HC Deb 09 June 1898 vol 58 cc1121-44

Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question (8th June),

Motion made— That the Bill, as amended, be now considered.

SIR C. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

What I said yesterday was that I did not propose to divide the House against the Second Reading of this Bill, and when saying that I stated that the workman under this company would, if this Bill were passed, not be able to draw out his contributions when he left the company's service. Although there is nothing about it in the Bill, I find that by the regulations of the company now in force he can take out these contributions, and therefore I must have unintentionally misled those by what I said in the course of my observations. I wish to take this opportunity of correcting that statement, as I am informed by the company that they intend that that shall not be the case.

* MR. MADDISON (Sheffield, Brightside)

I beg to move the rejection of this Bill upon the grounds of public policy. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean has already explained that he was in error as to the inability of the workman to withdraw his subscriptions. With regard to this fund, I myself thought that that was to be so, and I still think that it is a little doubtful as the Bill stands, because it does not state how far the regulations in force might be altered; but at any rate I am quite willing to take it that this objectionable feature no longer exists. Now, Mr. Speaker, the right honourable Gentleman also said that the men did not appear in opposition to this Bill, and I want, with the permission of the House, to just offer a few remarks upon that point. The absence of opposition of railway men, of whom I have had some considerable experience, does not necessarily mean that they assent to the proposals of their employers. The plain truth is that probably there are no employers that have such great power over their workmen as railway companies have. There are various reasons for this which would be interesting to go into, but for the convenience of the House I shall forbear. I am here to-day to say that I have seen schemes proposed by railway companies that have been generally condemned by the staff, and yet when the crucial moment came that they had to appear in public opposition they had not the courage to do so. Intimidation is not unknown to railway companies, and I think I am bound to say that the Great Eastern Railway Company has an unenviable reputation in this respect. I hold in my hand the names of five men representing the grades of drivers, signalmen, and mechanics, who, within the last three or four years have been discharged from the service of the Great Eastern Railway Company for no other reason than that they had identified themselves with public agitation which the company considered against their interests. I am perfectly well aware that the numerous apologists for this and other companies will say at once that the cause of their discharge was for some technical offence, but as a practical matter that which would, under any ordinary circumstances, only bring upon the head of the offender a suspension or a small fine, is punished by dismissal. There is only one way in which railway men can get anything like that courage which they ought to have, that is by strong organisation in their trade unions. Upon the Great Eastern Railway Company the organisation of the men is notoriously weak, and that I blame, and I say with great confidence, that that weakness is the reason why we had not some open opposition to this Bill, and to the scheme to which I especially take objection. Let me say at once that this is not a wholesale attack upon the pension fund of the Great Eastern Company. Naturally, I have very strong and definite views about these private funds. But this afternoon I am not trying to air these views. I am not in any sort of way attempting to attack this fund as a fund generally. I am glad to see, for instance, that compulsion finds no resting place in this Bill, although I know that the present fund is a compulsory one for the fresh employee, and that the old fund will be merged into the new. Therefore, the element of compulsion exists, but I am quite prepared to admit that, as a matter of fact, compulsion has no real place in the Bill, and no one rejoices in that more than I do myself. My objection is that the Bill does not give the men adequate or, as a matter of fact, real representation on the managing committee, which in this Bill is called the pension committee. Of course, I admit that the company guarantee the solvency of this fund. But, though that is quite true, it must be remembered that the men pay 5d. or 10d. per week to one or other of these funds, and therefore I submit that when working men are paying 10d. per week of their own money, not merely an optional payment, but having it deducted from their wages by their employers, I think this House should say that that payment on their part ought to entitle them to full representation on the managing committee, of this fund. Now, Sir, the company have, through the efforts largely of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, allowed the men some representation on the pension committee. That committee is composed of 11 gentlemen; four of these gentlemen are directors of the Great Eastern Company, five of them are high officials of the company, carrying in the minds of the men more authority, if I may say so, than the directors themselves. When