House of Representatives
21 August 1903

1st Parliament · 2nd Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

page 4040

QUESTION

TELEPHONE TO KING ISLAND

Mr KING O’MALLEY:
TASMANIA, TASMANIA · IND; ALP from June 1901

– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General if he will have inquiries made into the advisability of erecting a telephone on King Island in Tasmania, where there are 500 settlers?

Sir PHILIP FYSH:
Postmaster-General · TASMANIA, TASMANIA · Free Trade

– Certainly.

page 4040

QUESTION

STATEMENTS BY SENATORREID

Mr FISHER:
WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND

– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if his attention has been called to, or if he has noticed, the statement of Senator Robert Reid regarding a . certain charge made against Federal members, and whether he thinks it worth ‘ while to take any -notice of the insinuation with a view to removing from the minds of the people any sinister impression which they may have regarding the members of this Chamber?’

Sir EDMUND BARTON:
Minister for External Affairs · HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

– I have noticed the report to which the honorable member alludes. All that I can say is that I am distinctly against taking any notice of contemptible assertions of the kind.

page 4040

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH AUDITING

Mr KIRWAN:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

asked the PostmasterGeneral,upon notice -

  1. Whether his attention has been directed to a case heard at the Criminal Court, Perth, on . August 9th and 10th inst., before Mr. Commissioner Roe and a jury, in which an employe of the Telephone Department was charged with having stolen moneys, the property of the Department, and to the following statement made thereon by the Commissioner when summing np, as reported in the Perth morning newspapers of 10th inst. : - “ Dealing with the ease, his Honour said that it was a most disgraceful state of affairsthat the accused’s accounts had not been audited for 11 4- years. It was also disgraceful that the accused had no place to put away his money, but had to keen it in unlocked drawers, pigeon-holes, and anywhere else that might be convenient. The lax manner in which the post-office seemed to have been run was grossly unfair to the unfortunate young man in the dock and to other officers who had access to the room.”
  2. Whether, in view of these comments, and the fact that the evidence disclosed that during the 114 years referred to close upon £100,000 passed through the accused’s hands, the PostmasterGeneral will inform the House what action he intends to take to remedy such a state of affairs?
Sir PHILIP FYSH:
Free Trade

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. The Postmaster-General’s attention has been directed to the case referred to.
  2. Action has already been taken upon reports received from the Auditor-General, which, however, do not bear out the statement that £100,000 passed through the hands of the accused.
Mr PAGE:
for Mr. Wilkinson

asked the Minister representing the Minister forDefence, upon notice-:

  1. . Whether the Defence Department audit includes the auditing of the contingent allowance granted tocompanies of the Defence force in Queensland?
  2. If so, will he lay on the table a return showing the total unexpended balance held by the Defence Force in that State on the 30th June last ?’
Sir JOHN FORREST:
Minister for Home Affairs · SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · Protectionist

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.

page 4041

TASMANIAN DEFENCE FORCES

Ordered (on motion by Mr. Hartnoll) -

That a copy of all correspondence from the Tusmanian Ministry, and copies of all reports from the State Commandant or the Senior Officer Commanding in Tasmania, relating to the exceptional proposal to place the Tasmanian Defence Forces in a position different to those in other States of the Commonwealth, be laid upon the table of the House.

page 4041

CONCILATION AND ARBITRATION BILL

Second Reading

Debate resumed from 20th August (vide page 4007), on motion by Mr. Deakin -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– I trust that honorable members will not be dismayed by the array of books piled up in front of me. They merely contain statutes to which I wish to refer, because I think that in dealing with matters like this it would be well if each one of us gave the chapter and verse of his authority. So far as my inquiries have gone, they do not lead me to hope for any success from the passing of legislation of the kind proposed. But in opposing a measure which embodies what is thought to be a popular idea, and which, according to the Attorney-General, marks a new phase in civilization, it behoves me to investigate the matter very thoroughly. So far from this marking a new phase of civilization, or being, as the right honorable member for South Australia has said, the beginning of an absolutely new line of policy, my researches show that nothing is older than legislation of this kind, and that nothing has been tried more frequently, or has failed more signally, than the methods which it seeks to re-introduce.

Mr Spence:

– Those methods have not been tried under the same conditions as now exist.

Mr CONROY:

– No. They were tried, not under the conditions of a tremendous industrial ramification, such as exists today, but under conditions so much simpler that they might have been expected to succeed then if it is possible for them to succeed at all. To-day the complication of industrial relations makes success impossible, seein g that it could not be obtained u n der m uch less complicated social conditions. A matter of this kind, however, is not one upon which we should express . our opinions too positively. The House, I take it, is trying to arrive at what I may call a judicial sentence upon the question. It wants to pass legislation which will be in the interest, not of one section of the community alone, but of the whole people. It is on the ground that it will not benefit the whole people that I base my opposition against the Bill. When I heard the fine flowing sentences of the Attorney-General in regard to the beautiful prospects now opening out before us, I could not help thinking of the lines of the late Mr. Brunton Stephens -

I have heard it breathed that there cometh a day

When tears from all eyes shall be wiped away ;

And sorrow and pain, and all distress

Shall cease in a round of blessedness.

Mr McLean:

– I thought that the honorable and learned member was going to quote the lines -

Her mouth has no particular direction ;

A flabby-rimmed abyss of imperfection.

Mr CONROY:

– We are not now engaged on an inquiry into the origin of good and evil, or into the reason why they exist side by side, or why the Omnipotent appears unable to suppress the bad and uphold the good. We know only that good and evil do exist in the world together, and that the fight between them has been eternal. I do not intend, in my references to the past, to go too far back into history, lest it be said that we are losing ourselves in the misty realms of antiquity ; and my quotations will be chiefly from English sources. I intend to show what our ancestors did, and how they tried to meet the difficulties which confronted them. We must not think that the law of competition did not exist in their days, or that they adopted methods differing from those now proposed to try to evade it. They framed what are known as customary laws, and endeavoured to prevent competition altogether. That is the object of the Bill. This legislation, if it means anything, means practically the limitation of competition. I think all are agreed upon that. What happened in EnglandI We find that at a very early period - certainly as early as the eighth century - what are known as guilds sprang into existence. They were in a sense the prototypes of the trades unions of to-day. I do not go so far as some, and say that they were absolutely of the type of present day unions, but making allowances for the differences between the two periods, especially in regard to means of communication and locomotion, a great similarity is seen to exist between them. Their object was to give effect to what is very largely the ruling idea in men’s minds today - the desire to, as far as possible, settle things. In the endeavour to do .this they so regulated matters that the regulations became the customary laws to which I have referred, and these laws became so strong that for two or three centuries no legislation was passed to interfere with them. From about the eighth to the twelfth century there was scarcely any legislation in regard to the matters with which they dealt. It was thought impossible that any one could depart from the rules laid down for the regulation of labour and industry in the small towns where the tradesmen congregated together. When they did start to legislate, they nearly always inserted in their statutes a preamble expressing surprise that “ divers wicked persons “ had departed from the customary law, and they then proceeded to legislate against such departures. Nor can it be thought, when we hear men objecting to the introduction of labour-saving machinery, that this is a new thing, because as early as 1105 protests were made against the use of windmills, on the ground that the mills were doing, in the grinding of corn and the raising of water, what hitherto men had been employed to do. People in those times also thought that there should be laws regulating prices, and they enacted on what seemed to them incontestably good grounds that no one should undersell his neighbour. Goods had to be brought to particular market places for sale to prevent any departure from the customary law. Possibly one of the earliest English statutes on the subject shows how much regard was paid to these matters, and how much surprise was felt that any one should be able to depart from the customary law - from what I might call the common rale ; because that customary law was practically what is termed in this Bill the common rule. The statute 51, Henry III., passed in 1266, enacts that bread and ale shall be sold at the price of corn. It says -

The King to all to whom these presents shall come, Greeting. We have seen certain ordinances of the assize of Bread and Ale, and of the making of Money and Measures, made in the times of our progenitors, sometimes Kings of England, in these words.

Then they decreed exactly what these prices should be, as follow: -

When a quarter of wheat is sold for ls. 6d then wastel bread of Jd., white and well baked, shall weigh 4 lbs.

They went further in a direction which would fill the soul of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports with dismay. They fixed the price of ale as follows: -

When a quarter of wheat is sold for 3s. or 3s. and 4d. and a quarter of barley for ls. 8d. or 2s., and a quarter of oats for ls 4d., then brewers in cities ought and may well afford to sell two gallons of beer or ale for Id. , and out of cities to sell three or four gallons for Id.

They even recognised the difference between the men in the city and the men in the country, because they provided that -

And when in a town three gallons is sold for a’ Id. , out of a town . they ought and may sell four. And this assize ought to be holden throughout all England.

We can see how fixed was the idea that nob only Parliament, but custom, should regulate everything. Custom was law in the old times, and it is law still. As showing how strong custom was, another Act of Henry III. provided -

That if a baker or a brewer he convicted because he has not observed the assizes he shall suffer - the baker to the pillory, the brewer to the tumbril.

There was very little chance of escape from the definite statements of those days. Everything was made clear and simple enough, and one cannot help being struck with the idea that if some of our latter-day lawyers could possibly draw up the provisions of our Acts with the same clearness we should have no doubt as to the interpretation of our Acts of Parliament. In those days they were so anxious that the common rule should not be departed from that they contested every effort to introduce anything new. The honorable member for Newcastle may be interested to know that what we know as coal nowadays - then known as sea coal to distinguish it from charcoal - was the subject of a special ordinance. When the coal was first brought’ in by ships they proceeded to legislate against it, and they were never at a loss for words to express their reason for taking action. As far back as 1306, we find an ordinance in these simple words -

Whereas there is annoyance and danger of contagion by reason of the stench of sea coal and great damage has resulted from forbearing from the use of bavins and charcoal, we decree that all are to cease burning sea coal, and are to make fires of -wood and coal as formerly.

That was intended to prevent the charcoalburners from being thrown out of employment. I mention all these matters to show how far they were regulated by custom, which, in those days, had as much force as laws made by the Parliament. We are practically going back to those days because, instead of allowing the law of competition to operate, we are endeavouring to strengthen and renew the old law of custom. When they attempted to fix prices they went very thoroughly- into ‘-the matter. They provided that no “ forestaller “ should be suffered to dwell in any town, “ fore.staller “ being defined by them as -

An open oppressor of poor people and an enemy of the whole shire and country, which for greediness and his private gain doth prevent others in buying grain, fish, herring, or any other thing to be sold, oppressing the poor and deceiving the rich, which carrieth away such things intending to sell them more dear, or those which inform stranger merchants their goods might be sold dearer than they intended to sell.

When they proceeded to regulate prices they did not do anything in a half-hearted way. They did npt merely fix the rates of wages without fixing the prices of products, as we are attempting to do. What is the use of regulating wages unless we also regulate the prices of food 1

Mr Fowler:

– Are the two related t

Mr CONROY:

– Of course they are.

Mr Fowler:

– The honorable and learned member is departing from the free-trade principle altogether.

Mr CONROY:

– I am opposed to the regulation of wages and also to any attempt to regulate prices. They were very much interested in the price of ale in the old days, because it seems to have been one of the articles with regard to which they legislated most frequently. Some of the brewers evidently went beyond the mark, and they passed another Act regulating the price of ale, ac-‘ cording to the price of corn. They continued from time to time to pass certain ordinances, and one Act provided that “ wine shall be sold at a reasonable price.” Unfortunately, as they pointed out shortly afterwards, wicked people would not understand the meaning of “reasonable,” but construed it as reasonable to gain something for themselves. During the plague that had taken place in London, such a large number of men had died that immediately afterwards the law of competition began to assert itself in spite of the law of custom, and we find an ordinance passed in 1349 reading as follows : -

We hereby enact that both payment and receipt of higher than the customary wages sholl henceforth be illegal …. but the said servants have no regard of the said ordinance, but to their ease and singular covetise do withdraw themselves unless they have livery and wages to the double and treble of what they were wont to take to the great damage of the great men and the commonalty.

It will be seen that they tried to regulate both prices and wages, because they saw that the rate of wages must be according to the cost of living. They provided that the butchers, bakers, brewers, and others should be bound to sell victuals for a reasonable price, and they went so far as to regulate the price of boots and shoes, and to fix the rents of the houses in the staple towns. They also fixed penalties for the storing of merchandise before it arrived at the staple towns. We find, furthermore, that it was stated in regard to the forestalling of herrings by the people, of Yarmouth that -

People of Great Yarmouth do buy and forestall the herrings before they come to town, and the hostelers of same town do sell them at their own will as dear as they will, to the great damage of the King, the Lords, and all the people.

It was then stated that the fish must be sold by day, and in the presence of others. We are now trying to do much the same thing. Legislation failed in the old days, and it will fail now, or, if successful, it will stamp out all human progress. Our forefathers were so possessed with the idea that no one should go out of his trade that they made a special ordinance making provision to that effect. We find the first instance of a true measure of arbitration - apart from the assizes where the mayors met together and arranged matters^- as far back as the year 1355, when by statute it was declared that there should be six mediators to decide all questions arising between buyers and sellers. We are proposing three mediators, and are to that extent departing from the old custom. These six mediator’s met and absolutely decided all qestions arising between buyers and sellers, and we propose practically that three mediators shall perform the same office. What failed then will fail now. So far from the steps which we are now being asked to take marking a new era,, they will simply result in the revival of an old custom. In theolden clays they carried their regulations into everything. They did not stop halfway. Merchants were not allowed to enhance the prices of merchandise, and lest one merchant should interfere with another it was decreed that they should use only one class of goods. In 1336, during the reign of Edward III., chapter 6, we find it declared, “ The handicraftsman shall use but one mystery.” Of course, “ mystery “ is an old English word which means a trade. But they added, “ The women may work as they did.” That is the first instance upon record in which the women were not interfered with by regulation. In the same year, they decided to regulate the diet and the apparel of servants. They declared what meals servants should eat during the day, when they should be fed, and how much they should consume. They forgot to exact that they should all have the same digestions. They regulated the apparel and handicraft of the yeomen and their wives and children. They then went on to declare what apparel a gentleman under the estate of knights should wear and what esquires possessed of 200 marks of land should wear, and also their wives and children. They also prescribed the apparel of merchants, citizens, burgesses, and handicraftsmen, together with that of knights who had lands within the yearly value of 200 marks, and of knights and ladies who had lands within the yearly value of 400 marks. Similarly they declared what- apparel should be vorn by the several sorts of clerks. I wish honorable members distinctly to understand that these were not in ‘ any sense of the word dead statutes. They prescribed the apparel which should be worn by the. various kinds of clerks, by ploughmen, and others of mean estate, and set out the forfeitures which were to be exacted for offences against the ordinance. They further declared -

Clothiers shall make cloths sufficient of the aforesaid prices so that this statute for default of such cloths be in no wise infringed.

