§ As amended (by the Standing Committee), considered.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. C. T. RITCHIE, Croydon)
I propose to move the new clause standing in my name. On consideration it seemed to me that Sub-section 2 was somewhat involved, and therefore I propose to move this substitution—
§ New Clause:—
- (1) Nothing in this Act shall require notice of accidents to be given in cases where such a notice is required to be given under any Act relating to factories or mines.
- (2) Where any inspection, inquiry, or investigation for any purpose may be made under this Act by, or by any officer of, a Government Department, and may also be made for the same purpose under any other Act by, or by any officer of another Government Department, the inspection, inquiry, or investigation shall be made as arranged between the Departments concerned, but any such inspection, inquiry, or investigation shall not be made with respect to the same matter for the same purpose by, or by any officer of, more than one Department. —(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ —brought up and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be now read a second time."
§ MR. MADDISON (Sheffield, Brightside)
With respect to this new clause, speaking for myself, I have no objection whatever to it; indeed, I desire that the object of the right hon. Gentleman should be secured, that object being, as I understand, that the owners of these lines should not be put to the trouble and inconvenience and even embarrassment of a double set of inspectors. But there is a doubt in the minds of several hon. Members, and certainly in my own, whether there is not a class of railway which does not come under either the Home Department or the Board of Trade. I refer to the colliery lines which run from the collieries to the wharves or docks. I want to know whether that class of line is inspected by the Home Office, as they are not inspected by the Board of Trade. If they are not inspected by either the Home Office or the Board of Trade I want to know under what category they will come. They are not inspected by the Board of Trade and are not provided for in the 1598 Bill. I want to know under what category they will come. If the Home Office do not inspect them they will escape altogether this inspection, which I am sure we all desire to take place. I hope. therefore, that either the right hon. Gentleman or some Law Officer of the Crown will assure the House on this point, because I am quite certain that no section of the House desires that this class of railway should be left out of the Bill.
§ MR. RITCHIE
I must ask the indulgence of the House in replying to the criticisms which have been made. When the Bill was before the Committee I promised to consider the question, and I drafted an Amendment to meet the difficulty. I had an Amendment drawn which I thought would have made it perfectly clear that all these lines came under the Home Office. There has been some doubt expressed upon the subject, but I regret to say that the authorities of the House intimated to me when my Amendment appeared that it was out of order because it proposed to amend the Factory Acts, and consequently it was not possible for me to move it. I have endeavoured to adopt another form of words, and I am not without hope that elsewhere I shall be able to find some words to meet the difficulty alluded to by the hon. Member opposite.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
This is a matter of very great importance, because accidents are quite as likely to occur on these sidings as on the main lines, and in some respects they are more likely to occur. Of course there is something to be said for putting these lines under the control of the Home Office by bringing them within the Factory Acts, and there is also something to be said for putting them under the Board of Trade in this Act. I should have thought that the inspection of any kind of railway line, being a matter connected with railway appliances, would be better under the Board of Trade inspection and supervision than under the Home Office. The Home Office has nothing to do with locomotion, and I do not think its inspectors have the training which is necessary. I should have thought, prima facie, it would have been better to deal with them under the Board of Trade. Therefore, I am rather disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman does not see his 1599 way to do this, and in one way or another, the Bill ought not to leave this House without this provision being made. The Bill ought not to receive the Royal Assent until some provision is made or some means taken to bring these sidings within the purview of this Act.
§ COLONEL PILKINGTON (Lancashire, Newton)
I wish to point out that the sidings of a factory are already part and parcel of the factory, and are under the Home Office inspection. If an accident happens upon the lines of the works they come under the Factory Acts, and under Home Office inspection, and the inquiry lies with that Department. Those inspectors have to make examinations in some way with regard to collieries and colliery sidings, which are again under the Home Office through Her Majesty's inspectors of mines, and it is far better that it should continue in that way. To introduce the jurisdiction of another Government Office over those sidings would be very inadvisable and likely to produce confusion. I believe it is perfectly clear that these sidings are now under the Home Office, and I think that to put them under the Board of Trade would be doing something which is likely to lead to much confusion. I trust that my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Trade will insist that this matter shall be left where it is at the present time, under the Board of Trade, and that the factories and mines will be left under the Home Office.
§ MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman gave an undertaking in Committee, in reply to myself, and I should like to make one further appeal to him. We recognise that he has made some effort to meet the difficulties which were brought before the Committee after a somewhat prolonged discussion of this complicated matter. What we have in view, it seems to me, is to secure that there shall be adequate inspection of all these risks wherever they occur, and that that inspection, in the interests of all the parties concerned, should be carried out by one Department. In regard to my right hon. friend's promise to deal with this matter in another place, surely the same Standing Order with regard to the scope of this Bill would govern the procedure in another place as it governs it in this House. I would 1600 venture to suggest to Her Majesty's Government that this question could be most satisfactorily dealt with by introducing a short single - clause Departmental Bill, which would transfer any of these doubtful cases which may arise under the present Bill, and which might, even under this clause, be liable to dual inspection. Then we should get at least one consistent administration for the prevention of accidents which occur on these sidings and branch lines, which need inspection as much as the main lines. My suggestion is that, in order to remove any difficulty as to dual inspection, a short Departmental Bill should be introduced and carried, as it would be, with the consent of both parties. I am sure that such a Bill would be quickly passed through both Houses of Parliament.
§ * COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, Ince)
It has been argued by Gentlemen opposite that all these railways should be under one Department of the State, and that that Department should be the Board of Trade. There is no wish on the part of mine owners to have anything to do with any hiatus, but we regard it as a very important thing that mines and their sidings should continue exclusively under the Home Office and should not be interfered with by the Board of Trade.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
We had a very considerable amount of discussion upon the Royal Commission on this very point, and from the evidence submitted to us it was perfectly clear that there were accidents on railways which were not inspected either by the Board of Trade officials or by the officials from the Homo Office. It is not so much a question of dual inspection as to secure that inspection does take place, or shall take place, on railways which ought to be affected by this Bill, and which have never been inspected before. In the case of a colliery siding, clearly an accident taking place there ought to be investigated, and the investigation should be under the control of the Home Office. The point raised by the hon. Member for the Brightside Division is intended to elicit some information from the President of the Board of Trade or the Attorney General as to whether this Amendment would be sufficient to cover 1601 such a case. If it does not, it ought to be made to do so.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
It was in reply to a question of mine on the Standing Committee that the President of the Hoard of Trade promised to try in this Bill, on Report, to fill up the hiatus which he admitted existed in the case of factories between lines which are inspected by the Home Office and those which come under the Board of Trade. He said there was no hiatus in the case of collieries. A debate took place on the Standing Committee, after which we became aware of a case which we did not know at the time the discussion took place. A case was decided on the 5th of April which has been fully reported in the Labour Gazette for May, in which it was clearly established that there are a large number of colliery lines with regard to which this hiatus docs exist, because they are not inspected as coming under the mines, nor are they railways under the Board of Trade. I do not know whether we had better discuss that matter on this clause or on Clause 15 on the Definition Clause. The House will notice that as far as factories are concerned— though not in regard to coal mines—the right hon. Gentleman did try to redeem his promise. He put down an Amendment which appeared to redeem that promise, but I understand that it was not in order in the form in which it was put down. But oven then he did not fill up the hiatus as far as collieries are concerned. As it appears to be generally admitted that this hiatus does exist, it is clear that the Government must try to meet that difficulty, and I think we ought to get a definite promise that they will deal with it in the House of Lords.
§ * SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)
I think the right hon. Gentleman has brought in a clause which obviates having two inspectors over one piece of ground. I agree with my hon. and gallant friend opposite that the coal mine owners prefer to be altogether under the Home Office, as they have been for many years; but when we come to that hiatus which has been pointed out by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, there is no doubt that they are actually railways. They do not include the numerous colliery branches 1602 of lines round the pit upon which the wagons run to and fro; but accidents on these lines have to be reported to the Home Office, but not their arrangements —these are no doubt under the mines inspectors of the Home Office. We have to deal with what are really railways, and not parts of the colliery proper. I think we had better accept this Amendment and leave it to the right hon. Gentleman to bring in a clause which we all agree is required to meet the case.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
It is extremely difficult to ascertain the number of accidents which occur on railway lines that are not within the control of the Board of Trade or the Home Office. To ascertain the number of men killed and injured on these lines for which no one seems to be responsible, I was talking the other day to a competent railway manager who expressed to me the opinion that the percentage of accidents upon what has been termed the hiatus lines is very great in proportion to those killed and injured on other lines; and the proportion is as great, if not greater for the same mileage, as upon a well equipped main line. I am informed, that the mileage of this class of lines referred to amounts to 600 or 700 miles. I cannot vouch for that statement, and it can easily be disputed, because there is hardly any reliable information upon it, but I do not think that anyone can authoritatively contradict it. We can agree that these lines which do not come within the curtilage of colliery or factory jurisdiction under the Board of Trade are, from the point of view of equipment and manning, as far as the permanent way is concerned and the gear, admittedly infinitely worse than any local or main lines on which passengers are carried. That being so, it seems to mo that we ought to put those lines definitely either under the Home Office or the Board of Trade. Personally, I am not particular what Department it is, provided that Department brings those lines up to the standard of management in regard to permanent way, signalling, and junctions, and many other points, which the ordinary main lines have to adhere to. As a matter of practical administration, I believe that all the sidings within the curtilage of a colliery can be better inspected by the Home Office than by the Board of 1603 Trade, but that is not a serious matter. All I wish to bring before the House is that these lines are badly constructed, badly manned, and badly equipped, and i they should have inspection applied to them. I believe that nearly all the lines that connect a colliery with the main line are not up to the standard of the lines immediately around them, and certainly they are not up to the same standard and level in regard to maintenance as the main line. But whether they are or not I think we ought to apply to them Recommendation No. 5 of the Royal Commission Report. I venture to say that the appliances on these lines are very much below what they ought to be as provided by Recommendation No. 6. And so on through several other recommendations of the Royal Commission. I am positively convinced by observation and experience in the neighbourhood of mines that the gear and appliances on these lines are far below what they ought to be. The question we have to discuss is how can we remedy this. The Standing Orders of the House do not enable us to amend this Act as we should like to, and it seems to me that we have nothing to do but to trust to the right hon. Gentleman to induce another place to remedy this defect—a place which does not stand so much on Parliamentary etiquette and Standing Orders —where they can insert a necessary and desirable change which is required to bring these lines and sidings up to their proper standard of maintenance. I am not prepared to discuss with the right hon. Gentleman how it is to be done, but that it should be done we are all agreed, and I wish him good luck in his attempt to remedy it.
