HC Deb 01 December 1949 vol 470 cc1293-4
1. Mr. C. S. Taylor

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is now in a position to make a statement about the effect of the Catering Wages Act in relation to the tourist industry, having regard to experience during the 1949 season; and what action he proposes to take in this matter.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Isaacs)

I am in consultation with the two sides of the industry but I regret I cannot add anything at the moment to my reply to the hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Ferny-hough) on 3rd November.

Mr. Taylor

No doubt the Minister has seen on the Order Paper an all-party motion asking for an inquiry to be held into the Catering Wages Act and its workings, and can he tell us whether he is willing for such an inquiry to be held?

Mr. Isaacs

I am in consultation with both sides of the industry upon the whole matter.

Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to the Report and Accounts of the Transport Commission, page 173, and the difficulties arising in their view from the administration of the catering wages regulations, and will he take that into consideration in his consultations?

Mr. Isaacs

I do not think that I can be more fair than to say that I am in consultation with both sides with a view to getting some sort of examination of the whole matter.

Mr. McCorquodale

Can the Minister say when he is likely to be able to make a statement on the matter?

Mr. Isaacs

I do not want to be too definite, but I would like to be able to make a statement next week.

Mr. Fernyhough

Is it not the case that the greatest difficulty in this industry is because for the first time in its history it is having to pay those engaged in it a decent wage, and will he assure the House that he will in no way permit the employers to go back to the deplorable conditions which existed prior to this Act?

Mr. Isaacs

We shall deal with this industry as we deal with others, and trust entirely in the industry itself to come to an amicable understanding.

Sir Stanley Holmes

Is the right hon. Gentleman doing anything in the public interest to prevent the closing of hotels during Christmas, and is he aware that hotels have been closed owing to the excessive charges put upon them by the Catering Wages Act?

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Is it not a fact that if the employers in the industry were to become progressive enough to form a voluntary joint industrial council, there would be no necessity for any of these difficulties?

Sir Peter Macdonald

Is the Minister aware of the amount of unemployment there is in the hotel and catering industry today and the number of hotels which have been obliged to close down as the result of the Act, and will he say what steps he is taking to hurry up an inquiry into this matter, so as to prevent further unemployment before the winter is over?

Mr. Isaacs

I must refer the hon. Gentleman to my first answer. I am in consultation with both sides of the industry.