§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Snell.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly:
§ [The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1 agreed to.568
§ Clause 2:
§ General functions of the Commission.
2.—(1) The Commission—
(a) shall make such inquiries as they think fit or as they may be directed by the Minister to make into the existing methods of regulating the remuneration and conditions of employment of workers to whom this Act applies, and into any other matter affecting the remuneration, conditions of employment, health or welfare of such workers;
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL moved, in paragraph (a), after "remuneration," where that word first occurs, to insert "hours of work and overtime." The noble Earl said: I can describe the object of this Amendment in a sentence. I want to find out from the Government, if I can, what effect the Bill will have on the hours of work and overtime of those engaged in the catering industry. I think there is a strong case for a statutory limitation of working hours, as well as for provisions relating to wage-rates, holidays, and periods of rest, if we are to get satisfactory conditions in the catering industry both during and after the war. The principle of regulating working hours has already been accepted in the principal measures of pre-war protective legislation; I should like to remind the Committee of the Factory Acts, the Shops Act, and the Young Persons (Employment) Act, which prescribe the length of the working week and the amount of overtime permissible for different classes of employees. At the present time, however, there is an even stronger case for the control of working hours, owing to the longer hours of work in almost every occupation due to wartime conditions.
§ Information which has reached me suggests that there are many people employed in the catering business who are working at the moment for unduly long hours. I do not wish to weary the Committee with examples, but I should like to mention two cases to which my attention has been directed. They are, I think, particularly flagrant and alarming, because they relate to girls of eighteen—that is to say, not to adult workers in the accepted sense of the term "adult." The first of these cases is that of a girl working in a canteen in an aeroplane factory, who has an average working week of 61 hours. The second case is also that of a girl working in a factory canteen. She works for different hours in alternate 569 weeks; on one shift she works as much as 79 hours in the week, including the weekend, and her average hours are 67 a week. I am sure that those cases could be parallelled by many others if the information were available.
§ The White Paper which was published yesterday by the President of the Board of Education and by the Secretary of State for Scotland lays down a policy which is a very welcome advance to all those who are interested in the problem of hours of work. It lays down that for those of sixteen and seventeen years of age—that is to say, for "young persons" in the legal sense of the expression—there should be a maximum working week of 48 hours as a general rule; exceptional circumstances, of course, may justify the relaxation of that general rule. If the Government accept a working week of 48 hours for those of sixteen and seventeen years of age, they must surely try to bring about a not very much longer working week for those of eighteen and nineteen years of age, those young people who are only a little older than those who will come within the limits of whatever legislation or Orders the Government may produce to implement the recommendations of the White Paper. I hope that these cases of working 60 hours a week or more will be investigated at the earliest possible opportunity, and the working of such long hours prevented.
§ What I had hoped that this Bill might do would be, in the first place, to authorize the Commission which will be set up under its provisions to investigate and report upon hours of work and overtime in addition to the other subjects with which they have been empowered to deal, and in the second place to give the Minister power to limit working hours by Order whenever he considers that they are unduly long. I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.
Page 2, line 10, after ("remuneration") insert ("hours of work and overtime").—(The Earl of Listowel.)
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM
As I am one of the few lawyers present at the moment, I rise to say that the words "hours of work and overtime" are in all probability, I venture to think, within the words "conditions of employment." If it is thought that this should be made clearer, I suggest that the right form 570 would be to say "conditions of employment, including hours of work and overtime." That is a formal alteration only, but I should be very much surprised to hear that the Government do not intend the words "conditions of employment" to cover such a material matter as hours of work and overtime.
§ LORD SNELL
The motive of this Amendment will gain the sympathy of the whole Committee, for the desire to prevent young people working excessive hours is common to us all. The effect of the Amendment, however, would be to give the Commission power to inquire into the existing methods of regulating hours of work and overtime, whereas under the Bill as drafted they are empowered to inquire only into the existing methods of regulating remuneration and conditions of employment. The Minister has very carefully considered this matter, and quite designedly it has been decided not to include that in the purpose of the Bill. On the other hand, in so far as "overtime" is to be interpreted as an enhanced rate of remuneration for work done after certain hours, overtime is clearly included in the expression "remuneration." If that is correct then it is thought that the first part of the noble Earl's Amendment is unnecessary. The Bill, however, contains no provision that would enable the Commission or wages board to deal with the regulation of hours of work. The Minister made this clear in the course of the debate in another place, and stated that the Government had deliberately refrained from including in the Bill any such provision. That is a matter which is dealt with by other legislation, such as the Shop Hours Act, the Factory Acts and especially the Young Persons (Employment) Acts.
The existing statutory provisions relating to the hours of work, so far as they affect the catering workers, are the Shop Hours Acts, 1912 and 1936, and the Young Persons (Employment) Act of 1938. These Acts contain elaborate provisions providing for the regulation of hours of employment and meal intervals in the case of shop assistants, and by the definition in Section 19 of the Act of 1912 a person wholly or mainly employed in connexion with the serving of customers or the receipt of orders or dispatch of goods in premises where the sale of refreshments or intoxicating liquors is carried on, is a shop assistant. Therefore 571 to that extent the purpose of the noble Earl appears to be met. Employees in public houses, restaurants and cafés are subject to the Shop Hours Acts as being shop assistants under those Acts. I do not think I need elaborate that further, except to express the opinion of the Government that it would be inappropriate in a Bill dealing with remuneration and allied matters to bring in this question of the hours of labour. But in so far as hours affect remuneration, the conditions of health and welfare, the Commission are empowered to make inquiries in regard to the wages and so on. Those inquiries will enable them, indirectly at any rate, to influence hours. The purpose of the Amendment is, we believe, to some extent met, but the Government cannot agree to any proposal to extend the scope of the present Bill, and we therefore hope that the noble Earl will not press his Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
If the position is as has just been stated on behalf of the Government, then I suggest that the drafting of this clause needs further looking into. The Bill says that steps can be taken with regard to the "remuneration and conditions of employment" of certain classes of workers. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Maugham, speaking as a distinguished lawyer, said that "conditions of employment" would naturally be taken to include hours of labour, and to a layman like myself that would certainly seem to be so. If a board has power to inquire into the remuneration and conditions of employment one asks oneself "What are the conditions of employment other than remuneration into which it will inquire?" The answer would obviously be "Of course, hours of labour and so forth." That would naturally be considered in ordinary phraseology to be a condition of employment. The noble Earl who moved this Amendment suggested that very likely the Government would reply that the point was already covered by the drafting of the Bill, but the noble Lord, Lord Snell, has just said "No," hours of labour are not intended to be included, and the Government give a reason why they should not be—namely, that the matter is dealt with in other Statutes. That may be a sufficient answer, but if so, and if the Bill goes to the public and the Courts in its present terms, there 572 is obviously an ambiguity which I think should be considered before the Bill reaches its next stage.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
I am in favour of this Amendment. I suggest that the noble Earl should withdraw it now and should see in black and white what the noble Lord, Lord Snell, has said and consider it with a view to moving an Amendment on the next stage of the Bill to cover the point.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord opposite for his very full statement in reply to my Amendment, and to those noble Lords who have taken part in the discussion and who have suggested that the clause might be improved if it were drafted differently. I therefore would like too fall in with their suggestions, that my Amendment should be dropped, and that I should be left free to propose another Amendment, differently worded, on the next stage of the Bill. I hope I shall have the assistance of the noble Lord who has raised this matter in solving the problem. There is just one question which I should like to ask the noble Lord opposite. The cases I mentioned were cases of girls working in factory canteens. There are, of course, now industrial canteens all over the country. May I take it that they are covered either under the Factory Acts or under the Shop Hours Acts? Are all canteen workers covered by the conditions of one of those Acts?
§ LORD SNELL
I think that is so, but I am not a lawyer and cannot be absolutely certain. But if there is any doubt about this we will clear it up at the next stage.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
I shall be most grateful if the noble Lord will give me an answer on that point. It is perfectly certain that if all these people are covered by existing legislation they are at present working hours of work that contravene statutory provisions, and I suggest that the Government, through their inspectors, should make a very careful inquiry in order to see that these legislative provisions are in fact carried out in all the firms and factories to which they apply. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 2 agreed to.
§ Clause 3 agreed to.573
§ Clause 4:
§ Establishment of wages boards.
§ 4.—(1) If the Commission are of opinion, as respects any workers to whom this Act applies and their employers, that such machinery as aforesaid for regulating those workers' remuneration and conditions of employment either does not exist or is not, and cannot by any improvement which it is practicable to secure be made, adequate for the regulation thereof, the Commission may make a recommendation to the Minister (here after in this Act referred to as "a wages board recommendation") for the establishment of a wages board in respect of those workers and those employers.
§ THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH moved, in subsection (1), after "thereof," to insert "or that there are no other means by which adequate remuneration and conditions of employment can be ensured as respects any workers." The noble Earl said: As we have already been reminded in the course of the discussions this afternoon, the main object of this Bill, broadly, is to establish a minimum standard of remuneration and conditions of employment in the catering trade and. to ensure the maintenance of that standard. "To fulfil this object several ways are evidently contemplated in the Bill—the setting up of joint industrial councils, the negotiation of agreements with representatives of trade unions, or the setting up of wages boards. These are the means by which it is proposed to attain that object. I do not think it is necessary for me to remind your Lordships that under the term "the catering industry" there is included an extremely wide range of trades and occupations, differing to a great extent one from another. It follows that in this industry remuneration and conditions of employment vary very much. But I can say this, that there are some sections of this industry at any rate in which rates of remuneration and conditions of employment are certain to be continually above any minimum standard which may be fixed. I would go further and say that they could be guaranteed to be maintained above that standard, indeed in some cases very much above that standard. Where such circumstances as these exist the main object of the Bill has already been attained, and consequently I suggest that the means of achieving it are not required.
§ The clauses dealing with the question of machinery for wage regulation are the 574 clause we are now considering and Clause 3. These clauses in the first place make the Commission responsible for ascertaining whether or not there exists machinery set up by agreement by organizations representing employers and employed which is at the moment, or which can be made, adequate for the purpose of regulating remuneration and conditions. If the answer to that question is in the affirmative, then the Commission may so report. If, on the other hand, the Commission are of opinion that no machinery exists, or that the machinery which exists cannot be made adequate, then the Commission may recommend the Minister to establish a wages board. These are the means designed to ensure that the objects of the Bill are achieved. In other words, as I put it just now, they are the means to the desired end.