§ MR. SETON-KARR (St. Helens)
I only rise in order that we may have a perfectly clear understanding from my right hon. friend as to the exact question which is now before the House. I am sure there is some confusion prevailing among hon. Members upon this subject. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman proposes to drop Sub-section 2 after Clause 16, and either now or in another place to insert an Amendment substantially containing the Amendment of my hon. friend the Member for the Lice Division. Am I right in that contention? I came here this evening prepared to support the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Ince Division, because I entirely 1604 agree with the view expressed that dual control of these factory sidings would be a most dangerous thing. At present these inspectors are responsible, not to the Board of Trade but to the Home Office, and it seems to me that we had much better, so far as those sidings are concerned, have it perfectly clear that the investigations are to be conducted under the authority of the Home Office only. If I understand the right hon. Gentleman aright I congratulate him on having adopted that course, and upon having framed an Amendment making it perfectly clear that there is to be no such thing as a dual control, but that the investigation as regards these sidings will take place under the Homo Office.
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY (Durham, Chester-le-Street)
As one who has had some practical knowledge of the question under discussion, I may say on behalf of those I represent in the northern part of England, where a larger number of private lines exist than in any other part of the country, that there is not the slightest objection whatever to having Government inspection. My hon. friend the Member for Battersea seems to think that those lines are left entirely uncontrolled. I may say that the owners are just as anxious to have them managed properly as if they were under the inspection of the Government, and when he says that these lines are badly manned, badly constructed and badly equipped, I am in a position to give a direct denial to such an accusation. My hon. friend does not know as much about the private working of these lines as I do. Most of those private lines simply carry small trucks of about 2 tons 13 cwt., but they have recently been so arranged by piling up on the top of them that they can now carry about four tons, and it is not to be expected that lines which are carrying small trucks of 4 tons need to be as heavily weighted in the shape of rails as lines which are to carry 10 tons or even larger tonnage. With regard to the lighting of these private lines I can speak with some experience, and so far as I am acquainted with them, some are lighted up by the electric light, and every care is taken to light them as well as possible, in order to avoid accidents. I am sorry that there are no statistics in regard to these accidents, because I believe they would prove the contrary to what my hon. 1605 friend has argued. I believe the accidents on these lines are considerably less than upon the great railways. That, of course, is a mere matter of opinion, and I regret that I am not in a position to prove it. There is a difficulty with regard to the control. I am acquainted with several lines in the north of England which not only are connected with the collieries in the shape of a private line attached to the collieries, but these private lines join and communicate with the main line. These colliery owners have running powers, and I cannot understand how we are to arrange a question of that kind. If the Home Office is to have control over the line until it joins the main line and then the Board of Trade is to have control over that part of the railway, I cannot understand how the system can be worked. I think hon. Members will see that there is some difficulty in this matter.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause read a second time, amended, and added.
In the application of this Act to railways in Scotland the following modifications shall be made:—'The expression "Summary Jurisdiction Acts" means the Summary Jurisdiction (Scotland) Acts. The jurisdiction conferred by this Act shall be exercised solely by the sheriff, and shall be held to be civil within the meaning of the twenty-eighth section of the Summary Procedure Act, 1864. The sheriff shall upon request of any party to the cause take notes of the evidence, and any party, if dissatisfied with the sheriffs judgment as erroneous either in point of law or of fact, may appeal there against to either division of the Court of Session, which appeal shall be heard summarily by the said division, whose judgment shall be final. The Court of Session may, if it thinks lit, by act of sederunt regulate the form and time of presentation of such appeals.' "—(The Lord Advocate.)
—brought up and read the first and second time, and added.
§ * SIR ALFRED HICKMAN (Wolverhampton, W.)
The Bill provides that the Board of Trade may under this section require the use or disuse of any plant or appliance. All appliances which are likely to be recommended by the Board of Trade are certain to be patented. Already there are 600 patents of various kinds in connection with railway couplings, and therefore we may take it that the choice 1606 of the Board of Trade will be practically confined to patented articles. Then we may be in this position: when a patentee finds that the use of his article is made compulsory by the Board of Trade, he will have the railway companies and the traders practically in his hands. We have a good object lesson in the case of the Dunlop tyros, which were the subject of several patents, all of which were acquired by one largo company, which, though it issued some licences at first, has since gained control over all the companies which held them. The consequence is that the tyres cost about 30 per cent. more in this country than abroad, and I believe that at the present moment the price charged for Dunlop tyres is twice or three times what would be a fair price for them. We should be in a very much worse position even than this if the Bill were adopted as it stands, because railway companies would be compelled to provide these patented articles. It is quite true that there is a power of appeal to the Railway and Canal Commissioners, but there would be nothing to appeal against. The patentee would profess himself quite willing to supply the article, and when the compulsory order was made the time for appeal would be past and the patentee would be in a position to charge any price he liked. Already, I believe, a very large syndicate has been formed to buy up those patents so as to be ready to take advantage of the high prices which are expected. It may be said that the Board of Trade would not order any particular appliance, but this Bill gives them power to order a particular appliance, and although we have very perfect confidence that the present President of the Board of Trade would not do anything unreasonable, we cannot be certain about future Presidents of the Board of Trade, who might act otherwise. If the Board of Trade takes power to compel the compulsory use of these appliances, it ought to take power also to compel patentees to supply articles on reasonable terms. I beg to move, Sir.
If any company or person interested shall prove to the satisfaction of the Board of Trade that their or his reasonable requirements with respect to any patented plant or appliance required by the Board of Trade to be used on any railway are not supplied in a reasonable manner and at a reasonable cost, the Board may order the patentee to grant licence on
such terms as the Board, having regard to the nature of the invention and the circumstances of the case, may deem just; and any such order may be enforced by mandamus."—(Sir Alfred Hickman.)
—brought up and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be now road a second time."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY, Inverness Burghs)
I hope my hon. friend will not think it necessary to press this clause. The matter is not unprovided for, because even at present in Section 22 of the Patent Act of 1883, it is provided that if on the petition of any person interested it is proved to the Board of Trade that by reason of the default of a patentee the reasonable requirements of the public cannot be supplied, it may order the patentee to grant licences on such terms as the Board may think reasonable. That deals with the matter to which the clause refers, but that matter and many others have been referred to a very strong Committee, of which Sir Edward Fry is chairman, and the present Master of the Rolls is a member, in order to see whether the law requires amendment.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD (Hackney, N.)
The clause proposed by my hon. friend goes very much further than the section referred to by the Attorney General. Certainly it would not be very easy to say on a mere question of price whether a patentee makes default. He may be willing to supply the patented appliance in as largo a quantity as may be required, but may charge a price so great as to practically prevent the adoption of the article. The clause as it stands in the Patent Act is certainly capable of considerable improvement, and I would suggest that instead of putting a special clause of this kind in this Bill the President of the Board of Trade should really consider whether the clause in the Patent Act should not be amended so as to get rid of some of the defects at present in it.
§ * SIR JOSEPH PEASE
The hon. Gentleman has pointed out a very considerable difficulty, but after the explanation given by the Attorney General a great deal of what I feared when I first looked at the Bill has passed away. I understood from the right hon. Gentle- 1608 man that he would look a little further into the matter of strengthening the Patent Act in order that patentees should not be allowed to take undue advantage of legislation intended for the public benefit.
§ MR. RITCHIE
My right hon. friend has already said that one of the reasons why the Committee on the Patent Acts was appointed was to consider whether Section 22 was adequate or satisfactory.
§ Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. JACKSON (Leeds, N.)
In moving this clause, perhaps I may be allowed to remind the House that this Bill gives to the Board of Trade very largo powers with regard to the making of rules and regulations with reference to matters connected with railway working. I think the House will permit me also to say, and I think my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Trade will agree, that the railway representatives on the Royal Commission on whose Report this Bill is based were of the greatest assistance in guiding the deliberations of the Committee to a practical result. I think also that my right hon. friend will agree that the railway companies have since the Bill was framed done their best to bring it into practical shape. The clause which I now beg to move is intended to repair what the practical officers connected with the railway companies believe to be a great and important omission in the Bill. The Bill, as the House knows, confers on the President of the Board of Trade great powers and responsibilities. It defines generally what powers the President of the Board of Trade may exercise, and it then prescribes that the Board of Trade may proceed to make draft rules or orders. At that stage of the proceedings it is open to any person who may be affected to make an objection to the proposed draft rules. I think the House will agree that at that stage it may be difficult even for practical railway men to ascertain what would be the full effect and bearing of the proposed rules. There may be objections regarding which the Beard of Trade may perhaps not take quite the same view as the railway companies, and 1609 in the event of the Board of Trade remaining unconvinced that the proposed rules go beyond the requirements of the case or are not calculated to achieve their object, then there is an appeal to the Railway and Canal Commissioners to determine the difficulty. The Commissioners have said in very definite terms that in their opinion with regard to matters of importance with which this Bill deals the Board of Trade ought not to be the ultimate court of appeal, and they have recommended in specific terms that there should be an appeal from the Board of Trade to the Railway and Canal Commissioners. New, Sir, I venture to submit to the House that, although it may be possible to detect some flaws in the proposed rule or order, it is impossible absolutely or accurately to determine until that rule or order has been put into operation whether it is effecting the purpose for which it is desired. The object of this clause which I am moving is to give to the railway companies or the persons concerned an opportunity at a later stage, after having tested the rule which has been made, of appealing to the Railway Commissioners. If they come forward with specific grounds and statements of their objection, and fail to convince the Board of Trade of the reasonableness of their objection, then they shall have the opportunity of going and proving their case before the Railway Commissioners. I venture to think that the House must consider that some provision of this kind is necessary in a matter of this importance. It is one, let me repeat, which affects not only the safety of railway servants, but the safety of the travelling public, and although the Board of Trade—and let me press this point upon my right hon. friend—is taking upon itself an enormous increase of responsibility as compared with anything it has had before, nevertheless that will not relieve the practical railway officers from the great responsibility which will still rest upon them. If, therefore, the responsibility is still to continue to rest upon the practical railway officers, and if in any case they come forward honestly believing that a rule which has been made has been found either to be inoperative for the purpose for which it was devised or to be impracticable in working, there should be some means of making their views known. Let me take a case, 1610 A rule or order may affect particular appliances; it may affect particular plant. I think all of us who have had any experience of the practical working of these matters know that it is almost a certainty that in the case of any plant or mechanical appliances year by year there are improvements being brought forward which supersede the existing plant. I think, therefore, that I am not asking the House too much if I ask them to assent to this clause which the practical railway men of this country believe to be indispensable to the safe working of their railways, and I would venture to make this appeal to my right hon. friend to accept the clause. He has steadfastly in the conduct of this Bill through the House taken his stand upon the Report of the Royal Commission. He has signally declared more than once to both sides of the House that he is not prepared to accept Amendments which carry the Bill beyond the recommendations of the Commission, nor is he pro-pared to accept Amendments which would make the Bill stop short of the recommendations of the Royal Commission; and I venture to say that I am asking him in this case only to give effect at the later stage of the proceedings to the recommendation of the Royal Commissioners, which he has given effect to in every other part of the Bill. In my humble judgment this is one of the most important provisions, or it may be the most important provision, of the Bill. We are in this difficulty: that circumstances of traffic, circumstances of speed, and the regulation of railways are constantly changing, and everyone knows who is collected with them that the very regulations which are made by the railway officers themselves for the control of the service have from time to time been altered and revised. If that is the effect within the service itself, it is not unreasonable to expect that it may be the result even in the case of the Board of Trade; and I therefore make this appeal to my right hon. friend, that he will assent to this clause, and so give in its completeness to the Bill that power of appeal which the Royal Commission considered ought to have been given in the recommendations which they made. I beg to move.
