HC Deb 16 July 1924 vol 176 cc352-3
30. Lieut. - Commander FLETCHER

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that the apprenticeship system is becoming almost extinct; and if he is willing to take any steps in order to revive it, in view of the fact that many lads between 14 and 18 who have never been taught any skilled trade are at present drawing unemployment benefit?


I am aware that changes in the organisation of method of production in conjunction with industrial depression have tended of late years to reduce the extent to which apprenticeship prevails, but I am not in a position to say whether this tendency will continue to operate. I am, however, as opportunity offers, encouraging the appropriate industrial organisations to consider the subject. The hon. and gallant Member will no doubt appreciate that, even in the most favourable circumstances, only a comparatively small proportion of youths can become apprentices. The hon. and gallant Member will be aware that boys under 16 cannot draw unemployment benefit.

Viscountess ASTOR

Can the right hon. Gentleman call together the Members of all parties in the House for a conference on this question of juvenile unemployment, which is national, and must be dealt with before the winter comes?


Regarding apprenticeship, is it not a fact that an unskilled man to-day is usually as well paid as, if not better paid than, the man who has served his time?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it has, until recently, been the policy of the Admiralty to put apprentices out of the Royal dockyards and to force them to go to America?


I cannot give an answer to the first supplementary question on the spur of the moment. In regard to the second question, it is a fact that, in many cases, highly skilled men are being paid a wage a little above or as low as what is known as unskilled pay. The third question, regarding the Admiralty, might be put to the appropriate Department.