HC Deb 12 April 1907 vol 172 cc559-60

Order for Second Reading read.

MR. ARTHUR HENDERSON (Durham, Barnard Castle),

in rising to move the Second Reading of the Sweated Industries Bill, said he thought it was a great misfortune that, as it was nearly five o'clock, there would be no real opportunity of discussing the measure. But he was sure that there was such a consensus of opinion in favour of something being done to mitigate the evils of sweating that it was a most unfortunate thing that such should be the case. The Bill, he admitted, introduced, so far as this country was concerned, a new principle for dealing with what was acknowledged to be a very serious, if not a menacing, condition of things to the industrial life of the country. The Bill proposed to deal with the evil by scheduling a limited number of trades in which it was known that sweating existed in an extraordinary degree. To begin with, the schedule of the Bill contained the tailoring trade, the dressmaking trade, and the trades which included the making, trimming, and altering of shirts. It was proposed to set up a Wages Board, consisting of equal numbers of employers and employed, which would have power to fix a minimum rate of wages, which, for the time being, should govern the work in those particular trades. The principle of fixing a minimum rate of wage was not a new principle. It was known to some of them who were connected with large organisations of labour, but there it was done upon a voluntary basis. The new principle was that it was proposed to give the Board, by statutory authority, power to fix a minimum wage.

And, it being Five o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

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