(1) Any person affected by any rule, order, or direction made under this Act, which has
been in operation for a period exceeding six months, may apply to the Board of Trade to rescind or vary the same. Such application shall be made in writing, and shall be accompanied by a statement of the grounds upon which it is made.
(2) If the Board of Trade shall decline to entertain such application, or if the person making the application is dissatisfied with the decision of the Board of Trade thereon, the Board of Trade shall at the request of such person refer the application to the Railway and Canal Commission as if it were an objection to a proposed rule under this Act."—Mr. Jackson.)
—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be now read a second time."
§ SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY (Yorkshire, Shipley)
My right hon. friend the Member for North Leeds in recommending this new clause to the House made—no doubt unintentionally—a mis-description of its effect. He said that his clause would give "an opportunity" to the railway companies to ask for the revision of a rule already made. Now, the clause would give not an opportunity but an indefinite number of opportunities. The clause as it stands would have this effect: If a rule was made which the railway companies found to be objectionable they could appeal to the Railway Commissioners through the Board of Trade against that rule. If their appeal were disallowed they could appeal again, and so on from time to time. No doubt it may be answered that there would be discretion in the Railway Commissioners to east in costs any railway company that continued and reiterated its appeal against a rule which had been made by the Board of Trade and been renewed on one appeal by the Railway Commissioners. Therefore, while at first sight it seemed to me when the matter was under discussion in the Standing Committee, and when the Amendment was put upon the Paper, that the proposed clause might have that construction, I have, after listening to the speech of my right hon. friend and considering the matter more fully, come to the conclusion that, for all practical purposes, there would be a measure of justice and precaution and fairness to the companies in such a clause as this, and that it would not have in practice; the objection of reiteration that there might appear to be at first sight.
§ * MR. FENWICK
I candidly admit that there is a great deal to be said for the principle of the Amendment moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds, but I do not think that the Amendment in the form in which it stands on the Paper can be acceptable, having regard to what took place in the Commission itself. That Commission completed its labours in a comparatively short period — a fact due in a great measure to the ability and tact and experience in dealing with social questions which the noble chairman Lord James possessed, and also to the great fairness of the men who represented the railway associations on that Commission. We did not arrive at our conclusion without much give and take on both sides, and I hope that it is not now to be attempted to go behind the Report of the Commission and to give the railway companies by a clause of this kind an opportunity to fight rule by rule which the Board of Trade in its judgment may seek to impose upon them. I fully admit, as I have said, the fairness of the principle that when a rule is made by the Board of Trade, and it is found by experience—and that experience ought in my judgment to extend over a longer period than six months, the period stated in the Amendment—when it is found that the operation of that rule is too rigid, or, on the other hand, that it is too lax, the parties affected ought to have the power to appeal for some modification of the rule. The Board of Trade, in other words, ought to have the power to vary or modify, according to the circumstances of the case, the rule which they have made. But I do sincerely trust that this House will not go behind the back of the Commission and give to the railway companies the power to whittle away the advantages which we thought we had secured to the railway servants by the unanimous Report of that Commission. I do not know what line the President of the Beard of Trade intends to take in reference to this Amendment; but while I admit that the principle is a fair one, I certainly think that the clause cannot and ought not to be accepted in the form in which it appears on the Paper.
§ MR. RENSHAW (Renfrewshire, W.)
I desire to say one word in support of the Amendment moved by the right hon. 1613 Member for North Leeds, and I should like, in reply to the remarks that have been just addressed to the House by the hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division, to say that I do not understand that the proposal of my right hon. friend in this Amendment seeks either to go behind the Report of the Commission or to whittle away any advantages that were intended to be secured by the Report. No, Sir. The Royal Commission reported in favour of a very general right of appeal against the rules made by the Board of Trade. I should like to say on this point that everyone who is conversant with the general administration of the railway affairs of the United Kingdom knows that the rules under which the railways work at the present time are subject to annual review by the collective officers of those companies. That in itself I think ought to satisfy the House that on the point which the right hon. Member for North Leeds has brought before us now for our consideration we ought to accept the clause that he has proposed. It is perfectly obvious that, if not in respect of the general rule, in respect of specific orders to which this clause will equally apply, in a very short time working experience will show that a change is desirable, not only, perhaps, in the interests of the railway companies, but in the interests of the servants of the railway companies, and in the interests of the public at large. Changes might take place which would make it essentially desirable that new rules should be made, and it is for that reason that I strongly urge on the House that they should assent to the clause proposed by the right hon. Member for North Leeds.
§ MR. BRYCE
It appears to me that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds has certainly made out a case for allowing an appeal to the Railway Commissioners after a rule made by the Board of Trade has been in operation for a certain length of time, but he has not shown that the length of time that he suggests, six months, is enough to allow a complete experience to be arrived at to test sufficiently the effect and working of the rule.
§ MR. BRYCE
It may well be that six months may be found too short and that 1614 a longer time may be needed before the effect of the rule could be tested. Further, the right hon. Gentleman I think puts no limitation on this power of appeal; it may be repeated afresh from time to time; and to suppose that that could be done is to credit the Board of Trade with a want of good sense and practical knowledge which it is hardly fair to attribute to them. It is perfectly plain that in a case of this kind the Board of Trade can have no object except to subserve the general well-being both of the companies and the travelling public, and of the servants of the companies, and I do not see why it should be suggested that the Board of Trade should be so extremely unlikely to be alive to those considerations that it is necessary to hang over their heads a perpetual power of appeal such as is now proposed. Therefore, while I admit that there is a grievance raised by the Amendment, and that some provision of this kind might, perhaps, be an advantage, I would suggest whether it ought- not to be limited much more than it is in this Amendment, and whether the time ought not to be changed, and whether there ought not to be a provision that no further appeal should be allowed, at any rate, until the lapse of a considerable period after the hearing of the last appeal.
§ MR. MADDISON
I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will have some due regard to the attitude which many Members on this side of the House—certainly the Labour Members— have taken with regard to this Bill. We considered candidly that this Bill was not all we wanted, but it was very much what we did want and what the railway men certainly needed. With that object in view we accepted the right hon. Gentleman's doctrine of the infallibility of Royal Commissions—at any rate that was accepted by those of us who believed in the infallibility of anything, which I, for one, do not. I would say right off that in my feeble way I am able to appreciate what the right hon. Member for North Leeds said about the complications of railway work, and consciously I have never tried to make more difficult the task which I know under the best of conditions is a very onerous one for the officers and staff who have to carry out these rules. But I do hope that, whether 1615 the right hon. Gentleman accepts the principle of this clause or not, he will not accept the clause as it stands, and I will very briefly try to give my reasons for that. In the first place the right hon. Member for North Leeds based all his arguments on the old fallacious assumption which hon. Gentlemen sitting behind the President of the Board of Trade are never weary of trotting out—namely, that a rule enforced under this Bill means the enforcement of some particular appliance. That is the underlying fallacy of this Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman's, because with all his exhaustive knowledge as chairman of one of the great trunk lines, he did not give us a single concrete illustration of how the Bill as it stands would operate badly for the railway companies. We are always told that this House is a practical assembly—I do not subscribe to that doctrine entirely, but that is a doctrine generally entertained; but, at any rate, the right hon. Gentleman might have given us an instance of that. If the House will allow me, I should like to call attention to some of the things that rules are likely to be made about. We will take the first in the schedule—brake levers on both sides of wagons. Suppose the Board of Trade make an order for brake levers on both sides of wagons; they will not say what sort of brakes, they will not tie the companies to a particular patent or a particular appliance. Their rule will call upon the companies to do certain things in the interests of safety, and it will absolutely leave them to carry out that rule in the way that they think best, so long as the principle of the rule is secured. This is nothing new. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, some of the companies have the Westinghouse brake, and some have the vacuum brake, and I believe there is even another brake which conforms to the Board of Trade conditions. Therefore, the House must not be led away by the very ingenious appeal which the right hon. Gentleman made to hon. Members sitting around him not to embarrass or make more difficult the work of the railway companies. As a matter of fact, the Act will do nothing of the sort. Take another case. There is a provision in the schedule for the efficient lighting of goods yards. The Department would not say that good yards must be lit by electric light—above all things they would not say that it 1616 must be by a particular system of electric lighting. The Great Northern may light their goods yards by electricity—I believe, in fact, they would —some other lines may light theirs by gas; both would conform to the rule put into operation with respect to that great safeguard. Then take the matter of automatic couplings—those are familiar friends of ours. Although the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade last year was constantly charged in the most foolish manner with trying to force on railway companies some particular sort of automatic couplings, the fact is he never did anything of the sort, nor does he in this Bill. Suppose a rule were enforced for automatic couplings; would that mean one inventor's automatic couplings? Not at all. All you would have to do would be somehow to couple your vehicles automatically.
§ MR. JACKSON
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but suppose there was only one automatic coupling which would satisfy the Board of Trade, the companies would be obliged to give that one; and the enforcement of brake levers on both sides of wagons would be unnecessary if continuous brakes were required.
