HC Deb 17 March 1938 vol 333 cc566-7
9. Mr. W. Joseph Stewart

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that there is grave concern in regard to the low rates of wages that are being paid on the Team Valley Trading Estate; and is he also aware that juveniles are being employed at 5s. to 7s. per week at 14 years of age, and in one factory men are paid as low as 32s. 6d. per week; and will he ensure that, before a factory is let to any employer of labour, that employer is prepared to observe the fair wages clause?

11 and 12. Mr. Kelly

asked the Minister of Labour (1) whether he is prepared to make it a condition that the tenants of factories on trading estates should observe fair wages and conditions;

(2) whether he is aware that the time rates guaranteed to girls and women employed at the Landauer Date factory on Team Valley trading estate, Gateshead, during the two weeks ended 26th January and 2nd February ranged from 9s. 6d. per week in the case of girls of 15 years of age to 20s. 6d. for an adult woman, and that the amounts earned at piecework rates were in nearly all cases considerably less than the rates guaranteed; whether the girls are in future to be paid only what they earn on piecework; and whether he will take steps to alter these conditions?

Mr. E. Brown

I have seen some references to this matter in the Press. The factories on the trading estates are let on ordinary commercial terms and the wages and conditions of employment in the factories are a matter for negotiation between the parties concerned in the usual manner, subject to the observance of such statutory conditions as may be applicable to particular industries, for example, the Trade Boards Acts.

Mr. Stewart

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we on this side of the House are very desirous that these trading estates should be a success; that factories which have been built at the expense of the public purse are being let at nominal rents, and is the right hon. Gentleman going to see that employers of labour will not be allowed to rent these factories for the purpose of sweated labour?

Mr. Brown

The hon. Member will find that they are let at ordinary commercial rents.

Mr. Kelly

Seeing that Government money and Government service have gone into these trading estates, will the right hon. Gentleman see that fair wages are paid and will he take steps, through his conciliation officer or somebody else, to prevent these inadequate and low wages continuing at this factory?

Mr. Brown

Perhaps the hon. Member will send me any facts he may have.

Mr. Kelly

I have batches of them.

Mr. Brown

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will send them to me. I cannot be expected to know what is in the bundle unless he sends it to me. At the moment I have seen certain figures in the Press reports. I shall be very glad to look into the matter.

Mr. Kelly

Why has not the conciliation officer informed the right hon. Gentleman? These facts have been given to him.

Viscountess Astor

Would not the best way of dealing with these conditions in these factories be to keep children of 14 out of them?

Mr. Lawson

Does the Minister think it a good thing that wages of this kind should be paid in the Team Valley Estate; and will he consider my hon. Friend's suggestion of sending the conciliation officer there?

Mr. Brown

I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that I have done all I can be expected to do now by asking that I should first have the evidence. Then I shall be very glad to see what steps are in my power.

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