TUESDAY, 27th APRIL, 1920.91
The Committee consists of the following Members:—
Brace, Mr. (Chairman).
Addison, Dr. (Shoreditch)
Adkins, Sir Ryland (Lancaster, Middleton and Prestwich)
Allen, Lieut.-Colonel (Armagh, North)
Ashley, Colonel (Lancaster, Fylde)
Bagley, Captain (Lancaster, Farnworth)
Baldwin, Mr. (Worcester, Bewdley)
Bellairs, Commander (Kent, Maidstone)
Bethell, Sir John (East Earn, North)
Birchall, Major (Leeds, North-East)
Blake, Sir Francis (Northumberland, Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Bramsdon, Sir Thomas (Portsmouth, Central)
Bruton, Sir James (Gloucester)
Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel (Lanark, Coatbridge)
Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel (Lancaster, Waterloo)
Carr, Mr. (Carlisle)
Carter, Mr. William (Nottingham, Mansfield)
Chamberlain, Mr. Neville (Birmingham, Ladywood)
Conway, Sir Martin (Combined English Universities)
Dennis, Mr. E. R. B. (Oldham)
Edwards, Mr. Charles (Monmouth, Bedwellty)
Fell, Sir Arthur (Great Yarmouth)
Finney, Mr. (Stoke-on-Trent, Burslem)
Gange, Mr. (Bristol, North)
Gardiner, Mr. (Perth and Kinross, Kinross and Western)
Geddes, Sir Eric (Cambridge)
Graham, Mr. Duncan (Lanark, Hamilton)
Green, Mr. Albert (Derby)
Green, Mr. Joseph (Leicester, West)
Guest, Major (Leicester, Loughborough)
Harmsworth, Mr. Esmond (Kent, Isle of Thanet)
Haslam, Mr. (Newport)
Hayward, Mr. (Durham, Seaham)
Henderson, Major Vivian (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Hilder, Colonel (Essex, South-Eastern)
James, Lieut.-Colonel (Bromley)
Jones, Mr. Haydn (Merioneth)
Lunn, Mr. (York, W.R., Rothwell)
MacVeagh, Mr. (Down, South)
Magnus, Sir Philip (London University)
Mallalieu, Mr. (York, W.R., Colne Valley)
Mason, Mr. (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
Meysey-Thompson, Lieut.-Colonel (Birmingham, Handsworth)
Mond, Sir Alfred (Swansea, West)
Moreing, Captain (York, E.R., Buckrose)
Morgan, Major (Rhondda, East)
Neal, Mr. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Oman, Mr. (Oxford University)
Ormsby-Gore, Mr. (Stafford, Stafford)
Peel, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Robert (Middlesex, Uxbridge)
Raffan, Mr. (Leigh)
Raper, Mr. (Islington, East)
Renwick, Mr. (Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central)
Seddon, Mr. (Stoke-on-Trent, Hanley)
Smith, Mr. Walter (Northampton Wellingborough)
Spencer, Mr. (Nottingham, Broxtowe)
Strauss, Mr. (Southwark, North)
Thomas, Sir Robert (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Thomson, Mr. Trevelyan (Middlesbrough, West)
Tillett, Mr. (Salford, North)
Wallace, Mr. (Dunfermline District of Burghs)
Warner, Sir Courtenay (Stafford, Lichfield)
Waterson, Mr. (Northampton, Kettering)
Wignall, Mr. (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
Williams, Mr. John (Glamorgan, Gower)
Winfrey, Sir Richard (Norfolk, South-West)
Wood, Major Mackenzie (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Central)
Committee Clerks. Sir J. HORSBRUGH-PORTER,
Committee Clerks. Mr. METCALFE.92 93 STANDING COMMITTEE B Tuesday, 27th April, 1920
[Mr. BRACE in the chair.]
1.—(1) The limitations contained in the proviso to sub-section (1) of section one of the Statutory Undertakings (Temporary Increase of Charges) OFFICIAL REPORT Act, 1918, (hereinafter referred to as the Principal Act) shall not apply in the case of orders made after the passing of this Act by the Minister of Transport in relation to tramway undertakings, but in lieu thereof the following limitations shall apply:—
(2) An order authorising any increase in the statutory maximum charges applicable to a tramway undertaking may attach such conditions thereto as the Minister may think proper, and may modify any statutory provisions, and the provisions of any agreement, whether or not confirmed by an Act or order having the force of an Act, which impose obligations on the undertakers as to the frequency of any tramway service.
