Again considered in Committee.
[Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS in the Chair]
Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
When we were interrupted I was suggesting to the Solicitor-
Division No. 11
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Bennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston)||Bower, Comdr. R. T. (Cleveland)|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Blair, Sir R.||Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buskross)|
|Beattie, F. (Cathcart)||Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.|
General that if His Majesty's Inspectors of Taxes would interpret the Income Tax Acts in the same way as he proposes to interpret the point of view of this Bill, the difficulties may be overcome. I remember the days when I was an apprentice in Stafford living in "diggings," owned by one of my foremen. In those days Income Tax did not spread down to their level, but if I was in "diggings" to-day, I have not the slightest doubt that the profit element of the part of the money I paid would go to the tax collector. Therefore, they would be regarded as carrying on a catering establishment. The Government cannot interpret the law in two ways. If you are a catering establishment for the purpose of paying taxation, obviously you must be a catering establishment for the purpose of this Bill. You can have only one interpretation of the law. However, I do not desire to go further now, because I imagine that we have come to the conclusion that it is time to turn our opinions into votes.
May I ask the Solicitor-General a question? I know of people who have had evacuees for more than two years and of an old lady who was bombed out of her town residence and is now an evacuee. Would that count?
I said it was a matter of degree, and obviously it is impossible for us at this stage to lay down precise limits as to where the question of degree changes. I wanted to make it quite clear, as I hope I have, to the Committee that the example given earlier in the Debate by my hon. Friend the Member for Elland (Mr. Levy), that somebody who had a private house and had a lodger occasionally for a short time, would not constitute an undertaking under the Bill. I ask those of the Committee who are prepared to accept my view to vote with the Government.
Then evacuees would?
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 70; Noes, 214.
|Brown, Brig.-Gon. H. C. (Newbury)||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Bull, B. B.||Henderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N. E.)||Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)|
|Channon, H.||Holmes, J. S.||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. D.|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Hunter, T.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|De la Bère, R.||Jennings, R.||Somerset, T.|
|Doland, G. F.||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Comdr. Hn. L. W.||Southby, Comdr. Sir A. R. J.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G.||Kimball, Major L.||Thomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'th'm'tn)|
|Emmott, G. E. G. C.||Knox, Major General Sir A. W. F.||Thorneycroft, Major G. E. P. (Stafford)|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Levy, T.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.|
|Everard, Sir W. Lindsay||Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E)||Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Fermoy, Lord||Lyle, Sir C. E. Leonard||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Fildes, Sir H.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Watt, F. C. (Edinburgh, Cen.)|
|Galbraith, Comdr. T. D.||McCallum, Major D.||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Gledhill, D.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P.||Webbe, Sir W. Harold|
|Gluckstein, Major L. H.||Morrison, Major J. G. (Salisbury)||White, Sir Dyrnoke (Fareham)|
|Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Petherick, Major M.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Procter, Major H. A.||Windsor-Clive, Lt.-Col. G.|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Raikes, Flight-Lieut. H. V. A. M.||York, Major C.|
|Guest, Lt.-Col. H. (Drake)||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
|Mr. Loftus and Mr. Colegate.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Frankel, D.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Amman, C. G.||Fyfe, Major Sir D. P. M.||McGovern, J.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Garro Jones, G. M.||Mack, J. D.|
|Apsley, Lady||Gates, Major E. E.||MacLaren, A.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G Lloyd (P'broke)||Maclean, N. (Govan)|
|Assheton, R.||Gibbins, J.||McNeil, H.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Glyn, Sir R. G. C.||Maitland, Sir A.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Goldie, N. B.||Mander, G. le M.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Marlowe, Lt.-Col. A.|
|Barr, J.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Marshall, F.|
|Barstow, P. G.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Martin, J. H.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Mathers, G.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Grimston, R. V.||Maxton, J.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Gruffydd, W. J.||Medlicott, Colonel Frank|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Guest, Dr, L. Haden (Islington, N.)||Messer F.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Gunston, Major Sir D. W.||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Bevan, A.||Guy, W. H.||Montague, F.|
|Bevin, Rt. Hon. E.||Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)||Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge)|
|Bower, Norman (Harrow)||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hammersley, S. S.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Broad, F. A.||Hannah, I. C.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Hardie, Agnes||Mort, D. L.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.||Muff, G.|
|Buchanan, G.||Harvey, T. E.||Murray, J. D. (Spennymoor)|
|Burke, W. A.||Hayday, A.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Cadogan, Maj. Sir E.||Heilgers, Major F. F. A.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T. (Bromley)||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Nicholson, Captain G. (Farnham)|
|Cary, R. A.||Higgs, W. F.||Nunn, W.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Hill, Prof. A. V.||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Oliver, G. H.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.||Paling, W.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R||Hollins, A. (Hanley)||Pearson, A.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C.||Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Horabin, T. L.||Peto, Major B. A. J.|
|Collindridge, F.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Pools, Captain C. C.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hughes, R. M.||Price, M. P.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hutchinson, G. C. (Ilford)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Isaacs, G. A.||Pym, L. R.|
|Daggar, G.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Reakes, G. L. (Wallasey)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhil)||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Kendall, W. D.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Ridley, G.|
|Denville, Alfred||King-Hall, Commander W. S. R.||Roberts, W.|
|Dobbie, W.||Kirby, B. V.||Robertson, D. (Streatham)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Kirkwood, D.||Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)|
|Dugdale, John (W. Bramwich)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey, W.)|
|Dugdale, Major T. L. (Richmond)||Lawson, J. J.||Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)|
|Dunn, E.||Leach, W.||Sloan, A.|
|Ede, J. C.||Leonard, W.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Leslie, J. R.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Linstead, H. N.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B.|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Lipson, D. L.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Edwards, Walter J. (Whitechapel)||Lloyd, G. W. (Ladywood)||Stephen, C.|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Oliver||Stewart, W. Joseph (H'gton-le-Spring)|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||McCorquodale, Malcolm S.||Stokes, R. R.|
|Foot, D. M.||McEntee, V. La T.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Stuart, Lord C. Crichton (Northwich)||Walker, J.||Willink, H. U.|
|Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray & Nairn)||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)||Wilmot, John|
|Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Waterhouse, Capt. C.||Windsor, W.|
|Sutcliffe, H.||Watkins, F. C.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Tate, Mavis C.||Watson, W. McL.||Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Wedderburn, H. J. S.||Woodburn, A.|
|Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Welsh, J. C.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Thomas, I. (Keighley)||Westwood, J.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)||White, H. (Derby, N. E.)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Tomlinson, G.||White, H. Graham (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Viant, S. P.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. (Blaydon)|
TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
|Wakefield, W. W.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)||Mr. Boulton and Mr. J. P. L.|
|Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)||Thomas.|
The next Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander)—in page I, line 16, after "employed" insert "in domestic service or"—is not selected, as it goes beyond the scope of the Bill.
I beg to move, in page I, line 21, to leave out from "undertaking" to the end of the Clause, and to add:
It is well to note the words which it is proposed to leave out; they are:"Provided that such workers shall not include any person who is not wholly or mainly employed in one or more of the said activities or any person whose employment is wholly or mainly connected with administration, accounting or management."
