HC Deb 23 October 1908 vol 194 cc1486-7
MR. W. T. WILSON (Lancashire, Westhoughton)

To ask the First Commissioner of Works, if he can state whether the contractors for the new post office in Newgate Street, E.C., are paying the standard rate of wage to the labourers and scaffolders, viz. 7d. and 7½d. per hour; whether the other workmen engaged in the various trades on that job are paid the standard rate; and, if not, will he cause inquiries to be made with the object of ascertaining whether the Fair Wages Clause is being observed.

(Answered by Mr. Harcourt.) Inquiry has been made, and the Answers to the first two Questions are in the affimative, as regards competent workmen. Out of 442 on the books on the 21st instant I am advised that sixty-one do not come within the category. These are distributed as follows:—

Smiths: 12 boys and youths at wages from 4½d. to 5½d. making stirrups and links, that is, cutting off and bending hoop iron and wire.

Labourers: 15. Old men, boys, clerks, etc., employed in picking up firewood, waiting on carpenters, and doing odd things, wages 5d. to 6½d.

Carpenters: 11 improvers 7½d. to 9d.

Mess room boys: 4 at 4½d.

Hackers: 19. All boys, fifteen to seventeen years of age, wages 3d. to 3½d.

Probably the same amount of work could be done with less than half the number of labourers and possibly with economy to the builders, but on the other hand the above are good enough for the work they have to do, and if discharged they would find it difficult to obtain employment. By employing them on work which does not demand even skilled labourers, the builders are probably doing the greatest good to the greatest number. The carpenters' improvers seem to be really necessary. If the number of carpenters is to be maintained there must be an opportunity to learn the business. The hackers are boys who hack the concrete walls and ceilings to form a key for the plastering.