HC Deb 13 March 1947 vol 434 cc1485-6
46. Mr. Osborne

asked the Minister of Labour if he will consult the National Federation of Building Operatives in order to institute a scheme of payment by results wages, and so hasten the building of urgently needed working-class houses.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Isaacs)

This question has already been discussed with the National Federation of Building Trade Operatives, and the matter is now under consideration by both sides of the industry.

Mr. Osborne

Is the Minister aware that these old-fashioned, out-of-date trade union restrictive practices are largely responsible for the housing shortage; and will he get what I call the second-rate trade union leaders to read his own White Paper in order to realise the tragic position we are in?

Mr. Isaacs

It might not be a bad idea if other second-rate classes of people began to study these questions. If that happened we should not get so many Questions as we do from the other side of the House. So far as the out-of-date restrictions are concerned, as I have said, these matters are the subject of negotiations between both sides of the industry, and throwing brickbats at them whilst they are in negotiation does not help.

Mr. George Wallace

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a very uneasy, unsettled atmosphere in the building trade at the moment, owing to suggestions of the nature just given being made; and will he indicate to the House that if there is any delay in the negotiations now taking place he will take decisive action to save people having to wait for homes?

Mr. Isaacs

We are following the practice of encouraging and assisting industries to get down to this question. We have given considerable assistance, advice and guidance—guidance rather than advice at the moment. We are anxious to see this thing brought to a conclusion. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. G. Wallace). If there was not so much stone throwing about this we could get the matter settled.

Mr. Marples

Is the Minister aware that when the last wage increase was introduced in the building trade on time rates in January, 1946, the Incentive Committee made a promise as a result of that, and that that Incentive Committee have not yet reported, after 15 or 16 months' work?

Mr. Isaacs

I think the Incentive Committee have reported to their respective organisations. Other Ministers and myself have met the Federation. We know of their difficulties and problems, and they are now entering into negotiations with the employers over that matter, so I am advised.

Mr. Bossom

When the right hon. Gentleman does bring this matter to a conclusion, will he publish the conclusion in the OFFICIAL REPORT?

Mr. Isaacs

If it should be brought to a conclusion by the action of the Minister of Labour it can be published. But should it be brought to a conclusion by negotiations between the parties it will not be published. However, I am sure hon. Members will know about it from their constituents.

Mr. M. Lindsay

If the Govenment had given a lead instead of being neutral on this important problem for more than a year, and if this problem had been solved, would not many more houses have been built since then?

Mr. Isaacs

The retort is so obvious that I almost refrain from making it. If other people had given a lead in years gone by we should not be in the position we are in now.