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Clause 6—(General Provisions As To Wages Board)

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 1 April 1943

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

I beg to move, in page 4, line 41, to leave out "category of," and to insert "of the."

This Amendment and the consequential Amendment which comes in line 44 are really of the importance of drafting Amendments now, in view of the discussion that we had on the word "classes" during yesterday. This Clause gives power to the wages boards to ask the Minister for an advisory committee, and it is considered that these committees will probably deal with geographical areas. Therefore the word "category" is not apt to describe workers in a geographical area, and we ask the Committee to omit that word and leave it in the other form. We discussed the general question of the introduction of the word "classes" and I am not going to repeat the arguments which we went into then.

I would be glad if the learned Solicitor-General would clarify the matter a little more. I am sorry that constituency engagements prevented my being here yesterday. He said that the purpose was to arrange wages boards on a geographical basis.

If my hon. Friend will look at Sub-section (2) of the Clause, he will see that the procedure is that any wages board may request the Minister to appoint a committee, that is, an advisory committee, and it is the advisory committee who will consider the matters referred to them on a geographical basis.

I am sorry that I made a slip and said "wages boards" when I meant to say "committees." But look at the position. Take, for example, that great institution who have multiple shops known as Lyons', who are great public benefactors. They have their shops spread all over the country. I understand that it is proposed, if there should be some desire to examine the circumstances in Lyons' teashops, that you will do it on a geographical basis. You will examine teashops in London but not similar tea-shops in other cities. If it is on a geographical basis instead of in regard to the general body of people working in tea-shops of that character—because there is not only Lyons but the A.B.C. and a Whole range of similar establishments of that character—it would rule out similar teashops in all parts of the country. Therefore, the learned Solicitor-General ought to give a little more information on the real significance of the Amendment. I have studied it, but I really do not understand its real significance. Although there was a discussion yesterday, I do not think that the comments of the Solicitor-General really carry us as far as we ought to go before this Amendment is put from the Chair.

I appreciate that my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) could not be with us yesterday, and it is rather difficult to get the full significance of this Amendment unless my hon. Friend has in mind the discussion we had on "classes." I am very anxious that he should be satisfied, and I therefore draw his attention to the fact that this is a permissive enactment, which says:

"Any wages board may request the Minister to appoint a committee."
Therefore it is a matter, first of all, for the wages board to decide whether they want a committee, and then, what sort of committee they want. They may want, as my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon has said, a committee which will examine a general problem without geographical limits. On the other hand, they may want only a section which is limited geographically to be inquired into by the committee. If the second is their desire, then the word "category" is not apt to describe workers in a geographical district. I think that that puts the reason for the Amendment clearly to my hon. Friend.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 4, line 42, after "operates," to insert "and their employers."

I move this Amendment, which stands in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Nottingham (Major Gluckstein). The Sub-section lays it down:
"Any wages board may request the Minister to appoint a committee for any category of workers in relation to whom the Board operates."
We suggest that these committees should include also their employers. What is wanted in these circumstances is a joint committee, and I call the attention of the Minister to this point in the hope that he can see his way to accept the Amendment.

We do not think that these words are necessary. To meet the point which my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind, I would call his attention to the constitution of the committee as provided in Clause 8 (1b) in the Second Schedule, which provides for the representatives of employers.

Are not the words in the Sub-section rather long, and will the hon. Gentleman consider with the draftsmen between now and the Report stage whether they are necessary or not?

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move, in page 4, line 44, after "to," to insert:

"the remuneration, conditions of employment, health or comfort of."
The Committee will see that under the Clause:
"Any wages board may request the Minister to appoint a committee for any category of workers in relation to whom the board operates and the Minister shall appoint a committee accordingly, and the board may refer to it for a report and recommendations any matter relating to that category of workers which the board think it expedient so to refer."
What I, and, I think, several other hon. Members feel is that the words "any matter relating to that category of workers" might include anything, including the efficiency and development—which is another point we wish to argue later on—of the section of the industry in which they work. Those who think with me suggest that the wages boards should confine themselves strictly to wages and to conditions of employment of health and comfort and all those things, but they should leave the other extraneous matters to the trade associations who are far better able to deal witih them. No industry can conduct its affairs properly if all sorts of committees are set up, and we are not trying to interfere with the hours and conditions of employment and wages but simply want the words specifically referred to here to be inserted to make it clear that they will have to deal with remuneration, conditions of employment, health and comfort.

I would like to support the Amendment, which, I think, would be helpful to the Bill. If at any time a wage board makes a request to the Minister to appoint a committee to carry out an inquiry and the terms of reference are made as wide as possible under Subsection (2), I can see all sorts of trouble arising and people in the industry protesting on the ground that the scope of the Measure was drawn so widely that matters could be introduced that were extraneous and so produce a sense of disharmony, which should be avoided. If the Bill becomes law, I want it to work as well as possible. I think that if you do not draw the terms of reference within the appropriately narrow field, you are asking for trouble. After all, the main purpose of this Bill is to deal with catering wages. It is true that in the Preamble there are the words:

"efficiency and development of the industries in which they are employed."
But I imagine that they were put there for the purpose of trying to carry the baby a bit, because this Bill will not deal very much with that aspect. In spite of the optimism of the Minister, who thinks tourists will come to this country because of the Bill, they will not; they will come to this country to see the bomb damage and that sort of thing. If you pass a Sub-section in which it is possible to refer any matter, even conditions attending work at a cup-tie at Wembley, it will lead to trouble.

I do not think it wise to say in advance to a board—because that is how these committees are appointed—that they shall not do this, that or the other in connection with the terms of reference. It is true that the Minister has to appoint them, but in practice they come into being through the industry. I do not want to argue about efficiency and development on this Clause; that comes later, but I cannot see why you should say that Parliament should lay it down in advance that a board or the Minister should not ask a committee, which is purely advisory and not mandatory, to consider a particular problem. I think that is absolutely unreasonable.

I beg the Committee's pardon. I should have said "board." If a board is not allowed to ask a committee to take up a particular question because Parliament has said in advance that it shall not, I think it would be unreasonable.

The Minister recently, very wisely I think, set up production committees in various factories in the country, and I am very glad he did, but he definitely limited their purview on the ground that he did not want to have them discussing extraneous matters. He said it was not right to limit their scope, yet he himself, in setting up another body concerned with welfare and other matters in factories, deliberately did that. His own argument was thereby destroyed by his own action.

The reason that production committees' powers were limited was because they had to fit in with the decisions of superior boards, and the whole of the collective agreements laid down what the shop committees should do. In this case the board has to make the terms of reference; it will set up a committee and will accept or reject the committee's report.

Because it is superior and should be said so in advance. We are the superior power.

Is this not a rather dangerous attitude that the Minister is taking up? He states that he does not want to limit the powers of the committee, but surely it is the duty of Parliament to be as specific as possible when it confers powers on anyone. There has often been criticism in the past that Bills are passed through the House which give wide and unnecessary powers and that things are being done which it was not the intention should be done. If the Minister's argument was carried to a logical conclusion, he need have no Bill of 19 Clauses; he could simply have a one Clause Bill saying that he would appoint a Commission and give it powers to do as it liked. We have an unusual situation here. We have a Commission appointed with powers to look into conditions of service and wages, and we have a wages board which is a slightly inferior body. Now we are asked to give completely unrestricted powers. I hope qualifying words will be put into the Bill to put this matter right.

The point that occurred to me with regard to this matter is that we are not to have only one wages board for the industry but several, and it seems to me that different boards will have different ideas as to the scope of their power. The underlying idea of the Minister seems to be that whatever object he wants to achieve may be difficult unless he uses very wide language, and that if he used this wide language, he would get what he wanted. But that sort of thing means that there may be a great deal of unnecessary inquiry, and I ask that the position of the unfortunate taxpayer should be considered——

The hon. Member cannot go into the question of payment on this Amendment.

Then I will only say that in the interests of the Bill itself and to ensure smooth working these wages boards should have before them the definite scope of their authority and the precise regions within which they can promote an inquiry.

I hope the Minister will not change his mind on this particular matter, because I do not think that the apprehensions expressed by my hon. Friends have much substance in them. If they will turn to the Second Schedule to the Bill, they will see that the wages board is——

This has not to do with wages boards but with powers of the committee.

That is true, but it states that any wages board may request the Minister to appoint a committee, that the board may refer to it for a report and recommendations on any matters relating to a category of workers. The terms of reference to the committee are laid down by the wages board, and if you have a responsible wages board, it is far wiser to rely on that board to remit to the committee only matters which are appropriate for it to consider rather than to leave Parliament to define the scope.