They realized perfectly well that if they did not achieve their object in that way a man might easily excuse himself by affirming that he had not the means with which to purchase these things.

Mr Page:

– Were they protectionists?

Mr CONROY:

– It was one of the worst possible forms of protection. Mr. Thorold

Rogers points out that, despite these restrictions, between 1370 and 1390 the price of labour increased by 59½ per cent, all round. It will not surprise honorable members to hear that they were all so thunderstruck with this result that they made still further efforts to settle the whole matter by statute. Accordingly, in 1368 they again enacted that the Statute of Labourers should be executed. Thus it will be seen that they still doggedly pursued the same methods. Notwithstanding that they were repeatedly compelled to acknowledge that the statutes had not been observed they went on in the same simpler-fashion- -as if nothing had occurred - and with the same disregard of the inevitable result. In 1382, in the time of Richard II., we find them declaring that -

Those residing in the coastal districts shall not forestall fish.

They also threw in a proviso about “other victuals.” They said -

The fishmongers of London may not buy fresh fish to sell again, except eels.

In 1388 this rise of prices still continued, despite the statutes which were designed to prevent it, and further penalties were then decreed for “ the giving or taking of more wages, than is necessary.” So imbued did they become with the idea that it was wicked for any man to depart from the occupation to which he was trained that they enacted that any one who had served in husbandly until he was twelve years old must continue in it for the rest of his life. Are we to make similar provisions?

Mr Page:

– More protection.

Mr CONROY:

– Yes; it is a case of more protection, which has always been the worst enemy of the workers. In 1 389, however, they must have become conscious of the fact that it was not altogether right to fix the price of labour umless they could also determine the price of other commodities. Consequently they decreed -

But forasmuch as a man cannot put the price of corn and other victuals in certain, it is accorded and assented that, the justices of peace in every county in two of their sessions be holden betwixt the Feast of Easter and St. Michael - that is twice a year, and honorable members will observe that nothing is said about the observance of the “ common rule “ for a period of two or three years, as the case may be. shall make proclamation by their discretion, according to the dearth of victuals, how much ever)’ mason, carpenter, tiler, and other craftsmen, workmen, and other labourers by the day as well in harvest as iu other times of the year, after their degree shall take by the day with meat and drink, or without meat anc drink, &c.

They saw clearly that there was no chance of getting over the whole trouble unless they did this. As a result, they allowed it to be proclaimed by the justices of the peace at least twice in every session. They further said -

And sheriffs, stewards of lords of franchise, mayors, and bailiffs, and all others Chat have assize of. bread and ale to keep, and the correction of the same, shall take no amerciament or fine for any default touching the assize, for the which a man or woman, by the law, ought to have bodily punishment.

This makes it- evident that the common sense of everybody except the legislators prompted them to evade the statutes. Then we find them attempting to regulate exactly what work belonged to one trade and what to another. Thus they decreed that -

No hosteller may make horse-bread in his hostelry nor without, but bakers shall make it ; and the assize thereof shall be kept, and the weight be reasonable after the price of the corn in the market ; and the same hostellers shall sell hay and oats after a reasonable price, so that they take not for the bushel but one halfpenny over the common price in the market.

Mr Henry Willis:

– We are getting back to those conditions.

Mr CONROY:

– Unquestionably we are. Seeing that they were endeavouring to do away with competition, we can easily understand a statute declaring that no man should have two trades. Thus we find them decreeing that “no shoemaker shall be a tanner, and no tanner shall be a shoemaker.” As far back as 1390, regulations were operative which would delight the heart of the honorable member for Melbourne, because they recognised that shipowners ought to be extended some consideration. Consequently it was decreed that -

All merchants of the realm of England shall freight in the said realm the ships of the said realm and not strange ships -

The reason given for this is a very quaint one, as honorable members will see. It is - so that the owners of the said ships take reasonable gains for the freight of the same.

I can quite understand the joy with which the honorable member for Melbourne would indorse that statute. In fact, he has already endeavoured - and so has the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston - to bring about similar results, by doing away with a competition from the ocean boats which has been called unfair, but which, upon inquiry, proves to be of the mildest description. So much difficulty was found in regulating competition that eventually it was declared that it should not be right for any master to employ a labourer for a week only, because by so doing he would be able to pay him according to the laws of supply and demand. Then, in 1402, it was declared that -

Shoemakers and cordwainers may tan leather.

Apparently at this time they began to determine what things might be gilded with silver and gold and what might not. In 1414 a statute was enacted regulating the yearly wages of chaplains and parish priests. No doubt there was a customary wage for ‘ these people just as there was for everybody else, and persons who departed from it were regarded with very grave suspicion. I shall give the House various illustrations of the extent to which they carried out their system of regulating trade, and any one who has observed the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in New Zealand, as well as that in force in New South Wales, must realize that, when we come to regulate prices, we shall have to carry out this system to the same extent. They even passed a law declaring that patten-makers - that is the makers of clogs, such as are still used in the North of England - should not employ asp wood in their manufacture. That law was deemed to be ‘necessary because there was not a very great supply of asp wood available, and the use of it by patten-makers caused the price to be raised against the shaft-makers. They declared also that no one should gild any sheaths or metals “ but silver and the ornaments of Holy Church.” In 1423 they declared that masons should not “confederate themselves in chapters and assemblies,” and that justices of the peace should punish servants, masons, &c., for taking unreasonable wages. They did not invariably set forth what the rates of wages should be, because they had to be determined according to the dearth or otherwise of victuals. If a man, charged with taking unreasonable wages, was able to show that the cost of living had increased, it was considered that there was some excuse for his action, and he was allowed to remain at liberty ; but if he could not do so he was committed “to the House of Correction. In 1433 they declared also what the wax chandlers should take “ for their work of wax.” Then we find that in 1436 they declared a restraint of unlawful orders made by masters of guilds, fraternities, and other companies. It appears that these people desired to depart from the customary law. and to keep the whole trade in their own hands. This was considered to to be improper, and an effort was made to pub a stop to it. In looking through these old laws one cannot fail to be struck by the enormous number of regulations that were made in relation to the woollen trade, which, of course, was then the greabesb trade in England. The authorities appear to have been continually dealing wibh that industry. But I do not propose to do more than quobe a few of bhe- rules madeconcerning it. We find that they declared again and again what the weavers and others were to bake. In 1442 four wardens of bhe worsbed-weavers of Norwich were appoinbed yearly to inspect and regulabe bhe worsbed indusbry inthat city, while two were appointed for Norfolk. Two years later it was declared that a servant in husbandry “ purporting to depart from his master “ must give him half a year’s warning. This is a curious insbance of how far old customs still regulate many of our actions, for this principle is still observed in relation to leases. If one engages a man by the year and dismisses him without giving him six months’ notice he is liable, or if he allows him at the end of the twelve months’ period to continue in his employ without terminating the agreement, the law presumes that the servant has been engaged for another year, and he can recover accordingly. There is a later practice under which the notice has been cut down to three months ; but this is, indeed, a curious illustration of bhe way in which the effects of some of these old laws are still felt by us. It may readily be imagined that when the desire to regulate everything was abroad, the authorities did not forget bo deal wibh bhe abborneysablaw. They did so in this way -

Whereas it is a practice of contentious attorneys to stir up suits for their private profits this is to declare that there shall be but six in Norfolk and Suffolk, and two only in Norwich.

Mr Fowler:

– The present evil apparently existed in those days.

Mr CONROY:

– We have something of the same trouble even in these days.

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– It is a matter for regret that that law has been abandoned.

Mr CONROY:

– Possibly it is ; but the continual desire for new laws only means work for more and more lawyers. I havealready pointed out that the authoritiesdealt very thoroughly with the regulation of prices of apparel, and I desire to quote- from another quaint law, 22 Edward IV., 1482, in which it was declared that divers statutes and ordinances had been madetouching the restraint of excessive apparel, and that by reason of the non due execution of the same the King’s realm “ was fallen into great misery and poverty.”” Therefore it was provided bhab -

No person of whatever estate, degree, or condition shall wear any clothes of gold, or silk, or purple colour.

Then we have a truly Kingsbonian bouch, if I may use that expression, in the words- “ Penalty £20.” In the same stabube the price of clothes worn by labourers was alsodealt with, the law determining whether a piece of cloth should be sold at so much per yard or at so much for the piece. The clothing worn by the various knights was likewise dealt with, and a regulation was framed concerning the length of the gowns to be worn by all persons “ under the estate of a lord,” in order that decency might be observed. The penalty for a contravention of this law was fixed at 20s., but I havenot been able to discover why an exception was made in the case of a lord. While they were dealing wibh all these matters, they did not forget the extent to which archery was practised in thosedays, and they took care to regulate the price of bows. Ib was also declared bhab if a man made a bow of one class, he should make, say, fo.ur of another, the desire being apparently that labour should be distributed equally amongst those employed in working upthe different classes of wood, or else that a bebber class of goods should be obtained. In 1485, the duties of shoemakers, tanners and curriers were Very clearly set forth in laws, and so much attention was paid to details that ib was declaredthatthe makers of new shoes should not meddle with the menders of old ones. . As far back as 1385, there had been almost serious trouble between the shoemakers and the cobblers, and the authorities determined the allotment of their work. The King actually had bo enlist the services of the Lord Mayor of London to endeavour to settle the dispute which existed betweenthese tradesmen. Some of the reasons given for the decisions are exceedingly amusing, but not one whit less entertaining than are those given by

Mr. Justice Cohen in the New South South Wales Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and by Mr. Justice Cooper in the New Zealand Court. When they drew up regulations in 1485, they declared that the shoemaker should not meddle with old -shoes, the reason given for this determination being a very fair one as far as they were concerned. It was stated that the authorities did not want people to be deceived, and they went on to declare that if any one dealt with old shoes he should not meddle with new shoes.

Mr Kingston:

– They drew the line between maintenance and repairs and construction.

Mr CONROY:

– Quite so. The cobblers said that if a new piece of leather was to be substituted for the old sole of a boot, the work should be done by them. The shoemakers declared, during the course of a fierce argument, that if a boot had to be half soled new leather might be used, but if the full length of the sole had to be replaced the work should go to the shoemaker and not to the cobbler. That is one of many in stances of the disputes which- occurred. In 14S7 a man was not allowed to sell by retail -

A broad yard of the finest scarlet grained or other grained cloth of the finest making above xvi s., penalty xl s.

Shortly afterwards a regulation was passed, which, if in force nowadays, would strike dismay into the heart of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. I dealt with the price of hats and caps, and declared that -

No hatter or capper shall sell any hat above the price of xx d. the best, nor any cap above ii s. viii d. the best, upon pain to forfeit xl s. for every hat or cap sold above.

And, later on, for the benefit of the cappers, they decreed that persons should wear a cap of wool knit thicker and fuller on the top of the head every Sunday and holiday. An even more drastic law was passed in regard to the land. I find that in the Isle of Wight only one farm was allowed to every man, and a penalty was provided for offences with regard to what was called the “ the decaying of houses of husbandry.” A man was not allowed to permit these houses to fall into a state of decay, and the extent of land which should exist round each house was also declared. Thus the proposal in regard to “ three acres and a cow “ had its foundation in a very ancient law. At that time the people were so limited in number that they were all under control, and custom became so strong that the great bulk of the people adhered strictly to it.

Mr Kirwan:

– In Victoria and other States a man is allowed only one selection. Is the honorable and learned member against that principle 1

Mr Page:

– What has all this to do ,with arbitration 1

Mr CONROY:

– I am trying to point out that the legislation which we are being asked to pass must prove ineffective. The object aimed at cannot be achieved unless we give the Court power to make common rules settling the prices of commodities as well as the rates of wages ; and I am showing that in the past people were not afraid to push their expedients to what they conceived te be their logical conclusions. I hope, by showing that in spite of much more thorough attempts to regulate industry and trade at a time when industrial relations were much less complex than they are now, nothing but failure came from the legislation introduced, to prove that the legislation now proposed cannot hope to succeed, and will hinder rather than help people in the gaining of comfortable livelihoods. In 1514 laws were passed regulating the wages of several sorts of servants in husbandry, and of artificers and labourers ; specifying the hours at which they should begin and end their day’s work ; and even the time they should have fur meals and for sleep, the curious exception being made in favour of London workmen that they might continue to ask the wages which they were receiving before the alteration of the law. During the reigns of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth the principle df competition exerted itself so strongly, and so little respect was paid to the customary laws, that the legislators tried very hard to bring people back to the old state of things. They were successful only, so far “as I can judge, in increasing the misery and poverty of the community. That, of course, was not their object, but no other result came from their attempt to over-ride economic laws. To show how far they proceeded in their attempts to regulate industry, I will read the opening words of a Statute passed to control the rope-making industry at the town of Burport -

Most humbly beseeching Your Highnesses, the Bailiffs, Burgesses, and other the inhabitants of your Town and Borough of Burport, within your county of Dorset, that where they, out of time that no man’s mind is to the contrary, have used and exercised to make, within the same, the most port of all the great cables, halsers, ropes, and all other tackling as well, for your Royal ships and navy, as for the most part of all other ships within this realm, by reason whereof your said town was right well maintained and inhabited, your Highness and your subjects right well served until now of late many divers and evil disposed persons, intending the destruction of your said town for their private lucre and advantage, have withdrawn themselves into the country in divers places, there taking farms, and using husbandly out of the said town, and also daily resort to your said town to buy and provide hemp, and thereof make cables, ropes, halsers, traces, halters, and other tackle, which cables, ropes, halsers, traces, halters, and other tackle, been by the said persons slightly and deceivably made, by reason whereof not only the buyers of the same been continually thereby deceived, but also the prices of the said cables, halsers, traces, halters, and other tackle thereby greatly enhanced, and your said town or borough, by means thereof, is like utterly to be decayed, ruined, and desolated, if speedy remedy be not by Your Highness in the case provided.

Mr Mauger:

– What is the use of comparing those times with these 1

Mr CONROY:

– In those times men had to live in particular towns, and even in particular parts of a town, and the conditions of life were quite simple. If attempts to regulate industry failed then, they will fail still more signally now. Otherwise the lessons of history are of no use to us. For the information of those who are curious, I might add that, notwithstanding this legislation, the town utterly decayed. Acts were also passed to prevent butchers from tanning the hides of the animals they killed, any butcher keeping ‘ a tan house being liable to a forfeit of 6s.’ 8d. per day. In 1531 it was also decreed that no brewer should be a cooper, and mend or make his own casks. To show how clearly we are retrograding from our position of to-day, I may mention that recently a member of the Coopers’ Union waited upon a firm which employs a man to hammer tight the hoops on casks of tallow in their store, and informed them that an expert cooper should be employed to do the work.

