HC Deb 28 October 1952 vol 505 cc1722-3
29. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Minister of Works if he will give statistics to show the output per man hour in the building industry for the years 1938, 1945 and at the latest available date, respectively.

Mr. Eccles

The physical output of the building industry is impossible to measure, owing to the great range of types of work and materials used.

Sir W. Smithers

Will my right hon. Friend make an appeal to all those engaged in the building industry to increase output as far as possible in the national interest, to stop all restrictive practices, and to ask those engaged as bricklayers at least to lay as many bricks per hour as their fathers did?

Mr. Eccles

Productivity in the building industry has increased this year compared with last year more than we could possibly have expected. The same number of bricklayers are laying 10 million bricks more a week this year than last year.

Mr. Shinwell

Are we to understand from the reply of the right hon. Gentleman to the Question by his hon. Friend that he emphatically repudiates the implication that building trade workers are not working hard enough?

Mr. Eccles

I am satisfied with the progress we are making, but we can make still more progress, and I believe we shall.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in Scotland until recently building trade employers refused to put into effect the bonus schemes current in the industry, that only recently have they adopted the scheme for improving productivity and that the responsibility lies there and not on the Government?

Mr. Eccles

I think there are many arguments for and against bonus schemes on particular sites, but as far as I am aware productivity in Scotland is rising.

Mr. Gibson

In view of his first reply, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it makes nonsense of the continual efforts of the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) to suggest that building trade workers are in fact slacking on the job?

Mr. Eccles

My hon. Friend has this on his side, that productivity in the building industry was extremely low a year ago compared with prewar, but it is now getting better and I think we can all compliment ourselves on that.

Sir W. Smithers

On a point of order. All I said was that if those in the building industry wanted to they could produce much more.

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order.