§ MR. SWEETMAN (Wicklow, E.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he has as yet learned whether General Hutchinson denies having used the words "All this fuss" as designating the inquiry which he was conducting into alleged excessive hours of work on the Great Northern Railway of Ireland; and whether, if the report of these words in The Irish Times is correct, he intends to conduct such inquires through General Hutchinson in future?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. MUNDELLA,) Sheffield, Brightside
General Hutchinson does not recollect his exact words on the occasion referred to, but he states that if he did use the expression imputed to him he had no intention in any way of reflecting on the necessity of the inquiry, or upon the Act under which it was held. It is only fair to point out that it was in the Reports of General Hutchinson and Major Marindin that attention was first called to the question of overtime. If General Hutchinson used the words referred to he was indiscreet in doing so, but he has always been so strongly opposed to exceptionally long hours of duty that I consider him perfectly qualified to inquire into any such representations as may come before me.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Wicklow, W.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he has seen, in the Dublin Evening Telegraph, a report of the inquiry held by General Hutchinson into the allegations made at the inquest on Peter Sharkey, who was said to have been driven to commit suicide by overwork, as an employé of the Northern Railway of Ireland; whether any of the witnesses who were examined at the inquest were summoned to give evidence at the Board of Trade inquiry; whether the inquiry was held at the head office of the Railway Company, in Dublin; whether two, at least, of the high officials of the Company were present; whether all the witnesses examined are in the employment of the Railway Company; whether he is aware that General Hutchinson asked the foreman, Woods, who was accused at the inquest of having overworked Sharkey, if Sharkey was not "a flighty kind of man"; and whether, under these circum- 814 stances, he will consider the desirability of instituting a fresh inquiry into the case?
§ MR. MUNDELLA
Yes, Sir; I have seen the newspaper referred to by the hon. Member, and in reply to his further questions I have to state that General Hutchinson had no power to summon any witness who did not volunteer to give evidence before him; that the inquiry was held at the head office of the Company; that two officials of the Company were present; that the witnesses examined are in the employment of the Railway Company; and that General Hutchinson asked the foreman, Woods, if Sharkey was not a, flighty kind of man, because previous evidence had tended to show that the deceased was of eccentric habits. The inquiry was instituted with the view of ascertaining whether the hours of labour of any of the servants of the Company were excessive. It has been established, as regards certain servants, that, this was so. I shall, therefore, take the steps necessary under the Act. There is no necessity whatever for a further inquiry.