§ 32. Mr. W. THORNE
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that Sir Alfred Woodgate, Chief Commissioner of the West Ham Union, has issued printed forms to the relieving officers in the southern part of the borough which require the workman to authorise his employers to deduct from his wages any sum advanced to him by the board of guardians on loan, and to accept the receipts of the treasurer of the guardians as part of his wages; whether he is aware that the action of the Chief Commissioner is a direct violation of the Truck Acts of 1887 and 1896, and the memorandum of 31st March, 1898; and whether he will take any action in the matter?
Sections 58 and 59 of the Poor Law Amendment Act, 1834, provide for the grant of relief in certain eases on loan and for its recovery under an order of the Court by deduction from wages. I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the printed form to which he refers, and which I understand is issued by the guardians with a view to avoid- 1952 ing, with the consent of the man concerned, resort to legal proceedings. It is, of course, entirely within the option of a person receiving the form whether he will sign it or not. As at present advised, I do not see any need for my intervention.
§ Mr. THORNE
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the forms in question have been sent to the employers with a view to their persuading workmen to sign the agreement?
No, I do not think they have been sent for that purpose. I think they have been sent probably with a view to facilitating this procedure, which, I think, is a very great convenience to the man himself.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
Is the Minister aware that the Truck Acts formally prohibit an employer making any deduction from wages except with regard to certain matters specified in the Acts, and will he refer the matter to the Law Officers of the Crown, with a view to informing this House as to whether the provisions of the Truck Acts are being observed?
§ Mr. LAWSON
Do we understand that guardians appointed by the Minister have a right to do things which no employer of labour has?
No, the hon. Member must not think that at all. They have the same rights as other guardians, and they are not different from other guardians in that respect. With regard to the question put by the hon. Member for East Ham North (Miss Lawrence), I have examined that question, and I am informed that her interpretation is not correct.