HC Deb 22 April 1937 vol 322 cc1889-91
3. Mr. Jenkins

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that his Department issued an invitation to unemployed girls living in South Wales and other Special Areas to accept work in London at wages of 30s. per week for the first three months, thereafter at piecework rates enabling them to earn 35s. to 40s. per week, with approved lodgings at 15s. per week, and that neither undertaking given to the girls by his Department has been observed; and what immediate steps he proposes to take to ensure that information circulated by the Ministry as to terms and conditions of employment and lodgings for transferees will be observed?

Mr. E. Brown

The wages offered to the transferred women in this case were 30s. a week for three weeks and thereafter piece-work rates at which competent workers could earn 35s. to 40s. a week. There was no breach of this offer except on one occasion when there was a stoppage owing to production difficulties and the wages clerk erroneously applied to these women the general practice of making a deduction for time lost; this mistake was rectified as soon as it became known but unfortunately some of the women made it a ground for leaving the employment. I may add that the firm continued the payment of the minimum of 30s. beyond the three weeks to women who were unable to earn as much or more at piece-work rates. The cost of lodgings was 18s. and, in most cases, this was the figure stated to the women but owing to a typing error it was in a few cases given as 15s.; I regret this error but understand that the women affected appreciated the position when it was explained to them. I have given these particulars at some length in order to show that there is no substantial ground for the highly coloured account of these cases which has been given in some quarters.

Mr. Jenkins

In view of that reply, will the Minister take greater care in future to see that the undertakings given by the Employment Exchanges in various areas are properly carried out?

Mr. Brown

We always take great care. The hon. Member will understand that errors will occur occasionally, and I was obliged to him for calling my attention to the Press cutting on this matter, as a result of which I had inquiries made. It is a pity that the women did not go direct to the exchange to make inquiries.

Mr. James Griffiths

What steps is the Minister taking to ascertain whether the wages stated can be reasonably earned on the piece rates prevailing?

Mr. Brown

That is a general issue of a much wider character.

16. Mr. T. Smith

asked the Minister of Labour the number of juveniles transferred from the Castleford Employment Exchange during the last six months?

Mr. Brown

Three boys under 18 years of age were transferred from Castleford under the Juvenile Transference Scheme during the six months endd 31st March, 1937. No girls were transferred during that period.

Mr. Smith

Is the Minister aware that there is growing dissatisfaction on the whole question of juvenile transference?

Mr. Brown

I do not think so. I think there is a very large body of public opinion in favour of our doing our very best to find work for these young people.

Mr. Smith

Is there not dissatisfaction among organised workers?

Mr. Brown

That is a matter of opinion.

Mr. Holdsworth

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the difficulty at that particular exchange is to get juvenile labour?