the driver sees the locomotive superintendent, he keeps his eye on him far more than on the chairman of the board, because, perhaps, he may never meet the chairman of the board again, but his locomotive superintendent, or his other officials, he is constantly meeting. I appeal to honourable Members whether the company, having admitted that the men have the right to representation, are carrying that right out by giving them simply two men on a committee of nine directors and officials. Why, the fact is that the men would be just as well off without, these two, because when reforms are waked for the company will say, "Here you have representation; what more do you want?" When you come to inquire into it, these two men are simply lay figures; they practically cannot lift their little finger one way or the other. When it comes to a question of voting, of course, they cannot be of any use whatever. What is this pension committee? Amongst its various functions it has the power of "rescinding, altering, or adding to the rules or regulations contained in such pension scheme, and it may modify the condition upon which new members may be entitled to benefits." Now, that is a very important committee. A committee that can actually rescind, add, or alter a number of rules in such important respects as the condition under which this pension fund is to be administered is the very place where the men who pay this money ought to have some full representation. There ought to be no mistake about this. These pension funds are not philanthropical institutions—they are matters of business. The Great Eastern directors, when they decided to found this fund, approached it just as much from a business point of view as they would if they were going to lay down a number of engines. I am not complaining. It is their duty to look after their shareholders' interests, but, unfortunately, it is often very difficult for the men to get anyone to look after their interests. I do not wish to retain the House long, but I do wish to show that the Great Eastern Company have some good reason for giving some little money to this pension fund. I would like the House to remember what are the wages of some of the Great Eastern Railway Company's employees. It may lie that gentlemen who only come across railway men when they are amongst their constituents at election meetings may suppose that all the men are quite satisfied both with their wages and with the pension fund. I will leave the House to decide that point so far as the wages are concerned. The figures I am about to give are for the London district, where it is with the greatest difficulty that the men can get anything like two or three decent rooms, except at the most excessive rentals. In the London district you have a platelayer working for this company for £1 a week. Porters between Liverpool Street and Tottenham work for 16s. a week, and the House must remember do not get those enormous "tips" that honourable Gentlemen are always telling us go to supplement the railway porter's wages. Many of those men do not average 2s. 6d. from this source per week. Firemen get 3s. 6d. per day, and ticket collectors 21s. per week. I only quote these figures to show that the Great Eastern Railway Company are simply recognising a part of their obligations in establishing this pension fund, and what I want to ask the representatives of the Great Eastern in this House is this: if they are desirous of encouraging thrift amongst their men—and no one desires working men to be thrifty more than I do—why do not they adopt the practice which has been followed by a company much larger than the Great Eastern—one of the largest in England—I refer to the Midland Railway Company? On the Midland Railway Company you have a friendly society which is registered under the Friendly Societies Act, and which comes under the control of the Registrar General, the same as any other society does. Now, that is one great defect in this Bill. By the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bill, to which I referred yesterday, the Registrar General, who is a State officer appointed to protect these agencies for working men, is put in the Bill. In this Bill he is left entirely out. That is a grievous defect, because if he were in it he would be able from time to time to correct any irregularity. But, as I have already said, the issue, so far as I am concerned, is simply this: Should Parliamentary sanction be given to a pension fund, to which the workmen; contribute as much as 10d. per week, which fund is left absolutely and entirely to the control of the employers of those workmen? That is the point—that is the issue that I wish to divide the House upon. The Great Eastern Railway Company could very easily have drafted a clause covering these matters, and could have given real representation to the workmen. As far as I am concerned as a workman, as a trade unionist, and as one who desires that the working classes should not merely get better wages and better hours and better conditions, but that they should also make provision for their old age, and get together a little independence—from this point of view I appeal with not too great a confidence to this House, but with some confidence that it will reject this Bill for the simple and sole purpose of allowing the Great Eastern Railway Company to complete their efforts in encouraging thrift by giving the workman not merely the opportunity of contributing his money, but a full opportunity of controlling it when he has done so.

* MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)

I have listened with great care to the speech of the honourable Member, and I am exceedingly surprised that he should lightly undertake the great responsibility of moving the rejection of this important Bill on such very meagre grounds. I should have thought that, although it is perfectly evident that he is not familiar with the attitude of the men towards this Bill, and not at all familiar with the contents of the Bill itself—


I speak from a practical consideration of the matter.


I should have thought that the action taken yesterday and to-day by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean would have been a very strong hint to him that he has a very bad case in re-moving the rejection of this Bill.


The honourable Member is mistaken. It is my intention to vote with the honourable Member for Brightside. I thought yesterday that under the circumstances it would be useless to divide the House, but I certainly support my honourable Friend.


I am very sorry to hear that the right honourable Gentleman has come to that decision, because I certainly thought, from his statement yesterday, that he was of opinion that it would not be desirable to move the rejection of this Bill, more especially because the three reasons which he gave yesterday, and which might have justified him in objecting to the Bill, have to-day been reduced to two, and I think that I shall be able to satisfactorily deal with the remaining two without trespassing upon the time of the House for more than a minute or two. I have not a single shilling invested in any Great Eastern Railway Company's stock—I wish I had—but I have a very great interest in the future of some 5,000 railway men who are electors in my own constituency, and from that standpoint I have looked with some little interest to the progress of this Bill. I think I can tell the House that it has never been my good fortune to see any Bill more advantageous to the workmen drafted by any body of private employers containing better terms than this from beginning to end—financially, and in every other way. What does it do? This is a Bill which will provide pensions for all wage-earning classes with a maximum wage of 18s. a week, and it will give that benefit to some 24,000 persons. It provides sick pay at the age of 55, and in addition to that the whole of the moneys contributed by the men can be taken back by them when they quit the service of the company with, at least, 3 per cent. interest. It is, therefore, a bank fund, a superannuation fund, a life insurance fund, and a sick pay fund all rolled into one, and all these benefits may be secured to the men by the payment, not necessarily of 10d. per week, but sometimes as small as 2d. per week. What is the object of the company? A pension fund already exists, founded in the year 1890. Later on the company again came to the House, in 1893 I believe, for further powers to extend the pension benefits, and those powers were readily granted. Under these two existing funds some 3,552 of the company's servants joined the pension fund, and a smaller number joined the supplementary fund, but since that date, when these two funds were formed and closed, there have been constant appeals on the part of men who are not members to be allowed to be enrolled—to be admitted to the benefits of these funds. But it was impossible on the existing financial basis for the company to admit them, and therefore the company comes to the House of Commons for permission to alter the financial arrangements, in order to admit the remaining 20,000 of their servants to the benefits of the existing funds. The company has come to the House of Commons for the purpose of strengthening the position of their employees. The company generously gave that which they were not bound to give—a locus standi to the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants. I am very glad they did so, because I was anxious that they should have the power of appearing before the Committee. They were prepared to file their petition—they have withdrawn it, and I am not surprised that they did so. I cannot conceive any trade organisation prosecuting opposition in the face of the figures which I can place before the House. The company invited the opinions of their individual employees. They sent out voting papers to the whole of the 3,552 members of the pension fund, and received back ballot papers, in favour of the alteration to the fund 2,186, against 432, whilst 934 expressed no opinion. For the pension supplementation fund no less than 1,115 sent in in favour, as against 154 who were opposed to it. Now, if the opinions of the men themselves are to be taken as worth anything, I cannot imagine a more overwhelming opinion deliberately recorded by the men than the opinion I have just related to this House. The men have deliberately recorded their emphatic opinion in favour of the change now before this House. It is said that an explanation can be given as to the withdrawal of the petition of the Amalgamated Society. Yes, that is the best explanation that can be given—the opinion recorded by the men themselves that this is a good thing, and that they are determined to have it. I am not speaking from these figures alone. It was my good fortune to meet the delegates of the men who assembled in London from the whole of the centres affected by the Great Eastern system—delegates of the men, freely elected. One and all, without a single exception, unanimously were in favour of this Bill. Some little time later on, along with one of the representatives of an Essex constituency, I addressed a meeting of very nearly 2,000 of these men, and I had no doubt at that meeting that there was a large preponderance of men urgently desirous of obtaining the fund proposed by this Bill. An attack has been made by the honourable Member who is moving the rejection of this Bill upon the management of the fund. But, so far as the greater portion of the business of the fund is concerned, there is no necessity for a board of management whatever. The rules, which, though not incorporated in the Bill, are governed by the Bill, say that benefits must not be reduced, nor contributions increased; therefore it is perfectly clear that any change must be made in the direction of an improvement to the men. "There must be no increase of contribution, nor reduction of benefit."


The clause reads— And that this Committee may modify the conditions under which new members may be entitled to the benefits thereof"; so that you may make the conditions apply at different ages, and various other charges may be made.


