HC Deb 08 March 1897 vol 47 cc157-73
SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

moved— That any Petition of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, praying to be heard against Clauses 37 and 38 of the Bill, and so much of the Preamble as relates thereto, presented five clear days before the meeting of the Committee, be referred to the Committee, and that the Petitioners may be heard by themselves, their Counsel, and Agents on their Petition against the Bill. The right hon. Baronet said he first wished to make a little explanation on a side issue, arising out of some remarks made by the hon. Member for Islington, who, having sympathy with the Motion, complained of a distinction being drawn between the clerks in the employment of the company and their railway servants. On the part of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants there was no desire to draw any such distinction; the suggestion for the distinction came from the company. The Amalgamated Society contained a good many clerks, and some stationmasters among its members. In this Bill the society objected to Clauses 37 and 38, and upon these clauses they desired to be heard before the Committee. Clause 37 was the Savings Bank clause, and to that clause they had objections, which he had already stated to the House, and which, therefore, he would now only touch upon briefly. The workmen did not desire to invest their savings with the company, because they objected to their employers being in a position to obtain knowledge of their pecuniary condition and they pointed out that it might have a bearing on rate of wages or on strikes under certain circumstances. Personally, he did not approve of these Savings Bank clauses in Railway Bills, and thought them outside the scope of such Bills and the purposes for which railway companies existed; but as he regarded this Bill as less objectionable than the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bill, to which he had given notice of a similar Motion, and upon which he believed he had the stronger case, he did not propose, as far as he personally could affect the challenge, to take a division on both Bills. The objections to this Bill had been somewhat modified by the fact that on Clause 38 the company had agreed to make it plain, and had given an undertaking that it should not be compulsory on the servants of the company to join. The Great Northern Company had circulated a statement of their view, in which were one or two statements to which he would have to take exception. They said that the promoters had received no objection from their servants to either of the clauses. That might be so, so far as the knowledge of the company extended; but it was not the case in fact. The servants of the company, from different important stations, had held a meeting, and he had met them. They expressed the strongest objection to the clauses, and if they had not done so to the company itself it was probably because of the somewhat delicate relations between the servants of a great company and their employees, and the reluctance of the men to come forward with objections to the course proposed. Though the argument had more force as against the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bill, it had a general application to both Bills, that the representative Society of Railway Servants ought to be heard before the Committee to whom these Bills were referred. The men held a very strong opinion on the proposals in the clauses, and there were points of detail on which they desired to be heard. The House had agreed to an Amendment of the Standing Orders, by which the Miners' Federation, and other bodies, had been given the right to be heard on Mining Bills or Bills of a description on which their interests were affected. This was a principle that ought to be extended, not only as regarded this Bill, but in regard to all Bills of a similar character; and the Chairman of Committees would do well to allow the representation of this particular body on the present occasion, and to propose an Amendment of the Standing Orders, by which such representation before Committees should be made general in future.

MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

seconded the Motion. It seemed to him an eminently reasonable proposal. In the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants there was a great organisation, which represented the opinions of a great body of men; and he could not conceive, any railway company having any objection to the expression of the opinion of the men on a matter in which they were so much interested. They had a precedent lately in the conduct of the North-Eastern Railway Company, which, when it got into difficulties with its own servants, raised no objection to receiving and hearing representatives of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, and he certainly thought there were some provisions in these special clauses which fully justified the Motion his right hon. Friend had made. For instance, one of the clauses said, "Every such deposit shall be charged on the net profits of the company." It ought not to be a charge on the profits merely, but ought also to be charged against any property the company might have. Seeing that they had got cash or money from these men, they ought to be responsible in anything they had got to make it good. It gave another illustration of the desirability of hearing the representatives of the men on this point; it was a reasonable and moderate Motion, and he hoped the House would accept it without a Division.

