§ Sir D. Hacking
I beg to move, in page 1, line 4, to leave out "efficiency," and to insert "general improvement."
I think that at last there is a little hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour will accept an Amendment which has been moved by me.
§ Sir D. Hacking
There is a very obvious omission, for which I am sure someone else than my right hon. Friend will accept full responsibility. We have removed the word "efficiency" from the general text of the Bill, and have placed in its stead the words "general improvement." It is only right that those words should appear in the long Title of the Bill.
§ Amendment agreed to.1576
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. McCorquodale)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
Some of my hon. Friends have suggested that my advocacy of this Measure on Second Reading was a little stridently expressed. If so, I will apologise. I can only plead my strong conviction of the desirability of this Measure, both in order to secure the proper allocation of manpower in war-time, if the war should be prolonged, and to help meet the many and difficult problems with which we shall be faced at the end of the war and in the post-war years. I would freely agree that the searching examination to which the Bill has been put in Committee has improved the Measure, as, indeed, my right hon. Friend has demonstrated by the number of Amendments he has either moved or accepted. I am, therefore, even more proud now to be able to support this Bill.
There are just two points in its working out to which I would like to refer, and which I regard as important if it is to be successful. The first is the quality of those gentlemen or ladies who will be sitting on the independent Commission. It is, of course, of the very greatest importance that the Commission should be held in the highest respect and have the complete confidence of all those engaged in the many services with which this Measure is concerned, and, indeed, of the general public. My right hon. Friend and the Department are fully seized of the importance of this, and we shall use our best endeavours to get the very best people for this important work.
The other point to which I would very briefly refer is the importance of obtaining and maintaining the good will and the co-operation of all those concerned in the catering services in the working out of this Measure. I was very pleased to see in the company report columns of the "Times" the other day, a very important statement by the chairman of one of our great companies, engaged in these activities, amongst others, which included the words:We are of the opinion that the proposed Catering Bill, with the recent proposed Amendment, and with the fullest co-operation between the Commission and the industry, will form a basis which will be advantageous both to management and staff.1577 I am confident that we will, in fact, receive this good will and active co-operation from all concerned, and that if we do, this Bill will prove wholly beneficial in its operation, both to all those who are engaged in the many important catering services and to all of us who hope to enjoy the facilities which they will be offering.
§ Mr. Montague (Islington, West)
I cannot let this occasion pass without offering my congratulations and the congratulations of hon. Members behind me to the Minister of Labour and National Service upon his adding another bar to his medal. I have not had the experience of trade union work and of trade union problems that the Minister has had, but I was in my early youth engaged in a comparable industry, very nearly allied to the catering industry, at a time when it was completely unorganised and was so antipathetic, from the employers' point of view, to organisation and to trade unionism that I felt compelled to throw up one job, when it meant a big sacrifice to do so, because I had to refuse, as a matter of conscience, to sign a declaration that I would not join or support the activities of any trade union whatever. That kind of thing no longer exists in this industry, and to-day instead of hours being, as they were then in many city establishments, 14 or 15 per day, they are the normal hours of industries of that type. The workers are better organised and looked after, and there are agreements, loyally abided by, under which they have the opportunity of leisure, reasonable wages, and protection in general. That has been done not exactly upon the lines of this Bill, but upon comparable lines; and that proves the possibility of industries of that character—because, as I have said, it is an allied industry—being organised and carried on under arrangements that will give some meed of justice and opportunity to those employed in them. I have noticed in the long years since that, so far from the industry being ruined, the dividends of the companies have soared.
The discussion upon this Bill in its various stages has, I think, shown that there is no sound objection to the principles embodied in it. There was at first a show of opposition, which flattened out rather. I will not crow about that, but I do not think I shall be far wrong if I say that it has been proved by the examination of this Bill that the opposition to it, so far as it had any basis or weight at all, was 1578 purely the opposition of vested interests. Hon. Members who have reserved their opposition to some extent and have often co-operated on many aspects of the Bill in Committee, because they did not wish to stand entirely for vested interests, have realised that there was a substantial case to be made out for the principles of the Bill.
There is one thing that is exceedingly important, and that too has a bearing upon what I had to say about the industry in which I was engaged. The reason that conditions were so bad in that industry, which was a distributive industry, 30 or 40 years ago was because of the few in the industry who were not amenable to reason and to the claims of justice. They set a model for the rest in the unfair competition that was possible because there was no regulation, and the great advantage to the workers in the catering industry of this Measure when it gets upon the Statute Book will be that it will do away, at any rate in very large measure, with the kind of unfair competition, on the part of a minority of the industry no doubt, which necessarily depresses the standards of the industry as a whole.
I do not want to occupy much time now, because the battle has been finished and won, but there is a point I would like to make. It is wrong to assume that the catering industry is represented in the main by the kind of establishments such as luxury hotels and the rest that one finds in London. The greater part of the catering industry is composed of small people where regulation is required because of the conditions, of a higgledy-piggledy sort, of service up and down the country. There are thousands upon thousands of these people.
§ Mr. Montague
I do not know that they always do, but whether they do or not, without regulation, they are the people who are able to take advantage of the necessities and stresses of industrial life. Another point is that the Bill embodies a principle which does away with any suggestion of bureaucratic handling. The appointment of a Commission and the subsequent appointment of wages boards where it is decided that they are required should be done with a minimum of official 1579 interference. The idea that the object of the Bill is to interfere with the management of the industry is totally wrong. If we mean by management the real organising of establishments in the catering industry, then there will be interference where interference is necessary on behalf of the people engaged in it, and ultimately, I believe, on behalf of the industry as a whole. May I repeat my congratulations to the Minister and to hon. Members and the House for passing so smoothly a Measure, which although controversial, as all measures of this character must be, nevertheless is of a type which it is desirable to discuss and deal with in this House during war-time because the results of its application after the war will be of such immense importance in the reconstruction of a better Britain.
§ Mr. Bracewell Smith (Dulwich)
I have deliberately refrained from taking any part in the Debate on the Second Reading of this Bill or in any of the discussions on the Committee stage because for some 25 years I have had a very intimate and active connection with the hotel and restaurant business, in both this country and other countries. The Bill is about to receive its Third Reading, and I am sure that in making these remarks at the present stage of the Bill I shall be acquitted by the House of any personal motive in any remarks I may make. But in addition to that active association in the business, I happen to be the Chairman of the Hotels and Restaurants Association, which was founded nearly 40 years ago, and also occupy the position of Chairman of the Advisory Committee appointed by the Minister of Labour to deal with catering employees.
I have been in the House during most of the time that the Debate and discussions have been taking place, and I think that every Member has been impressed by the sincerity of the Minister in his piloting of the Bill through the House. One of the greatest assets he has had has been the desire to formulate machinery to establish basic wages and decent conditions for all those who are employed in the catering trade. But he is not alone in that. Every Member of the House wishes that, and one of my little disappointments in the passage of this Bill has been that more mention has not been 1580 made of those great organisations which for many years have been conducting their businesses on the very highest Tines. For years there have been holidays with pay, first-class staff accommodation, staff pension funds, Christmas bonuses, uniforms, recreational facilities and many other concessions and privileges in the desire on the part of the trade to build up a very happy working community. There has been very little mention of the firms that have done these things.
After all, the hotel business has grown during a long period of years from small establishments; small businesses have, through pressure of travel and other circumstances, grown into big West End establishments, as have other establishments in other large towns. I want to assure the House that the Hotels and Restaurants Association has been very earnest in its desire to improve conditions not only from the point of view of the dignity of the establishment but from the point of view of the worker too. I do not want Members to assume that this has been a one-sided operation. Members must realise that when visitors come to this country from overseas they expect something of the same kind of accommodation, service, and welcome which they get in their own countries. It is to our interest that we should try to develop this sort of thing.
The Minister must feel exceptionally glad that what appeared to be a very contentious Measure when it started out three or four weeks ago has now resolved itself into some kind of peaceful agreement. Several of us did not like the Bill. It is not because of the Bill itself. To my mind, the Bill is exceedingly narrow in its scope. It does not deal with the multitudinous questions which are constantly arising in the hotel and restaurant business, and although the Minister has piloted the Bill successfully through the House to the present stage, his work is not done yet, by any manner of means. I am glad that the Parliamentary Secretary referred to the dignity of the Commission and the constitution of that Commission, and I notice that he said "men or women," which is some indication that it may be a mixed Commission, but the Minister's responsibility in the constitution of that Commission is going to be a very strenuous one, and the work of the Commission after it is formed will be 1581 very hard, and it will have an unenviable task. It will have most responsible and strenuous work to do when it begins its inquiries into existing methods of regulation; the Minister will be empowered to vary those regulations.
If it were peace-time, I should strongly advocate that the Minister sent the Commission on a world tour, so that it might examine conditions of labour in the catering industry in other countries. It is always helpful, when we want to welcome overseas visitors, to be able to understand something of the catering conditions existing in their own countries. That to-day would be impossible but there is a tremendous mass of opinion at the League of Nations. In 1930 the International Labour Conference at Geneva excluded all classes of workers in the Hotels and Restaurants Association from the scope of the Convention because they were classified as domestic servants. I do not know how soon the Commission will commence its work and what period of hotel life it will examine first, whether it will go back to pre-war days or to examine conditions prevailing at the present time, or whether it will try to formulate some basis for post-war hotel life. But at the present time I can assure the House that conditions in the hotel and restaurant business are very abnormal. There is a great shortage of staff, and the whole business is riddled with orders and regulations, and to analyse the business at the present time and to formulate regulations would be an exaggeration of conditions in normal times, so that I hope that the Minister will bear that very important point in mind. There is a danger, when a Bill of this nature is introduced with the object of eliminating black spots in the industry, that more black spots might be created and more anomalies might arise on the very application of the Measure.
The hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus), on one of the first Amendments moved on the Committee stage, mentioned the small man. This is a most important phase of our life. Nobody wants to put the small man out of business or to deny the right of a man and his wife to start a business of their own and to build it up into a big business. I do not think that the Minister wants to do that. Therefore, I would ask him to keep them in mind, and if sympathy can be shown to that class of establishment, I would ask 1582 him to show it, and to direct that sympathetic consideration should so be given.
Then there is the question of tips, which occupied a good deal of time in the House. In hotel life there is the carriage attendant at the front door, there is the cloakroom attendant inside, and there are other members of the staff behind the scenes. Where will the Commission formulate the system of justice between those in the front and those in the back? That is an important point which the Commission will have to take into account in fixing basic wages. There is also the question of wages boards and the areas covered by these boards, which are bound to meet. There is always the old problem of the borderline case when basic wages in one area, or working conditions, are not the same in an adjoining area. A motorist, for instance, might well be in an area where the hours vary from those in an adjoining area. He might be told that it is too late to get a lunch at 2.30 but that if he goes to the next village a few miles away, he will be able to get one up to 3 o'clock. I am glad to see that the Commission have power to take a broad view of these various recommendations. After all, the traveller, who is the client, has to be considered.
The Minister will require many Solomons to sit in judgment on these various questions. When the war is over and this country is flooded with visitors, as it is bound to be, hotels and restaurants will play a very important part in providing the necessary accommodation. The Bill provides for contact being made with Government Departments. At least two Members raised the question of bringing hotels back into their original use, and I hope the first task of the Commission will be to get in touch with other Government Departments and see that the requisite accommodation is available for visitors when they arrive in this country. In any planning that is necessary for future staffs there must be planning for the places in which they are to work. My criticism of this Bill is that it is too narrow in its scope. I would like to see catering establishments erected in our beauty spots——
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Charles Williams)
The hon. Gentleman has already gone rather wide, and he cannot possibly bring into this Bill on the Third Reading what he would have liked to have seen 1583 established. He can only deal with the strict facts of what is in the Bill itself.
