asked the Minister of Transport whether he has examined the pledge which the Great Northern Railway of Ireland is demanding from the men as a condition of reinstatement, in which they are required to sign an undertaking to handle all traffic without discrimination and to recognise the right of the company to forfeit their pensions; and, if so, whether this is a violation of the spirit of the agreement he made with the men's representative under which he contracted to see that the men would be reinstated without penalisation?
§ Mr. NEAL
It is the case that the railway company in question are requiring men desiring reinstatement in their service to sign an undertaking to handle all traffic without discrimination, but what the men are asked to recognise on the second point mentioned by the right hon. Member is that admission into the company's pension fund rests with, the pension fund committee and not with the company, and that if re-admission is refused by that committee there is no claim on the company in respect of pensions. The committee is composed of five representatives of the company and five of the subscribing members; and the company state as their reason for making the condition referred to, that they are not in a position to compel the committee to take back into the fund any member who has lost his membership through dis-304W charge from the service. As regards the last part of the question, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport undertook in a letter which he addressed personally to the right hon. Gentleman on the 22nd December last that the Government would request the Irish railway companies concerned to arrange that no member of the National Union of Railwaymen should be refused reinstatement, or should subsequently be penalised, by reason of the fact that since the dispute began he had refused to handle all traffic without discrimination. This pledge my right hon. Friend the Minister has fully carried out. He has no power to compel a railway company to reinstate any particular man unconditionally.