HC Deb 20 February 1933 vol 274 cc1456-7W

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that the Trades Union Congress held at Bristol in 1931 passed unanimously a resolution in favour of the introduction of a 40-hour working week without reduction of wages; that similar resolutions were passed at the Newcastle Congress in 1932 and the International Congress of the Federation of Trade Unions held in Stockholm in 1930; and whether the Government will announce their decision prior to the meeting of the International Labour Section of the League of Nations in June next?


My right hon. Friend is aware that the Trades Union Congress passed resolutions of the kind referred to by the hon. Member. In the resolution passed by the Congress of the International Federation of Trade Unions at Stockholm in 1930, the Congress proclaimedthe necessity for the establishment within a short time of the 44-hour week as a stage towards a more considerable reduction of working hours and made no reference to wages. The hon. Member is aware that, as published in the last Trades Union Congress report, a special committee of the general council has been appointed to investigate the application of the principle of the 40-hour week in industry, and has issued a questionnaire to all affiliated unions asking for information regarding the method of applying the 40-hour week, the existing hours of labour, shifts, etc., the probable effects of the 40-hour week on costs, and the effects of modern development in industrial technique on the health and efficiency of the workers. It is stated that it is hoped to present a full report to Congress this year. My right hon. Friend hopes that in the discussions which, as announced in the reply to the hon Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) on 16th February, he proposes to have with the Trades Union Congress and the National Confederation of Employers' Organisations on the absorption of workers into industry, information of this kind will be made available in due course. It is obviously necessary, before coming to any conclusion on so important a subject, to have full knowledge of such matters as those into which the General Council is inquiring.