Mr Mauger:

– Is it not a fact that the man employed was being given merely labourer’s wages for doing cooper’s work 1

Mr CONROY:

– My information is that that is not the fact ; that it was not the rate of wages that was in dispute, but the question whether the work was or was not such as should be done by a cooper.

Mr Fowler:

– Are persons who are not members of the legal profession, to which the honorable and learned member belongs, allowed to practice law t

Mr CONROY:

– No ; though I cannot be held responsible for that I think, indeed, that I was to a great degree responsible for the alteration of the rules of the New South Wales Court regarding the admission of barristers. Prior to going to the Bar, I had lost everything I possessed, and had to go out surveying again. At the same time I was continuing my legal studies. The rules of the Court, however, then provided that no student should do anything towards the earning of a livelihood during the year preceding his admission. Honorable members can imagine what I felt about such a rule as that. My sense of the injustice of that rule has made me always inclined to fight strongly against similar restrictions. I think that no man should be allowed to hold himself out as being a member of a craft or profession unless he has’ shown that he possesses the skill or knowledge required to enable him to undertake the work required from such’ a person. I would, however, allow any man to plead the case of another in a Court if that other person was willing to allow him to do so. In 1532 the Act 24 Henry VIII. decreed that tanned leather should not be sold except in open fairs and markets after it had been searched and sealed, and ordinances were passed declaring how curriers should do their work, and what tools they should use. Then we have this enactment in regard to the dyers’ trade -

No person shall dye or alter any woollen cloth or hats or caps, unless the same .be perfectly boiled, grained, or maddered upon the woad, in good cork or orchal …. No dyer shall occupy Brazil in the dying of woollen cloths hats or caps, nor anything but grain only in the dying of scarlet.

Then because it was thought that prices of food were too dear, the following law waspassed -

Beef, pork, mutton and veal shall be sold by weight called avoirdupois. No person shall take for a pound of beef or pork above a halfpenny, nor for a pound of mutton or veal above a half-farthing, and’ less in those counties where they be sold for less.

I am using, as far as possible, the words of the old statutes, to facilitate reference by honorable members who wish to go more fully into this matter for themselves. In order to encourage the growing of hemp for the making of cables and other tackling, they insisted upon a certain amount of hemp or flax being sown. With regard to the butchers - I suppose upon the representation that the sheep and cattle were too dear, and prices too high - it was provided that -

Governors of cities ana market towns upon complaint to them made of any butcher refusing to sell victual by weight may commit the offender till he hath paid all penalties and may sell or cause to be sold by weight all such victual for ready money to be delivered to the owner ; and if any grazier, farmer, brewer, drover, &c, refuse to seU his fat cattle to a butcher upon such reasonable price as he may retail it at the price assessed, the Justices of the Peace, Mayors or Governors shall cause indifferent persons to set the prices of the same which if the owner refuse to accept then the same Justices of the Peace, Mayors or Governors shall bind him to appear in the next term in the star chamber.

The cases which I have quoted point to a very thorough regulation of industry. No half measures were taken. The legislators of those times acted with a thoroughness and an earnestness which should commend itself to us. We cannot but admire their fearlessness in pushing their ideas to their logical conclusion.

Mr Mauger:

– In whose interest was this legislation passed 1

Mr CONROY:

– That of the workers. The Act as to sowing hemp and flax was passed on behalf of the poor rope-makers, because the prices of their material were raised so outrageously that they could not live. It appears that after the statute was passed in 1532 fixing the prices of beef and mutton, it was found that a mistake was made in one respect. It was recognised that butchers could not sell mutton at such prices as were fixed, unless they were able to buy their sheep at a fair rate. It was therefore decreed in the following year that -

Governors of cities and market towns, upon complaint to them made of any butcher refusing to sell victual by weight, according to the statute of 24 Henry VIII., clause 3, may commit the offender to ward until he hath paid all penalties limited by the said statute ; and may sell, or cause to be sold by weight, all such victual for ready money, to be delivered to the owner.

Now we have an instance of the fairness and zeal with which they regelated all these matters, and how they tried to discriminate between class and class. It was provided that -

And if any grazier, farmer, breeder, drover, &c. , refuse to sell his fat cattle to a butcher upon such reasonable price, as he may retail it at the price assessed by the statute, the justice of peace, mayors, or governors, shall cause indifferent persons to Set the prices of the same, which, if the owner refuse to accept, then the same justices, etc., shall bind him to appeal- the next term in the Star-Chamber, to be punished as the King’s counsel shall think good

In 1353 they proceeded to regulate the prices of victuals by means of an ordinance which reads as follows : -

Forasmuch as dearth, scarcity, good, cheap, and plenty of cheese, butter, capons, hens-, chickens, and other victuals necessary for man’s sustenance, happeneth, riseth, and chanceth of so many and divers occasions, that it is very hard and difficult to put any certain prices to any such things -

I am sure that with the complexity of our latter day conditions, it will be found more difficult than it proved at that time. and yet, nevertheless, the prices of such victuals be many times enhanced and raised by the greedy covetousness and appetites of the owners of such victuals by occasion of ingrossing and regrating the same, more than upon any reasonable or just ground or cause, to the great damage and impoverishing of the King’s subjects

That shows clearly that these laws were passed entirely on behalf of the great mass of the people.

Mr Mauger:

– Had the great mass of the people any say in the matter whatever t

Mr CONROY:

– The legislation was passed entirely in their interests, and many of these Ordinances were made in accordance with petitions received from what were called “ Your Majesty’s poor subjects.”

Mr Fowler:

– The poor of England have never been so well off as at that period.

Mr CONROY:

– Professor Thorold Rogers fixes the period at which the poor people of England were most favorably situated as between 1370 and 1400. He says that the improvement in their condition was due to the operation of the law of competition. He in effect says they had then managed to get beyond the law of custom, and it was not until the supply of labour became a little too great that the statutes were able to be used as instruments to grind down the people. He points out further that at that period wages did not depend altogether upon the prices of victuals, which were lower than for a century before. He also points out that the condition of the working classes was largely due to the fact that many of the workmen were able to obtain land, and that what was known as the stock-lease system of farming was attended with great advantage to the people. The

Statute from which I have been quoting contains the following condition -

All farmers, owners, broggers and all other victuallers whatsoever having or keeping any of bhe kinds of victuals afore rehearsed, to the intent to sell, shall sell the same to such of the King’s subjects as will buy them, at such prices as shall be set and taxed by the said proclamation, upon the pains to be expressed and limited in the said proclamation, to be lost, forfeited, and levied to the King’s use, in such wise as by the same proclamation shall be declared.

Mr Mauger:

– There were no such institutions as Trades Unions in those days.

Mr CONROY:

– The unions of that day had the force of Parliament behind them to assist them in their exclusiveness, and, curiously enough, some of the rules made by latter-day unions have been of a similar character. They understood intimidation even then, and in 1453 we find, according to the Bishop of Ely, who wrote to Cromwell, twenty-one shoemakers meeting together outside the town, summoning three of the master shoemakers . to meet them, and saying that -

If any work for the same wage as heretofore, for twelve months and a day, they would have a leg or an arm off him unless he took the oath.

I do not wish to push that resemblance too far, however, because I recognise that there is a wider spirit of charity in the unions of to-day than existed in the unions of the fourteenth century. In 1533 a decree was passed with regard to the sale of fish. It was then declared that those who actually laboured in the catching of the fish should be the only persons to sell it at the fairs. Therefore the greatest anxiety was shown to prevent the raising of the prices against the consumers. Now we come to an Act dealing with the number of sheep to be kept by any one person, and we find the reasons given in a very curious fashion. The Act reads -

Forasmuch as divers and sundry persons of the King’s subjects of this realm, to whom God of His goodness hath disposed great plenty and abundance of moveable substance now of late within few years, have daily studied, practised, and invented ways and means how they might accumulate and gather together into few hands, as well great multitude of farms as great plenty of cattle, and in especial sheep, putting such lands as they can get to pasture, and not to tillage, whereby they have not only pulled down churches and towns, and enhanced the old rates of the rents of the’ possessions of this realm, or else brought it to such excessive fines that no poor man is able to meddle with it, but also have raised and enhanced the prices of all manner of corn, cattle, wool, pigs, geese, hens, chickens, eggs, and such other almost double above the prices which have been accustomed ; by reason whereof a marvellous multitude and number of the people of this realm be not able to provide meat, drink, and clothes necessary for themselves, their wives and children, but be so discouraged with misery and poverty that they fall daily to theft, robbery, and other inconveniences, or pitifully die of hunger and cold.

In order to put an end to this it was enacted that -

No person or persons from the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, which shall be in the year of our Lord God, 1535, shall keep, occupy, or have in his possession, in his own proper lands, nor in the possession lands nor grounds of any other, which he shall have or occupy in farm, nor otherwise have of his own proper cattle, in use possession or property by any manner of means fraud, craft or covin, above the number of two thousand sheep at one time, within any part of this realm of all sorts and kinds.

Mr.Fowler. - Those were the days when sheep were more valuable than men.

Mr CONROY:

– These enactments had the same object in view as the Arbitration Acts which have been passed in New Zealand, Western Australia, and New South Wales, and the Bill now before us. They went so far as to state what kind of leather should be used by bookbinders. In 1533 an Act was passed dealing with the cloth-makers of Worcestershire, and this affords a singular instance of how far they attempted to carry their regulations. We are now proposing to make a common law applying to the whole State. But they found out in the sixteenth century that they could not do that, because it drove people from one place to another. The trade refused to be regulated, and we know that it is impossible for any trade to be regulated by men who have no interest in it, and no knowledge of it. This Act was passed in accordance with a petition from the people of the city of Worcester. It reads as follows : -

Sheweth unto the King our Sovereign Lord, and to the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and to the Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, that citizens, burgesses and inhabitants of the city of Worcester, and of the towns of Evesham, Doitwich, Kederminster, and Bromisgrove, within the County of Worcester, that where the said city, boroughs and towns have been in times past well and substantially inhabited, occupied, maintained and upholden, by reason of making of woollen cloths, called long cloths, short cloths and other cloths,-as well whites, blues, and brown blues, and the poor people of the same city boroughs and towns, and of the country adjoining to them, daily set a work, as in spinning, carding, breaking andsorting of wools, and the handicrafts there inhabiting, as weavers, fullers, shear men and dyers, have been well set a work, and had sufficient living by the same, until now within few years past, that’ divers persons inhabiting and dwelling in the hamlet, thorps, and villages adjoining to the said city, boroughs, aud towns within the said shire, for their private wealths, singular advantages, and commodities, nothing regarding the maintenance and upholding of the said city, boroughs, and towns ; ne the commonwealth of the said handicrafts inhabiting and dwelling within the said city, boroughs, and towns ; ne the poor people which had living by the same, have not only ingrossed and taken into their hands divers and sundry farms, and become farmers, graziers, and husbandmen ; but also do exercise, use and occupy the mysteries of cloth making, weaving, fulling and shearing, within their said houses, and do make all manner of cloths, as well broad cloths, whites and plain cloths, within their said houses in the countries abroad, to the great decay, depopulation, and ruin of the said city, towns, and boroughs. For remedy whereof, and for the amendment and good advantage of the said city, boroughs, aud towns, be it enacted by authority of this present Parliament, that after the last day of September, which shall be in the year of our Lord God 1536, no manner of person or persons, of what degree or condition soever he or they be of, shall make or cause to be mode within the said shire of Worcester, any manner of woollen cloths to be sold, except only such person or persons as after the said last day of September shall be dwelling and inhabiting within the said city of Worcester, the boroughs and towns of Evesham, Droitwich, Kederminister, and Bromisgrove within the said county of Worcester, or in any one of them, upon pain of forfeiture for every such broadcloth made after the said da)’ by any person or persons contrary to the true meaning of this Act.

Therefore, they decreed that these unfortunate men should not work in the country districts, and they prescribed the towns in Worcestershire in which the making of cloths should be carried on. As they saw that the migration of the people back from the country to the cities must not be interfered with, they further decreed that the rents of the houses in the towns should not be increased beyond the rates which had prevailed for the previous twenty years. This Act continued operative for twelve years. Then it was decreed that cloths, white and coloured, under certain sizes, were to be carried over the sea unbarbed and unshorn. The idea underlying that Act was to provide employment to shearmen. In 1535 they laid down the customs to be observed in the leather trade, and how it was to be conducted on the sea. It was also decreed that no one having a tan-house should be allowed to transport any leather. Quite recently, in New South Wales, Mr. Justice Cohen has been endeavouring to regulate the wages which /shall be paid to employes in restaurants. In this connexion it is interesting to note that in 1541 a certain Act under which butchers could sell by weight or otherwise was repealed. The repealing statute declares -

After the said first day of August no person nor persons should take or cause to be taken for any pound weight of flesh of the carcases of beef or pork, by him or them to be sold, above the price of one half-penny and half -farthing, without deceipt or covin, upon payment or forfeit for every pound not sold by weight, or above the said price limited, aud for every default done contrary to the true meaning of the said Act 3s. 4d. , the one moiety thereof to be to your Highness, and the other moiety to the party that will sue for the. same by bill, plaint, or information, in which suit no essoin, wager of law, nor protection should be allowed. The head, next inwards, portnances legs, nor feet to be accounted as part of the carcases aforesaid, but such to be sold by a lower price, &c.

They omitted to prescribe what the exact price should be. Seeing that in times past, when our present means of locomotion were unknown, when men were born and lived and died within a radius of five miles, the law of competition still asserted itself, despite all these regulations, is it not reasonable to suppose that it will assert itself again to-day *1 Is it not clear that our efforts to regulate wages must fail 1 I cannot conceive of a greater injury being done to the masses of the workers than will be done by restricting their endeavours at bargaining. As evidencing how thoroughly the British Parliament dealt with these matters, I may mention still another example which is to be found in an Act relating to the manufacture of pins. It appears that when the Pinners Act was passed, it prescribed how pins were to be made. Consequently it was set out that -

No person or persons, from and after the first day of August then next ensuing, should vent, Or put to sale, by retail, in gross or otherwise, any manner pins within this realm, but only such as should be double headed, and have the heads Soldered fast to the shank of the pin, well smoothed, the shank well shaven, the point well and round filed,, canted and sharp.

