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Tlic, Canmu thciisliiro Chamber t: j. QUARTERLY MEETING AT THE BOAR'S HEAD HOTEL. The quarterly meeting of the Carmarthen- shire Chamber of Agriculture was he!d at the Boar's Heud Hotel, Wednesday. Mr H. Jones Davies (president of the Chamber) presided. LOYALTY. The Chairman proposed the healths of the "Queen and the rest of the Royal Family" a toast which met with a hearty reception. NE\r MEMBERS. The following new members were admitted -Mr P. J. Wheldon, manager, the National Provincial Bank Mr T. Rees, Union Hall, Llanstephan and Mr David Davies, butter merchant, St. Clears. Mr J. Lloyd Morgan, M.P., who was re- ceived with loud and continued applause said that he was not going to inflict on them a speech. He was asked to introduce to them Mr H. Jones Davies, who was going to read a paper on an important subject which had reached an acute stage in Carmarthenshire— the Agricultural Labour Problem, xo was quite unnecessary for him (Mr Lloyd Morgan) to introduce to them Mr Davies, who was so well-known and so highly respected. He had discharged for several years many important duties in connection with the public repre- sentative bodies of the county, and people were much indebted to him. And he was going to increase the obligations which they owed to him by introducing this very impor- tant subject for discussion. The Chairman then read his address on the AGRICULTURAL LABOURER PROBLEM IN CARMARTHENSHIRE as follows In introducing this subject, The Agricul- tural Labourer Problem in Carmarthenshire" I must frankly admit at the outset that it is with some amount of diffiidence that I do so, in seeing present here to-day many whose range of memory goes further back than mine and whose field of experience is wider and deeper. However, if the subsequent dis- cussion consequent on the subject be preg- nant with suggestions how best to cope with and arrest the present difficulty of the agri- cultural labour question in the county that we are beset with, I cannot feel less than highly gratified that my efforts in bringing this matter forward have not been in vain. Yet I must further confess the more one learns of the issu.Pi involved, the vaster and the more complex does the subject appear. I look forward to a good and useful discussion on this subject, for it comes in contact with everyone of us. I ask you to criticise me freely, give me no quarter, and state your views candidly how best to solve the problem We hear in these days of what has passed into popular phraseology, The man in the street," and here we are treating of what I may call The man in the furrow but the question we have to grapple is how to pre- vent "The man in the furrow being trans- formed so easily into "The man in the street" I don't know whether I need make any apology to you for introducing this subject to you, as I thought it singularly appropriate considering the season and its unquestionable prominence in our daily agricultural life. It has thrust itself so much into prominence and it is so much felt that is is the all-absorbing topic of conversation whenever and wherever farmers happen to meet. It is ever and anon Have you had your full complement of servants ? How scarce they are, and after having them they are so very difficult to manage. The quality is so inferior, and what is going to become of farming under present circumstances ?"-are they not very apt questions I ask you. That being so, let us ponder and examine carefully if those ques- tions which we are so much acquainted with have any foundation that we should entertain them and their causes generally. Whatever may be said, there is no blinking the fact that the agricultural labour question in one of the, if not the, most difficult items to be contended with in the present-day farming. In order that the casual observer should have a grasp of how this question has become so prominent, and such a. serious one, he must be taken back through the vista of ancient history. During the fifties and sixties, when corn- growing was the chief branch of agriculture in this county, when the collieries, ironworks and tinworks of South East Carmarthenshire and Glamorganshire were only just develop- ing, agricultural labour was plentiful, wages were low, and every cottage in the land was occupied-in fact, the lot of the agricultural labourer of that time must have been a hard one to endure, as I am very often disposed to think that the farmer of that age rather took undue and unfair advantage of him. Though things have altered considerably in his favour since that period, the heritage of resentment and mistrust still survives, but the gulf that existed between them then is now not so im- passable there is no great social cleavage. Then during the seventies, the industries of those districts I have already mentioned, developed wonderfully, and their effects were soon felt. The rural population migrated to those centres of activity, where higher wages and shorter hours were obtainable. Subse- quently, those migrators came, as is known in ordinary parlance, "i roi tro gartref," to see their friends and relations, and by their im- proved garb, replenished purges, and an air of independence, were the means of attract- ing some of their relations and friends back with them. Although the agricultural labour er was drained away through these channels, the upshot was that his wages were increased at home. Still, the farmer did not much feel the scarcity cattle and dairy produce im- proved so much in value that it was to his advantage that he should very materially re- duce his arable land by laying it down to per manent pasture. Also, another salient fea- ture during this time was the introduction of the mowing machine, the reaper, and the threshing machine. Those were important factors which helped to lessen the drudgery and quantity of labour. What played a more prominent part, and has itself by this day done more than anything I have already men tioned was the passing of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, and more recently still free education. 