§ Mr. SNOWDEN
asked the Minister of Labour whether, seeing that a notice, dated 15th October, varying minimum rates of wages for men and women in the sugar confectionery and food preserving trade was forwarded to him by the Sugar Confectionery and Food Preserving Trade Board on that date with the request that he should sign the notice on or before 28th October, the date which had been provisionally adopted by the trade board for the operation of the rates, he will say whether the notice was signed before the 28th October; if not, whether he will say why the notice was not signed, seeing that the failure to do so will delay the rectification of the wages of the men and women, some of whom are ill-paid, in the sugar confectionery and food preserving trade; that if the order was not signed before 28th October the effect of the failure to sign it may be to necessitate an additional meeting of the trade board; and, if so, will he state the estimated cost to the country of the additional meeting?
§ Mr. G. ROBERTS
The facts of the case are not as stated in the hon. Member's question. On 30th September the trade board fixed certain minimum rates for female workers. On 31st October the Minister made an Order confirming these rates and specified 2nd December as the date from which they should become effective, in accordance with Sub-sections (2), (4), and (5) of Section 4 of the Trade Boards Act, 1918. By Sub-section (5) of Section 3 of the Act, a trade board cannot, without the Minister's consent, give notice of a proposal to vary a rate until it has been effective for at least six months, and he is not allowed to give his consent unless he is satisfied that the special circumstances of the case render it desirable that such notice should be given imme- 3227W diately. On 15th October the trade board applied for his consent to the issue of a notice of a proposal to vary the rates fixed by them on 30th September, which had not then been confirmed, and stated that they desired to issue the notice on 28th October. After consideration of the rates fixed on 30th September, which he confirmed on 31st October, and of the proposal to vary them, the Minister decided that he could properly give his consent to the issue of the notice of proposal, and a communication to that effect was sent to the trade board on 12th November. It does not appear that any additional meeting of the board will be necessitated.
Recommendations. Action taken. First Report of1918 Paragraph69 (10). Accounts.—That the War Office should order the release of qualified accountants for National Service in the Ministry of Munitions. Between 5th November, 1917, and 23rd July, 1918, 178 accountants were released for accountancy work in the Ministry. Further cases are being actively considered. Fourth Report. Pars. 12–16.—The Royal Naval Division should be merged into the Army. This question was carefully considered, but it was decided that on the whole the difficulties of the transfer were such as to render it inadvisable to make it. Par 28.—It is unwise to spend money on new Employment Exchanges or alterations of old ones in munition areas. Consideration will be given to this recommendation so far as the rapidly changing circumstances permit. Fifth Report.— Pars. 1–5.—Remuneration of the Bank of England. This matter is under the careful consideration of the Treasury. Pars. 6–7.—Ministry of Shipping.—Rates for hire of requisitioned merchant ships might be less. After further consideration the Government remain of opinion that the rates of hire fixed for requisitioned merchant ships of the tramp class as from the 1st March, 1918, are moderate, and the lowest which the Arbitration Board would have been likely to award had the matter been taken to arbitration. Serious consideration should be given to the possibility of making the recovery of present instead of pre-war values for tonnage lost contingent upon actual replacement. It was laid down by the Arbitration Board in 1914 that the Government should take the war risk on the vessel for its value at the date of loss. Similarly, in fixing rates of hire, the expense incurred by the shipowner in insuring his vessel against marine risks for the current value is admitted as a legitimate charge, because it is necessary to assume that the object of the insurance is to enable the owner to replace his vessel should it be lost by marine peril. As a result of the most careful consideration it has been decided that it is not possible to make the actual immediate replacement of the vessel a condition of the recovery of the present value.