HC Deb 05 May 1936 vol 311 cc1514-5

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that Mrs. Colquhoun, of 27, McKinlay Street, Glasgow, was sent by the Glasgow South Side exchange to a situation for one day of 11 hours' work for which the Glasgow Corporation paid her only 3s. 6d., out of which, after paying her travelling expenses and insurance, she was left with 1s. 3d. net; that if she had remained unemployed she would have received 3s. for the day, and that her benefit was threatened to be stopped unless she went to the situation; and whether in future he will ensure that such employment will not be a reason for stopping benefit, and that no Employment Exchanges shall send any person to be employed by the Glasgow Corporation at such low wages?


I have received a report on this case. According to my information the remuneration of the situation which the Glasgow Corporation offered Mrs. Colquhoun was 3s. 6d. in cash wages together with three meals. I understand that this is the usual daily rate paid to casual waitresses employed in the public park cafes of the corporation. When this employment was offered to Mrs. Colquhoun she said that she would have household duties to perform which would prevent her accepting work on that day, and it was pointed out to her that the question arose whether, in those circumstances, she could satisfy the availability condition for the receipt of unemployment benefit. I do not think it would be proper for Employment Exchanges to refrain from bringing to the notice of applicants opportunities of work notified by employers. As the hon. Member knows, the question of title to unemployment benefit is decided by the independent statutory authorities.


Is it the policy of the Department—in this case it is undeniable—that the lady should receive in net wages 1s. 3d. while her unemployment benefit would have been 3s.? Is it not possible for his Department, seeing that for holidays trade unions demand at least time and a-half, to ask this Labour majority to see that the lady shall not suffer in this way?

Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD

The Government cannot be held responsible for the wages which the Glasgow Corporation give to its employés and, as I have said in the latter part of my reply, it is obviously the duty of the Employment Exchange to bring to the notice of applicants work which may exist in the district. The question as to the suitability of the work is one for the independent statutory authorities.


Seeing that this is sweated employment, is it not the duty of the Government to deal with the matter?