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Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 22 March 1949

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Remploy Factories, Staffordshire


asked the Minister of Labour how many Remploy factories have been established in North Staffordshire; and how many more are considered necessary by him.

Three—at Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle and Longton. On present evidence these should be sufficient for the needs of the area but, if they are not, others will be provided.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in an area where the majority of the workers are pottery workers and miners the incidence of industrial disease and accidents is inevitably high? Will he bear that in mind?

Yes, the incidence of disease is high there, but it is high in many other industries elsewhere. However, that is borne in mind. We take into consideration the number of persons requiring this special treatment and we hope to provide it.


asked the Minister of Labour how many men and women are employed in the Remploy Factory in Leek Road, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent; and how many of them have suffered from industrial accident or industrial disease before being employed there.

There were 43 severely disabled persons employed at 11th March, 1949, all of whom were men. Of these, 11 were admitted on the grounds of having suffered from industrial accident or industrial disease.

I thought that potted title was well known. It is the short name of the factories established by the Disabled Persons' Employment Corporation.

Will my right hon. Friend tell the House what method is used for the selection of these people, and the grounds on which they are selected?

If my hon. Friend will put that question down, I shall be very happy indeed to give him the information.

Vocational Training


asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the total number of persons waiting to be admitted for a vocational training course; and how many of them have been waiting for periods of three, six and 12 months, respectively.

Two thousand, seven hundred and eighty-four. I could not give without special inquiry the periods for which individuals have been waiting.

Is it not a fact that the Minister has given that information previously? Will he assure the House that no man has waited for as long a period as 12 months before undertaking one of these courses?

I could not give a definite assurance of that kind. It depends on the trade which the man is seeking and the opportunities which exist for entering it. However, I can assure the House that on an average three months is the maximum waiting period.


asked the Minister of Labour how many of the 4,301 persons in Government training centres are women; and for what work the women are being trained.

Two hundred women are in training; for canteen cookery, cotton spinning, dressmaking, engineering draughtsmanship, hairdressing, shorthand typing, and retail bespoke tailoring.

European Volunteer Workers


asked the Minister of Labour what is the average number of European voluntary workers arriving monthly in this country; and what proportion are females suitable for the cotton, woollen and hosiery industries.

During recent months a monthly average of approximately 430 men and 275 women, plus 475 German women, have been brought to this country. The average number suitable for the industries mentioned was 290.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that as far as the hosiery trade is concerned no E.V.Ws. have been available for some consider- able time, and will he take steps to see that that trade is treated equally with the cotton and woollen industries?

The hon. Gentleman should check his information. Within the last fortnight that trade has had a very large intake of German women.

Short-Time Working


asked the Minister of Labour if he will give an estimate of the amount of the present short-time working in British industry; and whether he will arrange for the regular inclusion of a short time working figure in the published unemployment statistics.

Information as to the extent of short-time working in the manufacturing industries is obtained only at quarterly intervals. In the week ended 1st January when conditions were abnormal following Christmas. 35,000 operatives were losing an average of 18½ hours. The next figures will relate to the end of March. I will arrange for these, and the figures for subsequent quarterly dates, to be published.



asked the Minister of Labour how many workers were registered as unemployed at the end of February, 1949; and how many of them were coloured people.

The latest date for which figures are available is 14th February, when the total numbers registered as un- employed in Great Britain was 360,283. The number of these who were coloured people is not known.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the president of the West African Traders' Union quotes the "News Chronicle" of 14th February as stating that in the city of Manchester alone there were 3,000 coloured people unemployed? Can he tell us if that is a fact?

I do not care what newspaper the hon. and gallant Member quotes. I shall not endeavour to distinguish in these figures between coloured people and white men.


asked the Minister of Labour if he will give the figures of persons unemployed in the towns of Batley and Morley for the months of January in each of the following years, 1949, 1944, 1939, 1934.

As the reply includes a table of figures I will, if I may, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply

The Table below shows the number of unemployed persons on the registers of Batley Employment Exchange and Youth Employment Bureau and Morley Employment Exchange in January in the years in question.


Disabled Persons, Batley And Morley


asked the Minister of Labour how many of the persons signing the unemployment register in Batley and Morley in January, 1949, were classified as disabled persons.

Thirty-one at Batley and 52 at Morley. Of these eight at Batley and 26 at Morley are classified as severely disabled and needing sheltered employment.

National Service Hostel, Onslow Square


asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that 800 single men at present accommodated by the National Service Hostels Corporation at Onslow Square, S.W.7, have been given notice to quit; that this notice expires on 9th April; and if he will give an assurance that these residents will be permitted to continue in occupation until they have been able to find or have been found suitable alternative accommodation.

About 700 men employed in less essential types of employment, in whose case the continued provision of subsidised accommodation in a Government hostel is not justified, have been given notice to leave the hostel. Local officers of my Department in London have been instruced to give all possible assistance to the men concerned to find other accommodation.

As our position in London is that we cannot find these men accommodation, either through the L.C.C. or through the Boroughs, is it not possible to continue their residence in that place, either subsidised or unsubsidised, through some machinery open to the Minister?

We must take this action. These hostels were operated by the Government and subsidised heavily to provide accommodation for men and women transferred to priority work. We have given every help we can to the persons concerned, but we must end the condition now operating.

Temporary Premises, Lewisham (Release)


asked the Minister of Labour the date when his Department will vacate the premises of 291 Airborne Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, in Ennersdale Road, Lewisham.

Domestic Service


asked the Minister of Labour why women between the ages of 18 and 41 years are required to obtain his Department's consent to any engagement in domestic service, notwithstanding that his powers, under the Control of Engagement Order to refuse such consent, are never exercised; and if he will dispense with this formality.