In other words, we desire that the terms of this Clause shall include only those undertakings which are specifically mentioned in the Clause. Those activities are very wide and include the supply of food or drink for immediate consumption, the provision of living accommodation for guests or lodgers, or for persons employed in the undertaking. If one realises what is the definition of "undertaking," it will be seen that it is a very embracing one. We have discussed at some length Clause 17, Sub-section (2)."and any other activity so far as it is incidental or ancillary to any such activity as aforesaid of the undertaking."
I hope we have not discussed it, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not discuss it now.
I was remarking that we had discussed it, and I was about to say it was not my intention to discuss it any further, but I must refer to something that we have not discussed on the other Amendment, and that is the interpretation of "undertaking," because that is very germane to my Amendment.
I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that he must not discuss "undertaking" now. We shall come to that on a later Clause, and if it is discussed now, that will rule out the discussion later. The right hon. Gentleman had better deal very strictly with Clause 1.
I must submit to your Ruling, Mr. Williams, but the Amendment proposes to leave out something that is connected with an undertaking, and unless we know what an undertaking is, it is very difficult for me to explain the reason it is desired to leave out something.
On a point of Order. In the Clause we are now discussing the question of the definition of "undertaking" is a very relevant part. May I quote from the Clause to show how it applies?
Therefore, the definition of "undertaking" must obviously be relevant to what my right hon. Friend is now discussing."The workers to whom this Act applies are all persons employed in any undertaking, or any part of an undertaking, which consists wholly or mainly…"
What I Ruled, and what I think I was right in Ruling, is that if there is a full discussion of the definition here, it will not be possible to repeat that discussion later. It would seem to me to be more in keeping with the ordinary procedure of the Committee if we leave the definition until we reach the later Clause and discuss it thoroughly then. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman that it would be better if the discussion of the definition of "undertaking" were left until its proper place in the Bill.
I am prepared to give an undertaking to you, Mr. Williams, that I shall not discuss at any length the meaning of the word "undertaking." I will simply say that the activities of an undertaking are very wide, including, as I have already quoted, the supply of food or drink for immediate consumption. If, in addition to what is included under the word "undertaking," there are included activities ancillary to those activities, surely it would be necessary to include in this Clause of the Bill many activities which I do not think it is the intention of the Government actually to include. They are entitled to have a definition of what certain activities are, but when they try to include within the provisions of the Bill ancillary work which is not defined, I think they are asking us to give them too much latitude in respect of this part of the Bill. If there are included activities ancillary to the main activities, so far as hotels and restaurants are concerned, it will mean that we might well be induced to include people who are employed in delivering goods to hotels. Surely, those are activities ancillary to the working of the hotel? Surely, the managerial and administrative staff are ancillary to the working of an hotel? The engineers, electricians, carpenters, decorators are all ancillary to the running of an hotel. An hotel cannot very well carry on without their help. Let me say, in passing, that probably many of these people are already in trade unions, and it would be unnecessary to include them under the provisions of the Bill. If workers who are ancillary to the running of hotels are included, I do not know how cabaret people and dance bands can be excluded, for they are ancillary to the running of good hotels, and I believe they would be included under the provisions of the Bill as at present drafted.
So are the diners and guests.
I do not think one should include diners as workers connected with an hotel.
I will certainly net permit a discussion of diners as workers.
On this occasion I was not responsible for starting the discussion. I do not think it is the intention of the Government to include all these people under the provisions of the Bill. It will be noted by hon. Members that it is not the individual who is to be wholly or mainly engaged in certain activities before he is brought within the terms of the Bill; it is the undertaking. There-tore, according to the present drafting of the Bill, all persons in the undertaking, all persons who are engaged in the ancil- lary activities, will be liable to have their wages and conditions, including hours, negotiated under this Measure. I maintain that one cannot properly and rightly control the hours of managers and of members of the managerial staffs of hotels. It is absolutely essential they should hive the opportunity, without interference, of working at all sorts of hours, and, of course, drawing different wages. It would be impossible to control their hours. If the Bill applied only to the regulation of wages, it might be possible, but it goes much further than that, and includes wages, hours, and conditions.
Surely, my right hon. Friend is wrong. It does not deal with hours.
I do not quite understand the meaning of "welfare and conditions"—
We seem to have got on to another Amendment by the interruption.
It is difficult not to follow up the interruption, because I feel that the interrupter has not given a fair description. I maintain that hours must be included if you are going to include the conditions of the workers. I believe the real object of the Bill is to regulate the wages, the hours, the conditions, and the welfare, if you like, of such workers as waiters, cooks, housemaids, and others actually engaged in the duties of running a hotel. I still do not think it is the intention of the Government that other people should be included, but that is not made clear. I want it made absolutely clear that the people I have mentioned are excluded. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Does the hon. Baronet think it possible and reasonable to control the hours of managers of hotels?
I think I must point out that the question of hours comes on the next Clause, and if we deal with it here, we shall clearly prejudice the whole position.
I am sorry to cross the Chair, but surely we are considering the setting-up of a Commission. That Commission appoints a wages board and advises the Minister with regard to the general conditions of the industry. I submit that I am entitled to bring that point to the notice of the Committee.
Certainly, but on Clause 2, and not Clause 1.
I must submit to your Ruling. As the Bill is at present drafted we have ancillary occupations brought under its provisions which I do not believe it is the intention of the Government to include, and I ask them to make it clear that these ancillary occupations are definitely left out. The only way they can do that is by accepting the Amendment.
The object of leaving out the words of the Clause is to confine the workers to be included to those directly employed in the catering industry. My right hon. Friend has given a few illustrations of ancillary workers who, we think, are unintentionally included. I will give one or two more. In certain cases there are laundries exclusively tied to hotels. That is a distinct ancillary activity. If you are going to deal with laundries, they should be dealt with under a scheme confined exclusively to laundries. It is not the intention to include them, but the Bill does not say that. It embraces the whole lot. I admit that this is an exaggerated case, but some hotels have smallholdings attached. I do not believe it is the intention to include workers on smallholdings, but, as the Bill stands, they will be included. On the whole it is unwise to have the Sub-section worded as widely as it is, because it will include all the administrative and managerial staff, and it may conceivably include engineers. In many hotels you have one or two managers and reception clerks who may have to work rather long hours, which they have to arrange among themselves. It is necessary to have extreme elasticity in the hours, conditions and wages of the managerial staff. The Bill is rather too widely drafted, and, if these words do not commend themselves to the Minister, if some other form of words could be discovered to exclude the classes that we have mentioned, it would certainly improve the Bill and give it increased elasticity, and a number of unfortunate pitfalls and future troubles might well be avoided.
I hope the Committee will not give assent to the Amendment. The purpose of the Bill is to regulate hours, wages and conditions for employees in the catering industry. The purpose of the Amendment is to cut out from that benefit all employees engaged in administration, or accounting, or in the management. I have heard no justification at all for this class of hotel and catering workers being excluded. The only justification, if it can be so called, is that you cannot regulate the hours that managers of hotels are called upon to work. Believe me, managers' hours are regulated to some extent even at present and are susceptible of even more regulation.
In what respect are they regulated at present?
