§ (1) For the purposes of this Act the Minister of Labour may constitute an Interim Court of Arbitration, consisting of persons representing employers, and persons representing workmen, and of independent persons from whom the chairman of the Court and of every division thereof shall be selected.
§ (2) Any difference as to whether a workman is a workman of a class to which a standard rate of wages is applicable, or as to what is the standard rate of wages, or as to whether any rate should be substituted for the standard rate, or as to what is the substituted rate of Wages, may be reported to the Minister of Labour by or on behalf 3365 of either of the parties to the difference, and the Minister shall thereupon refer the matter for settlement to the Interim Court of Arbitration, or, if in his opinion suitable means for settlement already exist in pursuance of an agreement made between the employers and persons employed, for settlement in accordance with those means:
§ Provided that the Minister of Labour shall not refer for settlement in accordance with this Section a difference as to whether any rate should be substituted for the prescribed rate unless he is satisfied that the report is made by or on behalf of a majority of the workmen to whom the prescribed rate in question is applicable, or by or on behalf of employers employing a majority of such workmen.
§ (3) Where an award has been so made by the Interim Court of Arbitration or in pursuance of such an agreement as aforesaid the Minister of Labour may, on the advice of the Interim Court of Arbitration, by Order direct that the award shall be binding on all workmen to whom the prescribed rate in question is applicable and the employers of those workmen.
§ (4) The Minister of Labour may refer to the Interim Court of Arbitration for advice any matter arising under this Act.
§ (5) The Arbitration Act, 1889, shall not apply to any reference under the provisions of this Act, but the Minister may make, or authorise the Interim Court of Arbitration to make, rules regulating the procedure of that Court, and those regulations may provide for the Court sitting in two or more divisions, and for enabling questions as to the interpretation of any award to be settled without any fresh report or reference.
§ (6) Where before the passing of this Act any matter has been referred for settlement to the Committee on Production and has not at that date been settled by the Committee, the matter shall by virtue of this Act be transferred to the Interim Court of Arbitration under this Act.
§ (7) There shall be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament to any person being a member of the Interim Court of Arbitration, and to any officers required in connection with that Court, such remuneration and travelling or other expenses (including compensation for loss of time) as the Minister of Labour, with the approval of the Treasury, may determine, and there shall also be so paid any other expenses of the Court to such an amount as may be sanctioned by the Treasury.
§ Amendment made: In Sub-section (2), leave out the word "standard" ["a standard rate of wages is applicable"], and insert instead thereof the word "prescribed."—[Mr. Roberts.]
§ Consequential Amendments made.
I beg to move, after the word "thereupon" ["the Minister shall thereupon refer the matter"], to insert the wordsconsider the difference so reported and take any steps which seem to him expedient to promote a settlement of the difference and where the Minister has failed to settle the difference by such steps as aforesaid he shall.The words proposed to be inserted are taken from Section 1, Sub-section (2), of 3366 the Munitions of War Act, 1915, so as to enable the Minister to settle the difference by bringing the parties together without referring the matter to the Court of Arbitration. The Amendment simply empowers the Minister to pursue a policy of conciliation. In the event of his failing, it then goes to arbitration.
May I thank my right hon. Friend for having put in this Amendment. It was a gap in the Bill. I hope he will find, if he continues to be Minister of Labour, that his energies more often than not will be successful without referring the matter to a Court of Arbitration.
§ Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move to leave out the word "majority" ["the Report is made by or on behalf of a majority of the workmen"], and to insert instead thereof the words "substantial proportion."
It would be difficult where a trade is unorganised, as is generally the case with women labour, to obtain an application on behalf of the majority of the persons employed. It is, therefore, proposed to substitute the words "substantial proportion." The reason for the Amendment is quite apparent, and I am sure that it will secure the acceptance of the Committee.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Consequential Amendment made.
§ Further Amendment made: In Subsection (3), after the word "award" ["where an award has been so made"], insert the words "determining or varying a rate."—[Mr. Roberts.]
I beg to move to leave out the words "in pursuance of such an agreement as aforesaid," and to insert instead thereof the words "an agreement or settlement for such purpose has been arrived at."
