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Volume 415: debated on Thursday 8 November 1945

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Building Trade Workers


asked the Minister of Labour what action he has taken, or proposes to take, in the lowering of the demobilisation group numbers of operatives essential to the building trades, especially those engaged hitherto on wartime constructional work, having regard to the need of homes for the people


Action of the nature suggested is not contemplated. Provision has already been made for the release of 60,000 building trade operatives in Class B—that is, in advance of their age and service groups.

Icannot give a specific answer to that question without notice, but the numbers now coming out under Class B are increasing rapidly week by week.

Rate Of Release


asked the Minister of Labour what is the present average rate of weekly releases from the Services; how far the present rate of weekly releases falls short of the maximum capacity of release centres; how many must be released each week in order to achieve the target of 1,500,000 releases by the end of the year; and whether he is satisfied that at the present rate of release 1,500,000 will, in fact, be released by the end of the year.

:I would ask the hon. and gallant Member to await the next monthly statement on releases from the Forces which I will make in about a fortnight. As regards release centres, I would point out that the numbers released have not been determined by the capacity of these centres.

Could not the Minister give us some idea of the average rate of weekly releases required to achieve the target of 1,500,000 by the end of the year, so that when he does make his state- ment we can check up whether, in fact, the figure of 1,500,000 will be reached by the end of the year?

Labour Control And Direction


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will place all men and women, on demobilisation or discharge from the Armed Forces, entirely outside the scope of direction by National Service officers so that they retain full freedom of action as re-gards employment, except in the case of Class B releases.

:Men and women discharged from the Forces under arrangements which provide for a period of paid leave have full freedom during that period from all labour controls including direction and, apart from ClassB, are not subsequently withdrawn from any employment which they may have taken during that period. After their period of paid leave these people are treated exactly like other workers.

Rate Of Release


asked the Minister of Labour whetherhe is aware that dissatisfaction in the three Services on the question of the speed of the demobilisation has increased during the past two months; and what steps he proposes to take to deal with it


No, Sir, I think the hon. Member is misinformed. Recently the Government have announced an increase of over 400,000 in the numbers to be released from the Forces this year, and the speed of release has substantially increased in the last few weeks.

Is the Minister aware that almost every Member has masses of letters expressing dissatisfaction on this subject?



asked the Minister of Labour whether he will take steps to give a priority in demobilisation to youths who volunteered for military service during their apprentice ship, so that they complete the same with out delay.

No, Sir. It would not be possible to single out this class for such exceptional treatment.



asked the Minister of Labour the numbers of unemployed men and unemployed women for the last avail able date.

:The last unemployment figures to be published relate to 16th July when the numbers of insured men and women aged 18 years and over registered as unemployed in Great Britain were 63,474 and 30,851 respectively A count of the unemployed was taken on 15th October, and I will send the figures for that date to the hon. Member when they are available.


asked the Minister of Labour the numbers of male and female unemployed registering at the exchanges in the administrative county of Durham at 31st October, 1945.

:A count of the unemployed was taken on 15th October, and I will send the figures for that date to my hon. Friend when they are available.

Have we always to wait a month before the figures are published?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman will have to wait until they are ready, anyway.


asked the Minister of Labour when he proposes to resume publication of monthly statistics by geographical divisions, of the actual numbers and percentages of insured workers un-employed in the engineering and shipbuilding and repairing industries.

I propose to make an early statement on the question of the monthly publication of unemployment statistics. Publication will be resumed in the near future of as much as possible of the detail that was published before the war.

Surgical Footwear(Manufacture)


asked the Minister of Labour to what extent there is a shortage of labour for the manufacture of surgical boots for disabled ex-Service-men; and what steps he is taking to improve the situation.

:This work is highly skilled, and though the number of unfilled vacancies is relatively small, suitably qualified applicants are hard to find. Where suitable workers become available they are placed, if possible, with firms making surgical footwear. My officers are in close touch with the Ministry of Pensions and Board of Trade.

Will the Minister pay particular attention to this matter, as considerable hardship is being caused?

:Yes, I can assure the hon. Member that the special attention of the employment exchanges has been directed to the matter

Holidays (Staggering)


asked the Minister of Labour whether in view of the shortage of accommodation in British holiday resorts, he will take steps to arrange for a proper spread-over of holidays in 1946.

:Holiday arrangements are primarily matters for settlement between employers and workers. I am consulting their principal organisations with regard to recommendations made by the Catering Wages Commission in a report now published, a copy of which is available in the Library, on measures which might be taken to promote the staggering of holidays. Thereafter I will consider what assistance the Government can appropriately give in the matter.

:Will the Minister also undertake to consult with the Minister of Education on this matter, in accordance with the recommendations of the Catering Wages Commission?

The recommendations of the Commission are being studied, and action will be taken where necessary.

Conscientious Objectors


asked the Minister of Labour how many conscientious objectors have been directed into the building trades and educational work, respectively, since the end of hostilities in Europe


:I am not able to state how many conscientious objectors have been required to undertake the work referred to since the end of hostilities in Europe. The civil work which a conscientious objector is required to perform, as the condition of his registration, is prescribed by the Statutory Tribunals and there is no authority to direct such persons to work outside their conditions.

Directed Mine Workers (Absenteeism)


asked the Minister of Labour whether he intends to prosecute boys conscripted for work in mines who leave their colliery and return home; and, if not, whether he will call them up for military service.

:Yes, Sir, it is necessary that these lads should remain in the industry until the date when they would have been released in their age and service order had they served in the Forces, and I am therefore prosecuting in appropriate cases those individuals who, unlike the majority of young men called up to the mines, have not been willing to carry out their national service in this way.

Is the Minister aware that, because of the statement of the Minister of Fuel and Power that he does not intend to prosecute for absenteeism, hundreds of Bevin boys have returned home, and will he give the widest publicity at every pit to the statement that he has just given?

We distinguish between absenteeism and those who have deliberately left the service.

Insured Workers


asked the Minister of Labour if and when he proposes to publish figures of the estimated numbers of insured workpeople in certain industries in Great Britain and Northern Ireland in similar form to the annual statistics issued before the war.

:The estimated numbers of insured workpeople in the various industries at July, 1945, will be published in this month's issue of the "Ministry of Labour Gazette."

:Will the Minister publish the figures showing the numbers engaged in the separate industries that constitute Group I, in the White Paper on the War Effort, and in the "Ministry of Labour Gazette"?

I think that since the hon. Member has got it written down he might have put it on the Order Paper.

Could not the "Ministry of Labour Gazette"be a Parliamentary Paper available for Members at the Vote Office?

If the hon. Gentleman will put that Question down, I will see what can be done about it.

Export Trade (Manpower)


asked the Minister of Labour what steps he proposes to take to make available sufficient manpower in the city of Sheffield to enable the manufacturers there to take full advantage of the potential export trade.

:I am aware that there is an acute shortage of labour in Sheffield, as in most other parts of the country. I hope that the position will largely be met as demobilisation proceeds.

Is the Minister aware that this is a vital matter which, if not dealt with, may cause widespread unemployment at a later date?

:We are acutely aware of that, and we are anxious to get demobilisation speeded up and to get the men back again.