War Damage (Amendment) Bill
Lords Amendments considered, and agreed to.
Catering Wages Money
"That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make provision for regulating the remuneration and conditions of employment of catering and other workers and, in connection therewith, for their health and welfare and the efficiency and development of the industries in which they are employed, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of the expenses of the Minister of Labour and National Service in carrying the said Act into effect and any expenses authorised by that Minister with the consent of the Treasury to be incurred by the Commission or any wages board established under the said Act or any committee appointed thereunder."
Resolution agreed to.
Catering Wages Bill
Considered in Committee.
[Major MILNER in the Chair.]
Before the first Amendment is called, Major Milner, might I suggest that it would be for the convenience of the Committee if you would indicate the Amendments you intend to call in order to give us an opportunity of considering the position?
It is not usual to indicate what Amendments have been selected, but the Chair has, I hope, made a judicious selection in order to enable a full discussion to take place on every matter of importance. It may perhaps also help the Committee if I say that in-those cases where the Committee is agreed Amendments might be considered together. The Chair will indicate to the Committee when that might be done. I do not think I can say any more at this stage.
May I be informed, Major Milner, whether my position when the time arrives to discuss Clause 17 will not be prejudiced?
The hon. Member will not be prejudiced.
Clause 1—(The Catering Wages Com- Mission And The Workers To Whom This Act Applies)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 15, at the end, to insert:
If this Amendment is agreed to, the first lines of Sub-section (2) will read:"except members of the family of the proprietor."
In moving this Amendment and I hope throughout all these discussions I shall endeavour to avoid all heat, as suggested by the Prime Minister, and in my own humble way I shall try to open this Debate in the right tone. The object of this Amendment and of three other Amendments which I have put down is to protect and secure the small family business or the small independent business against undue and unnecessary interference. I wish to do nothing which would discourage the small independent family concern or small businesses now in existence, and I wish to do everything possible to encourage men and women now serving in the Forces who desire, after their demobilisation, to establish independent ways of livelihood of their own where they will be their own masters. I would point out that many of the great businesses that have grown up in this country have started from the smallest beginnings. You have the case of Lord Nuffield who started with a small bicycle shop worked it up to a mighty business, and the case of Levers starting from a small shop. We want to encourage that kind of thing. We want to encourage individual effort. We want to do so, for certain general reasons and also for certain specific reasons which apply to the catering trade. On the general reasons, I submit that we ought to try to keep the family as an intact institution. I want to see it kept free from minute and unnecessary control by the State. I am old-fashioned enough to believe that there is something in the phrase "An Englishman's home is his castle", and the State should invade that home only when it is absolutely necessary to do so. In the first place, therefore, I say let us keep the family as intact and as secure as possible. Secondly, I believe that the small independent trader is a great national asset, especially in these days. As an eminent Socialist, Mr. G. D. H. Cole, has pointed out, we want to keep little islands of individual enterprise and individual liberty in these days when the authority of the State is growing far too great. I would say to hon. Members that this applies not only to the authority of the State but to the authority of finance—capitalism and monopolies. Against these also we should guard the individual. Therefore I want to preserve in this country of ours those islands of individualism. I would make an appeal to my right hon. Friend the Minister. He is a great leader in the trade-union world. I want to see institutions like the great trade unions kept as free as possible from control and domination by the State, retaining the utmost possible amount of liberty. In the same way, I want to see the individual small business and the small family concern retain as much liberty as possible to be preserved as centres of resistance against the increasing tendency towards domination by the State. This desire on the part of our people to start small businesses is a part of the English national character. It is the desire for independence and the willingness to risk one's capital, to risk the chance of failure, in order to be independent. It is a quality which has helped to make us a great nation. We want to preserve that national character which has saved us so often in the past and which saved us only a year or two ago; we should do nothing which would undermine that character and reduce our people to becoming a kind of herd without initiative under the State. As to the specific reasons which apply in the case of the catering trade, I would point out the special position of the family business in that trade. How is the catering business run in France? Those of us who have been in France, whether in peace or in war, know that the little restaurant in the provincial town where one could always rely on getting an excellent meal was nearly always a family business. There were monsieur the cook in the kitchen, madame seated at the desk, and mademoiselle waiting at the tables. That was the best catering in the world, and that is what we want to encourage in England, especially after the war, when there will be many people, both men and women, now serving in the Armed Forces who will have had the necessary training and will desire to start in this business on their own account. May I put this case to my right hon. Friend, because it is one which I know of in my own neighbourhood and which is representative of many other cases? It is the case of a widow, perhaps of a seaman or a skipper, who has been left with a house and furniture and some very small income. During the summer she takes in perhaps three or four lodgers. She does this for short periods of six or seven weeks every year, and she may get the same family staying with her year after year. I take it that she will come under this Bill, because this business of letting rooms is the only business which she carries on, and she would, therefore, probably be held to be "wholly or mainly" employed in the catering Indus- try. I do not want a woman in that position to come under the very drastic inspection powers of the kind set out in Clause 10. I do not want her to be harried by Government inspectors coming into her humble home; I would point out that in these humbler homes the vaguest suggestion made by a Government inspector is taken as a command from the State. The person concerned will say, "They, the people in London, want me to do this, and I must do it at all costs." Nor do I want a woman such as I have mentioned, to be compelled to fill in complicated forms. I know something about these Government forms. I had some experience of them 30 years ago with which I shall not weary the Committee, but I discovered then that the danger of these forms is that they are drawn up in London by officials, with full knowledge of London conditions, and are applicable to London but not to country conditions. In connection with London businesses, of course, there are chartered accountants and stock-takers and proper systems of bookkeeping. But these forms are also sent to the country, where the conditions are entirely different and where a lot of trouble is involved in completing them. May I give some instances to my right hon. Friend? In Suffolk we talk about "scratching for a living." Let hon. Members think of the variety of ways in which people get a living in the country. In a village, for instance, one place run by a woman, with the help of her daughter, may be the village post office, the village shop, and the small tea shop where cyclists go for tea. I do not want such a woman to be over-worried by Government forms and inspections. I will give another instance of which I know. It is a village near the coast, the innkeeper runs the inn, in the first place; secondly, he provides teas, and so on, and occasionally lets rooms to visitors; thirdly, he keeps the cows for the whole village and supplies visitors and villagers with milk; and fourthly, he runs a motor car and fetches visitors from the station nine miles away. He has four different businesses. Forms drawn up for big London catering establishments and sent to him would be utterly hopeless. He would not be able to fill them in. Another case to be considered is that of small hotels in country towns. In these towns there may also be a small restaurant. It may be that most of the time there is no business of trade for them. Then there comes a day when there is a local show, such as a horse show, and these places have to work all out. All the members of the family have to work, regardless of meals and hours, the neighbours have to be called in to help, and all of them have to go on working all the time, snatching a bit of food when they can. That is the one day of the year when there is a real business to be done. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour may admit that these are reasons for exemption, but he may answer me, "We will leave this to the Commission, Which will decide whether to include these small businesses. You can trust the Commission." I shall not be satisfied with that answer. I feel that it is the duty of the House of Commons to protect the homes of the people and not give these enormous powers to a bureaucracy in London, and that we should therefore insert some safeguards in the Bill. Let me say here that I do not want to trouble or worry my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour without necessity. I want to thank him personally for his great services and to say, in common with the whole nation, how greatly indebted we are to him for the gigantic work he has undertaken since he has been Minister of Labour in marshalling with so little friction the manpower and womanpower of the nation to the maximum possible extent. Therefore, in putting forward these points to him, I assure him I do it only because I feel very strongly on the matter, and because I believe that in his heart he will assent to them. Because I believe he is in many ways a typical Englishman, I believe he will assent to my plea for the small man, for individual liberty, for the security of the family from undue interference. All of us have sympathy with those things. The danger is that in the world to-day there is abroad the germ of the totalitarian, authoritarian State. It is virulent in such countries as Germany and Italy, but do not let us think that that germ is confined only to Germany and Italy. I think we must watch out that we do not, without necessity, especially in peace time, increase the authority of the State. I remember reading recently that a Chinese philosopher 2,500 years ago said that those in authority should be careful not to try to regulate the details of the lives of their subjects because the subjects might not like the regulation and because in any case, the Sage added, to do so would mean that the governor would have a most troubled life. Having put the case of the small people before my right hon. Friend, I express the hope that he will give some concession, if not to-day, at any rate on the Report stage, and that he will remove the justifiable anxiety that exists in tens of thousands of homes of small people, that there may be unnecessary, wearying and occasionally rather terrifying supervision of and interference with these small family businesses."The workers to whom this Act applies are all persons, except members of the family of the proprietor, employed in any undertaking, etc."
I shall not take up much, time in supporting this Amendment, because one or two aspects of the case have been very eloquently put by my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus). There is one point I would like to emphasise. The spirit in which many of us are approaching these Amendments is that, the House having accepted the Bill, it is our duty in committee to try to make it a success in every of the word and to see that it does really work. One of the reasons I support this Amendment particularly is that it is on this point that the Bill is likely to break down. Let me give an illustration from my own constituency of the type of person affected by this provision. In Shropshire there are very many small inns, very delightful places, run entirely by a family, but it can be said in a great many of these cases that the major business of the family is not that of inn-keeping. Even in peace time, particularly during the winter months, they do more farming than innkeeping, but at the present time, of course, owing to the very much smaller amount of traffic on the roads and the very much larger demands which are, quite rightly, made by the Minister of Agriculture, they are even more agriculturists than they are innkeepers.All Government Departments are developing the habit of regulating the lives of the people in regard to those matters that come under the aegis of those Government Departments. It is obvious that in future there will be considerable regulation of agriculture. I think it is generally agreed that the county war agricultural committees will not die, but that in future they will issue regulations connected with agriculture. If we are not very careful there will be a position in which the Minister of Labour will issue Regulations applying to these farm-inns which I have described and at the same time the Minister of Agriculture equally will issue regulations as to the employment of the people—the son, the daughter, the father—engaged in farming This will bring about an impossible position in which neither set of regulations is seriously obeyed, It is not a good thing to pass laws which are not kept. Moreover, it would put the commissioners or those concerned with the administration of the Bill, when it becomes an Act, in a very difficult position if they had to deal with such minute details and with the masses of exemptions that would be necessary if the Regulations issued under the Act are to be made applicable to the small family businesses. I am told that some of the great luxury hotels in London have over 2,000 employees, and I can understand that the Regulations in regard to hours, wages and conditions of labour in their case will be in line with modern industrial regulations which we all welcome at the present time. But is it seriously suggested that that type of Regulation can be applied to a man working what I call my farm inn with his wife and daughter? If we are not careful, they will not be able to see each other for the rest of their natural lives, because each will be on duty for eight hours at a time. The Minister will say that is a reductio ad absurdum, and that we can make Regulations to meet the case, but it is clear to those familiar with the circumstances of businesses of the kind that no Regulation can be effectively applied to them. On that ground I appeal to the Minister to exempt these family businesses by accepting the Amendment, which will not only preserve those islands of individualism which my hon. Friend referred to but will help in making the Measure work successfully.
