cases would be brought to them from one part of the country and another, with witnesses, counsel, and all the paraphernalia that it might be desired to bring. The Board would listen to everything that they had to say, and then, with the experience that they would soon gain of disputes of this kind, with the better knowledge of one another that they would gradually get, and the cementing of friendships among themselves, they would be far more likely to give a unanimous and, therefore, an authoritative decision which would be really likely to lead to peace in the industry and to stop a dispute which might be threatening to embroil the nation. I have put forward this Amendment in the sincere belief that it is a wise proposal, not with any idea of obstruction, but with a desire that this side of the case should be considered carefully before this Board is set up. In all probability the right hon. Gentleman will turn it down now, but I beg him to do me the courtesy, at any rate between now and the Report stage, to think it over carefully and see if there is not some weight in what I have endeavoured to put before the, Committee.
§ The SECRETARY for MINES (Mr. Ben Turner)
I think that the observations of the hon. Member for Eccleshall (Sir S. Roberts) are in themselves an 97 evidence of the earnestness with which this subject has been considered, and, while one cannot accept the proposition of the hon. Member, I can say quite frankly that the points of view have been well put. This Board, to my mind, is a very well balanced board. It is of little use having a National Industrial Board unless it has the confidence of all sides. A Board without the miners and without the coalowners would be largely an arbitration Board, and at present neither employers nor employed have yet given their adhesion to the principle of compulsory arbitration. There are, I imagine, among both employers and employed persons who have friendly beliefs in arbitration, but at present the line of policy on both sides has been that they would not have compulsory arbitration.
The hon. Member says that the six miners and the six mineowners on the board would cancel each other out. I have had some little experience in industrial matters, and I certainly have more faith in men than has been evidenced by the observations which have just been made. I have known bodies to meet together in equal numbers, with outsiders and sometimes without outsiders, and they have been influenced in their cool, calm moments, not by the side they represented, but by the case put before them. I have, therefore, great faith in men. I think there will be careful and cool consultation by a well-balanced board of this kind—six owners who know the industry from the owners' point of view, six miners' representatives who know the situation from the workmen's point of view, and four public persons who are interested in the industry and in the welfare of the nation, who can guide the discussions and try to meet the conflicting interests in pursuit of peace. Men can be found, both amongst the owners and amongst the miners, who would enter into a conference of that sort without any bias or ill-favour towards one side or the other. I can imagine passion and strife in a district where a dispute is likely to occur, but bring it to a national body composed of these chosen persons, and I fully believe they will examine these things dispassionately and with a due desire to reach a proper conclusion. The hon. Baronet mentioned Nottingham. I believe that time will bring much comfort and common sense into operation at Nottingham, as it will in Scotland, or 98 Wales, or Yorkshire or anywhere else. Time is a great healer of wounds, and I believe the wounds in Nottingham may be healed if the people outside as well as inside Nottingham forget 1926 and look forward to 1936. That is a much better plan than building ourselves upon the past.
The hon. Baronet says that if these two sides meet together, it is purely the old protagonists who are meeting, and they will fight again in the National Board as they did in the district. Surely men change and mend, and that old-fashioned passion which has been so prominent in days gone by will pass over as the storms pass in winter and the sunshine of spring comes along. It is also said that it will be the arena for strife in public. There is no indication that these inquiries will be in public, but if they are it is safer, because men will not, perhaps, make as big fools of themselves in public as sometimes they do in private. Therefore, there is advantage in it being public. But there is a big thing about all this. One of the disasters of the past few years has been that the miners and the owners have been snarling at each other distances away. They have not gathered together in national consultations. It is lamentable to think of the distance apart between the two sides. It is time there were some friendships between the owners and the workers, and I believe the establishment of this board will prevent many trade disputes. With these four public persons on it, it will be able to discuss dispassionately prospective disputes, and help forward what everyone desires, the cause of industrial peace.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
The hon. Gentleman is bubbling over with good humour as usual, and has the very best hopes that the best possible will come out of human nature on every occasion. He has taken a very hopeful view of this proposal. I should probably not be in order if I followed him along the lines of the merits of the Clause, into which he rather drifted. But from my past experience, I think there is a great deal to be said for the Amendment in this sense that, if you make it compulsory on the Board of Trade to consult these two great organised bodies who have been, as the hon. Gentleman says, snarling at each other for years, you will find inevitably that you 99 will always have the same representatives. There is a good deal to be said for getting away from the old gang and getting fresh representatives to consider these matters. I hope, as the hon. Gentleman hopes, that in due time these gentlemen will cease snarling at each other. Undoubtedly, in some industries there has been the possibility of those on one side of the table coming over to a certain extent and joining those on the other. But at present in this industry, it is extraordinarily difficult to bring that about. If the Board of Trade had a freer hand than this Clause would give them, it would give a far better chance of getting a Board which would be effective and useful. The analogy of the Railway-Board is, obviously, not at all a reliable one. The conditions as between the various districts in the coalfield and the interests that are represented are utterly different and though, to the extent of setting up a Conciliation Board and getting the two sides represented on it, there is an analogy, when you apply the analogy, you are applying it to a totally different set of conditions and it entirely fails. This Board is going to be a sort of Court of Appeal. They should not be so much experts as judges who will hear expert witnesses on both sides. Surely the better chance of getting a good decision of the kind required is not that the judges themselves should be interested and prejudiced, and possibly have their minds made up already, but that they should be men of great authority who will command the respect of all sides, and whose decisions, therefore, will be of far greater value than if they had been men with prejudice whose opinions were already made up. There may be difficulty in some degree about the Amendment, but on the ground that we want fresh blood in these negotiations, that we want an absolutely impartial body which cannot be challenged as being biassed, and that the analogy of the Railway Board is not at all a true one, and therefore should not be followed too closely, I think the Amendment deserves consideration.
§ Mr. GORDON MACDONALD
We have a Board exactly similar to this to deal with district grievances in Lancashire, and it deals with cases most judicially. A case is brought forward by a colliery or by a workman, and in nearly 100 every case a decision is come to unanimously, often against the owner, sometimes against the worker. I do not think it is fair to argue that of necessity these two bodies will cancel each other out. The case is well argued right through, and both sides are in equal numbers. I have not known a case in which there has been no decision.
§ Sir S. ROBERTS
Is not the hon. Member dealing with technical disputes rather than, let us say, a wage question over the whole district of Lancashire?
§ Sir S. ROBERTS
Is it not very often the interpretation of an agreement and a question whether the agreement is being properly carried out?
§ Mr. MACDONALD
Not by any means, and if it were, just the same thing would happen. If the owners and the men differ as to the interpretation of an agreement, they will say, "Send the case to the National Board." It is not fair to argue that because you have six of one and half a dozen of the other, they will cancel out. I believe the, Board will look upon these questions most impartially. I am sure the owners' and the miners' representatives will take a detached view of any case that comes before them and, if possible, will avoid a dispute in the district. The essence of this part of the Bill is that it is going to preserve peace in the industry to a greater extent in the future than has been the case in the past. If you exclude the workmen's representatives from the Board, or exclude the owners' representatives, in my opinion you will not get the desired peace in the industry. We feel that, if only the owners and the men come face to face in the presence of other representatives from the rest of the public, the case will get a good hearing and a good ventilating, and probably a reasonable decision, and that will prevent the recurrence of strife. I hope the Minister will resist the Amendment. If he allows it to go, he will wreck this part of the Bill from the point of view of the miners. It is high time that we got together nationally. This part of the Bill is brought in for the very reason that the owners will not try to preserve peace, and will not give a chance for district differences to be settled nationally.
§ Mr. CULVERWELL
The hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) has been advocating the principle of the National Board, rather than the particular Amendment which has been put forward. The Amendment which we are discussing deals with the actual composition of the Board, and not with the question as to whether the Board is desirable or not. On that point I was not impressed by the remarks of the Secretary for Mines. He was full of pious aspirations, and said he had great faith in men. I do not think that anything he said really met the point which we are putting forward on this side, that when you have the representatives of the miners and of the owners sitting at the same table arguing over a dispute on wages, there is not very much likelihood of those two sides agreeing. Therefore, if that be so, no matter how much faith the Minister himself may have—faith will move mountains, I know—I very much doubt whether it would move Mr. Cook to agree with Mr. Lee on a wages question.
I feel that more consideration should be given to this Amendment than has, apparently, been given to it by hon. Gentlemen opposite. If you are going to make this National Board a success, it must command the respect and confidence of the public. After all, it has no powers given to it, except to report, and the only way in which it can serve a useful purpose is by having its reports drawn up in the most unbiased and unprejudiced manner, and for those reports to receive the confidence and the support of the whole country; otherwise I can see no reason for this Board at all. The disputes which come to this Board have already been thrashed out in the districts, and therefore it has been found impossible for miners and owners to get together—the miners sitting on one side of the table and the owners sitting on the other. When they have failed to settle the dispute, and it is brought to the National Board, does the Minister think that a completely different attitude will be adopted by the two parties and that the lion will lie down with the lamb! If, as I believe, one may assume that generally on these questions the miners will be antagonistic to the mine-owners, the matter in dispute might just as well be left for settlement by persons not directly interested in the industry.
§ Mr. CULVERWELL
I do not happen to be in industry, and therefore I have not had the necessity to consider that point. Mining is an industry which affects the whole country—I am not sure that I see the point of the hon. Gentleman's interjection—and the whole object of this Board is to try and command public confidence, and to arrive at a peaceful solution of what otherwise might be strikes and lock-outs. That is the purpose of this Board. I am very much in agreement with the hon. Gentleman who said that this Board might well consist of judges, and not necessarily interested parties. I do not see why you should want these representatives of the two sides in this great industry sitting at a table to judge -these matters. They can always give their expert evidence and be called in and be consulted whenever necessary. In fact, the Board of Trade is authorised to call them as witnesses and for consultation. Therefore, the Minister might well consider whether our suggestion would not really make for more useful conciliatory machinery than that which he is proposing to set up under the Clause as it now stands. It is not an obstructive suggestion; it is a constructive suggestion. It is one which we believe will make for greater efficiency and for the confidence and support of the public in the work of this National Board. By that means, I believe, you would get rid of the disturbing and conflicting interests at the meetings of the Board, and you would contribute very much more than is likely under the Clause as it now stands towards helping the Board to make a really useful contribution to the preservation of peace and conciliation in the mining industry.
§ Mr. TOWNEND
I should have have hesitated to rise but for the fact that nearly all the hon. Members who have spoken from the opposite benches, while admitting that the aim of the Board is to bring into the mining industry some degree of peace and to create public confidence, appear to be of the opinion that there is no such possibility within the scope of this Clause. 103 Their references to the National Railway Board has prompted me to get up to inform them of something of which, obviously, they are not in possession. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol West (Mr. Culverwell) indicated that he had no faith in either side, the six representatives of the coalowners and the six representatives of the miners, coming to any agreement. He followed the line of the Mover of the Amendment, that the irresistible force meeting the immovable object would cancel out both sides. Surely the experience of the National Railway Board goes to prove, in the first place, that such a thing does not happen, and that, as far as peace being the object of the meetings of the Board, in 19 cases out of 20 they do come together and form a very satisfactory and harmonious whole. If national peace is the aim in the railway industry, surely they have been able to achieve it.
The suggestion that the representatives of the opposing parties would serve no useful purpose on this Board, is not borne out by the facts. I also want to inform the Mover of the Amendment that his contention that the non-political unions would not get a square deal is not borne out by the facts. It has also been inferred that the representation of the miners upon a Board of this character would be such that they would introduce a bias which would react unfavourably upon certain sections. That is not the experience of those who have had anything to do with National Boards. The condition of these non-political miners is just the same as other miners. In the railway service we have non-political unions, and our experience has invariably been that when we have made an agreement with the railway companies, the non-political unions—the trades unions which are not within the scope, of the Trade Union Congress—are only too ready to run to the railway companies in order to attach their signature to the agreement, and then claim that they have played their part in bringing about a very much desired arrangement between themselves and the companies. Wherever advantages are to be obtained, you may rest assured that the non-political unions will not hesitate to range themselves on the side of the representatives of the men on these Boards. I 104 am afraid that my experience that this kind of representation is so essential on these Boards, and that they are usually prepared to examine a question on its merits, is not the practical experience of hon. Members on the other side. As one who has had experience of the working of a National Wages Board under the 1921 Act, I would commend these facts for their guidance.
§ Major DAVIES
One thing is evident from the Debate on this particular Amendment, namely, that in all parts of the House hon. Members are animated by the one idea to promote good feeling and conciliation. For that reason I think it is a pity that in a matter which so vitally affects so many Members of the party opposite there is such a meagre representation on the benches opposite even though it is only five minutes to six o'clock. This is the most debatable part of this Bill, and it is vitally important. It is somewhat difficult to deal with the speech of the Secretary for Mines because—chameleon-like—he combines shrewd philosophy with a certain disarming optimism which does not altogether fit the hard facts connected with the problem with which we are trying to deal. I would ask the Committee to bear in mind two matters which are vital. In the first place, the mining industry, on account of the history which it is not necessary to go into, and whose tragedy is deplored by everybody, is no longer an industry which concerns only those definitely connected with it. It concerns the whole country. It is the basis of so much possible prosperity or disaster, that it affects vitally the whole country. Therefore it is not a matter to be dealt with merely by those connected with the industry. It has become nationwide.
I would like for a few moments to visualise the situation which is to come before this National Board. The matter has been hammered out in a district or in a particular pit between representatives of the owners and representatives of the miners. Passions or hard feelings may or may not have been aroused. People have put forward their arguments and the two sides are so far apart that some further step in an effort to conciliation through conferences is desired by everybody rather than that the only solution should be a strike or a lock-out. The question at issue, therefore, comes in that 105 form before whatever the particular body may be. Is it really to be supposed that if you have on this Board six representatives, although somewhat detached from the immediate source of the dispute, you are going suddenly, as it were by magic, because we have set up a new National Board, to eliminate entirely that atmosphere of friction and distrust which has, perhaps, been generated with the presentation of the case? I doubt that very much.
There is a considerable analogy, I think, between the question of the Wages Board in agriculture and the question to which my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment alluded. At the present time I happen to have the good fortune to represent an agricultural constituency and hon. Members may think that it is impertinent on my part to take part in a Debate on coal. But, as a Member of the House and of the Committee, I have my responsibilities, as have other hon. Members, and I have taken part in industrial activities in which similar cases between masters and men have arisen. On these Agricultural Boards, it is quite obvious that there may be one or two fortunate exceptions dealing perhaps with matters of not very vital importance, but when you do come to questions of hours and wages you always find lined up on one side the representative of the workers and on the other side the representative of the employers. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Hon. Members ask "Why not?" The speeches that have been delivered from their side of the House have all pointed out that that would not happen. My position is that it is most likely to happen.
It is expecting even more from human nature than the Secretary for Mines apparently expects, to think that if the representative of, we will say, the agricultural workers, brings forward a proposal that wages should be increased, all the others could take a detached view. I am trying to visualise the facts as they will be. We want to get all this into an atmosphere of the maximum possible agreement. My hon. Friend and late opponent the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) said to the Seconder of the Amendment, "Would you adopt this for your own industry?" Speaking from my own industrial experience I should say, "Undoubtedly, yes." In regard to the 106 composition of this Board we want to get as far away as possible from the arena of strife. We want to have the confidence not only of those engaged in the industry but of the community as a whole that every effort has been made to secure a solution of the matter in dispute, and I maintain that the best way is not to put on the Board definite representatives of the two sides in the industry, but to seek as far as possible those who can take a new and detached point of view upon the situation presented to them, and can do so with a certain amount of freshness without reference to past friction and quarrelling and ill-feeling. I think the President of the Board of Trade would be well advised to reconsider the matter before the Report stage. If in the formation of this Board we are not using our best judgment in providing what we hope will produce the best results, we are doing a disservice instead of a service to a great industry.
§ Mr. KELLY
I should not have intervened but for the reference made by the last speaker to myself. I cannot understand the mind of hon. Members opposite who are so anxious to eliminate from the Board all who are directly concerned with the industry. I have been engaged in arbitration and conciliation work for nearly 30 years, and I know of no Board that is composed of people who are outside the industry concerned. Take the engineering trade. When we have taken cases to arbitration and brought in someone who was not concerned with the industry, there has generally been a great mess made of the whole business. So with other industries to which one could refer and in which one has played some part. The example taken by the last speaker, the example of the Agricultural Wages Committee, does not bear very much investigation. Unfortunately the whole atmosphere of these committees is one of fear that there is going to be another penny taken from someone's pocket and put into someone else's. I should be ruled out of order, however, if I dealt further with agricultural wages, though the last speaker almost led me into a discussion of the subject.
