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Volume 440: debated on Thursday 17 July 1947

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Women In Industry (Government's Appeal)


asked the Minister of Labour if he will now make a statement as to the number of women who have entered industry in response to the Government's appeal; and if he is satisfied with this response.

The district campaigns have been running for only a short time and at this early stage I have not sufficient information on which to base an estimate as to the response that has been made to the appeal.

Is not the Minister aware that the Parliamentary Secretary 10 days ago promised that he would give us these figures in the middle of July; the middle of July is now here, and therefore, why cannot we have the answer?

The answer I have given is correct. No doubt my right hon. Friend had in mind the possibility of doing that, but the campaign is only just getting well on its way and I would much prefer to await the result. However, if it will assist the House I will endeavour to see if I can get some definite information before the House rises.

Has the Minister considered the desirability of making a broadcast appeal on this subject?

Is it one of the objects of this campaign that young married women should be out of their homes even more than they are now, and is not this rather dangerous from the point of view of young children?

I take this opportunity of making it clear that what we are asking is that all women who can will come and serve. We do not want women with young children to desert them, and to upset their home life, because that upsets the menfolk and the factories. There must be many, many thousands of women who can help.

Training Courses (Ex-Servicemen)


asked the Minister of Labour how many ex-Servicemen, who have applied to undertake a vocational training course, are still waiting to be called after a period of six months, nine months and 12 months, respectively.

The information asked for is not immediately available but I am having it extracted and will write to the hon. Member.

Is it not a fact that ex-Servicemen have waited, and are still waiting, for periods of over 12 months? Is not that very disturbing, and what does the Minister propose to do to take up this time lag?

The answer to that is quite clear. It is that we are only training men in such numbers as industry agrees can be absorbed. Were we to extend our training facilities and to train a greater number of men, we should find they were unemployed when they came out. All the training is done in consultation with industry and we train the numbers which we are assured have a chance of finding employment.

Why is it that the Minister says that these figures are not available?

I said they are not immediately available. I am having them extracted and I will send them to the hon. Member.



asked the Minister of Labour what arrangements are being made to provide accommodation for those members of the Polish Resettlement Corps who have taken up permanent civil employment in this country.

Accommodation in hostels and camps is being provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Forestry Commission and the National Service Hostels Corporation as appropriate. As an interim measure Poles who obtain work near their military camps can remain accommodated there as civilians after being relegated to the reserve.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that employers are reluctant to give work to Polish soldiers who, when they become civilians, eventually will require accommodation and for whom they can see no prospect of providing accommodation; and can he give an assurance that if farmers give employment to Poles they can remain in their camps until permanent housing is available?

I thought that I gave that assurance in my original reply. In any case, if it was not understood, I now give the assurance that Poles who are recruited from military camps can remain in the camps until alternative accommodation is available for them.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that every effort will be made to avoid the overcrowding of these gallant heroes?

I have already given instructions that the space should be raised from 45 square feet to 60 square feet per man in these hostels, and I think they should be very much better for that.


asked the Minister of Labour which are the industries in which Poles have been placed; and the numbers in each industry.

About 24,000 Poles have been placed in a very wide range of industries. The numbers in the principal industries are as follows: Building and civil engineering, 4,432; Agriculture, 3,730; Underground coalmining, 3,316, of whom at 9th July, 2,388 had completed training and 1,668 had started work; Brick and tile making, 1,021. Smaller numbers have been placed in some 50 or more other industries.

Can the Minister give an assurance that in all these cases Poles will be placed only in the most essential of industries?

I thought that the figures I had given indicated that they were only going into the undermanned industries.

The Minister did say "50 or more other industries," and, therefore, I asked my question in relation to that.

Among those 50 other industries are undermanned industries, and they are doing a good job of work.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any difficulties are arising with the trade unions or whether the unions are receiving these men in a friendly spirit?

On the whole, I do not think that there is much room for complaint except in one case about which there has been some difficulty, and I think that we are getting over that very well. On the whole, the scheme is going very well.