§ MR. MADDISON
I think the interruption of the right hon. Gentleman is only waste of time, if he will allow me to say so, because I never referred to continuous brakes with regard to goods wagons—I only wish they were in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman ought to be more cautious—that is one of the very things that we thought ought to be in the Bill. He will find that the Bill is not by any means so advanced as it might be With regard to automatic couplings, does the right hon. Gentleman really believe that the present President or any other President, or any other responsible Minister who has experience and who has worth to justify him for that high post, would ever enforce a rule where the company simply had one patent or one invention to depend upon? Really this is, at any rate, not practical politics at all, and the right hon. Gentleman knows that very well. Then I come to the right of appeal. Apart from the Railway and Canal Commissioners, while I am not infatuated with Government Departments, I would have thought that hon. Members would, at 1617 any rate, have given the Board of Trade credit for a little common sense. Supposing a rule was working badly—supposing some appliance was making railway work more dangerous both for railway employees and for the travelling public; does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that there would be any real difficulty if that was put before the Board of Trade in getting the Department to give serious attention to the matter? Remember, they have machinery for doing that which I venture to submit is not possessed by the Railway and Canal Commission. Who are the Railway and Canal Commission? They are a very eminent body I believe, but nobody knows very much about them. They know nothing about railway work. We have always complained of this tribunal, but, in order to get this Bill, we have refused to embarrass the right hon. Gentlemen with criticism on this point, so careful were we that we should not delay the passing of the Bill. But are we to understand that what the inspecting staff' of the Board of Trade (including, remember, Royal Engineer officers, and practical railway men) have considered as a good working rule, is in fact likely to be improved upon by three judges, three lawyers, who may or may not know a good deal about law, but who nobody would pretend know anything about the practical working of a railway? That leads me to another point in the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment, and I hope the House will examine this point. What we are asked to do in this Amendment is to give the right of appeal for the purpose of rescinding or varying a rule, but on what ground? If hon. Members will examine the Amendment they will find that the ground of objection may be the ground of cost alone. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. With all respect to the right hon. Gentleman I say that there is not a single word in his Amendment, so far as I can sec (of course, if he can correct me, I shall be very glad), which gives a right to appeal against rules which prove to be dangerous in their working. As a matter of fact, the great railway companies, possessing enormous wealth, can constantly under this Amendment simply appeal not because the rule is proved to be dangerous, not because it has made railway work any less safe for the men, which I admit might under certain cir- 1618 cumstances happen, but simply because they did not like the rule—because their traffic manager said it delayed the traffic, or because certain departmental objections were taken to it purely of a commercial character, and those objections would be sufficient to give a right of appeal. Now is the House prepared to subject a Bill of this sort to that process? I venture to say that it would be wrong, and I very earnestly appeal to the President of the Board of Trade not to accept this Amendment as it stands. If the right hon. Gentlemen's intention is merely to protect himself against a rule which may instead of making the work more safe make it more dangerous, then his clause does not meet that, but it meets other things which never ought to have entered into it, and if this is not his intention then this clause is not necessary. If the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade determines to accept the Amendment, I hope he will give us a promise that first of all he will take care that on the same rule there shall not be second appeals, and that the period shall be extended, and generally that the appeal should be given only when the reason of the objection is really a question of safety and not merely a question of cost in the working of the railway.
§ MR. RITCHIE
Whatever may be the opinion of the House with respect to the proposal of my right hon. friend, I think everyone will agree that he stated his case with extreme moderation and great clearness, and with the ability which we should all expect of him. I need hardly say that an Amendment coming from him would naturally commend itself to me as being an Amendment dictated not by any desire to defeat the ends of the Bill, but dictated by an earnest desire on his part to do what he could to see that the Bill would work as we expect it to work without friction and with the assistance of all concerned. Now, so far as regards the first portion of this new clause which proposes to give a right of appeal at any time after six months to the Board of Trade against any rule which they have made, I have no objection to raise to that. I think it is right that both the railway companies and the railway servants should have an opportunity at any time to come to the Board of Trade and make to them representations to the effect that the rule which has been 1619 passed by them and assented to by the Railway Commissioners does not quite work in the way that was anticipated, and should be reconsidered. That portion of the Amendment is one which I am sure must commend itself to the whole House. With regard to the second portion, however, while I recognise the justice of some of the remarks of my right hon. friend, I think he is unduly apprehensive of the action of the Bill. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last has said truly that the action of the Board of Trade has not been to lay down to the railway companies any particular invention which they are to adopt in order to carry out a particular end, and he has said truly that with regard to continuous brakes, with regard to interlocking signals and matters of that kind, the Board of Trade have never called upon the railway companies to adopt any particular invention; they have left it to the companies themselves to adopt the particular invention which should carry out the end which it was desired to effect. Therefore, so far as that portion of my right hon. friend's argument is concerned — namely, the portion in which he said that it would be very prejudicial to the public interest if railway companies were not able to avail themselves of new inventions or alterations of patents or appliances of their own accord—it falls to the ground. It is not the intention of the Board of Trade to lay down any particular mode of carrying out any order that they may make, and the railway companies will be at perfect liberty to adopt any patent or method which may seem to them best in order to carry out the object in view. Then my right hon. friend spoke of the changes which take place in the ordinary every-day work of the yards, and said that it would be very prejudicial if the railway companies were not able to make changes. It cannot be supposed for a moment that a Department which has specially under its care the railway interests of this country would not readily lend itself to any proposal of a railway company for the purpose of improving the working of their lines. The Department over which I preside is responsible to the House of Commons, and not only would the Board of Trade be unworthy of the trust placed upon it if it refused to do anything of the kind, but the Minister responsible for taking such action would not long enjoy the confidence of the House of Com- 1620 mons. Then my right hon. friend came to that paint in his argument which was to the effect that some of the appliances or methods of applying the rules proposed by the Board of Trade might in operation prove to be unworkable, and not such as to secure the end in view, and that, therefore, some appeal even from the Board of Trade was desirable in that particular case. I am prepared to say that I think there is something in that argument, but I do think that the words of my right hon. friend's clause are open to the objection that appeals might be made incessantly to the Railway Commissioners, which would greatly hamper the operation of the Act in the hands of the Board of Trade. It would be unfortunate if that would be the result of my right hon. friend's Amendment. I am prepared to accept the first part of the clause, and to amend the second part, to the effect that within twelve months, not after, of the making of a rule there should be an appeal. There is, first, the making of the rule and then time is given before the rule comes into force. After the rule comes into force and the appliance is at work, I would propose that within twelve months after that a railway company, if dissatisfied, might appeal to the Board of Trade upon that particular point, with the further power of appealing to the Railway Commissioners. That, I believe, would protect the railway companies to the full, and we should prevent the difficulty of frequent appeals, which I think would be detrimental to the operation of the Act. I hope my right hon. friend will be able to accept my Amendment, which is as follows—If any such application be made within twelve months after the date on which the rule in respect to which the application is made has come into operation and the Board of Trade declines to entertain the application the Board of Trade shall, if required by the person making the application refer it to the Railway and Canal Commissioners, and the Commissioners shall consider and decide whether the application is reasonable or not, as if it were an objection to a rule under this Act, and if they decide that the application is reasonable the Board of Trade shall propose a rule to meet it.I hope my right hon. friend will recognise that I desire to meet the objection he has raised, and that he will consider the proposal which I now make as a reasonable one, and as likely to meet his point.
§ * SIR JOSEPH PEASE
Before the right hon. Gentleman replies to the President of the Board of Trade, I just wish to point out that the clause as moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds is a clause which appeals to every railwayman who desires an improvement in the working of railways. The clause has in my opinion been too much discussed as if it were drawn for the protection of the railway companies. It is, I submit, a clause which railway employees can put into force just as well as the railway companies. This has been discussed very ably by my hon. friend the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield; but, after all, these clauses are to meet not the good but the bad and not required inventions. The President of the Board of Trade says that the Board of Trade has only this intention and that intention, but— alas for this country—my right hon. friend will not exist for ever, and all that we desire is that a clause should be put into the Act which will meet all the possible circumstances of the day, and keep the rules up to the mark. There is a proverb in the railway world that good intentions form a very doubtful pavement in a very doubtful country. Acts of Parliament are not drawn to meet good intentions, but to meet bad ones, and I think that if it is found in three months that a thing is working badly, it ought not to be allowed to go on for twelve months.
§ * SIR JOSEPH PEASE
I take this clause as a very important one for railway servants. I do not know any persons more likely to put it into operation than the men themselves when they see that a thing is not working well. They are far better judges, and can express themselves quite as clearly as any board of directors, and I feel that it is in their interest quite as much as in the interest of the country.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
Amendment proposed to the proposed new clause—
To leave out Sub-section 2 in order to insert the following words—' If any such application is made within eighteen months after
the date on which the rule in respect of which the application is made has come into operation, and the Board of Trade declines to entertain the application, the Board of Trade shall, if requested by the person making the application, refer it to the Railway and Canal Commissioners, and the Commissioners shall consider and decide whether the application is reasonable or not, as if it was an objection to a rule under this Act, and if they decide that the application is reasonable, the Board of Trade shall propose a rule to meet it.' "—(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ MR. JACKSON
I feel that the right hon. Gentleman has tried to meet what at all events he believes to be the practical difficulty of this case. I confess that to my mind the Amendment does not meet what I honestly feel may become a great difficulty, even at the expiration of eighteen months. I would like to say, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman, that there is no desire on the part of the railway companies to use the power of appeal in the direction of defeating the objects of the Bill. The hon. Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield would be the first to desire that if a rule made by the Board of Trade were found by the practical officers of a railway company to be ineffective for the purpose for which it was designed, there should be power to the railway company either to obtain its revision or to be allowed to state their appeal before the tribunal—which, I venture to remind the Labour Members, they themselves selected and recommended—the Railway Commissioners. What the railway companies feel is that they should be allowed to go to the Court of Appeal and state their objections to the rule that has been made. I feel that my right hon. friend has placed me in a difficulty, and in a position of great responsibility. I spoke on behalf of the railway companies when I moved the clause that stood in my name, I expressed, probably feebly, but as well as I could, what was their strong objection to the proposal of my right hon. friend. I have decided to accept the alteration my right hon. friend has made, but I accept it in the hope that we shall be able, by the powers of appeal granted, to at all events prevent the adoption of a rule which may be injurious to the working of the railway in the sense of the safe and good working both as regards the servants and the public.
§ MR. MADDISON
There are one or two points I wish to be clear about. It 1623 is difficult for some of us to follow Amendments that are not on the Paper, but now I must try to make the best of it. As I understand the Amendment, there is the right of appeal within eighteen months after the rule is in operation. I want to know how long the rule must be in operation before an appeal may be made.
§ MR. MADDISON
Well, that is one of the points. I do not think the Amendment states that the minimum is six months.
§ MR. MADDISON
Well, thin, that is settled. In the next place I want it to be clear what happens if an appeal is upset on a particular rule. I gather that the right of appeal on that particular rule would then cease.
§ Amendment agreed to. Clause, as amended, added.