The Mover of the Amendment is entirely wrong in suggesting that there should be no consultation with the Miners' Federation or the Mineowners' 107 Association. To ask that there should be an elimination of those factors is really trying to bring more and more trouble into the industry. As for the National Board, they would not be the same people who have dealt with the question locally, though one or two of the members may be, just as in other industries there are one or two local people who are sitting on National Boards. It is always an advantage to have them there. If in this country we are going to have a state of affairs such as has been pictured by hon. Members opposite, when those connected with an industry cannot be trusted to settle their differences, industry is in a bad way. I hope that the Amendment will be defeated in such a way that we shall hear nothing of this kind of thing again.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
This is the most extraordinary Amendment that we have had moved on this Bill. The speech of the Mover and all the speeches in support of the Amendment have taken a line in favour of the Clause and its object. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] At any rate most of the speakers have professed a desire to see effect given to the object of the Clause. Now they move an Amendment which would have the immediate effect of destroying the Clause. It is difficult to believe that they are serious. They propose the setting up, in the mining industry, of an Industrial Board which will have on it no representative of either the miners or the mineowners. No one who has had anything to do with this or any other industry could support the establishment of a Board of that kind. I hope that we are not going to waste much more time in discussing an Amendment which really has the effect of destroying the Clause. It is an insult to the mining community and to a great industry that hon. Members should give expression to the idea that we should have a Board appointed to deal with matters of importance to the mining industry and that there should be no representative of miners or mineowners upon it. The supporters of the Clause desire to settle disputes in the industry without warfare and by consultation and conciliation, and they believe that if they have a Board on which the industry has 108 full representation they can reach settlement by consultation. That belief is borne out by experience.
It has been argued very strongly that the two sides, the miners and the mine-owners, if appointed to the Board, would cancel out each other. If that were so hon. Members who support the Amendment would have their desire. The matter in dispute would then be left, not to those who are in the industry, and no harm would be done, but the Board would have to decide after having had the advantage of discussion, based on knowledge, between the representatives of the one side and the other. Those of us who have had any experience of these Boards in industry know that in 19 cases out of 20, perhaps in more, a decision is reached by consultation and discussion between the parties. It is of the greatest importance in this industry, as in every other, that we should substitute conciliation and consultation for the warfare of the past. I hope that we may be allowed to go on with the discussion of other Amendments and not debate this Amendment further, seeing that it would really destroy the Clause which it aims at amending.
§ Commodore KING
I really do admire the self-complacency of the last speaker. Because he does not agree with this Amendment he says it is a waste of time to discuss it.
§ Mr. JONES
I did not say it would be a waste of time to discuss it because I disagreed with it, thought there is something to be said for that too, but because, if carried, it would destroy the Clause. Therefore, it would save time if the hon. Member who moved the Amendment would move to leave out the Clause instead of trying to amend it.
§ Commodore KING
It was hardly necessary for the right hon. Member to get up and repeat a statement and argument which have no possible basis. He said that the Amendment would destroy the Clause. In that he is absolutely incorrect. Our Amendment is designed to place on this Industrial Board a different body of men from those appointed under the Bill. We are perfectly entitled to make such a suggestion, and we are not in any way killing the Clause by the Amendment. When we come to the 109 Clause as a whole it is certainly our intention to try to defeat it. I said so the other day, and I will repeat the statement on every possible occasion. We think that this Bill is bad from start to finish, and by different Amendments we are seeking to make it a better Bill. Obviously, if we were agreed on the merits of the Bill we should not be fighting it as we are. We are putting forward this Amendment because we think it would provide for a better board than that suggested in the Bill.
The secretary for Mines said that it-would be a well balanced board. We go with him so far as to say that we think it would be too well balanced. That has been our criticism throughout. We think the board would to a large extent cancel itself out. If it did that and a decision rested on the casting vote of the Chairman, we should not be much better off under the Clause than we have been up to the present time on the question of wages, because in many of the district agreements that we have now, where the two sides have failed to come to a definite conclusion or a friendly arrangement, we have had an independent chairman or assessor to deal with the matter. The Secretary for Mines avoided the excellent arguments which were put forward by my hon. Friend, who made an extremely lucid and well reasoned speech. Hardly a point in that speech has been answered by the Secretary for Mines, or by any hon. Member on the Government side. He was dealing with the question of the possibility of having a biased board to decide these questions. We believe it will be far better to have an independent tribunal, which would have no personal feeling in any of the questions they have to decide. The interests of the different districts in the mining industry vary considerably, and in spite of the best intentions, however upright and honest the members of a board might be, we must all realise that these interests are bound to be more or less in the minds of those on the board.
The industry is worked by districts, and to a large extent their interests are antagonistic. Take their attitude with regard to this Bill. The Yorkshire owners are in favour of the Measure, because they know that the costs in other districts are going to be put up and that will place them as owners in a better 110 position in competition as between districts. District interests are antagonistic. It is the same with regard to the men. The men in many districts favour the suggestions of this Bill. Not so in Yorkshire; because they are getting nothing out of it. Those are examples of the district feeling, which rules everywhere. Suppose a wage question concerning the Lancashire district came before this industrial board. The majority might not be Lancashire representatives; the majority of the interests might well be Yorkshire or Derbyshire. Is it not obvious that, however honest or impartial they might desire to be, they would be swayed by the fact that an increase in costs in Lancashire would be to their advantage? Nobody disputes the fact that an increase in costs in Lancashire would benefit Yorkshire.
§ Commodore KING
I am saying that, however honest they may wish to be, they cannot help being swayed by something which may be to their own personal interests, and to the interests of the men in their district. In other parts of the Bill it is laid down that people should have no interest in a particular subject with which they are dealing. This is a well-founded Amendment, and, so far from being a waste of time, I think it would be to the advantage of the Bill if between now and the Report stage the President of the Board of Trade considered the points that have been raised. It would be an advantage if the Amendment was accepted and a really independent tribunal set up. It is no insult to anyone. It is far better to have no personal interest and no district bias. It is far better to have a case tried by a wholly independent tribunal than by a tribunal composed of those who are directly interested one way or the other.
§ Mr. T. GRIFFITHS
I hope that the Government will not accept this Amendment because, in my opinion, it is a most retrograde step. Take the steel industry which I represent, and the sheet steel and tin-plate industry. As a result of 111 the machinery for dealing with disputes, both as to conditions in the industry and wages, we have not had a national strike or even a local strike in the steel trade, in the sheet-steel trade, or in the tin-plate trade, for the last 40 years. Why? Because we have been able to settle our differences with our own machinery. And we are trying to bring into the mining industry the same kind of organisation already established in other industries. If we have a dispute in a particular works the workers' representative meets the manager and discusses the question, and if they fail to agree the branch secretary reports to the local district organiser, and the employer reports to the secretary of his association. Then they appoint a neutral arbitrator.
§ The CHAIRMAN
We cannot discuss a particular trade union's machinery on this Amendment. Other trade union Members might want to elaborate and explain the machinery of their unions.
§ Mr. GRIFFITHS
If they fail to settle a dispute locally it is sent to the Board, which consists half of employers and half of employés. They understand the technicalities of the trade and the conditions in the industry. They know the wages paid in every works, and, surely, if people who understand their own business are unable to arrive at an agreement, no outsider can possibly bring about an agreement. That is what we are doing in this Clause. We say that the mineowners and miners shall be brought together. They are the people who understand the conditions in the industry. If there is any difference of opinion it should be brought to a body of practical men to decide. Why have we had so many stoppages in the mining industry in the past? I think it is because they have not had the same effective machinery for dealing with disputes as other industries. They have no finality. You get a miners' representative receiving a mandate from the branches, and you get the employers' representative receiving a mandate from the Mining Association; but you get no 112 agreement whatever. Here you have a Board with an equal number of men and employers, and if they fail to agree you have someone there who will settle the dispute. Surely, that is far better than having a strike and all the trouble in the industry which we have had in the past. This is a well thought out plan, and will be found to be a peaceful method of settling disputes in the mining industry just as we have settled disputes in the steel, cotton, iron, and engineering industries. This is one of the finest Clauses in the Bill for settling strikes and disputes. If it is not accepted, we shall be back in the state of chaos which we have had since 1926.
§ Mr. HASLAM
The hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Griffiths) speaks with unusual authority on the steel trade, and I am sure it is a matter of great congratulation on all sides of the Committee that there has been no dispute in that trade for so many years. The principle he put before us to avoid disputes was to bring the two sides together. Hon. Members on this side of the Committee will agree that that is a sound principle, but the question arises whether it is carried out by this Clause. There are many different districts in the mining industry and the conditions differ very largely indeed. Reference has been made to the agricultural industry, and a comparison drawn between it and the mining industry. The Committee might usefully consider the machinery in agriculture and the conditions which obtain there. In that industry the conditions in different districts differ enormously. According to this Clause there are to be six representatives of the masters and six representatives of the men on the tribunal. Is that number sufficient to cover all the districts? I understand that there are 12 or 15 different districts.
§ Mr. HASLAM
In that case, if there are 21 districts, and there are only six members from either side, it stands to reason that the remaining districts will be entirely unrepresented, and that these six persons will endeavour to adjudicate on matters of detail which they do not understand. The whole point of the speech of the hon. Member for Pontypool was that persons who understood 113 local conditions should come together. The question is, does this Clause carry out that principle? In my view it does not; and if we are reduced to the position that this Clause does not really carry out the great principle of bringing the two sides together, that is, those who understand the industry, then it is much better to have an entirely independent tribunal with no knowledge of the particular details. I suggest that this Amendment does need serious consideration on the part of the Government.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I think it is desired that we should have a full discussion on the Clause standing part, and, therefore, I suggest that as this particular point has been fully reviewed we might now come to a decision upon it.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I hope the right hon. Gentleman does not suggest that there is any agreement that we should necessarily get this Clause tonight. I think we should have a full and
§ proper discussion on the question of the Clause standing part, but we cannot have a proper discussion if Amendments are cut short.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I do not suggest that there is any agreement, but my right hon. Friend is aware that some of the subsequent Amendments on the Paper must disappear in view of decisions which have already been taken, and it is for the convenience of the Committee that we should have a discussion on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." As I think we can do so without injustice to any hon. Member, I propose that we should now take the decision of the Committee on this Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the end of line 5, stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 250; Noes, 147.117
|Division No. 148.]||AYES.||[6.32 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Dalton, Hugh||Hoffman, P. C.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Hopkin, Daniel|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Horrabin, J. F.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph|
|Angell, Norman||Duncan, Charles||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.|
|Arnott, John||Ede, James Chuter||Isaacs, George|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Edmunds, J. E.||Johnston, Thomas|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Ayles, Walter||Egan, W. H.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Elmley, Viscount||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Foot, Isaac||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)|
|Batey, Joseph||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)|
|Bennett, Capt. E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Kelly, W. T.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Gibbins, Joseph||Kennedy, Thomas|
|Benson, G.||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||Kinley, J.|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Gill, T. H.||Kirkwood, D.|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Glassey, A. E.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)|
|Blindell, James||Gossling, A. G.||Lang, Gordon|
|Bowen, J. W.||Gould, F.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lathan, G.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Law, A. (Rosendale)|
|Bromley, J.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lawrence, Susan|
|Brothers, M.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Lawson, John James|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Groves, Thomas E.||Leach, W.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Grundy, Thomas W.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lees, J.|
|Caine, Derwent Hall-||Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Cameron, A. G.||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Longbottom, A. W.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hardie, George D.||Longden, F.|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Harris, Percy A.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Lowth, Thomas|
|Chater, Daniel||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Lunn, William|
|Church, Major A. G.||Haycock, A. W.||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hayday, Arthur||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hayes, John Henry||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Compton, Joseph||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||McElwee, A.|
|Cove, William G.||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||McEntee, V. L.|
|Cowan, D. M.||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Daggar, George||Herriotts, J.||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)|
|Dallas, George||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||McShane, John James|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Price, M. P.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Mansfield, W.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|March, S.||Rathbone, Eleanor||Strauss, G. R.|
|Marcus, M.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Markham, S. F.||Ritson, J.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Marley, J.||Romeril, H. G.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Marshall, F.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Mathers, George||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Matters, L. W.||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Maxton, James||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Messer, Fred||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Tout, W. J.|
|Millar, J. D.||Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)||Townend, A. E.|
|Mills, J. E.||Sanders, W. S.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Montague, Frederick||Sandham, E.||Turner, B.|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Sawyer, G. F.||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Scott, James||Viant, S. P.|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Scrymgeour, E.||Walker, J.|
|Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Scurr, John||Wallace, H. W.|
|Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Walters, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Tudor|
|Mort, D. L.||Sherwood, G. H.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Shield, George William||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||West, F. R.|
|Muff, G.||Shillaker, J. F.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Nathan, Major H. L.||Shinwell, E.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Simmons, C. J.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Noel Baker, P. J.||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Oldfield, J. R.||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Owen, H. F. (Hereford)||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Palin, John Henry||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Paling, Wilfrid||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Palmer, E. T.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Wise, E. F.|
|Perry, S. F.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Snell, Harry||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Phillips, Dr. Marlon||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Pole, Major D. G.||Sorensen, R.||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Charles|
|Potts, John S.||Stamford, Thomas W.||Edwards.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Dalkeith, Earl of||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Albery, Irving James||Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Davies, Dr. Vernon||King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J.(Kent, Dover)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Atkinson, C.||Dawson, Sir Philip||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Duckworth, G. A. V.||Llewellin, Major J. J.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Long, Major Eric|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Meller, R. J.|
|Berry, Sir George||Ferguson, Sir John||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Fermoy, Lord||Mond, Hon. Henry|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Fielden, E. B.||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Ford, Sir P. J.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Boyce, H. L.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Ganzonl, Sir John||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Penny, Sir George|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Gower, Sir Robert||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Butler, R. A.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Remer, John R.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Ross, Major Ronald D.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hanbury, C.||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Haslam, Henry C.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Savery, S. S.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hunter Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hurd, Percy A.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Iveagh, Countess of||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon||Withers, Sir John James|
|Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W' morland)||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)||Warrender, Sir Victor||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Tinne, J. A.||Wayland, Sir William A.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Todd, Capt. A. J.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Turton, Robert Hugh||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Captain Margesson and Captain|
|Sir George Bowyer.|
§ Sir GERALD HURST
I beg to move, in page 14, line 5, at the end, to insert the words "and all non-political trades unions of miners."
The object of this very simple and clear-cut Amendment is to secure that the representation on the National Board of the workers in the mines shall reflect the views, not of one section of miners only, but of all sections of miners. Everybody will agree that the body of miners who are to be consulted with regard to the six persons to be appointed to represent them on this Board should be as representative a body as possible, and my submission is that all considerable sections of miners should be represented on that body. At present we all know that the cream of the mining community is associated, not with the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, which is mentioned in the Clause, but with the various non-political trade unions. There are from 50,000 to 100,000 miners who will have nothing whatever to do with the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. Supposing that, a dispute were to occur in the Nottingham area or South Wales, a majority of the miners involved in which belonged to one or other of the non-political unions, it would be unfair if those men were represented on the Board, not by people of their own nomination, but by people representing a trade union from which they had dissociated themselves and which was hostile to them. It seems common fairness and common sense that the miners to be consulted as to representation on this Board should not belong to one trade union only.
Even assuming that one section is to be preferred over another—an assumption which no fair-minded man would make—I suggest that it is absurd to prefer the Miners' Federation, which is well-known to be the worst led trade union in the world, to the non-political trade unions which represent the best type of trades unionists. Wherever you find the miners in the most flourishing condition, wherever you find that working 118 conditions, hours of labour and wages are best, there you find that the non-political union is the most popular. Those unions have not frittered away their funds on political purposes and they stand in a position of which the other unions are naturally envious. I suggest that it is only fair that bodies of this type should have their due share in re presentation on the body of miners to be consulted by the Board of Trade on this matter.
In the Bill as it stands we are asked to concentrate the representation of the mining community in persons as to whose nomination the Miners' Federation only is to be consulted. We know from the figures which were given at the annual meeting of the Miners' Federation in Blackpool, last July, that their numbers have gone down in one year from 625,000 to 543,000. That is a sign of a decline in their popularity among the miners engaged in the collieries of this country. The Miners' Federation showed their deficiencies and vices during the years 1926–27. In 1926 they caused incalculable harm to their own members, and in 1927, so far from showing, in the words of the Minister of Mines, that men change and their minds alter, we found them in opposition to the Trade Disputes Act, which every workman regards as the charter of his liberties. Again, in 1929, the trade union which above all others is trying to lead the pre sent Government into devious ways, is the Miners' Federation. That being so, my submission is twofold (1) that all large unions of miners ought to be represented upon this Board and they ought not to have sectional representation but representation of the industry as a whole, and (2) there are no grounds whatever for preferring the Miners' Federation of Great Britain to the non-political unions, which have not only gained a great foothold among the more enlightened and intelligent trade unionists, but have gained a foothold in the esteem of the people of this country.
§ Mr. CHARLES BROWN
It is with some diffidence that I address the House 119 for the first time. I have been by no means eager to participate in its Debates until I had familiarised myself with its atmosphere and its usages. Perhaps it is rather unfortunate, in some ways, that I should speak for the first time on such a highly controversial subject. I do not know why those hon. Members who have put this Amendment upon the Order Paper have worded it in the plural. So far as my knowledge goes there is only one miners' non-political union, and that is the union known to many hon. Members of this House, and particularly those hon. Members who were in the last Parliament, as the Spencer Union. I want to say a few words about the Amendment, because I represent in this House one of the constituencies in the coalfields of Nottingham most affected by the activities of the union whose interests have been sponsored by the hon. and learned Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst). Hon. Members will remember that when the controversies about this organisation took place in the past the protagonist on the Labour side was the hon. Member who represented the Mansfield constituency prior to myself, while the protagonist on the other side was the hon. Member for the Broxstowe Division of Nottingham. Hon. Members who were in the last Parliament will remember the controversies that went on between those two hon. Members.