§ Mr. Bracewell Smith
Then I would merely ask the Minister to direct the Commission's inquiries into certain aspects of this matter. In any case there never was a field of labour in which there was so much opportunity for young men and women. Mention has been made of the technical institutions to which students will go for training, and I hope these institutions will soon be established. With good will and co-operation I hope this Bill will prove useful; I hope that what it sets out to do will be accomplished, and I hope that in future years the Minister will be able to look back on it with some pride and that some of us will be able to say, "We were wrong, and you were right." I sit down in the hope that the Minister will consult the technical people who have been engaged in the catering industry for many years. I have worked with my staff for 25 years now, and I know something of their troubles and difficulties. I have tried to do everything possible to promote the interests of the hotel and restaurant business. I wish the Minister good luck, and I am glad to offer my complimentary remarks to him on having seen this Bill come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.
§ Mr. Mander (Wolverhampton, East)
I am very glad, as a member of the Liberal Party, to see that this Measure has reached its final stages in this House so successfully, because the foundation of social service of this particular kind had its origin in the great work of the Liberal Government of 1906–1914, when the original wages boards legislation was brought in. I am very glad that that legislation has now been extended in this way. It is generally recognised that where it is impossible, owing to the nature of the work, for people to combine successfully in trade unions, State intervention is necessary to give those workers what they would not otherwise obtain, and the catering trade is a very good example of that. My only regret—and I know I cannot develop this subject—is that domestic servants are not within the scope of he Bill. I hope the Government will deal with them——
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
We cannot have any more expressions of what might be 1584 in the Bill. I think I had better warn hon. Members once and for all.
§ Mr. Mander
I would like to congratulate the Government on their attitude to this Measure all through. I congratulate them on having stood firm against what looked like a storm of very serious opposition at one time. They stood firm as a united Government, supported by Members of all parties, and having done that they showed they were capable of dissipating the opposition that had arisen, and they carried the Measure through. I hope that is an example of the way they will tackle other subjects which may lead to a certain amount of controversy in the future and that all of us will be able to carry through legislation that may not be universally accepted but which, nevertheless, commands general support. I quite appreciate that those hon. Members who have been opposing this Bill have been entirely sincere. They have had their anxieties because they belong to that group of people which is so temperamentally constituted that they always want to look, quite rightly, very cautiously into anything in which they are interested. Since the Government came forward with this Bill an educational process has been going on. Everybody has benefited. Those who took up opposition have come to realise that their fears were not in all respects well founded, and with great good sense and good temper they have not obstructed the Bill but have done their best to make it a success, having recognised the fact that it was bound to go through. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bracewell Smith) referred to one question that will have to be discussed by the Commission—the difficult question of tips.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
We discussed that very fully in Committee, and there is a strong rule that we must not discuss on the Third Reading points that were brought up on the Committee stage. Any reference that is made must be of the very narrowest kind.
§ Mr. Mander
I only mentioned the word "tipping." It is a difficult question, a question of custom and tradition. It is also psychological. The only country I have ever found where a tipping system is not in general operation is Soviet Russia. The only places where I saw it there were in the great hotels in 1585 Moscow, where some waiters, remaining from the Czarist régime and brought up in the old tradition, were quite willing to receive any offers. This measure is in itself progressive and is based on well-tried experience in a number of cases in the past and is of great importance to those engaged in the catering industry. It will do them an immense amount of good, though having relation to the country as a whole it is quite a small Measure. I hope and believe it will raise the whole status and condition of the industry and that it will make this country much more attractive. One of the criticisms made by visitors in the past is against our hotels, their cooking and general conditions. If this Measure is instrumental in removing this criticism, it will have done something to make this land worth visiting in comfort after the war.
§ Sir Douglas Hacking (Chorley)
My hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bracewell Smith) said that he believed in the sincerity of the Minister of Labour. I want to say at once that I, also, believe in his sincerity; it may have been misplaced, but that he is sincere I have not the slightest doubt. In saying that, I hope nobody will imagine that I or my colleagues, who have been opposing this Bill, have been insincere. We all have our own rights and feelings; we have expressed them pretty clearly at certain times, and I am sure that at the end of this Debate none of us will be the worse for that. I mention the question of sincerity only because of a remark that was made by the hon. Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague), who said that the opposition was purely the opposition of vested interests. I wish the hon. Member were here now to justify that statement; I am sure that, on reflection, he will not repeat such a statement. For my part, I have no interest in the catering trade; I never have had, and am never likely to have. With me it was as a matter of principle that I opposed the Bill on Second Reading and have kept up my opposition to this moment.
I will follow the example of the Parliamentary Secretary by being brief. My criticism, as expressed in the Second Reading Debate, still remains very largely unsatisfied, but I am bound to admit—it would be wrong if I did not do so—that valuable concessions have been made by the Minister, the Parliamentary Secre- 1586 tary and the Solicitor-General during the various stages of the Bill. Those concessions have improved the Bill materially, but I think I am still entitled to say, with gratitude for those concessions, that this Bill, in my submission, will create a very large amount of irritation, especially with the inspections that will take place and especially with the poorer people, the smaller people, in the industry, who, I believe, will resent the interference in their section of the industry. However, I hope that when the Wages Board system starts to operate, it will be proved that the trouble will be lighter than one anticipates at the present time.
In my submission, the catering trades are much too complicated and varied for the application of a Wages Board system. I think there will be annoyance and irritation especially about the inspectorate and I feel that under the pressure of the small people very probably it will be found that the Bill will fail. The catering trades are very important, as everybody must admit. They contribute greatly to the health and welfare of the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour spoke of helping the tourist trade, an expression which he has used several times. He is very anxious to help the tourist trade. I would like to know exactly what he means by that title. Does he think this Bill will bring to this country a larger number of foreign tourists? If he really thinks that I believe he is mistaken. If I may make a personal reference, it is now 15 years since I founded what is known as the Travel Association, the object of which organisation is to attract visitors from overseas.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Gentleman is now referring to the Travel Association. I must rule that to go into the objects of, or to ask the Minister about, the Travel Association is out of Order.
§ Sir D. Hacking
I am not asking anything about it. I am referring to the Minister's repeated statements about the tourist industry, which does touch the Clauses of the Bill, for otherwise, surely, the Minister would not have made that statement about assistance to the tourist trade. I will bow to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but perhaps I may be allowed to say that the tourist trade to which the Minister has referred, if he means the people who come from overseas, is a very important invisible export, 1587 and we have to be careful that anything which this Bill does will not damage that important invisible export, an export which has been put at no less a value than £30,000,000 a year. It is perhaps a little ironical that the maximum grant that has been received from the Government for attracting visitors from overseas has been £17,000 a year, and that this Bill alone is estimated to cost £30,000 a year—£13,000 a year more than the highest Government contribution to this great national organisation.
My prophecy as regards this Bill is a gloomy one. My belief is that, in practice, it may be actually harmful to the industry. A long time ago I saw a play in London which, I think, was called "The Arcadians." In that play there was a very celebrated comedian known as Alfred Lester. He was a very sad comedian. He made people laugh because he was so sad. I remember that the chorus of one of the songs he sang was:I often said to myself, I said,Cheer up, Alfred, you'll soon be dead.The idea was, a short life and a gay one. If those words afford any consolation to me, it is in this fact, that I believe the life of this Bill will be a short one. I am pretty confident, however, it will not be a gay one. I feel, as I have said before, that it will create irritation that will be annoying to the majority of the people working under its provisions.
§ Mr. J. J. Davidson (Glasgow, Maryhill)
It is a long time since the House has had an example of the visible effect of a comedian on the outlook of a Member of Parliament. Like the majority of hon. Members, I believe this Bill will remedy a great sore in the social life of this country. I have often discussed with the Parliamentary Secretary the question of the catering industry in London, where inquiries have revealed conditions that have not only appalled us but have seemed insurmountable by any form of organisation. Therefore, I am glad that at least an important and first step has been made to remedy and cure the very obvious discontent, mismanagement and inefficiency in the catering industry of this country. When an industry offers to young men and young women during heavy periods of unemployment the miserable amount of 12s. or 12s. 9d. a week, when those same people have to pay 25s. or 35s. for their 1588 uniforms to the firm concerned, and when also they have to pay small premiums to sports clubs which they never have time to attend because of the 70 hours a week they have to work, I think it must be agreed by all that it is time some step was taken to remedy those conditions. This Bill has been brought forward partly because, particularly in London, thousands and thousands of working class boys and girls from the minefields, and other industrial areas where there was no employment for them, have been used in order to add profits to the big noises of the catering industry. To a lesser extent there has been the same sort of thing in Scotland.
With one exception, which I know is very welcome to the catering industry of Scotland, the Bill applies to the whole of Scotland. I know that in Scotland the Commission will have in mind the very important tourist industry in that country. Therefore, I wish to ask the Minister whether he will consider fully the possibility of having on the Commission at least one representative from Scotland, be it Scotsman or Scotswoman. I believe that if on this Commission there are represented the interests of both sides from different parts of the country, it will be a more efficient Commission, from the point of view of inquiries and administration, than if it were tied to only one big area of the country. I would also add, as a further incentive to the Minister, that if a Scotsman or a Scotswoman were added to the Commission, I have no doubt the question of tipping would be adequately dealt with.
I wish to utter a brief word of warning. There have been grave misgivings, forebodings and prophecies concerning what will happen to the Bill. When the Bill first came before the House, we were faced with opposition. The newspapers had told us that there were more than 100 rebels against the Bill. Because of public opinion and because of the feeling in the catering industry itself—but particularly because of public opinion which, in regard to legislation such as this, is not prepared to stand any nonsense—that opposition dwindled away to practically nothing. The proceedings on this Bill have not yet finished. It will go to another place. I would like humbly to advise those in another place to be very careful indeed that no unnecessary obstruction is put in the way of the passing of this 1589 piece of legislation which will be of benefit to hundreds of thousands of people in this community.
§ Captain Peter Macdonald (Isle of Wight)
As one of those who took an active part in the opposition to this Bill originally, I want to take very strong exception to the remarks of the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Davidson) who said that the reason our opposition collapsed was the strong feeling in support of the Bill in the country and in the industry itself. I have taken a very active part in opposition to the Bill from the outset, but I have not had a single letter of any kind from any section of the catering industry in support of the Bill. I have indeed had very many communications in opposition to it.
§ Mr. Davidson
May I point out that in the catering industry, where there is a certain standard of intelligence, they realise that to send letters to Members of Parliament——
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I have allowed an illustration on both sides, but to carry on this question of letters on the Third Reading of the Bill is beyond the scope of the discussion.
§ Captain Macdonald
I expressed my opposition, and the grounds of my opposition, on the Second Reading, and I think I made it clear that I and those associated with me had no opposition to wages boards as such or to a basic wage for this industry, but I still maintain that wages boards at this time are not necessary for the winning of the war, and, as this was put forward as a Measure essential for the war and immediately after, I disagree with the Minister of that point. I have no opposition to a basic wage in this or any other industry. What I take exception to is that a good deal of Parliamentary time has been taken up with a Bill which has nothing to do with the winning of the war at a time when a pledge had been given that controversial legislation would not be introduced. What we took the strongest objection to was the composition and functions of the Commission, and that is a vital part of the Bill. That has been met by the Minister accepting the principle that the industry itself should have representation in some form on the Commission, and his solution of adding assessors and technical experts to the Commission has met with the approval of everyone 1590 concerned. If the principle had been accepted before the Bill was introduced, there would have been very little opposition indeed. As far as the composition of the Commission is concerned, with the Amendments which have been made to-day I have no further objection, but I am still concerned about the functions. My strongest objection to the Bill is that the Commission has not sufficient power. It has practically no power at all to carry any recommendations that it may make into operation, apart from the setting up of wage boards. I wish the Minister could do something even now to strengthen the Commission's functions and powers. They should deal with the catering trade in seaside resorts, the tourist trade, staggered holidays, holidays with pay and so forth, and I hope they will.
