HC Deb 26 November 1930 vol 245 cc1309-11
56. Mr. F. RILEY

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether his attention has been drawn to the employment of labourers at the Thornaby-on-Tees aerodrome at the wages of 11¾d. per hour; whether he is aware that the district rate paid to labourers engaged on general work not identified with any particular industry is 1s. 1½d. per hour; whether he is aware that this latter rate is the lowest rate paid by the local authority and enforced by the Fair Wages Clause included in contracts signed by all contractors carrying out work on behalf of the local authority; and whether he will have the matter examined with a view to a rectification of the wages paid?


The practice of the Air Ministry, as well as of other Government Departments, is to pay labourers engaged on general miscellaneous work a generalised rate based on the general level of wages in the district. The rate of 47s. for a 48 hour week which is being paid to labourers by the Air Ministry at Thornaby aerodrome was arrived at after a full investigation of local conditions, and in this connection it may be mentioned that in this district the rates paid to labourers in the engineering industry, shipbuilding yards and the iron trade are 43s. 6d., 39s. 6d., and 39s. 1d., respectively, for a week of 47 hours. I am satisfied, therefore, that the rate paid by the Air Ministry is a fair one and compares favourably with those paid to labourers in other trades.


Is it to be understood that there are now two district rates applying to local authorities, or have local authorities been relieved of the condition of the Fair Wages Clause: further, whether the usual practice in recruiting this labour was followed of appealing to the Employment Exchange?


Without notice, I cannot answer the last part of the question, but I understand that local authorities can offer what wages they like. I do not know that the Fair Wages Clause is imposed on them.


Under what authority and by what decision was it laid down that the Fair Wages Clause can be at such a point as the hon. Gentleman has given us that the wages should not be the highest current in the district?


I can only refer my hon. Friend to the terms of the Fair Wages Clause itself.

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