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Hm Dockyards (Staggered Holidays)

Volume 531: debated on Wednesday 27 October 1954

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3.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will now consider reverting to staggered holidays in Her Majesty's dockyards.

4.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will now authorise staggered holidays to be restored in Her Majesty's Dockyards for 1955.

13.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will make a statement about the annual holiday period in Her Majesty's dockyards.

19.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will make known the Admiralty's policy concerning holidays in Her Majesty's dockyards for next year.

Future arrangements for holidays in Admiralty industrial establishments are now being reviewed in the light of the experience of 1954.

Does my hon. Friend realise that staggered holidays were very unpopular from the point of view of the dockyard and of the city and have put everybody out of gear?

I realise that staggered holidays have been unpopular with some people, but I do not think the information I have been given shows that they were universally unpopular. Many other things have to be taken into account, notably the efficiency of the dockyards.

While recognising the necessity for consultations between the -trade unions and the Admiralty, may I ask if it is not a fact that Government policy calls for staggered holidays? Has not the officially-sponsored British Travel and Holidays Association made representations to the Admiralty suggesting a return to staggered holidays?

There are real difficulties for us here. We are under an obligation to run Admiralty establishments efficiently. Since the additional week's holiday has been granted it is more difficult to do this with staggered holidays, as double the number would be away at any one time. We are taking all the various factors into consideration in reviewing this matter.

Will my hon. Friend consider the position of the Medway towns quite separately from other dockyards because there is a great deal of resentment? In view of the fact that in wartime the dockyards could not be closed a whole fortnight but would have to be open, is it not wise to carry on now with staggered holidays there in such a way as they would have to do in war?

I could not anticipate what would be necessary in war, but we have to have regard to the efficiency of the dockyards and other industrial establishments. It would be very difficult to treat Chatham differently from other dockyard towns.

Will the hon. Gentleman recognise that his statement that the Admiralty is under an obligation to run the dockyards efficiently will create lively interest and even surprise in the dockyards? Can he say when an announcement about staggered holidays will be made? Can we have an assurance that the trade unions will be fully consulted?

Certainly the trade unions will be fully consulted. We shall make an announcement as soon as we can, but not before the meeting of the Admiralty industrial Council, which takes place on the 18th of next month.

Is my hon. Friend aware that, whatever the decision of the Admiralty may be, it is more likely to be received favourably if announced as soon as possible? Is he aware that last year's announcement was somewhat late for people to make holiday arrangements?

I am fully aware of that, but, as I have said, I want to have the opportunity of discussing the matter fully with the trade unions on the 18th, when we have the Admiralty Industrial Council meeting.