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Export Trades (Skilled Workers)

Volume 728: debated on Thursday 12 May 1966

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asked the Prime Minister what action he proposes to take to ensure that export orders are not turned away because firms do not have the skilled labour to fulfil those orders.

I share the hon. Member's concern, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour is giving top priority to measures to increase the rate of training of skilled workers.

Is the Prime Minister aware that in some parts of the country export orders have been turned away because skilled labour is being attracted away by Government projects? I have particularly in mind a Royal Ordnance Factory in the West Riding of Yorkshire, which had nothing to do with the export industry but could offer inducements which no local private firm could offer. Will he undertake to see that Government projects exercise a self-denying ordinance in this respect?

I am well aware of the problems, not only in relation to export orders but even of bringing in work to development areas, caused by the shortage of skilled workers. I made a point of this in the debate on the Address, as the hon. Member will recall. I am not aware that the problem is aggravated by Royal Ordnance Factories, but my right hon. Friend will look into any case that the hon. Member mentions. Usually we are told that the argument works the other way.