Railway Employees' Union, Jamaica

Oral Answers to Questions — West Indies – in the House of Commons on 18th November 1942.

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Photo of Mr John Dugdale Mr John Dugdale , West Bromwich

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the action of the Governor of Jamaica in declaring the Jamaica Government Railway Employees' Union to be illegal was taken with his authority?

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

asked the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies why the Jamaica Government declared that the Railway Workers' Union was illegal; and what he intends doing about the matter?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

On 22nd October, Defence Regulations entitled "The Authorised Associations (Government Departments) (Derence) Regulations" were published in Jamaica and came into force, the effect or which was to exclude all non-employees from membership or office in the departmental trade unions except by the Governor's authority. My Noble Friend is informed that this action became necessary in view of the key positions in relation to vital services occupied by some of the office holders, not departmentally employed, who were known to be engaged in subversive activities. My Noble Friend's approval was not obtained before the Regulations were issued. He is already in consultation with the Governor in regard to the situation.

Photo of Mr John Dugdale Mr John Dugdale , West Bromwich

Will the right hon. Gentleman say what is meant by "subversive activities," and, secondly, will he make certain that Jamaican trade unionists have exactly the same rights as British trade unionists?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

With regard to the first question, similar Regulations are applied in this country, and people have been detained under Regulation 18B. On the second point, my Noble Friend is in consultation with the Governor, and I hope to make a statement shortly.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Would trade union officers in this country be liable to the same kind of prosecution as those in Jamaica have experienced?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

Yes, Sir, if—as I think is, fortunately, unlikely—they were to engage in subversive activities.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that leaders of the North Rhodesian Copper Workers' Union were imprisoned for what is called subversive activity in making demands for a cost of living bonus on their wages and for the establishment of a pension scheme?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

If I may be allowed to answer that question, which is not related to the Question on the Paper, both statements by my hon. Friend are incorrect. No demands of that kind had been made, and no trade dispute of any sort or kind existed at the time in the North Rhodesian Copperbelt.