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National War Effort

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 1 April 1943

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Disabled Persons

1.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will arrange for disabled persons, who are unfit for work under ordinary industrial conditions, to make a contribution to the war effort by providing sheltered employment in establishments run by the Ministries of Labour, Supply or Production and engaged on assembly or other appropriate jobs?

Arrangements are to be made under the post-war scheme to provide sheltered employment in special workshops, under non-competitive conditions, for the relatively small proportion of the disabled whose disability is so severe as to preclude any kind of normal employment. I doubt if it is possible to make progress on those lines in war conditions for these exceptional cases, and the best way to help them is to press on with the present arrangements for finding them employment on work they can do in establishments employing mainly non-disabled workers and in various schemes for organising work to suit the difficult personal circumstances of individual workers.

Agricultural Workers' Cottages (Labour Supply)

2.

asked the Minister of Labour, whether he can now make some statement as regards the allocation of labour, skilled and unskilled, that will be available for the erection of farm cottages in connection with the Government's proposed scheme?

Yes, Sir. The Government building programme has been adjusted to the resources of building labour expected to remain available, and allowance has been made for the labour necessary for the construction of these cottages. The supply of labour will be arranged, when required, through the local offices of the Ministry in the usual way.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is being suggested in authoritative quarters that the cause of the delay is due to the difficulty over labour, and does he not realise that an adequate supply of labour is necessary for the cottages and that these are vitally necessary? Why is it that agriculture has always to take second place to everything else? Food is vitally important.

I do not know that I can make an adequate answer to that eloquent speech.

Coal Strippers, Bowhill (Medical Examination)

3.

asked the Minister of Labour, who was responsible for sending several Bowhill strippers for medical examination; what action was taken by his representative in Fife; and on whose advice did he take it?

The instructions were given by me, and action was taken by my local representatives strictly in accordance with these instructions.

Are we to understand from the Minister's reply that he ordered the local officer to take the step of sending key men for military service without consulting the Minister of Fuel, the Fuel Controller or anyone associated with the men's organisation? And will he refrain from anything of that sort in the future?

I ought to make it clear that men of military age are soldiers. They are deferred for national work. When it is reported to me that they are no longer following that national work, their deferment ceases, and it is my duty then to issue instructions for their medical examination.

Will the Minister say who reported it to him or to his local officer that these men were no longer following their occupation? That is what I want to know. Can I have an answer?

I do not reveal who reports anything to me. The point is the direction to people who are off the pay roll and are no longer reported as being in employment. I have immediately to make a choice, and if they are not following their employment, they must carry out what this House says they shall carry out.

Is the Minister not aware that at this colliery a very serious dispute was in operation, and is it now the policy of my right hon. Friend to resolve disputes by sending those in dispute for medical examination?

No, Sir, there was no dispute reported at this colliery at all. These men were reported to me as having left the colliery. I acted on the basis of their having left. They were not in employment or on the pay roll of any colliery, so far as I knew, when I issued the instruction.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply, I propose to raise the matter at an early opportunity. I want to find out who reported this matter.

Employment Agencies

4.

asked the Minister of Labour whether, under the Control of Engagement Order which permits, as an alternative to application by women to employment exchanges, recourse to employment agencies approved by his Department, he accepts applications from individual firms; and what are the conditions governing the basis of approval?

It is open to any individual firm of employment agents to apply for approval under the Control of Engagement Order. The principles on which agencies may be approved are set out in the replies given to the hon. Member for Stourbridge (Mr. R. Morgan) on 29th January, 1942, and to the hon. and gallant Member for King's Norton (Major Peto) on 10th March, 1942, of which I am sending copies to my hon. Friend.

Is it not a fact that practically none of the commercial fee-charging agencies have been approved so far; that, of the 28 agencies which have been approved, 19 are universities and the rest are industrial organisations; and that no commercial fee-charging agencies have been approved?

14.

asked the Minister of Labour the names of the 28 agencies which have been approved under the Employment of Women (Control of Engagement) Order.

With my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, I will circulate a list of the approved agencies in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Does that list include any of the well-known and established workers' agencies which were functioning as such before the war?

I answered that question a few moments ago, in reply to another hon. Member. It is very difficult to fit them in for the placing of labour in connection with the war effort.

Following is the list:

Approved Agencies.Type of Person to be placed.Type of Employment in which to be placed.
1.University of Aberdeen Appointments Board.Students and graduates of the University of Aberdeen.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
2.

Birmingham University Appointments Board.

Students and graduates of Birmingham University.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
3.University of Bristol Appointments Board.Students and graduates of the University of Bristol.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
4.

Cambridge University Women's Appointments Board.

Students and graduates of Cambridge University.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
5.University of Durham Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of Durham.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
6.University of Edinburgh Appointments Committee.Students and graduates of University of Edinburgh.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
7.The University, Glasgow Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of Glasgow.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
8.University of Leeds Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of Leeds.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
9.University of Liverpool Appointments Bureau.Students and graduates of University of Liverpool.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
10.University of London Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of London.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
11.

