HC Deb 28 May 1894 vol 24 cc1410-1
SIR G. BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether, inasmuch as the Treasury cannot give the requisite information, he can order the necessary inquiries to be made with a view to ascertaining the total number of wage earners of the United Kingdom and the proportion who belong to constituted Trade Unions; and whether there is any objection to the results of these inquiries being embodied in a Return and presented to Parliament?


The number of members of Trade Unions was stated by the Secretary to the Treasury in reply to the hon. Member on Thursday last; but the exact number of wage earners cannot be stated, and it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain the number in each trade for the purpose of comparison with the Union or Unions in that trade. So far as the total numbers of the manual labour class are concerned, I may refer the hon. Member to the evidence given by Mr. Giffen before the Labour Commission and to the last. Census; but the gross numbers there given include domestic servants, agricultural labourers, and other classes among whom Trade Unionism is little developed, so that the proportion of Trade Union members to the total working class does not show the influence of the Unions in particular trades where Unions exist. The Board of Trade cannot promise an inquiry which would really amount to a now Census, especially as in last Census an attempt was made to distinguish between employers and employed in different industries, or groups of industries.