HC Deb 27 November 1973 vol 865 cc205-6
22. Mr. Charles R. Morris

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will establish a working party to inquire into the rates of remuneration earned by schoolchildren undertaking casual and part-time employment.

Mr. Dudley Smith

I have no evidence of need for such an inquiry.

Mr. Morris

Is the Minister aware that, apart from the case of my 15-year-old constituent, who received the sum of £2.50 for over 20 hours' work, there is a widespread problem associated with youngsters who are understandably seeking pocket money from part-time employment and receiving rates of pay which bear little or no relationship to the rates of pay received by adult workers doing precisely the same job?

Mr. Smith

I do not think that the position should be exaggerated. I shall be happy to look up the case in question if the hon. Gentleman will give me particulars. Where employment is within the scope of wages councils—that is, in most shops, cafés, and so on—minimum rates of pay are laid down and enforced wherever possible. A lot of young people are very keen. The word gets around about the right price for the job and they get it. But there may well be examples of exploitation, and if the hon. Gentleman has particulars of other cases I shall be pleased to see them.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Is the Minister aware that many young people want to do jobs, such as newspaper rounds, in their holidays or in the early mornings and that nothing should be done to disturb this situation?

Mr. Smith

I agree with my hon. Friend. A lot of young people get satisfaction out of doing a job and, as has been said, get pocket money as well. It is important that that situation should be allowed to continue, but it is equally important that there should not be exploitation.

Mr. Kinnock

Does the Minister realise that it is impossible to avoid exploitation in these circumstances, when many of the children can get pocket money only by getting up at half-past five or six o'clock in the morning to do jobs which nobody else will do? Also, will he reconsider his answer to my hon. Friend, in view of the vast number of young schoolchildren assisting parents in doing outwork for various small assembly firms, who are losing school time because of that and getting nothing for it?

Mr. Smith

I am not aware of that difficulty, but I shall look into it if the hon. Member will let me have particulars. But the periodic shortages of newspaper delivery workers indicate that the young people who do these jobs know what is the right price, and they are not slow to reject any offer which is below the rate.

Mr. Marten

Does my hon. Friend know the attitude of the Post Office Union towards the employment of juvenile labour at Christmastime?

Mr. Smith

I am speaking entirely off the cuff, but I believe that the union is not in favour of it.