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY
In moving the Amendment which stands in my name, I must disclaim all opposition to the principle of the Bill. No one has a greater desire than I have to see some moans adopted, if those means are practicable, to prevent any of the railway accidents that take place from day to day. Whether this Bill will affect the object it has in view remains to be seen. I hope it may, but I look upon it altogether as an experiment, which may have good results or the contrary. This Bill is intended, as I understand it, to apply to public railways, because before the Commission which was appointed to inquire into these matters, I think the chief evidence given was in regard to accidents which occurred on the public railways of the country. The Commission thought fit, I presume, not to include the private railways within the scope of the Bill. Unfortunately my Amendment deals with a subject which was not brought before the Commission. No one was appointed to give evidence on this particular question, and therefore I think I am at rather a disadvantage. The effect of my Amendment would be to limit the operation of the Bill entirely to those we know as railway servants. 1624 The term "railway service" is unknown, I believe, to the law courts, and I confess that the absence of a clear definition may lead to considerable litigation and difficulty hereafter. My object in moving this Amendment is to deal with certain railways which exist in the north of England. Private railways in the north of England are connected chiefly with collieries. They have their own locomotives and wagons, which are of a particular kind, averaging something like four tons each. Whether in the future the provisions of the Bill may be extended to private railways or not I cannot tell. Probably that may be the ultimate result, but if so I presume that all private railways will come under its operation. On private railways, I believe, there are very few accidents which would be dealt with by any rules or regulations which may be made by the Board of Trade under this Bill. The traffic carried is of an altogether different character from that which is generally carried on large railways. There we have not the largo shunting yards which are the chief place? of danger on largo railways. On most of the wagons in connection with those private railways there are dead buffers. The wagons of the private railways to which I refer are obliged to touch in certain instance? public railways, and when they touch public railways they are brought within the operation of the Bill. These wagons are manipulated by simple chains. They are extremely small compared with ordinary railway wagons, and there is no difficulty in managing the couplings without going in between them. Some of these railways are connected with shipping places, which are constructed simply for this particular class of wagon, and if you put another kind of wagon on to the ''drop" it is useless altogether. I wish to point out that in the event of this rule being applied to this particular class of wagons which pass over a short portion of a public railway, it will be necessary to alter the whole of the wagons employed, and in many cases not only the wagons but the shipping places. This would lead to enormous cost, which, in my view, is really not justified. I am not quite sure whether the House will be prepared to accept this Amendment or not. I submit the Amendment with some degree of hesitation. I feel sure if I could take Members of the House to these lines and 1625 let them see the working of the traffic, they would not hesitate to give exemption in such cases, for, after all, what is the use of putting enormous expense on private undertakings of this kind when there is no evidence to show that any large number of accidents take place? In the interests of my constituents and those whom I represent in the north of England, I feel bound to put this before the House in order to show what is the feeling of Her Majesty's Government and the House of Commons on reasonable questions of this kind which are put before them.
Amendment proposed to the Bill—
In page 1, line 9, to leave out the words 'railway service,' and insert the words ' employment of persons on any railway by any railway company' instead thereof."—(Sir James Joiccy.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words ' railway service ' stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. RITCHIE
I cannot advise the House to accept this Amendment. The effect of it would be that if any wagons were run across a railway, and the persons employed in the wagons were not railway servants, but the servants of the colliery owners, the wagons would not come under the Act. I am certain that is not what is desired. As to the hon. Gentleman's wagons, I can assure him they would be in exactly the same position as those of anybody else. We do not wish to interfere with sidings wagons at all; we simply wish to ensure that wagons which are run upon a railway conform to the Orders issued under the Bill. To except wagons such as those suggested by the hon. Member would, I think, be extremely impolitic on the part of the Government.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
The hon. Baronet made a statement which I think ought to be corrected. He said that the private sidings to which he referred employed in the main dead-buffers that were not dangerous, and that in many respects they ought not to be put under the same 1626 conditions of inspection and examination as ordinary railway wagons. I may answer that by reading a sentence from the evidence of Mr. Constantine, the assistant manager of the Midland Railway—How many wagons are there?—Sir Ernest Paget says about 6,000. I think that is about it.If you had your way on the Midland you would put those wagons to death, would you? —Yes I would, without mercy.Without shrift?—Yes, for the sake of humanity, I would.This Amendment, if carried, will exclude all dead-buffer wagons that are now worked on private sidings and at collieries. When we have the assistant manager of the Midland Railway saying he would put all those dead-buffer wagons to death in the interests of humanity, it is indeed a clinching argument why the Amendment should not be accepted.
§ * COLONEL BLUNDELL
If the hon. Gentleman had read the evidence which follows that of Mr. Constantine—that of Mr. Harrison, the general manager of the London and North Western Railway—he would have found a very different opinion as to the danger of these dead-buffer wagons.
§ SIR JAMES JOICEY
I will not press the Amendment, as I find it is impossible to pass it. I have stated my case and have obtained no sympathy, but I think it is entirely due to the ignorance of the House of the conditions of the question.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. RENSHAW
I do not propose to move the first Amendment I have on the paper, but I do the second, which is to omit the words "to the satisfaction of the Board of Trade." My reason for doing so is this: The clause we are now discussing deals with three different matters in respect of which the Board of Trade are entitled to make rules. The Board of Trade are to have the power, in the first place, to make rules in regard to the scheduled subjects; in the second place, in regard to avoidable danger to persons employed on any railway arising from operations of railway service; and in the third place, in the sub-section we are 1627 now dealing with, in regard to the use or disuse of plant and appliances. It is an extremely important power the Board of Trade are taking upon their shoulders in this respect. It is a great departure from the position in which responsibility exists at the present moment— namely, upon the railway companies themselves, and I want to ask the House to consider whether the words I propose to omit are not likely seriously to embarrass those who have to discuss these matters before the Railway Commissioners in arriving at a definite conclusion as to what is or is not reasonable in regard to the rules proposed under this sub-section. Clause 3 gives reference in regard to objections to the Railway Commission. The second sub-section provides that the Commissioners should consider whether any objections so referred are reasonable or not, and if they determine the objection to be reasonable the rule against which the objection is urged should not be made. What I want to put before the House with regard to this point is that it is proposed with regard to plant and appliances not merely to put before the Railway Commissioners for their consideration the question of fact as to whether the plant or appliances are suitable or not, but as to whether or not the Board of Trade are satisfied that the plant or appliances ought to be used or disused. That is not a question of fact, but a question of whether or not the Board of Trade are satisfied. That is not a question which ought to be submitted to the Railway Commissioners, and I do not think their powers of dealing with the question of the reasonableness or unreasonableness of a Rule ought to be limited in that direction. If the right hon. Gentleman objects to the omission of the words, I would point out that the wish that I have to provide that the issue should be clearly placed before the Railway Commissioners would equally be met if he would agree to insert after the words "to the satisfaction of the Board of Trade" the words "or on appeal the Railway Commissioners." That would make it clear that if the Board of Trade had decided the matter as satisfactory, and the Railway Commissioners on appeal regarded the proposed rule as unsatisfactory, they would have full power to deal with the matter on the facts brought before them. I beg to move the omission of the words.
In page 1, line 22, after the word ' shown,' to leave out the words, ' to the satisfaction of the Board of Trade.' "—(Mr. Renshaw.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
I understand the apprehension of the hon. Member to be that the only question would be whether the Board of Trade had been satisfied that the appliance was calculated to reduce danger, and that on appeal it might not be open to the Railway Commissioners to consider the question on its merits. I do not think that is the effect of the Bill as it stands. It is perfectly clear that on the appeal the Railway Commissioners would be entitled to go into the facts and decide whether the Board of Trade were properly satisfied on the point. But we have not the slightest objection, as some Members appear rather anxious on the point, to insert words making it perfectly clear that on appeal as to matters in the discretion of the Board of Trade, that discretion may be reviewed by the Railway Commissioners, and the words I propose for that purpose —not really by way of altering the Bill in any way, but to make the point quite clear—are these—On page 2, line 18, to insert 'including all objections relating to any matter within the discretion of the Board of Trade.'I think that would meet my hon. friend's view.
§ MR. RENSHAW
That quite meets the objection I have made, and I there-fore ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In page 2, line 18, after the word ' objection,' to insert the words "including objections relating to any matters within the discretion of the Board of Trade.'" — (Mr. Attorney General.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. RENSHAW
The intention of the Amendment I now propose to move is to provide, in the first place, that 1629 single objectors should be entitled to ask to go before a referee and not before the Railway Commissioners if they so wished. As the clause stands at present, it would seem to imply that the power of appearing before the referee is limited to cases in which there is more than one objector. The second point is that in this matter the Board of Trade has to be satisfied that it is the general desire of the objectors. It seems to me it ought to be merely the consent of the objectors; possibly it ought to be the consent of the majority; but it ought not to be a question within the discretion of the Board of Trade, who themselves are to appoint the referee, as to whether it is the general desire or not. We might have cases whore one particular objector was affected in a different way from any other objector by a particular rule, and it might be a matter of urgent importance to him to have a special inquiry in regard to the particular way in which the particular rule affects him. It is for these reasons I ask the right hon. Gentleman to alter this part of the Bill. I beg to move.
§ Clause 6:—
In page 3, line 4, to leave out from the word 'trade' to the word 'objectors' in line 5, and insert the words, " may, with the con-sent of the objector or."—(Mr. Renshaw.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. RITCHIE
My hon. friend's first objection is that there may be one single objector, and he thinks the words of the clause will not operate in that case. It is quite clear that my hon. friend is wrong, because if there is only one objector, and he desires to go before the special tribunal, it is plain that it is " the general desire of the objectors " if there be only one. If we were to accept this Amendment it might happen that there would be a dozen objectors who desired to go before this special tribunal, and there might be one objector to the same rule who could prevent those who desired so to do taking advantage of this tribunal. There might be one objector who might prevent the others taking advantage of this rule. I am sure that is not what my hon. friend desires, and I believe the 1630 general desire is that objections should be referred to a special inquiry.
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
I have put down two alternative amendments to provide that the Board of Trade should not be the judge where the objectors wish to go before a referee. In connection with the rest of the provisions in this clause, they enable the Board of Trade not only to satisfy itself whether a referee is preferable to an appeal to the arbitrators, but it allows the Board of Trade to decide the matter between itself and the litigant.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In page 3, lines 4 and 5, to leave out the words ' satisfied that it is the general desire,' and insert the words ' required so to do by a majority.' "—(Mr. Stuart- Wortley.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ MR. RITCHIE
I do not see any particular objection to the words of my right hon. friend, but I think our own words are better. It might be taken that we were bound to make this reference, and it would be taken as an instruction to us to take the will of the more majority. I think it ought to be something more, and it ought to be a general desire.
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY
I only wish for abstract justice, and the Board of Trade should not be allowed to form an opinion upon its own conduct. I should be willing to take the general desire of the objectors. I do not, however, desire to press the Amendment, and I beg leave to withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY
I cannot see why the Board of Trade should be allowed, when it is one of the litigants, to appoint the arbitrators to decide between them. I cannot see what objection there can be to this Amendment, and I venture to suggest that it is only fair that the arbitrator should be appointed by some outside body.