I am sure the Committee, and I hope the Government, were impressed by the argument put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus). I hope we shall have an explanation of exactly who are going to be included under this Clause, Clause 17 defines the workers to whom these restrictions are to apply as:
I do not know exactly, the meaning of the words "by way of trade." If we have such an example as that of a small inn kept by a farmer partly occupied in farming and partly in hotel keeping, where the whole concern is run by the family as a single whole, it is not clear to me whether the daughter or the son is working for the parent by way of trade or not. I should not support the Amendment if it could be shown that it was going to affect any serious breach in the general provisions of the Bill, but, as at present advised, I feel that in the case of members of a family actually concerned in running a small business it might be wise and expedient either to exempt them or to make some special provision by which this particular class of case can be dealt with."any worker who for the purposes of any undertaking or part of an undertaking per- forms any work in pursuance of an arrangement, expressed or implied, made by the worker by way of trade with the persons carrying on that undertaking."
I want to put forward quite a different point of view from that which is being put forward now, in order to elicit support for the Amendment. There are very few Members who have not a large number of constituents who take in a lodger, whom they supply with bed and, we will say, breakfast. The Clause says:
A private house has no trade at all. The only trade they do, if trade it be, is that the landlady supplies, perhaps, breakfast and supper to a lodger. This would cover any billeting done in any little house. It does not come, as I see it, within the category of catering as such. A vast number of working-class people often not only take in a lodger but, where friends of theirs have come from other parts to work in factories in the area, some of them are obliging the workpeople and providing them with board and lodging. If I understand it rightly, the Clause is so all-embracing that it covers every house in every constituency throughout the land where they take in lodgers and supply bed and breakfast. It will be agreed that that is not the intention of the Bill. It will be very difficult for hon. Members to support a Clause of this kind. Even a Member of Parliament may live in a seaside town, and friends may come down as paying guests. If I understand the Clause correctly—[An HON. MEMBER: "You do not."] If I do not understand it, perhaps the Minister will tell me where I am wrong. [Interruption.] I prefer the explanation to come from the Minister himself. I will give way now for the Minister to tell me where I am wrong."Providing it is partially or wholly a business or a trade."
The Debate has run rather wide. I hope the Committee will agree that the three succeeding Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus), may be considered as covered by it.
I want to confine my remarks to the Amendment. Many of the questions that have been raised will, I think, arise on the question, "That the Clause stand part." I do not want to confuse the issue at this moment. First I ask the Committee to appreciate that if I had proceeded to deal with these services purely under the Trade Boards Act, it would have been the Minister who would himself determine this question of scope. I think I ought to say that at the outset. The Government have decided, in spite of the charges about bureaucracy, that in this Bill I will delegate what I would have to do myself under the trade board procedure, to an impartial Commission—an important change in the procedure of wage regulation.With regard to the Amendment, it is difficult to draw the line as to who should and who should not come within the scope of the Bill. My hon. Friend has raised the question of a person who takes in a few visitors in the summer, but whenever you have to decide this you get competition with the person who is running a boarding house and who feels that the other people are competing unfairly by not having to observe reasonable conditions. I am not opposed to what has been said, but I am anxious to find a solution. Therefore, in drafting the Bill I thought that the right course to take in providing the dividing line is to adopt the fundamental principle which has been adopted in workmen's compensation and much other industrial legislation, that is to say, Is the person an employed person? If he is a member of the family and there is no contract of service, he does not come within the Bill. From the point of view of the Bill, that is as straight a line as you can draw. If there is a contract of service and if a son or daughter is paid, they come within the Bill. On the question of inspectors visiting all these little places, I assure the Committee that there is no intention of doing that.
On a point of Order. When I was trying to make my case I gave way so that my right hon. Friend could explain the position Therefore I have not lost the right of speaking. I thought that my right hon. Friend was going to tell me whether I was wrong in my assumption.
A Member can always speak more man once in Committee.
I want to make it clear that the private house as such is excluded from the Bill. I have given further consideration as to how I could meet the hon. Member's point of view. For the purposes of this Bill only, instead of the Ministry preparing a list by the method that is usual under the Trade Boards Act, I would be prepared to incorporate in the Bill a proposal for a register and that before making the register I will take the advice of the Commission after they have taken evidence. My proposals, therefore, are to exclude people where there is no contract of service and limit it to contract of service; to leave it to the Commission when determining the scope of the Bill even to modify that in their recommendations to me; and to have a register after the Commission have heard evidence from both sides, that is to say, persons who are running a business for their sole livelihood as well as persons who are only running it as a side show. I think, therefore, that I have met my hon. Friend's point of view, and I would ask him in the light of that not to press the Amendment.
From what my right hon. Friend has said, it is obvious that I was right in my assumption that the Bill is all-embracing. It is true that he says that cases where there is no contract will be excluded, but I submit that if a house employs part-time help that will constitute a contract of service and bring it within the scope of the Bill. I hope that my hon. Friend will take the Amendment to a Division. I do not believe it was ever intended to bring ordinary private houses under the Bill. My right hon. Friend does not deny that I am right but says that he is delegating his functions to a Commission and that it is within their discretion as to who shall be included. Are we prepared to leave such a vital issue to the discretion of some body whose qualifications we do not know and which has not yet been appointed? We shall not be doing our duty to our constituencies and to the working people if we allow small houses to be brought within the scope of the Bill.
I listened with great interest to the Minister, and it seemed to me that he was announcing a number of proposals to which he certainly cannot give effect under the Bill as it stands. He says that the Bill includes the private house. Subsection (2) of this Clause says that the Bill applies to the workers in
of a business. If the only thing that happens in what is to all appearances a private house is the occasional letting of apartments, that is the only undertaking carried on in the house. Clause 17 says:"an undertaking which consists wholly or mainly in the carrying on"
I am satisfied that if anybody takes in lodgers occasionally, the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be drawn to the fact, and an inspector of the Inland Revenue will make an assessment in respect of the earnings from this occasional taking-in of lodgers. He will regard it as an undertaking, and the words "wholly or mainly" will apply to it; the people will never do anything in that house except live there and occasionally take in lodgers. Therefore it is no good the right hon. Gentleman saying that he will have a register, for I do not see that he has taken power to do that, and he has not given any power to the Commission to do it. He has announced decisions which he cannot carry out under the Bill unless it is amended broadly on the lines of the Amendment before the Committee. I would ask him to read Sub-section (2), which we are discussing; consider the definition in Clause 17, and then proceed to consider the definition of a worker in Sub-section (2) of Clause 17, because a worker is a person who receives payment for his services. You cannot assume that every daughter or son of a lodging-house keeper has only pocket money and receives no payment. From what I know of normal sons and daughters they expect to receive proper remuneration. Therefore, they are all on a contract of service, and this Ball will bring in every private house wherever occasionally there is a paying guest."In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, the expression 'undertaking' includes any business, whether carried on by way of trade or not."
Nothing has been said in the Debate except by the Minister about the difficulty which will arise over this proposed exception. In so far as we place outside the scope of the Bill any particular cases of catering establishment, whether family or otherwise, we are setting up two classes—one where there are no regulations and they can work any hours they like and pay any wages they like, and another where the hours, wages and conditions are strictly regulated. We must be very careful not to set up unfair competition between one section of the catering community and another. That is why it is difficult to say that establishments, merely because they are run by members of a family, should be excluded. The proposals of my right hon. Friend seem to be a reasonable way of dealing with the matter. Unless we are careful, we shall do a good deal to destroy the value of the Bill and create grievance and illwill among those engaged in different sides of the industry.
I support the Amendment. I listened to my right hon. Friend with considerable care and close interest because I believed that he was really trying to meet the point. It is a difficult one to meet. I fully sympathise with the reasons which my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) has adduced in moving the Amendment. In perticular country districts there are farms and lodging houses which will be brought within the operation of the Bill. The Commission will very likely make a recommendation in favour of a wages board in respect of lodging houses, which seems to me a reasonable category. What wilt be the position in the case of a family keeping a lodging house as its main source of livelihood with, say, one daughter? My right hon. friend said that in other Acts, of Parliament if there was no contract of service people are not included. I am not sure that will really be the case in this instance. I thought that my hon. friend the Member for The High Peak (MR. Molson) brought out a good point with regard to an implied arrangement made by the workers. There might be a daughter in a family of three who says she wants to go out and do a job, but her father persuades her to stop telling her that she will have her keep and pocket money and a share of the profits at the end of the year. That is not an unusual thing, and if all such people are to be brought in, it will create a difficult position.My right hon. Friend evidently realises this danger, but I am not sure that the registration proposal, which I understand will be brought forward in an Amendment later on, will go far enough, because it will still leave it open to the Commission to make a recommendation which would include all those persons whom we wish to exclude in the family business. We do not know who will be the members of the Commission—that is for the future to decide—and in spite of what my right hon. Friend has said we are leaving it in the hands of the Commission, subject to final conclusions by the Minister of Labour for the time being, whoever he may be, to decide whether the category recommended is to be brought in or not. Personally, I am not satisfied with what my right hon. Friend has said. I am satisfied that his intentions are good, but that is really not enough. The road to the Law Courts is paved with good intentions. My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General knows how often, when lawyers are fighting out a case, they say, "The intention of Parliament was so and so," and the Judge replies, "I do not mind what was the intention of Parliament; the point is what the Act of Parliament says." I feel that my right hon. Friend does realise the difficulties and dangers and that he is going to try to meet us, and I am not in favour of pushing the Amendment too far, but I hope we shall have an opportunity later, either here in Committee or on the Report stage, to consider whether my right hon. Friend's suggestions have in fact met the point.
