§ 2.41 p.m.
LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE rose to call attention to the question of equal pay for equal work, and to ask Her Majesty's Government to state their policy and their intentions regarding the matter; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I make no apology for introducing this Motion this afternoon. So far as I know, this subject has never been brought to the attention or your Lordships until to-day—certainly not during my period of membership of this House, and if it was raised before, it was some years previous to that. It may be said that this is largely a financial question and, as such, is essentially one for the House of Commons; and, further, that it is not the business of your Lordships' House to dictate to the House of Commons in matters of this kind. I do not in the least dispute that view—in fact, I fully agree with it. But the House of Commons has already made up its mind on this subject, and as recently as last May there was carried in another place a very strong Resolution, the salient sentences of which read as follows (OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 500, Col. 1857):
That this House reaffirms its belief in the principle of equal pay for equal work as between men and women.
The other sentence is:
… it now calls upon Her Majesty's Government to announce an early and definite date by which the application of equal pay for equal work for women in the Civil Service, the teaching profession, local government and other public services will begin.
§ I would call your Lordships' attention to the fact that that Resolution passed through another place without any serious opposition and without any vote being cast against it, even by the Government of the day, despite the fact that it was a mandatory Resolution demanding action by the Government. In view of that action in the other place, it seems to me appropriate that we should discuss this 354 great human question here in the House of Lords, where we have had so many debates on large issues and have been able to take a point of view of our own with regard to them. Further, the form of my Motion precludes any idea of dictation: it is an exploratory Motion; it asks the Government how far and how fast it is getting on with the implementing of the decisions come to in another place without Government opposition. This is in no sense a Party issue. In the other place, where they carried this Motion, there were members of both Parties represented; and in so far as there has been opposition at all, both recently and in previous years, it has been opposition by the Government of the day, representing the Treasury point of view favouring the maintenance of the status quo.
§ Further to that, I may be asked how this matter is regarded by women. Is it a question of economics, or is it a question of status? I have no hesitation in saying that it is both. It is in the first place an economic issue, because women object—as people of both sexes naturally object—to being paid less money than the rate for the job for the work they do. But it is also a question of status, because it is one of the few last pockets of unequal status that still remain after the main battle for status was won some forty years ago in the Suffragette agitation, in which I myself had taken an active part. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships that another of the pockets left is your Lordships' House, where, for some unknown reason, women are still excluded from membership, though they have long ago won the right to sit in the House of Commons. Perhaps I may be allowed to tell your Lordships an anecdote which bears upon this question of the status of women, at any rate forty or fifty years ago. A man and his wife were on a walking tour. They came to an unfrequented inn and on arrival asked for a midday meal. "Very sorry, sir," said the landlord, "I'm afraid we have only one single mutton chop left." "What!", said the man, with unfeigned indignation, "have you nothing for my poor wife?"
§ After those preliminary remarks, I will come to the main body of what I have to say. First I will deal with the question of principle, and I will then deal with the question of its implementation. I may be asked why I should trouble about 355 the principle at all, because to-day it is generally accepted. Well, my Lords, I am inclined to think that although a certain amount of lip service is paid to the proposal, it does not necessarily mean heart acceptance. The old Adam dies hard; and I have frequently heard some man say, "Why should a chit of a girl earn as much as I do?" He has to put up with an adolescent youth getting as much as he does, but finds it a little hard to know that a "chit of a girl" is earning the same as he does. A good many of such men do not like to come out into the open to oppose the principle. A number of them hide behind the second rampart, which is implementation. A number hide behind the economic obstacle, thinking that that is the best-disguised method of opposition.
§ But that is not the only reason why I want to state the case for the principle. It is also a fact, I think, that there is a good deal of confusion in the minds of many people, both its advocates and its opponents, as to what the proposal is. The meaning of the phrase "Equal pay for equal work" is that where a woman is doing work identical with that done by a man, or closely similar work, and gives equal results, she should be paid the rate for the job and not a rate which is different because of her sex. On this subject of differentiation between the sexes, I do not know whether any of your Lordships remember this incident in the last war. At the time of Dunkirk an "S.O.S." was sent out for assistance from anyone who owned some craft which could possibly help to rescue our soldiers on the beaches of Dunkirk. The telephone number of the officer who was in charge was given so that those who were willing to volunteer could apply to him. A skipper rang up and offered to bring a craft to help. The officer, on hearing a woman's voice, demurred and said that the appeal was for men. I am afraid the answer was somewhat irreverent: "Sex be damned," said the woman, "do you want help or do you not?" The offer was accepted and the craft took its share in the general work of rescue. Needless to say—and it is perfectly clear from what I have already pointed out—equal pay for equal work does not mean equal pay for unequal work. It does not mean that if a woman is working in a lower 356 grade than that of a man, or if she is working in the same grade and does less work or less satisfactory work, she is entitled to the same pay. Into which category any particular woman comes is a matter of fact.