There is a rota of duties as between managers, assistant managers and others in order that there may be a reasonable amount of leisure. I could have understood with more completeness the purpose of the Amendment if it had been laid down that certain very high officials in hotel work should be excluded, but these three Clauses are very wide. They cover all sorts of men and women on very low rates of pay who work very long hours under very unsatisfactory conditions. If the Amendment were carried, it would mean that many a reception clerk would get nothing from the Act, although her rates of pay and hours would be worse than those of waiters in the hotel lounge or dining room who would be covered, and many an assistant manager with an income far lower than that of the hall porter would not have the advantages of the Act, while the hall porter would. I want these people for whom I am pleading to be kept in the Bill. I am speaking with some knowledge of the matter, because many of them are members of my trade union and have worked in the great railway hotels. The British railways are the largest hotel owners in the world, and these workers are entitled to some consideration.These managers, assistant managers and other officials on the administrative and accountancy side want to be included. They are getting wages of 40s. a week plus meals and accommodation, and they are working long hours in the week, and on Sunday for no extra pay at all, and if the Bill is to benefit anyone, it ought to benefit the black-coated workers, who stand so much in need of assistance of this kind. The trouble with catering is that trade unionism has never been able to confer much in the way of benefits because of the difficulty of organisation. All railway workers are probably covered by trade union strength and organisation, but the hotel people are not. They want to come into our organisation, and we would have them, but the railway companies do not want to recognise us for this group of workers. I hope the Committee will reject the Amendment, so that the Bill will cover not only the waitresses, cooks and other grades of workers that have been referred to, but also these administrative and accountancy and managerial people, who stand very much in need of it.
I have been very impressed with what the hon. Member has said about leaving out these lowly paid people, and I agree that they ought to be included and not excluded. In order to meet him, I am prepared to leave out the words in my Amendment "administration, accounting," but I do not think I could go as far as to leave out "management."
Like my right hon. Friend, I was impressed by what the hon. Member for Central Hackney (Mr. Watkins) said, and I think that the Amendment might be altered to give effect to it. It would be undesirable to exclude anyone of that kind from the Bill. What we are trying to do is to get something more specific as to what is meant by the words "incidental or ancillary." These words are very wide, and I should have thought that the trade unions would have been perturbed about overlapping. In railway hotels there might be plumbers, gardeners, joiners and all sorts of people who would come under this definition, and it is important that there should be some words which will prevent misunderstanding. I think that the Solicitor-General would agree that a whole-time employee who is a joiner would certainly come under the terms of the Bill.
I agree with the proposed alteration of the Amendment, but the difficulty as I see it arises in deciding who is to come within the scope of the Bill. If we are going to govern the conditions of employment of those in the hotel industry, everybody who can legitimately be said to be a member of the industry should be included, but the words "ancillary" and "incidental" get us into difficulties, because all sorts of things might be said to be ancillary. The Government should look into the matter so that there will be no doubt about who will come under the Bill and who will not. Suggestions have been made about gardeners, engineers and electricians, but I think that there would be difficulties as regards members of other trade unions who are wholetime employees of a hotel.
Is not the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that engineers, painters and plumbers are employed full-time in big printing factories and newspaper works, and that they are all related to their own trade unions, and there has been no difficulty in the past?
But there has not been a special Bill brought in to govern the conditions of employment in printing factories and elsewhere. The difficulty arises here in defining who is to be covered by the Bill and who is to be left out. The Government ought to classify more definitely who is to be included. As the Bill stands, it would be possible to regulate the hours and conditions of employment of the board of directors engaged in running the hotel, but nobody suggests that anything so stupid should be done. We cannot cut out people like receptionists and those employed in the actual work of the hotel, but it is absurd to suggest that an accountant, who is performing a function which is ancillary to running the hotel, should be included.
It is part of the hotel business to keep accounts.
I mean the chartered accountant, not the accountant who takes the cash. Of course, he must come under the Bill. I mean the chartered accountant who goes from time to time and does work ancillary to the running of the hotel.
It is plain enough that a chartered accountant, who is a professional gentleman called in for the purpose of inspecting and auditing the accounts, is not under a contract of employment within the meaning of Sub-section (2).
I raised this point because I do not think that is clear.
This Amendment would leave a loophole to unscrupulous employers to declare that certain workers came within the category of administration, accountancy or management. Workers who rightly come under that category are entitled to be safeguarded and to be paid fair wages for the positions they occupy. Clerical workers employed in hotels are as much in need of the protection of a Bill of this kind as waiters or kitchen hands. I remember negotiating on behalf of the clerical workers in a certain distributive establishment when the attitude of the managing director was that these workers produced nothing or sold nothing and that therefore they should not be considered. They may not produce or sell anything, but they are necessary to keep the firm's accounts right. Therefore, clerical workers and the others mentioned in the Amendment ought to be included.
There still seems to be confusion as to the meaning of these words. My right hon. Friend who moved the Amendment sought to deal with a group of persons who are covered by the Clause. The Clause makes the Bill operative in respect of two main groups of persons. The first are those who are
whose business consists of—"employed in any undertaking or any part of an undertaking"—
in other words, persons directly employed in catering establishments. The second group of persons are those employed—"the supply of food or drink for immediate consumption, the provision of living accommodation for guests or lodgers"—
that is to say, the catering industry. I submit that the second group of persons are employed by other undertakings who are entirely outside the catering industry and whose business is incidental or ancillary to the carrying-on of the catering business. It is in this second class where definition is wanted. I cannot understand the meaning of the words:"in any undertaking or any part of an undertaking which consists wholly or mainly in the carrying on (whether for profit or not)…of any other activity so far as it is incidental or ancillary to any such activity as aforesaid of the undertaking,"
of the catering undertaking. Am I right in assuming that the van man delivering groceries from a wholesale grocer is employed by the wholesale grocer when he is delivering goods to private individuals or to shops? He is solely the employee of that grocer and obviously is not touched by this Bill. But when he is delivering groceries to a hotel he is performing an essential service which is incidental to the carrying on of the catering trade. I desire to follow the example of many eminent legal gentlemen who in seeking to arrive at the meaning of the words in an Act of Parliament—and that is what we are concerned with, and not with the interpretation which hon. Members or Ministers may put upon them—carry those words to the extremes of absurdity, and I have deliberately put forward an outside and quite clearly an absurd case, but solely for the purpose of demonstrating that the words as they stand could cover that manifestly absurd case."in any other activity so far as it is incidental or ancillary to the carrying on"
How can these words cover the case which the hon. Member has put? How can he suggest that the person to whom he is referring is employed in the undertaking?
I am very much obliged to my hon. Friend for his interruption, because he has made the point which I am trying to make. I will read the Clause again, leaving out the direct employees in the catering undertaking:
—that is to say, the catering undertaking. I submit that as those words stand there are two types of undertaking contemplated by the Clause. There is the direct catering establishment, which is the undertaking referred to in the last line of what I have read, and there is the second type of undertaking, which has not necessarily anything to do with the catering trade but is an undertaking engaged in an activity which is ancillary or incidental to the catering trade."The workers to whom this Act applies are all persons employed in any undertaking, or any part of an undertaking, which consists wholly or mainly in the carrying on (whether for profit or not)…and any other activity so far as it is incidental or ancillary to any such activity as aforesaid of the undertaking"
Would the hon. Member say that hon. Members are employed in any capacity in the catering industry in opposing this Bill?
