HC Deb 07 June 1945 vol 411 cc1041-3
13. Sir Geoffrey Mander

asked the Minister of Labour how many persons are now employed in the building industry; what steps are being taken to release more of such persons from the Services and other industries; and what action should be taken by employers and individuals desiring engagement in connection with housing in the national interest.

Mr. Butler

It is estimated that at the end of May there were 537,000 men aged 16 to 64 employed in the building and civil engineering industries of whom about 387,000 were in the building industry. With regard to the release of building workers from the Services, I would refer the hon. Member to the statements made in the Debate on Resettlement on16th May. I am proposing shortly to register former workers in the building and civil engineering industries who are now employed elsewhere as civilians with a view to their return to those industries. Individual workers desiring engagement in connection with housing and employers desiring to engage them should apply to their employment exchange.

Sir G. Mander

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that unless workers are made available for building houses great indignation will be caused among those who are waiting for these houses, particularly among Servicemen?

Mr. Butler

It is obvious that the provision of additional labour is required and this is one of the reasons why registration is being undertaken, and that, I hope will provide results.

Sir Joseph Lamb

Will my right hon. Friend give careful consideration to the cases of small master builders who were taken away from rural areas, where there is nothing to do in either building or repairs?

Mr. Butler

I constantly have those cases brought home to me.

Mr. Messer

Is the Minister aware that £7,000 worth of building work is to be done on rebuilding the Harringay Sports Arena, while in that neighbourhood there are hundreds of houses waiting to be repaired?

Mr. Butler

I have not those figures by me, but in view of the statement made by the hon. Member, I will certainly look into them.

Mr. E. Walkden

And put a stop to it.

Mr. Colegate

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us are receiving correspondence from men engaged on non-combatant duties in the Services who claim that they are in the building industry; and cannot they now be released?

Mr. Butler

I should be glad to receive any information from my hon. Friend or anybody else, and I trust that our re- searches which are described in the answer to the Question will, as I said, yield some proper result.

Mr. Hynd

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the men in the Army who were previously building trade operatives are expected themselves to make an application for release under the B Scheme?

Mr. Butler

Under the B Scheme they do not make application themselves.

Mr. Seaborne Davies

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that release under category B will be fairly and equitably distributed all over the country as there appear to be rumours in the B.L.A. that the releases are conditional on the application of certain big firms in the London area?

Mr. Butler

The scheme is going to be administered as described on 16th May, and rumours that we are going to yield to certain pressures and interests are quite untrue

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