§ In the prime case that we are asking the Government to honour at the present time, we are dealing with people who not only are obviously in the same grade and in the sane category but also are doing identical work. That is what is known as the interchangeable class in the Civil Service. I will give your Lordships one illustration of that later. I will pass on now to the main question of the principle involved. It seems to me, and I think it seems to most people who have thought about this question, that prima facie the justice of the claim for the rate for the job whatever be the sex of the person who performs the job, is indisputable. Therefore it is for those who disapprove of this principle or wish to controvert it to make out the case against it. I have tried to enumerate all the main objections that are made and all the main reasons that are given for departing from this major principle.
§ Now it is said that whereas a woman's pay is for herself alone, a man's pay is not only for himself but also for his dependants. There is some pith in this argument and it needs examination. It is, of course, true that if a man has a family of young children, say under sixteen years of age, his wage has to keep them as well as himself. But how many men are in that position? Different percentages have been given. I think they range from about 40 per cent. to 55 per cent. and they apply in varying numbers to different occupations and, to some extent, according to the social position of the worker concerned. It can be put from 40 per cent. or up to 55 per cent., according to the different class chosen.
§ But it is also true that many women have dependants—parents, invalid relatives and, in some cases, children. I have made endeavours to find out the figure of the true percentage of women with dependants compared with the number of women who are what are called "gainfully employed," but I have not been successful. Undoubtedly, it is less than the 40 per cent. or the 50 per cent. of men with dependants. Nevertheless, it is quite considerable and can by no means 357 be neglected. If this argument that people should be paid according to whether or not they had dependants were really true and were to be put into practice, what would it involve? It would involve that men who had no dependants would be paid on the lower basis and that women who had dependants would be paid on the higher basis. Of course, that would be quite impracticable; and if it were practicable it would be very stoutly resisted. Therefore the fact is that this argument is really used only to differentiate between the sexes, and otherwise no one seeks, or would wish, to apply it.
§ I have spoken of the dependants as being the man's young children. Some people argue that a wife is a dependant because the man has, it is said, to keep her. Of course, the true fact is that when a woman is gainfully employed outside her own home and has no relatives, and has to get domestic work done for her inside the home by somebody else, she not only has to keep that person but she has also to pay her a wage; whereas a man gets, in his wife, an unpaid housekeeper who does all those things for him. When the man and woman have children, what really happens is that the man and the wife, in their different ways, he outside in the world earning money and she inside the house looking after the house and bringing up the children, are contributing to the upkeep of the house and the nurture and advancement of the children.
§ It used to be said that one of the reasons why women should have lower pay was that they were more frequently sick. That argument I believe is more or less exploded to-day. It was also said that, because they got married or were likely to get married, their work was of less value. We hear little of that argument to-day. The matter is dealt with in other ways and I do not think it need enter into the discussion; otherwise I could give my reasons for disagreeing with that point of view. Further, there are two arguments used. One is that if we had equal pay for equal work, it would depress the wages and prospects of men in industry. It is also said that the giving of equal pay for equal work would operate adversely on the employment of women. Those two arguments are, to a large extent, mutually contradictory, and I could, if I wished and if I did not mind wearying your Lordships, 358 give you a great number of theoretical arguments against them. But I am going to take a different line.
The real question is, what do the people themselves think? We are able to judge what men think by taking the views of the Trades Union Congress, who represent the vast number of thinking working men in this country. The Trades Union Congress represent millions of workers, the great majority of whom are men. What is their view on this question? So far back as 1888, they passed a resolution in favour of equal pay. I am bound to say I think it was rather a pious resolution in its time, and they did not do very much about it for a great number of years. But during the last few years they have actively campaigned for, and laid increasing insistence upon, this claim for equal pay. In 1950, 1951 and 1952 they passed strong resolutions—I will not weary your Lordships with all of them. I will read only the one resolution passed in 1952. It is as follows:
This Congress demands that joint consultation should take place forthwith through the appropriate machinery to apply equal pay throughout the field of Government employment.
