HC Deb 03 December 1958 vol 596 cc1180-1
30. Mr. Awbery

asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the work being done by Remploy in maintaining severely handicapped men in productive employment despite the recession in the commercial markets, if he will take steps to increase the orders from Government Departments, which in recent months have been declining, and thus help Remploy and be an example to other purchasers of the goods manufactured by them.

Mr. Wood

I gladly endorse the hon. Member's tribute to the work being done by Remploy. As my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said on 15th July in reply to the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) the arrangements for placing Government contracts with priority suppliers, including R employ, are being examined by the Departments concerned. The object of the Committee to which my right hon. Friend referred, is to promote closer relations between the priority suppliers and the main purchasing Departments. It has held its first meeting.

Mr. Awbery

Is the Minister aware that, although the sales of Remploy are going up, the demand from Government Departments is falling? This is no encouragement to outsiders, so will he do what he can to get the various Government Departments to buy more from Remploy, and so encourage outside purchasers?

Mr. Wood

It is true that there has been a fall, and it is due to the sharp fall in Government requirements, largely because of the cutting back of the defence programme. This matter will certainly be considered by the Committee and I hope there will be progress as a result.