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Volume 531: debated on Tuesday 27 July 1954

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Factory Inspectors (Recruitment)


asked the Minister of Labour how many graduates in engineering, chemistry and metallurgy, respectively, or their technical equivalents, accepted appointments as factory inspectors in response to his advertisements for such applicants during the latter end of 1953.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and National Service(Mr. Harold Watkinson)

One graduate in chemistry. No other candidates were qualified for appointment.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary not agree that this is not a very satisfactory state of affairs and, in view of the response made, that it would be better if the scales of remuneration for factory inspectors were as high as those in other Departments, such as Education and the Treasury? Lastly, will he say if there is any likelihood of improvement now?

I do not think it would be proper for me to express an opinion other than to say that, as the hon. Gentleman knows, the pay scale is under consideration at the present moment.



asked the Minister of Labour to make a statement on the general employment position in Wales, compared with a convenient date 12 months ago and in 1951.

In June, 1954, the number of persons unemployed in Wales was 19,600, which was the lowest June figure in any year since the war. It was 6,000 fewer than in June, 1953, and 1,000 less than in June, 1951. Statistics to show the number of persons in employment in Wales at mid-1954 are not yet available. Between June, 1951, and June, 1953, the total in employment rose by 12,000, and all the indications are that employment has continued to expand this year.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the maintenance of such a high level of employment in Wales is giving satisfaction to people in all walks of life, and will he pay some particular attention to one or two spots in the North which, I believe, have particular difficulties?

Yes. I think it is only fair to say that there are still difficulties ahead and that the level of employment in Wales is not as high as the level in the best areas in England. Nevertheless, progress has been remarkable, and I think we shall maintain it.

Would the hon. Gentleman say what are the prospects for the better employment of shipbuilding repair workers and wet dockers in Wales?

United Kingdom


asked the Minister of Labour how the present employment position in the United Kingdom as a whole compares with that of a year ago; and how far he anticipates that full employment can be maintained during the rest of this year.

The number of persons in employment in Great Britain at the end of May was the highest ever recorded in peace-time and over 200,000 more than at the end of May last year. Unemployment in June was 58,000 less than a year ago. There are at present no indications that employment is likely to fall below a satisfactory level in the second half of this year.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there will be widespread satisfaction that under a Conservative Government the principles of full employment are being so magnificently upheld, and will he do his utmost to ensure that this happy state of affairs continues?

Can the hon. Gentleman say to what extent this wonderful full employment situation is due to the large number of factories built during the period when the Labour Party were in office?

If the right hon. Gentleman wants the right answer as to why we have achieved full employment, it is because the Government have provided the right kind of economic background which enables people in this country to be competitive and productive in the export market.

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that for over 10 years between the wars when the Conservative Party was in power there were over two million unemployed and South Wales was a distressed area?

Is my hon. Friend aware that, in fact, he has not answered the Question fully, because it refers to the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom includes Northern Ireland? Will he bear in mind the high level of unemployment there?

I think my hon. and gallant Friend would be the first to object if my right hon. and learned Friend were to undertake the direct responsibility for this problem, which properly belongs to the Northern Ireland Government.

Are we to take it that the Government take credit for full employment but refuse to take responsibility for unemployment?

The hon. Gentleman has not kept himself up to date, or he would have known that last week my right hon. and learned Friend and my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary had a meeting on this very matter of Northern Ireland unemployment with their corresponding colleagues from the Government of Northern Ireland.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that a good deal of the improvement is due to the fact that the trade unions have encouraged their members to develop human relations in industry?

Certainly, and, if this is my last word at this Box on this subject, I would say that this is surely something about which the whole country—[Laughter.] I know the Opposition find great amusement in the fact that this country is more prosperous than it has been at any time since the war.

Human Relations In Industry (Exhibition)


asked the Minister of Labour what efforts have been made through the National Joint Advisory Council with the object of improving human relations in industry.