In page 3, line 6, to leave out the words ' Board of Trade,' and insert the words ' Railway and Canal Commissioners ' instead thereof."—(Mr. Stuart Worthy.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words ' Board of Trade ' stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. RITCHIE
My objection is that the Railway and Canal Commissioners have not come into the Bill, and they are not invested with any duty at this particular stage. So far as the appointment being made by the Board of Trade is concerned, I may point out that it can only be done by consent, and I have no doubt that it will be with the general consent of the parties that the referee will be appointed.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
In page 3, line 18, to leave out the words ' and thereupon,' and insert the words ' in the same manner as they may make a rule under this Act, and subject to the same provisions and."—[Mr. Ritchie.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)
The Amendment which stands in my name raises a very important question of great interest to the general public, and more especially to that deserving class who have invested the savings of their life in railway debentures. This clause proposes that the Board of Trade may authorise a railway company to raise money in priority to existing debenture stock, and it may be said that there is already an Act which authorises this procedure. The fact remains that the majority of the people of this country have been under the impression that if they invested their money in debenture stock, returning about 2½ or 2¾ per cent. they were investing in an absolute security which was a first charge upon the funds of the railway, and which would not be affected unless the railway went into bankruptcy and into the hands of the Receiver. No doubt it will be said that there is a precedent for this clause. In the year 1889, when the Railway Regulations Acts were introduced, on the 6th 1632 of August the hon. Member then sitting for the St. Patrick Division of Dublin introduced a similar clause which was passed without any discussion. The House is pretty much in the same condition to-night as it was in 1889, and I hope hon. Members will seriously consider this proposal, which is a very serious departure from the usual practice, and an alteration of the security in the investments of the country. The trustees of widows and orphans who have been left a little money have put it into railway debenture stock, and if this principle is once admitted that their security may be altered according to the ideas of the Board of Trade or of certain railway directors, then a very serious injustice will be done to a very deserving class of people. I believe that one of the arguments against my proposal is that this provision in the Bill does not affect the large railway companies, but only the poor companies, and that if some such clause is not introduced the poor railway companies cannot be compelled to apply this provision. I venture to say that is a very fallacious argument. Take a small railway company called upon to carry out certain requirements. Suppose it is unable to raise the money in the ordinary way. As these requirements are compulsory, that company would have to go into the hands of the Receiver. Everybody who invests money in those railways knows that if the company is unable to carry out its obligations it must go into the hands of the Receiver. Therefore the Board of Trade would not in any way be affected, and the safety of the workmen would not be affected, but what would remain would be that the debenture is the first charge upon the railway, and the bargain made between the railway company and the investor would not be injured if my proposal is carried. I propose to allow the debentures to be raised reckoning after existing debenture stock. Up to the present time debenture stock has not been allowed to be established under the particular Act unless ordinary stock has been issued, and then I believe a second debenture stock has been authorised. I would point out that as the Bill is drawn some extraordinary results will follow, because under the Act of 1889 the money raised under that Act will be put as a prior charge upon any existing railway. The people who invested their money in 1633 1889 invested it under the impression that they had a prior charge upon every-thing. Now you are going to have another Bill with no such regulations, and providing for something which is to be a prior charge to this Act of 1889. You might have another Bill with another set of regulations and another prior charge upon this. It only shows that the clause in the Bill of 1889 was an unwise one, and did not carry out what it was designed to do. Therefore, I hope my right hon. friend will reconsider this clause, and will accept my Amendments. These Amendments are not moved in the interests of directors or of shareholders, hut simply in the interests of the public. I beg to move.
In page 4, line 31, to leave out the words ' in priority to or.' "—[Mr. Banbury.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. RITCHIE
It is quite clear that if we pass this Bill it will probably entail, in certain contingencies, considerable expenditure upon railway companies, and we must provide some means of raising the money. In nine cases out of ten there will be no difficulty at all. Perhaps in the tenth case it may be necessary to issue debentures as provided for in this Bill to rank before the debentures which are now issued. I quite admit
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Colville, John||Gurdon Sir William Brampton|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Curzon, Viscount||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r)||Dewar, Arthur||Hanbur, Rt. Hon. Robert W.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W (Leeds)||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Hayne, Rt. Hon Charles Seale-|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Doogan, P. C.||Henderson, Alexander|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M H. (Bristol||Doughty George||Holland, William Henry|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Alter||Horniman, Frederick John|
|Boscawen Arthur Griffith-||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Duckworth, James||Humphreys Owen, Arthur|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Faber, George Denison||John William (Carnarvonsh.)|
|Bryce Rt. Hon. James||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Keswick, William|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Fenwick, Charles||Lafone Alfred|
|Burns, John||Finch, George H.||Lawrence, Sir E. During-(Corn|
|Caldwell, James||Finalay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Fisher, William Hayes||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Lloyd-George, David|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire)||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Liverpool)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Flower, Ernest||Lough, Thomas|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Lowles John|
|Cecil Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Macartney W G Ellison|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc' r)||Graham, Henry Robert||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Cunning Francis Allston||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||M'Killop James|
|Chaplin,Rt. Hon. Henry||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Maddison, Fred.|
|Carrigton, Spencer||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn W F|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)||Milward, (Colonel Victor|
§ that this is a principle which ought to be very carefully safeguarded and very rarely used, but it has been used once before in connection with the Act of 1889, and I am not aware that that has, in any degree, affected the debenture stock of any railway which has been empowered to raise these debentures. My hon. friend said that by the words of this Bill a priority would be given over the debentures of 1889. As the debentures were issued for a special purpose, I think we might so amend the words as to make the debentures raised under this Bill run pari passu with the debentures raised under the Act of 1889. If my hon. friend will accept that I am quite willing to make the alteration.
§ MR. BANBURY
The effect of the Amendment will be that the now debentures will rank equally with debentures which exist under the Act of 1889. I hope my right hon. friend will agree that that is a reasonable proposal.
§ MR. RITCHIE
If we were to leave out the words "in priority to, or" the effect would be that the railway companies which had issued debentures under the Act of 1889 would not be able to issue debentures taking priority over the existing debentures.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 104; Noes, 35. (Division List No. 141.)
|Monckton, Edward Philip||Rentoul, James Alexander||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.||Wilson, H. J. (Yorks, W.R.)|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T.||Wilson, J.W.(Worcestersh. N.)|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn E. R. (Bath)|
|Paulton, James Mellor||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.)||Schwann, Charles E.||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Pease, Sir Joseph W. (Durham)||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Pilkington, R. (Lancs. Newton)||Souttar, Robinson|
|Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Steadman, William Charles||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Purvis, Robert||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Benshaw, Charles Bine||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Jackson, Rt. Hon. W. Lawies||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Bill, Charles||Joicey, Sir James||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J.G. (Oxf'd Univ)|
|Bond, Edward||Maclure, Sir John William||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts)|
|Brassey, Albert||Morrell, George Herbert||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Brigg, John||Nicholson, William Graham||Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Denny, Colonel||Penn, John||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fred.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Heath, James||Pretyman, Ernest George||Mr. Banbury and Sir Bar-|
|Helder, Augustus||Pym, C. Guy||rington Simeon.|
§ Other Amendments made.
§ MR. RENSHAW
The Amendment which stands in my name is to omit Subsection 4. That sub-section provides that where the Board of Trade holds an inquiry under the Act in reference to an objection to a proposed rule, or when any objection is referred to a referee instead of to the Railway and Canal Commissioners, Section 3 of the Board of Trade (Arbitration, etc.) Act, 1874, shall apply. We argued this question in Committee, and I think my right hon. friend will agree that opinion was very evenly divided in regard to it. The Act of 1874 provides that, where an arbitrator is appointed by the Board of Trade as between two persons, the Board shall be entitled in the first place to ask for a deposit to cover the cost of the arbitration, and in the second place that the arbitrator shall decide as to the payment of costs by one or other of the parties concerned. In this case the Board of Trade will be one party to the arbitration, the objector to the rule being the other party, and what I wish to point out is that it is not right in the first place to allow the Board of Trade power to insist on a deposit, and in the second place to practically decide whether or not the objector is to be cast in costs. It seems to me that expenses ought to be borne out of money voted by Parliament. The sub-section would 1636 hamper the objector, and for that reason I beg to move its omission.
In page 5, line 13, to leave out Subsection (4), of Clause 14."—(Mr. Renshaw.)
§ Question proposed, " That the word ' where ' stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. RITCHIE
This was a matter of discussion in the Grand Committee, and I promised that when the Bill came before the House I would be prepared to consider the views of my hon. friend in connection with Sub-section 4, which deals with two classes of inquiries. One clause refers to cases where the parties objecting to a rule, instead of availing themselves of the tribunal under the Bill, the Railway and Canal Commissioners, desire to go before a referee. In that case I think it is perfectly right and fair that the parties should pay the cost of that arbitration, because we provide under the Bill for a tribunal free of cost. If the parties prefer, instead of going before the Railway and Canal Commissioners, to go before an arbiter appointed by the Board of Trade, in that case the provisions of the Act of 1884 would apply, and the parties would have to pay the costs. I do not think it is any hardship on the parties who desire a new and distinct tribunal which would cost money, that they should have to pay the cost of the reference. But 1637 when it comes to another question which was discussed—namely, the question of special inquiry with regard to the objections to a proposed rule, there we provide by the Amendment I have introduced that unless the arbiter or referee finds that the application for a special inquiry was really, obviously, and completely unfounded and unnecessary, the cost of that inquiry will be paid by the State. That, I think, is perfectly fair. In the ordinary course of things there would be no special inquiry. Therefore, in order to carry out the proposal I have made I wish to point out to the House that Sub-section 4 has been so amended that in cases where objections to a rule are referred to a referee instead of to the Railway and Canal Commissioners section 3 of the Board of Trade (Arbitrations) Act of 1884 will apply.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
In page 5, line 20, at the end, to insert the words—' (5) Where the Board of Trade hold a special inquiry with reference to an objection to a proposed rule on the application of the objector, the person appointed to hold the inquiry may, if on the inquiry it appears to him that the circumstances were not such as to render a special inquiry necessary, order the objector to pay the whole or any part of the costs certified by the Board to have been incurred by them in holding the special inquiry, and any amount so ordered to be paid may be recovered as a debt due to the Crown.' "—(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. RITCHIE
I do not know that "special" is a particularly good word, but I think it is sufficient. It means that a special and individual inquiry should be held for a special purpose instead of going to the Board of Trade in the ordinary way. There is no particular virtue in the word "special," and if my hem. friend desires it I will leave it out.
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY
It may not be until the inquiry has been held that the discovery is made that perhaps it was not necessary to hold it. This is an appealable provision, and the costs ought not to be given against the applicants unless the application was frivolously and vexatiously made. I beg to propose an Amendment to meet that.
Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment—
In line 4, to leave out from the word ' the' to the word 'necessary,' both inclusive, and insert the words 'such application was frivolously or vexatiously made ' instead thereof." —(Mr. Stuart-Wortley.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ MR. RITCHIE
If an application were obviously frivolous or vexatious, the Board of Trade would not be justified in granting the application, but until the evidence has been gone into it would be impossible to say whether the application was justified or not. It is for the referee after hearing the evidence to say what he considers to be justified or not. The Treasury ought to be protected by some such words as those suggested, and I think the words of my hon. friend would give adequate protection.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Words inserted.
