HC Deb 06 June 1899 vol 72 cc436-7
MR. STEADMAN (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury will he explain why Customs watchers who act as lockers at bonded warehouses, a duty done by the established out-door officers, are compelled to do nine hours a day all the year round, while the established officers only do eight hours a day in summer and seven hours in winter; whether, seeing that the salaries of out-door officers are £100 per annum, while the wages of watchers are 21s. a week, he will explain the method adopted in calculating the daily hours of duty of Customs watchers, which is now said to be only seven hours a day; and whether he will state the number of hours worked per day (based on a similar calculation) by the established out-door officers; whether, out of a total of 343 watchers now employed in the Customs Department of the Port of London, only forty were previous to 1896 liable to work from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; whether their wages were the same as now, 21s. a week, while the remainder were paid 19s. a week for an eight hours' day in summer and seven hours in winter, the overtime payment being 8d. per hour; whether the former were paid overtime before and after 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day, and the latter before and after 8 a.m. in summer and 9 a.m. in winter and 4 p.m. each day, regardless of the number of hours worked during the week; and whether overtime was only paid previous to 1896 after seventy-two hours' duty each week.


Watchers who act as lockers at bonded warehouses are not compelled to serve nine hours a day all the year round. Their hours vary from seven to nine, including meal time, according to the season of the year and the business of the particular warehouse. Very few outdoor officers are now serving as lockers or in any other capacity, and they are an expiring class. The salaries of outdoor officers are not £100. Second class outdoor officers receive £55 rising by £3 to £80, and first-class outdoor officers receive £85 rising by £3 to £100. £100 is therefore the maximum and not the normal salary of the class. The daily hours of duty of Customs watchers are not said to be only seven. I informed the hon. Member on 18th of April that "the minimum average number of hours a day, based on a recent week's work, was seven"—that is, that (with one slight exception) no individual watcher averaged less than seven hours' attendance per day during that week. The actual ordinary attendance (excluding overtime) of the established outdoor officers during the same week averaged 7⅓ hours per day. The facts stated in the third paragraph are correct. In the fourth paragraph the hon. Member presumably refers to the 40 men specified in paragraph 3. If so, overtime was paid after 12 hours' attendance on any one day (which is not the same as paying it after 72 hours' attendance in any one week).