I respectfully submit that since 1926 the miners of Nottingham have in every way possible expressed their utter loathing, contempt and disgust for this so-called political union. This Clause seeks to set up a body which shall be representative of all the interests concerned so far as coal goes. I can easily understand that the Mining Association, the Miners' Federation and the Federation of British Industries should be represented on that body, and also the other organisations mentioned in the Bill, but I cannot understand why anybody in this House should suggest that this non-political union should have representation on this body. What is the non-political union? It is an organisation run by a little clique of people who represent nobody but themselves and, unfortunately, they have fashioned an instrument which has become in the hands of the coalowners of Nottinghamshire 120 and some parts of Derbyshire one of the most powerful implements of tyranny ever used by the employers.
May I quote from a letter which was received the other day by an hon. Member? Conditions are so bad in parts of the Nottinghamshire coalfields that it is necessary, if you require labour, to draft that labour from elsewhere. I would like the Committee to listen to a passage from the letter from a man who was drafted into Nottinghamshire to a particular colliery. The quotation is one that I might aptly describe as the coal-owners using the spider and the fly sort of method, "Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly." Here is what happened to a number of men:When we landed at the pit the manager gave us a dinner, and those who wanted beer could have a bottle of Younger No. 3 and sandwiches, and there were men watching us outside the office window have dinner who belonged to the district themselves, but who could not have a job.That is how the spider and the fly method works.But it is the Spencer Union here, and if you do not join, they put you into the worst places in the pit.I have in my pocket a list of the names of men who only on Friday last were threatened that they would be put into poorer places if they did not immediately pay up into the Spencer Union. This organisation is nothing but an instrument of tyranny used by the coal owners of Nottinghamshire. Therefore, I hope the Committee will give no countenance whatever to the Amendment.
§ Mr. SMITHERS
It falls to my lot to congratulate the hon. Member on the very clear and forceful way in which he has addressed the House for the first time. I see one of his colleagues shaking hands with him. I should like to shake hands with him and to congratulate him on the delivery of his speech. I envy him the forceful and strong way in which he spoke. I wish to put forward the case of the non-political unions and the policy for which they stand.
§ Mr. SMITHERS
There is more than one. [Interruption.] I have only been speaking for a minute and I hope that hon. Members will give me a chance to develop my argument. Hon. Members 121 may say what they like, and possibly they may shout and howl at me before I have finished, but I submit that the policy observed by the non-political trade unions is in the best interest not only of the industry but of the men. The hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. C. Brown) spoke about tyranny. I have gone to some trouble to find out at first hand about the conditions of some member's of the Nottinghamshire non-political union, and if I had known that the hon. Member was going to bring forward specific cases I would certainly have brought forward specific cases. I hope the Committee will believe me when I say that over and over again I have had cases brought to my notice of men who, having joined the non-political union, have been subjected to really bad cases of tyranny. So the fault, and it is a fault, is not only on one side.
The Nottinghamshire miners non-political union is not the paltry thing that the hon. Member for Mansfield would have us believe. It has 17,000 paying members and they contribute 6d. per week. I should like to mention some of the benefits that the members of that non-political trade union receive. They get medical advice in case of accidents, legal assistance—[Interruption.] There have been no interruptions from this side, and I would ask hon. Members to allow me to proceed.
It is not true. May I assure the hon. Member that there is no medical benefit through that non-political union.
§ Mr. SMITHERS
My information comes from sources which I believe to be absolutely true. I repeat that I am informed on the highest authority—
§ The CHAIRMAN
This matter does not arise on the Amendment. Even if they do give such benefits, it has nothing to do with the question of representation or non-representation on the body mentioned in the Clause.
§ Mr. SMITHERS
This non-political trade union has been held up to ridicule as though it was nothing, and I want to 122 point out that it is a trade union of substance and that it has a right to claim to be represented upon the National Board, and that it is looking after its men better than the branches of the Miners' Federation look after their men.
§ The CHAIRMAN
As to what the hon. Member has said in connection with health benefits and that sort of thing, you can get that through your approved society, and I do not think the hon. Member need detain the Committee on that point. I do not want to curtail the hon. Member's speech unnecessarily.
§ Mr. DUNCAN
On a point of Order. Is it right for an hon. Member to give an advertisement to a trade union?
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
On a point of Order. The hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. C. Brown), in a very admirable maiden speech, sought to show that this so-called Spencer Union was not entitled to representation on the National Board because it was not representative and because, even if it was representative, it did not behave as a decent trade union ought to behave. He was allowed to develop his argument, and I submit that my hon. Friend is strictly in order if he responds to that argument by saying that this or any other non-political union is representative and does behave in a way which justifies it in being treated as a representative union and, therefore, ought to be encouraged by the Government, if they are going to put any trade union representatives on the Board.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member who has just made his maiden speech dealt with it from a trade union point of view. I am pointing out that payment of health benefits do not in any way make a trade union whether non-political or otherwise.
§ Mr. SMITHERS
I was only pointing out that this non-political trade union carries out its duties to its members more efficiently and with better benefits than any other branch of the coal miners' trade unions in England. Something was said from the other side of the House about the money they get, and it was said they never have any. I would point out that this non-political trade union is a union of some substance, because from 1st. January, 1928, to 31st December, 123 1929, it paid over £13,000 in out of work pay and from 1st January, 1927, to 31st December, 1929, £25,000 in pensions.
§ Mr. SMITHERS
Any union which can show these results is worthy of representation on the National Board. Another reason why they are able to treat their men well is that they do not have to pay large affiliation fees to the Trade Union Congress or to the Socialist party. The hon. Members opposite must at some time have stood up for some small and growing organisation, and, if they are democratic, they must often have stood up for minorities, and I therefore ask them to support this Amendment. I am speaking this afternoon because Mr. Spencer, who used to be a Member of this House, is not here now, and is not able to speak for himself. I was determined, therefore, that someone should put the case for these non-political trade unions and try to obtain representation for them on the National Board.
There is another difficulty if they are not represented. The Nottingham Association has its own agreement with the masters and there is no provision made for them if some representation is not given to them on the Board. I understand, too, that the Nottingham owners have been protesting to the Government for assuming that the Mining Association represents them. The President of the Board of Trade will correct me if I am wrong in that. Several Members opposite have said that there is only one non-political trade union. They are attacking a body which, after all, has only exercised the inalienable right of every citizen to be free to do what he likes and not to be brought under the iron hand and tyranny of the trade union movement. I would point out to them that there are other non-political trade unions. In Wales, there is a non-political trade union of between 8,000 and 10,000 members, in North Durham there are about 4,000 non-political trade unionists, there is a small union in Scotland, and there is a small union in Yorkshire.
124 I am urging that these unions should have representation, and I am convinced that, as the provisions of this Bill are worked, disillusion will come to the miners, and the tendency will be more and more to leave the official trade unions and to join the non-political trade unions. There are at present between 40,000 and 50,000 members of non-political miners' trade unions in Great Britain to-day. Cannot the President of the Board of Trade see his way to give these men representation on the National Board? The hon. Member who made his maiden speech just now spoke as if the non-political trade union in Nottingham was carrying no weight in the district. I understand that the official unions in that district are now collecting about £700 a month, whereas, before the non-political union was formed, they were collecting £5,000 a month. The miners in the Nottingham area are not fools, and they would not leave one union for another as they have done if they did not get better benefits and better treatment.
I want to emphasise the non-political side of the trade union movement, and it is for that reason as much as for the sake of getting these men represented that I am anxious that upon the National Board there should be someone who can represent the non-political trade union attitude, and can give the experience of what has happened in a non-political trade union. I firmly believe that, the more you divorce trades unions from political thought and the more you wed them to economic thought, the better it will be for the trade unions, for their members, and for the country as a whole. The very reason for this Bill itself is political, because the Government at the last Election promised for political purposes to reduce the miners' working time by one hour.
§ Mr. SMITHERS
I am anxious that this non-political trade union should be represented on this National Board, so that these views, when tend towards the economic side of the question and not so much towards the political side, should be put. The reason I want these non-political views to be put forward is that the setting up of a mining board gives the men the idea that they can secure better terms politically than are economically 125 possible. A point that a non-political trade union representative could put forward is that the limits of concessions are set by economic facts and not by the political strength of organisations.
The President of the Board of Trade, in the earlier stage of the Debate, said that the existing district organisations would be used to the limit, and that when a dispute had got too far for a district board it would then be referred to the National Board. A national board will be much more politically minded than a a district board, and it is a serious reflection on the economic common sense of local leaders that they cannot be trusted to make their own agreements with their intimate knowledge of local economic difficulties. From the political point of view, the miners trust to the strike, and trust to this Bill to give them something beyond economic possibilities. In 1926, the men were defeated, not by the Conservatives, the Liberals, or Mr. Cook, but by economic circumstances. Then they turned to a political party to secure through politics that which the economic situation would not permit. That is why I am so anxious to get men who have had experience of running non-political trade unions represented on this National Board.
Finally, I want to call attention to the way in which political influence and the leaving aside of all economic considerations has done terrible harm to this country, to trade unions and to the miners themselves. I am the last person who wants to raise the trouble of 1926 again. I do not want to say a word which will in any way make peace and good will between masters and men more difficult. But, after all, 1926 was a terrible disaster for the country, and it seems absurd that we cannot in good feeling and good temper draw some lessons from it. The lesson I want to draw is that it was the political influence then brought to bear on the coal industry which brought disaster on the industry and on the country. If more attention had been given to the economic facts of the situation, and if the settlement of the dispute had been referred to districts and not to a national body, we should never have had any strike at all. I want to draw this hopeful sign from the splendid lead given by the right hon. Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin). [Interruption.] That shows that, in spite of all 126 that he has done to try to bring peace in the coal industry, even to-day there are some hon. Members who do not appreciate what he has done. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members by that cheer agree that there are many who do not appreciate it. They have not learned their lesson, but I would like to point out that there is one gentleman in this country who has learned a good deal from the General Strike, and that is Mr. Cook.
§ The CHAIRMAN
There is nothing in the Amendment about putting Mr. Cook upon the National Industrial Board.
§ Mr. SMITHERS
I want to get someone on the Board who will be able to point out the folly of Mr. Cook's political action in 1926.
§ Mr. SMITHERS
The purpose of the National Board is to record any agreement between owners and miners and, where a dispute either exists or is apprehended, to inquire into the matter and report thereon.
§ Mr. SMITHERS
I have never got into conflict with the Chair, and I am not going to do so now. Although there may be only about 40,000 members, I believe that the non-political trade union movement will grow. [Interruption.] Is it argument to growl like a dog? I have often said that if only the people of England could see and hear the Opposition in this House, it would be quite enough. Many hon. Members opposite must often, I know, have felt that they were pleading for a minority, for a small but growing concern that was trying to make good, and I ask the President of the Board of Trade to give this body of men, who have bound themselves together and done very well within their own organisation, and who are looking after their members well, representation on the National Board. I ask him also to look at the other side of the question. If they have not got representation, and if the stories that I hear, and believe to be true, of victimisation are true, then surely, they cannot get a fair and square deal.
§ Mr. MacLAREN
I was amazed to notice this Amendment, which was moved by an hon. Member of this Committee who cannot say that he is altogether ignorant of the law. I would like, if he had remained in the Chamber, to ask him what is meant in law by a non-political union. I should like to hear any hon. and learned Member of this Committee define in law what he means by a non-political union. The hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Smitihers) spoke about an entity which does not exist, namely, the non-political man. I have never met him, nor have I ever met the non-political union. If hon. Members opposite wish to make the Bill more comprehensive, and to get on the National Board men who are not identified with one political party, let them say so, but let them not put in this non-political union when they cannot define what they mean. Let us take a hypothetical case, and suppose the Miners' Federation should take one line of action in politics which they deemed to be the best line of action for their own unions, and the so-called non-political union deemed that they must take another political line of action in opposition. Would the non-political union still be a non-political union?
I cannot see this so-called non-political union standing entirely aside from political action. They could not do so and have not done so, and the Member of this House who was personally identified with them was very forward in expressing his political opinions in this House during the short time he was here. They were definitely political, and hon. Members opposite—let us be candid—know very well that all this talk about a non-political union is playing with honesty, because, as a matter of fact, it is the fond and certain hope that they will have a union outside the Miners' Federation which they can use for their political purposes that has them in this Committee to-day talking about a thing they cannot define, namely, a non-political union. If the Committee wishes to waste more time, it can do so by discussing a thing which cannot be defined in law, and I would ask any hon. Member opposite who honestly believes in this Amendment—those learned in the law; I do not want anyone who is not—to rise in his place and clearly define, as he 128 would have to do in a Law Court, what he means by a non-political union.
§ Captain AUSTIN HUDSON
I am sorry I am not a lawyer, but I hope the Committee will consider very carefully whether it cannot accept this Amendment. When we see how carefully this Clause has been drawn up to try and get all shades of opinion, it is clear that there is something left out here. We have the Mining Association the Miners' Federation, the General Council of the Trades Union Congress, the Co-operative Union, and the National Confederation of Employers' Organisations, and it seems to me that there is a place here for those people who are known generally as the non-political unions. If I, not being a lawyer, was asked to say what I meant by a non-political union, I should say a union which was industrial and was not linked up with any political party.
We all know how that union came about—the particular union about which we have been talking most of the day, the union that is commonly called the Spencer union. It came about because a certain body of men became thoroughly tired of being dragged along behind a political party. They therefore broke away and said they would have nothing to do with party politics, but that they wanted a union which would look after them industrially. If it is not going on those lines, it is not the fault of the founder of the union. It is sometimes called an industrial union, and that is undoubtedly what is meant by the words proposed in the Amendment.
The Government have said again and again that they hope this Bill will not be looked upon entirely from a party point of view, and I think that appeal has been accepted on all sides to a very great degree. While we know that this Amendment is apt to cause a certain amount of party feeling, I cannot see what harm could be done by admitting representation of this body of men. They will bring a point of view which is not expressed by any single one of the bodies which I have just enumerated; the various points with regard to wages and other things for which this National Board is to be set up can be discussed, and the fact that there is one representative of an industrial union will of itself be to the advantage of the Board. It is no 129 good hon. Members opposite pretending that this Spencer union is a tyrannous union. It is not. We know that whatever union you may have, there are stories of victimisation—we have lots of cases in which we hear of hard things being done to people who do not belong to the Miners' Federation—but broad-minded people, as we hope we all are in this Committee, will, I trust, accept this Amendment and allow one representative of a non-political union, as against the six proposed to represent the Miners' Federation, to take his place on the National Board.
§ Mr. MARDY JONES
On a point of Order. Is it in order for an hon. Member of this House to move an Amendment when he does not bring forward any evidence of the existence of any such union?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member was not in the Committee when I gave a ruling on that point, but, quite apart from that, the Amendment is perfectly in order.
§ Mr. MARDY JONES
On another point of Order. Is it in order to support a union like this that is financed by employers?
§ Captain HUDSON
Those interruptions give a good idea of the broad-mindedness of hon. Members opposite. Surely one can discuss this union, which is in existence, and there is no use in hon. Members who belong to a rival union trying to cry it down by pretending it is not. We have a Rule in this House that when Members are particularly interested themselves in what we are discussing, they do not vote on the question, and I shall be interested to see if hon. Members who are members of the Miners' Federation and are very intimately bound up with this question will vote in the Lobby against this Amendment. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about owners and railway directors?"] That point may arise later on, but—
§ The CHAIRMAN
There is no question of these people voting. The question how members will vote does not arise.
§ Captain HUDSON
In discussing this question, we must realise that there are thousands of men who belong to an industrial union of great strength, and one other of not so great strength, and I 130 hope that in this discussion we shall not bring in our personal bias. I believe that the addition of a member representing the non-political unions would be an advantage to the National Board, and, therefore, I support the Amendment.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
A few words will suffice to define the attitude of the Government towards the Amendment. I refuse to become involved in the almost heated controversy that has arisen regarding the merits of the rival unions, but the facts are quite clear and simple to every Member of the Committee. After the events of 1926, this organisation was formed in Nottinghamshire, and so far as I know, in certain parts of the adjacent counties. It is true that in other parts of the coalfield there are other small and similar organisations, which profess to be non-political in character, although, with my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee, I have difficulty in understanding that term. The controversy before us really comes back to a decision which was taken in a broadly analogous case by the House of Commons in 1921, when the Conservative and Liberal Members were in a great majority in this Chamber, and when, in the passage of the Railways Act of that year, claims substantially on all fours with the claim now being made by those who have promoted this Amendment, were made for the inclusion of small and, as they argued, non-political bodies in the representative machinery set up under that Act. It is quite impossible to legislate on those lines.
Just consider the state of affairs in this industry in the near future. Hon. Members on the Liberal Benches and the Government are in agreement that they have committed themselves to large-scale amalgamations, and there is not the least doubt that, if that part of the legislation goes through, there will be a great concentration, at least in the ownership of this industry, and presumably also in the Mining Association, as long as that body continues to represent the owners. The only possible course, apart from any merits at all—I do not propose to argue the merits, because it is unnecessary—for any Government, is to take the representative machinery on either side, and no hon. Member will dispute for the moment that the Miners' Federation of Great Britain speaks in substance for a very large part of the men engaged in 131 the coalfield, and that any other organisation is, by comparison, a very small party. Many other bodies would have to be considered if this Amendment were carried. There are certain bodies which are not affiliated to the Trade Union Congress and others that are, but the decision taken in 1921 in the Railways Act was based on the fact that Parliament must look to the larger organisations and make them part of the representative machine.