I want to oppose this Amendment. There is no mention of a limit to the family. A widower with a number of children may marry a widow who also has a number of children, and a score of children may be brought in to help to run a prosperous establishment in competition with another caterer who has to pay for outside labour—pay the proper rates and give the conditions laid down by the board Members of a family do not always receive fair treatment when working for the father. I have seen some of the worst exploitation done by a father in working a son or daughter almost all the hours that God sends, and all for pocket money, and I consider that members of a family have a right to the protection of this Measure.
This Amendment has received from the Committee a great deal of sympathy, but it seems to me that, whether we like it or not, in a Measure of this kind we shall be passing legislation which will divide certain sections of the community. I notice that later there is an Amendment with a different purpose from the one now before us, because it would extend the numbers coming under the Bill, and I am quite sure that when we come to that Amendment there will be opposition. It seems to me that on the whole the Minister has indicated his appreciation of the very practical difficulty here. It is true, as the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) has said, that the alternative which has been suggested will mean that certain other parts of the Bill will have to be amended, for example, Clause 17 (2), which is at variance with what the Minister has suggested, but if this Amendment is withdrawn, I take it from the statement made by the Minister that there will be an undertaking to meet that point. I think that the Minister's suggestion about the compilation of a register would be found in practice to be quite a good solution, and in these circumstances I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) will not deem it necessary to press the Amendment.
I think the discussion so far has brought out the great difficulty of applying a Bill of this description to so many varied interests. I want to deal with the position of small farms and inns in rural areas which cater in a large measure for urban visitors at week-ends and other times. As the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Leslie), whose constituency is not far from mine, has said, undoubtedly there are cases in which parents treat their children as sweated labour, but I do not think that happens very often, and personally I have had no experience of it. I want to bring to the notice of the Committee one particular type of case, that of a farm of, say, 150 acres, of which there are many round about the industrial areas in North Lancashire, Westmorland and North Yorkshire, run by a farmer aided by his sons and daughters and perhaps by his daughters-in-law. I know one such instance in which the farmer and his wife are well over 70 and do practically nothing. The old lady works when she feels able to do so, the sons are working on the farm, there is one daughter at home, and one maid, a girl of 15. The daughter works all hours—does all the housework, all the cooking, and looks after the poultry. In summer they take in visitors and "do" teas for the urban population who come out into the country. It seems to me there will be a great difficulty in cases of that sort. It is not a question concerning only a small part of the population, because these places render a tremendous service to working class people who go into the country for holidays. Apparently the servant girl of 15 will have a contract of service and will be subject to all the provisions of this Bill, whereas the daughter of the house, who works about three times as hard, will not. The family I am thinking of are a family who are on a pocket-money basis. All of them are over the age of 25 and they have never thought of having a regular wage. If they want to go to town they say to the old man "I want ten bob," and he grumbles a bit and then "forks it out." It is a human problem. We cannot regulate establishments of that kind in this way. I do not think that if I had moved the Amendment I should press it very far, but I do ask the Minister to consider cases of the kind I have indicated. It seems to me that at the very best ill-feeling will be created by this Measure, and that unless some Amendment of this description is accepted to meet the case of small farms and public houses the scheme will prove to be utterly unworkable.
I want to support the Amendment. It is an admirable one, and I think the mover has stated very clearly the reasons why it should be accepted. Nothing which has fallen from the Minister seems to have dealt with the point. I agree with the mover in what he said about the value of small industries to this country's future. I am a great believer in small industry I believe it to be the life-blood of private enterprise. [Laughter.] When hon. Members above the Gangway laugh, do they really believe that private enterprise springs into life fully organised, at a single bound, from some superman? Of course it does not. It arises from hard work, ingenuity and toil, and it is exactly this type of enterprise which has spread and grown until it has given us some of the biggest businesses in the country. I support on principle the idea that people who are in this category should not be regulated out of existence by this Measure. After listening to what the Minister has said on this point, I am bound to tell him that as I have read the Bill I cannot agree with him. He has the learned Solicitor-General sitting by him, but I must direct his attention to Clause 17 (2), which is an interpretation Clause. It will be noticed that Clause 1 applies to all persons who are employed in an undertaking whether carried on wholly or mainly for profit. There we get the profit motive rearing its ugly head again in the regulated paradise which we are to enjoy. When we look at the interpretation Clause to see how a worker is denned, we find nothing about a contract of service at all. That is a point which was made by the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson). The Minister may intend that persons who have contracts of service shall be brought within the Measure and those who have not contracts shall not come within, but that is not what the Bill says. Do I understand him now to give an undertaking to amend Clause 17 (2) so as to bring about what he would like to see done? He shakes his head. Therefore, I should like to point out what Clause 17 (2) says:
not contract—"Any worker who, for the purposes of any undertaking or part of an undertaking, performs any work in pursuance of an arrangement"—
That Sub-section is of the very widest character. It does not require that one should carry on the business for profit or that there should be a contract. All it requires is that there should be an implied arrangement, and any court would decide that it was an implied arrangement if a person was performing work. In those circumstances I do not see how the Minister has met this point, and I cannot see how registration will meet it, because that would only be putting off the evil day. That is only asking somebody else to decide who is to be put on the register. We ought to settle the question now. It is not a difficult question. The words proposed are not improper. I think there is an old legal axiom which says, De minimis non curat lex, and this is a small matter. The category concerned is probably very limited, and even if it were unlimited, I think it is right that this Amendment should be inserted."expressed or implied made by the worker by way of trade with the persons carrying on that undertaking shall be deemed to be employed by them."
I hesitate to intervene on this very intricate legal issue, but I have had some little experience in another sphere of what is meant by an employed person. This Committee will not be able to decide this matter in the way suggested by the hon. Member who has just spoken. I am speaking of national health insurance, where a person is not normally insurable for health and pensions purposes unless he is an employed person under a contract of service. I take it that that will apply to this Bill when it becomes an Act.
The Minister says not.
Wait a minute. In deciding whether a relative is an employed person State Departments will not usually allow a daughter or a son remaining at home and working in the family to be regarded as an employed person under a contract of service for the purposes of these schemes. That is my experience. I wish to support the Minister against this Amendment upon another ground. From the speeches made by hon. Members one could imagine that the cases which will arise under this Clause will run into thousands, but experience of the social services shows that it is only very occasionally when a person is aggrieved because he thinks he is being put outside the insurance schemes, that cases arise for decision at all. Let me give one case of a family where it can arise. I take it that the person in this case would be an employed person under a contract of service.
Surely there is a great distinction between the position described by the hon. Member and that which arises under the Bill, because everybody is included by the Bill, unless they have contracted out of it.
I do not think there is any difference there at all. Every employed person is insured under the present schemes, but in determining who is an employed person under this Bill the Minister will have to decide very much as is done under our social services.
Will the hon. Gentleman read the definition in Clause 17 (2). It is quite clear that such a person will be within this Act.
Let me pursue the point, if I may because the House of Commons is often faced with intricate problems of this kind when it comes up against these personal service occupations; it takes us entirely out of the field of legislation covering coal-mining, railways, factories, and so on. There are special difficulties here. Where, for instance, a son is employed by his father, but does not live with him, being a married man with a family, and is paid a wage, that son would, as I understand the matter, be an employed person under a contract of service, and a case would lie against the father if he did not submit to the law. I repeat that it does not matter what discussions we have in this Committee today; the courts will have to decide in the end whether a person is an employed person under a contract of service. Finally, may I say that I have been very interested in the discussion of this Amendment? It reminds me of the piping leisurely times of peace when we discussed subjects like this at random. If the Committee do not mind my saying so, I enjoyed in years past doing exactly what is being done to-day by opponents of this Bill.
It might be convenient, as the question of the construction of the definition has arisen, and one or two of my hon. Friends have personally invited me to deal with it, if I put to the Committee the interpretation which, I submit, is the only one which can be drawn from Clause 17 (2). It is a clear interpretation, and therefore a proper one that the Committee should send forward for the working of the Bill, in the unhappy necessity of further consideration by the courts. I would first ask the attention of the Com- mittee to Clause 17 (2). I think hon. Members will agree with me that it lays down the following requirements for a worker to be included in the Bill: First, there has to be a worker. Secondly, the worker has to make an arrangement by way of trade. Thirdly—and this is a point which I would ask my hon. Friend the Member for the High Peak (Mr. Molson) to consider, because I think it meets his difficulty, as I am very anxious to do—the worker must make that arrangement by way of trade with the persons who are carrying on the undertaking. Fourthly, he must work in pursuance of the undertaking. Fifthly, his work must be performed for the purposes of the undertaking. I do not think there can be any dispute about this matter. Those are the clear essentials which are connoted and denoted by the definition which we have put in.
What is "making an arrangement by way of trade"?
I am very much obliged to my hon. and gallant Friend for asking that question. It is an arrangement expressed or implied by way of trade. It is to deal with the position where you have, not an express offer of contract of service in words, saying, "You will be employed by me at £3 a week to do certain work," and that is either put into writing or put clearly in words between the parties. That may not take place. You may not have that weekly wage fixed. I think my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Major Petherick) suggested the case where there would be a division of profits at the end of the year. In my view that would clearly be an arrangement by way of trade, but there must be some region of thought as to what is an arrangement by way of trade. No one on earth could give a completely inclusive definition of what is an arrangement by way of trade. It is impossible to say how many grains constitute a heap, but it is easy to pick out a heap when you see it. So it is easy to pick out an arrangement which contains that element of trade in it which complies with these words.
Will the Solicitor-General tell me how it is to be found out whether a person definitely is or is not sharing in the profits?
I think my right hon. Friend will agree with me upon reflection. He has no doubt given due consideration as to how the Bill is to work. I gather that he objects to that working. First of all, the Commission has to make certain recommendations and then may recommend a wages board. That wages board will operate with certain people.
