§ SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY (Yorkshire, Shipley)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the automatic railway couplings of an inventor, whose models were in the House of Commons last session, have been worked on railway wagons with success, substituting automatic coupling for manual coupling on the spot; and whether any arrangement can be made to enable Members of this House to inspect them on railway wagons during this session, so that they may see for themselves how automatic coupling can be adopted on railways throughout the United Kingdom without interference with trade or the necessary operations of any railway company, and give complete safety to railway servants.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
If any arrangement such as is suggested in the question is made, will care be taken not to give preferential treatment to any one inventor, and to give Members of the House an opportunity of seeing all the best inventions?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. RITCHIE,) Croydon
I am afraid I could not make any arrangement such as that suggested until Parliament has considered the legislative proposals which the Government are putting before them. If Parliament approves of these proposals I have no doubt it can be arranged that hon. Members shall see the various inventions. Of course the railway companies could of their own free will give the facilities which the hon. Member suggests in the case of one inventor, but they would have to consider the claims of other inventors. With regard to the other question, I have no doubt that the Royal Commission had this particular question before them, and they did make a report, as has been suggested. I do not think the Royal Commission wished it to be inferred that they had exhaustively considered any of the inventions put forward.
§ MR. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick's)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that automatic couplings are in general use in America and other countries?