§ 17. Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
asked the Minister of Labour if she possesses reliable statistics on the economic standard of workers in countries which compete with our workers in respect of tenders issued by local authorities and railway companies; if so, whether she proposes to supply such information when desired by these bodies; and, if not, whether she will obtain the information?
§ Miss BONDFIELD
As the hon. Member is no doubt aware, the International Labour Office periodically publish statistics as to money wages, retail prices and, subject to certain reservations, the relative levels of real wages in Great Britain and a number of countries oversea. The Ministry of Labour is in possession of these and such other statistics as have been published by that Office and by the official statistical authorities in the principal countries oversea, bearing on working-class conditions and standards of labour, and is prepared to supply such information, so far as available, in response to requests from local authorities and railway companies.
§ Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
Will the right hon. Lady bring these figures to the 1106 notice of local authorities and railway companies, as advised by the Lord Privy Seal recently?
§ Sir ARTHUR STEEL-MAITLAND
Will the right hon. Lady, either herself or through her colleagues, recommend that the standard of the Fair Wages Clause be applied with regard to tenders from foreign countries as well as to tenders in this country?
§ 18. Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
asked the Minister of Labour whether she will make available for Members of Parliament copies of the Italian Bill recently promulgated which deals with hours of employment; and also English translations of the Bill?
§ Miss BONDFIELD
I will arrange to have copies of the Bill, with a translation, placed in the Library of the House as soon as possible.
§ Sir A. POWNALL
Can the right hon. Lady say how far this Bill has gone; whether it has become law or whether it will become law in the near future?
§ 23. Sir N. GRATTAN-DOYLE
asked the Minister of Labour the approximate number of workers in Great Britain whose hours of labour will be reduced in the event of the Industrial Employment Bill becoming law?
§ Miss BONDFIELD
Information is not available as to the numbers of work-people whose working hours are in excess of those which will be permissible if the Hours of Industrial Employment Bill becomes law. Some statistics for the year 1924 as to the proportions of work-people, in a large number of industries, whose normal working week exceeded 48 hours as shown by the results of a special inquiry made by the Ministry of Labour, are published on page 117 of the "Nineteenth Abstract of Labour Statistics" (Cmd. 3140).
§ 24. Sir N. GRATTAN-DOYLE
asked the Minister of Labour whether she will lay upon the Table of the House, in 1107 respect of countries which have ratified the Washington Hours Convention other than Great Britain, the texts and translations of legislative proposals to give effect to the terms of that convention?
§ Miss BONDFIELD
I have under consideration proposals for the publication of certain foreign legislative measures which will, I think, contain the information desired by the hon. Member.
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
Will the right hon. Lady also include the countries which are waiting for us to ratify before themselves legislating?
§ Sir A. POWNALL
Can the right hon. Lady assure us that this information will be available before the House discusses the Bill on the Motion for the Second Reading?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Can the right hon. Lady tell us whether they are unconditional ratifications and, if not, what reservation has been attached?
§ Captain PETER MACDONALD
Have other countries which have signed the Treaty placed the same interpretation upon it as we do?
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Is the right hon. Lady aware that we are being bombarded by the Chambers of Commerce asking us to hold up the present Bill until other countries have ratified, and, therefore, can we have the information as soon as possible?
§ 36. Mr. ROSBOTHAM
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether in connection with the Government's efforts to reduce unemployment, any instructions have been given in his Department that, in accepting tenders for the supply of foodstuffs to institutions under its control, preference must be given to home produce and regard must be had to the economic standard of the workers in competing countries?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Clynes)
Preference is given to borne produce but, as I stated in answer to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for the Sudbury Division (Colonel Burton) on the 4th December last, financial and other considerations render it impracticable to limit supplies entirely to such produce.
§ 78. Sir BASIL PETO
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the fact that instructions have been issued to local authorities and railway companies, in accepting tenders, to give a preference to British products and to take into consideration the economic standard of the workers in competing countries, the same principles will be embodied in the measures to be introduced to give effect to the Government's agricultural policy?
