§ 3.49 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
I beg to move,That this House expresses its concern at recent increases in local unemployment and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to take appropriate action to remedy the situation.This Motion has been framed in such terms as to concentrate the attention of the House upon the very serious problems of local unemployment that affect many parts of the United Kingdom. In concentrating our attention upon these local situations, these black spots, we do not want it to be taken that we are unconcerned about the general trends which seem to indicate that we are going into a period of increased unemployment generally.
Last week the Minister of Labour, in reply to a question, said that in the building and contracting industry the number in employment during 1957 fell by 26,800. In our experience of the rise and fall of unemployment in this century we realise the significance of that figure, for unemployment which begins in the building and contracting industry sets up a chain reaction to all supply industries, which covers an enormous variation of industries, and will lead, indeed, to very serious unemployment.
In today's newspapers I saw—and I hope that hon. Members will have noted it—a piece of news and a picture which, I hope, will cause us all deep concern. In today's Daily Express I read this:Growing unemployment in the docks—the National Dock Labour Board is paying £18,000 a week to meet the guaranteed £6 1s. a week for those affected—may bring a ban on overtime and Sunday working. A mass meeting has been called for tomorrow night at Canning Town.In The Times, as a kind of supplement to this statement, there is a picture of ships lying idle on the Tyneside and the Clyde, waiting for trade. It is quite clear, therefore, that there are disquieting features about the trend. We hope to return to this very important problem in the not too distant future.
In thinking of the future prospects of employment we are all deeply concerned, too, about the probable effects of the American recession upon our economic situation here. In another place last 42 week, when Questions were put to the Government, the Government spokesman said that the Government were aware of this, that they were anxious about it and that they had prepared "detailed plans" which weretoo complex to be given across the Table in question and answer."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 18th February, 1958; Vol. 207, c. 765.]I hope that in the near future we shall be able to hear from the Minister about these plans.
There is one other factor about the general situation and its relationship to the problem which we are discussing this afternoon. That is that these areas about which I am going to speak, right through the period of full employment, invariably had unemployment percentages above the average for the whole of the country. When unemployment spreads generally throughout the whole of the economy these areas feel the first draught. This is particularly true of the Development Areas, to which I shall return later.
We established new industries and diversified the economy in the Development Areas in the period following the Second World War. A fair proportion—sometimes a very big proportion—of the industries which we induced to settle in the Development Areas and which played a very important part in their rehabilitation, were established by firms whose parent body and main works were elsewhere. A good number of them are in subsidiary industries, branch factories, supplying parts required for the major project in which the parent company is engaged.
We found a few years ago, when we had a recession—and we are beginning to find it again—that when a general recession begins to affect the whole of the country, it immediately has repercussions upon the Development Areas, for when companies are compelled to cut down their production they cut first in the fringe, and the Development Areas are the fringe. I will give an up-to-date example. Today, I am told that B.S.A. has announced that at the end of this month its tools factory in Cardiff will close permanently. The work which has hitherto been done in Cardiff will be concentrated at the major plant in the Midlands. We have seen this sort of thing before. The result is that although, 43 at the moment, we do not propose to discuss the general trends, the effect is felt in these black spots which will be made even blacker and whose position will be made even more difficult.
There have been many references to this subject in the Press. Before I deal with the specific areas, I ought to say that I do not intend to divert this debate—and I hope we shall all avoid the temptation to do so—to a Report which was published last week, but perhaps the House will want to return to the Report of the "Three Wise Men." At the moment, I simply mention, in passing, that if it is debated in the House we shall ask the Prime Minister what precisely he meant in relation to the Report when he spoke last week in a television interview. I hear that when he was asked whether he was happy about the Cohen Report the Prime Minister replied, very tersely, "I did not write it, I am not responsible for it." I suppose we can take it, as the Prime Minister disclaims responsibility not only for himself but presumably for the whole of the Government, that the "Three Wise Men" can now regard themselves as being redundant and that we shall not hear any more from them.
I read a very interesting article in the current month's issue of The Times Review of Industry, from which I propose to quote because it puts this problem in its context. It is an article by Lord Bilsland and deals with the problem of unemployment and the black spots in the context of experience of the past few years. I will read from what he says because I think he sets it out so well. He says that when the unemployment rate in the whole of the United Kingdom was 1.5 per cent. of the insured population, it showed great variations from one area to the other and one region to the other. When the average for the whole of the Kingdom was 1.5 per cent.; in Greater London, it was 0.9 per cent.; in Wales, it was 2.9 per cent.; and in Scotland, 2.6 per cent.
In some parts of Scotland and Wales it was far higher. For example, in North Lanark the figure was 3.5 per cent.; in Greenock, 6.5 per cent.; in North-East Scotland, 6 per cent., and in Anglesey, Caernarvon and Portmadoc, in North-West Wales—to which I shall be return- 44 ing later—the figures of unemployment, when the national average was 1.5 per cent., were respectively 9.2 per cent., 7.7 per cent. and 10 per cent.
The writer concludes by quoting a figure, to the implications of which I shall be returning. He refers to the migration of workers which still takes place from the Development Areas to the other areas, the over-concentrated areas, and, in particular, from Wales and Scotland. He states that in the last year for which figures are available—he does not give the year, but I expect that the Minister will be able to identify it—the most notable figures show that London and the South-East gained 22,000 workers, Scotland lost 10,000, and Wales lost 7,000. He comments upon the hopes expressed in the Barlow Report for a national policy of a wise distribution of industry, the instrument for which was provided by a Measure piloted through the House by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton), and he states that it is not being used by the Government as effectively as it ought to be.
Turning now to some of the problems, I shall begin with those which have already arisen or are about to arise as a consequence of reductions in defence expenditure or changes in the pattern of defence. Of course, each one of us heartily welcomes every reduction which can be made in the terrible burden we carry in defence, but, while we welcome the reductions in defence expenditure, we must accept our direct responsibility towards those who have given a life of service and skill in the defence establishments and factories. Those who have served the nation have a right to expect us to take steps to ensure that they do not pay the price in unemployment, as they are paying it now.
Recently, there was the announcement—if, as we all hope, the reduction in defence expenditure continues no doubt not the last announcement—about the closure of a number of Royal Ordnance factories. Will one of the Ministers tell us what is the situation arising from the decision made some time ago, and now carried into effect, for the closure of Royal Ordnance factories? There was recently the partial closure of the aircraft factory of Saunders-Roe, in the Isle of 45 Wight, a very serious blow to the community there. Indeed, it is not only the partial closure of this plant of Saunders-Roe, at Cowes, which is causing concern about the future of the aircraft industry. Among those employed in the industry and living in the communities which have, in the post-war years, come to depend upon the aircraft industry as the main prop for maintaining stable employment in their areas, there is great anxiety.
There was the announcement made last week by the Civil Lord of the Admiralty about certain dockyards and naval establishments. I shall not go into them in detail; I hope that hon. Members representing the constituencies concerned will be able to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, and present to the House what is the real meaning of the statement for their communities in Sheerness, Chatham, Portland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and elsewhere. When I listened to the statement, the memory came back to me of what happened immediately after the First World War, when the Pembroke Dockyard was closed. We had a community there which had grown up around the dockyard. The dockyard provided the only job it was the only plant there. For reasons of national interest and economy, which we could quite understand, the Government of the day decided that Pembroke Dockyard had to close.
A proportion of the men in Pembroke—no doubt the same is true in Chatham and elsewhere—were established men; they had to be taken away and found jobs. They were transferred to Plymouth, Portsmouth, and Chatham, and other places. There was left behind an idle plant and a large pool of unemployment, from which Pembroke Dock has not recovered to this day. No attempt was made to provide alternative employment of any kind.
There must, therefore, in these areas be deep concern today that so far, although these closures have been announced, there has been no indication as to what are the Government's plans for providing alternative employment. All that the Civil Lord could tell us last week was that the Minister of Labour, quite rightly, in pursuance of his administrative responsibility, would be opening special offices in those areas to help and guide the men there.
46 What plans have the Government to provide alternative work within the areas affected? Is consideration being given by the Government to finding alternative use for these plants and workshops? They are national property, and I hope that we can find something for them to do; otherwise, they will be a dead loss. We have a responsibility to see that this national property is used, wherever possible, for the nation's purposes.
I put one further question to the Government, which has been put to me in correspondence. I say at once that it is a matter on which I have very little knowledge—certainly no expert knowledge—but it has been put to me and I think that an answer should be given. There is a feeling among men engaged in the Royal Ordnance factories that, when defence expenditure has to be cut, it is cut only in Government establishments. They ask the question: is a balance kept between private establishments and national establishments in the reduction of work? Some of the men who have written to me are sure that they are being sacrificed, whereas Government work put out to private contract is not affected at all.
§ Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth) indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Griffiths
If the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) knows that this is not so, I am glad to hear it. Perhaps the Minister will tell us. I think it right to bring the matter to the attention of the Committee. If this belief is wrong, the Minister will say so. But there is deep concern about it in some quarters.
May we be told what plans exist or what provisions have been made for men displaced from the service of the nation in these defence establishments, when they are made redundant? Is there compensation? If so, what kind, and on what level? We all welcomed very warmly the statement made about the amount of compensation to be paid to officers and other ranks displaced by changes in the Armed Forces. I ask the House to realise that these other men who have served the nation, if in different capacities, have a right to look to us for proper consideration, and I think that we should be told by the Minister what provision is being made for compensating those who are rendered redundant, many of them after twenty, 47 thirty or even more years of service to the nation. I put compensation last. The first thing they are entitled to ask is that the Government shall provide alternative employment for them.
I come now to discuss some of the "tricky local problems", as I think the Minister called them last week. Our friends in Northern Ireland know, and hon. Members representing Northern Ireland who are here will confirm it, that Northern Ireland, judged by our standards of the post-war years, has never enjoyed anything like full employment. During the whole post-war period from 1946 until today, the percentage of unemployment has never fallen below 5, Land it has been as high as 12. On the average it has been about 8 to 9 per cent. Northern Ireland is our poor relation, and I feel that the people there are entitled to ask us what we propose to do to help them.
I see that, at 13th January, 1958, there were 44,402 unemployed in Northern Ireland, an increase of 4,479 from January, 1957. In Belfast alone, there was an increase of over 1,800 from the figure a year before. I mention these things because it is our duty, in considering the black spots, to remember that Northern Ireland is one of the blackest, And the House cannot absolve itself from responsibility because there happens to be a Parliament and Government in Northern Ireland.
There are other areas where the problem is growing. Lancashire and the cotton towns are still worried about their future. Merseyside is anxious. There are very many places where local unemployment is high, and where it is now feared that local unemployment will increase. I know that other hon. Members will wish to have an opportunity of putting the case for their constituencies. The Government have an opportunity today to tell us what are the precise plans they have, or are developing, to deal with these black spots.
Before I speak about positive remedies in the place of the Distribution of Industry Act, I hope that the Committee will give me its indulgence if I say a word about Wales. Their pre-occupation in these days is concerned with two corners: the old provinces of Gwynedd and Dyfed. In both of them there is 48 unemployment of a serious character, and there has been for some time. In North Wales, the basic factor responsible for the high percentage of unemployment in recent years has been the decline in the slate industry, which has suffered because the fashion has changed.
Instead of slate roofing, we now have other kinds of roofing. This is an industry which at one time employed well over 20,000 people, but which is now slowly but surely, year after year, going out of existence. I know these communities very well. I know the terrifyingly dangerous work of the quarry. Speaking as an old collier, I would far rather face the dangers of the pit than work in a slate quarry. There are dangers in other respects.
There are now left behind large numbers of people who are paying the price for dust disease. One of those diseases, pneumoconiosis, is bad in the part of Wales from which I come, but if one were to go to these areas one would see pneumoconiosis and silicosis. One of the tragic features in these black spots is the number of men of 40 and 45 years of age who find themselves out of a job. Their skill has been destroyed by changes in the pattern of economy and in other ways. These are good communities, too, and good villages. I know them. If they are allowed to die Britain will lose something that is very precious. I hope we shall hear from the Government what steps they are taking to provide alternative employment in this area.
We have heard with interest, and have welcomed, the decision to establish atomic energy plants in North Wales. I know that it is causing a good deal of concern and controversy. I have heard this lovely part of our country described in one of the discussions on hydro-power schemes in North Wales as "the loveliest miniature mountain in the world." I can understand the view of those who are deeply concerned about further industrialisation in this area. We do not want to spoil its beauty, and we do not want to starve its people. We must find a way to meet this problem.
I turn now to South-West Wales. I declare my interest in that my constituency is affected, but this problem in South-West Wales is more than a local problem. It has national significance for 49 all of us—employers, workers, for Government, for Parliament and for the nation. This, I believe, is the first large-scale example of modernisation and its effects that we have had. Perhaps the Committee does not realise how big a change it is. I wish I could take hon. Members with me to South-West Wales, or to any part of Wales where the tin plate industry exists, to visit one of the old hand mills and then walk only a couple of hundred yards and visit one of the new mills. What a change! It is a change welcomed by the workmen, but it has created a terrifying problem.
There are now two new plants in South-West Wales beyond Margam producing tinplate by the new method—the change from handmill to strip mill. These two new plants have a potential output of 10,000 tons of tinplate per week and employ 3,800 men. This output is the equivalent of 400 of the old hand mills employing 28,000 men. This tremendous change has taken place in the past few years.
The figures speak for themselves. There were formerly 400 old hand mills, employing 28,000 men. Now the two new mills employ 3,800 men and produce as much tinplate as 28,000 men in the old mills. We knew, therefore, that the old system was bound to go. I have no doubt that other industries—perhaps not on this dramatic scale, but on a comparable scale—will face a problem of this kind. As further mechanisation and automation comes into operation, this will be the problem.
Speaking as an old trade unionist, I beg the Minister of Labour to realise the implications for future industrial relations and the attitude of workers towards machines. If Britain is to survive, find its place in the world and compete on successful terms, we cannot stand outside or lag behind. We must advance; we must modernise. We must appeal to the men to co-operate. If they cooperate, then we shall have the responsibility of looking after them.
Within a few months of these new plants coming into operation, one of them reached full potential production. It was a splendid piece of co-operation between management and workmen. Many people thought that when these new mills were put down, it would take anything from a year to eighteen months 50 to achieve full potential production, but 10,000 tons of tinplate were being produced in much less than a year from when the mill was started.
The men who went to work in these mills were told that owing to the heavy capital cost, it was essential for their success that there should be round-the-clock production. So there was introduced what the men called "the continental system". This is what happens. They work around the clock, 24 hours a day, in complicated cycles of about 20 shifts. The only break from production is on Sunday morning, which is reserved for maintenance working. Here, therefore, are trade unions and workmen who have co-operated fully in doing what they were told. In the national interest they have co-operated in every possible way with management and technicians to make a success of this enterprise.
What do they say now? They say, "We have worked ourselves out of a job. Now we pay the penalty". The old works are closing down. They have closed down rapidly in the last six months because the repercussions of the technological revolution have coincided with a fall in demand. Nineteen old works have been closed in six months. Unemployment has more than doubled—and will shortly have trebled—between October of last year and February of this year. The men are now facing unemployment and, indeed, a very dim future unless tangible steps are taken to provide alternative employment.
