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Civilian Industries (Manpower Increase)

Volume 416: debated on Thursday 29 November 1945

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61.

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.

69.

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.