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Friday, 30 April 1915


Mr HUGHES (WEST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Attorney-General) - The replies to the honorable member's questions are -

1.   The quotation is substantially correct, so far as it goes.

2.   The English Court records covering the last quarter of the 18th century and the first quarter of the 19th century disclose thousands of cases of persons who were fined, imprisoned, and, in many cases, transported, because they had exercised what they conceived to be their rights as free men to combine with their fellow-workmen in order to obtain decent wages and conditions. I refer the honorable member to one typical case cited by the honorable member for Barrier, who is reported in Hansard, Vol. LXX., page 752, as follows: -

I have here a pamphlet which gives an account of the arrest and trial of six men simply because they proposed to form a trade union to improve the lot of their fellow-workers. They wore agricultural labourers, and were anxious to obtain a living wage for those employed on the farms of England. They had been receiving 7s. per week, and when they were told that this rate was to be reduced to 6s. per week, they formed an association with the object of securing a wage of 10s. per week. In opposition to their scheme, placards were distributed throughout the agricultural areas of England setting forth that any one who joined the union would be sentenced to seven years' transportation. In the words of this pamphlet - "This was no idle threat; within three days of the publication of the notice George Loveless and five other labourers were arrested and lodged in Dorchester gaol."

George Loveless was not only a Labourite, but a Methodist local preacher - a fact that should appeal to the Prime Minister - " The five other labourers were James Loveless, brother to George, also a Wesleyan local preacher ; James Hammitt their brother-in-law ; Thomas Standfield, another Wesleyan local preacher ;' John Standfield, his son; and James Brine."

These men had to stand their trial because they had formed a union with the idea of raising the wages of agricultural labourers to 10s. per week.


Mr Patten - When was this?







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