HC Deb 18 August 1919 vol 119 c1996

There has been an Industrial Council set up of representative employers and representative workmen who have been sitting for months examining together all these various problems—the problem of hours, the problem of wages, the problem of unemployment, the problem of control—and I am very glad to say that they have reached a very fair measure of agreement upon two or three of those problems. Among others, they have reached an agreement upon the problem of hours and the problem of wages. A measure has been prepared by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour (Sir R. Horne) to deal with both hours and wages. He introduced it to-day at the commencement of Business, and it will be in the hands of hon. Members to-morrow. It represents the agreement arrived at between employers and workmen on this important Council. They have taken weeks, I might even say months, to consider it. They have examined it in every detail. In substance it means the declaration of a forty-eight-hour week for all the industries of the country, with two or three exceptions—domestic and outdoor servants, save where employed for the purpose of gain, masters and crew of seagoing ships, and persons employed in agriculture. That is for reasons which are perfectly obvious. It also provides for a living wage for those who are engaged in industry in this country. These measures will be in the hands of hon. Members to-morrow, and they are, I think, the most important measures dealing with Labour problems which have ever been submitted to the judgment of this House. An opportunity will be given during the Vacation for employers and workmen to examine them thoroughly, and by the time the House resumes they will be in a position to give their opinion upon the provisions.