You cannot modify the terms in any degree detrimental to those who are already on the fund; and to those who may come in after, it does not matter whether the board of management alter or not, because they will have the terms of the fund before their eyes when they enter the employment of the company. It is perfectly permissive from beginning to end—they may come in, or remain outside, and I cannot conceive that it makes any material difference to them, if they are persons who have not yet sought employment within the ranks of the company. But the point I want to press is this: that the fund works automatically, for the most part. A man, we will say, reaches the age of 65. He has nothing to do but present his certificate of age, and his certificate of service, and draw his annuity. Or he reaches the age of 55, and breaks down in health. He presents his necessary certificate from the doctor, and draws the sick pay which is payable to him. He quits the service, then he has nothing to do but present the necessary certificate and draw out the money. There cannot be any dispute as to the amount due to him. It could be worked out by a penny-in-the-slot machine. You put in the necessary certificates, and out comes the necessary annuity, or sick pay, or contribution, or whatever it is. There is no need for a board of management for nine-tenths of the work. As far as I can see, it is only necessary in determining whether the workman has or has not broken down in health, and whether the retiring age should be 61 or 65. There might be same cases where dispute would arise as to the state of health of the applicant, but I do not conceive that the disputes would be many; and, if the applicant be on the pension fund or on the supplemental fund, there would be two of the men permanently elected by the men's own delegates to serve on this board, and those men could make things very uncomfortably warm for the company, under such circumstances, even if they had not sufficient voting strength to influence the decision of the board. The presence of two or three men with tongues in their heads must of necessity be most useful to the interests of the men. No considerable claim has been put forward by the men for larger representation. That is a point upon which they have not felt so strongly. They have brought forward certain amendments, which, I am sorry to say, have not been incorporated in the Bill. There is the question of the possible reduction of age. There is the question of the position of the man who may be reduced, and who may not be able to contribute the maximum contribution, week by week, that he has entered into in earlier years. These are matters which we must leave with confidence in the hands of the present directors of the Great Eastern Railway Company. It is, in my opinion, altogether beside the mark to imagine for a single instant that the company have any sinister design in introducing this Bill. It is a matter of pure business with them, and the mien realise that, although this is a business transaction with the company, if the company have erred at all they have erred on the side of gene- rosity to the men. The men are getting benefits of certain portions of the annuity not purchased by themselves—are getting benefits of sack pay from 55 to 65, and they are getting the benefit of taking the whole of their money out, in the event of their leaving the company. These are advantages the expense of which will fall very heavily indeed upon the Great Eastern directors and the shareholders in a few years' time. The honourable Member for Brightside has drawn attention to the fact that in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bill the registrar of Friendly Societies is put in to safeguard the men; but he has not pointed out that there is no analogy between this Bill and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bill. The basis of that Bill is an actuarial one, but there is no actuarial basis in this one. I draw the attention of all interested in questions concerning employers and employed to the basis upon which this fund is constructed. There is no actuarial valuation in this Bill, from beginning to end. The company pledge themselves, and register that pledge within the Statute itself, that, in return for certain contributions they will guarantee the payment of the whole of the sums set out in this Bill out of their current account, before their debenture stock holders can draw a single farthing of interest upon money invested. The present guarantee of the Great Eastern Railway Company is the basis of this Bill. That is the marked distinction upon this Bill and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Bill. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Bill was a question of actuarial valuation, and nobody who is familiar with actuarial valuation, and knows what difficulty there is in convincing an ordinary working man that, although there may be half a million of money in the fund, it is in an unsound condition, will doubt the necessity for having the Registrar General upon funds which are formed upon such a basis. The Great Eastern Company have ceased to bother about actuarial valuation. They have departed from the old basis of equal contributions from the men. They have undertaken the whole burden of benefits imposed by the Bill, and I do not hesitate to say that when the period of stress arises, as it always does arise in pension funds, after from 30 to 40 years, there will be unquestionably a heavy charge thrown on the Great Eastern Railway Company, a charge so heavy that there must be a commensurate benefit to the men. They realise that all anxiety as to the fund's stability is taken away. They have not to fear a quinquennial valuation. Whatever they contribute they will be assured of receiving from the age of 55 to 65. I have seen no Bill—and it has been my lot to go through a large number of schemes for the benefit of the working classes—containing sounder and more beneficial terms to the employee than the terms set forth in this Bill. It has passed without opposition before a Committee of this House, and if the House has decided by its recent vote not to review the decision of its Committee it may well give effect to the same principle with a more preponderating voice and vote than upon the last Measure, because in this case the very representatives of the men themselves have withdrawn their objections. Every unprejudiced, unbiassed examiner of the scheme itself will, I am sure, be convinced of the fact that no better fund has ever before been brought before the House of Commons. A large number of these men are my own constituents; they are taking the keenest interest in the decision of the House of Commons in this matter, and I do trust that the honourable. Member will have satisfied his conscience by having drawn attention to those cases of dismissal and those alleged cases of small wages. Supposing those cases do exist; it may be that there are a number of porters in receipt of poor wages; it may be that there are a number of men dismissed for taking part in some proceedings outside. I challenge the honourable Member to show that these are reasons for refusing the benefits of this Bill to 24,000 people who want them—people who do not receive these small payments, who have not been dismissed, and who are anxious for these benefits, which I am sure will establish the most cordial co-operation between employers and employed, and I therefore trust that the decision of the House will not for one moment be uncertain.


