§ MR. MADDISON (Sheffield, Brightside)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the fatal accident to a man named George Freeman in a tunnel near Welwyn, Herts, on the Great Northern Railway; whether he is aware that the deceased was booked on duty for 12 hours at a stretch, which the majority of the coroner's jury considered too long; and whether he will take proceedings; under the Railway Regulation Act, 1893, 1153 to prevent such protracted hours of duty on railways?
§ MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered the circumstances disclosed at the inquest held on George Freeman, an employee of the Great Northern Railway Company, on Tuesday last whether it is the fact that Freeman, in discharge of his duty as flagman to bricklayers repairing Welwyn Tunnel, was on duty for 12 hours in the tunnel without relief; whether the Board of Trade was represented at the inquest; and whether, having regard to the facts disclosed, and the opinion expressed by the jury that 12 hours in a tunnel without being visited was far too long, he will take action under the Act of 1893 to have the hours of such railway servants reasonably reduced, and recommend further precautions to the company concerned?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE
I will reply to the two Questions together. The Board of Trade have not yet received the coroner's return, but should it turn out that Freeman was a servant of the railway company, and that the facts are as stated, the Board will communicate with the company under the Railway Regulation Act, 1893. The Department was not represented at the inquest, as the coroner did not ask for the assistance of an assessor. Since I have been in the House I have received a communication from the company to the effect that Freeman had been off duty for 36 hours previous to commencing work at 6 p.m. on the 17th instant. There was no mental strain upon him, and no complaint had ever been made by him that the hours were too long. Consequent upon this accident having occurred, the company have under consideration the steps best adapted for preventing the recurrence of a similar accident.