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Volume 654: debated on Wednesday 28 February 1962

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asked the Minister of Labour if he will state, to the latest convenient date, the number of people unemployed in Aberdeen, city and county, respectively, according to ages, sexes and trades; and what steps he is taking to reduce the number of unemployed.

The reply to the first part of the Question consists of a table of figures, and I will, with permission, circulate it in the

IndustryAberdeenAberdeen County (excluding Aberdeen)
Agriculture and Horticulture122241281989163226
Food Industry8985841598951326232
Shipbuilding and Ship Repairing13721392626
Non-Electrical Engineering561360101920
Paper and Board82112297112
Sea Transport14323166172221
Distributive Trades28610164124727911597156
Professional Services35387351924
Catering and Hotels107661174818329
Local Government Service14922117216420
Other Industries and Services7588280181,064215161519391
Total, all Industries and Services2,59358661393,3511,77386414282,301

OFFICIAL REPORT. As my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade told the hon. and learned Member recently, continuing efforts are being made to encourage new industry in the area.

Does the Minister realise that this calls attention to a very important defect in Government administration, because alternate figures with regard to employment and unemployment affect our productivity and our exports, damage our economy very much, and demonstrate the Government's incapacity to deal with our economy? Will the Minister, therefore, consult the President of the Board of Trade, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the other relevant Ministers with a view to devising a constructive policy that will avoid these irregularities?

I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman knows that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour is in constant consultation with the Ministers he has mentioned. He might like to know that in Aberdeen itself unemployment between January and February fell by nearly 300.

Following is the table of figures:

Factories (Safety Officers)


asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the number of factories, the percentage of factories, the number of workers, the percentage of workers, the number of safety committees meeting at least twice a year, and the number of full-time safety officers, a group safety officer to count as one, in factories of the following size groups: 1–25 persons, 26–50, 51–100, 101–250, 251–500, 501–1,000, 1,001 upwards.

The latest analysis of registered factories by size groups and percentages of employees in the size groups is given in Appendix II to the Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Factories for 1959. I regret that the information asked for about safety committees and safety officers is not available.

That is very unfortunate. It has been said time and again, both by the Government and by all organisations concerned with safety in work, that safety committees form a very important part of the preventive machinery. Is it not rather deplorable that there are no statistics as to the number of safety committees in existence? Cannot the Minister have this looked at again.

I agree with what the hon. and learned Gentleman said in the first part of his supplementary question. I think that the time and effort which would be required by the Factory Inspectorate to obtain this information would be much better used in getting on with its job of preventing accidents.

That is all very well, but cannot the Minister at least give some picture of the extent to which safety committees ate used even in the biggest factories? I see the difficulty of working it out through the whole range of industry, and I sympathise with him in that difficulty, but surely some picture can be given as to the extent to which safety committees are used.

If the hon. and learned Gentleman would put down another Question, I will try to answer him.

Building And Civil Engineering (Safety Officers)


asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the number of fatal and other reportable accidents during building operations and on civil engineering sites, respectively, from 1st January to 30th September in 1960 and 1961; and the number of safety officers now engaged solely in accident prevention at building operations and civil engineering sites, respectively, a group safety officer to count as one.

As the answer to the first part of the Question contains a table of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

I regret that the information asked for in the second part of the Question is not available.

Does this not again show a thoroughly unsatisfactory state of affairs? The mounting toll of accidents is very serious in the building industry. The latest return shows a record number of accidents. Recent trends are in the same direction. As it is almost unanimously agreed that full-time safety officers are a vital part of safety prevention, is it not important that the Ministry should have some picture of the extent to which they are being used? Further, is the Minister satisfied that the present arrangements in the building industry are adequate to ensure the proper enforcement of the building regulations?

I have to give the same answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman. My own view is that it would take up too much of the valuable time of the Factory Inspectorate to procure the information, and I do not think that it would be of much use unless it were also accompanied by information as to the effectiveness of the safety arrangements in each case. I want to get on with the job of preventing accidents, and that is why I am leading this campaign to persuade all industries to strengthen their safety measures.

Can the Minister give the House some indication of the comparison between the figures for 1961 and 1960? Is he aware that many of us are anxious to know whether this very serious trend continued in 1961, and, if it did, would not that lend strength to the argument that there is a need for much greater enforcement of regulations in the industry?