Where there is an alteration of the prescribed rate by agreement or by any other method of settlement other than an award, the alteration will only affect the parties to the agreement or settlement. It is advisable that there should be power to extend the rate as altered by the settlement or agreement to the whole class of workmen, but this should only be done on the advice of the Court of Arbitration. That, I think, will safeguard the interests of all concerned.
§ Amendment agreed to.3367
§ Further Amendments made: Leave out the word "award" ["the award shall be binding"], and insert instead thereof the words "the determination or variation effected by the award, agreement, or settlement."
§ In Sub-section (6), leave out the words "to the committee on production," and insert instead thereof the words "under the Munitions of War Acts, 1915 to 1917."—[Mr. Roberts.]
I beg to move to leave out the words "committee, the matter shall by virtue of this Act be transferred to the Interim Court of Arbitration under this Act," and to insert instead thereof the wordsperson or persons to whom it has been referred, the Minister of Labour may by Order transfer the matter to the Interim Court of Arbitration, and where any such matter has been so transferred the award of that Court shall have effect as if the matter had been referred to the Court under the foregoing provisions of this Section.This Amendment deals with pending arbitrations. The Sub-section as drawn provides for the automatic transfer of all such proceedings or any such arbitrations to the Interim Court of Arbitration established by the Bill. In some instances the hearing will have been completed, and in such cases it would be a useless waste of time and money to have a rehearing. In other cases the reference may be on matters with which the Interim Court will not be concerned. On the other hand, there are cases where the reference has not been to the Committee on Production but to the special Arbitration Tribunal, constituted under Section 8 of the Act of 1916. It is therefore proposed to extend this Subsection so as to include any arbitration proceedings under the Munitions of War Act, and, secondly, to give the Minister of Labour a discretion whether the matter is one which should be transferred or not.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It will require at the end of Clause 2 an Amendment in consequence of the Amendment accepted to the Money Resolution.
I beg to move, in Subsection (7), at the end, to add the words "Provided that the aggregate amount so expended shall not exceed thirty thousand pounds."
Those hon. Members who were in the House last night will remember that I was pressed to include in the Money Resolution an estimate of the sum likely to be expended in respect of the expenses 3368 of the Arbitration Boards. I am sure I shall carry with me the assent of my right hon. Friend to this Amendment, the principle of which is very familiar to hon. Members. I agree that, if it is possible to come to the House with an estimate, the Department ought to be required to make an estimate whenever it is practicable. On a previous occasion I have assented to this principle and have agreed to the incorporation in the Money Resolution of the best estimate we could make in the circumstances. Last night I pointed out that this was a somewhat difficult case, because we had no definite data to work upon, but that nevertheless I had consulted those who advised me on the matter, and they had advised me that for the six months during the currency of this Bill our expenditure in respect of these matters should not exceed £30,000. I am not able to discuss the question of the figure of £20,000 or £30,000, but £30,000 is the figure which my advisers have advised me is the best estimate. Therefore I have agreed to the insertion in this Clause of the figure of £30,000, on the understanding that I do not definitely commit myself to it It may be, if we have to exceed that sum, that I shall have to proceed in the ordinary way and come to the House with a Supplementary Estimate. I am sure I shall carry hon. Members with me in my endeavour to keep the control of this House over expenditure.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I should like to point out to the Minister that no Supplementary Estimate would help. These words have to go into the Act of Parliament in consequence of what was accepted last night, and if he exceeds this amount it will require a fresh Act.
My right hon. Friend has certainly done right in following the recommendation of the Committee on National Expenditure, which strongly advised the House to insist upon such limits being put into Financial Resolutions in future. I quite sympathise with him in his difficulty of not knowing whether £30,000 will or will not be sufficient for the purposes of the Bill. I can assure him that, if he finds after the administration of the Bill that £30,000 does not cover the necessary expenditure, there will not be any opposition to his coming down to the House and having the Bill extended—that is, if there be some difficulty in procedure by way of Supplementary 3369 Estimate. For my own part and that of those whom I have consulted, we wish well to this Bill, and do not wish it to be handicapped through lack of money.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am very glad the right hon. Gentleman has taken this course. The only thing I regret is that there are not more members of the Government on the Front Bench to see how well he has behaved and how excellently his good behaviour is received in all quarters of the Committee. I hope he will set an example to his Friends on that bench.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 3 (Powers of Inquiry), ordered to stand part of the Bill.