It is tragic that, 40 per cent. of the men in one of the works that has closed—which I know very well indeed—are over 50 years of age. They were appealed to by the employers to stay in the old hand mills and to keep production going, because for a period the demand for tinplate was such that it required the output of the new and old plant. They were asked to stay at their jobs, which they have done. They were asked whether they would welcome Italian labour into the old hand mills, and they did welcome it.
The workers welcomed them and trained those men. We sometimes hear charges against men who will not accept Hungarians and I do not defend them. But I wish sometimes that there was a word of praise for those who do accept foreign workers. Here are men who did it. Now, at the age of 45 or 50, they 51 find themselves out of work and without any prospect at all.
For those engaged in the tinplate industry, a redundancy fund is set up by the employers. It provides, I believe, for lump sums which reach a maximum of about £250 or £300 after thirty or forty years' service. But this is not only the tinplate industry. It is an integrated industry. The steel works produced the steel bar. The steel bar was taken to the old hand mill and rolled into sheet or tinplate. There were engineering shops to make the machines for the old kind of works and to service them—20 of them—and there were other works which fabricated the sheet or tinplate into other kinds of products.
This is one of the bad pieces of planning. In the main, the whole area has remained as an area which produces raw materials for fabrication elsewhere. I hope that the Government will give serious consideration, among other things, to giving the men who provide the raw material an opportunity of fabricating it, too, by establishing industries for the finishing processes. The integrated industries are closing down. The old hand mills are displaced, the old steelworks are out of date and are closing down and the engineering shops begin to feel the draught too and are working short time.
This is an industry which has grown up over the century. Practically all the tinplate produced in this country—98 per cent. of it—was produced in South Wales. I have given these facts, because they are of importance. Unless steps are taken to provide alternative employment for these men who have co-operated so well in establishing the new industries and making a success of them, we shall create a Luddite mentality once more. If the coming of the machine means putting men out of jobs at 45 or 50 years of age, what do we expect them to do? I hope, therefore, that for all these black spots of which I have spoken—in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland—the Government will tell us their plans.
Before I make the case which I am urging most of all—that there should be full use of the powers already existing in the Distribution of Industry Act and, if necessary, the acquisition of further 52 powers by the Government to deal with these problems—there is one other matter to which I want to refer. It may be that even with the best will and the best efforts in the world, some of these men are fated to have long-term unemployment. I beg both the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance to consider this problem.
In 1946, when I piloted the National Insurance Act through the House, I gave a lot of thought to this matter. Eventually I introduced, and the House was good enough to accept, what became known as Section 62 of the 1946 Act, by which provision was made, not out of the National Insurance Fund, but out of the Exchequer. There was a strong feeling amongst all my colleagues about making long-term unemployment the responsibility of the Exchequer.
In those days, the minds of many of us were conditioned by our memory of the inter-war years. Many of my right hon. and hon. Friends discussed the matter with me. The late Ernest Bevin, in particular, spoke to me when I was Minister of National Insurance and mentioned this danger to me. He said that if the Fund was made to carry long-term unemployment and if perchance, through accident or design, we were confronted with long-term unemployment and the Fund broke, as it did in the inter-war years, that would be a bad thing. I was urged, therefore, to think of a scheme by which long-term unemployment benefit could be provided without a means test and on the sole test of work and the offer of a job.
So we produced Section 62. I did it with a good deal of trepidation and with no experience of how such a scheme would work. I said to the House and to the Committee at the time that I did not know how it would work, but that we would try it. We tried it and it worked. It is the only provision for long-term unemployment ever made in this country that has worked. All the attempts that we made in the inter-war years broke down. This scheme, however, worked.
It so happened that it was provided that at the end of five years Section 62 should die out. Ministers sometimes say that we should have made it for a longer period. I sincerely beg the Government to restore Section 62 now. If, not only 53 in South-West Wales, but on Merseyside and in Scotland, at Greenock or elsewhere, men who have given forty years of their life to an industry cannot find themselves a job, and the Minister of Labour is unable to find jobs for them, and if after a period, varying from individual to individual, they find that they have exhausted their standard benefit and have nothing except the indignity of the Assistance Board, there will be real trouble among the workers. The Trades Union Congress urged the former Minister of National Insurance to put Section 62 back. I urge the present Minister to do so now.
I lived through those years of the 1930s. I was President of the South Wales Mineworkers' Association and I beg the Committee to realise what can be done to men. We do not want to add insult and indignity to injury. It would be something of which we should all be ashamed if we did not take steps now to prevent that happening again.
My last word is about the Development of Industry Act and the full use that should be made of it. I need not go over the provisions of the Act. From 1945 onwards, we very largely rehabilitated the Development Areas and we are proud of what we did. In the main, we used two methods. One was the powers embodied in the Distribution of Industry Act to induce industrialists to come to those areas to build factories, which could be let to them at concessionary rents, to provide financial aid to help them and—I am glad to see that the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs is present—to provide the local authorities with special grants on special terms as part of the operation of the Distribution of Industry Act so that they could improve their basic services.
When we were the Government, we used all these powers of the Distribution of Industry Act in co-operation with another power, which the present Government have thrown away. They may have to take it back. We used the one power to supplement the other. I refer to the control of building by means of building licences, by which we were able to say to industrialists, "If you want to build a factory, you cannot build it where you say you would like to build it. If you build it in this area, 54 you can have a licence. If not, you cannot."
We were entitled to use that power and I think we are entitled to use it now. I know that in some of these areas—in Scotland, perhaps, or elsewhere—industrialists say that if they come to them, the cost of production or transport or other services is much higher than if they were allowed to build in, say, the Midlands. The cost may be higher for them, but we must realise also the cost to the nation.
Let us consider what has been done. Industry has been allowed to concentrate in a few areas at the expense of other areas, from which it has drawn workers. One cannot go to any of these concentrated industrial areas, in any part of England, without finding, not only Welshmen, but Scots and other people from the Development Areas. Now that they have gone there, the authorities in those areas are very worried indeed about the problem of overspill. New towns have to be built to cope with it.
If we had taken the factories to the Development Areas twenty-five years ago and kept the men there, we should not now be confronted, as Birmingham and other conurbations are confronted, with this problem of where to accommodate the men; and it should be remembered that in Wales nearly half a million men were lost by migration in twenty years. It would have been much better to have built factories in Anglesey than have Anglesey now negotiating with Birmingham on the question of accommodating the overspill from that city. When the decision was made to move the Dowlais steel works from Dowlais to Cardiff, no doubt a couple of shillings were saved on the production of steel, but at what cost to Merthyr and Dowlais!
If industry is to be located on this narrow concept so much the worse for the country. We shall find industries over-concentrated in some areas whilst other areas, with their traditions and their fine communities, will be allowed to die. There is great danger that villages which have something rich to contribute to the cultural life of the country will die.
I ask the Government to tell us what plans they have to deal with this situation. They have tabled an Amendment 55 asking the House to support them in continuing the practical steps which they are taking to deal with the situation. We shall wait to hear from the Minister about these practical steps. The men in the black spots are entitled to look to us and to the Government. I hope that we shall be able to send them today a message of cheer and encouragement. They have served the nation well, and they deserve our best in return.
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ The Minister of Labour and National Service (Mr. Iain Macleod)
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:while recognising the concern felt at recent increases in local unemployment, welcomes the intention of Her Majesty's Government to continue the practical steps being taken to deal with pockets of unemployment in particular localities".Both the Amendment and the Motion are, of course, pegs for debate. Indeed, the difference between the two is not blindingly obvious at first sight, but it is idle to deny that although most of the increase in unemployment has arisen from seasonal causes some of it has come from or can be linked with Government policies. We believe those policies to be right. Therefore, it is difficult for us to accept the suggestion in the first part of the Opposition's Motion that the policies themselves are wrong. Nor do I believe, if I understand the second part of the Motion aright, that it is possible to avoid some situations of local difficulty in a changing economy. I wish I did believe that, but I do not; and I do not see that the Committee can believe it either.
I recognise, and I am very grateful for, the moderate terms in which the Motion has been framed and also the calm and powerful speech with which the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) moved it, and which does a great service in discussing these matters. The Motion concentrates on the known difficult areas and it follows, of course, that if many areas have unemployment problems much worse than the average there are other important areas that are doing fairly well. Indeed, I suspect that some of the anxiety which right hon. and hon. Members feel comes from what they think of as a widening of the gap between "the have" and the "have-not" areas.
56 I admit frankly that that is an aspect which causes me great concern, because I think that it is the ugliest of all the ugly features of the inter-war years in unemployment. But it is worth remembering that just as in an industrial relations debate we discuss only disputes, so, in this debate, we shall be thinking of the areas which are the darker part of the picture. They do not, of course, represent the whole picture of our economy.
When the House of Commons discusses unemployment matters, we in the Ministry of Labour try to give the latest information and I have collected quickly the February information for the Committee. I have not all the details, but I think that the Committee would like to have the important figures in mind. The two main features of the January figures are that unemployment at 1.8 per cent., although certainly higher than for a number of recent years, is only one-tenth of 1 per cent. higher than the average for the last ten years, which was 1.7 per cent. The second main feature is that employment itself remains at record levels. At the end of December, it was higher than in any previous December. We must bear in mind also that January and February are the seasonal peaks of unemployment. There is very little usually between those two months, and often it is only the weather that decides whether the figures go up or down between January and February. Then in March, or in April at the latest, the seasonal improvement starts.
I mention again that these are rough figures which I have collected very quickly for the convenience of hon. Members. Unemployment in Great Britain has increased between January and February by 28,000, which means that the percentage of unemployed has increased to 1.9. That is a much smaller increase than the leap in the figures in January but, in view of what I said earlier about there being normally little difference between January and February, I must say frankly that this appears to be a real and not a seasonal increase.
The changes in the areas which cause most concern are as follow. In Wales, there has been an increase of 2,000, giving a rate of 3.8 per cent.; and in Scotland an increase of 6,000, giving a rate of 3.6 per cent. The South-Western region, about which I am told there is 57 some concern, has not changed and is still at 2.4 per cent. The regions showing relatively the largest increase between January and February are the East and West Ridings and the Eastern and Midlands regions. I come now to the parts of the country where the situation is a good deal less than satisfactory.
§ Mr. Macleod
At the moment, I have only the January figure of 9.3 per cent. for Northern Ireland.
One of the groups which one can identify is that where the staple industry of the locality begins, for whatever reasons, to decline. In this category come both Dundee, and West South Wales. When we announced in June of last year the Government proposals to reduce the mark-up in jute goods, unemployment was already high at 3,500, and most people thought that it would go a great deal higher. In fact, there was surprisingly little change until last month, when the figure went rather over 4,000.
As the Committee knows, the President of the Board of Trade has taken special steps to persuade industrialists to provide diversified employment there, but in West South Wales difficulties have emerged more recently and on a bigger scale than in Dundee. The Committee is familiar with the reasons for them and the right hon. Member for Llanelly, who knows the area so well, naturally devoted a considerable part of his speech to it.
Of course most of the old tinplate works and the mills which supply them with steel are concentrated in a small area of less than 100 square miles, with a working population of about 180,000. Employment at the older works in this area has fallen by between 6,000 and 7,000 and unemployment has risen to between 8,000 and 9,000. It is true and this should be recorded, that three-quarters of those who have permanently left the steel and tinplate works have already found other employment, but I am by no means content with the position.
The right hon. Gentleman recently headed a Parliamentary delegation to Ministers. He knows of the decision we have taken to appoint a team on which 58 are represented the Ministries most concerned, of which mine is one, and the Iron and Steel Board. An inquiry is already under way and is being pressed with the utmost urgency. We expect a report fairly soon and there will then be a further meeting between those Members of Parliament, and anybody else closely concerned, and the appropriate Ministers. We have been assured of the full support of the industry. We are anxious to use the traditional skills of these workers. The right hon. Gentleman was right in his point that change must come. Change we must accept, but we can do that only if we carry the willing assent to change of those in the industry.
On the specific point put to me by the right hon. Gentleman about extended benefit, I would say that I will study his remarks, because it is a difficult issue to answer off the cuff. I am not making a party point in recalling that the Section itself was limited for five years by his own decision, and came to an end in 1953. The reason was that in an era of full employment it was felt that this special provision would not be required. I would not have thought the position had changed since then, but no one has more experience than the right hon. Gentleman and, in conjunction with the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, I will study what he has said.
My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade hopes to wind up the debate tonight and he will deal with the question of attracting industry to an area. However, on the use of our powers and on the use of industrial development certificates, I would point out that there are two ways in which we can help. There is the positive way of helping through the Distribution of Industry Acts and there is the negative way of persuasion through the use of the I.D.C.s. In practically every case we refuse I.D.C.s for new factories to firms who wish to move into the London and the Midlands areas. The overwhelming number of I.D.C.s granted in those areas are for extensions. We do not, and we will not, refuse certificates in the case of either Scotland or Wales.
§ Mr. A. G. Bottomley (Rochester, and Chatham)
The right hon. Gentleman has said that later tonight the President of 59 the Board of Trade will deal with the question of the distribution of industry and the Minister of Labour is responsible for labour. May I quote a difficulty in the Medway towns? There is an industry which the President of the Board of Trade would like to see there and the Ministry of Labour would like to see labour employed in it, and this is important in view of the redundancies in the dockyard. I gather, however, that the War Department wants such a fantastic figure for the land which is involved that the industry has no alternative but to go elsewhere. Can the Minister tell us how such a difficulty can be overcome?
§ Mr. Macleod
We cannot talk wholly in riddles and I do not quite know to what the right hon. Gentleman is referring. If he would like to talk to me about a specifice case, I should be glad to see him. I shall come to the Medway town difficulties in the context in which he has referred to them.
The second group of areas are those which are somewhat remote, at any rate in travelling time, if not always in distance, from the bigger and more prosperous centres of population. I wonder sometimes, as I try to help solve the problems of some of the areas, whether industrialists looking for sites are conscious of the advantages which the remote areas can give them and which can he set against their remoteness. I am thinking particularly of the big advantage of being able to recruit adaptable workers easily; and, more important still, of being able to keep them after training. For example, the three north-western counties of Wales, particularly Anglesey and Caernarvonshire, suffer from unemployment which, although it varies seasonally, never falls to the level one would like to regard as normal.
All the same, I do not think that in this area the future is as bleak as the figures alone would suggest. New projects are coming forward and they will provide substantial, even if temporary, work on construction; and then, after that, of course, permanent labour forces will be recruited. I am referring especially to the factories, financed by the Development Commission, being built in Anglesey and Caernarvonshire, at Penygroes—is that right? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] I mean the pronunciation.
§ Mr. Macleod
It is hoped that work will start on these soon. There is another problem here that is pushing itself a little into the forefront, and that concerns some of the remoter parts of England. I often think that more notice would be taken of England if it had a Secretary of State. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] These are coastal areas with comparatively small populations where unemployment is seasonal. At the height of the summer unemployment virtually disappears, particularly among women and girls, although the male rate often remains above the national average. It is a problem familiar in Cornwall and in North Devon, and it is becoming familiar in Norfolk as well.