1870 was the date of the emancipation of the agricultural labourer 1870 was big with fate for him, though he hardly knew it then, and now he is reaping the harvest his emancipators served with in- finite patience and courage. Coming to the next decade-the eighties- the agricultural labourer becomes more and more scarce, the means of communication im- prove as rapidly, glowing accounts reach him or her of the big wages, shorter hours, more liberty, and more enjoyment and excitement of life generally than is obtainable on the farm. He pauses, he reflects, sees how the playmate of his youth has succeeded in the work, er as the case may be, and next Hallowtide resolves to join him, as he has now been sufficiently equipped in the rud-i ments of education for a position of some trust. He goes, thereby reducing year by year the agricultural labourers. The rural cottages now become vacant, and many are already in ruins. Who cannot to-day but look upon them with a sympathetic gaze. Those scenes in many a glen in the country, where the smoke on a grey morning was wont to be seen winding its way in a long, strag- gling string far up into the sky. On many a. hill side which first caught and welcomed J the earliest rays of the sun once rosy-cheeked children gambolled, frolicked, and looked the picture of health, but have now flowed in a strong and healthy stream meging into urban life. These happy scenes have now changed into roofless, ruined walls, broken-down banks, the footpaths leading to and around the cottage-to the spring generally at the end of the garden long since grass-grown The elderwood, the birch tree, and the willow, which each participated in their tv. n the skill and the thrift of the cottager, are -.u.iid ing symbols of many a scene in rural life. All to-day point to the extent of a holding now left desolate. This was a sign of the times which it behoved them to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. The migration continued slowly and surely, leaving its too palpable traces here and there, and bringing in its train its effects on the rural tailor, weaver, shoemaker, carpenter, and black- smith, who, consequently, had to seek fresh fields and pastures new. In the face of an this eflux the farmer is compelled to feel the scarcity, and he has to realise that the se'ec- tion becomes more limited and the wages advanced. He does not require so many as formerly, and he can still count, in many in- stances, on female casual labour. Farming implements become more general, corn has dropped in price, cattle and dairy produce giving a better remuneration, more land is duced to permanent pasture, less reluctantly for he sees that it pays better, and lessons the labour bill, which he now begins, by the end of this decade, to grumble at openly. Summing up this decade the agricultural la- bourer becomes far more scarce. The rural labourer's children are well trained in the elementary schools, and are intellectually equal, and, in most cases superior to the farmer's children, as the latter, on account of the depression, have to assist in the work of the farm to lessen the labour bill-very often before going, and after returning from school, whereas the former are allowed to pursue their studies unmolested. Owing to the diminution in numbers of efficient la- bourers boys from industrial and reformatory are introduced to work on the farms by the scores, and this is still in vogue, but I am glad that they have, during recent years been somewhat reduced. I regard such a method of dealing with industrial lads and girls as being fraught with the gravest consequences. If you will only turn your attention to the quarter sessions, you will often have observed that the majority of cases were charges princi pally of theft against these boys and girls. What makes it graver still is this inter-marry ing, which cannot do less than tend to the degeneration of our race. Of course, among these boys and girls there are exceptions that prove the rule also, I think proper pro- vision canot very well be made for the social wants of these monoglot youngsters. The labouring class, on account of higher wages and the nature of the holdings, has been merging imperceptibly into the farming class, and now asserts itself more prominent- ly, and the farmer's own children find it more convenient and profitable to engage themselves as farm servants on neighbouring farms. The difficulty which a farmer exper- iences in obtaining a farm servant or labour- er is nothing compared with the much greater and more general difficulty of getting suit- able maids. If, for example, a farmer is de- prived of the services of a maid through ill- ness or breach of engagement in the middle of her term, it is almost impossible to replace her, and the farmer's wife, who too often finds herself so unfortunately situated, has to meet the difficulty the best way she