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Miners' Wages

Volume 161: debated on Wednesday 14 March 1923

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asked the Prime Minister whether, seeing that miners' wages are so much below the cost of living as compared with the year 1914, he will consider the amendment of the Coal Mines (Minimum Wage) Act, so that the cost of living will be considered in relation to the fixing of wages?

The wages of coal miners are governed by an agreement with the coal owners which contains provision for minimum "subsistence" wages being fixed in each district. I cannot regard as practicable any scheme for fixing wages in relation to the cost of living regardless of the general state of trade. Coal miners, I regret to say, are not peculiar in being financially worse off than before the War.

Are we to understand from that answer that the miners have no hope of legislation by this Government, and that they must rely entirely on industrial action?

I cannot at present hold out any hope of legislation on the subject.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Minimum Wage Act, 1912, would ordinarily have come to an end in 1915, and that this question does not arise out of the agreement between the two parties, but under the Minimum Wage Act?

But since then an agreement has been made between the two parties, which, I think, largely supersedes it.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the agreement is an entirely different thing from the Minimum Wage Act?