HC Deb 19 February 1919 vol 112 cc939-41
71. Mr. G. TERRELL

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that there is a great shortage of domestic servants; that many girls who are at present in receipt of unemployed pay are refusing to return to domestic service; and what steps he proposes to take in regard to the matter?


I have been asked to reply on behalf of my hon. Friend, who is ill. I am aware that there is a shortage of domestic servants, and that many girls who have been engaged on munitions or other war work are reluctant to return to domestic service. The chief reason appears to be that the terms and conditions offered are not regarded as sufficiently attractive. Applicants who refuse offers of suitable employment in domestic service are not entitled to remain in receipt of out-of-work donation, but I am satisfied that the real remedy lies in a substantial improvement in the general level of the terms and conditions of domestic service. There is no Statutory power to deal compulsorily with this matter, but the Department is considering what steps it may be possible to take to secure an improvement by voluntary action.

Colonel W. THORNE

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a standard rate of wages now for good servants?


I was not aware that there is a standard rate for domestic servants.

Colonel THORNE

Yes, there is.


May I ask if domestic servants who have refused the standard rate of wages will have these allowances discontinued?


I am afraid I must ask hon. Members to put down these supplementary questions. I am not connected with the Department and cannot give intelligent answers.

72. Mr. GRANT

asked the Minister of Labour if he will give instructions to Labour Exchanges that women in receipt of unemployed allowances who are fitted for domestic service shall be notified that refusal to accept domestic service will cause such allowances to be instantly cancelled?


An applicant refusing an offer of suitable employment is not entitled to continue in receipt of out-of-work donation, and this rule applies to offers of domestic service in the same way as to other employments. The Employment Exchanges already have instructions to this effect. Any question as to whether the offer is suitable in any particular case is decided by a Court of Referees.


Will the hon. Gentleman do something to see that a standard minimum wage is fixed for this class of labour, and that employers are forced to pay it?


I shall be pleased to refer what the hon. Gentleman has said to the Department. I am personally of the same opinion myself.


Could not there be fixed conditions of service as well as the wage—it is the more important of the two?