HC Deb 17 July 1912 vol 41 cc379-80

asked whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that a draft scheme for dealing with casual labour at the London docks was prepared by the Port of London Authority, in consultation with the representatives of labour on the Authority, and forwarded to the Board of Trade in April, 1911, and that no definite reply has yet been received from the Board of Trade; And whether he will expedite the inquiry into this subject?


A draft scheme for dealing with casual labour at the London Docks was forwarded by the Port of London Authority in April, 1911. It involved co-operation and financial assistance on the part of the Board of Trade. There were some points in the scheme which appeared to the Board of Trade not to be altogether satisfactory, and to require further consideration; and in the course of discussion and informal correspondence the Port Authority were informed of the views of the Department. Eventually the discussion of the draft scheme was suspended, as the National Insurance Bill was under consideration and there was some prospect that dock labour might be included under Part II. of the Bill. The Board of Trade are ready to resume the discussion at any convenient time.


Is it not a fact that the Board of Trade ended the discussion by saying that they would communicate with the Port Authority on this point when the National Insurance scheme was settled?


There was considerable correspondence, and I should be very glad to resume that correspondence in order to carry out some scheme, if possible, and put the circumstances before the Port of London Authority.


Seeing that six months have elapsed since the Insurance Act was passed, is it not about time that the Board of Trade gave a reply to the Port of London Authority on this question.


It is not a question of delay in replying. We have had negotiations in connection with the matter, and they were suspended pending the passing of the Insurance Act. I am quite anxious and willing to resume those negotiations, and I hope we may be able to arrive at some amicable settlement.


Is it not a fact that the real difficulty is that the opposition of the workmen to decasualisation lies in the fact that no provision is made for the middle-aged and the old men?


There are, of course, always difficulties of this kind, but all those points will be taken into account.