HC Deb 18 October 1949 vol 468 cc462-4
13. Sir John Mellor

asked the Minister of Labour what reductions he proposes in labour control.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Isaacs)

I hope shortly to make a statement about the Government's intentions with regard to labour controls.

Sir J. Mellor

Will the Minister give an assurance now that there will be no increase in control?

Mr. Isaacs

I can add nothing to the answer I have already given.

18. Mr. Blackburn

asked the Minister of Labour how many people have been directed to work since the coming into force of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1947.

Mr. Isaacs

Nineteen men and 10 women since 6th October, 1947, the date of coming into force of the Control of Engagement Order, 1947. In addition, directions have been given since that date to 581 men to remain in their normal employment in agriculture or coal mining.

Mr. J. Langford-Holt

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in many hundreds of cases, the mere threat of direction has the same effect?

Mr. Isaacs

There is no threat of direction.

Mr. Blackburn

Has not the Minister given an undertaking to all hon. Members of the House that he will personally investigate any cases of victimisation due to the threat of the use of this power, and has the Minister had a single case of victimisation which has been proved?

Mr. Isaacs

The only case was in the early days of the scheme, when one of the exchange managers made a mistake and we promptly put it right.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Can the Minister give an undertaking that on no occasion in the past or in the future has the threat been used or will be used?

Mr. Isaacs

I can give that undertaking. We have never threatened anybody.

Mr. Mellish

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that direction into labour is a new thing in this country, and that in the past it was the policy to direct people out of labour?

19. Mr. Blackburn

asked the Minister of Labour what representations he has received advocating a more vigorous enforcement of his powers of direction of labour; what reply he has given to such representations; and whether any change in policy is contemplated.

Mr. Isaacs

The answer to the first part of the question is "None, Sir," and the second part, therefore, does not arise. As I have already informed the House I hope shortly to make a statement about the Government's intentions.

Mr. Blackburn

Can the Minister indicate how it has arisen that responsible newspapers have printed rumours, which they say were well authenticated, to the effect that the trade union movement has asked him to increase these powers?

Mr. Isaacs

No such thing has happened, but we are accustomed to rumours in the newspapers. I can say that I have never had a single complaint from the trade unions about the operation of this particular power.

Mr. Henry Strauss

Has not the right hon. Gentleman observed the statement of his right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to the effect that, in the event of his party being returned to power, the Transitional Powers Act will be replaced by a permanent Act in which Regulation 58A will become a permanent part of our law, so that an Order for the direction of labour can then be made without this House having the power to alter one word of it?

Mr. Blackburn

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that statement which has just been referred to was to the effect that the particular Act would be passed in an amended form?

Mr. Strauss

May I say that I should still prefer an answer from the Treasury Bench to one given by an aspirant?

Mr. Isaacs

The hon. and learned Gentleman has asked me if I noticed that statement. I have noticed that statement.

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