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Building Workers

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 10 May 1949

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asked the Minister of Labour what was the shortage of building workers in Scotland on 31st March; and what steps are now being taken to build up the labour force necessary to increase the rate of house building in Scotland.

The total number of outstanding building and civil engineering vacancies on 31st March, 1949, was 2,642, including 1,164 for housing contracts. Every effort is being made to divert available labour to those housing contracts which are seriously short of labour, and housing vacancies are now being filled at the rate of 680 a week.

Can the Minister tell us whether the labour situation is really getting better or getting worse?

The fact that we are able to fill all the vacancies in Scotland is an indication that the position is very much easier.

What is the cause of this shortage? Is it due to a drift of workers South, or is it due to their going into other trades? Does the Minister realise that it is having very serious results?

It is due to the fact that we are starting very large contracts in Scotland and that it takes time to get a balance in the contracts as well as in the building industry.

As the Secretary of State for Scotland is presently proposing to place new responsibilities on the building industry in Scotland, will the Parliamentary Secretary make every effort to increase the available supplies of labour?

I am going to Scotland next week to examine the position on the spot.


asked the Minister of Works what percentage of building tradesmen in Scotland were engaged on the erection of permanent houses on 31st December, 1948, and 31st March, 1949.

The percentages of building operatives employed on construction of permanent houses and preparation of housing sites on the two dates mentioned were 30.2 and 28.2 respectively. Both figures include direct labour employed by local authorities.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us where the rest of the building labour was employed, in view of the fact that such a small percentage was on house building?

This is house building. A very large part of the labour was engaged on house repair and maintenance, as well as on industrial and other building.