By the way, the honorable member for Darling remembers perfectly well having seen this very class of pins. Probably he is one of the very few honorable members who have seen them. It appears, however, that the pin-makers did not carry out their promise, because the Act continues -

At which time the pinners plainly affirmed and’ promised to serve the King’s liege people well and sufficiently, and at a reasonable price. And forasmuch as since the making of the said Act there hath been scarcity of pins within this realm, and the King’s liege people have not been well or competently sewed of such pins nor are likely to be served, nor the pinners of this realm, according to their said promise -

They had evidently understood the art of not making too many pins in order that the price might be kept up. That is an instance of the way in which Parliament endeavoured to get level with the pinners. Seeing that attempts were made to regulate wages in all these matters, it can easily be understood that any departure from the old methods of brewing beer would arouse strong opposition. Consequently we find an Act which provided for the making of malt, which reads thus -

Where divers and sundry persons taking upon them the art and mystery of malt making, and sundry other persons tendring more their own private lucre, gain and profit than the wholesome victualling of the King’s Majesty, the nobility of this realm, and other his gracious subjects, have now of late by their insatiable, covetous, and greedy minds accustomably and commonly made rauch malt impure and unseasonable ; for that they had made the same malt in eight or nine days, where indeed the same cannot be well and perfectly made unless it have the time and space of twenty-one days in the making thereof : and where also divers and sundry of the said makers of malt commonly have and do slackly and deceitfully dry the malt so by them made ; for that they would have an inordinate increase thereof by the swelling of the said malt, whereby the same malt not being sufficiently dried cannot be kept any long time or space, but it will be musty and t ull of weevils -

Of course the real reason was that the more enterprising had discovered the new process of drying malt, and were using it in that form. This caused the old maltsters who were wedded to custom to put forward the objections which I have emunerated. The Act continues -

That the justices of peace in every of their session, and also the steward in every leet, shall have full power and authority by virtue of this Act to enquire, hear and determine,, as well by presentment of twelve men, as by accusation or information of two honest witnesses, or for and upon all and every the offences and forfeitures aforesaid, as well for the King as for the party that shall sue, procure or cause the same to be presented as is before said. And that the bailiffs and constables of every borough or market town, or other town, where any such malt as shall be made or put to sale, shall have full power and authority from time to time to view, search, and survey all such malt as shall be made or put to sale within any of the said towns : and if any of them shall thereupon find any malt so put to sale being eVil made or mingled with evil malt, contrary to the tenure and true meaning of this present Act ; that then the said bailiff or constable so finding any such malt evil made or mingled as aforesaid, with the advice of .one justice of peace within the same shire, shall cause the same to be sold to such person or persons, and at Such a reasonable price or prices, and under the common price of the market as to his discretion shall seem necessary and expedient.

In dealing with the tanners they went still further by decreeing -

No tanner shall put any tanned leather to sale (saving calf skins) tanned and mixed with ashen bark tapworth, meal or culver dung, and unless it hath laen in the tan-ozes sufficiently wrought three-quarters of the year at least ; nor shall overburn with lime any hides nor shall set his fats in tan hills, or shall put any hot liquor of ozes in the fats wherein hides shall be put to tanning ; or Shall practice any other way for the over speedy tanning of hides, or whereby they shall be burned or scalled ; or shall cut any hides of steer or cow to make clout leather thereof ; or shall tan any sheepskin”; upon pain to forfeit the same leather.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Does not the honor able and learned member think that he has sufficiently established the antiquity of these measures 1-

Mr CONROY:

– Of course, I can proceed only with the indulgence of the House. I am endeavouring to point out the various attempts which have been made to regulate all classes of industry.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I ask the honorable and learned member to come as speedily as possible to the measure which is under consideration.

Mr CONROY:

– We are all very much interested in the results which the.Bill under discussion is likely to produce-

Mr SPEAKER:

– I do not desire to unduly hamper the honorable and learned member, but I ask him to come to the consideration of the measure as soon as he reasonably can.

Mr CONROY:

– In pointing to the manner in which they regulated all manner of trades in England, I omitted to quote one Act which was passed in 1494, and which had reference to feather-beds, pillows, and bolsters. It reads thus -

That whereas divers persons without the realm of England, out of the said city, make and do to be made unlawful and false wares and merchandises, to the great rebuke and slander of the said craft and also great jeopardy, loss, and deceit to the King’s subjects, wherefore there is no sufficient remedy purveyed, for so much as the same wardens have no power nor authority to make due search of such false, deceivable wares and merchandises put to sale out of the city, as they have power and authority within the same city, as in feather beds, bolsters, and pillows, made of two manner of corrupt stuffs, that is to say, of scalded feathers and dry pulled feathers together, and of flocks and feathers together, which is contagious for man’s body to lie on, and also in quilts, mattresses, and cushions stuffed with horse hair, fenn down, neats hair, deers hair, and goats hair, which is wrought in lime fats, and by the heat of man’s body the savour and taste is so abominable and contagious, that many of the King’s subjects have thereby been destroyed.

They declared that none of these things should be used, and that a man ought to be utterly damned if he employed them. In 1549 they decreed that cattle, butter, and cheese must be sold at the fairs and markets, and it was only three years later that they declared who should be allowed to buy and sell wool, “ and at what times,” and who should not do so. They also passed an Act limiting the persons “ who shall weave or make broad woollen cloth,” and an Act against regrators, forestallers, and ingrossers. In the same year they rehearsed their former statement about the stuffing of feather beds, bolsters, mattrasses, and cushions, and passed an Act to prevent the use of gigmills on the ground that their employment would be an injury to those engaged in the trade. In the f ollowiug year another Act was passed for the “ Assize of Fuel,” and still another affecting the buying and currying of leather. In 1 554 an Act was passed restricting the carrying of corn, victuals, and wood over-sea - by reason whereof the said corn, victuals, and wood are grown unto a wonderful dearth, and extreme prices, to the great detriment of the Commonwealth.

In Mary’s time they declared who might carry on the trade of the making of “ ruffles, sattens, satten reverses, and fustians,” in Norwich. Four wardens were appointed, and were given full authority to deal with the trade, and no one was allowed to practice or occupy the trade unless he had been apprenticed for the full term of seven years. It had already provided that no butcher should be a tanner, and the several duties of tenners, curriers, and shoemakers were also set forth. In 1562 what was probably the greatest of these Acts was passed, for it brought together a greater numberof the old laws than any other measure had done. Another provision was that oaks were to be felled “in barking time only.” They endeavoured to deal practically with every subject in an Act commonly known as 5 Elizabeth, Chap. 4. I make no excuse for reading an extract from this law, because it is very much on the lines of the Bill before us, and the reasons given for the passage of the Act were very similar to those now advanced in support of this Bill. The Act set forth that-

Although there remain and stand in force presently a great number of Acts and. Statutes concerning the retaining, departing, wages and orders of apprentices, servants and labourers, as well in husbandry as in divers other arts, mysteries and occupations ; (2) yet -

Here we have a naive confession of the weakness of legislation to deal with this question - partly for the imperfection and contrariety that is found, and doth appear in- sundry of the said laws, and for the variety and number of them; (3) and chiefly for that the wages and allowances . limited and rated in man)’ of the said statutes, are in divers places too small and not answerable to this time, respecting the advancement of prices of all things belonging to the said servants, and labourers-

Honorable members will see that they recognised that when they sought to regulate wages, they must also seek to regulate prices -

  1. The said labourer cannot conveniently, without the great grief and burden of the poor labourer and hired man, be put in good and due execution : (5) And as the said several Acts and Statutes were, at the time of the making of them, thought to be very good and beneficial for the Commonwealth of this realm (as divers of them are : ) So if the substance of as many of the said laws us are meet to be continued, shall be digested and reduced into one sole law and statute, and in the same an uniform order prescribed and limited concerning the wages and other order for apprentices, servants, and labourers -

This is very significant - there is good hope that it will come to pass, that the same law (being duly executed) should banish idleness, advance husbandry, and yield, unto the hired person, both in the time of scarcity and in the time of plenty, a convenient proportion of wages.

That is exactly what we are proposing to-day in this Bill. If there is one argument more than another which is continually being advanced in support of this measure, it is that we should give the labourer a convenient proportion of wages. The people of England tried to do so in these early days, and went further than . we have any idea of going. I must say also that they dealt with the question in a much more logical way than we are proposing to deal with it. They carried this system of regulation so far that any man who was under the age of thirty years, and had been trained in one art or trade, was required to retain that art or trade. It was declared that he should not depart from it. It was provided that a master should not be allowed to dismiss his servant except in certain circumstances, the Act declaring that certain penalties should be incurred by any master, mistress, or dame who, having retained a Servant - shall put away the same servant before the end of his term, unless it be for some reasonable and sufficient cause, to be allowed before two justices of the peace. Instead of requiring the parties to go before two justices of the peace, we declare that they shall go before a Justice of the High Court and two assessors. What is the difference ? I fail to see that there is any difference between the two positions. A man was not allowed to put away his servant without reasonable cause, and the servant was not allowed to depart from his master unless he also could show reasonable cause for so doing. He was bound to work for him, and to do his work - as one Act quaintly put it - “ honestly and willingly.” We provide in this Bill that assessors shall be called together to meet and discuss questions relating to wages. But in this old law it was provided that -

Forthe declaration and limitation and what wages servants, labourers, artificers, either by the year or day, or otherwise, shall have and receive, be it enacted by the authorit)’ of this present Parliament that the justices of peace of every shire . . . and the sheriff of that county . . . and every mayor, bailiffor other head officer within any city or town corporate wherein is any justice of peace . . shall yearly at every general sessions first to be holden and kept after Easter, or at some time convenient within six weeks nextfollowing . . assemble themselves together ; and . . . calling unto them such discreet and grave persons of the said county . . . as they shall think meet, and conferring together respecting the plenty or scarcity of the time and other circumstances necessarily to be considered - “ Othercircumstances necessarily to be considered.” That is’ a very simple way of stating the position. I wish we would deal with it in the same fashion. The law continued - shall have authority by virtue thereof. . . to limit, rate, and appoint the wages.

This is the most comprehensive Act that has ever been passed in any country ; but it entirely failed to effect its object. Its object was to neutralise the operation of the law of competition, but it succeeded only in destroying competition, so far as the labourers were concerned, because, to a certain extent, they could not avoid it. It tended to keep them in poverty, and this law, in company with the Poor

Law of Elizabeth, was really the means of bringing the workmen of England to the position they occupied at the beginning of the present century. That is the opinion which I have formed, after gathering together many historical facts relating tothis question.

Mr Fowler:

– That is about the time thatthe process of disinheriting the poor commenced.

Mr CONROY:

– Exactly. I shall not. weary the House with quotations from many more of these statutes, but I shall now give what appears to me to be a complete admission by these old authorities of the failure of their legislation. It appearsthat a statute relating to the price of casksfor ale and beer had been passed, but that the rate fixed was rather too low, and a. law was therefore passed declaring that whereas - such as do make the said vessels cannot make and sell any such barrels … at the pricesexpressed . . . but to their great loss and. hindrance, whereby the mystery,, trade, and faculty of the said coopers is utterly overthrown, to the impoverishment and utter undoing of them, their wives, children, and families, as is mostevident, the price of these vessels should be “rated anew, and forfeiture should take place if they were not sold at the rate fixed. When they discovered that this old law had tended to the impoverishment of the coopers, one would have thought that the utter futility of endeavouring to deal with these matters by legislative enactment, would have forced itself upon their minds. But nothing of the sort occurred. They seem to have ascribed a new power to Parliament, and to have said, “Let us make another start.” In the Act in which this declaration was made, it was set forth that a new beginning would be made. That is a marvellous instance of the desire for unnecessary interference on the part of Parliaments - a desire on the part of men to interfere with matters which it is really impossible for Parliament to regulate. Passing over a number of these old Acts, I come now to one which I think indicates the difficulty that may arise in dealing with these questions. A famous dispute occurred in 1604 . between the plasterers and painters! The “ villains of plasterers,” according to the quaint language of the painters who were making a protest, had interfered with the painting trade, and we find that a law was accordingly passed setting forth that -

Whereas the plaisterers …. using nothing but lathing, dawning, plaistering and liming did and yet do procure thereby, for themselves and their families, a convenient living and maintenance : yet not satisfied with that reasonable living …. have now of late used and practised the art and mystery of paintersstainers, as well with oil colours, as size colours -

The painters considered that the plasterers had not been trained as perfectly as they were in the art - and that they should be liable to certain penalties if they engaged inthis work. There was a proviso, however -

That it shall and may be lawful to and for any of the company of plaisterers, or their servants or apprentices, to lay and use whiting, blacking, red lead, red-okar, yellow-okar, and ruffet, mingled with size only, and not with oil.

If they mingled the paint with oil the plasterers were not at liberty to use it, but if they mixed it with size they were allowed to carry on this work. “Was not that trouble really in keeping with what is happening to-day in New South Wales and New Zealand ? Are not lines of demarcation being drawn between the various trades ? Is there not at the present time a big dispute in West Sydney as to the work which relates to the shipwrights and the joiners employed in the ship-building trade ? I need scarcely refer to the still greater strikes on the Tyne in the years 1891-2-3.

Mr Deakin:

– One of the greatest disputes that ever occurred in New York was due to a difference between two unions.

Mr CONROY:

– In 1632 a serious struggle took place between the carpenters and joiners, and an endeavour was made to determine the work relating to each trade. The disputants were very fortunate in that case, as they were able to hit upon a common ground. When they came to deal with the making of coffins they determined that it was work in which both carpenters and joiners might engage. Quite a number of Acts were passed in the reign of Charles II. to regulate the price of coal and the measures in which it should be sold, and a celebrated statute was enacted for the encouragement of the woollen manufacture, which provided that no person should be buried in linen, flax, or hemp.

No person shall be buried in any shirt, sheet, shift, or shroud made of any material but sheeps’ wool only.

Mr Tudor:

– Were inspectors sent round to see that the law was obeyed ?

Mr CONROY:

– A Justice of the Peace, a clergyman, or some other proper person was required to make an affidavit to that effect. I may add that an exception was made in the case of persons who had died of the plague. In 1698 an Act was passed for determining differences by arbitration. I think that that is the first instance in which the expression is used, though I have shown that the procedure of arbitration was resorted to much earlier. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports should be able to find comfort from the wording of that measure.

Whereas it has been found by experience that references made by rule of Court have contributed much to the ease of the subject in the determining of controversies, because the parties become thereby obliged to submit to the award of the arbitrators, under the penalty of imprisonment for their contempt in case they refuse submission.

The Act was not intended to deal altogether with the differences arising between masters and workmen, but rather with differences which . might be brought before a court of law. In conjunction with subsequent Acts, however, it had the effect of creating rules which were practically the same as the common rules which are to be made by the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. I pass by various Acts which were passed in the reign of George I. for the encouragement of the manufacture of woollens and silk, though I may mention in passing that they even framed enactments regulating the manufacture of bricks and tiles; and the size of the bricks used now in this country is laid down in some of those Acts. Not only were decrees passed in regard to the size and process of manufacture, but it was required that clay should be dug out of the pits only during one-half of the year, and the bricks burned only during the other half of the year. In 1747 the Act 20 George II. 19 was passed to deal with -

All complaints, differences, and disputes ‘ which shall happen and arise between masters or mistresses and servants in husbandry who shall be hired for one year or longer . . or between masters and mistresses and’ artificers, handicraftsmen, miners, colliers, keelmen, potters, glassmen, pitmen, and other labourers.

