HC Deb 10 February 1926 vol 191 cc1055-7W

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has received any communications from individual members of the public or public bodies urging him to re-establish the normal working of the Merchant Shipping (Wireless Telegraphy) Act, 1919, and to set up a Court of Inquiry into the facts of the marine wireless dispute; whether he will give the number of such communications he has received; the number of persons represented by those communications; and whether he proposes to comply with the request contained in these communications?


Some communications of the kind referred to have been received, but I cannot say what number of persons they represent. I have already replied to the question as to the appointment of a Court of Inquiry.


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that the employers issued a circular to all marine wireless operators on 5th November announcing that a reduction in wages of £1 2s. 6d. per month would come into operation on 1st December; that a large number of those operators could not reach these shores by the latter date; and whether he will institute an inquiry into the whole of the circumstances?


At the beginning of November the Engineering and Allied Employers, London and District, Association, on behalf of the wireless companies, gave notice to the Association of Wireless and Cable Telegraphists that a reduction of 22s. 6d. per month in the wage rates of wireless operators on board ships would come into effect on 1st December. I understand that this reduction has so far applied only to operators who signed articles on or after 5th November and that these operators were notified individually of the reduction. With regard to the last part of the question, I have dealt with the Court of Inquiry point in answer to previous questions.


asked the Minister of Labour Labour whether the meeting between the parties to the marine wireless dispute, referred to by him on 22nd December, actually took place on that date, and with what result; whether he was aware on 22nd December that the employers at that meeting were to insist upon the full acceptance by the men of the demands made upon them without variation or alteration; and, if so, if he will say why it was suggested that a settlement was imminent?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative and to the second in the negative. The third part of the question, therefore, does not arise, but I may say that in the reply to which the hon. Member refers I said no more than that the meeting in quest on as taking place.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, before permitting ships, subject to the provisions of the Merchant Shipping (Wireless Telegraphy) Act, 1919, to proceed to sea without wireless operators, it is the practice of the Board of Trade to satisfy itself that no wireless operators are available; whether he is aware that wireless operators J. R. Thomson, A. G. Jacobs, H. W. Garbett, and E. Brunt, who recently sailed at the reduced rates of pay on the steamship "Majestic," have been off articles and available since 22nd January, and will not be required for the "Majestic" until early in March; and whether he will permit the vessels "Novington," "Rothley," "Sandsend," "Whitegate," "Graldon," "Hillcroft," "Egham," "Fulham," "Derwent River," "Maplewood," "Hermoine," and "Wells City" to sail contrary to the provisions of the Merchant Shipping (Wireless Telegraphy) Act, 1919, while these operators are available?


I am informed by the Marconi International Marine Communication Company that the four wireless operators mentioned in the question form the regular staff of the steamship "Majestic," which carries a unique wireless equipment necessitating special knowledge. The ship deals with a large amount of traffic involving long hours of working and great strain on the part of the operators, and advantage has been taken of the ship's annual overhaul to give them the leave which it is considered necessary they should have. This leave is now ended and, pending the resumption of sailings by the "Majestic," the operators have been allotted duty on other ships. The last part of the question, therefore, does not appear to arise.

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