(3) Before making an order in pursuance of the powers conferred by the principal Act as amended by this Act the Minister shall refer the matter to the advisory committee hereinafter constituted for their consideration and report:
Provided that if in the case of any tramway undertaking it appears to the Minister that there is ground for making an order and that the case is one of urgency, he may, without any such reference and without any such notices as are required by the principal Act, make an interim order increasing the 94 statutory maximum charges by such amount, not exceeding one hundred per cent., and subject to such conditions, as he thinks proper; but an interim order shall not remain in force more than six months, and where an interim order is made the Minister shall forthwith refer the matter to the advisory committee.
(4) The charges authorised by any order made under the principal Act as amended by this Act may be charged notwithstanding any statutory provisions or any agreement whether or not confirmed by an Act or order having the force of an Act.
(5)If at any time it appears to the Minister of Transport that owing to changes in the cost of labour or materials or other circumstances affecting a tramway undertaking with respect to which an order has been made, the powers of charging effected by the order are insufficient or excessive for the purposes aforesaid, the Minister may, and if representations to that effect are made to him by the undertakers or by the local authority of any district served by the tramway, or in case where the local authority are the undertakers by twenty ratepayers in the district, he shall refer the matter to the advisory committee hereinafter constituted, and may after considering any report of the committee make an order revising the powers of charging so authorised as aforesaid; so, however, that revised maximum charges shall not in any case be less than the statutory maximum charges applicable to the undertaking.
Sir T. BRAMSDON: I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out Paragraph (b). This paragraph is very vague, and I move its omission for the purpose of asking the Minister if he will explain it in detail. What is a reasonable return on share capital as it applies to private companies? The shareholders may have an entirely different view as to what is a reasonable return. Five per cent. may be in the minds of some persons, ten per cent. in others, and perhaps even twenty per cent. with others again. Then supposing more money is raised than is necessary, what is to happen? Besides which the paragraph speaks of "due care and management."
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of TRANSPORT (Mr. Neal): This Bill is an amendment of the Statutory Undertakings (Temporary Increase of Charges) Act,. 1918, which applies, amongst other matters, to tramway undertakings, and the corresponding financial Clause was Clause (1), Subsection (1) (b), the proviso being, in the case of companies, in these terms "In any other case no modification shall be authorised which is more than sufficient 95 to enable with due care and management a dividend on the ordinary stock or shares of the undertaking to be paid at three-quarters of the standard or maximum rate of dividend, if any, prescribed for the undertaking, or at threequarters of the prewar rate of dividend, whichever is lower." In the paragraph under discussion we reproduce the earlier part of the words of the Statute including the words "due care and management," and we invite the Committee to vary it by putting in words which are taken, I think, verbatim from an Instruction given by the House to the Select Committee after discussion upon the Bill introduced on behalf of the undertakers who own the London Electric Railways, namely, "not greater than sufficient to secure a reasonable return." I quite grant that the word "reasonable" is always an indefinite word, but it is one of the most useful words we have in the English language and it is constantly adopted in Acts of Parliament. It is felt that to limit the dividends of these undertakings to three-quarters of their standard rate of dividend or their pre-war rate of dividend is not doing justice to the shareholders in the Company. Money is worth less to them, as it is to everyone else, and therefore it is thought right that there should be careful consideration given as to what return there should be upon the capital. This Bill has a time limit. The last Clause limits the effect until 15th February, 1923. That date is adopted for this reason, that under the Ministry of Transport Act the rates of railway charges which the Minister has power to fix are limited in their application to the same date, and we have followed that precedent. It is felt that to prevent the shareholders receiving something larger than three-fourths of the pre-war dividend is not fair to them, and the way in which it is to be dealt with is, first, by reference to an advisory committee. The advisory committee among other things will have to consider what is a fair and reasonable return on the capital invested in the undertaking, and having given their advice, the matter will go for determination to the Minister of Transport, who must exercise his judgment as to whether he accepts that advice in its entirety or not. I trust my hon. Friend will not press his Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.96