The hotel and catering industry in a great part of Britain is completely disorganised by the war and in many cases practically destroyed. Before any encouragement can be given to Americans or any other people whom we wish to attract to come here, the burning and vital thing to do is to get these resorts rehabilitated. The Commission, as I see it, has no power to do that. All it can do is to make recommendations to the Board of Trade, which, looks after the tourist traffic, and the Board of Trade, if it wishes, can cock a snook at the Commission and pay no attention to it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is vitally affected by the rehabilitation of the industry at seaside resorts. We all know that the Treasury has constantly got its finger to its nose, if it has not got it in people's pockets. There's the weakness of the Commission. But the right hon. Gentleman has told us that he had the backing of the whole War Cabinet in introducing the Bill. I hope he will still have the backing of the Cabinet as a whole in seeing that any recommendations made for the rehabilitation of the industry in devastated areas and seaside resorts will be carried out, because it will require a good deal of support from every section of the country. Priorities for material and labour and a great many things will be required, and there are going to be a great many claims from other sections of industry for these priorities, and it is the strongest influence in the War Cabinet that is going to be able to get the first priority. I do not intend to vote against the further stages of this Bill after the right hon. Gentleman's acceptance of our Amend- 1591 ments on the last occasion and the representation of the industry on the Commission. If the right hon. Gentleman had in the first instance shown a little more consideration, not to vested interests, as has been suggested, but to those who, quite conscientiously and honestly, were trying to improve the Bill and make it workable, there would not have been the strong opposition that there was from the start. I do not think he has anything much to complain about in the form of the opposition or the way it was conducted. I think he has been let off very lightly indeed. If he had sent the Bill upstairs to a Committee, as he should have done, he would have had a much more difficult time, and we might have had a much more improved Bill, as he has not accepted all our Amendments by any means. The Bill has now reached its final stages. I do not know what its fate will be in another place, but I do not suppose that any great opposition will be offered there. I hope now that he has got it he will carry out all the things he promised for the rehabilitation and improvement of conditions in the industry.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Marlowe (Brighton)
Representing, as I do, a constituency in which the catering trade is one of the main occupations, I should like to let the House know how much I welcome the Bill and what support I have given it from the start. It appeared to me when it first came before the House that there were two considerations to be applied to it. One was whether it would help during the war, and the other was whether it would help in the post-war settlement, and I found on examination that I was bound to answer both questions favourably to the Bill. Clearly, if the Minister of Labour was going to direct people into employment in the industry, he must be in a position to be satisfied that he was directing them into an industry where the conditions would justify him in directing them into it. As far as the post-war aspect of the matter is concerned, my view was that there would come a time when men and women from the Services and from other industries would want to go back to this industry, and it would be essential to have it properly organised, so that they could be assured that the conditions were such that they could go back and work in comfort and security. We have frequently discussed post-war 1592 problems and made our promises to those who are coming back from the war. I wonder what they must have thought when they found that there were members of my party who were endeavouring to prejudice their chance of returning to their occupation. Demobilisation must take a long time. There is no acute wage problem in the industry at present, and the wages, I think it is universally agreed, are good, and that is because the demand for labour exceeds the supply. When demobilisation comes, that state of affairs will not last very long. I had a very uncomfortable feeling about the soldier who was released early in demobilisation and was able to make a good wage bargain compared with his companions who were perhaps detained for another year, seeing the market deteriorate all the time, knowing that by the time their turn came they would not be able to make anything like such a good wage bargain.
I viewed this Bill from those angles, and I was satisfied that I ought to support it. I need hardly say that, representing a constituency in which there are a vast number of hotels, boarding houses and other catering establishments, I was inundated with resolutions and pamphlets informing me that I should oppose this Bill. I stood resolute against them. Their very ingenuousness rather gave them away. The hon. Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bracewell Smith) has referred to the association on behalf of which he speaks. I received a document from that association. It drew a picture of old inns where people sat round crackling logs, drinking stoups of ale and looking forward to large chump chops. Sir, what chumps! Not a word was said in that pamphlet of the squalid conditions reigning below stairs or the disgraceful scenes behind the doors of the lower-class cafés. All that was omitted, because it did not put the picture as the Hotels and Restaurants Association wanted it to be put. I flattered myself that I was able to stand against such propaganda, and I am glad to say that there is a large number of my party who have done the same. I have reason on this occasion to emphasise that, because so much has been heard of the opponents of this Bill in my party and perhaps not enough of those who have supported it.
When this Bill first came before the House there was really only one question to ask oneself. That was whether this 1593 Bill would improve conditions in the industry. I do not like to think that those who oppose it do not want to improve conditions in the industry. I am, therefore, driven to the conclusion that they did not examine what its results would be. They have now endeavoured to pretend that they have graciously acceded to the Minister, and they refer to the battle which has taken place as though they had added to the Bill. They have done nothing of the sort. They have endeavoured to obstruct the Bill from start to finish.
§ Major Petherick (Penryn and Falmouth)
On a point of Order. Is it in Order for the hon. and gallant Member to accuse other Members of obstruction?
§ Captain Peter Macdonald
May I call your attention, Sir, to the fact that charges of obstruction are being made by a Member whom we have not seen during the whole of the Debates on this Bill?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Marlowe
I was only endeavouring to point out that, rather than pretend now that they have helped towards the progress of this Bill, they would do far better to admit that they have been fairly and squarely beaten by people who have an eye on the present and the future. I hope that they have not irreparably damaged the party to which I have the honour to belong.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I ought to make it clear that on Third Reading hon. Members must confine themselves to what is in the Bill, and not go too far from it. This is not a Second Reading Debate.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Marlowe
I apologise if I have gone too far. I only wanted to make it clear that this is a Bill which many of us welcome because we regard it as a valuable contribution, not only to the conduct of the war at the moment, but to the future which we hope to see settled on progressive lines.
§ Major Gluckstein (Nottingham, East)
It would have been better for the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton (Lieut.-Colonel Marlowe) not to have spoken as he did. All I can say is that I am glad that the embattled landladies of Brighton have had no effect on his martial spirit. I do not know how his constituents are to make their pleadings and views heard by their Member if not by writing to him on such matters. I have no doubt that when 1594 his political life here has been a little longer, he will realise that sometimes his constituents do mean what they say when they write letters to him. But it is not my purpose to deal with the hon. and gallant Member. I want to deal with the Bill. As it is a Catering Bill, perhaps I may be forgiven for using one or two food analogies and telling the Minister that I do not propose to smother him with butter like some other Members, but to bring, if not an apple of discord, a punnet of raspberries. The Parliamentary Secretary hoped that there would be co-operation by all those engaged in the industry. Does he really think that the history of this Measure is likely to produce that good will and co-operation which he now recognises are necessary for the future conduct of this industry under the Bill? It is not for me to prophesy, but I should think that it will take some time for the feelings of suspicion of those who are engaged in this industry to be overcome, and for them to be willing to assist in the good and efficient working of this Measure.
I have made my position clear about this Bill on more than one occasion, and I will do it again on this final stage. I regard this as a bad Bill, because it is regulation for the sake of regulation. The Minister, who, after all, as Minister of Labout is in a far better position to know than any hon. Members sitting above the Gangway, carefully disclaimed any intention of describing this as a sweated industry. He bases his claim for the Measure on something which at any rate is comprehensible to me, and that is that he wanted regulation. The hon. and gallant Member for Brighton also apparently likes regulation for its own sake. I do not. That is where we differ. I share the view which was put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Sir D. Hacking) on Second Reading, that private enterprise, if it is doing its job properly, ought to be left alone to do it, and that if it is not, it ought to be controlled until it is made to do it properly. In pursuance of that doctrine, we invited the Minister to hold an inquiry to see whether the position was as bad as other people had said it was. That inquiry was refused, although the evidence shows clearly that the cloud of abuse about it being a sweated industry was largely fictitious. The report of Sir Arthur Colefax speaks as to that. Instead of an inquiry, we had this Bill, and the Min- 1595 ister told us that he wanted it for two purposes. He wanted it for the war, and he wanted it for after the war.
I want to deal with the war-time use to which this Bill is to be put and to dissipate the view of the horn and gallant Member for Brighton about this question. Has he ever heard of the Joint Industrial Council for Industrial Canteens? Probably not. I know that the Minister has, and I know that he has dealt with the Joint Industrial Council for Industrial Canteens. It has been fobbed off by him for over six months. I have seen the correspondence, and so have other Members, and we know exactly how much sincerity attaches to the view that this Bill is necessary so that the Essential Work Order can be applied to industrial canteens. They were mentioned by the Minister himself in his Second Reading speech. No doubt that mention produced an effect on the minds of hon. Members who believed that it was helpful to the war effort to give the Minister this rather controversial Bill. Nearly nine months have passed since the Joint Industrial Council for Industrial Canteens, having set standards and wages which are as good as any to be found in similar type of work, applied to the Minister for an Essential Work Order. They did not get it, and they will not get it. Nobody will get an Essential Work Order as the result of this Bill. The Minister says that it is wanted for the war, but I think I have exploded that view.
§ Mr. Davidson
Is my hon. and gallant Friend aware that in the Lyons Corner Houses in London, where a great many military, naval and Air Force personnel go for tea, etc., there is great satisfaction that they will be able to get their food from people who will receive in future a better wage than that received from the under-paid servants who serve them at the present time?
§ Major Gluckstein
The Minister has been very much helped by his hon. Friends hurling those charges which the Minister said he would not hurl. That is what one expects from the hon. Member. I want to come to the post-war aspect of this Bill.
§ Mr. Evelyn Walkden (Doncaster)
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us 1596 why the Minister refuses an Essential Work Order?
§ Major Gluckstein
I will, indeed, tell the House why the Minister said he could not apply the Order. It was for the admirable reason that the canteens which were inviting the protection were not under the control of those who were running the factories. I leave hon. Members to consider the validity of that reason. It is the reason given in the Minister's letter which I have here.
§ Major Gluckstein
I do not suppose the Minister will deal with it when he replies any more than he dealt with it on Clause 4.
What is the Bill going to do after the war? I am trying to find out, because a regular basis for post-war wage rates is impossible with the present shortage of labour and so it is impossible for anybody to form an adequate view of the position after the war. I would suggest to the Minister that the method which was adopted after the last war would have been a much easier and simpler way of meeting the possible dangers which I agree might exist, that is, of a large flood of unregulated labour coming on the market in this or any other industry. Parliament in 1918 passed the Wages (Temporary Regulations) Act to prevent a decline in wages. That could be repeated after this war, although I am bound to remind the House that after the last war there was not the catastrophic unemployment which is apparently anticipated after this one. In fact, unemployment declined to about 1 per cent. in April, 1920. After that there was a slump. The fears of the Minister are therefore not entirely justified by precedent. But let us assume he is right in thinking that he must have some Measure. What are the Commission to do now to deal with this matter after the War? And if they can do nothing now, is this the measure of social security it is held out to be? Frankly I do not think so. That is one of the reasons why I dislike the Measure. It is because it seeks to do something which may never need doing, because it seeks to regulate for its own sake, because it does not in the least help in the war effort, and because, in spite of six whole days of discussion, it is not yet really tidied up. 1597 There are still Amendments which were brought forward to-day which another place will possibly be asked to consider. In these circumstances I think this is not the type of Measure which ought to be introduced in the middle of a great war, and I hope that the Government will have learned a lesson and will see to it that if they do introduce legislation before the end of the war they will take steps to see first of all that it is reasonably acceptable to most points of view and that it is sufficiently tidy to pass through the House without having a vast number of Amendments put down to it.
