HC Deb 17 November 1920 vol 134 cc1872-3

asked the Minister of Labour if he will inform the House for how many months he has been in negotiation with the trade unions concerned with the building trade in order to secure dilution, whereby 50,000 unemployed men, mostly ex-service men, may obtain immediate employment; whether there are, approximately, this number fewer men employed in the build-trade than before the War; and whether, having regard to the urgency of the problem of unemployment at the present time, he will see that the negotiations are completed without further delay?

The MINISTER of HEALTH (Dr. Addison)

I would refer my hon. and learned Friend to the reply given on the 8th instant to the hon. and gallant Member for Henley. The number of skilled men now employed in the building trade is, approximately, 60,000 less than before the War.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these negotiations have been going on for nearly a year, and that Members of this House are daily receiving deputations from their constituents with regard to the unemployment of ex-service men? Does he not think that the time has now arrived when these 50,000 men for whom employment is available in the building trade should be employed without further delay?


I entirely agree.


Having regard to the fact that there was a shortage of 60,000 men in the skilled building trades, and the amount of work now required to be done is nearly five times as much as it was before the War, what possible excuse has the Government got for not enforcing what is undoubtedly the opinion of the vast majority of the people of this country, instead of being browbeaten by the trade unions?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at Cambridge bricklayers are walking the streets looking for work?


When does the right hon. Gentleman expect to be able to make some definite statement on this question?


We shall submit our scheme to the trade unions concerned early next week.

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