HC Deb 22 December 1919 vol 123 cc997-9
48. Viscount CURZON

asked the Prime Minister whether any cases have occurred of trades unions using the Restoration of Pre-War Practices Act to prevent the employrnent of disabled or partially disabled ex-Service men?

The MINISTER of LABOUR (Sir R. Horne)

I have been asked to reply to this question. The only specific case which has been referred to my Department is a case at Ashton-under-Lyne in which, according to the statement of facts submitted to me, objection was taken by the union concerned to the employer operating five planing machines by three journeymen and two disabled soldiers, instead of by three journeymen and one apprentice. My Department arranged a conference between the employer and the workpeople's representatives for the purpose of trying to settle matters, but it has proved abortive, as the representatives of the trade union have insisted on prosecuting the employer before the Munitions Tribunal.

Viscount CURZON

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the names of the union, the firm, and the rate of wages paid by the firm?


The firm involved is the firm of Austin Hopkinson and Company, of which one of the leading members is a very gallant and disabled soldier, who has taken a special interest in disabled soldiers. The union is the Amalgamated Society of Engineers. The wages, speaking from memory, are these: Three journeymen employed previous to this change received respectively 66s., 64s., and 63s. a week, and the apprentice received lls. 6d. a week. Under the new arrangement for the employment of disabled soldiers each of the three journeymen receive 66s. a week, and the two disabled soldiers 45s. a week.


Does the right hon. Gentleman find it absolutely impossible to bring home to the trade unions concerned the infamy of their conduct?


Has the right hon. Gentleman got into communication with the heads of the organisation in relation to this matter?


My impression is that there would have been no difficulty locally at all. The difficulty really arose with the executive from outside.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Is this the only case throughout the country?


As I said in my written answer, this is the only specific case the details of which have come up to my Department, but, of course, it is perfectly well known that a ballot of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers has turned down the proposition for the employment and training of disabled soldiers. I do not think that there is any particular advantage at the moment in raising the question again with the heads, as my hon. Friend (Mr. Hartshorn) has put it, of the organisation, because I have already been in communication with them. I hope that in the process of time they will come to take a different attitude towards the matter, but meantime I cannot speak with any confidence with regard to that.


Are the heads referred to the executive or the local district committee?


I am afraid that I cannot exactly answer that question with regard to the specific case of Austin Hopkinson and Company, but I have met the leaders of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers with regard to the general question.

52. Major COHEN

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction amongst discharged men with regard to the facilities provided to them for training; whether he is aware that six months ago this matter was transferred from the Ministry of Pensions to the Ministry of Labour in order that the work should proceed more satisfactorily; whether he is aware that, since that transference, things are, if anything, worse; and, if so, what does he intend to do in the matter?


The reply to the first two parts of this question is in the affirma- tive, and to the third part in the negative. With regard to the fourth, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer given on 10th December to the inquiry of the hon. and gallant Member for Bradford East as to the prospective provision of adequate training facilities.