HC Deb 03 December 1958 vol 596 cc1172-3
34. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Labour his plans for the re-employment of workers made redundant in the aircraft industry as a result of the readjustment of the military programme.

Mr. Wood

My local officers will make every effort to find suitable alternative employment for any workers from the aircraft industry who register at employment exchanges. Hitherto their efforts have met with marked success.

Mr. Edelman

Is not the problem now a grave one? Is not it a fact that before the Government's Defence White Paper was published 64 per cent. of the industry's total output went to Government orders? Is it the case that if the programme for conventional aircraft is run down by half more than 90,000 workers will become redundant? Does not that constitute a very serious situation in areas like Coventry which depend largely on the aircraft industry and the machine tool industry?

Mr. Wood

A number of the supplementary questions which the hon. Member has asked are for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, but the Question on the Order Paper refers to the workers who have presumably been discharged in the past, and in the last year the numbers employed in the aircraft industry have fallen from about 258,000 to 247,000. Of the 11,000 discharged only 2,140 were registering at employment exchanges. Therefore, so far the problem is not one of very great proportions.

Mr. Lee

Does not this problem arise because the Government at one and the same time depressed military orders and the civil work which would otherwise have been available? Cannot the hon. Gentleman get his right hon. Friend to agree that at a time when we ate rightly reducing our defence requirements the accompaniment to that should be an increase in employment in the civil aircraft industry?

Mr. Wood

That raises a number of questions which I do not think are for me. I was merely asked about the arrangements we were making for the re-employment of those who had lost their jobs.