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Agricultural Wages

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 10 May 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the minimum rates of wages for agricul- tural workers fixed by the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board from 23rd May; and how they compare with the rates prevailing in Scotland in 1938.

In the case of male general workers of 20 years and over the minimum agricultural wage will be 94s. per week as compared with 32s. to 36s. 6d. in 1938.

Could the Secretary of State confirm that skilled shepherds are now to get 104s. per week? Is not this the most remarkable piece of progress ever made in agriculture in Scotland?

Yes, Sir. I have not given the details of all the grades. This is a minimum wage. In Scotland skilled people are paid more than that. I will circulate detailed information in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this shows the wisdom and foresight of Tory misrule, which set up these wages boards?

is the right hon. Gentleman aware that 36s. in 1938 could buy a great deal more than 104s. today?

What was the purchasing power of the pound sterling at the two dates?

I am sure that all these things will not influence the farm workers, who know they are much better off than ever they were.

Following is the detailed information:

The minimum agricultural wage rates to come into effect in Scotland on 23rd May for male workers of 20 years of age and over are 94s. per week for general workers; 104s. 3d. for shepherds; and 102s. 3d. for other specialists. For women workers of 18 and under 21 years the new rate will be 63s. 6d., and for specialists 71s.; with 70s. '6d. and 78s. 9d. respectively for women of 21 years and over.

Proportional increases have been made in the hourly and overtime rates and also in the rates for juvenile workers.

The comparable minimum rates for 1938 were: male general workers, 32s. to 36s. 6d.; shepherds, 35s. 6d. to 44s.; other specialists, 34s. 6d. to 45s.; women of 18 years and over, 21s. 6d. to 24s., with 26s. to 27s. for specialists.