§ 22. Mr. W. THORNE
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware of how the cleaners are treated at the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington; if he is aware that in 1911 there was a rearrangement of the staff, the police were given notice to leave, and their places taken by the labouring staff who were paid 7d. per hour or 30s. 11d. weekly; if he is aware that a group of men were taken on at 25s. per week who were classed as cleaners and 785 had to sign to that effect; if he is aware that when these men started work they were classed in a wrong heading in order to pay them a lower wage; if he is aware that the men in question do exactly the same kind of work as labourers at the Science Museum, which consists of scaffolding and carrying heavy cases for which they were paid 7½d. per hour for a week of 53½ hours; and if he will give instructions for the labourers working at the Victoria and Albert Museum to be paid 7½d. per hour, being the proper trade union rate of wages for such work?
The warder-cleaners at the Victoria and Albert Museum are employed by the week and are paid a weekly wage of 25s. with extra allowances if and when employed in warding. They are allowed, in addition to the ordinary holidays, a fortnight's leave annually and have other privileges not enjoyed by men employed and paid by the hour as in the case of men engaged on trade union terms. I understand the rate of pay was fixed in 1911 with due regard to the needs of the case, and I am not aware that circumstances have so changed as to justify my pressing the Treasury for any increase in the rate of wages. Two scaffolders are specially employed and paid at the rate of 33s. 2d. per week, and the warder-cleaners are not supposed to do scaffolding work, though they may occasionally help the scaffolders with their work. It is not possible to set out all the circumstances in reply to a question, but I shall be glad to send the hon. Member more detailed information if he desires it.