§ If that end already exists without the means, is it necessary or even desirable to set up machinery that is not required? I know that Clause 4 uses the word "may" in referring to the recommendation for the establishment of a wages board, but it seems to me that the drafting of the two clauses does not leave the Commission any latitude even though they may find that excellent remuneration and conditions in certain sections already exist. In fact, the Commission appear to be placed in the position of having to have regard, not to whether remuneration and conditions are satisfactory and adequate, but whether machinery exists or not. I do not suppose for a moment that it is the desire of the Government to impose upon an industry by legislation unnecessary machinery or, to put it in another way, regulation simply for the sake of regulation. That at the moment is the point I wish to make. We naturally are all prepared to accept regulation to attain a desired purpose, but are we in love in this country with regulation merely for the sake of regulation? So it is that I rise to move this Amendment. If, as I trust, my noble friend Lord Snell is prepared to accept it on behalf of the Government, it seems to me, at any rate, that it will not impair or interfere with the objects of the Bill. Indeed, it cannot do so as it does not take away any of the powers possessed under the Bill by the Commission. On the contrary, it gives additional powers to the Commission so as to avoid the situation which the existing drafting seems 575 to create—namely, the setting up of machinery even when it is not shown to be necessary.
§ There is one further consideration to which I should like to draw your Lordships' attention. Parliament hitherto has accepted the principle that where remuneration and conditions of employment are not satisfactory, and cannot be improved by voluntary machinery, then the State must intervene. This principle is at the root of the Trade Boards Acts by which, when it is found that remuneration and conditions are unsatisfactory, to use the words of the Acts, they "accordingly require regulation" —"accordingly," not according to whether there is machinery or riot, but "accordingly" having regard to the rate of wages prevailing. "Accordingly" clearly is based upon the rate of pay, not upon the existence of machinery. The rates of remuneration must be unsatisfactory if there is to be intervention, and if under this Bill the Commission find in any section of the industry that remuneration and conditions are satisfactory, it is surely reasonable that the Commission should not be compelled to recommend the establishment of machinery such as a wages board for a purpose that already obtains. The Amendment I am moving seems to be o quite plainly in conformity with the principle hitherto accepted and adopted by Parliament for many years. Before I sit down I should like to ask my noble friend Lord Snell a question of which I have given him private notice—namely, whether he would be prepared, in the course of this or some further stage of the Bill, to state the position of hospitals under this Bill.
Page 3, line 18, after ("thereof") insert ("or that there are no other means by which adequate remuneration and conditions of employment can be ensured as respects any workers").—(The Earl of Bessborough.)
§ LORD JESSEL
I hope the Government will accept the Amendment which has been so clearly put by my noble friend. Some of these great businesses are so well conducted that it seems quite superfluous to set up machinery to inquire into their conditions. It seems to me that if this Bill comes into operation there will be plenty to do without going into and giving a lot of trouble to these businesses 576 which it is well known are conforming to the principles of the Bill. No doubt it is very inconvenient for a well-conducted business to be overhauled in the manner in which it would probably be by some official without experience. If, later on, it is necessary the Government can do it, but I suggest there will be plenty to do with businesses that require looking into. There is a considerable feeling growing all over the land that we are over-regulated by officials. I do not want to attack civil servants in the least. Everybody recognizes how efficient they are and, on the whole, their good sense. At the same time, to bring in a lot of officials who are not necessary does not seem to be a very profitable method. It will involve extra cost to the country and, above all, it will cause a good deal of annoyance. I therefore hope sincerely that the Government will take into consideration the weighty arguments which have been put forward by the noble Earl, who represents a great body of industry in this country, and will accept this Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM
I rise to support the Amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Bessborough because it is necessary in the circumstances of the case, if this Bill is likely to be used as a method of causing trouble for no advantage that can be conceived so far as the workmen themselves are concerned. My noble friend has called attention to the wide words in Clause 1, subsection (2), of the Bill as to the workers to whom the Bill applies. My noble friend Lord Snell has been asked to say whether hospitals are included in the undertakings there mentioned. For my part, speaking without having had the advantage of hearing the matter argued before me, I have no doubt that hospitals are undertakings within this clause and that all the people whom the hospitals employ in the supply of food or drink to the persons who are within their gates, and for other activities incidental or ancillary thereto, are included.
And there are a lot of other institutions which are, as far as I can see, also included in this subsection. There are all the members' clubs in the country, there are all sorts of institutions, such for instance as the Inns of Court of which I happen to be a proud member; there are such bodies as the City companies; there 577 are numbers of institutions which engage servants at a comparatively early age, keep them till they are quite unable to do any work at all and then give them a pension on their retirement. There is no reason on earth why those people should be interfered with in the least. But, as Lord Bessborough has pointed out, if there is a business this Bill is concerned with machinery for fixing wages. Well, without machinery at all the employees get far more money, as I know, than ordinary people who are in the wage market, so to speak, and are being paid just what the employers can get them to come for. They are favoured servants having all sorts of advantages; yet if you look at the Bill you find that they will be dealt with by the clause to which my noble friend has referred. Everything depends on there being a lack of machinery set up by agreement between organizations representing employers and workers adequate for regulating the remuneration and conditions of employment. There are any number of institutions in this country, any number of bodies, who are engaged in an undertaking within Clause 1, subsection (2) of the Bill and whose servants are getting, without any such machinery at all, wages at least as large as they would get by the setting up of machinery such as is mentioned here. Why should you interfere with them? I cannot understand quite why that should be the view of those who are supporters of this Bill.
Clause 3 speaks of there being machinery for wage regulations by agreement and then, as has been pointed out, Clause 4 says:If the Commission are of opinion … that such machinery as aforesaid for regulating those workers' remuneration and conditions of employment either does not exist or is not, and cannot by any improvement which it is practicable to secure be made, adequate for the regulation thereof, the Commission may make a recommendation to the Minister … for the establishment of a wages board.There is no hint there that such a regulation ought only to be made if the conditions prevailing in that industry, or the conditions under which people are employed by the persons who are carrying on the undertaking, are unsatisfactory. In my opinion, it is very desirable, unless we are going to make, or cause to be made, some useless wages boards, to have either the words which are suggested by my noble friend Lord Bessborough or some other words to show 578 that a wages board recommendation ought not to be made unless in some way the conditions regarding remuneration in the industry, or the portion of the industry, in question are unsatisfactory. It is quite true, as the noble Earl has pointed out, the word "may" is inserted in Clause 4, so that the Commission which will be set up need not necessarily make the recommendation; but in a case where there is no indication to them that they ought not to act unless there is some need for their interfering between employers And employed, the great probability is that the word "may" will be treated as more or less imperative and will lead to a vast number of wholly unnecessary wages board recommendations.
§ VISCOUNT DAWSON OF PENN
I rise to say quite briefly what importance I attach to the Amendment moved by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, which, in effect, I take it, imposes a prior duty upon the Commission to decide whether there is a case for saying that the conditions of wages and remuneration are not sufficiently satisfactory, and to take any further steps necessary. In my view, speaking as an amateur, one of the reasons why it is so important to introduce such an Amendment as this, is that Clause 4 involves the setting up of machinery which is very rigid and inflexible, and subsection (2) of Clause 1 is so all-embracing that one wonders where it will end, one wonders what activities in life could not be included in it. It seems pretty clear, for example, that hospitals would come under it, public schools would come under it, and, as the noble and learned Viscount has just said, clubs would come under it. One begins to wonder whether it would not embrace the whole world. If the provision is to be left in that all-embracing form it seems to me as a layman that is what it will do. Surely it is important to have a certain flexibility in the machinery to ensure that such activities and such institutions as manage the affairs of their workers well and satisfactorily shall be left alone and not be subjected to regulation and the action of machinery for machinery's sake. It is because subsection (2) of Clause 1 is drawn so broadly that it seems to me doubly important that there should be the kind of discussion that is provided for in the Amendment of the noble Lord.
§ LORD SNELL
The purpose of the Amendment moved by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, would appear to be to prevent the Commission recommending the establishment of a wages board in cases where adequate machinery and conditions of employment can be ensured by some other means, by the operation of machinery set up by agreement between organizations representing both employers and employed. Under Clause 4 as drafted the Commission are empowered to make wages board recommendations, subject to the fulfilment of the various requirements as to investigation and so on, where joint machinery does not exist, or, if it exists, where it is inadequate to do the work required of it. If the noble Earl will forgive me, I think that there is some doubt as to what is really meant by the words "other means by which adequate remuneration and conditions of employment can be ensured." The only obvious other means are by such statutory machinery as that of a trade board. In regard to trade boards, the agricultural wages boards and the Road Haulage Central Wages Board, special provision has been made in Clause 8 (7) whereby a wages regulation order cannot apply if and so long as jurisdiction with relation to the remuneration is exercised by one of the statutory boards or committees. It is recognized that duplication of machinery, which would result in some workers being covered by both a wages board and a trade board, for example, is undesirable. It might happen with this Bill in operation that those under one system might wish to transfer to the other, and this Amendment would make that impracticable.
The noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, stated that some rates above any possible minimum could be roughly ensured in certain cases. But the Bill does not rest on the question of inadequate wages. Let us remember always that the present times are abnormal, and what is happening at the present time when there is a scarcity of labour might not prevail in other times when there was a surplus of labour. You cannot, in my submission, legislate either in this or any other matter for individuals or for groups of individuals. Legislation must be based upon certain principles which will apply in times other than the moment when that legislation is passed. Though it is true that there are many employers who would 580 do more than justice to their employees, that is not a satisfactory basis for legislation. I remember a case where it was said that a whole city might be saved if there were ten righteous men in it. I do not know whether you can spare a whole industry from the inconvenience of regulation because there are some particular groups in that industry who would do justice to the workers in this respect.
