HC Deb 22 February 1897 vol 46 cc852-4

On the Order for the Second Reading of this Bill—


—who had given notice of a Motion for its rejection—said that this case was a little different, but he had an undertaking from the company which appeared to meet the matter. The objection of the Amalgamated Society was that it further extended the operation of the company's provident fund to persons who, as they said, had no desire to contribute, having already made provision for benefits outside the company. As he understood, the railway company were prepared to meet their point. The servants also objected on the ground that, if obliged to leave the company's service, they forfeited, in some cases the whole, and in others a great portion of the money which had been deducted from their wages. The company had informed him that they were willing to limit the clause by the insertion of the words "subject to their consent," and it would be for the Committee to consider whether these words would meet the case. In this case, however, he would ask the Chairman of Committees whether he did not think it would be wise to give some such locus as he asked for in the last case. It certainly would be a great satisfaction to the Amalgamated Society to feel that in a case of this sort they might be heard before the Committee, and although he did not press his objection to the Second Reading he would ask the Chairman of Committees whether he did not think this was a case where a locus should be given to the society.


said that, as the right hon. Gentleman did not intend to press his Motion, he did not know whether he ought to give an opinion. At all events he would give a very guarded one. The Instruction which stood in the name of the right hon. Baronet seemed to be a very wide one indeed, and rather a dangerous one for the House to accept without very full consideration. The House had drawn up in one of its Standing Orders a list of societies and associations to whom it was prepared to grant a locus standi in certain cases, and he thought it would require a very strong case indeed on the part of any society or association not included in that list if it wanted to obtain a locus. The right hon. Gentleman's Instruction might open the door to a great number of people who were not in any way interested in the company to appear on the company's Bill. He thought the Instruction was one which should be very jealously watched and carefully guarded before it was assented to by the House.

MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

said he thought that House ought to be very careful in doing anything which would discourage such arrangements as these between employers and employed. There was no doubt that immense benefits had accrued where there had been arrangements of this kind for providing schemes of thrift for old age and sickness and so on, and he thought it was a pity that for fear of doing anything to offend, or to appear to offend, some of the extreme views of trade unionists, they would not be able in future to say distinctly that it certainly was beneficial that in these large corporations like railway companies there should be every facility given for enabling the workpeople and the employers to come together and make arrangements of this sort. He could conceive no better way of promoting harmony between the employers and employed than this. They must not let it go out of that House that, for political reasons, the House was afraid to let the companies do for their workpeople what they might do for their salaried officers. The plain political language of that was that the clerks were a small and insignificant political body, and that the workpeople were a large one, but he held that what was good for one was good for the other.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)

said the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken seemed to have missed the whole point of those who had raised the question on that side of the House. There was no objection to these benefit societies, but the whole point was whether they were going to give the directors of the company power to make rules and regulations, and to manipulate these funds as they thought proper, without consulting the workpeople who contributed probably two-thirds of the money. That was a proceeding which, he said, should not be encouraged by that House. All that was asked was that the men should have the same voice in the control and administration of the funds as was proposed to be given to the directors.

Bill read a Second time, and committed.