I am not convinced or satisfied by the arguments made in opposition to my Amendment. This Bill was introduced for the purpose of bettering remuneration, conditions, hours, wages and health of the catering industry and was not meant to go into all sorts of other realms. The Minister has said he wants these powers, but I submit that there are other organisations in industry which can always put up other points.

There are many other organisations which can put forward anything of that kind.

The hon. Member must know who they are. At any rate I do not intend to be drawn into an argument. I think it is a mistake not to lay down through the committees what they should consider, but if the Minister can tell us that he will give further consideration to the point between now and the next stage of the Bill, I am perfectly prepared to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: In page 4, line 44, leave out "that category of," and insert "those."—[ The Solicitor-General.]

I beg to move, in page 5, line 3, to leave out from the beginning, to the second "any," in line 4, and to insert "consider."

This Amendment shows how keen my right hon. Friend is to meet any points which appeared to have legitimate backing. A number of Amendments to this Sub-section have been put down to recast it, to make it a little clearer and to meet various objections which have been raised. At the same time it might meet with approval if we considered various other Amendments in page 5, lines 7, 8, 9, 11, 14 and 16. In its amended form the Clause would read as follows——

There is an Amendment which comes before that. I think it would be in order for the Committee to have a general discussion provided there was no discussion over other Amendments as they come up.

Is it quite clear that if the Parliamentary Secretary proceeds with his Amendment the important Amendment in page 5, line 7, to leave out from "operates," to the end of the Subsection, will be taken?

This is a drafting Amendment. We leave these words out and make the Sub-section read:

"In addition to the powers conferred on it by subsequent provisions in this Act any wages board shall have power to consider any matters affecting remuneration, etc."
and we add at the end:
"and may submit a report thereon."

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 5, line 7, to leave out from "operates" to the end of the Sub-section.

I do not think that the Amendment to which we have just agreed entirely covers the point, although I appreciate what the Committee has just done. I am speaking on behalf of the County Councils Association, and we have the agreement of other associations on the point. We contend very strongly that the Bill, which we are supporting, should deal with wages and service conditions only. We fear that, as now drawn, it gives somewhat of a roving commission to the Commission and the wages board.

The Parliamentary Secretary yesterday gave me an assurance.

We have a fear that it is too wide in its operation and that a roving commission is given, which we object to, because it would interfere with the rights, privileges and duties of local authorities. We fear that it might be possible for the wages board to make recommendations to the Board of Education on matters affecting the efficiency and development of school canteens, for instance. That is really a local government duty which should be dealt with between the Ministry of Education and the local government. We say that the proper course that that should take is that if the local government is not performing its duty in this respect, representations should be made to the local government either by Members of the House or by members of the authority to have the matter thrashed out in the light of the constitutional Measures now on the Statute Book, and we should not allow duplicate authorities to be set up which can go to the local authorities and perform this duty. This not only affects local authorities but other business, and it is very undesirable. In this Clause we are referring to the duty of the wages board and not the Commission, and I want the Minister to consider the matter as affecting the wages board. I hope he will give favourable consideration to the Amendment, which will eliminate the possibilities which we fear under the Bill as it stands.

Since when has the County Councils Association obtained power from the organised workers to come to the House and make suggestions which infer some kind of consultation with the trade unions? I appeal to you, Sir Robert. If the hon. Member quotes the County Councils Association as the body he represents, surely he should give the Committee an explanation.

It may be up to hon. Members to do so, but I have called another Member.

I think the interruption which was directed at my hon. Friend was a little uncalled for. He made it clear that this was an Amendment suggested by the County Councils Association. If any individual county council objects to the action of its Association, it has only to make its complaint in the usual way, or indeed it can discuss the matter before action is taken. I do not speak for the County Councils Association but purely as a private Member. My action on this Bill has been perfectly simple. I do not think it ought to have been introduced. It seems to me to have a number of unsatisfactory aspects, and we have moved a number of Amendments, of which this is one. I am not acting in collusion with my hon. Friend, though I have put my name to it. It seems a little curious that the right hon. Gentleman put down a previous Amendment which to some extent narrowed the power of the wages board, having refused, for precisely the same reason, to narrow the powers of the Commission. I think it is a modest improvement, but it does not go nearly far enough, because all it says is that the wages board may make any recommendations to the Minister, and those recommendations may affect the efficiency and development of that part of the industry in relation to which the board operates. I think that is really too wide. I do not think it is the job of this wages board to make recommendations about all kinds of matters.

The right hon. Gentleman will probably say that powers have been given under the Trade Boards Act to a number of trade boards to make recommendations if in the course of their investigations they happen to discover something that can be remedied in the industry and have them put right. That is rather a specious argument. There are a number of precedents for these words, but however many precedents there are, it does not justify the inclusion of words giving powers as wide as these. The right hon. Gentleman may also say that they are only recommendations and that, if the wages board makes unwise recommendations, or recommendations so wide that they ought not to be dealt with, he can turn them down, but there is the danger that they may be accepted by the Government and put into operation. The right hon. Gentleman may say that he has no power to do so and that fresh legislation would be needed to carry them out, but we cannot be so sure of that in wartime. The Government have very great powers under the Emergency Powers Act to make Regulations. If the right hon. Gentleman assured me that there is no power to implement any such recommendation under the Emergency Powers Act, I should not persist, but I believe it is profoundly wrong and dangerous that a wages board or Commission set up for this narrow purpose should be given powers to recommend all kinds of wide developments of the industry in the future.

I regard the retention of these words as vital. The wages board is a joint body of employers and workers and is independent, and the Bill gives them power to discuss the efficiency of their own industry. We discussed the matter at St. James's Square in view of some of these terrible fears, which are quite unreasonable. The only argument I have heard up to now is that I was going to use this power to interfere with the individual management of undertakings. That was the bogy raised in the Press, which apparently they have run away from entirely. [Interruption.] I am suggesting that the opponents of the Bill raised that in the first instance, but they have not pressed the point.

When this fear was pressed upon me I said that I would put in the words "general efficiency." I go further to-day. I am willing, in order to make my position clear as to what I want and to remove fears, to put the word "improvement" instead of "efficiency" to meet the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Robertson). I want the board to be able, in addition to discussing wages, hours and conditions to consider the improvement of the industry. In the development of industrial relationships the more we let these boards discuss the whole facts of their industry, instead of confining them to arguing about wages, the better industrial relations will be. I speak with a long experience. I have joined many times with many employers' organisations on mutual and common ground in order to secure the more efficient running of an industry and I am very glad to have done it. If the employer invests his capital in a business, and if the State has trained men and women and they go into the business, I take the view, which I hope will be accepted by the House, that those persons who invest their lives and careers in the industry are putting capital into it just as much as the employer who invests his money. Therefore they are entitled to make their contribution to making their capital more remunerative.

Surely it is not unreasonable to put in the Bill that the wages board should be able to discuss the industry. This is not, as the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) said, a facetious thing put in to butter the Bill. I look to many ideas coming out of these joint boards to help the development of the industry. The Bill would not be worth anything if we confined their discussions to wages alone. The workpeople have many ideas if they are given the opportunity to express them. Many improvements that we are using in this war are the outcome of suggestions of ordinary workpeople and they have been extremely valuable. I am so keen on the use of the combined intelligence of these boards in advising the industry and making reports which will help the Government to come to right conclusions, that I do not mind if we use the words "improvement" or "general efficiency." I will accept either as long as the power is there for the joint board to be able to put their heads together to help the industry.

I speak as one who has a considerable experience of wages boards, and I do not want to be thought to be opposing them or trying to hamper their operations, but it is my experience that a wages board functions best when it sticks to its last. If the Minister wants a body to deal with the efficiency and development of a particular industry—and this is an industry of enormously wide complications covering a large number of different branches—I suggest that he is entirely wrong in placing these duties on a wages board which must be of a specialist nature, and he ought to set up a separate organisation for the purpose and be frank about it. This Clause has raised the greatest difficulty and anxiety outside the House In relation to the Bill. Much of the opposition has been on points of far less importance which I am not concerned with. This is a matter about which everybody engaged in the industry is vitally concerned. The Clause would give the wages board the power to go into every detail of the industry—how many plates of soup a waiter should carry and that sort of thing. That is not the duty of a wages board. It is the duty of a quite different body of men. It is already done by such bodies as works councils.