Where is the difference between that provision and our proposal to refer these matters to a Justice of the High Court and to assessors? I cannot see any difference.

That Act failed, and in 1756 Parliament passed another Act for the better regulation of the woollen manufacture, and for preventing disputes amongst the persons concerned in it. The measure fixed the prices of piecework for the express purpose of preventing the cutting down of rates and underselling. In other words, it was an Act against sweating.

Mr Wilks:

– Who agitated for the repeal of all this legislation 1 The masters or the men? .

Mr CONROY:

– The last of these restrictive statutes seem to have been passed about 1756. During the next twenty years, many complaints were made by operatives and others against them, and a distinct change occurred in the feeling of the House of Commons on the subject. The petitions that came before the House were referred to Committee after Committee, who sat and took evidence.

Mr Wilks:

– But the labouring people concerned had no representation in Parliament then. There was no broad franchise.

Mr CONROY:

– No ; but none the less their complaints were inquired into. It is curious to note the struggle which was going on in men’s minds as to the wisdom or unwisdom of allowing competition to be unrestricted. Finally the conclusion was come to that the best way to help the labourer was to abolish the many evil laws and restrictions which had so long hindered him. As late as 1757, however, an Act was passed which provided that -

The Court shall set as size and weight of bread and price to be paid for same as often as Court shall think proper, and respect shall be had by the Court to the price which the Grain, Meal or Flour shall bear in the public market, making from time to time reasonable allowance to the makers of bread for sale for thoir charges, labour, pains, livelihood, and profit as such Court shall deem proper.

Then follow about eighteen pages of regulations. Men had been so hindered from leaving one trade and entering another, and had become so enslaved that in 1775 it had become necessary for Parliament to pass a law providing that coal miners did not pass with the sale of the land upon which they were employed. In 1800 an Act was passed - for settling disputes that may arise between masters and workmen engaged in the cotton manufacture in that part of Britain called England.

After reciting that -

Whereas considerable abuses have for several years last past subsisted in. the trade or manufacture of cotton weaving in that part of Great Britain called England to the great oppression of the persons employed in the manufacture thereof and concerned therein an’ manifest hindrance and injury of the trade ; and whereas it will be a great convenience and advantage to all parties concerned in such trade and an encouragement to the manufacture that a cheat) and summary mode be established for settling all disputes that may arise in respect thereof between the masters and workmen engaged in the said trade -

Provision is made for the appointment of arbitrators, whose award shall be final ; but if they did not agree and make an award within three days, the points in difference were to be heard and determined by a Justice of the Peace. In 1804 a very similar enactment was passed. I submit that I have now proved my case so far as it depends upon a statement of what has been done by Parliament in times gone by. I can understand legislation to compel men to resort to arbitration under pain of a penalty for not doing so, but the measure goes so much beyond that that I cannot support it, because I have shown that all attempts to compel the observance of awards have failed and must fail. It is somewhat singular that I have been able to find no statutes whose provisions are directed towards the improvement of the conditions of persons engaged in domestic and agricultural service, though I do not see how such an improvement could be effected by Act of Parliament. We often hear of men striking for higher wages, but what they should strike for, if it were possible to obtain it, is better employment. While I have confined my quotations to English. Acts of Parliament, I could also quotesimilar legislation from the statute-books of Germany, and France. The French laws, passed during a period of 1,000 years were found so oppressive that they were finally abolished by the people themselves. So much bitterness was felt at the limitation of trade which they created that many of the leaders of the corporations which the laws had been passed to protect were guillotined at the time of the Revolution, and the people re-affirmed, in the famous declaration of rights in 1 797, the words that Turgot, had used sixteen years before, the - inalienable right of every man to the possession of his own labour and industry ; his right to be able to sell and dispose of his labour as seemed tohim best.

Mr McDonald:

– But the labourer is now being robbed by the capitalistic portion of the community.

Mr CONROY:

– There may be disputes between employers and employed, but there can, or rather should, never be a fight between capital and labour. They mustalways go hand-in-hand. It should be made perfectly plain that capital must be encouraged by every means in our power. It has been created by labour, and we should do all we can for its security. The mediaeval legislator tried to fix wages, and also to even fix the labourer to the station and place in which he was born. Even the consumer was not left to his own devices, but laws were made as to his food, his drink, and his garments. Custom and law bound industry with strong bonds, and progress has consisted in breaking them, and substituting for the commands of the State freedom of contract, and freedom of competition. Nor is most of the factory legislation in contravention of this, because, for the greater part, it assures the health and education of children, and by checking the licence of a few gives real freedom to thousands.

Mr Deakin:

– The last admission breaks down the whole of the case of the honorable and learned member.

Mr CONROY:

– No, it does not. I said “ real freedom.” I admit that it is very hard to define the strict boundary at which the State should cease to make laws. But so far as my knowledge and experience go - and I have not spoken, I hope, with positive assurance - I believe that we should at least try to break some fresh ground instead of going back to the musty fusty past, and adopting measures which have proved to be failures. Let us adopt only that which is soundest and best. I submit that we are not being asked to do that at present. The annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniences of life, and now the wealth of the nation is given to the workers more and more, and in better proportion to the value of their work, than in the past. Yet it was only within the last century that the law of competition came into full force. Before that custom ruled everything, and the labourer did not get so large a share of the results of his work as at present. To my mind industrial liberty means a maximum of individual freedom with a minimum of Government control, and is historically the outcome of centuries of striving against all kinds of rigid customs, caprices of arbitrary power, and governmental regulation of industry, which, for the most part, have been either useless or mischievous. The principle of competition applied to wages works towards the payment of equal wages for equal efficiency, and no scheme of socialism ever aimed at more perfect equality. With competition in full play the demand every day should absorb the whole available supply of labour. Sometimes the operation of this law is rude and imperfect, because of the want of proper organization on the part of labour. The very basis of perfect competition is perfect liberty, but there is a difficulty in practice, because labour in not properly organized. It appears to me that the remedy lies rather in teach- ing labour how to organize itself so that true collective bargaining can be brought into play.

An Honorable Member. - What chance has organized labour against organized capital 1

Mr CONROY:

– Organized capital is helpless without labour. If history proves anything it is that the condition of labour is steadily improving and that to-day it is infinitively better than it was 100 years ago.

Mr Mauger:

– Relatively !

Mr CONROY:

– In every possible way. If the honorable member has any doubt of that he should read what Harriet Martineau has to say upon her times, or Kingsley, in his novel “Yeast.” Presumably the minimum wage is to be higher than that which would be fixed as the natural result of competition. If not, where is the excuse for the proposed interference? It would be absurd to waste time and money in bringing into existence all the machinery now proposed, when the same result could be brought about at once by giving competition full play. If theminimum wage be raised above the competitive rate does not the honorable member for Melbourne Ports see that there must be a lessened demand for labour.

Mr Mauger:

– Competition fixes halfadozen different rates of wages in the same line of business.

Mr CONROY:

– Does not the honorable member see that there must be a smaller demand for labour, and that the works, which are barely paying at the lesser rate, must be closed up unless some cheaper method of production were employed, or prices were raised. Then again, if prices were raised the demand would be checked, and this in its turn Would lessen production. If the mere insistence upon . a certain rate could secure it, why should we fix the standard so low 1 Why should not we take the highest rate of wages paid in any trade, and fix that as the lowest rate ? If an industry were contracted, what would become of the standard wage ? Some might have it, but others would have no wage. If it were decreed that all should work in turn, the worker would be in no better condition, because, although the rate of wages would be good, the amount which he would receive would be small. If we want equality let it not be equality of want or of destitution. It has been well observed “ that the State is the least of the powers which govern us, and that the enforcement of laws often proves much more difficult than their enactment.” It has further been observed “ that the end higher than all other ends is the formation of character.” Are we not in effect trying to build up a nation by destroying by successive acts of interference, that spirit of responsibility and self-reliance of the people which alone makes a nation ? Shall we not bring about the system of caste, which in India has proved so fatal, and develop a degraded manhood, which will be unable to raise itself up, or to make any protest against what is going on? I ask whether from the point of view of the workmen it is desirable that the law should ever become so strong as to be able to regulate everything they do. I know that in the case of some men, including the right honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr Kingston, the desire to reduce things to order is so strong that they cannot resist the temptation to bring everything under control. This tendency, however, seems to me to be one of the greatest dangers which we have to fear. The fatal tendency of every such measure as that now before us is to become a precedent for still further encroachments upon individual action. It is not by the wax and parchment of the lawyers that the independence of men can be preserved. Those men flourish best who can think and act for themselves, and who are least regardful of such extraordinary laws as that now proposed. We are not only asked to prevent the free use of liberty, but to rob men of all they have. The Government is to provide for everything, see everything, know everything, and the whole administration is to be carried on under the idea that no man knows his own interests and that no man can take care of himself. How can we decide for men whether wealth is to be produced by following certain occupations ? They cannot decide it for themselves without a trial. Let us for one moment consider the failures which take place every day. If we decree the amount of wages which a man shall pay, why should we not also decree the rate of profit which he is to receive and also show where it is to come from % How would the principles which it is now sought to apply operate in small towns? We should not lose ourselves in the larger mazes of the State, but should consider for a moment how the principles of this measure would apply to small communities of people as in municipalities. Every one must admit that they would prove a failure, and even though our horizon may be extended, the prospect of failure is neither removed nor lessened. I cannot do better than quote the remark of Mr. Samuel Gompers, the president of the great American Labour Federation, who says that “ strikes are ah expression of discontent in a highly-civilized country.” In India there are none, in China there are none; but they have some things worse - a degraded, debased, and demoralized manhood. Labour insists on the right to go where it will, to stay where it will, or to change its employment. It is better for human progress and economic advantage to have awards violated than enforced. Let us put it to ourselves : Suppose an award were given by the Arbitration Court, calling upon an employer to pay a rate of wages in excess of those which he thought he would be able to give, could the Court compel him to keep- his works open? Certainly not. It is proposed that if he can show good cause he shall be allowed to close down his works’. On the other hand, if a workman refuses to work at the rate of wages decided upon, is he to be kept at his trade, is he to be driven to work by a policeman or by a squad of soldiers ? J Just think of what the position would be if we were a nation of sullen, resentful, unwilling workers. What would become of men who had so little love of freedom or liberty that they would not dare to throw down their tools and declare that they would not work ? The right to strike is one of the most sacred of the liberties of men.

Mr Mauger:

– As is also the liberty to fight.

Mr CONROY:

– Exactly, if in defence of justice. It is only by war that we have earned our liberties, and it is only by fighting that we can preserve them. When the spirit which has caused us to fight dies out of our people we shall become as the Peruvians of olden days, or as the hordes of India, bound down by iron laws. Are we to do anything that would be calculated to bring about any such conditions here ? Is there no manhood in our people to assert itself? I venture to say that there is, and that it will be a fatal day when our people are willing to submit to the dictation of Government as to whether or when they shall work. If the day came when men, whether employers or employes, refused to accept such dictation, I should support them in taking up arms, if necessary, in order to assert their right to do their best according to the spirit which the Almighty has implanted in them. I can only thank honorable members for the attention with which they have listened to me, and I now desire to bring my remarks to a close by quoting a few remarks of Mr. Frederick Harrison. He says -

After legislating about labour for centuries, each change producing its own evils, we have slowly come to see the truth that) we must cease to legislate for it at all. The public mind has been conscious of serious embarassment, and has been eagerly expecting some legislative solution, some heaven born discoverer, to arise with a new parliamentary nostrum. It now turns out that there is no legislative solution at all, and that the true solution requires as its condition the removal of the mischievous meddling of the past.

We know that we may take a horse to the water, but cannot make him drink; nor can we drive a man to do that which, according to the first principle of human liberty, he has a right to refuse to do.

Debate (on motion by Mr. A. McLean) adjourned.

page 4059

DEFENCE BILL

In Committee (Consideration resumed from 6th August, vide, page 3325) :

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Minister for Home Affairs · Swan · Protectionist

– I move -

That the following new clause be inserted : - “91a. Every court-martial may sentence any member of the Defence Force found guilty of any military or naval offence to the punishment provided for the offence, and may in addition -

  1. Dismiss or discharge him from the Defence Force ; or
  2. Forfeit his seniority of rank or reduce his grade or rank ; and
  3. Order him to pay such amount as is sufficient to make good any loss of or damage to any article vested in the Commonwealth or in the commanding officer of his corps occasioned by his wilful default or neglect. 11

This clause, together with new clauses 99a, 103a, and 103b, has been drafted by the Crown law officers to meet the alterations which have been made in the Bill owing to the decision of the Committee that our Defence Forces shall not be subject to the provisions of the Imperial Army Act in time of peace.

Proposed new clause agreed to.

Amendments (by Sir John Forrest agreed to -

That the following new clauses be inserted : - “99a. The amount of any pecuniar)’ penalty incurred, or of any sum of money ordered by any Court, to be paid by any member of the Defence Force in respect of any military or naval offence, may be deducted from any pay due, or which subsequently becomes due to the offender. “ “ 103a. Any member of the Defence Force charged with any military or naval offence when on duty or wearing his uniform may be arrested, pursuant to the order of any officer authorized by the regulations to issue such order, by any other member of the Defence Force, and detained in military or naval custody until he can be tried for the offence. “ “103b. Any member of the Defence Force who absconds or deserts ma)’ be arrested by any other member of the Defence Force or by any member of the police force of the Commonwealth or of a State, pursuant to any warrant under the hand of any officer authorized by the regulations to issue such warrant, and shall be dealt with in the manner prescribed or as directed by the warrant.”

Mr KIRWAN:
Kalgoorlie

– I move-

That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 96a. If the offence charged be punishable by death the accused shall be entitled to be defended by Counsel at the expense of the Crown.

I need scarcely point out to the Committee that the Minister has already agreed to the insertion of a similar provision in clause 91, which relates to proceedings before a court martial. I merely desire that the same privilege which is there conferred upon the accused, shall be extended to him in cases which may come under Part IX. of this Bill. I hold that, irrespective of the tribunal before which a man may be tried for an offence which is punishable by death, he should have the right to be defended by counsel, whose expenses should be paid by the Crown.

Sir John Forrest:

– I have not the slightest objection to that provision.

Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).Whilst I am, to a certain extent, in favour of the principle for which the member for Kalgoorlie is contending, I would point out that in clause 70 of the Judiciary Bill provision is made that persons charged with indictable offences, and who are without adequate means, shall be defended by counsel, whose expenses shall be paid by the Commonwealth. In any proceedings before a court martial some such provision as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie desires to insert here is very necessary. In that case, a man might be far removed from any centre of population, his trial might be hurried, and he might be executed speedily without being afforded a fair opportunity to prepare his defence. But seeing that in the Judiciary Bill provision has been made for’ his defence before the Civil Court if he is without means, I scarcely think the Commonwealth should be called upon to retain the services of counsel upon all occasions.

