HC Deb 18 February 1958 vol 582 cc1031-2
46. Sir D. Robertson

asked the Prime Minister why local men of good character who have worked for several years at Dounreay are being discharged as redundant while men from distant places where work is more readily available than in the Highlands are retained with subsistence allowances plus regular overtime, including double pay on Sundays; and, in view of the unemployment problem in Caithness and Sutherland, if he will take immediate steps to remedy this situation.

The Prime Minister

I recognise my hon. Friend's concern in this matter. The Atomic Energy Authority's contractors at Dounreay are discharging staff because the construction programme is nearing completion. It was only when skilled men were not available locally that men were recruited from distant places. I understand that local men are being discharged only when there is no longer suitable work for them. Wherever possible, alternative work on the operational side of the establishment is offered to them by the Authority. Men from distant places who are still retained on constructional work are mostly skilled men who could not be recruited locally.

Sir D. Robertson

Is it not a fact that many citizens of Eire are employed at Dounreay upon labouring work which local men are well capable of doing?

The Prime Minister

I was not aware of that, but I think that the Answer that I have given—made upon the information given to me—accurately sets out the position. The constructional work is coming to an end and the Authority is trying to get the maximum local employment for the operational work. If there are any points in respect of which we can improve matters, however, I shall be very happy to discuss them with my hon. Friend.

Mr. Woodburn

Do the contractors contact the Ministry of Labour in this matter? The Ministry could give them guidance upon the likelihood of local labour being available where there is a possibility of selection.

The Prime Minister

I feel sure that the Authority does so. It is the common practice between all large contractors and the Ministry.

Mr. Lipton

May we now take it that Questions relating to unemployment should be addressed to the Prime Minister?

Mr. Speaker

I should not like to make such a pronouncement.

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