HC Deb 02 July 1941 vol 372 cc1337-8
32. Mr. David Adams

asked the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies whether instructions have been given to Colonial Governors to encourage the payment of higher wages than those current in those areas of the American bases in the West Indies where the average wage is below a reasonable living standard?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. George Hall)

No, Sir. The policy of the United States authorities is to base the rates payable for locally engaged labour on those prevailing in the territory or locality for comparable work under similar conditions. This practice is being followed generally in the Colonies concerned, and in accordance with it the rates are being determined by the United States representatives in consultation with the Colonial authorities.

Mr. Adams

Does that answer mean that no encouragement is being given by the Colonial Department to Colonial Governments to encourage the payment of higher wages, where those prevailing are on a subsistence or less than subsistence level?

Mr. Hall

What we were concerned about was that wages lower than the prevailing rates should not be paid. It is a question for the trade unions.

Mr. Adams

There are no trade unions to be concerned in many of the districts.

Mr. Riley

Is my hon. Friend not aware that there are no trade unions in the West Indies for many of these occupations, and is it not the policy of His Majesty's Government to get Colonial Governors to encourage the raising of the standard rates for labour of this kind whenever it is possible to do so?

Mr. Hall

Yes, but where there are no trade unions there are wages ordinances in operation, and it is the duty of Colonial Governors to see that the wage rates are protected.