I submit that I am trying to make a serious point, not with any hostile object or with the intention of wasting the time of the Committee. I ask the Law Officers to look at those particular words:
and if my reading is correct in law, then I would ask them to produce words which will correct the position. If my reading is not correct then my point does not arise. This Amendment and the Amendment which we discussed at considerable length earlier both raise a point on, which I; wish to ask your assistance, Major Milner. These two Amendments seek to limit the scope of the workers who will fall under the provisions of the Bill. In reply to the Amendment which has been disposed of the Minister indicated—and I have no doubt the Parliamentary Secretary is likely to take the same view in regard to this Amendment—that these questions of demarcation and delimitation are not questions to be settled in the Bill because they will be settled by the Commission. There, I think, is a general difficulty which is likely to arise many times upon these Amendments. The constitution of the Commission is dealt with in the First Schedule. We are not, therefore, as I understand it, able to decide what is to be the constitution of the Commission. We have no indication of whether Amendments which have been put down in regard to its constitution will be accepted or not. In other words, we are left completely in the dark as to the kind of Commission it will be. If the Commission is as is proposed in the Schedule it would be definitely a Commission of people deliberately chosen because they have no personal knowledge of the details and the technique of the catering industry. If, on the other hand, one of the Amendments which has been tabled is carried, we shall have a Commission which consists of a certain groups of independents, together with other members who are chosen because they are skilled in the technique of the catering industry. Therefore, the character of the Commission must very largely determine our attitude towards the provisions of the Bill. Great importance is attached; to the Commission. The Ministers has emphasised that this is a new experiment, he is trying a new type of machinery, he is delegating to a Commission very great powers of recommendation on which he will act."In so far as it is ancillary or incidental to"
Is it in Order to discuss the composition of the Commission at the present time? If so, it will lead to a very wide discussion, which I should have thought would come better at a later stage.
It is certainly not in order to discuss the composition of the Commission in detail at this stage.
I was not desiring to do so. I was merely asking whether it is possible for us to have any indication on that point in order that we may know what attitude to adopt towards the various provisions of the Bill which the Commission is charged to carry out. That is my sole concern. If I am satisfied with the type of Commission to be set up, there are a great many provisions in the Bill which I should be entirely happy to hand over to the Commission. If I am not satisfied clearly I am much more reluctant to do so. I believe it to be a real point and I hope that if you, Sir, cannot advise me on it, my hon. Friend will be able to do so.
I do not think I can follow the hon. Gentleman into the subject of the setting-up of the Commission, which is in the First Schedule, because it would be out of Order for me to do so. All one can say on that subject is that it will be an impartial Commission. We have had an interesting Debate on the Amendment, which my right hon. Friend who moved it has suggested should be further amended. I cannot ask the Committee to accept the Amendment, even so further amended. The right hon. Gentleman who moved it seemed to be worried about the matter of hours. It is difficult to discuss this, because it comes further on in the Bill. The specific matter of hours is not included in wages board recommendations or in what the wages board would recommend to the Minister with regard to a wages Order. As will be seen in Clause 7, hours come under different legislation altogether. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who supported the Amendment used two interesting examples of what he thought might happen, and he chose laundry workers and agricultural workers. It was interesting that he should pick upon those two, because, they happen to be covered, by a trade board and an agricultural wages board respectively at the present time. I can, however, give him an assurance, if he wants it, that there will be no duplication of machinery, so that workers will not be covered both by a trade board and by a wages board. We were also very glad of the full support for the Ball as against the Amendment expressed by other hon. Members.It seems to me that the Amendment, if adopted, would include only workers who were engaged in
Such an Amendment would create great uncertainty as to the type of worker who was within the scope of the Bill. It would not remove uncertainty but would create greater uncertainty. It is laid down in the Bill that all workers employed in the undertakings will be within the scope of the Bill. The industry is so diverse, as everybody knows, and the considerations which have to be taken into account are so varied, that my right hon. Friend invented the scheme of the impartial Commission to go into all these points. The last speaker was quite right when he prophesied what I was likely to say in answer to this proposal. The demarcation of the industry must be left to the Commission, who can make the necessary investigations impartially and, in making wages board recommendations, will indicate not only the types of undertakings but also the workers to be covered. It must be borne in mind, as my right hon. Friend has already said, that the Minister is delegating his own powers under the Trade Boards Act to the Commission, and it would be wrong to whittle those powers away. It is much better, having set up this impartial Commission and have made the scope of the Measure quite clear but as wide as possible, to leave to the Commission the demarcation of the undertakings and of the workers who are to come under the proposed wages recommendations, and that is why I would ask the Committee to resist the Amendment."the supply of food or drink for immediate consumption, the provision of living accommodation for guests or lodgers or for persons employed in the undertaking."
I do not think that the Parliamentary Secretary has really dealt with that part of the Amendment for which I had a good deal of support, namely:
In the Clause, those words appear in the defining of the undertaking which is to be brought within the scope of the Clause and within the purview of the Commission. By the latter part of Clause 1 as it stands, it would be open to the Commission to consider the activities of a number of persons who are really on the fringe of the catering trade, and are on that fringe only at certain unusual times. If that view is right, I would ask that the Minister should, between now and the Report stage, consider whether it would not be proper to insert some words which would show that persons who are incidentally, or in an ancillary capacity, employed on the fringes of this industry, must be wholly or mainly employed in that capacity before they can be brought in. It will be remembered that a large number of objectors appeared, at the time of the Colefax Committee, although the scope of the inquiry was very much restricted and did not include the provision of board and lodging, to deal with their interests in the catering trade as such. There appeared a most astonishing list of persons whose services were incidental, or in an ancillary capacity, to the catering trade. They included the British Paper Bag Federation, the Paper Box Federation, the Dairymen's Association, laundries, workers in leather products, the Mackintosh Cable Company, paper makers, paint and colour people, and public wharfingers. There is a vast number of people incidentally connected with the catering trades whose industry is ancillary in some way. I again ask the Minister to consider further this point and to see whether it is not right that the matter should be more clearly defined before it goes to the Commission."Provided that such workers shall not include any person who is not wholly or mainly employed in one or more of the said activities,"
My right hon. Friend is always willing to listen to what is suggested. I would apologise to the Committee if I did not answer this point, which had not been brought up by the mover and seconder, about the workers being employed, wholly or mainly, in the undertakings included in the Bill. The scope of the Bill—I would like to emphasise this point—is based upon the activities of the undertakings or parts of the undertakings, and not on the activities of the workers. All workers therefore are within the scope and the purview of the Commission according to their employment. If the undertaking is wholly in scope, they are in scope. The Amendment, I suggest, would provide that the worker would be in scope only if he were wholly or mainly employed in the undertaking. We do not want to get on to that. We want to stick to our principle that the worker is in scope if he is employed in an undertaking which is in scope.
Let me explain the reason why the words "wholly or mainly" were put into the Amendment and applied to the worker who is working for a few hours in the industry. I was not referring to a person who was doing part-time work, but only when the part-time work was a more important part of his general daily activities than the part he was spending outside the catering industry. We wanted to try to cover that point by putting in "wholly or mainly" in order to produce the meaning in the Bill that the part-time worker must be usually employed in the industry.
