49. Mr. Lee
asked the Prime Minister what steps he is taking to ensure that the most recent changes in the defence programme do not result in unemployment in the engineering industry.
§ The Prime Minister
The changes will not markedly reduce the total labour force employed on defence production in the engineering industry. There may be some redundancies at first in a few firms, but the Ministry of Labour are being consulted on the best way to limit the effect of these redundancies and they will arrange in advance to help any workers who become unemployed to find other work.
Would not the Prime Minister agree that many firms will have already decided their programming for next year and that that involves the lay-out of their 242 machinery, the balance of their labour force and the type of raw materials they would need for the arms programme? Does he not agree that unless this matter is handled extremely carefully it will mean that those firms will not be able to substitute another type of product for the orders they thought they were going to receive? Would he make certain that a hiatus does not arise by tailing off the defence programme instead of abruptly cutting it?
§ Mr. de Freitas
Will the right hon. Gentleman do all he can to ensure that the capacity and manpower released by this reduction in re-armament is not frittered away on consumer goods but is used for export goods such as civil aviation?
Could not the right hon. Gentleman give me some assurance on the point which I raised, which may well condition the attitude of the engineering industry towards the changes which be now contemplates?