§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he is aware that it was on 8th July proved, in the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice, before Mr. Justice Chitty, that by the Articles of Association of the Mineral Water Bottle Exchange Society, with 179 members as manufacturers, the employers agree not to re-engage for two years any servant who has left the employment of any member except with the consent of the late employer; whether he is aware that, at the present time, there are more than 40 persons in London suffering under this rule, and therefore unable to earn their livelihood in the mineral water bottle trade; and, whether the Government can take any stops to put an end to this agreement among the masters?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
I have ascertained that the Articles of Association do contain the provision pointed out by the hon. Member in his Question; but I may observe that, according to a report of the proceedings before Mr. Justice Chitty, I find it was held that the rule in question was an unreasonable restraint on trade, and that a motion to enforce it was refused with costs. The case is now pending before the Court of Appeal. I have no information as to the number of persons in London now suffering from the operation of the rule. But in the event of the judgment of the learned Judge being affirmed by the Court of Appeal the agreement in question will be wholly inoperative, and I hope that the hardship which it may have occasioned may disappear.