HC Deb 12 November 1918 vol 110 cc2493-5

asked the Prime Minister if he has received a communication from the insurance agents asking that their companies may be empowered to grant them a war bonus; if so, what is the position in relation thereto, seeing that this is already being done by some companies; whether he is aware of the unrest among the thousands of these men because they are being told that the large companies have not the power under their charters to grant bonuses; and, if so, whether he will take such steps as will enable the companies to put their men on a war bonus basis as other workers?


asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that a Committee was appointed by the Ministry of Labour to inquire into the request for a war bonus by the superintendents and agents of the Prudential Assurance Company, and that the Report of the Committee has not yet been issued, but a statement has been made that the company cannot afford to pay a war bonus through the effects of the War; is he aware of the dissatisfaction which has been caused amongst the staff who have to meet the increase in the cost of living out of pre-war incomes; whether the Government intends to give the matter further consideration; and, if there are any difficulties in the way of the company paying a war bonus, will the Government take the necessary action to remove them?

The MINISTER of LABOUR (Mr. Roberts)

I have been asked to reply to these questions. I understand that my right hon. Friend has received a communication from the insurance agents, but I am not in a position to add anything to the replies which I have already given on this subject. I would refer specially to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Newbury on 12th June.

Sir A. YEO

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a good deal of unrest amongst this intelligent and industrious class of the population, and that if something is not soon done the Labour Department will be up against a great problem with which they will have great difficulty in dealing?


Does the hon. Gentleman's, answer mean that nothing whatever is going to be done to meet the claims of this deserving class, and are they not, in his opinion, equally deserving as other classes of industrial workers?


I am aware of the unrest which exists among these agents, but of course it is difficult to decide what the Government can do in the matter, which ultimately resolves itself into a lack of organisation on the part of the men themselves.

Sir A. YEO

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some companies are paying a war bonus, and that in some parts of the United Kingdom already a strike has been precipitated?


I think I am aware of those facts.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this House twelve months ago appointed a Committee to look into the matter, and it made a recommendation asking the Government to insist on the insurance companies paying a bonus, and what has become of the Committee's recommendation?


Was the hon. Gentleman replying to No. 54 or No. 60 in his second reply?


No. 60. I am aware that one of the Industrial Unrest Commissions raised the question of the wages or salaries of insurance agents. I then did all that was possible within my power to get an arrangement between the parties, but, having failed in that purpose, I am afraid I have exhausted all my powers. Any further suggestion which is made to me I shall be very glad to consider.