Mr. WALLACE: I beg to move in Sub-section (2) after the word "proper" ["may think proper"] to insert the words "including condition that in all cases where the tramway undertaking obtaining such increase is liable, whether by statute or by agreement, to pay to any local authority any annual or other recurring fixed payment in respect of maintenance of or way-leave over roads or streets or any portion thereof under the jurisdiction of such local authority, said fixed payment shall be increased appropriately, as may be determined by the Minister, to the changed conditions and increases of costs of labour and material which may have emerged subsequent to the date when the amount of said payment was fixed." This Amendment requires very little comment. I have moved it because it concerns intimately my own constituency, although its application is very much wider than any single constituency. Under the Dunfermline and District Tramways Order, 1906, certain agreements were entered into by the Tramway Company and the local authority, by which sums of one hundred pounds, increasing to £125 per tramway mile, were to be paid annually to the Dunfermline Town Council. Under the same Order, in another section, a further sum of £7 per calculated mile of tramway route was to be paid to the Dunfermline District Committee. Since that time, the boundaries have been extended, and this sum is now divided among the Dunfermline Town Council, the Dunfermline District Committee, and the Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly authorities. But since that order was made the costs of the maintenance of roads have very-much increased. In consideration of these amounts which are paid to the—authorities I have mentioned, the local authorities guarantee to keep the roadway in a proper and adequate state of repair; but it is obvious that that cannot be done upon the same basis of costs as were fixed when this Order was passed, and the object of the Amendment is, therefore, quite clear. If the tramway company succeed in obtaining power to increase the fares, it is surely elementary justice and fair play that those responsible for the maintenance of the road, where the costs have gone up so enormously, should also have some increased rate of payment. It is suggested in the Amendment that any such increased payment should be at the discretion of the Minister of Transport. It seems to me that the same principle 97 which governs the increase of fares on account of rising costs should also rule in the case of the maintenance of roads, where the costs have gone up quite as much. I am quite sure that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, who is always so conciliatory and diplomatic, will accept this Amendment without any hesitation.
Mr. NEAL: I am very sorry that I run the risk of losing the very excellent character given to me by my hon. Friend by having to say that I am unable to accept the Amendment. The Amendment deals with the same topic as that dealt with later on in the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean Division (Mr. Wignall). A serious question has arisen in the minds of some of us as to whether either of these Amendments is within the scope of the Bill. The Bill is one to enable the tramway undertakings to make charges to meet their existing legal obligations. The Amendment, in so far as it is outside the words of the Clause as it stands, is intended to increase the obligations. In other words, the object of the Amendment is to repeal or modify certain statutory obligations or certain contractual obligations, and you, Mr. Chairman, will, no doubt, consider whether these matters are such as are within the scope of the Bill. I suggest to my hon. Friend that he need not press this Amendment, because it seems to us that it is covered by the Bill as it stands. The Sub-section which he is proposing to amend, Sub-section (2), says: "An order authorising any increase in the statutory maximum charges applicable to a tramway undertaking may attach such conditions thereto as the Minister may think proper." If it may legally be done under the Amendment it can be legally done without the Amendment. That is to say, the Minister could, if he was so advised, and the conditions warranted it, impose an obligation upon the Tramway Company which sought an increase in its charges for fares that they should make a corresponding or a proper increase in their contribution to the upkeep of roads. But this must be only a very exceptional case. The usual legal obligation upon a tramway undertaking is that the tramway undertakes to maintain the track and, I think, a distance of 18 inches on either side of the track.98
Mr. BARTLEY DENNISS: Outside the outer rail.
Mr. NEAL: I thank my hon. Friend. That is the usual statutory obligation. I gather that in the case of Dunfermline some exception was made to that rule and that the local authority chose to enter into a bargain under which they undertook to relieve the tramway company of the usual obligation in consideration of a fixed sum. I can hardly think that this is an appropriate Bill on which to interfere with the contractual rights of the parties; but if a sound case could be made before the Advisory Committee for that to be done, the Minister would, no doubt, be prepared to give effect to it by the Order which he made. Perhaps I may save time if I now deal briefly with the cognate topic which arises under the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Wignall).
The CHAIRMAN: That will depend upon the view of the Committee as to whether my hon. Friend's amendment will be in order. If the amendment moved by my hon. Friend (Mr. Wallace) is negatived, then the amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Wignall) will be negatived to the extent that I should rule that it has been covered by that decision. As to the point of order, I am going to say that there is a little doubt about it, but as Chairman, I feel that I must give the benefit of the doubt to the hon. Member who moved the amendment.
Mr. WALLACE: The title of the Bill provides for "charges which may be made in respect of and the obligations affecting tramway undertakings." In view of those words it seems to me that there is quite a legitimate scope for this amendment—I say so with all respect-if the title of the Bill is to be any guide at all, but I shall not press that argument. I have no doubt at all of the bona fides of my hon. Friend in saying that the Minister would act in quite a proper way under certain circumstances, but I do not know how long my hon. Friend is going to be the Parliamentary Secretary or how long the present Minister of Transport will remain in office, and consequently I desire to have all the conditions clearly stated. In view of these facts I must press my amendment. The grievance in my constituency is that the local authority are bound to repair the roadway and the 99 streets in respect of the tramway rails, the fish plates and tie rods.
