Skip to main content


Volume 416: debated on Thursday 29 November 1945

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Unemployment Statistics


asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the number of unemployed workers at present registered at the employment exchanges in Edinburgh and Leith on the most recent date for which net figures are available.

At 15th October there were 1,798 unemployed insured persons aged 14 years and over, on the registers of Employment Exchanges in Edinburgh and Leith, excluding 364 who had been classified as unsuitable for ordinary employment.


asked the Minister of Labour what the latest available figures are for unemployment in the county of Merioneth; what percentage of the insurable population of the county these represent; and whether the figures show an increase or decrease in unemployment since VE-day.

At 15th October, 1945, the number of insured persons aged 14 years and over registered as unemployed at Employment Exchanges in the county of Merioneth was 234 or 4 per cent. of the number of unemployment books exchanged there. The corresponding figures for 16th April, 1945, the date nearest to VE-day on which a count of the unemployed was taken, were 110 and 2 per cent.


asked the Minister of Labour what the latest available figures are for unemployment in Wales; and what proportion of the insurable population these represent; and whether they show an increase or decrease since VE-day.

:The number of insured persons aged 14 years and over registered as unemployed in Wales and Monmouthshire at 15th October, 1945, was 54,719 or 8 per cent. of the estimated numbers insured at July, 1945. The corresponding figures at 16th April, 1945, the date nearest to VE-day on which a count of the unemployed was made, were 12,195 and 2 per cent.

Dock Workers' Wages


asked the Minister of Labour if, in view of the fact that dock undertakings are about to be nationalised, he will at once assume responsibility for the wage negotiations with the dockers' representatives.

What conceivable interest can the employers of labour take in the wage structure? What is to prevent them from fixing wages at any figure? Does the Minister not think that in the national interest these wage negotiations—

I think the employers are just as anxious to play the game as the workers are.

Woollen And Worsted Industry


asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the number of operatives in the woollen and worsted industry who left the industry in the period from the end of June to the end of September, 1945.

:During the period in question there was a net increase of 1,700 in the number of operatives in the industry. I regret that information is not available as to the numbers who left the industry in that period.

:Could the Minister say what special step he is taking to augment the labour force in this industry, which is a conversion industry, upon which other industries employing thousands of workers depend for supply?

We are using all the powers available to the Ministry, but if the hon. Member will put down a question I will let him know if special steps can be taken.

Civilian Industries (Manpower Increase)


asked the Minister of Labour to what extent the manpower in the civilian industries and services of the country have been restored since VE-Day.

Precise figures are not available as from VE-Day, but I am in a position to give my hon. Friend the required information as from the end of June last. During the three months from the end of June to the end of September, there was a net reduction of 1,263,000 persons in the Forces, Civil Defence and munitions, while it is anticipated that in the three months to the end of the year, there will be a further reduction of 2,460,000, making a total for the six months of 3,723,000, Not all these are available for civilian work. Allowance must be made for the fall in the working population, for unemployment and for ex-Service men and women taking their paid leave. After allowing for these factors, employment in civilian industries and services increased in the three months to the end of September by 739,000 and it is estimated it will increase by another 1,561,000 in the last three months of the year. The total increase in the half-year ending 31st December next will thus be 2,300,000.

This means that employment on home civilian work and exports will have increased from 12,312,000 to 14,612,000 during the last half of 1945. The manpower employed on home civilian work and exports taken as a whole will therefore have been more than half restored to the 1939 position in a period of six months. Even if there were to be no acceleration in the present provisional programme of releases from the Forces announced for the first half of 1946, a large part of the remaining gap will have been filled by the middle of next year.

No one rose quickly to ask a supplementary before I had called the next Question.


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will give approximate figures for the number of persons in whole-time employment in retail distribution on 1st January, 1945, and the number employed on 30th September, 1945.

:Separate figures are not available for retail distribution, but for the distributive trades as a whole it is estimated that approximately 1,422,000 full time insured persons were in employment at the beginning of January, and 1,470,000 at the end of September.

in view of the remarkable answer which the right hon. Gentleman gave to Question 61, will he consider the transfer of more workers to the distributive industries, and thus help to reduce the queues from which so many shoppers are now suffering?

So far as the facts are known to us, it is not only the shortage of distributive workers but it is the fact that the goods and commodities are not there, and the two things must go together. The distributive forces are having a fair share of the labour available.

War Damage Repair Workers (Transfer)


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will set a time limit for W (T) Reserve men engaged on bomb-damage repairs in London to be transferred to their home districts, where they are urgently needed for building houses under local authorities' schemes; and if it is found impossible to spare single men from London, will consideration be given to the case of married men.

The general question of men from other areas who are engaged on war damage repairs in London is under consideration, and I anticipate that an announcement will be made very shortly.

Is the Minister aware of the feelings of resentment, especially on the part of married men, at being kept in London while their old jobs are waiting for them in the North of England for the erection of much needed homes?

Building Trade Workers


asked the Minister of Labour how many building trade workers are now registered at employment exchanges as unemployed.

:The number of insured building trade workers registered as unemployed in Great Britain at 15th October, 1945, was 4,381.

Because it is mainly come and go. These are mainly men moving from one job to another on the register.

Engineering Instructors, Watford


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is in a position to state what steps have been taken to secure employment at adequate rates of pay for those men who have been engineering instructors at the Government training centre, Watford, and are now being stood off, owing to the conversion of the training centre to another purpose.

I am looking into this matter and will write to my hon. and gallant Friend.

Agriculture (Training Scheme)


asked the Minister of Labour whether farm pupils under the Government Training Scheme are ineligible unless they have suffered unavoidable interruption from following their normal occupation before the war.

:I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Ayles) on 24th October. The general conditions of eligibility are set out in the Pamphlet P.L.156 "Government Vocational Training Scheme," a copy of which is being sent to the hon. and gallant Member.

Unofficial Strikes


asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the repeated inconvenience suffered by the public as a result of illegal strikes, His Majesty's Government will in future bring to bear the full force of the law upon those who lead or instigate strike action contrary to the whole principle of collective bargaining and in defiance of the established machinery for conciliation.

:The Government are conscious of the inconvenience occasioned by stoppages of work in certain industries and they will take any necessary steps to protect the public interest. What such steps should be must however, be determined in the light of the circumstances of each case.

Is the Minister conscious of Section 4 of the Conspiracy Act, 1875, and that the criminal law has been broken with impunity by a great number of workers?

All those who have had any service in the trade union movement are conscious of that particular Act. I would remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that if he looks at the matter, he will see that the power to authorise prosecutions does not rest with Government officials.

Mine Ballotees


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will now make a statement about the release of young men called up compulsorily to the mines.

Yes, Sir. I am circulating a full statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.I should, however, like to take this opportunity of reinforcing what was said recently by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Secretary, in the Debate on the Adjournment. The majority of these young men called up compulsorily to the mines, and also of the optants and volunteers, have done, and are doing, an invaluable job of work in the pits. I cannot emphasise this more than by saying that we cannot do without them at this juncture. Were it not for their contribution, many thousands fewer men would at this time be working at the coalface, and the loss of the tonnage which they produce would add enormously to the gravity of the problem with which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power is confronted this Winter.

Following is the statement: