HC Deb 27 November 1957 vol 578 cc1129-30
1. Mr. Gibson

asked the Minister of Labour what steps he proposes to take to carry out the repeated recommendations of the Catering Wages Commission for the establishment of a wages board for the 100,000 employees in the unlicensed residential establishments.

11. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that there are approximately 100,000 workers engaged in the catering industry whose wages and conditions are not covered by the Catering Wages Act; and if he will introduce amending legislation and thus provide protection for these workers.

The Minister of Labour and National Service (Mr. Iain Macleod)

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply given to the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis) on 13th November.

Mr. Gibson

Surely the Minister realises that that answer is completely unsatisfactory? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Is the Minister aware that the Commission has expressed itself very strongly about the delay in setting up a wages board for unlicensed residential establishments and that it says in its Report for 1956 that it has repeatedly pressed for the fullest implementation of the Catering Wages Act? It goes on to say that 100,000 workers are without the protection prescribed for them by the Act. Is it not time that the Ministry made up its mind that those important sections of the catering industry should have the protection that this House has afforded them?

Mr. Macleod

I wish it were as simple as that. I think everybody who has been Minister of Labour and has studied this problem has come to the conclusion that we cannot solve the problem of the small boarding house in a way appropriate to other sections of the industry.

Mr. Fernyhough

Is the Minister proposing to ignore entirely the provisions of the Act and the representations of the Commission? If so, why not abolish the Commission? What purpose does it serve if its representations are to be ignored? Why is the Minister so solicitous of the well-being of the employers in this branch of the industry and so indifferent to the well-being of the workers?

Mr. Macleod

It is a question of finding a practical method of carrying out the Act. So far as the future of the Catering Wages Commission is concerned, I have said in my reply that the problem can only be solved as part of a review of the whole problem of catering wages.