Let me say a final word on the question of the opposition. A number of Members have not been here throughout the proceedings. Clause 13 has a proviso which was the subject of a bare two columns in the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Committee stage. The Minister moved an Amendment to Clause 12, as it then was, to provide that no person should be required to answer any questions or to give any evidence tending to criminate himself. That proviso was taken from the Factory Act, 1937. I believe the whole of the Sub-section, or a great part of it, was taken from that Act, but for some incomprehensible reason the proviso was left out. Was that left out through inefficiency or of deliberate purpose? One brushes aside the suggestion that a civil servant could not be relied upon accurately to copy out the proviso in a penal Clause, and one is left with the rather sinister interpretation that it was possibly left out on purpose, as a precedent, because if it had been left out on this occasion and nobody noticed that it was not in, that would be useful next time, and one more bulwark would have gone. As a lawyer I am glad to think that even under this Bill people will not be called upon to criminate themselves without being cautioned in the proper manner, because I think it is quite useful, in these days when we are giving so much power to the Executive, that some protection should still be left to the subject.
I have expressed my feelings about this Measure and the reasons why I dislike it. I do not think it has been very much improved. The appointment of assessors is entirely within the discretion of the Minister. He is not bound to appoint any if he does not wish to do so. One does not assume that the present Minister of Labour will occupy his position for the 1598 rest of time. Other Ministers of Labour may take a different view of their obligations. What I object to in this Bill is that the whole of an industry of an extremely diverse and varied kind is really being placed under the Minister of Labour—I do not mean only this Minister of Labour, but any Minister of Labour—and placed in that position without ever having been the subject of an inquiry and of having been officially condemned. It is being executed before any of those usual legal processes have taken place.
§ Mr. Rhys Davies (Westhoughton)
As one who has interested himself closely in this Bill and taken some little interest in the welfare of those employed in this industry, I should like to bless the Measure, and support those who have done likewise to-day. It has been my habit occasionally to read speeches which have been made in this House over the last century or so since the passing of the first Factory Act. If hon. Members look up the records in the OFFICIAL REPORT they will find that the speeches they have made against this Bill are almost word for word identical with those uttered over the last century against every Bill of this kind. I have been in this House long enough to listen to speeches which were almost word for word the same as those delivered here to-day. This is not a catering rehabilitation Bill; it is not a catering emancipation Bill either. This is a catering wages Bill, and what the right hon. Gentleman is trying to do, and I wish him success, is to lay down a scale of wages for the employees below which no one shall fall. I cannot understand those hon. Members who are connected with the catering industry in a very big way objecting to this Bill, because so far as I know, and I speak with a little knowledge, this Bill will not affect them adversely at all. Like all similar measures, it aims at reaching those who exploit their employees to the disadvantage of good employers. Take the arguments used by the hon. and gallant Member, and employed also by the hon. Member for Chorley (Sir D. Hacking), who sits for the next seat to mine. They say that this industry is far too complicated to be governed by a Measure like this. They cannot really put that forward as a substantial reason. I could mention an industry probably ten times as complicated as this—the distributive trades. There are great emporia in London, conduct 1599 ing every sort of trade, who sell a motor car and a penny bar of chocolate in the very same establishment.
The best argument against those who object to this Bill is that there is not one employer of repute who has ever asked for the repeal of wages machinery like this once it has been in operation. Take the agricultural industry as an example. I was a farm labourer once myself, by the way. The strange thing about establishing decent wages and conditions in an industry is that not only does it elevate the workers, it elevates the industry itself at the same time. Take the laundry trade. I know one town—I was ashamed of it—where in 1916 adult female workers were engaged in a laundry for 56 hours a week for 8s. 6d. a week. Thanks to the efforts of one who is now a member of another place that whole business was lifted from being a sweated industry. What has happened? Not only have we raised the conditions of the employees in the laundry trade but we have improved the status of the trade itself; the whole industry has been cleaned up. And that is what is going to happen under this Bill. Hon. Members have told us of the difficulties of establishing a scale of wages in catering. How many of them were in Parliament when we had exactly the same arguments about shop hours? They said then they could not be regulated. Well, it has been done, and 2,250,000 distributive workers can thank Parliament for what it did in laying down certain conditions of employment for them. Then, whenever we have established decent conditions of employment for workpeople the profits of the employers affected have often increased. Employers ought therefore to welcome this Bill. I should not be a bit surprised if this Bill, in addition to increasing the wages of the workers, increased profits from 7½ or 10 per cent. to 15 or even 20 per cent. Catering employers will then pay a tribute to the right hon. Gentleman.
I have been in Parliament for many years and have seen many Bills and proposals of this kind brought forward, and I have also been in foreign Parliaments and listened to their proceedings, and I want to say that I am proud of this Parliament for what it has done to elevate the conditions of the people. It is no use talking of the new Jerusalem which is to come when this war is over. The people 1600 of this country want to see a few bricks of the new edifice here and now; and one of the pillars of that new Jerusalem, and the Minister may take this as a tribute, will be this beneficent Measure.
§ Major Petherick (Penryn and Falmouth)
I gather from the remarks of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) that he approves of this Bill. From the emphasis with which he struck the Box in front of him on repeated occasions, I would say he approves it most cordially and whole-heartedly. I, on the contrary, do not very much like the Bill, and as this is the last opportunity we shall have before it goes to another place, I should like to give the motives from which I have opposed it from its inception, motives which I believe are shared by many of my hon. Friends who have not had an opportunity so far of speaking on Second Reading or on Third Reading. I have no connection with the catering trade, and of the 100 Members who voted against the Government on Second Reading there were very few who have any connection with any branch of the trade. I think it is perfectly right that when we are discussing trade matters in this House, the views of both the employers and of the employees should if possible be heard at some stage of the proceedings, but the Bill, when it leaves the House, should be the considered, broad view of Parliament as a whole and not the view of any sectional interest.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)
The hon. and gallant Member talks about the employers and the employed as if all the employers were opposed to this Bill. Some of us who happen to have quite considerable shareholdings in hotels by no means oppose the Bill, and will take the opportunity, when the occasion occurs, to express our views about those who are supposed to represent us as directors who have opposed it. We as shareholders are really the owners, and not the directors.
§ Major Petherick
I am grateful to the noble Lord for his interruption, though I think it was a little irrelevant, because I was not saying that because in the course of these proceedings some people have stood up for the rights of employers, as others have stood up for employees, therefore employers have been opposing this Bill. I never suggested anything of the sort. What I was saying was that in 1601 the proceedings on the Bill dealing with any industry it was right for the views of both sides to be heard, whether they spoke with a united voice or not, but that the Bill should represent the views of Parliament as a whole after having heard the evidence of the sectional interests concerned. This Coalition Government was formed with one main duty, the prosecution of the war to a successful conclusion, and therefore it seemed to me that anything which might tend to create disunity was to be deplored. When this Bill was first rumoured and 200 Conservative Members put down their names to a Motion expressing their views I think it was wrong for the Government to proceed with the introduction of the Bill.
§ Sir Frank Sanderson (Ealing)
Does not my hon. and gallant Friend appreciate that the Bill was introduced in order to bring about decency, and not disunity?
§ Major Petherick
That is the kind of interruption which some people are accustomed to make in reply to a heckler, in the course of a not very politely fought by-election. I have said that I thought it was a mistake, but the Minister proceeded with the Bill, as he was entitled to do. I do not wish to go back and reopen the ancient controversy as to whether the Bill is controversial, but I should like to deal with two arguments which have been produced during the passage of the Bill and directed against those who took the view which I did.
We were accused of raising controversy with regard to the Bill, but that is precisely the argument that was used by Herr Hitler when he first marched into Poland and when he accused Poland of starting the war because they had the temerity to object to his entering their country. The second point was that the Bill was the result of a united Cabinet. Of course it was. Everybody knows that everything which issues from the Government is the result of the decisions of the Government as a whole. If a Minister objects to any action by any of his colleagues in bringing forward a Bill, and those objections are not agreed to, he has either to "come across" or go across—in other words, to resign from the Government. The argument that the Bill is the action of the united Government influences me not at all. I most strongly object to the false reasoning in the arguments that have been used.
1602 During the Second Reading, and certainly afterwards, there was no obstruction from the opponents of the Bill. I would like to take up something which was said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brighton (Lieut.-Colonel Marlowe) in the course of that very charming speech, which so endeared him to Members of the Socialist Party that they cheered him madly. He said that those who were opposed to the Bill were in fact not obstructing the Bill but were using every method to kill it. The suggestion was that they were actuated solely by friendship for, and consideration for the feelings of, the employers. I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that that is not the case at all. Most of those who are opposing the Bill—and it certainly applies to many of my hon. Friends—were doing so because they did not like the Bill or the circumstances of its introduction. I think my hon. and gallant Friend would be more wise in the future to give credit at least to those of his own party for decent motives rather than condemning them as he has done. He certainly will never get very far by attacking his own side.
One reason why I opposed the Bill was not because I deny that regulation may be absolutely necessary. That is another matter. Wage regulation by agreement is all to the good, and where it has been put into practice it has generally been of great benefit. But regulation from above should only take place after inquiry has ascertained the facts and when the conditions of the industry concerned have been shown to be bad. Then there is a case for regulation. If inquiry had been held, and if conditions in the catering industry had been shown to be bad, I would not have opposed the Bill at any stage, I do not take an extreme view about the Bill. I do not think it is a really bad Bill, per se, but, like all Bills, it should be properly examined during the Committee stage. In the Committee stage it is the right and duty of hon. Members to examine any Bill Clause by Clause and line by line, and not only from the party point of view, to see whether it conforms to the general party principles one has in mind. In addition to that, it should be examined most carefully and objectively to see that it is legally accurate and does what it intends to do. We should make sure that when the Bill leaves the Committee it is a good Bill.
1603 Upon a certain occasion in the course of the Committee stage, when it looked as though the whole of the criticism of the Bill was likely to collapse and the Bill might go through in a few minutes without examination, it seemed to me our duty to continue the careful examination on the Committee stage and to see whether we could induce the Minister to improve the Bill. If we had taken the other view, that the Minister has only to bang the Box during the Second Reading and say, "In no circumstances will I give concessions," it would have rendered any Committee stage a complete farce. Our attitude during the Committee stage in hoisting the skull and crossbones was absolutely right and justified. I would like to refer to the conduct of the Minister during the passage of the Bill. I do not think he should have introduced the Bill, but that is over, and I will not mention it again, but I would like to point out that it is entirely wrong for hon. Members of the Labour Party to have the idea that those who were opposing the Bill——
§ Mr. Speaker
We cannot review the general conduct of hon. Members during the passage of the Bill, and the arguments of the hon. and gallant Member are now going a little wide. On the Third Reading Debate is confined to what is in the Bill.
§ Major Petherick
I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I will try to conform in the rest of my speech. I wonder whether I am entitled to say that I wanted to make it clear that hon. Members were not, and are not now on the Third Reading, opposing the Bill because the Minister is a Labour Minister. On the contrary, if a Conservative Minister had brought this Bill to the House, there would have been twice the row there has been.
§ Mr. Speaker
The arguments of the hon. and gallant Member are still not in Order upon the Third Reading.
§ Major Petherick
I am sorry, Sir. Perhaps I had better leave that point. I would like to congratulate the Minister upon his handling of the Bill, including this stage. I hope he will handle it well when he makes his Third Reading speech. The country is, broadly speaking, under a very great debt to him, not so much for bringing forward the Bill, but for his 1604 general attitude and conduct of the Ministry of Labour. He is entitled to refuse any concession and to insist upon the Bill standing as he wishes it go through, and I think he has been very patient and courteous. I wish the Bill a better fortune—in fact, good fortune—and I hope that in future there will be very much less controversy in the country than there has been during its Committee stage. The discussions we have had have been very helpful, but I am doubtful about the value of the Bill as a whole. It will be very difficult, considering the many different forms of the industry with which the Bill will have to deal when it becomes an Act, to avoid a great deal of complication and unnecessary regulation, and I certainly do not envy the Commission their job to select, rarefy and narrow down those parts upon which wages boards are to be imposed. In conclusion, I hope there will not be a Division to-day, because I certainly should not vote. I congratulate the Minister for his patience and determination. I do not think this is a very good Bill, but I do not think it is a very bad Bill. It is good in parts, and even though it does not do a great deal of good, it will not do very much harm.