The inclusion of employment in domestic service within the scope of the Order gives an opportunity to distinguish between employment in hardship households, hospitals, etc., and that in other places where the need is not so great. The answer to the last part of the Question is in the negative.

Did not the right non. Gentleman in the Debate on 10th March deny that the Ministry used its powers to prevent any of these engagements? In those circumstances, why should people be put to the necessity of reporting proposed engagements as a mere formality?

I did not deny that this was operating; what I said was that no young woman was refused permission to enter a hardship household in domestic service by the operation of the Control of Engagement Order, and that position stands. We cannot agree to one employer having three or four servants and another not having any

But is it not a fact that the Ministry requires these proposed engagements to be reported—

Ex-Service Men (Resettlement)


asked the Minister of Labour why, in his schemes for assisting ex-Regular members of His Majesty's Forces to resettle in civil life, he provides for grants to be given only in cases of financial necessity; and what standard he will use to decide whether there is financial necessity.

I assume the hon. Member is referring to the courses of business training for ex-Regular members of His Majesty's Forces recently introduced. All applicants approved for these courses will receive grants covering tuition fees, travelling expenses incurred in the course of training, and an allowance for text books. Maintenance grants will also be payable, where necessary, in order to provide broadly the reasonable requirements and standard of living to which the applicant is accustomed. For this purpose, as in the case of other comparable resettlement schemes, other income, including the pensions and retired pay payable in a large number of cases, is one of the factors to be taken into account. I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the detailed rules governing the assessment of grant which are somewhat long and intricate.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make quite certain in working this scheme, and any future scheme he has in mind for ex-Regular members of the Forces, that he does not discourage savings by those members while they are in the Forces, and does not discourage them from staying on to earn their pension?

I can give the hon. Gentleman those assurances. These rules are administered generously and sympathetically. We are most anxious to help these men who come along for this service.

Dock Work, Middlesbrough (Dispute)


asked the Minister of Labour if, before any alterations were made in the time of attendance of dock workers at Middlesbrough, the fullest opportunity was given to the men to discuss the proposals; and if he is satisfied that the consultative machinery was properly used on this occasion.

I understand that this matter has been the subject of discussion for close on two years and that the appropriate joint machinery has been fully utilised.

Since this strike has been going on now for a month, does my right hon. Friend intend to use the services of his Department with a view to obtaining an early settlement, as the trade of the district is being seriously interrupted by this strike?

I submit, with respect, that that question goes far beyond the one on the Order Paper, both parts of which I have answered quite definitely.

Wells House Hotel, Ilkley


asked the Minister of Labour when he intends to use Wells House Hotel, Ilkley, for the accommodation of foreign labour, as it has not been required for a year; and if he will release this extensive accommodation so that it can be put to some valuable use at once.

Following rather prolonged negotiations with the American authorities, additional women are expected to become available under the Westward Ho Scheme in the very near future. If the numbers expected materialise, Wells House will be required to house these workers.

Cotton Mill Accidents


asked the Minister of Labour what are the reasons for the substantial increase of mill accidents in the cotton industry; and what preventative training is being undertaken.

I am not aware of such an increase. Fluctuations in accident statistics have been found to be largely affected by fluctuations in numbers employed, and during last year the number of persons employed in the cotton industry increased by about 20,000. More systematic training is widely developing in industry, a number of cotton mills now have special training courses, and encouragement is being given to the establishment of suitable training schemes at other mills.

Would my right hon. Friend agree that an increase of 4,000 in one year is a substantial number and requires some positive action?

I am afraid my hon. Friend is quite wrong. When the figures are published I think he will find that they are lower for 1948 than for 1946, and I must compliment some of the employers in the textile industry on the excellent progress that is being made in accident prevention.

Will my right hon. Friend take into account the abnormal incidence of hernia and double hernia among power loom overlookers due to their lifting weavers' beams by hand; and will he encourage employers, as far as it is in his power, to extend the use of mobile lifting equipment?

We are giving publicity to one mill which has established mechanical handling throughout, and we hope by that means to encourage other employers to do the same thing.



asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to find employment for the unemployed in Brighton and what opportunities are open to them; also in what trades in Brighton most unemployment is to be found.

The normal machinery of the employment exchange service is available in Brighton to assist unemployed workers to find suitable work. There were 850 vacancies outstanding on 16th March. In addition, I am informed that apart from the many building schemes in preparation in the district, industrial developments are projected which, it is expected, will provide employment for some 1,200 men and women. Unemployment is heaviest amongst general labourers and women hotel workers.

Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that the Postmaster-General stated that he could do nothing to improve the Post Office conditions in Brighton because of the national manpower situation? In view of the large number of unemployed, especially over 45, and the fact that many unemployed come to me and point out that the Employment Exchange are not optimistic about the future, can the right hon. Gentleman look into this matter and do something more about it?

I cannot comment upon the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question but the situation in Brighton is having active attention. There are 850 vacancies there which we cannot fill because the people are not all suitable for those jobs. The second point which I think Brighton and towns of that character must bear in mind is that if we do get other industries to go there, and those industries require 640 women, it will be difficult for those towns to get the women back into the hotel trade after they have entered other employment.

Industrial Disputes (Statistics)


asked the Minister of Labour the total number of strikes notified to his Department during 1948; and how many originated in the mining industry.

The number of disputes causing stoppage of work which came to the notice of my Department in 1948 was 1,758, of which 1,115 were in the coal-mining industry.

Does the Minister consider that this answer lends colour to the suggestion that nationalisation is the means of wiping out disunity in industry?

Many of those strikes affect a comparatively few people and last only for a day or so but, judging from the information as to the causes of them, I am afraid they would have been much wider and longer had it not been for nationalisation.