Mr. LUNN: I beg to move at the end of Sub-section (2) to add the words "Provided that no such order shall render less onerous obligations imposed on the undertakers as to the frequency of any tramway service or as to the provision of workmen's cars or tickets, or as to reduced fares for school children." My object in moving this Amendment is largely to provide a guarantee of workmen's cars being provided, and of no increase in the fares to school children. I realise, and I agree, that tramway undertakings have to meet the increased cost of equipment and increased wages, and I am not opposing the principle of the Bill. We all know the housing difficulties in every district. Thousands of workmen are living many miles from their employment, and have to travel long distances on those cars, sometimes four, five and even seven and eight miles, because they cannot obtain accommodation nearer to their employment. I know the difficulties there are in Lancashire and Yorkshire of securing a sufficient number of cars to carry these workmen. I have often seen as many as 100 people upon a car which should only carry 50, and many have been left after the 100 have secured some sort of position on the car. I have known work-girls and women stand for 80 minutes, waiting for a car to convey them home. That is a matter which obtains in many districts to-day, and local authorities are complaining of their difficulty in encouraging or persuading undertakings to provide a sufficiency of cars to carry the workpeople at the time they are needed. With regard to workmen's fares I do not think an increase ought to be allowed in their case. I think that we ought to encourage, for the time being, whilst the housing difficulties are so great, the idea of workmen attending their work regularly and using these cars, and make it possible for them to get to their work by providing reasonable facilities. If you increase the fares you make it more difficult for the workmen getting along the roads. I know there is in the Tramways Act the idea that a workman is an ordinary daily labourer, but that has never been very clearly defined. A man with 100 a black face is considered a workman, while a man not earning perhaps more than half the man with the black face, who goes to his work in a black coat, is not regarded as a workman. A work-girl travelling with a shawl over her head is regarded as a workman under the Act, but a work-girl who is a tailoress is not regarded as a workman. I think those matters ought to be made clear. With the shortening of the hours of labour, a change has been brought about in the time at which workmen finish their employment. The Act provides that workmen can ride between five and six o'clock in the evening as workmen, but many workmen finish much earlier than five or six o'clock, and I should like to call attention to that matter, so that in making the Regulations a suitable hour may be considered that will suit the workpeople when they leave their employment. The question of school children is more important. Secondary schools are not provided at everyone's doorstep, but there are scores of thousands of workpeople who are desirous of giving their children a decent education. Sometimes the children have to travel many miles to these secondary schools, and if we are to allow an increase of fares to school children, we are going to injure the education of the children of this country. I think that whatever we do with any other part of the Bill, we ought to encourage everyone who is desirous of seeing their children receive a proper education. I know that to-day the Act only provided for school children under twelve years of age, but with the increase of the age limit for education facilities, and compulsory education up to fourteen years of age having been enacted, I should like to see the age of school children increased in regard to travelling facilities. With these observations I move my Amendment, and I hope my hon. Friend, who is a Yorkshireman and knows about some of these things, may be able to accept my proposal.
