§ Î. In Chapter XVII. we considered the effects of interference designed to raise the wages of a low-paid industry, or part of an industry, above the “fair” level. The centre of the problem was the wage of the “average” worker, and it was tacitly supposed that the rates paid to workers above and below the average would be adjusted according to their comparative efficiencies. We have now to consider a different type of interference, directed not so much towards trades as towards individuals. Granted that the average worker in all—or in most—industries is suitably remunerated, the very inefficient worker in some of them will, on account of his inefficiency, if paid on a like scale, often earn so small a sum of money that the public conscience is shocked. It is widely held that this state of things ought to be prevented by the legal establishment of a national minimum day-wage, below which no workman whatever can be legally engaged. This policy, it must be clearly understood, differs in essence from, and goes much beyond, the mere establishment of a national minimum day-wage from which under-rate workers are exempt, as described in Chapter XV. § 7. It is illustrated—though very imperfectly, since the minimum fixed was very much below the worth of anybody except an extraordinarily inefficient apprentice—by certain of the labour laws of Australasia. The Parliaments of Victoria and South Australia “have decided that no person whatsoever can be employed there in a registered factory, without receiving some minimum remuneration—in Victoria, 2s. 6d. a week, and in South Australia, 4s.” 1 614In like manner, the New South Wales Minimum Wage Act of 1908 provided that no workman or shop assistant shall be employed, unless in receipt of a weekly wage of at least 4s., irrespective of any amount earned as overtime. 1 Again, in the Factory Act of New Zealand, it is enacted that every person who is employed in any capacity in a factory shall be entitled to receive from the occupier payment for the work at such rate as is agreed on, in no case less than 5s. per week during the first year of employment in the industry and, thereafter, an annual increase of not less than 3s. weekly till a wage of 20s. per week is attained. 2 This clause in its original form—the form given above is the slightly modified form of the 1907 amendment—was passed in order to prevent persons being employed in factories without “reasonable remuneration in money.” Payment is always to be made irrespective of overtime, and premiums are forbidden. 3 The same idea is embodied in the statute by which the State of Utah in 1913 fixed a minimum wage for all “experienced” adult women of 1.25 dollars per day, no exceptions to this minimum being allowed even for defective workers, 4 and in a flat-rate law of the same general character enacted in the State of Arizona in 1917. 5