HC Deb 13 May 1957 vol 570 cc23-4
41. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Supply if he will now make a statement on the effects of recent cuts in the defence programme on employment and production in the Royal Ordnance factories, with particular reference to Radway Green and Swynnerton; and what plans have been made to transfer to civil production where alternative employment does not exist in the neighbourhood.

The Minister of Supply (Mr. Aubrey Jones)

As stated by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour in the House on 17th April, it is expected that during the next twelve months the numbers employed in the Royal Ordnance factories may be reduced by about 5,000 or 6,000. As for the two factories mentioned in the Question, the immediate load of work is insufficient to maintain the whole of the present labour force and some further redundancies will shortly have to be announced.

As to civil work, I would refer the hon. Member to the statement I made in reply to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) on 25th March.

Mr. Swingler

Will the Minister give the assurance that the cuts are being imposed in the first place on private contract work and only secondly on the Royal Ordnance factories? Secondly, is he aware that this may produce serious unemployment in some districts where alternative jobs do not exist? Will he now consider plans for transferring the civil production in areas like North Staffordshire, where there is no alternative employment?

Mr. Jones

Yes, Sir. I did make a statement some weeks ago about civil work and to some extent the factories will undertake civil work. Certainly, the general conditions of employment in the areas affected will be taken into account.

Mrs. Castle

In view of the fact that the Minister gave me an assurance three or four weeks ago that the recent redundancies at the Royal Ordnance factory in Blackburn would, he hoped, represent the maximum reduction in personnel at that factory, will he give an assurance that these additional 5,000 redundancies will not apply to the Blackburn area?

Mr. Jones

I think it probable that the figure of 5,000–6,000 certainly covered the implications for the Blackburn factory.