Mr. NEAL: I think if my hon. Friend will look at the Bill, and at his Amendment, he will see that it would be quite impossible, as a matter of drafting, to accept his Amendment, because it would read then that by certain words in the Sub-section the Minister would be given power to impose obligations with reference to the frequency of tramway service, followed immediately by words, 101 which in the terms of the Amendment, say that he should have no such power. In other words, within three lines the Sub-section would contradict itself, so that so far as that part of the Amendment is concerned, if my hon. Friend desires to press it, I think he would realise that he would have to consider the matter a little more closely, and leave out certain words before he inserted these words. The question raised by the Amendment is one of very great interest, and I think I may reply in substance at once by saying that the topics which have been raised by my hon. Friend are eminently topics for consideration by the Advisory Committee which is being set up under the Bill. The question of workmen's fares is one which is raised in a variety of ways. You get it with reference to the Cheap Trains Act as applying to railways. You get it as regards the London Electric Tube Railways, in the Bill to which I have already referred this morning, and the House, after consideration of that Bill, expressly remitted to the Select Committee the consideration of this question of workmen's trains and workmen's fares. The whole subject, so far as it applies generally to railways, has been receiving most careful consideration by the Government. Since the days when very early in railway undertakings obligations were placed upon the railway companies to run certain trains at certain hours at reduced fares, things have changed very much. My hon. Friend who moved this Amendment, in a speech of such great moderation and power, realised that himself. The first difficulty you meet is that of determining who and what is a workman. In the days of the Cheap Trains Act, that difficulty was not nearly so great as it is to-day. The persons who were then contemplated by the Legislature were those receiving very low wages, for whom very special consideration had to be made. That position has altered very greatly, and is constantly changing. Happily the workmen to-day, I am glad to say, are receiving much more substantial remuneration, and there are other classes of the community not less worthy or deserving, whose incomes are more slender and less capable of bearing increased charges than they were before. Again, it has always been found impossible in practice to determine who and what was a workman, who have attempted 102 to board a train or a tram car. The conductor of the tram car, or the booking clerk at the railway station, could not hold an inquisition on the spot as to who and what was a workman within the meaning of the Cheap Trains Act. The result has been that all classes of the community have in practice and fact had the advantage of these cheap fares. Again the introduction of the eight hours day has made a very great difference. If you deal with tramways there is no general Clause which is common to all or even to most of the Acts, defining the obligation as to workmen's cars. The obligations are almost as numerous in their variation as the Acts themselves are numerous. If you deal with railways where an attempt was made with them in point of time, it was provided that there was to be an adequate number of train run between eight o'clock in the morning and after six o'clock in the evening, and if there was any question as to the inadequacy of the number of these trains to convey workpeople to and from their work, there was to be a Board of Trade inquiry. All that does not apply to tramways. The time has come to consider the variation which the eight hours a day has made. There has been an increase in the shift system. We are constantly hearing recommendations that railways and other undertakings should adopt the three shift system of continuous work. I will take an extreme case. It is a railway case, it is true but it will illustrate the tramway position. The workman working at Enfield might travel by a morning train for a fare I think of 2d. or 2½d., if he happened to be on the shift that made it convenient for him to do that, but if he were working in the afternoon he should have to pay for precisely the same journey 1s. 10½d. It is obvious that this question is one of such complexity that it is impossible for the Government to invite the Committee to lay down a rigerous rule that the Advisory Committee shall not consider the question of cheap fares. Then as to the case of school children I am not aware of any tramway Act which deals with reduced fares for school children except the Paisley Act. Speaking generally there is no obligation on tramways to carry children at reduced fares. Quite apart from anything that can be done under this Bill in the case of large and populous districts the matter is 103 in the hands of the Local Authority who make their own bye-laws. In the great boroughs that is certainly so. There with all the influence of public thought and in the direction of assisting rapid transit of workmen and school children and the encouragement of secondary education local authorities very largely make their own bye-laws in which they are gradually extending the privileges rather than restricting them. There is nothing in the Bill that fixes fares at all. It simply authorises the Minister after certain formalities to increase the possible fare. The actual fare is still left to the authority. In all those circumstances while these topics are of very great interest and are matters which I trust will receive the most careful attention of the Advisory Committee I certainly could not advise this Committee to accept the responsibility of stereotyping this matter. It is clear that some kind of increase in some of these fares will have to come. I do not say that it is strictly necessary that workmen's fares and children's fares should be put upon an absolutely economic basis. There may be broad considerations of public policy which would justify some relaxation of that rule, but however much that rule is relaxed it must be borne in mind that somebody has to pay, that sooner or later all these undertakings must be made self supporting, and though it may not be the inexorable rule that each part of the undertaking should be self-supporting yet the general rule should be that we should bear our own burdens rather than put them on to other persons who may not be equally well able to carry them as we. For all these reasons I should be glad if the hon. Member would not press his Amendment.
Mr. ORMSBY-GORE: For some months past I have been a Member of a Committee at the Board of Education which has been going into the whole question of school children more particularly with regard to secondary education, free places, scholarships maintenance grants, travel allowances and things of that kind. It would be improper for me to say what are the conclusions of our Committee, but we hope shortly to report. We have had evidence from all the industrial districts. One impression which I have is that it is much better that we should know exactly what we are paying for education, on the education votes, and that we should not 104 have subsidies towards education including cheap fares on tramway undertakings and outside things of that kind. I quite agree that you have got to help children of poor parents to attend secondary schools which are very often at a great distance. I am quite sure that the right policy where you have to do that is not to hide the amount you have got to pay by such some amendment as this, but to bring it into the open and see that a maintenance grant is given, and that in those necessitous cases—and there are a great many of them—the cost of the child attending the school is in many cases borne by the local authority or the State as the case may be. To introduce a reduction of school children's fares as suggested in this Amendment and make it universal and statutory on all tramway companies whether municipal or private companies is further to complicate the mess into which we have got with regard to maintenance grants and free places which we have been spending months trying to clear up. Though I have a great sympathy with the idea that no child shall be debarred from furthering its education because it cannot afford to get to the school, and though that question has got to be faced and dealt with, I am sure that this Bill is not the Bill to deal with it, but that it shall be dealt with in the near future by the Board of Education—under the Regulations which we shall suggest to them under the Education Act.
