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vitally affect the well-being of the workers, and if the Commission is to be appointed in their interests these vital questions must be dealt with.

The strong probability is that this will be shirked, and the Commission will escape its real responsibility by making some plausible statement as to the desirability of reducing working hours. We of the workers know how desirable it is that working hours should be reduced ; very many are satisfied that an eight-hour day is more than enough. But attention to this alone will not settle the question ; steady incomes for statesmen, parsons, military men, naval men, &c., are thoroughly approved by the workers, but they claim stcady incomes for themselves too, and if the Commission slides off without clearly pointing out the way to secure steady incomes for workmen, or proves to demonstration that such a thing is impossible, then many of the workers will be of opinion that the more weighty matters have been shirked, either through fearing to face the facts, or incompetency to deal with them.

One matter I would specially emphasise, and that is with relation to the East of London, where we have four dock companies, and over 150 wharves with innumerable methods of conducting operations. So complex are the conditions of employment, so changeable are the tactics of the directors and proprietors, that it is difficult to find a week pass over without some labour difficulty cropping up, due to the lack of system that prevails among the responsible employers; and as there are 70,000 men employed in the port it is a matter of constant danger to the whole of the port industries to have this changeableness on the part of the employers, due largely to competition between each other, and due also to incompetency to conduct so varied a trade without something like uniformity. The Royal Commission might, therefore, with much advantage to the community, whose interests are closely identified with the work of the port, exhaustively inquire into the working of those docks which are under municipal or public control, with a view to seeing whether or not municipal control might not with advantage be applied to the docks and wharves of London.

Indeed, the shipping trade requires practically a Commission to


itself, so numerous are the grievances under which men work. It is a shameful thing that there should be no law as to the manning of vessels in a competent manner. The present law is positively ludicrous, admitting of ships sailing with less than half the number of able seamen requisite for the safety of the vessel.

The Commission should also give attention to a matter that is of 'the utmost importance to riverside and dock workers, viz., the excessive liability to accident incurred by stevedores and dock labourers while loading and discharging vessels. In 1888 the Lancet instituted a special inquiry into the dangers attending labour in the docks, and after taking evidence from stevedores, dock labourers, hospital surgeons, and others, reported that in the course of five years' work quite 50 per cent of the men would suffer some accident. It is true this estimate does not coincide with the figures produced by Colonel Martindale and others before the Sweating Commission, but if it were 10 per cent. instead of 50 the state of affairs would be grave enough to call for immediate attention, and, if possible, for equally prompt remedy. And seeing that very many of these casualties are due to the defective gear rigged aboard ship for loading and discharging purposes, while others are due to lack of proper supervision of machinery employed at docks, it is quite time that the scope of the Factories Act was so extended as to include the proper supervision of gear and machinery employed on vessels in port, and on wharves, docks, warehouses, &c. The preventive tendency of the Employers' Liability Act is not sufficient to stop the universal negligence to which accidents can often be traced. This leads to the question of the dearth of inspectors for the work required to be done. Competent men, who can judge at a glance as to the fitness of machinery, gear, scaffolding, &c., are required in much larger numbers if real inspectorship is to be carried out.

The question of the control of factory inspectors requires further attention, as to whether it would not be well to leave the matter largely with the local authorities who are at present responsible for sanitary inspection, or whether the general supervision of the health and safety of the workers should not be placed under one central body such as a Ministry of Industry.

At present such confusion exists as to the enforcing of recommendations that the value of previous Commissions and Select Committees has been largely nullified. It is bewildering to have the Home Office responsible in some instances, the Board of Trade in others, the Local Government Board and Municipal authorities in others, resulting in confusion and dismay. Labour matters should be dealt with by one responsible authority, who should properly direct the energies of officialdom through the most effective channels.

The question of raising the age at which boys should be allowed to commence work requires further attention. The mere passing of a standard of book knowledge is not sufficient ; for full timers the

; age of fifteen years should, in my opinion, be fixed, no matter what standard they had passed, and for half timers thirteen years.