This is an extremely difficult problem. I share the anxiety of those areas to attract all-the-year round employment but, frankly, the difficulty lies in persuading industrialists that they will not suffer in the summer from the temporary needs of local seasonal industries. Of course many of these areas have room for only comparatively small projects.
That is an outline of some of the problems in the places about which we are talking. Before dealing with possible remedies it is important to remember—and this leads me straight to the defence situation—that in 1957 there occurred probably the most drastic changes within the working population since demobilisation. When I am asked how the defence situation will go, I reply that it is of first importance to realise how it has gone. In the twelve months ended 30th November, 1957, the numbers employed on defence production fell by nearly 150,000. In the same period unemployment in the whole of manufacturing industry, of which defence is only a part, increased by only 15,000.
A much more remarkable figure is that in 1957 the Armed Forces were reduced by 111,000 men and women, and the great majority of them sought civilian work. Yet, at the end of that year, the number of ex-Forces men and women registered as unemployed was actually 235 lower than it was a year before. It is an extraordinary tribute, partly to the efficiency of the local placing arrangements of my Ministry and partly to the 61 resilience of the economy, that 111,000 men and women—let me repeat the figure—can leave the Forces in 1957 and yet in the same year the number of ex-Service people unemployed can fall.
These figures illustrate a most important point, namely, that a declaration of redundancy need not mean an increase in unemployment, especially if long notice is given. This is why I attach the greatest importance to the handling of these matters by Government and by industry. I want to push this point home by giving the Committee three short case histories, each of which has featured in the House of Commons.
The first is that of a firm, Kraft Foods Limited, which moved from an area of labour shortage to a development area. This is the kind of move we want to see. It employed 1,300 people at Hayes and decided to transfer to Merseyside. The transfer was completed in five months, ending in November, 1957. Because the firm had given long notice, because it was able to co-operate with me, because it was closely in touch with the local employment committee, the transfer was carried out smoothly and every one of the employees, as far as I know, has found employment.
Perhaps I might quote a letter from the Secretary of the Hayes Local Employment Committee after the closing of the factory:At a recent meeting the Committee asked me to write expressing their sincere appreciation of the sympathetic and efficient manner in which your Company conducted the dispersal of workers who became redundant as a result of your removal to Liverpool.So it can be done. Only a week ago I saw the new premises at Kirkby, just outside Liverpool, where the company has recruited its new labour force, helping to solve one of the problems of a development area.
The second example—it led to Questions in the House, and I told the House that I was deeply anxious about the outcome—was the closing of the Hawker factory at Blackpool, where unemployment was already 5 per cent. The closure involved 2,600 people. Again, because my Ministry was brought in at an early enough stage, more than half those people went straight to other work, without a single intervening period of unemployment. Only 42 people who were last 62 employed by this firm are now left on the books of the employment exchanges.
The third example is that to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, that of Saunders-Roe in the Isle of Wight where redundancy was created by a defence decision. There was already a 5 per cent. unemployment rate, and the new redundancies created great concern. There again, both the company and the Ministry were able to get to work at once. The company managed to obtain a little more work and was thus able to reduce the volume of redundancy. The company provided my local offices with full facilities so that the registration of workers could start at once. In the event, after all the inflated figures which had been given, rather fewer than 500 workers were discharged. Although there are still 153 registered as unemployed—that is three weeks after the latest batch of discharges—that is a much better position than I thought there could be.
There is an interesting point about this. As soon as I saw the difficulty developing in the Isle of Wight, I extended to the island what is called the resettlement transfer scheme, which enables us to pay the fares of workers who take up approved employment in an area of better employment prospects, and, in suitable cases, to give help with the cost of maintaining two homes and of moving the family to the new area.
These experiences of large-scale redundancies are typical, and we should have that in our minds when we look at the problems created by the Admiralty statement of last week. As to the number of people involved, although total Admiralty employment will be reduced by some 11,000, the number of people liable to lose their jobs will not exceed 6,000 and the discharges will be spread over some three years. Here I am saying a word about both my responsibilities and the responsibilities of the President of the Board of Trade: it is by announcing such a decision well in advance and spreading the action over a period of time that the Government machine is given the best opportunity to operate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Planning."] I am all for planning.
The right hon. Gentleman asked a specific question about compensation, and I should like to answer it. In the case 63 of established men no problem arises because they will either move elsewhere or, if they have reached such an age, retire on pension. For the unestablished men there will be a gratuity, and it will take the following form. If their service is five years or more they will get one week's pay for each year's service for the first five years; they will get two weeks' pay for each of the years from six to ten, and they will get four weeks' pay for the eleventh year and for each succeeding year. This arrangement recognises a principle which I have done everything I can to foster, which is that long and loyal service should be recognised as far as it can be in the terms of service and the contract of service of the individual.
With regard to facilities at Sheerness, which is the biggest problem, the President of the Board of Trade wishes to deal with that point, but perhaps I might say that we have already begun trying to attract other concerns to the facilities which will be available. I think my right hon. Friend may have some interesting news to tell the House on that matter.
The Medway towns have been thriving for some time, and unemployment there is below the national average, and industry is expanding. Apart, therefore, from attracting other firms to use the existing facilities, which is what we shall look to first, I do not believe that there will be any real difficulty in the light of the background to defence that I have given, with the case histories, in suggesting other employment to the 2,700 Admiralty employees in the Chatham and Sheerness areas who will leave Admiralty employment over the next three years.
§ Mr. Bottomley
Will workmen who are transferred elsewhere continue to get the same rate of pay as in their present job? The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that that is a very important point. Secondly—I was not talking in riddles previously; I was giving the right hon. Gentleman's Department and the Board of Trade credit for wanting to help—I assure the right hon. Gentleman that the Service Departments make it impossible to get the land or buildings vacated, or, if they are available, the cost is prohibitive.
§ Mr. Macleod
I will look into the point the right hon. Gentleman raised in his earlier intervention, which he has 64 repeated. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will refer tonight to the other matter.
The other area where the figures, on the face of it, are very high and where there is some complication is Donibristle in Fife. I ought to say a word about the situation in Fife because there have been other redundancies lately. In Fife, employment opportunities for women and girls are restricted, but the employment prospects for men are, on the whole, better than in the greater part of Scotland, and because only men are involved in this change, I do not anticipate very great difficulty.
I now come to the very difficult case of Greenock. This is, perhaps, the most baffling of all the problems with which we have to deal today. Greenock has 3,300 persons, or about 8 per cent. of all insured employees, unemployed. It is not that it is remote in the ordinary sense of the word, but it is just far enough and at such an awkward angle from one of the great areas of population that it creates difficulties. It already suffers from high unemployment, and defence reductions are a particularly important matter to Greenock. That is why of all the changes that we have made in the field of defence, the one that we decided to make with the greatest reluctance was the transfer of the Torpedo Experimental Establishment from Greenock.
I can assure the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon)—perhaps he will not be satisfied with the results of my effort—that the matter was considered at the very highest level and that the claims of Greenock were most strongly pressed and were most sympathetically received by the Admiralty. It was only the overwhelming technical arguments in favour of the transfer which in the end prevailed. The move does not take place until the end of 1959. We shall do everything we can to increase employment in the town's newer industries and to attract further industrialists to the area. In about two weeks' time, I shall be going to Greenock, and I shall have an opportunity of discussing [...] of the local problems with the people most concerned, and particularly the hon. Member.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
Will the right hon. 65 Gentleman keep in mind that in a period of transfers the greatest danger is that skilled men will find jobs in the South; and that one of the problems in Scotland, and, I believe, in Wales, is that skilled men are apt to take jobs outside their own country and so leave behind an insoluble problem of what the Ministry calls "secondary labour" which cannot be employed because the necessary nucleus of skilled men has gone? In all these instances it is most urgently necessary to bring in industry which will induce the skilled men to stay in their areas, or else this problem will be accentuated by the transfers.
§ Mr. Macleod
I agree with that analysis and we will certainly have it closely in mind as we try to help.
The right hon. Gentleman referred—and I am very glad he did for we are rather apt to forget it—to the problem in Northern Ireland. This has been a cause of anxiety for many years. Thanks to the efforts of the Northern Ireland Government, with the help of the Government in the United Kingdom, the number of people employed there has been rising steadily for some years, but this increase has barely kept pace with the growth of the population and unemployment has always been much higher than in Great Britain. We are very concerned about the recent deterioration in the situation, and of course we are in close touch with the Northern Ireland Government about it. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will be dealing tonight with some of the steps we are taking to help.
There is bound to be change in a modern economy and there is bound to be a good deal of mobility of labour. There are many ways, quite apart from the bringing of work to areas, in which both the Government and industry can help. I can help, as I have given some illustrations to show, and particularly if I am brought early enough into the difficulties, through the network of the employment exchanges, through the resettlement transfer scheme, and through the temporary transfer scheme which I introduced in the summer of last year and which I have recently extended by reducing the period of qualification from eight weeks to four.
I want for one moment to speak about the way in which I think industry, and 66 particularly management, can help themselves. If there is change, it often follows from the fact that markets are lost and new markets are secured; and there are few industries in which the demand for a product remains absolutely stable. It is at this point that redundancy occurs. I am always urging upon industry, particularly upon those firms the demand for whose products can vary a good deal, that they should think in advance what they will do if redundancy occurs. The examples I have given to the House showing how some problems have been successfully dealt with have one thing in common, and that is that long notice was given, and there was the most careful planning of what would happen to the men. The problems which will affect men and women in a factory ought to be planned just as carefuly as the problems which affect raw materials and technical processes.
Many firms have excellent redundancy policies. Those policies can be effective only if from the very beginning the trade unions are taken into full co-operation. Only through confidence can we build this sort of relationship. That is why I have collected and issued to industry examples of good employment policies which can do a great deal, perhaps in the end even more than Government can do, to ensure the success of our industrial effort.
What of the future? I told the House last week that the seasonal fall in unemployment in the spring and summer may not be as great as it has been in recent years. I think also that the level of employment will remain very high. The 64-dollar question, of course, for the Government is, has the time come now to relax the policies on which we are embarked? Of course, the pressure grows upon the Government, and a time for relaxation will come; and when it does come nobody will be more pleased than the Government and nobody in the Government will be more pleased than I, with my special responsibilities, shall be. But half a dozen times since the war we have lost the full benefits of courageous action because we went into reverse too soon. I believe now we have a better chance of achiving price stability than at any time since the war, and that it would be folly and indeed worse than folly to throw that chance away.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Goronwy Roberts (Caernarvon)
The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour, answering the magnificent speech which my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) made today, spoke with such moderation and courtesy that it is almost impossible to offer any criticism of what he said. However, I would say that I was relieved to hear him say from time to time that the President of the Board of Trade would in due course tell the House what the Government propose to do about the growing problem of unemployment in this country, and particularly in certain localities.
We know of the action taken by his Ministry in Blackpool to funnel redundant workers from one industry to other industries, and excellent work is being done at the Ministry in certain parts of the country in that direction; but to describe that admirable process as it has happened in certain parts of the country does not in any way encourage those of us who live in and who represent areas where there are no other industries into which redundant workers can be transferred by that process. It is for that reason that I shall confine myself to asking the House and the Ministers concerned to consider what has been happening and what is happening in one of the localities affected by the Motion, that is, North-West Wales, of which my constituency of Caernarvon is the territorial centre.
Hon. Members will have learned from the Press, radio and television of the recent march of the unemployed from the village of Penygroes to Caernarvon, a distance of seven miles, where a remarkable demonstration was held attended by no fewer than 7,000 people and addressed by the Lord Bishop of Bangor, leaders of both sides of industry and hon. Members from both sides of this House. It was a non-partisan, orderly, and an immensely powerful protest against the prolonged neglect of that part of the country in the matter of employment. It is not easy nowadays to organise a demonstration of 700, let alone 7,000, and I want to tell the House briefly why such an impressive meeting is possible nowadays in Caernarvon.
In so doing, I would link this with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly advisedly said during his 68 speech—that if unemployment, and prolonged unemployment, is allowed to persist, then a mentality and an attitude may be re-created among sections of the workers of this country which may be a menace to good order and democracy.
There were three powerful reasons why this tremendous demonstration was possible: first of all, the extent of unemployment in the area; secondly its long-standing character; and thirdly, its effect on the entire life of the community in that part of Wales, and consequently on Wales as a whole. The extent of our problem in the province of Gwynedd is expressed by the simple and terrible fact that this area has and has had for many years the highest percentage of unemployment in the whole of Great Britain. My hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes) told me today that the January figures show that in his constituency 11.9 per cent. of the insured population were out of work. In my constituency of Caernarvon, the figure is nearly 13 per cent., which is six times the national average. That is the extent of the problem in North West Wales.
Secondly, unemployment in our area is no new phenomenon. It has been with us for years, and in this our condition is rather different from that of other unemployment areas which have been mentioned and which will be mentioned here today. One has the utmost sympathy with unemployed men in any locality, but in many of the areas which have been mentioned the men concerned—and we are glad to know it—have enjoyed continuous and fairly well paid employment for a number of years.
That is not the case in North West Wales. A large proportion of our unemployed have been idle against their will for years. Some of them have not had a job, at least in their own locality, since the end of the war. This has meant that, apart from the army of unemployed now amounting to some 3,300 in my county alone, hundreds have migrated. They have migrated to distant towns in search of work. Most of those who have gone have been the young and unattached, and they have left behind an ageing population. Others are family men who are unwilling or unable to take their families with them, and who shall blame them, tied as they are by the most poignant ties of religion and language to this part of 69 Wales? They have had a terrible struggle to try to maintain two homes, one in Birmingham or Manchester, and the other in Penygroes or Caernarvon.
This brings me to my third point, already eloquently made by my right hon Friend the Member for Llanelly. The effect of widespread unemployment and migration on any community is bound to be deleterious, but in the three counties of Gwynedd it acts with a special savagery. This community is completely Welsh in language, interest and mode of life. It is a vital strand in the pattern of the Welsh nation, and we cannot as a nation afford to see its disruption.
I now pass to the reasons for the persistence of this problem in North West Wales. They are not complicated. For generations our area has depended on two major industries for its livelihood, agriculture and quarrying. During the past thirty years, both of those industries have been providing fewer and fewer jobs for our people, agriculture because of inevitable automation, with which we cannot quarrel, and slate quarrying because of the competition of other roofing materials.
At the moment, both types of quarrying, slate and granite, are in a new depression. Some quarries are closed and others are working short time. Before the war, as my right hon. Friend said, some 10,000 men worked in the quarries of North West Wales. Today, the number is barely 3,000. The core of our problem is to fill the gap caused by the contraction of those old industries.
Unfortunately, little or no new industry has come into the area to make up for the decline of the old, and the point has now been reached when, unless decisive action is taken, the counties of Caernarvon, Anglesey and Merioneth may slowly die on their feet. They will sustain only an elderly population subsisting on public doles. Their cultural, religious and educational institutions will atrophy, and the very fabric of their local government may be imperilled.
What action can and should be taken to remedy the situation? We think that it should be three-fold. First, there should be an immediate and fast-moving inquiry into the present state and prospects of the slate and granite industries and the measures needed to revive them. Secondly, of course, there must be a drive 70 to introduce new industries into the area. This is an area which offers excellent opportunities and which has a splendid labour force, adaptable and responsible, and which has abundant water resources—we still have some left after the depredations of Liverpool and the Minister for Welsh Affairs—and plenty of suitable sites.
