The following Question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. KENDALL:
69. To ask the Minister of Labour, in view of the strike on Sunday, 22nd May, on the North-East railway system, caused by the insistence of the Railway Executive on a train service which necessitated train crews lodging away from their homes and families, what steps he proposes to take to bring the parties together, with a view to arriving at agreement and minimising the dislocation of transport.
On a point of Order. Would it be possible, Mr. Speaker, to call Question No. 69, because it is a matter of great public importance and the strikes are presumably going to continue unless this lodging-out business is stopped right away?
I am afraid not. I have no responsibility for calling Questions if they are outside the time. If the Minister chooses to answer the Question, well and good.
That being so, may I ask the Minister of Labour through you, Sir, whether in the public interest, he would be willing to reply to Question No. 69?
I shall be quite happy to answer the Question. Discussions between the Railway Executive and the two unions concerned took place on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
Is the Minister aware that there is, unfortunately, every indication that these strikes are going to become more widespread next Sunday unless this question of lodging-out is abolished by the Railway Executive; and will he please give that Executive some sound advice to stop that nonsense, because it does not have any effect on the efficiency of the railway?
I think that is a most irresponsible thing for the hon. Member to say. He has given an opinion on the one side, and characterised the other side as "nonsense." These parties are discussing the matter between themselves, and the less we interfere with them at this juncture the better.