In the main, the attitude of the General Council on equal pay is to regard it as primarily an industrial matter to be settled by negotiation within the industries and services concerned; but, because it is a problem common to many occupations, including the Civil Service, they have themselves raised it with successive Governments. That, surely, is evidence that men do not regard the coming of equal pay as a menace to their wages and conditions of work.
§ Now what about women? It is said that women would stand to lose by the implementation of this principle. Again, I take the same examination and I find that practically all the women's societies are involved in this agitation, and that there is none taking the other view. Therefore I think it is quite legitimate for me to argue that women certainly do not accept that adverse view. Then it is sometimes said that a single woman or a widow may favour equal pay but that the married woman, the housewife who is dependent upon her husband's earnings, is against it. But if the men themselves are not against it, it is difficult to understand why their wives should be. On 359 this point also there is very strong evidence. There is one organisation which, more than any other, is entitled to speak for married women, and that is the Women's Co-operative Guild. Not only have they never come out against equal pay, but they have consistently supported it, and I am told that at the present time they are propagating a scheme for carrying out equal pay for equal work inside the Co-operative Consumers' Society, of which they are members. Well, those are all the objections that. I have been able to "vamp" up in order to overthrow this suggestion. It may be that other noble Lords who speak will find some that I have not mentioned, but I think they will agree that at any rate I have done my best to put forward the real case that is being made against the principle, and that I have not shirked any of the major issues.
§ Now I come to the second part of what I have to say to your Lordships, dealing with the timing of the implementation of this principle. I did not spend twenty months at the Treasury without learning the lessons which the Treasury has to teach. My officials there advised me that a Government was not entitled at the public expense to blaze a trail in wage increases and to set the pace for employers to follow. I accepted that view of the Treasury then, and I accept it to-day. But the Treasury also taught me that where certain standards have been set in the best employment comparable to employment under the Government, it is not only possible for but the duty of the Government to line themselves up with that best employment and not to lag behind with the bad employers. I venture to submit that that time has arrived with regard to this subject. Had this proposal been made (as I am sure it was) twenty or thirty years ago, I concede that quite clearly it would have come only under the first rule of the Treasury, because at that time had the Government acceded to equal pay they would have stood almost alone. But that is very far from being the case to-day.
§ Just let me remind your Lordships of a few of the avocations in which admittedly, women are at the present time accorded equal pay. In the other 360 place we find that Members of Parliament are paid with no differentiation as to sex. Some noble Lords sitting on the Benches opposite are in the Government; they receive precisely the same wage as their lady colleague, Miss Horsbrugh, who is a member of the Government. Women Cabinet Ministers receive the wage for the job, and it is not in the least altered by reason of sex. In the Labour Government we had a woman member of the Cabinet who was paid the full Cabinet wage. The B.B.C. are paying equal wages; the United Nations have equal pay, as does U.N.E.S.C.O. Women magistrates, doctors, barristers and actresses all receive the same wages as their male colleagues. In addition there are many manual workers who are engaged on piece work. As they are paid the same piece work rate (I think this is particularly so in the engineering trades) they have equal pay for equal work. Lastly, I come to bus conductors, where again there is complete equality between men and women.
§ Now I should like to say a word about the L.C.C. The position on the London County Council is that the principle of equal pay is now operated for all those in the service of the Council who come entirely under its control. It is quite true that a very large number is outside its control. There are the teachers, for whom the Burnham Committee provides the scale. In that respect there is unequal pay. Various industrial councils regulate the pay of other workers, and with these the London County Council do not attempt to interfere. But so far as all the services which come under the direct operation of the Council are concerned, equal pay has recently been brought into complete operation. Therefore I maintain the view that if the Government accede to this request they will not be a lonely pioneer blazing a trail; so far as this matter is concerned they will be aligning themselves with the best employment, and will not be lagging behind with the bad employers.
§ Having dealt with that, I come to what is really the last stand of the Government. It is not a Party question; it is the question of the national economy at the present time and, further, the question of inflation. Before putting my own view on this aspect I should like to tell your Lordships, quite frankly, the point of view of a great many women, and 361 how they regard this long delay in granting a request that they regard as absolutely just, the principle of which has been admitted by all Parties and by nearly all political persons in the country. They have fairly long memories, and they remember the shocking delay which occurred after the principle in regard to women's suffrage and a great many other things had been largely accepted. They put it in rather a jocular way, in the terms of one of Lewis Carroll's stories as "Always jam to-morrow, but never jam to-day."