can, and shift with her own skill and energy without one, unless she may get the occasional assis- tance of some neighbouring labourer's wife until the hiring time arrives. In the present decade that is just ending, the question of agricultural labour has be- come most acute to the farmer. It has become almost to the tenant farmer a ques- tion as important as his rent in fact, labour has become so scarce that he is so much ham- pered in his agricultural pursuits that he can not make the utmost of his holding. He has to shift and struggle in the best way he can, and that not without, as is too frequent- ly noticed, results to the detriment and the deterioration of many a farm. What can account for the slovenliness, the uncut thistle the trash growing far out into the fields along the hedgerows, and the backwordness of work generally, but the scarcity and the advanced prices of agricultural labour which it is impossible for the farmer to compete with in the present-day circumstances. Ah! it too plainly tells its tale here and there. The railways have also added to the list of inducements to the farm servant, who is offered good opportunity, mainly because his eyesight stands him in good stead. His eyes in the country are not tried by lurid and brilliant lights; he goes to bed early, and compensates for that by his early rising. His range of vision is very varied, in constant training for the neatness of farmwork, hence his forte in recognising the different lights and shades on the railway. It is said that three things only pay in agriculture in this country at present—basic slag, barb wire, anl an industrial lad or girl for a servant. I am constrained to credit the author of the first two, but, as to the latter, I have had no experience, but from inferences have grave doubts. The first two are, undoubtedly, a great saving in labour. However, I cannot pass by without compli- menting the author on his minuteness in de- scribing so vividly the main factors of agri- cultural labour as carried on in the county. On large holdings where the farmer has only a small family, he is so circumstanced that it is with very great difficulty he can carry on his business. He may have capital enough to carry on the work, but his chances are so remote of having his full complement of labour. And I have no hesitation in saying that where the farmer manages his holding with his own labour, and he may, by thus doing be able to meet his demands, his chil- dren that work with him are not sufficiently remunerated, and would pecuniarily be better off in service. As to female labour, the most intelligent and ambitious, as well as the vain and indolent, are attracted to all sorts of occupations, especially sewing, other than farm work, leaving a very small residue to select from. Dairying, which is one of our staple branches of agriculture, has to suffer severely in consequence. Moreover, I must come to the conclusion that the agricultural labourer in this county has not suffered from the depression with which the farmer has been so sorely and con- tinuously stricken. In one sense, the de- pression has indirectly improved his position. In what way you may be inclined to ask. He has been able to demand better terms, and a more liberal treatment from the farmer owing to the very fact that the latter is handicapped as to selection, and is in diffi- culties, and cannot afford to be so indepen- dent as formerly. In very truth, the necessi- ty of the employer is proving the opportunity of the employed, and the labourer is, there- fore, asserting himself in spheres of social life that the barrier, which was formerly visible between the two classes, has been al- most completely removed. One salutary effect of the scarcity has been to develop mutual respect. But has not this great ad- vance in the agricultural labourer's wages been the means of more keen competition for farms ? I say it has, because is it not the legitimate gmbition of the few servants who remain on the farm to take and cultivate a farm some day. The saving and thrifty ( farm servant may put by his earnings, and should he have a maid equally saving and thrifty as a help-meet, they are in a position to take a small farm, tjius entering the com- petition. More than that, both having been in service for several years at various farms, see various methods and customs, and, na- turally, choose the best hence their scope of experience at the commencement is not limited, whereas the ordinary farmer and his wife, in the majority of cases, are only ac- quainted with the methods and customs of their parents, which they likewise had inheri- ted from their ancestors, and handed down from generation to generation. Reviewing the situation, broadly speaking, the conditions of the agricultural labourer has steadily improved from the Repeal of the Corn Laws. Down to 170 his improvement consisted chiefly in his wages being increased Since then his improvement has been chiefly characterised by a general amelioration of his surroundings, and an enlargement of his social opportunities. Elementary education was first brought to his door, and subsequent ly freed from all charges. His younger chil- dren no longer laboured in the fields or about the farm premises as was formerly the case, but they can devote themselves entirely to their school work and their play. He him- self is also able to do without the earnings of his wife as a hired labourer, and she, there fore, stays at home to attend to her domestic duties, or, in