Manchester University Appointments Board.

Students and graduates of Manchester University.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
12.University College, Nottingham Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University College, Nottingham.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
13.

Oxford University Women's Appointments Committee.

Students and graduates of Oxford University.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
14.The University Reading, Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of Reading.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
15.University of Sheffield Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of Sheffield.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
16.University College, Southampton Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University College, Southampton.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
17.The University of St. Andrews Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of St. Andrews.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
18.University College of the South West of England Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University College of South West of England.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
19.University of Wales Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of Wales.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
20.Industrial Welfare SocietyTrained or experienced Personnel Managers.Personnel Managers
Trained or experienced Welfare Supervisors. Welfare Supervisors
21.Institute of Hospital Almoners.Certificated Hospital AlmonersHospital Almoners
22.Society of Women Housing Managers.(a) Trained Yousing Managers(a)Housing Managers
(b) Students accepted for training who satisfy the requirements from time to time in force contained in instructions issued by the Minister for students taking courses at Technical colleges and other similar institutions.(b) Student Housing Managers in offices approved by the Society for training purposes.
23.Institute of Labour Management.Trained or experienced Personnel Managers.Personnel Managers
Trained or experience Welfare Supervisors. Welfare Supervisors
24.The Society of RadiographersRegistered members of the Society of Radiographers.Radiographers
25.Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes.Any women covered by the Orders, with the exception of single women or widows who are being dealt with under the N.S. Acts.Any full-time employment in the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes, except ancillary employment in Headquarters and Command Offices, and Distributing Warehouses.

Approved Agencies.Type of Person to be placed.Type of Employment in which to be placed.
26.Association of Psychiatric Social Workers.Members of the Association of Psychiatric Social Workers.Psychiatric Social Workers
27.Central Pharmaceutical War Committee.(a) Qualified Pharmacists(a) Pharmacists
(b) Dispensers(b) Dispensers
(c) Women who have been regularly employed in the handling of drugs and medical and surgical appliances for a minimum period of six months other than those who are liable under the National Service Acts and in the age classes being dealt with under those Acts.(c) Drug Hands
28.The Scottish Central Pharmaceutical War Committee.(a) Qualified Pharmacists(a) Pharmacists
(b) Dispensers(b) Dispensers
(c) Women who have been regularly employed in the handling of drugs and medical and surgical appliances for a minimum period of six months other than those who are liable under the National Service Acts and in the age classes being dealt with under those Acts.(c) Drug Hands

15.

asked the Minister of Labour as Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes is an approved employment agency under the Control of Employment Order and solely enrols applicants for its own service, how it is possible for this primary duty effectively to be combined with its functions as an employment agency; and whether other organisations of a similar character will be similarly treated?

N.A.A.F.I. has been approved in this connection for the purpose only of engaging women for their own staff, and does not operate otherwise as an employment agency. The circumstances of these Institutes are exceptional and would not apply, so far as I know, to any other organisation. Nevertheless, I am reviewing the whole situation as regards these Institutes.

Is N.A.A.F.I. either licensed in London or registered at its address in Surrey? Both of these conditions, I understand, are necessary for employment agencies. Unless they are fulfilled, is N.A.A.F.I. really qualified to act as an employment agency under the Order?

I am indebted to my hon. and gallant Friend for putting down this Question. As I said, I am reviewing the whole position.

Is it not a fact that N.A.A.F.I. has one of the right hon. Gentleman's own officials on the headquarters staff, to ensure that the Regulations are carried out?

I can only repeat that this Question caused me to look into the matter. I am not quite sure that the Regulation is carried out, and I propose to review the position.

Women's Land Army (Recruitment)

5.

asked the Minister of Labour how many women his Department has permitted to join the Women's Land Army in each of the past four weeks; and what steps his local officials are taking, especially in the rural areas, to encourage suitable women to undertake this vital form of National Service?

I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries that the numbers enrolled by the Women's Land Army in England and Wales during each of the past four weeks are 1,005, 917, 933 and 1,083 respectively. The precise number of women submitted to the Women's Land Army by my local offices is not known. but it is substantially larger than the number enrolled as the result of such submissions. Subject to the satisfaction of other equally urgent labour requirements, every encouragement is given by my local officers to the recruitment of suitable women, especially in rural areas.

In view of the inadequacy of these numbers, what further steps is the Minister taking to impress on his local officials that the need for more women workers on the land is very urgent?

One of the immediate steps I am taking with my right hon. Friend is to make the conditions more comparable with other bodies, by which recruiting will be made much easier.

Cold Storage Undertakings, Port Of London

6.

asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been drawn to difficulties which have arisen in regard to the position of cold storage undertakings under the Dock Labour Scheme for the Port of London; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?

Yes, Sir. I am aware of these difficulties, and I have appointed Sir John Forster to conduct an inquiry. His terms of reference are:

"to inquire into the application of the Port of London Dock Labour Scheme to cold storage undertakings, and to make recommendations."

