HC Deb 13 November 1956 vol 560 cc735-6
26. Mr. Woodburn

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that economical arrangements agreed between certain companies and their employees to pay wages by cheque, although working satisfactorily to all, have had to be abandoned on legal advice; and if he is prepared to examine the law to make possible economies of such a character.

Mr. H. Macmillan

I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, North (Sir N. Hulbert) on 23rd October last.

Mr. Woodburn

If the trade union movement and the employers' federations agree to a more scientific method of dealing with this problem of the weekly payment of wages, would it not be desirable, in order to avoid a great many of the robberies which now take place and the danger to people who have to transport this money along the streets, if some such arrangement as this could be facilitated?

Mr. Macmillan

Yes; I am very glad indeed to hear what the right hon. Gentleman says. It is a rather complicated legal question. I am having it looked at as a matter of urgency. The Minister of Labour and I are in consultation about it. We should, of course, have to consult the Trades Union Congress and others. If it is at all possible, I personally should like to see a rather obsolete rule of the law done away with and a more modern method adopted.

Mr. Bottomley

Can the Chancellor give an assurance that he will not bring about any change without full consultation with the Trades Union Congress? We want nothing to do with anything that reminds us of the Truck Act.

Mr. Macmillan

That is just why I said in the first place I was glad to hear what the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) said, and why, if this matter were to be dealt with, it could only be by general agreement that it was in everybody's interests, with proper protection to secure that nothing went wrong.

Mr. Osborne

Is not this new practice solid evidence of the high wages being earned under the Tory Administration?