I am well aware of the need for greater effort and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, I have increased the strength of the Inspectorate. I am conducting a full-scale drive to try to persuade both sides of industry to take the matter far

1st January to 30th September, 19601st January to 30th September, 1961
Fatal (included in Col. 3)TotalFatal (included in Col. 5)Total
Building Operations16612,39112713,706
Work of Engineering Construction ('Old' Definition)*332,090472,227
Work of Engineering Construction (Additional Classes only)*12437281,151
GRAND TOTAL21115,91820217,084

*NOTE: From 15th May, 1960, certain additional classes of construction work were brought within scope of the Factories Acts by the Engineering Construction (Extension of Definition) Regulations, 1960. Figures for these classes of work are given separately.

Occupational Hygiene Service, Slough


asked the Minister of Labour what representation his Department has on the Management Council of the Occupational Hygiene Service at Slough; and what contribution is made from public funds towards its maintenance and development.

My Department has two representatives on the Council. No contribution is made to the service from public funds.

I welcome the representation of the Ministry. May I ask whether this service, which deals with heat, dust and noise in factories—and which, having begun with the Slough Trading Estate, is now serving factories over a wide area of the country—is more seriously. The figures published Indicate that the same trend goes on, although I am glad to say the number of deaths is somewhat lower.

In view of the thoroughly unsatisfactory reply, I give notice that I propose to raise this matter yet again on the Adjournment.

Following are the figures:

working closely in contact with London University? In view of the admirable pioneer work which has been done by this centre, is not it possible for the Government to give it some encouragement in its difficulties by making a contribution to its funds?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I have seen this service at work and there is no doubt that it is absolutely first-class. It receives considerable assistance from the Nuffield Foundation and is making a great contribution to the general knowledge on this subject. As the hon. Gentleman will also be aware, similar experiments will be carried out elsewhere. We have a lot to learn about this matter, and with the support given to this and other services in the country by the Nuffield Foundation, we shall acquire much knowledge on which we can form a judgment.

Blyth, Seaton Valley And Bedlington


asked the Minister of Labour what were the unemployment figures for the Blyth, Seaton Valley and Bedlington areas at the latest convenient date; and how they compare with those for the same period twelve months ago.

At 12th February there were 474 workers registered as unemployed at Blyth, 246 at Seaton Delaval and 254 at Bedlington; the corresponding figures for February, 1961, were 344, 151 and 167.

Does the hon. Gentleman consider that the improvements made are sufficient to solve the problem in this area? Would he consider discussing the matter with the President of the Board of Trade in order to import a sense of urgency into the question of the direction of employment to this area? Is he aware that there has been far too much complacency about the matter and that we consider that the Minister of Labour and the President of the Board of Trade ought to get together to tackle the problem? Is he aware that the right to work is a fundamental right which is being denied to our people? If the present occupants of the Ministry cannot provide it, will they make way for

UnemployedVacancies Outstanding

Edinburgh, Peebles, Galashiels Branch Line (Redundant Workers)


asked the Minister of Labour how many employees of British Railways became redundant on the closure of the Edinburgh, Peebles, Galashiels branch line; and what steps have been taken to provide them with alternative employment.

I understand that fifty-eight workers became redundant on the other people who are prepared to put that principle into operation?

It does not fall to me to answer a great deal of what the hon. Gentleman has said, but perhaps there are one or two points to which I should reply. Blyth and Seaton Delaval were listed as development districts on 14th December, 1961. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there is close cooperation betwen Ministry of Labour and the Board of Trade, and we are doing all we can. We do not dissent from the idea that people should have employment where this can be profitably and reasonably done, and we are seeking to secure that.

Roxburgh, Selkirk And Peebles


asked the Minister of Labour if he will give the figures for male and female unemployment, respectively, in the three counties of Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles on the latest convenient date; and how many applications for employees were unfilled on that day.

As the Answer consists of a table of figures, I will with permission circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the table:

closure of the Hawthornden-Galashiels section of the line. Four have retired on age grounds and five resigned before an offer of alternative work could be made. Alternative employment on the railways was offered to the remaining forty-nine workers and accepted by thirty-one.

Unemployed Persons


asked the Minister of Labour how many persons in the United Kingdom were registered as unemployed in January, 1960, 1961 and 1962, respectively; and what were the reasons for the differences.

There were 497,636 at 11th January, 1960, 458,024 at 16th January, 1961 and 503,180 at 15th January, 1962. The percentage rates of unemployment at these dates were 2·2, 20 and 2·2 respectively. As the figures show, these changes are marginal.