§ * MR. JOHN BURNS
I think the Amendment which I now propose to move involves a principle that must be affirmed before this Bill is passed by the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade told the House that he would be able perhaps in another place and in another way to put sidings which are now not under the Home Office or the Board of Trade under either of those two Departments, or probably divide them up and put them under each Department. That only relates to sidings. I wish that this Bill should not only deal with sidings, but with wagons, and all the other gear and appliances necessary for the safety of the railwaymen and the efficient working of the railways. I therefore think that can best be secured by striking out the word "public" so as to prevent for the purpose of safety any differentiation between an ordinary railway that carries passengers and goods, and colliery sidings, local lines, or something which in the broad sense cannot be interpreted as public. Why do I protest against the differentiation of treatment between what is known as a public railway and an industrial or manufacturing railway? There are, roughly, a million wagons owned in 1639 England by public and private interests, and of that number 550,000 are owned by 4,000 private owners. That means that more than half of the total wagons of this country can be considered as employed by private interests or private railways, as distinct from "public" mentioned in the Bill. We have it on the evidence of managers, goods guards, and other competent witnesses that many of the wagons and appliances and junctions and sidings are not within the Factory Act, and not under the Home Office or the Board of Trade, except where a railway servant happens to be killed. We also have it on the evidence that the curves are bad, the gradients are sharp, more so than in America, and that is certified by Mr. Foster Browne, one of the representatives of the Coalowners' Association. What is more important is that the bulk of these private lines and railways and sidings are worked at night-time, after the miners have got their coal, after the steel and iron workers have done their work. That means that at night-time the chances of accidents are increased through lack of light and so forth. That, to my mind, indicates that these railways should be specially brought within the purview of this Bill, and not excluded, as I believe they are by the insertion of the word " public." We have been told by the hon. Baronet that the dead-buffer wagons do not lend themselves to accidents, and are comparatively safe. I hold the very opposite view, and there is not a Member here who represents a railway constituency who has not received during three or four weeks representations from railway servants against the particular danger that dead-buffer wagons entail on the men engaged.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I do not quite see how this is relevant to the 15th Clause, which is merely a definition of the word "railway."
§ * MR. JOHN BURNS
As denned by Clause 15 this Bill is to apply only to public traffic. What I want to point out-is that it is very difficult to determine when private traffic becomes public and when public traffic becomes private, because if you load up a train of coal at point A it is private until it gets to the junction with the main line at point B. My contention is that there ought to be 1640 no difference with regard to safety conditions whether it is a main line, a local line, or a line to a dock or colliery. It seems to me if "public" is left in we should find that the private lines will be thereby excluded, and the only way I can prevent that is by moving the elimination of the word "public."
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I follow quite what the hon. Member says, and I did not say anything to the contrary; but the hon. Member was entering into a discussion about dead-buffer wagons, which is a different thing.
§ * MR. JOHN BURNS
The dead-buffer wagons as a rule are employed on private lines, and they go from the private lines on to the public lines. If the word "public" remains in we shall have no control over the dead-buffer wagons on private lines until they got on the main railway. It is to avoid that that I want the word "public" eliminated. I have only one final word. The Home Office have been able to give us some Returns, and I find that 183 men were killed and 500 injured, according to one Return, and on another Return 38 men were killed and 8,830 injured, either in or about collieries, factories, or private sidings, or railways abutting thereon. The application of these figures to the hiatus lines is of course very difficult, through lack of data, but I believe the proportion of killed and injured thereon will be quite as large as for those lines to which these Returns apply. I do appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, who has conducted this Bill with great tact and conciliation to nearly all the interests concerned, , having decided to got sidings introduced in the House of Lords, to complete the offer he has made by eliminating the word "public." The Bill will then be applicable to private sidings and colliery sidings; but if the word is insisted upon 700 miles of railway will be without the protection of this measure, and one of the most dangerous sections of railway traffic will still be open to injure and kill the railway servants engaged there on. I beg to move.
In page 5, line 22, to leave out the word ' public' "—(Mr. John Burns.)
§ Question put, "That the word 'public' stand part of the Bill,"1641
§ MR. RITCHIE
I earnestly hope the House will not accept this Amendment. I do not dispute the position taken up by the hon. Gentleman, but I desire to impress as strongly as I can this one consideration which I think is all-important. This Bill is the outcome of a Royal Commission, and we have endeavoured to carry out in this Bill the recommendations of that Royal Commission. There was no recommendation whatever that the Board of Trade should take over the management of all the sidings which are now under the control of the Home Office, and it has boon upon this footing and understanding the Bill has been prepared. I have endeavoured as far as I could to try and bring together conflicting interests so as to enable us to pass this very considerable measure. If we had attempted to deal not only with railways and railway servants, but also with sidings, and to take out of the hands of the Home Office the control over those sidings and to vest it in the Board of Trade, we should have raised up an amount of opposition which would have done a great deal to have defeated our efforts to pass this Bill. I would therefore appeal to the House, while recognising the force of many of the points made by the hon. Gentleman, not to press upon the Government the acceptance of an Amendment which would absolutely alter the whole character of the Bill, and which, if we had originally acted upon, would have placed many obstacles in the way of our being able to pass so useful a measure.
§ MR. BRYCE
It does not appear to me that the Amendment proposed by my hon. friend would have the result the right hon. Gentleman contemplates. The hon. Gentleman does not propose to transfer the management of these sidings or private lines to the Board of Trade, but to make this Bill extend to all private lines and sidings in whomsoever the control may be vested. He says the word "public" will prevent these private lines or sidings coming within the compass of the Bill. He is right; that will be the effect of the insertion of the word "public," and therefore, if the word stands, the very pledge which the right hon. Gentleman has given to endeavour to secure in another place the insertion of words which will bring those lines under some kind of public control will be 1642 nullified. The Amendment is necessary to enable the right hon. Gentleman to carry out the very promise he has given us. What we desire is not that these lines should be under the control of the Board of Trade or of the Home Office; as far as I am concerned that is a matter of complete indifference; it is a matter of detail under which office they should be. What we want is that there should be some control, and that the beneficial provisions of this Bill should be applied so as to secure safety upon all kinds of lines. I therefore hope my hon. friend will endeavour to obtain the opinion of the House upon the Amendment.
§ MR. MADDISON
I am really utterly unable to understand the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman on this Amendment. It will be within the recollection of the House that I raised this very point on the right hon. Gentleman's own Amendment at the beginning of this debate, and there we made it perfectly plain that so far as dual inspection was concerned we did not wish it. We went further, and said that as to whether the Homo Office or the Board of Trade should be the Department we should not make that a vital point at all. But we said there was a class of line which came under neither the Home Office nor the Board of Trade. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that. I think the discussion which took place upon the first Amendment should really have taken place upon this 15th Clause. If it had, and the right hon. Gentleman had made the same statement now as he made then, it would have been utterly impossible for him to have made the speech to which we have just listened. What is the situation? We were told that the right hon. Gentleman would try to meet the objection with regard to these hiatus lines in the House of Lords. What we wish is that the right hon. Gentleman should provide that remedy here by the simple omission of this word. The right hon. Gentleman has again proved his adherence to his doctrine of the infallibility of Royal Commissions. He is faithful to it to the end. But like all dogmas, it will not admit of general application; it has to be given up sometimes. In this case the right hon. Gentleman will have to revise his favourite doctrine, because the very concluding 1643 paragraphs in this Report are as follows—Our attention was directed to the fact that when servants of railway companies were killed or injured on colliery sidings or lines not belonging to the railway companies, there is no duty on the part of any person to report the fact to a Department of State.That is the first thing we have to remedy. The right hon. Gentleman has agreed to that up to a certain point in the previous discussion—The colliery owners do not report because the men are not their servants, and the railway companies are under no obligation to report, because the accident has not happened on their railway. We think this anomaly should be removed by an obligation to report to the Board of Trade all accidents to railway servants incurred in the course of their duty on private lines or sidings by the railway companies whose servants they are, and that such accidents should he inquired into by the Board of Trade.I quite admit that the right hon. Gentleman could say, if he wished to make a mere debating point, which I am sure he does not, that this really applies to accidents to railway employees who go on colliery sidings, but I would ask the House to mark this point. The Royal Commission say that there is an anomaly. That anomaly is, that an accident happening upon the line is inquired into, while in the case of an accident on a colliery siding there is no inquiry. I put it to the House as business men, and as persons desirous of really making this Bill effective, should we not follow the spirit, and even the letter, of this recommendation of the Royal Commission, which distinctly says that there is an anomaly, and that this anomaly should be removed? Now, you cannot remove this anomaly or get anything like uniformity in the protection of the lives of railway men unless you adopt such an Amendment as this. The hon. Baronet, who is largely interested in this sort of railway, said himself that he should raise no objection to every inch of his colliery lines, which extend some considerable distance, being brought within the four corners of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, unless he accepts this Amendment, is absolutely robbing this Bill of that completeness and uniformity in the protection of the lives of railway men, whether upon colliery sidings or ordinary railways, which the acceptance of this Amendment would 1644 bring about. I just want to say one word with respect to the practical effect of the deletion of this word. Some considerable discussion has taken place already as to the equipment of these lines which by the word "public" remaining in the clause are excluded from its operation. I am bound to admit that I am no great slave to statistics, for they can be made to show almost anything, although they have their value. I have in my hand a letter which comes from a goods guard on one of the great lines of this country, which is probably one of the greatest goods carrying lines in this kingdom. He has been for a quarter of a century a trusted employee of this company, and he holds a responsible position in a certain connection which I need not mention. I spoke to him about these solid - buffered wagons that are used on these lines almost exclusively. [An HON. MEMBER: No, no.] Surely the hon. and gallant Member will admit that of the total number of solid-buffered wagons in use an overwhelming majority of them are employed upon the lines to which we refer. If he does deny it, then I hope he will get up and make good his denial. But the House may take it that the question of solid-buffered wagons is a question of private wagon owners, and this is the kind of railway that will be excluded unless the right hon. Gentleman accepts this Amendment. My friend the goods guard goes into detail to assure me that these wagons are the gravest source of mischief, of accidents, and of death, and, believe me, that the deletion of this word "public" is no mere drafting Amendment. It means the greater safety and a large saving of the lives and the limbs of men who are just as worthy of receiving the protection of this House as those who may be called technically railway men. I hope my hon. friend will press his motion to a division. I even yet venture to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider his decision. We are not trying to go outside the scope of the Bill, and we who have held strong view from the first upon this question have endeavoured to restrain ourselves. Having regard to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman at the beginning of this debate, and his assurance that he would rectify what he admits is a flaw in this Bill in reference to this hiatus which exists, and having regard to the 1645 whole intention of this Bill, which is not merely to save the life of the man who wears the company's uniform, but also to safeguard the man who works the railway traffic, what does it matter whether it is a colliery wagon, a dead-buffered wagon, or the splendidly equipped wagon of the London and South Western Railway with which a man meets his fate, probably by a mere slip? I think we are reasonable, and I am certain we are right, and I hope if we do not meet with an acceptance of this Amendment my hon. friend will take a division.
