HC Deb 21 February 1952 vol 496 cc420-1
39. Mr. Sparks

asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to ensure employment in defence and other industries of the growing number of engineers in the borough of Acton becoming redundant and unemployed directly and indirectly through the shortage of steel supplies.

Sir W. Monckton

There are a large number of outstanding vacancies in North-West London for skilled and unskilled men in the engineering industry. Workers in the borough of Acton who may be discharged from their present employment should, if they register at the employment exchange, have little difficulty in obtaining suitable alternative work.

Mr. Sparks

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that many of the factories in which redundancy of skilled engineers arises are capable of being converted to defence production, as they were during the war, but that apparently no action is being taken by any Government Department to effect that conversion? Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman give an assurance that he is in direct contact with other Government Departments on this question, so that those factories where redundancy exists may be converted to defence production?

Sir W. Monckton

I am sure the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the important thing is whether there is a substantial number of engineering workers out of work in the area to which the Question relates. I have made inquiries and on 18th February there were only 18 such men, and nearly all of them have been submitted for fresh employment.

Mr. Frederick Lee

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman appreciate that although the engineering unions will be very happy to assist in bringing new people into the industry, they cannot very well do that if there is to be redundancy among skilled engineers at the same time?

Sir W. Monckton

I assure the House that where skilled engineers are available there will be no difficulty in finding them proper employment. We shall do our best, with the help of both sides of the industry, to place them where they are most useful in the common cause.