HC Deb 29 May 1913 vol 53 cc324-5
62. Mr. THOMAS

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Great Northern Railway Company recently fined an engine driver named Chappell without first giving him the opportunity to explain the full circumstances in connection with the offence alleged against him, or to call witnesses on his behalf, in accordance with Clause 72 of the Royal Commission Report into the working of the Railway Conciliation Boards of 1907; whether he is aware that it was only after Chappell's fellow workers threatened to strike and he (Chappell) had been suspended over three weeks that the company agreed to deal with the case in accordance with the Commissioners' recommendations; and, having regard to the fact that the scheme and report was the subject of a conference and agreement between the railway companies' representatives, acting on behalf of the whole of the companies in Great Britain, and the representatives of the workers, what steps he proposes to take to urge all railway companies to give full effect to the spirit and letter of this agreement, and to save the danger of a railway strike on matters which recent events have shown to be clearly a mistaken policy on the part of the companies concerned?


I understand that the driver in question was not understood by the company to apply to be heard in person and to produce witnesses, but that when the application was made the company acceded to it. I entirely concur in the statement of my hon. Friend that the railway companies and the men alike, through their representatives, agreed to accept the Report of the Royal Commission, including Clause 72. I feel sure that, generally speaking, both parties are alive to the provisions of the agreement and would desire to carry it out both in letter and in spirit. If I should receive any complaint that the provisions of the agreement are disregarded I will bring the matter to the notice of the party concerned.


Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with the railway company that it is necessary for the men themselves to make application, instead of the companies putting into effect the scheme itself and so saving these misunderstandings?


Not at all; what I have said is that I hope and feel sure that both parties will desire to carry out the agreement in letter and spirit, and if there is any infraction, either in letter or spirit of the agreement, and my attention is drawn to the matter, I will take care to move in it.

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