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GOVERNMENT AND MINERS' DEMANDS

HOUSING IN SWANSEAj

GOVERNMENT WORKERS' DEMAND.

Death of Evan Roberts' Mother

THE SALE OF HONOURS. I

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STATE RAILWAYS

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STATE RAILWAYS Private Monopoly Con- demned by all Parties. I STRONG PLEA FROM LABOUR MEN Representatives of all schools of thought in politics and economics gathered in the Memorial Hall, London in support of a movement for the nationalisation of railways. Delegates numbering 615 were pre- sent from Labour, Liberal and Con- servative Associations, Socialist Socie- ties, Chamber of Commerce, trade, agri- cultural, co-operative societies and Trade Unions, and a resolution urging the Government to take up the ques- tion at the earliest possible opportuni- ty were passed with but two dissen- tients. Sir J. Compton Rickett, M.P., who presided, said there had of late been a noticable tendency in every political party towards the socialising of the State, and one of the first efforts in this direction must be the nationalisa- tion of the railways. There were un- mistakable signs that this reform was coming. The competition between dif- ferent companies forced economies upon them which tended to encroach upon the margin of safety. Nationalisation was becoming increasingly necessary with the increasing population and the vast industrial growth of the country. Large as the sums of money involved undoubtedly were, the transfer to the State offered no practical difficulty. When once the basis of valuation was fixed an exchange of railway stock for Government stock would complete the transaction. It could be shown that not only would the position of Labour be improved, and the burdens of traders relieved, but the nation itself would gain considerable advantage, as in the case of the Post Office, from the surplus transferred to the Exchequer. STRANGLING THE NATION'S* I TRADE. Mr. Emil Davies moved:— That having regard to the impor- tance of cheap transit and transport to all sections of the community, and in view of the fact that any advan- tage that may have accrued from competition between the railways is now exhausted, this conference is of opinion that a national unified sys- tem would make for economy, better service, and public safety. Some things he said from their very nature were not regarded as ordinary commercial undertakings, because they were essential to every branch of trade activity and social life. Therefore, it had come to be recognised that such things should be administered solely from the point of view of the benefit of the community. Included in those things were roads, the regulation of coinage, the transport of parcels, let- ters, and telegrams, and in recent days telephones, and in most civilised coun- tries canals and railways. The function of a railway company was to earn dividends-thit was its first duty to its shareholders. On the whole our privately-owned railways served the community very badly. Our fares and goods rates were the dearest in the world. Cheap transit was the life-blood of a nation's trade, and the present system was strangling the na- tion's trade and the well-being of the nation too. LOSS TO AGRICULTURE. I Mr. C. Bathurst, M.P., seconded the resolution, remarking that the railway monopoly had become a great and powerful trust without any effective Government control, which control alone could safeguard the interests of the public, and especially the poorer and less organised section represented by the tradespeople and the agricultur- ists. The Board of Trade had never pos- sessed sufficient power, and the exercise of what it did possess had steadily de- creased with the increasing solidarity I of railway interests. AVERAGE WAGE—25s. I Mr. Chiozza Money, M.P., support- ing, expressed the opinion that if the railways were nationalised the Govern- ment would eliminate the follies of com- petition and bring about economy, while greatly benefiting railway work- ers. It was a monstrous thing that a nation like ours, with its great wealth, should be content to pay its railway servants an average wage of something like 25s. a week. The advantages of nationalisation were manifest. If noth- ing else, it would give them the right to complain, an inestimable advantage in itself, and to get their grievances considered, a thing they could not do now. (Hear, hear.) Mr. W. Hudson, M.P., said that in 1900 an Act dealing with the preven- tion of railway accidents was passed, but they had had the greatest difficulty in getting the regulations into opera- tion. Two of the great causes of acci- dents were the numerous classes of roll- ing stock and the different classes of brake gear. He wished them to remem- ber that the power the railway com- panies exercised was merely a borrowed ORe from the State, and the State could easily take it back. The heads of the companies had arrived at the conclu- sion that nationalisation must come. He was in favour of railway nationalisation from the commercial point of view, but he wanted it to come as soon as we had an intelligent Ministry which would ad- minister the railways for the welfare of the people who wished to be served and also of the people employed on the lines. The resolution (slightly amended) was I carried with only ten dissentients. I NINE KILLED A WEEK. I Mr. A. H. Soott, L.C.C., moved: That this conference is of opinion that a national system of railways is the only one by means of which the interests of the community can be reconciled with those of the railway workers. He said that railwaymen were being killed at :.}¡e rate of nine a week, and during the last 11 years over 200,000 men had been injured. These acci- dents were worse than in any other country, and they could be largely re- medied by a good expenditure of money. That expenditure of money could be forced from a Government; it could not be forced from a private com- pany. (Hear, hear.) Mr. G. J. Wardle seconded. He did not, he said, support railway national- isation merely as a means of helping the workers on the railways, but also because of the great advantages which would accrue to the general community. The interests of the whole community would be served and the interests of the railway workers would be reconciled with those of the public, as they were not and could not be under private enterprise. He suggested that the in- terests of 600,000 workers ought to count for something in a democratic State. Dissatisfaction with the present state of things was expressed in all quarters. Shareholders had been crying out, traders had been crying out, but among all the complaints the railway worker had lifted his voice the loudest, and had proved he had a real grievance against the present system. Mr. A. G. Walkden (secretary of the Railway Clerks' Association) said the members of his Union were overwhelm- ingly in favour of the railways being taken over by the State. At the same time they must watch over their safe- guards, one of which must be that their civil rights should be in no way inter- fered with. (Hear, hear.) The resolution was carried with two dissentients.

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GOVERNMENT AND MINERS' DEMANDS