HC Deb 22 January 1891 vol 349 cc790-1
MR. LENG (Dundee)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, in accordance with private notice, whether he is aware that, according to the latest Parliamentary Returns, there are 16 railways in the United Kingdom on which in March, 1890, there were 6,171 goods guards and 22,332 engine-drivers and firemen on duty more than 12 hours at a time, the average percentage of the goods guards to the total number employed being 74, and of the engine-drivers and firemen 84.61; whether in varying percentages on those railways guards, firemen, and engine-drivers, after being on duty more than 12 hours, were allowed to resume duty with less than 12 hours' rest; and whether, under existing legislation, the Board of Trade has any power to intervene for the safety of the public to prevent men in charge of railway trains being employed more than 12 hours at a time, and re-employed without sufficient intervals of rest?


The hon. Member's question does not appear on the Paper, but I shall be happy to answer it, as he has given me private notice of it. The figures in the first paragraph of the hon. Member's question are correctly quoted from the Return, but are calculated to give a wrong impression, which I desire to prevent. The number of guards, engine-drivers, and firemen set out in the Return as on duty for more than 12 hours at a time refers to the number of such men on duty in one or more instances during the month. The question might be held to imply that they were on duty habitually or regularly, which is not the case. The answer to the second paragraph is "Yes," but the percentages vary down to nil. With regard to the third paragraph, the Board of Trade have no power to interfere with the responsibility of the Railway Companies for the working of their lines in this matter.

MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has received a Memorial from the Town Council of Edinburgh bearing upon this subject?


I have received no notice of this question, and I cannot off-hand say whether that Memorial has been received or not, but similar Memorials have been received from more than one quarter. I think they have been sent in ignorance of the fact that the Board of Trade has absolutely no power to interfere.