I think we can leave that point to the good sense of the Commission.
I would like to raise one small point in connection with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for the Abbey Division (Sir H. Webbe). Admittedly, he raised an extreme case, but if one thing is certain in the activities of this House, it is that time and time again, in the last two or three hundred years, this House has passed Measures which it had no intention of passing, something different from what the Law Officers or His Majesty's Judges subsequently determined those Measures to be. When I look at the Labour Benches opposite and at those who are inclined to laugh at the moment, I am bound to say that, with the exception of the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt), for whose legal knowledge I have an intense admiration, I would not trust the legal judgment of those hon. Gentlemen one bit, any more than I would that of hon. Members on this side of the House. I think we have to be very careful about the wording of this Clause.
I had not intended to speak on this Amendment and would not do so but for the strange persistence with which it is being pressed and advocated by those who are sponsoring it. A further substantial reason is that, for many years of my life, about 30 or more, I have had to travel about the country in my attempts to organise certain sections of railway workers. In that work I had to put up here and there in all towns, big and small, in hotels and lodgings of all sorts, and from, out of that experience and the innumerable confidences that were given to me by the workers who attended me on those occasions I had such a painful experience as to lead me to urge the Committee not to approve this Amendment but to see to it that as is intended by the Minister everyone is brought in, part-time, full-time managerial, secretarial, or any others. None should be excluded. Taking the part-time workers, in some inns and hotels, especially the lesser ones, they have womenfolk in for the early part of the day for three or four hours to prepare for the rush period, mid-day or breakfast. Then they have part-time men who attend to things at the back end of the day, around midnight, to let late customers in and so on. That is all the more reason why they should be brought in, because the treatment of some of these folk is very wrongful. Members of this House must know perfectly well that even in His Majesty's postal services a large number of part-time postal workers used to be employed and that all agreements made provision for part-time workers. So should this machinery.Coming to the black-coated workers, managerial and clerical staffs, I am sure everyone must have noticed that a number of settlements have been made, general agreements governing the employments in shops big and small, and that those agreements not merely cover shop assistants and the girl in the cash desk, but they also bring in the managers, whether of big or little places. It should be just the same in the catering trade. I often enjoy the Bohemian atmosphere of the delightful Corner Houses which the hon. and gallant Member for East Nottingham (Major Gluckstein) has to do with. I was a personal friend of his late partner, and we had many a talk together. In these Corner Houses I know numerous floor managers, as they are called. They have told me of their grievances. They are very decent fellows and they ask you not to say anything about it, but they would like to be covered by a tribunal. There would be no difficulty whatever in making provision for their proper remuneration and the regulation of their conditions. In an industry where it has never been done it may be that the directors cannot conceive how it can be done, but in the railway world in the last 20 or 30 years we have been working these things out, and we have made proper provision for the supervisors and the clerical workers, and we also have station masters who are local managers, covered by our machinery. Then, there are travelling inspectors, who have to go here and there, who have to attend shows and special events and deal with special emergencies, and we have had to provide for their remuneration with certain additional considerations. There is a standing salary, whatever it may be, and a plus arrangement based on the man being available for extra hours on special duty. That can easily be plussed on. You assess the job, classify the position and provide a salary and provide for "on call" allowance. If experience shows that extra duties are greater than was anticipated, the percentage can be increased. Likewise if the supervisor is never called out, the company can make representations for an adjustment. That is all worked out by good will through wages board machinery, and it can equally be done in the catering trade. I think only one grade of person might perhaps be excluded, and that is the directors. I do not think the Committee need feel undue sympathy with the directors. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I do not think the Commission would bring them in and would rule that they are not really employed on the job, their attendance is so slight. Some directors only turn at the half-year-end to see what the share-out will be. I do not think they will be brought in, but I believe everybody else should be. I hope the promoters of this Amendment will see their way to withdraw it. Do not be pernickity; be broad-minded. Remember that we are in the midst of the worst war the world has ever known. [Interruption.] Here we are trying to define rights for men and women which everyone else enjoys in every other industry. To attempt to deprive them of those rights will do those who attempt it no end of harm if they persist in it. They would be well advised to withdraw this Amendment.
I rise to offer a few observations on this Amendment. I hope the Minister will reject it. I disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for the Abbey Division (Sir H. Webbe). I think this is on an entirely different basis from the last one. Those who have supported this Amendment have convinced me of one thing, that is, it is extraordinarily difficult to categorise workers in this particular industry so difficult indeed that I cannot help but feel it is something better left to an independent Commission when they are conducting their inquiry and can go properly into the matter. It is clear that the Amendment as it is now framed cannot be supported. It consists of two parts. The first is to leave out certain words, and the effect of leaving them out will be to limit the workers to those concerned either in the supply of food or in the provision of living accommodation. No doubt that would cover waitresses; it is speculative whether it would cover cooks, who are not engaged in the supply but in the preparation of food. The provision of living accommodation might cover housemaids, but perhaps not the hall porter, so quite plainly if this Amendment was accepted in its present form, it would unduly limit and hamper the work of the Commissioners.Just one further point, in regard to the words the promoters of the Amendment propose to put in. The effect of those words would be to exclude all those workers who were not wholly or mainly engaged in the industry. It would therefore, as I see it, specifically exclude the part-time workers. In my view, that would be a most dangerous thing, because when you get in a part-time worker who is not dependent upon the industry for his livelihood, he undercuts the whole-time worker and pulls down the standard in the industry as a whole. In those circumstances I think it would be damaging to the Bill if these words were included. For these reasons I hope my right hon. Friend will reject the Amendment.
I would like to join the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken in appealing to the movers of the Amendment to withdraw it. It does appear that on this occasion we have to judge every Amendment on its merits. In my view this Amendment is unnecessary, and, as has been stated, in its original form would merely have the effect of preventing the regulation of wages of a very large number of people whom the movers themselves have since admitted, they do not desire to see excluded from it. Even in its amended form it appears to have little better basis. We have heard a great deal about ancillaries. I do not pretend to be eminent in law, as are many Members of this House, but, although the law may on occasion be "a hass," I cannot consider any circumstances in which the law could be sufficiently big "a hass" to assume, under these words of the Sub-section, that a greengrocer, for example, who in serving private customers had gone into a hotel, could be affected. We have many important Amendments to come on, and I think we have wasted a good deal of time on an Amendment which, so far as I can see, will serve no useful purpose.
