MR. FENWICK (on behalf of Mr. CREMER)
I beg to ask the First Commissioner of Works whether there are any workmen employed at the Houses of Parliament, or other Government works, who are paid by Messrs. Brass, the Government contractors, 4¼d. per hour; whether such workmen are frequently engaged in cleaning and painting lofty parts of the Houses of Parliament; whether the contractors are allowed 6d. per hour for such men, and, if so, why they deduct 1¾d. per hour; and whether the Government have come to any decision as to the appointment of a Committee to consider the desirability of engaging directly through their Clerks of Works all workmen employed at Government Offices, so that the amount voted by Parliament may be received without any deduction?
A LORD OF THE TREASUEY (Sir H. MAXWELL,) Wigton
There are only four men at the Houses of Parliament whose wages are as low as 4¼d. per hour, and very few elsewhere. Such workmen are not frequently, only occasionally, engaged in cleaning lofty parts of the Houses of Parliament, and that at times 770 when otherwise they would have to be discharged. There is no danger in the work. The contractors are allowed for these men 6d., less 16 per cent, or 5 l–25d. per hour. The present contract does not expire until March 31, 1891. The Government have undertaken before that date to fully consider what modifications it may be possible or desirable to make in the present system governing the employment of workmen in the public buildings, and the matter is now engaging attention. If it should be found that the assistance of a Committee of the House of Commons would be desirable in the investigation of the question, the Government will ask the House to appoint one in the course of next Session. But in the present position of the inquiry it is impossible to say whether it will be necessary to invite the assistance of a Committee of the House.