28. Mr. ATHOLL ROBERTSON
asked the Minister of Labour how many trade boards for distributive trades are set up and functioning; does he contemplate forming further trade boards; and how-many boards will be set up to cover the distributive trades?
§ Mr. SHAW
The Trade Boards Acts have already been applied to the milk distributive trade and to the grocery and provisions trade. There are boards for England and Wales and for Scotland respectively in each case. Minimum rates of wages have been in operation for some years in the milk distributive trade; in the grocery and provisions trade reconstituted boards will, I anticipate, meet at a very 412 early date with a view to the fixing of minimum rates. I am now examining conditions in the drapery and allied trades and in the meat distributive trade with a view to deciding whether the Trade Boards Acts should be applied to these trades. I cannot, at this stage, form an opinion as to the number of trade boards which might be required.
§ Lieut.-Colonel JAMES
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether he has instituted any inquiries to discover whether unemployment has followed the setting up of the Trade Boards under the Act?
29. Mr. ROBERTSON
also asked the Minister of Labour whether he has now considered how far it may be advisable to adopt certain recommendations of the Cave Committee on Trade Boards which do not involve legislation?
§ Mr. BETTERTON
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he proposes to introduce legislation to give effect to those recommendations of the Cave Committee which need legislation?
§ Following is the reply:
§ It is presumed that the recommendations of the Cave Committee to which reference is made in the question are those concerning (i) the establishment of district boards for the distributive and retail making-up trades; (ii) expediting of machinery; (iii) the reduction of the number of appointed members to three on any one board; (iv) the limitation of the proportion of officials appointed to membership of boards without practical experience of the trade in question to 25 per cent.; (v) the basis on which learners' and apprentices' rates should be fixed; (vi) the presentation to Parliament of an annual report on the working of the Acts.
- (i) I am not satisfied that in general this recommendation should be adopted.
- (ii) The following steps have been taken to remove the difficulties under this head to which the Cave Committee drew attention:
- (a) Consultation with boards between the proposal and fixing stages enables the Minister to transmit his decision on the question of confirmation within fourteen days of the receipt of notification of the rates.
- (b) A regulation has been made dating the period of objection from the publication of the notice instead of from the date of its issue to the trade.
- (iii) The opportunity has recently been taken to reduce to three the number of appointed members serving on the Grocery and Provisions Trade Board (England and Wales); the possibility of effecting a similar reduction in the case of the one other board in question will be considered when that board is next reconstituted.
- (iv) The proportion on the existing boards is in most cases considerably less than 25 per cent.; discretion must be retained for the treatment of each case on its merits.
- (v) These recommendations have been put into practice by several boards.
- (vi) A Report on the administration of the Acts from 1st January, 1922, to 31st March, 1923, was published in October last, and it is proposed to publish a Report annually.