HC Deb 04 December 1916 vol 88 cc681-2W

asked the President of the Board of Trade why it has been stated that short time was being worked in the linen trade in Belfast owing to the shortage of material and lack of orders, seeing that the York Street Flax Spinning Company, Limited, Belfast, have taken back on full time their employes who were on strike and who were previously working on short time; whether he has received any report from the Special Commissioner of the Board of Trade whom he promised to send to Belfast to investigate the facts with reference to the condition of the linen workers in that city, and whether he will direct the Commissioner to investigate impartially the system under which the employers' facts and figures are supplied to the Board of Trade?


The statement which I made on the 23rd November concerning short time in the Belfast linen trade referred to the trade as a whole and did not necessarily apply to every individual firm. My answer to my hon. Friend on the 27th November was not that a special Commissioner would be sent to Belfast, but that the position of the various branches of the linen trade would be considered in connection with the general question of extending the scope of the Trade Boards Act, and that local investigation would be made where necessary. Information concerning wages and the state of employment in the linen trade is supplied to the Board of Trade voluntarily by a number of employers, and I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of their facts and figures. If my hon. Friend has evidence to the contrary I should be glad to have it communicated to me.