For six years the House of Commons has had to listen to criticisms or opposition to a railway sick tension and superannuation fund; per-haps to a few Members of the House it may appear that such opposition and criticism is fruitless and futile. Well, measured by the success which we see in this Bill, I cordially congratulate every labour representative in this House for his courage in having subjected this scheme to hostile criticism, because what is the effect of the past action of this Bill? It has caused the House of Commons, or, I should say, it has converted the House of Commons to the view that the labour organisation has a locus standi before the Private Bill Committee. It would not have got that without criticism. It has also caused this Bill to have voluntary clauses of membership which previous Bills hitherto have not had, and it has compelled the Great Eastern Railway Company to surrender representation of the men upon this pension fund, representation which has hitherto been denied by that and other railway companies; so to that extent past opposition has been justified. Now we are told by the honourable Member for North-West Ham that the ballot of the men disposes of my honourable Friend's criticism. We all know what a ballot of this sort means. It is about as fair a representation of the opinion of railway men as it would be if a regiment of soldiers were to be asked to ballot as to whether the colonel or the adjutant should have command of the canteen fund. Tommy Atkins would vote for the colonel and the adjutant, and would probably suggest that he himself should have nothing to do with it. When the honourable Member says that this Bill represents the mature opinion and broad judgment of every man in Stratford Works, let me say that I differ from him entirely, because such is contrary to the fact, as is proved by a fairly substantial minority of the men having the courage, notwithstanding being suspected, and risking their chances of promotion, to vote against this most generous scheme. I am very sorry that the railway men of this country have not, as in this instance, the courage to have more backbone, and to stand out against these compulsory schemes of sick pay and superannuation funds. I am, indeed, sorry that the railway men of Stratford, whilst secretly disagreeing even with the voluntary fund, have not had the courage which was possessed by the minority, and protested against railway companies having anything to do with that which ought to be left to the men's own right and liberty to do for themselves through their own friendly societies. However, there is good reason why they cannot protest, and, if they cannot, we must. We must protest against this Bill because it gives the railway company powers, duties, and functions over their workmen contrary to the spirit of railway legislation which was granted for entirely different purposes. The honourable Member for West Ham has admitted that there are Amendments to be made in the interests of the men. The men object to the reduction of age in one or two instances. They would like to improve the Bill in other respects, but they cannot stand much chance of putting these suggestions forward in a definite and practical manner unless they have a tip from the firm that they must not push these suggested reforms too far. The honourable Member for West Ham says that he never met a more generous scheme than this. Yes, this is the kind of charity that covers a multitude of sins. It is the kind of generosity that whispers pensions to the ear of the platelayer which he will never live to receive. The company, by long hours, overwork, and low wages, kill 80 per cent. before they ever reach the age of 65.


On death they take out their total contributions.


If they do, that is nothing like what the Compensation Act gives them. When we are told about the generosity of the company, let them start being generous by giving their platelayers a rise of 4s. a week; from 16s. to 20s. in the London district. If they want to be benevolent, let them pay their shunters better wages, and not allow them to subject the passengers to respectable blackmailing in the shape of "tips," owing to the fact that it underpays its porters and the whole of its staff; and when we hear of the shunters, platelayers, and porters, and other men, being generously treated, then I ask to see that generosity in the wages that they receive, and I do not see it. The House of Commons is having its time wasted, public business is delayed, important questions are postponed, and the liberty of the subject is interfered with, simply because we do not keep railway companies, as was originally intended, to railway business pure and simple. Railways were instituted to carry men, goods, and cattle.


How about ladies?


Ladies are not carried: they are conveyed. Railways, as I have said, were instituted to carry passengers, goods, and cattle, but what do we see? Year after year railway companies come here for increased powers—omnibuses, privileged cabs, houses for men, sick, accident, bank and pension societies, the effect of which is, Sir, to concentrate the attention of the staffs of the railway companies on subsidiary and auxiliary business, foreign to the original charter granted to the companies. By these encroachments the railway companies, both as regards combination of workmen and associated thrift, are slowly but surely putting restrictions upon the workmen, and incidentally upon the public, which were never intended by Parliament years ago. We are asked to condone this Bill on the ground that it is generous, and not compulsory. It is true that it is not compulsory for old hands, but the honourable Member for West Ham knows it will be practically compulsory for new hands. He knows very well that if men do' not join they will incur disfavour, and that their chance of promotion or transference to better places will be lessened. Therefore, what is on the face of it a voluntary Measure in its operation may be made an instrument of intimidation to such an extent that Parliament should protect the workmen from it. Now I come to the subscriptions. A platelayer with 16s. a week, if he belongs—and I hope he does belong—to a trade union and friendly society, cannot afford to contribute any more. Many of them pay 3d. a week to their trade union, 95 per cent. of whose funds are used, not for trade union and strike purposes, but for sick, unemployed, and superannuation purposes. No man can afford, out of a wage of 16s., to pay more than 3d. a week, and many of them deprive themselves of food and necessaries, not to say small comforts—luxury rarely comes to the platelayer on the Great Eastern as it comes to the directors—in order to keep up this contribution. To ask—or compel, as I prefer to construe it—such men to join this pension fund means that they would have to forego membership of their union, and abandon, perhaps, a long membership of their friendly society. You put obstacles in the way of thrift by this Bill, instead of encouraging it. Going from subscriptions to representation, we find that the fund is to be managed by four directors, four heads of departments, and two workmen delegates. I put it to the honourable Member for West Ham—How would he like such a representation on a pension scheme for School Board teachers?


Under the same terms, I should be very glad to see it.


