HC Deb 24 July 1940 vol 363 cc801-2
44. Mr. Sexton

asked the Minister of Agriculture the result of referring to the Durham County War Agricultural Executive Committee the question of the increase of hours for agricultural workers in that county from 50 to 60 weekly, which largely annulled the effect of the increased minimum wage of the workers; and whether an increased rate per hour for women agricultural workers is being conceded in Durham county?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture (Mr. T. Williams)

The Durham Agricultural Wages Committee has decided to give notice of proposals to restore the hours in respect of which the weekly minimum wage of 48s. is payable for ordinary adult male workers to 50, and to increase the minimum rate for women workers of 18 and over to 8d. per hour.

Mr. Sexton

Will the Parliamentary Secretary assure the House that this Committee will not further attack in a mean manner the agricultural workers' conditions?

Mr. Williams

We can only hope that my right hon. Friend will efficiently exercise the power he has under the 1924 Act.

Mr. T. Smith

Will the hon. Gentleman see to it that this new proposal is dated back as near as possible to the date when the 48s. a week came into operation? Further, is he aware that this proposal will give general satisfaction to the agricultural workers?

Mr. Williams

In answer to the first part of the Question, I am afraid that the wages committee have not the power to make retrospective payments.