HC Deb 15 August 1911 vol 29 cc1874-6

I beg to move, "That this House do now adjourn."


I should like to ask the Under-Secretary for War if he can give the House any information with regard to some deplorable events which have occurred, or which are represented to have occurred, in Liverpool?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Colonel Seely)

I regret I have no information to give the House with regard to the occurrences in Liverpool to which I think my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division refers. There is a Press telegram, which I think most hon. Members have seen, stating that there have been serious riots and loss of life. I have endeavoured to get through to the Chief Constable in Liverpool on the telephone in order to verify the statements made in the Press paragraph, but I have not yet succeeded in doing so. Under the circumstances, I regret I can give no information to the House. I may add that I saw the principal officials of the War Office twenty minutes ago, and they had then no positive confirmation of the deplorable circumstances which it is alleged have taken place. I would not like it to be taken from that as saying that no disaster has occurred. I can only say that I have no confirmation of the statement given in the Press telegrams.


I see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade in his place, and I should like to know what information he has in regard to the report of a national strike on the railways. I hope that the Department will be prepared, when questions of this kind arise, and that they will be able to tell us something definite?


My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and the officials of our Department have been engaged, not only to-day, but yesterday and nearly everyday for the last fortnight in endeavouring to settle these most disastrous disputes, and they have met with a considerable amount of success, I think the House will agree, in settling them with the representatives of labour and capital; but, unfortunately, those settlements have not always been acted upon by those who are usually and who ought to be guided by their leaders. With regard to what my hon. Friend has asked me, I am afraid I can give the House no further information than that which has been given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board.


The hon. Gentleman misunderstands my question. I asked him About something which has happened within the last five hours, as to a national railway strike having been declared on the railways. Has he any information?


No, Sir. I think the information which has reached my hon. Friend is premature. I do not think anything of that nature has occurred so far as I am aware, but I would like to guard myself as to that statement.


Can the Home Secretary or his subordinate give us any information about what has happened in Liverpool during the last two hours? We have had information through the Press; have the Government no information or knowledge whatever on the subject which they can give to the House?

Colonel SEELY

It is only by leave of the House that I can speak again, but since I spoke before I have received a telephonic message from the War Office stating that a party of the 18th Hussars were attacked to-night in Liverpool and one man was killed and three wounded. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hussars?"] Who they were who were killed and who were wounded, I have no definite information; but I have this information direct from General MacKinnon, so that I think it may be taken as certain that the number of casualties is not greater than I have now stated.


May I ask the representative of the Home Office whether, having regard to this further terrible information from Liverpool he does not see his way now to take some more definite steps towards intervening there with a view to bringing the parties together? I received an answer when I asked a question earlier to the effect that it was not possible, but I think if anything were required to show the Government that it really was necessary to stir themselves in this matter the information which ha3 come to hand since ought to be sufficient to do it.


I do not think I can add anything to the answers given by my right hon. Friend at question time.


How does the hon. Member understand that the report which has been circulated within the last four hours to the effect that a universal railway strike has been determined upon, is not authentic? Has he no information at all with regard to it?


I cannot give any further answer.


With regard to the business for Thursday and Friday, has any definite decision been come to?


A statement will be made to-morrow.

Adjourned accordingly at Seven minutes before Eleven o'clock.