Is the Minister aware that there are 20 stores concerned in this question, none of whose premises are dock-side premises, and that none of them have employed any dock labourers nor do they employ casual labourers? Does he feel that at this time a public inquiry such as he suggests is fair to many busy men who have to leave their work of national importance and waste their time?

When a claim comes up requiring investigation, I think the best way of solving it is to have an impartial investigation to help me to arrive at a decision.

Young Workers (Holidays)

7.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will encourage, wherever possible, the granting of two weeks' holiday for young workers over the next six months so that they may take full advantage of the many open-air pre-service forestry and harvest camps and thus combine a measure of rehabilitation with direct service to the war effort?

As my hon. Friend is aware, the question of annual holiday arrangements is a matter which is normally settled between the employers and unions in the various industries. I am, however, sympathetic on every ground to my hon. Friend's suggestion, and I should like to see the fullest possible opportunity given to young workers to take advantage of these valuable outdoor activities.

Would the Minister be as strong with the young workers as with the old workers? He can make the old people do what he wants; for goodness sake make the young people do what is good for them.

Independent Medical Reports

8.

asked the Minister of Labour what further steps a person can take who is not satisfied with the report of the independent medical man chosen by his Department to submit a report on the man's condition to the local appeal board under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts, as there is doubt over this point?

Consideration would be given to any other relevant evidence submitted by such a person, but perhaps my hon. Friend will let me have particulars of any actual case he may have in mind.

Wages (Percentage Increases)

9.

asked the Minister of Labour the percentage increase in wages since 1939 paid to those employed in the engineering industry on plain time rates, the percentage paid on wages since 1939 to those employed on piecework, the highest percentage increase paid in all industry and the average increase paid in all industry?

The percentage increase in wages varies widely, not only in different industries, but in different occupations, districts and undertakings in those industries, and the available information is not sufficient to enable me to answer the first three parts of the Question. It is estimated that the average weekly increase in full-time rates of wages from the beginning of the war until the end of February, 1943, was about 33 per cent. or 34 per cent. The latest available information, about average earnings in the principal industries relates to July, 1942. This was published in the "Ministry of Labour Gazette" last December.

Engineering Industry (Tribunal Award)

10.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the effect on good will of those employed in the engineering industry by the tribunal award of 20th March; will he give the names and professions of those who compose the tribunal; is he satisfied with Subsection (3) paragraph (b) of the award; and that the highly-skilled men are receiving the reward due to them for the great contribution which they have made to the national effort since 1938?

With my hon. Friend's permission, I will circulate a list of the names of the members forming the tribunal, in the recent case relating to wages and conditions in the engineering industry, in the OFFICIAL REPORT. It would be impertinent of me to express any opinion with regard to the award. I have no reason to doubt that both sides of the industry will accept and implement the decisions of the tribunal with good will.

Is the Minister aware that before this award was made the engineers were paid, with the basic rate and national bonus, 1s. 813/16d. That was made up of 11¾d. basic rate and 91/16d. national bonus. Now, with the 6s. of the award, which is on the bonus and not on the basic rate, and with £1 taken from the bonus and put on the basic rate, the basic rate for engineers, instead of being 11¾d. per hour will be 1s. 4½d. and 10006d. What is the Minister going to do to clear up the serious discontent throughout the country?

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that men in the Services, who by giving their lives to the country contribute much more to the war effort, get sufficient reward for their services?

Following are the names:

Appointed Members:

The Hon. Mr. Justice Simonds (Chairman), Judge of the Chancery Division, High Court of Justice.

Sir John Forster, barrister at law.

Sir W. David Ross, Provost of Oriel College, Oxford.

Panel Members:

Mr. W. O. R. Holton, of William Holton and Sons Limited, manufacturers of fancy woollens.

Mr. A. M. Wall, J.P., General Secretary, London Society of Compositors.

Gipsies

11.

asked the Minister of Labour whether the gipsy population of the United Kingdom is liable to National Registration; and, if not, whether some other means will be devised of making the considerable supply of gipsy labour readily and continuously available to agriculture?

I understand from my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health that gipsies are liable to National Registration. They are also liable to register under the National Service Acts and the Registration for Employment Order. My hon. Friend will appreciate that their migratory habits make it peculiarly difficult to secure that those gipsies who have not been called up are continuously engaged on war work, including agriculture, but I will consider with other interested Departments whether any further steps can usefully be taken with that end in view.

Transferred Workers (Cheap Travel Scheme)

12.

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of his announcement that bank holidays will be two days in order to give war workers the necessary additional holidays, he will arrange for the cheap travel vouchers to be available for transferred workers, so that they may really benefit by the additional holiday concession?

In order to avoid undue congestion on the railways, which would impede essential war traffic, I regret that it is necessary to suspend the operation of the cheap travel scheme for transferred workers, in common with other warrant or voucher schemes, at the Bank Holiday periods. On the other hand, I would remind my hon. Friend that this year the scheme will be in operation for the whole of the six months April to September inclusive, as compared with the period nth May to 15th September last year.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the present arrangement is very disappointing to the transferred workers?