HC Deb 14 March 1901 vol 90 cc1523-37

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate, on Amendment to Question [12th March], "That the Bill be now read a second time."

And which Amendment was— To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.'"—(Mr. Bell.)

Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

MR. PENN (Lewisham)

said it might facilitate matters if he made a short statement as to what the promoters were prepared to do. They were willing to introduce after Clause 27 the words, "It shall not be compulsory upon any servant of the company to become a member of the society." Those words were similar to words introduced in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Act of 1897, and in the Great Northern Railway Act of the same year. He trusted that the Amendment would satisfy the House.

MR. BELL (Derby)

said he was glad that the hon. Member for Lewisham had seen his way clear to meet the suggestion he had made, but he certainly could not accept the Amendment now without further consideration, and he therefore moved the adjournment of the Debate.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate he now adjourned."— (Mr. Lough.)

The House divided:—Ayes, 151: Noes, 160. (Division List No. 65.)

Abraham, William (Cork, N.E. Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh. Holland, William Henry
Abraham, William(Rhondda) Dickson, Charles Scott Hope, J.F. (Sheffield, Brightside
Allan, William (Gateshead) Donelan, Captain A. Hope, John Deans (Fife West
Ashton, Thomas Gair Doogan, P. C. Horniman, Frederick John
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Jacoby, James Alfred
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Duffy. William J. Jameson, Major J. Eustace
Blake, Edward Duncan, James II. Jones, David B. (Swansea)
Boland, John Elibank, Master of Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)
Brand, Hon. Arthur G. Emmott, Alfred Jordon, Jeremiah
Broadhurst, Henry Esmonde, Sir Thomas Joyce Michael
Brown, George M. (Derbyshire) Evans, Sir Francis H (Maidst'ne Kearley, Hudson E.
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Farquharson, Dr. Robert Kennedy, Patrick James
Burke, E. Haviland Farrell, James Patrick Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth
Burns, John Fenwick, Charles Layland-Barratt, Francis
Burt, Thomas Efrench, Peter Leamy, Edmund
Buxton, Sydney Charles Field, William Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accringt on
Caine, William Sproston Flannery, Sir Fortescue Leng, Sir John
Caldwell, James Flavin, Michael Joseph Lewis, John Herbert
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Flynn, James Christopher Lough, Thomas
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Foster, Sir Walter (DerbyCo.) Lundon, W.
Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton Gilhooly, James MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.
Causton, Richard Knight Gordon, Maj Evans-(T'rHmlets M'Govern, T.
Cawley, Frederick Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton M 'Hugh, Patrick A.
Clancy, John Joseph Hammond, John M'Kenna, Reginald
Condon, Thomas Joseph Harcourt, Rt. Hn. Sir William Markham, Arthur Basil
Crean, Eugene Hardie, J Keir(Merthyr Tydvil Mellor, Rt. Hon. John Wm.
Cremer, William Randal Harwood, George Mooney, John J.
C'rombie, John William Hay, Hon. Claude George Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)
Cullman, J. Hayden, John Patrick Morley, Charles (Breconshire)
Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale- Murnaghan, George
Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan Healy, Timothy Michael Murphy, J.
Delany, William Heaton, John Henniker Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)
Norton, Capt. Cecil William Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr
O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) Reckitt, Harold James Thomas, F. Freeman- (Hastings
O'Brien,Kendal (Tipperary Md Reddy. M. Thomson, F. W.(York, W.R.)
O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Redmond, John E.(Waterford) Tomkinson, James
O'Connor, James (Wicklow W. Redmond, William (Clare) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.) Roche, John Tully, Jasper
O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.) Russell, T. W. Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
O'Dowd, John Samuel, Harry S.(Limehouse) Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.) Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan
0'Kelly,James(Rose'mmon,N Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh) Weir, James Galloway
O'Malley, William Shipman, Dr. John G. Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
O'Mara, James Sinclair, Louis (Romford) Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Soares, Ernest J. Wodehouse, Hn. Armine (Essex
O'Shee, James John Stevenson, Francis S. Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf' d
Palmer, George Wm.(Reading Strachey, Edward Young, Samuel (('avail, East)
Partington, Oswald Sullivan, Donal
Paulton, James Mellor Taylor, Theodore Cooke TELLERS FOR; THE AYES