SIR GEORGE RUSSELL (Berks, Wokingham)

said he might point out to the House how much in the judgment of those who were competent to know, the influence of the Committees upstairs was destroyed by these constant attempts inside the House to fetter the free-will of a Committee to deal with questions after hearing the evidence. He might point out from his own personal knowledge how by this constantly growing and mischievous tendency railway enterprise was strangled and Measures for the interest of the public and the workmen themselves were deterred from being prosecuted because of the dangers to which, through this novel mode of procedure, Railway Bills were subjected. He would, however, confine himself to the specific merits of the proposal now before the House. He should say the main question, which should decide Members would be whether or not these railway savings banks were or were not advantageous to the railway employees at large. He thought he should be able to satisfy the House that they were. He spoke with some interest on this question, because the first railway savings bank was instituted in 1860, with the approval and sanction of that House, by his predecessor in the chair of the South-Eastern Railway Company, Sir Edward Watkin, who first applied it in the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway, of which he was Chairman, and who subsequently introduced it in the South-Eastern Railway, of which he afterwards became Chairman. They were now in force in ten leading railway companies, to the great advantage of the men, and the Great Northern Railway Company now sought, most wisely, as he ventured to think, to introduce one into their company. What were the advantages which the men derived? First and foremost, they got in his company, through the savings bank, 4 per cent. interest on all deposits, with a security as good as Consols. Where elsewhere could they obtain that? They might put in as a deposit any sum from a penny upwards. In their schools at Ashford they had nearly 500 children who put the pence which now came into the pockets of their parents through free education as deposits into the savings bank, and, having early imbibed this habit of thrift, it was invariably found that they continued as depositors when, as grown-up men, they had entered the service of the company. Indeed, it was not an infrequent instance in his company that they had three generations at the same moment contributors by deposits to the savings bank—the grandson in the Ashford School, and his father and grandfather still in the service of the company. There was also the enormous advantage that they could make their deposit straight, on pay-day, to the station-master or whoever else the, paymaster might be, so that their savings bank stood between the men and the public house. [A laugh.] Hon. Members laughed, but he said that was an enormous advantage, and he could actually furnish illustrations of widows and orphans who had subsequently come and thanked the company for that which they had done in providing means for them which they knew would otherwise inevitably have gone to the public house. In the next place, these deposits could be withdrawn at seven days' notice, and in the case of urgency and illness or in other pressing need could be withdrawn immediately. The right hon. Baronet said there was something inquisitorial in the companies' servants being the receivers of these deposits, so that the men's savings were known. He would put this fact before the House, on his honour in stating it, that, excepting the officer who received the money and the auditors to the bank, the amount of the deposit, or the fact even that a man was a depositor, was absolutely and totally unknown to the chief officers and directors, and he would pledge his honour that in every case where a man came before them with an application, either for an increase of salary or for the receipt of a pension on leaving the service, the fact whether he was or was not a depositor was totally and absolutely unknown to the directors, who dealt with the case solely and exclusively upon the ground of length of service and the number of those who might be dependent upon the applicant for support. The charge, therefore, as to anything inquisitorial or as to a man's private affairs being known to his superiors, was totally without foundation. When the leaders of the Railway Servants' Amalgamated Society were acting in the interests of the men they had his sympathy, but when they were acting, not in the interests of the men, but with the view, perhaps, of getting power for themselves, because they felt the advantages given by the company weakened that power, then his sympathy was not with them but with the men whose interests they were seeking to injure. He hoped he had been able to satisfy the House that if they valued the interests of the men they would, by an overwhelming majority, reject the Resolution which had been moved by the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean.

MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)

