27. Mr. TYSON WILSON
asked whether the result of the inquiry, which commenced in May last, into the alleged violation of the Fair-Wages Clause by the North British Rubber Company and the Victoria Rubber Company?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Dr. Macnamara)
The points raised by my hon. Friend were: (1) That these firms were employing girls to do work which had previously been done by men; (2) That the girls were underpaid; (3) That where these firms employed men they paid them less than the district rate. On these three points very careful and detailed inquiries have been made. As to the first, I understand that it has always been the custom in Edinburgh to employ women workers to perform the lighter and cleaner parts of the work, the heavier work being done by the men. As to the second point, it is difficult to determine how far the new Fair-Wages Clause is being fully satisfied inasmuch as for this class of woman labour there does not appear to exist any plan whereby agreement on the question of fair wages can be arrived at between employers and employed. So far as I can see, the piece-work scheme of the North British Rubber Company is more favourable to the employés than that of the Victoria Rubber Company, and I am communicating with the latter firm on this point With regard to the men, the standard which has been submitted to me as applicable to the case of Edinburgh is that of the Northampton trade. I do not think it would be competent, under the new Fair-Wages Clause, to impose that standard in this case. The whole matter will, however, continue to receive my careful attention in view of the possibility of placing other contracts.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
Can the hon. Member say what district he intends to take as a standard for the men's wages?
§ Mr. CROOKS
Will the right hon. Gentleman take care, when he takes up this question, that it will be a levelling up and not a levelling down of wages?