Mr. Roby's Bill, intended to limit the labour of coal-miners
to eight hours a day, calculated "from bank to bank," passed its second reading on Wednesday by a majority of 281 to 194, an addition of 10 to the majority of last year. The Bill was not a Government Bill, but was supported by a majority of the Cabinet, and by a " five-lined" summons issued by the Whip. Mr. Morley and Mr. Burt voted against the Bill ; while Mr. Asquith made a strong speech in its favour, justi- fying its principle by an appeal to the Factory Acts. The debate presented few new points of interest, —the chief per- haps being the determined opposition of a Radical philan- thropist, Sir J. Pease, whose speech, if his facts are correct, is unanswerable. He maintained that, apart from the great injury it would do to coal-owners, the eight-hours limit must inevitably and at once increase the cost of produc- tion. The price of coal woul I therefore rise, and the industry of the country was in no position to bear a fur- ther tax. In the Middlesborough district, " with a year's production of 2,500,000 tons, no ironmaster was receiv- ing a single sixpence." A friend of his, a Member, had drawn nothing for two years, and he himself nothing for three. Sir J. Pease rather weakened his case by urging that the men could get the eight hours for themselves if they wanted them—clearly, if they can, the prophesied ruin is exaggerated—but he presented the counter-case in a very impressive way. The debate was a little unreal, as every one felt that only the Government could carry such a measure, and the Government, being divided, cannot act.