The Bill rests definitely upon Whitley principles of collective bargaining, the value of which has been proved over the last twenty-five years. It does not give the Commission the duty to inquire into wages. It assumes that if there is an adequate machinery representative of both sides of the industry, results will be forthcoming which will do justice to all concerned. My noble friend Lord Jessel rather made our flesh creep by suggesting that these highly honourable undertakings were to be overhauled in the sense that they would be subjected to an efficiency inspection. That, I suggest, is a misconception of how the Bill would operate. What would happen would be that a wages board consisting of employers and workers would make proposals which, when confirmed, would have statutory effect. A good employer would benefit by the existence of such statutory regulation and therefore no great evil would be done to him.
Does not the noble Lord think it a little curious that employers do not take that view about this Bill?
§ LORD SNELL
I should not personally be startled at the fact that employers took objection to regulations. That is not a new thing in industry. If I may at this stage answer questions put to me by my noble friend about hospitals, the answer would be this: that the hospitals in so far as kitchen staff are concerned would come under the Bill like any other undertaking. That would also apply to the inquiry of my noble and learned friend Viscount Maugham about clubs. It would affect the kitchen staff. If noble Lords will refer to Clause 1 (2) they will see that the words are:The workers to whom this Act applies are all persons employed in any undertaking, or any part of an undertaking, which consists wholly or mainly in the carrying on … of one or more of the following activities,581 and then the activities are given. That would bring in the kitchen staffs of hospitals and similar institutions. I think there is nothing more that I can say in answer to criticisms which have been made by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, except that the Government have given this matter very close attention, that they feel it is unwise to load a Bill with exceptions, and that as the Bill generally rests upon the Whitley principle of collective bargaining, it is better to leave the Bill in that shape. I am sorry, although I have a great desire to please the noble Earl, that I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
I was rather shocked to hear what the noble Lord said by implication—that is, that he does not trust the members of the Commission in regard to their discretion as to whether to create a board or not. Surely if they are men of repute, as they would be if the Government appointed them, it could be left to them to appoint a board if they thought fit.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
I find it difficult—no doubt it is my fault—to understand the reply of the noble Lord, Lord Snell, to my Amendment. He seems to suggest that I was asking him to excuse the unrighteous because there are a few righteous. I never suggested any such thing. I do not ask that people should be blocked together, and I am not asking the Government to load the Bill for individual employers. The case I tried to make out was that there are great sections of the industry, not individual employers but great sections—the great hotel industry is an example—which pay rates of remuneration and provide conditions which would be above any minimum standards that might obtain. There must sooner or later be a fixed minimum, and the moment that minimum is fixed, whether a section of the industry is above it or not is a matter of fact. My noble friend spoke of the virtues of machinery and regulation. I am afraid that I cannot follow him there. I see no virtues in machinery and regulation except to achieve a useful purpose. Where a great section of the industry can establish as a fact that its conditions are much higher than the minimums established by the wages board, why must machinery be set up and officials en- 582 gaged to do work which is already done? That is the argument that I tried to put, and having regard to the amount of support that my Amendment has received I do hope that I may be so fortunate as to persuade my noble friend to reconsider this matter on the Report stage.
§ LORD NATHAN
I think that perhaps my noble friend Lord Snell may have given rather too limited an application of the terms of the Bill, in answering the question put to him by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, when he stated that the provisions of the Bill would be applicable, for instance, to hospitals in regard to their kitchen staffs. Is not that rather too limited an application having regard to the provisions of the Bill? Would it not, and should it not, also apply to the service staffs, and, bearing in mind that many hospitals have nurses' homes and provide lodgings, accommodation and food, would it not apply to the service personnel at those homes? I mention this point, for I feel that my noble friend would, perhaps, not wish it to go out to the world that the terms of the Bill, having regard to his answer to the noble Earl, have a rather more limited application than, according to my interpretation of the measure, would seem to be the case. Subject to that, my noble friends support the Government in the view which they take as to this Amendment. I can put in one sentence the reason why they support the Government as against the Amendment. That is that in the view of my noble friends there is nothing in this Bill which should make any good employer fearful.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
May I claim the indulgence of the Committee to state that I am not in the least wedded to any particular form of words in regard to my Amendment? It is merely the argument that my noble friend and I have adduced that I would like to have put to the Government. I should be glad if they could see their way to consider, at some future stage, whether or not some words might be found to embody the point which I have endeavoured to make.
§ LORD SNELL
I will of course refer that request to the Minister and to the Government, but I cannot personally give the promise asked for.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 4 agreed to.
§ Clauses 5 to 7 agreed to.
§ Clause 8:
§ Power to fix remuneration and holidays.
§ (3) Before submitting any wages regulation proposals to the Minister, a wages board shall make such investigations as it thinks fit and shall give such notice of the proposals as may be prescribed, stating the place where copies of the proposals may be obtained and the period (which shall not be less than twenty-one days from the publication of the notice) within which written representations with respect thereto may be sent to the board; and the board shall consider any written representations made to it within that period and shall make such further inquiries as it considers necessary and may then submit the proposals to the Minister either without amendments or with such amendments as it thinks fit having regard to the representations.
LORD MORRIS had given Notice that he would move to insert after subsection(2):
(3) In fixing the remuneration to be paid, the wages board shall take into account voluntary payments paid to the worker as a matter of common practice by members of the Public.
§ The noble Lord said: I do not propose to move the Amendment standing in my name as I understand that later in the Bill an Amendment to the same effect will be moved by Lord Hemingford in a form more acceptable to His Majesty's Government.
§ LORD ILIFFE moved, in subsection (3), after "fit," where that word first occurs, to insert "taking into consideration the convenience of the public, including visitors arriving from abroad." The noble Lord said: I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name. In view of the remarks made by my noble friend Lord Snell, when moving the Second Reading of the Bill, as to the importance of the tourist traffic to this country after the war—which Lord Nathan on behalf of the Labour Party emphatically endorsed—I have no doubt that this Amendment will be acceptable to the Committee. I am moving at the request of the Travel Association, which will, in all probability, be charged by the Government, after the war, with the responsibility of doing everything possible to attract visitors to this country. The importance of our tourist trade cannot be over-stressed. 584 After the war we shall be a debtor nation, and if the various schemes of social welfare which are now being discussed are adopted, the responsibility for finding a considerable part of the money necessary must necessarily fall upon the export trade. It behoves us, therefore, to do all we can to increase our exports, both visible and invisible. There is no more important invisible export trade than that provided by visitors to this country, and we cannot hope to attract visitors in large numbers unless we make their stay in this country both interesting and enjoyable, so that they will wish to come again and will induce others to come also.
§ The Travel Association will have to consider this problem. It is a problem which has many aspects, but one of the most important is that our hotels all over the country shall be well run. The accommodation must be satisfactory, the meals must be attractive, and the staffs must be well-trained and willing. If this Bill when it becomes an Act will have the effect of attracting enterprising young men and women to the hotel and restaurant industry, it will definitely help to solve our invisible export problem. There is nothing at present in the Bill which stresses the need for considering always the convenience of the public, and particularly of visitors who arrive from overseas. It may be suggested by noble Lords that such considerations would always be present in the minds of wages boards, and that it is quite unnecessary to incorporate the few words which I suggest in the Bill. My own experience when visiting some of our great Dominions entirely explodes that contention. I remember an experience which befell me when visiting Auckland, New Zealand. Having left the ship I reached my hotel at 6.30 p.m. and was told that it was impossible to serve a meal as, according to the regulations, no meals could be served after that hour. It is clear that at that time—the regulations may have been altered since—the restrictions and regulations were too rigid, and they made it almost impossible for travellers to receive attention at certain hours of the day. On arrival at hotels, meals or refreshments often had to be refused, however weary the travellers may have been. If that were to occur in this country, then instead of doubling the number of our visitors after the war, which is really essential, they would become fewer, and we should be 585 making a present of a considerable invisible export to countries such as France and Switzerland.
§ I do not desire to speak on this Amendment at very great length, but I should like to give the Committee one or two figures to show how important this tourist traffic can be. About 1,900,000 people visited France each year before the war, and some 1,200,000 visited Germany, but Great Britain secured only 600,000, of whom 200,000 were British people coming from various parts of the Empire. In France during 1929—I have this from a report issued by the National Office of Tourism, and dated March, 1930—the expenditure by tourists from abroad reached the staggering figure of £100,000,000, which was equal to one-third of the total of the French Budget for that year. So far as this country is concerned, still taking the same year, I found that not only was the number of visitors very much less but the average stay of each visitor also was some days less. As a result of those two factors, the total sum spent by visitors to the United Kingdom in the year 1929 was £22,444,000; that is to say, in round figures, £22,500,000 was spent by visitors in this country, as compared with £100,000,000 spent by visitors in France. I have taken the year 1929 as an example merely because there happened to be comparative figures which were readily available. I believe that with enterprise and imagination we can correct that position, but that will be impossible unless our hotels and country inns are made more attractive, and good service is not the least of those attractions. I beg to move.
Page 6, line 39, after ("fit") insert ("taking into consideration the convenience of the public, including visitors arriving from abroad").—(Lord Iliffe.)
§ LORD JESSEL
I should like to support this Amendment. I have always been interested in the Travel Association, of which I was one of the original founders. The experience related by the noble Lord in one of our Dominions is by no means an unusual one, as many will know who have had occasion to make these journeys, and I hope that it will not be possible for such a thing to happen here. The noble Lord made an excellent speech in proposing this Amendment, and produced some very convincing figures. I do not wish 586 to weary the Committee, but I do ask the Government to accept this Amendment as a measure of guidance. This is a very important matter. I hope that my noble friend Lord Snell will not be influenced by the fact that if an alteration is made the Bill has to go to another place. As a rule the Government say that they cannot accept an Amendment because it would delay the Bill going through, but in this case there is plenty of time, and this is a small but very important Amendment. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will not be as adamant on this as he has been on previous Amendments moved in Committee.
§ VISCOUNT BENNETT
I was greatly interested to read in the Press, when this Bill was introduced, that it would have a considerable effect on the tourist traffic. I was very interested in that question in Canada, where we introduced measures which made available a substantial sum of money for promoting the tourist traffic. The result was amazing. We established a sub-department under the Department of Railways and Canals, and we increased the tourist trade very considerably indeed. When I tell the Committee that in the year 1938 the value of the tourist traffic to Canada was $269,000,000 it will be realized how important that item had become. In addition to that, we ourselves spent in that year about $120,000,000 in going abroad as tourists, so that the net balance in our favour was something like $150,000,000, which is equivalent to export trade from Canada of $150,000,000 in a single year. In one year the amount was nearer $200,000,000 than $150,000,000, and as a matter of fact $187,000,000 was the net balance in favour of Canada.
