HC Deb 10 March 1920 vol 126 cc1242-4

asked the present rates of wages paid to Indian workers in the principal industries; and whether it is the intention of the Government to take steps to ensure an early approximation of Indian industrial conditions to British standards?


As in several cases increases have recently been granted I have no exact information as to the present rates of wages in the various industries in India, but I will enquire. The settled policy of the Government of India, which has the full approval of my right hon. Friend, is to improve as rapidly the condition of Indian workers, but in a country like India British standards cannot in all cases be adopted. This, as the hon. Member is aware, is recognised in Article 405 of the Treaty of Peace, which lays down that in framing Draft Conventions and Recommendations for general adoption the International Labour Conference shall suggest modifications to meet the case of those countries in which, to quote the words of the Treaty, "climatic conditions, imperfect development of industrial organisation or other special circumstances make the industrial conditions substantially different."

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is the intention of the Government of India to retain powers over Labour legislation and to introduce any system of legal minimum wage in India, as has been suggested?

Sir J. D. REES

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the approximation to the British standard will include the compulsory adoption of English standards of clothing, food and housing, and, if so, who will pay for the mutiny which must result?


It is obvious that there must be great differences between economic legislation in India and in England. The differences must be adjusted to the economic circumstances in the two countries. The whole matter of the economic legislation suitable to Indian conditions is under the consideration of the Government of India.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at present there are 60,000 mill workers out in Bombay, striking for higher wages, and may we understand that the cause of these striking mill workers is being supported by Sir George Lloyd and the Government against the employers, with a view to securing a wage more comparable with that paid in other countries?


Under the Government of India Act, are they not capable of dealing with these cases in India?


Sir George Lloyd has already intervened in an important labour dispute in Bombay, and his intervention has been effective in securing a settlement, and I have no reason to suppose that his intervention in any later disputes will be less successful than in the past.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that there is a dispute on now and that 60,000 men are out in Bombay?