Who is going to find out about the individual case?
There is first of all the question that the Commission, when making the recommendation to the wages board and the wages board when performing its duty, are bound to envisage those whom their task concerns. When we come on to the question of enforcing the penal sanctions, it will be open to anyone against whom a penal sanction is put in force to say, "I am not within the Act at all," and then you will get the court's decision upon the matter.
Why should people be put in peril because we are incapable of producing the right words?
That is just the difference between my hon. and gallant Friend and myself. I say that we are not incapable of producing the words. I say that we have produced words which are perfectly clear, and are just as clear as words which have worked with considerable success in different Acts concerned with industrial legislation. Whenever any Act has had to be passed you have had to come to your definitions. I agree that we have improved the definitions in some cases, but, looking at it by and large, over our industrial legislation since the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1906—and I have had to consider very seriously every one of these decisions in my time—I say that those definitions have worked, and that this is a clear definition. It will work. "Arrangement by way of trade is a clear and happy way of dealing with the situation and subject matter with which the Bill is concerned. As to the difficult borderline cases, referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cleveland (Commander Bower), although I am prepared to argue quite strenuously as to the propriety of the definition, I do not want him to consider, from the strenuousness of my argument on that point, that we are lacking in sympathy on the point which he put to the House.
Does not the Solicitor-General agree that the definition is so drawn that it would cover both the independent contractor and those who work gratuitously?
It will be rather convenient to come back to this point. I want to continue to deal with the point which I think the Committee is very anxious should be met. I hope my hon. Friend who has just intervened will not consider it discourteous if I defer my reply to him for a moment. I was saying that the definition does not stop at the question of the arrangement. It goes on to say that the arrangement must be made with the persons who are carrying on the undertaking. "The undertaking" includes a business. We come back to Clause 1 (2) and if the undertaking is brought within the Bill it must consist
I followed my hon. Friend closely, but I do not think his example can possibly be held to come within the words "wholly or mainly." Again, I say, and this is a point I want to make to the Committee, that "wholly or mainly" is a good, sound, common-sense definition which can provide a criterion for solving the problem in front of us. My hon. Friend who has just intervened spoke of the independent contractor and the gratuitous worker. With regard to the independent contractor, I do not see how he comes into the picture. I want to make it clear that when you have an independent contractor who maintains the control of his own work, because that is the legal test and I presume it is the test which my hon. Friend has in mind, but when, as a matter of fact, the contractor is continually and consistently employed in one of the activities covered by the Bill, I take no shame for his inclusion, because we are trying to get in people who are continuously and consistently concerned with catering. I do not resile from that at all. With regard to the voluntary worker, the position is clear. If the voluntary worker gets a return, if the term "voluntary worker" is a mere facade for someone who is in trade and is in fact engaged in this occupation, again I do not resile. I am glad that voluntary worker should be included. On the other hand, if it is a case of someone who is doing only casual work on a casual basis at very odd times, he will fall outside the words "arrangement by way of trade" and also outside the words which lay down the necessity that the work is performed for the purpose of the undertaking."wholly or mainly in the carrying on of one of the following activities."
I may have misunderstood my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour but I understood him to say that the Bill would only apply to people employed under a contract of service.
That is quite a fair point which my hon. Friend makes, and my right hon. Friend, in referring to contract of service was referring to the words "arrangement by way of trade," and I have explained that they do apply. If the hon. Baronet will look at the Bill, he will see quite clearly that they are framed in that way. The words are:
My right hon. Friend had not in mind at the moment, as was perfectly clear from the context of his words, that there was a contract of service which expressly gave that control over the method of working which service in its legal sense connotes. He was making quite clear that in order to come within this Bill there must be a trade arrangement in the sense of the words of the Clause, and I am endeavouring to make clear what that means. I suggest to the Committee that while it is wholly admirable that we should make and send out clear definitions—and I shall always be of any service I can be to the Committee to further this point—on the other hand, I submit quitely clearly that having, I think, examined every definition in every individual Act passed since 1906, we have done it in this case, that this is a clear definition, and that we have removed ambiguity and doubt as far as all reasonable men are concerned."…an arrangement expressed or implied made by the worker by way of trade…."
I should say that the whole Committee will be grateful to the Solicitor-General for the very reasoned way in which he put the case. I am bound to say, however, that it did not serve to remove my doubts about the Bill in its present form. When I listened to the Minister of Labour he went some way to reassuring me that the number of people concerned who were also members of the family were strictly limited under some contract of service. I may have got it wrong, but that was the impression I had. Now my hon. and learned Friend gets up and puts what I conceive to be a perfectly true impression of Clause 17 (2), which embraces people under all sorts of associations, ranging from a contract of service such as a partnership to any loose friendly arrangement which one might expect to find in any family. The point occurs to me as to how these things are to be found out and tested and adjudged, because these are the matters which this House should give its mind to. Are we going to have a situation where officials can go into families between mother and daughter or between two sisters and look into the rather small arrangements they have of their own, but which are really entirely their own affair and should not be the subject of interference by outside bodies? This is a situation which I am anxious to avoid.The Bill as it now stands undoubtedly does include many members of the family, and one has got to consider whether it is wise to include them and whether it is practicable to include them. I have heard a number of remarks made on this matter dealing with the larger question of State control and private enterprise. I will not enter into that point. The point is much narrower, but I would say for my own part that if one is to stop State control at any point, it is at the point where is seeks to affect people in their own homes. I think that on that there will be a large measure of agreement. It is said that there may be some undue preference because of this distinction in favour of the family. I was sorry to see the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander), who I thought was becoming quite a good Conservative, lending some support to that view. Surely it is an astonishing proposition. Here we are saying that we need larger families; we go down to our constituencies, Members from all sides of the House, and say that we stand for the small man, the common man; and now that we have an opportunity of giving a little family business a leg up, perhaps a temporary advantage, over his big rival it is suggested that we should step in. To me it is an astonishing proposition. I come to the point of whether it is practicable, which is very material. If we bring these people in, can we, in fact, enforce the thing we are trying to do? In the Army there is quite a good rule that you should never give an order unless you can see that it is carried out. It is no use passing laws which will be more honoured in the breach than in the observance. I cannot conceive any method whereby legislation of this kind can be enforced in practice. There is no body of officials who could ever find out the small arrangements that go on inside the family. For these reasons—and I have supported this Bill throughout in principle—I feel that my right hon. Friend is taking upon himself and putting on the Commission an intolerable burden. It is my desire to assist him in this matter, and I would ask him to make a rather greater concession to the spirit of this Amendment than he has yet done.
I have listened to the Debate since it began, and naturally this Amendment attracted my attention more than any other. I also want to defend the individual and the family from unnecessary State interference. The State will interfere with everybody—that is inevitable—but as long as human beings are behaving in a normal manner and the human family is conforming to the ordinary decencies and canons of social wellbeing, I defy the State to interfere with those people merely by some action of this House. I was rather surprised that the hon. and gallant Member for East Nottingham (Major Gluckstein) got up and intervened in the Debate, for the reason that if I was identified with a great undertaking in this country such as you are——
I must ask the hon. Member to address the Chair, and not to refer to hon. Members as "you."
Perhaps I should have said that a certain Member of the House intervened and lauded the small man as being——
May I ask the hon. Member whether he believes that that undertaking commenced at its present size? Let me tell him it commenced as a very small family business, like those we are now talking about.
I want to say in passing that these large developments tend to exclude the competition of smaller men when they see them rising above the ground later on. I want to deal with the point before the Committee at the moment. I listened to the Minister's reply to the discussion, and I want to appeal to the Committee. Often I have argued in this House, as many other hon. Members have done, with Ministers to make concessions, and I have always been in a minority and accustomed to receiving the hard word from that bench and getting no concession at all. But I must say that to-day the Minister was more than liberal in the concession he made in his powers. It is all very well to say, "But your promises are not translatable into the Clauses of the Bill." I have never yet known a Minister who, on the spur of the moment, could rise and give word for word the appropriate Clause which would give effect to a promise he had given.I can assure every Member of this House that I am as jealous of the rights of the individual against the State as any man in this House. I do not think anyone could doubt that, and I would support anything in this Bill that will protect the family from the encroachment of the bureaucrat. It is with that faith just as strong as in any other Member who has taken part in this discussion that I am appealing to the Committee to accept the Minister's statement. What was his statement when he rose to-day? He specifically said that this Bill, so far as he was concerned, would not invade the private home. Those were his words. It is extremely difficult in those circumstances suddenly to draw words that will bar court action, and make clear and specific in a Bill within a few moments the intention the Committee desires to be expressed in the Bill. I do not wish to closure the Debate, but I am appealing to those who are asking for this Amendment—and I am as keen about it as they are—to recognise the advance the Minister has made to-day and to accept the situation now before us. I am doing so in all fairness, because let me repeat that I also will defend with any Member of this House the right of the individual against encroachments of the State. It would have been unfair to remain quiet and not to have intervened on behalf of what the Minister has done, and I appeal to the Committee to carry this matter to a conclusion now.
I do not want to intervene at length. I believe that everybody will agree with what was said by the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. MacLaren). We would accept the words of the Minister—I would do so myself—but the important thing is that in arbitration or cases of law the courts will not accept the words of the Minister, but only what is in the Bill, and that is the only reason why——
But the Minister did say he would make consequential Amendments?
What did the Minister say? I would appeal to the Minister.
If the Minister did say—and I did not hear him—that on subsequent procedure of this Bill he would introduce the words, I am perfectly willing to leave the matter until those words are inserted, but we must have this in the Bill. That is my answer.
