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Contracts

Volume 344: debated on Wednesday 1 March 1939

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23.

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he can make a statement containing the main principles of the arrangements between the Air Ministry, shadow factories, and firms carrying out contracts; the methods of arriving at an agreed cost; the policy with regard to labour, research and development, and the principle of allowance or cost of same?

I regret that it would not be practicable within the limits of a parliamentary answer to deal with the various points raised in the hon. Member's question. Such matters could, no doubt, be raised in the course of the Debate on the Air Estimates.

In view of the allegations which have been made in this House and in leading articles in the Press, would it not be advisable for a statement to be made on the lines asked for in the question?

I gather that Mr. Speaker would not allow me to devote Question Time to that purpose.

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will request all firms carrying out contracts and subcontracts for the Air Ministry that all piece-work prices should be fixed to enable men of average ability to earn at least 25 per cent., in accordance with the practice in the engineering industry?

General conditions of employment at contractors works are governed by the standard Fair Wages Clause contained in all contracts. It has not been the practice of my Department to intervene on questions which are normally settled by agreement between employers and the engineering unions.

In order to secure maximum production and to avoid friction in the factories, would it not be a good step for the Secretary of State to recommend that the national agreement should be applied in this respect?

I think I had better leave it, so far as I can, to the employers and the unions.

If we are able to put into the hands of the Minister data to prove the statements we are now making, will he look into the matter and use his influence with firms to persuade them to deal with the men in a more generous way than at present?

Is it the case that the Minister cannot get any information, and has no information about the firms except such as is given to him from the Opposition benches? Cannot he get the information for himself?

No, Sir, I have made no statement that this is a question of getting information from certain firms.