HC Deb 29 March 1956 vol 550 cc2340-1
33. Mr. Collins

asked the Minister of Labour if he has now considered the figures relating to discharges and short-time work in the furniture industry, supplied to him by the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Iain Macleod

As I informed the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis) on 27th March, I am having inquiries made. When these are completed, I will write to the hon. Member.

Mr. Collins

Is the Minister aware that the difficulty in reconciling his figures with those of the union arises from the fact that the official figures take cognisance only of days worked short there and ignore the more prevalent practice of working fewer hours per day? Is he further aware that one furniture worker out of three has either been discharged or is working short time and that the position is getting worse? Will he look closely into the matter and inform the President of the Board of Trade of the position?

Mr. Macleod

As I undertook in the debate on employment, I am checking the discrepancy and, as soon as I can do so, I will write to the hon. Member.

Mr. Lewis

Although he has quoted the answer he gave me, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that to some extent that answer was misleading because he said that one of the main reasons for this short time and unemployment was seasonal causes? Yet in his Answer the right hon. Gentleman shows by figures that whereas in March, 1951, there were only a few unemployed and on short time, this March there are many thousands. If it is seasonal there should be some com- parison of the figures. Is not the position entirely due to Government policy?

Mr. Macleod

The hon. Member takes a particular year to suit himself, but if he takes any other year he will see that seasonal causes are at work and that unemployment in the furniture industry varies from month to month throughout the year. That is abundantly clear.