HC Deb 22 July 1912 vol 41 cc801-3
42. Mr. BARNES

asked whether the National Commissioners have received a complaint regarding the firm of Ashton Brothers and Company, of Hyde, in bringing pressure to bear on their employés to choose the firm's shop club as their approved society; whether one of a series of questions put to the employés on a form was whether the employé was prepared to join the shop club, and that upon some of the employés answering this in the negative the form was sent back to them with a demand for further information; and what action the Commissioners propose to take in this particular case and to stop the general intimidation that is being exercised by the employers?


I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford on 17th July. I have been in communication with the firm in question, and understand that they were considering the formation of an approved society in connection with the firm and desired to ascertain how many would be likely to join such a society. They assert that they had no intention of contravening the provisions of the Insurance Act, and that the putting of any pressure upon their employés to join an employer's society is altogether outside their intention and traditions.


Will the right hon. Gentleman make inquiries of the Associated Cement Company, which is a similar case?


I will make inquiries in any case if any hon. Gentleman brings the facts to my notice.

55 and 58. Mr. CLYNES

asked the Secretary to the Treasury (55) whether his attention has been drawn to the circular issued by the firm of Tozer, Kemsley, and Fisher to their employés in which they state that they will pay their own and their employés' contributions under the National Insurance Act on condition that the employés join an approved society to the satisfaction of the firm; and what action he proposes to take to secure to these employés the free choice of an approved society; (58) whether his attention has been drawn to the proposal of the Palmer Tyre Company, that the company will pay the wages of their employés during the first six weeks of illness on condition that the employés pay the whole of the contributions under the National Insurance Act applicable to such cases, and what action he proposes taking to ensure that this firm's contributions are not imposed upon the employé?


The Commissioners are in communication with these firms.

56. Mr. CLYNES

asked whether the firm of Comtelburo, Limited, London, have issued a form to their employés on which they ask for the name of the employé's approved society; and whether the right hon. Gentleman will have a leaflet issued to insured persons pointing out that it is no business of employers to question their employés respecting their approved societies?


I will communicate with the firm. If a sufficient number of substantiated cases of employers asking what society their employés are joining are brought to my notice, I will consider the question of issuing a leaflet such as that suggested.

59. Mr. BARNES

asked if the right hon. Gentleman's attention has been directed to the rules of the new society set up by the Great Southern and Western Railway Company, membership of which is to be made a condition of membership of the approved society also set up by the company for the purposes of the National Insurance Act; is he aware that there are, under the rules in question, certain benefits and refunds provided for of a preferential character, and therefore that the dual conditions set up are contrary to the spirit of individual option of the workmen; and, if so, will the Commissioners take some steps to prevent the society being registered?

60. Mr. CLANCY

asked with reference to the action of the Great Southern and Western Railway Company of Ireland in the matter of the Great Southern and Western Railway Sick Fund, whether the company's proposal is to divide the society into two sections, one outside the National Insurance Act, the other a section for the purposes of that Act, and that one of the rules is that no person can be a member of the first section without also becoming a member of the second; if this is so, whether, in the opinion of the Irish Insurance Commissioners, the action of the company conduces to the exercise of the freedom of choice of an insurance society by their employés; and, if not, whether they will discountenance all such attempts to pervert the National Insurance Act to the company's purposes?


Application has been made to the Commission for the approval for the purposes of the Act of a new society called the Great Southern and Western Railway Employés' Benefit Society, and the question of approval is still under consideration. The proposed rules provide that no person shall be allowed to contribute for benefits independently of the Act unless he is a member of the society for the purposes of the Act. So far as the information before the Commissioners enable them to form an opinion, it does not appear that the railway company are in any way connected with this new society, and as the restriction referred to does not relate to the business of the society under the Act the Commissioners would not appear to have any power to interfere in the matter. The Great Southern and Western Railway Sick Fund seems to be independent of and altogether distinct from the new society.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the manager of the Great Southern and Western Railway has taken a personal part in the framing of these rules, and is the part he has taken not directly intended to destroy the trade union?


I have no knowledge on that subject. The society is not yet approved. I shall be glad to have any information which my hon. Friend can give me.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not of opinion, and will he not express this opinion to the Insurance Commissioners, that they ought to inquire into this question and see whether or not the manager of the Great Southern and Western has personally interfered in the matter?


I am certainly prepared to convey the expression of opinion by the hon. Gentleman to the Insurance Commissioners.