The National Joint Advisory Council appointed a special sub-committee to consider what measures should be taken to improve human relations in industry which made a report to the Council earlier this year. A leaflet giving the conclusions and recommendations of that report was published on Thursday last. In addition, a small mobile exhibition giving examples of good industrial practice in works information has been produced by my Department. This is now on view at the end of the Ministers' corridor on the Ministerial floor and will later be made available to the British Productivity Council, who hope to make use of it at exhibitions and conferences organised by their local productivity committees.

May I thank my hon. Friend for that answer and ask him if he will give an assurance that every encouragement will continue to be given by his Department to this vitally important subject of the improvement of relations?

Yes, Sir. This is part of the job mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southwark (Mr. Isaacs) of improving human relations in industry as a proper basis for permanent prosperity.

Older Persons


asked the Minister of Labour how many of his staff throughout the country during the year 1953 were compulsorily retired on reaching the age of 60 years; how many between the ages of 61 and 65 years; and how many of his present staff are over the age of 65 years.

Seventy-three were retired on reaching 60; of these 70 were retired because they were not fully fit and efficient and three because of redundancy. Three hundred and six were retired between the ages of 61 and 65; of these 57 were not fully fit and efficient, and 249 were redundant owing to the contraction of the Department's work. Six hundred and six members of the present staff are over the age of 65.


asked the Minister of Labour what instructions have been issued to his staff in connection with impressing on employers in industry the desirability of offering to continue in employment fit men and women of pensionable age.

The staff of the Ministry have standing instructions to encourage employers to follow the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee that all men and women, irrespective of age, who can give effective service, and for whom work is available, should be allowed to continue at work if they so wish. The local employment committees, which represent employers, workpeople, and other local interests, are also giving valuable help in promoting the continued employment of older men and women.

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that the advice he is giving to employers is in fact being followed in his own Department, because only recently I heard of an apparently perfectly fit employee who was a member of his staff, aged only 62, who was going round to employers encouraging them to keep on their staff after pensionable age and who, in the next week, was found to be redundant himself?

If the hon. Gentleman will be kind enough to give me details,I will look into that matter. No doubt it was covered by the figures I gave in my previous answer.

Do not the figures show a considerable improvement on those of two years ago when managers of labour exchanges were being retired almost automatically at the age of 60?

How can the Minister consistently encourage people to stay on in industry when in his own Department, not only in the case mentioned by the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt), he is preventing men who are able and willing to stay on from carrying on after the age of 61 or 62?

That is not correct. My committee on older workers recommended that the test for employment must be that the job is there and that the man has the capacity to do it. That is the test that we apply in my Department.



asked the Minister of Labour how many people in the Borough of Barry had been unemployed for periods of more than six months at the latest convenient date; and how this figure compares with the figure for a year previously.

Ninety-eight at 14th June, 1954, compared with 96 at 15th June, 1953.

May I thank my hon. Friend for the remarkable figures he has been able to give?

Redundant Workers, Stirling


asked the Minister of Labour how many of the male and female workers, respectively, who were rendered redundant by the recent closing of the British-American Tobacco Company's factory in Stirling have now been placed in employment; and how many are still without employment.

Forty-one men and 127 women have now been placed or have found work. Twenty-four women are still registered for employment, and no men.

Will the hon. Gentleman continue in his efforts to find work for these women and also take note of the fact that the general situation illustrates the difficulty of finding work for women in this neighbourhood?

New Towns (Registrations)


asked the Minister of Labour if his regulations permit managers of all employment exchanges to arrange with employment exchanges or employers in new towns for the employment of those who apply locally for employment in the new towns; and whether the managers of employment exchanges in the new towns are permitted to register for employment and secure employment for those not living in the new towns who nevertheless apply at those new towns for employment.

Anyone may register at any employment exchange for employment in any part of the country. Persons registering for employment in the new towns, however, are considered in the following order when vacancies arise:

  • (1) Suitable local unemployed persons.
  • (2) Suitable persons who are on the housing list of one of the exporting authorities in Greater London, who have indicated their desire to move to a new or expanded town, and who are nominated by the authority.
  • (3) Other suitable persons who have applied.
  • Is the Minister aware that a certain amount of confusion exists in the minds of those who would like to work in the new towns? Can something be done to clarify this matter and also to publicise it?