Does not the Minister realise that it is disgraceful, to say the least, for him to report with such complacency that over half-a-million people were unemployed on the last date which he mentioned? Does not he realise that the time has arrived when we should depart from this haphazard and piecemeal fashion of tackling the problem and get down to energetic planned organisation, so that the unemployed, who represent a wasted asset to the country, may be put to work?

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman is being fair in saying that I announced these figures complacently. I did not do anything of the sort. I answered his question as civilly as I could.

National Union Of Bank Employees


asked the Minister of Labour whether his Department has had further recent discussions with the joint stock banks about the recognition of the National Union of Bank Employees.

Following my talks with the Chairman of the Committee of London Clearing Bankers some months ago, I wrote to the T.U.C. giving it the views the banks had conveyed to me. I have had no further talks since then.

Does not the Minister agree that it is intolerable that in the second half of the twentieth century the banks of this country should refuse their employees the right to negotiate through the union of their choice? What is the use of setting up a National Planning Council representing both sides of industry when such enclaves of feudalism still exist so far as trade unions are concerned, and what does the Minister propose to do about it?

I have explained to the T.U.C. that I have no power, as Minister of Labour—no Minister of Labour whether in a Conservative or a Labour Government has ever had the power—to compel the recognition of any particular union. I have told the T.U.C. that if it thought that it would help, I would gladly arrange for my officials to have further talks with the officials of the union.

Retail Prices Index


asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the retail price index for December, 1960, and December, 1961, respectively; and what was the percentage increase or decrease.

The retail prices index figures—17th January 1956=100—for December, 1960, and December, 1961, were 112·2 and 117·1, respectively. The percentage increase was 4·4.

Does the Minister agree that this indicates that the cost of living has gone up? Does not he think that he should now consult with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is insisting on a pay pause, with a view to having a price pause?

I hope that the hon Gentleman will realise that the rise in the retail prices index—the figures I gave show that it has gone up—is the price we are having to pay for the considerable rises in incomes which we paid ourselves before last July.

Can my right hon. Friend say how many people have their wages tied to the cost of living figure by fixed agreements and what is the cost of a one point rise in the cost of living on those fixed agreements?

I could not give the figure offhand. A large number of agreements do include an automatic sliding scale which is directly connected with the cost of living. If my hon. Friend will put down a Question, I will try to give him some information on the subject.



asked the Minister of Labour what change there has been in the ratio of unemployed to vacancies for January, 1962, compared with January, 1961.

The ratio of persons wholly unemployed to unfilled vacancies in January, 1962, was 1 to 0·5. In January, 1961, it was 1 to 0·8. It must be borne in mind that not all vacancies are notified to employment exchanges.

Is not this a very serious deterioration? Is not the position for February rather worse? Is not there also a growing amount of concealed unemployment in the economy, and will not the Minister make representations to his right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer for an immediate end to the credit squeeze?

I think that the hon. Gentleman is wrong. The February figures show a slight improvement. They show a 7,000 drop in the total unemployed. On the general point, as the hon. Gentleman knows, the policies of the Government are aimed at restoring and maintaining the stability of our currency and keeping the balance of payments position under control. These are necessary conditions for the country's economic growth and unless that growth can be achieved the position will be far more serious.

Will the right hon. Gentleman look at the figures again? If he examines them carefully he will see that the figures for vacancies this February, as against the previous February, have deteriorated significantly.

I hope that the hon. Member did not misunderstand me. I said that the total of those unemployed, I was glad to say, was down by 7,000 in February compared with January.

Are not the figures for those fully employed rather good when one considers the scores of thousands of immigrants who have been found jobs in our country?

Women Office Cleaners


asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to find employment for the women cleaners who will be out of work as the result of Her Majesty's Government's policy of employing outside contractors.

The services of my local offices are available to all affected by the change to contract cleaning. I am glad to say that there is a steady demand for the services of these ladies. I anticipate no difficulty in finding alternative employment for them.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that, since this matter was first raised on the Floor of the House, there has been direct action to help these women? Would it not be better for the Government to change their present policy and continue to have direct labour for women cleaners in Government offices?

The difficulties about the previous arrangements were that a lot of Departments were unable to recruit and retain in central London adequate numbers of these women cleaners.



asked the Minister of Labour how many persons were in civil employment in Wales and in the County of Glamorgan, respectively, at the latest convenient date; what were the comparable figures in 1952; and how many new jobs he expects to become available in each case during the next year.