There is in the Clause the further word "development." Is it possible that a wages board can among its other many duties, include a discussion of the development of the industry? It has an important part to carry out in discussing wages and conditions of employment and when it has done that it has performed a useful function. It certainly should not trespass into the much wider field of efficiency and development. If it did it would do the very thing which the Minister is seeking to avoid; it would put a clog on individual enterprise in development. People would say, "I do not know what the wages board will say if I set up this particular form of catering. I might be hampered by the board asking whether I was efficient." All of us in industry are conscious of peripatetic inquiries into efficiency which are often inefficient themselves. There is no question that wages boards should stick to wages and conditions only. I hope that the Minister will consider this matter again before the Report stage, otherwise it might drive some of us to oppose the Bill on that ground, which we should be sorry to do because in many other respects we gladly support the Minister in his main objective.

The Minister referred to the value of the working man and his advice. Nobody denies that there are a considerable number of that type of person on our local authorities who give very good advice in managing the bodies for which local authorities are responsible. Consequently, they are not depriving the working man of the opportunity of giving his advice in any way.

We appreciate the concessions which the Minister has made, but they still leave a large question untouched. The words which we are now considering may appear quite innocuous, but if there is a fear in the House and the country the Minister must take a certain amount of responsibility for it. The Minister just now drew a picture of the wages board and the work it might carry out. On Second Reading he pictured a complete re-development of the industry by this board. If there is one thing about which many of us feel strongly, it is that there is nothing more detrimental to the efficiency and the development of an industry than that the power should be withdrawn from the people responsible and put in the hands of a body without any responsibility to anyone. That is interference without knowledge and it can only be dangerous. Apart from that it seems to me and to many of my friends that the two functions of regulating wages and conditions of service and of considering the efficiency and development of the industry call for quite different powers. The men appointed to deal with wages and conditions need one type of mind and knowledge and the men who plan and develop a great industry should be a different sort of personnel altogether. I hope that the Minister will realise that this Clause rouses great anxiety in the country. But for it many of us would never have opposed the Bill, and if it remains as it is our opposition must continue.

I hope that the Minister will reconsider his attitude to these words. I rather doubt whether they are well drafted even for the purpose he has in mind. The hon. Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb), who moved the Amendment, used the argument that local authorities were rather perturbed whether these words would bring into consideration matters outside the catering which local authorities undertake. The local authorities on whose behalf he speaks are not the only local authorities to take that view. In my spare time I am an alderman of the London County Council, which is not in these days a Tory institution. The Parliamentary Committee of the Council, which has a majority of Socialist members upon it, has addressed to me a recommendation to support this Amendment. Because I am a member of the London County Council it does not mean that I am under any obligation to support anything they recommend, because I make up my own mind. When I received that recommendation I replied that I was not certain whether this could be supported purely on local government grounds, because if it is true that the London County Council run a catering service and that these words would bring in the power to examine other aspects of the work of the London County Council, it would apply also to any business that has a canteen. Therefore, the Minister, without realising it, may be conferring upon the wages boards designed to operate for the catering trade the power to look into matters completely outside the catering industry. The legal advisers of the organisations of local authorities have come to the conclusion that these words are undesirable because they represent the greatest degree of interference with the proper functions of the Minister of Health and others. I hear sundry burbles from behind from an hon. Member who likes to burble, but I would point out to him what he did not appear to realise, until I announced that on this occasion I am speaking at the request of a committee with a Socialist majority, that these people having heard, I presume, the best legal advice they could have, have come to the conclusion that these words contain dangers quite apart from others that have been indicated. Therefore, I ask the Minister to give urgent consideration to this matter; otherwise he will have mobilised against him in the later stages of the Bill a vast body of opinion inspired by quite different reasons from those which have inspired the opposition up to now.

I did not intend to intervene on this Amendment, but in view of the fact that my right hon. Friend has stated that he is willing to accept my Amendment changing the word "efficiency" to "improvement," I think I might make a few remarks, because I have some special knowledge of the catering trade. I am chairman of a small nautical catering trade company in London, and after some years of experience I have come to the conclusion that the industry is capable of great improvement, but that this can only be Drought about by getting both sides in the industry to come together as they will be brought together by wages boards. Single firms are unable on their own to take the effective action which is urgently demanded. I can think of many improvements which will result. In many London restaurants air-conditioning is urgently required. Have hon. Members been in kitchens and seen the conditions under which people have to work, with ranges which not only create heat for cooking food but cause the workers to sweat excessively? Such equipment might do for a bygone age when there was nothing better, but to-day better equipment is available.

Is the hon. Member aware that under Section 91 of the Public Health Act, 1875, it is already the duty of every local authority to abate a nuisance, and what he has described would be a nuisance within the terms of that Section?

I am not aware of that particular Section, but I am well aware that powers do exist, and equally well aware that they are not always applied. Anyone who knows the conditions prevailing in the restaurants run in Soho by foreigners would agree that the regulations referred to are not carried out.

My hon. Friend has referred to certain things which he says ought to be done. Would they not all be covered by the words "conditions of employment, health or welfare"?

I do not agree with that view. Let me give another example. In the public house trade, a very big section of this industry, the highest rate of mortality exists. I believe that state of affairs could be cured by tearing out the fronts of the older public houses, so that light and air could get in. That would improve the health of the workers, but it would cost a great deal of money, and it is only if every one in the industry is compelled to do it that such improvements can be secured. In many restaurants in London there is no adequate accommodation for the staff to take meals, or for washing up, or lavatory accommodation. Workers in kitchens work in a semi-naked condition, and there should be proper facilities for them to change their clothing. Many improvements are wanted, but they can only be brought about by both sides getting together and by prices being increased reasonably to permit of improvements being undertaken, because they are very much overdue. Then there is the matter of tipping.

The question of tipping has already been dealt with on a previous Amendment.

I only wanted to make the point that a great improvement could be effected in the remuneration of staffs through wages boards. Then prices could be increased and better wages paid and tips completely avoided.

I had not intended to intervene in this discussion, but the nervousness which I have felt for some time as to the meaning and effect of the words under discussion has certainly not been allayed by some of the speeches which I have heard. The speech of the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Robertson) fills me with dismay and I think must have caused even the Minister a certain amount of anxiety. Surely the matters to which he referred all fall within the terms "welfare and conditions of service"—except, possibly, the knocking down of the fronts of hotels and public houses, which seems to be a pretty tall order for a wages board dealing with a particular section of an industry.

Is it a tall order in an industry where the workers have the highest mortality in Great Britain?

I did not say that it was a tall order in itself, but rather a tall order for a wages board. Surely if that is an evil to be remedied it ought not to be done in a round-the-corner way by the machinery of a wages board intended for a very different purpose. Nor have my anxieties been allayed by the case made by the Minister himself. I do not like having to correct my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams), but if my understanding is correct I think he made a little mistake about the attitude of the Parliamentary Committee of the London County Council. My reading of the resolution was that they supported not this particular Amendment but another Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Stone (Sir. J. Lamb).

When the hon. Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) moved his Amendment, I was a bit dubious about the interpretation and I took the opportunity of consulting him, and his information confirms mine that it is these particular words that have given rise to the difficulty.

That is not a point which I think I ought to pursue here. It is one between myself and the hon. Member for South Croydon. I am frankly perturbed by the case which the Minister made. He delivered a powerful speech in support of these particular words and has claimed that the provisions of the Clause are of great value, of far reaching importance and of profound significance. I have read the Bill with considerable care and for that reason I deplore the position in which we find ourselves, while I am unfortunately obliged to accept the view expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Sir D. Hacking). I fail to find anywhere in the Bill any provision which gives either the Minister of Labour or any other Minister or Government Department any power whatever other than the power they already have to carry out any suggestions which may be made by a wages board. If there is no power to do it, surely it is surprising—if the Minister has nothing behind what he says—that he should be so vitally anxious that these wages boards should be the channel through which the views either of labour or employers on matters of this kind are to be conveyed to the authorities for their consideration. He may say that the Bill does one thing and I appreciate that it does. It does put upon Government Departments other than the Ministry of Labour an obligation to have regard to the existence of this machinery of the Commission and the wages boards. It pledges them to consider any recommendations which are made to them. That is something.