Philipps, John Wynford Tennant, Harold John Mr. Bell and Sir Charles Dilke.
Pirie, Duncan V. Thomas, Abel(Carmarthen,E.)
Priestley, Arthur Thomas, Alfred(Glamorgan, E.
Acland-Hood,Capt. Sir Alex. F. FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose- Middlemore, John Throgmort'n
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Furness, Sir Christopher Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Garfit, William Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)
Aird, Sir John Gibbs,HnA.G.H.(CityofLond. Moon, Edward Robert Pacy
Allsopp, Hon. George Gibbs, Hon. Vicary(St. Albans) Moore, William (Antrim, N.)
Anson, Sir William Reynell Gordon, Hn. J. E.(Elgin& Nairn More, Robert J. (Shropshire)
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Goulding, Edward Alfred Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Graham, Henry Robert Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F.
Bailey, James (Walworth) Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford
Bain, Colonel James Robert Greville, Hon. Ronald Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.
Baldwin, Alfred Hanbury, Rt. Hon Robert Wm. Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)
Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W(Leeds Hare, Thomas Leigh Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)
Balfour,Maj.K.R.(C'hristch'ch Haslam, Sir Alfred S. Myers, William Henry
Banbury, Fredk. George Haslett, Sir James Horner Nicol, Donald Ninian
Bartley, George C. T. Heath, James(Staffords.,N.W. O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Beach. Rt. Hn. W. W. B. (Hants Hoare,EdwBrodie(Hampstead Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset,E. Parker, Gilbert
Bignold, Arthur Hornby, Sir William Henry Parkes, Ebenezer
Bill, Charles Horner, Frederick William Pease, Sir Joseph W. (Durham
Blundell, Colonel Henry Hoult, Joseph Penn, John
Boulnois, Edmund Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil Percy, Earl
Bowles, T.Gibson(King'sLynn Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Pilkington, Richard
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Johnston, William (Belfast) Plummer, Walter R.
Brookfield, Colonel Montagu Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Purvis, Robert
Billiard, Sir Harry Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T.(Denbigh Randles, John S.
Cautley, Henry Strother Kenyon, James (Lanes., Bury) Rankin, Sir James
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.) Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W(Salop. Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Cavendish, V.C.W(Derbyshire Kimber, Henry Ratcliffe, R. F.
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Kitson, Sir James Reid, James (Greenock)
Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.J.(Birm. Knowles, Lees Remnant, James Farquharson
Chamberlain, J Austen(Worc'r Laurie, Lieut.-General Rentoul, James Alexander
Chapman, Edward Law, Andrew Bonar Renwick, George
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Lawrence, William F. Ridley,Hn M.W(Stalybridge)
Coddington, Sir William Lee,Capt.A H(Hants.Fareham Ritchie,RtHnChas.Thompson
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Ropner, Colonel Robert
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Sharpe, William Edward T.
Colomb,SirJohnCharlesReady Leighton, Stanley Simeon, Sir Barrington
Colston, Chas. Edw. H.Athole Leveson-Gower,FrederickN.S. Smith,AbelH.(Hertford, East)
Cripps, Charles Alfred Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Smith,HC(North'mb.Tynesi'e
Cross Herb.Shepherd (Bolton) Long, Col. Charles W (Evesham Smith,. James Parker(Lanarks)
Dalkeith, Karl of Long, Rt.HnWalter(Bristol,S.) Spear, John Ward
Dewar, T. R. (T'rH' mlets,S,Geo. Lowther, C. (Cumb, Eskdale) Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset
Dickson-Poynder, Sir J. P. Lowther, Rt. Hon. James(Kent Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)
Digby,John K. D. Wingfield- Lowther,Rt.HnJW(Cum. Penr Stone, Sir Benjamin
Dimsdale, Sir J. Cockfield Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft Thorburn, Sir Walter
Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore Lucas,Reginald J. (Portsm'th) Tritton, Charles Ernest
Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Macartney, lit. Hn. W. G. E. Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Fellowes, Hon. A. Edward Malcolm, Ian Valentia, Viscount
Fergusson, Rt. Hn.SirJ.(Manc'r Maple. Sir John Blundell Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. H.
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Maxwel1. W. J. H. (Dumfriessh. Warde, Lieut. -Col. C. E.
Fisher, William Hayes Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Warr, Augustus Frederick
Wason, John C. (Orkney) Willox, Sir John Archibald TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Welby, Lt.-Col. ACE (Tannton Wilson, John (Glasgow) Mr. Renshaw and Mr. Wilson-Todd.
Whitmore, Charles Algernon Young, Commander (Berks, E.)
Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)

