HC Deb 25 January 1945 vol 407 cc945-6
9. Mr. Astor

asked the Minister of Labour how the reduction of the labour force in the building trade from 1,000,000 in 1939 to 320,000 to-day can be divided between deaths and retirements, lack of new entrants and recruitment to the Forces; and what estimate can be made of the number who may return to the building trade from the Forces after the war.

Mr. Bevin

The number of insured men aged 16 to 64 in the building industry was 1,008,000 at mid-1939 and 345,000 at mid-1944. During that five years the industry has received over 100,000 new entrants apart from the large numbers who have transferred from other industries. Statistics are not available that would enable separate figures to be given for losses due to death and retirement, recruitment to the Forces and transfers to other industries. It is expected, however, that upwards of 300,000 men will be available for return to the industry from the Forces after the war. A considerable number will also become available for transfer from other industries.

Mr. Astor

Are these 300,000 workers all craftsmen, or does the figure include labourers too?

Mr. Bevin

I do not think there is such a grade as labourer extant in the building industry now. This attempt to put a narrow limit to what are called craftsmen represents something which has almost disappeared from the industry.