The figures of the numbers in civil employment are available only for Great Britain. It is estimated that there were about 939,600 insured employees in employment in Wales at mid-1960, the latest date for which figures are available, of whom 457,500 were in Glamorgan. Figures for 1952 were 911,000 and 430,400, respectively. The estimated number of jobs in prospect in Wales is about 22,000 of which some 11,000 are expected to accrue in Glamorgan; I regret that it is not possible to say how many of the jobs may materialise during the next year.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that these excellent figures redound to the credit of himself and his predecessors during the last ten years?

I am glad to say—without scoring any party point—that I think the prospects of employment in Wales are infinitely better than they have been for generations.

Stour Vale Works, Kidderminster (Closure)


asked the Minister of Labour what information he has concerning the proposed closure on 30th April, 1962, of the nationalised Stour Vale works at Kidderminster of Richard Thomas Baldwins, Limited; what redundancy is to occur; and what steps he is taking to obtain alternative employment for persons displaced by the works closure.

The firm has decided to close these works, which have been running at a loss for some time because there have been insufficient orders to keep the mills economically loaded. One-hundred-and-ninety-four persons will be affected, of whom eighty-five have been offered jobs at the company's King Swinford works near Stourbridge. My local officers have arranged to register in advance of their discharge men seeking alternative work. There should be no great difficulty in finding employment as I am glad to say that unemployment in Kidderminster is well below the regional and national average.


asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to initiate conversations with the management of Richard Thomas Baldwins, Limited, to obtain adequate compensatory payments and/or honoraria, on severance of employment of long-service steel works employees, due to the proposed closure on 30th April, 1962, of the nationalised Stour Vale works, Kidderminster.

I understand that payments are to be made to the workers who have a minimum of five years' service with the company, and do not continue in the company's employment at another establishment.

On this point of honoraria, can my right hon. Friend assure the House that the standards of compensation and/or honoraria paid to redundant employees by this nationalised undertaking will be not less favourable than those customarily observed by the best private enterprise standards?

I can tell my hon. Friend that I am informed that the scheme of this firm is on comparable lines to those of other firms in industry which have redundancy schemes.

Industrial Accidents


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will give the number of fatal and non-fatal industrial accidents for January to September, 1961, and January to September, 1960, respectively.

The provisional total of accidents reported under the Factories Acts during the first three-quarters of 1961 was 141,714, of which 493 were fatal. During the same period of 1960 the figures were 140,486 and 504, respectively.

Whilst welcoming the fact that there appears to be an improvement in the number of fatal accidents, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would agree that it is apparently true that there is a worsening in the number of non-fatal accidents? Does not this highlight what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Elwyn Jones) pointed out on an earlier Question, that we need more safety committees and more safety officers as well as more factory inspectors? Will not the Minister realise that there is no problem as to the number of safety officers and safety committees if he will make them a statutory obligation upon all firms?

I am not sure that I agree with the hon. Member as to the last part of his supplementary question. I do not believe that by compulsion we shall get the results we want. Far more than that is required. Both sides of industry increasingly realise that we must get every industry to strengthen its accident prevention machinery. This has the support of the T.U.C. and the employers' federations, and it is what I am trying to do.


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that the percentage of accidents reported from small factories is lower than the percentage from larger factories; and what is the cause of this variation.

Yes, Sir. The reasons are not clear cut but, in general, the more hazardous processes are organised in large units. In larger works also there is usually much greater movement of people and equipment, which tends to increase the risk of accidents.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is another factor, namely, that in these small units and small factories accidents are not reported? Is not this proved by the fact that the total number of workers who claim benefit under the Industrial Injuries Act is about 50,000 or 60,000 a year greater than the number of accidents reported? Will not the Minister do something about it so that we get the actual numbers reported?

I do not think that there is any evidence for what the hon. Member says The more likely reason is the one which I have given, that in the larger factories more dangerous processes take place, far more people are employed and there is more movement.

Do not the Factories Acts provide very serious penalties for breaches of certain conditions laid down by Parliament? Is it not known to the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers that there is known to be great reluctance on the part of his inspectors to initiate prosecutions where the evidence suggests such a course because, unless the factory inspector is absolutely certain that he will secure a conviction, he is reluctant to take the necessary action to enforce the law in many cases?

