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Building Industry (Labour-Only Sub-Contracting)

Volume 774: debated on Monday 25 November 1968

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity if she will announce the Government's intentions in relation to the Phelps Brown Report on labour-only sub-contracting in the building industry.


asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what is her policy regarding the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into labour in the building and civil engineering industries; and whether she will make a statement.

The important and diverse recommendations of the Phelps Brown Report are being taken up with those concerned through appropriate channels. In particular, the Government are consulting with the industry about the proposal for legislation to regulate self-employment.

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the Report gives as one of the causes for the increase in labour-only sub-contracting the Selective Employment Tax? Will she now consider giving that too a touch on the tiller?

It is perfectly correct that the Phelps Brown Report has suggestions for dealing with Selective Employment Tax in the context of the industry, and this is one of the proposals which will be examined.

Is not the Secretary of State aware that the Phelps Brown Committee states quite plainly that Selective Employment Tax is one of the causes of the increase in labour-only sub-contracting? Is not that yet another jolly good argument for abolishing S.E.T. at once?

The hon. Gentleman should read paragraph 436 of the Phelps Brown Report, which makes the point that the matter could be dealt with by making S.E.T., or an equivalent amount, payable in respect of the self-employed no less than the employed, which is an entirely different picture from that which he has been trying to give.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, whatever the Phelps Brown Report may say, when in 1964 I took over the Ministry of Works labour-only sub-contracting was already an evil in this industry and was growing long before S.E.T. appeared on the horizon?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is why it is important for us urgently to study the proposals in the Report, as we are, to see what we can do to meet this evil.