Alien Workers


asked the Minister of Labour how many foreign workers have been brought here from Europe since 1st January, 1947; how many dependants came with them or are following them; to what industries have the workers been allocated; and the numbers placed in each industry.

Up to 14th July, 16,488, of whom 8,863, have been placed. No dependants came with them. Some will follow as soon as accommodation is available but I cannot yet give figures. The men placed have mostly gone into agriculture and the women into the textile industries and essential domestic employment. In addition, 13,861 individual permits have been issued to employers to employ aliens, over 10,000 of which were for domestic employment.

Will the Minister say what number it is proposed to bring over ultimately and over what period?

That will depend completely upon the accommodation available and the needs of our own industries.

Would my right hon. Friend consider the great need of hospitals for domestic workers before the needs of private employers?

With regard to hospitals, we are now going into the French Zone where we are told there are several thousand single unattached women, and we are hoping to recruit them.

What facilities, if any, are there for workers who have been brought from abroad to change from industry to industry after they have become settled in this country?

In the case of single women who are brought over for hospital and domestic employment, if they have the necessary qualifications and a recommendation is made by the employer, they are given opportunities to train as assistant nurses. That is one indication of the steps we are taking in that direction.

Disputes (Coal Industry)


asked the Minister of Labour how many shifts have been lost in the coal industry since 1st January, 1947, by reason of unofficial strikes in that industry.

The total number of man shifts lost through disputes in the coalmining industry in the 26 weeks ended 28th June, 1947, was 311,300. Information is not available which would enable roe to distinguish between unofficial and official strikes.

Can the Minister explain this high figure of over 300,000, in view of the alleged advantages of nationalisation?

Can the Minister say whether it is far less than it was under private enterprise?

Without any figures, I can say that it is considerably better than it was under private enterprise, but I can say also that it is not only wages that make men happy and comfortable in their jobs. There are other things that get into the machine and cause disturbances.

Would the Minister impress upon the miners that they are now national servants and owe a duty to the people of this country who employ them, and that they should take an oath of allegiance to the State to carry out their work as State employees?

That is a good Socialist sentiment, and we will keep it in mind, but may I remind the hon. Member that he also is a servant of the State as a Member of this House, and that he does not help coal production by—[Interruption.]

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman since when the House of Commons has been nationalised?

National Service (University Students)

50 and 51.

asked the Minister of Labour (1) how many students have been nominated for Class B release to attend universities and technical colleges in 1947; and how many have been granted release;

(2) how many students were granted Class B release to attend universities and technical colleges in 1945 and 1946.

Approximately, 4,250 students were released in Class B for the academic year 1945–1946 and 2,350 for the academic year 1946–1947. Up to 15th July, 1,695 students had been nominated for release in Class B for the academic year 1947–1948, but as releases will be effected shortly before the men are due to commence their studies, only a very few have so far actually been released in Class B.

While quite understanding the last sentence of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, will his office bear in mind the extreme necessity or desirability of allowing certainty to the men and to the academic institutions concerned as long before October as is possible?

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the men who would be released in any case by the end of this year may be released in time to start their academic year this October?

No, Sir. That is the vexed question of Group 62 and Group 63. We cannot go beyond Group 62.

Greater London (Insured Population)


asked the Minister of Labour to what extent the insured population of the London and Greater London area has increased since June, 1945; and by what percentage increase this compares with England and Wales.

The total insured population is ascertained only once a year, in July, but the figures for July, 1947, are not yet available. From July, 1945, to July, 1946, the number increased by 18 per cent. in the County of London, by 16 per cent. in Greater London and by 12 per cent. in England and Wales.

Is the Minister aware that this exceptional drift of insured workers to London and the Greater London area is causing increasing housing and overcrowding problems for the local authorities, and can he suggest any way by which he can encourage these insured workers to migrate to other parts of the country?

I am aware of the migration to London and other large areas. For that reason, the Government are concentrating on getting industries to locate themselves in other areas, thus not only providing work in other areas but inducing some of these people to go there.