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National War Effort

Volume 395: debated on Thursday 2 December 1943

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Manchester Training Centre

2.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that the management at the Alms Hill Labour Training Centre, Cheetham Hill, Manchester, insist that trainees must reach the place by 7 a.m.; that, owing to transport difficulties, those resident in the Wigan and Bolton areas must in some cases get up at about 3 a.m. and waste time on the way to reach the centre at that hour; that complaints are made about messroom accommodation there; and will he cause inquiries to be made into the administration of this centre, more particularly that covering shift A and arrange that the hours of training at the centre shall, if possible, correspond to transport facilities?

I am satisfied that it is necessary in the interests of efficient training for trainees on the first shift at the Manchester Training Centre to attend at 7 a.m. Those who cannot conveniently do this from their homes are normally expected to go into lodgings near the centre under conditions similar to those applicable to transferred war workers. To assist trainees who continue to live at home arrangements have now been made for a special bus to meet trains from Wigan and Bolton which are due at Manchester at approximately 6.50 a.m. This should enable trainees from these towns to travel by a later train than formerly. No complaints have been made to the centre authorities about messroom accommodation.

Does that mean that the right hon. Gentleman intends to uproot these people from their homes just for a few weeks' training; and do we under- stand that the management at the training centre will allow them to enter the centre even though they are a little late if the lateness is due to transport difficulties?

The arrival of the people who come by train and bus is determined, of course, by transport arriving on time. I am not uprooting these people any more than other people, but I cannot have training centres everywhere, and so I have to bring the people to the training centres.

Girl, Widnes (Work Direction)

3.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that Miss Jean Price, age 19, 10, Farrant Street, Widnes, is threatened with a direction to go out to work though her grandmother living in the same house is a chronic invalid; that her sister living with them is already working under direction; that the local woman employment exchange officer who threatens the direction has stated that the grandmother could be left alone in spite of a medical certificate to the contrary; that she sat on the hardship tribunal with only one other person to determine her own direction; and will he allow one of these two sisters to remain at home to perform household duties and care for the invalid?

This case has been reconsidered, and while circumstances remain as at present no further action will be taken to transfer Miss Jean Price to other work. I understand she is performing part-time work at a local cinema. The Women's Panel which considered the case was properly constituted, and consisted of two independent members.

I take it, then, that this woman will be left where she is for the time being.

Do I understand that an official of an employment exchange can sit in a judicial capacity on a hardship committee with only one independent member?

If I am asked about the constitution of hardship committees, the hon. and gallant Member should put the Question on the Paper.

Did I understand the Minister to say that an employment exchange official could sit in a judicial capacity on a hardship committee?

Trade Disputes

5.

asked the Minister of Labour whether for public information and guidance, he will in future issue a brief official statement on any serious strike or cessation of work, official or unofficial, giving the reasons alleged by both sides and the wages of those concerned, actual and demanded?

I regret that I cannot adopt this suggestion. The circumstances of trade disputes are seldom such that a statement of the kind indicated would serve a useful purpose without an examination of the validity and merits of the reasons alleged by both sides, and this would require a formal and impartial inquiry. I have power to order such inquiries, and I exercise this power whenever it seems appropriate to do so.

Theatrical Artistes

11.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will state, in relation to deferment given to theatrical artistes conditionally on work for E.N.S.A., what are the maximum and minimum periods of work for E.N.S.A. that have been so imposed; whether the salary is fixed and at what sum for such employment?

Deferment is granted for theatrical artistes subject to their undertaking to give their services to E.N.S.A. for not less than six weeks each year. Salaries are fixed by E.N.S.A. in accordance with their normal rates of pay.

First Aid Nursing Yeomanry

13.

asked the Minister of Labour whether girls of 19 years of age are permitted to enter F.A.N.Y. now that the Services are closed to girls of this age?

No, Sir, except where submissions are made through my Department to certain approved vacancies.

Discharged Service Men (Rehabilitation And Training)

7.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that men are being discharged from the Services on medical grounds and entering civil employment for which they are physically unfit, and will he make arrangements for all men discharged from the Services to be interviewed at an employment exchange for the purpose of receiving explanations of rehabilitation and training schemes?

The arrangements for interviewing men and women who are discharged from His Majesty's Forces on medical grounds or because of disablement include interviewing at hospitals and other invaliding establishments as well as at employment exchanges. Special steps are taken, by means of reports and discussions, to get expert medical advice as to the individual's condition and as to the most suitable kind of occupation. All local offices of the Ministry have full particulars of the training and other schemes designed to assist the satisfactory resettlement of persons suffering from any form of disability—whether as the result of service with His Majesty's Forces or from other causes.

