asked the Minister of Labour if he will set up a committee, presided over by a prominent Queen's Counsel, at which evidence may be taken on oath, to inquire into the operation of the Catering Wages Act and the difficulties and problems it causes to the hotel and catering industries.
No, Sir. The wages boards established under the Catering Wages Act are, in general, functioning satisfactorily. With regard to the Licensed Residential Establishment and Licensed Restaurant Wages Board, which was reconstituted in the autumn of 1952, as my hon. Friend is aware, at the request of the board I have subsequently appointed four committees under the Act to assist it in respect of the various types of establishment covered. In view of these recent developments, I do not think another inquiry is desirable.
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that information from all over the country shows that the operation of this Act is doing great harm to the industry, especially in places where they have a seasonal trade, like seaside resorts, where people have to make their living during three or four months in the year? Is it not a fact that the only satisfactory method is for conditions and wages to be a matter of private arrangement between master and man?
The Catering Wages Commission in 1950 held an exhaustive inquiry into the operation of the Act, and it was found that statutory machinery was essential until such time as it could be replaced by collective bargaining based on mutual understanding and good will. I shall be very glad when that happy time comes.