HC Deb 02 March 1921 vol 138 cc1783-5
26. Major Sir KEITH FRASER

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that under the Trade Boards Acts it is not practicable to secure a reduction in a minimum rate fixed under a period of approximately nine months, whether he is aware that unemployment is caused and is likely to be caused thereby; and what steps, if any, he proposes to take to remedy this defect?

The MINISTER of LABOUR (Dr. Macnamara)

My hon. and gallant Friend is under a misapprehension as to the length of time required by a Trade Board to effect a variation in minimum rates of wages. When the Amending Bill of 1918 was before the House, representations were made that too rapid fluctuations of wages were prejudicial to industry. For this reason it was decided that minimum rates of wages should not normally be varied by a Trade Board until they had been in operation for six months. Power was, however, reserved to the Minister in special circumstances to allow a Trade Board to propose a variation of rates at any time.


Is it not a fact that very strenuous efforts are now being made by employers connected with Trade Boards to bring about wholesale wage reductions in the trades affected by the Trade Boards Act?


I do not think that arises here.


It is a much larger question.

27. Sir K. FRASER

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the amount of unemployment which is being caused owing to the high cost of production, he will withhold his assent to any further increases in minimum rates which various Trade Boards continue to make?


In the consideration of the question of confirming rates of wages which may be submitted to me by Trade Boards, I shall, of course, have full regard to the circumstances to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers. I may add that inquiry shows that the amount of unemployment in trades covered by Trade Boards is not appreciably greater than that in other trades.

39. Major NALL

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is proceeding to set up 26 more Trade Boards for the wholesale and retail distributing trades; what will be the total additional expenditure for staffs in connection with these Boards; whether they are necessary owing to allegations of sweated conditions in these industries; and what are the 26 different trades for which these Trade Boards are required?


Having regard to the conditions existing in the distributive trades, I propose to apply the Acts to the distributive trades as circumstances permit. It is impossible to state the number of Trade Boards which it will be necessary to establish, but the addition to expenditure will be comparatively small.

Major NALL

What are the trades to which it is proposed to extend the Act?


I said "as circumstances permit." I have their case before me. I will give the hon. and gallant Gentleman early notice.

Major NALL

Is it not a fact that the Ministry has already given notice to 26 different trades that they are to be included? Is it a fact that 26 trades will not add to the clerical staff?




Would it not be better to consult those industries first?


The closest and most careful consultation is made. I do not think my hon. and gallant Friend is right in saying it has been finally decided to establish trade boards in 26 cases. They are before me. I am giving all the consideration I can to them. I will raise the matter and let him know.

34. Captain TUDOR-REES

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that, owing to the minimum rates of wages fixed by Trade Boards for the dressmaking and millinery trade, large numbers of workpeople have been thrown out of employment; and whether he will suspend the operation of the rates during the present period of depression?


I should be glad if my hon. and gallant Friend would be good enough to supply me with specific cases of the kind described in his ques- tion, in order that inquiry may be made into the circumstances. The Trade Boards have power to propose variations of the rates, and I should be prepared to place before them such facts as my hon. and gallant Friend may supply. The only means by which the rates could be suspended would be by the withdrawal of the trades from the scope of the operation of the Acts by Special Order, and I am not prepared to contemplate such a course on the facts before me.

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