Here I think it fair to pay a cautious tribute to the new Minister of State, who has shown himself ready to listen and act as far as he is able. A new tenant, as the right hon. Gentleman said, has taken over the empty factory at Penygroes, and another factory is to be built on the site. In the absence of scheduling, which many of us still think should be applied to this area, the Government should use the Development Commission method and powers to create in Penygroes, Pwllheli and Port Madoc small trading estates using as far as possible indigenous materials as well as local labour.
A third factor in the solution of our problem is the promotion of the two nuclear power generating stations which have been proposed for the area, one at Trawsfynydd and one at Edern. The public inquiry into the Trawsfynydd project has now been held, and we hope that the outcome will be that the project will go ahead. We expect that it will. The inquiry into the Edern project should be held as soon as possible so that a start may be made without undue delay on the preparatory work on access roads and satellite buildings thus providing work now for the men who hope to be employed permanently on that station.
Then there is the suggestion that a chemical works should be sited in Glynllifon Park near Caernarvon. What is happening to this project? This is brought up from time to time as the lifesaver of the area, but as far as I can see nothing tangible has materialised from all the talk about it in Government circles and in the House. For instance, has an industrial certificate been applied for? What has happened to the water order which is necessary for the promotion of the scheme? The hopes of 1,000 families are tied up with this proposal, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us something positive about this Glynllifon Park scheme tonight.
71 Much of the area to which I have referred lies within the boundaries of the Snowdonia National Park. There will always be objectors to the introduction of any kind of new industry to the area, but I would advise the Ministers concerned that no more than a few dozen of these objectors live in the area. They take jolly good care to live somewhere else. They think that because they spend a fortnight's holiday in Snowdonia they own the place and can drive its people out of the area so that they can enjoy it seasonally without being disturbed by the local population. They tend to regard Snowdonia as a kind of Red Indian reservation, set aside for tired Manchester stockbrokers. We deserve a better fate than that, and we shall insist upon it.
§ Mr. W. R. Williams (Manchester, Openshaw)
In fairness to my constituency, I would point out to my hon. Friend that they do not only come from Manchester.
§ Mr. Roberts
I notice that when these objectors explode in the public Press against any kind of new industry for North West Wales they write from famed beauty spots like Runcorn, St. Helens and Openshaw. There is no need for these fanatical pantheists to lecture us on how to keep Wales tidy; it is not the Welsh people who litter our coves and hills every summer. We are well able to marry the needs of industry with the needs of scenic amenity. Let not the Minister be deterred from his duty by the clamour of a small and, I fear, selfish minority, who have only a small seasonal stake in Snowdonia. His duty is to see that human nature, as well as nature, has a chance of survival in the area.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Sir Harold Roper (Cornwall, North)
I want to draw the attention of the House to the problems of Cornwall, to which my right hon. Friend referred. Employment in Cornwall depends largely upon a variety of industries—important in their different localities—such as fishing, engineering, china clay and quarrying. Two of the most important industries in Cornwall are the agricultural and holiday industries. As my right hon. Friend has stated, both are highly seasonal, and employment in Cornwall is, therefore, 72 subject to considerable fluctuation. In the winter months the average unemployment in Cornwall rises, year by year, to between 4 per cent. and 5 per cent. That is nearly three times the national average.
In the four employment districts covering the coastal area of my constituency, the average unemployment last winter was 6 per cent. Even in summer there is rising unemployment. Last summer, the average unemployment in Cornwall, at 2.3 per cent., was more than double the national average at that time.
My right hon. Friend spoke with sympathy of these outlying areas, and I am grateful for his sympathetic reference to Cornwall. In Cornwall, the centres of population are fairly widely scattered, which makes it difficult to find a single remedy for the county's problem. That makes it all the more important that the Government should consider the smaller ways in which they may be able to help. I wish to make a plea especially for the granite and slate quarrying industries. Both these forms of quarrying are costly, and the industries are finding it difficult to compete with the cheaper substitutes. We cannot complain if the continuation of these forms of quarrying is, in fact, uneconomic, but cost is not everything and I put it to the House that both the products concerned are of very high quality. They have been used in the building industry for many centuries.
Moreover, in the past, Governments have recognised the danger of the craftsmen connected with both forms of quarrying fading away through the decline of those industries. I hope that the Government will bear that in mind and, in addition, that if these products are not used there is a danger of unemployment and all that goes with it.
A letter which I received only this morning suggests that the Ministry has not been entirely sympathetic, especially in regard to the use of slates for the roofs of council houses. In making their decisions I would ask Ministers concerned to remember not merely the naked economic fact of the cost of these products compared with the alternatives, but also the high quality of the slate and granite, and the importance of keeping these industries in operation. When the Ministries are faced with the task of approving estimates for council houses 73 and Government buildings I hope that they will at least give these two industries the benefit of any doubt.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. D. J. Williams (Neath)
I am sure that all hon. Members who represent Welsh constituencies will regret the need for this debate, for today we are discussing local unemployment problems and there are two very serious unemployment problems in Wales. There is one in North-West Wales, and another in the western part of South Wales. Both these problems are causing grave anxiety to the people in the affected areas. In North Wales, there has been continuous chronic unemployment for a very long time. Even the post-war expansion of the British economy seems to have made no impact upon it. This area continued to be a depressed area even when the rest of Britain enjoyed an economic expansion and industrial prosperity.
In South-West Wales, the problem is not of such long standing. It has emerged there quite recenty, and it has arisen as a result of the closing of the old sheet steel and tinplate mills. In the last few months, unemployment in this area has assumed alarming dimensions.
The position in South-West Wales affects part of my constituency, but before I say a word about that I want to make some comments on the general economic position. These local unemployment problems are very serious, and cause great distress in the communities in which they occur. But they do not arise in a vacuum and they do not exist in isolation. They are affected by the state of the national economy, by the trends and tendencies within it and by the impact of external forces upon it.
This is the first debate on unemployment that we have had for a long time. For many years Britain has enjoyed full employment. Since the end of the war, our problem has been not unemployment, but shortage of labour, and we have had to bring in foreign labour to meet the manpower needs of some of our most important industries. We have had to do this in Wales. At the end of the war, it was essential to keep these old works in full production. Men were urged to go into them and to stay in, 74 and foreign labour was brought in to keep the old mills going.
Now the situation has changed. There is no longer a shortage of labour, but a surplus. The men in the old mills have become redundant, and we now have mass unemployment in this part of Wales. This change is not entirely due to local causes. It is a symptom of a change of climate in the whole of the British economy. This can be clearly seen in our two basic industries, coal and steel. Now there is a surplus of coal and a surplus of steel capacity. We have more coal than we can sell and more steel capacity than we can use. This was the old pre-war problem, and it seems to be reappearing in a post-war setting. These are the signs and symptoms of a stagnating and contracting economy. They are the indication that the post-war boom may be coming to an end.
The Observer stated yesterday that the British economy is now feeling the cold winds of a trade recession. There is a surplus of coal which the National Coal Board cannot sell either at home or abroad. Coal consumption has been declining and is continuing to decline. The fact that large stocks of coal are accumulating at the collieries has created the impression among miners that the industry is heading for a slump. Already, the Coal Board has stopped recruiting, at least for a temporary period. This is a drastic and dramatic change of policy in the mining industry. Since the end of the war, the clamour has been for manpower and still more manpower for our pits to provide coal for the expansion of the British economy. Now there is more coal than we can sell and, for the present at least, we do not need any more miners.
This new coal situation is already having its effect in South Wales. Over the last few months quite a number of small, independently owned mines have closed because they cannot sell their coal. There is no market for it. Now, for the first time for many years, skilled miners are unemployed. That is another symtom of the change in climate which is coming over the British economy. This same change of climate is beginning to be felt in the steel industry. For many years, there has been an ever increasing demand for steel. We have had to build gigantic new plants to meet this demand. We have built them in South Wales. Over 75 the years we have imported considerable quantities of steel from abroad to meet the expanding needs of our economy.
Here, too, it would seem that the situation is changing. Recently, the Economist carried two articles on the steel industry. These articles had significant and even sinister headlines. One was headlined, "Steel Below Capacity." The other bore the caption, "A Surplus of Steel." It seems that now the limiting factor in steel output is not capacity, but demand.
There are other pointers to this change in the economic climate. Last year, there was a proposal by Richard Thomas & Baldwins, Ltd. to erect a new integrated steel plant somewhere near Newport. I am not arguing the merits of the Newport site, nor the advantages or disadvantages of a site somewhere else. The final decision on location of the plant lay with the Government. We were told at that time that the erection of this new plant was a matter of supreme urgency in the interests of the national economy and that there would be no delay on the part of the Government in coming to a decision.
Nearly a year has elapsed and still there is no decision. The Government have not yet decided where the plant shall be built, or when it shall be built. So far as we know, they have not decided whether, in fact, the plant shall be built at all. According to Press reports, there is now a new factor which the Government must take into consideration—the economic situation in the light of a recession in trade. It does seem that the Government are not optimistic about the immediate prospects of the steel industry. In West Wales we are certainly not optimistic. The new plants at Trostre and Velindre are working at 75 per cent. capacity and the men employed there are on a four-day week. A prominent figure in the industry said recently that he hoped that normal working will be resumed by the end of this year.
This is not all. As was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), who opened this debate with a splendid statement of the position, 23 of these old works in West Wales have closed since January of last year, most of them in the last few 76 months. Between October of last year and January of this year unemployment in those areas doubled. The unemployment figures are going up almost every week. In the small geographical area between Swansea, Pontardulais and Llanelly there are now over 8,000 people unemployed. This is probably the largest concentration of unemployment in any part of Britain.
These closures have been foreseen for a long time. We all knew that it was only a matter of time before all the old works were closed, yet the Government were completely unprepared for the situation. They made no preparations to meet it and they have now no plans for dealing with it. The Government probably assumed that the closures would be gradual and spread over a long time. They did not take into consideration the possibility of a trade recession. Perhaps the Government hoped for a repetition of the events of 1953, when ten old works closed, but the people who became redundant had no difficulty in finding other employment.
Economic situations do not repeat themselves. The closures of 1953 took place in a booming, expanding economy. The present closures are taking place in a stagnant and contracting economy, with a marked recession in demand, with falling world commodity prices, against the background of an American economic crisis, and with a 7 per cent. Bank Rate which makes economic expansion impossible. That is an entirely new situation, and the Government have completely failed to produce a plan or a policy to meet it.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
I hope that I shall not be thought presumptuous if I comment upon the excellence of the two speeches with which the debate began. Hon. Members on both sides of the House must have derived a great deal of appreciation of the position in the country from the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), while I was equally impressed with the wonderful speech made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour.
There is no doubt that the right hon. Member for Llanelly was right in implying, if not saying, that local problems of 77 employment cannot be viewed in isolation, but have to be related to the national and the international positions. I was greatly comforted by the speech of my right hon. Friend today, because he created in my mind a vivid impression of a Minister who is very much on his toes and adaptable, in dealing with new difficulties as they arise. In recent weeks I have not been alone, I suppose, in wondering whether that was the case.
It would be folly if we were so haunted by the fear of the demon of inflation that we realised too late that another danger had taken its place and that our main problem is no longer to deal with inflation but, possibly, with slump and industrial depression. Nor can we view this position without some reflection on the decline in world trade and the position of the United States.
Our views on unemployment, though we may differ politically on opposing sides of the House, have been conditioned by our experiences. Some people take a different view from others, but there can be few people in this House or in the country who would regard large-scale unemployment as a matter to be treated lightly. There are, on the other hand, purists who, in their anxiety to cure financial and economic problems, might be tempted to minimise the hardships that can result from a wide spread of unemployment.
For that reason, I was pleased that my right hon. Friend does not regard the matter in that light. After having heard him today, and heard the latest figures perhaps, we can say that the miracle is not that national unemployment is so high, but that the figure is so low, considering the other measures which have had to be taken to deal with the problem of inflation. Hon. Members hope that this will continue to be the position.
Nevertheless, we must be ready to switch our attention quickly. I hope that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and all his colleagues do not build completely upon the idea that they can turn a tap suddenly and that, if they find that the danger is no longer inflation but unemployment and depression, they can suddenly solve their problems merely by a change of financial policy—
§ Mr. Gower
I shall develop that point. The recent experience of some of the American States is helpful. They went in for a policy of cheap money, but they did not suddenly get results by doing that. The policy has to be applied gradually. I hope that my right hon. Friend and his colleagues do not think that a sudden change of financial policy can effect a miracle in this field. It has to be more long-term than that.
Hon. Members who represent areas outside the special areas may feel that we who live inside the areas are unduly sensitive about the danger of unemployment. I can assure them that anyone who was brought up in those places cannot be otherwise. These are feelings that we cannot easily explain. The people who live in Development Areas are perhaps unduly apprehensive when there is some slight increase in the unemployment figures. It is of great importance in this respect not to feel that these fears are irrational or unreasonable.
All these areas suffered very heavily between the world wars. I was pleased to note from what was said by the right hon. Member for Llanelly that even in South-West Wales a proportion of the people had been absorbed in other industries, but that process cannot quickly achieve a solution.
The right hon. Member for Llanelly, in one of his criticisms on policy, implied that by abandoning the licensing procedure the Government had lost a very useful weapon. I would ask my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade whether or not most of the "planning" effects of the licence are retained by the use of the I.D.C. certificate. Can he tell the House in what areas I.D.C. certificates are generally refused for new firms? Is it only the London area in which that practice is adopted, or is it done in other very prosperous areas, parts of the industrial Midlands for example?
Is this negative control exerted not only in the Greater London area, but over areas likely to attract industry from the various Development Areas? That is a matter of some importance, because it is obvious that I.D.C. certificates can be a most useful means of helping to attract factories by negative control into areas which particularly need new industries.
79 I hope that the House will forgive me for introducing one or two constituency matters. There have been the effects of recent closures. First, there was the Mellin-Griffith Steel Works, at Whit-church, Cardiff, a steel works of the older type. Naturally, the people who work there have all now ceased work. I was told recently that a large number of them have found other employment. I should like to know—not necessarily today—whether my right hon. Friend has any information as to the number who have obtained employment elsewhere.
Another constituency matter concerns a department of the War Office, the No. 2 Boat Stores at Cadoxton, Barry. It is rumoured that there is likely to be a move to a place on the South Coast. In my constituency, as in every South-West Wales constituency, there is great sensitivity about the loss of any industry, however modest in size, because of our experiences in the inter-war depression. Although this is still a rumour, already it is causing a great deal of concern in Barry. People would like to know at an early date whether there is to be such a move. They hope sincerely that such a move will not be found necessary, but, if it has to be, they hope that use will be made of the excellent buildings used hitherto for the boat stores for an alternative industry or industries. We also understand that a subsidiary of the S.R.D. is likely to close. I hope that we may have early information in Barry about that.
