Mr. T. F. RICHARDS
asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that since he informed the House on 20th July that the mail cart drivers of Belfast worked about 60 hours per week for 21s. 6d., no alteration has taken place in the wages or hours of labour as then com- 845 plained of, and that men are still working 73, 80, and 93 hours; whether he is also aware that the men affected were requested on Saturday last to sign a form agreeing to the hours appointed for the carrying out of the various works, and expressing satisfaction with the hours allotted to each duty; and will he say whether this request had his sanction, or was it made under the cognisance of the Belfast postal authorities or on the personal responsibility of the contractors; and, if not, can he say by whom; and what action does he intend to take in the matter?
§ Mr. BUXTON
I made inquiries into this matter. It appears that there is a difference of opinion as to the method of computing the hours of work; and I am not yet in a position, without further inquiry, to decide what alterations are necessary. I am informing the contractor, however, that I am not satisfied with the hours of work of certain of his men; and I will expedite the conclusion as far as possible. As regards the latter part of the question, the arrangement to which my hon. Friend refers was not adopted at the request or with the cognisance, of any officer of my Department. I need hardly say that any statement of the kind submitted by a mail cart contractor, and obtained in the way described would not influence my decision in regard to the proper hours of employment of mail cart drivers.