HC Deb 13 July 1960 vol 626 cc1368-9
3. Mr. Gourlay

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what were the average weekly earnings of manual workers in Her Majesty's Rosyth Dockyard, in the years 1950 and 1959, respectively.

Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing

In October, 1950, the average weekly earnings of the adult male industrial employees in Rosyth Dockyard wore £6 10s. 3d., the average hours worked being 47.8. In October, 1959, the average weekly earnings were £11 9s. 2d. for 45.7 hours worked.

Mr. Gourlay

Is the Civil Lord aware that, having regard to the considerable reductions in the value of the £ during those nine years, great hardship will be caused if the assisted travel scheme is dispensed with? Will he give an assurance that, in looking after the interests of the taxpayers, he will not attempt to offset the £100 million lost on Blue Streak by saving £45,000 at the expense of the employees in Rosyth Dockyard?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

Even taking into account the changes in the purchasing power of the £ between the two dates mentioned, the average man is considerably better off, in real terms, in 1959 than he was in 1950, although he works two hours less per week. With regard to the other point raised, I have assured the House and other hon. Members who have asked me about it that we will consider the matter, but I have made it clear that the assisted travel scheme was never considered as part of the wages of the men who worked there.

Dr. A. Thompson

Is the Minister aware that the statistical figure of average wages which he gave disguises the low level of the unskilled labourers, who earn £8 4s. a week? In travelling to the dockyard they have to leave their homes at 5 o'clock in the morning, and they do not get back until 6 o'clock at night. Will the Minister bear in mind the hardship involved to those earning low wages in the forthcoming review of conditions in the dockyard?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I am aware that the average weekly wage may be misleading, but I was asked for it and I quoted it. I will bear the other point in mind.