§ With a view to securing that all vacant situations shall so far as possible be notified under Sub-section (1) of Section four of this Act to claimants for benefit and facilitating the giving of directions under the said Sub-section by officers of Employment Exchanges, the Minister shall so far as practicable make arrangements with employers for the notification by them to Employment Exchanges of situations in their employments which are vacant or about to become vacant, and for that purpose the Minister shall consult associations of employers and employés, as the circumstances of the case may require.—[Miss Bondfield.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Miss BONDFIELD
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
This is a Clause which was agreed to on the Amendment of the hon. Member for 1009 Middlesbrough West (Mr. K. Griffith). I think it is what we call a declaratory Clause, and that it is not necessary for me to take up time by explaining it.
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
My hon. Friend the Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Graham White) is not here, but I should like to acknowledge the fact that the Minister has in this Clause met his plea for new arrangements, especially the reorganisation of the labour arrangements at the docks.
§ Sir ASSHETON POWNALL
Might I ask what steps the Minister proposes to take with regard to the very desirable object which has been in the minds of her predecessors at the Ministry of Labour? Has she anything definite to tell us as to what is going to be done to carry out the excellent idea, or is it merely platitudinous?
§ Miss BONDFIELD
It is not platitudinous as far as the Department is concerned. We propose to initiate conferences to get a much healthier public opinion on this subject.
I would like to raise one or two questions arising out of this most excellent, or presumably most excellent, Clause. I would emphasise what has been said by my hon. Friend. We are told that the Minister intends to carry out this proposal by a series of conferences. I want to know quite frankly on what lines she proposes to base these conferences. Quite clearly, she cannot tell us herself, but I see the Lord Advocate is here to-day. Might we have from him, for example, some explanation as to how he proposes to divide up Scotland into sections for these conferences? There you have a wide and scattered country with very differing conditions. Then, again, I would ask the Minister whether she proposes to divide the necessitous areas in any way from those areas which have a reasonable amount of prosperity? There is a third question. Would she be so kind as to tell the House, because it particularly interests some of us, what particular proposal she intends making as far as the West of England is concerned? Will these conferences affect one area? Will they affect trade or what? Will she have a conference, say, at Plymouth, for the whole of Devon and Cornwall, or one affecting the West country mining 1010 areas, or will she have a big national conference affecting the wider issue? As she has mentioned this very important idea, with which many have great sympathy, we ought to have some further knowledge of what it is.
We would like to get the position quite clear. I understand from what the Minister said that this is purely a declaratory Clause. She spoke of initiating conferences, but has she anything specific in her mind?
§ Mr. McSHANE
Before the Minister replies, may I make the suggestion in connection with these conferences that one way of preventing the unemployed from having to walk about from factory to factory, is to adopt the plan of putting up sign-boards outside the factories intimating that employers communicate all their vacancies to Employment Exchanges? That prevents men having to go to factories needlessly.
§ Miss BONDFIELD
By leave of the House, I will say that the answer to the whole of the questions asked by the hon. Member opposite can be summed up in this way: Obviously, the conferences will follow the lines of the organisation of the Exchange machinery. It is divided into divisions and districts for machinery, statistics, and so on. Obviously, also, the conferences will be composed of those parties who are represented as contributors to the fund, the employers, workers and the public. We have to-day a certain amount of provision in regard to the expanding areas where we hope to get employment, and the areas that are restricted areas, such as the mining or distressed areas. The purpose of the conferences will be to see the degree to which we can get agreement as to the numbers that will be removed from distressed areas which cannot absorb them into the areas which can absorb them. The whole thing will be within the ambit of the present organisation of the Exchanges, and of the present personnel and the interests served by the Exchange machinery.
I am afraid I did not make one of my questions clear. I am not sure whether these conferences are or are not legal. I think, before passing the Clause, we ought to have a clear legal definition as to whether the Minister has a right to do this.
§ Clause added to the Bill.