Page images
PDF
EPUB

one

however guardedly and cautiously—that leave to them the responsibility of rethe course they meditated would not har-jecting it. monize with the engagements which THE LORD CHANCELLOR said, bound them to Great Britain and to that this was one of those cases of France upon the Eastern question; that pressing a Resolution which no the advantages they sought might be particularly desired to oppose ; but, at more legitimately compassed; it would the same time, if it were accepted, it have seemed to me the conduct of the might give rise to some misapprehenGovernment ought not to be impugned. sion in other quarters. The second ReWill it be said that such a task_was solution being withdrawn, there would beyond the faculties of the noble Earl, be no necessity for the first; and it apand those who sit around him here, or peared to him that the better course those who aid him at the Foreign Office ? would be to agree to a Motion that the My Lords, the noble Earl regards the Resolution should not be put. He theresecond Resolution as a censure. In that fore moved the Previous Question. event, however just its terms, I shall withdraw it. Dissatisfied with the pro

A question being stated thereupon, ceedings of the noble Earl in this affair, the previous question was put, “ WheI do not fail to recognize his international ther the said question shall be now utility in the function of maintaining put?” Resolved in the Negative. peace between two contending Powers, Then it was moved to resolve, That this House or Powers not unlikely to contend. It regrets that no effectual measures seem to have would not, therefore, be consistent with been taken to prevent or to retard the definitive my views as to the interest of Europe by and the Danubian Principalities.—(The Lord

conclusion of a treaty between Austro-Hungary any vote to weaken his authority at pre- Stratheden and Campbell.) sent. As to the former Resolution,

Motion (by leave of the House) withnothing will induce me to withdraw it,

drawn. and nothing will, I hope, prevent the noble Earl from acquiescing in it. It is CONSPIRACY AND PROTECTION OF a tribute to the Government as against

PROPERTY BILL.-(No. 220.) the Identic Note, and it must tend to

(The Lord Chancellor.) counterbalance the effect of the Austrian example on those States which at this very moment are doubting whether to be Order of the Day for the Second Readswayed by it.

ing, read. THE EARL OF DERBY acknowledged

THE LORD CHANCELLOR, in movthe friendly tone of the noble Lord's ing that the Bill be now read the second speech towards the Government and time, said, he would briefly explain the himself, and hoped that the noble Lord purpose of this Bill, and also that of would rest satisfied with the discussion The Employers and Workmen Bill, which which he had evoked, and withdraw stood next on the Paper. The latter both Resolutions. He (the Earl of Derby) Bill was confined to civil remedies for could not object to the first Resolution breaches of contract between employers in the abstract, but it would afford no and workmen, while the other, while it security that it would be unanimously provided that no combination should be accepted by the House; and looking at deemed criminal if the act proposed to the state of the House and the number be done would not be criminal if done of Peers who were absent, and had by one person declared certain breaches taken no part in the discussion, any of contract, though done by one person Resolution agreed to in such a manner to be criminally punishable, and others would not have any weight with or in- involving injury to persons and property fluence over European nations.

to be also punishable. The Employers LORD CAMPBELL adhered to his and Workmen Bill, he might add, was opinion, that the proper course would intended to replace the Master and Serbe to withdraw the second Resolution; vants Act of 1867, sometimes called and, as to the first Resolution, its ac- Lord Elcho's Act, while the other meaceptance or non-acceptance, entirely sure was intended to replace the Crimidepended upon the Government. As nal Law Amendment Act of 1871. As to the first Resolution, if the Govern- far back as 1350 there was an Act-the ment would not adopt it, he must 23rd of Edward III.-called the Statute

Lord Campbell

SECOND READING.

