§ Mr. P. OLIVER
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the members of the Royal Artillery band received remuneration at the rate of 18s. 6d. per day for their performance at the British Empire Exhibition; that the trade union rates of pay for similar performances are 30s. and 25s. per day for first and second instruments, respectively; and will he take steps to prevent similar undercutting in the future?
§ Mr. WALSH
Senior n.c.o.'s of the band referred to received 23s. 6d. and the other ranks 18s. 6d. for the performance in question. I am not aware of the corresponding trade union rates, but I would point out that the undertaking that fair current rates should be paid relates to the fee charged for the attendance of the band as a whole. In the instance in question, the fee charged was £349 4s., and I am informed that the corresponding trade charge would have been £350. The undertaking was therefore substantially implemented, but I may add that, since this particular engagement was accepted, arrangements have been made for communicating to the union in advance particulars of the fees which it is proposed to charge.2768W
§ Mr. OLIVER
also asked the Secretary of State for War, whether he is aware that during the past two months the Royal Artillery band has fulfilled private engagements at the Fishmongers' Hall, Trinity House, the Connaught Rooms, the Trocadero, Lancaster House, Black-heath, the Guildhall, 3, Grosvenor Place, the Carpenters' Hall, Alexandra Palace and the Clothworkers' Hall; and, in view of the unemployment caused amongst civilian musicians by this competition, will he take steps to prevent Army bands in future being placed at the disposal of private individuals and companies?
§ Mr. WALSH
I am not aware of the particulars of the engagements accepted by the band referred to, this being a matter for regimental arrangement. With regard to the last part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to my replies to previous questions on the 14th February and the 7th and 28th July.
The rules governing the employment of military bands in private engagements are as follow:
- (1) Not less than 20 performers plus bandmaster for indoor engagements are required (25 for performances in the open).
- (2) The fair current rates of civilian bands in the locality are charged.
- (For this purpose the band president has to ascertain from the Musicians' Union what their charge would be, and the Army band is not permitted to perform at a figure less than that quoted by the union.)
(3) Engagements are not to be sought through the Press or agents. (4) Civilian bands on strike are not to he replaced. (5) All engagements are subject to the performance of military duties.
These rules are designed on the one hand to prevent the possibility of the unfair competition to which the hon. Member alludes, and, on the other, to secure that the public demand for the services of the bands is met, and that the bandsmen are not deprived of their old-standing right, as ordinary citizens, to earn money for themselves in their own time. The rules are, I submit, fair, and I cannot therefore see my way to vary them.