§ Mr. Leach
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been called to the low rate of wages and poor employment conditions of nursery agricultural workers, particularly in Hertfordshire, Middlesex, and Essex, and the refusal of the owners through such organisations as the Lea Valley Growers' Association to meet the men's representatives or improve conditions; and whether, 418W in view of the tariff and other Government help given to the industry and its relatively prosperous state, he will take steps to bring pressure to bear on the owners to secure a much needed improvement?
§ Mr. Gallacher
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that despite the assistance rendered to the nursery industry by means of import duties and quotas, the employers therein refuse to meet the representatives of the National Union of Agricultural Workers to discuss proposals to improve sanitation and water supplies on the premises of many firms and to raise the wage rates now existing in the industry; and whether he will take action to bring about a change of attitude on the part of these employers?
§ Mr. T. Williams
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that the organised employers in the nursery fruit and market garden industry of the Lea Valley persistently refuse to negotiate with the trade union representatives on wages and working conditions; that skilled workmen receive lower wages than unskilled workers in other industries; and, as these employers have the benefit of protection, will he insist on fair wages and conditions for their employees?
§ Dr. Summerskill
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will take steps to induce the Lea Valley Growers' Association to meet the National Union of Agricultural Workers with a view to negotiations on the restoration of the wage rates formerly payable under a decision of the Hertfordshire wages committee, which were cut during the depression, and which are now below those of unskilled workers in other industries in that district?
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison
I have no detailed information as to the precise wages or conditions of employment of the class of workers concerned, but I understand that the wages paid to such workers are generally somewhat higher than the minimum rates prescribed by the Orders made under the Agricultural Wages (Regulation) Act. I have been informed by the National Union of Agricultural Workers that an organisation representing employers in the Lea Valley has declined to meet the union for the purpose 419W of discussing wages and conditions of employment, but it is open to the workers' oganisations to make representations to the statutory authorities, namely, the Agricultural Wages Committees, which are in existence for the purpose of regulating wages for all classes of agricultural workers.