HC Deb 16 June 1938 vol 337 cc387-9
65. Sir Cooper Rawson asked

the Minister of Health whether he will take such steps as are necessary to refuse grants to local authorities who fail to pay fair wages as agreed by the appropriate National Joint Industrial Council?

Mr. Elliot

I have no power to withhold grants to local authorities for the reasons mentioned by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Rathbone

May I ask how long this matter under discussion has been going on, when it was first brought to the attention of the Department, and whether my right hon. Friend will interest himself in the matter, so that it may be brought to a satisfactory conclusion?

Mr. Elliot

There is a further question on the Paper arising out of that specific point.

Sir C. Rawson

Is the Minister aware that a committee has been sitting to inquire into the low wages paid by the municipal authorities?

Mr. G. Griffiths

Is it not a fact that the majority of those councils which are not paying fair wages are Tory councils?

66. Sir C. Rawson

asked the Minister of Health what steps he proposes to take to prevent the Cornish County Council working quarries at less wages than those prescribed by the National Joint Industrial Council and thus competing unfairly with business quarries in the same county who are also ratepayers in the county; and will he cause a full inquiry to be made to ascertain the extent of the loss made by these different municipal quarries after debiting all legitimate overheads which should properly be deducted?

Mr. Elliot

My attention has not previously been called to the issue raised in the first part of this question. I am in communication with the county council in the matter, and will in due course communicate with my hon. Friend. As regards the second part of the question, I am referring my hon. Friend's inquiry to the district auditor.

Lieut.-Commander Agnew

Will my right hon. Friend make it clear in any communication to the county council that they have no need, in their desire to follow the interest of public economy, to follow a system whereby they pay a lower wage than is commonly paid in the county?

Mr. Macquisten

Is the Cornish County Council a Socialist body?

Mr. Kelly


Mr. Hannah

Are the accounts of the council published, and does the price of stone include transport and the money paid to the officials of the council?

Mr. Elliot

I cannot answer without notice.

Sir C. Rawson

Is it not a fact that the accounts of the council are in a most unsatisfactory state, so that it is impossible to tell what the position is, and cannot my right hon. Friend do something about that?

Mr. Elliot

That is a matter for the district auditor.