§ 62. Mr. HAYES
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the waiving of the regulations under the Merchant Shipping (Wireless Telegraphy) Act, 1919, was actuated by a temporary dislocation of or delay to shipping; whether the wireless dispute was the cause of such dislocation or delay; or whether he waived the regulations on the assumption that shipping would be dislocated or delayed?
There has been no dislocation or delay to shipping, but the effect on the trade and life of the country of holding up shipping would have been instant and serious, and that point had to be taken into consideration in determining the attitude of the Board of Trade.
§ 64. Mr. HAYES
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has received any communications from individual members of the public or public bodies urging him to re-establish the normal working of the Merchant-Shipping (Wireless Telegraphy) Act, 1919, and to set up a court of inquiry into the facts of the marine wireless dispute; whether he will give the number of such communications he has received: the number of persons represented by those communications; and whether he intends to comply with the request contained in those communications?
I have received a number of communications about the wireless operators' strike, but I am afraid I cannot undertake to say how many there have been or how many people they repro, sent. The question of detaining ships has been fully dealt with in answers to questions. The question as to a court of inquiry is one for the Ministry of Labour.
§ Mr. NEIL MACLEAN
Does the hon. Gentleman believe that it is conducting matters in an impartial way by singling out shipowners in the manner in which they have been singled out by his Department?
§ 77. Mr. MONTAGUE
asked the Minister of Labour in what direction his activities have been pursued with the object of bringing about a satisfactory settlement of the marine wireless dispute; whether he has made any representations to the employers to modify their demands upon the men; whether he has granted personal interviews to the employers, either individually or collectively, and with what result; and whether he will now set up a court of inquiry into the facts of the dispute?
§ 78. Mr. G. HURST
asked the Minister of Labour what is the position to-day with regard to the dispute between the wireless operators and their employers; and whether any and, if so, what progress has been made in the direction of arbitration?
§ Mr. BETTERTON
I will, if I may, answer these questions together. Officers of my Department have been in constant communication with both parties, with a view to arranging a settlement of the dispute. The position to-day is that the Association have informed the Department that the proposals of the employers for the settlement of the dispute are unacceptable, and have submitted an alternative proposal which is being considered by the employers. Both parties include a reference to arbitration among their proposals, but differences exist between them, both as to the basis of arbitration and as to the terms upon which work is to be resumed. A communication has been sent to the employers to-day, and it is hoped that it may be possible to arrange a joint meeting when their reply has been received.
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
If it is impossible to arrange a joint meeting, is it not possible to set up a Court of Inquiry into the merits of the whole thing?
§ Mr. BETTERTON
I hope very much that the joint meeting will be arranged, and until our efforts either fail—if they do fail, which I hope they will not—or be concluded one way or the other, the question of a Court of Inquiry does not arise.
§ Mr. BARNES
In the event of the employers refusing, and the operatives being still willing to go to arbitration as they are, will the Department exercise authority over the employers and set up a Court of Inquiry?