HC Deb 13 October 1942 vol 383 cc1494-5
51. Mr. Keeling

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will take power to be represented at all negotiations or arbitration proceedings for increases of wages?

Sir K. Wood

Under the existing system, the majority of members of the National Arbitration Tribunal consists of independent persons appointed by the Minister of Labour and National Service, but these persons are in no way subject to instructions or control from the Government. The negotiating machinery in particular industries usually consists only of representatives of the employers and workers in those industries. As I have explained in replies to previous Questions, this system essentially relies on maintenance of a sense of responsibility on the part of the industrial organisations concerned, and so long as that continues a greater measure of Government intervention would not appear to be necessary.

Mr. Keeling

As the bulk of wages now paid are for Government work, are not the Government interested in wages?

Sir K. Wood

I think we may say "Yes" to that.

Mr. Molson

If, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer now says, no guidance is given to the members of these boards, how is it that he made an appeal to them to show a sense of responsibility and to accept part of the responsibility which should rest on the Government?

Sir K. Wood

No, Sir, I had already acknowledged that these organisations had shown a sense of responsibility, and I said that I hoped and believed that that would continue.

Sir H. Williams

Would my right hon. Friend consider a case where workpeople have made a proposal for a big advance in wages, which would precisely wipe out the whole of the Excess Profits Tax due to him?

Sir K. Wood

Yes, Sir, I should like details.

Mr. Austin Hopkinson

Is the Chancellor aware that the system upon which employers and workers are supposed to negotiate wages is a complete farce, and that the more the employer pays in wages the more the employer gets?

Sir K. Wood

I have heard my hon. Friend say that before.