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Act, I am of opinion that many of the decisions as given in the report have not been warranted by the facts, and that many sentences have been harsh and unjust.
“With respect to the Criminal Law Amendment Act, I advise its total repeal. I object to the policy of such laws on this ground, that the question of wages will eventually and effectually adjust itself, that no legal protection will in the end secure workmen for the employers at a rate under the general rate of wages, as no amount of endeavours on the part of the workmen by picketing, &c., to carry out their strike will have any effect in stopping employment if rates are equal or superior. The statute is objectionable because by stopping picketing it places the workman at an obvious disadvantage. The employer can do all that picketing does without coming within the criminal law. It is an error to say that the Criminal Law Amendment Act strikes only at personal molestation; the employers use coercion equally with the employed. If, however, it is thought necessary to punish threats, intimidation, or rattening more severely than can be accomplished by the penal law, I should be in favour of its extension in that direction.
“ From the view of the report as to the law of conspiracy I entirely dissent. I am unable to tell from the report whether the recent decisions by Mr. Justice Brett, Baron Amphlett, and Baron Pollock are right or wrong. If they are wrong it should have been so stated; if right, they should have been affirmed. The amendment proposed has only been in my hands for a few hours; I am unable, nor do I propose to be competent, to give an opinion as to its effect, which is not explained by the report. Even the reasons adduced in the report for the maintenance of the law of conspiracy are sufficient in themselves to require an alteration in the law. I therefore agree with a view taken by the House of Commons, that alteration is necessary, and though I do not pretend to be competent to judge the legal effect, it seems to me that Sir William Harcourt's Bill would meet the requirements of the case.
“In conclusion, I beg to say that I entirely agree with the following extract from the report of Mr. Thomas Hughes and Mr. Frederic Harrison, upon the trades union commission of 1867 :
“It seems to us that the policy of imposing exceptional penalties upon the labouring population en masse, and as such, and recognising in that class exceptional offences, is a principle vicious in itself, and long discredited. Nothing but some extraordinary danger to the public safety, or some peculiar proneness to crime, can justify such an anomalous system. We can see nothing in the combinations of workmen which the ordinary police cannot deal with, or any systematic violation of law not now cognisable under the general criminal code. Combinations of workmen, like other combinations in the community, are occasionally most injurious to the public, sometimes very oppressive to individuals, and occasionally lead to acts of crime. But we know no sound reason why their acts should not be dealt with under the ordinary penalties for offences in the regular course of justice.
CONSPIRACY AND PROTECTION OF
(38 & 39 VICT., CAP. 86). An Act for amending the Law relating to Conspiracy, A.D. 1875.
and to the Protection of Property, and for other purposes.
[13th August, 1875.]
Be it enacted, &c.
1. This Act may be cited as the Conspiracy and short title. Protection of Property Act, 1875.
Commencement of Act.
2. This Act shall come into operation on the first day of September, one thousand eight hundred and seventyfive.
Conspiracy, and Protection of Property.
in trade dis
3. An agreement or combination by two or more Amendment persons to do or procure to be done any act in contem- conspiracy plation or furtherance of a trade dispute (a) between putes. employers and workmen (6) shall not be indictable as a conspiracy if such act committed by one person would not be punishable as a crime (c).
Nothing in this section shall exempt from punishment any persons guilty of a conspiracy for which a punishment is awarded by any Act of Parliament.
Nothing in this section shall affect the law relating to riot, unlawful assembly, breach of the peace, or
sedition, or any offence against the State or the Sovereign.
A crime for the purposes of this section means an offence punishable on indictment, or an offence which is punishable on summary conviction, and for the commission of which the offender is liable under the statute making the offence punishable to be imprisoned either absolutely or at the discretion of the court as an alternative for some other punishment (c).
Where a person is convicted of any such agreement or combination as aforesaid to do or procure to be done an act which is punishable only on summary conviction, and is sentenced to imprisonment, the imprisonment shall not exceed three months, or such longer time, if any, as may have been prescribed by the statute for the punishment of the said act when committed by one person (d).
(a) TRADE DISPUTE.—There is no definition of this term ; and it does not seem a very felicitous one to express a dispute between employers and workmen. A trade dispute would seem to mean a dispute concerning trade, or a dispute between traders; and the word trade, in its primary sense, to mean the exchange of goods by barter or sale, and the term a trader, one engaged in merchandize. In a secondary sense, indeed, the word trade is taken to mean any manual or mercantile occupation as distinguished from the liberal arts or sciences. In this sense a workman would be said to follow the trade of a carpenter, or a mason, as the case might be. In many cases employers are often traders, selling the articles that are made by workmen in their employ ; but in other instances, e.g., in the case of a builder, an employer could scarcely be called a trader. Nor can it be properly said that an employer trades with his workmen, nor perhaps that the workmen trade with their employer. It is true they exchange their labour for money, which in the views of political economy, may be tantamount to exchanging goods for money ; but they could hardly be said in common parlance, and certainly not in legal phraseology, to be trading with their employers in this respect.
However, this term trade dispute, which it is to be regretted that the Legislature has not defined, must undoubtedly be taken in a larger sense, and to mean any dispute between employers and workmen, with reference to the relation between them in that respect. It is certainly used in that sense in the Report of the Commissioners on the Labour Laws (ante p. 48.) Perhaps the language of the Trade Union Act, 1871, (34 & 35 Vict. c. 31, post, App.) may be prayed in aid as to the construction of this phrase. By sect. 23 “the term "trade union' means such combination, whether temporary or permanent, for regulating the relations between workmen and masters, or between workmen and workmen, or between masters and masters, or for imposing restrictive conditions on the conduct of any trade or business, as would, if this Act had not passed, have been deemed to have been an unlawful combination by reason of of some one or more of its purposes being in restraint of trade.” So that the Legislature in this Act has evidently used the word “ trade” with reference to the relations between workmen and masters,” or, as they are now termed,“ employers.” In this sense, therefore, the term trade dispute would include any dispute as to wages, hours of working, length of notice to be given in order to put an end to the contract, and such like. But there are some cases in which it may be doubtful whether the expression would apply. For instance, if a number of employers combined to refuse to give work to a particular workman because he belonged to some union ; or if a number of workmen combined to break a contract with an employer, because he employed a workman who did not belong to a union, it may be doubted whether this could be said to be “ a trade dispute between employers and workmen," and whether, therefore, this section would be applicable, and whether such a "combination,” would not be still “indictable as a conspiracy.” It is probable, however, that even in such a case the