Resolution agreed to.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question again proposed.


suggested that when railway directors desired to promote Bills such as the one under discussion, which, in spite of all that was said to the contrary, did interfere with the liberty of the subject, and prevented free and unfettered combination on the part of the employees, they should in future consult the hon. Member for Derby, who had just as much right to speak for railway men as a railway director had to place his name on the back of a railway Bill. The original clause made it obligatory upon the men to join the company's benefit society, but under the new clause the membership was to be optional. He, however, knew what "optional" railway funds meant. In the event of a member too closely examining the details—actuarial position and so on—he would soon find his occupation gone. He instanced the case of a man in the employment of the London and North-Western Railway Company who, having protested against the provident fund, was called upon by a superior official to give an explanation of what it was he objected to. The man lost his employment.

Colonel LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)

Can the hon. Member give me the name of that employe?


No, I decline to do that, and I have as much right to refuse the name as the War Office has to refuse the names of generals, but I may say I did not mention the Great Eastern Railway. Proceeding, the hon. Member said he objected to railway funds altogether, on the very simple ground that the men did not get the same amount of benefit for their money as they would obtain from an ordinary friendly society, supervised by the Registrar of Friendly Societies and under legislative safeguards and conditions. Railway service was more dangerous than many other spheres of employment, and it stood to reason that with only 8,000 or 9,000 members to meet that greater risk the benefit could not be so large as in the case of a society with perhaps half a million members. There was another objection to it. He did not believe that these railway funds were promoted cither for philanthropic or benevolent purposes. Take the ease of a Great Eastern Railway platelayer getting sixteen shillings per week. That man would have to contribute to an accident fund and also to a burial fund out of his very limited wages. This Bill also proposed an orphan fund to compete with the better fund provided by the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants. Out of such limited wages no man should be compelled against his will to contribute to three or four funds, (1) because he did not get value for his money, and (2) because he ought to be free to transfer his labour where he could get the most profitable employment without sustaining the loss of parting with all his past contributions. In these railway funds the men did not get full value for their money; they interfered with freedom of promotion, and also prevented a man getting that continuous investment which was possessed by every member of a friendly society. Take, for example, the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, the Odd-fellows, or the Hearts of Oak. Suppose a platelayer belonged to any of these societies, his investment was continuous; whereas, as a member of this fund, if he worked at Liverpool Street station and was transferred to the North Western Railway he would lose all ho had paid in. What was more, supposing he was a patriotic platelayer, and went out to South Africa, in response to the Government request for men, to join the railway pioneer corps in order to rebuild the lines from Kimberley to Bulawayo which the Boers had destroyed, the moment be went on board ship at the dock he would lose all the benefits of his membership of this society. Why did not the Great Eastern Railway Company employ the staff engaged on these peddling schemes of sick funds, accident funds, burial funds, and orphan funds; in improving the passenger traffic at Liverpool Street, and the general administration of the railway? In 1899 the House of Commons appointed a Committee to inquire into the working of shop clubs and railway funds, and the spirit and letter of the operation of these were adversely criticised by that Committee. It might be said that that criticism had been got rid of by the Great Eastern directors by the concessions which they had made. Nothing of the sort. The most objectionable condition was still retained, and he hoped that the directors would make a further concession. Why ask the men to contribute to no fewer than four funds? The reason was that this was an insidious device to divert the railway workmen's subscriptions from their trades unions, which protected them from long hours and short wages, and gave them better friendly society benefits than the Great Eastern Railway Company possibly could, and to render it impossible for these men to remain in their trade unions. If a workman was paying 10d. a week to these four schemes, and had only 16s. a week wages, it was obvious that he could not go on paying 5d. a week to his trade union. The wife would come along and say, "Tom, I wish you had wages enough for both the trade union and the railway societies, but you have not"; and over the tea-table Tom would reply, "What am I to do?" Jane, the wife, would say, "You had better choose the side on which your bread is buttered. If you do not do so, foreman this or superintendent that may probably carry it to the right or wrong quarter, and if you do not belong to the company's funds you will lie spotted, your promotion will be cheeked, and ultimately you will lose your employment." And so the poor man would give in. The object of this scheme, therefore, was to hit the trade unions, to kill the freedom of the men, and to assist the directors who had not the capacity to get on good terms with their employees on account of some imaginary strike that was to come off. It was not for the House of Commons to play the game of the railway directors, but to uphold the liberty of the workmen.


