HC Deb 08 May 1956 vol 552 cc988-90
10. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Labour the number of disabled persons employed at Remploy factories on 1st January, 1956, and on the latest available date.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and National Service (Mr. Robert Carr)

The number of severely disabled persons employed by Remploy factories was 6,006 on 3rd January, 1956, and 6,022 on 27th March, 1956.

Mr. Willey

Whilst welcoming this slight increase, may I ask whether the hon. Gentleman will assure the House that Remploy will not suffer from Government economies and that efforts will be made to increase still further the numbers employed in these factories?

Mr. Carr

I think I can say that the pledge of a minimum of 6,000 still remains. Subject to its trading position, Remploy hopes to increase the number of severely disabled employees further during the course of the financial year.

Mr. G. Brown

What does "subject to its trading position" mean? Is not this the frightening thing—that so often pledges about Remploy are hedged round with references to its trading position, which of course would justify almost anything? What does the hon. Gentleman mean by that remark?

Mr. Carr

I have, in the course of an earlier debate, outlined all this in more detail. There is an agreement under which Remploy is certain of minimum guarantees for a five-year period. Coupled with that, there is the pledge of 6,000, which still stands. If the trading position allows Remploy to expand beyond 6,000 and yet keep within its five-year terms of reference from the financial point of view, the numbers can he increased.

12. Sir L. Plummer

asked the Minister of Labour how many workers of all grades are employed by Remploy at the latest convenient date compared with last year.

Mr. Carr

The number of workers of all grades, both disabled and others, employed by Remploy at 27th March, 1956, was 7,971 compared with 8,357 at 29th March, 1955.

Sir L. Plummer

I hope the Minister appreciates that this is disturbing news. However, may I ask whether the Government continue to regard Remploy as a social service and not only as a trading undertaking? Will the hon. Gentleman say how this level of employment will be affected by the Chancellor's proposed cuts?

Mr. Carr

I have made a fairly categorical statement about the last part of the hon. Member's supplementary question in the course of my reply to the last Question. As to the earlier part, it is well known, and has been debated in the House, that there was a run-down in Remploy during the last year, for reasons which were explained. That run-down was to a firm minimum, and we have not gone below that minimum. We are, in fact, now climbing slightly above it, as my earlier Answer showed.