9. Mr. H. Wilson
asked the President of the Board of Trade the total amount of compensation paid by the Raw Cotton Commission under the Redundancy Provisions of the Cotton Act, 1954, and also the number of redundant members of the Commission's staff who were given three and six months' notice of redundancy, respectively.
The total amount of compensation paid to date by the Raw Cotton Commission under the Cotton Act is £30,055 4s. 7d. Fifty members of the staff were given three months' pay in lieu of notice, and 119 received six months' warning notice of redundancy.
In view of the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman on the Committee stage of the Bill and subsequently, about equality of treatment to all members of the staff, does he not feel that this arrangement, under which some were given three months' and others, at a later stage, six months' warning, does involve discrimination, and would he ask the Raw Cotton Commission to look into the matter and to try to get equality?
I do not think I can agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it amounts to unfair discrimination. The three months' payment in lieu of notice was a lump sum payment free of tax. I think that, if the right hon. Gentleman thinks about it, he will find that, financially, it compares favourably with the payment of taxed salary for a six months' period which has to be worked out.
10. Mr. H. Wilson
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the Raw Cotton Commission has been suddenly declaring officers redundant in order that they may be available for employment in the Liverpool Cotton Market; and whether compensation will be paid to these officers.
There has been no sudden decision by the Raw Cotton Commission to declare its officers redundant in order to make them available for employment in the Liverpool Cotton Market. If the Commission is able to release any employee who has obtained a job—whether with the Liverpool Cotton Market or not —before the date on which he is scheduled to become redundant, it tries to do so. Staff released in this way are entitled to compensation if they have the necessary qualifications under the compensation scheme.
As the right hon. Gentleman has been informed of a number of cases of officers of the Commission who, knowing they were going to become redundant, sought alternative employment and have not had a penny compensation, is there not some discrimination here, when other officers in the same Department, perhaps only a week or two later, have been subsequently released in order that they might take on other work, and have been given full compensation? Would not the best way out of it be for the right hon. Gentleman to arrange for compensation to be paid to the former category which I have mentioned?
The question was considered whether compensation should be paid to those who left of their own accord, quite apart from redundancy. It was decided that a line had to be drawn somewhere, and that that category could not be included. That was recommended by the Raw Cotton Commission and approved by the Ministers. As regards the second part of the supplementary question, I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the Raw Cotton Commission is right to be as sympathetic as it possibly can in anticipating redundancy and giving notice as early as possible, so that those concerned can take up alternative employment.
Will the right hon. Gentleman look again at this particular case in view of the obvious anomalies created by the situation which he has been describing?
I said that I did not really think that there are anomalies. The Ministers concerned considered the whole matter very carefully before they approved the compensation scheme. I think that we must leave the application of the scheme to the Raw Cotton Commission