I do not think that that is a fair criticism of the Factories Inspectorate. I have not had any evidence of that sort. I should be very pleased if the hon. Member would care to give me any evidence he has.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the replies to these Questions, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment as soon as possible.

Underground Gas Storage, Winchester


asked the Minister of Labour what information he has received from the Gas Council regarding the number of people who will find employment in the routine operation of the proposed underground storage of imported methane gas near and beneath the City of Winchester.

The Gas Council has informed the Ministry of Power that the number will be very small—probably less than ten.

Is my hon. Friend aware that in the House yesterday my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary for Science revealed for the first time the elaborate precautions and restrictions stipulated by the Geological Survey to the Gas Council as essential if the admitted dangers of fire, contamination and subsidence are to be avoided? Is he further aware that these quite new precautions do not appear to be provided for by the Bill now before Parliament and therefore some of them will presumably wreck it—

Order. It is not a proper use of Questions to give the Minister information—which is all that is happening at present—in respect of some matter for which he has not responsibility, or, indeed, of anything else.

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, this deals with the safety factors involved. I was asking the Minister whether it was not fortunate that so few people would be employed in this project.

That would appear to be asking the Minister to express an opinion and for that reason it would be defective.

Will not a large labour force be involved in this project? In view of the scarcity of local labour already urgently required for road projects and other work, is it wise to use such a force? Is my hon. Friend aware that the Gas Council itself has been warned by its own consultants, and here I am quoting, that: "the risks involved …"—[HON. MEMBERS: "READING."]—As to their research on the difficulty of filling the reservoir with gas the consultants say that

"none of the calculations Rives encouraging results."
In view of this, is my hon. Friend still of the opinion that this is the most vital use of the labour force available?

I was asked what numbers would be employed in routine work if this installation were put in. The answer, I repeat, is "Very small." On construction, no doubt, more people would be required. Presumably a contractor would be required to provide the labour force.

Unofficial Disputes, North-East


asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the percentage loss of working days per man in the North-East through unofficial disputes from 1949 to the present date; and how these figures compare with those for the rest of the country.

The percentage loss of working days, due to all industrial disputes, unofficial and official, in the Ministry of Labour's Northern Region during the years 1955 to 1960 inclusive, was about one-tenth of 1 per cent. per employee, substantially the same figure as for the rest of the United Kingdom.

Regional figures for the years 1949 to 1954 are not available.

Do these figures compare favourably with the rest of the country? Will the right hon. Gentleman find ways and means of drawing this fact to the attention of industrialists to try to induce them to come up there?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I very much hope that firms considering expansion will look to the North-East and bear an mind the point which the hon. Member has made in the House today.

Immigrants (Work Vouchers)


asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the growing unemployment in Scotland and the persistent high rate in Northern Ireland, if he will give an undertaking not to issue work vouchers to intending immigrants, except in special cases, until all British people who are willing to work here have been found a job; and if be will make a statement.

When my right hon. Friend said last week in the House that

"Those who come within category A will not be refused entry on the ground that suitable local labour is available."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1962; Vol. 654, c 710.]
and When he also said that the Category A would be unlimited, was he really saying that the Government will let an unlimited number of immigrants come to this country and take jobs away from British workers?

I think that my hon. Friend knows perfectly well that we have no intention of treating Commonwealth immigrants on all fours with aliens. That has been made perfectly clear in the discussions which have been taking place in this House over a number of weeks. The provision that suitable British labour should not be available applies to aliens but has no place in our scheme in the legislation which has been before the House.

Rehabilitation Services


asked the Minister of Labour what consultations he has had with the Minister of Health concerning the possible inclusion within the new hospital plan for England and Wales of rehabilitation services now under his control.

The hospital plan of my right hon. Friend makes provision for medical rehabilitation in the hospitals, but industrial rehabilitation is essentially an employment service and will continue to be provided by my Department.

Would not the Minister agree that, if the hopes he has expressed in answer to Questions No. 2 and 3 and 17 today about the reduced accident rate are realised, the public money used in his services will be better devoted to extending the hospital services, particularly in view of the fact that at the moment certain industrial areas of the country cannot make use of his existing services due to travelling difficulties?

I will certainly draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health to my hon. Friend's supplementary question.