§ Mr. Holmes (Harwich)
When the Bill was introduced, a tremendous barrage of opposition arose. Every little hotel or boarding-house manager and apartment-house keeper received letters and circulars informing them that they would be ruined if the Bill were allowed to go through; or, if they were not ruined, they would be under the thumb of the Minister of Labour for the rest of their industrial life. It is not surprising that those people in all parts of the country, not having a copy of the Bill, feared that what was told them might be true, and in many cases they sent a telegram, a copy of which had been sent to them, to their Members, saying that it was imperative to vote against the Bill in order to save their livelihood. Many hon. Members who received those telegrams felt that there must be some reason for voting against the Bill. Consequently more than 100 Members went into the Lobby against the Second Reading.
It is well that we should recognise that the original opposition which caused the fuss and effort among the catering industry came from the big hotels, which did not want the Bill to go through, and it 1605 is well, in getting rid of any opposition there may be to the Third Reading, that we should realise the reason for the opposition of the big hotels. The reason is that they were mainly foreign-managed and foreign-staffed, and depended in many cases on foreign guests. Kings, queens, potentates from abroad and wealthy people from America and the Dominions and other parts of the world, were the principal clientèle in these hotels, which were, in fact, foreign islands in our midst.
How will the Bill change all this? The Bill will put the catering profession on the same basis here as it is in other countries of the world. If one went to Germany before the war, one found only German managers and German staffs, and in France, French managers and staffs. The same principle was true of Italy and other places. It is only in this country that we have allowed the most regular trade in the world to pass into the hands of the foreigner. The Bill will change all that. I do not want it to be felt that I am expressing any disapproval of the foreigners who manage and staff the hotels and restaurants in this country.
§ Mr. Colegate (The Wrekin)
Would the hon. Member inform us under which Clause aliens will be excluded?
§ Mr. Holmes
It will be by the Commission's recommendation. I am sorry if my hon. Friend is very anxious that the foreigners should not be excluded.
§ Mr. Colegate
The hon. Member has no right to say that. I asked which Clause of the Bill excluded aliens. I did not say whether I want them or not.
§ Mr. Bracewell Smith
Does the hon. Member for Harwich (Mr. Holmes) say that since the last war we have been able to import foreign labour for our hotels and restaurants?
§ Mr. Holmes
That is what I am just coming to, in giving the reasons why I think it is imperative that we should pass 1606 this Bill at the present moment and not wait until the end of the war.
§ Mr. Holmes
I think I shall deal with that point before I finish. Let me just try and set out what is the real object of the Bill, in my opinion. It has not-been said in this House, but it has been freely said elsewhere, that the real object of the Bill was the desire of the Minister of Labour to bring additional people into the union of which he was secretary be fore he became Minister of Labour. I think that is a very trivial and mean suggestion, which can be dismissed without any further comment. The important thing about the Bill is that it is going to give to our people the right to the best conditions in the trade of the country which is the most regular of all the industries of this country. I mean by that that it does not matter whether it is a time of prosperity or a time of depression, the catering trade goes on. People want accommodation; they want food; they want drink. The object of this Bill will be to give our people the opportunity of serving in this trade as a profession. What has happened in the past has been that in places like France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland the catering trade has been professional; in this country it has been one of menial service; it was the last thing people wanted to go into.
§ Sir Granville Gibson (Pudsey and Otley)
Might I inform the hon. Member that I have seen young fellows from this country serving as waiters in Switzerland who have been sent to learn the trade there?
§ Mr. Holmes
That is true, but very few of them. I have seen them in Vichy. They were on an exchange, arranged by a number of people like Sir Francis Towle and one or two other hoteliers in this country. So far as these other foreign countries are concerned, the catering trade has been a profession, and they have kept it for their own nationals. We let it go into the hands of foreigners during the Victorian era, when industries were doing so well, when everybody wanted to go into a factory and no one wanted to serve in a hotel or restaurant. That was when we lost it, and we have never regained it. We have now the opportunity 1607 of regaining it, because instead of the catering business being one which is regarded as a menial service it is going to be a profession, and our people will, in that way, get far more employment.
I want to point this out. All of us want to make this country of ours a better country after the war than it was before the war. Most of us, all of us, here would like to see the Beveridge Report implemented, but the Beveridge Report depends upon employment. If there is any mass unemployment, no resolutions at public meetings are any good; the Beveridge Report falls to the ground. Here is one of the opportunities—this Catering Wages Bill—of employing more and more of our people after the war. That is, in my opinion, one of the reasons why the Minister of Labour introduced the Bill. I am grateful to him for the two assurances that he gave me during the Committee stage: firstly, that he would ask the Commission to report particularly with regard to places which had a season—he has added, since, that an assessor particularly versed in all the difficulties of these particular places will be appointed; and, secondly, that he will ask the Commission to report to the War Cabinet with regard to the repair and restoration of the equipment of undertakings which have been made shabby or derelict as a result of the war, not by enemy action, but by reason of the fact that the district in which they stand has been for so long a prohibited area. I want to congratulate the Minister of Labour, if I may, on standing up for this Bill. I believe it is most important that it should go through at the present time instead of after the war, because if we left it until after the war, we should once more have a flood of foreigners coming in from Switzerland and France, if not Germany and Italy, and if we left this until after the war, they would all be installed before we had a chance to pass a Measure in this House.
§ Mr. Leslie (Sedgefield)
At long last this overdue Measure has reached the stage at which it will shortly be placed on the Statute Book. A good deal of eulogy has been given to the Minister of Labour for the way the Bill has been drafted and for the reasons behind it, and I think that eulogy has been well deserved. The right hon. Member for Chorley (Sir D. Hacking) was far too pessimistic. He prophesied 1608 that the Bill would fail, and that it would be a bad thing for the tourist trade. The tourist trade is likely to be improved by better catering facilities, and this Bill certainly will not do anything to prevent better catering facilities for tourists. The hon. and gallant Member for East Nottingham (Major Gluckstein) declared that it was a bad Bill. One could scarcely expect him to accept any Bill which was likely to interfere with the catering trade, because during the time when Miss Bond-field was Minister of Labour he was one of the principal opponents of the inquiry which was held into the setting up of a trade board. The hon. and gallant Member is afraid of the after-war effects. He said it would not mean any social security for the workers. I believe it will, to some extent, mean social security to the workers, which was denied to them before the war.
I have a vivid recollection of that inquiry when Miss Bondfield tried to get a trade board set up. One firm was the chief opponent. That firm catered mainly for a working class trade, but it has opposed any attempt by its workers to organise in a trade union or to get a wage-fixing machinery for the catering trade. The same arguments were used then as have always been used against the setting up of a trade board. The same arguments were used when trade boards were proposed for the sweated trades. Jeremiahs then prophesied disaster, but no trade has gone out of business since a trade board was established for it; many are more prosperous than they were before. Fair employers have welcomed trade boards, because they eliminate cutthroat competition. Mention has been made of the number of aliens employed in this industry. Undoubtedly, aliens have been preferred in the past to British workpeople, because they were satisfied to depend on the generosity of customers in the way of tips. I hope that under the Bill the wages board will establish such a rate of wages that British workers will be induced to enter the catering trade. Many of them are being trained to-day in camps as waiters and cooks.
§ Mr. Francis Watt (Edinburgh, Central)
Opposition to the Second Reading of a Bill does not necessarily mean opposition to the basic principles. May I wish the Minister of Labour all success for this Bill now that it has reached this stage? For myself, I feel that there ought 1609 to have been an inquiry before we proceeded to legislate for so complicated an industry as the catering industry. I still think so. I would not pretend that there are many things which the right hon. Gentleman might still improve, and I hope that improvements will arise. A good deal depends upon this Commission which is to be appointed. I only want to back up my hon. Friend the Member for Mary-hill (Mr. Davidson) in something he said regarding the Commission. This Bill applies to Scotland. I strongly support my hon. Friend's suggestion that we should have a commissioner from Scotland on the Commission; and when Scottish affairs come to be discussed, I hope there will be some assessors from Scotland also. I only want to express the hope that some good will arise from the Bill, and to wish the right hon. Gentleman all success with it.
§ Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)
The reception which the House has given to this Third Reading shows that, generally speaking, Members have come to recognise that this Measure is going to be beneficial to the catering industry as a whole. The Minister has shown a great deal of conciliatory spirit considering the opposition. This Bill indicates the value of controversy in this House. It certainly should not prevent other controversial measures being brought in. We are here for the purpose of controversy; we shall get no progress without it. This is an example of real progress.
There are three points to which I hope the Minister will address himself when he replies. First, in such parts of the industry as already have wages boards in connection with other employees, I hope the Commission will at once study the possibility of setting up wages boards without delay for those parts of the industry. I refer in particular to the railway industry. We could not exist a single day in that industry without the trade unions and the very admirable machinery which has been set up, and I should like to see the catering part of the railway industry associated, through the ordinary channels that deal with disputes on other matters. If the Minister would direct the Commission to look into that matter, I think he would find that progress would be rapid and on sound lines. There is one matter which I do 1610 not think has been mentioned during the passage of this Bill. It is the evil results which followed from Victorian legislation making it illegal for any eating house or public house to have transparent windows. That has brought about worse conditions inside those places than would have existed if they had been open to the street. I think that a direction to the Commission on that matter would be approved by all those responsible for the architecture of public houses in town and country. We want to see these places become meeting houses for the whole community, without any reflection on those who go to them, and we want to make not only those who serve, but those who are served, happier. Abroad all the cafes are open. There is nothing disgraceful about going in to have a glass of beer or something else to drink. Why in this country we should be hidden behind frosted glass or curtains when we do so, I cannot think.
I do not think it will be possible to satisfy the demand that will arise for employment in the catering trade, because the publicity given to this Bill has encouraged many men and women in the Services to believe that after the war they can go into an industry with properly-regulated wages and with a prospect of life-long work. I hope that that will happen, but it is no use holding out these hopes until an arrangement is made for the proper equipment and construction of new places. I believe that the demand for employment will exceed the capacity to employ. It is of great importance that the Commission should address itself to the improvement of the conditions of country hotels especially, and of those hotels which have been requisitioned by the Services, because the Ministry of Works can give no assurance that the labour will be available to put all these places into proper condition.
If we are genuine in our desire that the Bill should do something to give employment after the war, it is surely essential that the Departments which deal with building and materials and the rest of it, should have these businesses on their priority lists. It will be a very difficult thing to decide priorities, but we shall not get the catering industry satisfactorily set up in this country, in spite of this Bill, unless real attention is given to this very urgent problem.
1611 There is one other matter. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Harwich (Mr. Holmes) did not want to suggest that we should get inside our insular shell and learn nothing from Continental practice. Nothing is more healthy than the exchange of opinions between the people of this country and people abroad, not only as to their life but their habits. It would be a disaster to refuse either to accept people from abroad or to send our own people abroad to learn the methods of other countries. If any industry can be called international, it is the catering Industry. We have nothing to lose from it but much to gain. I should be sorry if foreigners were prohibited from coming here. They should be admitted, on the understanding, of course, that they accept conditions and wages laid down for our workers, so as to get away from any suggestion of introducing foreign labour to bring down the status of British labour.
I do not believe that the British individual is naturally a good waiter. I am thankful that it is much more often a type of foreigner who is subservient and does not mind being sent on messages. I like the rough and rugged independence of the Englishman. I am not sure we shall get all the waiters we want until we learn that there is a great deal of skill and social service connected with that part of the catering industry. In Switzerland, the business of catering and hotel management is rated extremely high. There are trade meetings with groups of schools so that School children themselves can learn the branch of the industry they wish to enter. The right hon. Gentleman, in collaboration with the President of the Board of Education, might very well ascertain to what extent encouragement should be given in schools, and I hope that children in schools will continue to learn both to cook and to serve meals, and after that training, pass on to the catering trade of the country.