I trust that in view of our experience and of my very confident belief that no trade will give a greater return to this country after the war than the tourist trade, the Amendment will be accepted. First, you must see that your hotels are very well run, but it is even more important that those who come here should know that they can obtain accommodation at those hotels. There are certain legal obligations which attach to innkeepers, and I trust the proposed Amendment will enable hotels to make reservations for overseas guests even though at the time it may seem to be inconvenient for members of the community. If that 587 were established and understood, it would be a very great help. We arranged on the great ocean liners for the sending of a message without charge asking for accommodation at a hotel on arrival, and that served a very useful purpose; but when people from abroad arrived at Southampton, Glasgow, or Liverpool there was a rush to send a cable reserving accommodation. If the Travel Bureau set up proper machinery—as I am sure that it will, from what I know of its activities—it will be able to assist greatly, but these regulations to be proposed by the wages board will have to deal with this problem as well, so that there may be certainty that the accommodation will be available for those who have not gone to the trouble of sending a cable from America before they sailed.
When one looks at the figures for France as compared with the figures here, it is a tribute to the activity of the advertising agencies and the promoters of visits in France, as against what has been done here. I trust that I shall not be misunderstood in making that observation, but I feel certain that with a little effort the invisible export item which can be created by tourist traffic in this country can be stupendous; and we certainly need it, and need it very badly indeed. If we could get £100,000,000 out of tourist traffic, we may well ask ourselves to what item of our export trade we could look to secure £100,000,000. When it is put in that light, it seems to me that there is a very excellent reason for adopting this Amendment. Those responsible, as the wages board will be responsible under this Bill when it becomes law, should always have in mind the convenience of the public, and particularly of those who come from abroad, so that we may secure in the most ample manner the benefit of this invisible export.
I hope that the Government will accept this Amendment, because I know that they feel very strongly the necessity of fostering our tourist trade after the war. The tourist trade is a very delicate thing. The tourist is very easily frightened away and nothing frightens him away more than gossip that the hotels do not give good service. As noble Lords have said, that has occurred in other parts of the Empire, and I hope that this Amendment will be accepted, 588 because it calls the attention of all those who have to administer the Bill to the vital importance of the tourist trade from overseas.
§ LORD HEMINGFORD
I want to mention in this connexion what I may describe as a comparatively modern institution, known to most of us as a road house—those inns of a modern type which have been built all over the country by enterprising people on main roads, very largely for the accommodation of motorists and tourists. Road houses are of course liable to be very much affected by this Bill, and they are certainly one type of catering establishment which almost more than any other will have an effect in determining whether visitors to this country find their stay here congenial or not. Most of your Lordships know how in the early days of motoring it was very difficult if you had to go a long journey by car to find places where you could get a decent lunch, much less a decent dinner, and less still a decent place where you could put up for the night. But British enterprise has risen to the occasion, and now all over the country there are these well run and very well managed inns or road houses of a modern kind, which are I think of the greatest importance to us in the matter of the tourist traffic, and Lord Bennett in his powerful speech has shown us that that traffic is a matter which requires the gravest consideration by the Government in connexion with this Bill. I hope therefore, that the Government will accept this Amendment.
§ LORD SNELL
In so far as the desire is to promote the tourist traffic from overseas in this country we are all agreed. The importance of the tourist traffic is fully realized by the Government, and it is one of the declared aims of the Government to use this Bill as a means for encouraging the tourist traffic. The Minister has given a specific undertaking that one of his first acts will be to ask the Commission to inquire into this matter, and it can be regarded as certain that the associations interested will have full opportunity of presenting their views to the Commission. The Amendment is limited to the wages boards, and in the view of the Government it would be too restricted in its effects, and any Amendment so far as the Commission are concerned appears to the Government to be unnecessary. 589 The effect of the Amendment would be to require a wages board, when making such investigations as it thinks fit before submitting wage proposals, to take into consideration "the convenience of the public, including visitors arriving from abroad," that is to say investigations would need to be directed with this in mind. It is of some interest to recall that during the course of the debates in another place a new clause was proposed which had for its object the placing of a statutory obligation on the Commission and the wages boards, in exercising their respective powers under the Bill, to have regard to the public interest and the importance of ensuring that the persons for whom accommodation and refreshment are provided by the catering industry are adequately served. After very full debate that Amendment was rejected, and it was declared by the Minister that the public interest and the interests of those employed in the industry are synonymous terms.
No objection can, of course, be taken to the view that, particularly in the catering industry, wage regulation proposals Should be framed with full consideration for the convenience of the public, including visitors from abroad. The industry exists to serve the public, and if it does not serve them there will be no public for it to serve, because the public will avoid the industry. One of the reasons for bringing forward this Bill is to enable post-war problems to be dealt with, and every additional person that the industry can employ will be an aid to resettlement after the war. Obviously the more the convenience of the public is met and the more visitors from abroad that can be attracted by the efficiency of the service provided, the more the interests of both management and workers will be secured. The wages board will be representative of both employers and employees, and it can therefore be safely assumed that full account will be taken of these factors at all stages of the board's deliberations. But the Government feel that it would be wrong to single oat the investigation stage as being the only one where such account should be taken.
I tried on the Second Reading of the Bill to express how keenly I personally felt about this question of tourist traffic. I said then, and I repeat now, that we do not make the most of what we have to 590 show to the world. We have very much to offer, but at the same time in the art of receiving visitors we have very much to learn from other lands, and I cannot help feeling that this discussion will help very much to show the need for our doing our best in that respect. It cuts me to the heart to be accused of heartlessness in regard to your Lordships' wishes, but as the Minister has stated that the question of the tourist traffic will be referred to the Commission for immediate inquiry I am very sorry that I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ LORD HEMINGFORD
May I ask one question? The noble Lord made a reference in the early part of his speech to the fact that this Amendment only dealt with the wages boards. He has made a most powerful speech really in favour of the intention of the Amendment, and I want to ask him whether he will give us some hope that he will at a later stage accept an Amendment to the earlier clause—Clause 2, I think it would be—to the same effect. He has told us much of the anxiety of himself and the Ministry to help the tourist traffic, and stated that it is one of the main objects of this Bill; but if we turn to Clause 2 we see that foreign tourists are not mentioned in any way, and the aspirations of the Government expressed on the Second Reaching about aid to the tourist traffic would carry more weight if this clause contained some words designed to help that traffic.
§ VISCOUNT BENNETT
Perhaps the noble Lord would not mind saying where "tourists" or "visitors from abroad" occur in the Bill. I have looked through it and cannot find any trace of these words. It was when I read in the Press about tourists that I was induced to read the Bill. I happen to be interested in this matter from this point of view, and as far as I can recollect there is no mention of tourists or visitors from abroad in the Bill.
§ LORD ILIFFE
I must confess that the speech of the noble Lord was really unsatisfactory. It cuts me to the quick to say so, but unless the noble Lord is good enough to give us some sort of assurance that the Government will introduce an Amendment on the Report stage to cover this point, I shall be compelled to press the matter to a Division.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT SIMON)
I wish to add a material piece of information which I have ascertained from the officials but which could not in the circumstances have been made quite plain in the debate hitherto. Of course it will be obvious to your Lordships that, on any view, the place to introduce this topic is not the place where this Amendment has been moved because this is about wages boards. It is very difficult to see how in discussing what the rate of wages should be the subject of attracting visitors from abroad comes in. It seems a rather odd place to put it, though we are not concerned here with matters of form but with matters of substance. The place where this sort of topic properly comes in is Clause 2 which deals not with what the wages board has to consider but with what the Commission have to do.
My noble friend Lord Bennett may be right in saying that the word "tourist" does not occur in the Bill, but he will take it from me that Clause 2 (1) (c) is in such wide terms that there can be no doubt that it covers this topic. The words are that the Commissionshall report to the Minister on any matter which he has directed them to inquire into and shall annually submit to him a general report on their proceedings.The information I give to the House specifically is this, that in another place the Minister gave a firm undertaking that he would, as soon as the Bill was passed, refer to the Commission under this subsection this very question and ask for a report upon it. You may ask, why not at a later stage put that particular reference into Clause 2 (1) (c)? I asked that question because, like the rest of us, the Government want to get this Bill right. There is a good answer. The answer is that there are, in point of fact, half-a-dozen things that the Minister would regard as very important matters into which the Commission should inquire—matters of quite a different character. For example, the rehabilitation of hotels in order that they may be ready for visitors, the getting back of furniture which has been taken away and put elsewhere—all sorts of things dealing with the revival of the hotel trade as soon as possible.
Your Lordships will see that it is not a technicality, but really a matter of 592 good sense, that you should not in a subsection put in one particular thing because all experience goes to show that, if you do, it may very well lead to misunderstanding as to the general width of the clause. I would not myself have thought that particular answer sufficient if the Minister had not given that undertaking. I am entitled on behalf of the Government—my noble friend Lord Snell will agree with me—to say that on this particular matter of how best to revive and promote our hotel trade with a view to attracting visitors and securing this invaluable addition to our resources and reputation, the Minister has assured the House of Commons that that is the very first thing he proposes to refer to this Commission under that general provision as soon as the Bill is passed. I hope my noble friend Lord Iliffe will feel that that does make a difference. I hope he will also feel that what he is now proposing in any case comes in the wrong place and could not be accepted, and that he will reflect whether that specific statement which I now repeat on behalf of the Government is not the appropriate way of dealing with the matter.
§ LORD HEMINGFORD
The Lord Chancellor, like Lord Snell, has obviously been very much in favour of the idea that is at the bottom of this Amendment. Might I suggest to him that if Clause 2 is taken as a whole we might very well put in a reference not merely to tourists but to the patrons of the industry? I suggest that an Amendment should come in Clause 2 (1) (a) instead of in Clause 2 (1) (c). That subsection, it will be observed, deals entirely with the workers. My plea is for an Amendment which would specify that the Commission should make inquiries from the point of view of the customers or patrons of the industry as well as from the point of view of the workers.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
The Lord Chancellor has said that half-a-dozen things ought to be included besides the matter under discussion. If this Amendment is put in there would be nothing to preclude the Minister from dealing, with the other five by regulation.
