HC Deb 24 February 1891 vol 350 cc1504-10

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Select Committee on Railway Servants (Hours of Labour) do consist of Twenty-four Members.

(6.34) DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I hope the Government will not press this Motion to-night, but that hon. Members may have an opportunity of substituting the names of other gentlemen in the place of some of those whom the Government propose to nominate on the Committee. Out of 24 Members whose names appear on the Paper, at least seven are directors of Railway Companies, some of which companies have a most disgraceful record. I should like to strike out the names of both Conservatives and Liberals, and to replace them by the names of gentlemen who are not Directors of Railways. I should especially like to see more Labour Members on the Committee. At present it is proposed to appoint only one Labour Member on the Committee. I shall certainly object to the appointment of Mr. A. Gathorne-Hardy, who sits on the Conservative side, and of Mr. Mac Innes, who sits on our own side of the House, and propose some Labour Member in their stead. I think the Whips have made a very unwise selection. To make men judges of their own cause is quite preposterous. I trust we shall be afforded the opportunity of putting other names on the Paper.

(6.36.) MR. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.)

I hope that the Government will not press for the appointment of the Committee to-day. There is only one Metropolitan Member on the list of the proposed Committee. Having regard to the fact that the Metropolis has five millions of people and the termini of all the great railways, with tens of thousands of resident railway men, the Metropolis will be inadequately represented unless a change is made in the list.

(6.37.) MR. MORTON (Peterborough)

I hope the Motion will be adjourned, in order that an endeavour may be made to secure upon the Committee the presence of more Members representing the workmen.


This Committee has been selected in the ordinary way by the Whips. I do not understand the objection to the presence of Railway Directors on the Committee. If there are seven Directors on a Committee of 24 Members, that does not appear to me to be an unfair proportion, having regard to the fact that the Committee is to be appointed to consider a matter of special importance to the Railway Companies. The railway servants will be adequately represented by hon. Members who represent places in which railway servants reside, and who have taken up the question from their point of view. I do not agree that the Metropolis should have any special number of representatives on this Committee, for the rest of the country is rather more interested in this question than the Metropolis. It is very desirable that the Committee should begin its labours as soon as possible; and if it is not appointed this evening, it will be impossible to say when another opportunity of appointing it will occur. Therefore, we feel we must proceed with the Motion.

Question put, and agreed to.

Sir M. Hicks Beach, Mr. Channing, Mr. Radcliffe Cooke, Mr. Crawford, and Baron Henry De Worms nominated Members of the Committee.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Alfred Gathorne-Hardy be one other Member of the Committee."


I beg to move to leave out the name of Mr. A. Gathorne-Hardy. The hon. Member is a Director of a Company that has one of the most disgraceful records in connection with the overwork of servants. I shall at the proper time move that the name of Mr. Baumann be substituted, that hon. Member being, I understand, neither a Railway Director nor a shareholder.

(6.42.) The House divided: Ayes 174; Noes 69.—(Div. List, No. 64.)

Mr. Herbert Gladstone, Mr. Heneage, and Mr. Howorth nominated other Members of the Committee.

(6.53.) MR. MORTON

I should like to know whether it would be in order to ask these Gentlemen if they are Railway Directors or holders of Railway Stock.


The hon. Gentleman can object to any particular name.


I want to know whether I should be in order in asking such a question from each of them.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. MacInnes be one other Member of the Committee."


This is the first of the Railway Directors who sits on this side of the House. I have already objected to the name of an hon. Gentleman sitting on the opposite side of the House, and in order to show there is no Party feeling in this matter, I shall take a Division on the name of a gentleman belonging to our own Party. From this side of the House there are two Railway Directors and one Labour Member; if there had been two Labour Members and one Railway Director the proportion would have been fairer.

(6.54.) MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)

I think the Government have been very unfortunate in the selection of the Committee. Several Gentlemen whose names appear on the list have either spoken or written against the movement of the railway servants. One of the Gentlemen it is proposed to put on the Committee has written a very strong article, which appeared in the Nineteenth Century, in denunciation of railway servants, and he is also a Railway Director. If the President of the Board of Trade is really anxious that this Committee shall give satisfaction, he will consent to adjourn the appointment of the Committee, so as to give hon. Members an opportunity of arriving at an amicable settlement. I beg to move the adjournment of the Debate.


I beg to second the Motion of the hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Fenwick.)

(6.55.) The House divided:—Ayes 71; Noes 151.—(Div. List, No. 65.)

Original Question again proposed.

