Зображення сторінки

telephony, whether they desire to retain the local service in their own hands or to transfer it finally to the Government, it is certain that if they were to commonly adopt a certain period for the termination of their license they would strengthen their own position with the Government and at the same time place no serious hindrance in the way of nationalisation, if such a course should be determined upon. If all municipal licenses terminated in 1913 (the date of that granted to Glasgow), and it was ultimately found by experience that exchange wire telephony was a thing which ought permanently to be left to local authorities, these latter would be able to present a much more united front to the Government when their joint interests were assailed than if they were attacked one by one. I should therefore place first in order of value in any municipal policy regarding telephones, that the licenses should all terminate on one and the same date.

The second point of importance is that under no consideration ought they to lend their sanction to the floating of venture companies. A municipality ought to be the last body in the world to lend its weight and influence in favour of speculative financiers. There is moreover no guarantee of permanence about a private company, supposing it to be established in competition with the National Company. The clause in the draft license forbidding its transfer to any other body is of a certain value, but no company can be compelled to continue in the business of telephony if it proves unremunerative. It is highly questionable - whether a private company could nowadays stand up. against the enormous influence of the National Company, and if it ceased operations the local authority would find its way-leave powers given into the hands of the National Company and the license of the latter established to the end of the period of the license of the then defunct company. This is a danger to be avoided at all hazards. It is important also to note that the Postmaster General is empowered to grant the way-leave privileges to a new company which he has already conceded to the National. On the 23rd of March, 1899, he granted “authority to exercise way-leave powers ” to the latter body. Under this “authority” they are placed in the same position relative to 211 local authorities as the Postmaster General is himself. If the local bodies in question refuse to grant facilities to the National Company for the carrying on of their business, they have the right to compel the authorities to do so by legal procedure in the courts, with a final appeal to the Railway Commissioners. It certainly cannot be wise for the municipalities to contribute by their own acts to the extension of these enormous powers to other private hands. Furthermore, assuming that the nationalisation of the telephone service is really the object of the Treasury as well as of the Post Office, and that this result will one day be attained, it is surely better that the Government should be able to deal with public bodies when the period of transfer arrives rather than that. they should be compelled to negotiate with private companies, who, in the interests of their shareholders, would demand and obtain the last pound of flesh from the general taxpayer.

The third point to be noted is that the municipal authorities ought to combine in making representations to the Local Government Board, the Post Office, and the Treasury, to the effect that in return for the service they propose to render the Government and the country by breaking down the monopoly of the National Company, by reducing charges to telephone users, and by facilitating the nationalisation of the entire service, they ought to be permitted to extend the period of repayment of capital beyond the date fixed for the termination of their license. If the sinking fund could be spread over a large number of years the telephone users would reap the benefit of this deferred payment in lightened rates. There need not be the slightest fear of any period of repayment being extended beyond that of the utility of the telephone plant. It has been affirmed in evidence that the life of a telephone cable, i.e., that part of the plant which is the most costly to establish, is practically unlimited. If to this concession respecting the postponement of sinking fund charges, the Local Government Board would also add the privilege of paying interest out of capital for (say) two years, or until the capital invested in municipal telephony becomes remunerative, so much the better for the success of municipal telephony in its initial stages.

There are several other items of importance which may with advantage engage the minds of those representatives of the municipalities who are giving attention to the question. In places where the National Company have neither obtained wayleave powers from the local authority nor from the Postmaster General, it will certainly be to the advantage of any such local authority intending to compete with the National, to prevent, as far as possible, such powers being conferred. In cases where they are granted by the local authority the concession should either carry with it a pecuniary advantage to the corporation, or, better still, the right of free intercommunication between the subscribers of the rival systems within the same telephone exchange. The ten per cent. royalty charge of the Government upon the total possible income of the municipality from the telephone service ought also to be resisted. At the present time every license granted specifies that the Government are to be paid a royalty of ten per cent. not only on the gross income, but on bad debts as well. This is a monstrous condition of things. Why is it that an order empowering the establishment of municipal electric lighting escapes the encumbrance of royalty, whereas that respecting telephony does not ? This tax has been one of the potent influences which have prevented “ efficient competition” by the Post Office; it has also maintained the high rates of the National Company. In all their negotiations with the Postmaster General with respect to the terms under which their license is to be conferred, the municipalities ought also to insist upon the possession of power to adopt the alternatives of either the “ toll” or “unlimited user " system, granting full power to their customers to select either of these at their discretion. It is also important that a great municipality forming the centre of a telephone area should come to terms with the lesser authorities within the same telephone area but situated outside its own boundaries. The example of Glasgow is of great value in this connection. It may be found however that these local authorities may refuse to follow the example of those which surround Glasgow, and may decline to grant powers to, or co-operate with, the greater body, unless representation is given to them on a joint Telephones Board for the entire telephone area. In such a case representation and taxation should go together. Risks as well as responsibilities and profits should be equally shared. It has been suggested that a special Act of Parliament would be necessary before two or more local authorities could jointly operate in the supply of telephony. Such a suggestion unduly strains the interpretation of the second clause of the Act of 1899. Although the wording of the clause is in the singular there is nothing to prevent its being interpreted in a plural sense as well. In cases where collision occurs between two or more authorities within the same exchange area with respect to the supply of telephonic facilities, the wording of the second clause taken in conjunction with that of Section 2 of the third appears to indicate that it is within the power of the Postmaster General to license one of such authorities for the entire area. If under such conditions of mutual antagonism and rival policy the objecting authority refused to permit the municipal licensee to lay wires underground, the Postmaster could then devolve the powers conferred upon him under the Telegraph Acts, 1878 and 1892, and grant“ authority to exercise way-leave powers” to such licensee, as he has already granted them in the case of the National Company. It will probably be found in practice that the difficulties which I have anticipated will seldom arise. Everything is to be gained and nothing to be lost by a conciliatory and co-operative policy on the part of those local authorities which are situated within the self-same exchange area. The only persons to be benefited by local antagonisms are the shareholders of the National Company.



