§ Mr. BIGLAND
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade a question, of which I have given private notice, namely, Whether his attention has been called to a serious strike amongst the dock labourers in Birkenhead, reported to have arisen owing to a belief on the part of the men that the local Board of Trade official is acting as if the Clearing House system for the registration on the docks was compulsory, and if he will state whether a Board of Trade official has powers practically to enforce a lock-out in the event of the men refusing to comply with the Regulations drawn up as a model by the Insurance Commissioners?
I am aware that some difficulty—I hope of a temporary character—has impeded the introduction of the scheme for the improvement of the conditions of dock labour in Liverpool. The scheme has been framed by a joint committee representative of the employers and of the dockers' union, to which the Board of Trade are giving such assistance as is in their power. I have no reason to believe that the difficulty has arisen from any such causes as those suggested in the question. My latest information, I am glad to say, is of a hopeful character.