12. Miss Ward
asked the Minister of Labour whether he has considered the criticisms of the Shipbuilders' Federation on the presentation of the unemployment 1041 figures in the shipbuilding industry; and what steps he proposes to take to initiate a more satisfactory system?
§ Mr. E. Brown
I presume that the reference is to certain criticisms contained in a pamphlet issued by the President of the Shipbuilding Employers' Federation for 1935–36. These criticisms appear to be based on a misapprehension of the meaning of the unemployment statistics. These statistics give the total number of unemployed persons, within certain limits of age, registered at the Employment Exchanges at periodical dates, and are analysed according to the industries in which these persons were previously employed. Owing principally to the long duration of unemployment, many of the persons recorded as unemployed in the shipbuilding industry are not immediately available for effective work in the yards, but it is unfortunately not correct to suggest, as the pamphlet does, that the high figure of unemployment is on that account merely a nominal one. The question of the suitability of the registered unemployed for specific employment is, however, of great importance, and is constantly borne in mind. The practical requirement is to take all possible measures for utilising the available labour supply to the best advantage for the purpose of meeting the increasing demands upon the industry, and the full co-operation of my Department in this direction may be assumed.
Am I to understand from the Minister's statement that the difference between skilled and unskilled labour is kept at the Ministry of Labour itself, and is not available to the Employment Exchange?