I think that we can derive a great deal of encouragement from the speech of the Minister. Obviously, he is alive to this problem. I trust that in the wider setting he and the Government are equally alive to the necessity for being particularly adaptable if it is found that the financial measures which have been taken—I think rightly—to deal with inflation have accomplished their necessary purpose and we are now faced with problems and difficulties of a different kind. I hope that they will be equally emphatic and determined in countering the danger of depression and slump as they have properly been in dealing with inflation.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Hubbard (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
I can follow the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) in the point he 80 made about the effect of local unemployment on the national position. In that connection, I would refer to the short statement made by the Minister on the difference between the Motion and the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was very little between them, but that very little means a great deal. In the Motion, we ask for "appropriate action," while the Amendment refers to:practical steps being taken to deal with pockets of unemployment in particular localities".There is a tremendous difference there. If I may borrow a well-worn phrase used by the Prime Minister, it is deeds that count, not words. In this debate and in its results, we are asking for deeds, riot words. Unemployment is an evil thing. It does not merely affect those who are unemployed, but, like a snowball, it gathers rapidly. It increases in momentum and causes suffering, not only in pockets of unemployment, but it spreads rapidly all over the country. Whether it is deemed to be serious or not depends to a large extent on one's own position. I do not know whether many hon. Members opposite have experienced unemployment, but many of us on this side of the House have.
When one is unemployed one rises in the morning and looks at a distant chimney and says, "That is my target for today," although one knows that the chances of being employed there are very small. Day after day, week after week, and month after month one's whole life is disturbed. One wakes every morning in the vain hope of getting a job. We did that to such an extent that we have a more intimate knowledge of managers and foremen than we had ever had before, or have had since.
I can remember one occasion when I went to Burntisland Shipyard and the foreman suggested that it would save a lot of trouble if I left my photograph. I know what it is like to be on the receiving end. I know what unemployment means; what it means when one has a family and has to shift one's home to go chasing employment from place to place. We have only to start on the road to unemployment to find that it quickly gets beyond control. Therefore, although we are discussing pockets of unemployment, this is a national problem.
81 I do not consider that the claim of one part of the country should be preferred to that of another. I sympathise with the position of those in Wales or in the Medway towns and other places where there is unemployment. If I confine my remarks to Scotland, it is because we want to point out that unemployment in Scotland must be worrying for everyone. Therefore, I may be forgiven if in the rest of my remarks I speak about Scotland, where at the moment more than 70,000 are unemployed. That figure represents 3.6 per cent., and surely it is serious enough to warrant most serious consideration. Surely it is time for deeds and not words.
In addition to that 3.6 per cent., we have a threatened increase in redundancy arising from the change in the pattern of defence. Compared with 3.6 per cent., the percentage for the United Kingdom is 1.8 per cent. I sympathise with Greenock, which probably has the highest percentage of unemployment in Scotland outside the Highlands. There has been chronic unemployment there for years. In Stornoway, it has been as high as 17 per cent. Now Greenock has 8 per cent. and Caithness and Sutherland have 7 per cent.
Dundee—my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) will, I am sure, state a splendid case for Dundee if he gets the opportunity—has 5 per cent. unemployment. Prior to the war and until the end of the war, Dundee suffered a great deal of depression and was a distressed area, scheduled under the Distribution of Industry Act. With the advent of the Labour Government, it changed into a boom town, and it is only since 1951 that it has again become a distressed area.
These things are not accidents. It is very wrong of the Government to think that unemployment just grows. We have to plan to prevent it. The gravamen of our complaint is that the Government are so busy patting themselves on the back that they fail to recognise the dangerous position in which the country finds itself. It is not only the unemployed who suffer. If shopkeepers cannot sell their goods, their shelves do not have to be replenished by the factories. So the snowball of unemployment goes on.
In the last year we have seen woollen and textile factories in Fife and the Border 82 towns closing down. This means distress, and the Government ought to do something about it. People could be absorbed in the shale industry in West Lothian. Time and time again my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. J. Taylor) has pleaded with the Government to ensure the stabilisation of the industry; but nothing has been done. It is not a matter for complacency. I hope that as a direct result of the debate and the speech made by the Minister we shall see some evidence of deeds instead of words to prove that the Government are trying to stem unemployment.
Perhaps I might now depart from the general position, having given some very depressing figures for Scotland as a whole, and say something about Fife. With reference to last week's Admiralty statement, Fife has the biggest closure of all. More than 1,400 men have been told that the naval repair yard at Donibristle will close. No one would deplore the closing down of a naval repair yard, whether for aircraft or battleships, if the reason was that aircraft and battleships were no longer required, if it were the case that provision for defence was no longer necessary, and if we had reached a stage where the fear of war had been removed. No one would want Donibristle to continue to repair aircraft and aircraft engines if they were of no use, because that would be very silly. But it is not that at all. It is just that the pattern has changed; we are going from traditional weapons to nuclear weapons.
It could not have been unknown to the Government during the last year that the closing down was likely to happen. If the Government claim that it was unknown to them, it merely proves how incompetent they are, because the changing trend has been known to most people. However, the Government have now announced that the Donibristle naval air repair yard is to close, and the statement has been made that the great bulk of the men will be found employment elsewhere. We have to consider what that statement means, too. What kind of employment will the men be given? Will they all be absorbed at Rosyth? If they are, will their present skill be used? In other words, will an engineer moved from Donibristle become an engineer at Rosyth, or will he stop being an engineer when he leaves Donibristle and become a 83 yardsweeper at Rosyth? We want to be sure that highly skilled men are not misemployed.
At Donibristle we have a large, up-to-date factory, equipped with up-to-date machinery, and highly skilled operators well practised in the use of precision instruments and tools. Donibristle can be left as it is if the Government can give us deeds instead of words and attract there useful industry with an export value by 1959. In that event, the men will not be misemployed.
I am very worried about the men. In Donibristle, there are about 700 established men and a similar number of non-established men. The Government have an obligation to find employment for the established personnel. If the established men go to Rosyth, can we be assured that it will not result in a considerable number of unestablished men being dismissed from Rosyth? In other words, will Rosyth be able to absorb the Donibristle men without disturbing those at present employed at Rosyth?
If the Donibristle men cannot find employment at Rosyth and have to go elsewhere, what consideration has been given to the uprooting of families? The reemployment of established men brings other factors into the picture. There is the question of the provision of housing for them in the new areas. What about their families? Is employment to be guaranteed for the other members of the families in the areas to which the established men are required to go, or is it suggested that the families should remain behind? Is it a matter of the breaking up of homes, which we have seen happen in the past? Has consideration been given to such matters?
Reference has been made to the situation in the coal industry, and we are told that a number of non-economic pits in Scotland are to be closed. It would be very difficult to argue that a non-economic coal pit should be carried on, but that is something that the National Union of Mineworkers can deal with without my assistance. However, I am concerned in that in Fife a tremendous amount of money has been spent in establishing new mines at Rothes and Seafield. These are pits which are to be developed so that they can be worked economically.
84 It has always been understood that for the skilled labour required to develop those pits economically we ought to be able to attract redundant miners from other coal fields in Scotland. Does anybody believe that a single miner from a redundant coal pit elsewhere in Scotland is likely to come into the kingdom of Fife—it is the kingdom of Fife; it is not "Fifeshire"—to find employment when there is no work there for the other members of his family? Of course he will not. How can we therefore, obtain the miners we need?
It becomes a serious proposition for Fife, and it is a serious proposition for the country, because for many years yet the economy of the country will depend a great deal upon the amount of coal which can be won and how cheaply it can be won. That is one of the problems that the Government must solve if they really believe in deeds and not words.
I wish to mention one other small problem. When the Admiralty announced that Donibristle and the Torpedo Experimental Establishment at Greenock were to be closed down, we were told that the personnel concerned would be absorbed elsewhere, but questions have revealed that at those naval shore establishments employees aged 65 have to be retired. That is not healthy. We have been told that those aged between 60 and 65 years have to be encouraged to go on pension. That is most unhealthy. We have even been informed that established men over 50 years of age can apply for retirement pension.
That is hidden unemployment and a practice to be deplored. Quite clearly, we cannot have the Government shouting from time to time for increased productivity and at the same time encouraging men like those to retire. To encourage such men to stop gainful occupation is not the story of Tory prosperity, but the very reverse. Therefore, we want to be very sure that that sort of thing will not happen.
Do the Government really believe that we can stabilise our position as a great nation if we do not take every possible step to prevent the development of unemployment? What standing can we have in the world, what trade can we do in the world, if we are faced here with increasing unemployment? Economically, do the Government think it better to pay 85 people to do nothing rather than to pay them a decent wage for working? If so, how can we prosper? What is the use of talking about increased productivity if at the same time people are to be discouraged from employment? What is the use of talking about the cake being big enough to give everybody a decent share if, by their own action, the Government are to make the cake smaller and smaller?
That is the size and the gravity of the problem, and it is not a local but a national one. It is a problem which the Government cannot escape by mere words. There must be deeds. Unemployment is likely to affect hon. Members on both sides, though perhaps in different ways: but it is likely to affect people all over the country in every way. This Government have been blamed for many things, and it is not for me to forecast what the result will be. Nor is it for me to talk about the Cohen Committee—the "Three Wise Men", about whom over the weekend I have been thinking in terms of "The Three Stooges". I have been thinking, too, in terms of the national newspapers being shocked by its statement, but as the Cohen Committee is only repeating what has been the Government's policy for the last two or three years, people need not be shocked by its Report.
At the end of the day, all this Government's sins of omission and commission will be judged at a General Election, but the present trend is towards the unemployment of those awful inter-war years. We have to stop that trend; otherwise, once again we shall have people doing as I and many of my fellows did—getting up in the morning, looking at a chimney, perhaps five miles away, and walking to that factory, knowing the answer would be that no one was wanted. That will be the most dreadful thing which could happen in this country. It happened to the generation that fought in the First World War; it must not happen to the generation which fought in the Second World War.
Nobody will be satisfied merely by the pious words of the Government's Amendment to this Motion. The Government have to move, and they have to make sure that they give us deeds. Let them take active steps now. Unemployment will not he solved at this Front Bench or that. 86 It will be solved only if the people outside get down to real planning. I regret that up to now the Government have given more evidence of plotting than of planning.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. R. Chichester-Clark (Londonderry)
I have the honour of representing Londonderry, but that honour carries with it the unenviable distriction of representing a constituency with what must be quite the highest percentage rate of unemployment in the whole of the United Kingdom. We have 17 per cent. unemployment. That sounds bad, and it is had, but it is also worth noting that the city of which I have been speaking includes a fairly large rural area. On top of those distressing figures, we heard last week the First Lord's announcement of the closing of Eglinton Air Station, which will throw out of work several hundred more men.
In passing, I must express the hope, that those in charge of the great new industries established there over the last few months by Duponts, and by the British Oxygen Company, will favourably bear in mind those who are to be discharged. Perhaps some of these will be suitable for employment on construction work, for permanent employment in these industries is still eighteen months or two years away.
Before I leave my own constituency, I may be forgiven, perhaps, for mentioning, in particular, two other points. It is certainly a matter for rejoicing that the American concern, Chemstrand, has settled in Coleraine, and that construction plans are progressing well. Nearby is another town, Limavady, which has, from time to time, from 20 to 30 per cent. of its insurable population out of work. There is nothing wrong with the available labour, and I hope that if any industry looks towards Northern Ireland it will turn its eye to Limavady.
The overall employment position in Northern Ireland is that we have at present 9.3 per cent. of the insurable population out of work, and I very much fear that by the end of the month the figure may be worse. Indeed, there is some reason to believe that the figures may be quite as bad as they were in 1951, our worst year. Our difficulties are well known. We are remote from our markets. We have little or no raw material.
87 We have few natural resources. Despite all the efforts, and valiant efforts, of the Northern Ireland Government to diversify industry over the last few years, we are still too dependent on such industries as agriculture, engineering, textiles and shipbuilding; certainly nobody can say that the Northern Ireland Government's efforts have been wholly unsuccessful. In addition, we have the more recent problem of workers, discharged from jobs over here, returning to their Northern Ireland homes.
Yet another powerful factor is that we have a very rapidly increasing birth rate. It is rising more rapidly in Northern Ireland than it is here. In 1956, the figure was 21.1 per thousand of population, while England and Wales managed only 15.7 per thousand. The sum total of these factors is an unemployment figure of 44,000, or 9.3 per cent. of the insured population. It probably paints the picture much more clearly to say that that percentage, applied to Great Britain, would mean an unemployment figure of 2,400,000. That is the magnitude of the problem.
What, in the past, has been done about it? It has been fashionable, and frequent attempts have been made, and will be made, to saddle the Northern Ireland Government with the blame for this persistent unemployment, but I think that there is now more general recognition that under the 1920 Act, as amended, the Northern Ireland Government have used their powers to the full to attract employment. It is fair to say that no other Government could have done more than they have done in this respect. I believe that is now recognised more generally in this House. When one sees Questions on the Order Paper from Scottish Members relating to the problem of unemployment and calling attention to the achievements of Northern Ireland one is justified as regarding these as standing tributes to the work of the Government of Northern Ireland.
Compliments have recently been paid to Northern Ireland from other quarters. The Economist of 7th September, 1957, commenting on a local document, the Isles Report, said:The most remarkable thing about Ulster is not that its proportion of unemployed is 88 consistently five points higher than the British percentage, but rather that the margin is not higher than that.Since the war, 130 new firms have been established with Government help in Northern Ireland. That does not include a very small number which have tried and failed. Today, these new firms employ 32,000 people. The number may shortly rise to 42,000. In the last twelve months even, there have been announcements of seven new firms coming to the North. These will provide a further 1,600 jobs, and among them there are several which, in my opinion, will be magnetic to other industries. Under the Industries Development Act, expansion schemes, with assistance from the Northern Ireland Government, have led to the employment of about 5,200 persons, of whom 3,000 are men. Ultimately, it is hoped that this figure will rise to 6,500.
That is what has been done. But what of the future? Looking ahead, we have many worries, one of which must be in the textile industry. Here, speaking frankly and honestly, I do not think there is a great deal that the Government of Northern Ireland or the Development Council under Lord Chandos can do for the linen industry. In my view, although contracts from this country may help a little, the solution has, perhaps, to be found within the industry. Perhaps they will get together and find their own cure for their own ills, because I do not think that they will find much help from Government nursing, nor do I think that they would wish that this should be the solution.
The aircraft industry is also worrying hon. Friends of mine from Northern Ireland, particularly those who have in their constituencies factories connected with Shorts. We hope that it will be possible to obtain for this firm a good proportion of the sub-contracting orders for the new B.E.A. airliner, and in this we ask for the Minister's help. We also wonder whether more work in connection with guided missiles could be put in their way. Although this may perhaps be more appropriate to a debate on defence, we also ask whether the Government are satisfied that there are enough Britannias for Coastal Command, because if there are not we hope that some of the contracts for these aircraft will ultimately go to Northern Ireland.
89 Agriculture still employs almost one-sixth of our gainfully employed population. Our farms are very small, the majority of them being under 30 acres. It is not surprising that we anticipate the approach of the Price Review with some apprehension, because any diminution of the net income of our farmers is bound to have a serious effect, direct and indirect, in the employment situation in general.