§ I feel that they have a good deal of reason for taking that view, although it is not precisely the view that I take. I do not accept that position, because I feel that there is at any rate some sort of a case which can be made out on the other side. I have had a fair amount of experience of Parliamentary life (I have been nearly thirty years in one House or the other) and I have seen a good deal of chicanery going on. I have known cases where, in order to get out of difficulties, the Government said "We agree completely, but of course this is not the right moment." And it was quite clearly understood by anyone who knew the facts that the Government had not the smallest intention of ever doing the thing at all. Such instances do occur. This is not a Party issue because it has happened on both sides, and those of us who have lived in political life as long as I have have probably come across more than one instance of this sort. It is not surprising that women should take the view they do, although, as I have said, I do not entirely share it, because, first, I respect the personalities of Chancellors of the Exchequer, coming from both sides of the House, who have dealt with this question. I recognise that there is a considerable jam in the economy spheres of the country, and due weight has to be given to it. Nevertheless, I want to explain to your Lordships why I think the time has come when a beginning should be made with this reform.
§ I will start by attempting to discuss precisely what finance is involved. As I have already said, the claim which is made is, in the first instance and primarily, for the identical classes in the Civil Service; and I will give your Lordships a typical instance. I do so looking to my left to the gentleman who is writing 362 very hard at the table just behind the I Clerks of this House. The fact is that shorthand-writers, including the writers of Hansard in another place, have unequal standards as between men and women. They do precisely the same work. They have to make the same shorthand reports. They have to make the same accurate transcripts. If they do their work without due care, or insufficiently well, naturally, they will be hauled over the coals. They have precisely the same work, and they take precisely the same hours. They have precisely the same results to offer. But what is the position? The latest rates of pay of verbatim shorthand-writers in the Civil Service are unequal. The fully qualified Grade I woman has a maximum of £675 per annum, which is a man's minimum. The disparity is particularly galling in work which requires a high degree of skill, the measure of which is by equal test. The man, in this case, has a maximum of £800 a year, which is a fair rate for the job, and which women equally earn. That is just a typical illustration which shows what is meant by the term, "Equal pay for equal work." That is a prime case for giving it to these people.
§ The cost of this single change would not be very large. I think it is a number of millions which can be counted, certainly on two hands and, I believe, on very little over one hand. If the matter is dealt with in stages—as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has himself said it will be if it comes into effect—the cost in the first year would probably not be more than £1 million. One million pounds is a very large sum to any of your Lordships or to me, but it is a very small sum in terms of the immense sums with which the Government are dealing at the present time. But, of course, I am neither so foolish nor so disingenuous as to imagine that this particular implementation of equal pay for equal work could stand alone. I reminded your Lordships a little while back that I served for some time in the Treasury as Financial Secretary, and that I learned many Treasury lessons there. One of the lessons I learned was connected with the charming word "repercussions." I have no intention whatever of shirking the repercussional influence of "equal pay for equal work" in the interchangeable classes. I am quite prepared to put before your Lordships what adoption of this principle would involve.363
§ It would involve adjustments in other women's branches in the Civil Service, where women are doing not identical work but comparable work with that of men. That expense would fall equally with the first on the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It would affect teachers and other occupations of which part of the cost would fall upon the Exchequer. It would affect, no doubt by repercussion, municipal employees. I think my noble friend on my left, Lord Burden, intends to say something about them. It would affect the employees of public boards and nationalised industries, and—though more remotely no doubt—it would have some effect upon women in industry and private employment generally. It is for the Government to say, and I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, who I understand is to reply, will be able to give us a specific answer as to what the total cost of the direct repercussions is estimated to be. In the other place, the figure of £28 million a year was given. That was ten months ago, of course, and the figure may have varied slightly since then. What I particularly want to know is what that figure represents. Does it cover all expense on the Exchequer, or does it cover only part of that? Or does it go beyond that to the expense on the public funds which do not come directly on the Exchequer? I hope that the noble Earl will be able to tell us that. But inasmuch as the figure given by (I think it was) the Financial Secretary, was £28 million, I imagine that it will not be very much over that. I want to remind your Lordships that that is a gross sum. Part of it will come back to the Exchequer in the form of income tax—perhaps £4 million or £5 million. If the change is made by stages, the whole of the cost will not occur in the first year—indeed, only an inconsiderable part of it will fall on the Exchequer in the first year.
