HC Deb 08 May 1951 vol 487 cc1748-50
37. Mr. Digby

asked the Minister of Labour what information he has as to what steps the nationalised industries are taking, in view of the present shortage of manpower, to re-engage former employees over the age of 65 years and discharged on account of age, who are both fit and anxious to be re-employed.

43. Mr. George Thomas

asked the Minister of Labour what steps have been taken to bring the Government's policy of encouraging workers to remain in employment until they are 70 years of age to the notice of the boards of all nationalised industries and to the heads of the Civil Service.

Mr. Lee

My right hon. Friend's predecessor wrote to his colleagues concerned with employment in central and local government service, and in the nationalised industries, asking them to draw the attention of the authorities concerned to the Government's policy of taking all appropriate steps both in regard to the retention and re-engagement of older persons who are fit and willing to work. The nationalised industries are, of course, represented on the National Joint Advisory Council, which is in agreement with the Government's policy on this matter.

Mr. Digby

Will the Minister say when that letter went, because I had long correspondence with the Chairman of the Transport Commission about a constituent of mine, and the reply has not been very satisfactory.

Mr. Lee

Not without notice.

Mr. Thomas

Is the Minister aware that, regardless of that letter, skilled craftsmen are still being refused permission to carry on when they want to work after 65, and will he try to find out what effect that letter has had on the nationalised industries?

Mr. Lee

I think that this question was fully discussed in the House a week or two ago, when particular difficulties were stressed by hon. Members on both sides of the House. We realise that there are difficulties when men are forced to retire, and we are doing everything in our power to ensure that these difficulties do not arise.

Mrs. Braddock

Will my hon. Friend take notice of the fact that there is an idea in these industries that efforts are made to get people over the age of 65 who are on superannuation or on salaries to stay on, but that the other people, the ordinary industrial workers who are paid wages, are not being given the same privilege of remaining in employment?

Mr. Lee

We should regret very much if any such impression were being entertained in those industries.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

In view of the last part of Question 43, could the hon. Gentleman say whether steps have been taken in regard to the Civil Service?

Mr. Lee

Yes, I think in the debate we had some time ago that I pointed out that the official side have already laid the subject before the trade unions concerned to get the retirement age abolished altogether, and to provide that the basis upon which men and women remain in the Civil Service should be their ability to perform their task.

Mr. G. Thomas

Will my hon. Friend ask for the report from both the nationalised industries and the Civil Service and what action they have taken as a result of the representations of the Minister?

Mr. Lee

I think the time is not yet opportune to do that. Negotiations in the nationalised industries and in the Civil Service are now taking place, and I hope they will also take place in private industry, but it is rather early to expect a decision from them.

41. Brigadier Clarke

asked the Minister of Labour if he will now say what response there has been from trade unions to the encouragement given them to arrange for workers to retire at a more advanced age.

Mr. Lee

Both sides of industry have endorsed the Government's policy through the National Joint Advisory Council and are bringing it to the attention of their constituent bodies.

Brigadier Clarke

Does the Minister appreciate that anyone who wishes to retire at 60 or 65 is forced to go on working because of the present cost of living? On the other hand, does he also appreciate that this is continuing to cause unemployment in places like Portsmouth? Can I have an answer?