§ 79. Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the advice of the Lord Privy Seal to local authorities and railway companies that in accepting tenders they must not only give a preference to British products but must take into consideration the economic standards of the workers in competing countries, he will consider the possibility of helping agriculturists by advocating wherever possible the preferential use of British products?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of AGRICULTURE (Dr. Addison)
One of the principal aims of the Government's agricultural policy has been, and is, to encourage and assist the improved marketing of British agricultural products.
§ Sir B. PETO
Will the right hon. Gentleman give a definite reply to my question? In view of the fact that the Lord Privy Seal is sitting beside him, will he try to reconcile the policy for other industries in this country, which is being announced by the Lord Privy Seal, with that of His Majesty's Government in relation to agriculture?
§ Dr. ADDISON
My answer is perfectly consistent, and I am sure that the Lord Privy Seal is capable of answering for himself.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
Has the right hon. Gentleman been in communication with the Secretary of State for War about this matter?
§ 89. Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in view of his advice to local authorities and railway companies that, in accepting tenders, they must not only give a preference to British products but must take into consideration the economic standards of the workers in competing countries, he will recommend that other Government Departments should issue similar instructions in regard to the supply of foodstuffs to all public institutions of any sort?
§ The following Questions stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. D. G. SOMERVILLE:
§ 87. To ask the Lord Privy Seal the terms of the instructions he has given to local authorities and railway companies that in accepting tenders they should not only give a preference to British products but also take into consideration the economic standard of the workers in competing countries?
§ 88. To ask the Lord Privy Seal whether, in advising local authorities and railway companies in accepting tenders to take into consideration the economic standard of the workers in competing countries, he has considered how these local authorities and railway companies are to obtain reliable statistics on the subject; and whether they are to make inquiries from the Board of Trade to secure the information?
§ The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Mr. J. H. Thomas)
I will with the hon. Member's permission answer these three questions together.
It is one of the conditions of the Government grants made to local authorities in respect of schemes of work to relieve unemployment that all materials required for such schemes are, so far as practicable, to be of United Kingdom origin and all manufactured articles of United Kingdom manufacture, subject to such exceptions as the Department or Committee dealing with the particular case may find to be desirable, having regard to all the circumstances, including 1110 the comparative price of British and foreign articles. In addition, in circulars issued by the Ministry of Health and the Scottish Office local authorities have been urged to apply the same principles in the case of all contracts entered into by them, whether or not such contracts are in respect of services which are aided by Government grants. Further, departmental instructions have been issued to the various Departments and Committees dealing with Government grants, including grants to railway companies, that in considering any exception to British goods or manufactures they should bear in mind among other things any evidence that may be available as to the wages and conditions of labour in the foreign country concerned compared with those existing in this country. As regards the source from which this information may be obtained I would refer the hon. Member for Willesden East (Mr. D. G. Somerville) to the reply given to-day by the Minister of Labour to the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Ramsbotham).
As regards the second part of question 89 I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on a similar subject by the Minister of Health to the Noble Lord the Member for Aldershot (Viscount Wolmer) on 6th March, 1930.
§ Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
Will the right hon. Gentleman give specific instructions of that nature with regard to gloves and lace?
§ Mr. BRACKEN
Does not the Minister believe that it would help industry at Nottingham if he and his colleagues would purchase lace to decorate themselves when in their uniforms?
Duchess of ATHOLL
Could the right hon. Gentleman extend the instruction to local authorities and other bodies in such a way as to secure preference for United Kingdom labour?
§ Mr. THOMAS
I should hope that would be the first consideration. I know of no grant that was not specifically intended for that purpose.
§ 96. Mr. LAMBERT
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in connection with the Government's efforts to reduce unemployment, any instructions 1111 have been given in his Department that preference must be given in supplies for the Navy at home stations to meat of home origin and to flour milled from home-grown wheat; and that in the case of all foodstuffs regard must be had in accepting tenders to the economic standard of the workers in competing countries?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Ammon)
The answers are in the negative. I would refer the hon. Member to the reply, given on 27th November last (OFFICIAL RAPORT, column 1444).
§ Mr. LAMBERT
Has the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty seen the statement made by the Lord Privy Seal at Derby the other day to the effect that preference must be given by the Department to home-grown products?
§ Captain CROOKSHANK
Has the hon. Gentleman noted the interest taken by the Liberal party in this question?