§ 78. Mr. FORREST
asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of his intention to confirm the rate of 8d. an hour for female workers over 18 years of age engaged in laundry work, he can state the increase represented by this sum over the existing rate which only came into operation by November last; whether the cost of living was then 173 per cent. pre-War and is now only 128 per cent.; why, under these circumstances, the time is chosen to make the further suggested increase; whether he is aware that in some cases, owing to the difficulties of carrying on laundry work at all, the workers have an agreement with their employers to work at 7d. an hour; whether the demand for the extra ½d. is universal; and whether he is aware that females engaged in laundry work are now receiving about 300 per cent. increase on their pre-War wages?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The decision to fix an increase of ½d. in the rate in the laundry trade was only reached by the Trade Board after prolonged consideration at several meetings, at which all the arguments both as to cost of living and other relevant matters were fully discussed. On the first occasion when this increase was put forward to me for consideration, I referred it back to ensure still further discussion. The rate was, however, fixed again, and, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, I felt that I should not be justified in withholding my consent. With regard to the 322 last part of the question, I have no information on which to decide whether there has been an increase of 300 per cent. on pre-War rates of wages; if, however, the assumption of my hon. Friend is correct, it follows that adult women workers in the laundry trade before the War were receiving about 2d. per hour.