9.

asked the Minister of Labour what trades are now being taught in classes for disabled men?

There are at present special classes in progress in 21 trades for disabled men, and, in addition, disabled men are being trained with fit men in ten trades under the ordinary munitions training scheme. As the list of trades available for training of the disabled is lengthy, I will circulate it if I may, in the OFFICIAL REPORT, indicating which of the trades are now being taught.

Are there at present any classes for training men in shoe repairing, jobbing tailoring, bookbinding and basket making?

I cannot answer that. I have had to confine the main training at the moment to people who can find occupation in the munition industries, as stated when I announced the interim scheme. If the hon. and gallant Member after examining the list in the official record has other suggestions to make, I will certainly take them into consideration.

Following is the List of Trades available for the Training of Disabled.

A

  • Bricklaying.
  • Carpentry.
  • Commercial (Book-keeping, shorthand, type-writing).
  • Draughtsmanship.
  • Electrician.
  • Fitting.
  • Inspection and Viewing.
  • Instrument Making.
  • Machine Operating.
  • Motor Mechanics.
  • Sheet Metal Working and Panel Beating.
  • Radio Fault-finding and Testing.
  • Spray and Brush Painting.
  • Surgical Appliance Making.
  • Telephone Switchboard Operator.
  • Typewriter Mechanics.
  • Watch and Clock Repairer.
  • Welding (Oxy-acetylene and Electric).
  • Gardening.
  • Handyman.
  • Storekeeping.

B

  • Fitting.
  • Electrician.
  • Draughtsmanship.
  • Inspection and Viewing.
  • Instrument Making.
  • Machine Operating.
  • Motor Mechanics.
  • Sheet Metal Working and Panel Beating.
  • Ships Riveters and Rivet Beaters.
  • Welding (Oxy-acetylene and Electric).

C

  • Coppersmith.
  • Canteen Management.
  • Canteen Cook.
  • Boiler and Dynamo Attendant.
  • Concrete and Shuttering.
  • Dental Mechanics.
  • Electro-plating.
  • Garage Mechanic and Light Lorry Driver.
  • Gas and Hot Water Fitting.
  • Glass Blowing.
  • Glazing.
  • Hairdressing.
  • Plumbing.
  • Scientific Instrument Assembly.
  • Slating and Tiling.
  • Typography.
  • Wood-machining.
  • Metallurgical Analyst.

NOTE.—

A = Special Classes for the disabled.

B = Normal Classes in which disabled men are trained with fit men.

C = Classes which can be set up for disabled men as required.

Directed Women Workers (Lodging Allowance)

12.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will pay subsistence allowances to women directed to work in places away from their homes, as is done in the case of evacuated civil servants, since their earnings in many instances do not enable them to meet their living and other reasonable expenses.

As my hon. Friend will be aware, any transferred worker who was living with and maintaining dependants before transfer receives a lodging allowance of 24s. 6d. a week from my Department in order to assist with the extra expenses where two establishments have to be maintained. In addition, I have recently made arrangements in the case of transferred women not eligible for these allowances to pay a "settling-in" grant of 25s. a week for the first week after transfer, 20s. the second, 15s. the third, and 10s. for the fourth week, unless the women are living in a Government hostel, when these payments are reduced by 5s. per week. I have made these arrangements to help tide the women over the initial period during which she may need to acquire proficiency to enable her to secure a reasonable level of earnings. Further than that I am afraid I cannot go. The adequacy of earnings in any given industry is a question for settlement through the normal negotiating machinery of that industry, and where an industry is depending on an intake of transferred women, it will be necessary for the industry to see that full account is taken of their needs.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in practice it is not sufficient to provide these allowances for four weeks only, when he has taken these women to work away from their homes has he not a responsibility to see that their income is sufficient to meet reasonable expenses? Will he not treat them at least as favourably as evacuated civil servants?

I cannot undertake to subsidise low wages in an industry. If the man or the woman—because there is exactly equal treatment—has not two establishments to maintain I am afraid that it is not possible for me to recommend my colleagues in the Government to make up wages. What I do is to take what steps I can through the negotiating machinery to see that the wages are put right.

Will my right hon. Friend explain why the figure should be 24s. 6d. in the case of industrial workers and 21s. in the case of civil servants?

I always thought the appetite of a civil servant was not that of an industrial worker.