asked the Minister of Labour in what industries he is paying subsistence and travelling allowances to workers living away from home; why he is not doing so in the case of the building and civil engineering industry; and whether he will reconsider this position in relation to municipal housing contracts in areas where there is a severe shortage of labour and where the cost of these allowances is at present borne by the local authority.
Grants and allowances are payable by the Ministry of Labour to workers who transfer to industries such as coalmining and cotton, or to very important branches of other industries, such as the manufacture of heavy electrical plant, where there is a special demand for labour. In the building industry, movement from job to job is normal practice and industrial agreements make provision for lodging allowances, where appropriate, to be payable by the employer. There is, therefore, no ground for special provision to be made by the Ministry.
Is it not an anomalous position that private industry is assisted and charges for subsistence allowance are met by taxpayers, whereas in the case of an increase in municipal housing contracts, where large blocks of workers are transferred from, say, South Wales to Staffordshire, costs have to be met by the municipal tenants or the ratepayers?
That anomaly would not be cured by providing another one, which would be the anomaly between private building and public authority building. This arrangement has been made within the industry, and the Ministry cannot interfere.