We have been asked to take a great deal on trust, and I am prepared to trust the ordinary Minister of the ordinary Government Department, without the stimulus of a Clause in a Bill, to consider—which is all they can do—any recommendations which come from any responsible statutory body. Why need these words be put in at all? If there were no other means by which employers or groups of employers, workers or groups of workers, could bring things to the notice of authority, where it has any power to intervene, then I could understand the Minister supporting these words, I could understand his putting up a mild case for them, but I could not even then understand the extreme urgency and zeal which he displayed and the great importance which he attached to them. But there are many organisations of employers and powerful organisations of workers in existence. It is true that up to the present the trade unions—to whom all honour for the great work they have done in other industries—have not been able to get a foothold in the catering industry. It is not for me to discuss why. There may be many views on why they have not, but it is a fact. The passing of this Bill must in my view, and I have no regrets about it, lead to a very much wider influx of trade unionism into the catering industry, so that through the ordinary channels of organised labour and of organised employers there will be ample opportunities for ideas which may be for the benefit of the whole trade or any section of it to be brought forward, ventilated and submitted to the appropriate Government Departments for any action which they can take. Therefore, I cannot see the reason for these words, and still less can I understand the great importance the Minister attaches to them, and he must not take it amiss if some of us become suspicious of what he has in his mind when his actions appear to be so completely inexplicable.

I have a feeling that some of the arguments in support of this Amendment are based upon a misunderstanding, and that this is particularly the case in the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for the Abbey Division (Sir H. Webbe). He said that he would not be supporting this Amendment if in the industry there were representatives of workers and employers who would be able to make representations of this kind to the Government. I think he has overlooked the fact that the wages boards are to be set up only in cases where the Commission has investigated the conditions and has found that there are no organisations representing the employers and the employed parties respectively.

I do not like to interrupt my hon. Friend, but surely wages boards are to be set up where there is no organised method of dealing with wages and conditions. In the catering trade there already exist many organisations of employers and some organisations of employees but they are not directly organised to deal with wages and conditions. There are no circumstances of the kind in which I can see that a wages board can be set up.

I take it that, in cases where there is a reasonable organisation representative of employers and employees able to deal with these matters, there would be no need for it, and the situation would not arise. Another clear example of the sort of misunderstanding in my hon. Friend's contention was illustrated by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Cyril Lloyd). He spoke about undue interference in the administration of individual concerns, and, as an example of what he has in mind, he spoke of wages boards laying down the number of plates of soup which might be carried by an individual waiter. That is again a thing covered, not in the words which it is proposed to leave out, but under the conditions of employment.

I take it as quite clear that it would come under the conditions of employment. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I feel that the Minister of Labour has made it clear that it is not his intention that there should be any undue interference, or interference at all, with the administration of individual concerns and that he has stated in his speech that he is prepared either to accept the word "improvement" in the place of "efficiency" or, if it is more acceptable to the Committee, to insert the word "general," which does, I feel, cover completely the case which has been put forward.

We have had this problem discussed from various points of view, and I thought it might be helpful to the Committee if I considered it from three aspects which had been dealt with up to now. The first is, to put on one side the red light which my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) has suggested about the actual wording of the Clause. My hon. Friend expressed the fear, and said that it was shared by certain of his informants, that it might apply to other activities of local authorities, and indeed to industrial concerns. As I construe these words, when one reads about the general efficiency, or improvement as is foreshadowed in the Amendment, and development of that part of the industry in relation to which the board operates, that is clearly confined to the catering industry and could not, by any stretch of interpretation, be taken outside it. Although my hon. Friend very rightly mentioned it, he only directed our attention to it, and did not elaborate any argument for a different interpretation. Frankly, I have not been able to find one.

I come to the next point, which the Committee has to face, and that is: Is there any Member of the Committee who is against an increase in the general efficiency or, if you will, improvement or development of the industry? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I gather that every one would say that we are all in favour of that. Therefore, there is no desire and no suggestion that the improvement and development of the industry do not require all the assistance and good will that they can get from anyone who is prepared to give it. That is the postulate from which we start. Now we come to two points that have been raised as to the actual method. My bon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Cyril Lloyd) suggested that this was interference. That word has been bandied about before. We must bear in mind who are going to give the consideration. They are wages boards, with certain independent members and representatives of employers and workmen. I have listened with great care to all the argument that has been advanced by the opponents of this board, and I cannot see, and I cannot understand, how my hon. Friend has sought to prove it, nor can I understand the suggestion coming from him that a body including representatives of both sides of the industry is unfit to consider questions involving its improvement and development. It is difficult to consider any other body that would be more fit, and I really do fail to understand how my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley can term it interference when that body contains representatives of both sides of the industry. How is it interfering? It is merely considering, and considering with perfect propriety, the condition of its own house.

I may have used the word "interference," but I am not conscious that I did so, and I do not think I did use it. My point is that a wages board is not a suitable body for considering the development and efficiency of the industry.

I am prepared to meet that point. I certainly understood my hon. Friend to use the term "interference," but if I am wrong I apologise at once. It certainly has been used, and if I have attributed it wrongly to my hon. Friend, I apologise. I hasten to meet his argument. Again, he says that a wages board is not suitable to consider the improvement or development of an industry. That is what we have been looking for. The same argument that I have advanced a few moments ago surely applies to the consideration now put forward by my hon. Friend. They are representatives of employers and employed in the industry, with an independent leaven who are there to ease the matter. I should have been very surprised if my hon. Friend, with regard to the industry of which he is so distinguished a member, had said that a body, a representative, responsibly appointed body, of workers and employers, was not a suitable body to make general suggestions as to the improvement and development of the industry. The fact that they have been appointed with the primary purpose of considering the wages and conditions of labour and of welfare in that industry seems to give them added weight and responsibility on the general question.

Is the Solicitor-General not aware that very often an organisation of employers will send to a wages board somebody from their directorate who is experienced in regard to the problems of employment and wages and such matters, whereas if they want somebody to represent them on the subject of trade development, they send an entirely different person? It is just like asking a surgeon to perform the functions of a physician.

I am sure the Solicitor-General does not wish in any way to be unfair. May I ask him to make clear the character of these wages boards in another particular? He has quite rightly explained their function and how they are constituted, but he has not stressed what seems to me to be very relevant to this matter, that each wages board will not be representative of the industry but only of a section of the industry with which it is charged to deal. It is a sectional body, and seems, to be the wrong kind of body to deal with general questions of improvement and development.

May I, without judging the relevant importance of these interruptions, take them in chronological order and deal with them? My hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon, who is showing such intense interest in the matter at the moment, made a point. As with most points that he makes, it is a good debating point for the moment, but, like a few of his points, a very few, it does not carry consideration for very long. I will put this to my hon. Friend. In the one case the difference which he has suggested between some member of a directorate specially concerned with labour who has not any knowledge of the industry as a whole is, to my mind an unfortunate and I hope rare individual. That does not apply here, because this is new machinery, and wages boards are to be given this power. I do not accept from my hon. Friend or from anyone else that employers' associations are so poor in material that they cannot find somebody who can perform this double function. I do not accept it for a moment.

The important thing is to get the best man to do the job. I know that the Solicitor-General is in great difficulties, and that is why he is speaking in this fashion. If he has a bad throat, he goes to a laryngologist, but if he is suffering from some other complaint, he goes to a specialist in that complaint. In industry everybody specialises, just as doctors and lawyers do. If I want a barrister I go to a barrister, but if I only want a solicitor I go to a solicitor.

I do not want to go at great length into the recesses of industry with which my hon. Friend is so particularly acquainted. I put the matter to the general sense of the Committee that to suggest that in any ordinary catering establishment you cannot find a director who, in addition to his own knowledge of wages and conditions, has not a general feeling and acquaintance with his industry sufficient to enable him to consider a problem of this sort is a travesty of the facts. I leave it to the sense of the Committee.

I promised to deal with the point raised by the hon. Member for the Abbey Division (Sir H. Webbe), which was that the wages board was, under the words we are considering, representative of only part of an industry. My hon. Friend said that as it was dealing only with the wages of a part of the industry, it could not make recommendations as to the improvement or development of the industry as a whole. Will that contention really stand consideration? Let us take any section of the industry. Suppose that the wages board has been held in relation to public houses, to seaside boarding houses, or seaside hotels. I was going to say that I had great experience of public houses. Then I thought that might be misinterpreted. But I did intend to say that for a great part of my professional life I had, among other things, made applications for licences for public houses and considered the requirements of all the bodies, not only the licensing justices, but every other body that has laid down and dealt with the place of the public house in the nation.

