§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Viant
I beg to move, in page 4, line 19, at the end, to add:(2) Any agreement with a recognised company in pursuance of this Section shall be subject to a condition that the nature of the work to be performed shall not prejudice the working conditions recognised between employers and employed in the trades concerned in the construction or maintenance of the camps.This Clause gives certain exceptional powers to these companies to enter into arrangements with the Unemployment Assistance Board under which unemployed men may be taken into the employ of the contractors who are constructing these camps; and they will be taken into 614 that employment under exceptional circumstances. On the Second Reading of the Bill we were given to understand that the Clause had been included in the Bill for the specific purpose of enabling a number of men who had been unemployed for a considerable time to be taken into employment and thereby recondition, as it were. There was considerable apprehension, in the building trade especially, as to what the effect of this action might be. At present there are some 200,000 building trade operatives out of work, and they rather fear that the placing of men into employment by the Unemployment Assistance Board in this way may be the means of lowering the standards of building trade operatives. This Amendment is moved in an endeavour to ensure that this shall not happen, in short, that only trade union hours and wages shall obtain in this work. We should like the Minister to accept the Amendment, because if those words were added to the Clause it would remove any apprehensions. The fact that such apprehensions do exist must be known to the Minister, and I ask that the Amendment shall be accepted.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Elliot
The Government have every sympathy with the object of the Amendment, and I think we shall be able to meet the hon. Member by the assurances which I shall give. An assurance was asked for earlier by the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee).
§ Mr. Elliot
I see, but I take the further point which the hon. Member for West Walthamstow raised, along I think similar lines to those of the hon. Member. He was very anxious that no reduction of standards should take place and he specifically asked for an assurance as to the Fair Wages Clause. I did not give that assurance on the Second Reading and perhaps it is for that reason that the hon. Member has felt some apprehension.
I can give the assurance in the most categorical form that any agreement under Clause 4 would require to provide for a Fair Wages Clause; that is to say, the agreement would by law be required to provide for the rate of wages customary in the district. That is the first point, as to the rate of wages. The second point 615 concerned the fear that, in spite of all that, certain inroads might be made upon the labour organisations by people being unfairly brought in. I think that I can give an assurance also that it would be one of the conditions of the agreement between the Government and the recognised company that before the company entered into any agreement with the Unemployment Assistance Board it would have to consult the building trade, both the organised employers and organised labour. I think my assurances on those two points should satisfy the hon. Member.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.