§ LORD JESSEL
May I ask whether this matter could not be reconsidered—we do not want to have a Division—on the Report stage? I have always been under 593 the impression, which long Parliamentary experience has confirmed, that what a Minister says is not always borne out by the Act. I have known of undertakings given on behalf of Ministers which were not included in the Bill, and. nothing happened. It would satisfy us, on behalf of the public as well as this particular industry, if these very harmless words were put in on the Report stage. It is not a question of time. Very often the Government come down here and say that such-and-such a Bill roust he passed now, and that they do not want to send it back to the other House in case the Bill should be lost. There is really no excuse in this matter whatsoever except a certain amount of obstinacy on the part of the Government. Therefore I hope this matter will be reconsidered in the light of the very strong feeling which has been expressed, and that some words may be put in on the Report stage to satisfy the supporters of the Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM
On the question of drafting I feel compelled to state that I can see no difficulty whatever in inserting some such words as are suggested in Clause 2 without precluding the Minister from directing a number of other matters to be inquired into. It is only a question of a few words. You might perfectly well say that the Commission shall report to the Minister on any matter which he has directed them to inquire into, including in particular the tourist traffic, or something of that sort. That would he perfectly easy to do. I would add this, in order to make my position clear, that my noble friend the Lord Chancellor is undoubtedly right in saying that the words in question are not very appropriate in the place where they have been proposed. Clause 2 is quite an appropriate place for their insertion. I would add that I have no doubt he is right that the Minister can ask the Commission under Clause 2 to report to him with regard to the tourist trade, but having said that I would point out that he is not bound to do so under the Bill as it stands, that the promise given in the other House, which will no doubt be is one which only relates to the existing Government, which may or may not be here when the question comes to be a practical one. Finally, I would say that if one of the main objects of the Bill is to help this country with regard to the tourist trade, it is very unfortunate 594 if nothing of the sort is mentioned in the clauses which we have been discussing to-day.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am greatly obliged to my noble and learned friend. I felt sure he would agree with me on the two points which I mentioned, first that, as sometimes happens in the best regulated House, this Amendment has really been brought forward on altogether the wrong clause—that is very easily understood and easily forgiven—and secondly, that the clause on which this question might well arise is Clause 2. I will venture to say that this is a matter which the Government will be glad to look at before we take the Report stage. It will be clearly understood that I am not taking upon myself to give any assurance, but it is quite obvious that there is a feeling, a very natural feeling, as to the importance of this matter which I entirely share, and, speaking for myself and looking at it as one who has had some acquaintance with drafting, I do not dispute Lord Maugham's proposition that it is possible to put such words in and still avoid the unfortunate consequences that do sometimes happen when you put in the particular case which is in your mind at the time. Whether it should be done by one set of words or another I do not know, and if it is clearly understood that no assurance has been given but that a genuine reconsideration will be given to the point, then I should hope my noble friend would be prepared to withdraw his Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
I do not wish to be indiscreet but it looks to me as if there is not to be a Report stage because every Amendment has been summarily rejected by the noble Lord in charge of the Bill. If we do not have an Amendment on this Bill now and there is no Report stage—
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
That is true, but if there is a Report stage it will give us more time to think it over. If this Amendment is put in now that will give us a Report stage and a Third Reading. Therefore I suggest that the noble Lord should press his Amendment and have it put in the Bill now.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I hope the Committee will not think that, in the circumstances, that is a reasonable way of dealing with what I have ventured to say. It is obvious we are endeavouring to find the best way of meeting the views that have been expressed and I should hope the Committee would regard with repugnance the idea of putting in an Amendment in a wholly wrong place in the Bill as the best contribution it can make for promoting the tourist trade.
§ LORD ILIFFE
I am quite willing to withdraw the Amendment if I get an assurance from the noble Lord, Lord Snell, in charge of the Bill that he entirely agrees with the views put forward by the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, and will undertake to give this matter consideration before Third Reading.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME
My only object in trying to get another stage of the Bill was to give us more time to consider this matter. On Third Reading you have not only to put the Amendment in exactly as it stands on the Paper but put it in the correct position, and it might be awkward to have to do that. I remember that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, told me once that he had got an Amendment in the wrong place on the Third Reading and that because of that there was no remedy.
§ LORD HEMINGFORD
I suggest that what has been said in the debate shows we are very much in favour of passing this Amendment now because, by doing that, we shall ensure a Report stage, and we can then have an opportunity of putting right any mistake which we may be making in this Amendment. I quite agree that this is not the proper place for it but I suggest that in the circumstances the only thing for us to do is to pass this Amendment now.
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM
May I make a suggestion with great deference? I think we are very anxious not to have any difficulty about this and there is no doubt that it is intended that this matter should be discussed on Third Reading if there is not a Report stage, but could not we agree to do this—amend the present Amendment by altering the language in which it 596 is printed so as to make it apply to Clause 2?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
We all mean the same thing. Nobody is trying to take advantage of anybody else. I quite see the point that if an Amendment was put clown only at the last moment the Third Reading is to be taken it is possible that examination might show it was not a satisfactory Amendment. I would suggest, and I think my noble friend Lord Snell would agree, that if there is any suggestion of an Amendment on Third Reading the Amendment should be put down in time for others to see who may wish to have a different form of words, so that they may be able on Third Reading to put down their version also. If that is done it is quite within the rules of order.
§ LORD ILIFFE
I accept the suggestion made by the Lord Chancellor, to which I understand the noble Lord, Lord Snell, also agrees. Therefore I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 8 agreed to.
§ Clause 9 agreed to.
§ Clause 10:
§ Computation of remuneration
§ (2) Notwithstanding anything, in subsection (1) of this section, wages regulation proposals arid wages regulation orders may contain provisions authorizing specified benefits or advantages, being benefits or advantages provided, in connexion with the employment, by the employer or by some other person under arrangements with the employer and not being benefits or advantages illegally provided, to be reckoned as payment of wages by the employer in lieu of payment in cash and defining the value at which any such benefits or advantages are to be reckoned.
§ LORD HEMINGFORD moved, in subsection (2), after "employer," where that word occurs for the second time, to insert "or received by a worker in cash by way of gratuities." The noble Lord said: Your Lordships will see a second Amendment down in my name. That is purely consequential to the one I am now moving. The point is covered by this first Amendment. The idea of it is that 597 the wages board should take any tips into consideration or should be allowed to take tips into consideration in settling the wages. I am very glad to have the opportunity of healing Lord Snell's heart which was cut so badly, because I give him an opportunity here of accepting an Amendment and also of saying that your Lordships, by passing the Amendment, will be carrying out the intentions of the Government. If Lord Snell has not before him the explanatory memorandum which was published with the first print of the Bill he will, at any rate, remember that it stated on page 3 that wages boards—I ask your Lordships to note that particular phrase—will be free to deal with tips in any way they consider necessary and practicable having regard to the varied conditions of the industry.
§ If you turn to Clause 10 of the Bill your Lordships will see that it deals with what the wages boards are to do. I think it is a correct interpretation to say that the wages boards are precluded from taking tips into consideration. There was a long debate on this matter of tips when an earlier clause was being considered in another place, and I foresee that a possible defence against this Amendment may be raised by saying that tips could be taken into consideration under Clause 2. But that is the business of the Commission and not the business of the wages board. The memorandum to which I have referred stated expressly the intention of the Government that wages boards should be free to deal with tips, and indeed one would think that no one who drafted this Bill could have done otherwise than try to arrange that tips would be taken into consideration in proper cases. I am not asking now for any difficulty to be put in the way of wages boards by saying they must take into consideration tips or must arrive at the amount of tips; but for wages boards to fix a standard of wages without reference to the a mount of tips received by particular classes of workers seems to me to be quite absurd.
§ I have heard on what I believe to be thoroughly good authority that there is at least one case of a well known establishment in London where the head cloak-room waiter receives in tips as much as £40 a week. I am also informed on similar good authority that there are two servants of a hotel or restaurant doing similar work who receive in tips not less 598 than £5 a week. One has only to consider those cases to make one's mouth water, and it may make some of your Lordships wish that you could take a position of that kind. As a matter of fact I believe the position in which men receive these very large tips are to a great extent the reward of past employment for old and trusted servants who, after a long course of service, are promoted to positions in which they get these very big tips. I base this Amendment in the first place on the absurdity, if that is not too strong a word, of saying that a wages board in fixing a standard of wages shall not be able to take into consideration the fact that a certain number of employees, though it may be a small number, receive as part of their remuneration tips amounting to about £1,500 or £2,000 a year. That is a bit of simple arithmetic, which I think the noble Lord will find is arrived at if you take £40 a week. My second reason for moving the Amendment is that it is stated to have been the original intention of the Government that wages boards should have this power, and my third reason is my anxiety to save my noble friend Lord Snell from having any more of the distressing experience he has had to go through of refusing Amendments.
Page 9, line 23, after ("employer") insert ("or received by a worker in cash by way of gratuities")—[Lord Hemingford.]
§ LORD NATHAN
My noble friends and myself hope that the Government will stand firm in resisting the Amendment. My noble friend Lord Hemingford's speech appeared to me to be an argument in favour of the abolition of tips altogether. This is a Bill for the regulation of the payments to be made by an employer to his employee. A tip is not a payment made by an employer to his employee. It is a payment made by a third person to somebody else's employee. I ventured on the Second Reading of this Bill to express firmly, but I hope without over-emphasis, the feeling that the whole practice of tipping should be brought into disrepute. This Amendment proposed by the noble Lord would on the contrary legitimize tipping by Act of Parliament and give it the status of a practice explicitly approved by Parliament. It seems to me that would be a retrograde step and I hope no such thing will be done. Before I came here to-day 599 I looked at the Oxford English Dictionary and I found this definition:To tip is to bestow a small present of money upon an inferior, especially upon a servant or employee of another, nominally in return for a service or in order to obtain an extra service.I think that definition not only puts clearly the meaning of the practice of tipping, but makes equally clear the reason why tipping should be brought into disrepute. I do not believe tipping can be abolished by Act of Parliament, but I believe a public opinion can be created, and I think it should be created, starting in your Lordships' House, which would show disapproval of the practice. We hope that the Government will stand firm against this Amendment, because its acceptance would mean that Parliament approves a practice which in our view, if it cannot be abolished by Act of Parliament, should be abolished by the common sense of the people.
