December 9, 1909 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Alphonse Verville



I am very proud indeed to have brought this question before the House this afternoon and especially to find that it has excited so interesting a debate. This is probably the first time we have had so much discussion on the hours of labour, and many hon. gentlemen on both sides have expressed themselves, in different fashions, in favour of a shorter working day. As I said on moving the second reading of the Bill, my intention was not to make any extended remarks myself, but to obtain the views of others, and to my great satisfaction. I have heard a great deal more than I expected. Some remarks have been made regarding farm labour but there is no comparison whatever between farm labour and that which is dealt with in this Bill. We have also heard it argued that men could not do as much work in eight hours as in ten. Well, we heard that same argument every time a proposition was made to reduce the hours. Not very long ago men worked twelve hours a day. Then the day was reduced to ten hours, and no one will say that the same amount of work is not done in the ten hours as formerly was done in the twelve. The same result will follow a reduction to eight hours. Experience has proved that the longer day is not productive of more work. We have had some question about the working of the fair wage law. Well, 1 acknowledge that it has done a great deal of good for the labouring classes, but as regards the hours of labour, we have no body but ourselves to thank for their reduction, because what gain we have made has been achieved only after very hard struggling. I heard the hon. member for London say that he would favour a Bill which would apply generally.

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