Mr Rupert Gwynne: I cannot accede to the hon. and gallant Member's suggestion that we should pay in sterling. But, in view of the further rapid fluctuation in the value of the mark, the question of making some change, in order to safeguard the soldier's interests, is now under active consideration, and I hope to be in a position to announce a decision next week.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: Once a week.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: This matter is already under consideration, but I am not yet in a position to give details. At Woolwich Arsenal, certain of the Metropolitan police have already been replaced by ex-service civilian warders.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: With regard to the first part of the question, the number of tenders received from the 24 firms referred to was four, of which one was for South American meat only. With regard to the second part, the period allowed for the return of the tender's in question was seven weeks. I am not aware that the small response from Australian packers was entirely due, as suggested, to the comparatively...
Mr Rupert Gwynne: The Committee has not yet reported. In the circumstances, the question of publishing its recommendations does not arise.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: I understand that the Ministry of Labour have approached the contractors concerned, but it has not so far been possible to make arrangements for the further employment of British labour. I will, however, inquire further whether anything more can be done and I will communicate with the hon. and gallant Member in due course. I am in full sympathy with his wishes, but he will understand that it...
Mr Rupert Gwynne: That is a matter for the Ministry of Labour. The bulk of this work is done in this country. All the headstones are made over here. The labour employed over there is a matter of preparing the ground and fixing.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: I have no doubt the hon. and gallant Member is correct; the total expenditure on the cemeteries is a very large sum.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: Certainly it would do as regards labour in this country, but not fixing over there. We have no standard as regards the Fair Wages Clause in France or Belgium as far as I know.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: The hon. Member may rest assured that where English labour is employed, the Fair Wages Clause will cover it.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: The figures are as follow: Numbers employed: June, 1914 … … … 570 Now … … … … 877 Provision in Estimates: 1913–14 … … … £133,000 1922–23 … … … £330,000
Mr Rupert Gwynne: The total provision for Malta under all heads of Army Estimates, 1923–24, exclusive of pension charges, is approximately £850,000. No direct contribution towards this cost is made by the island authorities, but, as usual in such cases, the troops occupy certain Colonial lands and buildings without paying rent.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: The hon. and gallant Member was informed on the 5th instant, in reply to a question, that it is not proposed to publish the Report referred to. In these circumstances, I am afraid I cannot answer questions as to specific recommendations which may be conjectured to be included in the Report.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: Because the Report was made with a view to its not being published. It is quite usual for a Cabinet to appoint Committees to report to them.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: Certainly, I think it would.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: No. I did not give any information about that.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: That must depend on what the economies are. If they are important economies, the House will, no doubt, have an opportunity of discussing them on the Estimates.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: The average weekly wage of men at the Ordnance Factories in the middle of last month was about £3 6s. 11d. I cannot trace that any representations, such as my hon. Friend describes, have been received.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: I will convey the hon. Member's request to my Noble Friend.
Mr Rupert Gwynne: I was asked as to the average, and I have given it. If the hon. Member has any further question to put as to the lowest wage, I will give him an answer.