HC Deb 29 May 1913 vol 53 cc332-4

asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that since October, 1911, 36,000 books, full and half bound, have been sent to Messrs. McCorquodale and Company to their works at Wolverton, where female labour at less than the rate of wage paid to journeymen and apprentices is employed; whether he is aware that no trade union labour is employed by the firm in question in their works at Wolverton; is he aware that the bulk of vellum binding contracts are entrusted to two firms notorious for conditions of labour as described; and, if so, whether he proposes to take any action in the matter?


It is the fact that since October, 1911, the binding of some 36,000 books, full and half bound, has been done for H.M. Stationery Office by Messrs. McCorquodale at Wolverton. All Stationery Office contractors are required to observe and fulfil the obligations upon them specified in the Fair-Wages Resolution passed by the House of Commons on 10th March, 1909. Any definite complaint of an infringement of the Fair-Wages Resolution will receive immediate attention.


asked whether it is intended to put up for open tender all the eight divisions of vellum binding contracts on the expiration of the present term of five years; and whether he will take care that Divisions 2 and 3 are not allotted to Messrs. McCorquodale and Company without competition as in 1909?


As far as can be at present foreseen, all the vellum binding contracts referred to will be put up for open tender on the expiration of their present term. There were special circumstances in 1909, when the vellum binding contracts were submitted to competition, which, in the cases of Divisions 2 and 3, made it necessary in the interests of the public service to negotiate with Messrs. McCorquodale and Company for an extension of the period of two contracts which they had originally obtained by open competition.


What are the special conditions to which the right hon. Gentleman refers?


I cannot imagine anything, unless there was some particular pressure.


asked whether, in considering the competency of firms tendering for Stationery Office contracts, he will take into account the labour conditions existing under the firm in question, as well as space, plant, and other conditions of their establishment; and whether he will consult, with a view of guidance, the fair house list of the trade unions concerned?


The Stationery Office, in allotting contracts, takes into account the labour conditions existing under the firms in question. The fair house lists of the trade unions concerned are constantly consulted at the Stationery Office, and the conditions of labour on Government work are governed by the Fair-Wages Resolution.