HC Deb 13 June 1921 vol 143 cc7-8
12. Mr. R. GWYNNE

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether over 1,200 hundred watchers' certificates have been issued; is he aware that if these men are all employed 600 skilled wireless operators will be thrown out of work; did he take this matter into consideration when he stated that the main cause of the unemployment amongst wireless operators was the present depression in shipping; and whether, seeing that it means permanent displacement for these wireless operators, he will reconsider this decision and rescind the Rules under the Merchant Shipping (Wireless Telegraphy) Act, 1919, introducing watchers for wireless telegraphy purposes, in view of the present state of unemployment in this country?


I am aware that over 1,200 watchers' certificates have been issued, but it is not correct to assume that the employment of each pair of watchers necessarily means the displacement of an operator who would otherwise have been employed. Under war conditions, the Mercantile Marine as a whole was required for defence purposes to carry more operators than are now necessary for safety purposes under peace conditions; and there was necessarily a reduction in the number of operators employed. The number has been further reduced by the depression in shipping. It is not proposed to alter the present Rules.


Has any suggestion been made for finding employment for these men, who have been specially trained?


My hon. Friend knows that there is very great depression in the shipping trade at the present time, and I am very much afraid that many of these men will be affected.