HC Deb 17 June 1915 vol 72 cc772-4

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state what steps are being taken by the Labour Exchanges to obtain for War Office work skilled mechanics of British nationality from the United States of America and from the British Colonies; and if he can state the number of men, if any, who have been obtained and the terms which are being offered?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Runciman)

The Board of Trade have sent to Canada a mission, of whom the principal members are Mr. W. Windham and Mr. G. N. Barnes, M.P., for the purpose of finding unemployed skilled mechanics in Canada and bringing them over to the United Kingdom for employment here, so far as this can be done without interference with Government contracts in Canada. The mission is only at the beginning of its work, and no men have as yet been brought over. The reports so far received indicate, however, that the mission is likely to meet with considerable success. Workmen brought over from Canada will come on the understanding that they are prepared to accept the rates of wages obtained by British workmen upon similar work, including any customary War bonuses or other allowances. Fares will be paid. No steps have been taken by this Department to obtain workmen from other British Dominions, or from the United States of America.


Would it not be well, in view of the shortage of labour and the great number of skilled mechanics of British nationality in the United States, to induce those mechanics to come over and help in our factories at this crisis?


Will my right hon. Friend institute a similar mission in England to seek to bring into the ranks thousands of chauffeurs who are not being—


The hon. Member is making up for lost time.


Is the Department making any effort to secure the help of the Belgian refugees who are skilled mechanics?


Yes; we have already placed in Government works a very large number of Belgian refugees. Some of the best Belgian engineers have placed their services at our disposal, and they are now employed on munitions of war. Our shortage in engineers and mechanics has been made well known in the United States, and I do not think it is necessary to send a mission there; in fact, I am not sure whether it would be welcomed by the authorities.

32. Mr. G. TERRELL

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he can state the number of vacancies for skilled mechanics required for War Office work which are daily notified to the Labour Exchanges in the Metropolitan area; at what daily rate such vacancies are being filled; and how he proposes to supply the deficiency?


During the four weeks ended 11th June the average daily number of vacancies for skilled mechanics for Government work notified to Labour Exchanges in the Metropolitan area was 129, and the average daily number of such vacancies filled was 81. The problem of supplying the deficiency is receiving the careful attention of the Government. It is necessary that I should say that public detailed inquiries into the supply of labour for War Office work are to be strongly deprecated.


Has it not been the fact that the Labour Exchanges have been very little used by employers?


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state by whose authority the rules—endorsed on Form L.E. 302—relative to advertisements for workmen have been issued; whether they constitute part of the Orders in Council under the Defence of the Realm Act; and whether it is proposed to compel all employers who are seeking workmen to have recourse to the Labour Exchanges?


The procedure of which the rules referred to form a part was introduced by the Board of Trade in order to enable employers affected by the Order in Council of 29th April to continue to advertise for labour in the Press, if they desired to do so, without infringing the Order. The Order, the objects of which have already been fully explained and are intended to apply only to the period of the War, prohibits certain classes of employers from seeking to obtain workmen from a distance of more than 10 miles otherwise than through a Labour Exchange.


Do not the Regulations prohibit employers advertising in their own name, and compel them to put the name of the Labour Exchange for the purpose of their advertisement?