HL Deb 13 February 1940 vol 115 cc526-8

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

3.34 P.m.


My Lords, the main purpose of this Bill is to give the Minister of Labour and National Service powers to modify or suspend certain provisions of the Trade Boards Act and of the Road Haulage Wages Act by means of regulation. The idea is not that there should be any drastic alteration by regulation, but simply that those two Acts should be adapted to present war-time conditions in the way that is felt to be necessary by everybody connected with the industry. For instance, under the Trade Boards Act a trade board has to give two months public notice before the rates of wages can be submitted to the Minister of Labour for confirmation. That, in these days, I think your Lordships will agree, is far too long. Therefore it is proposed to allow the trade boards to reduce the period of notice before they submit a rate of wages to be confirmed, provided that that time is no less than two weeks instead of two months. Again, trade boards cannot function unless there is present a definite quorum; which has to be at least one-third of the members representing employers and workers. It is proposed by the new regulation that there should be one representative of employers, one of the workers and one independent person, so that it will be very easy to obtain meetings and get on with the business.

There is one other point which is of some importance. That is that under the Road Haulage Wages Act licences are given to vehicles and to drivers of vehicles, but the Minister of Transport, since the war began, has found it preferable to give war-time permits, and therefore the whole arrangement of the Act hardly fits in with the war-time permits as it is always confined to licences. Under this Bill the permits will come in equally with licences, and, if the war went on long enough, would gradually supersede the licences altogether. I might perhaps mention one further point. As your Lordships know, there are A, B and C licences. The C licences are confined to those who carry goods not for profit but for the purpose of their own business. The Minister of Transport, rightly as I think your Lordships will feel, has arranged that there should be groups of vehicles by means of which they will be able to help each other and save petrol. There are some cases where owners of C vehicles do carry goods for other people, but that obviously is not turning a C into an A or a B licence. Therefore it is proposed in those cases that they should be treated as C licences, although in fact it is not quite so according to the present law. I may say that the whole of this legislation is purely temporary and it will come to an end at the termination of the emergency. It has been submitted both to the employers and the workers. Everybody connected with the industry is entirely satisfied with it and agrees with the provisions of this Bill, [hope therefore that your Lordships will be prepared to give it a Second Reading.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Earl Stanhope.)


My Lords, this Bill has passed through all its stages in another place. It has received careful examination from those who are experts both in regard to wages, conditions and hours and those who are concerned in general transport questions. I speak for the trade unions on this occasion, and ask your Lordships to remember that they are very anxious that the Bill should pass at as early a time as possible. Therefore I hope that the general commendation of the Bill will justify your Lordships in giving it a Second Reading and passing it through all its stages without undue delay.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.