case of having a few acres of land, which is far too rare, she is able to devote herself to make the best of its pro- duce. The labourer, too, has more time at home, or, should he be single, his hours of work have been shortened at both ends, whilst the introduction of machinery, the in- creasing use of artificial manures and feeding stuffs, and the relinquishing of arable culti- vation to pastoral have all very materially re lieved him of the drudgery he years ago had to undergo. In spite of this amelioration in his condition, he is not satisfied with his lot, and he turns his back on the land. "The man in the furrow drifts into the man in the street." We continually see in the press the cry, back to the land." How is he to be got back ? I believe he is beyond redemp tion, now that trade is so brisk in every trade but agriculture. He has realised the sweets of urban life, its vivid attractions, excite- ments, and amusements, the tendencies of the age, its variety, its shorter hours and the lighter work, and tells his cousin on the land that by remaining there he scorns delights to live laborious days." Then, with all these attractions which the farm servant is invited to, and the continued migration, I am not without hopes that it is back to the land he would come if properly treated and provided. It is not for me to say what "properly trea- ted and provided' imply-this is a matter for the politician, and this Chamber knows no politics. If you will just observe the Welsh and English literature of our urban communi- ties, you will see that those who have left the land have a deep place of affection for it in their hearts, and a yearning and a desire for their native hearth. And yet where'er I stray, I carry for my part The mountains so grey, And the fields in my heart. The problem we have to solve is how we are to keep what remain on the land, and how to cope with the scarcity. First of all, by ma- chinery secondly, by the use of artificial manures thirdly, better housing and acco- modation fourthly, shorter hours fifthly, improved system of education. MACHINERY.—By the improvement and in- troduction of agricultural implements, which have been wonderfully developed in recent years that the scarcity in agricultural labour has ben coped with so successfully, and to that course we shall be compelled to look for- ward to in the future. The introduction, and the rapid strides that have taken place in the improvement of agricultural implements, has not only enabled the farmer to curtail his labour bill, and alleviate his labour, but. have conferred an inestimable boon in lessening the character of the labour, rendering it so much lighter. Those whose memories can recall some thirty or forty years can only realise the revolution that has taken place through machinery in agricultural labour. MANURES.—The increasing use of artificial manures have likewise tended to lessen the character and quantity of labour, and with the rapid strdies of science must prove so again in the future. BETTER HOUSING AND ACCOMMODATION.—The housing of the agricultural labourer leaves a good deal to be desired. As a rule his cottage belongs to a certain holding, is straw-thatch, and the tenant of that holding has to keep it in repair. The repairs in these days incur a great expense to the tenant, as straw-thatch- ing is a heavy item the consequence is the cottage is neglected, at last deserted, adding another victim to the long and dreary cata- logue of ruins too frequently met with. I maintain that the landlord should, in his own interests-I uphold that property has I t;, duties as well as its rights-provide a cottage or two, with a little land attached, as neces- sary adjunct to the holding, and the sooner it is recognised as such, the better for both parties concerned. Nearly all the farm ser- vants in this county are on their employer's find and lodgings. In this respect vast im- provements have taken place, and in many instances a large amount could still be done to improve their lot. SHORTER HOURS.—The hours of labour on farms have lessened to a considerable extent but what I wish to impres upon you is, Have they been lessened -to a degree to labour in other spheres ? The longer hours than in other spheres of labour, and being so tied I venture to think, are the factors that are chiefly responsible for their turning their backs on the land at present. The sooner we recognise this the better, and I suggest that a conference of the farmers of the county should be convened to consider the question with a view of fixing uniform hours and popular holidays for the farm servants I fully comprehend that it would be a difficult matter to arouse their interest and have such a conference, as I am sorry to say farmers are, I believe, the most disorganised body. The very fact of their having each one his own methods, independent of another, every holding, so to speak, a colony of its own managing its own affairs, creates n. F--i4-- of disinterestedness in their own class, and militates contrary to the very princinles of organisation. Would it not b/poS" lo give one-half the servants on the farm half a day off every fortnight, and the other half the other fortnight, and so on alternately ? It would surely give the servant boys and girls, the girls in particular, a much needed recreation for visiting their friends and rela- tions, as is usually enjoyed by those in ser- vice in towns. Might not that be done, pro- bably without any serious inconvenience, during