The condition of the agricultural labourers must also be dealt with. It is true Select Committees have sat and reported upon the advantages of small holdings, and that a Bill is now before the House of Commons to enable labourers to obtain small holdings by the payment of one-fourth of the value and interest upon the remainder, but land is of small value unless there is some capital with which to work it, and to call upon labourers to pay one-fourth of the value as well as to provide capital to work it is ludicrous. It is true that a small section of farm labourers have, by means of an allotment, been able to supplement their wages so that they have a few pounds by them, but the great army of them, some 750,000 in number, have had no such luck. They are getting a wage varying from gs. a week in the worst paid counties to 18s. in the best. What can be saved out of 13s. 6d. a week, and all lost time through bad weather deducted out of this ? During the month of March cases were brought before my own notice in Lincolnshire where men had walked three consecutive days five miles each way to get work, and only secured one day's work out of the three, for which they received 2s.

What these men want are easily obtained allotments at fair rents with fixity of tenure. Ten millions of acres of cultivable land is lying idle in Britain ; thousands of willing labourers with agricultural knowledge would be glad to get at this and produce much of that we now import from abroad. Let the Royal Commission report upon the futility of the present Allotments Act as passed in 1887, and amnended in 1889 ; let it be made clear by the labourers how unfairly they are handicapped by having to pay such excessive rents that it is next to impossible for them to cultivate allotments with advantage.

In the few instances where labourers have been successful in getting allotments by voluntary arrangement with the farmers they have proved beyond any doubt that an extension of allotments is the right direction in which to travel. By proper cultivation, land under the allotment system is producing as much as 50 per cent. more than similar land in the same neighbourhood under the farmers. May not the Commission fitly inquire into the cause of farmers producing only three and a half quarters of wheat per acre, while labourers make similar land, properly worked, produce six quarters per acre? A general impression prevails that farming in this country does not pay and cannot be made to pay. Let us have from the Commission not only a clearly expressed opinion as to the fairness of the landlords taking £60,000,000 a year from the land, but also let us know whether the present method of cultivation adopted by farmers is the correct one. It is admitted that some farmers are making the most of the land ; but these are not the ones who complain that farming cannot be made to pay. But it is contended by those who know the facts that in the vast majority of instances the land is labour-starved. Four men only are employed where six men are required; the result is improper cultivation, low wages, small profits, and playing into the hands of our foreign competitors. Is incompetency on the part of the majority of English farmers to be allowed to block our home food supply entirely? Is it not to the interest of the British community that an abundance of cereals, roots, fruit, and dairy produce should be produced in our own land ; and is not the interest of the British community superior to that of the British farming community? If so, we may fairly claim from the Royal Commission that the country shall be told in plain terms that the land of England is capable of producing the food supply of England, and that, though we have yielded the palm for the best dairy produce to Denmark, yet the same principles and methods so successfully adopted by Denmark are open to us for our adoption. If ever the laissez faire principle proved a terrible failure, of all instances this of farming is the most terrible. £100,000,000 a year is sent away to other countries for the purchase of foodstuffs by the people of these islands and our own food producers are permitted to starve. Such utter incompetency was surely never before exhibited ; it is sufficient to make every Britisher blush with shame at the very thought of it.

It is for the Commission to point out the quickest way to remedy this serious evil. It would appear to lie in the direction of at once extending the sphere of Local Government, so that District, Village, or Parish Councils shall be established all over the country, with power to compel the sale of land at proper market prices to the local authority, to be let by the local authority to the labourers as allotments and small holdings, at fair rents with fixity of tenure. The labourers have demonstrated their desire to get control of land; they have proved their power to pay fair rents for the same, and to derive no small advantage for themselves and at the same time add materially to the food supply of the country. Although it does not appear to be generally recognised, it cannot be questioned that in this direction lies salvation for the masses of Britain's workers.

It is true that farmers are fearful of the consequences if the agricultural labourer should be placed in such a position that he will no longer be the hired slave, but if the farmers are wise they will recognise that slavery in this country must cease actually as well as nominally, and they will endeavour to at once establish those conditions that will admit of good development all round. In every agricultural district there should be established creameries, where competent butter-makers should be constantly employed with the best machinery obtainable. Technical education is indeed required. Farmers' wives and daughters of to-day learn to play pianos instead of learning how to make butter ; in very few places in England can good home-made butter be obtained. If farmers' daughters do not find the occupation genial, let the daughters of the labourers be taught, and they may be trusted to give a good account of themselves, if they get fairplay. It is not quite clear why we should import so many pigs

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