As to the matter of industries and private employment, those outside the Exchequer and public finance, I think I should read part of the evidence given by the Treasury to the Royal Commission. I forget the date of this evidence, but I believe the Report was called the 1944–46 Report. This is what the Treasury representative said:
The Treasury believes the Commission will find that outside the public services men and women are normally segregated in employment, and equal work is not common. Therefore,
a decision that equal pay must be given for equal work would be unlikely to have much effect on wages outside the public services.
§ That may or may not be the case, but that is the Treasury point of view. It is certainly the object of the Trades Union Congress to introduce on a large scale the principle of equal pay, but the Treasury do not think adoption of the principle in the public service would have very much effect on the outside industry—certainly not for a time. Therefore, I do not think this problem should be one of the larger clouds overhanging the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he looks at the public economy of the country.
§ My Lords, I have nearly finished what I have to say. I just want to wind up this point. Of course, these amounts are large sums, sums which no Chancellor of the Exchequer would be justified in regarding as negligible. But let us see what has been given in the way of wage increases in recent years. Your Lordships will remember that five or six years ago, when this question was first put on one side owing to the economic difficulties of the country, there was a wage freeze; and I think that while there was a wage freeze it was not altogether unreasonable to say to women, and to men who were asking for an increase in wages, however justified in their own opinion an increase was, that the country was in such a fix that they must largo their claims. But we all know that after a couple of years or so we had a wage thaw. I do not know how far your Lordships appreciate the very large increases that have taken place since that time. In the last three years the increase each year has been to the amount of over £200 millions a year and these increases are cumulative, so that after three years taken together wages are now over £600 millions a year above what they were three years ago.
§ In view, of these facts, and of the fact that the Government themselves have given the Civil Service an increase amounting to about £30 millions a year, it will be very difficult to persuade women that an increase which will cost a few millions in the first year, and a few further millions in a further year and so on, until the aggregate in a number of years would amount to £28 millions (it may be a little more; I do not know, but the noble Earl will be able to say what it will be), 365 should not be granted because it would ruin our economic position. I do not think it would be easy to make women swallow that argument, and they have not swallowed it up to now. I fancy that some of your Lordships will wonder whether, after such large additional sums have justifiably been granted in other cases, the absolute prohibition on the women's claims can be very much longer maintained.
§ In addition to the ground that economically the country cannot afford this reform, it is alleged that inflation would take place. I can understand the economic argument, but I confess that I am not so clear about the grounds on which the inflation argument is based. Let me give my reasons. So far as the Government service and the public Exchequer are concerned, this claim for increased wages, if it were granted, would stand exactly in the same position as any other increase in expenditure. Whether it produced an inflationary effect or not would depend on precisely the same factors as would operate if an increase were granted for some other entirely different cause. It would depend on whether the Budget was properly balanced. If the Budget is properly balanced, then the items of expenditure have not an inflationary effect because they are properly balanced by the items of receipts. If the Budget is not balanced, that in itself is inflationary. And if the amount to be given to women civil servants, in order to bring their pay up to equality with men, were put in a separate basket, standing outside the Budget, no doubt that would be inflationary; but no sensible person ever imagined anything of that kind and no doubt that would not be the case. Therefore, the argument that that part of the cost which would fall on the Exchequer would be inflationary is, I think, pure imagination. I can only suppose that what the authorities are concerned about is the part outside the Exchequer. I am bound to say that I regard that result as very problematical. I have read to your Lordships that passage of the Treasury's evidence in which they said that they did not think the adoption in the public service of the principle of equal pay for equal work would have a substantial effect on wages in private employment. And for the life of me I cannot see why it should.366
§ I do not wish to go through the elaborate arguments against this change. I do not see why it should be any more inflationary than any other proposal for expenditure which falls from the Government or anyone else, and I reject that argument entirely. I should like to say this to the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk. I trust that he will be able to hold out to us some hope that the Government are at any rate moving in this matter, and that there will be a positive response before very long. I say that, not only because I believe in this reform but because I believe in the good faith of the statesmen of to-day, to whichever Party they belong; and I believe that this decision made by both Parties (it is a non-Party point of view) to hold back a little while, even with a beginning of this implementation, was made in good faith. But I feel that if this continued exclusion is carried beyond a certain point, people will lose faith in the Government. They will lose faith in politicians. They will say—and rightly—that when any body of people make threats to the Government that, unless they are given this, that or the other, action will be taken which to some extent will paralyse the life of the country, they are given into; but that when a body of people take a more patriotic line and ask for the implementation of an act of justice, the principle of which is fully admitted, then they are kept waiting outside the door for ever. And in my view, if that happens, it will be not only injurious to the cause I plead to-day but also to the belief of the people of this country in the good faith of their rulers. I beg to move for Papers.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD SIMONDS)
My Lords, perhaps I may be allowed to say that I hope in a short time to be able to make a further statement about the floods. Perhaps the noble Lord who is then addressing the House will forgive me if I intervene.