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– The Minister for Home Affairs, I presume, intends to limit the operation of this provision to time of peace. I would point out to him that it is very necessary to give the General Officer Commanding the forces power to impose the death penalty in time of war. If a soldier is entitled to be defended by counsel in time of war, it will be simply impossible to put any man to death. He may go to sleep at his post, even though the fate of his country depends upon his vigilance, or he may betray his country by giving away military secrets to an enemy. In my judgment it is absolutely necessary that the General Officer Commanding shall be vested with this power in time of war.

Proposed new clause agreed to.

Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I move-

That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 11a. Any person who has been a member of the Defence Force may, after having ceased to be a member, recover from the Commonwealth in any suit in any Court of competent jurisdiction, any moneys which under his engagement or any agreement with the Commonwealth are due to him.”

This is the fourth time I have brought this proposal forward, and I thank the Minister for consenting now to accept it. It preserves the rights of military men.

Mr Page:

– I should like to hear what the Minister has to say regarding this clause.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I have not the slightest objection to it. It simply means that when a man ceases to be a member of the Defence Forces he may, if any moneys ‘ are due to him, sue for their recovery in the ordinary way.

Proposed new clause agreed to.

Mr MAUGER:
Melbourne Ports

– I move -

That the following new clause be inserted : - “26a. There shall be a Council for Defence, hereinafter called the “Council,” consisting of -

  1. The Minister. 2.G.O.C. Commonwealth Forces.
  2. Naval Commandant.
  3. Senior District Commandant
  4. Senior Militia Officer.
  5. Senior Volunteer Officer.
  6. Two Members of the Parliament.
  7. The Secretary for Defence (as Secretary).

The Council shall, under regulations to be issued by the Governor-General in Council, direct and control the organization of His Majesty’s naval and military forces in and for the Commonwealth, and may re-organize the same from time to time, and take such steps as may be necessary to establish and maintain efficient discipline therein.

  1. At every meeting of the Council the Minister shall, if present, preside, or, in his absence, the senior officer present at such meeting, and four members of the Council shall constitute a quorum.
  2. It shall be the duty of the Council from time to time to make such recommendations as it may think desirable for the better carrying out of this Act to the Governor-General as to the exercise of the powers conferred upon him by this Act.
  3. The Council shall, in the month of July in each year, draw up a report to the GovernorGeneral upon the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth, and such report shall be forthwith laid before both Houses of Parliament if Parliament be then sitting, or if it be not then sitting within one month after the commencement of the next ensuing session thereof.”

I am aware that there is a great deal involved in this clause, and that to a large extent it takes the control of the forces out of the hands of the General Officer Commanding. That is exceedingly desirable.

Sir John Forrest:

– It would take the control out of the hands of the Minister.

Mr MAUGER:

– No; he is the controlling force. I find that a procedure very similar to that which I propose is followed in Switzerland. The supreme control over the military there rests with the Federal Assembly and it appoints a Federal Council, the members of which have charge of the several departments dealing with these matters, This measure has been described as a Bill of regulations, and it seems to me that we have left a great many matters to be dealt with by regulations. They are so important a part of a measure of this character that we should have greater supervision over them. But many of a farreaching character are framed by the officer commanding, and are passed by the GovernorGeneral in Council, although this Parliament is ignorant of their effect.

Mr Page:

– Would not the honorable member give the General Officer Commanding some power? Surely he is not to be a puppet?

Mr MAUGER:

– I do not want him to possess anything like the power which he now holds, and I am surprised at the honorable member’s interjection. If he knew of the seething discontent which exists throughout the forces of Victoria, and the cause of that discontent, he would recognise that there is some reason for a radical change.

Mr Wilks:

– That may relate to the particular commandant, and not to the system.

Mr MAUGER:

– We are continually changing our General Officer Commanding, and we should have some controlling power such as T. propose. Each succeeding officer holds different views, and the whole service is revolutionized by the new authority. A Council of the kind I suggest should have power to frame regulations. The Minister smiles, but he knows that there is a very great reason for the adoption of this amendment. The service at present is altogether unsatisfactory.

Sir John Forrest:

– I do not think so. No complaints have been made to me.

Mr MAUGER:

– Two of our most respected officers were recently compelled to leave the service owing to the conduct of the General Officer Commanding.

Sir John Forrest:

– There was a disagreement.

Mr MAUGER:

– Then the Minister has heard of some complaint ?

Sir John Forrest:

– They scarcely complained.

Mr MAUGER:

– They complained most vigorously. Quite recently one of the best trained arms of the service has determined in a body that it- will not comply with an order that has been sent out from headquarters. I refer to the Engineers.

Sir John Forrest:

– I have.heard nothing about that matter.

Mr MAUGER:

– The regulation issued to them was of a character altogether unsuited to a citizen soldiery.

Sir John Forrest:

– What regulation? I have never heard of it.

Mr MAUGER:

– The regulation relating to the number of drills to be attended. This power should not be in the hand of one man.

Sir John Forrest:

– The General Officer Commanding has discretionary power. He can vary the order.

Mr MAUGER:

– There should be a Council of Defence, with power to determine the proportions and character of each arm of the service.

Sir John Forrest:

– Then what is the use of responsible government? What is to be gained by having a Minister in charge of the Department if this is to be doiie ?

Mr MAUGER:

– This proposal would not interfere with responsible government.

Mr Knox:

– Some people do not want responsible government nowadays.

Mr MAUGER:

– The. honorable member will have an opportunity to show me presently how this proposal would interfere with responsible government. He might as well say that the Lords of the Admiralty interfere with responsible government because they, acting as this Council would act, have control of the Admiralty. They do not interfere.

Mr Wilks:

– In matters of discipline ?

Mr MAUGER:

– I am speaking not of matters of discipline but of regulations. I am dealing with the General Officer Commanding in his professional capacity, and am not making any personal attack upon him. It is notorious that he gives the whole of his attention to the military arm of the service. The naval arm never receives the slightest consideration.

Sir John Forrest:

– He has nothing to do with the naval forces.

Mr MAUGER:

– If that is so the Minister has also had nothing to do with them, because, whilst promotions and various changes have been made in the military forces, even ordinary wrongs in con- . nexion with the naval arm of our forces cannot be righted. That is one strong reason why we should agree to this amendment.

Sir John Forrest:

– What wrongs does the honorable member refer to ?

Mr MAUGER:

– I cannot go into details now, but I can bring them under the Minister’s notice.

Sir John Forrest:

– Why did not the complainants bring them before me when I was Minister for Defence ?

Mr MAUGER:

– They did so.

Sir John Forrest:

– Then they have been dealt with.

Mr MAUGER:

– They have not been dealt with in a satisfactory way.

Sir John Forrest:

– What is the complaint ?

Mr MAUGER:

– There are complaints as to the adjustment of pay and other matters.

Sir John Forrest:

– I have heard no complaints in regard to the navy.

Mr MAUGER:

– I am referring to all branches of the service - to’ the question of controlling appointments and promotions. The right honorable gentleman cannot say he has not heard of complaints in that regard. The officers of the Victorian forces are simply disgusted with the treatment meted out to them.

Sir John Forrest:

– I have heard nothing of this.

Mr MAUGER:

– Then there could not be a stronger recommendation for my proposal.

Mr Kirwan:

– The Minister has not been reading the Evening Herald.

Mr MAUGER:

– Or other newspapers. But he is not nearly so ignorant of these facts as he professes to be.

Sir John Forrest:

– These vague charges cannot be sifted.

Mr MAUGER:

– They are not vague charges. Victoria has been belittled. Officers from the sister States have been put over senior officers in the local forces, and the whole service is in an unsatisfactory state.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– That complaint is not confined to Victoria.

Mr MAUGER:

– No. Apart from New South Wales, where Major-General Hutton once had charge of the State forces, complaints are general throughout the Commonwealth.

Sir John Forrest:

– The Victorian State Commandant came from South Australia.

Mr MAUGER:

– But he cannot rise above the feeling in that particular State. The Minister knows very well that quite recently one of our rankers would have been discharged if he had not intervened, and insisted on fair play being shown to him. If we are to look to a man like the officer at present in charge, we shall not get fair play for the rankers.

Sir John Forrest:

– What about the Minister ?

Mr MAUGER:

– He needs assistance.

Sir John Forrest:

– He might get too much assistance.

Mr MAUGER:

– If my amendment were adopted, he might receive assistance of a character that he would not like, and that, I think, is another reason why we should accept this proposal. The question of expenditure is involved in this matter. It is notorious that an enormous sum of money has been wasted on the defence forces of Victoria, owing to the frequent changes made in their control. Previous State Commandants, such as Colonel Disney, Colonel Walker, and Colonel Brownrigg advocated a certain definite policy–

Sir John Forrest:

– -We have to remember that we are now dealing with the forces of the Commonwealth.

Mr MAUGER:

– These changes of management lead to the adoption of different lines of expenditure. In company with the honorable member for Kooyong, I recently visited the forts at Port Phillip Heads, and I noticed that tens of thousands of pounds had been spent in building barracks. I found that barracks had been erected at Portsea at a cost of over £4,000, while the officers’ quarters there involved an expenditure of about £2,000. Victoria has either footed the bill or is now paying interest in connexion with, this expenditure. The barracks, however, are empty. There is not a sufficient number of men at the Heads to constitute a relief party ; but a large number are acting as bandsmen, and in other capacities at head-quarters, thus helping to advance the pretensions of the staff. The whole policy has been changed.

Sir John Forrest:

– Federation is responsible for that.

Mr MAUGER:

– No, Federation has not been responsible for this change.

Mr Tudor:

– The Commandant must, be glorified.

Mr MAUGER:

– That fact has had more to do with the change that has taken place. Honorable members from the other States should join with me in seeing that a system of management is set up which will prevent this wilful waste. I can assure honorable members that tens of thousands of pounds have been wasted on so-called defences simply because we have not had any definite line of management.

Sir John Forrest:

– I think we are very economical.

Mr MAUGER:

– The Department is only economical when it has to cut down the wages of the lowest paid men and discharge the rankers.

Sir John Forrest:

– We have not discharged any one.

Mr MAUGER:

– Because great pressure has been brought to bear to prevent the adoption of that course. My right honorable friend knows full well that he had a great deal of trouble whilst administering the Department for Defence, and if rumour be correct he was glad to get out of it. He knows that the present management of the forces is by no means satisfactory, and that it cannot be satisfactory while the control rests with one man, do matter how worthy ari officer he may be. I know nothing about Major-General Hutton’s qualifications, but I am aware that there is very general dissatisfaction throughout the forces, and therefore some change such as I have suggested should be made. I understand that the Minister is prepared to agree to the creation of a Board of Advice, but that Board would act only when the Minister submitted matters to it.

Sir William McMillan:

– Are we to give absolute power to this Council to override everybody 1

Mr MAUGER:

– The Victorian Council of Defence had a similar power.

Sir John Forrest:

– They did not do much good.

Mr MAUGER:

– They prevented the occurrence of great evils. The ‘Minister is prepared to agree to the establishment of a Board of Advice, but I would urge him to go a little further and to permit of appeals being made to the Board.

Sir John Forrest:

– A man is at liberty to appeal to the Minister, and if he obtains no satisfaction he can bring his case before Parliament.

Mr MAUGER:

– The Minister knows that that system is unsatisfactory.

Sir John Forrest:

– The Minister will always do justice as far as he can.

Mr MAUGER:

– But he cannot under the present arrangement do that justice which he is willing and anxious to do. I submit this proposal in order to assist him. The Imperial Parliament every year revises its legislation of this character. We do not do so. We transmit to other authorities the power to make regulations, and we lose all control over them. I wish to test the feeling of the Committee, and unless my right honorable friend will agreeto the appointment of a Board of Appeal I shall divide the Committee. My desire is that the lowest roan in the ranks shall have some authority to which he can appeal.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I am very sorry that I cannot accept the proposed new clause, because I recognise that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports desires to meet my wishes. We have, however, adopted a military systemunder which a General Officer Commanding has been appointed to control thewhole of the Forces of Australia, subject to the direction of the Minister for Defence,, who is responsible to Parliament. Although considerable power” is given to that officer, I do not think that injustice is likely to be done, as all such acts as appointments and promotions, the re-organization of the Forces, the spending of money, and other important, features of administration can only be done - with the approval of the Minister. With regard to internal discipline and administration, and the moving of forces from one place to another, the General Officer Commanding must be given a pretty free hand, because it would not be advisable for theMinister to unduly interfere in such matters. What the honorable member proposes, however, would, if adopted, quiteupset the existing system. Whilst I am aware that in England the Minister responsible for the control of the Navy is assisted in his administration by the advice of a Board of expert officers of great experience and knowledge, I think that he is virtually supreme. What the honorable member proposes, however, is to make the Minister only one of a number of persons who are to comprise a Council of Defence. He is to be associated with the General Officer Commanding, the Naval Commandant, the Senior District Commandant, the Senior Militia Officer, the Senior Volunteer Officer, two Members of Parliament, and the Secretary for Defence.

Mr Mahon:

– It is a Melbourne proposal, pure and simple.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– In the first place, I would ask how can these various persons be brought together without a great deal of expense and loss of time 1 It seems to me that it would not be practicable for such a Council to meet more than once or twice in the year. My second objection is that the General Officer Commanding, who now takes his directions from the Minister, would, if he had an independent voice as a member of - the Council of Defence, be probably able to override the decisions of the Minister. In the same way, the Senior District Commandant, who is under the General Officer Commanding, would be able practically to flout his commands ; and so on, right down the list. I think the arrangement would be a mischievous one, and is absolutely unconstitutional, because it would abolish the parliamentary responsibility of the Minister. Then what is the Council to do? It is, under regulations to be issued by GovernorGeneral in Council, to -

Direct and control the organization of His Majesty’s Naval and Military Forces in and for the Commonwealth, and may reorganize the same from time to time.

Paney this Council having the power to reorganize the forces !

Mr Crouch:

– Who does it now 5

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The Minister with the approval of Parliament.

Mr Crouch:

– Has either Parliament or the Minister had anything to say in the recent re-organization ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I think so.

Mr Mauger:

– The Forces have been disorganized rather than organized.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– It is not reasonable to expect that the Forces can be organized and consolidated without hurting the feelings of some persons. It would be impossible to take such a step in regard to any business having a number of branches without displeasing some one. It is easy to please people if one moves in the groove to which they are accustomed, but a reformer must propose changes, and invade the interests of others, to secure what, in his opinion, is best for the community at large. Thus, he becomes unpopular. But no one who is worth his salt can escape some unpopularity. The reorganization to which the honorable member refers has . interfered with some persons, and as a matter of course they cry out. To my mind, however - and I have been behind the scenes - the work has created surprisingly little dissatisfaction, and this is due to the efforts which have been made to consider, so far as possible, existing interests. I was told a short time ago that the Victorian Mounted Volunteer forces were very dissatisfied,, because they were to be enrolled as militia. But having taken the opinions of all their commissioned and noncommissioned officers, I find that 95 per cent, of them are quite satisfied with the new arrangement.