The setting up of the Development Council, in 1955, was a move in the right direction, but it was overtaken and to a large extent bridled by the stringent financial policies of the time and which have pertained ever since. Her Majesty's Government can still help by making it plain once again, and with the maximum publicity—for publicity is perhaps the greatest weapon in this respect—that the expansion of investment in Northern Ireland is vital. The Prime Minister said as much in February, 1956. Let the Government say, once again, that all projects for Northern Ireland are matters of definite urgency.
On the setting up of the Development Council, the Home Secretary of the time said:Her Majesty's Government have promised the Government of Northern Ireland that we shall be ready to support this new venture in whichever way seems most appropriate in the light of the recommendations adopted by Northern Ireland, not excluding, of course, the provision of such supplementary finance as is needed to give effect to these recommendations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th May. 1955; Vol. 540, c. 2019.]Some of my hon. Friends may ask what help has been given in this respect and what supplementary finance has been available. Certainly, if support is to be forthcoming, this is the time for it to come. The truth is that some months ago we in Northern Ireland began to feel that we were seeing daylight. Things appeared to be getting better. Industries and jobs were coming. Then there came the credit squeeze and the deflationary policy, and, of course, it was the remote areas which were bound to be the hardest hit.
We in this House support the Government's tight money policy because we believe that it is right for the United Kingdom as a whole and because we are part of the United Kingdom and, naturally must share in the burden. In any case, I think we realise that if inflation had remained rampant it would have hurt just 90 as much as deflation wounds us now, and for the same reason—our geographical position.
I do not think that any of us from remote areas believed at the time that we would be able to endure these things indefinitely. The question is whether we can endure them much longer. We support the financial bondage imposed upon the United Kingdom, and we will do so for as long as we possibly can, but we hope that some of the knots will be loosened somewhere so that circulation can be restored to those limbs and extremities which are now becoming benumbed.
We in Northern Ireland have had thirty years of this problem. We have some experience of unemployment under Conservative, Labour, Coalition and Caretaker Governments, under the whole range of possibles. Yet under all Governments there have been recurrent economic crises with all the inevitable impact on our exports, our raw material costs, freight, transport charges, fuel prices, public services and all the rest of it, and, most important of all just now, credit restriction and the high Bank Rate. These things, combined with the necessary realignment of our defence arrangements, have made our unemployment register look three times as black as that for any other part of the United Kingdom. All are beyond the domestic control of Northern Ireland.
I want the Government today to recognise publicly that our unemployment problem is unique in the United Kingdom, that it requires exceptional measures, and, perhaps more particularly, short-term measures. We should like to know what remedies the Government may have in view to ease our lot.
Finally, I would remind the Government that they cannot shed or shrug off their liabilities in Northern Ireland. This applies to all parties in this House. We ask the Government to face this problem squarely and to shoulder their responsibilities. In this request, we are not asking for more than that to which we are entitled.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
I hope that the House, including the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark), will excuse me if I concentrate rather narrowly on the situation in my own constituency. I wish to 91 draw to the attention of the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Labour the acute unemployment problems which have developed during the last year or two in Dundee.
I was grateful to the Minister of Labour for mentioning the situation in my constituency, but I thought he was a little modest about the gravity of it. He said that the unemployment figure had now risen to just over 4,000. I understand that the figure for the present month is over 4,500. This represents an unemployment rate of about 5.3 per cent., about three times the United Kingdom level. It is not, however, the rate of unemployment, serious though it is, which is causing most concern; it is the definite trend which has been apparent for quite a long time now, the steady increase of unemployment in Dundee, which is so worrying. At the beginning of 1955, the figure was just over 2,000, and now it is over 4,500an increase of 2¼ times during those three years. Indeed, in the last eight weeks, the figure has gone up by about 1,000.
Official figures, moreover, do not reveal the full seriousness of the situation in the city, because Dundee, as the Minister well knows, is dependent upon the jute industry. The jute industry employs a large number of married women, and many of them, when they lose their jobs, do not register at the labour exchange. They are not recorded in the official figures. The number of people employed in the jute industry during the last three years, according to the Ministry of Labour Gazette, has fallen by about 3,000, but the increase in unemployment in the industry has been only about 500. The gap is, I think, partly explained by this factor in connection with married women.
There are also workers on short time. In Dundee, last week, there were 500 jute workers already on short time. Today, another firm put a further 600 on part-time work, and I am told that a further firm has told its workers that next week it will start 250 on part-time work. The Ministry of Labour has taken steps to arrange to pay unemployment benefit to these part-time workers from the jute mills. I express my appreciation to the Minister for the efforts of his officials in Dundee in making this convenient 92 arrangement for the workers, but it is a significant event, for it is the first time that this has been done in Dundee since the 1930s, and it is stirring very uneasy memories in the city.
It is easy for Lord Cohen and his colleagues, three rather comfortable, elderly gentlemen, to indulge in an academic exercise and say that 1.8 per cent. unemployment in the United Kingdom is not a rate we should be shocked about if it rises. The trouble is that, if the general unemployment rate in the United Kingdom rises, it does not rise in the areas of full employment but in the areas which already have far too much unemployment.
The House agreed very much, I think, with what the Minister of Labour had to say about how often the hard-hit areas got the extra unemployment when there was any general rise in the community as a whole. I took a random figure in my own constituency in this connection, and I found that, between December, 1956, and December, 1957, the unemployment rate in Dundee rose by 1.3 per cent., whereas in the Midlands it did not rise at all and in London it rose by only 0.1 per cent. When there is a rise, the black areas become even blacker, and this is something calling for vigorous and drastic action by the Government.
Why does unemployment rise in Dundee? One of the reasons, of course, is that the Government took action last summer, by reducing the level of Jute Control in the City, deliberately to create unemployment. They were aware of this when they did it, and it is only fair to say that they accompanied that action by efforts to bring new industry to Dundee. It is fair to say also, however, that the Government have been a great deal more successful in creating unemployment than they have been in creating employment since that decision in July.
The Government have been able to bring some extensions of existing factories, and one small new firm has decided to come to the city. We very greatly welcome these efforts, but the House should realise that these special efforts which the Government are making in Dundee, which we genuinely appreciate, are efforts, in fact, merely to restore to Dundee the kind of incentives and attractions which the Labour Government gave to all development areas during the time when 93 they concerned themselves with the problems of the distribution of industry.
Present economic circumstances, with a 7 per cent. Bank Rate and a world recession looming over us, present the most difficult of all situations in which to attract new industry to areas of high unemployment. It is, therefore, quite clear that this was the worst of all times for the Government to tamper with the existing arrangements in the jute industry. I am not suggesting that the jute industry should be able to make itself immune from the kind of economic changes which always go on in the nation, and I do not have time at the moment to go into the kind of long-term policies which one should have for the very complicated question of the future of the jute industry. I wish merely to indicate that the general approach one ought to make is to keep the changes in an industry like the jute industry—or any other industry—under some sort of adequate social control. That is the long-term aim one should have.
I am quite sure that the immediate aim of the Government in the economic situation of Dundee today should, first of all, be to honour the undertakings they have made to the jute industry on a number of occasions that they will not dismantle jute control any further without giving adequate safeguards. In particular, they ought not to take any further steps to reduce the level of Jute Control, which protects the generally agreed unique position of Dundee, with its intense concentration of one industry and its geographical isolation, until it is possible to provide alternative industry to take up the slack.
There is unemployment in the building trade also in Dundee. In Dundee, 270 skilled building trade workers are unemployed, and there are, in addition, 120 unemployed general building trade labourers. This is causing some alarm. It seems a little crazy that, in Dundee, a city which has a higher proportion of two-roomed houses than any other place in the whole country, there should be unemployed building trade workers walking the streets. I have two proposals to make to the Secretary of State, whom I am glad to see on the Front Bench.
First of all, will the Secretary of State, in view of this exceptionally high unemployment in the building trade in Dundee, consider advancing the date for starting 94 the general hospital for the city, now set for 1961? My other proposal is rather more ambitious. I felt that the most important gap in the Minister's speech was that he made no mention at all of a threatened American recession. We all hope that it will not develop into something really serious but no one can be sure. In this atmosphere of threatened world depression, I feel that it is time for the Government seriously to consider deciding in principle that a start should he made on the Tay road bridge, because if a world slump does come, it is that kind of major public works scheme which we shall need in the city of Dundee.
Unemployment in Dundee is awakening very ugly memories of what we went through in the 1930s. No one believes that, in the political atmosphere of Britain today, the 'thirties could ever be allowed to recur, but I ask the Government to take really vigorous action now about the serious situation which is developing in the City of Dundee.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Sir David Campbell (Belfast, South)
I shall occupy the time of the House for only a moment. My hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) has put fully and well the case for consideration of the unemployment position in Northern Ireland. I would merely make two comments. One is on a matter in connection with which we might obtain help and assistance from hon. Members opposite, and that is the position of the trade unions in Northern Ireland. I should be happy to see our trade unions developing on good and strong lines, but at the moment there is dissension in the trade union camp in Northern Ireland.
In certain industries there are trade unions which are allied to the Irish Trade Union Council with headquarters in Dublin. Others that are allied to trade unions in the United Kingdom have their headquarters somewhere in Great Britain. We should be glad if all trade unions in Northern Ireland were allied to trade unions in this country. We should also be thankful if affairs could be so arranged that different trade unions were not competing against each other and bringing about stoppages of work in Northern Ireland. One of the repair works in Northern Ireland lost a great deal of its work, and redundancy resulted, 95 because of a strike which took place after a quarrel between two trade unions.
My hon. Friend has asked the Government for an assurance about the granting of help to the Government and people of Northern Ireland to combat this terrible evil of unemployment. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Hubbard), in a moving speech, demanded deeds, not words. I shall be happy if the President of the Board of Trade will give an assurance that he will do all in his power to assist the Northern Ireland Government in their efforts. I am certain that, if we get that assurance, deeds will follow.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ Dr. J. Dickson Mabon (Greenock)
I can assure the hon. Members for Belfast, South (Sir D. Campbell) and Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) that in my part of Scotland, certainly in the West, where we have great natural affinities with Northern Ireland, we are very sympathetic towards the people there in the difficult position in which they are placed, all the more so because of the earnest efforts, even though they have not proved adequate at the moment, which have been made by various means to deal with the situation.
I have been looking at the pamphlet issue by the Northern Ireland Government, "Northern Ireland—a centre of growing Industry," which describes the various attractions offered to industrialists. It is worth while to speculate, what would have happened if schemes like this had not been launched. What would have been the unemployment position in Northern Ireland? If Scotland had grown in population to the same extent as Northern Ireland, the Scottish unemployment figure would have been substantially higher than it is today.
When one considers these facts, one recalls the Answer given on Thursday last by the President of the Board of Trade to my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) who asked if the kind of policy pursued in Northern Ireland could be pursued, in turn, in certain parts of Scotland. The President of the Board of Trade said:I do not believe that in present circumstances advance factories would attract 96 tenants."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th February, 1958; Vol. 582, c. 1387.]Advance factories are the very kernel of the programme put forward by the Government of Northern Ireland which these two hon. Members support so wholeheartedly. It is the kind of thing for which we are asking in Dundee, Greenock and other parts of Scotland so that we may face the difficult position in which we find ourselves.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) said, quite rightly, that it is the places where there is chronic unemployment that are harder hit when the general economic climate worsens. In my constituency between the wars one-third, sometimes one-half, of the breadwinners were unemployed. Since the war we have had 3, 4 or 5 per cent. unemployed all the time, without remission. When one goes into it, it is not the case that somehow or other our people are outside Lord Beveridge's fractional residuum, that we have so many more unemployable than anywhere else. It is by the nature of the inbalance of industry in the town that this position has come about. A town that rests, as we do, on shipbuilding, and to a lesser extent on sugar, obviously, has these fluctuating periods.
I am grateful to the Minister of Labour for spending so much time in talking today about my constituency. I can perceive at least three possible elements that make up the present unemployment figures. One is the dismissal of men from the shipbuilding industry. At present it is astonishing to find that one-third of the unemployed in Greenock are skilled men. That is because the transition of orders and change-over in the shipbuilding yards is not planned. We have not sufficient warning in the local employment exchange to try to integrate the change-over from one ship to another. This is always a problem with us; but perhaps that is not within the context of this debate.
The other element arises from dismissals from the Royal Ordnance Factory at Bishopton and the other dismissals in the locality. The Minister of Labour prided himself on the fact that long notice is given of many of these dismissals. In the case of the lamentable transfer of our torpedo establishment; we certainly have eighteen months in which to think about the position and to get organised. With 97 the Royal Ordnance Factory, however, that was not so. The Ministry of Supply threw about 400 men and women on to the labour market—then running at 5.6 per cent. unemployed—within two months. They are still with us, still on the books. That is why our percentage continues to be high.
Then, of course, there are other matters which I do not wish to go into at the moment, but which I am sure the Minister of Labour, when he comes to Greenock, will be able to go into fully. He will then see the full nature of our problem. We have at the moment 8 per cent. unemployed but that is not the end. When our torpedo establishment leaves at the end of eighteen months, another 400 will be added to our present total of 2,500. When our new sugar discharge methods—which we welcome—get into full swing, there will be another 100 or 150 dockers unemployed, which will bring the unemployment rate up to 10 or 11 per cent. The Minister may say that these Greenock folk have been putting a lot of pressure on the Government. The President of the Board of Trade has conceded—and we are grateful to him for this— the granting of an extension to the International Business Machines factory at Spango Valley which will provide about 500 jobs in two years' time.
May I point out, as my hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) made the point, that from the time of the change-over from discharging men from the torpedo establishment to the time this factory up the valley starts working, we can lose a number of skilled men from Greenock. That can hardly be said to be in the economic interests of the town. I do not want to go into all my problems. My problems are the problems of the Government. They are not, strictly speaking, the problems of the House.
However, the House is being invited to concern itself with a Motion and an Amendment. We on this side are intent—and I am very glad that we are—on dividing the House and on voting against the Government's Amendment and for our own Motion.
Although the Minister of Labour, in what to my mind was an unconscious "Butlerism", said that the differences between us were not blindingly obvious—an interesting phrase indeed—in his 98 speech he nevertheless showed how obvious the differences are when he told us that there are two kinds of policies that could be pursued. There is the positive policy mainly through the Distribution of Industry Act and the negative one of using mainly the industrial development certificate system.
I always remember with astonishment how, as an innocent young Member, I asked a Question of the Minister of Labour last July, when I was worried about the unemployment position and I received the amazing Answer, which left me completely dumbfounded and unable to ask even one of my marathon supplementary questions, that 700 new jobs were to become available. When the next weekend arrived, I could not get back to Greenock quickly enough. I wanted to find out what new factory, about which I had not heard, was coming to Greenock. When I got there, however, all I discovered was that the 700 jobs rested on an assessment based upon the granting of a series of industrial development certificates, not one of which has materialised. An industrial development certificate is a way of anticipating jobs which does not seem to work—at least, not in Greenock. If it works elsewhere, it evidently does not show itself up very effectively, otherwise we should not be having this debate tonight.