(7.5.) MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

I hope the Government will not press the appointment of the Committee to night. It is quite obvious that a mistake has been made, although, I believe quite unintentionally. The idea in composing Committees is to represent the interests of the House proportionately to the Members. According to that standard, as the Railway Directors in the House are as one in 13, it is quite sufficient to have on this Committee two Railway Directors. But we find there are to be eight Railway Directors, which is one in three, as against one in 13. It is easy to understand how this arisen. Railway Directors have operated upon the four different Parties in the House, who are interested in the formation of Committees, each of the Parties has secured its Representatives, and, therefore, Railway Directors have exactly four times too much representation on the Committee. There is only one Representative of Labour out of the 24. It would be much more satisfactory, and would have a better result in the long run if the Government would postpone the further nomination of the Committee in order that there may be a better adjustment of the two classes.


I do not think that what the hon. Member has said is quite fair to those who composed the Committee. He described Railway Directors as a class of Members in this House, and Representatives of Labour as another class, and said there is only one Member representing the latter class on the Committee. There are many members of this Committee who represent labour, if having a great majority of the working class in their constituencies can fairly be called representing labour. No doubt the hon. Member for Aberdeen refers to those Members who, being connected with labour organisations, are called "Labour Representatives." He complains that not more than one of those is appointed on this Committee. That is not the fault of Her Majesty's Government, for it so happens unfortunately that those Gentlemen sit on the other side of the House. So far as the Government are concerned, we are perfectly willing to agree that two more Members shall be appointed on the Committee, and that one of them shall be one of the gentlemen to whom the hon. Member refers. I hope that, for the sake of enabling the Committee to proceed in its work, the Motion for the adjournment of our proceedings will not be pressed.

(7.9.) SIR E. J. REED (Cardiff)

I should like to say that I personally have no desire to sit on the Committee, but having evinced a strong sympathy with the railway servants on a remarkable occasion recently, I felt when asked to serve on the Committee that I could not rightly refuse. But in justice to those who constitute the Committee I am bound to say it is in that sense and for that reason that I am nominated. As to the question of Labour Representatives, there is considerable truth in what has been said by the President of the Board of Trade. It is not fair for the House to assume that there are no Labour Representatives but those connected with the workmen themselves. I have done what few men in the House have done. I have served seven years' apprenticeship to a trade. I have been intimately associated with the labouring classes for that reason, and I claim to be as good, true, and competent a representative of the working classes of this country as any man in this House. It is a little hurtful to one like my self who has been associated all his life with the working classes, and who has evinced sympathy with the men in the recent railway strike, to be told that he is unfit to represent the railway servants.

(7.12.) MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)

Those of us who sympathise with the railway servants have a right to complain of the composition of this Committee as arranged by the Whips on both sides of the House, for there are only two out of the 24 Members who are known sympathisers with the railway servants. There are four gentlemen against whom, personally, I have not a word to say, but who made manifest the other day their very strong opposition to the action of railway employés.In the interest of the men, I protest against the constitution of this Committee. The Report of a Committee so constituted is a foregone conclusion against the railway servants.


Why should there be known sympathisers with either side on the Committee? The fact is, we here are as much in touch with the working men as those who are supposed to be the special representatives of working men.

MR. BURT (Morpeth)

I entirely agree with the President of the Board of Trade and the hon. Member for Cardiff that the representatives of the working man are not confined to those who are usually called Labour Members. I personally do not object that there is only one so called Labour Member on this Committee, but I think there are far too many Railway Directors on the Committee. I think it is quite evident a mistake has been made in the constitution of the Commitee; but I do not think it would be helpful to us to prolong the controversy on this occasion. I, for my part, am perfectly satisfied with the suggestion made by the President of the Board of Trade to add two Members to the Committee, one of whom shall be a so-called Labour Representative. I think, perhaps, the President of the Board of Trade has suggested a way of meeting the difficulty and preventing our wasting an evening in an unprofitable, acrimonious, and necessarily personal controversy.

Question put, and agreed to.

Mr. Mac Neill and Mr. M'Laren nominated other Members of the Committee.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Sir Herbert Maxwell be one other Member of the Committee."

(7.19.) DR. CLARK

I shall not trouble the House any farther, because I think the suggestion of the President of the Board of Trade is a fair one. It might be desirable to change the composition of the Committee by and bye. The hon. Baronet is a Director of a Scottish Railway Company, and he has written strongly in regard to the recent dispute. I think the Com- mittee should not contain a partisan from either side—it should be an unbiassed jury before whom evidence should be freely given. The hon. Baronet has, however, committed himself to a strong opinion, in an article in a review. He is a Director, as 50 per cent. of the Members suggested on the other side are.

Question put, and agreed to.

Mr. Milvain, Mr. Muntz, Mr. Murdoch, Mr. John O'Connor, Sir Joseph Pease, Sir Edward Reed, Mr. Somervell, Sir George Trevelyan, Sir Henry Tyler, Mr. Vernon, and Mr. John Wilson nominated other Members of the Committee.

Ordered, That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records.

Ordered, That seven be the quorum.

MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman when he proposes to place the additional names before the House?


In the course of a day or two.