§ 57. Mr. JAMES THOMAS
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Central London Railway Company have offered arbitration in connection with the dismissals of six of their employés; if so, when was such an offer made and what were the terms of the same; whether he has seen the resolution passed by upwards of 30,000 railway men pledging support to any action their society may consider necessary to secure that these victimised men shall have a fair trial; whether he is aware that at the meeting referred to the promise of arbitration into this question was again offered; and what steps he proposes to take in the matter?
So far as I am aware, the only proposal made by the Central London Railway Company in the direction of submitting to arbitration the questions connected with the dismissal of certain of their employés at the time of the recent coal strike was contained in a letter addressed by the company to the Board of Trade on 18th April. The company then suggested that as a preliminary to arbitration on the question referred to, it should be decided, by some party to be mutually agreed upon, whether, in complying with the request of the Board of Trade in reinstating these men last August, the company had prejudiced its rights to dispense with the services of any or all of the men at its own discretion, and whether, if such rights had been prejudiced, the company was not still within its rights to dispense with any or all of these men, in case the company had reasonable proof that the agreement had been broken and the men had made themselves objectionable to the remaining portion of the staff. It was added that, supposing the result of this inquiry was to the effect that the company acted outside its rights, then an arbitration on the lines suggested by the Board of Trade might be sanctioned by the company. I am aware that a meeting of railway men on 2nd June passed a resolution to the effect stated in the question. I have no reason to doubt that the men are still willing to submit their case to the decision of an arbitrator on a reference in terms such as 298 were suggested by the Board of Trade, but, as stated in a reply to a question by my hon. Friend on the 30th April, I have no power of compulsion in this matter.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the general manager of this company publicly stated on two occasions that the company had offered through the Board of Trade arbitration, and that as a result of that statement the men's case has been prejudiced?
The only offer of arbitration we have had from the company is that which I have stated, and it does not really seem to me to bear on the point in question.