We have had references by the Government to what they term "pockets of unemployment", which in previous debates have been described by the Secretary of State for Scotland as "patches of unemployment". These phrases are wonderful in giving the idea that all is well, but when patches appear on the body human they indicate that something is wrong systematically with the actual body. I suggest that when patches appear on the body industrial or politic, it might well be thought that some other systemic disease is manifesting itself. Be that as it may, whether there are supposed to be patches or not, it seems to me that something must be done more positively than is being done at the moment.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) struck what is probably the most important human point in this whole debate. We are sometimes told—indeed, the Minister himself has said it, and he said it by inference almost in his speech—that my own town, 99 like so many other towns, will not get new industry because of the natural disadvantages of the area, which militate against the attraction of industry to these various places. The fact is that we cannot allow these towns and villages to die or to contract simply to suit the incentives and the direction of private industry. We have got to give enticements to private industry. If it is true that there are added burdens to commerce in going to towns which have disadvantages, and if that is a valid factor, surely it must be weighed against the amount of social capital which has been invested in these towns, burghs and villages throughout the land.
I represent Greenock as its Member of Parliament but I have come from Glasgow, a large industrial city which is now facing the problem of overspill and of finding how it can recreate its life and community spirit in towns outside its own boundary. I have come from Glasgow to Greenock, to a town which knows its own identity and has its own soul and which does not deserve to shrink or to have to give up because the Government are unwilling to find the industry for it.
I am grateful for what the President of the Board of Trade has done so far and I am grateful that the Minister of Labour is coming to Greenock to help us in the very near future. I shall, however, go into the Division Lobby tonight, not because I disbelieve the Government's intentions in trying to help us, but because I believe they are wedded to a policy which cannot give us, and cannot give the country as a whole, the kind of employment pattern that is so necessary in places like my own.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
This afternoon, the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) set the debate off on a calm and reasonable note, which has been pursued throughout, especially in the notable speech made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour. I have a few words to say about the position in the Swynnerton area, where, as the House will remember, one of the Royal Ordnance factories is slowly going into desuetude. I wish to thank my right hon. Friend for the help he has given and for the success which he has achieved.
100 In June or July last year, 2,000 people were employed at the factory. About 700 are still employed there. The number of people registered as unemployed, both male and female, in the special office which my right hon. Friend has set up in the neighbourhood is in the region merely of 80. Here, therefore, has been a successful job of the reabsorption of those who have become unemployed by the rearmament decline.
We must congratulate ourselves and the Minister, also, on the fact that nearly a quarter of a million people last year were reabsorbed from either the Armed Forces or the armaments industry into our general economy. When hon. Members opposite decide to vote against the Government tonight, however grave may be their problem—and I know how grave is the problem facing the constituency of the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon)—they should also bear in mind the general levels of unemployment in the country compared with unemployment levels in the United States or in Western Germany or other areas.
While we have, at this stage, a considerable number of things for which to be thankful, the question of unemployment must be discussed in a wider sphere than the mere reference to locality. The hon. Member for Greenock mentioned the possibility of a recession. We are faced with the fact that there is a recession today in the United States. It is a consideration that we must all bear in mind when discussing this issue. World prices show that there is undoubtedly a recession at present. This recession in world trade reflects itself in the American figures, in the falling of prices and in the fact that even in Western Germany today the steel tube manufacturing units, for example, last week put off 4,000 workers. In a few months, this is a very sharp and quick turn-round indeed.
We must, however, mark the fact that accompanied by the recession is a fall in world prices, not merely of raw materials, but of manufactured goods. If one approaches the German steel manufacturer today for steel, one finds that although there is an official cartel price, which, in some cases, is still above the price of our own British steel, one can easily find, under the counter, that those steel prices will be undercut by individual members. Similarly in shipping, although 101 there may be Conference rates from the Continent, one finds that the Conference rates are being undercut by individual shipowners. There are the tendencies for a steep decline in world trade if it has not already begun.
It is fair to say that demand inflation as such throughout the world has diminished and that, to use the old, unfortunate—and, one hoped, dead—thought, we may be at the beginning of a downward turn in the trade cycle. The Report by the "Three Wise Men" was one of the most brilliant analyses of our problem that one could have read in the last few years, though one unfortunate phrase in it has been picked up by the Press. It is clear from that analysis that we have to face the fact that with world prices, not merely of raw materials but also of manufactured goods, falling, our price structure must not be forced upwards in any way. If it were to be forced upwards we should have the double calamity of a rising cost of living and of massive unemployment, brought upon us by being out-priced and out-delivered in world markets.
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)
Does not the hon. Member think that the policies now being followed to maintain our costs and prices might aggravate the depression which he foresees?
§ Mr. Fraser
If the hon. Member will bear with me for a few minutes longer, I hope to come to that point.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour said today that the point must come when the Government must relax the various actions which they are taking to curb the cost-pushed inflation in this country. He said that he hoped that time would come soon, as I am sure we all do, but to abandon these actions and achieve a measure of unemployment and a further increase in prices would be the greatest disaster that could possibly befall us. Therefore, I am sure that at this stage the Government are right in pursuing their present policy against cost inflation, however harh that policy may be.
There must be further cuts in Government expenditure. I may be a heretic here, but I do not believe that it is necessary for us to embark upon the manufacture of our own inter-continental ballistic missiles, not because I agree with 102 some hon. Members opposite on the question of having nuclear protection but because I believe that as a long-term project this is beyond our means. It must be the Government's intention to reduce taxation in the foreseeable future.
But, faced as we are by a definite down trend in world economy, we should be turning not only to various matters which have been recommended, I think, in paragraph 143 of the Cohen Report, but to the question of doing something to ensure that our world trade is maintained and expanded by way of loans. That surely is a way in which, without inflicting further inflation here, we can assure for our people markets overseas.
The Government have talked of some relaxation in the fairly near future. I believe that there should be some relaxation as soon as possible and some further encouragement to overseas trade. There could be immediate action on two points. One concerns the system of export credit guarantees. The President of the Board of Trade realises that this is one of my pet hobby horses, but I must emphasise again that other countries, faced with the problems which we are likely to run into, are extending credit.
The German and French Governments are doing so in constructional works. If one follows these matters closely, or merely studies them in the columns of the Financial Times, one finds what a large number of overseas construction programmes the French are now securing. I know that there are credits available here for very large works, but for smaller schemes a credit of six months is usually the longest that can be obtained. Something might also be done by the Government to back the trade indemnity organisation which deals with entre pot trade.
We should look clearly now at the question of increasing and enhancing trade with Eastern Europe. After the successes of the Russians with the Sputnik and other developments, it is difficult to believe that there are many technological secrets available to ordinary manufacturing industry which are not in Russian hands. There is a possibility here of further investigation and further pressing to find out whether the arrangements whereby certain shipments to Communist countries are 103 embargoed cannot be revised in consultation with Washington.
I do not know how great a scope for increased trade this would afford. It is very easy, for example, to exaggerate the possibilities of trade with Communist China. Judging from the reports I receive of the present disorganisation inside the economic satellite States, it might not be easy to arrange for a major exchange, but other European countries, notably France, are engaged in this trade end they are gaining a large control over it. Here is something in which we should become involved.
I make these comments not as a note of gloom, but as a note of caution. I believe that we are faced with the signs of a world recession. There may be steps which can be taken at the highest level. There are such questions as revaluing gold and other panaceas which are advanced by various gentlemen on both sides of the Atlantic, but I urge the Government now to start helping our exporters and our overseas markets. On that side, the fear of a further inflation of our general economy is far less than on the side of home investment.
Finally, I believe that it is important, if possible, to advance the date of the Commonwealth Economic Conference, which is due to be held in September. It would be useful if the date of that conference could be brought forward, and it would be useful also if the next meeting of the International Monetary Fund could be called before September. I do not say that because I necessarily think that that there will be a sterling crisis by then, but because this would enable those who are responsible for world liquidity to grapple with the diminution of world trade, which is the over-riding problem on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Percy Wells (Faversham)
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. H. Fraser) on having seen such a satisfactory solution of the redundancy caused in his constituency by the closing of the Royal Ordnance factory. There was much of his speech with which I found myself in agreement. For instance, I agree with the hon. Gentleman on the necessity of trying to get a bigger share of the flow of trade between ourselves and Eastern 104 Europe, particularly China. I agree, too, that there are signs of a recession, not only in the United States and Western Germany, but here also. I cannot agree with his analysis of the Cohen Committee, and I do not propose to follow his line of argument, because I should be ruled out of order and I am anxious to deal with a constituency matter which is troubling me very much.
Until last Tuesday, I was one of those fortunate Members of Parliament whose constituents were comparatively untroubled by the fear of unemployment. In the words of the Minister this afternoon, they were in an area which was doing fairly well. Indeed, at the moment, there is very little unemployment there, although in recent weeks there have been disturbing reductions in the number of hours worked and, consequently, in the size of the pay packets. In building, brick-making, glass and paper manufacturing, short-time working has been introduced, and a feeling of considerable anxiety is growing among the older workers, who see signs of unemployment appearing again.
Even so, had I called a meeting in my constituency last week to deal with the question of unemployment, I would have been fortunate if fifty people had attended. Last night, at a meeting held in Sheerness, called only a few hours earlier, over 2,000 people were present and some had to be turned away. They were there as a result of the statement made last Tuesday by the Civil Lord about the closing of Her Majesty's Dockyard, Sheerness. These people see their jobs disappearing by 1960. It was that disclosure which had brought them there to protest against an action which they felt was absolutely unwise and unjustified.
It is that decision, Sir, which has brought me into this debate. I want to ask the Minister some questions. For instance, how does he propose to deal with the problem that has been left to him by his colleagues at the Board of Admiralty on the Isle of Sheppey and in the Medway towns? Does he realise that nearly 70 per cent. of the working population on the Isle of Sheppey is employed in Her Majesty's Dockyard? Where does the Minister hope to place the other 1,200 or 1,500 unestablished men who will be discharged when the decision to close the dockyard takes effect?
105 I have said already that work on the mainland is tailing off and that hours are being shortened. On the Isle of Sheppey itself, things are even worse. All we have there in the way of alternative industry are two small glass works, a small chemical works and a pottery, all of which are finding trading conditions very difficult indeed and have imposed short-time recently. So re-employment on the Isle of Sheppey for these men is definitely out unless the Minister has a plan, and there was a hint this afternoon of some plan. Without one, I visualise unemployment not of 1.8 per cent., about which the Minister spoke this afternoon, but of 10, 12 or 15 per cent. That is the position which undoubtedly will arise if the yard is closed, as is now planned.
Where will these workers go? Where is it proposed to send them? All we have heard so far is that the Minister will set up an employment exchange in the dockyard. If this is all that is contemplated, then normal language would fail to express what one feels about such a proposal. I also ask the Minister, in view of the fact that there is still ample useful work available to the dockyard, if he will try to persuade the Prime Minister to treat Sheerness with at least as much consideration as he has treated Malta, and to keep the yard open until a purchaser has been found who is prepared to take it over as a going concern.
Apart from its long tradition of service to the Fleet, there seems to me to be one other consideration which should be borne in mind when a decision of this kind is taken. Sheerness has given Britain one of its most brilliant scientists, Sir William Penney, whose work on nuclear development is partly responsible for the changed character of the Navy and is resulting indirectly in this proposed change. What a reward it would be if, in return for that brilliant service, we murder economically his native island.
I also ask the Minister whether, if the Government persist in their present proposal to close the dockyard, Sheppey will be classed as a Development Area? Will the Distribution of Industry Act be implemented? I am anxious to have this point answered because it is so important. Again, will there be a travel allowance for the men who are sent from Sheerness to Chatham to work? Has the Minister considered the inconvenience, as 106 well as the loss, which will be caused? The men will have to pay at least 15s. a week for travelling expenses. Also, has he considered the feeling which will be aroused when men from Sheerness walk into Chatham Dockyard to take jobs from which Chatham men have been discharged in order to make room for them?
Has the Minister given consideration to the fact that even the established men who are being transferred in this way will not be guaranteed the rate of wage of which they have been in receipt? They will get the rate for the grade into which they are received when they arrive at Chatham. So again there may be considerable loss to them in addition to the consequent railway expenses.
I hope that the Minister will look into this matter with his hon. Friend the Civil Lord. There are points here which really should be discussed in a humane way, of which the Minister is capable, in order to find out exactly what is involved in moving the men in the way contemplated.
The speech of the Minister this afternoon in reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. Griffiths) gave me a little reassurance. I very much hope that his reference to a plan for Sheerness will turn out to be something adequate to the situation, which is causing tremendous alarm. If that proves to be the case, I am certain that he will have relieved the fears of thousands of my constituents who are very concerned with this great problem.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)
I am very pleased to have the opportunity to follow the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. P. Wells) because, coming from a dockyard town which has been rather luckier than his, I realise how deeply moved he is by the proposals for Sheerness. This is the closing of a complete chapter in our history. Sheerness is a town which has been associated with the Navy for more than 400 years, and every dockyard town can sympathise with it in its difficulties and hope that what the hon. Member has said will be considered by my right hon. Friend.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. H. Fraser) referred to the French being able to get more contracts than we were able to get. I 107 suggest he mentions that to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because the French can get these overseas contracts because they pay less taxation on contracts made with foreign countries.
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in the debate, because we have had unemployment in the West Country for many years, and the unemployment figure is now more than 26,000. It is not due to any recent change in Government policy, it is not even temporary, but is what might be called a chronic disease. Plymouth is one of the towns which joined in the unemployment marches, and we do not want to return to those times. I welcome the suggestion that the Government are to take steps to deal with pockets of unemployment in particular localities, and I want to draw attention to our problem and to make four suggestions which may help to deal with it.
We are grateful that we have not had new cuts in Navy expenditure, because we are very vulnerable. Out of a population of 218,000, 25,000 people are employed by the Services and, although we naturally welcome cuts in the defence programme and hope that the summit talks will be a great success, we are all the more nervous about our precarious position. At the moment, in the dockyard alone 19,000 men are employed and, of those, only about 8,000 are established, so that at any time 11,000 may be turned off and there are no jobs for them. Recently, the armament depot at Bull Point and others in surrounding districts are being closed and 150 people thus made redundant. Is there any chance of those people being given employment in the dockyard itself?
This is a problem about which I have been worried for some time, and I raised the matter in an Adjournment debate on 23rd July. Since then, I regret to say, the position has worsened. Then we had an average of 2.5 per cent. unemployed, compared with a national average of 1.5 and an average in the West of England of 1.7 per cent. Now the figure for the West of England is 2.4 and that for Plymouth is 3.9 per cent.
It is extremely difficult to find employment for men—and we have more than 1,800 men and more than 1,000 women unemployed—and particularly difficult to get employment for juveniles—207 boys 108 and 172 girls are unemployed. The employment of young people has not yet been mentioned in the debate, but there will be an increase in the numbers leaving school and needing employment and, by 1960, nearly double the present number will be leaving school. In the South-West in 1957 we had more than 23,000 unemployed, and now we have 26,000 unemployed. There is no way for the juveniles among those people to get job unless, as it is called in the West Country, they "go up the line."
Of the unemployment in the West Country, 60 per cent. comes from the countries of Devon and Cornwall. The building trade has been mentioned, and civil engineering, and this is also specifically affected in my area. In that industry we have more than 3,800 unemployed, and in Plymouth alone there are more than 400 skilled men for whom no employment can be found. My right hon. Friend may reply that over the whole area there are 13,000 vacancies, but those are mostly for experts, and in the Plymouth region there are no vacancies except in the clothing industry.
