§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
149y Lords, my noble friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was kind enough yesterday to say that he would supplement his answer to my question about the recent demand of the railwaymen for an increase of wages. The question was to this effect—whether the agreement as to wages of railway employees, come to in January last, left it free to the men to re-open the question at any time; or was the arrangement such that the present re-opening of the question is a breach of the agreement. I think my noble friend also said that he would be kind enough, in reply to my noble friend Lord Salisbury, to say whether the sanction of the Cabinet would be obtained before any settlement of the negotiations is reached.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (THE EARL OF CRAWFORD)
My Lords, I have now seine further information for my noble friend Lord Selborne on the two points with which I did not deal fully yesterday. With regard to the first item, I have to inform him that the agreement with the railwaymen last January fixed certain wages and contained arrangements for an automatic rise or fall of wages in accordance with the increase or decrease in the cost of living. While it was anticipated that this agreement 295 would last for a considerable time, no definite period was fixed. The establishment of procedure by which further wage questions could be discussed left it open to either side to propose changes from time to time.
As regards the other point, I hope that I shall not be unduly pressed beyond saying this, that pending the deliberations by the Wages Board it is undesirable to make any announcement which would prejudice that matter in one direction or in another. But the Minister of Transport is fully aware of the importance of the issues involved, and should any occasion arise he will, of course, lay the matter before the Cabinet before taking definitive action.