HC Deb 19 February 1958 vol 582 cc1206-7
39. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Labour in view of the concern arising from the increasing unemployment in the building industry and the fears for the future, if he will make a statement on the present position and future prospects.

Mr. Iain Macleod

On 13th January, 1958, there were 58,400 unemployed people whose last employment was in the building and contracting industries compared with 52,800 in January, 1957. During the twelve months ending in December last the number employed fell by 26,800. Whilst a seasonal improvement is expected to begin in the course of a month or so, it seems unlikely that the industry will, in present circumstances, regain the abnomally high level of employment experienced in 1956.

Mr. Dodds

In view of the statement by the Minister of Housing and Local Government about the running down of housing, does not that provide a serious outlook for the building industry? Will not the right hon. Gentleman make some statement, because there is a good deal of concern about it, or does he feel there is nothing to be alarmed about?

Mr. Macleod

I would not say that. There is a great deal about the building industry that causes me anxiety, but it is also true that we are at or near the seasonal peak of unemployment and one would expect an improvement over the next few months. One of the main factors here is the Government's credit restriction policy, and I have no alteration in that to announce.