If these small organsations were admitted, I cannot imagine a worse start for this National Industrial Board in the coalfield. There is not the least doubt that this organisation and similar organisations on a small scale in one or two parts of the country excite great bitterness among miners. If an Amendment of this kind were admitted, we should have difficulty and dispute in the National Industrial Board from the very beginning of its operations, and that in the interest of the body whose membership at the outside is assessed by the advocates of the Amendment at 40,000 people out of 900,000 men engaged in the industry, and several hundreds of thousands covered by the older organisation. Even if I admit the figure of hon. Members at its peak point, plainly a body of this kind is inappropriate in this part of the Bill, and the Government could, under no circumstances, entertain the Amendment.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
Many Members have heard with great regret the speech which the right hon. Gentleman has just made. The discussion which has just taken place shows how very well-advised the Committee would have been to have passed the last Amendment intead of negativing it. We have, however, passed that Amendment by, and now we have, for better or for worse, to establish this Board with mining members upon it. I am not concerned to define with precision the non-political union. We all know it when we see it, and hon. Members, by the directness with which they have attacked this union, seem to be in no doubt of what it is. I might perhaps content myself with saying that, while non-political may not be a wholly accurate title, it is just as accurate as the title of the Labour party. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman has not seen 132 fit to give this union representation. I should have thought that, on the arguments which he presented to the Committee on the other Amendments, he was bound to do so. Ho said, at an earlier stage this afternoon, that we must have the trade union representation sufficiently numerous to bring in perhaps other unions that may be affiliated to the Miners' Federation or the Trade Union Congress. Something is to be said for bringing in other unions, but surely the test of whether another union should be brought into the discussions, of this Board is not what is their political affiliation or whether they are affiliated to the Miners' Federation or to the Trade Union Congress; I should have thought that their claim for representation was the position they occupied in this trade, and whether they are or are not an effective body.
I claim that certainly this is an effective body. Very likely we are legislating for all time in this matter, and it is likely that it will become a more effective body. The right hon. Gentleman on an earlier Amendment said that we must make this Board of a size which will not necessarily exclude from its representation any district, and he said that there are 21 districts where wage agreements are made. Among those districts is that of Nottinghamshire and South Derbyshire. The agreements under which hour" and wages are being regulated in these collieries at the present time are agreements made with this Spencer Union. These are two very important districts and are covered by the Schedule.
§ Mr. LAWTHER
I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that these agreements have been forced upon the men and have been repudiated by ballot.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I am in the recollection of the House, and the President will correct me if I am wrong, but is it not a fact that under that agreement, a higher minimum wage is paid than under any other agreement in the country? Is that a fact? It is not challenged. Yet I am told that an agreement which gives higher wages than any other agreement in the country has been forced upon the men.
§ Mr. C. BROWN
Surely the right hon. Gentleman is aware that under this 133 Clause the coalowners are quite adequately represented, and that representation of this union would be additional representation for the coalowners?
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
That seems to me to be an irrelevant point and a wholly inaccurate statement. I was concerned to answer the challenge thrown out that this agreement was made under duress. It is an agreement under which the men in this district have the highest wages, with the best conditions—and pensions on the top of it—which any set of men in the mining industry have to-day. If that be a form of duress, there must be hundreds of thousands of miners who would rather have it than the duress of the Miners' Federation. It is said that this union cannot be represented because of its tyranny. We have here an example of its tyranny—high wages and pensions—
§ The CHAIRMAN
Hon. Members must not insist on standing if the right hon. Member addressing the Committee does not wish to wive way.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
Another argument was that this union was not entitled to a place—[Interruption.] I have every intention of completing my speech exactly in my own way. Another argument was that this union was not entitled to be represented because of the tyranny under which men who are not members of it were given the inferior working places in the mines. That was the allegation, but I do not know whether it is true. I have no doubt that it would be challenged by those who are competent to challenge it, but I do not know the facts, and therefore I am not going to challenge it. But, assuming it be true, I am going to say this: has not the Miners' Federation insistently and persistently, in every district in the country, not put non-members to the worst places in the mines, but actually forbidden work in the mines to any man who was not a member of their union? Let those in that union who are without sin cast the first stone at the non-political union—[Interruption.]
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must ask hon. Members not to interrupt, or, if they rise to interject, I must assume their interjections are their speeches.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
On the ground which the President of the Board of Trade gave when he rejected a former Amendment, that we must give a chance of representation to these districts, and on the ground that they can only be effectively represented through this union, I submit, in common fairness and justice, that this Amendment ought to be accepted, and that the union ought to be given, not the privilege, but its ordinary common rights, by the side of the other unions on the Board. This Bill does not become more popular as it proceeds. We know that no consumer is to have consideration here—
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I will leave the consumer until I can defend him with good order and propriety. We are dealing now with the miners. I know that this Bill is promoted in the interest of the miners and coalowners, a selected class of the community. What I had not realised till the right hon. Gentleman spoke was that it was not only to be a sectional Bill, but a Bill promoted in the interests of a privileged section of the mining community, and not even of the mining community as a whole; and I venture to say that if anything could make this Clause, to say nothing of this Bill, less unpopular it would be the acceptance of this Amendment.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
The speech which my right hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister) has just made paid very little attention to the machinery by which disputes are to be settled if this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament. The Committee are running the danger of getting away from the main purpose of the Clause, which has been framed with the object of setting up a body to deal with disputes which exist or which are apprehended in the industry. What is the best way of dealing with them by means of a representative body which has judicial powers? The best way of doing that will be to have it so composed that representatives of none of the various opinions will be absent from this body as a whole—and that is the choice taken by the Government—without making any attempt to 135 provide for every section, for every part of the industry, being provided with a representative. That, indeed, is ruled out on the basis of numbers, to begin with. How can you, in proportion to their numbers, put on a man to represent the 40,000 members of what are called the non-political unions? You would have to have a decimal point of a man to do it. It would not fit into the ordinary size of this Board. After all, the Board is large enough as it is, because 17 is a very big number, and an hon. Member of the Conservative party was anxious to reduce the number to 11, in which case there would be still less room for the representation of non-political unions.
In what way are the miners of the non-political unions going to be injured? Is it conceivable that those members of the Board who are nominated because they happen to be members of the Miners' Federation will take the coalowners' side on this Board, that they will decide in favour of lower wages? They will put up as good a fight as they can for high wages, as they have always done in the past, and in getting better conditions for those whom they represent they cannot injure, but are bound to benefit, those in the non-political unions. It might with equal truth be said that the provision for the appointment of six representatives of the Mining Association of Great Britain is an injustice to the non-associated coalowners. Everybody knows that the members of the Mining Association will look after the interests of the coalowners, just as the representatives of the Miners' Federation will look after the interests of the miners.
I think the carrying out of the proposal in this Amendment would pass the wit of man, as I am sure it passes the wit of my right hon. Friend—he has admitted it—because of the difficulty of defining what is meant by a non-political union. In this particular instance the example chosen is a union which does not subscribe to the Miners' Federation and is not affiliated to the Labour party. That is all that is meant by non-political in the mind of my right hon. Friend. Can any man be said to be non-political? We cannot free ourselves from political bias; the best citizens have the most bias. The danger to our democracy lies in the breeding of a whole generation that does 136 not care about politics. The real truth is that there is no such thing as a non-political man, and I very much distrust this proposal to put on representatives of a non-political union, because it seems to me the sole object is to weaken the representation of the Miners' federation, and that in itself is undesirable.
A great many of us have had to deal with labour disputes in the past—sitting on one side of the table or the other; a few of us have sat at the head of the table and seen the disputes through all the troublous time. The conclusion we have all come to—I have never found an arbitrator who was not of that opinion—is that the stronger the bodies on both sides of the table the better would be the settlement; that however bitter might be the disputes, the one thing essential was that those on the two sides of the table should be sufficiently strong To dilute the representation on one side of the table when coming to decisions such as are required in Sub-section (4) would be a weakening of the Bill und not a strengthening of it, would add to the risk of disputes and not lessen it Therefore, I am glad the Government are not accepting the Amendment.
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
It is with very great surprise that I have listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman). Here is a leader of the Liberal party defending the system of majorities representing the minority. I hope the arguments which he put forward so cogently will be remembered at a future date when the Liberal party are clamouring for greater representation in this House. I hope he agrees that it is inconceivable that the union on the benches opposite is not, sufficiently guarding the interests of the minority union below the Gangway on this side of the House. I hope he agrees that it is better that the major parties in this House—the party opposite and the party on this side—should be strengthened to the exclusion of those who are minorities, on the grounds—I think these were his words—that there would not be such bitter controversy as there is when a minority union is concerned. It is a great conversion to find the right hon. Gentleman expressing these views, and I am bound to say it came as a very considerable surprise to me.
137 The question of the legal definition has been raised. That only goes to show the advisability, as we have so often urged from this side of the House, of having the Law Officers of the Crown present to make these legal points clear to us. I hope the Attorney-General will clear up the doubt which seemed to exist as to this definition, and possibly the Lord Advocate will clear up the position as regards Scottish law. Luckily, Parliament does not legislate entirely for lawyers. We are legislating for the ordinary common people of the country, and the term "non-political union" is perfectly plain to them. It is a union which does not belong to any political party at all. I regret that the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. A. MacLaren) is not here, because I might describe a non-political man as someone who believes in something that is not practical polities, such as the taxation of land values. The reasons given for not including these non-political unions are perfectly simple and perfectly understandable from the point of view of hon. Members opposite, because they propose that one side of this Board should consist of the nominees of their own party. This is supposed to be an industrial rather than a political Board, and we say that it should be kept as far apart from politics as possible. I should have liked to hear the arguments of the party opposite if we had set up a Board on which we claimed nomination for our party and refused to include a small proportion of the owners who are not favourable to our party—and there are plenty of them about. In my mind I can hear the denunciations of political bias which would come from the benches opposite. If I may lapse into the vernacular I would remind hon. Members opposite that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and I hope they will see their way to do justice to this minority.
The hon. Member who made such an admirable maiden speech during the Debate, on which I would like to offer him my congratulations, spoke of the miners of Nottinghamshire treating the Spencer Union with loathing and contempt. They treated it with loathing and contempt to the extent of joining to the number of 17,000. There does not seem to be very much loathing and contempt there. I 138 think that is a number sufficiently big to warrant consideration. It is a distinct fraction of the industry and I think it should have definite representation. I am not going into competition with hon. Members opposite on the question of tyranny. They have quoted a case, and it would be very easy for us to cap it with a case of tyranny on the part of the Miners' Federation; and so we could go on. I know plenty of cases which I could quote, but to engage in that kind of exchange would simply be wasting the time of the Committee. I hope that some representation will be found for these non-political unions, even though it be only the decimal point of a man. I support the Amendment.
§ Mr. COCKS
As the representative of the Broxtowe Division of Nottinghamshire, formerly represented by Mr. Spencer, whose name has been so frequently mentioned to-night, I think I may say that I represent one half of the Nottinghamshire miners, the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. C. Brown) representing the other half. That is a very convincing argument on the question of the non-representative character of the Spencer Union. Both my hon. Friend and I were returned for our respective constituencies by enormous majorities, greater than anybody had ever gained in those two divisions before. The speech of the hon. Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst), who moved the Amendment, seemed to me so fantastic and so absolutely remote from reality that it was more like a page from "Alice in Wonderland" than anything else. The right hon. Member for Hendon (Sir P. Cunliffe-Lister) and the hon. Members who represent the flourishing coalfields of Chislehurst (Mr. Smithers) and Aylesbury (Mr. Beaumont) both claimed that the non-political or Spencer Union should be represented on this Board. There is no need for any special representation of this non-political union. As has been pointed out, it is represented there already. It is represented by the owners. This non-political union is nothing more or less than a union supported and subsidised by the owners—subsidised to the extent of £10,000 by the owners and set up in the Notts coalfield merely to do the owners work. [Interruption.] Is it said that it must be a representative union because 139 it pays pensions. We are entitled to point out that £10,000 is supplied by the owners themselves.
§ Major the Marquess of TITCHFIELD
Does the hon. Member object to the miners of Nottingham being helped with their pensions by the owners?
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
I have not the least objection to the miners being helped with their pensions. I am only pointing out that the owners are assisting this union to the tune of £10,000, and that only in the last few days they have decided to come forward with a further subsidy. That shows to me that there is a close and intimate connection between this non-political union and the owners. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I wish to point out that the so-called union in Nottingham which has been referred to is not a union at all, and it does not represent the men. It consists merely of a very small group of disappointed leaders who, at a very critical moment of difficulty in the life of the miners of this country, went over to the other side. [An HON. MEMBER: "Quite wrong!"] In warfare you would describe those people as traitors, and that is how they are regarded by their fellow workers in the Nottingham coalfield. They consist of a small group of officials supported by the coalowners and they have not really any genuine membership at all. They are very much like the South American army who were all leaders and generals and no privates. I can say from my own knowledge—I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. C. Brown) will be ready to confirm what I am going to say—that it is absolutely common knowledge in the Nottingham coalfield that if the men had their freedom, the Spencer Union would almost cease to exist, and only a handful of miners would join that union.
The fact of the matter is not merely that the members of the Spencer Union get better places in the pits, but that certain owners have made it a condition of employment in their pits that the men must join the Spencer Union. This is contrary to the pledge made by the Notts coal-owners to the Trade Union Congress. The contributions of the men 140 belonging to the Spencer Union are taken out of their wages when the employers pay them at the office, and the collectors of the real Miners' Union in Nottingham are not allowed on the premises and they stand outside the gate. Often the miners who have had their contributions taken out of their wages and paid over to the funds of the Spencer Union come and pay subscriptions to the other union. About a year ago a ballot was taken and showed that the majority of the men wished to belong to the Nottingham Miners' Union and not to the Spencer Union.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The question before the Committee is whether the miners should be represented or not.
§ Mr. COCKS
I am trying to show that the Spencer Union does not represent the miners. At every election since the ballot to which I have referred was taken, the miners, by an overwhelming majority, voted for the Nottingham Miners' Union candidates against the Spencer Union candidates. My point is that the miners in Nottingham are represented by the Miners' Federation, and, if the proposal now before the Committee were adopted, it would mean that the National Board would be overweighted in the interests of the owners. If the Committee passes this Amendment, it will mean that Government recognition will be given to people who are shunned by any decent and honest human being. The passing of this Amendment would be an insult to the Board, and for these reasons I hope the Committee will reject it by an overwhelming majority.
§ Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
I was very much surprised at the views expressed on this Amendment by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman). After listening to the strong expressions which have been used in this Debate by hon. Members opposite, I realise that there exists intense bitterness between the trade unions and the non-political union of miners in Nottingham. The criticisms which I have heard on this point from hon. Members opposite have convinced me more and more that the non-political minority in Nottingham should receive the protection which this Amendment seeks to give them. If a friendly feeling had been displayed in regard to this question, there would have been no need 141 for this Amendment, and my original theory would have held good. I am convinced that the minority in Nottingham will not get protection under Clause 4 if there happens to be a dispute in progress and the matter of wages has to be decided. When the non-political union in Nottingham read what has been said in this Debate about their union, they will not have much confidence in these proposals; they will realise that at some later stage a dispute may arise which will be referred to a board largely composed of representatives who have used such strong expressions of opinion about their union. These men are entitled to protection. I am surprised to hear in this Debate that the Liberal party are now prepared to sacrifice these men. There is no excuse for the Liberal party sacrificing this minority of miners, even if they consist only of 40,000 men. I can assure hon. Members opposite that, when their remarks are read by the general public, they will make most fair-minded people think that, if any minority requires protection, it is the minority that exists in the Nottingham coalfield.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
May I make an appeal to the Committee to come to a decision. I do not desire to move the Closure, but I do appeal to hon. Members not to continue this discussion at any length.
I understood that the hon. Member for Penrith and Cockermouth (Mr. Dixey) rose to a point of Order.
§ Mr. DIXEY
Yes, I did. The President of the Board of Trade spoke about moving the Closure on this important subject. May I point out that there are a good many other hon. Members who wish to speak upon this question, and I do not think we should be prevented from continuing the discussion by the Closure.
§ Commodore KING
I hope the President of the Board of Trade will realise that at least half the time devoted to this Debate has been taken up by hon. Members on his own side of the Committee. 142 A good deal of general interest is taken in this question on this side of the House as well as on the Labour benches. We have also had some speeches from Members of the Liberal party.
§ Mr. DIXEY
I always thought that if there was one feeling more than another which animated the members of the Liberal party, it was a genuine desire to deal fairly with minorities. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman) belongs to a minority in his own ranks and I expected that the right hon. Gentleman and his friends, who represent only a small part of Liberal feeling in the country, would have been ready to support the minority of non-political miners for whom we are asking protection. We are asked to consider an amazing proposal. Hon. Members opposite know quite well that the Miners' Federation is controlled entirely by the Labour party. It is an active political organisation giving orders and taking orders on the political ticket. The members of that Federation are in quite a different position compared with the employers who are not controlled either by Conservatives or Liberals. Many members of the Mining Association in the past have been Liberals, and they did not take their instructions from a Conservative Administration.
