Working Hours

Oral Answers to Questions — Coal – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th July 1959.

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Photo of Mr David Griffiths Mr David Griffiths , Rother Valley 12:00 am, 6th July 1959

asked the Paymaster-General if he will state the average number of hours worked per week by all mineworkers, surface and underground, during the first six months of 1959, as compared with a similar period in 1958.

Photo of Mr Harold Finch Mr Harold Finch , Bedwellty

asked the Paymaster-General if he will give the average number of hours worked per week by all underground workers in the mining industry during the first six months of 1958 and 1959.

Photo of Mr Norman Pentland Mr Norman Pentland , Chester-le-Street

asked the Paymaster-General if he will state the average number of hours worked per week by all surface workers in the mining industry during the first half of this year, as compared with the first half of 1958.

Photo of Mr George Sylvester Mr George Sylvester , Pontefract

asked the Paymaster-General if he will state the average number of hours worked by coalface workers in the coalmining industry during the first six months of 1958 and 1959.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I regret that this information is not available.

Photo of Mr David Griffiths Mr David Griffiths , Rother Valley

Is it not a pity that the information is not available? Is it not a fact that with less overtime and no weekend work there has been a big reduction in wages? Should not the Government do something to bring down the cost of living in view of the fact that wages are now considerably reduced?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I think that comment goes rather wider than the Question. I regret that the information for which the hon. Member asked is not available.

Photo of Mr Harold Neal Mr Harold Neal , Bolsover

Is the right hon. Gentleman confessing that his statistical department cannot provide these figures? Surely, they are placed on his table weekly?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I am sorry to argue with the hon. Member, who knows so much about these things. The statistics are provided in terms of shifts, and I gather that there is no common factor whereby one can convert shifts into hours of work.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that hours of work underground are determined by Act of Parliament and that his Ministry is responsible for the Act being observed? Is no return made to his Department of overtime worked above the statutory hours? Could the right hon. Gentleman not supply the figures?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

That is a different question. If the right hon. Gentleman cares to put that question down I should be glad to try to answer it.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

The question asked about the average number of hours worked underground. I appreciate that the matter of hours worked on the surface is quite different, but underground hours are governed by Act of Parliament, for which the right hon. Gentleman's Department is responsible, and that is why I asked him for the figures.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

The available statistics for which the question asked are kept in terms of shifts and not of hours. I will bear in mind what the right hon. Gentleman says, but I think that we can do no better than we have done.

Photo of Mr George Sylvester Mr George Sylvester , Pontefract

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my Question definitely dealt with coal-face workers and not surface workers?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I gather that the answer is the same—that statistics have been kept in shifts and not in hours of work.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a shift in the coalmining industry means a precise number of hours worked as defined by Act of Parliament? If the right hon. Gentleman gets information about the number of shifts he can clearly answer a question about the number of hours. Are we to understand that his Department does not receive from the Coal Board a report on the number of hours of overtime worked in the coal mines beyond the statutory number?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I made precisely the same inquiry as the right hon. Gentleman now mentions and I was surprised that the information was not available. I am told that no suitable multiplier can be applied to shift work as the length of shift can differ from area to area, and also some tasks are done in stints and when a stint is done miners may leave the pit although the actual shift has not been fulfilled. One has not, therefore, information about hours worked. If hon. Members want answers to these other questions, perhaps they will put them down and I shall be happy to answer them.

Photo of Mr David Griffiths Mr David Griffiths , Rother Valley

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise the mater on the Adjournment.