HC Deb 25 November 1937 vol 329 cc1382-3
8. Mr. Short

asked the Minister of Labour the industries which have adopted, by agreement, the 40-hour week?

Mr. E. Brown

So far as I am aware, the only workpeople whose weekly hours of labour, as specified in collective agreements between organisations of employers and workpeople, are 40 or less are certain classes of men engaged in newspaper printing offices in London. In the tinplate and tube industries, however, the information in my possession indicates that at many of the works the average length of the normal working week for shift workers is less than 40 hours, when intervals for meals are excluded. In some other industries in which three-shift systems are in operation, the weekly hours on afternoon and night shifts are 4o or less, but the average weekly working time, inclusive of morning shifts, is usually in excess of 40 hours.

Mr. Short

Owing to the lack of progress which is being made in this country, why does the right hon. Gentleman oppose the agreement of the International Labour Office?

Mr. Brown

I opposed the agreement on the grounds declared, believing that the convention we were asked to adopt would be adverse to the interests of the working people of this country.

Mr. Paling

If we are to wait until action for a 40-hour week is taken by agreement, how long will it take as we are going on?

Mr. Brown

I am not going to make theoretical calculations of that kind. I rely on the steady progress which is going on in this country in industrial relations and working conditions.

Mr. G. White

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the possibility and advisability of publishing the name of firms who set an example?

Mr. Brown

I know of two or three.

Mr. Jagger

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is in the possession of his Department many agreements for non-manual workers for a 4o-hour week or less?

Mr. Brown

I have given fairly fully the information in my possession.

Mr. Jagger

You have not given that.

Mr. Brown

I have answered the question on the Paper very fully.

Mr. Leach

In view of the hostility of the right hon. Gentleman to the principle at Geneva, will he now say what firms are doing it?

Mr. Brown

There is no hostility at all on my part.