§ (1) The Minister of Munitions may constitute a special arbitration tribunal (comprising one or more women) to deal with differences reported under Part I. of the principal Act which relate to matters on which the Minister of Munitions has given or is empowered to give directions under the last preceding Section, and the Board of Trade may refer any such difference for settlement to such tribunal in lieu of referring it for settlement in accordance with Section one of the principal Act.903
§ (2)The Minister of Munitions may also refer to the special arbitration tribunal so constituted, for advice, any question as to what directions are to be given by' him under the said Section.
§ (3) Any directions given by the Minister of Munitions under the said Section shall be binding, and any contravention thereof or non-compliance therewith shall be punishable in like manner as in the case of an award under Part I. of the principal Act.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I beg to move to leave out the Clause. I do so really for the purpose of obtaining, if possible, a somewhat fuller statement from the Minister of Munitions than we have yet had as to the constitution of this arbitration tribunal. It was agreed when we were discussing the matter last in this House that there should be machinery, but we do not want the matter rushed through without having some chance of examining the character of the machinery, and I hope now that the Minister of Munitions will be in a position to tell us what sort of a tribunal he proposes to establish. For my own part, I hope it is not going to be a purely official tribunal. I know that the permanent officials have great qualities, but they have also in some respects in these matters very grave defects, and they do not always know just exactly what labour conditions are, and what the point of view is in regard to the workpeople. There has been a Labour Supply Committee set up by the Ministry of Munitions, which I understand has been doing good work, and upon which the trade union representatives have a place. This Committee, which is responsible for issuing various recommendations, which I believe are now going to become mandatory, such as L 2 and L 3, has done very good work, and I should like to ask whether the Labour Supply Committee is to a large extent to be the labour arbitration tribunal, because I want to be sure that there will be trade union representatives dealing with this matter, which is so vital from the standpoint of the workpeople. I hope there will be one or two women, representing the women of the country, dealing with the questions that are going to affect the employment and payment of women, and so on. It is really from the standpoint, not of saying that we should not have machinery, but that it should be good machinery, and something more than being put into official hands, that I raise 904 this matter. I hope it will be possible for the Minister of Munitions to make some statement with regard to it.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I fully realise that the hon. Gentleman is moving this Amendment, not in order to eliminate the Clause, but to obtain an explanation, because he above all desires that a tribunal of this kind should be set up as, if I may say so, he is related by marriage to it. It is part of the achievement of his plan. I agree absolutely with him about the character of the tribunal. It ought to be a tribunal which is in thorough acquaintance with the conditions in this class of labour. Whether it ought to be the Labour Supply Committee I am doubtful. The Labour Supply Committee will, of course, be consulted about it, because it is a Committee representative of labour and the employer as well, and we shall consult that Committee, and consult it with profit, as to the best kind of tribunal that ought to be set up. I cannot say that I have definitely made up my mind as to the kind of tribunal and its size, or from what class it shall be drawn. That you ought to have one or two women on is statutory. It is part of the Section, and it would, of course, be impossible to set up a tribunal like this, dealing with the wages of women and the conditions of their work, without women on it. I have not come to any definite conclusion in my own mind as to the composition of the tribunal. My hon. Friend knows very well that it is exceedingly difficult to get the type of mind that works well on a tribunal of this character. It is the most difficult thing in the world to choose the right man and the right woman for an arbitration tribunal. We certainly have not made up our mind with regard to it. Beyond that, at this stage, I could not possibly give my hon. Friend a definite answer. All I can say is that I am in general agreement with the observations he has made as to the kind of tribunal which ought to be set up.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I do not think my hon. Friend has derived very much satisfaction from the Minister of Munitions. He is in no way committed to any form of constitution. The point my hon. Friend wants information upon is this: Whether this is to be a tribunal in which the official element is to be largely represented?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Say Civil servants-Board of Trade officials, for example. What we should like to see would be a tribunal of practical men—lawyers, for instance, excluded—and if the Civil Service is represented at all it ought to be represented in a very small degree. I should like to see the tribunal constituted of men and women who have practical knowledge of the various trades. The right hon. Gentleman knows quite well that the essence of the settlement of labour difficulties is to get a settlement as soon as possible, and it might be well worth his while to take into consideration the constitution of local tribunals as well. Our main point is just now the constitution of these committees, and we hope he will bear in mind our suggestion and constitute them very largely of men and Women who have practical knowledge of the trades concerned.
§ Mr. HODGE
Might I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he might adopt the method of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act? Let there be a panel of working women and a panel of employers, with probably neutral ladies as chairmen, or a mixture, at any rate. I find in my experience that that is the speediest method of getting rid of troubles, because as soon as ever the two sides have come to an agreement that there should be arbitration, generally within eight or ten days they can be called together and the thing disposed of, and I think if the working women had one of their own representatives on these Courts it would give very great satisfaction and I think it is the best solution which could be adopted.
§ Amendment negatived.