seasons of the year when there is no great pressure of work at the farmer's home. These views may seem a bit revolutionising, but if you will only just reflect how the position of the labourer has improved in the past, and I am confident history will not grudge him the full measure of praise for it. I am convinced that you will agree those views that I have expressed to you, and am here a public exponent of. are within a mea- surable distance of being consummated, and that we should appreciate them, and meet the problem face to face. If some such arrangement could be arrived at, although it seems a great loss of time, would it not be appreciated in the majority of cases ? Thus the loss of time would be reclaimed, and would it not conduce to keep the people more rivetted to the land, and not impoverish our rural population. IMPROVED SYSTEM OF RURAL ELEMENTARY EDUCATION.—Could not rural elementary du- cation be so suited as to make the labourer more interested in rather than detract his attention from the land ? I don't think any one can uphold the present system of rural elementary education as being conducive to excite Interest in the land. There is an old Welsh maxim, Llawer gwir goreu 'i geli." i.e., "Every truth is not a good one to speak." Perhaps it would be more discreet on my part to act up to it. At all events, the farmer, generally speaking is not a friend to education, and, I maintain, he has his pro- per reasons, for he has ncl to go far to seek them. Why ? Because mainly the mode of education in our rural schools has all along tended to alienate his feeling from it, so I don't think it is fair to abuse him for being so. Is there any reason why farmers, speak- ing of farmers as a class, generally should be averse to the system of education as it has been carried on at the present time. Of course, people's friendships and sympathies always run parallel with their interests, and the system of elementary education has not been favourable to their interest on the whole I, What do we see in these days in its effects The brightest, the cleverest and the most energetic of our labourer's boys and girls leave their cottage home and villages to seek occupation other than farm work in the manu facturing centres and other scenes of activity crowding together in workshops and such like places. Yes, the rural elementary school has been markedly instrumental in depriving the farmer of those whom he might have ex- pected to be his best and most competent assistants. A new curriculum has been issued by the Board of Education more suited to the wants of agricultural and rural education, and, at the same time, to make the course of instruction more attractive. I hope and ur- gently press on the agricultural community in the county who have control of the rural schools that a more rural curriculum be taught, in order that the best and most in- telligent of our rural youth be attracted more to the oldest and not the least honourable of our industries—Agriculture that it should not be arrested on the onward and upward path of progress. Dr Bowen Jones said that Mr Davies had thrashed out the subject so well that there was little left for anybody else to say. He was greatly interested in the proper housing of the working classes but the District Council were not agreed with him. The Dis- trict Council wanted to have the bye-laws repealed so as to diminish the amount of headroom required. He did not believe in the proposed holidays he thought they would tend to make the men dissipated. Mabon's Day had not proved the success as was anticipated. If the scarcity continued, they would have to import Chinese or the Japanese, or to get automatic labourers to go by steam like the auto-motors. Many people employed boys from the homes and as a result of employing such labour the work was done in a very slovenlyfashion. Except a man had a large family to help him, he could not get the work of his farm properly done at all. Mr D. E. Stephens thought that there were other questions besides wages affecting the problem. The labourers wanted fixed hours, to have a certain amount of time to them- selves, so that they would have a certain amount of freedom. The economic conditions of the age were changing, and the agricul- turists were slow to move with them. On some large farms, labourers knicked off at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. He did not see why that could not be generally adopted and over- time paid for extra hours in the harvest. He thought there should be a holiday in the summer and in the winter, and such methods would help to prevent the depopulation of the rural districts and the overcrowding of the poor in our cities which had attracted so much attention from the Legislature. Mr John Bowen (Penfforddlas) said that a lot of the scarcity of labour was owing to the fact that landlords did notkeepup small hold- ings, and they allowed the cottages to go to ruin. Mr Davies (Cincoed) said that he agreed as to the desirability of getting more cottages for which tenants could be had, if the land- lords would repair them. He was sorry that Mr H. Jones Davies had not told them how to get more labourers. Mr R. R. Carver said he did not agree with the proposed half holiday. He thought they had holidays enough (laughter). The Rev R. G. Lawrence said that those who lived near the collieries were more troubled with the problem than those who lived in the thoroughly rural district. They kept up the cottages on the Middleton Hall