§ 11. Mr. KIRKWOOD
asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the state ' of unemployment in the shipbuilding, ship-repairing, and marine engineering industries, evidenced by the Ministry of Labour figures, which show that there were 75,392 unemployed shipbuilding and ship-repairing workers at 22nd October, 1934, or 47.3 of the 158,790 insured insured workers in the industries in 1934, compared with 269,970 insured workers in the same trades in 1924, and 13,353 unemployed in the marine engineering industry, or 28.6 of the 46,760 insured workers of 1934, compared with 65,540, whether he will introduce legislation for a 40-hours week in the industries, which would have the effect of making employment for nearly 19,000 of those idle?
As the hon. Member is aware, I propose to meet representa- 1794 tive organisations of employers and work-people for the purpose of discussing questions relating to employment and unemployment, including hours of work. The position in the shipbuilding industry will doubtless come under review. I must not be taken as necessarily accepting the conclusion which the hon. Member has drawn in the latter part of his question.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Am I to understand that the Minister challenges the figures in the question, which simply mean that almost 50 per cent of the insured workers in the shipbuilding, ship-repairing and marine engineering industries are unemployed?
I am not challenging the figures contained in the question, but the conclusion which the hon. Member draws from them in the last line of the question.
§ Mr. PALING
When the hon. Gentleman meets this committee, as a representative of the Government, will he have any policy to lay down on the question of shorter hours?
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Arising out of the previous reply of the hon. Gentleman, in which he referred to the statement that 19,000 could be employed as a result of introducing a 40-hour week, seeing that there are 50 per cent. unemployed, would he not be favourably disposed to the introduction of a measure for reduced working hours, in order that those who are now unemployed may find employment?
That is a matter which I am going to discuss with the committee, but I want to make it clear that it does not by any means follow that the introduction of a 40-hour week would mean the reabsorptions of these 19,000 people.