§ 15. Mr William Hamilton
asked the Minister of Labour if he will make a further statement on the dispute at Foyle's bookshop; and whether he is satisfied that the firm is conforming with all statutory provisions concerning wages and working conditions.
§ Mr. Thornton
With the help of the regional industrial relations officer, this dispute has now been settled and normal working was resumed on 12th July. I said in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Norwood) on 14th June that I would arrange for inquiries about compliance with the provisions of the appropriate Wages Councils Order, and I will do this now that the dispute is settled. I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend on 14th June about the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Is my hon. Friend aware that there will be considerable satisfaction in all parts of the House that this dispute has been settled in the manner he has described, but will he take the matter a little further? Will he give an undertaking that there will be an investigation of the entire retail book trade, particularly in the West End of London, in respect of which suggestions were made to us at a meeting upstairs that there were conspiratorial tendencies among the owners of these retail shops to reduce wages and jeopardise working conditions generally?
§ Mr. Thornton
As regards the latter part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, the evidence we have in the Department does not confirm what he 13 says. Inquiries and examinations which have been made over the past two and a half years reveal a state of affairs in relation to West End booksellers in which the rate of errors, underpayments and non-compliance is only about one-tenth of the rate in the United Kingdom as a whole.