HC Deb 03 July 1924 vol 175 cc1648-50

I rise for the purpose of inviting a statement from the War Office with regard to a dispute which has been pending now for some little time and in which 7,000 employés of the Arsenal are involved. It affects an application for an increase in the wages of the unskilled and semi-skilled employés in the London area. A short time ago the skilled craftsmen who are employed at the Arsenal went to an arbitration tribunal and received, as the result of their application, an increase of 6s. in their wages. Since that decision has been made it has certainly increased, and I think with justice, the request of the semi-skilled and unskilled employés there to have the question of their wages reconsidered, and as the result of that application the Secretary of State for War a few days ago, in a communication to myself and other Members who are interested, said he was prepared to make a further offer, and that offer practically amounted to a levelling up of the 3s. increase which he had made some little time ago. I need hardly tell the Financial Secretary that that suggestion has by no means been received with satisfaction by the men concerned. I think there is a good deal to be said from their point of view because all the unskilled and semi-skilled men throughout the country received the same rises and took the same cuts in their wages as the skilled men did. In fact, there was one occasion when there was a cut of 12s. in two months, and these semi-skilled and unskilled men had to suffer in exactly the same way. Therefore, there is little wonder that they are dissatisfied with the present conditions of affairs. I understand, however, that in connection with the demand they have made the union concerned have advised the men that they could not sanction a strike, and if they did strike would give them no strike pay. In these circumstances, I hope the Financial Secretary to the War Office will be able to announce this evening that the sugges- tion that has been made, that the matter should go to arbitration—I hope to the same Court—has been received favourably by the Government, and that the matter may be satisfactorily adjusted in that way.

There is a further matter which is causing considerable discontent and anxiety, and that is the discharges which I regret to say are still continuing at the Arsenal——

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,

The House was adjourned at Fourteen Minutes after Eleven o'clock until To-morrow.

The SPEAKER has appointed Mr. Valentine La Touche McEntee to serve on the Ecclesiastical Committee, in the room of Mr. William Stapleton Royce, deceased.