§ Sir R. Glyn
All schools. I believe the Bill will be of great assistance in the postwar reconstruction of the country, and the Minister is to be congratulated upon the manner in which he has piloted it through the House.
§ Mr. Lewis (Colchester)
In spite of the opposition which this Bill met on Second Reading and in the earlier stages of the Committee, I hope that it may be possible to secure the Third Reading of the Bill without a Division. The reason why I hope so is that the Bill marks a new phase in the history of Parliamentary action with regard to the relations between employers and workers. For many years, after the right to combine in trade unions was first gained, it was always felt to be an answer, if complaint was made in any industry that wages were inadequate, that the workers had the opportunity to combine and get them improved. Only in comparatively recent years has it been recognised that there are some trades where it is not, in fact, possible to secure sufficiently effective combination among the workers to bring effective pressure to bear, if conditions are bad. It was in order to deal with such cases that the idea of the wages board was first evolved. The Minister of Labour has made it abundantly plain that he does not base his case for this Bill on the existence of sweated conditions in the catering trade. He bases his claim, as I understand it, on this argument. No matter whether the wages and conditions in an industry be good, bad or indifferent, nevertheless, if there is no machinery whereby the representatives of the workers can have a say in the settling of wages and conditions of labour in the industry, then, such machinery should be provided. I believe that argument to be sound, and if there were nothing more in the Bill than that, I would support it.
The Bill however goes further even than that. I think the Minister reminded us that, if you have a wages board and representatives of employers and workers meet to discuss only questions affecting wages and conditions of labour, it is not conducive to the growth of an accommodating spirit between the two parties. They are on opposite sides of the table and at opposite ends of the argument. He pointed out to us that, if it is possible for the members of such a board to consider together, matters of common interest, the troubles from which their industry suffers and the possibilities of improvement in the industry, you thereby tend to produce among the members of the board a sense of unity and an accommodating spirit which were absent before. If it is desired that a 1613 wages board should be encouraged to consider not merely wages and, in the narrowest sense, the conditions of labour in an industry, or part of an industry, if it is desired to go further afield and to discuss problems of common interest in regard to the present conditions or future of the industry, then it seems obvious that you must create in the minds of its members the idea that, when they have taken the trouble to work out a practicable scheme for getting over difficulties and making improvements, all that labour will not be wasted. All that is provided specifically in this Bill, so far as the catering industry is concerned. For that second reason I personally welcome the Bill most heartily.
A very great opportunity will be given to the members of the Commission appointed under the Bill, and also to a considerable extent to the members of any wages boards that may be set up subsequently, to show what can be done in this country in the post-war world to foster between employers and workers in industry a sense of community of interest. It is of enormous importance to the future of industry and I believe that the proceedings of the Commission and of any wages boards which may be set up will be watched with interest far beyond the borders of the catering trade. I think it holds out possibilities of something which, if it is proved to work well in practice, may be copied with advantage in other industries. I think it is desirable, because of the importance of the principles involved, that this House should resolve to-day to give the Bill a Third Reading, without a Division.
§ Mr. Woods (Finsbury)
I would like to pay my tribute to the Minister of Labour for the way he has handled this Bill. I am certain that he, at any rate, feels that we now have peace after the storm. I failed utterly to understand the violent opposition which the very suggestion of this Bill provoked, long before it was submitted in detail and I think it fortunate for the country and the catering trade, that we have a Minister of Labour who has shown such courage and ingenuity in overcoming this difficulty. To legislate for a complicated trade like the catering trade was no easy task and I endorse that the hopes expressed to-day that the Bill, when it becomes operative, will not only be of considerable benefit to those 1614 interested in the industry but will be a tremendous stimulus towards communal feeling of a more satisfactory type throughout a much larger percentage of the population in the future. I also failed completely to appreciate why there should have been such bitter opposition to the Bill, because I have had some experience of the catering industry conducted by the Co-operative Movement. Nearly every large Society has a very efficient and satisfactory refreshment department or cafe where, for many years, this work has been carried on. For all members of the staffs there have been recognised trade union rates of pay and hours of work, and the service which has been given in return has been entirely satisfactory from the point of view of the quality and quantity of the meals provided at prices within the compass of the average working-class family. The Co-operative Movement solved the problem and there is no reason why their standard should not become the general standard.
I welcome this Bill because it will help the catering industry and those engaged in it, by putting them on the same basis as that already achieved in some cases and I think the Minister of Labour will be able to get a considerable amount of help from men and women who have had long experience in creating the standard which I know he desires. There has been some difference expressed during the Debate on the question of the number of foreigners employed in the industry. As a sound internationalist I think it is all to the good that there should be some intermingling [An HON. MEMBER: "Not too many."] One of my hon. Friends says "Not too many." As far as the Co-operative Movement is concerned, I do not know of one foreign waiter or waitress. That is the result of a decent standard of living. Remuneration counts more than any other factor in setting up the standard. The question of foreign competition will, normally, settle itself under this Bill. There will be hotels and restaurants where, for the convenience of the clientele, various languages will be spoken. Just as an Englishman travelling abroad finds pleasure in being understood and answered in his own language, so we must have the vision of the days when this country will be visited by a far greater number of people from the Continent and America than we have been accustomed to in the past. We must establish our- 1615 selves as first-class caterers and if the Bill does something in that direction, it will become a national asset. Once more, I pay my tribute to the integrity, courage, ingenuity and Parliamentary patience of the Minister of Labour in his handling of the misguided opposition directed against the Bill in its early stages.
§ Mr. Colegate (The Wrekin)
Now that we have the Bill as amended, I join with others in the hope that it may realise all the wishes of the Minister of Labour. I have not been convinced by the course of our Debates that an inquiry preceding it would not have been very much better. The arguments put forward by Members in support of the Bill quite ignore the fact that the excellent effects to which they referred in other cases arose entirely because trade boards were established after inquiry. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) was quite eloquent about the results of establising trade boards after an inquiry, an argument which would have provided marvellous powder and shot at an earlier stage of these discussions for those who wished to see an inquiry before legislation was introduced. The hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Woods) spoke of storms and bitter opposition to the Bill. You, Mr. Speaker, with all your experience, must know what an exaggeration that was. We had here a friendly little party with the Minister who gave a number of concessions which we appreciate and, what is more important, gave a number of assurances which largely met the particular type of criticism I was concerned to make. On that I would like to say a word, or two.
It has been said over and over again, and it was said in most violent terms by the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton (Major Marlowe) who had so far taken no part in the proceedings on the Bill, that the opposition to the Bill came from vested interests. Let me say that I have not been connected with any vested interests in any shape or form. There is not a big hotel in my constituency. I am concerned with exactly the opposite; I am concerned with something that a great many hon. Members will have to be increasingly concerned with, and that is, the effect of this legislation on small people who have not the necessary accounting staff and legal aid which the big hotels have. The big hotels can look 1616 after themselves. I should be glad to see any inquiry which gave a proper wages board or induced the formation of a union which, after all, is far the best way of dealing with wages. We have seen the problem dealt with in that way in one industry after another where there has been an adequate and efficient trade union dealing with a proper body of employers. I hope that one result of the Bill will be the creation of an efficient and adequate trade union in the catering industry so that the employees can get together with the employers by the usual means of collective bargaining.
This Bill does not deal with one large organised industry, but with an industry which is more widespread than any other industry in this country. In many towns one cannot go into a single street without seeing one or more catering establishments. What I am concerned about is to see that the small people, the maiden ladies who set up tea-shops and the small lodging-house keepers, are not harried and worried, or dealt with harshly. On that subject we have had some assurances from the Minister. There is a provision in the Bill that officials can go to these establishments, ask questions and take down in writing the answers, and then ask the person to sign the document. That may seem a very simple matter to people who have adequate staff and legal aid at their disposal, but to many small people it is a process which they thoroughly dislike. I hope it will not be regarded as obstruction on the part of these small people if they refuse to sign those statements until they have had an opportunity of consulting a solicitor.
§ Mr. Colegate
No, I presume they will pay the ordinary fees, but if the hon. Member were to put down an Amendment that there should be free legal advice, I would support him. It is, however, a fact that this matter will cause a great deal of worry and hardship to much the larger number of the people concened. I am not in the least concerned about the vested interests, but about the small people at seaside resorts, watering places, and other tourist centres. They are very worried at the present time by bureaucracy and red tape and they look upon this Bill as likely to put more bureaucracy and red tape upon them. [HON. MEMBERS: 1617 "No."] Hon. Members who say "No" do not live in constituencies like mine. In my constituency people are very bothered by these things. I challenge any hon. Member from any constituency to say that the people of his constituency are not bothered by bureaucracy and red tape.
§ Mr. Colegate
Then the hon. Member has not consulted his constituency. Not long ago I fought a by-election, and at such a by-election one hears objections to bureaucracy and red tape.
§ Mr. Colegate
I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, but, after all, power is given in the Bill to these officers to enter establishments and take statements in writing. It was on that point that I was making my remarks. There are two things more that I want to say. In the first place, with regard to aliens, I do not think some hon. Members realise what is the legal position. The Home Office and Ministry of Labour had ample powers before this Bill was introduced to restrict the entry of aliens into this country. Secondly, I think the method by which this Bill was introduced was not altogether the best method. In a case where there is legislation covering a vague and widely spread industry such as the catering industry, there might have been a very great deal more precision if there had been an inquiry first.
It is not that anyone does not want the industry to have decent wages. Everybody wants to see decent wages. As many hon. Members on both sides of the House have pointed out, it is equally to the advantage of employers and employed that there should be good wages and conditions, which lead to a better industry and prevent unfair competition. There is absolutely no reason against good wages and conditions, but there is every reason against introducing legislation so vague that thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people do not know whether or not they come under the legislation. I admit that the Minister, as I understood him, did give assurances in the course of the Debate that a very large number of those people would not be included within the scope of the Bill. I wish this had 1618 been included in the Bill and made a little clearer, because when the cases come to the courts the Minister may not be here, and I am afraid that, in any case, the courts do not pay very much attention to good intentions expressed in Debates in this House. Subject to this, however, I join in congratulating the Minister on the Bill. I thank him for the way he has met us, and still more, for the assurances he has given. I hope that the picture to which he referred in his Second Reading speech may come to be put on canvass so that we may all admire it.
§ Mr. Evelyn Walkden (Doncaster)
I am sure my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour must be feeling weary and heavily laden after the compliments, tributes and bouquets that have been handed to him in various speeches in this Third Reading Debate. I am sorry I interrupted the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Colegate) when he talked about bureaucracy and resented my acceptance of his challenge. He talked about harassed maiden ladies who had started teashops being subjected to all sorts of inquiries and inquisitions and said their trials and tribulations would be added to by this Bill. I believe that the advice which a young lad gave to me when I first came to the House was quite right, although at the time I did not accept it. He advised me to beware of people bluffing. I believe that, with regard to this Bill, that advice was right. Most of the arguments that have been used this afternoon after hon. Members had paid tributes to the Minister have been largely mixed with bluff. They know that their arguments are not true. For instance, 2,000,000 shop workers were brought within the ambit of trade board regulations not long ago. [An HON. MEMBER: "After inquiry."] What inquiry? There was not very much inquiry in the House, except that some hon. Members bluffed that it could not be done, but then, when the war emergency made them face the gravity of the situation, they accepted it. Has there been anxiety on the part of the maiden ladies who keep shops? Certainly not. Nor have there been many prosecutions.
