§ MR. BERRIDGE (Warwick and Leamington)
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he can now state what progress, if any, has been made with regard to the examination of automatic couplings for railway wagons by the Committee appointed by the Board of Trade in April, 1906; and whether, in view of the fact that several persons claim to be possessed of efficient and cheap appliances of such a kind as would greatly minimise the number of those serious accidents to railway employees now regularly reported in the Parliamentary Returns, he will take such steps as will expedite the deliberations of the Committee, so as to enable him to put into early operation the powers conferred upon him by The Railway Employment (Prevention of Accidents) Act, 1900.
(Answered by Mr. Lloyd-George.) The question of automatic couplers has not yet been inquired into by the Committee appointed to consider railway safety appliances, but the Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways has recently made an independent investigation into the matter, and has advised that there is good reason to doubt whether the adoption of such appliances would tend appreciably to reduce the number of accidents. The Committee have hitherto been considering the question of "either-side" brakes, and, as the result of their investigations and experiments, the Board of Trade will shortly be in a position to propose a rule on that subject. Other matters affecting the safety of men employed in the railway service will from time to time be referred to the Committee.