While I have sympathy with all minorities, I can scarcely believe that the mover and the seconder of this Amendment really believe what they say about it. I believe that it is a frontal attack on the Measure rather than an attempt to protect certain people who they say are in danger of being included in the Bill. If there is one thing upon which I feel the Government, and especially the Minister, are to be congratulated, it is the introduction of this Measure, to end the scandal in this country of a sweated industry, and to try to put it upon a decent basis. Every person enjoying the comforts of hotels, restaurants and cafes can at least say that he is contributing to the wellbeing of the employees. I find it very hard to believe that the hon. Members supporting this Amendment think that a tradesman brought in from outside to do a repair in a hotel would be included under the Bill. While it is true that the allocation is left to the Commission, a carpenter or a plumber brought in to do a repair has his own trade union to govern his conditions from outside. His insurance is paid by an outside employer, as well as his third party risk, and to say that he will be looked upon as being inside the industry is not to look facts fairly in the face.I find it hard to believe that the mover and the supporters of the Amendment really are attempting to exclude people of that kind, who are really excluded by the Bill itself. There are a large number of people in the catering and hotel industry who might be excluded if an Amendment of this kind were carried. Last Monday I met in the streets of Glasgow a man who is employed in the Central Hotel, one of the railways hotels at Glasgow. He works around the boilers there, and he told me that his wage is £2 a week. He added that he was supposed to be allowed a certain portion of the commission, but that when it got down to him there was very little of the commission left. He said, "Are the Government shelving this Bill, or do they intend to pursue it?" I told him that it was coming up this week, and he said, in good proletarian language, "For God's sake, John, if you can do anything to get it through, do so, to end the scandal of the railway hotels." I have always felt that it is wrong for employees to be dependent upon the generosity of guests, who, after they have paid a fairly substantial amount for a meal or a room, are then compelled to pay out tips in order to save the directors from having to stand up to their responsibilities. I think this Amendment is ill-conceived and that it should not be pressed to a Division, because it would receive wholesale condemnation in the country. This is one of the few occasions on which I support the Government.
Will the Minister say whether under the heading of "workers in the catering trade" there are included persons employed on that sort of work on tourist vessels, British liners and so on?
There is an Amendment later on to exclude all ships.
I am not satisfied that the Amendment carries out the intention that we had in our minds, and, consequently, I beg to ask leave to withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
I was not fortunate enough to catch Mr. Speaker's eye on the Second Reading and I do not propose on the Committee stage of this Bill to inflict upon the Committee a speech of such a nature as we heard a few minutes ago, but if I am fortunate enough to catch your eye, Major Milner, on various stages, I shall be able perhaps to deliver my speech by instalments. Whereas I was originally, before I saw the Bill in print and heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, an opponent of the Bill, I have now learned one lesson. That is, not to oppose things before one knows what one is opposing. I became a supporter of the Bill when it appeared in print and was introduced by the Minister. I was reinforced in that attitude by something which may not seem to be of much importance to some hon. Members. I received a deputation from some of the Cypriots of this country. We have 10,000 Cypriots in London, most of whom live in and around my constituency. I was impressed by the arguments they put forward to show that these people were very badly treated. These people are largely, if not wholly, employed in the catering trade. They know little about this country, they take some time to learn the language, and they need some protection. They suffer the additional disadvantage of being employed by Italians, who still largely control the catering trade in London. They may seem only a small fraction of the whole industry, but these 10,000 Cypriots, who are British subjects, know so little about our laws, our language and our habits, and they have no redress when they are treated in this way. I was very much impressed by the arguments advanced on their behalf, and this only served as an introduction to lead me to think of many other people engaged in this industry as well. I think that the protection which is to be given to all classes engaged in this industry who are defined in this Clause is very much overdue.
I do not want to repeat the arguments that I have previously used about this Clause, but I certainly ask all Members to recognise that it is an all-embracing Clause and—I am fortified in my argument by the Minister's reply—that it includes every cottage and every small household throughout the country, whether the owner, proprietor or tenant of that cottage takes in a lodger and supplies him with bed and breakfast, or whether a billetee has been forced upon the household owing to the bombing. It is not a question of opposing or voting for this Bill, but it is a question which affects the constituency of every Member of Parliament. There is not a Member of Parliament who can say that in his constituency there are not a large number of small households taking in lodgers. Whether a man and wife pay even their own daughter some remuneration for work that is done, there is an implied contract and therefore it comes within the category of this Bill. If it is to be argued that every small householder throughout the whole of the country, simply because bed and breakfast are supplied to a lodger, comes within the catering trade, and that it is right and proper that they should fall within the ambit of this Bill, then it is O.K. with me.
And that is O.K. with us.
That is not Parliamentary language, but, as representing a county constituency, I feel it to be my duty as a Member of Parliament to say to the Minister that I am not satisfied with this Bill, which is so embracing that it involves every working man's household throughout my constituency being incorporated in it. If there is a Division on this Clause, I shall go into the Division Lobby and vote against it.
I intervene in order to support the Motion that the Clause should stand part of the Bill. I would not like at this time to go into the background of that which brought about the introduction of the Catering Wages Bill. Every hon. and right hon. Member has realised for a considerable time the complete disorganisation and the absolute opportunities of making the conditions of people in the catering trade as bad as they could possibly be made. The catering trade has had complete power to bring men down to such a level that they themselves have had to offer money in order that their services might be given in a very necessary undertaking. As to what the hon. Member for Elland (Mr. Levy) has said, I am surprised at the anxiety of various hon. Members, including the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chorley (Sir D. Hacking), that this Bill should be restricted merely to the Dorchester, the Cafe Royal and Lyons' Corner Houses. Therefore I trust that the Minister will resist their attempt at this restriction and that, as has been done with almost every industry in the country, the whole question of the catering industry and its ability to cater for the public will be fully considered by the Commission and by the Minister.Frankly—and one might as well talk very plainly—when I see many of the names to the various Amendments, names of persons well-known in the catering industry of London and of the country, I am afraid that they are not so much concerned about the hours as they are concerned about their own interests. It is obvious—and we might as well say it—that there has been considerable obstruction since the inception of this Bill, which merely aims at bettering the conditions and raising the standards of the working people of one industry, by Members who have been interested in the catering industry. We have had Members, on this Clause, saying that leather merchants, greengrocers, decorators, plumbers and others who are employed within the catering industry are ancillary to catering establishments. When I pointed out that printing establishments, the newspaper industry, engineering industries and industries of all descriptions had plumbers and decorators doing work, and that even in our aircraft factories, leather manufacturers do something with regard to the furniture, it was stated that we did not need a Bill for the printing industry or the engineering industry. I would say to these critics that we have had legislation with regard to many industries, but we have not had this type of legislation, because in no other industry in the country have the employers fought so stubbornly and created such difficulties against the organisation and the improvement of their workers. I ask the Committee to support the Minister in this Clause which brings before the view of the Commission and the House of Commons difficulties of people of whose conditions most of us ought to be heartily ashamed.
I have been professionally engaged in studying Acts of Parliament a good many years and this Clause appears to be just about one of the worst I have ever seen. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour tells us that the main idea is to get a contract of service. As far as the Bill is concerned, we now know that this Clause is so wide that it will take in anybody who assists or who is a partner and anybody who might, in the legal sense, be regarded as an independent contractor. We are told that it is all for the good of the catering industry that these people should be brought in. You have a Clause which is in such a mess that you have to put in a great many more people than you want in order to get what you really want. The next question one is asked is, Who is going to do this job? Apparently it is to be left to the Commissioners to do. I only make this point. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to study his Bill closely, and I think he will find that no proper powers are given anywhere to the Commissioners to do any job of the kind.
