§ MR. P. O'BRIEN (Monaghan, N.)
asked the Secretary to the Board of Trade. Whether his attention has been called to the advertisement of the Midland Railway Company for engine drivers and firemen to till the places of their men, who threaten, to strike in consequence of a pending wage dispute; whether it is a recognised rule among 1366 Railway Companies to require their engine drivers to spend a sufficient time on the road as firemen, under competent engine drivers, in order that they should be thoroughly acquainted with the signals, junctions, crossings, &c, before they are allowed to take charge of a locomotive; whether a similar probation is required in the case of firemen; whether the Board of Trade exercises any control over public carrying Companies in such matters as the selection of servants charged with such serious responsibility as the safety of the lives of the public; and, if so, whether he will take step a to see that no danger may result to the public who may require to travel by the Midland Railway, from being placed in the hands of engine drivers and firemen hastily drawn from other railways, and consequently unacquainted with the signals and crossings of the Midland road?
§ MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)
also asked, whether the hon. Gentleman was aware that it was reported that at a meeting of the engine drivers and firemen of the Midland Railway Company it was stated that the Company were now taking on men who wore incompetent and physically disqualified for performing the duties entrusted to them; and, whether he would take such steps as would adequately ensure the safety of the travelling public?
§ THE SECRETARY (Baron HENRY DE WORMS) (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
In answer to the Question of the hon. Member for West St. Pancras, I have to say that I have not received any information of the nature which he has described; but I venture to hope and believe that the Railway Company will not entrust important duties to persons who are not fully able to discharge them. But, perhaps, if I answer the first Question put to me, it may give some of the information which is desired. The working of the traffic on railways is entirely in the hands of the Companies, and the Board of Trade have no power to interfere in such matters as the selection of servants. They have, therefore, no legal authority to take any such stop as is suggested by the hon. Member. The Board of Trade have, however, addressed a letter to the Midland Company expressing a hope that every precaution has been taken for the safety of the travelling public.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
inquired whether it was within the competence of the Board of Trade to interfere with a Railway Company in a case whore a Director, anxious to obtain for his footman the post of station master—to obtain which it was necessary that he should qualify as a guard—got him appointed as guard, without any previous experience, in order to qualify him for the post?
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
I do not think that the Board of Trade would have any power to interfere in such a case, which I understand to he purely hypothetical.
§ MR. P. O'BRIEN
asked whether, in case of an accident resulting to these trains, the Government would have power to investigate it; and if they had, would it not be better to prevent an accident than to inquire into it after it had occurred?
§ BARON HENRY DE WORMS
I have already stated that the Board of Trade has no power to interfere with the appointment or the discharge of their servants by Railway Companies. Its only control consists in seeing that the line is constructed according to the Regulations laid down, by the Board of Trade.