HC Deb 20 November 1957 vol 578 cc378-9
29. Mr. Collins

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that more than 5,000 of the 20,000 workers in the garment manufacturing trade in London are wholly unemployed and the remainder working only three days per week; and what steps he proposes to take to provide alternative employment for these skilled workers.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I am unable to understand the basis of the hon. Member's figures. The number of insured employees in the garment making industries in London is estimated at 134,400. Of these the latest complete figures show that on 14th October, 1,012 adults and 39 boys and girls were wholly unemployed. Provisional figures for 11th November show that 1,418 adults were then wholly unemployed. In addition 1,700 men and women were thought to be losing at least one day's work a week. My local officers are doing all they can by submitting wholly unemployed workers to suitable vacancies.

Mr. Collins

Is the Minister aware that the situation is deteriorating so rapidly that it may account for the difference between the figures which he has quoted and those supplied to me by the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers about their members? Three firms, employing 1,250 workers, have completely shut down and the Master Tailors Association says that 90 per cent. of its 10,000 workers are on short-time. It is a serious situation, and I should be glad if the Minister would have another look at it.

Mr. Macleod

I will certainly have another look at it, but I am sure that the hon. Member's figures must be a very long way out. The figures that I have given are for 11th November, and therefore there cannot have been a very steep deterioration.

Mr. C. Howell

Would the Minister agree that the difference in the figures may well be accounted for by the fact that the figures he has given are those of people registered, whereas the figures in the Question include women who get no benefits and therefore do not bother to register?

Mr. Macleod

No, the figures are too far apart to be accounted for in that way. The difference is twenty-five times.