§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that in the week in December of each of the years 1899 to 1909, inclusive, upon which the chief British railway companies reported the actual cash earnings of their servants, in four principal departments, employing nearly half a million men, to the Board of Trade, the average earnings, as distinguished from rates of pay, per week per man were stationary at or about 25s., within a few pence; if in the same period the retail prices of food, as tested by a properly weighted index number, for London rose in the period named by over 12 per cent.; and, if so, whether, seeing that the actual average real earnings, as distinguished from rates of wages, of British railway servants fell considerably in 1899–1909, he would direct the attention of railway companies to these facts?
The facts stated in the question are correct. As, however, I have already informed my hon. Friend, the two sets of statistics are not comparable. The index number of prices measures the changes in the cast of identical articles of consumption weighted uniformly throughout the period. The statistics of average earnings measure the changes in the average remuneration of a large group of workmen whose composition is varying, without the correction of a uniform system of weighting. As my hon. Friend is aware the stationary character of the average earnings for the whole group may be not inconsistent with a progressive increase in the rates of remuneration of any or all of the classes of which the group is composed, inasmuch as it depends not 437 only on these rates, but on the varying proportions between the higher and lower paid classes. There do not appear to be sufficient grounds for making a communication to the companies.
§ Mr. CHIOZZA MONEY
May I ask my right hon. Friend if it is not the case that the Prussian railway wages, measured by exactly the same statistical method, have risen by 20 per cent. in the last ten years?