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Manufacturing Industry

Volume 958: debated on Tuesday 21 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing for the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Japan, Germany and Italy the amount by which the percentage increase in hourly earnings in manufacturing in the first half of 1978 compared with 1975 exceeded the corresponding increase in unit costs in manufacturing, and the internationally accepted forecast for the year-on-year increase in the third and fourth quarters of 1978.

The Employment Agencies Act 1973 and the regulations I have made under it already place appropriate obligations on employment agents in Britain for the protection of workers whom they introduce to employers abroad. I doubt if further regulations can help at present since the basic problem is one of combating contraventions of the existing law.

The difficulties experienced by British workers on the Continent, particularly in the construction industry, often arise through the activities of recruiters suspected of operating in Britain in contravention of the 1973 Act or of staff contractors in other member States suspected of operating illegally under the laws of those States. My officers are thoroughly investigating all such cases which come to their attention and are collaborating closely with the responsible authorities in other member States, particularly in the Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands, to combat such illegal activities.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many prosecutions have been brought against employment agencies recruiting workers for employment in other EEC countries in each of the past two years.

No such prosecutions were brought in 1977; two have been brought so far in 1978.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what study he has made of misleading advertisements in national newspapers placed by employment agencies recruiting workers for employment in other EEC countries; and if he will take steps to prevent any abuse.

False and misleading advertising by employment agencies is dealt with under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 which is not my responsibility. However, my Department has kept a close watch on advertisements placed in both the national and regional press concerning recruitment for employment in other EEC countries. It has taken any necessary corrective action in relation to regulations made under the Employment Agencies Act 1973 where a licensed employment agency or business was concerned and carried out appropriate investigations where it has had cause to believe that an unlicensed employment agency or employment business was involved.Further, it has disseminated information about the Employment Agencies Act regulations to newspapers concerned and has sought and obtained a large measure of assistance from them in securing compliance and in preventing much of the advertising by illegal agents