I did not say that I would introduce words dealing with this particular point. What I did say was that, on the private houses point, I was willing to accept a properly-worded Amendment for the establishment of a register after the Commission's inquiry into the scope, in order to protect the public from any fear that the inspectorate would go beyond what was their duty to ascertain which undertakings came within the proper legal scope. This goes much further than the present Trade Boards Act. That Act would leave this matter in the hands of the Minister, to draw up a list which nobody could challenge—an arbitrary list, which is entirely in his hands. [An HON. MEMBER: "After inquiry?"] No. Please allow me to go on. When the wages order is made—and that is when this point arises, not before—under the Trade Boards Act, the Minister draws up a list, which is unchallengeable, and those whom he puts on the list are the people to whom it is assumed that Trade Board Order applies. I am stating the facts; I have to administer it. I realised that there was some criticism of this Bill, and I have not waited for the House. Many changes have been made in this Bill, before it was presented to the House and subsequently. Therefore, when I saw the fears expressed in the Amendments put down by the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. E. Walkden) and certain other hon. Members—four or five Amendments—I thought that that was a reasonable point on which to remove fears.There is another Amendment which I am willing to accept, because I want to remove the idea that there is any intention on the part of the Government of undue bureaucratic action. We are not going to have that. We want this trade regulated, like other trades. We want to do it fairly. I am also prepared, in view of the ramifications of this discussion—perhaps an indication will help the Committee—to accept an Amendment which makes it obligatory upon me to present the Commission's report to Parliament. That also is something which does not apply under any other industrial legislation. I suggest to hon. Members who are asking me to take these words into the Bill and then to proceed to build the regulation or conditions upon them, that in that way we might do the very injustice which they are seeking to avoid. I am convinced that with an impartial Commission taking evidence on this basis of scope, hearing the people's claims one against the other and determining the scope, there will be less likelihood of hardship or wrong being done than if this House, even on the footing, if I may say so with respect, of the discussion which went on between my right hon. and learned Friend and my hon. and learned Friend opposite, tried to settle this matter on the basis of technical language. In that way you are more likely to do injustice than you would be by the application of common sense by an impartial tribunal.
If we are to discuss at very great length the width of this Clause, I would ask hon. Members to remember that sometimes in discussing the Motion "That the Clause stand part" they have a fairly wide range. As for the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman regarding a later Amendment which is, I think, in respect of Clause 2, page 2, line 17, I would point out that if that is to be referred to in this discussion, I do not think there should be a long discussion on that Amendment when we reach it.
I listened to both speeches of the Minister with sympathy and with every desire to come to an accommoda- tion. I realise that he wishes to meet the fears which some of us have, but I am bound to say that, while the concessions which he has offered are excellent in spirit, their material content does not meet the point. Even with those concessions, the fact remains that inspectors can go into a home and ask a daughter what she has received, directly or indirectly, I wish I could withdraw the Amendment, but sooner or later we must take a stand somewhere to defend the family against the State.
The Minister of Labour has clarified his attitude to some extent, but the fact remains that there is no exclusion of private houses from the Bill. The Minister stated in his principal speech—and I was glad to hear it—that he did not intend to apply the provisions of the Bill to private houses. In that respect he is acting in accordance with the precedent created by his predecessor 10 or 12 years ago. In the Colefax Report, at the end there is to be found a Memorandum by the Ministry of Labour. On page 32, under "Notes on the Draft Definition of the Catering Trade," there appear these words:
I am glad that my right hon. Friend has made his intention clear with regard to private houses, but he has said nothing about members' clubs. As it was considered desirable at that time, in 1930, to make clear the position of members' clubs, it is equally desirable that my right hon. Friend should clear up that important point to-day. Although I welcome very much the expression of my right hon. Friend's intention—and I am sure everyone will accept that as a real intention—to exclude private houses from the Bill, we should none the less like to see it in the terms of the Bill. I say that without the slightest disrespect to my right hon. Friend. If this was purely a war measure, no doubt we could accept as quite satisfactory the undertaking that by administrative action private houses would be excluded. But this is a permanent Bill. Therefore, we are entitled to ask that in the definition there shall clearly be excluded any application to private houses. I support the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus), largely on practical grounds. It would be a farce to try to apply the provisions of this Bill to the members of the family of the proprietor. It would really afford them no protection whatever, because surely in a family the only protection is mutual good will and the spirit of give and take. If that is not present I believe that no Act of Parliament can give much assistance. It would be absurd to require a family to keep records of their comings and goings. How can they say what part of their activities relate to their private life and what part to their business undertakings? It would be most objectionable if we had investigators from the Ministry of Labour poking their noses into private homes. My hon. Friend above the Gangway suggested that it would be a valuable thing to have the possibility of such intrusion because it might possibly prevent something wrong. I suggest that in no case would this be of the slightest value, and that in all cases it would be highly objectionable. There is always a tendency on the part of the Government, in these times especially, and probably in all times, to try in legislation to unload on to some other body the knottier points for decision. Our duty is to try to deal with knotty and difficult problems. It is not right for us to say cheerfully, "We can leave that to the Commission." It may appear at first sight that many of these points are points of detail, but there are so many points of detail, and when one gets an aggregation of a great number of points of detail it may well be that the practicability or otherwise of the solution of those points will determine whether the Measure as a whole is workable or not. If we are going during the passage of this Bill to shelve on to the Commission any point which we find to be very difficult of solution, we are going to pass into law a Bill which may prove entirely unworkable."Neither a private house nor a members' club is regard as an undertaking."
Did the hon. Member recognise this principle about the private home when he supported the means test in this House?
The hon. Gentleman is getting very wide and very nearly on to a Second Reading speech, and I think the interruption was tending to take him even a little wider, on that part of the discussion, anyhow.
I can assure you, Mr. Williams, I have no intention of pursuing the interruption, but, with great respect, I will endeavour to narrow rather than widen what I have to say. This is a characteristic example of a tendency to leave difficult points to a Commission. That is one reason why I support the Amendment. The whole substance of the provision in these terms is so loosely defined that we really do not know what we have been talking about.
The hon. Member has never said a truer word.
I am interested to know that hon. Members above the Gangway find themselves in exactly the same position as I do. Unless the Government are prepared to define these terms clearly, I do not think that any of us are to blame if we admit that we do not know exactly what we are discussing. Therefore, I support the Amendment, and I hope very much that my hon. Friend will carry it to a Division.
Hon. Members shout "Divide."
Should I be in Order, Mr. Williams, in moving "That the Question be now put"?
Hon. Members who shout "Divide" do not seem to recognise that this Bill applies to Scotland, and I do not think that one Scottish Member has intervened on this Amendment. In my constituency there are a large number of small families taking in lodgers throughout the summer, and they are very much interested in, and affected by, this Bill, and I hope that there will be some Amendment of it, and that is what I am going to try to do. We do not want a bureaucracy at all, but if are to have a bureaucracy in Scotland, we do not want that bureaucracy to be dominated from London. There has been far too great a tendency recently for the bureaucracy in London to extend their tentacles to Scottish legislation. It is recognised in every part of Scotland that this tendency should be stopped as far as possible, I should like to see Scotland excluded from the scope of the Bill altogether and no interference with the lives of private citizens. I shall go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment.
Before we proceed to a Vote I would like to say that while I was attending our local catering establishment, the Solicitor-General in his speech, in part at least, supported the point of view that I endeavoured to put earlier.
I do not think so.
I am only judging by what was told to me by those who heard him. They took the view that he placed on this Clause and the definition Clause the same view that I took on the interpretation of "wholly or mainly," which are the vital words. If a person has a private house in which he carries on some kind of trade and does not carry on any other trade in that house, clearly that becomes "wholly or mainly," because the rest of it is his private existence in that house.
I do not think that that is a fundamental distinction, and it is a matter of the construction of these words. I disagree profoundly and respectfully with my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams). As I understand the position, if you have the owner of a private house taking in an occasional lodger for a week or two at a time, then, although that is, as my hon. Friend has said, the only thing by way of business that may be done, that does not make the house an undertaking which consists "wholly or mainly" in the activity of "the supply of food or drink." Perhaps my hon. Friend will give me his attention because this is the point between us. I said that you must look at everything that is done in the private house over the year. You must look at the fact that the people are living there and carrying on their own existence, and that must be balanced against the fact that they take in an occasional lodger. That is one end of the scale. At the other end of the scale there is a clear difference where lodgers are taken in all the year round and a house exists for the purpose of taking in lodgers, and is a lodging house or undertaking. I can only give my hon. Friend my sincere view of what the Bill means, and that is the meaning I attach to it and which, I firmly believe, the courts would attach and be led to consider.
Naturally everyone pays the utmost attention to any views on interpretation by the Law Officers of the Crown. In every proceeding before the High Court both sides have eminent lawyers, and one lawyer is always wrong. I presume that nobody goes to law in a case unless he is advised by counsel that he has a good case. There are two parties, and one lawyer has given bad advice. That sometimes happens in regard to the Law Officers of the Crown when they proceed through all of the stages, especially, in Inland Revenue cases, though not always in the higher court but in the court below. Nevertheless, I am told that this is the best advice that His Majesty's Government have to give. If my right hon. and learned Friend will give me an assurance that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer sends his myrmidons—
What does that mean?
I will tell the hon. Member. It means His Majesty's Inspectors of Taxes—
Whereupon, the GENTLEMAN USHER OF THE BLACK ROD being come with a Message, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair.
Mr. SPEAKER resumed the Chair.
Message to attend the Lords Commissioners.
The House went; and, having returned—
Mr. SPEAKER reported the Royal Assent to:
Catering Wages Bill
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.
Clause 2—(General Functions Of The Commission)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 25, to leave out from "fit" to "into," in line 26.Paragraph (a) empowers the Commission to make
and so on. The Amendment is designed to allow the Commission alone to make such inquiries and to withdraw from the Minister the right to call upon the Commission to make such inquiries as he thinks fit. I do not know the reason for including these words. This Commission is an independent body set up by the Minister and its composition and duties are laid down in the Bill. Why should it not be allowed to carry out quite impartially any inquiries it has to carry out? I expect that the Minister will reply that there are certain questions which the Commission might not go into and that he wants to have the power where necessary to ask it to look into things which otherwise it might not look into. That seems an extraordinary reason because one would have thought that, the Commission having been appointed by the Minister, the mere suggestion that it should look into something would be sufficient without requiring to lay it down in an Act."such enquiries as they think fit or as they may be directed by the Minister to make into the existing methods of regulating the remuneration and conditions of employment"
I ought to remind the Committee that this Amendment covers a very narrow point, and we cannot discuss the whole question of the Commission now.
