§ MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the inquest held on Monday 22nd February, at the Booths, Pontefract, on Arthur Buckley, who was killed whilst shunting at Monkhill 521 Station, on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway; whether he is aware that it appears from the evidence that Buckley was only 15 years of age, was sent at 8 p.m. to hook on waggons, and was crushed between the buffers, and that Buckley was doing the work of an ordinary platform porter named Higgins; whether he is also aware that the staff at this station have been working on and off for months past with two or three men short, and with boys occasionally set to do the work usually done by men; and whether he will make a strong representation to the Company on the subject of employing inexperienced boys for duties involving so much danger?
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS BEACH
I have seen the Coroner's Return, but not the depositions in reference to the case in question. I have communicated with the Railway Company, and I am informed that—Buckley, who was 15 years and 11 months old, was in the employ of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company from November last, and it was no part of his duties to couple or uncouple waggons in the goods yard. It has, however, transpired that Thomas Higgins, in the Company's service upwards of 20 years, and employed in the goods yard, told Buckley very improperly to do the work of coupling the waggons, but he had no authority to do so, as he should have coupled the waggons himself with a shunting pole with which he was provided for the purpose.With regard to the second part of the hon. Member's question, the Company state that—In consequence of the foreman porter having been off duty owing to sickness, a man was drafted from the goods department to take his place, and an additional man was also sent to the station several days each week to assist generally in the passenger department, and it is not correct to say that the station is being worked with two or three men short. It is also incorrect to state that boys are occasionally set to do the work usually done by men, as junior porters not less than 17 to 18 years of age are employed for the purpose. No doubt during the past winter there has been sickness at this as well at other stations, and the vacancies thus caused have been filled up as speedily as possible.