I had no intention of intervening, but in view of the remarks of the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Davidson), I ought to make some comment. I have some slight association with the catering trade, and in case the Committee should be left with the impression that the catering trade in Great Britain is whole-heartedly against the Bill, I would like to make it clear that that is not the case. There are many large catering enterprises I know of—and if the Committee so desired I could mention their names, because they are household words—which are entirely in favour of fair wages and good conditions and are most anxious to improve the trade. The fact that they are firms opposed to this Bill fully justifies their right in opposing it and having their case ventilated in the Committee to-day, but I have not heard anything so far which could be interpreted as meaning that any interested party was speaking here to-day for his own private profit. Regarding the statement of the hon. Gentleman the Member for South-East St. Pancras (Sir A. Beit) that 10,000 Cypriots were being exploited by the catering trade in this country, he gave us no evidence of it whatsoever, and I very much doubt—
I did not want to take up the time of the Committee by submitting evidence—[AN HON. MEMBER: "The hon. Member was talking about another Member."] I am referring to the point about representatives of the catering industry being interested parties. We have had a speech to-day from an influential member of the catering industry who employs girls at 9s. 8d. a week in London.
I take it that the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Robertson) was intending to refer to what I have said about Cypriots? I was given to understand that Cypriots in London—I have not got it chapter and verse, but I have good evidence—were being exploited, especially by Italians, who largely control London's catering industry.
I want to make it clear that any man or woman being exploited to-day has only himself or herself to blame. This industry is not protected by the Essential Work Order, there is a labour famine, high wages are being paid, and one of the reasons why I opposed the inquiry asked for on the Second Reading was because I felt that wages to-day were satisfactory, but were not satisfactory before the war. That brings me to a point raised by the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), who gave a specific case which, in the interests of accuracy, I strongly urge him to probe to its conclusion. He named a great railway company which has rendered this State great service at all times, particularly in this war, and, frankly, I do not believe that any full-time adult employee at the Glasgow Central Station Hotel, working in the engineers' department or the boiler house, is getting only £2 a week. What the hon. Member said about commission is beyond my comprehension. I have not heard of anybody connected with the engineering side of the hotel trade getting commission. If the hon. Member cannot clarify the statement to-day, he should take the earliest possible opportunity of doing so.
I can do it to-day. I named the Central Station Hotel, where the man to whom I spoke sometimes works on the boilers. Last Monday I asked him how much he was receiving, and he told me that he was getting £2, plus some of the commission which came right down to all employees.
I will not stand in the way of the Committee and this new Clause for more than a few minutes. Frankly, I do not understand much of the opposition to this Clause or, rather, the feeling in support of the Amendment. It appears to me that the main criticism of the Bill is that it is all-embracing and that its scope should be limited in order to exclude certain people from its provisions. Why? Because of the desire to save people from something, a desire to save managers and accountants from being embraced by this Bill. What is it desired to save them from? Proper conditions of labour they might enjoy, probably for the first time since they have been connected with the industry. Most of what we have heard to-day has centred around the large catering establishments in London, the Dorchester Hotel and many others whose names have been bandied about. Throughout the country there are still undertakings which consist of two or three people—tea shops and places like that. The staff numbers only two or three. If you exclude the manager, you exclude a man whose wage may be the same as that of many waiters in the London hotels. Anyone who has any knowledge of industrial organisations knows that while there may be many hybrid grades of employment in a particular industry, it is perfectly easy to frame machinery which will embrace all categories of workers. Take, for instance, the railway industry. No undertaking in the country has so many hybrid types of workers—painters, plumbers, blacksmiths and the like—who are not in the ordinary sense of the word railwaymen. If you follow the argument adduced today, you would say that these people ought not to have been embraced by the national wage negotiations. You would say that they ought to have been left without representation and without any claim to decent conditions. That seems to me the only reason why some people desire to exclude certain others from this Bill.
It is well said, "Give a dog a bad name, and you might as well hang him." The Minister has sat here through all these attacks on the catering trade, and I have not heard him dissociate himself once from them. I would like to remind the Committee that in the Second Reading Debate the Minister said that he did not intend to begin hurling about charges of sweating and all the rest of it. I imagine he said that with some authority and with some evidence. But charges have been hurled about without substantiation and are to be subject to consideration by the Commission. That only proves how right my hon. Friends and I were when we pressed for an independent public inquiry into this trade. That inquiry was denied us. These charges are being hurled about. The Commission in due course, subject to the enormous labours the Minister will put upon it, will conduct inquiries into these vexed matters. I hope most devoutly that when that Commission does sit, it will sit in public, so that once and for all these stories which have been so assiduously fostered and spread about will be exploded. A large number of persons who are not represented here cannot speak for themselves, and frequently they have been most unjustly attacked. I say this to any person who is not thoroughly prejudiced on this point. It was said that anybody in these days can gain employment by leaving it and going to other employment at far better figures than the figures which have been mentioned today. If that is the fact, does not that explode the stories we have been hearing so much in this Debate?
May I answer immediately the point made by the hon. and gallant Member for East Nottingham (Major Gluckstein)? It has not been my practice in the House, after the first month of my membership, to jump up and interrupt any hon. Member, whatever he was saying. I soon learned that it was wise for a Minister to wait until he replied to the Debate. I repeat that, in dealing with this problem, I do not rest my case on the basis of a sweated industry. I said that in my speech in the Second Reading Debate. Before the Bill is through, I shall rest my case on the entitlement of every worker to have his basic conditions protected either by collective agreement or by State regulation. That is the basic condition upon which I stand and upon which the Whitley Committee made its recommendations over 25 years ago. I have never deviated from that line. I think I can say to the hon. and gallant Member that, notwithstanding all the strikes, all the troubles and all the notoriety I have had in my time, I have perhaps built more conciliation machinery during the last 40 years than any other man in this country.I stand on this, that where ordinary persons have to apply for employment in the labour market, they are entitled to a foundation in their wages system. I do not believe it is necessary for me to hurl charges in the Committee. I may be told that in one firm things are good and in another firm they are bad. One cannot deal with these things on the law of averages. There are good and bad in all industries. May I put it in another way, which I hope the Committee will endorse strongly—that what are good wages in one generation are bad wages in the next decade? The great thing, if evolution and progress are to be made, is for the workpeople to have that sort: of organisation which will provide adaptations and development with the progression of our civilisation and our industrial development. That is imperative. Therefore I have not indulged, from the very moment this matter started, in hurling any charges against anybody, and I do not intend to do so. I have not indulged in a Press campaign in this business; I have read and seen a lot, but I have not indulged in it myself. I believe that what I am doing is right in the interests of the country, and if I may say so with respect—some of my opponents have forgotten it—I believe the Bill will be a blessing to the industry. The matter raised by the hon. Member for South-East St. Pancras (Sir A. Beit) is a vital one, and I do not think anybody in the industry will object to it. The system which this Bill seeks to set up, and of which this Clause is a cardinal point, is one which makes the employer responsible. I am very anxious, when we reach the Clauses relating to wages boards and so on, to establish the principle that the system of delegated responsibility from the employer to the head waiter shall be abolished. When a definition of "undertaking" is established, this responsibility also will be established.
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain what he means by that?