Let me carry the argument a stage further. When the hon. Member for The Wrekin says that the Bill will add to their worries and anxieties, may I suggest to him that he looks at the milk industry and its relation to the trade boards? The 1619 Milk Trade Board has been a blessing to the milk industry, and it and the Milk Marketing Board have made it almost a gold mine for those who run it. There were all kinds of practices in the industry which were distasteful to us and we were glad to have this kind of regulation, and so were the employers, because it simply meant that there could not be any more sweating. There were good employers in the industry, as there are good employers in the catering trade, but there are also some bad ones. If the Bill does nothing more than raise the dignity and status of the labour employed, it will be worth while, Having listened to what is being said in the country, I believe that the mass of the people welcome the Bill. I believe members of the Forces welcome it, and now that I hear everyone divorcing himself from the trade and saying he has no interest in it, I am wondering where all this literature, all this agitation, all the directed campaigns that there were up and down the country really sprang from. It is not an accident that so many Amendments were tabled. It is not an accident that when some of us dared even to use simple, inoffensive, harmless words, such as "obstruction," Members opposite objected, but it has been obstruction.
§ Mr. Colegate
On a point of Order. Is it a harmless expression or is it out of Order to use the word "obstruction"?
§ Mr. E. Walkden
I was ruled out of Order at the time and I am not sure that it was not the hon. Member himself who raised the point of Order. Anyhow, it was delaying action and those responsible knew it. That is what they have been doing all the time. I maintain that good employers welcome the Bill, organised workers in the industry welcome it, consumers welcome it, and I believe, generally speaking, the House welcomes it. The opposition to it has completely vanished. The Bill will lay the foundation for wages and conditions in the industry immediately and after the war, and you may rest assured that the organised workers will see to it that we use the machine and good employers will help us to do so.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Raikes (Essex, South-Eastern)
I approach the Third Reading of the Bill from a point of view slightly different from that of a number of my hon. Friends. I was originally opposed to the introduction of the Bill, I rather doubtfully voted in favour of the Second Reading, and I have now come to the conclusion that the Bill may be an advantage to the country as a whole. That, at any rate, shows that it is advisable to come here not only to speak but sometimes to listen as well. Although I rather deplore that certain of my hon. Friends voted against the Second Reading, I believe it would be a tragedy if any body of opinion in the House were to be deterred from speaking their mind because of suggestions that they were either unpatriotic in wartime, or were voicing some sectional interest. If we ever reach that stage we shall have reached the time when Parliament will be very near its decline and death.
I should like to deal with one or two of the principal objections raised by certain of my own colleagues in regard to the Bill. It seems to me that the three main objections put forward were that it was controversial legislation in wartime, that there should have been a public inquiry before it was introduced, and that the personnel of the Commission was not one which could deal with so difficult and comprehensive an industry as the catering trade. From the start, I took the view that the first argument was the weakest that my hon. Friends urged. Any form of legislation must be, to some extent, controversial, because we shall never all think alike so long as we have those liberties which, as Englishmen, we always claim. I do not think anyone who has even a small knowledge of the catering trade can fail to realise that in so diverse an industry, which ranges from the great hotel down to the small lodginghouse, there must be a great differentiation in wages and conditions, and such a differentiation is not good for the workers in the industry as a whole.
There is no new principle involved in the State dealing with the conditions and wages of a trade. It is as old, if not older than trade boards. The Minister dealt with it on the Second Reading and I thought his point was a very strong one. He said that in 1930 an effort was made to deal with the catering industry through 1621 trade boards and the main argument put forward against that method was that the catering trade was too comprehensive for a trade board to handle. So a different system has been adopted—the system laid down in this Measure. I am bound to say that I can see nothing detrimental to the principles of the party to which I belong in regulating wages in industry as such. It is not a political principle. It is no infringement of any political principle.
The second point, to which my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Colegate) referred, is the question of prior inquiry before legislation. That was an argument which had a good deal of weight with me at the time this Measure was introduced. I thought that there was a strong case for an inquiry before legislation. I have been converted from that view in the course of the Debate. I was particularly impressed by a speech made by the hon. Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague) on Second Reading in which he stressed the fact that were we to set up an inquiry into the conditions of the catering trade in war time, it could give only a partial picture of the conditions as a whole at a time when the trade is very much in a state of transition and a great deal of its work is no longer going on. It is in a state of flux and, as a result of the war, better wages are being earned than at any other time. No inquiry or commission set up at any particular period could give a fair picture of the catering trade over a long period of years. It varies almost from year to year. The catering trade in time of trade depression is completely different from the catering trade in times when industry is going well and when there is a great deal of employment and money to be spent. I am forced to the conclusion that if we are to handle the industry, we need to have a permanent Commission which can consider the conditions of the industry at all times—consider it in war time now and reconsider it in time of peace; examine it both in periods of prosperity and in periods of depression if unfortunately we have them.
It must be a Commission with a comprehensive knowledge of the industry derived from study year in and year out. I am certain that it would be an advantage if we could in some way plan now to deal with the men and women who will come into the industry at the end of the war. If thousands of men and women 1622 came back into a disorganised industry at the close of the war, the chaos might be such that it would take years to undo the mess. I have been converted on these grounds to the view that simply to set up an inquiry before legislating would not meet the needs of the industry from the point of view of either employer or employed.
There is one point on which my hon. Friends had rather a strong case. That was in regard to the personnel of the Commission. I though it was very fair to argue that such a Commission would not be sufficiently instructed to tackle so wide an industry. The concession which has been made to allow technical assessors to be appointed to assist the Commission on every phase of its work is a concession of first-rate importance to the working of the Measure. In regard to that I would quite bluntly say two things. If the Minister had been in a position on Second Reading to lay down that these assessors would be added to the Commission he would have taken away a great deal of the force of the opposition to the Bill. On the other hand, I think that those hon. Members who, after opposing the Second Reading and putting down a number of Amendments, which they were perfectly entitled to do, then ran away from those Amendments, did their utmost to avoid getting any concessions at all. The House owes a debt of gratitude to those hon. Members, whether for or against the Bill, who deliberately went on to make the Committee stage a really live issue and to show that Parliament really meant something. They played a certain part in getting the concession which has made this Bill a far better Measure than it would have been had it been left as it was on Second Reading.
There are only two other minor points to which I would refer. I regret that under Clause I of the Bill it has not been possible to exempt what might be described as the family business. I realise that it was difficult to frame words which would deal with those members of the family who were not actual workers but had an interest in the profits of the undertaking. If the Commission will bear in mind, as I hope it will, what has been said in the Debates, it ought to be possible for it to realise that family concerns do not bear satisfactorily undue interference and it should be possible for that difficulty to be overcome in practice. I regard Clause 6 as almost the most im- 1623 portant Clause, because it goes right down to the question not only of wages, but of the welfare of those in the industry. There is nothing I welcome more than that Clause. I say to my right hon. Friend, however, as I have said during the Committee stage, that I still feel some doubt whether a wages board is an ideal body to consider the development of an industry apart from the welfare of those in the industry involved. I hope that if it transpires that the wages board, when dealing with the two-fold work of welfare and making recommendations about the future of the industry, does not appear ideal for the purpose, it will be regarded as worth while to set up a special body to deal with the vitally important issue of post-war extensions of the catering industry. Apart from that I welcome the Measure.
I hope that my right hon. Friend, having had an extremely easy and successful passage with this Bill, will not consider that the very mild opposition he has met is, of necessity, characteristic of the sort of opposition he might have in the House if he were to introduce a worse Bill. The House of Commons is not quite dead and will not be, I hope, for many years. I believe that this Bill will be an advantage to the good employers, and I hope that I shall always feel that my interest is with them and not with bad employers. It will be an advantage, too, to the workers as a whole. Speaking as a Tory, I wish the Bill "God speed."
§ Sir Frank Sanderson (Ealing)
As one of those Members who were unfortunate not to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, during the Second Reading Debate on the Bill, I rise to support and welcome it. In its initial stages I rather felt that my right hon. Friend was likely to have a rough passage. I refer to those early stages before the Bill had seen the light of day and to the opposition which was shown to it in advance. It has been some satisfaction to me, and I have no doubt also to my right hon. Friend, that he has had a comparatively light task to perform, for the vigorous opposition which was shown in the early days gradually disappeared. I put that down to the fact that the more those who opposed the Bill studied it and the more they heard my right hon. Friend during the Committee stage, the more they appreciated it. The war has reached a stage when 1624 important Bills must be passed if we are not to find ourselves as unprepared for peace as we were for war. The failure of Parliament to anticipate post-war problems would, in my opinion, only demonstrate the weakness of our democratic institutions, and bring them into discredit. This Bill is termed controversial, but what Bill worth its salt is not? After all, we do not profess to be a mutual admiration society, and if we are to avoid controversy, we shall get nowhere. In a Coalition Government there should be sufficient co-operation to see that such Bills are placed on the Statute Book with the minimum amount of opposition and in the minimum time. A Coalition Government, to justify itself, must not be static but virile and active.
What does this Bill really express? What is it that the Minister desires to do? He desires to have conditions in the catering trade governed by an organisation which provides a satisfactory wage structure, to improve working conditions and to eliminate low wages, excessive hours and bad accommodation, and I doubt whether there are any hon. Members in this House who desire otherwise. It is not a party matter. All good employers stand for fair wages and conditions in their industries and indeed it has surprised me that my right hon. Friend did not bring a Bill of this kind before the House at an earlier period.
I wish to make one point, and that is to remind the House that this Measure will have far-reaching effects in one direction. For years preceding the war this country exported, in round figures, about £500,000,000 worth of goods annually and imported some £900,000,000 worth of goods. The gap was filled by our so-called invisible exports, primarily the income from our overseas investments. During the war the major portion of these investments has been pledged in order to enable the Government to pay for goods required for war purposes, and many of those which remains are paying little or no interest. Income from abroad represents purchasing power in foreign markets, and here is where my right hon. Friend's Bill will come to the assistance of the country. By seeing to it that there is first-class accommodation provided in all our holiday resorts, with a happy army of workers who should be regarded not as some inferior class but should be regarded as being in a profession that holds out 1625 great possibilities for promotion, he will attract hundreds of thousands of guests from overseas who will bring their money to our shores, and in this way the gap between our exports and our imports can in a great measure be bridged. A great new industry can be brought into existence capable of employing perhaps 1,500,000 or even 2,000,000 workers. Communal feeding has come to stay in every grade of society. Works canteens and catering in our factories will be a regular feature of industry. There is little doubt that British Restaurants will increase and be developed in all directions. By building up goods hotels throughout the country we shall encourage people to come from all over the world to see this little island that has stood up so well against this war. By the building of good hotels—efficiently equipped and staffed—it is possible to put this great industry on a new footing, and develop what may prove to a great new prosperous industry.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
I feel very grateful to everybody who has offered me congratulations on the passage of the Bill and for the part I have played in it, although I want to assure the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Essex (Flight-Lieutenant Raikes) that no one knows better how to appraise the value of votes of thanks than I do. I have always found them the most expensive presents I have ever received, especially when they have been carried at the right hour of the night. I have always been used to both censure and praise, and I can only tell the hon. and gallant Member that I have been more often right when I have been censured than when I have been praised. I liked his warning to me about a future Bill. He said he thought I would get into trouble if I brought in a worse Bill. I do not think I shall. Where I shall get into trouble is when I bring in better Bills. That is where my trouble will really lie. It has been said that I was all wrong in introducing the Bill because there was some promise about controversial legislation during the war. Let me tell hon. Members this: I was never asked, and I never gave, any promise to any person that I would not introduce controversial legislation.
§ Mr. Bevin
From time to time at the opening of our Sessions the Prime Minister advances arguments about taking Members' time and gives a reply as to the course of Government policy for that Session. I want to kill this assumption that we entered into this Government on some sort of pledge. I never did. I do not want it to get outside this House that I did. I was asked to come into this Government to take on a very awkward job, and that is all that I promised to do, and which I have tried to do to the best of my ability; but I gave no pledge about anything. I want to make that clear, because I have had many letters written on the assumption that I somehow entered the Government on a promise that I would not do anything except it were for the war effort. I want to tell my own constituency, and the people I represented before I entered this House, that I gave no such pledge nor was asked to. I have carried on upon the decision of the Government as a whole, and as the Government as a whole come to their decision I stand or fall by that decision of the Cabinet.
