HC Deb 20 February 1951 vol 484 cc1031-3
1. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Labour what number of persons in the United Kingdom are registered as disabled and fit for light work only at the last convenient date; how many have been unemployed for a greater period than six months; and how this compares with the previous 12 months.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Frederick Lee)

I assume my hon. Friend is referring to unemployed disabled persons who are regarded as unlikely to obtain employment except under sheltered conditions. On 11th December, 1950, there were 8,183 such persons in Great Britain. The number of these who had been unemployed over six months is not available. In October, 1949, 7,512 out of 10,318 had been unemployed six months or more, and in April, 1950, 7,028 out of 9,623.

Mr. Dodds

Is not my hon. Friend aware that many disabled people could be found work today but for the strict regulations governing employment, which do not differentiate between the unscrupulous who would exploit them and public-spirited people who would find them work if it were not for these strict regulations? Will he look into the matter with the Minister of National Insurance and attempt to solve the problem?

Sir Waldron Smithers

What T.U.C. regulations prevent these people from getting employment?

Mr. Lee

I do not know that they do.

Sir W. Smithers

But I do.

6. Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

asked the Minister of Labour if he will make a statement on the conversations he has had with the National Joint Advisory Council on the question of the increased employment of the middle-aged and elderly.

15. Mr. A. Edward Davies

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will make arrangements with Royal Ordnance Factories establishments and public and private employers of labour to engage a greater number of disabled and elderly persons, in view of the impending heavy demands on the available labour strength.

Mr. Lee

Yes, Sir. My right hon. Friend drew the attention of the Council to the importance of encouraging and facilitating the retention in employment of older persons able and willing to continue to serve irrespective of their ages, and the need to revise traditional attitudes and practices with regard to old age and retirement. This is important in the short term because of our manpower needs, and in the long term because of the increasing proportion of older persons in the population and the consequences for the national economy and the general standard of living on their ceasing to work. The Council endorsed this policy, and my right hon. Friend is meeting both sides shortly to discuss the measures to be taken.

As regards the disabled, employers generally are co-operating fully in the engagement of disabled persons, frequently in excess of the quota requirement.

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

Can the hon. Gentleman say what lead the Government themselves are giving in this matter?

Mr. Lee

On statistics, a very fine lead indeed.

Mr. Edward Davies

In view of the position which is likely to arise, will my hon. Friend consider asking the ordnance factories and public employers not only to step up the quota of disabled people but also not to require a man to be 100 per cent. fit, because the figures show that many thousands of the 300,000 unemployed may be 90 per cent. fit, and they would have a useful contribution to make?

Mr. McCorquodale

Will the Minister impress upon the nationalised industries as well as the others the importance of this question?

Mr. Lee

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the nationalised industries are represented on the Council and they take an important part in the consideration.

Mr. John Arbuthnot

Was it with the Minister's agreement that an age limit of 60 was put on the enumerators for the forthcoming census?