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Volume 465: debated on Thursday 2 June 1949

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Youth Hostel Wardens (Pay)


asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the discontent on income now being shown by the organised wardens of youth hostels; and why they have been excluded from the Catering Wages Board.

There seems to be some misunderstanding. Hostels are not excluded from the scope of the Unlicensed Residential Establishment Wages Board if they come within the definition contained in the Order. Perhaps my hon. Friend will give me particulars of the hostels he has in mind. I would however point out that the Wages Board are still considering what proposals to submit to me for wage regulation.

Ex-German Prisoner-Of-War


asked the Minister of Labour why Mr. H. Teske, 21, Friday Road, Erith, an ex-German prisoner-of-war, having satisfied his Department's medical advisers of his inability to undertake agricultural work as the result of war wounds, was informed by the manager of the Erith Employment Exchange on instructions from the London office that he is eligible for any other form of employment than that of a compositor, the only trade known to him, with several employers seeking his services in a district where advertisements for compositors bring no results and where neither the local employment exchanges nor the appropriate unions can provide the necessary labour.

In view of the fact that this ex-prisoner-of-war is married to a woman of British stock and has been found unfit for further work in agriculture, arrangements have now been made to enable him to take up work as a compositor.

Would the right hon. Gentleman explain to me why it was necessary for a Member of Parliament to go to great lengths to disclose what are believed to be bureaucratic methods, and why this was not dealt with in the proper light in the first place, without my having to go to this trouble?

I think the best answer I can give is that it was not until the matter came to my notice by means of a Question on the Order Paper that I was able to take any action.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if his answer in any way affects the general ruling that only ex-German prisoners suitable for agricultural work can settle in this country?

Night Baking


asked the Minister of Labour if he has any statement to make on the present state of the negotiations between the two sides of the baking industry about the abolition of night baking.

Following joint meetings held under the auspices of my Department on 17th March and 7th April last, when, unfortunately, it was not possible to reach an agreement, the trade unions decided to report back to their constituent organisations. I am awaiting the result.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that on the men's side there is a feeling that the interminable delays in settling the matter are the direct results of deliberate procrastination on the employers' side? Will he do all he can to bring the two sides to an agreed solution?

From my knowledge of the matter I cannot accept the suggestion that there is deliberate procrastination on the employers' side. There is a number of conflicting points to be considered, and we shall most certainly do what we can to hasten the direction of attention to them.

Motor Industry, Bristol


asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that the impending reduction in production of the Bristol 2-litre type cars will increase unemployment in Bristol; and what action he proposes to take in this matter.

I am informed that, as a result of the re-organisation of production, some workers will be transferred to work on aircraft, and a few may become redundant. The normal machinery of the employment exchange service will be available for all those who register for employment.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the reduction in the demand for this car is brought about by the Government's Purchase Tax? Will the Minister take it up with the Treasury with a view to the removal of this tax to obviate an increase in the number of unemployed in the City of Bristol?

No, Sir, my duty is to reduce the number of unemployed, and as there are 866 vacancies outstanding in Bristol, and nearly 200 in this particular group, there will be no problem in providing work for these people.

Industrial Management (Students)


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that business training students who have completed the one year post-graduate course in industrial management, for which they were granted State aid, are not being offered suitable posts on completion of the course; and what steps he is taking to inform industry that the services of such trained personnel are available.

There are no one year post-graduate courses in industrial management, but if the hon. Member will let me know what he has in mind I will make inquiries and send him the information he desires.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are such courses that are at present being conducted in Leicester, and that people who have passed through those courses are offered jobs as junior clerks and as assistants to managers? Will my right hon. Friend inquire into this matter to see whether the services of men who have been so trained will be utilised to their best advantage?

I can only repeat there are no post-graduate courses. I am afraid my hon. Friend must unwittingly have become confused with, at least, two other things—first, general business training, and secondly, some other courses run by some private arrangement in Leicester relating to management, but which are not our business.

Docks (Disputes)


asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to protect foodstuffs held up as a result of the disputes at the docks.


asked the Minister of Labour if he will make a statement as to the position of the disputes at the docks.

The hon. Member will have seen the Government statement which I issued on 26th May last, and to which I cannot usefully add at the present moment. The Ports of Bristol, Portishead and Avonmouth are stopped, and there is a partial stoppage at Liverpool. The Government have made it clear that in their view the dispute in Canada is not a matter that should concern workers in this country. This is also the view of both sides of the industry. A close watch is being kept on developments with a view to any necessary action at the appropriate time.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the grave anxiety about this matter, and will he give an assurance that while the House is in Recess statements will be published indicating the course of these disputes?

Yes, Sir, most definitely. I think it is only proper to say that efforts are being made to spread the disputes. I am sure everybody will be happy to know that the London dockers this morning did not fall for these efforts this time, and have decided not to participate. I have every hope that common sense will come to the top, and that we shall get a settlement soon.

Has the attention of my right hon. Friend been drawn to the statement made by the area officer of the Transport and General Workers' Union in Liverpool last night? Will he see that whatever influence he has is brought to bear upon the Docks Corporation to withdraw the suspension notices on the 45 men, which notices are actually responsible for the stoppage on Merseyside?

I think it is most unfortunate that that particular matter has been mentioned, because there are many factors, and if attention is drawn especially to one there may be a little difficulty. I can only say that the factors are known to us and that we are dealing with them.

Has the right hon. Gentleman any official information as to the report that the American and Canadian unions are threatening retaliation against our ships if this action against the members of their unions still continues in this country?

I have such information—I could not assure the right hon. Gentleman that it is official information—but we have information that such action has been contemplated.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if there had been a legitimate grievance in the Avonmouth and Liverpool docks, the London dockers would have supported the men on strike, but that the London dockers have declared most emphatically that they will not support a strike that they regard as unofficial and unnecessary?

Is it not the case that it is the American Federation that has proposed to stop work in British ships, and that the American Federation is trying to destroy the Canadian union? Should there be condemnation of workers here for loyalty to the Canadian brotherhood?

The further we go into this the more difficulties arise. It may be that if everyone knew the connection and association of the Canadian union with a certain political organisation, we should want to condemn them.