West Thurrock Power Station Site (Dispute)


asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to bring to a just end the dispute at the West Thurrock power station site.


asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to bring to an end the dispute at the West Thurrock power station between members of the Electrical Trades Union and the London Electricity Board.


asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the continuing labour dispute, despite the resumption of negotiations, concerning the closure by Messrs. Babcock and Wilcox of their West Thurrock site in December, 1961, what action he is taking to help the parties reach a settlement.

Our officers have been in close touch with representatives of the Electricity Council, the London Electricity Board and the Electrical Trades Union in an endeavour to secure a resumption of work so that this dispute may be dealt with in accordance with the established arrangements of the industry. I hope a further meeting between our industrial relations officer and officials of the union will take place soon.

With reference to the letter from the Minister which I received this afternoon, is it correct to say, as he does in that letter, that "there are difficulties between the two sides on procedural aspects"? Is that the only difficulty, or is that rather a mild way of putting some of the allegations against the L.E.B.?

I am not concerned with judging the merits or demerits of whatever may be said about allegations, but there are differences between the two sides as to the operation of the agreed arrangements, and it is these difficulties which our officers are now attempting to resolve so that normal negotiations may be resumed.

Without asking the Minister to pronounce on the merits of the case, may I ask whether he is aware that a considerable time has been lost simply because the London Electricity Board has not made full use of the negotiating procedure? Will he rebuke the Board for that loss of time?

I do not think that it is for me to rebuke anybody about this loss of time, but I think it is for my officers to get cracking on the resumption of negotiations between the two sides, and that is what they are seeking to do.

Will the officers try to persuade the Board to follow the established procedure for dealing with redundancies, because is not one of the disturbing features of this dispute that the procedure apparently was ignored by those who described certain men as redundant?

I think I must stick to what is obviously the sensible line. We shall seek to ensure that both parties in this dispute follow the agreed procedure.

Building Workers, Scotland


asked the Minister of Labour how many building workers were unemployed in Scotland on 24th February; what percentage this is of the total labour force; and what steps he now proposes to take to reduce unemployment in the building industry in Scotland.

The latest available figures are those for 12th February, when 13,800 workers whose previous employment was in the construction industry were registered as unemployed in Scotland; this represents a percentage of 8·2. There should be a seasonal improvement during the next few months and this year's construction programme for Scotland should not be less than last year's.

Does the Minister really think that his plan for housing will absorb all those unemployed? Does he not consider it a rather scandalous state of affairs, when the housing problem is so bad in Scotland, that so many building workers, who could be used on building, are unemployed?

The hon. Member knows that there is a very large seasonal element in this programme. I hope that the building programme of Scotland will keep up during this present year certainly to the level of last year.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, apart from the seasonal problem, Scotland has now recorded its lowest output of houses for the past ten years? Cannot he do something to provide these building trade workers with some form of employment through building what Scotland needs more than anything else—houses?

I certainly take note of what the hon. Gentleman has said and will inform my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that this point has been raised.

I wish to give notice that, owing to the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

School Leavers, Ashington-Morpeth Area


asked the Minister of Labour what steps are being taken to deal with the unemployment of school leavers in the Ashington-Morpeth area in Northumberland.

Most of the young people who left school at Christmas are now in employment. Youth employment officers are making every effort to place the rest.

Is the Minister aware that those figures do not seem to tie up with the latest figures in my possession and that we are now faced with an increasingly acute problem of employment for juniors who left school both at Christmas and preceding Christmas? Is he further aware that, as we are now faced with the impact of the school "bulge", this problem is going to be increasingly difficult? Will his Department make special efforts to ensure employment in this and other areas in the North-East?

Of course, we are very interested indeed, and I know that the hon. Gentleman is as well, in securing that these young people, who are our future, get work of the best kind suitable to them as soon as possible. The actual numbers of school leavers still registered for work in this area at 12th February were 20 boys and 24 girls. There are very good prospects of employment for boys in the coal mining industry, which, as the hon. Member knows, is rather good for boys because of the rather exceptionally good apprenticeship training possibilities.

Unemployed Persons (60–65 Age Group)


asked the Minister of Labour the number of men between 60 and 65 registered as unemployed in England and Wales at the latest convenient date; and what percentage of the men in that age group this number represents.

On 11th December, 1961, the number wholly unemployed was 34,724, or about 4 per cent. of the estimated number of employees in this age group.

I am not quite sure whether the Minister said "wholly employed" or "wholly unemployed", but he will be aware that there is considerable difficulty among men of this age group in obtaining employment, and I wonder if he would give special consideration to this problem, particularly in relation to Government Departments, which advertise vacancies in advertisements like these I have here from the Post Office, for example, and which limit the ages of the men offered employment to between 18 and 59, making it impossible for older men to apply for the jobs.