said the hon. Gentleman had given the House an eloquent disquisition on the virtue of philanthropy and thrift, but he had not applied his speech to the Amendment before the House. Hon. Members on his side were not denying the virtue of either personal or collective thrift. What they said was that the men interested in both should have an opportunity of going before a Committee of the House of Commons and proving, first, their bonâfides as a thrift agency, and, secondly, giving their view of this question from the railway workman's point of view; and that could only be done by an association speaking on behalf of the men collectively. The hon. Member said that private enterprise had frequently been strangled and damaged by Instructions of this kind being in front of railway legislation. He ventured to say that this Instruction was only one of many that railway legislation would have to confront in this and similar questions if railway directors were going to extend the benefits of railway enterprise. The hon. Member said this particular form of savings bank was welcomed by the men from Ashford. He would confine himself to Ashford because he once worked there for nine months and knew the railway men. The pathetic figure about three generations of workmen having invested in the South Eastern Railway Savings Bank hardly squared with the facts as to what really existed at Ashford, and what the men desired. An ordinary penny savings bank at Ashford, such as the National Penny Bank, would give the people, without the slightest suspicion of compulsion or intimidation, just as good an investment as that provided by the railway company, and they would be able to withdraw their deposits at 24 hours' instead of seven days' notice. He objected to these banks in connection with railway companies. They interfered with private enterprise in the best sense of the word. It was competition by compulsion with private banks and the Post Office which prevented workmen from giving to building socities, trades unions, and friendly societies what the railway companies claimed a lien upon them for, and the fact that the employees invested the money in the savings bank operated to reduce wages when trade was bad, and prevented a rise of wages when trade was good. There were 30,000 depositors in fourteen railway savings banks who had £2,200,000 to their account. They were not platelayers, shunters, or goods guards, but mainly skilled artisans, clerks, station masters, and others. The fact that the average deposit was £75 indicated the high wage of the depositor. It was said that these railway banks encouraged thrift. He did not believe it. But why should the men be restricted to one form of investment? Many workmen were desirous of saving money to buy a house, a small piece of land for an allotment, or to lend to relatives in business but the compunction exercised upon them by the fear of losing their employment, or not getting their proper share of promotion if they did not join the savings bank impelled them to invest, whereas if they had absolute freedom they would not do so. The hon. Member let the cat out of the bag when he said that the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants wanted to destroy the railway banks because it would destroy their power and lessen their influence. The obvious retort was that the railway companies wanted to compulsorily direct the savings of their workmen to keep them from their friendly societies and trades unions. He hoped the House of Commons would do justice to the men and provide that they should not be constrained to invest in railway savings banks, but be left free to make their investments as their opinion dictated. It was said that the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants was not a large or influential body. It had 44,000 men employed in the railway service, and 1,000 or 1,500 on the Great Northern Railway. But it was not fair to judge this Instruction from the point of view of one trade union. There were five trade unions in the railway service, with a membership of betwen 60,000 and 70,000 men, who had a right to a locus standi before the Committee equally with the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants. There were seven or eight other trades unions with another 50,000 members, who had also a right to be heard before the Committee. Beyond these there were five millions of members of friendly societies, and at their conference on 21st March 1894, they unanimously voted against this system of savings banks and compulsory accident, benefit, and pension funds. When were the companies going to cease extending their operations? They originally came to Parliament to acquire and run a business for the carriage of goods, minerals, passengers, and stock. But now they ran hotels, refreshment rooms, private privilege cabs, savings banks, and other things.


reminded the hon. Member that the Question before the House was whether the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants should be heard before the Committee.


bowed to Mr. Speaker's ruling, and concluded by hoping the railway servants and members of friendly societies would be allowed to put their case before the Committee. He believed the Committee would be impressd by the facts and figures they would put before them, and he trusted the House would unanimously throw out for the last time this attempt to introduce another chloroforming agent to seduce workmen from their friendly societies, trades unions, and savings banks which they wanted, but did not desire from their employers.

MR. F. W. FISON (York, W.R., Doncaster)

said that no compulsion would be introduced if the clause were inserted in the Bill. It was precisely because the humbler class of railway servants were unable to enjoy the benefits of existing societies that the Great Northern Railway proposed to found savings banks, and because the superannuation fund was scarcely suited for them. He contended in reply to what had been said by the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean, that railway servants had shown a great desire to join these banks in connection with the companies. As to the employers knowing the amount of the men's savings, no deduction could be made from the deposit, which was absolutely the property of the depositor, and the railway company could not lay a finger upon it. The interests of the men were looked after by the Registrar of Friendly Societies. The clauses under discussion were submitted to and approved by him, and it was necessary to obtain his approval of the rules or any alteration or Amendment made in them. ["Hear, hear!"] As to the second clause before the House, the Superannuation Fund was purely optional. The joint lines to which it applied constituted a very large proportion of the mileage of the Great Northern Company, there being 524 miles of them. Without this clause the railway servants who belonged to the Superannuation Fund of the parent company would, when promoted to better posts on the joint lines, suffer an injustice. In two years the general Superannuation Fund had received something like 1,400 applications, a considerable number of them from the joint lines. The Superannuation Fund was enacted in 1872, and brought into force in 1875. There was ample protection for the men in the Savings Banks, and this Bill only gave the men on the joint lines an option of joining—there was no compulsion to join the Fund. The Amalgamated Society only represented some of the railway servants—["hear, hear!"]—in varying proportions according to the different districts and lines. The Great Northern Company recognised that every servant had a perfect right to belong to this society if he wished, and also had a perfect right to abstain front it. He thought it was the officials of the society, and not the men themselves, who objected to these schemes. There were a vast number of men not represented on this society who desired to join the Superannuation Fund and Savings Banks.

CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)

said he represented a large number, not of railway men, but of the working classes generally, and, from his experience of them during the last ten years, he ventured to assert that they were one and all averse from any system which tampered with their wages or savings. They looked on attempts such as these as a desire on the part of capital to take advantage of labour, and to gain another weapon by which to operate against the working man when the interests of capital and labour clashed. There might be no direct compulsion, but the compulsion, though indirect, was equally potent. Working men, as a rule, preferred to invest their money in Friendly Societies, controlled by their own class; they did not demand these Savings Banks controlled by their employers. They were told that the applications were voluntary, but he should like to know whether they were obtained through officials of the company. He believed the reason why hon. Members did not want the Amalgamated Society to be heard was because the society represented a large number of railway employees who were dead against schemes of this kind. They were led to suppose that the railway companies were doing this in the interest of their employees; but the whole tendency of the present age was for the employer to protect himself, just as did the employees.


said the right hon. Gentleman had appealed directly to him, otherwise he should not have addressed the House. It was obvious that the question they were discussing was not the advisability of establishing Savings—["hear, hear!"]—Banks, or their merits or demerits. The only question before the House was whether a certain society which claimed to represent the railway servants of a particular company should be entitled to appear before the Committee with regard to certain clauses in this Bill. If the interests of those railway servants were injuriously affected, he thought the House would be anxious that they should be represented before the Committee in accordance with the usual practice in regard to those whose interests were injuriously affected. He did not himself see, however, how they were injuriously affected. There was no necessity for the men to join these Savings Banks, and it was open to them to abstain from doing so. In the second place, the Standing Order of the House laid down that certain persons or societies, if they sufficiently represented the agriculture, trade, mining, or commerce of any district to which a Bill related, should under certain circumstances have a locus standi. It was clear that, under that Standing Order, the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants did not come in, and if they were to admit them he thought they must either amend their Standing Order or introduce a new Standing Order in order to provide for their admission. For these two reasons he must oppose the Instruction.

MR. B. PICKARD (York, W.R., Normanton)

asked how the miners could be heard under the Standing Order.


said he was anxious to give a right vote on this question. He entirely agreed with his right hon. Friend that everyone who had a grievance should be heard, but in saying that he did not think these men had any grievance was, he thought, rather to prejudge the question. He thought any large class of men who imagined that they had a grievance should have an opportunity of stating their case. In the present instance it would occasion no delay. They were told, and it was not contradicted, that this society represented four thousand, or some substantial number, of the servants of the railway company. No harm would be done by allowing them to be heard before the Committee; but if they were not allowed to be heard, having, as they thought, a real grievance, they would be dissatisfied, and think that they had been deprived by the House of a remedy to which they were entitled.

SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)

said that the Chairman of Committees, who had put the case very fairly before the House, had referred to Standing Order 133B. That Standing Order declared that where a Chamber of Commerce or a Shipping, Mining, or Miners' Association, sufficiently representing agriculture, land, mining., or commerce in any district to which a Private Bill related, petitioned that their interests would be injuriously affected by the provisions of the Bill, it was competent for the Committee on the Bill to hear them. That asserted a principle in regard to certain interests that they should have a locus standi before Private Bills Committees, which they were not allowed by the general rule. The question was whether the Standing Order should be confined to the particular interests mentioned. The Chairman of Committees had thrown out a suggestion that the Standing Order might be amended. But it would take sonic time to alter a Standing Order, owing to the slowness of the procedure of the House, and if the House was prepared to alter the Standing Order so as to admit classes like those now under consideration, surely they ought to do it in this particular case by a vote of the House. He thought that by so doing the House would be acting in accordance with the spirit of the Standing Order, for there was no reason for a distinction being made between a Miners' Association and a Society of Railway Servants. The Chairman of Committees had said that he could not see that the railway servants were injuriously affected by the provisions of the Bill. At all events, the railway servants claimed the right to be heard; and what injury could possibly accrue to the railway company by those men being heard before the Committee? Most of the interests, allowed a locus standi by the Standing Order, represented not labour but capital. Out of the bodies mentioned, only one, the Miners' Association, could be said to represent labour. The House ought not to admit the large number of Associations that represented the capitalist classes, while they admitted only one body representing the labouring classes. He did not desire to injuriously affect in any way the great railway interest of the country, who carried on their business so much to the advantage of all classes of the community. But surely it must be to the interest of this railway company to allow their servants to be heard before the Committee. He had heard of the case of a single land-holder opposing a Bill. Here was a large class of men who fancied, rightly or wrongly, that they had a grievance, and why should not the House allow them to be heard, seeing that it could be in accordance with the principle of the Standing Order. The Motion would only give the railway servants a locus standi. It would not decide anything in their favour as opposed to the railway company. It merely conformed to the general principle of our legislation, whether public or private, that all persons having an interest should be heard.

MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)

said he could not follow the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in his reference to the Standing Order. If the course suggested by the right hon. Gentleman were pursued, it would set an entirely new precedent. The Standing Order referred to Chambers of Commerce, shipping, mining or Miners' Associations. Those were general terms. They could not be held to include a society which, according to the hon. Member for Battersea, represented one-tenth, and according to the hon. Member for Islington, one-fifth of the railway servants.


said that the right hon. Member was wrong on both points. The Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants hail 44,000 members, and there were six other societies which, with the Amalgamated Society, represented between 70,000 and 80,000 railway servants.


said the hon. Gentleman had put his case far better than he could have put it himself. He was leading gradually up to the point which the hon. Gentleman had put so clearly and distinctly before the House. He had said that the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants represented one-tenth of railway servants. The hon. Member for Islington said that it represented one-fifth. In connection with the Bill before the House, the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants represented 4,000 out of 25,000 servants employed by the company. The Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants was, as the hon. Member for Battersea had pointed out, only one out of seven such societies. If the House were to follow the suggestion of the Leader of the opposition and allow one society out of seven to be mentioned in the Standing Order, that would be an innovation for which there was no precedent.


said that the railway directors were the only hon. Members of the House who objected to the principle of the Motion, which was that a society representing so many thousands of men had a right to come before a. Private Bill Committee of this House, and he challenged any hon. Member not a railway director to defend the action taken up by the railway directors. The railway directors seemed to think that the interests of the workmen would be very well looked after by the railway directors. The hon. Member for Doncaster had said that if they admitted one of these societies they would have to admit all of them. He could understand that objection coming from a railway director, but not from any other hon. Member. The real case was this, that hon. Gentlemen, railway directors on the other side of the House, objected to what they considered was an interference between the railway companies and their employees. The railway dirctors were trying to influence this House in a direction that led to the paying of larger dividends to their shareholders. He would vote on one principle and one principle only, namely, that it was perfectly right that a large society of working men, such as the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, should have a locus standi to appear before a Private Bill Committee of the House, in regard to a Bill affecting their interests.

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

said that the. Debate had raised two distinct issues. The first was the general principle whether these societies should be allowed a locus standi before a Committee? That was arguable, but it was not the Motion before the House. The Motion was a, distinct assertion that one particular society should be heard, not on the general merits of the Bill, but in opposition to two clauses which were the most beneficial clauses that could be put into any such Bill. These two clauses were to enable savings banks to be started, the depositors being given the best security which the railway company could offer—their claims were to rank immediately after the debts of the company. He had been engaged for many years in endeavouring to promote schemes of thrift, and to induce employers to do their duty in that respect to the workmen; and he could not conceive anything more calculated to promote the well-being of the workpeople than these clauses, which, be it noted, did not make the scheme compulsory; if the trade union which objected to the clauses had objected to such clauses not being included in the Bill, he should have thought it a reasonable proposition. Here was an enormous corporation wishing to do its duty to its workmen, and those who professed to represent labour opposed the proposition. It was true that the trade unions, to their honour, had made similar provisions for encouraging thrift; but, would even the hon. Member for Battersea say that too much was done in this direction? It was said that the real object of the clauses was to injure the trade union. But if a large employer could, by promoting the well being of his people, make them so contented and satisfied that the trade union had not so much to do, that was not an evil, but a great good. Was it creditable that such a proposal should be to the detriment of the workman? The man with something in the bank was in a better position to make terms with his employer than the man with not a shilling in the world. The House ought to consider whether these clauses did not tend to industrial peace.


