§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the case of William Crowcroft, an examiner on the Great Northern Railway, who, having sent a memorial to the 640 directors on behalf of certain sections of his fellow workers in the months of January and February of this year, was dismissed by the company in the months of April on the pretext that he had neglected his duties, the alleged neglect being that he did not give notice before 8.45 a.m. that he was unfit to go to work owing to sudden illness; whether he is aware that Crowcroft had been in the company's service 16 years, without any previous fault being found with him; and whether he will undertake to inquire into this matter in accordance with the understanding that railway men who bring forward any grievance of their fellow workmen in a proper manner shall be protected against harsh treatment?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (for Mr. RITCHIE)
The Board of Trade are not aware of any such "understanding" on their part as that referred to in the concluding paragraph of the honourable Member's Question. The Department has no power of interference as regards the hiring or dismissal of railway servants, nor can they as a rule undertake to communicate with the companies in regard thereto. On a recent occasion they communicated with certain companies with reference to a specific complaint that some men had been dismissed for taking a course which had been recommended by the Board of Trade. Crowcroft—referred to in the honourable Member's Question—was one of the men involved in the complaint, and the Board are in possession of the company's reply. The general manager says—The case was not in any sense a matter of punishment. Crowcroft, being physically incapable of performing the duties of examiner, was offered other employment, which he declined to accept. Under these circumstances, I regret I was unable to do anything further for him.