f"-trte but they could not get tenants for them. He thought the cottages should have all three sleeping rooms, plenty of garden, and that facilities should be afforded for keep ing a few cows. He thought there should be amusements provided to relieve the mono- tony of the life which farm labourers led. He thought that a man who went to work at 6 a.m. should finish at 6 p.m. and if he had to work overtime on special occasions he ought to be paid for it. When a man wanted a holiday, he ought to have it. He knew a good deal about the boys from the industrial schools and he knew that many farmers treated them like slaves than human beings. Some boys he knew were kept working until 10 o'clock at night. No provision was made for the spiritual care of the boys, and how then could these boys be expected to act, and face all the temptations of life. He had seen a good deal of it as magistrate and he sincerely trusted that those who took such boys into their service would look after their spiritual welfare. He thought that the chil- dren in the rural schools should be taught something of the nature of the soil, and the growth of plants, so as to give them an inter- est in rural life. Mr E. Lewis (Cillef \vr) said that a good master makes a good servant and "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." When they had men let them treat them like men (hear, hear). When the men worked long hours in the harvest, they should be compen- sated for it by being allowed a holiday now and again. Mr E. Jones (Manoravon) thought the co- operative system should be adopted, and the labourers paid a certain share of the profits. That was done on certain farms in England. It would give the men an interest in their work. He favoured shorter hours and he thought there would be as much work done then as now when the men had to hang on for an hour or two longer. Mr Hinds, Cwnin, said that the farmers there had little to say but outside they would talk plenty on the subject. The Chair man advocated Good pay, shorter hours, and holidays." The question was Could they afford it ?" He agreed that they should study the servants as much as they could. He should like to see clubs for farm servants. Too often the labourers went in the evenings to public houses, where they did not improve themselves and as a result thev were not I so fit for work next morning. He thought that the farmers should give the men good wages, and get as much work out of them in i the season as they could. j Mr J. W. Harries (Llandilo-Abercowin) said that the head boys had risen from £ 16 or il8 up to L30 and L35 now. The second and third boys had risen accordingly. Girl's wages had risen from E12 up to £ 18. Could this go on ? If they applied to their pocket, it was empty. He thought they ought to turn to the landlords for it (hear, hear). They ought to ask the landlords to discuss the question with them in a friendly way. He allowed his labourers place to keep a few cows and that helped to keep the men there, and pre- vented them being tempted away by others. The system of hiring was rotten. Servants were engaged several weeks before hand, and then they sent the earnest back because some neighbour had offered tlTem a couple of pounds more. He hoped Mr Lloyd Morgan and his colleagues would do something in the House to make servants keep to their en- gagements. Mr Brockie agreed that it was a question of -t. s. d." and he thought they would have to look to the landowners. Mr Evan Stephens (Lan) said that this was the black cloud which hung over farmers at the present time. The labourers were well pleased with their cottages until they had more money. The men left for the collieries for better wages he could not blame them. The only solution was to pay them more money. The men who earned t35 a year could save t25 a year and they were better off than the farmers. The men had holi- days enough they took them (laughter). They had holidays for auctions, markets, and fairs. They must ask the landlords to re- duce the rents. But he did not blame the landlord. If a man gave up a farm because he could not make it pay, his next door neighbour would offer the same rent. There was a union and a combination wanted among farmers (applause). Mr John Jones, Cwmburry, said that there was hardly a servant to be seen in a hiring fair now. When a servant left there were a dozen farmers after him and even after he engaged, there were plenty after him to offer him to break the engagement. He did not know whether something could not be done to compel them to keep to their contracts they could not be compelled now. As for holi- days, the men had holidays enough the last fortnight looking at the rain running off the eaves. At present, the men had pleasure fairs, and markets, and sales and he did not think the farmers could allow them more holidays at the present price of labour. Col. Lewes said that he was one of the un- fortunate people called landlords. He had had one labourer in his employment for forty years, one for twenty years, and the rest for ten years. The reason was that they had good houses, and land for a few cows. He did not believe that he was an exception but thought many other landlords did the same. He had found cottages tumbling down on his farms and he had taken them off the hands of the tenants and repaired them, on condi- tion that the labourers should be bound to work so many days in the year for the farmer Providing amusements was an excellen thing in theory but it did not