That does not dispose of the point. How would he like the London School Board teachers to be subjected to representation of this character? If a meeting of Stratford men were held in camerâ, and it was understood that the result would not be disclosed, the honourable Member knows perfectly well that the decision of that meeting would override the "bogus" ballot that we have heard so much about. What is the objection to allowing the scheme to be submitted to the Registrar of Friendly Societies, like trade unions, building societies, or any other friendly association? I am satisfied that a Government official would object to this scheme on the ground of representation, and on other grounds, and I think the Registrar of Friendly Societies ought to have a voice in the matter. I am informed that he has already called attention to it. Whether that is so or not I do not know; but I can assure this House that the workmen of this country, independent of politics, are not going to have their thrift interfered with to the extent that this Bill proposes. The men who belong to the Hearts of Oak, the Oddfellows, the Foresters, and the other friendly societies and associations, which have a membership of 10 millions, are slowly but surely organising to put a stop to these compulsory and these superficially voluntary funds, and some day honourable Members will find out that it is better to look after the interests of their constituents than to promote the intimidating interests of railway companies. Where this pension fund does not intimidate it chloroforms, and where it does not chloroform it misleads. If Lord Claud Hamilton—who is not a Member of this House, and the Stratford men will see that he never represents them—were to swear till he was black in the face that this was a voluntary agreement on the part of the men I would say it is not true. What is more, I say this has been forced on the men.

SIR J. MACLURE (Lancashire, Stretford)

I rise to a point of order. Has the honourable Member a right, in the presence of Lord Claud Hamilton (who occupied a seat under the gallery), to make such an atrocious charge?


The honourable Member is not out of order. He is not referring to any Member of this House.


It is curious and interesting to note, Mr. Speaker, that the director of a railway company interrupts me. It only shows that one touch of intimidation makes the railway world kin. I have only this to say in conclusion: I am convinced that the House of Commons will one day resolve that railway companies must be kept solely to their legitimate business, and leave all their workmen a free and unfettered choice as regards their thrift and pension funds.

* MR. J. PENN (Lewisham)

Mr. Speaker, I only rise to put right, if I possibly can, the very unfair interpretation of this Bill by several Members on the other side of this House. It has been contended that, there is compulsion in this Bill. Clause 11 of the Bill says that— No rule or regulation in such new pension scheme or new pension supplemental scheme shall make it compulsory for any servant of the company to become a member of the new pension fund or the new pension supplemental fund. There is another point that I should like to deal with for one minute, and that is the statement that the fund can be altered by the management. Clause 12 puts that perfectly right, and I claim that nothing could be clearer than the language of the Bill itself, that there is to be no compulsion to join the pension funds, or that the funds can be altered by the management. I should like to deny that the Great Eastern directors have brought pressure to bear upon any of the employees in the unfair and extremely wrong fashion which has been suggested by some honourable Members opposite. I deny, on behalf of the Great-Eastern Railway Company, that compulsion is in any way contemplated; it is altogether foreign to their intention. In answer to the suggestion that the Bill does not receive the support of the Members of existing funds, may I be permitted to read a letter that was addressed this morning to the solicitor to the Company by the secretary of the delegates of the Great Eastern Railway Supplemental Fund? The letter is as follows—

"23, Keogh Road,

>"Stratford, 9th June, 1898.

"E. Moore, Esq.

"Dear Sir,—I am very sorry to read in this morning's papers the opposition to the G.E. Railway Pension Bill. I can earnestly assure you that we are more than satisfied with the Bill now before Parliament, and wish it every success in every way. Sir C. Dilke mentions about the representation on the management. I am pleased to say that the management in the past has been of a most exemplary character, and has met with universal approval from all our members. What more can one say? As to the Registrar of Friendly Societies, we having the Company's guarantee is and ought to be sufficient for anyone, and having our contributions returned with 3 per cent. added on leaving the service, and in case of death our representatives receiving double—why there is no savings bank to equal it! Need I say the voting showing that the members were unanimous in favour of the Bill ought, I think, to be sufficient to ensure our representatives in the House of Commons their help in passing such a good and liberal Bill for the employees in our Company. Trusting that the Bill will pass with flying colours is the wish of all our members,

"From yours respectfully,


"Secretary for the Delegates,

"G. E. R. S.P. Fund."

I think that fairly disposes of the statement that this scheme is antagonistic to the men. I shall only add further that the Company has no objection whatever to any of its servants belonging to any society, or to anything else outside this particular scheme. But the Company is under the impression that this scheme is so good that large numbers of their servants will probably join it in preference to others. That, however, is a question entirely in the hands of the employees themselves.

MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

I have taken great interest for many years in similar schemes, and I should like to say a word or two on the subject. It seems to me an extraordinary thing that those who claim to represent the working classes should suppose that the great railway companies ought, as the honourable Member for Battersea says, to look after nothing but passengers, luggage, and cattle. For years we have contended in this House that large employers of labour ought to take a wider view of their duties, and we have pressed upon them over and over again that the true union between employers and employed could only be entered on where the employers take this larger view of their duties. And yet it is strange that when they come forward—as many of these large companies are coming forward, owing to the progress of public opinion in this direction—with a scheme which will promote harmony, honourable Members opposite have nothing but abuse for it. This scheme seems to me to be one of the best solutions of the difficulty of getting capital and labour to work freely and harmoniously. I have no doubt, if successful, it will lead to harmony and peace; but it seems that there are some people still left who take a delight in preventing industrial pence. I have no hesitation in saying that this scheme is one of the most liberal I have ever seen.