Mr Mauger:

– I. have seen the papers, and I do not think that the Minister has obtained the real opinions of the men.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I do not see in what other way I could have obtained their opinions. So far as I can judge they are quite satisfied. The proposed Council is to report from time to time upon the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth. Where, I ask, is it to get its information ? Are all the members of the Council to be selected from Victoria 1

Mr Crouch:

– No one has suggested that.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The General Officer Commanding knows what is taking place all over Australia, and is therefore in a position to report to the Minister for the information of Parliament. But I do not see how the Council could get its information except through the General Officer Commanding, and I do not know of what use its report would be if it were based merely upon the report of that officer. What the honorable member proposes might be very well if we were dealing with a small area such as that comprised in this important State of Victoria, but it would not do for an immense area like that of the whole of Australia.

Mr Mauger:

– How does the system work in England ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I do not think that there is such a system in England for the control of the military forces. In my opinion the honorable member has been too ambitious.

Mr Mahon:

– Why did he not propose that the Council should have power to declare war ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– With a view to meeting the wishes expressed by honorable members during the second reading debate on the Defence Bill, introduced last session, I have provided in the measure that the Governor-General shall have power to make regulations providing for the establishment and composition of a Board of Advice.

Mr Skene:

– What is to be the composition of the Board ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I am not in the position to tell the honorable member that. The subject is a very difficult one to deal with, because of the immense area of the Commonwealth.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

-Will it be composed entirely of officials?

Sir J OHN FORREST:
Minister for Home Affairs · SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · Protectionist

– My present idea is that it should be composed of at least one financial man and a few experienced officers who have done good service. I do not believe in giving officers on active service the right to sit on a Board and criticise the actions of their superiors.

Mr Crouch:

– What will this Board be empowered to do?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Their powers will be provided for under regulations. If, however, honorable members think it necessary, I am willing to insert in the Bill a substantive clause providing for the appointment of such a board to advise on all matters relating to ‘the Defence Forces submitted to it by the Minister. The Minister could then summon the members of the Board even from the four corners of Australia whenever he required their advice in regard to any project of importance. I hope that the honorable member will accept such a provision, and nob press his amendment. What he proposes is really a change in our military system. I think it would be better, if we are to make such a change, to do away with the General Officer Commanding altogether, and appoint a board of experts such as bhey have in Switzerland, or such as the Admiralty Board in England. The military forces of England, however, are controlled, not by a Board, but by the CommanderinChief, who is subordinate to the Minister responsible to Parliament.

Mr Skene:

– And a Council of Defence.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– No. There is no Council of Defence.

Mr SKENE:
GRAMPIANS, VICTORIA · FT

– Yes, there is.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The Council of Defence to which the honorable- member refers is one that does not interfere with the administration, but which may be referred to upon important questions of policy. Of course, we know that the British Government have for some time contemplated the creation of a military administration similar ‘to that which exists in connexion with the Admiralty, but that has ‘not been brought about yet.

Mr Skene:

– Yes, it is in existence now.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– There is no council which takes any part in the military administration and discipline in the same way as does the Admiralty Board in regard to the Navy. I can assure the honorable member that no such scheme as he indicates has yet been brought into force. The Bill has been framed upon the assumption that we shall have a General Officer Commanding and, therefore, a Council of Defence, with the - administrative powers suggested, would be altogether out of keeping witli the other provisions of the measure. I shall move the insertion of a new clause to take the place of that proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.

Mr SKENE:
Grampians

– I have a certain amount of sympathy with the propositi of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, but in its present form I think it is rather too sweeping. I cannot quite understand how the Minister can say that there is no Military Council of Defence in England.

Sir John Forrest:

– Of whom does it consist?

Mr SKENE:

– I presume bhat ib is similar in character to the Admiralty Board. Some little time ago a cable message from England, conveyed the information that the Council of Defence had made a certain recommendation with regard to the number of troops which should be retained in South Africa.

Mr McCay:

– Isthe Council an advisory or a conbrolling body?

Sir William McMillan:

– Is nob the Council intended to bring the Treasury into closer contact with the military administration ?

Mr SKENE:

– I have not seen the particulars as to the purposes for which the Council was created, but I read Mr. Brodrick’s speech in the House of Commons, and I gathered that the Council was to have very large powers indeed. Here the difficulty seem to be that, although the Minister has control it is not- very often’ exercised because of the fear bhab political influence may be too strongly exerted. In Victoria the Minister for Defence was frequently asked bo interfere, but, for the reason indicated, refused to do so. I should like to see a nonpolibical board appointed, which would have conbrol over even bhe General Officer Commanding. The Council of Defence in England must have very large powers, because its recommendation with regard to the number . of troops to be retained in South Africa was adopted in opposition to the milibary authorities, who considered bhat the number proposed was too large. I think that the proposal of the Minister may be accepted, in the hope that it will lead to the creation of a useful controlling body.

Sir William McMillan:

– Would the honorable member contemplate a board or Council on which subordinates could over-rule the General Officer Commanding ?’

Mr SKENE:

-I am not defending the constitution of the proposed Council, because I do not know enough about the matter. What I desire is that a board should be constituted to which the Minister could refer for advice, and I think that his suggestion should be adopted in the hope that an effective advising and controlling body may be created.

Sir William McMillan:

– Are there not several Ministers of the Crown on the British Council of Defence 1

Mr SKENE:

– I believe so. If the Minister’s proposal will provide for the appointment of a board of some value I shall be quite satisfied.

Mr McCAY:
Corinella

– I hope the honorable member for’ Melbourne Ports will not. press his amendment. I think that I may fairly say that during the course of this debate I have hot displayed any great subservience to military authority or any great advocacy of the absolutism of that authority. I think a board such as the honorable member suggested would be entirely unworkable in view of the large area of the Commonwealth and its scattered population. There is no parallel between the Council of Defence in England and the Council which it is now proposed to constitute. The English Council is really a semi-political body, which is intended to harmonize the relations between the political and the military administrations upon all important matters of policy. One can understand the desirableness of such a board, in view of the conflict that has existed between the financial and the executive branches of the administration. The proposal of the honorable member is modelled upon the Council of Defence which existed in Victoria up to the time of the establishment of Federation, and the wording of the new clause, is practically the same as that of tlie section of the Victorian Act.” The Victorian Council of Defence at times did very great service; but as a matter of fact every member of that Council for many years past was a resident of Melbourne, and it was very easy to call a meeting of that body. Very often valuable suggestions were offered by the junior members of the Board which proved of service to the administration, but during the term of one officer as Commandant, the Council of Defence simply served as a battle-field for the struggle which was waged between the Minister for Defence and the Commandant. Unfortunately the Council never possessed the power that it purported to exercise, because the Minister on the political, and the Commandant on the administrative side, exercised the real control. It must always be so, unless the command is put into commission as is the case with the Admiralty. I think that the Minister’s proposal fairly meets the case. I think that from time totime it may be very desirable for the Minister to seek the advice of competent persons other than the Commandant, who, of course, will naturally be wedded to his own particular view.

Mr Crouch:

– But could he not always, procure that advice without a Council 1 .

Mr McCAY:

– No doubt; but Parliament has to lay down lines of general policy, and we can conceive of circumstances under which it might be wise for the Minister toseek the assistance of a Board of Advice. I think that it should be proclaimed and placarded that we believe that there should be a Board of Advice to assist the Minister in expert matters upon which he may differ from the General Officer Commanding.

Sir William McMillan:

– Would it be safe to provide that the General Officer Commanding should be a member of the Board 1

Mr McCAY:

– I am afraid that we havenot sufficiently developed our national lifeto be able to tell exactly what form of boards and what methods of procedure it. will be best to’ adopt. In the meantime, I think that we may well adopt the suggestion of the Minister. However strongly we may feel that a Council of Defence isdesirable, we are not in a position to say how it would work, or the best form which, it should take. Personally I do not see how it could exercise effective control unless. all the members composing it were established at the seat of Government while they retained their positions upon the Board.

Mr WILKS:
Dalley

– If the arguments, advanced by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports are well founded they constitute strong reasons for the removal of the*General Officer Commanding. The Commonwealth pays a large sum of money for the services of that officer, and it would be -assumed that we pay him that sum for the ‘knowledge which he possesses. If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports thinks that Major-General Hutton is incompetent, it is his duty to submit definite charges in support of his contention to this House. Regarding his statement that complaints are general, it is -a remarkable fact that in New South Wales we have heard nothing of them.

Mr Mauger:

– It is not remarkable at all.

Mr WILKS:

– The honorable member insinuates that the General Officer Commanding is a partisan. Reference has also been made to the Admiralty. We all know very well the history of the British Admiralty and the relationship which exists between it and the Ministry. In their wellknown naval “ text-book “ Pinafore, Messrs. -Gilbert and Sullivan have characterized Mr. W. H. Smith, who was a First Lord of the Admiralty, a very wealthy man, a successful bookseller, and a Minister of the Crown, in well-known lines which refer to him as an -administrator who never went to sea, -and who never used a great big D. I understand that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports desires to see the Minister occupying a seat upon a Council for Defence and associated with men who may be admirable judges of articles of commercial value, but who may be entirely destitute of military knowledge. Such a scheme could be satirised quite as rauch as was the English Admiralty control. Under the marvellous scheme which is suggested, the Council for Defence would be almost as large as a well-appointed regiment. When would this Board meet? It would meet every year at Cup time in Melbourne. I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to accept the suggestion of the Minister for Defence. .

Mr PAGE:
Maranoa

– After the observations of the honorable member for Dalley there is not much for me to add regarding this amendment. I am sure that its author could never have given his proposal serious thought. Does he desire to entirely dispense with Ministerial control ? Because that is apparently the object of his amendment. I say unhesitatingly that if his proposal were carried, the General Officer Commanding, if he had any respect for himself, would resign the next day. Honorable members are continually complaining of the expenditure upon the head-quarters staff, and yet the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who is always preaching economy, desires to appoint another expensive board in connexion with defence matters. I agree with the honorable member for Dalley that this Board would probably meet in Melbourne once a year, which is generally the time fixed for the visit of the Squadron to this State. Further, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports proposes that the Minister for Defence shall be appointed to this Council. Does he desire that that officer shall have an equal voice with the Minister upon defence matters ? He also contemplates the appointment of two members of Parliament. What wisdom would they add to the deliberations of the Council f Talk about the Labour party ! Why this proposal is ten thousand times worse than any Labour caucus could ever be. It practically abolishes responsible government. I hold that the Minister is responsible to this House, and that the General Officer Commanding is responsible to the Minister. I trust that the Committee will not seriously entertain the amendment. The honorable member for Dalley referred to Pinafore, and it seems to me that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports must have ‘obtained this inspiration from the book of that opera. No man’ possessing a knowledge of military matters would submit such a proposition.

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– I also join with other honorable members in urging the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to withdraw his amendment. Prompt action is necessary in times of emergency, and if these officers were scattered in various parts of the Commonwealth great expense and loss of time would be involved in bringing them together. When we had brought them together, what could we expect from subordinate officers ? Could we expect them to vote against the recommendation . of their own Commandant? The history of the Victorian Council of Defence gives only one case in which opposition was shown by a member of the Council to the views of his Commandant. Colonel Templeton on one occasion took this stand, and that is the only case on record. On many occasions the Victorian Minister for Defence acted independently of the Council, and succeeded in giving effect to his own views. If this proposal were adopted the same thing would probably occur again. I certainly think that such a body would be not only expensive but troublesome; that it would involve great delay in dealing with urgent matters, and that it would prove of very little service. I hope the amendment will be withdrawn.

Mr. M AUGER (Melbourne Ports).With the permission of the Committee, I beg to withdraw my amendment, but I intended to submit a proposal, to which the Minister for Defence has agreed, for the creation of a Board of Advice. That will be at least a step in the direction which I desire shall be taken in relation to the control oE our Forces. I am somewhat surprised at the argument used by the honorable member for Gippsland in regard to the question of expense, and the difficulty which would be experienced in bringing together the members of the Council. The question of cost is not considered in relation to the travelling expenses of the staff officers.

Mr Page:

– It will be.

Mr MAUGER:
MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA · PROT

– I hope that it will. In the case of the staff officers, the distance travelled by them in making inspections also counts for nothing. The honorable member for Gippsland will pardon me if I say that there is really nothing in his contention as to the delay that would be involved in bringing together the members of the Council, because the journey by rail between Sydney and Melbourne occupies only a few hours. A Council such as I propose could be called together at very short notice.

Mr McCay:

– But suppose that one member of the Council happens to be in Perth, and another at Brisbane ?

Mr MAUGER:

– The honorable and learned member is stating an extreme case. It would be more reasonable to expect that only the larger States would be represented on this Council, and that the other States would be satisfied with that arrangement.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment (by Mr. Mauger) proposed -

That the following new clause be inserted : - “26a. The Governor-General may appoint a Board of Advice to advise on all matters relating to the Defence Force submitted to it by the Minister. “

Mr MCDONALD:
Kennedy

– Will any purpose be served by embodying this provision in the Bill? I think not, and I shall vote against it.

Proposed new clause agreed to.

Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I move-

That the following new clause. be inserted : - “ 106a. Any person who induces or attempts to induce any other person to enlist or engage to serve in any naval or military force, the raising of which has not been authorized by the GovernorGeneral, shall, upon conviction, be liable to imprisonment with or without hard labour for any period not exceeding six months.”

This will render it impossible for men to be enrolled in the Commonwealth for a filibustering expedition, or for any other service, without the knowledge of the Defence authorities. I am glad to say that the Minister has accepted the amendment It meets a difficulty which arose during the South African war.

Proposed new clause agreed to.

Mr. MAUGER (Melbourne Ports).-I find that the military authorities are opposed to my proposal for the prohibition of the canteen, but

Mr Page:

– The honorable member voted for prohibition in New Guinea, and he should endeavour to secure prohibition so far as the military barracks are concerned.’

Mr MAUGER:

– Is the honorable member prepared to support me?

Mr Page:

– Certainly.

Mr MAUGER:

– I move-

That the following new clause be inserted: - “ 106b. The sale of or dealing in beer, wine or any intoxicating liquors by any person in any camp or canteen, or army transport, or upon any premises used for military purpose by the Commonwealth is hereby prohibited.”

This course has been followed in America.

Sir John Forrest:

– And they wish to have a change.

