HC Deb 05 March 1903 vol 118 cc1549-50
CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)

To ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that an order for 8,000 shoe pockets has recently been given to the firm of Ross & Co., Bermondsey, which was struck off the list of contractors prior to the Lords' Inquiry into the Sweating System; whether he is aware that women are being employed on this work at about half the customary rate: and whether he will see that consideration is given in future contracts to those London firms who have always complied with the fair wages clause.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary Brodrick.) The hon. Member appears to have been misinformed. The firm mentioned was placed on the list in 1895, and is of an entirely different constitution to that struck off the list in 1888. It has been the custom to employ women largely upon this work. There has been a reduction from 3½ d. to 3d. per shoe case on the piecework rate paid for stitching. This fall is ascribed to the different position of the labour market, but it cannot be said that the wages paid are less than the current rate (luring the execution of this contract. As regards the last part of the Question all firms employed by the War Department have to conform to the clause requiring the payment of the current wage.