HC Deb 09 January 1894 vol 20 cc1147-9
MR. HANBURY (Preston)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether the Admiralty have yet received a Report on the subject of alleged sweat- ing by a local Admiralty contractor at Willenhall; whether inferior workmanship has been reported to exist as well as sweating; whether the contractor has been found to have infringed the fair contracts clause; what penalty can be imposed in accordance with any provision of the contract; and what new provisions will be inserted in similar contracts in future to guard more effectually against sweating, bad work, and the evasion of the fair wage clause?


The answer to the first three paragraphs of the question is in the affirmative. It is not possible to impose any penalty. But the Admiralty have informed the contractor that they consider that the custom of subletting in the lock trade is beset with objectionable conditions calculated to result in sweating and inferior workmanship, and that they have therefore decided that it shall be stipulated in future contracts that all the locks are to be made in the contractor's own factory. After stating that as regards the allegations of sweating and inferior workmanship, the Admiralty regretted to say that in their opinion these charges were amply proved, and giving particulars in support of that view the Admiralty letter to the contractor further states— My Lords are of opinion that you have infringed the Resolution of the House of Commons of the 13th February, 1891. They trust that this communication will be a warning to you strictly to observe that Resolution in future, both in letter and spirit. Business relations with your firm can only be resumed on that understanding.


Will the firm be allowed to complete their contract? Is there no penalty attaching to a breach of this clause?


The penalty is obvious, and is contained in the concluding words I have quoted.

MR. J. BURNS (Battersea)

May I ask whether, considering the advantage that accrues from the War Office blacklisting one or two contractors, the Admiralty will in the case of second offences strike such contractors off their list?


Does the eight hour system prevail in this workshop?


I wish that any condition approaching the eight hour system existed in the lock trade. If my hon. Friend will consult Reports on the conditions prevailing in this and similar trades in Staffordshire, he will find nothing approaching the eight hours system. As to the Black List, we have made it clear to the contractor that unless he complies with the Resolution his name will be removed from the list.