What I complain of is not that the men should not get equal representation with the owners, but that this Bill, so far as this Committee is concerned, is loaded politically, and controlled entirely by the Labour Government of the day. Therefore, the Board will be controlled largely by the Labour Government of the day, and that will be a bad thing for the people concerned. I am surprised—indeed, I am astounded—to find Gentlemen on the benches below the Gangway coming into this House and giving their support to the exclusion from representation of a union which, for all that hon. Members know, may be influenced by the owners, but which at all events is a union with no political adherence to any Government. Hon. Members have spoken with feeling of great bitterness, but, if I may say so without casting any reflection upon them, I discount their statements considerably because of their feelings 143 of vindictiveness towards the Spencer Union. A late Member of this House whom, most of us knew to be at all events a man of honourable convictions—I believe that even Members of the Liberal party thought that he was a man of conviction—has been referred to as a traitor. I would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that people in their own party have at times been referred to as traitors, and yet they still hold very responsible positions, and their party conduct has shown that they were perfectly entitled to hold the opinions which they then held.
It is quite possible that the gentleman in question, who used to represent in this House one of the Divisions of Nottinghamshire, may have had the best of principles, and the mere fact that he is called a traitor, and that the men of his union are stigmatised as being more or less of the same character, does not to my mind constitute a logical argument in this House for their exclusion. Indeed, it rather seems to me to suggest that the House of Commons ought, at any rate, to ensure that men belonging to that particular union are not, in a trade dispute, going to be victimised by this Committee, which will be controlled largely by the Socialist Government, if that Government is in power. My party stands for its convictions, and, at all events it recognises the freedom of the individual and the rights of minorities. I trust that my party will press for this Amendment, because I think it is the only possible safeguard for those men who, rightly or wrongly, belong to the Spencer Union. I am making no defence of that union, but I want to be perfectly fair. I think it is probably bad that the Spencer Union should exist, but that does not alter the fact that this Committee is to include a number of dele gates from the Miners' Federation, which is in alliance with the Socialist party, and in cases of trade disputes they will have to decide very important matters. I think that that is bad for the Constitution, and that, while the Spencer Union remains, it is only proper that all right-minded Members of the House of Commons should give it protection by appointing, if you like, one nominee of that union to this committee, in order to ensure that they get fair play. I, therefore, support the Amendment.
§ Mr. LEES
As one who comes from the area in which this non-political union is, I want to appeal to every Member of the House to vote against this Amendment when the Division is taken. Under the Bill itself, the employers are to be represented on this board, and, seeing that the union which is now under discussion—the Spencer Union—is not a trade union, but is representative of the coalowners in Nottinghamshire, there is no need whatever for it to be represented on the board. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman) spoke of the numerical strength of this union, and suggested that if it were to be represented, a decimal of an indivividual would have to be appointed. Even if this Amendment were carried, there would be no difficulty in finding a decimal of an individual to appoint to this board. All that would be necessary would be to select the leader of the Spencer Union to find a decimal of an individual from the miners' point of view. I wish that hon. Members on the Opposition benches were miners themselves, and had to tramp through Nottinghamshire or Derbyshire applying for work. I could produce case after case where miners in my own Division who have been appealing for work are only allowed to commence work in particular collieries in those areas if they are prepared to become members of the Spencer Union. I have heard remarks about the charity and the wonderful spirit of generosity that exists in the Spencer Union. It is an invariable fact—
I have not heard the previous speeches, but the question before the Committee is whether all non-political unions should be represented or not, and it is wandering rather too far away from that question to commence defending or attacking any particular union.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
On that point of Order. May I point out that a very considerable conversation has been going on on the subject of the Spencer Union for the last hour and a half, more or less? It has been entirely confined to the Spencer Union. I quite agree, Mr. Dunnico, with what you say, but at the same time that is the position, and some of us who want to speak on the main Amendment would like to reply on the question of the Spencer 145 Union, which has been raised and debated on both sides of the Committee.
—I think it is now time that we got to the actual question before the Committee.
The question before the Committee is whether or not non-political unions shall obtain representation, and I must now rule definitely that the discussion must be confined to that question.
§ Mr. LEES
The argument has been put forward, and the claim has been made by those who have spoken in support of the Amendment, that a particular union known as the Spencer Union—it has been named during the discussion—should have a representative on this Board. I am now suggesting that, seeing that the employers will be represented on this Board, there is no room or necessity for representation of this organisation. I would also point out that, while the claim is that non-political organisations should be represented on the Board, this particular union cannot claim to be a non-political union at all. Hon. Members on the Opposition benches, if they claim that this is a non-political union, are bound to admit that they themselves are a non-political union also, because the Spencer Union is one which is giving them every possible support. Bearing in mind the fact that the Bill provides for representation on the Board of employers and employed, I suggest that that covers this Amendment, and I hope that it will be rejected.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
I do not agree for a moment with the attacks which have been made on the Spencer Union by hon. Members opposite. I think that they have been most unjustified, and, if I may say so, very vindictive. I would, however, say this. On this question we are up against a difficulty which confronts this country at the present time, namely, the very close association between the trade union movement and the party 146 opposite. You cannot get away from that; it is a difficulty. But I must honestly confess that, as I see it, this Amendment raises very great and formidable obstacles. I want to see the trade union movement really properly organised in this country upon sound lines. I want to see the trade union movement as much as possible divorced from purely party politics in this country. Indeed, I should like to see it taking an ever-increasing part in the actual organisation and conduct of industry itself.
That is its proper function; that is its proper job; and the more it keeps clear of party politics the better. I do not see how an Amendment of this kind can possibly achieve that end; I think it would only make confusion worse confounded. Where are you going to stop? This Amendment, as I understand it, proposes to make any non-political union that may be set up in the coalfields of this country—and there might be 20, 30, 40 or 50 such unions—entitled to representation on this Board. I think that the result of that would be absolute pandemonium, and merely on practical grounds I think it is highly desirable that there should only be on the Board representatives of the one great trade union in this industry, the Miners' Federation.
I certainly shall not support the Amendment; I shall vote against it on that ground that it would make confusion worse confounded. But I do not wish to support the Government on this issue without making it quite clear that, while I want to see a single really effective trade union acting on behalf of the miners of this country, I think it is highly desirable that in the future the trade union movement in this country should seek to divorce itself more and more from purely party politics, and should interest itself primarily in the efficient conduct of the organisations with which it is concerned. I cannot see that this Amendment would further that object. Indeed, I think it would do the very reverse, and for that reason I cannot support it.
§ Mr. J. JONES
It is very nice to sit here and listen to hon. Members talking about non-political trade unions. Every time there is an opportunity of discussing politics in the trade union movement, we have people saying that they would like to see a union formed which had nothing to do with politics, when all the time, 147 inside their own economic organisation, they have been using politics for all they are worth. Even the hon. Member who has just spoken has associated himself with a particular trade which wants to bring pressure to bear upon the Government to get them what they want. If it is good enough for other trades to bring pressure to bear, what in the name of Heaven is wrong with the miners using their political power to bring about some alteration in their conditions? The hon. Member held out a vista of a paradise in the future when trade unionists will cease to be citizens and will simply be workers. It is all my eye and Betty Martin! The miners, of all people in the country, are the most protected body in the State, and, if it had not been for politics, they would never have had any protection at all. This very Bill is one to protect the miners against the robbery of people who sympathise with them. You are full of sympathy, but sympathy never buttered any parsnips. The Miners' Federation represents the miners, and, therefore, it has a right to be represented. The organisation which has been alluded to by hon. Members opposite was started with the mineowners' money. It was not started by the free, voluntary effort of the miners themselves in Nottinghamshire. There had to be a guarantee to their secretary of £800 a year for 10 years.
I have already ruled that we cannot single out one particular union for attack or de-fence. We must keep to the general principle.
§ Mr. JONES
In this case, I agree with your Ruling, Sir. If I were there, I would do the same myself. This is the acorn that gives rise to the mighty oak. It is the intention of those who want to get the Amendment through that this idea of non-political trade unionism shall grow. They hope for it and believe in it, and we are trying to strangle it at its birth. We hope it will be still-born as the result of our vote. The union has done no good, but only harm, and organisations of a similar character would only have the same result. It is trying to divide the workers. We oppose the Amendment because it is an attempt to crush the working-class movement. We are interested in politics because we know when we leave the factory and the workshop, 148 that we are citizens as well, and everything in the factory and workshop comes in some way under the domination of Parliamentary procedure. Acts of Parliament are passed regulating the conditions of labour, and there are international conferences to discuss these matters. You might as well talk of Christian atheists as of non-political trade unionists. The coalowners have their organisation. They cannot pretend that they are non-political. We are being circularised all over the shop by representatives of the coal trade asking us to back Amendments in which they are interested, because it is their trade union, and they are interested in politics. Both parties opposite have had money from them.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
I must protest against that statement. I have never had a penny from the fish trade since I entered the House, and I must ask the hon. Member to withdraw the statement.
§ Mr. JONES
I officially withdraw. We are opposed to all this kind of thing, because it is all humbug and hypocrisy to pretend that you can have non-political trade unionism, either on the employers' or the workmen's side. They are bound to take part in political action whether they like it or not. I am not blaming the employers for using their influence politically, but what is good enough for them is good enough for us, and we are going to keep on keeping on.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
I am delighted that at last the Debate on this very wide Amendment has left the Nottinghamshire Miners' Association, or whatever it is called, because I do not think that a very large number of the speeches have been particularly useful as far as the Amendment is concerned. I am also sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) has once again gone very badly adrift. Whether he has read the Bill or the Amendment or listened to the Debate I am not quite sure from his speech. After all, the Amendment has one weak point. It deals only with the Miners' Federation. It does not deal with both the association and the federation. If it dealt with both, and if it enabled the Ministry to deal with bodies 149 outside both the association and the federation, it would have been an amazingly good one. As it is, I think it is only comparatively good. The mistake throughout the whole Debate is that it has been imagined that the Amendment is simply meant to let in one body of people. As I conceive it, it is meant really to give the Government a large area of choice. That is why I should like to have seen it taking in the association as well as the federation.
We have laid down in a previous Amendment that an enormous proportion of the committee, three to one, should come from either the Miners' Association or from the Federation. Under this, you are laying it down very strictly, and within closely defined limits, that for a very long time—I am not quite sure how long—six out of 16 of the representative" on the committee should be chosen either from the association or from the federation. You have this association and federation representing the main coal interest as far as the actual mining is concerned. In the affairs of this life you get very quick and sudden changes. It is quite conceivable that in a short time there may be a colossal split in the miners' association, and whichever section got away with just the mere name of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, would have the appointment of all six representatives, as far as I understand. That is what we have to visualise in making legislation of this kind. It is conceivable that the great majority of the miners might, because they came under some different name and for some purely technical reason, not be consulted at all under this Bill. For that reason—and I have a good many other reasons—hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the Committee would be well advised to look at this from a wider point of view than they have been doing.
I do not for one minute wish to lay it down that the six miners should not come from the great majority of the miners who are actually working, but I am putting forward a danger that is very real and one which ought to be considered. It so happens that at the present time the Socialist party—and I would remind the Committee that the wording of the Amendment is "all non-political trades unions"—control a very large number of the trade unions. That is a point of view which needs consideration. I can 150 conceive what may happen. It may well be that the trade unions in 10 years' time may become overwhelmingly Protectionist, as they are in Australia. I will not develop that, but, as we are legislating to lay down a Board of this kind, I think this is an apt illustration. It is essential that we should realise that in this way we are liable to sudden changes and fluctuations. From that point of view, hon. Members opposite would be well-advised to see whether this Amendment has not a great deal more in it than was represented in the first part of this Debate.
I am going to say something a little critical of the actual Amendment. I agree with it as far as the first two or three words are concerned "and all non-political trades unions," but I think that, the words "of miners" have been rather loosely chosen. It should have been "of coal miners," because, if hon. Members will look at the words closely, they will see that it is conceivable that tin miners and lead miners and many others might be able to come in.
I very much regret, in the interests of peace in the mining industry, that we should have heard some of the speeches which have been delivered to-night. I am convinced from the widest point of view, whether the Committee accept this Amendment or whether they do not, that what we really want to get in that industry is good feeling between both sides engaged in the industry. I regret that hon. Members opposite are using their powers and their majority to knock out this Amendment which I think would, occasionally to-day and possibly often in the future, enable the Minister to have a somewhat wider choice as to the six-representatives, and in which he might conceivably get men of an independent type of mind such as my hon. Friend sitting in solitary grandeur just below the Gangway, with his independent party absent.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
All I can say to the hon. Gentleman, who has almost created a disorderly design in my mind, is that I think he is worse off than I am in proportion.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I will not wander into the parties of the past. I look to the future in these matters. That is why I referred to the hon. Gentleman opposite who has the intelligence of his party but not the luck of his party. I will come back to the actual Amendment. [Interruption.] I was taken away from it; it was not my fault. I was trying to keep strictly to the Amendment. Quite frankly, I am sorry the Government are seeking to turn down this Amendment. If they do so, it will be narrow-minded and short-sighted on their part, and the Bill will be a worse Measure without the Amendment. I regret that they cannot take this opportunity of trying to do something to make the position a little wider and enable the best possible men to serve on the Board whoever they made be.
§ Dr. VERNON DAVIES
I am sure the Committee listened with disappointment to the words of the President of the Board of Trade when he refused to accept this Amendment. It showed to me and to the country a callous disregard of the rights of minorities. I was more than astonished to find the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Runciman) supporting that policy, and, worse still, my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen East (Mr. Boothby). Minorities in this country have certain rights, or at least they should have, and it should be the very jealous duty and privilege of this House to see that minorities are not overridden or trampled down. We have heard a lot during this Debate about a particular union, and I regret that very much bitterness has been abroad in this discussion on that account. One hon. Gentleman who supported this Amendment pointed out the fact that there were more unions than the Spencer Union. If I remember rightly, he gave five or six districts where there were non-political miners' unions absolutely unconnected with the Spencer Union. Therefore, the Spencer Union is not by itself.
I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to another organisation connected with the mining industry to whose claims no reference has so far been made. I refer to the Federation of Colliery Officials. I am pleased to say that I do not represent a mining constituency. When I see the bitterness, 152 ill-feeling and revenge that is brought into mining Debates, I feel that it must be my good fortune that I do not represent a mining constituency. I have been asked to draw the attention of the Minister to the position of these colliery officials.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
Are not all unions included in this Amendment, and is not my hon. Friend in order in showing how other unions can come in?
The Chair cannot take upon itself the responsibility of defining what is or what s not a non-political union. I understood that the hon. Member was raising the case of some particular trade union that he thought ought to have representation.
The Amendment also refers to non-political unions of miners. The members of the association for which the hon. Member speaks would be insulted if he called them miners.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
The term "miners" is very wide. It embraces not only coal miners but mineral miners and everybody whose work is connected with the mining industry.
I think I must allow the hon. Member to proceed so that I may understand the point he wishes to raise.
§ Dr. DAVIES
I am assured that this Federation is a non-political organisation, but whether they are legally a trade union or not I do not know. I am merely taking up their case in order to oblige these gentleman who, apparently, could not find anyone on the opposite side to lay their case before the Committee. I understand that this Federation consists of under-managers of mines, engineers of mines and over-men of mines, all connected with the conduct of the industry. However important the miner may be, and I do not dispute his importance, the under-manager is probably a little more important. He has a great knowledge of the industry and is probably of much more use to the industry. This particular 153 body of men feel that they are being ignored and that their knowledge ought not to be ignored. I think I am entitled to accede to their request and to lay their claims before the Committee. I recognise that every organisation that wishes to be included cannot be included, otherwise we should have a very huge Board, but when the District Boards are being set up I would suggest that the Minister for Mines might give a hint to the National Board that these other organisations might have a look in.
It seems to me a shame that an important body like the National Board should be put into the hands of the Mining Association and the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. I would not trust either of them. They are and they have been a danger to the mining industry for years, and that is one reason why hon. Members on this side of the Committee are so fearful of this Bill. We are forming a National Board which is to include politicians and political organisations which have a deep feeling of bitterness, revenge and hatred, looking back on past differences. Nothing has proved to me to-day the success of the Spencer Union more than the bitterness and strong feelings that have been shown against them. If it had been a union which was of no importance, hon. Members would not have bothered so much. Nothing has roused their feelings more than the mention of the words "Spencer Union." We are told that it is a tyranny and that it is subsidised by the owners. I do not know whether that statement is right or not. Assuming the statement to be right that it is subsidised by the owners it shows that the masters
§ are not fools, and that if it pays them to subsidise a union for the sake of peace and good will it is an economic proposition. Hon. Members opposite have not that much sense. They cannot see that if they agree with the mine-owners and get the industry working together for the good of the industry they would have satisfaction, but their object seems to be to fight—
§ Dr. DAVIES
I beg pardon; I was led away. Hon. Members opposite have been villifying the Spencer Union all the time. I am glad to find that it is a flourishing organisation. It is flourishing so exceedingly well as to cause so much anxiety on the other side of the Committee. I would impress upon the Minister of Mines the importance of recognising the right of minorities, that they have a very vital interest in the success of this Bill and of the industry. These non-political bodies are anxious for the sake of the industry, purely from the economic and industrial point of view, to be heard, and I think that the Government would be wise to see that some opportunity, at some stage, is allowed to these organisations to put the purely economic and industrial non-political view before the people concerned.