§ Sir G. Gibson
As far as my memory serves me, the right hon. Member for Chorley (Sir D. Hacking) did not accuse the Minister of having given a promise but stated definitely that the Prime Minister had given a promise. The complaint was against the Prime Minister and not against my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Bevin
I have made my position clear at any rate, whatever the complaints are. The other suggestion was that I did not announce this concession, if that is what it is called. I never looked upon it as a concession. I wanted the Bill to be workable, and I wanted the most practical suggestions I could get to make it workable. Nor did I introduce it in response to my hon. Friend's Amendment. I was trying to the best of my ability to find the best possible way to make the Commission effective, and an hon. Member of this House made a suggestion to me as to how I could probably get expert assistance, and I immediately proceeded to try to work it out. That is what occurred. It was no force, no bribe, no speeches; none of it. I want to be quite frank about the matter. It was a suggestion dropped to me as to how I could accomplish the independence of the Commission. I hope 1627 I am always receptive to any Member who has an idea.
§ Mr. Bevin
It did not happen to come in the Debate. It was made outside, and in an atmosphere at any rate a little more congenial. However, I am indebted to the hon. Member for the suggestion that was made to me. I do not belittle what hon. Members say, but I frankly do not believe that whatever I had put into the Bill for that Second Reading would have made the slightest difference. I had talks and negotiation; I tried to negotiate, but I was told from the beginning, before ever I produced the Bill at all, that I was going to be fought to the death. I do not complain at all, but I want to make the position clear, because I may have to handle other delicate matters in the future. No one will find any Minister more willing than I am to consider ideas how to make things workable. In fact, as I have often said, I have never had really a sympathetic audience. As a trade union leader handling this kind of constructive work, as we have in connection with the device of the Bill, my experience is to have to persuade employers to pay what they do not want to pay and then to go back to the men who complain that I have sold them. It is a good training for the job of getting a Bill like this one through.
There are a few points I should like to clear up. First, there is confusion in hon. Member's minds with regard to the trade board procedure. I have tried several times, in Committee and on Second Reading, to make it clear. There is a sort of feeling that before you have a trade board you have an inquiry. You do not have anything of the kind. The Minister decides whether there shall be a trade board, and it is only after he publishes his draft Order and there is a challenge to the Order, that there is an inquiry, and even then the Minister can go on with his Order. If he alters his Order as the result of the inquiry, he then has to re-advertise it. I wish hon. Members to get it quite clear, because there is no preliminary inquiry other than that. There has also been a great deal of argument about bureaucracy, and the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Colegate) made a great point of it; but what is the inquiry held before you de- 1628 cide to establish a trade board? It is a purely private, bureaucratic inquiry. You send your officials out to go around to collect a lot of evidence together, which you never publish, and you decide whether or not you proceed with your Order.
The Bill—and this was one of my difficulties—provides for a Commission to make all those investigations, not a few much-criticised bureaucratic officials, going around in that manner. Therefore I think, with regard to the argument that I have increased bureaucracy and all the rest of it, that I have gone just the other way in establishing something which I think is far preferable to the old trade board machinery, which I was never really happy about myself.
The other point, which was raised by the hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn), was that where machinery exists over a whole field of industry like railways can it remain within the railway system, I assume for their hotel trade? I cannot say what the Commission will recommend, and it is only fair to the Commission that they should take the evidence. There are two points of view, no doubt, that will be put before them as to whether the railway hotels should be in a wages board with hotels of a similar character, or whether they should be in the railway conciliation machinery. That is a point which can only be determined after evidence and advice have been taken. It would not be right for me to try to determine it in advance. I understand that even in the railway service itself there are two points of view on that point. Therefore, I must leave it to the Commission to investigate.
Then there is the question of investigating the evils of the closed bar. That all comes in; I do not know whether you would call it so much rehabilitation as the regeneration of the industry. Personally, I have never been in favour of the closed bar with the sealed-up windows, and the thick smoke, bad ventilation and all the rest of it. I think it is all just stupid. It all arose at a time when we had, I think, quite wrong conceptions about these things. I believe the more that is done in the open the better it is for everyone concerned. That is a rational thing to do, and personally I would rather see the system of the open bar than see all the people standing around outside, with mugs on the window 1629 sills and all that kind of rather unseemly thing because the inside is too small. If anything can be done that has a tendency to go against the herd-like habits that grew up out of the Victorian period in this refreshment trade, I think the better it will be for the health of everyone. However, that is a matter which can be investigated.
The other point was raised by the hon. Member for Harwich (Mr. Holmes), as well as my hon. Friend to whom I have just referred, the question of rehabilitation and priorities. As I said in the reply I made in Committee, no Parliament would be willing to hand to a Commission executive powers over Government finance. I think my hon. Friend would be the first to object if anyone brought forward such a proposal. We are trying to measure this problem in a different way, as he will see in other proposals as the Session goes on. What stands out prominently, I think, is that we cannot grapple with this problem of employment, decent wages and all the rest of it unless the dominating factor, the yardstick, is man-power and energy and how you use it, and the opportunities for using it. Therefore, when I said in Committee that we would get the Commission to give priority in considering it it was because this is one of the means of creating opportunities for employment. That is one thing which my right hon. Friend will agree with me in, I think.
At the end of this war there should be very little need for new factories. There will be an over-productive capacity on the manufacturing side. You have only to look around, and that is obvious. Therefore, while you have housing, even when you measure your building and look at it purely from a man-power point of view, there is available labour which can be diverted for problems of this character, because instead of there being the normal construction which would have gone on in the ordinary way for industry, we have over-built, at least for a number of years. Surely we shall not pull that down and allow other construction to be built and thus waste capital. That would be just stupid. As to the problems facing hon. Members in seaside places, I would say it is not only the seaside. It is over the whole field that this matter has to be taken up, only under separate headings and with a differentiation of claims.
1630 The other point which has been raised is the question of training. The Ministry of Labour has a great task, covering a very wide range of industry, with regard to training. We want this catering business to have its proper place and rank pari passu with the claims of other industries in the training which is to be developed. We shall be very glad of, and I am sure we shall have, the help of the President of the Board of Education, and there will be special problems arising the treatment of which this Bill will facilitate. It is obvious that in the field of education and training for the adolescent things are moving very fast, and the form of training and part-time education and all the rest of it for our young people will affect this industry very much. Just as we shall have to talk over with other industries how we are going to manipulate and apply it, so to meet the special case of this industry the President of the Board of Education and other Departments will very gladly receive advice.
Exchange between this and other countries did take place, but I am sure the hon. Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bracewell Smith) will appreciate that it was on a very limited scale. I would like to see, when Europe, America, and the other countries settle down at the end of the war, the development of agreed exchanges in which the opportunities were wider. I would like also to see the sycophancy taken out altogether from the workpeople's point of view. I take the view that whatever steps are taken to exchange people between one country and another and one race and another, it means that something is being done more than making waiters; it can go a long way to build up understanding between peoples if you treat the people right that you are sending abroad and equally if you treat the people right whom you get here.
I hope I am not digressing, but it has a tremendous bearing on this. In the Prime Minister's speech he talked about the Europe he visualised. Well, I visualised that Europe in connection with this problem, the tourists and everything else, and with an entirely different conception of what will have to be in this business at the end of the war. It was all this kind of thing that led me to promote this Bill. The hon. Member for Dulwich says it does not go far enough. I know it does not. I know that he has tried. I do not 1631 remember whether it was actually introduced, but certainly I remember seeing—[Interruption.]—it was introduced—a catering Bill in this House, but it did not make much progress. I think that was a pity. I am not criticising that, but I believe that the Commission will give this House, as time goes on, a considered body of possible legislation for the development of a great new industry. I call it a great new trade in this country, but I cannot see how you can begin it unless you begin in the moderate form embodied in this Bill. You must pull labour and the employers, those people serving in the industry, together, and you must create sufficient belief in the fathers and mothers who are going to put their children in the industry that there is a career and a future in it if you are going to get rid of the sycophancy and all the rest of it that has been associated with the industry in the past. Then you will produce a different, and better, type of staff.
I do not think it is derogatory for a Britisher to be a waiter, a chef or anything else of that character; but we want to lift the profession on to a level which will be attractive. The splitting up of the boards for various parts of the industry, to which one hon. Member referred, will have the effect, I think, of attracting different types. At present there is too much of a tendency to look upon catering as if it was all one thing, from a teashop to a hotel or a youth hostel, to say, "A waiter is a waiter," and so on. This division will tend to attract the right temperaments to the right branches of the industry, and will certainly help my Ministry, in the other field of training, to have a better chance of knowing what to train for, and what types we should be trying to get into the industry. I express my very grateful thanks to my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich for his kind offer, as the President of the Hotel Association—an offer, which I always believed I should get, in spite of those little ever-present conflicts which went on—not with him, of course, but with some of those concerned in the agitation. I always believed that that great Association would, in its own interest, and, what is more important, in the interest of the future of the industry in this country, try to make this scheme a great success, which would lead possibly to bigger things as a result of the experience gained. Without 1632 discourtesy, I do not think I need reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chorley (Sir D. Hacking). His speech was really an attempt to preach a funeral oration at a resurrection. To me, it did not seem at all fitting. He seemed to have come to the wrong ceremony. I do not think I need make any point of that.
§ Sir Joseph Lamb (Stone)
The Minister has dealt very adequately with the question of-training waiters. I would be glad if he could say that there would be training for the inspectors who are to be appointed. They will have a very delicate operation to perform, not only in connection with the inquiries they will have to make, but also because, under the Bill, they will be allowed the privilege of representation before the courts. They will——
§ Mr. Bevin
I cannot have an argument with my hon. Friend, but in the Committee stage we dealt with what their powers were. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Nottingham (Major Gluckstein), who also told me that he had to go, tried to show that this was a thoroughly bad Bill; but, of course, with all respect to my hon. and gallant Friend, everyone in his profession knows that, if you are really briefed, if you want to make a speech up one street you can do it very effectively. I have no doubt that he could have proved the merits of the Bill equally well. I was an amateur at the game myself some years ago, and I learned a bit about it. But this is a Bill which has to be worked in a workmanlike way. It is no good trying to pick out one word and setting it against another, and saying that that is bound to produce such and such a result. This Bill sets up a Commission. What is very important, it sets up wages boards. The wages boards will act, I am certain, with com- 1633 mon sense. I think it was Lord Robert Cecil who many years ago was once making a speech in this House—or in the old House—on industrial problems during a great dispute, and I remember being in the Gallery. A great legal luminary answered him by saying, "These industrial agreements are all illogical; they are badly drawn," and Lord Robert Cecil said, "That is why they work." Although that may seem jocular, there is a lot of truth in it. If you had to put these wages agreements to the test of pure legality, none of them would stand such a test; but, like many other things in this country, they work.
I rely mainly on the creative Clauses of this Bill, the Clauses which create the Commission, which create the wages boards, which create the opportunity for the Commission to investigate and report on all these problems. It is the creative side of the Bill which I have striven to achieve more than anything else, and I have striven to make that effective and workable. I believe that as time goes on other Measures will emerge, shaping this great service into what may yet become one of our most profitable industries—profitable in the real national sense, profitable in service, contributing, as I think it must do, to the organised leisure of our country, contributing to the morale of our people after the war, contributing, as I believe it will, by the sources of wealth it can bring to the country. I hope that this Bill will be just the digging-out of the first foundation, upon which a good edifice may be built.
§ Question, "That the Bill be now read the Third time," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read the Third time, and passed.