§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that competent adult male clerks are employed in certain Employment Exchanges at a rate of wages of 61s. per week of 46 hours; that some of these men are responsible for handling £1,000 per week each; that a deduction in case of cash deficiency is made from their wages of 5 per cent.; and that these conditions compare unfavourably with similar occupations in the commercial world?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The rates paid to Employment Exchange clerks are governed by decisions and agreements covering similar classes in the public service generally, and a rate of 61s. is payable to the lowest grade clerks in the smaller provincial towns. Benefit is normally paid out by permanent officers, but during the present pressure, it is unavoidable that, in some places, temporary clerks1096W have to undertake the work. Only in very exceptional circumstances is the work entrusted to clerks remunerated at the rate referred to above. The normal hours of duty are 44 weekly and not 46.
In a busy Exchange it is possible that in the exceptional circumstances now prevailing as much as £l,000 would be paid out as unemployment benefit by one clerk in the course of a week. Under Departmental Regulations cash shortages arising at Employment Exchanges must be made good by the officer responsible, subject to the proviso that the refund shall not ordinarily exceed 5 per cent, of his normal week's pay. In every instance the officer concerned has a right to appeal for relief, and to urge the exceptional circumstances of any particular case. I am not aware that these conditions compare unfavourably with those in the commercial world.