§ Mr. B. TURNER rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 268; Noes, 135.157
|Division No. 149.]||AYES.||[8.53 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Chater, Daniel|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Birkett, W. Norman||Cluse, W. S.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Blindell, James||Cocks, Frederick Seymour|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Bowen, J. W.||Compton, Joseph|
|Alpass, J. H.||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Cove, William G.|
|Angell, Norman.||Broad, Francis Alfred||Cowan, D. M|
|Arnott, John||Bromley, J.||Daggar, George|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Brooke, W.||Dallas, George|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Brothers, M.||Dalton, Hugh|
|Ayles, Walter||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Buchanan, G.||Dickson, T.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Burgess, F. G.||Dudgeon, Major C. R.|
|Batey, Joseph||Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Duncan, Charles|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Ede, James Chuter|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Caine, Derwent Hall-||Edmunds, J. E.|
|Bennett, Capt. E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Cameron, A. G.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Cape, Thomas||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)|
|Benson, G.||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Egan, W. H.|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Charleton, H. C.||Elmley, Viscount|
|England, Colonel A.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Lowth, Thomas||Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)|
|Foot, Isaac||Lunn, William||Sanders, W. S.|
|Forgan, Dr. Robert||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Sandham, E.|
|Freeman, Peter||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Scott, James|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||McElwee, A.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||McEntee, V. L.||Scurr, John|
|Gibbins, Joseph||MacLaren, Andrew||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Gill, T. H.||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Glassey, A. E.||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Shield, George William|
|Gossling, A. G.||McShane, John James||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Gould, F.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Shinwell, E.|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Mansfield, W.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||March, S.||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Marcus, M.||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Markham, S. F.||Sinkinson, George|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Marley, J.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Marshall, F.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Mathers, George||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Matters, L. W.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||Maxton, James||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Melville, Sir James||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Hardie, George D.||Messer, Fred||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Harris, Percy A.||Middleton, G.||Snell, Harry|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Millar, J. D.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Haycock, A. W.||Mills, J. E.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Milner, J.||Sorensen, R.|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Montague, Frederick||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Morgan Dr. H. B.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Morris, Rhys Hopkins||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Herriotts, J.||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Strauss, G. R.|
|Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Mort, D. L.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Horrabin, J. F.||Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Muff, G.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Murnin, Hugh||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Isaacs, George||Nathan, Major H. L.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Naylor, T. E.||Tout, W. J.|
|Johnston, Thomas||Noel Baker, P. J.||Townend, A. E.|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Oldfield, J. R.||Turner, B.|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Vaughan, D. J|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Viant, S. P.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Walker, J.|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Palin, John Henry||Wallace, H. W.|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Paling, Wilfrid||Watkins, F. C.|
|Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Palmer, E. T.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Kelly, W. T.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Kennedy, Thomas||Perry, S. F.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Kinley, J.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Lang, Gordon||Phillips, Dr. Marion||West, F. R.|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Wheatley, Rt. Hon J.|
|Lathan, G.||Pole, Major D. G.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Law, A. (Rosendale)||Potts, John S.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Lawrence, Susan||Price, M. P.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Lawson, John James||Rathbone, Eleanor||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Raynes, W. R.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Leach, W.||Richards, R.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Lees, J.||Ritson, J.||Wise, E. F.|
|Lindley, Fred W.||Romeril, H. G.||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Longden, F.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Hayes and Mr. Whiteley.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H C. (Berks, Newb'y)|
|Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Buckingham, Sir H.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Bird, Ernest Roy||Bullock, Captain Malcolm|
|Atkinson, C.||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Carver, Major W. H.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Castle Stewart, Earl of|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Boyce, H. L.||Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton|
|Balniel, Lord||Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Brass, Captain Sir William||Colville, Major D. J.|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Briscoe, Richard George||Courtauld, Major J. S.|
|Berry, Sir George||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Haslam, Henry C.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Savery, S. S.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Iveagh, Countess of||Skelton, A. N.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Dixey, A. C.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Long, Major Eric||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Fielden, E. B.||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Marjoribanks, E. C.||Train, J.|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Meller, R. J.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||O'Neill, Sir H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Peake, Capt. Osbert||Withers, Sir John James|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Penny, Sir George||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Womersley, W. J.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Purbrick, R.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Ramsbotham, H.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Remer, John R.|
|Hanbury, C.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ross, Major Ronald D.||Captain Wallace and Sir Victor Warrender.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."158
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 134: Noes, 266.161
|Division No. 150.]||AYES.||[9.3 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Dixey, A. C.||Long, Major Eric|
|Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Duckworth, G. A. V.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Atkinson, C.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Marjoribanks, E. C.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Meller, R. J.|
|Balniel, Lord||Everard, W. Lindsay||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Ferguson, Sir John||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R (Ayr)|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Fermoy, Lord||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Berry, Sir George||Fielden, E. B.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Ford, Sir P. J.||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Purbrick, R.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Ganzoni, Sir John||Remer, John R.|
|Boyce, H. L.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Ross, Major Ronald D.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Hanbury, C.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Savery, S. S.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Haslam, Henry C.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Iveagh, Countess of||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Train, J.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Warrender, Sir Victor||Withers, Sir John James|
|Wells, Sydney R.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)||Womersley, W. J.||Capt. Margesson and Sir George|
|Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L. Penny.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Middleton, G.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Groves, Thomas E.||Millar, J. D.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Grundy, Thomas W.||Mills, J. E.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Milner, J.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Montague, Frederick|
|Angell, Norman||Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||Morgan, Dr. H. B|
|Arnott, John||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Hardie, George D.||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Harris, Percy A.||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Ayles, Walter||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Mort, D. L.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Haycock, A. W.||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Hayday, Arthur||Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Muff, G.|
|Batey, Joseph||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Murnin, Hugh|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Herriotts, J.||Noel Baker, P. J.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Oldfield, J. R.|
|Benson, G.||Hoffman, P. C.||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Hopkin, Daniel||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Horrabin, J. F.||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Palin, John Henry|
|Blindell, James||Isaacs, George||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Bowen, J. W.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Palmer, E. T.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Johnston, Thomas||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Perry, S. F.|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Brooke, W.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Phillips, Dr. Marion|
|Brothers, M.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Picton-Turbervill, Edith|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Pole, Major D. G.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Potts, John S.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Price, M. P.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Kelly, W. T.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Kennedy, Thomas||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Kinley, J.||Raynes, W. R.|
|Caine, Derwent Hall-||Lang, Gordon||Richards, R.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Cape, Thomas||Lathan, G.||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Law, A. (Rossendale)||Ritson, J.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawrence, Susan||Romeril, H. G.|
|Chater, Daniel||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lawson, John James||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Compton, Joseph||Leach, W.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cove, William G.||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)|
|Daggar, George||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Sanders, W. S.|
|Dallas, George||Lees, J.||Sandham, E.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lindley, Fred W.||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Logan, David Gilbert||Scott, James|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Longbottom, A. W.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Dickson, T.||Longden, F.||Scurr, John|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Duncan, Charles||Lowth, Thomas||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lunn, William||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Shield, George William|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Egan, W. H.||McElwee, A.||Shinwell, E.|
|Elmley, Viscount||McEntee, V. L.||Simmons, C. J.|
|England, Colonel A.||MacLaren, Andrew||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Foot, Isaac||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Sinkinson, George|
|Forgan, Dr. Robert||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)|
|Freeman, Peter||McShane, John James||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Mansfield, W.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Gibbins, Joseph||March, S.||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||Marcus, M.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Gill, T. H.||Markham, S. F.||Snell, Harry|
|Glassey, A. E.||Marley, J.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Gossling, A. G.||Marshall, F.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Gould, F.||Mathers, George||Sorensen, R.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Matters, L. W.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Maxton, James||Stephen, Campbell|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).||Melville, Sir James||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Messer, Fred||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Strauss, G. R.||Viant, S. P.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Sutton, J. E.||Walker, J.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)||Wallace, H. W.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)||Watkins, F. C.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Wellock, Wilfred||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Thurtle, Ernest||Welsh, James (Paisley)||Wise, E. F.|
|Tillett, Ben||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Tinker, John Joseph||West, F. R.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Tout, W. J.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Townend, A. E.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Turner, B.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.||Mr. Hayes and Mr. Whiteley.|
|Vaughan, D. J.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
§ Mr. SMITHERS
I beg to move, in page 14, to leave out line 9.
We are discussing a Clause in which is defined how the National Industrial Board shall be constituted. Among the representatives of various bodies which it is proposed shall form this Board, is one member from the General Council of the Trade Union Congress. In the last Amendment that we were discussing we put forward the claims of non-political bodies. All the arguments used in favour of the last Amendment can be used against the Trade Union Congress, for of all bodies it has used its political power to the detriment of the country more than any other body of which I can think. On more than one occasion this Council has tried to supplant the constitutional Government of this country by a non-elected body, and if we include the General Council of the Trade Union Congress in this Bill we shall give statutory powers, powers of representation at least, to a body which has tried to overthrow the Constitution of the country. One line in a Bill of this kind is apt to be overlooked. All we have in line 9 are the words:The General Council of the Trade Union Congress;I hope the Committee will bear with me while I describe how the General Council is constituted. I was accused just now of giving publicity to non-political trade unions. I am prepared to give publicity to a body which has, I think, done more harm to the inhabitants of this country than any other body. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"] I will not withdraw. The Chairman of this body is Mr. J. Beard and the Vice-Chairman is the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Tillott). [HON. MEMBERS: "Give the unions."] Certainly. The Chairman, as I say, is Mr. J. Beard, of the Workers' Union, and the Vice-Chairman is the hon. Member for Salford, of the Transport and General Workers' Union. [Interruption.] I have 162 not tried to obstruct the progress of this Bill and I am raising this point because I believe that it is an insult to the country that the General Council of the Trade Union Congress should have any say in the settlement of disputes which may arise between miners and mineowners.
As hon. Members opposite seem to want me to do so, I will give the membership of the Council. In addition to the chairman and vice-chairman it consists of the following:
§ Mr. E. Bevin, Transport and General Workers' Union;
§ Mr. H. Boothman, Amalgamated Association of Operative Cotton Spinners;
§ The hon. Member for Barrow-in Furness (Mr. Bromley), Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen;
§ Mr. A. Conley, Tailors' and Garment Workers' Union;
§ Mr. A. J. Cook, Miners' Federation of Great Britain. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members appear to be proud of him.
§ Mr. C. T. Cramp, National Union of Railwaymen;
§ Mr. J. Davenport, United Order of General Labourers;
§ Mr. H. H. Elvin, National Union of Clerks;
§ Mr. A. A. H. Findlay, United Pattern Makers' Association;
§ Mr. G. Gibson, National Asylum Workers' Union;
§ Mr. J. Hallsworth, National Union of Distributive and Allied Workers;
§ The hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday), National Union of General and Municipal Workers;
§ Mr. G. Hicks, Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers;
§ Mr. J. Hill, Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders;
§ Mr. W. Holmes, National Union of Agricultural Workers;
§ Mr. R. T. Jones, North Wales Quarrymen's Union;163
§ Miss A. Loughlin, Tailors' and Garment Workers' Union;
§ Mr. J. W. Ogden, Amalgamated Weavers' Association;
§ Mr. W. Kean, National Union of Gold, Silver and Allied Trades;
§ Mr. E. L. Poulton, National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives;
§ Mr. A. Pugh, Iron and Steel Trades Confederation;
§ The right hon. T. Richards, Miners' Federation of Great Britain;
§ Mr. J. Rowan, Electrical Trades Union;
§ Mr. A. Shaw, National Union of Textile Workers;
§ Mr. H. Skinner, Typographical Association;
§ Mr. A. B. Swales, Amalgamated Engineering Union;
§ The hon. Member for Plaistow (Mr. W. Thorne), National Union of General and Municipal Workers;
§ Miss J. Varley, Workers' Union;
§ The hon. Member for South Bristol (Mr. Walkden), Railway Clerks' Association; and
§ Mr. F. Wolstencroft, Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers.
§ The General Secretary is Mr. W. N. Citrine; and the Assistant General Secretary is Mr. A. S. Firth. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]
§ Hon. Members opposite cheer those names, and I am sure that the list includes many friends of hon. Members opposite. But if they will be serious for a moment I would ask them to note this. I have already said that the actions of this body have been detrimental to the interests of the country and of the present members Mr. Bevin, the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness, Mr. Cramp, Mr. Ogden and Mr. Swayles were members of the Council of Action in 1920: and with the exception of Mr. Cook, Mr. Cramp, Mr. Gibson, Mr. Holmes, Miss Loughlin, Mr. Shaw, and Mr. Wolstencroft, all the present members were members of the Strike Council which directed the General Strike in 1926. The action of that body did enormous harm to the country and I propose to mention one or two examples.
§ In 1925, the Trade Unions spent £312,000 on benefit pay to workers, but in 1926 they spent £5,600,000. The number of workpeople affected by industrial 164 disputes in 1925 was only 141,000 but in 1926 the number, including coal miners, was 2,734,000. The number of working days lost owing to industrial disputes in 1925 was 8,900,000, but in 1926 it was 161,300,000; and the effect of the General Council's action was to reduce the national trade balance of £54,000,000 in 1925 down to £9,000,000 in 1926, which nearly brought the country to the position of working a year for nothing. By their political action they set back the prosperity of the country. [Interruption.] I am trying to give reasons why these gentlemen should not be represented on the National Board and I am showing that whatever good they may have thought they were doing to the miners and whatever political power they may have hoped to gain, in fact, they did enormous harm—harm which is still being felt in the industries of the country.
§ In 1925, we built 679,000 tons of shipping in this country, but in 1926 the figure fell to 396,000 tons. Pig iron production in 1925 was 6,262,000 tons which in 1926 fell to 2,458,000 tons; the production of steel fell from 7,300,000 tones to 3,500,000 tons; the tonnage of coal produced fell from 243,000,000 to 166,000,000 tons, and so one could go on. Their action did more than that. It enabled our competitors abroad to develop their pits and industries at our expense. Hon. Members opposite may shake their heads. A friend of mine who is a big shipper of coal told me that he had found in his trade that, owing to the stoppage in this country—[HON. MEMBERS: "Give his name!"]—I will not do that, but I will tell any hon. Member privately afterwards if he likes. This shipper found out that, owing to the stoppage, the Germans had developed their brown coal mines and made a briquette which was sent to France, and which the French could buy more cheaply and use in their so-called anthracite stoves. The briquettes were sent to Rouen and the sidings and docks along the river which used to be full of British coal are now full of German brown coal made into briquettes.
§ In many other ways did the stoppage created by the Trade Union Congress seriously damage industry in this country. That damage is being felt right up to now, and part of the distress in the mining industry to-day is due, and the effects will be felt for some years to 165 come, to the folly of the General Strike of 1926. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite may make remarks across the Floor of the House, but they do not get up and refute these arguments, because they are irrefutable. I am giving facts which are taken from the trade statistics of this country. I would do anything in my power to help better conditions in industry and among the workmen of the country. I have done everything in my power to help industry. It is no good any man in business or in private life trying to help a man or to get industries going if all the while—
§ Mr. C. BROWN
On a point of Order. Is it in order for an hon. Member to count his money in the Committee?
§ Mr. SMITHERS
I am trying to do my best to draw attention to these facts, and I shall be able to tell people outside of the flippant and stupid manner in which these facts are received by hon. Members opposite. I am moving this Amendment because I do not think representation should be given to a body which may repent of its sins to the community and learn better in time, as Mr. Cook has learned better, as he has said in an article in "Tit-Bits." He has learnt his lesson, and is now prepared to cooperate with the capitalists and to save the coal industry. Why did he not say that in 1926, and save all the trouble? He has learnt his lesson through the teachings of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin), and is beginning to come round. It is an absolute disgrace for a body with a record like this to have representation on the National Board under Clause 10 of this Bill.
§ Mr. TURNER
I hope the Committee will reject this proposition. In his concluding words the hon. Gentleman made some observations about the Trade Union Congress and its record. I think if anybody in this Committee looks impartially at the record of the Trade Union Congress from 1868, he will find that it has been of great service to the world in general and to our country in particular.
§ Mr. TURNER
They started on politics, for industry cannot be divorced from politics. The Trade Union Congress has kept itself cleaner than most bodies of business people in this kingdom. Let me say quite frankly that if this Amendment were carried, it would mean cutting out a body that has become very useful in connection with the Confederation of Employers' Associations and the Federa-of British Industries. It is the only body comparable with those two organisations, and very recently hon. Members on the Opposition side seemed to have been thankful, as I have been, that those joint bodies are meeting together for the purpose of devising and providing means for a peaceful solution of industrial problems, and further to explore the conditions of trade and commerce, and see if they cannot bring about a better state of things. That is the body which the hon. Gentleman desires to exclude from participation in this Industrial Board. He will have the Federation of British Industries and the Confederation of Employers' Associations and the Cooperative Organisation, but he jibs at the Trade Union Congress. If you accept the Amendment you are excluding the most peaceful organisation in this Kingdom.
§ Captain CROOKSHANK
The Minister rather gave away his own case when he told us what a peace-loving body the Trade Union Congress has been since 1860, and then took to himself—and we are glad to think he did, because we recognise the work he has done in that direction—credit for the way that they were getting together now to bring about peaceful conditions in industry. The very fact that he has had to participate in these conferences for such a purpose entirely proves the point my hon. Friend has made, that the spirit of peace has not always been so uppermost in the minds of the Trade Union Congress during the last four years. The Minister himself admitted it; otherwise, why has he been on this conciliation movement between the Trade Union Congress and the employers? If he will tell me, I will readily give way to hear him. Otherwise I must make the only logical and sensible deduction from his speech, namely, that whereas things are improving to-day, they must have been worse before.
