HC Deb 03 August 1939 vol 350 cc2597-9
35. Mr. Jenkins

asked the Minister of Labour the total number of workpeople taken on and recruited through the Employment Exchanges in Monmouthshire, during the past six months, at the Glascoed ordnance works; and the number of men amongst them who are 50 years of age and upwards?

Mr. E. Brown

I regret this information is not available, but I would refer the hon. Member to my reply of Thursday last.

Mr. Jenkins

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it is worth while making inquiries in order to ascertain whether or not these men, who have been unemployed for long periods and are about 50 years of age, are being employed on this Government work?

Mr. Brown

The hon. Member knows that I did my best to procure the information by having a rough count made on Friday week which showed that at least 475 men aged 50 or over were engaged on this work.

Mr. Jenkins

Does that mean that the Minister has knowledge that these contractors are refusing to take men who are about 50 years of age?

Mr. Brown

No such assumption must be made.

36. Mr. Jenkins

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that of 6,500 men now employed on the construction of the Glascoed ordnance works more than half are expected to be discharged during the next six months; whether any plans have been prepared for providing alternative work for those men; and, if so, can he indicate the type of work that will be provided?

Mr. Brown

I am aware that work on the Glascoed Ordnance Factory must be expected to fall off gradually during the course of the next 12 months. I have no reason to suppose that as men are discharged they will not be absorbed on other Government or civil building works under construction or in contemplation. I can assure the hon. Member that all possible steps will be taken through the machinery of the Employment Exchanges to place such men in employment for which they are qualified.

Mr. Jenkins

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if these men are thrown out of employment, the percentage of unemployment in that area will be as high as ever it has been; and that in addition to the local people he will have to contend with the people who have been imported through this job?

Mr. Brown

I cannot accept that assumption. The same kind of case was put up in advance when the work at Chorley was coming to an end and we made the most elaborate arrangements there. We found, when the time came that many of the men had found jobs elsewhere.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Is the Minister aware that the same position will arise in connection with other works at Bridgend and elsewhere, and that during the next few months thousands of men who have been engaged on the construction of these works will be unemployed; and what prospect can the right hon. Gentleman hold out that work will be found for these men in the areas in which they live?

Mr. Brown

We shall do our best in advance, but I deprecate these general statements as to what must happen in certain circumstances, six months hence. They are much too arbitrary.

Mr. Griffiths

Does the Minister deny that these men will lose their jobs?

Mr. Brown

On this particular work, but it does not follow that they will not get other work.

Mr. George Griffiths

Has not the Minister often referred to what will happen in the winter time?