work in r-aetice. He found that the labourers wished to go to their own homes, when the day's work was done. There was a reading-room with papers dominoes, etc., in his parish but a farm- labourer hardly ever stood inside of it. He thought it would be a good thing if the Government could advance money to labour- ers to buy their cottages and the garden and so make them freeholders. He commended the idea to Mr Lloyd Morgan. Mr Lewis Bishop thought that a good many speakers had merely touched on sentimental grievances. The labourer did not want better cottages, reading room. or anything so much as better wages (hear, hear). He saw that he only earned half a crown a day, whilst his relatives in industrial centres earned 5s. He had one case in his mind. A man under him who had 36 acres for £2 Oa year and to whom he paid 18s a week. The man had a small holding, a new house but he said— Except you advance my wages to 21s a week I will leave." W ere they going to ask the landlords to reduce their rents 50 per cent. or 30 per cent. at least, to correspond with the increase in the wages of the labour- ers. The evidence given before the Land Commission showed small landowners to be the worst landlords. But such a scheme would increase the number of small owners by decreasing the value of their estates. Could they expect the landowners with their incomes reduced 30 or 50 per cent. to come forward and help the tenant ever a rainy day as he had done in the past. He thought there was something wrong when prime Zea- land mutton could be sold in this country at o £ d. per lb. He thought the price of "our agricultural produce could be kept up to a certain standard. He knew that this propo- sal to put a tax on imports was retrogressive and that he would be told that nobody would take it up. He did not agree with this. It was possible for it to go too far. Some of the people in Australia only paid Is 3d an acre for their land The Chairman asked Mr Bishop to confine himself to the Agricultural Labourer Problem He was. at present, wide of the mark. Mr Bishop concluded I see no remedy whatever for the labourer problem until the farmer can get more for his produce than he does at present. Rev A. Fuller Mills said that although the land-laws and the landlords was a most im- portant subject from a political point of view he felt he would be treading on delicate and dangerous ground to follow Mr Lewis Bishop at the present time. The question of female servants affected the town as well as the county mistresses now said that ser- vants were not to be had at any price. He thought that many of the so-called "sentimen tal remedies properly carried out could be made very effective and practical. He favoured the imparting of botanical know- ledge in elementary schools, so as to teach the children to take interest in agriculture. When he was a shop-assistant in his early life he remembered the great outcry which was made at the proposal to have a liaif-holida-y. It was said that it would ruin the young men But now as a result they had a better class of young men as shop assistants. He thought they would have a beter class of agricultural labourers bv treating the men better. If farmers were the most unorganised class of the community, he thought the sooner the better they were organised. Mr Lloyd Morgan, M.P. said that he con- sidered the problem of such importance that he ha.d come from London to hear what his constituents had to say on the subject. The problem was not peculiar tt Carmarthen but existed in all the counties, and in some pains of England in a most acute form. He thought that this was a landlord's question. If the land suffered for want of labour be- cause the farmer could not afford to nay the wages asked, the land would gradually go ont of cultivation, and then when a tenant tool; such a deteriorated farm lie could not be ex- pected to pay the old ren<. How the quesion would be settled in the process of time he would be settled in the process of time he would nat undertake at a non-political meet- ing to say. He had heard some suggestions to day which he would bear in mind—parti- cularly that it would be advisable to have the public houses in rural districts closed at 9 p.m.. so that people would frequent clubs and other places out of which they need not turn at that hour. He thought a good deal mi^ht be done to brighten the monotony of country life. A friend of his met a Carmar- thenshire man on the streets of London sell- 1, ing la^es. He told the man Look here. I'll give you money to go home, and give you a new suit of clothes to go home." The man accepted the offer and in a few months was back in London filing laces. He said that life in London was bad enough but after the intolerable dullness of the country he would rather stav where he was Haughter). A good deal could he done by public-spirited men in the different localities to relieve the dullness of rural life. He did not think the ease quoted by Mr Bishop proved anything. 36 acres of land was too much for a man to have, and to act as a farm labourer as The chance of drawing the men back from the towns was extremely remote what they could try to do was to induce those now in the country and their children to remain there. He thought every labourer should have an allotment big enough to be of service to him but not enough to keep him. Before the Land Commission a good deal of evidence was given to the small holdings of the la- j bourers beiii": rack-rented and the labour- evi it was staged in some cases paid more for th ^m did the farmer to the superior landlord. Farmers wordd probably find it pay better to treat the labourers fairh- if vot generously. Tie did not l.