HC Deb 23 October 1956 vol 558 cc474-6
36. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction among unemployed workers in Coventry concerning the notification of vacancies in the city; and if, therefore, he will consider reintroducing the Notification of Vacancies Order.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I understand that the dissatisfaction to which the hon. Member refers is caused by the belief that available jobs are filled without notification of a vacancy to the employment exchange and that employers give preference to workers who are known to them. The reintroduction of the Order would not prevent employers nominating workers nor interfere with the employer's right to determine whom he will engage. I see no justification for reintroducing the Order.

Miss Burton

Will the right hon. Gentleman look at another angle of the matter? Is he aware that there is considerable dissatisfaction in Coventry about the existence, of private employment agencies? Is he aware that workers who go to these agencies have to pay a fee and a certain proportion of their first week's wages if they get the job? From the point of view of psychological benefit to the workers in Coventry, will the right hon. Gentleman consider looking at the matter and trying to find out why particular jobs which should go to the local employment exchanges are going to these private employment agencies?

Mr. Macleod

The reintroduction of the Notification of Vacancies Order, which the hon. Lady puts forward as a solution, would do very little to meet the problem which she has in mind. The question of fee-charging agencies is under consideration by the Government in the light of the international convention on that subject.

37. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that in Coventry men and women applying for jobs are told by some employers that there is an upper age limit of 45 for men and 35 for women ; that such an attitude causes anxiety among those looking for work ; and if he will make a statement outlining the policy of his Department on this matter.

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

I am informed that for a time the General Post Office in Coventry who had a great number of applications gave preference to men under 45, but they are once more recruiting up to the age of 60. I know of no other instances of such age limits for men, but I understand that for certain types of vacancies for women there are some employers who specify an upper age limit. I can assure the hon. Member that it is the policy of my Department to encourage employers to consider the most suitable applicants regardless of their age.

Miss Burton

I am glad to have that information about the Post Office, but does the hon. Gentleman realise that when I was in Coventry ten days ago I checked up on this matter and I was told that there was a definite age limit of 45 years? Would the hon. Gentleman give what publicity he can to this matter as far as it affects both men and women?

Mr. Carr

I understand that the Post Office has now removed that limit. It was purely temporary, and I think that the Question and Answer will give it the necessary publicity.

38. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that some of the vacancies in Coventry could be filled by those out of work if some re-training were possible ; and if he will investigate, as a matter of urgency, the possibility of such courses being provided by the Government.

Mr. Carr

It is accepted by both sides of industry that any training that may be required for unskilled or semi-skilled work is best given by the employer concerned. In suitable cases training can be given in Government training centres for certain types of skilled work.

Miss Burton

But that takes so long. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a good many women who are out of work in Coventry today have told me that there are jobs in factories which they could fill if they had a little more additional training? If that is not being given, will the hon. Gentleman look at the matter, because it is really urgent?

Mr. Carr

We are keeping this matter under review, but Government training centres, by their very nature, must be confined to skilled workers because in unskilled and semi-skilled occupations it is very often essential that the training should be given on the job.