HC Deb 01 December 1920 vol 135 cc1229-31

asked the Minister of Labour whether any departmental inquiries have been held into the minimum wage question since the proposal to introduce a Minimum Wage Commission Bill was first announced, whether any persons have been specially engaged for the purpose of these inquiries; and when the Bill will be introduced?

35. Major HAYWARD

asked the Minister of Labour whether it is intended to introduce the Minimum Wage Commission Bill?


I will answer these questions together. With regard to the question when it may be possible to proceed with the Minimum Wage Commission Bill, I can only refer to the reply given on 8th November last by the Prime Minister to the hon. Members for White-chapel and Derbyshire (West), a copy of which is being sent to my hon. Friends. No special departmental inquiries have been held into the Minimum Wage question, and no special staff has been engaged for the purpose of such inquiries. That question has, however, been kept in view during the continuous inquiries which have been in progress in connection with the establishment of new Trade Boards, which, as my hon. Friends are aware, are representative bodies charged with the duty of fixing minimum rates of wages in their respective trades.


How soon will the right hon. Gentleman be able to give a more definite reply seeing that last night the House had to adjourn because we had no work to do?


I cannot give any undertaking that it will be proceeded with this Session. I must point out, however, that the substance of the thing has been arrived at by the development of the trade boards and the system of wages agreements either through the instrumentality of the Joint Industrial Council or otherwise. It is a matter which is not being allowed to rest.

Captain O'GRADY

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that the minimum wage will be established by the trade board without regard to the wages which may be fixed by the Industrial Council?


It must not be taken that nothing has been done. Much has been done by the rapid development of the trade board system and agreements which have been arrived at by the Joint Industrial Council.


asked the Minister of Labour in how many industries wages have been reduced since the lapsing of the provisions of the Industrial Courts Act which stabilised war wages; and what have been the reductions in question?


asked the Minister of Labour whether strikes have been threatened in any industries owing to the announcement by employers of forthcoming reductions in wages; if so, what are the industries in question; and whether the Government proposed to take any action?


asked the Minister of Labour whether he has any information showing that wages are about to be reduced in any industries; and, if so, what are the industries and what are the proposed reductions?


As far as I am aware, there have been since the lapse of the Wages (Temporary Regulation) Acts no general reductions of wages affecting either a whole industry or a substantial branch of an industry. A few isolated cases have come to my notice where particular firms have reduced wages, including some instances where the higher rates payable to women under the special munitions of war orders have been replaced by rates approximating to those fixed by the appropriate Trade Boards. I am not aware of any threatened general reductions of wages, except that the Shipbuilding Employers' Federation has announced its intention of withdrawing an increase of wages of 12s. a week given last April to joiners employed by members of the Federation. The action of the Government in disputes arising from these causes would be on the lines laid down in the Industrial Courts Act, 1919.

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