§ 67. Mr. LANSBURY
asked the hon. Member for Monmouth as representing the Forestry Commissioners, whether his attention has been called to the cases of six men employed by the Forestry Department who were summoned before the justices at the last Rugely Petty Sessions for non-payment of rates; whether his attention has been called to the statements made by the men that they under stood, when engaged by the Department, that they would be allowed, in addition to wages, a house at a rental of 3s. per week, rates being payable by the Commission; is he aware that the wages paid these men are 30s. a week; that some of them have large families; will he. represent to the Commissioners that in future men employed under agreements should be made to understand at the time of signing what the agreements involve; and will he also represent that, in consideration of the low scale of wages, rates in addition to rent should not be paid by the workmen employed in this district who live in cottages belonging to the Crown?
§ Sir LEOLIN FORESTIER-WALKER (Forestry Commissioner)
The six men referred to are tenants not merely of 2263 cottages but of holdings with cottages, the highest rent being £13 per annum for a cottage with 14½ acres and the lowest £10 per annum for a cottage with 14 acres. Rates in every case are payable by the tenant, and it is not proposed to alter this arrangement. There was no reason for any misunderstanding by these tenants as to the terms of their tenancies. While employed by the Forestry Commission the day work rates were 31s. 6d. per week with 9d. per hour overtime. During the planting season the average earnings on piece work, which was general, were 1s. 2d. per hour, and since then l1d. per hour.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Will the hon. Gentleman represent to the Commissioners that these men publicly made the statement in Court that they did not understand the agreement and that in future they should have it read over to them?
§ Sir L. FORESTIER-WALKER
These are all signed tenancy agreements. If it is the hon. Member's desire, we will ask them to read them before they sign them.