I say that it is absolutely absurd, with respect, apart from the fact my hon. Friend suggested, to suggest that those who are concerned with the supplying and direction of public houses do not know about the general state of the catering industry. I am equally sure that applies to those who are concerned with hotels and indeed with boarding houses in the various seaside places, whose case was so eloquently put before us yesterday by a number of hon. Members who represent them. They know what they are talking about. They are concerned, and as was clear from the speeches by the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight (Captain P. Macdonald) and the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) and a number of others yesterday, their constituents know very well the future of the industry on which they so largely depend, and are keen upon it.

I suggest—and I hope the hon. Member for the Abbey Division will not take my use of the word "absurd" in any sense other than a debating one; he knows it would be the last thing I should desire to do—that when you consider that these boards come into operation, I agree for the primary purpose of considering wages and conditions, but with the secondary purpose, which is clear before them of considering development and improvement, the fact that they may primarily be concerned with wages and conditions is no disadvantage. It is a point on which my hon. Friends in many quarters of the House feel strongly, and it is a point on which the Minister has expressed his own concern. Therefore I do want to say that whatever be our primary views—and in this Committee every possible view as to the relation between industry and Government Departments in their widest sense is represented—we have in this case to consider whether or not we approve of this principle, which is that members of the industry representing both sides of the industry brought to consider important questions in the industry should be allowed to make representations as to its future, its improvement and its development. I submit that when we consider the machinery of supply it would be a great misfortune if it went out that in this Committee we did not want a representative body of both sides of the industry to perform that beneficent task.

On a point of Order. During the Debate on this particular Amendment the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams), if I may remind the Committee, used an argument which certainly seemed to serve him well, that he was privileged now to be in a position to speak for the London County Council, and he used their good name in the argument that they favoured this Amendment we are now discussing. I was very concerned at the time——

I ask the hon. Member to remember that this is a point of Order.

I am listening, but the hon. Gentleman has not yet come to his point of Order.

It is simply that when the claim was made the hon. Member referred to a letter which he had, but he did not produce it. The letter is here. The L.C.C. ——

May I put a point to you, Sir Robert, that there is a point of correction to be made? In what way would an hon. Member be in Order to correct the statement made by the hon. Member for South Croydon? I know as well as the hon. Member who raised the point of Order that that statement was incorrect. I think that ought to be said in the Committee.

If the hon. Member had interrupted the hon. Member for South Croydon, he would probably have given way for a correction. If the hon. Member wishes to make a correction or contradiction, he must do so by being called in Debate.

I venture to suggest to the Committee that whatever words we leave in this Clause, whatever words we take out of this Clause, as a matter of fact when the wages boards are set up the members of them will discuss among themselves all sorts of questions relating to the welfare of their industry. They will in fact discuss them. Therefore it seems to me that the issue between the Government and those who support this Amendment is a very narrow one. It is really this, that when that discussion has taken place in a wages board, are the members of that board, if they so desire, to be in a position to report what they think about the subject through the Commission to a Government Department? Is that Department bound to pay attention to what they say? That is really the point at issue. Surely once we realise that the members of these boards will discuss these matters, it is not very reasonable to say that they shall not be allowed to put their opinions on them before the proper quarter. It is only an expression of opinion. They are not to be given any legislative power, no power to issue regulations. They are to be given the opportunity to express their opinion on these questions through the Commission to the Government Department affected. It seems to me that, as the Minister said, it is not merely whether they will do this; it is very desirable they should discuss things themselves, and if they discuss them, it seems to me obviously foolish that we should deprive ourselves of the benefit of knowing what they think about them.

I intervene merely for the purpose of putting in Order a repudiation of the statement made by the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams). I do not intend to take any further part in the discussion of this Clause. The hon. Member left to the Committee the impression that he had been explicity asked by the Parliamentary Committee of the L.C.C. to support this Amendment. That statement is not correct. The hon. Member was not asked by the Parliamentary Committee. He made a great to-do about that Committee being one which had a majority of Socialists, which would have been a point of substance if the statement he made had been correct. The letter had nothing to do with this Amendment, except so far as the hon. Member himself likes to imagine, or to suggest, that it had. It referred to another Amendment entirely, and the impression left by the hon. Member is entirely incorrect.

I take it that you will permit me, Mr. Williams, to deal with the matter. I am sorry there has been so much heat and so much misapprehension. If hon. Members will read page 161 of the Amendments, they will find there a new Clause in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb). That has the support of all the local government authorities, because they want to make sure, beyond any conceivable doubt, that the evil shall not arise.

We must leave the new Clause until we come to it.

I only want to refer to it in reference to the question of misstatement. The particular communication in the letter had direct reference to the new Clause. I approached the hon. Member for Stone and said I wanted to make sure that this Amendment was in part related to the new Clause. He was kind enough to let me have the note, and I satisfied myself that there was a relation between the two matters. Therefore, there was no misstatement.

I cannot agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Lewis) that this is a narrow matter. Frankly, the words which it is proposed to leave out are a stumbling block to many of us who are in general agreement with the objects of the Bill. I was associated years ago with someone well known to Members of this House, Mr. Mallon, in the anti-sweating movement; I subscribed to the funds of his campaign, and I have been associated a great deal with the sort of thing that the Minister has at heart in putting forward this Bill. But I hope that hon. Members will try to realise what is the point worrying so many of us. Many of the speeches I have heard on this Clause, particularly that of my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Robertson), dealt with things which are wholly within the sphere of the Commissioners under the words:

"affecting the remuneration, conditions of employment, health or welfare of all or any of the workers…"
When he spoke of workers working in particularly difficult conditions—he mentioned Soho—I had the greatest sympathy with him, and so, I think, did all hon. Members. There is nothing that any hon. Member would not do to secure the abolition of such conditions. But can people really say that those conditions cannot be dealt with if we leave out the words:
"affecting the efficiency and development,"
etc., and leave in the words:
"affecting the remuneration, conditions of employment, health or welfare…"
A Commissioner who, in view of those words, failed to deal with conditions such as we have heard of would be guilty of serious breach of duty. Many of us strongly believe in private enterprise. We believe that after this war if we are to have the things we want, such as the Beveridge Report—and I voted against the Government on the question of a Minister of Social Security—we have to bring about a great expansion of private industry. I think it is the duty of the Government to assist that expansion in every way they can.

I do not think it would be fair to the Committee if I allowed one hon. Gentleman to begin a discussion of private enterprise. I should have to allow others to continue the discussion.

I am sorry. I should have confined my remarks to the question of the efficiency and development of this industry—no doubt very different things. But many of us believe that if we are to have efficiency and development of industry we cannot tuck the matter away in a side drawer of a Measure which deals with something else. This Bill deals with the remuneration and conditions in the catering industry. If we are to put in some of these matters, which we regard as most important, of post-war development at the tag-end of matters of this kind we are doing a very great disservice to them. If you put in here a Clause about the efficiency and development of industry, you give the impression that that is not the primary object of this Clause. Indeed, the Solicitor-General said that it was not; he said that it was a secondary object. I do not want it to be a secondary object, If we are going to deal with efficiency and development of industry, let us have a special Measure. I am going to put a Motion on the Order Paper about the Board of Trade and their function in regard to the efficiency and development of industry.

The hon. Member is really extending his remarks on this subject very widely.

If we can have these words taken out of the Bill, the objection which many of us feel to the Bill will be almost entirely removed, subject to any consequential Amendments that may be moved. I ask the Minister to agree to the removal of these words, and he will then find that many of us who have spoken on these Amendments will be helpful to him in getting the Bill through.

I cannot accept the position that a workman sitting on the board can be only a hewer of wood and a drawer of water. I really cannot accept that position.

We are not asking the right hon. Gentleman to accept that. That is quite a different matter.

I suggest that the whole tenour of this Debate is that the wages board shall deal only with wages, health and welfare. That is what you want me to say. I really cannot accept that. I stand my ground on the Motion that this House passed in 1917, and I cannot go back on the Whitley Committee Report that this House then accepted. The Report said:

"to secure the largest possible measure of joint action between employers and workpeople for the development of the industry as a part of the national life."
[An HON. MEMBER: "Does not that refer to the Whitley councils?"] These boards are, in industries where no machinery exists, a substitute, but I hope an effective substitute, for joint industrial councils. If they are not that, they are not worth establishing. I must give to these people who have to operate these wages boards the same right of expression as they would have if they were in a strongly organised union. I have been charged with doing this to try and increase trade unions. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chorley (Sir D. Hacking) raised this point yesterday and said that many of my friends in the trade unions have opposed legal regulation. I am not even one of them. I have always taken the generous view that it is the duty of the man in the union who is strong enough to defend himself to use his power and influence to provide machinery for the benefit of men and women who are incapable of defending themselves. I stand on that. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is that that we are asking."] Then we are in agreement. I am not unconciliatory, but I cannot conciliate on a vital principle. It was said earlier in the discussions that I was interfering with individual management, and no one has substantiated that or argued it except my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. C. Lloyd).