reminded the House that on the last occasion on which this Bill had been discussed objection was taken to the provident funds clause, and the adjournment of the debate was moved in order to give the directors of the Great Eastern Railway Company, the promoters, an opportunity of amending the clause. Now the hon. Member for Lewisham, on behalf of the company, expressed his willingness to amend the clause as follows: "It shall not be compulsory upon any servant of the company to become a member of the society." Nothing could be more clear or satisfactory than that. He was bound to say he did not think the speech of the hon. Member for Battersea had any reference to the question now before the House. He could not help thinking that that hon. Member had come down to the House primed with a speech on the suspicion that the directors would not give way. But they had given way, and the hon. Member for Battersea was not willing to forego the opportunity of making his prepared speech. The clause in its original form was not objectionable in any respect, but in its amended form it conceded everything that had been asked, and there was no reason why the Second Reading of the Bill should not be taken.

MR. TENNANT (Berwickshire)

thought that the concession made by the hon. Member for Lewisham was probably useful. He would be the last to deny it, but he thought that it would have been only courteous had the hon. Gentleman come to hon. Members on that side of the House who took an interest in the subject and asked them whether the Amendment met their views or not. Would it not be wise, if it were possible, for the promoters to reconsider their determination, and give the opponents of the Bill an opportunity of considering how the operation of these words would affect their case? It was an extremely important Bill, and the House would remember how questions such as these were fought out day after day when the Compensation Bill was before the House. He thought it was only reasonable that the House should allow the debate to be adjourned for a day or two.


said it was not usual to make any arrangement with any person to discuss a form of words to be introduced into a Bill. The usual procedure was to discuss the form when the Bill got into Committee, which practice had been followed by the hon. Member for Lewisham. The right hon. Member for Fife had asked the hon. Member whether the promoters would be prepared to insert words to make it clear that the clause was not compulsory. Now the hon. Member came to give in the House the undertaking for which he had been asked in the House. If it could be shown to the Committee upstairs that the words did not carry out the undertaking, the hon. Member would be prepared to consider other words.


desired to make an explanation. In the course of his opposition to the Bill he had received resolutions from different centres of the Great Eastern Railway Company's district opposing the Bill, first in regard to the question of compulsion, and secondly because it was an effort of the directorate to deprive the employees of benefit for injuries. That was an injustice, and he could not accept anything while that clause was allowed to remain.

MR. CAINE (Cornwall, Camborne)

was of opinion that it was not only a question of people being compelled to join the society, there were other questions, such as the control by the men and the right to withdraw, neither of which points had been touched by the Amendment.

*SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY (Yorkshire, Shipley)

was of opinion that nothing would be lost by an adjournment being granted. On the contrary, he thought there would be a great saving of time if the debate were adjourned, that an amicable settlement might be arrived at as to the words to be introduced into the Bill at a later stage. He did not agree with the President of the Board of Trade that these words would have an effect on the foremen throughout the railway system. The foremen would still select men for promotion, and the fact that a man had not joined the society would have an effect as to his selection or non-selection by the foreman. It was a far more important measure than many Members thought, and he hoped, for the sake of the peaceful settlement of the interests concerned, that the hon. Member would see his way to adjourning the debate. It did not seem to him that there would be any loss of dignity on the part of his hon. friend the Member for Lewisham in agreeing to such a course. The Bill had many features of extraordinary public value, independently of of the clause in dispute.


hoped his hon. friend would not accept the suggestion which had just been made. The hon. Members for Battersea and Derby were not content with this Bill when it was obligatory, they were not content with it when it was not obligatory; and he would like to know what concession on the part of any railway company would ever make them contented, unless it exactly coincided with their own political and social views. Not content with general charges, the hon. Member for Battersea made a further charge against the London and North Western Railway Company, a company with which he himself was connected. The hon. Member made a very serious charge against that company, but refused to give the name of the man.


I will give it at once—it is Robert White, wagon examiner, of the London and North Western Railway, who, after twenty-one years service, was dismissed and forfeited all his benefits except 16s. 6d.


I should be very sorry to accept that statement as being correct until I have had an opportunity of checking it. [Opposition cries of "Oh," and "Withdraw."] I have nothing to withdraw.


If the hon. and gallant Member had said that he considered that the hon. Member for Battersea had wilfully made a misstatement, of course he would have to withdraw the expression, and would do so, I am sure; but what he said was, I understand, that he does not accept the statement made as being a true version of the facts.


I do not object; I regard it as a directorial contradiction, and we know how they come.


said it was pefectly clear that the hon. Members for Battersea and Derby objected to the railway companies having any benefit societies. The hon. Members objected to such societies running counter to their own.

*SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)

said the point on which the debate turned was the principle whether a man should or should not be compelled to join the society. The actual words had to be brought up in Committee on the Bill, as on the principle the House was agreed. The Home Secretary had already pointed out that the form of the Amendment could not be brought up on the Second Reading of the Bill. He might say that many years ago in a similar case similar words were accepted, and those words were discussed and agreed to by everybody interested before the Bill in question reached the Committee stage. This Bill contained a great many things advantageous to the districts through which the Great Eastern Railway passed, and the Bill need not now be detained in its Second Reading stage. If the proposals promised were not found in the Bill when it went into its subsequent stages the Bill would have a very rough time in the House.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)

, who spoke amid great interruption and cries of "Divide!" said it was all very well for railway directors earning their fees in the House to attempt to prevent free discussion, but so far as he was concerned they would not succeed. It was very unfortunate that the promoters would not accept the suggestions which bad been offered. It was unfortunate an adjournment had not been granted. The speeches delivered showed that there was a greater difference than was supposed by the President of the Board of Trade. The concession was not a real one, hon. Gentleman having whittled away the whole of the concession as it was represented by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. The hon. Member in charge of the Bill said he would be willing to introduce a clause which should have the effect of eliminating compulsion, and he would read the words to the House, but nobody without taking the words down and considering them carefully could possibly say they were sufficient for the purpose. They would be asked were they going to reject this Bill, which might involve large considerations, which had been threshed out in Committee, and for which there had been all this expenditure, simply because they could not accept these words in regard to one particular clause. The promoters knew, and the President of the Board of Trade knew also, that this was the only real opportunity they would have of discussing these words. The matter had been discussed in regard to other companies. Two specific points had been put to the promoters. One was, were they willing that the men should control this fund; the other, were they going to permit men to withdraw their savings it they were dismissed from the employment of the company? That constituted the key to the whole situation, and if the promoters did not give to the House some assurance upon those two points, he hoped every opportunity would be taken of opposing the Bill.