of Labourers. That Statute, after re- / was that the present Government, on citing that a great part of the people, coming into office, found great and especially workmen and servants, had general dissatisfaction existing on the of late died of the pestilence, and that subject, and that dissatisfaction was many, seeing the necessity of masters aggravated by further complaints which and the great scarcity of servants, would were made as to the working of the not serve unless they received excessive Criminal Law Amendment Act. They, wages, and that some would rather beg therefore, thought it necessary to obtain in idleness than by labour get their some information as to the working of livings, proceeded to enact that all agri- those two measures, and a Commission cultural labourers should be bound to was appointed, on which sat a noble work for the wages usually paid in the Lord whom he saw near him, the Lord 20th year of Edward the Third's reign Chief Justice of England, the Recorder (1347) or the five or six years before, of London, Sir Montagu Smith one of and subjected them to imprisonment for the official Members of the Judicial disobedience. From that period up to Committee of the Privy Council-Mr. 1867 there had been almost incessant Bouverie, Mr. Macdonald, and others. legislation on the subject, which was That Commission obtained information of directed to two separate objects--the great value, and presented a very elabomaking service compulsory, laying down rate and able Report, and upon that Report the rate of wages to be paid, and the Her Majesty's Government were decided imposing of criminal penalties on work to act. The Government decided to draw men, but not upon employers, who were a broad line of demarcation between left to be dealt with by means of civil civil and criminal breaches of contract, remedies only. The first of those ob- and to leave that line to be deterjects—compulsory service-was given mined, not by the tribunal, but on the up in 1824, but the system of criminal face of the Act of Parliament itself. punishment continued until 1867. The The Employers and Workmen Bill dealt Act passed in that year, following the with civil breaches of contract alone, Report of a Committee of which Lord laying down the general rule - apart Elcho was Chairman, placed for the first from certain exceptions which came time employers and workmen on the under the other Bill — that breach of same footing; but the misfortune was contract which resulted in damages that it left certain classes of breaches should be treated as giving rise to a of contract to be punished either civilly civil remedy, and not as constituting a or criminally at the option of the Jus- crime. It provided that wherever the tices. The 14th section of the Act was damage from a breach of contract did as follows:

not exceed £10 it might be dealt with "When on the hearing of an information or by the petty sessions, and where it excomplaint under this Act it appears to the ceeded that amount must be dealt with justices, magistrate, or sheriff that any in- in the County Court; that both as to jury inflicted on the person or property of the the petty sessions and the County Court party complaining, or the misconduct, misdemeanour, or ill-treatment complained of, has there was to be no imprisonment whatbeen of an aggravated character, and that such ever, except that kind of imprisonment injury, misconduct, misdemeanour, or ill-treat- which resulted occasionally in County ment has not arisen or been committed in the Courts where a debt had not been paid bona fide exercise of a legal right existing or bona fide and reasonably supposed to exist, and by a person against whom a judgment further, that any pecuniary compensation or had gone, and as to whom tắe Judge other remedy by this Act provided will not came to the conclusion that he had the meet the circumstances of the case, then the means of paying, but did not choose to justices, magistrate, or sheriff may by warrant commit the party complained against to the pay. In those cases, and those cases common gaol or House of Correction, there to only, the petty sessions or the County be (in the discretion of the justices, magistrate, Court was to be allowed to commit the or sheriff) imprisoned, with or without hard la- defendant to prison, not as a criminal, bour, for any term not exceeding three months.” but as a debtor, subject to the checks Thus, there might be conflicting deci- and safeguards existing in regard to orsions in the very same county, for what dinary cases of debt in the County Court. in the eye of one magistrate might ap- The Bill also authorized the petty sespear to be an aggravated offence, might sions or the County Court, as the case not appear so to another. The result might be, to adjust a set-off on the side VOL. CCXXVI. (THIRD SERIES.]

o

ܙܙ

either of the workman or of the em-, his contract to supply coals for making ployer; it empowered the Court to re- the gas. The answer to that criticism scind the contract under certain circum- seemed to be extremely simple. In the stances if it thought fit; and it provided first place, to proceed against a Company that, where the Court might otherwise or a municipal body criminally was not award damages, it might, if the de- an easy matter; it was not practicable. fendant was willing to give sureties for In the next place, they had an ample the performance of the remainder of his security in the case of a municipal aucontract, accept such sureties' security thority or a Company for the performwith the consent of the plaintiff. As ance of its duty, because to plunge a introduced into the House of Commons town in darkness or deprive it of its the Bill contained a further provision, supply of water would be fatal to the which he regretted had been omitted continuance in office of its office-bearers, namely, it enabled a person summoned and also to its trading prosperity. So, for a breach of contract, and against again, with the outside merchant conwhom damages might be awarded, to tracting to supply coals. The Company offer not merely the security of some could easily contract with whom it other person, but his own security, by pleased, under such penalties as it which means if he did not perform his pleased, and no penalty was necessary undertaking to fulfil his contract, he for the case of the coal merchant. The might be imprisoned for a limited time. conclusive justification for the form in That would have enabled a workman which the clause stood was that the who was not in a position to obtain a servants of Gas and Water Companies surety to give a security which might be were persons in a fiduciary position. The accepted. But it having been repre- Companies must employ servants, and sented that that provision was not ac- those servants again must be trusted; ceptable to the workmen, who looked and a breach committed by them of a upon it as a revival of imprisonment contract of that kind, seriously damaging in another form, the Government had the public interests, was a wholly difthought it better to omit it. The ferent species of act from the breach of breaches of contract which were to be contract, which might be committed, for made criminal in future were included example, by a man who was bound to in the Conspiracy and Protection to supply coals. Then the next clause, Property Bill. That Bill dealt first with Clause 5, proceeded exactly on the same questions affecting the supply of gas and principle as Clause 4, the only difference water. It provided that where a person being that it contemplated a breach of employed by a municipal authority or a contract, whether by a person serving company wilfully and maliciously broke or by a person hiring, which involved a contract of service, knowing or having serious injury to life, personal injury, reasonable cause to believe that the or which exposed valuable property to probable consequence of his doing so destruction or serious injury. There, would be to deprive the public of gas again, a breach of contract having those or water, he should be liable, on con- consequences was treated differently from viction, to a penalty not exceeding £20 a mere civil contract. He now came to or to imprisonment for a period not ex- the question of conspiracy. The Crimiceeding three months, with or without nal Law Amendment Act of 1871 rehard labour. They held that a person pealed all the old trade combination thus acting not only committed a breach laws as they were called, and provided of contract incurring civil damages, but that certain specific things should be a criminal offence, for which he ought offences; and as to conspiracy, it proto be criminally responsible. Some vided thatcriticism had been passed on that clause elsewhere, it being objected that it dealt ment for doing or conspiring to do any act on

“no person shall be liable to any punishonly with persons in the service of a

the ground that such act restrains or tends to company or a municipal authority sur- restrain the free course of trade, unless such plying gas or water, and not with all act is one of the acts herein before specified in persons whomsoever-not, for example, this section, and is done with the object of with

the Company or the municipal body coercing as hereinbefore mentioned.” itself, which might be in default

, or with It was supposed by all the parties to the coal merchant, who might not fulfil that Act that it would have eliminated

The Lord Chancellor

the element of trade strikes ; but it did | a view to interfere with masters or sernot do that, and convictions had occurred vants, a criminal offence. The first imwhich were somewhat unexpected. They pression was that these forbidden acts had raised the idea that the code of were physical and mechanical acts; but Criminal Law which had been settled by by construction they were held to inthe Act of 1871 had been stretched and clude the act of persuading in a peaceenlarged by means of the application of able manner. Accordingly, in order to the Common Law as to conspiracy. He meet this objection, the 22nd Victoria was should have been very glad, if it had passed, which provided that an endeabeen possible, to reduce to a code the vour to persuade in a peaceable manner whole law of conspiracy, and not merely should not be deemed molestation or the law of conspiracy as affecting trade obstruction. Still, doubts arose upon disputes or disputes between masters the construction of the Act, and then and workmen. But that, he believed, came the Criminal Law Amendment would always be found to be a very Act of 1871, which repealed both the hopeless task; and, therefore, what the previous enactments, and substituted Government had done was this—they other acts as criminal offences. Great had taken the question of conspiracy as dissatisfaction, however, was felt with affecting trade disputes, and dealt with the working of the Act of 1871 because it in the manner expressed in the third the decisions upon it were not altogether section, wbich provided that an agree- uniform. The Recorder's charge in ment or combination between two or what was known as the Cabinet Makers' more persons to do any act in further-Case embodied the law upon the subject. ance of a trade dispute between em- In the course of his charge the learned ployers and workmen should not be Recorder said indictable as a conspiracy if the act was not punishable when done by one per- "The question you will have to ask yourselves son. There was no doubt that 'the is whether the evidence shows that the defend. clause on this point was adapted to the difficult of access the prosecutor's place of

ants were guilty of obstructing and rendering end in view. The only objection to it business, or whether anything which they did was that they were said to be dealing, was calculated to deter or intimidate those who not with the general law of conspiracy, were passing to and fro, or whether there was but only with that affecting trade dis- an exhibition of force calculated to produce fear

in the minds of ordinary men, or whether the putes between employers and workmen. defendants or any of them combined for that This was quite true, and the reason was, purpose. If you think that, it seems to me, that while he believed it would be hope- then it will be your duty to find a true bill; less to reduce to a code the whole law of but if you think their conduct may be accounted

for by a desire to ascertain who were the perconspiracy, it was quite possible, taking

sons working there, or peaceably to persuade a particular area of acts, to say what them or any others who were proposing to work should be a crime committed by one there to join their fellow-workmen, who were person, irrespective of any acts of con- contending, whether rightly or wrongly, for the spiracy, and then, knowing the punish- interests of the general body, it seems to me

