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Agricultural Workers' Wages

Volume 387: debated on Tuesday 23 March 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether it is his intention to review agricultural workers' wages in Scotland with a view to establish a £4 per week minimum?

The responsibility for fixing minimum rates of wages for agricultural workers in Scotland rests entirely with the District Committees and the Central Board which were set up with powers and duties detailed in the Agricultural Wages Acts, 1937 and 1940. These bodies are representative of both sides of the industry with independent members added, and so far as I am aware there are no proposals before any District Committee or the Board for a revision of existing minimum wage rates.

Is my right hon. Friend not aware of the strong resentment felt by agricultural workers at the rate of wages they are paid in comparison with the wages of other workers, and will he undertake to stir up this Board?

In response to the latter part of the question, I have no power whatever to intervene since the Act of 1940. It is a matter for negotiation between trade unions and employers. I agree, however, that there is resentment in some quarters at the disparity in wage rates.

Is my right hon. Friend not aware that if agricultural workers were paid proper rates, there would probably be no need to ask for school children to help in agricultural work?