Mr. WIGNALL: There is a great deal in what the representative of the Department has said, but I was rather startled by his statement that there was no town where there were reduced fares for school children except one.
Mr. NEAL: I did not say that. I said that I only knew of one case, that of Paisley, in which they were imposed by Statute. It is very common for a local authority to do it.
Mr. WIGNALL: We are placed in a difficulty in this corner, and it is not altogether our fault if we make a mistake. My hon. Friend is in a direct line with us, but his back is towards us; but I thought he expressed himself as I have stated, and I was rather startled, because in nearly every town of which I have experience there are reduced fares for children. I would not like to see this altered, because though wages have increased the cost of 105 living has increased more in proportion, and so the man is no better off to-day than he was in pre-war time. So whatever necessity existed for these reduced fares in the old days exists if possible even to a greater extent to-day. Allusion was made to the eight-hours shift, but that is a very small part of the question. If there was a universal eight-hour shift existing, and everybody was working on the three-shift system, the difficulty would be as has been expressed, but the proportion is not much in excess of what it was in the old days, because in trades such as the tin plate, galvanised and steel trades those who are working the 8-hours shift to-day worked it then, and even when the reduced hours come in in the ease of railwaymen there will be a very small proportion. It is true that the bylaws are made by various authorities but they vary in the extent of the reduction and the general arrangements. Whatever else is done I hope that no further burden will be placed on the working man, however he is described by the Advisory Committee set up to deal with these matters, and that no conditions will be imposed which will make him worse off than he is now.
Mr. SPENCER: I do not think that the hon. Member (Mr. Neal) has done full justice to the Amendment. I understood him to say that in this Bill power is given to the Minister and that if the Amendment were inserted it would take away that power. I fail to see anything of the kind. The only thing which the Amendment does is to limit the power of the Minister in certain directions. It would give the Minister ample power to make certain modifications in the direction which would not make the obligations of the tramway case less but the Minister would have power if he liked to impose further obligations. The hon. Gentleman in arguing the case has realised the difficulties to the same extent that we realise them. I do not think that any man is in a better position to realise them. He is in the midst of a great industrial centre where fey the variety of the industry he is able to get first hand knowledge. He is in the midst of a great iron and steel and
|Division No. 1.]||AYES|
|Finney, Samuel||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wignall, James|
|Lunn, William||Spencer, George A.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)|
|Bruton, Sir James||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Fell, Sir Arthur|
coal centre, and he knows that in those vast centres of industrial activity there has been an ever increasing change in the shift system and that men and women nowadays are constantly coming to and going from their work. He draws the inference that the best way to meet the difficulty is to leave the whole thing in the hands of the Minister and let the Minister from time to time hear any cases that might be submitted by either party and arrive at a conclusion as to what is the best thing to do, but after all he says someone has got to pay, and the inference that I draw from that is that the workmen and school children have as much right to pay these increased fares as anyone else. I do not say that workmen's fares may not be increased in certain cases—
Mr. NEAL: This Amendment says so.
Mr. SPENCER: I know that it does, and in certain cases workmen are in no better position to pay, but there are certain cases in which workmen are able to pay an increased fare, and it would be impossible to differentiate in an Amendment of this character. Therefore my hon. friend, in moving the Amendment, has thought to protect the weak, and at the same time he has had to protect probably the strong. It is the school children whom I want to protect more than anyone else and humble parents who are sending their children to secondary schools, very often at a great sacrifice, doing all they possibly can to give their children the best possible education. Hon. Members with unlimited means themselves have no real knowlelge of the awful struggle that some people have to give their children a far better education than they had before. I should have been very pleased if the hon. Member could have given more sympathetic consideration to the Amendment in the interests not merely of the workmen but of the school children whom the Committee are desirous of assisting.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 5; Noes, 17.107
|Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Peel, Lieut.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Wallace, J.|
|Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Neal, Arthur|
Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
(1) For the purpose of giving advice and assistance to the Minister of Transport with respect to the making of orders in relation to tramway undertakings and for safeguarding the interests of users of tramways, a committee shall he constituted consisting of the Light Railway Commissioners and such members of the panel set up under section twenty-three of the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, as the Ministry may appoint for the purpose, and such member as the Minister may appoint shall be chairman of the committee, and the committee, if so authorised by the Minister of Transport, may delegate to sub-committees thereof any of its powers and duties under this Act.