§ 3.28 p.m.
§ LORD BURDEN
My Lords, I rise to support the Motion moved by my noble friend Lord Pethick-Lawrence. We are all indebted to him for (raising the matter and for his speech this afternoon. In the record of men who have fought to secure freedom for women, and to remove their social, political and economic handicaps, my noble friend has an honoured place. More than that, my noble friend, with his 367 truly noble lady, has had what I believe to be a unique experience, so far as your Lordships are concerned. He has suffered imprisonment and torture—I use the word deliberately—for protesting, and protesting vehemently, that it was quite wrong to deny women the vote and to include them in the category of children, criminals, paupers and lunatics.
§ LORD BURDEN
And Peers, too. But we are exempted because of special privileges which, unfortunately, women do not have at present. They are even denied membership of this House. The vote in itself is not an end; it is a means to an end.
I am sure that my noble friend will remember the slogan which was prevalent in certain Left Wing circles in the early decades of the present century, that economic power precedes political power. Be that true or otherwise, it is certainly true that at the end of the First World War (and I believe the vote was graciously conceded to women at the end of the First World War because of the efforts which they had made in the war) an effort was made to secure economic equality for women. I have here the Report of the War Cabinet Committee oil Women in Industry. One of the things I learned early in life from my tutors was never to destroy a document, and this one is dated 1918. If your Lordships will forgive me, I should like toread one or two sentences from the Minority Report of Mrs. Sidney Webb, just mentioning in passing that the Majority Report comes down in favour of equal pay in the Civil Service. The Minority Report says:That the existing relations between the conditions of employment of men and women, whether in manual labour or in brain working occupations, is detrimental to the personal character and professional efficiency of both sexes, and inimical alike to the maximum productivity of the nation and to the advancement of the several crafts and professions.That the exclusion of women by law or by custom, from the better paid posts, professions and crafts, has driven them to compete with each other, and with men, in the lower grades of each vocation, where they have habitually been paid at lower rates than men for equivalent work, on the pretence that women are a class apart, with no family obligations, smaller needs, less capacity and a lower level of intelligence—none of these statements being true of all the individuals thus penalised.368 Another paragraph says:That the popular formula of 'Equal Pay for Equal Work' or, more elaborately, 'Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value in Quantity and Quality,' whilst aiming at the expression of the right ideal, is so ambiguous and so easily evaded as not to constitute any principle by which the relations between men's and women's wages can be safely determined.The Minority Report goes on:There is no more reason for such occupational or standard rates being made to differ according to the workers' sex than according to their race, creed, height or weight.
§ LORD BURDEN
From the Report of the War Cabinet Committee on Women in Industry (Cmd. 135), published in 1919.
History repeated itself. Noble Lords will remember that another Committee was set up to consider the problem of equal pay, and it is interesting to recall that that Committee was set up because of a vote which was carried in another place affirming the principle of equal pay for women in the teaching profession. On the Motion of the Government that vote was nullified, and another Committee was set to consider the whole problem. My noble friend Lord Pethick-Lawrence has made it quite clear that this is not a Party question. As far back as 1920 the House of Commons passed, without a Division, a Resolution in these terms:That it is expedient that women should have equal opportunity of employment with men in all branches of the Civil Service and throughout the United Kingdom and under all local authorities … and should also receive equal pay.A similar Resolution was carried, again without a Division, in May of last year. No one, whatever his private views may be—and one has no reason to assume that Members have any private views in connection with this matter—dared to vote against that Resolution.
I am not going to deny that there are some difficulties in the application of the principle as it is elaborated in certain quarters. I am sure that some of your Lordships have read that fascinating study of Women's Life and Labour by Professor Zweig. Dealing with wage differentials and the equal pay issue, he tells us that, comparing the average hourly earnings of men and women in October, 1950(and those figures were taken from the Ministry of Labour Gazette), he found that women's earnings in all manufacturing industries were 369 about 60 per cent. of the amounts paid to men. Some industries showed a much higher percentage, the highest being in cotton weaving, 73 per cent.; cotton spinning, 67 per cent.; woollen and worsted, 67 per cent.; potteries, 62 per cent. The lowest percentages were in paper and printing, where the figure was 53 per cent., and tailoring, 52 per cent.