I accept your Ruling, but I was under the impression that I was keeping narrowly to the words which should be left out. The Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary and all the speakers have referred to this Commission as an impartial, independent body set up by the Minister and appointed by him to carry out that inquiry. Cannot the Minister trust the Commission to carry out that inquiry? It would be an advantage if the Minister indicated why he thinks it necessary to have such a power.
It seems to me that my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment has not established a case at all for his suggestion that the words which he seeks to delete in any sense affect the question of whether or not the Commission is impartial. Let me, by way of example, put this case. Is the Minister of Labour to be denied the opportunity of indicating to the Commission some matter upon which Parliament may desire to have inquiries made? I should have thought it was wise to say that it is competent for the Minister to direct the Commission to make certain inquiries. It will be stultifying the usefulness of Parliament if hon. Members are not able to indicate to the Minister certain points which they would like the Commission to deal with; and it may well be that the Minister, on information conveyed to him by Members of Parliament, should be able to institute inquiries which otherwise would not be undertaken. Therefore, I hope that my hon. Friend will see that there is nothing in these words which suggests any impairment of the impartiality of the Commission. I think the words are reasonable and that the Committee would be unwise to deprive the Minister of the powers which are here sought. I hope the Amendment will not be accepted.
I think it is no reflection upon the impartiality of the Commission that the Minister should be able to direct them to make certain inquiries. It is more a reflection on their independence. My hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary has to-day, and on several other occasions, laid considerable weight upon the independence of the Commission. It seems to me that to retain in the Clause the words
tends to detract from the independence of the Commission. Surely the Commission should be allowed to make their own inquiries and their own recommendations. The moment we get the Minister empowered to say to the Commission "You must make inquiries about this or that," the Commission cease, to a certain degree, to be independent. That may sound a little casuistic, but it is not. It is one more example of the growing taste, or fashion as I should prefer to call it, for authoritarianism in this country. I am not going to stray from the actual words, and so I hope you will not feel alarmed, Mr. Williams, but I should like to say that there is a danger if we leave these words in that an authoritarian Minister—I am not saying this one, but someone in the future—may very well take the line that he intends to direct the Commission to interfere in every possible way and make recommendations on every sort of subject within the terms of the Clause. For that reason we ought to take care what words we accept in this Bill, or in any other Bill, giving a Minister such powers."or as they may be directed by the Minister"
There was clearly a tendency on the part of those who opposed the Bill on the Second Reading, to call attention to the fact that the Bill would, in their opinion, give the Minister too much power. It would appear that the Amendment is one of the ways in which they are endeavouring to take a little power from him. I venture to think that the hon. and learned Member for North-East Leeds (Mr. Craik Henderson) is really robbing the House of Commons of power. Let us assume that the Bill goes through and that a Commission is set up. Hon. Members will ask questions on various matters concerning the catering trade. They will ask for an inquiry and the Minister of Labour will say that he will call upon the Commission, as the Bill now stands, to make an inquiry into the subject raised by the particular hon. Member. If we accepted the Amendment, the Minister would lose that power and an hon. Member would also lose his opportunity of asking for an inquiry.
I have pleasure in supporting the Amendment. The Minister, as far as I can see, seeks considerable power in every direction. I understand that, owing to the difficulties which already exist, a good deal of responsibility will be thrown upon the Commission. We are told that it will be a very good Commission. It certainly seems that we shall need a good Commission. The duties of the Commission will be to inquire into the conditions of labour and whether there exists proper organisation. In the end, the matter will rest with the Commissioners. If we get the Commission that we require, it does not seem to me that we need any interference from the Minister of Labour with the working of the Commission. As, ultimately, the matter will rest with the Commission, it will be more satisfactory to have an absence of bureaucratic control and get a Commission of people who know something about the catering industry, and not a Government Department which knows nothing about it and which, in my humble submission, should not have anything to do with this Measure.
I cannot quite follow the arguments of the supporters of the Amendment. The Sub-section states that the Commission shall make such inquiries as it thinks fit. That is one aspect. The Commission is perfectly at liberty to make any series of inquiries that it thinks fit. The Sub-section then adds that it shall also make inquiries as directed by the Minister. That is another aspect. These are two separate matters and there is no priority of one over the other. It does not imply that while the Commission is making certain inquiries, the Minister can come along and order them to abandon those inquiries and to take up others. It merely reserves to him the right to bring forward further subjects for their consideration. The Commission may be pursuing inquiries with regard, say, to boarding houses. As a result of some change in the war situation, the Minister might want them to consider questions relating to demobilisation and the employment of men returning from the Forces to various parts of the industry. Surely he should have the right to say to the Commission: "Here is an important question to which I should like you to give attention." There is nothing in the Sub-section to suggest that he is enabled thereby to order them to abandon any inquiry. I hope that, upon reflection, the proposer of the Amendment will see fit to withdraw it.
I desire to support the Amendment for the following reasons: On the Second Reading of the Bill the Minister went out of his way to tell us that the Government took the view, as a fixed policy, that it was their duty to encourage self-government in every way they could, wherever they could. I submit, it is not in the interests of the proper carrying out of the Commission that the Minister should be entitled to direct the Commission to make inquiries as he thinks right.We shall come later on to the composition of the Commission, but if a Commission is to be set up which is supposed to have the confidence of this industry, I cannot understand why it should be necessary for the Minister to give directions to it to inquire into the "existing methods," etc., as the Clause sets out. I am perturbed. I would not mind so much if the Minister had powers only to give directions in connection with what follows in Clause I (a), but I am bound to remind the Committee that when this Bill was being discussed on Second Reading the Minister—perhaps he will forgive me for saying so—in a rather flowery passage said:
Then he said these words:"I think we ought to have a better return in the health of the people."
Heaven help it—"I propose concurrently with wages development to ask the Commission to study several other problems. I believe it can help in the rehabilitation of the industry quickly at the end of the war. I believe it can help by collecting information and knowledge as to lines of development. I believe it can help in the question of priority"—
And so on and so on. But this Commission is supposed to be looking after the catering trade, and it is mostly considering "the existing methods of regulating the remuneration" and so on. I am very anxious about whether under this Clause this excellent Commission, this impartial and admirable Commission, may be diverted from its proper task of looking after remuneration and so on, and may find itself directed by the Minister to a baffling problem which would take an infinity of time and might result in failure to agree and the presentation of majority and minority reports. I think it would be better if the Commission were allowed to do its work for the industry in its own way, at any rate for the beginning. If, afterwards, it is thought necessary that the Minister should burden it with some sort of direction, if Parliament should decide that some important problem should be put to the Commission, very different considerations may apply and other steps may have to be taken by another House of Commons. At the moment this is a war Measure. We are dealing with something which is necessary, according to the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary, for the prosecution of the war. I should have thought that the Commission had quite sufficient work to do to deal with its duties under (a) and (b) without having to take directions from the Minister on what he thinks they should inquire into. For those reasons, I hope the Minister will find it possible to say that he will not overburden its members with any views of his own but will leave them to get on with their work."and I further believe it can help in a very vexed problem which has baffled us all up to now and on which we must get put right, and that is the staggering of holidays. We cannot get this catering service right, particularly in seaside and holiday centres, unless we solve the problem of the staggering of holidays."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th February, 1943; col. 1208, Vol. 386.]
I am very glad to have heard the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for East Nottingham (Major Gluckstein), because as the day goes on I find a growing admiration for my Commission, a growing affection for it, and a desire to protect it from being overburdened. It may be that I will be the Minister, or that somebody else will be the Minister—because, although I have always been against casual labour, I have always been conscious that being a Minister is the most casual job in the world. You might be here to-day and gone tomorrow. [An HON. MEMBER: "There is no security of tenure."] No, not even a half-day's minimum. I remember once being on a deputation to a Minister, who kept on talking about himself, and I said, "Really I was not talking about you, but about your successor." And in a week he was gone; so I was right. I have never been under any delusions about the permanency of the Minister of Labour, or of anybody else. But anybody in my position must have the power to ask—the word "direct" is a legal word—the Commission to make inquiries as he thinks fit.Let me give on illustration. My hon. and gallant Friend said that I made a flowery speech. Well it is Spring-time. [An HON. MEMBER: "Send it by rail."] Seriously, the great task we have to face in this matter is the rehabilitation of this industry. London is not bad, but many parts of the country are in very great difficulty. I used to say to my colleagues in the trade union movement, "What is the good of having all these things on paper, if you do not get them?" I have to try to make arrangements not only for the remuneration, but for the service which is to earn the remuneration. It has been overthrown by war. I regard it as vital that the Minister shall be able to direct inquiry into these matters, all of which affect the livelihood and remuneration of the people. Even where inquiries are made, Members of Parliament are continually making representation to Ministers that, in their view, inquiries should be made about this, that or the other body. No one has had more of that than I have had. As Minister of Labour, I am responsible in one field for the Unemployment Assistance Board, I am responsible in another field for the Statutory Commission for insurance, and I am constantly getting representations——
I am very reluctant to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman but if these illustrations, going into all these other forms of work, are allowed, it seems to me that I must allow other people to follow on those lines. The right hon. Gentleman must keep to this limited Amendment.
I am sorry, Mr. Williams. I will not go back to that illustration, but I would point out that in all legislation on industrial matters of this kind, the Minister, in order to protect Parliament and to protect the right of Members of Parliament to make representations, has been given discretion to cause inquiries to be made by these Commissions. In the drafting of this Clause, I have simply tried to devise a safety-valve against the possibility of handing over to the Commission every prerogative of the House of Commons and of the Minister. If, eventually, difficulties arise the Minister, whoever he may be, can say to the Commission, "I have received representations on this, that or the other matter; there is a feeling that you have not taken this, that or the other into proper account and I direct you therefore to re-examine or make inquiries in this, that or the other direction." It is really protection for the public interest and for Parliament that these words should be put in the Bill.
I wish to ask a question on interpretation, and I am not being awkward.
I know—the hon. Gentleman never is.
I think that on balance the Minister ought to have this power. If the words "the Commission shall be entitled to make such inquiries as they think fit," were left out, it would apply to the items specified. If the words are left in, the Commission may make such inquiries as they think fit and give a wider field, whereas the Minister may desire the narrower field.