(2) The committee, before reporting or advising on any matters referred to them under this Act shall, unless in their discretion they consider it unnecessary or undesirable to do so, give such public notice as they think best adapted for informing persons affected of the date when and the place where they will enquire into the matter, and any person affected may make representations to the committee, and unless in their discretion the committee consider it unnecessary, shall be heard at such inquiry, and if the committee in their discretion think fit, the whole or any part of the proceedings at such inquiry may be open to the public:
Provided that for the purpose of this provision, the council of any city, borough, burgh, county or district shall be deemed to be persons affected in any case where such council or any persons represented by them may be affected by any proposed order.
(3) The committee shall hear such witnesses and call for such documents and accounts as they think fit, and shall have power to take evidence on oath, and for that purpose any member of the committee may administer oaths.
Mr. LUNN: I beg to move, in Subsection (2), to leave out the words "unless in their discretion they consider it unnecessary or undesirable to do so." We have heard a good deal from the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Neal) regarding the Advisory Committee and its importance. The Clause states what are to be the obligations upon the Committee. It is for the purpose of giving advice and assistance to the Minister with respect to the making of orders in relation to tramway undertakings and for safeguarding the interests of the users of tramways. Each of my Amendments deals with this matter of the Advisory Committee, and I am very anxious that when it is set up it shall be 108 compelled to notify the Local Authorities and the owners and the users of the undertakings of their meetings and that every opportunity shall be given to the users of the tramways to attend those meetings and state their case. My first Amendment, which takes away from the Advisory Committee the discretion as to whether or not they should acquaint the Authorities, ought to be received with favour by the Ministry if they are not seeking absolute power in these matters themselves.
Mr. NEAL: I am very sorry again that I am unable to accept the Amendment. The effect of it and of those which follow would be, we. think, to endanger the object of the Bill in many cases. Hon. Members will recollect why it was introduced. The tramway workers through their organisation approached the employers with reference to an immediate increase of wages and that matter was, and I think still is, the subject of discussion at the Whitley Council, and although it has not been found possible to arrive at an exact figure by which the wages shall be increased the Council have unanimously decided that some immediate increase, of not less than 5s. a week now and 1s. in June, must be given. Under these circumstances both sides of the Whitley Council approached the Ministry of Transport and asked that the Government would introduce legislation to bring about: an immediate increase in the charging powers of those undertakings which were able to show that they were unable to bear the extra charges which were put upon them, and it is in redemption of that pledge, to make good to the tramway workers the increase of wages which they have asked for, that we are here considering this Bill. Anything that jeopardises that must receive opposition from the Ministry. Under the Bill as it is drawn there is given to the Minister power to make interim orders, but those orders cannot have effect for more than six months, and immediately on the making of such an order the Minister must refer to the rates of the Advisory Committee. The question as to the permanent order to be made within the limit of time prescribed by the Act. The Advisory Committee consists really of Commissioners, two in 109 number, and certain members selected from the Panel. Their work, which is to be got through within six months, will not only be important but they will have to deal with very numerous undertakings. The number of undertakings which may come under this Bill are as follows: 170 Municipal and 106 Company. It is unlikely that they would be able to make out a prima facie case that they needed any increase in their charging power in order to meet their increased obligations. Having made a deduction in respect of that, which is a very indeterminate number, there will still remain a very large number indeed of undertakings which will apply to the Minister to make interim orders. The amendment suggests that in every case where an undertaking asks for an order it must be referred to the Advisory Committee to hold a local enquiry. An enquiry in London would not be much use. If you are going to consider a question of Tramways in Ireland or Scotland or some remote part of England, for this Committee to hold its sittings in London would cause a maximum of inconvenience and expense to everyone concerned, so that really what would be necessary if the Amendment were carried would be a local enquiry. Is anyone optimistic enough to think these local enquiries could be concluded and orders made within six months? That is not the view that we hold, and under these circumstances we are quite unable to accept the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
(1) The Minister of Transport may for the purposes of this Act employ such accountants as he may think fit, and it shall be the duty of tramway undertakers to furnish to any such accountant such information and to produce to him such accounts and books as he may require for the purpose of reporting to the Minister or the Advisory Committee as to the financial position of the undertaking.
