HC Deb 11 May 1950 vol 475 cc579-80
80. Mr. J. Langford-Holt

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will make a statement on the results of the inquiry into the operation of the Catering Wages Act.

Mr. Isaacs

A very large volume of written evidence has been submitted to the Catering Wages Commission and the hearing of oral evidence is still proceeding. The results of the inquiry will not be known until all this evidence has been properly examined and considered by the Commission and the Commission makes its report to me.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when he ordered the setting up of this Commission he gave the impression to this House that it would proceed with the utmost urgency in view of the oncoming season? Can he say when its final results will be achieved, and when he will be able to take some action?

Mr. Isaacs

I think it is proper that I should inform the House that the arrangements the Commission made for hearings in January bad to be cancelled because the various sections of the trade were not ready with their evidence. As late as last week one important association, with 8,000 members, sent in its first notes of evidence, and arrangements have now had to be made for an oral hearing, so the delay has not been due to the Commission itself. The Chairman of the Commission is aware of the desire of the House to get a report as quickly as possible, and he is pushing on with the inquiry as fast as he can.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

Does the Minister appreciate the difficulty of the catering industry during the coming season? Would it be possible for him at least to make a statement to the effect that no steps will be taken until after the end of the season to implement any report which the Commission may issue, so that the industry will know where it will be during the season?

Mr. Isaacs

I cannot honestly give an undertaking of that kind, but I think I can properly say that the report is not likely to be in time for such changes as may require legislation to be undertaken before the end of the season. I must say that we should have been helped if the industry which made all this trouble had been ready earlier with its evidence.