The hon. Gentleman knows very well what occurs under the tronc system. Many Englishmen resent it, as hon. Members know, and I hope the system in which Englishmen have to submit to that sort of thing will be abolished. The hon. Member for Elland (Mr. Levy) raised the point which has been answered already by my right hon. and learned Friend. I hate to bring in the man who cannot see a joke or see it very quickly. I must be careful. Perhaps the hon. Member will discover when he reads the OFFICIAL REPORT that the point he made was answered.
Unfortunately, we are very dull in Yorkshire.
I have not noticed the dullness so much as the obstinacy. With regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Watt), I really could not grasp what he was trying to say. In any case, I thought he had been answered already. I ask the Committee not to divide against this Clause. Let us get on with the business. I have been as conciliatory as I could. I am not like one of my colleagues, the general secretary of the union, a very conciliatory person, who once said, "If you do not do what I tell you, I will stop your work." I have not approached the subject in that spirit. I am anxious to get a really workable Measure, with a very great deal of common sense behind it, with a view to producing in the end a scheme which will give to, I believe, over one million people security and confidence in their employment.
I rise simply to express the hope that my right hon. Friend will not see fit to divide the Committee on this Clause. That is all I wish to say, and I hope I have saved the Committee a little time.
A large number of hon. Members have not been here very long, and they are not very familiar with the fact that when a Bill is controversial there is no vital urgency to get on with it too quickly. Very often the only way hon. Members learn the contents of a Bill is by having a reasonably prolonged Committee stage. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour said something rather useful. He placed himself in conflict with most of his supporters. He stated that the case for this Bill is not based on the fact that the industry is a sweated one.
I did not say it was not.
The right hon. Gentleman did not base his case on the fact that it was. Most of his supporters say that it is. I have no connection with the industry. All I know is that I have had a number of representations from my constituency and every one of them has been hostile to the Bill. I have not had a solitary communication from anybody in my constituency—and I do not observe that they mind writing to me—in favour of the Bill.
No, because they know the hon. Gentleman.
I find that I get numerous resolutions about the Second Front and other things that have the inspiration of a central origin; I find that I get resolutions from the Trades Council, from branches of trade unions, and from a large number of individuals irrespective of status, but not one of them up to now, either in writing or by word of mouth—and I am very well employed—[Interruption]—I would point out to hon. Members behind me that it is worth while sometimes to find out the terms——
Has the hon. Gentleman had any communications from the trade organisations?
None. I have had letters from individuals who do not like the Bill, but I have not had one in favour of it.
On a point of Order. On consideration of a Clause are we entitled to have Second Reading speeches in which references are made to the Bill and not to the Clause?
In strictness we are not, but I thought it desirable in the interests of the Committee to allow the Debate to go rather wide to-day.
I am the last person who desires to go outside the Rules of Order, but, after all, Clause I is the fundamental operative Clause. If there is no Commission, there is no Bill. The right hon. Gentleman says he does not base himself on the suggestion that it is a sweated industry, other Members have spoken of the grounds on which they are supporting the Clause, and I am giving the reasons why I am criticising it. First of all, I can trace no support for it in my constituency, where there is a large number of people engaged in the industry. It is true that at the moment, owing to the action of the Minister, my friend who used to go round the town asking, "Stop me and buy one" is no longer permitted to make representations to me. He would come under the Bill, but I do not know what his views are, because he is engaged in other matters. But surely it is not out of place to draw attention to the fact that I trace no support for the Bill from a body of manual workers—not the faintest sign. It may be that the reason for the lack of support is that the bulk of the people employed, for reasons of their own, have never seen fit to join the trade union. I am not an opponent of trade unions. I can point to two recent cases where important agreements have been entered into by employers and a trade unionist, the initiative coming from the employers on my suggestion.
Is it not likely that that is owing to the fact that some of my hon. Friend's constituents have short memories, and are now enjoying high wages, whereas in times of bad trade they would undoubtedly have different views?
Most of them relate to £ s. d. Nine out of 10 of the letters I get are from people who want more £ s. d. out of someone. After all, this is not a new subject. In 1930, when trade was bad and unemployment widespread, Miss Margaret Bondfield wanted to do something in the nature of this Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Clause 1."] Clause 1 is a proposal to set up a Commission to regulate the catering trade. She introduced a proposal, but she had an inquiry first, which the right hon. Gentleman ought to have had. I quite realise why he wants to have the Commission before an inquiry.
I should like to correct the hon. Gentleman. What Miss Bondfield decided was to set up a trade board and then to have an inquiry as to its scope. The decision to set up the Board is the Minister's, and the final decision is the Minister's whether he has an inquiry or not.
I agree, but there was an inquiry, and it was adverse to the proposal.
Only on scope.
The inquiry failed.
And that is the fundamental reason why the right hon. Gentleman wants to have the Commission first and the inquiry afterwards. That is putting the cart before the horse. If any Minister comes to Parliament, he comes to claim that there is a grievance that he wants to remedy and that his Bill is the best method, but the obligation is on him to prove his case and not on the rest of us to show that his case is wrong. Take the case of an outside interest that wants to promote a Bill. It has to petition Parliament and to prove the Preamble. What attempt has the right hon. Gentleman made to prove the Preamble, except at an earlier stage when it was clear that he did not even understand his own Bill? He did not understand the interpretation of Sub-section (2) of this Clause nor of Clause 17, and even now, though he has had the important and valuable assistance of my hon. and learned Friend, for whom I have the utmost respect, neither he nor the Solicitor-General nor any of us has the faintest idea what is the scope of Clause 1.
That is what the hon. Member says, but no one in the Committee believes a word that he is saying.
The hon. Member may not believe me, but that is only a proof of his own lack of understanding. I would ask him to take the Sub-section home and read it carefully and read Clause 17 again, and then tell me who is included in the Bill. If he can, he is a better representative of Dumbarton Burghs than I have ever thought him.
Why bring me into it?
The hon. Member brought himself into it. It is one of the disabilities of someone who does not hold the Socialist creed standing at this Box that he gets all that stuff at the back of his neck instead of in his face. I imagine that we are going to pass the Clause, but I ask hon. Members to realise that they are passing what they do not understand, what the Minister does not understand and what the Solicitor-General cannot explain.
I had not intended to intervene, and I will only detain the Committee a few moments, but in view of what the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) has just said, I think it is necessary to debunk this artificial Tammany pressure which he professes to believe to be genuine representations from his constituency. I, like I suppose all other hon. Members, received telegrams on the day of the Second Reading. There was a stack of orange envelopes a couple of yards long on the counter of the post office out there. One came from a friend of mine, a hotel-keeper in my constituency, and I was rather surprised at the stilted and peremptory wording of it. It said, "Imperative you oppose Catering Bill." That was not the way I should have expected my friend to communicate with me. I replied to the telegram, explained the situation, and sent him a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT. Then I went to see him when I was in the constituency, two days later, and he said, "I read the Minister's speech and quite agreed with it. I would not have sent the telegram, but I didn't really know anything about the Catering Bill, and these people—the Hotels and Restaurants Association—have always looked after us, so I thought I would do as they asked."
The hon. Gentleman's reference to Tammany is unfortunate, because it must exist in his constituency. I want to make it perfectly clear that nobody in Croydon would ever address his Member of Parliament in any such disrespectful terms.
Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.