HC Deb 27 June 1940 vol 362 cc575-6
13. Mr. Cary

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has any statement to make in regard to the deputation which waited upon him on Monday last and which represented 250,000 unemployed operatives in the building trades; and how he proposes to utilise, without further delay, this immense pool of skilful and patriotic labour for getting greater drive into the national war effort?

Mr. Bevin

The deputation referred to represented certain unemployed building trade workers in the London area. I do not understand my hon. Friend's reference to 250,000 unemployed operatives in the building trades. The total number in these trades unemployed at the date of the returns for 20th May was 87,226, of whom about half were skilled operatives. The indications are that there has since been a substantial reduction in this number. Energetic steps are being taken to transfer to important Government work skilled operatives of the types required. The new agreement on wages and conditions, including the question of travelling and subsistence allowances, on important Government work will be of great assistance in the task of moving labour to places away from home where it is required. Furthermore, the Undertakings (Restriction on Engagement) Order which has recently come into force is being administered in such a way as to ensure that for the future unemployed labour in this industry will be utilised in preference to the admission of workers from other industries.