§ MR. R. W. PERKS (Lincolnshire, Louth)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is 401 aware that some of the principal railway companies have declined to adopt the Truck Act of last Session, and have decided to abolish the system of fines altogether; and whether he will consider the advisability of making a general Order exempting railway servants from the provisions of this Act?
*SIR C. DTLKE
I should like to ask the Home Secretary a question of which I have given him private notice, namely: Whether, before making any such exceptions he will wait for the representations of the workers affected, and whether the two companies mentioned—the South Eastern and North Western—have abolished fines which existed before the Truck Act passed or came into operation?
§ SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
The hon. Member's question is based on a misunderstanding of the Act. There can be no question of a company adopting or declining to adopt an Act which is universally applicable, and compulsory on all employers except where special exemptions are granted. What I presume the hon. Member means to ask is whether I am aware that some railway companies have preferred to relinquish altogether the right to impose fines rather than carry out the stringent conditions which the Act imposes. This I understand is the case. As regards the general exemption of railway servants, I should of course consider any application that I might receive from them; but does the hon. Member understand that the effect of such an exemption would be not to abolish the fines, but to restore to the companies the power which they possessed before the Act was passed of imposing any fines, reasonable or unreasonable, which they might think fit? I should require very strong evidence indeed that the railway employés really desired this before granting exemption.