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Domestic Service

Volume 639: debated on Wednesday 3 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Labour if he will consider the setting up of a wages council to regulate the conditions of employment of people in domestic service.

We have no evidence to suggest that a wages council is needed to give statutory protection of the conditions of employment of people in domestic service.

Is not the Parliamentary Secretary aware that domestic service is possibly the only remaining sector of employment where employees have no real protection against bad employers? Will he consult his right hon. Friend again and obtain evidence which, I am sure, he would regard as affording proof that a wages council should be set up in order that minimum conditions and wages should be laid down?

My right hon. Friend will give full consideration to any evidence which comes before him of unsatisfactory conditions of employment, but, as the hon. Gentleman will know, the demand for domestic workers far exceeds the supply, and it seems unlikely that domestic workers would find it difficult to obtain work in reasonable conditions.

I have evidence from my constituency relating to one domestic in a large house who has definite complaints about bad conditions and being asked to work long hours for no added pay. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, in making further inquiries, I have found that such things seem to be more widespread than is generally known—[Interruption.]—and this is not a matter which should cause hilarity on the part of some hon. Members opposite who are themselves possibly guilty of such abuses?

I have said that we will certainly consider any evidence which is brought before us, but we have received no representations on the matter. We have no evidence that domestic workers are unable to find reasonable conditions and wages.

Is the domestic training scheme which we had at the Ministry of Labour some years ago still in operation, and under that scheme did we not ask for minimum rates compatible with the service rendered?

I take it that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the National Institute of Houseworkers. That is still in operation, and the Ministry of Labour makes annually a substantial grant to it.