Mr MAUGER:

– I have before me u report of the United States Secretary of War for December, 1900, containing a statement that thirty-five officers declare that the canteen has been detrimental to the morality of the enlisted men, that forty declare it to be prejudicial to discipline, that twenty assert that it has increased drunkenness, and that thirty six declared in favour of the absolute prohibition of the canteen. I think this evidence is very conclusive.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– Whilst many of us may appiove of the object which the honorable member has in view, there are others who do not think that a clause of this description would accomplish that purpose. It might lead as it has done in other places, to sly drinking to an extent which could not be regulated. I shall vote, therefore, with the Government. Efforts in this direction have not been successful, so far as I am aware, in other countries, and I do not ‘think they would be found of any service here. I have never held that moderate drinking isa vice. It is only unregulated drinking that may be described in that way, and anything of that kind is prevented, so far as our defences are concerned, by the laws relating to discipline. It would not become us to interfere with a great body of men and to declare what they shall eat and what they shall drink.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I have before me an extract from the report of the AdjutantGeneral of the United States Army for the year ending 30th June, 1902, which was published in the Journal of the Royal United Service Institution for December, 1902, and which sets forth that -

The restoration of the exchange, as it existed prior to the passing of the Act of 2nd February, 1 90.1, prohibiting the sale of beer, is desired and urged by the great majority of officers and men, andby none more than those of pronounced temperance views. Numerous reports confirm the views long held the this office that the old exchange contributed to sobriety, health, and contentment, of the men. The increase of desertions and trials for infraction of discipline is, by those best informed, attributed to the abolition of the former privileges of the exchange.

I have referred this amendment to the officer in command of the Royal Australian Artillery, who has furnished me with a statement in regard to the present system.

Mr Page:

– What is the name of the officer.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Lt.-Col. Wallace. In his report he states that -

  1. . The sale of liquor in canteens is conducted under the supervision of a committee of officers, non-commissioned officers and gunners.

    1. None but the best obtainable is sold.
    2. A non-commissioned officer is constantly on duty within the bar to restrict the amount consumed.
    3. Every inducement is held out to men to frequent the recreation-rooms, billiard -rooms, &c, by making them as comfortable as possible.
    4. Coffee-rooms are established, separate from the canteen, and are largely patronised.
    5. The small profits obtained are expended in providing extra messing luxuries for the troops, buying sporting materials and encouraging rifle shooting.
    6. In my opinion the prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquor would lead to inferior stuff being smuggled into barracks and induce sickness, the crimes of disobedience of orders, drunkenness in barracks and consequent punishment.
    7. Total prohibition was tried at South; Channel fort some years ago, but resulted asin dicated aforesaid.

The restricted hours at which liquor is obtainable prevents drunkenness in barracks.

I am afraid that time will not permit of a. long debate upon this question, but itseems to me that the majority of men are not teetotalers, and that if they are not supplied with liquor, subject to certain carefully prepared restrictions, they will succed in obtaining it in some other way.

Mr Isaacs:

– Did not Lord Roberts recommend that the troops should not takestrong drink?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I do not wishthem to take it ; but it is far better that we should have a canteen than that we should see long strings of soldiers making; their way to the nearest public-house during their spare moments.

Mr Hughes:

– Would it not be still more objectionable to have it taken round, to them!

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I think it is of no use trying to compel people to be teetotalers if they do not want to abstain from liquor. We cannot ignore the experience of the British Army. If the British system was as bad as it has been represented to be,, public opinion would have demanded achange years ago.

Mr. PAGE (Maranoa). - I hope that theCommittee will carry the amendment. The Minister has read a report by a United; States officer, and I should like, in contrastto it, to give my personal experience When I was with the troops in South Africa, awaiting the sending out of reinforcements from England after the reverses ati Isandula and Rorke’s Drift, we were kept seven months without grog, and during; that time net one, man was sent up forpunishraent. But when we got to Dundee, where a famous battle was fought duringthe recent war, the men were able to get liquor from the stores, and the first, night after our entrance into the townthere were thirty-seven in the guardroom for drunkenness. Thenceforth, until we marched into Zululand again, therewere several confinements each day from thesame cause. I determined then that if I had the chance to put an end to the canteensystem on active service I would do so-

HonorablenMembers.maij saythat lata’ inconsistent in voting for this amendment, because 1 voted1 against prohibition for New Guinea.. Iknow, however, that braaady has saved in New Guinea the’ lives of’ many men- who. would otherwise have succumbed to malaria.

Sir John Forrest:

– Soma of our soldiers may be sent to New Guinea.

MrPAGE. - Then, if they require’ stimulants there the doctors will be able to prescribe them. The right honorable gentlemain read a report from Lt.-Col. Wallace to the-effieet that inferior grog makes men- sick, but my experience is that any Mnd of grog- l’endevs’ tiltem unfit for service. We have now an opportunity to caary into practice opinions! which, many honorable members have already affirmed. I hope that, the: Committee- will vote for” prohibition!. By carrying the amendment we can. establish prohibition-, centres, in the middle’ of towns, and thus give aim opportunity of showing how the systeini will woiik.

Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - In my opinion, the- remarks of the1 honorable member for Ma-ranoa- furnish a. good reason-, for opposing the amendment. I hold very strong views on-, the liquor question, so that I always feel compelled to, see- that I do not. allow my prejudices to rum away with my judgment., I was. die posed to- vote for the amendment uuitil I had stopped to consider what it. means. If we- could provide for the total prohibition of liquor’ to troops when, on dutyv unless prescribed by the doctors,. I should, vote for the- proposal. But that is– not possible. Whait we have to consider in dealing: with the- amendment is whether; it is better for. the- men at the Queenscliff fort,, to use- a specific instance, to be- able to- obtaim good, liquor in the.’ canteen duo/ing certain’ hours under- control, or to have- to- go to the hotels for it, and there consume drink of unascertained’, quality at. all hours- without control.. I h&ve been to> a- good-, many eamps.of exercise;, und’ although- I do not like to- see the canteens musk frequented-, I would, sooner see the- men-, iru the canteens, where there is si-Lways a sergeant on duty to turni out any one who: begins to, show signs of having drunk too- much, than see them go to- the hotels, where they can drink until they are drunk wi-thiii the meaning, of. the licensing. Act, which my experience; of the- courts, tells me is a very advanced stage of intoxication. The amendment means simply transferring the consumption of liquor.- from. a place where there is control to, at- place where there ismo control, and I think thatthat will only injure the. cause of tem> perance..

Mr WILKS:
DALLEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Do not the- men now patronize, both the- canteens and the publichouses?

Mr MAUGER:
MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA · PROT

– Yes.

Mr Page:

– Quite . recently there- was- amutiny at the Brisbane barracks through men having- obtained too m-web liquor at- the canteens..

Mr McCAY:

– In. that case, the officer on. duty at the canteem disobeyed his orders. Wherever there is; liquor there will) be trouble,, and I wish to see as little trouble as possible-. In my opinion- there wiiWi be less trouble if the men get their liquor at the. canteens, than, if they are compelled to go outside. If they were so placed that they could not get liquor if the- canteens were dosed, the position wo.uld.be different. But, as a matter of fact, if the men do. not get, liquor, at a canteen, there will be nothing to prevent: them: from, getting it at hotels, just as they got it at the stores, at Dundee..

Mr MAUGER:
MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA · PROT

– What would the honorable and learned, member- think of a large factory-owner who. established’ a canteen, on his, premises?

Mr.McCAY. - I am, glad that the* tawdoes not allow that to’ be done. I appreciate the honorable member’s position. He contends that the fewer the- places at which liquor may be- sold, the less the quantity that will be drunk. That principle, ho.wever, is not applicable to these special circumstances. In Victoria, every commanding officer is allowed, a regimental canteen. I have had one once since I have been a commanding officer; but I haive- not had any other - not because- my men were worse than- others, but because I. do not care- for the- system-. There were, however;, other canteen* to> which- they could got The position before us is this : Are men who are not total abstainers to get their liquor at thecanteens, where the supply is under proper control, or at the hotels, where there is practically no. control?’ 1 do. not think that the amendment,, if! carried, would operate towards securing temperance. Therefore, I cannot support it.

Mr. CROUCH (Corib).- I feel pretty strongly upon this subject, because I have been in a canteen, while I do not think the honorable member for Melbourne Ports- ever has. I know -what I am talking about and of the dangers which his amendment would bring about. In my opinion his amendment either goes too far or does not go far enough. . If he proposed that no liquor at all should be allowed to the troops, I would be willing to support him. But what he proposes is that the selling of liquor at the regimental canteens, which are under strict control, is to be .stopped. That is quite ,a different thing. I know that, so far as Queenscliff is concerned, we could not do anything which would please the local publicans better than to close the regimental canteen.

Mr Mauger:

– -The honorable and learned member urged me to ,go on with this proposal. ‘

Mr CROUCH:

– The honorable member is ‘laboring under a gross misapprehension. He asked me to draft an amendment for him upon the lines of the United States provision, and I did so, but at the .same time I distinctly told him that I did mot agree with it, but only did it ‘to oblige him in the drafting.

Mr Page:

– The .honorable and learned member for Corio told us long ago that he did not agree with it.

Mr Mauger:

– Then he must have changed his opinion.

Mr CROUCH:

– In an American newspaper entitled The New Voice, dated 1st August, 1901, a United States officer, writing upon the system prevailing there, says -

For twelve years desertion and drunkenness steadily decreased in the army, and we who know attribute ‘it to “the canteen. You have killed that and you should give us as strong a factor for temperance on its place. The exchange as still therewith its reading rooms, billiards, luncheon, &c.j and some of the good men frequent it, but the other men, +he men we are reclaiming from evil resorts go elsewhere, where they find the same attractions, and with them beer and worse.

This has been the effect of abolishing the canteen system in the United States Army. In the British canteens good liquor is provided for those who want it, and is sold subject to proper control. The regulations provide that a. non-commissioned officer must always be in charge to see that too much liquor is not , drunk. The Victorian military regulation which governs .canteens provides that the member of the Defence Force

9D2

appointed to .dispense .and supply ref reshments -

Shall be responsible for the ‘opening and closing of the canteen, at the -hours appointed by the Commandant, and shall be subject to all the orders referred to in the regulations contained in the Standing Orders.

The beer supplied is ‘sold .at a low rate, and the profits are spent on the library and the reading room, so that we have in the system an adoption of the best principles of the Gothenburg system. The honorable member for Corinella has said that he has had only one regimental canteen, but he knows that in most camps there are canteens to which all the men can go. Where there are no canteens, the men take liquor to their tents. The honorable member for Dalley must know that that often occurs in camps of instruction, ,and that, as a consequence, drunken men appear on parade. From the very first I have had no sympathy with this amendment. I drafted it at the request of the honorable member, substituting the word “ Commonwealth” for the words “United States.” But it is unfair that he should charge me with supporting it. I think that the experiment would be a disastrous one, and would lead to universal disorder and uncontrolled drunkenness. In my opinion, it is in the interests of the publichouses, and not in the interests of temperance. If the canteens are closed, men will go to the public-houses, where the liquor will not be of as .good quality, and where there is no proper control. I shall vote against the amendment, because I believe in temperance principles.

Mr FOWLER:
Perth

– I am quite in. sympathy with the object of the amendment, but I. am inclined to think that the honorable member will defeat the object ;at which he is aiming. I would suggest something by way of a compromise. I presume that the honorable member desires to prevent drunkenness, and therefore, we might’ provide that beers of light alcoholic strength and light wines only should be sold in the camps. It would be almost impossible for a man to get drunk on German lager bier, and the same thing would apply to the lighter classes of wines. It would be a hardship to deprive men of what they may regard as -a necessary beverage, and the proposal of the honorable member would only result in confusion. If we could keep the men away from drink altogether we might be able to arrive at the result which the honorable member desires, but the amendment would not carry him so far as a provision such as I suggest.

Mr. WILKS (Dalley). - I trust that the (honorable member will press his amendment. The honorable member for Perth apparently does not object to intoxication in 41 modified form. He does not mind the men having a canteen, so long as the barometer of drunkenness does not go higher than 75 degrees. So long as the men get tipsy on dry wines or lager bier, he will be satisfied. The mere fact that German lager bier has been suggested should be sufficient to arouse the resentment of . the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who is a strong protectionist. At present the men, who are in barracks, go out to little public- houses, and get as much as they can, and then come back to the canteen and drink a little drop more. If they are confined to barracks altogether they avail themselves of the canteens, and they may be in a state of semi-drunkenness half their time. By abolishing the canteen, we can at least insure that the men shall be sober in barracks, and I think that it would be to the interest not only of the men, but of the officers, if the amendment of the honorable member were agreed to. The officers of the perma- naent forces admit that they would prefer to be without the canteens. It is idle to speak of giving the men purer and better liquor than they can obtain in the public-houses, because the canteens are so worked as to produce as much profit as possible, in order to defray the cost of carrying them on and of providing means of recreation for the men.

Question - That the proposed new clause stand part of the Bill - put. The Com- mnittee divided.

Ayes … … 18

Noes … … 20

Majority … … 2

Question so resolved in the negative.

Proposed new clause negatived.

Bill reported with amendments.

Motion (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to -

That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clauses 28, 58, and 112.

In Committee (Recommittal) :

Clause 28 verbally amended and agreed to.

Clause 58 (Power to raise and maintain cadet corps).

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Protectionist

– It has been pointed out that there is no provision in this clause under which cadet officers may continue to hold office after they have attained the age of nineteen years. It is considered desirable that no age limit should be imposed in this connexion. I therefore move -

That the following new sub-clause be inserted: - ‘ 4a Officers and non-commissioned officers of cadet corps may be appointed as prescribed without regard to the age limit or other conditions set out in sub-section l.”

Mr McCAY:
Corinella

– In speaking the other day when the cadet provisions of this measure were under discussion, I unintentionally misledthe Committee. I stated that I had been informed that the officers connected with thecadet corps would be quite satisfied if an age limit of nineteen years were prescribed. I have since been assured by my informant that I was mistaken. Personally, however, I am still of opinion that nineteen years is a proper age limit to fix.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 112 (Regulations).

Amendment (by Sir J ohn Forrest) agreed to-

That the clause be amended- by inserting the following sub-clause: - “ (l 1) The establishment and. conduct of canteens. “

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported with further amendments ; report adopted.

page 4073

ADJOURNMENT:

Order of Business

Sir EDMUND BARTON:
HunterMinister for External Affairs · Protectionist

– I move -

That the House do now adjourn.

In doing so, I desire to intimate to honorable members that the third reading of the Defence Bill will be the first business dealt with on Tuesday. The debate upon the Conciliation, and Arbitration Bill will then be resumed.

Mr R EDWARDS:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND · PROT; FT from 1913; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910

– This morning I desired to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs a question without notice. Perhaps the Prime Minister is now in possession of the information sought.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– I find that I cannot obtain from the Minister for Trade and Customs just now the information desired, as he is indisposed.

Mr.R. EDWARDS. - I am sorry to hear that.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at4.7 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 August 1903, viewed 7 November 2016, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030821_reps_1_16/>.