HC Deb 07 July 1920 vol 131 cc1426-8

asked the Minister of Labour how many men are in training under Government schemes for the boot and shoe industry; and, in view of the fact that many men in the industry find themselves unemployed already, what hope does he hold out to these men now in training to get their livelihood when their training is completed?


About 1,500 men are now training in the boot and shoe industry, of whom the great majority are engaged in hand-sewn boot and shoe making and repairing, for which openings still exist, especially in rural districts. Very few are engaged in the machine branch of the trade, where there is a certain amount of unemployment. Precaution, so far as is possible, for employment on the completion of training is taken by the regulation of admittance to the trade by local committees, representing employers and employed, who limit the number accepted to the probable absorptive capacity of the district and also assist in finding vacancies after training.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that as far as hand-sewn boots are made in this country there is a slump of unemployment and that many men in villages who previously got their living at it now find themselves only working one day per week?


I am not aware of that. I said there is unemployment in the machine part of the trade, but if it is a fact that there is also unemployment in the case of hand-sewn boots, all the more credit to the boot and shoe trade, who have helped us so much in training these men. There are 1,500 now in training and they have trained already something like 4,000.


Will the right hon Gentleman reply to the second part of my question? What hope is there of these men getting employment seeing that there is a great slump?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a great shortage of employment in many West End establishments dealing in hand-sewn boots, and will he give every opportunity to these men of being trained?


We have a number of men training in that class of work and they are very efficient at it. In regard to the question of the hon. Member (Mr. Waterson), the latter part of my answer tells him fully what machinery we have in existence for securing that these men shall have a reasonable prospect of employment at the end of their training. We take the advice of the local and central technical advisory committees. They tell us from time to time how many men may be safely admitted with a view to probable employment at the end of their training. I do not know that we can do more.


Is it not a fact—


We must move a little more rapidly.