HC Deb 04 April 1898 vol 56 cc39-40
MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury what steps the Treasury propose to take in order to carry out the recommendation of the Committee on Government contracts, that in every contract the words which already appear in all stationery contracts should be inserted—namely, that the contractor shall undertake that in the engagement and employment of workmen and others required for the execution of the work no preference shall be given as between unionists and non-unionists?


The Controller of the Stationery Office informs me that, although this condition has been inserted in all Stationery Office contracts since 1893, and no objection has been taken to it by contractors, it has, in the majority of cases, been practically inoperative owing to the action of the men themselves. Such a condition, if enforced, must shut out, for instance, firms which engage trades unionists only, which is not, I think, the desire of the hon. Member. What Sir John Hibbert stated on the 3rd August, 1893, was that the Government would be justified in refusing to enter into contracts with contractors who were shown to have dismissed certain men while, as I understand, the contract was running because they had become trades unionists—a promise which must also be held to apply to dismissing men because they have ceased to be unionists. The Treasury have been in communication with the other Departments on the subject, and the conclusion at which they have arrived is not favourable to the adoption of such a condition.