(2) The costs incurred in connection with any undertaking under this Act, including the remuneration of any such accountant, shall be paid by the undertakers, and the Minister of Transport may certify the amounts of the costs incurred, and any sum so certified and directed by the Minister to be paid by the undertakers shall be a debt to the Crown from those undertakers.110
(3) For determining the cost of labour for the purposes of this Act the Minister of Labour shall, at the request of the Minister of Transport, certify what are the rates of wages which have been fixed either by the National Joint Industrial Council for the tramway industry or by an award under the Industrial Courts Act, 1919.
(4) For the purposes of this Act statutory maximum charges shall not include any charges authorised by an order under the principal Act or this Act.
Mr. NEAL: I beg to move, in Subsection (2), after the word "incurred" ["the costs incurred in connection"], to insert the words "by the Minister." This deals with a small matter. Doubts have been expressed as to whether this Sub section might not be held to impose upon the undertakers the possible costs of objectors. The object of the Ministry is to secure that the cost, which it is hoped will be quite small, incurred by the Minister in investigating these cases shall be borne by the undertaker.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. NEAL: I beg to move to leave out the word "undertaking" ["in connection with any undertaking"], and to insert instead thereof the words "Application for an order." This is a drafting Amendment, the view being that it is not the costs with reference to the undertaking, but the costs of the applications under this Bill.
Amendment agreed to.
Sir M. CONWAY: I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to add the following new Sub-section: "(5) For the purposes of this Act the word 'tramway' shall include light railways constructed wholly or mainly on public roads." This is little more than a drafting Amendment, in order to make it quite clear that the Act shall apply to Light Railways constructed wholly or mainly on public roads, which to all intents and purposes cannot be distinguished from Tramways. Although it has been suggested that the Bill, as drafted, does include light railways constructed on public roads, it is considered of importance that this point should be made perfectly clear. Amendment agreed to.
The CHAIRMAN: The next Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Denniss), to insert at the end of the Clause following new Subsection, 111 (5) In this Act, and in the principal Act, the expression "tramway undertaking" shall include the motor omnibus undertaking which is carried on by the City of Oxford Electric Tramways, Limited, in pursuance of the provisions of The Oxford and District Tramways Act, 1914, and with respect to which the charges to be made by the said company are regulated by that Act, and the expressions "tramway," "tramway service," and "tramway industry" shall in the case of the said motor omnibus undertaking be construed, respectively, to mean "motor omnibus system," "service of motor omnibuses," and "motor omnibus industry," is not in order.
Mr. DENNISS: I am sorry to hear that. It is rather important.
The CHAIRMAN: I have looked into it rather carefully and have had the advantage of the advice of Sir John Horsbrugh-Porter, who is very skilled on these matters, and he is of the opinion, with myself, that the Amendment really enlarges the scope of the Bill and is not, therefore, within its province.
Mr. DENNISS: May I say a few words to the hon. Member in charge of the Bill, although the Amendment may be out of order? I think this Department has received a long letter on this subject from the people concerned in my Amendment, and he is no doubt fully acquainted 112 with the facts. Can he give me some sort of assurance that most of the things asked for will be covered by the Bill?
The CHAIRMAN: There is nothing before the Committee. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will make use of the opportunity to reply when I am putting the Clause or when I am putting the Question that the Bill be reported to the House.
Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 4 (Short title, construction and duration) ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended, be reported to the House."
Mr. NEAL: The answer to my hon. Friend (Mr. Denniss) is very short. This is a Bill to deal with tramway undertakings. Some tramway undertakings have as part of their adventure motor buses attached to them. If that is so, we are advised that the motor bus part of the business is within the scope of the Bill; otherwise not so.
Mr. DENNISS: I am satisfied.
Question put, and agreed to.
Bill, as amended, ordered to be reported to the House.
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:—
Brace, Mr. (Chairman)
Adkins, Sir Ryland
Bramsdon, Sir Thomas
Bruton, Sir James
Conway, Sir Martin
Denniss, Mr. Bartley
Fell, Sir Arthur
Green, Mr. Joseph
Guest, Major Oscar
Harmsworth, Mr. Esmond
Henderson, Major Vivian
Magnus, Sir Philip
Morgan, Major Watts
Peel, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert