§ 42. Mr. G. ROBERTS
asked if the tribunal set up to inquire into the Port of London Authority by-laws relating to watermen and lightermen has yet reported; and, if so, whether such Report will be laid upon the Table of the House; and whether the House will be afforded an opportunity of discussing the same before the findings are given effect to?
The Report of the three gentlemen appointed to inquire into the by-laws recently made by the Port of London Authority as to the licensing of lightermen and watermen was presented to Parliament on the 20th March last, and was circulated on the 25th March, together with correspondence between the Board of Trade and the Port Authority informing them of the decision to confirm the by-laws in accordance with the unanimous recommendation of the Committee.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has considered the protests of the lightermen against the by-law?
The position is that the Port of London Authority made this by-law. I referred it to a Committee consisting of three. They went carefully into the matter, heard both sides and all persons interested at great length and quite fully, and came unanimously to the decision that the by-law should be confirmed. Under those circumstances, it appears to me that the by-law should be confirmed.
§ Mr. J. WARD
Does the right hon. Gentleman take the absolute responsibility of the final sanction of this by-law in spite of the opposition of the workmen concerned?
The Board of Trade is the confirming authority, and under the circumstances we think it well, after the Report of the Committee appointed to inquire into it, to sanction it. Of course I take full responsibility for so doing.
§ Mr. J. WARD
Is there any other case of any other class of the community losing a vested interest of this description without at least proper consideration being given to them?
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers, may I ask when the by-law will be finally confirmed and in operation?
I am not quite sure, perhaps the hon. Gentleman would give me notice. With regard to the question of consideration this is exactly what has occurred in regard to this matter. The fullest possible consideration was given by the Committee who went most carefully into it and heard evidence from all sides and all parties interested, and came unanimously to the conclusion that the Order should be confirmed, and I would also point out in this connection that it was anticipated by Parliament in the Port of London Authority Act that something of this character would be carried through at no distant date because this particular by-law was carried out under a particular Sub-section of that Act.
§ Mr. G. ROBERTS
May I ask whether the Lightermen's Association acquiesced in the reference of this by-law to this tribunal?
The position is that the Port of London Authority sent the by-law to the Board of Trade for confirmation. I was requested by, I think, the Lightermen's Association through their representatives, to inqure into it so that the matter might be fully considered and discussed by all the parties interested. That request I acceded to; and I should have done so on my own initiative. The matter was inquired into very fully by this Court, and they came to the conclusion to which I have referred.
§ 43. Mr. G. ROBERTS
asked the President of the Board of Trade if his Department has succeeded in arranging a conference or conferences between watermen and lightermen, employers and employed, engaged in the trade of the Port of London, with a view to the regulation and restriction of the hours of labour; and, if so, is he able to state the result thereof?
The hours of labour of lightermen and watchmen in the Port of London were settled by an agreement dated 11th August, 1911, between the master lightermen and the Lightermen's Union. Masters and mates of tugs, who were not covered by that agreement, were, I understand, given an increase of pay after the dispute in that year. I am informed that the Master Lightermen's Association were in communication with the Lightermen's Union in October last in regard to wages and conditions of employment in connection with tug work, but that, in the opinion of the employers, no fresh circumstances had arisen in connection with the employment of tug-hands to justify rearrangement of wages or conditions of employment. I understand that in the course of correspondence the master lightermen stated that they were prepared to meet officers of the Lightermen's Union, but could not hold out the hope of any alterations.
§ 70. Mr. TOUCHE
asked whether the officers at Cutler Street tobacco warehouse have made a complaint as to the accommodation recently supplied by the Port of London Authority and approved by the 988 Board of Customs and Excise; and, having regard to the dissatisfaction caused by the present method of approval, especially with reference to this recent case, will the responsibility for furnishing and approving all such offices be transferred to His Majesty's Office of Works?
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Robertson)
The complaint referred to in the first part of the question has been received and is now being inquired into. As regards the latter part of the question, I may refer the hon. Member to the answer given to his previous question by my right hon. Friend on the 10th February last.