said he would appeal to the House not to take upon itself at this stage the functions of a Committee. He humbly submitted that this was not the time to discuss the point; the time to do that was when the Bill was in Committee. If they were, going on in that way, it was obvious that on the Second Reading of measures they would be occupying time on matters which ought to be taken up by the Committee, which was the proper body to go into the drafting of Clause 27. If the House would give the Bill a Second Reading and allow it to go to a Committee, he would take an early opportunity of getting his hon. friend the Member for Lewisham to meet him in his room, and he would invite the hon. Member for Derby, and they would consider together whether those words carried out the intentions in the minds of the two hon. Members who had spoken. He thought that a few moments conversation would achieve all that was desired, but supposing the consultation proved unsuccessful, the Committee would still have an opportunity of drafting such words as they thought suitable, and after that occasion, if the Bill came back to the House in a form not acceptable to the hon. Member for Derby, there would yet be an opportunity on the Report stage for the hon. Member to suggest any other words. He thought that was an offer which his hon. friend the Member for Lewisham would be willing to accept.


I am willing to adopt that course.

SIR JOHN BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)

said that, as a rule, upon Committees upstairs there was no one to represent the public, because each party represented their personal and pecuniary interests. Under such circumstances, it was very difficult to protect the public interests. The House was asked, in spite of what had been said by the hon. Member for Lewisham, to allow this company to compel their men to contribute to a fund in which it was a condition, no matter how many years a man paid into it, that he should sacrifice the whole when lie left the employment of the company. They ought not to consent to give a clause to a railway company to enforce such a condition as that. Ho heartily welcomed the interposition of the Chairman of Committees.

MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)

thought he ought to have an opportunity of putting a point which no one had yet put. There had been considerable friction between the men employed and the company, and that friction had been so great at times that there had been danger of a strike occurring. A strike on the Great Eastern Railway would be the means of the dislocation of a great part of the labour of London, because a large number of workmen were brought up to London by that line. The danger of a strike which this clause might produce would at once be seen, and he hoped the House would be very careful not to permit the-company to have such a power.


said the suggestion made by the Chairman of Committees was certainly a point in advance of what the promoter of the Bill had said. He was prepared to accept the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion, provided the conference took place before the notice he had down for an Instruction to the Committee was reached. The conditions laid down in his previous statement were that the clause should be withdrawn for the present session, so that the employees might make arrangements of their own.


I am quite willing to do that.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool Scotland)

asked if the right hon. Gentleman meant by his proposal that if the Second Reading was allowed to pass a conference would then take place between the representatives of the railway company and the hon. Members alluded to in order to see if some agreement could be arrived at?


I am quite willing to give such an undertaking.


As the hon. Member for Derby speaks of moving his Instruction afterwards, it is only fair that I should tell him that I do not think I should be justified in allowing the hon. Member to move his Instruction, for it would be asking the House to debate over again the exact question raised by him on the Second Reading.


I am much obliged to you. Mr. Speaker, for the interpretation you have given.

SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)

asked if that ruling applied also to the Committee.


Not at all. This point has already been the subject of discussion.

MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)

said it was within his knowledge that a considerable number of Members were prepared to vote for the Second Reading if Clause 27 were deleted. The effect of the Speaker's ruling would he that the Second Reading would be got with the clause in the Bill, and no opportunity would be given for taking it out.


Does the hon. Member withdraw his Amendment?


I understand that I can raise the question on the Report stage. On that understanding I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Main Question put, and agreed to.—Bill read a second time, and committed.

Ordered, That it be an Instruction to the Committee to insert the following clause:—

No scheme for the establishment of a provident fund under this Act shall come into operation until it has been registered by the Registrar of Friendly Societies under the Friendly Societies Act.—(Mr. Strachey.)