§ 66. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that the management of the 232 London and North Eastern Railway Company are proposing to close down the Springhead Locomotive Works at Hull, which serves the Hull and Barnsley section of the line, to discharge a large number of the men, and to transfer the remainder to Darlington; that the works employ 250 men; that all the young apprentices will be thrown on to the streets and thus lose their chance of becoming skilled workers; and that, with regard to the men's proposed transfer to Darlington, there is little housing accommodation available in Darlington, and that will mean that the men must leave their families at Hull and go into lodgings in Darlington, which will mean extra expense on all concerned; and whether, in view of the state of employment, he will bring his influence to bear upon the railway company concerned to reconsider this policy, at any rate, until trade improves or, alternatively, will he suggest the taking over of the works by the Government for the use of the State?
§ Mr. GOSLING
I am aware that the London and North Eastern Railway Company propose to close down the Springhead Locomotive Works at Hull, and to concentrate at their Darlington works the locomotive work in the company's north eastern area. The railway company state that they have endeavoured to secure that these arrangements, which have been in contemplation since the amalgamation of the Hull and Barnsley Railway with the North Eastern Railway in 1922, shall be carried out so as to involve as little hardship to individuals as is possible in the circumstances, and that positions will be found for all of the apprentices. The company realise that there are difficulties connected with the housing question, and the men who have been offered positions in another town have been promised the payment of a lodging allowance for a period, together with free conveyance by rail of their household furniture. There are, however, about 80 men, who have joined the company's service within quite recent years, for whom, so far as can be seen at present, the company fear they will not be able to find vacant positions.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Is the hon. Gentleman aware, when he talks about compensation being offered to these men, that all that is offered is 15s. for two weeks and 7s. for three months, 233 that the most inexpensive lodgings available in Darlington are 25s. a week, and that many of these men are ex-service men; and will he ask the company to postpone this matter until trade is better and employment can be found for them?
Lieut. - Colonel LAMBERT WARD
Can the hon. Gentleman use his influence with the railway company to delay the closing of these works, which will obviously cause a great deal of unnecessary suffering and hardship in the city?
§ Mr. LUMLEY
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is believed that the closing of the Springhead works and the use of a single works for the whole of the North-Eastern district will still further curtail the bad goods services about which he has received so many complaints, and cannot he inquire into that before these works are closed?
§ Mr. MURROUGH WILSON
Is it not a fact that one of the main reasons put forward in favour of the Railways Bill was that the railway companies should be enabled to concentrate their shops and so effect considerable economies for the benefit of everyone concerned?
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Is it not the case that those who advocated the passing of that Bill declared that it would help to relieve unemployment?
§ Mr. GOSLING
I have answered the Question on the Paper as well as I was able, but I have been asked since to see some representatives of these men, and, while I cannot say that I can do anything for them, I will listen to them, and if I can help them I will do so.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
Does not the hon. Gentleman consider that the railway company might themselves build houses for their men? If the agriculturist can house his workers, why cannot the railway company do so?
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that when the £60,000,000 compensation was given to the railway companies, they promised that it would be a means of providing more employment, while this is going directly to throw men out of work?