HC Deb 14 March 1912 vol 35 cc1272-4

asked whether the Prime Minister's attention has been called to the decision of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants to call in the mortgages of such of their members as remained faithful to their employers in the railway strike of last year; and whether he will introduce legislation to deal with the matter?

Mr. FRED HALL (Dulwich)

asked the right hon. Gentleman if his attention has been called to the terms of a circular letter issued by the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants giving instructions with a view to the calling in of mortgages granted to members of the society who declined to withdraw their labour in the railway strike of August, 1911; whether, in view of the policy disclosed thereby, he will consider the necessity for requiring that trade union ballots shall be conducted in a manner to secure secrecy; and whether, in view of the services rendered to the public by certain railway servants at the time of the strike, the Government will compensate them for any injury which they in ay suffer through the action of the officials of the Railway Servants Society?


I have seen in the Press a copy of a circular letter, stated to have been addressed to branch secretaries of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants in November last. The circular referred to a Resolution passed at the September meeting of the society to the effect that the mortgages of all members who failed to join in the strike last August should be called in, but I understand that no such mortgage has been called in, and I should hope that no step of that character will be taken. I fail to see that the question raised by the hon. Member for Dulwich of conducting trade union ballots in a manner to secure secrecy has any connection with this matter.


May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that these statements originated in a notorious Conservative morning newspaper, and was supported by the Conservative candidate for Derby, and that both statements are wholly without foundation; and whether he will take steps to protect trade unions from such wicked and malicious attacks?


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that at a meeting held in September at Unity House of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, the following resolution was moved by Billett and seconded by Henderson: "That this committee hereby instructs the trustees to foreclose the mortgages of those who blacklegged during the strike." That is contained in the report of the Amalgamated Society.


I think that is a matter for debate.