HC Deb 19 March 1891 vol 351 cc1423-4
MR. BROOKFIELD (Sussex, Rye)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been called to an article appearing in the Times of Friday last on the subject of the National Agricultural Labourers' Union; whether the allegations therein contained as to grave malversations of the funds of the Union, and more especially as to improper diversions of the sick benefit funds for trade or Trades Union purposes, have also been brought to his notice; and whether the law in its present state affords any means of relief or redress to labouring men whose savings, contributed for the ordinary purposes of a sick benefit fund, have been applied without their consent to other purposes?


I am afraid that I can add little to the answer which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave in reply to a question addressed to him on the 23rd ult. by the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Essex. The Trade Union Acts are based on the principle of a minimum of official interference. Clause 4 of the Act of 1871, 31 and 35 Vict., cap. 31, enacts that— Nothing in this Act will enable any Court to entertain any legal proceeding instituted with the object of directly enforcing or recovering damages for the breach of any of the following agreements, namely, … 3. Any agreement for the application of the funds of a Trade Union (a) to provide benefits to members. It appears, therefore, that the law in its present state affords no means of relief or redress in the circumstances referred to by my hon. Friend.