MR. CHAINING (Northamptonshire, E.)

I understand that the honourable Member for the Brightside Division has raised this question as one of principle, and it seems to me that, in dealing with this question, we on this side of the House are right in insisting that there should be fair play between both sides in the shape of the Registrar of Friendly Societies being in a position to see and examine all the schemes brought in. It seems to me that my honourable Friend is justified in dividing the House in order to assert that principle. My honourable Friend is justified in insisting that this scheme is put as nearly as possible in the position of a friendly society, and

that the men are guaranteed representation or a voice in the administration.

Question put— That the Bill as amended be now considered.

The House divided:—Ayes 269; Noes 94—(Division List No. 131.)

Acland-Hood, Capt, Sir A. F. Cornwallis, Fiennes S. W. Hanson, Sir Reginald
Aird, John Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H. Hare, Thomas Leigh
Allhusen, Augustus Henry E. Cox, Robert Hatch, Ernest Frederick G.
Allsopp, Hon. George Cozens-Hardy, Herbert Hardy j Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-
Ambrose, William (Middlesex) Cranborne, Viscount Hazell, Walter
Anstruther, H. T. Cripps, Charles Alfred Heath, James
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton) Heaton, John Henniker
Arrol, Sir William Curran, Thos. B. (Donegal) Helder, Augustus
Asher, Alexander Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (LaneSW) Henderson, Alexander
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Curzon, Viscount (Bucks) Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.
Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down)
Bainbridge, Emerson Dalrymple, Sir Charles Hill, Sir Edward S. (Bristol)
Baird, John George A. Denny, Colonel Hoare, Edw. B. (Hampstead)
Balcarres, Lord Dickson-Poynder, Sir J. P. Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)
Baldwin, Alfred Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Hobhouse, Henry
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch.) Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon Holden, Sir Angus
Banbury, Frederick George Dorington, Sir John Edward Hornby, William Henry
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Howard, Joseph
Barry, Rt Hn A H Smith-(Hunts) Doxford, William Theodore Hozier, Hon. Jas. Hy. Cecil
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Drage, Geoffrey Hutchinson, Capt. G. W. G.
Beach, Rt Hn. Sir M.H. (Bristol) Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. L.
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Dunn, Sir William Jebb, Richard Claverhouse
Bethell, Commander Fardell, Sir T. George Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Farquharson, Dr. Robert Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton
Biddulph, Michael Fellowes, Hon. A. E. Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez E.
Bill, Charles Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir J(Manch.) Johnstone, J. H. (Sussex)
Blundell, Colonel Henry Field, Admiral (Eastbourne) Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn. Sir U
Bond, Edward Finch, George H. Kenrick, William
Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Kitson, Sir James
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Firbank, Joseph Thomas Knowles, Lees
Boulnois, Edmund Fisher, William Hayes Lafone, Alfred
Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Mid'sex) FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose- Lawrence, Sir E. (Cornwall)
Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn) Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks)
Brassey, Albert FitzWygram, General Sir F. Lucky, Rt. Hon. Wm. E. H.
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Flannery, Fortescue Leese, Sir J. F. (Acerington)
Brookfield, A. Montagu Fletcher, Sir Henry Legh, Hon. Thos. W. (Lancs)
Bryce, Rt. Hon. Tames Folkestone. Viscount Leighton, Stanley
Brymer, William Ernest Forwood, Rt. Hon. Sir A. B. Leng, Sir John
Bullard, Sir Harry Foster, Colonel (Lancaster) Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Fry, Lewis Loder, Gerald Walter E.
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs) Garfit, William Long. Rt. Hn. W. (Liverpool)
Cavendish, V.C.W.(Derbysh.) Gedge, Sydney Lowe, Francis William
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Gibbons. J. Lloyd Lowther, Rt. Hon. J. (Kent)
Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W. Gibbs. Hn. A.G.H. (C.ofLond) Lowther, J. W. (Cumberland)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.) Gilliat, John Saunders Loyd, Archie Kirkman
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Godson, Augustus Frederick Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Charrington, Spencer Gold, Charles Lucas-Shadwell, William
Chelsea, Viscount Goldsworthy. Major-General Lvttelton, Hon. Alfred
Coddington, Sir William Gordon, Hon. John Edward Macartney, W. G. Ellison
Coghill, Douglas Harry Gorst, Rt. Hon, Sir John E. Maclean, James Mackenzie
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Goulding, Edward Alfred Maclure, Sir John William
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Graham, Henry Robert McArthur, Chas. (Liverpool)
Colomb, Sir John Charles R. Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs) McArthur, Wm. (Cornwall)
Colston, C. E. H. Athole Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick) McCalmont, Mj. -Gn. (Ant'm, N)
Compton, Lord Alwyne Gunter, Colonel McEwan, William
Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford) Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G. McIver, Sir Lewis