I have made the position perfectly clear. I happen to be a member too of the wages board of the steel trade. My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Summers) will remember that, with good friends in his trade, I helped to found the board in his trade at the end of the last war. Let me tell my hon. Friends that within 12 months of fixing the Galvanising Trade Conciliation Board—and this board deals with efficiency and development—we were compelled to meet the Government representative through the whole deflation period in order to restore our foreign trade. Can my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley deny that on his own wages board we discussed questions of tariffs in order to make representations to this House? All these questions have been discussed on wages boards, and I do not want to deny—and that is all for which I am asking—the opportunity of the wages board for this industry to discuss their economic problems. It can be said that on the recently established wages board as a result of the Lord Greene Committee—and it has been approved by the Government, and the board is parallel with this—they are going to discuss every problem almost of the mining industry. I only say that I put these words into this Bill—perhaps I made them too short—to try and express that which is observed in nearly every industry in this country. I tried to find just two words which would give to the board an opportunity to discuss these problems and report and give the industry or the Government the benefit of their knowledge.

As it created a kind of fear that the word "efficiency" might open out a door, which I did not intend, I accepted the word "improvement." To ask either now or at a later stage that I should deprive both sides on these boards of an opportunity of discussing things vital to their own material interest and for the development of their industry and their well-being and of getting the proper results of their efforts is to ask for something to which I cannot agree.

I have waited for some time to find an Amendment which I could reasonably support. In spite of what the right hon. Gentleman the Minister has said, I still consider that this Amendment would be of advantage to this Measure, and I propose to give my reasons. The right hon. Gentleman referred to Whitley Councils and to machinery for joint action for improvement in industry, and there is no Member of this Committee who is not in favour of that. But that is not the whole of the case. Because you may be in favour of machinery for joint action, it does not mean that it is advisable to use a wages board, except primarily, as in this case, for dealing with wages, or that that same board is the type of board which can usually be improved, in dealing with that which requires great skill—the development and conduct of industry. I can understand the need for setting up powers to deal primarily with the development of industry as such, which is an entirely different matter, but to bring in the development and improvement of industry by the back door, as a secondary part of a board's duty, is an entirely wrong method of dealing with the matter, and if this Amendment is divided upon—and I hope it will be—I shall support it.

I feel that this is the most important Clause in the whole of the Bill, and it has been shown to me, as I have always regarded it, that there is a very great point of principle underlying it. I am afraid that I for one have not been convinced by what the Minister has said. He has told us many times that he does not mean certain things and that it is not his intention to use the words proposed in their literal sense, and that he has no intention of trying to interfere with the management of an individual company. I know that his word is as good as his bond, and I accept what he says with regard to this Measure, but that is not the point which has been made all the way through on various other Amendments. You have to go by what is in the Bill when it becomes an Act. It is on the words of the Act of Parliament that the Judges of the High Court base their decisions. All we know here is that the right hon. Gentleman is giving these committees the power to go into the question of efficiency and development. It is said to me that their power is very limited because they cannot do anything. They report, but their power of recommendation is very great. It is said also that when they report there is no power in the Bill to do anything about it. That is ridiculous. If the Government can do nothing about it when they have reported, why bring this within the Bill at all? There is a very great principle involved here. Without being offensive to hon. Members opposite, I must say that I think this is the first round of the great question whether business should be run by private enterprise or by the State——

With the greatest respect, Mr. Williams, I have drawn my conclusions from these words as to what I think the dangers are. We are discussing the Bill, which deals with wages, hours and conditions. We thought that this was wrong at the time; perhaps we were wrong, and perhaps the Minister was right, but at any rate we have the genuine fear that efficiency and development may be handicapped by, say, a future House of Commons and perhaps another Minister. It is making a start with State interference of private enterprise, and we feel we are justified in resisting. I do not think the Minister has met all the points that were made, and I hope my hon. Friends will persist in their opposition.

I do not want to detain the Committee for more than a few moments, but the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Bourne-mouth (Sir L. Lyle) has brought me to my feet. He thinks private enterprise will be endangered by this Bill. Has he forgotten what happened in 1917? I remember that my husband made a speech in this House that year about these wages boards and warning industry that it had better prepare for reconstruction after the war. As one who has watched industry all this time from a social and moral point of view, I do not believe there is too much we can say about what wages boards have done. I am a believer in private enterprise, but if private enterprise is frightened of this Bill, it is doomed. I do not believe that some of the opponents of this Bill are as frightened as my hon. Friend of the future. I do not say that all opponents are fighting from the same point of view, but there is one point of view—the old die-hard Tory point of view—that does not want to change anything. There is only one point of view more dangerous than that, and that is the extreme left point of view.

Would the Noble Lady mind keeping off points of view that might be dangerous, otherwise she might raise a little heat?

The last thing in the world I want to do is to raise heat, but I think the Minister has been extraordinarily conciliatory. I do not always back him, but I think we who have been interested in trying to get trade boards in the catering industry could have been subjected to a smashing attack by the Minister, if he had so desired. But he has not done it. I could have given him ammunition which would have made some Members thoroughly ashamed of their point of view. I hope that my hon. Friends will not vote against this Amendment. If they do they will be putting themselves into a foolish position.

Is the Noble Lady in Order in talking of trade boards when they are not before the Committee?

The last thing I heard was the Noble Lady giving advice as to how to vote on this Amendment, and that seemed to me to be largely in Order.

One of the points the Minister made was of importance. He pointed out that you cannot put workers on these boards. All over the country people are watching the House of Commons to see whether workers will get the same privileges as they have had during the war. These privileges have not led to failure. Remember the steel trade and Sir Arthur Pugh, one of the most valuable men England has ever possessed. The steel trade considered tariffs and every sort of question and was a success. One hon. Member said that the board would have power to make recommendations. Does he not want them to recommend the best for their trade? In doing that, they would be recommending what is best for the country. As a stout believer in private enterprise, I can say that it will be greatly endangered if hon. Members look backward and are frightened of looking forward.

I have listened to the whole of the Debate on this Amendment, and I must confess that I cannot make up my mind whether Members are making a debating point or whether they expect and anticipate that the Minister will make a concession. My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir L. Lyle) has just said that the Bill deals with hours, wages and conditions, but if that was the beginning and ending of this Clause, why does he not take exception to the words "conditions of employment, health or welfare"? These words are quite outside the purview of wages and hours. My hon. Friend takes no exception to these words. Will anyone suggest that conditions of employment, health or welfare are part of wages?

These questions are always fully dealt with when modern wages agreements are discussed.

I should be happy to accept that view with the proviso that if we accept the view that a wages board should include conditions of employment, health or welfare, why does my hon. Friend take exception to the words:

"affecting the efficiency and development of that part of the industry in relation to which the board operates"?
To my mind it is part and parcel of the same thing, and I cannot help thinking that this is a debating point rather than a real difference of opinion.

Will the Minister tell us why he gives these powers to the wages board, which is dealing with only a section of the industry, and withholds it from the Commission as a whole, which is considering the industry as a whole? In other words, why does he put it into Clause 6 instead of Clause I?

If I had put it into Clause 1, all the opposition that has been offered to the point would be valid since the Commission would have been given power to- roam over the whole industry. Therefore I put it into Clause 6, in order that it should be given not to the independent Commission but to the employers and workpeople on the wages board who would have the right to discuss the problems of their own section of the industry.