I rise to support the Amendment, because I feel strongly that the practice of tipping cannot be abolished. Whatever is done it will go on. It goes far outside the hotel and catering business. I venture to think that many noble Lords have in their time received tips. I certainly have. Starting as a schoolboy I received golden sovereigns from my godfather as tips. At Claridge's in the last war I was tipped as a midshipman mistaken for a page, and in this war I was tipped at Victoria Station as a ticket collector. Tipping is universal and will go on. As the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford, has said, it is evident the Government realize this because it was stated in the memorandum that wages boards should be free to deal with tips in any way necessary. Yet as this clause is drafted it prohibits wages boards taking into account any sums which are so received by the employee. If this Amendment is not passed it will mean that a service charge will be put in force universally. I think that would be a great mistake.
Tips are given for personal service. Instances have been given to-day of large incomes received by certain hotel employees. Those are freak cases and I do not think we should take them into account. In every class of the catering industry tipping takes place because the employee 600 concerned gives real service to the customer. It may be Mary, the little waitress in the small café, who remembers that the clerk who comes there every day likes buttered toast for his tea, and it is because of that individual personal service that the custom of tipping exists. If a service charge were forced upon the industry it would mean that the good man, the man who deserves tips most because he gives the best service, would be treated on exactly the same basis as the man who is inefficient. And there are certain branches of the industry where a service charge would be impossible to put into force. Take, for example, the cases of cloakrooms and bars, or that of the small inn or hotel in the country, where the business is run by a man and his wife with a staff consisting of two or three persons. How are the people running such places going to manage if they have to do complicated sums in order to work out service charges? The tip is given for personal service, and the members of the staffs of catering establishments would, I think, be the last people to wish it to be abolished. Therefore, I hope that the Government will frankly recognize this universal custom and agree to the Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM
I should like to say a word upon the consideration of the Bill in regard to this particular matter. I would begin by saying that I do not appreciate that the Government are, by some sort of implication from the Bill or by something secret in its design, intending to deal with the matter of tips in one way or the other. I understand that there has not yet been any such inquiry relating to the people who are interested in tips and such knowledge obtained by the Government that they are entitled to come before Parliament at the present time and say: "We are abolishing tips in all catering establishments in the future." Until they do that—and they cannot do it at the present time—surely the right course for the Government to pursue is to keep a perfectly open mind and put before Parliament the terms of this Bill which are directed not to abolishing tips but to "regulating the remuneration and conditions of employment of catering and other workers and, in connexion therewith, for their health and welfare." If that is so, let me just point out that the Bill is really, in my opinion, defective at the present time because there is no power under its terms, 601 as I read them, to do anything beyond ascertaining the remuneration which a worker obtains from his employer. There is no machinery and no inquiry directed to ascertaining what a worker gets, not from his employer, but from the customers served in the catering establishments.
To see that that is true you have only to look at Clause 10, where it is asserted that:For the purpose of determining whether the remuneration paid or agreed to be paid to a worker to whom a wages regulation order applies is less than the statutory minimum remuneration clear of all deductions, the not remuneration obtained or to be obtained by him in cash from his employer after allowing for his necessary expenditure … shall … be deemed to be the remuneration paid or to be paid to him,Then there follows a part of the clause which is concerned with deductions. What I wish to point out is that in the case of people engaged in all establishments such as tea-shops, restaurants, hotels and so on, if the inquiry is to be how much they are paid in salary by the employer, and if, in such inquiry, those making it are not entitled to inquire what is the amount of tips ordinarily received from the public, you get nowhere. It would be ridiculous, for instance, in the case of a girl who customarily receives £2 a week in tips and only £1 a week from her employer, to have an inquiry to determine whether she gets £1 a week, that being her statutory minimum payment, and not to be aware of what she is obtaining from the public. This makes the whole thing ridiculous, in my opinion, so far as cases of this sort are concerned.
I am only desirous, on this occasion, of helping, so far as I respectfully can, the Government to make this a workable measure in its application to the large number of catering establishments where a proportion, or a large proportion, or, in some cases, the whole of the remuneration consists of tips. If you omit that from the Bill you make it, in my opinion, perfectly unworkable as regards these establishments. For that reason I think that what is suggested here with such force and eloquence might well be accepted and then my noble friend Lord Snell would be able to sleep happily to-night.
§ LORD SNELL
The wording of my noble friend Lord Hemingford's Amendment 602 is, in the view of the Government, not at all clear. Whatever the intention of it may be it is felt that the actual drafting of it would need to be very closely scrutinized. The object of the Amendment appears to be to enable the wages board to recognize tips as a benefit to be applied in reduction of the statutory remuneration; that is to say, to allow the employer to reduce the amount of remuneration by the extent to which the worker receives tips. The Amendment is certainly free from the criticism that it would make the worker's remuneration dependent upon tips, because, in one way or another, he would receive not less than the statutory minimum, but the contribution of the employer to the income of his servant would be that which the public did not pay in tips. Now even supposing that were a satisfactory solution of the problem, it leaves the customer's grievance entirely untouched. Charges, at least in these days, are more than adequate to enable the employer to pay his servant proper wages, and the employers' and workers' representatives are the best people to judge how to deal with this difficult problem. In any case, it is very difficult to calculate how much is actually received in tips; only the worker himself can know that.
My noble friend Lord Gifford asks us to regard tipping as one of the eternal inconveniences of life, and said that all your Lordships had at one time or another been tipped. I believe that there may be an exception; I have lived a long time now, and I cannot remember a time when I was tipped for any service, but I can remember hundreds of times when I paid for the privilege of giving the service which was required. In any case the situation is, as the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Maugham, explained, that the Government do not impose any condition in this matter. It is left to the wages board to deal with this matter as it chooses, and the wages board is fully representative. Dealing with this matter on a broad basis, I should like to say that the arguments against the tipping system are that the worker has a right to an adequate wage, irrespective of any gratuities, and that it is humiliating for a worker to have to receive tips in that way. On the other side, it may be urged that tipping provides the customer with an opportunity for showing his appreciation of services ren- 603 dered, that the worker expects it, and that the employer very generously provides the worker with opportunities for so increasing his income.
§ LORD HEMINGFORD
Will the noble Lord kindly tell me where that appears? He says that the board has power to consider tips; will be show me where?
§ LORD SNELL
The whole matter is remitted to the board, which is composed of representatives of employers and workers, and the board is free to deal with it or not to deal with it as it pleases. That is my reading of the matter.
§ LORD SNELL
In the end, the position taken is that the worker must be entitled to a statutory minimum remuneration; he must have a wage, and that wage must be adequate. I am very sorry that I am not able to accept the Amendment.
As I see it, this clause as it stands allows any benefits provided "by the employer or by some other person under arrangements with the employer" to be taken into account, so that we already take into account the service charge in this clause. I understand that the Income Tax authorities take into account officially the ordinary gratuities received by certain people, so that the practice is officially recognized by the Government.
§ LORD HEMINGFORD
I do not feel inclined to drop this Amendment unless I can have a perfectly definite answer from the Government to justify what was stated by Lord Snell just now. If it is the case that the wages board has power to take tips into consideration, then my Amendment is totally unnecessary; but I have studied the clause very carefully, and I have been advised by far better draftsmen and lawyers than myself that under Clause 10 the Wages board is not permitted to take tips into consideration. The noble Lord says that it is, and he uses some very general words in saying that that is so; but I ask him specifically to tell me how, in the face of the words in Clause 10, the wages board, which the 604 Government stated in the memorandum to which I have referred was intended to have that power, has any power whatever to take tips into consideration.
§ LORD SNELL
I am advised that the wages board can fix remuneration under Clause 8 (1), and that it can, in so doing, take account of the existence of tips as a general rule.
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM
I am surprised to hear that stated. Clause 8 (1) says thatany wages board shall have power to submit to the Minister proposals (hereinafter in this Act referred to as wages regulation proposals')—I think that the statement which has just been made by Lord Snell must have been made by inadvertence.
- (a) for fixing the remuneration to be paid, either generally or for any particular work, by their employers to all or any of the workers in relation to whom the board operates."
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
With the approval of my noble colleague Lord Snell, and with great regret at not agreeing with what has last been said, I really cannot sec any difficulty at all. Clause 8 (1) (a) confers power on the wages board to fix remuneration, to fix the amount of pounds, shillings and pence which will be paid by the employer.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
We will begirt with Clause 8 (1) (a), which Lord Maugham thought had been misconstrued by my noble friend. I should have supposed that the wages board, in fixing that remuneration, was at liberty to consider the circumstances. I should have thought, for example, that if there was one form of service which attracted this particular addition, and another which never did, it was open to the wages board to have that in mind. But at any rate so far as Clause 8 (1) (a) is concerned, there is no limitation on their discretion in fixing the remuneration.
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM rose.
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM
It is right in the sense that I suppose, as a matter of drafting, the proposals may be for fixing 605 remuneration having regard to any conceivable circumstance; if the person concerned is a lady, to the question of whether she is a blonde or a brunette. There is nothing in the clause which prevents the board from considering that. But if you are going to say that in fixing the remuneration to be paid by employers you may consider also how much they get from the public, I venture to think that, according to the ordinary rules of drafting, and in order to make the legislation clear, that should be stated.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
That is quite a different point. My noble and learned friend, I think a little hastily, interposed to tell Lord Snell that he was shocked and surprised—
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
There is nothing to be surprised about, because the advice which my noble friend received is perfectly right. The advice is, as I am sure that may noble friend will see, if he will just look at the Report to-morrow, that Clause 8 (1) has not the effect that it is not open to the wages board to take tips into consideration. That was the precise question which my noble friend Lord Hemingford asked and to which he was given an answer. My noble friend said, "If I can be assured that it is open to the wages board to take tips into account, then I am content," and my noble friend Lord Snell proceeded to say that that is the position, and, with great respect to anybody who takes the contrary view, that surely is correct. In regard to the question which Lord Bennett interposed to ask, I did not think that Clause 10 said anything to the contrary, but frankly I have not looked at this very closely.
