HC Deb 08 July 1918 vol 108 cc5-6

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the circular letter issued by the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners' Association stating that in the South Wales coalfield the prevailing wages of different classes of underground labour, inclusive of war period house coal advantages, are between 74 per cent. and 170 per cent. higher than those ruling in July, 1914; and whether he has any official information supporting these figures, seeing that in the Report of the Departmental Committee appointed by the Board of Trade (Cd. 9093), on page 8, it is stated that in some of the coalfields the wages are at least 40 per cent. higher than they were immediately before the War?


The statement made in the Departmental Committee's Report (Command 9093) refers to the time at which that Report was made, namely, April, 1917. At that time the increase in the general wages rates in South Wales collieries was about 46 per cent. above the rates in July, 1914. In September, 1917, a flat rate increase of 9s. per week was conceded by the Government to all colliery workers, which increased the percentage over pre-war wages to a figure which depends upon the actual rate of wages received by any class of worker, the percentage being greatest in the case of the lowest paid classes. In the case of no class of workers, however, have the percentage increases occasioned by general wages advances been anything approaching the higher figure given by the Monmouthshire and South Wales Coal Owners' Association. This figure is not typical of that or any other coalfield, and is based upon the wages of one small class of the lowest paid underground labour, and includes advances in the basis rate of this class and an estimated allowance representing the increased value of workmen's coal which is supplied at the pre-war price. It is believed that neither of the last two factors are taken into account in the figure given by the Departmental Committee.


Can the right hon. Gentleman state what is the class to which he refers?


I cannot give the information myself, but I will make inquiries and let the hon. and gallant Member know.