I should like to mention one or two reasons which I have not heard mentioned yet which to my mind justify the inclusion of the words "efficiency and development," or some such words, in the Clause. Anyone listening to the Debate would, I think, find himself somewhat confused at the disparity in the arguments used by supporters of the Amendment. On the one hand, we have those who moved it on the ground that it is putting undesirable powers into the hands of the Commission and the wages board and, on the other hand, the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Colegate) says it is not doing proper justice to this task, namely, the improvement of the industry, to tack it on to the end of a piece of machinery which is properly dealing with wages. I have felt it difficult to agree whole-heartedly with the Minister's point of view, because the Board of Trade is logically the right Department of the State to handle the development of industry, and, that being so, it appears at first sight somewhat illogical to give to the Ministry of Labour a task outside that which it is normally set up to undertake. If, however, the other point of view is taken and some machinery is set up to enable the Board of Trade to discharge the task which logically falls to it, and it is desired to do that, the dilemma at once arises that there will be two pieces of machinery, one dealing with wages, conditions and welfare and the other with the improvement and development of the industry. The hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) suggested that the personnel who might be expected to comprise the wages board would not be competent to deal with such matters as the improvement and development of the industry. If it is to do justice to its task in dealing with wages, it is essential that it should have representatives who are competent to deal not only with wages but with the general conditions of the industry as well. If they are not capable of fulfilling the dual function, they are not satisfactory representatives to deal with the single function, and on this ground I dismiss as unconvincing the notion that the dual task cannot be carried out by the Wages Board.

The Minister mentioned the part that he played in the formation of the Galvanising Conciliation Board, and he mentioned my name. From such knowledge as I have of the working of that piece of conciliation machinery, it is clear that, ancillary to the proper working of that board, there is discussion on matters affecting the general improvement and development of industry. As far as I am aware, it is not resented in any way by the people who comprise that board, and on this ground it would seem to me an unnecessary restriction of the time and activities of the people who are devoting themselves to this task to say, "You shall be debarred from having a channel through which your views on the future of the industry shall be brought to the notice of people in a position to do something about it."

There is another reason which on broad grounds seems to me to support the idea of having a dual function for the wages board. Trade unions in an industry where no outside machinery to fulfil their normal tasks exists have an opportunity, through the contacts that they have with the management, for considering, it may be tariffs, it may be new plant, it may be the movement of industry or matters affecting the general interest of the trade upon which in the last resort the wages that can be paid rest, and therefore it seems quite wrong to discuss in vacuo what is proper to be paid without any regard to the steps that might require to be taken to enable the industry itself to support the conditions recommended by these bodies. [Interruption.] I do not think the Committee would wish me to digress into what the hon. Member would regard as the machinations of the steel industry. I am prepared at any other time to defend the working of that industry to my heart's content, but I do not think it has much relevance to Clause 6 of this Bill. I would ask that the long-term view should be borne in mind, to give the representatives of the workers in the industry an opportunity of bringing their knowledge, their hopes, their desires concerning the welfare of the industry as a whole into contact with the employers, so that each may have a better understanding of the point of view of the other and, by consultation and discussion, remove that barrier between the two sides which in the past has tended to be far more rigidly enforced than many of us feel to be desirable at present. I do not see why those dual functions of the board should become reversed from what is intended—wages development primarily and the general trade discussion secondarily. So long as that relative position is preserved, I see no reason why the second function should not be a useful and practical part which

Division No. 14.


Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)Fyfe, Major Sir D. P. M.Mander, G. Ie M.
Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)Gallacher, W.Marshall, F.
Albery, Sir IrvingGardner, B. W.Martin, J. H.
Ammon, C. G.Gates, Major E. E.Mathers, G
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Lloyd (P'broke)Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Aske, Sir R. W.Gibbins, J.Molson, A. H. E.
Astor, Visc'tess (Plymouth, Sutton)Goldie, N. B.Montague, F.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)Green, W. H. (Deptford)Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge)
Barr, J.Grenfell, D. R.Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham N.)
Barstow, P. G.Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)
Bartlett, C. V. O.Grimston, R. V.Muff, G.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.Groves, T. E.Murray, J. D. (Spennymoor)
Beattie, F. (Cathcart)Gunston, Major Sir D. W.Nicholson, Captain G. (Farnham)
Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)Guy, W. H.Oldfield, W. H.
Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'tsm'h)Hammersley, S. S.O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.
Beech man, N. A.Hannah, I. C.Paling, W.
Bellenger, F. J.Hardie, AgnesParker, J.
Benson, G.Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.Pearson, A.
Bevin, Rt. Hon. E.Harvey, T. E.Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton
Bird, Sir R. B.Henderson, J. (Ardwick)Price, M. P.
Boulton, W. W.Henderson, T. (Tradeston)Quibell, D. J. K.
Bower, Norman (Harrow)Higgs, W. F.Reakes, G. L. (Wallasey)
Bowles, F. G.Hill, Prof. A. V.Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham (St. M.)
Broad, F. A.Hinchingbrooke, ViscountReid, W. Allan (Derby)
Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.Ridley, G.
Brooke, H. (Lewisham)Hollins, A. (Hanley)Robertson, D. (Streatham)
Brown, T. J. (Ince)Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown)Salt, E. W.
Buchanan, G.Horabin, T. L.Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey, W.)
Bullock, Capt. M.Hurd, Sir P. A.Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Burden, T. W.Hutchinson, G. C. (Ilford))Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Burke, W. A.Hutchison, Lt.-Com. G. I. C. (E'burgh)Silkin, L.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A.Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)Silverman, S. S.
Campbell, Sir E. T. (Bromley)John, W.Smith, E. (Stoke)
Cape, T.Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. (St'l'g & C'km'n)Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Cary, R. A.Jones, A. C. (Shipley)Smith, T. (Normanton)
Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)Keir, Mrs. CazaletSorensen, R. W.
Charleton, H. C.Kendall, W. D.Spearman, A. C. M.
Cluse, W. S.Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.Key, C. W.Storey, S.
Cocks, F. S.Kirby, B. V.Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Colindridge, F.Kirkwood, D.Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray & Nairn)
Cove, W. G.Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Summers, G. S.
Culverwell, C. T.Lawson, J. J.Sutcliffe, H.
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)Leach, W.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)Leslie, J. R.Thomas, I. (Keighley)
De Chair. Capt. S. S.Lewis, O.Thorne, W.
Denman, Hon. R. D.Linstead, H. N.Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)
Dobbie, W.Lipson, D. L.Tomlinson, G.
Douglas, F. C. R.Little, Dr. J. (Down)Turton, R. H.
Driberg, T. E. N.Lucas, Major Sir J. M.Viant, S. P.
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)McCorquodale, Malcolm S.Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)
Dugdale, John (W. Bromwhich)McEntee, V. La T.Walkden, E. (Doncaster)
Dunn, E.McEwan, Capt. J. H. F.Walker, J.
Edmondson, Major Sir J.McGhee, H. G.Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Edwards, Walter J. (Whitechapel)Mack, J. D.Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Etherton, RalphMcKle, J. H.Watson, W. McL.
Foot, D. M.MacLaren, A.Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Foster, W.Maclean, N. (Govan)Welsh, J. C.
Frankel, D.Magnay, T.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. (Blaydon)
Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Maitland, Sir A.Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Fremantle, Sir F. E.Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E.Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)

the people engaged on the wages board could fulfil.

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, "That the words 'or affecting the' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 193; Noes, 42.

Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)Wootton-Davies, J. H.TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Windsor, W.York, Major C.Mr. J. P. L. Thomas and Mr. Pym.
Winterton, Rt. Hon. EarlYoung, A. S. L. (Partick)
Woodburn, A.Young, Sir R. (Newton)


Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.Fox, Flight-Lieut. Sir G. W. G.Procter, Major H. A.
Blair, Sir R.Furness, Major S. N.Radford, E. A.
Bossom, A. C.Gower, Sir R. V.Raikes, Flight-Lieut. H. V. A. M.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. (Cleveland)Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.Smithers, Sir W.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)Hannon, Sir P. J. H.Sykes, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. Sir F. H.
Bull, B. B.Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.Thomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'th'm'tn)
Burghley, LordHenderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N. E.)Touche, G. C.
Colegate, W. A.Hopkinson, A.Watt, F. C. (Edinburgh, Cen.)
Craven-Ellis, W.Kimball, Major L.Wayland, Sir W. A.
Davison, Sir W. H.Levy, T.Webbe, Sir W. Harold
Doland, G. F.Loftus, P. C.Wells, Sir S. Richard
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G.Lyle, Sir C. E. LeonardWilliams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Elliston, Captain G. S.Macdonald, Captain Peter (I. of W.)
Emery, J. F.Peters, Dr. S. J.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Emmott, C. E. G. C.Petherick, Major M.Mr. C. Lloyd and Sir Joseph

Amendment made: In page 5, line 7, after "the," insert "general."—[ Mr. Bevin.]

I beg to move, in page 5, line 7, to leave out "efficiency," and to insert "improvement."