Corbett, A. C. (Glasgow) Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W. McKillop, James
Manners, Lord Edward W. J. Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.) Stanley, Lord (Lancs)
Maple, Sir John Blundell Purvis, Robert Stanley, E. J. (Somerset)
Mappin, Sir Frederick T. Pym, C. Guy Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart
Martin, Richard Biddulph Quilter, Sir Cuthbert Stone, Sir Benjamin
Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. E. Renshaw, Charles Bine Strauss, Arthur
Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire) Richards. Henry Charles Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Mellor, Rt. Hn. J. W. (Yorks) Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l) Thornton, Percy M.
Melville, Beresford Valentine Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W. Tomlinson, W. E. Murray
Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. T. Tritton, Charles Ernest
Milbank, Sir Powlett C. J. Robertson, Herbt. (Hackney) Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H.
Milner, Sir Frederick George Robinson, Brooke Walrond, Sir William Hood
Milton, Viscount Roche, Hon. J. (East Kerry) Ward, Hon. R. A. (Crewe)
Milward, Colonel Victor Rothschild. Baron F. Jas. de Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)
Monk, Charles James Round, James Warkworth, Lord
Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Royds, Clement Molyneux Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)
More, Robert Jasper Russell, Gen. F. S. (Chelt'hm) Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.
Morley, Rt. Hn. J. (Montrose) Russell, T. W. (Tyrone) Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Morrison, Walter Rutherford, John Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. Lloyd
Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford) Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse) Whiteley, H. (Ashton-und-L.)
Mount, William George Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. M. Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute) Saunderson, Col. Edward J. Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry) Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard Williams. J. Powell (Birm.)
Myers, William Henry Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Nicholson, William Graham Seely, Charles Hilton Willox, Sir John Archibald
Nicol, Donald Ninian Seton-Karr, Henry Wodehouse, Edmond R. (Bath)
Northcote, Hon. Sir H. S. Sharpe, William Edward T. Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart.
Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Shaw-Stewart, M.H.(Renfrew) Wylie, Alexander
Pease, Arthur (Darlington) Sidebottom, T. H. (Stalybr.) Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Pease, Sir Jos. W. (Durham) Sidebottom, W. (Derbysh.) Young, Com. (Berks, E.)
Pender, Sir James Simeon, Sir Barrington Younger, William
Phillpotts, Captain Arthur Sinclair. Louis (Romford)
Pierpoint, Robert Smith, J. Parker (Lanarksh.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand) Mr. Ernest Gray and Mr. Bartley.
Pretyman, Ernest George Spencer, Ernest
Allan, Wm. (Gateshead) Ferguson, R. C. M. (Leith) Pirie, Duncan V.
Allen, W. (Newc.-und-Lyme) Ffrench, Peter Priestley, Briggs (Yorks)
Ambrose, Robert (Mayo, W.) Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.) Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Ashton, Thomas Gair Goddard, Daniel Ford Reid, Sir Robert T.
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Halftone, Richard Burdon Richardson, J. (Durham)
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Harwood, George Rickett, J. Compton
Barlow, John Emmott Hedderwick, Thomas C. H. Roberts, J. H. (Denbighsh.)
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Howell, William Tudor Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Birrell, Augustine Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Schwann, Charles E.
Blake, Edward Jacoby, James Alfred Shee, James John
Brigg, John Jones, David B. (Swansea) Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Kearley, Hudson E. Souttar, Robinson
Burns, John Labouchere, Henry Spicer, Albert
Burt, Thomas Lambert, George Steadman, William Charles
Caldwell, James Langley, Batty Stuart, James (Shoreditch)
Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow) Lewis, John Herbert Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson- Lloyd-George, David Tennant, Harold John
Cawley, Frederick Lough, Thomas Thomas, A. (Carmarthen, E.)
Channing, Francis Allston Macaleese, Daniel Wallace, Robert (Perth)
Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness) McKenna, Reginald Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Colville, John Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Warner, Thomas C. T.
Crombie, John William Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel) Wedderburn, Sir William
Curran, Thomas (Sligo. S.) Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen) Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan) Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport) Williams, John C. (Notts)
Davitt, Michael Norton, Capt. Cecil Wm. Wilson, H. J. (Yorks, W.R.)
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Nussey, Thomas Willans Wilson, John (Govan)
Dillon, John O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) Yoxall, James Henry
Doogan, P. C. O'Connor. T. P. (Liverpool)
Doughty, George Paulton, James Mellor
Duckworth, James Pease, Alfred E. (Cleveland) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Ellis, John E. (Notts) Pease, Jos. A. (Northumb.) Mr. Woods and Mr. Madison.
Fenwick, Charles Pickersgill, Edward Hare

Resolution agreed to.

Bill ordered to be read the third time.