HC Deb 06 July 1939 vol 349 cc1467-9
8. Mr. James Hall

asked the Minister of Labour whether Great Britain will now ratify the necessary conventions in implementation of the promise made at Geneva that no effort would be spared to bring about international co-operation to remove poverty from the lives of millions, and give direction to the general rise of standards of living?

Mr. E. Brown

Great Britain has ratified 31 conventions, this number being exceeded only by Belgium, Spain and Chile. Other conventions are still under consideration and of those which it has not been found possible to ratify, there is in the majority of cases legislative provision and practice which substantially achieves the object of these conventions. The most important exceptions are those relating to the reduction of hours of work which, having regard to their probable effect on wages, cannot be considered as being designed to combat poverty. The statement I made, to which the hon. Member refers, is in keeping with the frequent suggestions of the British Government that more attention should be devoted to the question of the remuneration of workers which is the basic factor affecting poverty. I am glad to say that at the recent conference, on the initiative of the British Government representative, a discussion took place on the subject of minimum wage fixing machinery.

Mr. Hall

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the words are taken from a speech which he himself made at Geneva, and does he not think that special attention should be given to them by his Department?

Mr. Brown

I have no doubt about the words, and I am glad to see that the hon. Member realises the good work we are doing there.

9. Mr. Hall

asked the Minister of Labour what views were expressed by His Majesty's Government at Geneva with regard to the functioning of the International Labour Organisation in the event of any future international crisis; and whether a copy of the report of the proceedings is available to Members of this House?

Mr. Brown

His Majesty's Government have concurred in the principle that the International Labour Organisation should endeavour to function as completely as possible if an international crisis should intervene and even if such a crisis should unfortunately develop into war. The Governing Body's communication on this subject to the International Labour Conference appears in issue No. 5 of the Provisional Record of the Conference, copies of which are available in the Library.

Mr. Mander

Is it intended that the International Labour Organisation should continue to function at Geneva in the event of a crisis?

Mr. Brown

Not necessarily, though that, of course, is a matter for the International Labour Organisation itself. What we have done in common with other Governments is to tell the International Labour Organisation that we will back them up in either circumstance.

15. Mr. Leslie

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will submit to the House a report of the proceedings at the International Labour Conference held recently at Geneva, showing what action British representatives took on the various motions, conventions and recommendations?

Mr. Brown

A full record of the proceedings of the conference is given in the provisional records published each day during the conference by the International Labour Organisation, copies of which are in the Library.