Order, order! That is a question which may have to be discussed before the Committee. It is not the question before the House now.


said that he himself was very interested in railway workmen, of whom he had a great number in his own constituency. He did not know what their views were, but he could not conceive them objecting to these clauses. He did not speak as a director, he had never been one, nor as a shareholder; but simply as one who had worked to promote thrift all his life.


said that the Instruction related to Clauses 37 and 38 of the Bill. The 37th Clause established a Savings Bank. The 38th Clause set up a Provident and Superannuation Fund, not for the first time, but upon the lines of the Great Northern Act 1872. That Act, nearly a quarter of a century old, laid down principles which were good enough in those days, but which should not be extended at the present date. The Great Northern Act of 1872 fixed the fund as extending only to old and disabled servants of the company. The present Bill extends it to servants of another company—another class, and a large class is therefore admitted to the fund. Now, a superannuation scheme depends upon being based on sound acturial calculations, upon the rates to be contributed, the conditions of retirement, and solvency; but this old legislation of 1872 was so extraordinary in its provisions that the Motion now before the House should be accepted so as to give a locus standi to those whose wages which under a scheme framed under the power of that Act might be compulsorily stopped might have the opportunity of amending the Bill before the Committee upstairs. Under the Act of 1872, the company may make a contribution up to the amount of the wage-earners' contribution, not exceeding 2½ per cent. the amount contributed by wage-earners to the fund, provided a general meeting of shareholders so assented. The voting of the money on the part of the company was purely voluntary. There was no compulsion on the shareholders to vote any contribution. One year they might do so, another year, in which a strike might have taken place, they might arbitrarily refuse to vote any sum whatsoever, and thereby seriously affect the solvency of the fund. On the other hand, the men's contribution might, under the scheme framed under the powers of the Act of 1872, be made compulsory, and their wages might, under such a scheme, be stopped up to 2½ per cent. of the amount. In substance, therefore, the funds would be the contributions of the wage-earners. It would be made up essentially of contributors' money. Now the Committee of Directors and Chief Officer of the company were, by the Act of 1872 empowered to settle a scheme to deal with this fund of wage-earners, and power by the Act of 1872 is given to them to insert therein provisions to settle what class, what length of service, what amount of contribution is to be obligatory on the wage-earners, under what circumstances the wage-earning contributor to the fund is to cease to be entitled to participate, and what proportion (if any) of the sums contributed is to be payable in the event of death before allowance is granted.


The hon. Member is entering into details which are not justified by the question before the House.


said that he was pointing out that the powers of this particular Act authorised the scheme drawn up by the directors and engineer to make its provisions compulsory on the men, whilst by Statute it was voluntary on the shareholders. They were so extraordinary in many respects that it was essential that the wage-earning contributors should have a locus standi upstairs in settling the terms on which their funds were to be dealt with. A superannuation fund was a very complicated and difficult thing to manage. The Royal Civil Service Commissioners reported:— That experience has proved it is most difficult, if not impossible, in such a case to prescribe beforehand any scheme of contribution which shall be so adjusted as to supply the requisite amount without surplus or deficiency. And, although they had the public revenue to fall back upon, the Commissioners considered it expedient to establish a superannuation fund. In this case, owing to the shareholders subscriptions being voluntary, it would be impossible to rely on its income or actuarily base any calculations as to what contributions would make the fund a solvent fund. The company's officials were to undertake this duty. The powers of the Act of 1892 allowed of a scheme being framed which might, if so settled, confiscate a wage-earner's deferred or stopped pay which he had contributed to the fund, if he left the service in consequence of reductions or alterations in the establishment—if he retired before he had earned a superannuation—if he were discharged even without cause. In the case of the Tyne Improvement Act 1890 the right hon. Member for Bodmin, then Chairman of Committees, insisted that in that case, at all events, that the scheme established by that public body, and not a commercial body trading for profit, should contain provisions to allow the wage-earning contributor under all circumstances to take away on leaving the service his own contribution, with simple interest at 2½ per cent. thereon; and would not permit any scheme to be framed which did not secure the return to the wage-earner of his own contribution, which in equity belonged to him as much as if he laid deposited them in a savings' bank in his own name, instead of leaving them in the company's hands, as a banker, for the purpose of accumulation. For these reasons he supported the Motion.

MR. W. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)

said that there were 60,000 men in the men's organisation; it was an organisation which had proved very powerful in stopping strikes; and it certainly was not an organisation which should be stifled by the House of Commons. Railway directors always opposed any attempt to preserve the liberty of the subject. He would point out to the Chairman of Committees that, if his ruling was obeyed by the House, it followed that, in future all the trade unions and trade organisations would be denied the right of hearing in the private Committees of this House in eases where their liberties and also their earnings were at stake.

The House divided:—Ayes, 145; Noes, 188.—(Division List, No. 75.)