HC Deb 22 February 1907 vol 169 cc1146-7

To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Select Committee on the Hours of Labour of Railway Servants, presided over by Sir Michael Hicks Beach, which reported in 1892, recommended a standard day of ten hours for most of the grades of railway servants employed in the movement of railway traffic, and that in pursuance of this recommendation, two successive Returns of excessive hours were ordered by the Board of Trade of hours worked on railways in excess of ten hours, as well as of hours worked in excess of twelve hours; and whether, having regard to the great number of instances of hours in excess of ten hours, but not in excess of twelve hours disclosed by those Returns, he will, in ordering any further Returns of excessive hours, direct that a full Return should be made of instances of hours on duty exceeding ten, so that the full number of such instances declared by the Committee of 1892 to be excessive and undesirable in the interests of the public as well as of the men should be placed before Parliament.

(Answered by Mr. Lloyd-George.) My hon. friend would seem to be under a misapprehension in this matter. The Select Committee did not recommend a standard day of ten hours for most of the grades of railway servants employed in the movement of the traffic; in fact they expressed the opinion that a legal limit was impracticable. No returns of hours in excess of ten have been called for under The Regulation of Railways Act, 1889, since the Committee made its Report, but some Returns of that character were obtained before that time. The Committee recommended that "the arrangements of the companies should be so framed as to prevent the booked time of drivers, firemen, and guards from exceeding sixty-six hours per week, or twelve hours in any one day" (p. vi. of Report). The present form of Return seems well adapted to test how far this recommendation is complied with.