HC Deb 23 May 1960 vol 624 cc1-5
1. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the fact that industrial unrest is increasing in the engineering industry, if he will appoint an independent committee of inquiry to make a thorough examination of the wages, conditions, differentials received, and technical knowledge required of the skilled men engaged in the engineering industry, indicating in their report the relative reward received compared to others engaged in services and non-productive and non-exporting industries.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Edward Heath)

No, Sir.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Last April the Minister sent me some excellent statistical information which I very much appreciated. Will he now have it published in the OFFICIAL REPORT so that all can see the policy of devaluation of skill which is being carried out by the engineering employers, and will he reconsider the postwar policy, which all Ministers of Labour have pursued, of holding the rein rather than adopting the policy carried out by Ernest Bevin of having investigation prior to disputes?

Mr. Heath

The information which I was able to send the hon. Gentleman consisted of a very large amount of material. However, I have noticed that considerable interest has been expressed in it since I sent it to him, and I will therefore see whether it is possible, despite its length, for it to be published in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

With regard to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I recognise the importance of the point which he mentions, but, as he knows only too well, there is long-established machinery for dealing with these negotiations, and I think it must be left to those who take part to deal with these matters.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

While not agreeing that an independent committee is necessary, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that there are a number of people who are not quite happy about the relations in the engineer-

The Tables below show the level of average minimum or standard time rates for the designated occupations in July, 1914, at the end of December, 1920 and 1930 and at 21st March, 1960. The relative index numbers based on July, 1914 = 100 have been calculated and are also included. In addition where possible at each date the rate for the higher paid occupation in each industry has been expressed as a percentage of the rate for the lower paid occupation in the same industry. Owing to the complicated wages structure in the coalmining industry at the earlier dates similar information cannot be given.

ing industry at the present time? Would it not be a good idea for the House to have a debate on industrial matters in, perhaps, the not too far distant future?

Mr. Heath

That is a question for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and hon. Members.

Following is the statement:

Railway service
Date Weekly Rates in monetary terms (see note (1)) Weekly Rates expressed as percentage of level at July, 1914 = 100 Engine drivers' rate expressed as percentage of passenger porters' rate
Engine drivers (according to year in grade) (see note (2)) Passenger porters (grade 2) in industrial areas excluding London Engine drivers (according to year in grade) Passenger porters (grade 2) in industrial areas excluding London
s. d. s. d.
July, 1914 40 6 19 2 100 100 211
s. d. s. d.
31st December, 1920 88 0 to 106 0 67 0 217 to 262 350 131 to 158
31st December, 1930 72 0 to 90 0 42 0 178 to 222 219 171 to 214
4th April, 1960 214 0 to 240 6 Commencing 528 to 594 Commencing 135 to 151
159 0 830 over
After 2 years After 2 years Commencing
164 0 856 rate
130 to 147
over rate after 2 years
Notes—(1)The rates shown for 1914 are the estimated approximate averages of the rates actually paid. For later dates they are the agreed standard rates.
(2)Extra payment is also made when performing over a certain mileage per day.