HC Deb 17 May 1956 vol 552 cc2205-6
44. Mr. Allaun

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will make a statement on the Report of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research on Automation.

Mr. Carr

The Report was published yesterday and copies are available in the Vote Office. We hope it will receive wide_ spread and careful study. As my right hon. Friend stated in answer to questions on 8th May, he intends to discuss the question of automation, in the light of the Report, with the National Joint Advisory Council.

Mr. Allaun

Whilst thanking the Minister for that reply, may I ask whether he will, through the National Joint Advisory Council, encourage higher wages and shorter hours to absorb the vastly increased output from automation, and to avoid redundancy, as urged by the engineering unions? Also would he agree that the one thing these wonderful new machines cannot do is to buy a plate of fish and chips, a suite of furniture or a suit of clothing, and therefore that purchasing power must be increased?

Mr. Carr

I would rather allow all sides on the National Joint Advisory Council to express their own considered views on this Report. I am sure that they will be wise ones, and I am sure that with that consultation the new changes can be introduced into this country to the great benefit of all sections of the community.

Mr. Lee

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that although we all wish to congratulate the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research on its fine technical Report, it does not really deal with the social and economic aspects of automation, which are the main consideration of Parliament? Could the Minister say whether there is likely to be a further inquiry by the Ministry or the Government in an attempt to give us a lead on the type of policy which the Government now propose to bring to us for dealing with the economic and social aspects of the coming automation?

Mr. Carr

I would like to join with the hon. Gentleman in his congratulations to the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. As he will know, at the end of its Report there is a list of subjects which the Department recognised should be further investigated. Some of those are being looked into already, and when the National Joint Advisory Council considers the Report at its next meeting, no doubt further thought will be given to any action which may be necessary.