§ A Trade Board for any trade shall consider, as occasion requires, any matter referred to them by a Secretary of State, the Board of Trade, or any other Government Department, with reference to the industrial conditions of the trade, and shall make a report upon the matter to the Department by whom the question has been referred.
§ Mr. CARLILE
I beg to move, "That Clause 3 be omitted." Already persons engaged in the trade are called on by the Census Production Act to produce a mass of information, and, under the Home 2440 Office, inquiries are so made. It seems hardly necessary in those conditions, seeing that the Home Office and the Board of Trade, and other Departments, under the Census Production Act, have it in their power to apply for information to those interested in the various industries in the various localities, that these Trade Boards should also have this power. I may point out that in some circumstances action on their part in inquiring into industrial conditions, etc., might become an intolerable nuisance to the various industries if it is suggested that these Trade Boards should meddle with the general conditions of trade outside the question with which they are exclusively to concern themselves, namely, the establishment of a minimum wage under the Board of Trade. Permission is given to them to make inquiries of the kind, and I do not think that the Government ever intended that these Trade Boards should make inquisitorial inquiries or have power to do so into the industrial conditions in great industrial centres. I do not think that by removing this clause we would in any way interfere with the general principles of the Bill, and it would still leave the Government Department, as at present, to make inquiries if they thought desirable. I am certain of this, that those who are engaged in the various industries, sometimes employing thousands of workpeople, would feel it an intolerable nuisance if the local Trade Board, on which sit perhaps persons who are absolutely obscure and with no influence, should be able to bring within their purview the operations of great industrial concerns, with which the Home Office or the Board of Trade can at present communicate if they so desire, and to whom, of course, every assistance would be given when seeking information which they may desire. For those reasons, and because I think that this clause would encourage the Trade Boards to operate prejudicially to the trades and industries, I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.
When this Bill was in Committee upstairs nobody moved an Amendment to this clause, much less its deletion. I think the hon. Gentleman who has moved the Amendment to-day might have seized the opportunity upstairs to do so.
§ Mr. CARLILE
An Amendment not having been moved upstairs does not preclude the opportunity of moving an Amendment now.
I agree that it would be no reason against its being moved now, but I think that an effort might have been made in Committee to raise this question. The hon. Gentleman has almost answered his own Amendment by saying that even if it be carried the Board of Trade would still be able to make inquiry.
This is a useful clause to which considerable importance is attached, and it would only be put in operation at the request of the Department or the Secretary of State. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the clause, he will see that a Trade Board may consider any matter referred to them by the Secretary of State or the Board of Trade, and "shall make a report upon the matter to the Department by whom the question has been referred." These Trade Boards will be in close touch with the Department for the purposes of inquiry. While I think that the clause will be useful, I believe that its being put in operation will be exceptional. It will only be used on the initiative of the two great Departments, and, that being so, I ask the hon. Gentleman not to press his Amendment.
§ Question, "That Clause 3 stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.