§ 17. Mr. DEVLIN
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether his official information shows that some distress exists amongst the women workers in the linen trade of Belfast, where these workers have only their own wages to rely upon for subsistence, but that this distress is mitigated in the case of most of these workers by the fact that they have men in their families or are in receipt of separa- 822 tion allowances; and, if so, whether he will advise the taking over by the Government for the period of the War of this industry which, whilst earning profits for the owners, refuses to pay a living wage to its employés, who are obliged to depend upon the earnings of their menfolk and the separation allowance of their soldier relatives to provide the necessaries of life?
21. Mr. NUGENT
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is aware that a quantity of female labour is employed in Dublin at a weekly wage of less than 7s. 6d. a week; and, as such wage is admitted to be considerably less than a living wage, whether he will consider it advisable to recommend the Board of Trade to apply the provisions of the Trade Boards Act to the industries in which these workers are engaged?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. G. Roberts)
My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. The advisability of extending the scope of the Trade Boards Act is at present under consideration, and in this connection specific information regarding low rates of wages in Dublin industries will receive careful attention. As the hon. Member is doubtless aware, any extension of the Trade Boards Act would require legislation.
§ 55. Mr. DEVLIN
asked the President of the Board of Trade, whether, in view of the statement that the owners of the linen mills and factories in Belfast were faced with the problem of either closing down their mills or running short time, owing to the condition of the linen industry, he will advise the Ministry of Munitions to take over complete control of these mills and factories for the period of the War?
§ 93. Mr. DEVLIN
asked the Minister of Munitions whether his attention has been called to the statement that the owners of the mills and factories connected with the linen industry in Belfast were faced with the problem of either closing down their mills or running short time owing to the precarious condition of the linen industry; and whether, in view of the 823 amount of female labour at present unemployed, or only partly employed, in this industry in Belfast, he will consider the advisability of taking over complete control of these mills and factories for Government purposes for the period of the War?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Forster)
I have been asked to reply to these questions. The War Department has recently placed in Ireland contracts for 5,000,000 yards of dowlas for bedding, and the bulk of this order has gone to Belfast manufacturers. The Department has also under consideration tenders from Belfast firms in respect of a large requirement for linen tent duck. I do not think it is necessary to take over complete control of the Belfast mills and factories as suggested by the hon. Member.