I would first tell the hon. Lady that I said "unemployed". On the other matter, my local officers are always doing what they can to help by making special approaches to employers to consider the merits of people, rather than their age, when they try to fill vacancies. I will take note of what the hon. Lady said.

West Fife Central Area


asked the Minister of Labour how many adult males are currently unemployed in the West Fife central area covering the Cowdenbeath Employment Exchange area; how many vacancies exist; and how many jobs for such men are in prospect in the next year.

On 12th February, 1962, 775 adult males were registered as unemployed at the Dunfermline, Cowdenbeath, Inverkeithing, and Burntisland Employment Exchanges. One hundred and eleven vacancies for men were outstanding on 7th February. About 300 jobs for men are estimated to be in prospect for this area, but it is not possible to say with accuracy how many will materialise in the next year.

Does not the hon. Gentleman recognise the seriousness of the situation? Does he recognise that it will get very much worse in the next three or four years, even assuming that all the jobs which he says are in the pipeline materialise? Can he give us one shred of evidence to show that the Government are tackling the problem with sufficient energy and drive so that these men will get work in the area instead of going to the Midlands and the South-East to get it?

The whole area is a development district. The estimated number of new jobs in prospect refers only to those which are expected to arise from industrial development certificates. There are other projects not requiring that action.

It would be most unwise to start saying with accuracy how many jobs will thus be available. It would be very misleading, and I do not think I should do it.

Toothill Committee (Report)


asked the Minister of Labour if he has yet completed his study of the Report of the Toothill Committee on the Scottish economy; and what conclusions he has drawn which will help to alleviate the chronic unemployment problem there.


asked the Minister of Labour what help was given by his Department in Scotland to the Toothill Committee in regard to its Report on the Scottish Economy.

My Controller in Scotland acted as an assessor, and another of my officers served on the Secretariat; in addition my Department gave a great deal of information to the Committee. As my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland said on 31st January, those of the Committee's recommendations which affect the Government are receiving urgent and careful consideration, and there is nothing I can add to that reply.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of some of the quite sharp comments the Toothill Committee made on present Government policy towards the solution of the unemployment problem? When will the Government announce their decision, because there is a good deal of urgency about it?

As I have just said, the Government are considering this matter very urgently. They will certainly make an announcement when they are able to do so.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we are very grateful for the co-operation and participation in this work of his Department and other Departments? There were so many civil servants in this that it almost bears the official stamp. Does not this make it all the more desirable that there should be some speedy action as a result of this very comprehensive analysis of the chronic defects in the Scottish economy? When shall we see some Government action as a result of this Government-assisted analysis?

We are studying the Report. As soon as we can, we shall make an announcement. Meanwhile, I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not giving the impression that nothing is being done to provide new jobs in Scotland, because he knows that much is being done.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Leader of the House has repudiated responsibility for the Toothill Report? The Secretary of State for Scotland does not seem anxious to assume it. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to answer my debate on the Toothill Report, assuming that I am lucky enough to get it?

Factory, Hucclecote


asked the Minister of Labour what estimate he has made of the men and women employed at the Whitworth-Gloster factory at Hucclecote who are unlikely to find suitable work in the Gloucester area in the event of the factory closing down before a new tenant has been found.

No such estimate is possible. There may be some temporary difficulties especially for certain categories of workers, but I would not expect any long-term problem.

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that committees responsible to his Department have estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 people are likely to suffer long-term unemployment? Does he not think that he should pay more attention to this instead of relying on panaceas such as, "I am not worried about it" and, "There ought not to be any long-term trouble "?

That is an unfair inference to draw from what I said. The hon. Gentleman asked me for an estimate and I said that I did not think that an estimate could be given. The reason why I do not think that the estimate he asked for could be given is that it is not possible to say how many of the vacancies held or jobs in prospect will be taken by the redundant workpeople who are on the unemployment register. As for the prospects of these people obtaining work, there is a very high labour demand in the area, I am glad to say, and it has a current unemployment rate of 1·6 per cent. To give an illustration, of 900 workers who have been discharged from this factory or have left voluntarily since 1st October, 1961, only 35 are now registered as unemployed.

Can my hon. Friend confirm that there is a strong likelihood that a new tenant will be found for this factory, in which case the problem would be obviated to a great extent?