§ SIR ROBERT FINLAY
I rise to say a word with reference to a misconception. My right hon. friend said he would be very glad in another place to insert words for bringing under effective supervision portions of lines not belonging to public railways which, at the present time, escape the attention both of the Board of Trade and the Home Office. What is the proposal now before the House? It is by striking out the word "public" to bring under the superintendence of the Board of Trade all lines, whether now under the supervision of the Home Office or not, and whether they are used for public traffic or purely for private traffic That would bring under the supervision of the Board of Trade not merely those lines which escape supervision, but the whole system and the whole network of our railways. The greater part of these lines are now under the supervision of the Home Office, and with regard to the portion which escapes supervision my right hon. friend has said that means will be found to bring them under the supervision of the Home Office.
§ * SIR JOSEPH PEASE
When my hon. friend the Member for Battersea moved this Amendment I think he was carrying out a principle which we all agreed would have the effect of saving life. We have had that principle in front of us in everything we have done in regard to this Bill. Therefore whether the inspection of the railway is in the hands of the Board of Trade or the Home Office makes very little difference to us in that respect. So far as I am personally concerned, my desire is that all the actual travelling railways should be under the same supervision as the public lines, and I cannot follow the line of argument adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General against this proposal.
§ MR. JACKSON
I should like to say a word or two in opposition to the statement of the hon. Member for the Bright side Division that dead buffers are used almost entirely on private lines. I think my hon. friend who has just sat down would be able to tell him that there is some confusion in his mind in the way he has spoken of private owners' wagons. Private owners' wagons does not moan that they are wagons which are run only on private lines. My hon. friend the Member for Battersea spoke of there being 500,000 dead-buffered wagons.
§ * MR. JOHN BURNS
We had bettor not have any misunderstanding on this point. What I said was that out of 1,000,000 wagons on the railways some 550,000 wore owned by private owners. It is impossible for me to name the precise number of these wagons that have dead buffers as distinguished from those owned by the public railways, but they must form an enormous proportion.
§ MR. JACKSON
I am very glad that we have got that explanation, because I rather gathered that the number of accidents which the hon. Member for Battersea quoted were attributed to accidents on the private lines. A very large number of those dead-buffered wagons are laden with coal, and most of the private owners' wagons travel over the public railway. Therefore it will be seen that they are in no sense confined to the private lines. I think the hon. Member for the Brightside Division is a little hard upon the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade in the quotation he made from the Royal Commission Report, which does not apply to the particular wade for which the hon. Member was arguing. The quotation which he made from the Report of the Royal Commission applies to accidents to railway servants. My right hon. friend the President of the Board of Trade undertook at the beginning of this discussion to try and remedy this defect and to take care that these accidents are reported. That is a very different thing to what my hon. friend who has just sat down has boon contending for, and I think he must have been entirely under a misapprehension. What the Royal Commission said with regard to injuries to railway servants and to injuries on colliery sidings and lines belonging to the railway company was that a considerable number of accidents did 1647 occur, and that those accidents were never reported to the Home Office or to the Board of Trade, and they recommended that this difficulty should be removed by an obligation to report all accidents occurring on private railways or sidings owned by the railway companies. I think I have clearly stated what my right hon. friend undertook to do. In any case, I think it would be extremely unwise for him to alter the definitions. The Bill is framed in such a way that the provisions are applicable to railways, and if you alter the, definitions you upset the foundations of the Bill. I do not think that my right hon, friend would at this stage be justified in making such an alteration in the Bill.
§ * MR. CHANNING
The Attorney General seems to indicate that some change will be made in another place which will bring those parts of private railways which are not now inspected at all under the purview of the Home Office, but he did not explain why that cannot be done during the progress of the Bill through this House. If the President of the Board of Trade contemplates taking the course which I ventured to suggest at an earlier stage— namely, to deal with the question of the Home Office connection with these railways by means of a Departmental Bill— that is intelligible, but I cannot understand the explanation of the Attorney General, that this is to be dealt with in another place in connection with this Bill. Why cannot we have this Amendment before us now, making it perfectly clear how these railways are to be dealt with? The Attorney General seems to use as an argument against the acceptance of the Amendment of my hon. friend that it would mean an overlapping of jurisdiction; but we have already accepted the second sub-section of the Clause of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, which expressly provides machinery for avoiding the difficulty of dual administration. Logically and scientifically these railways ought to be under the control of the Board of Trade, and I am bound to say I see no reason why the Amendment should not be accepted.
§ MR. FENWICK
I certainly thought at an earlier stage, when we were discussing an Amendment of the right hon. 1648 Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, that the difficulty was not one of dual administration but of inspection. There are several cases in my own constituency where mineral traffic is carried over a public line for a distance of twenty-five or thirty miles, and is there diverted to a private line to the docks, where it has to be shunted and manipulated, and where it is most dangerous. The Board of Trade has power to make certain rules affecting traffic over the comparatively safe main lines, but when the traffic comes to the dangerous part the Board loses all control over it, and there is no inspection where shunting and other dangerous operations have to be carried on. If the President of the Board of Trade wishes to make the measure effective, he will accept the Amendment. It would be ridiculous, in my judgment, to pass a Bill giving power to the Board of Trade or any other Government Department to make rules for regulating traffic passing over main lines, and then when the traffic comes to the most dangerous part that all control of it should be lost. I certainly think the right hon. Gentleman would be acting wisely in accepting the Amendment.
§ * MR. WRIGHTSON (St. Pancras, E.)
I hope the Government will not give way on this question. I do not think the House quite understands that if this Amendment were accepted it would seriously interfere with works in this country. Of course where railway trucks are moving at a rapid speed over main lines it is proper that there should be protection, but it would be an immense tax on manufacturers if they had to put appliances on all the trucks used in their own works for moving materials about at | slow speeds from one workshop to another, and not going upon the main public line. I trust the Government will not give way in the matter. If the Amendment were accepted it would really reopen the whole controversy as regards this Bill.
§ * MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)
I feel strongly in favour of this Amendment. I admit that the owners of railway sidings will be put to some inconvenience if the regulations now asked for are carried out, but they are necessary in the interests of the workers. A great number of wagons which have been condemned by the railway com- 1649 panies are used in these sidings, and they imperil the lives and limbs of the workers. Again, I should like to point out with regard to these railway sidings that many of them are actually contributed to by the railway companies. The plans and levels are submitted to the railway companies for approval, and they are practically part and parcel of the railway system of this country. Because one railway happens to be owned by a company and another privately is no justification, in my opinion, for refusing this Amendment.
§ SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY
It is perfectly true that there are extensive systems of lines running from the main railways, and it is equally true that on them a very large proportion of accidents take place. The Report of the Railway Commission states with reference to dead butters, which are principally used on these lines, that "it is desirable that a period should be fixed after which no dead buffer wagons should be allowed to be used on any railway. "The Commission recommended that dead-buffer
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Fisher, William Hayes||Murray, Charles I. (Coventry)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Flower, Ernest||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Penn, John|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r,)||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W (Leeds)||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Pilkington, R. (Lanes. Newt'n)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Graham, Henry Robert||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H.(Bristol)||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord George||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Bill, Charles||Hanbury, Rt. Hon Robert Wm.||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Heath, James||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Bond, Edward||Helder, Augustus||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Henderson, Alexander||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Brassey, Albert||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cavendish, Rt. F. N. (Lanes.)||Joicey, Sir James||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derby)||Keswick, William||Smith, Abel H.(Christchnrch)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Lafone, Alfred||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wore'r)||Lawrence, Sir E Durning-(Corn)||Talbot, Rt Hn. J. G. (Oxfd Univ)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Long, Rt. Hn Walter (Liverpool)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Curzon, Viscount||Lowles, Jones||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Doughty, George||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Macdona, John Cumming||Young, Commander(Berks, E.)|
|Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Maclure, Sir J. William|
|Faber, George Denison||M'Killop, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Fellowes, Hon. Allwyn Edw.||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Sir William Walrond and|
|Finch, George H.||Monckton, Edward Philip||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Channing, Francis Allston||Fenwick, Charles|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Colville, John||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Dewar, Arthur||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Brigg, John||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Green, Walford D (Wednesbury)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Doogan, P. C.||Greville, Hon. Ronald|
|Caldwell, James||Duckworth, James||Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick)|
§ wagons were so dangerous that they should be entirely done away with. I appeal to my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Trade to reconsider his decision on this matter. I venture to think that the Amendment is an extension in a perfectly safe direction, and that it would make the Bill more beneficial.
§ MR. COLVILLE (Lanarkshire, N. E.)
From the point of view of the many thousands of men engaged on sidings in large works, I think this Amendment is a very vital one. From many years experience I am convinced that many accidents take place on these sidings, even when wagons are not moved at any great speed. I sincerely hope the President of the Board of Trade will see his way to accept the Amendment; otherwise the advantage of the Bill to the workers will be considerably diminished.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 79; Noes, 39. (Division List No. 142.)
|Gurdon, Sir William B.||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Steadman, William (Charles|
|Hayne, Rt. Hn Charles Seale-||Paulton, lames Mellor||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Horniman, Frederick John||Pease, Sir J. W. (Durham)||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Purvis. Robert||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Reckitt, Harold lames||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Lloyd-George, David||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||TELLERS FOR; THE NOES —|
|Lough, Thomas||Schwann, Charles E.||Mr. John Burns and Mr.|
|Maddison, Fred.||Souttar, Robinson||Joseph A. Pease.|
§ Another Amendment made.
Amendment proposed —
In page 6, line 14, at the end, to add the words ' beyond the limits of stations or shunting sidings.' "—(Mr. Stuart-Wortley.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. RITCHIE
I am afraid I cannot accept this Amendment of my right hon. friend. Although I recognise as a general principle that the Amendment which my right hon. friend moves ought to be carried out under any rule adopted under this Bill, at the same time there are several large places or stations where there are shunting sidings divided for a. considerable distance by the public line—by the ordinary running line—and it would be clearly right that the provisions of the Bill should be applied to them, while, on the other hand, it would not be right that those provisions should be applied within ordinary station bounds or shunting places connected with the station. If the Board of Trade were to make any unreasonable rule with regard to this particular question they would certainly be overruled by the Railway Commissioners. I hope my right hon. friend will not press this Amendment.
§ MR. JACKSON
was sorry his right hon. friend had spoken so strongly about this, because it was distinctly recommended by the Royal Commission.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Another Amendment made.
§ Bill to be read the third time upon Monday, 18th June.