§ Mr. RICHARD LAMBERT
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can explain the disparity in the figures relating to the hours of labour of railway servants contained in the Return Cd. 5,538, which show that 43.72 per cent. of the passenger engine-drivers and firemen and 73 per cent. of the goods engine-drivers and firemen in the service of the Great-Western Railway Company were employed on one or more occasions for more than 12 hours at a time, whereas the corresponding figures for the London and North-Western Railway Company show that 0.12 per cent. and 0.69 per cent. were so employed by the latter company; and whether, in the interests of the men, and in view of the consequences to the public generally, the Government will take immediate steps to-prevent such excessive periods of duty in future as those shown in the Return mentioned?
The Return no doubt shows considerable variation in the extent to which overtime is worked on the different railways, but I would point out that the only satisfactory index is the percentage of long periods of duty and not the percentage of men over whom these periods are distributed. In the case of the Great Western Railway the figures are—for passenger enginemen, 0.24, and for goods enginemen, 3.49 per cent. It is more difficult to keep the hours of men working with trains within regular limits than in the case of men working at fixed spots, but any representations made by or on behalf of the engine-men under the Railway Regulation Act, 1893, will receive consideration and be dealt with in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Act.