It is not intended.
Courts do not take any account of what Ministers intend but of what the House of Commons has written. Perhaps the Solicitor-General can say whether, as the Clause stands, the powers of the Commission may cover a field wider than that into which the Minister can direct them to inquire.
I take the view that equal weight must be given to the words "as they think fit" and the words "as they may be directed by the Minister to make." I cannot imagine any narrowing rule or construction which my hon. Friend has in mind which could cause the court to take any other view.
I cannot say that the Minister has entirely satisfied me, because he has not entirely covered the point why it was necessary to have this at all, but as one who is very anxious not to delay the Bill in any way, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Ordered, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again," put and agreed to.—[ Major Sir James Edmondson.]
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon the next Sitting Day.
Sunday Cinematograph Enter- Tainments
"That the Orders made by the Secretary of State for the Home Department extending Section I of the Sunday Entertainments Act, 1932, to—
(1) the City of Bradford and (2) the Rural District of Petworth,copies of which were presented to this House on 23rd March, be approved."—[Mr. Peake.]
Gas (Special Orders)
"That the Draft of the Special Order proposed to be made by the Minister of Fuel and Power under the Gas Undertakings Acts, 1920 to 1934, on the application of the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of the City of Leicester, which was presented to this House on 16th March and published, be approved."—[Mr. Tom Smith.]
Requisitioned Premises (Com- Pensation)
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[ Sir J. Edmondson.]
The matter which I want to bring to the notice of the House concerns the compensation payable to firms whose premises have been requisitioned. It is a subject which has arisen as a result of a case in my constituency, but as it affects many others firms it is in the general rather than the particular sense that I raise it, and I do not intend to mention any particular names or instances. The basis upon which the question of compensation rests is Section 2 (1, d) of the Compensation Act, 1939. The Act deals with practically every trouble to which a firm is put as a result of the war and the relevant words are:
There are two broad categories of firms affected in this matter as a consequence of premises being requisitioned. The first, which for simplicity's sake I will call the operating type, the one with which I am particularly concerned to-day, is the firm which when its premises are taken over has still Government contracts on its books and still has a desire and indeed an obligation to fulfil them. As a consequence, it re-erects its plant on another site. The second category I will call the storage type. That is the firm which does not wish to continue operations during the war but is instructed to remove its plant because its premises may be required for some other purpose. The plant is stored until the war ends and the firm may return to the original site. The interpretation which has been put upon these two types of cases is as follows: that the operating type, wishing to continue to deliver goods to the Government during the war, may have the cost of removal and the re-erection of plant paid for, but if the firm elects to do so, it is precluded from claiming the cost of the re-erection on the original site after the war. In contrast with that position, the storage type may have the cost of the removal of plant to storage, the cost of storage and the cost of re-erection on the original site paid for by the Government. In order to get a proper perspective on this question it is necessary to refer to two other types of firm who have had to leave their premises as a result of conditions arising out of the war. The first of the other types is what I would call the dispersal type, the firm which, either for reasons, of bombing or because it is situated in a coastal belt, is advised that it should move. It goes to some place which it is thought will provide greater security. The cost of removal and erection of plant on the new site is divided between the Government and the firm. The Government are not committed to, nor is the firm precluded from, payment in respect of homecoming. The fourth case is what I would call the transferred firm—the firm which is situated in a congested area where labour is very difficult and where the Government have decided that it is in the general interest that the firm should be removed, in order to release labour required for expansion in that area and should go to some other part of the country, where the labour supply is easier. The transferring firm, in these circumstances, has to move to the new site and re-erect its plant on the new site and the Government pay the entire cost. Its homecoming rights are the same as those of the dispersed firm. It is neither promised homecoming costs nor precluded from claiming them ultimately. It will be seen that there are four types in respect of homecoming. The stored firm which does not operate during the war is promised homecoming costs. The operating firm is denied homecoming costs. The dispersed firm is uncertain; it has no promises and it loses no rights. The transferred firm, in like manner, has the future completely open. So that, all based on the Act, there appears to be a variety of interpretations in respect of homecoming which, in my submission, calls for review. It seems that the reason the Government have decided, in the case of what I call the operating firm, to pay for the re-erection of plant on the new site only if the firm promises to make no claim for homecoming afterwards, is as follows: They say, "Look how much better off is the firm which is able to operate during the war than the unfortunate firm whose operations are curtailed while its plant is stored. Surely, it has very little to complain of if it is not able to obtain from the Government the cost of homecoming in comparison with the firm which has been completely idle for two, three, or four years." I submit it is a false analogy to compare the position of the operating firm with that of one which is closed. In my submission, it is very much more reasonable to compare the position of the operating firm, which is, after all, of much more value to the nation operating, than it would be if its plant were stored, with the; dispersed firm which, let us say, has left Brighton or the transferred firm which has left Preston. In both those cases the firms are eligible to claim the cost of homecoming after the war if there are arrangements made hereafter to enable them to make such a claim. I do not ask that at this stage the Government should attempt in any way to decide to what degree the cost of homecoming of a firm should be paid for at public expense. The conditions as they will be then, are completely unknown. We may wish to impose certain conditions before the cost of homecoming can reasonably be charged to the taxpayer. It is wise, in my judgment, to defer until the time when the conditions are known to us the rights and claims which a firm may have for homecoming. But, having said that, it seems to me all the more reason why the Government should leave every firm completely free to make its claim when the time comes and not debar it in particular circumstances from making the claim after the war. By saying, "We will pay for the first re-erection of your plant provided you will make no claim for the second," it seems to me the Government is adopting an unreasonable attitude. Either the firm under this Clause has a right to have the first re-erection paid for or it has not. If it has the right, there is no justification for the Government seeking to grant it only if the condition they ask for is fulfilled, namely, no claim for the second re-erection. If, however, it has no right for the first re-erection, clearly the Government will be wrong in agreeing to pay for it under the Act. So that it seems to me the Government is tying two things together which ought to be kept totally and distinctly apart. If, therefore, without wanting the Government to tie its hands in respect to after-the-war, it were possible for the Financial Secretary to apply this provision in the Compensation Act without reference to after-the-war at all, and pay the cost of the first re-erection where in the Government's view it is justified, without attaching any conditions to it, that would leave firms so placed as free to claim for subsequent homecoming as are the other firms with whom they ought, properly, to be compared. I hope I am not the only one who believes that there is a good case here for the Government to review, and I hope the Financial Secretary will give it sympathetic consideration."The compensation shall be a sum equal to the amount of any expenses reasonably incurred other than on behalf of His Majesty for the purpose of compliance with any directions given on behalf of His Majesty in connection with the taking possession of the land."
I have come into contact with a considerable number of these cases which are giving very great concern to manufacturers. It is all very well to say they will be able to put it right out of E.P.T. when they get it refunded, but there are smaller manufacturers who are not making any excess profits. The most urgent problem we shall have at the end of the war will be to get our people back to work. These transfers were made during a period of great stress. I can give a case in which a firm was ordered to leave a certain district. The plant was put on the lorry and sent away for fear the factory might be hit that night. It was parked in the country and the firm looked round for premises next day. When that sort of thing was happening ideal premises were not obtained. In some cases people were moved out of their factories in order to make room for others. You will not be able to leave the cuckoos in these nests, because those who were moved out have been promised their premises back after the war. We shall want to find work for both. It would be of very great assistance to those working the factories if the Financial Secretary would make some pronouncement which would ease their minds.
I have seen the effects of some of this requisitioning. It was said of the Minister who started it that he was ready to requisition the bed from under his dying grandmother. The next Minister was even worse and it was popularly said about him that he would not only requisition the bed from under his dying grandmother, but would kick her when she was down. There has been a great deal of injustice done to some of these people and the waste of money is tremendous. It will, eventually, have to be settled up by the taxpayer. I know of one instance in which a weaving shed was requisitioned early in the war and its looms were sent to a place in the country which had not been used for 10 years. After a year that place was required for the making of explosives and the looms had to be moved a second time. The owner said that if they were moved another time they would be fit for nothing. Eventually, a fair solution was come to as between a willing buyer and a willing seller. The Government bought the looms because they would have been of no use again, and the owner was satisfied. There are many cases all over the country of works that have been requisitioned and the smaller men do not know whether they will have the money with which to start again. I have done my best to save some of these little men, because not only is the man himself thrown out of business, but his old employees who have been in the business all their lives have their employment finished forever.
Reference so far has been made only to the owner of the business, and I agree with what has been said, for such cases have come to my notice. I want, however, to bring to the attention of the Minister others who are affected. These are the workers whose home is in a particular area. They naturally desire to return. Anything that is done to make it difficult for a business to return to its old home town will react upon the workers.
I am much indebted to the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Summers) for the lucid way in which he has raised this matter. I am also obliged to the hon. Member for Edgbaston (Sir P. Bennett), who is very familiar with this problem. I have taken careful note of the points made by the hon. and gallant Member for Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles) and the hon. Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb), though some of them went a little wider than the issue with which I am called upon to deal to-day. When a factory is requisitioned and the owner is directed to move his machinery, compensation is paid to him under Section 2 (1, d) of the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939. If the machinery is stored the Government pay for the cost of dismantling and storing it and of re-erecting it when it is once more possible to do so in the original premises. If the machinery is erected on an alternative site, the Government pay the cost of dismantling and of erecting it in the new premises. In either of these cases the expenses are regarded as having been necessarily incurred by the owner in complying with the directions given to him when his premises were requisitioned. The owner who has erected his machinery on an alternative site may, of course, wish at some time to re-erect the machinery on yet another site, or, if he can get possession on his original premises, to bring the machinery back there. In such a case the costs of dismantling and re-erection are not regarded as having been incurred in order to comply with the direction, and are not, therefore, the subject of compensation under this section of the Compensation Act, 1939.In spite of what my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton said, it does appear, to me that a firm which re-erects its machinery on an alternative site and continues to manufacture in those premises and can carry on its business is in a somewhat more fortunate position than firms which for many reasons are put out of business altogether and have been obliged to close down. A firm which stores its machinery when the premises are requisitioned cannot carry on its business any longer, and it can be argued that there might be grounds for giving more consideration to such a case. But the point to which objection has really been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton is that no compensation is payable for the re-erection on the original site of machinery which has been erected on an alternative site in compliance with an Order. That is a case in which, of course, the hardship cannot have been suffered as yet, but I understand that it is the practice of requisitioning authorities when they agree to a claim for expenses under this Section of the Act of 1939 to ask the claimant to agree then and there that the payment is in full and final settlement of all his claims, and that is a point which my hon. Friend has made. I agree that it would be not unreasonable for a claimant to say at that point that he accepted it as a settlement of the expenses which had been incurred up to date, but that he reserved the right to submit claims for future expenses. The Requisitioning Department would no doubt say that they noted the claim that had been reserved, but of course they would not be accepted as admitting then and there that any claim would lie. This arrangement would, I think, meet the main difficulty which my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton has raised, and I will see that Requisitioning Departments are informed of this discussion and of the way in which they should act in circumstances of that kind.
