HC Deb 08 August 1940 vol 364 cc380-1
15. Sir Patrick Hannon

asked the Minister of Labour whether he contemplates the introduction without delay of a comprehensive scheme to deal with the unemployment of workpeople in the distributive and other trades, which is arising from reduced consumption and limitation of production of non-essential goods?

17. Levy

asked the Minister of Labour what steps are being taken to absorb immediately into employment those who are thrown out of work by restriction of home consumption; and whether men and women in non-essential industries who are rendered unemployed by these measures are to be trained in the production of munitions?

Mr. Bevin

As workpeople become unemployed as a result of reduced consumption and limitation of production of non-essential goods, my object is to get them as quickly as possible into essential work or services, after training when this is necessary, and the available opportunities are brought to their notice by the Employment Exchanges. Such workers may register before they are actually unemployed so that, if possible, any intervening period of unemployment may be avoided. In this connection, I would refer my hon. Friends to the statement I made on 27th June last in reply to the hon. and learned Member for East Leicester (Mr. Lyons) of which I am sending them a copy.

Sir P. Hannon

Does the Minister contemplate any extension or revision of the present system of training people who lose their employment so that they can be taken into productive employment, in munitions, and so on?

Mr. Bevin

A little later I shall be making a statement on training.

Mr. Levy

What are these people to do in the meantime, while they are unemployed and have not been absorbed into munitions production?

Mr. Bevin

The only thing to which they are entitled by decision of the House is unemployment pay. That is the responsibility of the House.

Mr. Stokes

Are we to understand that instructions are being given to employers that they should warn their employés at least two or three weeks or a month before they are likely to discharge them on account of this restriction?

Mr. Bevin

By arrangement with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, every time there is a restriction about to come into operation, a liaison arrangement exists, and we endeavour to find out the places. That is on the factories side. On the distributive side, it is not quite so easy, because the effect is indirect. I will, if it is so desired, take steps to make a special request that employers may co-operate with their workpeople when they foresee that these difficulties will arise.

Mr. Craven-Ellis

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the approximate number of those who have become unemployed as a result of this restriction, and how many of that number have gone into munitions work?

Mr. Bevin

It is absolutely impossible. A works may be on luxury work—for example, needlework. A factory which I have in mind was working on luxury work, and before the restriction operated, practically the whole of that work was transferred over to parachute work. Therefore, one cannot say exactly how many are transferred.