HC Deb 19 February 1894 vol 21 cc729-30
MR. BYLES (York, W.R., Shipley)

I beg to ask the First Commissioner of Works whether the contracts for building the Leeds Lost Office are let to Messrs. Obank, of Idle, and whether the joinery work has been by them sub-let to Messrs. Taylor Brothers, of Yeadon: whether he is aware that the current Trades Union rate of wages for joiners in Leeds is 8d. an hour for 50 hours work, that in Idle it is 7¾d. an hour for 49½ hours, but that in Yeadon it is only 6½d. an hour for 52 hours: and whether, in these circumstances, the workmen employed on this contract are receiving wages in accordance with the spirit and letter of the Fair Wages Resolution passed by this House and sanctioned by the Government?


About 18 months ago the contractor for the Leeds Post Office, a work involving a very large expenditure, asked permission, for reasons which appeared to be satisfactory, to sub-let a small portion of his contract, for joinery work, to Messrs. Taylor, a well-known firm at Yeadon. Permission was granted to him, and at the same time Messrs. Taylor were informed by the Department that the condition of the sub-letting would be the payment of the current rate of wages, in accordance with the Resolution of this House. Quite recently complaint has been made to me from Leeds and Bradford that the wages paid by Messrs. Taylor are less than are paid at those towns. It is not very easy to determine what is the current rate of wages at Yeadon within the legal mean- ing of the condition of the contract, as it a country district compared with those towns. I am in communication with Messrs. Taylor on the subject, and I have promised to receive a deputation from workmen. I can only say that I have every desire to carry out the spirit of the Resolution of this House.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a further question? I am quite sure he is anxious to carry out the Resolution of the House of Commons; but is not the effect of this arrangement that money voted by Parliament for joiners' work in Leeds is, so far as a portion of it is concerned, diverted into the pockets of the contractors?


It, has never been the habit of the Department to confine contracts to the places in which the building is erected.