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Volume 929: debated on Tuesday 29 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will initiate studies into the human diseconomies of very large factories.

The Work Research Unit of the Department of Employment is concerned with the implications of problems of job satisfaction in factories of all sizes. It is co-ordinating and monitoring a research programme on this subject. The unit is aware of the particular difficulties in large factories and it offers managements and trade unions advice on ways of reducing the problems that arise.

Will the hon. Gentleman take on board the fact that it is becoming more and more evident that bigger is not beautiful, and that we get a stepped function of disincentive for the individual, in terms of lack of job satisfaction and identity, as factories grow beyond a certain size?

There is a good deal of truth in what the hon. Gentleman says. I shall certainly take his remarks on board. It is also true that in many larger industries and plants there is no industrial trouble.

Does the Minister accept that in factories where the number of employees is fewer than about 1,000 industrial relations tend to be more harmonious than in factories with a larger number?

That is rather too much of a sweeping generalisation. Such matters vary considerably between industries, as well as between factories.