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
Motion, "That this House do now adjourn," by leave, withdrawn.
The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
Emergency Powers (Defence) (Order In Council)
I beg to move,
I have to move this Prayer, and if it is an inconvenience to everybody I apologise, although it is not wholly my fault. It was discovered late in the day that, if the Prayer was not taken now, it could never be taken at all. I feel that it is a matter of some seriousness and that, as a matter of public duty, I have no right just to abandon it, so that I must put everybody to inconvenience. By great good fortune I had prepared my argument, and I have just now been able to equip myself with all the necessary documents. I feel that I can relieve the anxiety of the Ministry of War Transport by telling them what I told the Home Office a long time ago; and that is that I am interested in nothing whatever in the many Regulations involved, except Defence Regulation 104A. I did not, of course, tell any other Ministries that, because I thought it would be enough if I told one. One of the defects of this procedure by Prayer is that you have to pray against the whole of the Regulations, and if there were many hon. Members with all sorts of bees in their bonnets—I have only one at the moment—they might all be getting up to object. However, it does not seem likely that at this hour and on this day of the week anybody but myself will raise any discussion. When I come to deal with Defence Regulation 104A, I am bound to become extremely dull, because this is a rather dull and complicated matter. Incidentally, it is a bit of legislation by reference of a rather extreme type. It is fair to say that it takes about eight hours to discover what the effect of the Regulation is—I am not going to take eight hours to inform the House—and it is only then that you can start to consider the merits or demerits of the matter. The Home Office are, of course, not represented just at the moment, because we discovered the trouble at a very late hour. I will do my best to explain the matter to the House, and no doubt somebody will watch the matter for the Home Office. The broad general effect of the Regulation can be stated quite simply. There are a large number of powers, as everybody knows, contained in the Defence (General) Regulations empowering, and it is right and proper that they should empower, a very large variety of people—constables, secretaries of State, soldiers and sailors, persons authorised by other persons and so on—to do all sorts of things which have to be done in war-time, from shooting you to entering upon a piece of land without the landlord's permission. The general scheme and purpose of these Regulations, so far as it concerns Regulation 104A, is to confer a measure of those rights and powers on various groups and officials of the Forces, nations and peoples who are concerned with us in this war, what one would loosely call Allies but actually are called in this Regulation "Allied powers or associated authorities." Those powers are defined in paragraph (8) thus:"That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty praying that the Order in Council dated 16th December, 1942, made under the Emergency Powers Defence Acts, 1939 and 1940, amending Regulations 6A, 45A, 56AB, 60AC, 62 and 70 of, and adding Regulations 47D, 60DAA and 104A to, the Defence (General) Regulations, 1939, a copy of which was presented to this House on 19th January, be annulled."
I would not like to pick out invidiously any particular body as being more important than another, but, purely as an example, there are in this country, as everybody knows, quite a large number of officials and troops of the United States of America, and there are also troops and other officials of such associated authorities as, shall we say, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. [Interruption.] Very well, let us not say Yugoslavia, and let us stick only to Czechoslovakia. It is obvious that a good deal of trouble has been taken to prepare this particular Regulation, although I have a good many complaints to make about it, and it does actually deal with the extension of the Regulations to what I am going to call shortly, if I may without being inaccurate, the Allies or the Allies and associates. It deal with them in three ways. One is to use such phrases as:"The expression 'allied power' means a foreign power engaged, in alliance with His Majesty, in any war in which His Majesty is also engaged, and the expression associated authority means a foreign authority recognised by His Majesty as competent to maintain naval, military or air forces for service in association with His Majesty's forces."
So automatically that very large section of Regulations which empowered a British soldier to do something which was included in them apply under similar circumstances with the passing of this Regulation to a soldier in the Forces of the Allies. That is only an illustration, because the matter is not confined to soldiers. There is another class, where more care is required, in which there is no automatic extension but in which power given to a Secretary of State or the Admiralty—I suppose it means in actual practice any Defence Department or the Home Office—may extend to these Allied and associated Forces the powers at present exercisable only by certain citizens and servants of His Majesty. There is one way not involving the intervention of the Secretary of State, where a justice of the peace may grant a search warrant. Search warrants are normally addressed and should be addressed to specific individuals authorising them to search, and these individuals are extended under the Regulation to officials of the Allies and associates. I am sorry it should be such a wearisome task to take a few Regulations and point out the somewhat grave effects that result, as I suggest, from the fact that these powers are given to the Allies and associates in addition to the British authorities. I am not, of course, being chauvinistic, but the real anxiety I feel about it is this: I think a great many people agree with me that a very wide measure of power to do things which would ordinarily be somewhat arbitrary must be conceded in war-time. The real safeguard in such cases is, I think the House will agree, that if there is an abuse of the power, it can be brought up in this House and challenged. The anxiety I feel is that in such cases it will not be possible to challenge them if they are done under this extended Regulation by foreign Powers. Once the Regulation exists, and I suppose it does exist at the moment, if a member of the Armed Forces of His Majesty takes some course which is said to be wrong, and there is a misuse of power, you can ask the Secretary of State for War why it has been done, and he can accept responsibility, and make restitution if necessary, and see that it does not happen again. But if it is done by the armed forces of any other Power, their Ministers do not sit here, and we cannot ask, them, while the Foreign Secretary is presumably not responsible for their conduct and we cannot ask him. There is nobody else we can ask. I do not want to use any extravagant language about this, because it is a matter which should be soberly considered, with-out heat—it may be that I am not the right person to do it, but the Motion is in my name—and I think the best thing I can do is to take some of the Regulations and see the way they work out, and the difficulty which is caused, in the hope that the Home Office will undertake to reconsider the Regulations and draft them in a different form. The first one I can take, which happens to be quite a good illustration, is Defence Regulation 8. I hope the House will not be alarmed if I take five or 10 minutes over Defence Regulation 8, and will not assume that I shall take five or 10 minutes over each of the 40 odd Regulations involved. Defence Regulation 8 comes in a Section which deals with an important matter of defence: "Provisions for the security of the State." I think everybody would say that this Regulation ought to exist. I am going to take it first in its original form. Section 8, paragraph (1), gives the Postmaster-General power to direct by order that, subject to exemptions, and subject to permits, nobody shall use wireless transmission apparatus. That is the thing I am most interested in at the moment, as a fair illustration. You would expect that Sub-section to be restrictive. In paragraph (2) the competent authority may provide for dealing with wireless transmission apparatus. When you get to the foot of page 25, in Sub-section (3), you get the actual operative thing which is effected by Defence Regulation 104A. It says that any person acting on behalf of His Majesty may, in relation to any ship or aircraft—it may be the Ministry of War Transport is interested, after all—take such steps and use such force as may appear to that person necessary and reasonable for securing compliance with this Regulation and, where contravention of such an order has occurred in the case of a ship or aircraft, to enable proceedings in respect of the contravention to be effectually taken. Look at the Regulation as it stood a few months ago. It was an admirable Regulation. You want power to act most vigorously in such a case. It might be the Customs officer of a port or the chief constable of a port, or a constable or a soldier to whom an officer has given an order, or it might be a naval officer, who would have to go on board a ship and say, "You have wireless apparatus here in working order, and you have no authority to use it. I am going to dismantle it, and if, as I suspect, you have been using it, I am going to take such steps as necessary to enable action to be taken in respect of the contravention." If necessary, he could arrest the master of the ship. To enable proceedings in respect of the contravention actually to be taken against the master of a ship which is going to sail, you must necessarily take him off the ship and put him into the local lock-up. In the ordinary course there would be no trouble. The British officer would be acting in a proper way. But suppose, in fact, there is a mistake and there is no order prohibiting that particular ship to use a transmitting apparatus and it is very important that it should use it. Questions must immediately be raised. If that is done by the British authorities, you can at once go to the Ministry of War Transport or the Home Office or to whoever it may be and have it cleared up. The captain, the master of the ship, will know that he could immediately get into touch with his owners and get them to get to the Ministry, and on the next Sitting Day you could ask questions by Private Notice of the responsible Minister about it. Under Defence Regulation 104A, the important words in this paragraph (3) of the main Defence Regulation (a), are "any person acting on behalf of His Majesty." By virtue of Regulation 104A, "any person acting on behalf of His Majesty" becomes, any person acting on behalf of the Government, or of any Allied Power or of any associated authority. I hope that I have not given an extravagant explanation, when I say that it is possible at some port or airport where there are of necessity—and it is a very good thing very often—some Allied or associated authorities, you may find an Allied or friendly officer firmly believing that he has the right to take a squad of armed men on to the ship and proceed, to dismantle the wireless apparatus, and the master being convinced that he ought to do nothing of the sort—"'His Majesty's Forces,' or 'members of His Majesty's Forces,' or 'servants of His Majesty,' or 'persons acting On behalf of His Majesty' shall be read to include the naval, military and air forces or servants or persons acting on behalf of the Allied and associated Forces."
Is not the whole point of the contention which the hon. and learned Member has elaborated that, if this power is given, and must be given for reasons for which we cannot go into of a very secret character, it should be delegated by the British Government specifically to the foreign Government? He is not suggesting that the Allied Government should not have it, because there are certain circumstances in which they must have it. Is not the whole point that it should be properly delegated?