§ Mr. TURNER indicated dissent.167
§ Captain CROOKSHANK
It is no good the Minister shaking his head, because everyone in this Committee and outside knows perfectly well that on certain occasions the General Council of the Trade Union Congress has been anything but a peace-loving body, and has by no means always been the fairy godmother of the industry of this country, even though it may have such a benign person to speak for it in this House as the hon. Gentleman. There is only one point which I want to make on this Amendment. The Minister asked why we should leave out this body if we leave in the Federation of British Industries and so on. My point of view is quite definite, and it is that none of these people should be the bodies from whom nominees are asked. We want to get some representation of the ordinary, common or garden person who is not at all connected with the industry.
Assuming that the Government are trying to get representatives of consumers, I think that this quartet which has been referred to does not really represent any great body of consumers at all. The Federation of British Industries certainly does not, and it is not a body that everybody is enthusiastic about. The Association of British Chambers of Commerce does not represent any great number, shall we say, hundreds of thousands, let alone millions. The Trade Union Congress itself represents a constantly diminishing number of persons, if one takes the yearly statistics, and even at the best the Government would not put the number of workpeople represented by that congress, people paying insurance contributions, at a tremendously high percentage. I have not got the figures in my mind, and I hesitate to make a guess when so many hon. Members opposite could tell us to a man how many paying members there are of the trade unions affiliated to the General Council, because, naturally, it is a matter in which they are directly and financially interested; but no one would claim that those workmen represented by the congress are anything like the great bulk of the consumers of this country. When you come to the Cooperative Union, that, to some extent, covers the same lot of consumers; and the National Confederation of Employers' 168 Organisations, as compared wish the more than 40,000,000 inhabitants of the land, is a mere handful.
Therefore, to pretend that; these small bodies are in any way representative of the consumers is idle, and I think we are entitled to ask the President of the Board of Trade why he should have selected these organisations to cover that number of persons. One could easily imagine four other sets of organisations which would cover just as many people, with about as much or as little representation of the general mass of the country. In spite of the fact that hon. Members opposite seemed to think the speech of the hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Smithers) was a flippant effort, it did not strike us as flippant, but even if they did think so, it is quite certain that the sentiments to which he was giving expression are sentiments which are held by a very great number of people in this country, who do not forget quite so easily as hon. Members opposite would like them to do exactly what happened in 1926. They are not prepared to see an organisation of that kind embodied in a Clause of this Bill, and I, therefore, invite the President of the Board of Trade to tell us why this body is selected.
§ Sir B. PETO
I also hope that we shall hear a word or two from the President of the Board of Trade on this Amendment. It is not because I do not appreciate the speech of the Minister for Mines, but may I put this point before the right hon. Gentleman? When I was speaking, earlier this afternoon, on another Amendment, I mentioned that the President of the Board of Trade, in his speech on the Financial Resolution, had spoken of the four representatives who have been referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) as representatives of the consumers. The right hon. Gentleman has said he did not mean to use the word "consumers" in that connection, but that he meant these people to represent the general outside public.
I want to ask the Committee to consider how the representatives of the Trade Union Congress can possibly represent the general outside public. When you come to analyse the composition of this Industrial Board, you will 169 find that the members added to the six mineowners and miners are bound to take exactly the same view as the representatives of the mining industry. It is quite clear to me—I will make this admission—that the representatives of the National Confederation of Employers' Organisations and the British Chambers of Commerce would be likely, in any question of a trade dispute, to take the side of the mineowners. I am quite candid about it. But when we look at the other side, and when we hear of the solidarity of labour, which is the one thing which hon. Members opposite are always praying for, but have not yet obtained, though no doubt they will in time, can anybody suppose that in a labour dispute, or in the case of an apprehended labour dispute, the members representing the Trade Union Congress would, so to speak, go into the Lobby with the owners' representatives on this Hoard and vote with them because they were quite convinced that the owners had the best case?
It is obvious that you are merely duplicating, in this great assembly of 17 members, the same thing over again, and that you are getting no representation of the general bulk of the country, the outside public, which the right hon. Gentleman said these tour representatives were supposed to represent, and that the consumer, or anyone absolutely uninterested in a trade dispute, or anybody other than the chairman, who would be likely to take an independent view of a dispute, is absolutely excluded from the Board. Therefore, on those grounds, and because the representative of the General Council of the Trade union Congress would be the most likely of all the outside representatives to take a parti pris view of the situation and vote exactly with his fellow Labour members on the Board, I think the addition of outside members is useless and, in this particular instance, positively mischievous. Although we appreciate the speech of the Minister for Mines, we are, I think, entitled to hear an independent view on these points.
Sir NAIRNE STEWART SANDEMAN
I would not be against the Trade Union Congress representative being on the Board if I felt that he could be trusted. It might be argued that the 170 people who represent iron, steel, shipbuilding, cotton spinning, jute, flax and the other industries would be the right people to look after the coalfields, and to watch the interests of the consumers. I think that would have been a good argument if it had not been, for Thursday's vote, but now I am inclined to say that the trade union people have set a thief to catch a thief. [Interruption.] I do not mean nasty thieves like ordinary pickpockets. After Thursday's vote, what really happened was that the whole of the people who represent iron, shipbuilding, cotton and all the other industries of the country, caved-in to the miners and said, "You can get anything you like." They do not even take into consideration my poor cotton spinners, who would be only too glad to get 90 hours a fortnight.
I have allowed a certain amount of latitude in this Debate, and, as long as genuine arguments are brought forward against the Trade Union Congress being included in this Clause, they are in order, but I cannot allow a general discussion on the General Strike and on what happened last Thursday.
Sir N. STEWART SANDEMAN
I do not intend to discuss the General Strike. I am simply trying to prove that I am suspicious about putting this trade union representative on to this Board, because I feel that after what we must not discuss—what happened on Thursday, I do not have the confidence in the good old trade unionists that I used to have long ago. What is going to happen in the Labour party about it? What are the Independent Labour Party going to do about it? Why should we not have some independent Labour party mixed up with this? If you are going to have a board, you must have a board that is going squarely through it with people you can absolutely trust, and I do not feel, after last Thursday, that we can possibly trust members of the Trade Union Council to sit upon this Board.
§ Mr. TILLETT
I have listened with interest to what has been said about the Trade Union Congress, but I fear that the Opposition are in total ignorance of the history of that body. I want to remind them that this responsible organisation of workmen was consulted by Lord 171 Kitchener when he was in need, and that that leader of the aristocracy, Lord Derby, when in need, also approached the Trade Union Congress. Had the advice of the Trade Union Congress been taken, there would have been no coal lock-out, and it would not have lasted a week if the Government had done their proper work.
Sir N. STEWART SANDEMAN
You called me to order, Mr. Dunnico, for wandering a little from the straight and narrow path. Is the hon. Gentleman in order in going as far as he has done?
Of course, an Amendment like this lends itself to enormous discussion. One must draw the line somewhere, and all I can do is to appeal to hon. Members not to go away from the subject. I am listening to the hon. Member, and I shall try and keep him in order.
§ Mr. TILLETT
I want the Opposition to realise the importance of this Debate and the importance of this organisation, and I want them to appreciate the work of that organisation in the direction of peace. Lord Melchett and two responsible capitalist bodies also approached the Trade Union Congress for discussion upon an improvement of trade and the grave problem of unemployment, which loomed like a nightmare over the well-being of our country. One hon. Member spoke most flippantly. I am an ex-chairman of the Trade Union Congress, and an old fighter in the trade union movement. I admit that circumstances make it impossible to promote peace or to agree peaceably. I am not infallible, but I never met an employer who was infallible. An hon. Member spoke about the Trade Union Congress being the godmother of the Labour movement, but unfortunately the Tory party have always been the stepmother of the Labour movement). When you are in a quandary, you quote Disraeli, and, when you have not an argument left, you dig him out of his grave. We are not always right on our side—we are frank about that—but you are not always right on your side. I have met employers who were very obtuse, stupid, angry, and very Tory—not that all Tories are stupid. We are not the only side that take a cock-eyed view of the world. This Measure is, after all, one which brings the very patent 172 issue before us of the serious decline in trade—
§ Mr. TILLETT
I am trying to justify the class which is claiming participation in this Board, and I say that hon. Members opposite will fail in their duty to their country if they destroy this particular solution. We are anxious on this side to promote trade—
§ The CHAIRMAN
It is not a question of promoting trade at all, but of a certain body being set up for a certain purpose.
§ Mr. TILLETT
You were not in the Chair, Mr. Young, when this issue was raised. I want this Committee, if they can, to get outside party politics and to come down to the practical business issues now before us. We claim that the Trade Union Congress will be one of the best partners in finding a solution. I have no desire to raise any other issue, but I want to claim for our side as much brains, honesty, and sincerity, and more practical experience, than the other side who are anxious to co-operate with us.
§ Major G. DAVIES
I do not wish to enter into competition with the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Tillett) as to which side has the more myopic outlook on the facts of the situation, nor to disobey the ruling of the Chair that this Debate must be kept closely to the actual Amendment. From what the President of the Board of Trade has said on a previous occasion, I do not think he has altogether grasped what it is that we on this side are aiming at. He has said that instead of setting up a body tarred with the old controversies and the protagonisms of the strife and disagreement which have impaired the history of the coalmining industry, we ought to create an entirely separate arbitral body. It has been decided, however, that there should be on the Board representatives of different interests. In that way, it seems to me, the Government will get this Board into the position of the Licensing Commission, which is made up of people who have already, in public life, made known very clearly their attitude towards the subject under their discussion. We had hoped in previous Amendments to get away from that point of view in order to set up a body which might have what one calls the general outlook.
173 In his speech on the Second Reading the President of the Board of Trade made a reference—as to which he has since stated that he was misunderstood—to including representatives of outside bodies to bring in the point of view of the consumers. In putting on the Board a representative of the Trade Union Congress we are merely adding one more to the six members already provided for who have a perfectly definite and well known attitude towards the question that will come before them. It is a microcosm of the situation in India, where there is a controversy as to whether this, that or the other community is to get its proportion of representation in the Government of a province. If the President of the Board of Trade insists that his scheme is one to set up a Board representing only a certain proportion of the community, at any rate that representation should be fairly distributed.
I do not wish to enter into the criticisms of the Trade Union Congress, which emanated from this side and to which the hon. Member for Salford has replied; but if it is the object of the President of the Board of Trade to set up a body to provide a means of heading off strife in the coal mining industry and gain the confidence of those in the industry and those outside, I am sure he is not so innocent as to imagine that in adding a representative of the Trades Union Congress he is bringing in someone from outside who is not going to take a point of view which is identical with that of the six miners' representatives. It is only human nature to expect that an organisation like the Trade Union Congress, which represents the Miners' Federation, should take their point of view and represent their attitude of mind. We have decided, as I think unwisely, that this body is to be representative of different interests, and as we have already provided for six representatives of the Miners' Federation it is overloading the Board to include a representative of the General Council of the Trade Union Congress.
It would be out of order on this Amendment if I were to touch upon any constructive alternative, but if the President of the Board of Trade does wish to have a body representing the interests of the country as widely as possible, in 174 order to establish confidence in their decisions, he is not going the right way to work by specifying this particular body. It would be well within his mental capacity to find other bodies which carry an equal measure of general public confidence and have nothing but a very indirect connection with the mining industry. By including this particular body he has made a lopsided Bill more lopsided.
§ Captain TODD
I hope to give one or two reasons why, in my opinion, the Trade Union Congress have not in any way deserved the responsibility which this Bill proposes to give them. I might remind the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Tillett) that in 1924, writing in "Izvestia," he paid a eulogy to the memory of his old comrade Lenin, and said:The workers have never lost by revolution—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The question before us is whether the General Council of the Trade Union Congress is to have a representative on this Board, and what was written about Lenin in 1924 has nothing at all to do with that.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I heard the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Tillett) elaborate at great length a justification for including a representative of the Trade Union Congress on the ground that they had had many interviews with Lord Derby and with, I think, the late Lord Beaconsfield, in their earlier days. He referred to other members of the aristocracy, and I think he might have added Lord Melchett If that were in order on this Amendment. I submit that it must be in order for my hon. and gallant Friend to say they had interviews or communications with Lenin.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
May I remind you, Mr. Chairman, that the first references to this question came from the other side, when the question of the honesty of the General Council of the Trade Union Congress was raised.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have already told the Committee the question which is be-fore us, and any eulogy of Lenin by the hon. Member for North Salford (Mr. Tillett) has nothing to do with it.
§ Captain TODD
I was simply pointing out that one of the leaders of the Trade Union Congress had advocated revolutionary methods. Apart from that point, I have figures which show clearly that the Trade Union Congress are not representative of the workers of this country, and the position they are given under this Bill has been given, because they claim to be representative of the workers. The people represented by the Trade Union Congress was over 8,000,000, but in 1927 the total dropped to below 5,000,000. I think I am right in saying that there are 12,000,000 eligible workers even if we accept the figure of 5,000,000, and there are many who are members of trade unions against their will. I can give a specific example showing that they do not represent the members. In this connection, I will mention the Shilbottle Pit owned by the Co-operative Wholesale Society. In that case, a large percentage of the men after the General Strike in 1926 left their Federated Union and joined a non-political union, but, owing to the action of the Co-operative Wholesale Society, which I claim is a political society allied to the Trade Union Congress, those men, entirely against their will, were forced back into the Federated Union, and again became nominally members of the Trade Union Congress.
There are many strong arguments against the responsible position proposed in this Measure beng given to the Trade Union Congress as representing the workers. Some hon. Members seem to think that it is impossible to be non-political, but, if we could have a Trade Union Congress which was non-political, although interested in politics, and not attached to any particular party, then we might have a congress fit to act on behalf of the workers of this country. I claim that the Trade Union Congress are entirely unfitted to take a place on this Board, because they are not representative of the people whom they claim to represent.
§ Sir JOHN GANZONI
I do not think that we ought to give so much representation on this Board to a party which we believe is primarily political rather than industrial. I am handicapped to-night because my memory does not run back to 1886, but it goes back to 1927, and I have a distinct recollection of what happened three and a-half years ago.
§ Mr. BECKETT
I understand that it has been ruled by the Chair that the happenings of 1926 have nothing to do with the question before the Committee.
§ Sir J. GANZONI
We are trying to draw from the year 1926 a lesson in order to show that the organisation I am dealing with should not be allowed to be represented upon the Board, which we all sincerely hope will be set up purely for industrial work; we also trust that that Board will be entirely successful from an industrial point of view. When the General Council of the Trade Union Congress dealt with the General Strike there were on that council some 30 men and two women; they included the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and that body contained at least eight who were actually Socialist Members of Parliament. They had a number of candidates at the election who were members of the Labour party, and the General Strike was primarily a Labour movement.
§ Sir J. GANZONI
My hon. Friend is well known in all parts of the House as a very doughty tighter and one who can take hard knocks. If the hon. Member is right in correcting me. I shall be very glad to be put right by such an experienced leader of the Labour movement. The direct result of that movement was said to be a loss of working days, during the year 1926, of some 161,000,000. I do not want to touch on this point further than to make one statement, and that is that, when that influence was removed in the following year, and possibly also owing to the impending shadow of the Trade Disputes Bill brought in by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin) and supported by the late Government, that loss of 161,000,000 working days fell to about 1,000,000 days. Is it not abundantly clear to any impartial tribunal, in this House or outside, that, if we really believe that that great loss of working days, in an industrial country like this, was directly due to the influence of the action of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress, we, as representing industrial constituencies in this country—where, goodness knows, it is hard enough to get paid work and to keep work at the present time for our 177 large industrial population—ought to be extremely wary, either by keeping silence in this Debate or by so giving our votes, of running the slightest risk that a body like the General Council of the Trades Union Congress, which we really believe to be primarily political and not truly industrial, having considerable weight on a body whose sole object, which we hope may be successfully and immediately achieved, is to prevent industrial disputes in the sorely harassed coal trade. For these reasons I am strongly opposed to the inclusion of a representative of the Trades Union Congress, and I do not believe it to be really necessary in the best interests of the workers of this country.
§ Lieut-Colonel HENEAGE
There are two ways of approaching this subject. It can be approached, in the first place, from the trade aspect, and, secondly, from the political aspect. As regards the trade aspect, we find that two bodies which have interests in the coal trade are on opposite sides of the wall, namely, the representatives of the employers and the representatives of the workers, and I should like to draw the attention of the President of the Board of Trade to the objections which have been found to such conditions in similar bodies. I submit to the President of the Board of Trade that he will find exactly the same difficulty in this case as is found in the case of the Agricultural Wages Board. Whenever a question with regard to wages comes forward, the employers' representatives immediately make a statement, to which they adhere, then the men's representatives make another statement, and an absolute deadlock ensues.
I believe in bringing masters and men together, but I do not believe in setting up a court of this kind for settling either trade disputes or questions of wages. I suggest that it would be a very good thing to omit from this board the General Council of the Trade Union Congress, which, after all, is more an organiser of disputes than an organiser of settlements. I would suggest the introduction of a body which is not interested in either the employers' or the wages side. I cannot, of course, mention the body that I would suggest, but I should like to suggest that 178 there should be some representation of consumers. One of the great difficulties of the position, as far as the trade side is concerned, is that there would be these two sets of people with no one to give a casting vote.