-now also whether j the married labourers would not rather have their wages all paid in money—an equivalent r payment being made for the food now given them. The present system was peculiar to W ales and the labourer's wife would pro- bably make the additional payment go a little further than merely providing food for her uusband. He was afraid that if they waited for the solution of this question until the were adopted foreshadowed by Mr -Nlr Bishop asked if this WaS in order (laughter). unM'W10^1!; ^e11' 1 won,t foll°* it I linVht FILL 3 pre,/y Io"g 8° at .yourself, light find myself on dangerous ground if I pursued it.—Mr Lloyd Morgan then went rion°AectP uindthe p £ ov,isions of th* Compensa- tion Act, under which any farmer mieht tnrough an accident—over which he had no oensaiion to to pay £ 150 con* Favourer or dependentf. of a deceased for life Mr fi a dlsabled labourer N Morgan wished to orrect a sJip whih he had made at a former uublic meeting on the subject. pumic THE ACT APPLIED TO EVERY FARMTCR W HO KEPT ONE OR MORE LABOURFUS IN HIS EMPLOYMENT CONSTAS'TLY^ and a farmer who thus came under the Act was liable in respect of all casual labourers whom he employed from time to time. A farmer could ensure against his liability by paying about 2s 6d or 3s a year for every £100 he spent on labour. Under the circum stances, if they found themselves called upon to pay a heavy claim, they would have no- body to blame but themselves. He was not an insurance agent nor was he interested in any insurance company. As regarded the housing of the working classes, the local authorities now had power to acquire land for the purpose but the provisions were so cumbersome that he believed the Act was hardly ever put in force. The difficulty with regard to the breach of farm-servant's en- gagements arose under the Statute of Frauds which rendered contracts of service not to be completed within the twelve-month non-enforceable except they were in writing. He thought the farmers ought to have a con- tract in writing with the servants. Several voices They won' sign it." If the contact were in writing, the m trates could deal with the case summarily. THE EARNEST" HAD NO LEGAL EFFECT WHATEVER FARMERS MAY AS WELL NOT GIVE IT. He thought that if a farmer had a conversation with the ser- vant when he came to the place to begin re- iterating the terms of service and agreeing to begin that day, that the law would hold the contract good, provided the full term of service did not expire more than a full twelve month from that day. Mr Bishop said that in the case of the la- bourer holding 36 acres, he had two cows and the rest of the land was occupied by sheep. He moved that Mr Lloyd Morgan be asked to bring before the Government the desira- bility of amending the Statue of Frauds so that agricultural ccyitracts of service would be enforcable. if they were to be completed within fourteen months of the verbal agre- ment. Mr J. W. Harries seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously. Mr J Lloyd Morgan said that he would do all in his power to bring the question before the House. He would see whether he could not introduce a bill dealing with the subject To be perfectly frank he was not verv san- guine of success. As it was the desire" of the Chamber that it should be taken up he would when the House of Commons meets see what he could do to further it (applause). The Chairman, in his reply, hoped those present who were members of school boards (like the Rev R. G. Lawrence) would use their influence to have as much agricultural instruction as possible imparted in the ele- mentary schools. He thought that as the mental attainments of farm servants had im- proved so much during the past generation, that reading rooms ought to be provided. The Parish Councils should wherever possible adopt the Free Libraries Act. He had care- fully avoided anything in the subject which touched on politics or on the Land question, a subject on which he held very advanced views. They felt a debt of gratitude to Mr Lloyd Morgan for his presence at the meet- ing. for his lucid explanation of the Compen- sation Act. and for the many battles, politi- cal and non-political which he had fought for them in the House of Commons. THE RAFFLE. then took place, with the following result —Turnip slicer, D, Bowen Jones leading cart harness. Rev J. Watkyn Jones, Swansea sheep trough, Mr J. Bowen, Penfforddlas cattle crib, Mr Dan Davies, Brynamlwg head collars. Mr Rogers, Nantyci Mr John Jenkins, Plasbach Mr E. Stephens. Lan Mr Davies. Cincoed Mr Jones, Rotten Pill; Mr Williams, Pontgareg handsaws. Mr J. W. Harries, Llandilo-Abercowin Mr Lewis, Mwche Mr Lewis Bishop Mr D. Prosser, and Mr D. Jones, Cwmburry billhooks, Mr Brockie. Mr Jones, Penlanvoss Mr Francis, Spread Eagle Mr Jeremy, Pentrehydd Mr Colby Evans, Mr Davies, Castlehowell Mr Davies. Cincoed Mr ones. Rotten Pill Mr W. Thomas, Hall-street Mr D. Stephens Arlais Mr Davies, Broad Oak Mr D. E. Stephens stable lamps, Mr Rees, Trefychan Mr T. Thomas, Cwm Rev R. G. Lawrence, Mr Davies. Tygwyn Mr J. Davies. Rush- moor Mr R. R. Carver Mr E. Jones, Manoravon Mr D. Walters, Bankyfelin Mr H. Jones Davies, Mr P. J.Wheldon, Mr Jack Francis, and Mr Jenkins, Alltycadno.

. Selection of Mayor at Carmarthen.

To Correspondents,

Family Notices