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Ministry Of Labour (Staff)

Volume 440: debated on Thursday 17 July 1947

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asked the Minister of Labour why 41,673 civil servants are employed by his Department today as com- pared with 28,339 prewar, when there was more unemployment; what extra duties they are now performing; and what are the present total salaries as compared with prewar.

My Department has today greatly increased duties and responsibilities as compared with 1939. In addition to being much more concerned with trying to ensure that workers are placed in suitable employment and that those vacancies which are most important in the national interest are filled, it now administers the Factory Acts—[Interruption]—that interruption, arising out of the entrance of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), is most welcome. As I was saying, my Department now administers the Factory Acts, which it has taken over from the Home Office, the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act, 1944, the various schemes for the Resettlement of ex-Service men and women, the Appointments Service and the greatly enlarged vocational training schemes. Its responsibilities under the National Service Acts are also much greater. The total salaries, including overtime, allowances, etc., paid during the year ended 31st March, 1939, and 31st March, 1947, amounted to 6,275,000 and £13,730,000 respectively.

May the House understand from that reply that the Minister sees no hope of reducing the staff, but rather that it will increase, and that the number of civil servants in the country will not decrease in the next few months?

No, Sir, I am in a position to tell the House that neither of those ideas would be correct. The figures I have given relate to April. Since the date to which the hon. Member's figures referred, the number of 41,673 had been reduced to 39,000 by 1st July. It will be seen that staffs are being dispensed with wherever that can be done.

Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that he will pay no attention to the suggestion implied in the Question that he ought to reduce his staff by increasing the unemployment figures?

Since the Government need people in productive industry, surely the question of the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) was simply nonsense?