16. Mr. T. WILSON
asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether his attention has been drawn to a complaint against the firm of Brown, Son, and Company, Peterborough, for violating the Fair-Wages Clause in the rates paid by them for the making of khaki tunics; whether he is aware that the rate paid by the firm in 1914 was 2s. 7d. per tunic, but that in August, 1915, the rate was reduced to 2s. 3d. per tunic; and whether he will state the grounds on which the Contracts Department of the War Office have come to the decision that the payment of the lower rate is not an infringement of the Clause in question?
§ Mr. FORSTER
The attention of the Department has been called to the complaint referred to, and the matter has been investigated. It appears that the rates paid by this firm compare not unfavourably with those paid by other firms making Army clothing in the nearest districts where the industrial circumstances are generally similar, and it is not therefore considered that any infringement of the Fair-Wages Clause has taken place. The reduction in the piece-rate referred to is for the operation of machining; the tunics made in August, 1915, are said to have required less machining, but more hand-work, than those made in 1914. It is understood that the amount by which the machinists' rate was reduced was added to the hand-workers' rate, so that the total price paid for machining and finishing the tunic remains the same.