§ MR. J. RAMSAY MACDONALD (Leicester)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to a letter sent by Mr. J. M. Ronaldson, one of His Majesty's mines inspectors for Scotland, in which Mr. Ronaldson interfered with the business of the Ayrshire Miners' Federal Union and expressed opinions regarding its action in trying to get firemen to join it; whether in doing so Mr. Ronaldson was exceeding his duties; and what steps the Secretary of State proposes to take to prevent the repetition of such interference.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
I have seen the letter referred to in the Question. The inspector informs me that he wrote the letter because he has found it difficult in practice to get the under-officials, and especially the firemen, to see that the men comply with the statutory regulations, and in his opinion the difficulty 329 would be increased, and the maintenance of proper discipline in the mines prejudiced, if the firemen were compelled to join the men's union. In replying to the inspector's letter the secretary of the union says that the official of the union had no hand in any attempt to force the firemen at the mine in question into the union. In view of the fact that the paragraph in the inspector's letter to which the hon. Member refers was no more than the expression of an individual opinion, I do not think that any action on my part is called for.
§ MR. J. RAMSAY MACDONALD
But the expression, though that of an individual, was also that of an official of the Home Office.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
But he had no authority to deliver the opinion officially, and it was only intended as an individual opinion.