that there is no evidence sufficient to establish ment affixed to individual acts, it was

the charge that is here made." open to Parliament to say—“We will not sanction any higher punishment, This expression of the law in the Reeven when these acts are committed by corder's charge appeared to the Home more than one person.” This was what Secretary to be exactly the intention had been done here. A particular pun- and scope of the Act of 1871, and, so ishment had been assigned to individual far as he was concerned, his right hon. acts, and then the clause prevented the Friend would have been content to trust general law of conspiracy from enlarging that application of the Act in future the criminal character of those particu- cases. The working men, too, would, lar acts. The only other question in he believed, have been satisfied with the Bill requiring notice was one of this construction of the Act. The House great importance-the question of vio- of Commons thought, however, that it lence or molestation. The 6th GeorgeIV., was not desirable to leave the question the Act of 1826, abolished the Combi- open to any doubt whatever, and words nation Laws, and made violence to per- were accordingly introduced into the son or property, or threats, or intimida- present Bill in order that future rulings tion, or molestation or obstruction with in similar cases should be placed on the

[ocr errors]

same footing as in the case tried by the LORD WINMARLEIGH, having been Recorder. After anxious consideration, a Member of the Royal Commission to and with valuable assistance in the which the subject of the Labour Laws House of Commons, the Home Secretary was committed, wished to take this ophad endeavoured to frame a clause which portunity of saying a few words. As his should free the matter from future doubt. noble and learned Friend had remarked, It was an advantage possessed by their that Commission was composed of men Lordships that they were able to take a of all parties. The labouring classes more cool and critical survey of such a were well represented upon it-and if clause than was possible in the other he might offer a criticism on its compoHouse, and they were sometimes able to sition it would be that no great emsuggest a better mode of expressing the ployers of labour were members of it. same ideas. The Home Secretary had This placed him, owing to his connection anxiously considered the clause as it with a large manufacturing county, in stood, and the Government were now a somewhat invidious position with reready to make any alteration in its ference to the line he took in examining wording which would meet just criti- witnesses. Whatever differences of opicisms upon it. Thus, it was objected nion there might have been, he might that, in the early part of the clause, say that every Member of that Commispower would be given to one person to sion was actuated by a desire to render proceed for violence used to another per- the laws affecting employers and emson. If this were the effect of the clause, ployed as equal and as impartial as the as he believed it was, it went further nature of the circumstances would than the Criminal Law Amendment Act admit. When, however, they came to of 1871, which carefully connected the investigate the subject, they found themperson intimidated with the person who selves involved in a difficulty which complained of the intimidation. Another might lay them open to a charge of objection was taken to the part of the class legislation. He believed it was in clause which said that the threats or in- great part the impossibility of placing timidation must be “in such manner as the employers and the employed on an would justify a justice of the peace in equal footing that rendered it necesbinding over the person so threatening sary in former times that some other or intimidating to keep the peace. than the civil law should be applied Some criminal lawyers had held that it to one portion of the subject--namely, would be impossible to frame an indict- breaches of contract. He would exment upon these words, because it was emplify what he meant by a impossible to say that any particular or two which came before the ComJustice would feel himself, upon certain missioners. Employers being men of evidence, justified in binding the persons capital, civil actions could be brought over to keep the peace. Further, there against them, and damages easily rewas this somewhat unfortunate provi- covered, but this was not the case in sion—that the first part of the clause regard to workmen. In the iron trade spoke of something being done to com- there were several processes which repel some other person "to abstain from quired constant attention, and to which doing or to do any act which such other attention could not be secured except person has a legal right to do or abstain under a contract for a week or a fortfrom doing,” while later on the offence night. One of the gentlemen examined was defined as being “ with a view se- before the Commission gave an instance riously to annoy or intimidate.” The where 12 or 13 of his men, having object in view in the first part of the broken their contract of this nature, clause was, therefore, different from the threw the whole of his establishment object in view in the second part of the almost out of work. He was able to clause. The Government proposed in get redress from three only of the workCommittee to amend the clause in those men, but the damages awarded to him respects. The noble and learned Lord were as nothing compared with the loss then moved the second reading of the he sustained. In another case an iron Bill.

manufacturer had a blast furnace in

charge of three men. When the iron Moved, That the Bill be now read 24." was in a liquid state, these men sud(The Lord Chancellor.)

denly quitted their posts because their The Lord Chancellor

case

« PreviousContinue »