As regards the political aspect, that was very well put by my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Sir J. Ganzoni), but, if he will forgive me for saying so, I do not think he emphasised the danger sufficiently. On the one side, the so-called men's representatives are entirely of one political party, the Socialist party. The General Council of the Trade Union Congress and the Co-operative Union are entirely in the hands of the Socialist party, and, of course, also, the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. We have been trying to introduce a body like the non-political union, and if the Co-operative Union is to be included, I suggest that a representative of the retail trades ought also to be included. While there will be a solid phalanx of Socialist opinion on the one side, political opinion is rather divided on the other side. The employers are not all Conservatives or all Liberals, but include a certain number of members of the Socialist party. Therefore, this Board is being ensured a Socialist majority, which I consider to be extremely unfair. The Government are practically giving jobs to their own friends. [Interruption]. When we remember what was said by hon. Members about the very mild Bill that we introduced recently, I cannot understand how the party opposite can come to the House of Commons with a Bill which ensures jobs for their friends. I am very much surprised that the President of the Board of Trade should lend, his name to such a thing. He is a man from whom I should have expected very much higher things, because he comes from Scotland. This is a body set up in order to ensure a Socialist majority, and those who succeed them may look upon that as a precedent.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 271: Noes, 145.181
|Division No. 151.]||AYES.||[10.27 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||Morris, Rhys Hopkins|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Hardie, George D.||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Harris, Percy A.||Mort, D. L.|
|Angell, Norman||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Arnott, John||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Haycock, A. W.||Muff, G.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hayday, Arthur||Murnin, Hugh|
|Ayles, Walter||Hayes, John Henry||Naylor, T. E.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Newman, Sir R. H. S D. L. (Exeter)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Noel Baker, P. J.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Oldfield, J. R.|
|Batey, Joseph||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Herriotts, J.||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)|
|Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Hoffman, P. C.||Palin, John Henry|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Hopkin, Daniel||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Benson, G.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Palmer, E. T.|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Perry, S. F.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Isaacs, George||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Phillips, Dr. Marion|
|Blindell, James||Johnston, Thomas||Picton-Turbervill, Edith|
|Bowen, J. W.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Pole, Major D. G.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Potts, John S.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne)||Price, M. P.|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Brooke, W.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Brothers, M.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Raynes, W. R.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Richards, R.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Buchanan, G.||Kelly, W. T.||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)|
|Burgess, F. G.||Kennedy, Thomas||Ritson, J.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Kinley, J.||Romeril, H. G.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Kirkwood, D.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.|
|Caine, Derwent Hall-||Knight, Holford||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Cameron, A. G.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cape, Thomas||Lang, Gordon||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lathan, G.||Sanders, W. S.|
|Chater, Daniel||Law, A. (Rosendale)||Sandham, E.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lawrence, Susan||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Scott, James|
|Compton, Joseph||Lawson, John James||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Cove, William G.||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Scurr, John|
|Cowan, D. M.||Leach, W.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Daggar, George||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Dallas, George||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lees, J.||Shield, George William|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Lindley, Fred W.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Logan, David Gilbert||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Longbottom, A. W.||Shinwell, E.|
|Dickson, T.||Longden, F.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Sinkinson, George|
|Duncan, Charles||Lowth, Thomas||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lunn, William||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Egan, W. H.||McElwee, A.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Elmley, Viscount||McEntee, V. L.||Snell, Harry|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||MacLaren, Andrew||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Foot, Isaac||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Forgan, Dr. Robert||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Sorensen, R.|
|Freeman, Peter||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||McShane, John James||Stephen, Campbell|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Mansfield, W.||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||March, S.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Marcus, M.||Sullivan, J.|
|Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||Markham, S. F.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Gill, T. H.||Marley, J.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Glassey, A. E.||Marshall, F.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)|
|Gossling, A. G.||Mathers, George||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Gould, F.||Matters, L. W.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maxton, James||Tillett, Ben|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Melville, Sir James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).||Messer, Fred||Tout, W. J.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Middleton, G.||Townend, A. E.|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Millar, J. D.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Mills, J. E.||Turner, B.|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Milner, J.||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Montague, Frederick||Viant, S. P.|
|Walker, J.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)||Wise, E. F.|
|Wallace, H. W.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Watkins, F. C.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Williams Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Wellock, Wilfred||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Welsh, James (Paisley)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)||Wilson, J. (Oldham)||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Whiteley.|
|West, F. R.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Eden, Captain Anthony||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Albery, Irving James||Edmondson, Major A. J.||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||England, Colonel A.||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Penny, Sir George|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Atkinson, C.||Ferguson, Sir John||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Fermoy, Lord||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Fielden, E. B.||Purbrick, R.|
|Balniel, Lord||Ford, Sir P. J.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Remer, John R.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Ross, Major Ronald D.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Gower, Sir Robert||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Salmon, Major I.|
|Boyce, H. L.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Bracken, B.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Savery, S. S.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Skelton, A. N.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Hanbury, C.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Haslam, Henry C.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Horne, Rt. Hon Sir Robert S.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Tinne, J. A.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Iveagh, Countess of||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Colville, Major D. J.||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Long, Major Eric||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Dalrymple White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Marjoribanks, E. C.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Meller, R. J.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Dixey, A. C.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Mond, Hon. Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Smithers and Mr. C. Williams.|
§ Mr. SMITHERS
I beg to move, in page 14, line 16, at the end, to insert the words:The Chairman of the National Board shall not be a member of any of the associations, federations, or unions mentioned in Sub-section (1) of this Section.On many occasions hon. Members on this side have said that, although we object to the principle of the Bill, we will do what we can to make it a better Bill. We have tried this evening to bring in the non-political trade unions, and have failed. We have tried to leave out the Trade Union Congress, and have failed. 182 Apparently, the National Board is now assuming the size at which it will eventually be passed by this House. The Board is of such importance to the country and of such importance in any disputes that may arise that we do want a chairman to keep it in order. I am not quite clear on the wording of the Clause who is to appoint the chairman. There are to be 16 members of the Board, and the chairman. Is the chairman to be appointed by the Board of Trade, or will he be elected by his fellow members of the National Board after the Board has been appointed?
183 The duties of the Board are very important and are set out in Sub-sections (3) and (4). I should like to see the Board presided over by a really big man. A man who would be big enough in character and position to be able to detach himself from the parties in any quarrel that may arise, and be able to give the Board a lead in the national interests. We have heard a good deal about the composition of the Board and how the Board would vote on certain occasions. Anyone who has had any experience of sitting on a Board will know how, on occasion, a Board can be persuaded and influenced by a strong, big-hearted, big-minded chairman. I want to be able to go back to my constituents and to say that in connection with this Bill I have made one suggestion which was accepted. I hope, therefore, that my Amendment will be accepted. I beg of him to accept this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman is like the don who was once described as being suaviter in modo, fortiter in re. And an old classical scholar said that it was not so much the quality of the epithets which were showered on him as their quantity.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
This is one of the rare occasions in this long Debate when I can respond to the very touching appeal that has been made to me. In reply to the questions put by the hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Smithers), the chairman of this Board will be appointed by the Board of Trade, and in that case of course without consultation which applies to the other parts of the membership of the Board. Strictly speaking, I am not sure that the Amendment is necessary because the chairman in any case would not be a member of any of these organisations, but to put the matter beyond the shadow of doubt I am prepared to accept the Amendment. I have only one sentence to add, and that is to enable the hon. Member to return in triumph to Chislehurst.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Captain BOURNE
I beg to move, in page 14, line 19, to leave out the wordssuch remuneration (if any) to the chairman.So far as I am aware there are two statutory Wages Boards set up in this country; the first under the 1921 Act relating to railways, and the second 184 under the 1924 Act relating to agricultural wages, and in neither case does the chairman of the Board receive remuneration. I feel that we are now facing a very important point—namely, that in reference to the chairmanship of one of these Boards it s to be regarded as a whole-time job. Speaking for myself, and looking at the Clause as it stands, I can see no reason why the chairman of this Board should have any great amount of work to do. So far as district agreements are concerned, I imagine that they will be the business of the secretary, who is to receive payment under this Sub-section.
I sincerely hope that the Government do not anticipate that the number of disputes which will arise in the coalfields in the immediate future will call for the service of some eminent gentleman, who is to give his entire time to the work. If he is not to give his entire time, if he is to be called upon only when a dispute, what I would almost call a major dispute, arises, I am certain that the Government will be able to command the services of some distinguished man who will undertake the work willingly. I do not know who acts as chairman so far as the railways are concerned, but I believe that the late speaker of this House, Lord Ullswater, has undertaken the duties on the Agricultural Wages Board to the satisfaction of everyone concerned. We have in this country many people who have done service for their country in politics or in other lines, who are thoroughly efficient and willing to undertake such work as this, more especially if, as this Clause proposes, their out-of pocket expenses are paid. If the Government anticipate much activity on the part of this Board—activity which I hope will not be required—I cannot see the logic of paying the Chairman and not paying the members of the board. Either the work on this board is to be a very arduous and serious duty, or the board is to be called upon to operate only on the occasions when a serious dispute arises in any district and the need of conciliation or arbitration occurs.
Unless the Government have reason for anticipating serious trouble n the coalfields, the number of occasions in any year when this board would have to be at work will not be very many. If the 185 bringing together in one body of representatives of masters and men is likely to make for greater peace in the industry, surely the number of occasions on which the intervention of this board will be called for will be few and far between? In that case the appointment of a salaried chairman will be quite unnecessary. I would ask the President of the Board of Trade what salary or remuneration he contemplates paying. This is a matter of some importance. Is the chairman to be paid only on the occasions when his services are required? In any case I can see no reason why he should be paid and the members of the board not paid. Does the right hon. Gentleman contemplate offering a salary of so much per annum to the chairman of this board, irrespective of whether the amount of the work he has to do is great or small?
For myself, I cannot feel that the appointment of a salaried chairman is likely to lead to peace in the industry. If there should be nothing to do, anybody in this position who is worth his salt will feel that he is not earning the money, or else he will feel that there is some need for activity in order to justify that salary. I feel certain that if the right hon. Gentleman follows the precedents which I have quoted, namely, the Railway Wages Tribunal, and the Agricultural Wages Board, and obtains the services of a thoroughly competent independent chairman who will give his time willingly, without any payment, save such expenses as may be involved in attendance to his duties, it will be much better than the proposal in the Clause.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I think I can remove all doubt on this point in a very few sentences. As the Committee knows, this Board will only operate when there has been a breakdown in the district machinery on any question concerning hours or wages, or anything connected with labour in the coalfields. In other words, it will be, to a very large extent, a body to which appeals, so to speak, are carried from the district organisation, and there is nothing of the permanent kind about it, as suggested by the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne). It is the firm intention of the Government to get some distinguished public figure, who will command general confidence to act as chairman of this 186 Board, and I have not the least doubt that the gentleman appointed will be prepared to give his services on an honorary basis. Of course, provision is made in this Clause for meeting the travelling and subsistence expenses of the chairman and other members of the Board. My right hon. Friend and predecessor in office and others will agree that there may be cases—though I trust such cases will not occur—in which a longer arbitration or a longer review of the circumstances will be involved. In that situation the remuneration of the chairman would not be met by the ordinary subsistence and travelling allowances, and it becomes necessary to provide a sum which could be properly drawn upon as remuneration for that particular task. Frankly, I do not think that situation likely to arise, but in order to provide for cases of that kind, which would be, in all probability, quite exceptional, these words are necessary.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
The right hon. Gentleman has appealed to me, but I am bound to say that I do not like this provision at all. If cases may arise in which the chairman would be inadequately remunerated by getting merely his travelling and subsistence expenses, obviously that applies also to the other members of the Board who are drawn from the Miners' Union and other bodies. They also would be inadequately remunerated in such circumstances. [An HON. MEMBER: "The associations would pay them!"] I do not know about that. I am not at all sure that the mining associations or the chambers of commerce or the co-operative unions are going to pay their representatives. I do not know. I should have thought, however, that, logically, a provision of this kind should be applied to all or none. As a matter of fact if there is going to be any question of paying these people at all I think it is much better that they should be paid by the State which appoint" them, than by trade union organisations or other bodies. I am not at all sure that that suggestion does not introduce a new element into the discussion. If people are to be paid for sitting on a tribunal, they should be paid by an independent body, the State, rather than by constituent organisations which they serve at other times in other capacities. I should have thought that that was right 187 in principle. Therefore, I should have thought it was all or none. I do not like this proposal to pay, whether it is a chairman or any of the others. The right hon. Gentleman knows what I said on Second Reading, that I had doubts about the wisdom of this Board at all. The worst thing we can possibly do will be to encourage either the miners or the owners to treat their district negotiations as merely a preliminary step and as a sort of first hearing in a litigation.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that we must confine ourselves to the case of the chairman.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
With great respect, the reason why I think it is wrong to pay the chairman and to put into this Bill a Clause that he is to be paid, is that it indicates to the public at large and to the parties concerned that this is a man who is going to have a good deal of work to do. Obviously, that is so, because, if he does not have much work to do, then there is no need to put this in. If you are going to make a proposal that the chairman should be paid, then I think it is at once suggested that he is going to be called upon to work frequently, for otherwise it is unnecessary. If that be so, he can only be called upon to work frequently be-cause matters are not settled in the districts where they are perfectly rightly and properly settled at the present time. That will be an encouragement to the parties to look to this court of appeal. I quite appreciate the Billing of the Chair as to the merits of the Clause, and I realise that I must discuss that on the Motion, "That the Clause stand part." I do not wish to go further into that, but the right hon. Gentleman made a direct appeal to me to say what was my opinion. I must say, frankly, and without any uncertainty, that, having heard what he has to say, I think it would be an unfortunate precedent, and I hope that he will not insist upon it.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. LAMBERT WARD
May I press the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider his decision with regard to this Amendment. It seems to me the first qualification you require for the chairman is impartiality, and that is a qualification you are likely to 188 get from an unremunerated chairman. After all, impartiality is even more important than depth of knowledge. If you are going to remunerate a chairman, you are entitled to expect from him a considerable amount of knowledge, and, if you expect that, you are going to bring into the field in competition all the experts who have dealt with this question for some considerable time. Practically every expert in this country has now committed himself to one side or the other by speeches or writings or otherwise. Therefore, if you have a remunerated expert as chairman and the time comes when he is called upon to give a casting vote, you will at once raise the question of partiality on his part. There-fore, I think, by having an unremunerated man, we are recognising at once that it is not a whole-time job and that you are much more likely to get an absolutely impartial chairman than by making it a paid position or a full-time occupation.
Sir GEORGE HAMILTON
If these words are left out, I think there is much more possibility of getting a voluntary chairman. If you put these words in, it will be very difficult to get any man, however good he may be for the post, to serve without remuneration. Secondly, I did not quite follow the President of the Board of Trade's argument. He said he wanted power in certain difficult cases to pay the chairman. Do I understand that this chairman is to be a sort of moving functionary, that on one day you pay him and the next day you do not, that if it is an important job you appoint a paid chairman, but if it is not a very big one, or likely to last long, you call on some unfortunate gentleman to transact the onerous duty of chairman without remuneration? It does not seem to me that that is the best way to get the best chairman, if the board is to be really of service in keeping peace in the industry. Thirdly, if you will refer to Sub-section 5 (a), you will find that powers are given to enable the National Board to sit in two or more divisions, and to sit with assessors. Supposing they are sitting in three divisions, and you have three chairmen, are we going to pay them all, or only one? I am all against a salary.
My argument is entirely in support of the Amendment, and I appeal to the right 189 hon. Gentleman that you cannot expect to get a man of standing and ability to fill the onerous post of chairman of this board if you put into the Act of Parliament that the chairman can be paid, unless you pay him, because, as the President says, one week you may have a dispute of great importance, lasting for some time, in the Kent coalfield, we will say, and you will have to have a board sitting on that dispute. The President says, "I will appoint So-and-so as chairman, and pay him such and such a salary." Three months later a dispute breaks out in Yorkshire, which the President does not think so important, and he asks a voluntary chairman to sit there. But that dispute may last for months, and the chairman can only secure his expenses. I am quite sure that it is better to leave out these words.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I am satisfied that we can get a chairman on voluntary lines, and there is no intention of making the ad hoc appointments to which the hon. and gallant Member for Ilford (Sir G. Hamilton) has just referred. I do not see why we cannot take a decision now, subject to this, that I am willing to look into the points which have been put by hon. and right hon. Members opposite. Without giving any pledge at all, I will consider them carefully before the Report stage, and I urge that we might pass this as it stands before the Debate closes.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, but if he will give us the undertaking 190 that the matter can be raised upon the Report stage, I do not want to divide against the Clause now. A proposal has been made by the right hon. Gentleman that we should withdraw the Amendment now, in order that he may look into it before the Report stage. I am quite ready to fall in with that proposal, on the understanding that we shall, if he adheres to his present position, have the opportunity of raising it on the Report stage and dividing on it then.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I cannot give any undertaking to delete these words, but I will give an undertaking that there will be facilities for discussing them on Report.
§ Amendment, by leave; withdrawn.
§ It being Eleven of the Clock, the CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.