HC Deb 08 April 1937 vol 322 cc330-2
8. Mr. James Griffiths

asked the Minister of Labour in what industries have the hours of work been reduced in the past five years; and what is the approximate number of workpeople covered by such reductions?

Mr. E. Brown

The principal industries in which normal weekly hours of labour were reported as having been reduced in the five years ended March, 1937, include boot and shoe manufacture, the mercantile marine, heavy chemicals manufacture (shift workers), pig iron manufacture (shift workers), flour milling, heating and domestic engineering, and newspaper printing (in England and Wales except London). There were also reductions in sections of some other industries in various localities. The estimated number of workpeople, in all the industries and services for which statistics are available, whose hours of labour were reported as having been reduced during the above period is about 260,000.

25. Mr. Leslie

asked the Minister of Labour whether the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, when opposing the proposed international 40-hour week at Washington for the textile industry, represented the views of the Government, or the employers, or the workers?

Mr. Brown

I have as yet received no report of the proceedings at this conference, but I may point out that at International Labour Conferences, employers and workers have their own representatives by whom their views are expressed.

Mr. Leslie

Does not the Minister think that it is high time, for the good name of this country, to cease this opposition, and to be more in line with other countries and with progressive employers in this country?

Mr. Brown

I have said that I have received no report as to what was said, and I prefer to wait for that before making any remarks.

Mr. Shinwell

Has not the right hon. Gentleman seen a report of a speech made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour in which he strongly condemned the 40-hour week proposals, and is that speech indicative of the Government's attitude on this question?

Mr. Brown

I have already said that I have received no report of it. I have seen certain Press reports, but surely the House would not expect me to accept them as necessarily being accurate.

Mr. Shinwell

Will the right hon. Gentleman state what were the instruc- tions given to the Parliamentary Secretary before he went to Washington?

Mr. Brown

If the hon. Member will put that question on the Paper, I shall be glad to give him an answer.

Mr. Paling

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to tell the House that he has to await a report of the conference before he can tell us how the Government representative votes on this matter?