I imagine that this is a very attractive place of work to many industrialists. One problem would be that, if a very large firm came there, I suspect that there would probably be a very grave labour shortage.

Newmilns, Ayrshire


asked the Minister of Labour if he will state for the most recent available date the figures of unemployed at Newmilns, Ayrshire, exchange, and the figures for the same date last year.

One hundred and eighty-one on 12th February, 1962, compared with 276 on 13th February, 1961.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the area covered by this exchange is the centre of the lace-making industry in Scotland? The industry is in recession. Some people may even think it is in decline. Historically and traditionally, the industry employs married women, so the number registered at the exchange does not always reflect the state of employment in the area. Will the hon. Gentleman draw this decline to the attention of the Board of Trade with a view to seeing what can be done to get another industry in the area?

I appreciate that the area is very heavily dependent upon one industry. I also appreciate that this industry employs many married women, who may not necessarily be reflected in the figures. Both the hon. Gentleman and I can draw a little comfort from the fact that the number of wholly unemployed has slightly declined—only slightly—and more comfort from the fact that the number temporarily stopped has also declined.

There is a big loss of employment in the area. This affects not only married women but school leavers.

I hope that I have said enough to show that I appreciate the problems of the area. We keep them under close consideration.

Industrial Training Council


asked the Minister of Labour what further developments will take place in the work of the Industrial Training Council; and what increases will be made in its staff and its budget, in view of the further increase in the number of school leavers in 1962 compared with 1961.

As a matter of the highest priority, the Industrial Training Council is urging on both employers and unions the need to expand and improve all types of industrial training. I understand that further industrial development officers will be appointed as opportunity arises. The Government grant-in-aid will continue to be available for training development work and I am informed that the British Employers Confederation will be providing additional financial aid to help the Training Advisory Service to undertake certain promotional work for group training schemes.

Will the Government considerably increase their financial contribution? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there will be 9 per cent. more school leavers this year than there were last year? In view of this, should not very energetic action be taken so that the good work already done can be expanded to meet this extra need?

As the hon. Gentleman probably knows, the Government money available for the Industrial Training Council is still available. It has not been fully used. If there were any question of that, I should certainly look into the matter. On the general basis, I agree with the hon. Gentleman that we must try to repeat the excellent efforts made last year when, despite many criticisms and many cynics, there was an an increase of 11 per cent. in the number of apprenticeships.

Wages Regulation Orders


asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to improve the enforcement of Wages Regulation Orders, in view of the fact that over 15 per cent. of the firms affected by these Orders, which have been visited by his inspectors during the last three years, have been found to be paying wages below the statutory minimum.

New arrangements have been made to increase the effectiveness of inspection. For this purpose, revised instructions have been issued, and routine visits have been spread out more evenly over the country.

Would the Minister agree that the workers covered by the Wages Council Orders are, in any case, very low-paid workers; and that the increases that many of them merit have been postponed because of the wage pause? That being so, is it not rather scandalous that 15 per cent. or 16 per cent. of firms are still paying less than the statutory minimum, and could not the right hon. Gentleman do much more to increase the number of inspectors and the effectiveness of the inspection system?

The hon. Gentleman has the mistaken idea that merely to increase the number of inspectors gets the desired results. I do not agree. I am convinced that we have an adequate number of people to carry out the job, but I shall certainly not be satisfied as long as any workers are paid less than the statutory minimum to which they are entitled. Most underpayments are not deliberate, but are due to misunderstanding, but we shall keep on with the job of bringing them to light, as we are doing at the moment.

Girls (Au Pair Arrangements)


asked the Minister of Labour what control his Department exercises over the employment of girls working under au pair arrangements in this country.

None, Sir. Girls coming to this country under au pair arrangements are regarded as visitors, and their entry and stay are under the control of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Is the Minister aware that whilst, on the whole, conditions of employment for these girls are quite reasonable, there are cases in this country—and cases, particularly, of British girls working abroad—where they are being subjected to the most blatant exploitation? Surely, there should be some control over the employment of these young girls working away from their own country. Could not the right hon. Gentleman's labour attaches do some useful work in that connection?

I think that the hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying that the vast majority of au pair arrangements are bona fide, but there are these instances of abuse. That is why my right hon. Friend and I are discussing the matter to see what can be done to prevent those abuses. This is a subject that I looked into with the Italian Government on my visit to Italy last autumn.