§ MR. W. HAZELL (Leicester)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to a case tried at the London County Sessions on 11th March; whether he is aware that it appeared from the evidence that the accused was a fruit porter working in Upper Thames Street, and that it is the custom to pay such porters by tickets which can only be cashed at public-houses, and on condition that a proportion of the value is spent on beer or tobacco; and whether, if this custom be a breach of the Act of 1883, prohibiting the payment of wages in public-houses, he will take steps to ensure that the law is enforced?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
My attention has been called to this case. The acts as described in the Question would be clearly illegal, but the evidence given at the hearing of the case appears to have been either incorrect or wrongly reported. The actual facts appear to be that the wages of the porters are paid at the office of the society employing them on the men presenting the tickets which are given them for each box carried. Some of the men use their tickets to pay for drink, and the wages are then paid at the society's office to the public-house keepers, on presenting the tickets, as agents for the men. This seems not to be a breach of the letter of the Act of 1883, but I think the society ought to discourage the practice, by giving facilities for the payment of wages at earlier hours, and by refusing to pay wages to public-house keepers.