HC Deb 02 March 1921 vol 138 cc1844-5W

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any control over the form of agreement which applicants for appointments under the Crown Agents for the Colonies are called upon to sign; whether he is aware of the case of Mr. C. S. Latham, who left employment upon a British railway to enter upon a contract for three years' service as an assistant rates clerk on the Uganda Railway; that 14 months afterwards Mr. Latham was dismissed on reduction of staff; that the agreement signed by him was a one-sided document in that, whilst it claimed his service for three years, it gave the Crown Agents the right to terminate the engagement at any time by three months' notice or one month's pay, plus free passage to England, within two months; that Mr. Latham has been refused reinstatement on either British or Colonial Government railways and his early training does not fit him for a post in the ordinary commercial world; whether he will have inquiries made into this case; and whether he will have the form of agreement in such cases revised and made more equitable?

Lieut.-Colonel AMERY

Mr. Latham's agreement gave him the right to resign his employment on giving three months' notice and repaying the cost of his passage to East Africa. He arrived in January, 1914, and volunteered for active service in August. In October he was given notice of termination of his engagement on reduction of staff, but this was withdrawn in December, when his military service had been terminated through ill-health. He remained in railway employment until February, 1915, when he applied to be released from his employment and permitted to return to England, and three months' notice was again given to him. As the notice came from the Government he had the advantage of the free passage to England and the remission of the cost of the passage out. Mr. Latham applied for re-engagement in October, 1920, and his name has been noted by the Crown Agents for the Colonies for consideration with others when a vacancy occurs for which his qualifications fit him. I have no reason to suppose that any opportunity of re-employing him has been neglected, and I do not see that the form of agreement which he signed has been used to his detriment.