Surely we ought to have a word of explanation from the hon. Member who has moved the Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed."] In the mind of the hon. Member there is obviously some difference between the significance of "improvement" and "efficiency." Though certain hon. Members are not anxious that Bills should be discussed, it is not unreasonable to ask the hon. Member the meaning of his Amendment.

I am very pleased to satisfy my hon. Friend. It seems to me there is a considerable difference in the meaning of these two English words, and I think that efficiency was an ill-chosen word. It might well be resented by many member's of the catering trade who support this Bill, and they include very large firms indeed. One would imagine in listening to the Debate that the catering trade is against the Bill. I know of no one in the catering trade who is against paying fair wages and giving good conditions. I feel that the word "improvement" is the better word, because all that we have heard from the Minister indicates that what he has in mind is the general improvement of the whole industry, or sections of the industry, and no one who knows anything about the industry can deny that improvement is very badly wanted. I do not want to take up time, but if my hon. Friend would like a further explanation I could keep the Committee going for several hours.

Having regard to the fact that the hon. Member has now convinced the hon. Members behind him that the Amendment is one they can safely vote for I should like to announce that I support it also.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In page 5, line 8, at the end, insert "and may submit a report thereon,"

In line 9, leave out "recommendation," and insert "report."

In line 11, leave out "recommendation," and insert "report."—[ Mr. McCorquodale.]

I beg to move, in page 5, line 12, to leave out "government department concerned," and to insert "Minister."

This Amendment raises a point of substance. At the moment the Minister is responsible for the general administration of this Bill, and I should have thought that, in accordance with the usual practice, if that involves communications with other Departments of State, the Minister and not this Commission should deal with the other Ministers affected. Constitutionally the Amendment raises a point of some substance, and I hope the Minister will just explain why this somewhat unusual procedure is adopted here.

We had a long Debate on this subject on Clause 2, and I do not think it would be right to repeat every argument for the sake of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams), who was not able to be here.

Amendment negatived.

Amendments made:

In page 5, line 14, leave out "recommendation," and insert "report."

In line 16, leave out "recommendadation," and insert "report."—[ Mr. McCorquodale.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Under this Clause any wages board will have the power to consider conditions of employment, such as the making of provision for employees of long service who have to retire through no fault of their own. When a board considers conditions of employment it should most certainly take into account the desirability of having superannuation schemes in certain circumstances. I think the Committee will agree that it is desirable to avoid a repetition of some present day conditions, where an employee can render valuable service in the same firm for most of his working life only to find himself up against it when he is too old to carry on.

Such a state of affairs is more frequent than is generally known, and it is to be found in the most unlikely quarters. Let me give one example. A constituent of mine, aged 76, after 36 years' service in a luxury hotel was dismissed with a week's notice on the ground that he had been there too long. If his services had to be dispensed with because he was too old, that is to some extent understandable, but what is not understandable is that after 36 years' faithful service he was given no bonus and no pension, not even a letter of thanks. The shock of his treatment has made him ill. But this poor old man cannot afford to be ill. The hotel to which I am referring is the Ritz Hotel, London. When this matter was brought to my notice my first act was to try to find out whether there was another side to the question. So, two months ago, I wrote to the chairman of the Board of the Ritz Hotel. Since then seven letters have passed between us but no reason has yet been given why this constituent of mine has been treated in this mean manner. If there was good reason for so doing, why was I not told?

On a point of Order. Has the correspondence between the hon. and gallant Member and the hotel manager anything to do with the question before the Committee?

I must ask the hon. and gallant Member to indicate in what way his remarks are related to the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

In my opening remarks, during which Major Milner, I believe, you happened to be talking, I explained the way in which they were connected.

Is not the hon. and gallant Member showing the need for the Clause?

Yes, of course, that is the case. I am coming to that point in a moment. I am now trying to give an explanation to the Chairman. One of the main considerations in Clause 6 is the conditions of employment. The Minister said in his remarks to-day, that the wages board cannot be limited in the scope of its reports to the benefit of those that come under this Bill. I consequently hope that the board will consider the desirability in certain cases of instituting superannuation schemes to look after old employees. Therefore, I feel that I am justified in giving an example of why it is so necessary that this should be done in the future. If there had been some good reason for this man being dismissed there was no reason why the director of the Ritz Hotel could not tell me, even verbally, but it was not done.

On a point of Order. Can it be made clear whether indication was previously given to the chairman of the Ritz Hotel, who is well known to be a Member of this House, that this point was to be raised so that he could be in his place to answer the charge and give the other side of the picture?

I purposely had not mentioned that the chairman of the Ritz Hotel is a Member of this House, but as it has now been mentioned, it is only right that I should give the answer. This is the final letter which I wrote to the hon. Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bracewell Smith).

The hon. and gallant Member is not entitled to read the letter. It is going far beyond the scope of the question. He is only entitled to give an illustration.

An attack has been made upon a Member of this House in the guise of criticism of a chairman of a public company, without the hon. Member in question having an opportunity of reply. What can be done in such circumstances, Major Milner, when an allegation has been made against an hon. Member in his absence to enable a reply to be given?

No doubt, if necessary, the hon. Member concerned will find an opportunity to make a reply.

I was not going to proceed with my reply, but now that you have given me that opportunity, Major Milner, I will——

The opportunity to which I referred was such as might be available to the hon. Gentleman to whom I understand the hon. and gallant Member is making reference, and not to the hon. and gallant Gentleman himself.

I beg your pardon, Major Milner. I hope you will allow me to say that of course I gave notice to the hon. Gentleman in question that I was raising this matter on this occasion, and I sent it by registered letter. [An HON. MEMBER: "That settles that."] It is suggested that in raising this matter I am doing something wrong and am attacking an hon. Member of this House, but I am doing nothing of the kind; I am looking after the interests of one of my constituents, as it is my duty to do. It so happens that the matter coincides with what we are discussing today, and therefore I thought it only right and proper that, as this is an example of what we want to avoid in the future I should bring it up on this occasion. I do not desire to pursue this matter, but I should have liked, now that the name of the hon. Member has been brought up, in fairness to him, to divulge some of the correspondence, but I gather from you, Major Milner, that that would be going too far. Perhaps you will allow me to say this, that during all these intervening eight weeks, while seven letters have passed between us, on no occasion has the reason been given why the man was treated in this manner.

The present remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman have no relation to the question before the Committee.

As I have ventilated this man's grievance and at the same time shown the necessity for reform I feel satisfied as far as that is concerned. My only regret is that the hon. Member to whom I sent notice did not feel inclined to come along here to-day and give some answer.

When we discussed Clause I it was made clear that the Commission were to have no right to deal with questions of efficiency and development, but, under some of the Subsections of Clause 6, where a wages board make a report, the Commission will have to consider the report and submit it, with such observations as they think fit. Therefore, under the Clause, when a wages board make a report upon the improvement or development of an industry, the report will be submitted to the Commission, which may then send forward their views upon the development of the industry, too. Would it not have been better for the Commission not to have anything to do with this part at all? I think the intention was that the Commission was not to deal with development or improvement at all and for that to be kept entirely for the wages board.

I did not want to talk on this question unless the hon. and gallant Member for St. Marylebone (Captain Cunningham-Reid) had raised it, as he did in relation to an hon. Member of this House. I may find it difficult to keep in Order, but I will do my best. The hon. and gallant Member raised the point in relation to the improvement of conditions in the industry, and I understand the suggestion was that an example was given of bad conditions which would be remedied. He gave that example in relation to a company of which my hon. Friend who was attacked is chairman. My hon. Friend told me last night that he had received the letter in relation to this man of 76 who had been dismissed. I do not know what the reason was. I did not ask him. It may have been a good case on the part of the company or a bad case on the part of the company. He did tell me he had received a letter from the hon. and gallant Member for St. Marylebone (Captain Cunningham-Reid), in which he said that unless the man was taken back he would raise the matter on the Floor of the House. I say that merely for the protection of my hon. Friend who is not here.

A serious allegation has been made. I feel sure I shall be allowed to make a response to it, which I can do in just a few words. It amounts to this: In the first place, I have never recently spoken to the hon. Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bracewell Smith), and, secondly, in the letter referred to I never made any such suggestion as has been imputed.

In reply to the point made, Sub-sections (4) and (5) should be taken together, in order to see what the real object is in referring a recommendation to the Commission. These boards will be a series of boards covering a wide range of services. The recommendations of one may impinge on those of another, and it is a convenient means of machinery that in those circumstances they can be referred to the Commission, who can make their observations thereon.

Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.