§ VISCOUNT BENNETT
I refer to these words:For the purpose of determining whether the remuneration paid or agreed to be paid to a worker to whom a wages regulation order Applies is Jess than the statutory minimum remuneration clear of all deductions, the net 606 remuneration obtained or to be obtained by him in cash from his employer.…
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
This is not a very easy clause to follow, but I really think there is a little misapprehension. Clause 10 is for the purpose of making sure that what is received as remuneration from the employer shall not be less than the statutory minimum remuneration which is to be obtained in cash from the employer, and there are provisions which bring in the Truck Act and which deal with illegal deductions, but it does not in the least affect the proposition that when the wages board determines in its discretion, under Clause 8 (1), what in a particular case the remuneration should be it is not debarred from considering the receipt of tips. I must insist with very great respect that my noble friend Lord Snell was perfectly right in what he said, and I think probably most members of the House would think so.
§ LORD HEMINGFORD
It is with the very greatest deference that I differ from the Lord Chancellor, but if he will read Clause 10 a little more carefully I think he will be bound to admit that it is absolutely contradictory to what he stated just now. It forces the wages board to have regard only to the wages paid by the employer. This remuneration in question is not paid by the employer, and therefore cannot be taken into consideration. Lord Maugham raised the further point just now that really this House will be doing a great service to the country if in cases of this kind it can make appeals to the Court on the wording of Statutes a little less frequent. If what has been said as to the wishes of the Government is correct, surely this Amendment would only be carrying out those wishes and making the matter perfectly clear, and thereby avoiding a perfectly certain reference to the Courts, seeing that we have the great legal authorities in this House differing on the point.
With the greatest respect to the Lord Chancellor, the clause as I sec it allows account to be taken of wages, it also allows account to be taken of benefits paid by some other person under arrangement with the employer—that I suppose is remuneration received by means of a service charge on visitors—but it seems to me that at present it takes no account of 607 tips received direct by the employee from the customer.
§ VISCOUNT BENNETT
Having the great regard that I have for the legal opinion of the Lord Chancellor, may I, as a very insignificant lawyer, suggest, with very great deference, that the language of Clause 10 precludes absolutely consideration of tips—negatively and in terms it precludes it? I will read it again:For the purpose of determining whether the remuneration paid or agreed to be paid to a worker to whom a wages regulation order applies is less than the statutory minimum remuneration clear of all deductions, the net remuneration obtained or to be obtained by him in cash from his employer after allowing for his necessary expenditure, if any, in connexion with the employment shall, subject to the provisions of this section, be deemed to be the remuneration paid or to be paid to him.…and then the clause mentions the deductions which may be made, and tips are not one of them. It refers to cash obtained "from his employer"—not from the public or anyone else but from one person only, his employer. And that sum can only be diminished by what? By those things that are named, including the Truck Act and things of that kind. I have not any doubt as to what a Court would understand that to mean.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Let us try again. Of course, when people say they are absolutely positive it is very difficult to get back to the neutral position. My noble friend has no doubt observed where "statutory minimum remuneration" comes from. It comes from Clause 8 (8). That provides thatRemuneration"—which means remuneration from the employer and nobody else—(including holiday remuneration)"—from the employer and from nobody else—fixed by a wages regulation order is hereafter in this Act referred to as ' statutory minimum remuneration.'Supposing it was £3 a week. That £3 a week has all to come from an employer, however the wages may be paid and whatever holiday period comes into it. Clause 10 provides—these are the words which made my noble friend so sure:For the purpose of determining whether the remuneration "—608 now that is from the employer—paid or agreed to be paid to a worker"—perhaps it is a cheque for £50 sent to him at the end of so many weeks—to whom a wages regulation order applies is less than the statutory minimum remuneration clear of all deductions"—that is, from the employer—the net remuneration obtained"—from his employer—or to be obtained by him in cash from his employer after allowing for his necessary expenditure, if any, in connexion with the employment shall, subject to the provisions of this section, be deemed to be the remuneration paid, or to be paid to him"—The words that follow do not affect the point.
I am sure the Committee will see that every word I have read has to do with remuneration to be paid by the employer. Now, let us get back to the relevant question, which is whether the wages board under Clause 8, when it fixes the remuneration to be paid from the employer, may in deciding on its £3 a week consider whether or not the service of that class of person already attracts a considerable additional subsidy from people who are not the employer. My proposition is an extremely simple one. I do not like o to say I have no doubt about it, but my proposition is that there is nothing whatever in Clause 8 to say that the wages board may not do so, and when you are deciding what the remuneration from the employer should be it may very well be—though it is not essential—that the wages board may do so, and that is why my noble friend and I said that in this matter we propose that the wages board should not be instructed either to do it or not to do it, but it is left to the board's discretion. Unless I have for the moment gone off my head, I regard that as an entirely simple proposition.
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM
I should like to make clear to the Committee what I think, and particularly I should like to explain the nature of the difference between me and the advice given by Lord Snell, as I understood it, in regard to Clause 8 (1) (a). I thought Lord Snell was asked by Lord Hemingford to tell him where in tile Bill was to be found the clause authorizing the deduction, or the consideration, of tips. I agree, and I have already stated that I agree, with the Lord Chancellor that under Clause 8 (1) any 609 mortal thing, relevant or irrelevant, might be considered by the people who were fixing the remuneration to be paid by the employer, but what I was concerned with was that there was nothing in the Bill to show that that would be done either in the normal case or at all. It was therefore open to the Minister to propose that nothing of the sort should be considered.
That, I thought, was probably contrary to the intentions of the Government in proposing this measure. But when it comes to what the natural meaning of the Bill is, I confess, without perhaps saying that the matter is so certain that it ought not to be discussed, I have a very strong feeling that my noble friend Lord Bennett has expressed the ordinary meaning of this measure. You will observe that Clause 10 goes out of its way, so to speak, to assert that the amount paid in cash by the employer is to be deemed to be the remuneration paid to the workmen or to be paid to them. Deemed for what purpose? I cannot for the life of me understand what the object of all this machinery is, and all the trouble that is going to be taken to determine the statutory minimum remuneration of the young women, say, employed in the teashops, whom we have all met in our day, if you are also not going to inquire how much they are receiving day by day from the generosity of the public. Why ascertain that some, it may be vile inadequate, sum is paid to them by the employer, if you do not also ascertain that they receive three or four times as much from the public? It does not seem to me you are any wiser when you ascertain the one and riot the other.
Having regard to Clause 10, which states that the amount paid in cash by the employer is to be deemed to be the remuneration paid to such a young woman, read in conjunction with Clause 8 (1) (a), I come to the conclusion that it was not intended that any inquiry was going to be made with regard to the remuneration paid to the employee in question by the members of the public. Having regard to the importance of that, my strong opinion is that what is now uncertain under the Bill ought to be made clear, if for no other reason than that legislation on such a topic as this, involving the interests of many tens of thousands of people, ought to be made 610 quite obvious to anybody of reasonable intelligence.
§ LORD MOTTISTONE
We have listened at length to disquisitions on this subject, and finally from the Lord Chancellor we have heard a very clear statement of the case. I have consulted my noble friends here, and they think there can be no doubt whatever—in their case they have no doubt—that the Lord Chancellor has made a very clear explanation of the case. As no word has so far been said from here, I speak on behalf of my noble friends when I say that should the noble Lord, who has broken a long-imposed silence to-day, proceed to a Division, we shall unhesitatingly support the Lord Chancellor and the Government.
§ VISCOUNT BENNETT
The threat of the noble Lord cannot deter me from once more directing attention to this clause. It is an ordinary case of the use of language, and everything the Lord Chancellor has said with regard to it I must accept at once. I ask the noble Lord, has he looked at the clause at all?
§ VISCOUNT BENNETT
Look at the first few lines of Clause 10:For the purpose of determining whether the remuneration paid or agreed to be paid to a worker"—that follows Clause 8—to whom a wages regulation order applies is less than the statutory minimum remuneration.…Let us take the statutory remuneration as £3. Let us say that they decided that the employer pays in cash only £2. Let us assume that. According to what has been said, he would have to find another £1 because no deduction could be made for the £5 in tips which were received. Let the noble Lord read that clause again, so that there can be no misunderstanding about it. It is for the purpose of determining something, and then it says thatthe net remuneration obtained or to be obtained by him in cash from his employer after allowing for"—allowing for what? Tips? No:—for his necessary expenditure, if any, in connexion with the employment shall, subject to the provisions of this section, he deemed to be the remuneration paid or to be paid to him.There you stop, as the Lord Chancellor 611 properly observed. The sum the employer pays to the worker is deemed to be the sum he receives. The clause says that in plain words. It therefore excludes deductions of tips or any sums whatever. I ask any noble Lord to read those first six lines and put any other construction upon them. There is first the purpose, secondly how it is to be arrived at, and thirdly what it is deemed to be, and there you are.
§ LORD MOTTISTONE
As I understand it, it is a very clear issue. Do these six lines which I have read with care mean what my noble friend Lord Bennett has said? The Lord Chancellor stands here and says, "You have got to take into consideration the remuneration." That is the remuneration from the employer. It says quite clearly that, under this Bill, in the view of the Lord Chancellor of England, they could and should take into consideration sums received from other sources. It is a very nice point between the two. I may say I was called to the Bar, too, and so were some of my noble friends here. On this occasion we are prepared to support the Lord Chancellor.
§ LORD HEMINGFORD
My noble friend Lord Bennett said he was not going to be deterred by any threat by the noble and gallant Lord opposite. That makes me more determined to press this to a Division in order to show that at least the noble and gallant Lord and his friends have violated one of the leading Liberal principles, which is that the law should be made clear beyond a doubt.
