Oral Answers to Questions — National War Effort – in the House of Commons on 20th April 1944.
Mr. J. J. Davidson:
asked the Minister of Labour whether he intends making any financial provision for workers in Scotland who are now, under his directions, being transferred from reasonably paid industries to a low paid industry which is now defined as first priority.
I recognise that there are instances where workers are transferred in the national interest from a job at a higher rate to one which involves a loss of earnings. The rate of wages must in general be governed by the industrial agreements applicable to the new employment. The usual financial provisions of a lodging allowance for workers continuing to maintain dependants, and of a settling-in-grant for workers without dependants, will apply where they are transferred beyond reasonable daily travelling distance, but I regret that I cannot see any practicable method of making any new arrangements.
Is it not a fact that this new transference has caused grave discontent in the West of Scotland? Could not my right hon. Friend see his way to help employment exchanges to bear the burden involved in transferring men earning £5 or £6 a week to industries where they will only get 73s. a week? Could not the Government take some steps to give these transferees remuneration and ease the almost impossible task of the employment exchanges?
The law lays down that the rate for the job must apply and I cannot depart from that. I cannot make special arrangements in connection with this transference, which is being brought about solely for strategic reasons.
I do not intend to ask my colleagues in the Government to undertake a special subsidy of wages in a given industry. The matter must be dealt with through the present machinery.