§ Mr. W. BROWN
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that from 24 to 28 Grade 4 women clerks on an average wage of 27s. per week, inclusive, are employed in the pay rooms at Portsmouth Dockyard; that they work in pairs with male clerks where there are such available, but that where men are not available the women are paired together; that the senior woman is held responsible for the correctness of wages placed in envelopes for from 500 to 1,000 men, representing a weekly total of about £2,300; and whether he regards this kind of work as appropriate to girl clerks on such a wage?
I am unable to agree with the view taken in this question of the responsibilities laid upon the male and female clerks employed in the pay room at Portsmouth. Each pair of clerks receives from the members of the directing staff, three in number, who remain responsible throughout the proceedings, a sum of money made up of the exact number of notes and coins of the several denominations necessary to make up the wages of the individuals— about 50 in number—shown in one pay roll at a time. They are, therefore, only responsible for distributing a given number of notes and coins in specified sums among a given number of envelopes, and they never have more than about £200 in their custody at any moment. They are held responsible for the careful carrying out of the details of the procedure, but they are not held responsible for the money, nor for the correctness of the wages entered in the pay rolls. The clerk with the greater experience and capability is regarded as the leader of each pair, but. no undue responsibility is laid upon her, and I am advised that the work is regarded in large commercial firms operating similar accounting systems as appropriate to women clerks. The scale of pay of the female clerks employed extends to 41s. and the present average pay is only as low as it is because the system has so recently been started.1871W
§ Mr. W. BROWN
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is prepared to make representations to the Treasury in regard to the low rates of pay prevailing amongst machine operators in Portsmouth Dockyard with a view to these rates being increased?
The rates of pay to which my hon. Friend presumably refers are those paid to two girls entered as learners at 15 years of age. Their pay will automatically increase with age, and at the age of 18, subject to satisfactory service, they will enter a grade rising from 26s. 3d. to 41s. per week. In these circumstances, the answer to the question is in the negative.