§ LORD NATHAN
It seems to me that Lord Mottistone put into the mouth of the Lord Chancellor rather more than the noble and learned Viscount actually said. Turning to the observations of the noble Viscount, Lord Bennett, the deduction, if there is to be a deduction in respect of tips, would not arise under Clause 10 at all. It would arise under Clause 8 (1) (a), and the deduction, if any, would already have been made before Clause 10 comes into operation at all. That is the view I submit for the consideration of the noble Viscount (Lord Bennett). My object in rising, in the light of the discussion that has taken place, is to state that if Lord Hemingford takes the matter to a Division, my noble friends will support the Government.
As a layman with little legal knowledge, may I ask the Lord Chancellor one question? Is it his view that the Bill as at present drafted asks the wages boards to take into consideration both the remuneration received from the service charge and also remuneration received by tips direct from the guest or customer?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The Bill does not direct the wages board to do so. The Bill leaves the wages board to fix the figure which the employer should pay according to the best of its judgment. If the case is one in which the wages board thinks the figure the employer should pay is reduced because of tips, they can act accordingly. That is the point, I think, at which the matter arises.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
LORD MORRIS moved to add to the clause:
(4) For the resolution of doubts it is hereby declared that servants in boarding houses, hotels and public houses, kitchen staffs, cleaning staffs, waiters and waitresses in cafés and restaurants are domestic servants within the meaning of the Truck Acts, 1831 to 1940.
§ The noble Lord said: Whatever may be the fate of my trite and humble observations to your Lordships, I do hope, before the House rises to-night, your Lordships will receive from the Government some form of apology for the shameless ineptitude which has marked their handling of the Committee stage of this extremely important Bill. The Amendment in my name is, or I thought it was, purely declaratory in character and not a matter that would have led to any opposition at all, but, having been warned in advance that the Government, as has been their custom throughout this rather long and dreary sitting, will not receive the Amendment but will reject it, I am corn-polled to ask your Lordships' indulgence for a few moments while I explain just what the object of this Amendment is.
It has been drafted with some care and in drafting it the words are taken from the speech of the Solicitor-General at the Committee stage in the House of Commons. If I may I will read to your Lordships a very brief extract from that speech. This is what the Solicitor-General said:
The position with regard to the Truck Acts is this: First of all, it is only a very small problem in regard to the catering industry. The Truck Acts do not apply to domestic
servants, aril the decisions as to what is a domestic servant have brought the position to this stage, that servants in boarding houses, hotels and public-houses, would be clearly domestic servants and therefore clearly outside the Truck Acts. With regard to cafés and restaurants, the kitchen staffs and cleaning staffs and waiters and waitresses would also be within the definition of domestic servants, and would, therefore, be outside the Truck Acts.
Mr. J. J. Davidson, the honourable member for Glasgow, Maryhill, asked:
Is the honourable and learned gentleman very definite that waiters and waitresses in cafés—in big and small cafés—are defined as Comestic servants?
And the Solicitor-General replied: "Yes." Now with this exposition of the law those for whom I speak this afternoon are more than content, and therefore I put down this Amendment, which I repeat is purely declaratory in character.
§ I ask the Government, if they have faith in their Solicitor-General, to agree that there can be no serious objection to this Amendment going into the Bill. It merely states what the Solicitor-General suggests to be the law is in fact the law. But unfortunately the matter does not rest there, because I am advised—and I have looked into the matter in the last few days with very considerable care—that the law, as declared by the Solicitor-General, is not nearly so clear and so susceptible of simple statement as we have been led to believe. If I may refer to two cases, the cases of Pearce versus Lansdowne and the London County Council versus Perry, they make it clear that a domestic or menial servant—which is the unfortunate designation given to these people—is a person who must be judged to be, or not to be as the case may be, a domestic servant not merely according to the nature of the work that he does but according to the establishment in which he does it. I know of no authority which says that some of these large catering concerns up and down the country can be said to be domestic establishments at all. So far as I know the point has never been decided.
§ I am troubling your Lordships this afternoon at such length because I am advised that unless this Amendment is passed in its present form, or unless some very clear statement of the law on this subject—namely, the domestic servant in relation to the Truck Acts—is incorporated in the Bill, the entire catering industry of this country, which affects all the employees 614 concerned in it, probably about half a million people, will be thrown into chaos, and it is of the utmost importance, before this stage of the Bill is concluded here, that some statement should come from the Government. I hope we shall get one. We have had nothing this afternoon that has contributed anything to indicate what they are prepared to do. Otherwise I am told that great difficulty will arise, particularly under this Clause 10 of which your Lordships have already heard so much to-day. I am told that the performance by the wages board of their duties under subsection (2) of Clause 10, authorizing benefits and advantages, such as the provision of meals, will be quite uncertain in their legality and scope unless something is done.
§ Your Lordships will appreciate that if these people are in fact domestic servants—I mean waiters and so forth—it is quite in order for these large catering houses, which control restaurants and large shops, to supply them with meals and other things without offending against the Truck Acts at all, but if they are not domestic servants then immediately an offence is committed entailing severe penalties. It. is for that reason and in order that the position may be clearly defined and confusion avoided, that the catering industry—and I speak here on their behalf and with their authority—are particularly anxious that the Government should either accept my Amendment or, alternatively, give some very clear assurance that they will make the law on the point far clearer than it has been up to date. The Truck Acts from 1831 up to the last one in 1940 have given a headache to far greater brains than mine. As the Government can find time during a total war to introduce a highly controversial and thoroughly bad piece of legislation like this Catering Wages Bill, they might also, with advantage, I think, turn their attention to the Truck Acts, which are badly ill need of clarification, tell us what they mean, and particularly tell us their bearing on this Catering Wages Bill.
§ I do not think I need detain your Lordships any longer beyond again emphasizing the immense importance which is attached by the trade throughout the country to this Amendment. I can assure your Lordships that the one desire and intention of those engaged in the catering trade, although they have never asked 615 for this Bill, which they regard as largely unnecessary and to a great extent mischievous, is to make the Bill a practicable measure. They cannot do that if it is left in its present eminently unsatisfactory state. Enough has been said this afternoon by noble and learned Lords far better qualified than I am about the eminently unsatisfactory piece of draftsmanship that this Bill represents, and to show that it requires further consideration both now and at another stage. I beg to move.
Page 9, line 34, at end insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Morris.)
§ VISCOUNT MAUGHAM
I want to say, before the Lord Chancellor addresses you on this point—unless he is going to make some concession, in which case I should wish to say nothing—that I cannot help observing, not for the first time, that Acts of Parliament ought to be clear in their meaning and ought not to rest on doubtful opinions of noble Lords, however eminent they may be, and however great their experience or the position which they occupy. I cannot believe that it is right in such a Bill as this, which affects the interest of many tens of thousands of people, to leave the question as to the effect of the Bill to be judged by the statements either of a Law Officer of the Crown or even of the Lord Chancellor. The point is whether these people are, or are not, domestic servants. That was admitted to be the point in the other place. The Solicitor-General had apparently looked up the reported cases and he had come to the conclusion that waiters and waitresses in cafes, big and small, and so forth, are domestic servants. I have been unable myself to find any real authority in favour of that view. I have consulted a number of my noble and learned friends and everyone that I have asked so far thinks the question is one of doubt. For my part I am in the same position. I am not prepared to say they are not in domestic service, but I am not prepared to say that they are.
The point which I put before the Committee with the greatest respect is that it is suggested that a wholly artificial meaning exists under the Truck Acts or the Amending Acts which makes all sorts of people, who are not in domestic service in the least, domestic servants for the 616 purpose of the Truck Acts. If it is a Question of doubt why not resolve it? Can it be right to leave a question of such importance as that to rest upon the statement of a Law Officer of the Crown or anybody else? I strongly oppose the notion that statements on doubtful points by people even in such eminent positions should be allowed to deflect the House from what I regard as its duty—namely, that of seeing that the Bill really represents something which everybody of reasonable intelligence can understand.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I think the simplest way of dealing with this Amendment of the noble Lord is, in a couple of sentences, to state what the Trucks Acts do. The Truck Acts provide that in the case of certain classes of employees the wages that they receive must be paid in cash and no part of their wages can be paid in any other form. The question in connexion with the catering trade is not a very important one because people in the catering trade are usually not within the Truck Acts at all. There are not one, but two, large exceptions to the general proposition. The first exception is that the prohibition of the Truck Acts only applies to people who are employed by way of manual labour. If they are not employed by way of manual labour the Truck Acts do not prevent payment partly in kind. The second proposition is that the Truck Acts do not apply in the case of domestic or menial servants. There is no doubt at all that the interpretation which has been put on that second provision is a wide one and most people employed in hotels and restaurants and the like would unquestionably, as the result of many authorities, be regarded as domestic servants,. But it is not the case that every servant in a boarding house or hotel is necessarily a domestic servant.
I was not quite clear whether the noble Lord, Lord Morris, quoted the Solicitor-General because he accepted what he said or doubted what he said, but the fact is that if you take the cashier at the desk of a hotel or the accountant of a hotel company, I at least should find it very difficult to think that anybody would regard them as domestic servants. You might think that because they are not domestic servants the Truck Acts would prevent them receiving part of their wages in the form of meals. It is not so because 617 the other limitation applies to exclude them. They are not people employed in manual labour and their remuneration is therefore not affected by the Truck Acts. That is the substance of the matter, and it was so explained with sufficient clearness, I think, in another place, by my colleague the Solicitor-General.
What is the attitude of the Government in regard to this admittedly complex question, which no doubt does at times raise difficulties? It is simply that the Catering Wages Bill is not a Bill which need affect the application of the Trucks Acts one way or another. I could not accept an Amendment which says that for the resolution of doubts all servants in hotels are domestic servants, because it is not true. No servant in a hotel would be, I imagine, classed as a domestic servant if simply doing the work of a clerk. No one responsible for the Bill could accept that statement as made for the resolution of doubt. I think it would lead to confusion. When the explanation was given in the other House—and there must be spokesmen of the catering trade there—everyone accepted it. We are not altering the Truck Acts. This is a Bill for regulating wages and not for altering the Truck Acts. That is the short answer, and with due humility and apologies to the noble Lord for the "shameful ineptitude" of the proceedings, I must decline the Amendment.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 10 agreed to.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
§ Schedules agreed to.
§ Bill reported without amendment.
§ House resumed by The LORD CHANCELLOR.