The cigar trade was at one time the monopoly of men aided by children whose employment brought the trade within the scope of the enquiry of the first Children's Employment Commission of 1843.2

"I wish to express my dissent from parts of this article.-H. H. 2 Parliamentary Paper, 1843. Vol. xiv. 1st Children's Employment Commission.

ours wethe industhich the repor

The Commissioners reported that the men made the cigars, each journeyman himself employing three or four boys or girls of from 8 to 13 years of age to wait on him, The children's work was to prepare the tobacco for the outside cover of the cigar, to strip the leaves, and fetch the material, and as they grew older they were taught to make the “bunch” or inside of the cigar. The boys, if promising, were after a time apprenticed to the trade. The usual hours were 11 or 12 per day, with one hour deducted for dinner; there was occasional overtime, when the hours were 15 or 16 per day.

This was the state of the industry in 1843, in London and in those towns in the kingdom in which the trade was carried on. By the time of the Commissioners' Second Report, in 1865, women were employed in two important cigar factories in Liverpool ; one factory having 200 females over 18 years of age, as compared with 90 males; another employing 90 or 100 girls and women, but no men, with the exception of a foreman to manage them, and a lad to do the heavy work. Mr. Steel, the master of the latter factory, was the first to apprentice girls in 1850, and the fact of his having only women in his employ by 1865 shows with what success his attempt was attended. The Commissioners reported that girls were apprenticed at the age of 14 for seven years, and in their first year of apprenticeship were paid 2s. per week ; by their sixth year many were earning piecework wages of 178. or £1, though earnings depended on the quickness and industry of the worker. The trade at no time seems to have required many reforms; the hours were shorter than in other trades, being generally 11 per day with one hour deducted for dinner. Overtime was not usual, but did occasionally occur, when the girls were kept till 9 P.M. for two or three weeks at a time. The work was reported as healthy on the whole, though the workrooms were ill-ventilated, and the gas jets were too near the worker to be wholescme. In London, women do not appear to have been employed as yet, the only mention of female labour in the trade in 1864 being of young girls employed by the journeymen to wait on them. By 1868,2 however, women had entered the London trade also, the factory inspector reporting that “many females and young persons are employed in the manufacture of tobacco and cigars ” in London. He further reported that their hours did not exceed 9 per day. From that time forward, the number of women in the trade has steadily increased.

The following is an attempt based upon an enquiry undertaken on behalf of the Women's Industrial Council to describe the main features of the economic position of women in this industry in London at the present time.

As in many other trades, women came in by the back stairs. They were at first used chiefly for the less skilled branches; a small number only were employed in the more skilled work; but in both divisions 1 Parliamentary Paper, 1865. Vol. xx. 2nd Children's Employment Commission.

Parliamentary Papers, 1868–1869.

alike they worked for a lower rate than the men. For a period of 20 years they were an unorganised body. The men had formed a Union in 1835, but it was not until 1887 that a Union for women was established. After its establishment they still continued to undersell men; and the men who at first were hostile to women in the trade, saw that it was hopeless to try to keep them out, and that for their own sakes it would be wiser to amalgamate the Unions. Accordingly, five years ago, men and women joined in the same Union. The question of wages formed the chief difficulty at the time of amalgamation. Union hours 1 were already limited to 50 a week, overtime only being permitted by consent of a board of management; but the difference between men's and women's wages proved a great stumbling block.

To raise the scale of women's wages to the same scale as men's would probably have meant to drive women from the trade and to alienate public sympathy; to leave them at a lower scale would mean to let women continue to undersell men. It was finally decided to take the highest rate of pay for women then existing and make that the basis of the scale of women's wages. Since the amalgamation, women's wages have risen 25 per cent., and it is a recognised policy of the Union to raise the scale still further by making advantageous terms with each employer opening a new factory. But even so, the women's scale is 25 per cent. lower than the men's, and this fact has been of material assistance in helping them to gain a firm foothold in the trade.

The amalgamated Union proves to be a very strong one, and it is the conditions in Union shops which are typical of the trade as a whole. It may be said that nearly all the shops doing first class work are“ fair" shops. It is estimated that 95 per cent. of the men and 66 per cent. of the women working in London are members of the Union. Union hands may not work with non-Union hands, and it is difficult for the employer to get an entire staff of the latter. How great this difficulty is, may be seen from the fact that one employer imported a number of German-Jews and Poles, in order to be free from the restrictions imposed by the Union. In factories which employ women only the difficulty is not so great. One firm, having quarrelled with the Union, dismissed its men, and ever since has employed non-Union women, under very good conditions.

Other firms, which are not “fair” shops, because they desire to get cheap labour, exploit their employees in either of two ways:-they pay less-in some cases far less-than the Union scale of charges ; or they run their factories by means of apprentice labour ;—that is to say, they employ two or three journey women to a large number of girl apprentices. The journeywomen do the really skilled work, and are paid good wages; the apprentices learn enough to enable them to make an inferior cigar, and before their five years have ended, they have become quick hands. As apprentices are never paid more, and

Accounts and Papers, 1890–1891.

« НазадПродовжити »