HC Deb 29 November 1960 vol 631 cc186-7
19. Mr. C. Hughes

asked the President of the Board of Trade how long on average it takes his Department's Advisory Committee to deal with applications under the Local Employment Act, 1960.

Mr. N. Macpherson

Between three and four months from the time when the applicant supplies the necessary information.

Mr. Hughes

Will the Minister look at this again? Where it is clear that the application is one of real substance, could not the procedure be expedited? A long delay of three or four months often frustrates very good applicants.

Mr. Macpherson

We hope to get the time down by possibly a month, but it is essential that there should be the fullest technical and accountancy examination of every application.

32. Mrs. Castle

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to see that firms receiving loans or grants of public money under the Local Employment Act, 1960, observe the conditions of the Fair Wages Resolution.

Mr. N. Macpherson

This is not a matter covered by the Local Employment Act. Our concern in administering the Act is to assist firms providing additional employment appropriate to local needs. The Fair Wages Resolution relates to contractors engaged in the execution of Government contracts.

Mrs. Castle

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some of the firms which have been receiving public money in the form of loans and grants are refusing to allow trade union organisation in their works and are not observing trade union conditions? Does he not think that it is intolerable that public money should be used to encourage this out-of-date mentality? Is it not possible for him to arrange—and will he, therefore, do so—to make the granting of Government help conditional on the acceptance by the firm of the Fair Wages Resolution?

Mr. Macpherson

No, Sir; I do not know that that would be right. Our object under the Local Employment Act is to provide employment. If it is claimed that the terms and conditions in a factory which is set up with Government aid are not as favourable as under the nationally negotiated arrangement, then it is open to the employers' association or the employees' association to refer the matter to the Industrial Court under the Terms and Conditions of Employment Act, 1959.

Mr. Lee

Is the hon. Gentleman really saying that public money can be used to set up types of industry which will operate below the level which is enforced in other industries or other parts of the same industry? Is not this merely a matter of setting up scab conditions?

Mr. Macpherson

What I am saying is that we should not make such conditions in granting loans. It seems to me no more reasonable to make it a condition that the industry should comply with the Fair Wages Resolution, which does not apply to any but Government contractors, than it would be to make it a condition, for example, that the factory should comply with the Factories Act.