One of the great difficulties in the West Country is that if a man goes to work in another town he has to leave his family behind because of the housing shortage. In a town like Plymouth, which has been newly built after being very badly bombed, it is very difficult for a man who has just got his house and who has started his garden suddenly to uproot himself because he is unemployed and go elsewhere, perhaps having to live in a caravan because that is the only kind of accommodation he can get.
In planning for the future, it must either be made easier for people to transfer to districts where there is housing, or local authorities must be encouraged to keep some houses ready for key workers in industries where there are vacancies. Plymouth has recently been fortunate—and I express my gratitude at it—in getting loan sanction for one more factory which will employ 125 people. Otherwise, we have only three factories of any size, and all are engaged in vulnerable trades—the motor, clothing, and radio trades. If there is any recession anywhere in those three trades, we are hit straight away.
By 1962, the number of children coming into employment will be 3,500. 109 At present, the number is 1,900, and there are very few jobs for them. We are very worried about apprenticeship in the Plymouth area. Many people have entered apprenticeship schemes and have gone to work in the dockyard. We do not know what the future of the dockyard will be, and many parents are wondering whether it is right to send their children to apprenticeship schemes when they will probably have no job at the end.
The whole economy of the City of Plymouth is top-heavy. We have an enormous number of people employed by the Services, and the next largest number is employed in the distributive trades—about 12,000 people. So that if one fails the other fails and it is more or less dog eating dog. A Services town is always vulnerable, because cuts can come at any time.
Another problem not yet mentioned is that of disabled people. There is very little work in my area for the disabled. In the whole of the South-West, we have more than 3,600 disabled people who can work but for whom there is no employment, and in Plymouth alone the total is 245. We are grateful for the work of Remploy, which takes 271 men and 26 women in the South-West, but there are many more disabled people able to work but for whom employment cannot be found.
Another problem is that of ex-Service men and women. We have a total of 62 for whom we are unable to find any employment. This may seem a fairly small number, but it has increased considerably. In July of last year, at the time of the Adjournment debate to which I have referred, it was only 50. With more men coming out of the Services we are worried about this matter.
I wish now to refer to the four suggestions I desire to put before the Government. Six months ago I asked about the number of contracts which go outside the dockyards, and I was informed that there were seventeen private contracts. I suggest that far more contracts could be placed in the dockyards.
We have an excellent harbour which is hardly used at all, and surely more shipping could be directed to Plymouth. Trains run down to the harbour, and there is a good service to London. I gather that soon we are to have diesel 110 engines. I see no excuse for not having more shipping diverted to Plymouth.
A short while ago we were fortunate enough to get the Tamar Bridge Bill through this House, but, unfortunately, we have not been able to obtain the consent of the Government to get on with the plan. The Tamar Bridge is extremely important, not only to Plymouth but to the whole of the West Country. I should like the Government to permit the plans to proceed, so that if there is an increase in the numbers of unemployed in the West Country we may be allowed to start building without delay. It is to be a toll bridge and should not prove a great expense to the Government. Eventually, of course, it is expected to pay for itself in the same way as the Mersey Tunnel.
I suggest that unemployed ex-Service men, particularly officers, and perhaps N.C.O.s, may be given training as probation officers. I suggest this service because I understand that at the present time probation officers are overworked—and the average case load is 59 for men and 40 for women. There are at present no training facilities available for the ex-Service men who are over forty years old and who cannot therefore be accepted. As they have pensions and probably their previous training would make them suitable for this work, perhaps my right hon. Friend might make an exception in regard to age and bring them into a training course and allow them to take up this work.
Wages in the South-West area are extremely low, but we have very good industrial relations. I do not wish to go into details about wages, I realise that that is a matter for negotiation with the trades unions, but in considering the Cohen Report it occurs to me that the members of that Committee may not have recently visited the West Country.
I wish to end with two quotations, one from the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) and the other from the late Lord Derby. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford said:The scheme of society for which we stand is the establishment and maintenance of a basic minimum standard of life and labour below which a man or woman of goodwill however old and weak, will not be allowed to fall.I hope that we are not going to allow these principles and standards to fall. My right hon. Friend continued to say 111 that above the minimum basic standard there would be free competition. We want to see that these people have the minimum basic standard which does not exist today for many of them. In 1875, Lord Derby said:Whatever troubles the waters of society, whatever frightens the timid and the rich (and money is always timid) the artisan and labourer are the first sufferers. The shopkeepers and the manufacturers lose their profit, but he loses his daily bread.In the West Country, we should like to be able to earn our daily bread and to help the export trade of the country. I hope that the Minister will see that our desires are satisfied.
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Mr. E. G. Gooch (Norfolk, North)
I am glad of the opportunity to call attention to the unusual amount of unemployment in the coastal areas of North Norfolk. The towns chiefly affected are Cromer, Sheringham and Wells, and the inland towns of North Walsham and Holt. The Minister should be made aware of the plight of these towns. There is scarcely any alternative employment available for people who are thrown out of work. Not only are the minor local authorities disturbed at the present position, but on Saturday the Norfolk County Council devoted a considerable amount of time to discussing ways of helping to find work for the people who are displaced.
The only effective solution is industrial development for the area. This is where the Government can help. It is their duty to do so and to attract new industries to the district. After all, the blame for the present position must rest with the Government. Admittedly, the figures of unemployed in the area may appear to be small compared with those for the big centres of population. But I am disturbed, as are many others, by the fact that unemployment in that area is something new and, of course, in every case it is a personal tragedy.
Many men are unemployed for the first time in their lives. Some may be absorbed in seasonal employment, but there will not be sufficient jobs for all. I elicited from the Secretary of State for War that the Weybourne Anti-Aircraft Permanent Range and Workshops will be closing later in the year, and that, on 1st October, 112 83 industrial workers will find themselves without jobs.
For the first time for many years thousands of farm workers have been stood off. Since the end of the war, over 200,000 agricultural workers have left the land to take other jobs, but now men are being dismissed from the farms. The latest Ministry figures show that 13,317 have been registered as unemployed com, pared with 9,623 in the corresponding month of the previous year. These are, of course, national figures. I ask the Minister: what is in store for these men? I do not intend—indeed, I should be out of order in doing so—to discuss the Government's agricultural policy, or lack of it, but that has something to do with the sackings which are taking place on so many farms in so many counties.
It is reported that more than 300 farms in the eastern region have gone out of milk production in one year and that a further 200 are to follow. That will mean more dismissals from the farms. A further tragedy is that many of the men involved live in tied cottages from which they can be evicted without a court order and without alternative accommodation being provided.
The National Union of Agricultural Workers has received complaints that too many foreign workers are being allowed to enter farming, to the detriment of British workers. I would ask the Minister of Labour to supply figures showing the total number of foreign workers now at work on British farms. I appreciate that machines displace labour on farms, but not to the extent that I have indicated. There is talk of applying work-study to farming. When this is operating, will the men benefit personally by increased remuneration resulting from increased efficiency, or will they just be working themselves out of a job?
The problem of unemployment is acute in many industrial areas, but I beg of the Minister not to overlook the plight of those 13,317 men in rural Britain who are now wanting work and are unable to find it.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Mr. J. E. B. Hill (Norfolk, South)
I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Gooch), because he is a constituent of mine and we share in our constituencies the same characteristic of small, sharp local difficulties.
113 The hon. Member mentioned farm working; this is the key occupation of the whole eastern region which far transcends any other occupation. In drawing attention to patches of unemployment in Norfolk, we must bear in mind that new industries must not do more than take up the surplus available labour and must not make inroads into the labour available for the key industry.
There has been a drift from the land generally, as the hon. Member said, but none the less the figures for Norfolk and Suffolk show a striking maintenance of agricultural employment through the years. I was agreeably surprised to find that regular workers employed in agriculture in Norfolk in June, 1957, numbered 31,762, only just under 500 less than the figure in June, 1951. Probably our big arable acreage keeps up the demand for labour.
Nevertheless, we are running into unexpected pockets of unemployment. I have sympathy with the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. P. Wells), who said that everything was going quite well until suddenly, the Government's general policy for economies in national defence began to have sharp local impact. I received a letter last July informing me that an Air Ministry Maintenance unit at Pulham in my constituency was to be declared redundant. Quite suddenly, more than 200 men realised that their jobs were coming to an end within the next few months. The R.A.F. took great pains to make that reduction by stages. The Ministry of Labour carried out a special survey well in advance. The fact remains that a large number of unemployed came upon the local employment exchanges quite suddenly at the back end of the year.
Although at the moment the figures of unemployment are small, the percentages of increase are high. The total of ex-Air Ministry civilian staff who have registered at three local exchanges is now about 108, which means a lift of 40 per cent. in the number of registered unemployed. That situation directed our attention to the wider implications. The county council has interested itself in the position, and conferences have been held with the regional controllers of the Departments concerned—Agriculture, Labour and the Board of Trade. It appeared from the overall picture that Norfolk has 114 an unemployment percentage slightly above the national average, and that the figure is beginning to rise a little, which is ominous. In particular districts, unemployment has suddenly become very sharp.
The hon. Member for Norfolk, North has some unemployment on the coast, while I have several towns where, quite suddenly, many men are not likely to have much prospect of more than casual work in the foreseeable future. The conclusion that was come to by the county council was that some more industry is desirable in Norfolk. One wants to be fair to other areas in which there are more serious problems, and it was agreed that it would be quite wrong to paint a picture suggesting that Norfolk was in any way a depressed area. It needs just a little more industry. That prompted the county council and the regional controllers to consider what lines were most promising. The best hope of new industries seemed to be that the small town of Thetford should become an effective overspill town for the London County Council. The missing link is a firm willing and wanting to move there. The L.C.C. had adopted the borough for the purpose of overspill; everything is ready. It is a matter of persuading a firm to come in.
The hon. Member for Norfolk, North blamed the Government for unemployment, but he was being less than fair. Unemployment has been caused by the cut in defence expenditure for which we have all been asking. We must face its implications. It is common ground in this House—although there may be variations of view expressed in the constituencies—that directing industry is not part of the policy of either party, because we cannot have direction of industry without the corresponding direction of labour. That is unacceptable to the people of this country outside conditions of war time.
With regard to overspill, an unforeseen difficulty has arisen which lies outside the fields of the Departments primarily concerned—the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Labour—and the London County Council. Thetford was to get a secondary modern school this year, but as the result of the cuts in the educational programme will not now get it. 115 I am sorry to mention a purely constituency point, but it raises a matter of principle. No small town, whatever its attractions, has a hope of attracting the kind of firm which might move out some of its skilled personnel from London, unless first-rate educational facilities are there. Unfortunately, the education cuts have eliminated that particular school for Thetford. I hope, in another context, that we may be able to bring the Ministry of Education into the discussion so that the necessity can be stressed and the missing link supplied.
Apart from overspill, we shall have to concentrate on industries ancillary to agriculture, particularly on the servicing side. We all wish to avoid the tendency for firms to concentrate their activities in the large town, generally the county town. Some kind of persuasion must be brought by planning authorities to deter this concentration around the county town. They must try to persuade firms to establish servicing bases in smaller towns and so preserve a better balance over the whole area. The other hope is of building up small but often important firms, such as craft firms which come under the general classification of rural industries.
In Norfolk, we have no less than 2,543 small firms of up to twenty journeymen—that is the limit in the survey that was carried out in 1956—all of which are carrying on some useful country craft. Often its products are of a high quality, but necessarily production is on a small scale, although in several cases it has a direct export trade. I should like to see further encouragement given to firms of that description, which, by definition, are on the fringes of market towns and in villages. It is obvious that those firms are finding it difficult to expand because of the high interest rates prevailing. I accept that as a matter of Government policy, but I ask that the Minister should look at it in its impact upon these rural industries. Prior to 1952, I believe, they received credit free of interest as a direct act of policy. It is worth reconsidering such a practice. If we wish to stimulate this pattern of rural employment, it may be worth while trying to provide credit on less deterrent terms.
116 I conclude with a suggestion which springs from the point about credit, but has a rather wider application. In all the post-war thinking, and indeed wartime thinking, on employment policy it was believed that when consumer demand began to flag the Government might step in and stimulate economic activity. The famous White Paper during the war was the classic expression of that. I think that was the doctrine of the late Lord Keynes. I wonder whether that has only a national application, or whether it would be worth while thinking of it in its local application. If there is an area of solid, immobile local unemployment—immobile for various reasons and not likely to be able to switch to different places because of housing, distance and so forth—the idea could be applied to such a pocket of unemployment.
Even on a small local basis, I suggest it is worth while stimulating activity in a case such as the following. In my constituency, where there is unemployment, there are still large disused airfields, and no one seems to know their future. If there is no further use for them as airfields, they will go back to the original owner or occupant in due course, but no one wants great areas of concrete and banks which have been constructed. Sooner or later, to bring such areas back into use as agricultural land, that will all need breaking up. At the moment, no one can afford to do so on a private basis as the result would not be worth the expenditure of labour. If the Government were to undertake such work, it might become economic.
There are general labourers now out of Air Ministry employment. Many are drawing unemployment benefit, and some are on National Assistance. An extra payment, which would not be large, would enable those men to draw full working wages while engaged on dismantling those airfields. The trouble is that there is no administrative mechanism for doing that. At present, as far as I know, we cannot bring the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance into this kind of conception, but I suggest that it is something worth considering. If the State has to carry those people in idleness, it might be worth trying to bring Departments together so that for a small extra payment the State could enable those workers to do useful work, which the Air Ministry 117 cannot be expected to do as it is tied to its Estimates.
I realise that the Air Ministry cannot incur the cost of dismantling runways and so on, but this work would be worth doing, if only for the practical reason that it would provide broken concrete, which would make excellent hardcore, which is one of the raw materials most sought after under the farm improvement scheme developing through East Anglia. It is not as if this work would be quite useless, but at the moment it is not worth anyone's while to do the very useful work which could provide employment for a period.
I am sorry to take up so much time on this local point. My apology is that it illustrates some of the principles we ought to have in mind. However small the figures may be in regard to unemployment, the fact remains that if a man is out of work wanting a job and fit to have a job but unable to get one, even if on statistics he is only .001, for him and his family that is the most important problem in the world. It is a very human problem, and it is just the same whether it is in the countryside or in a large industrial town.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Cledwyn Hughes (Anglesey)
I am very glad to have the opportunity of speaking in this debate, because I represent the county which has the highest unemployment figures of any county in the United Kingdom, outside Northern Ireland. My hon. Friend the Member for Caernarvon (Mr. G. Roberts), in his constructive speech, said that for many years we have been urging the Government to take some incisive action in an effort to alleviate the unemployment problem in North-West Wales.
As the House is aware, we are dealing with "pockets of unemployment" which were not scheduled under distribution of industry legislation. They were under consideration when that legislation was going through Parliament, and we have been pressing ever since for the scheduling of those areas, without success. The main argument advanced against designating them as Development Areas was that they were industrial pockets in fairly sparsely populated areas and the number of unemployed involved was not great in the aggregate.
118 I submit that that was a wrong decision and events have amply proved that it was wrong. If chronic, intractable unemployment existed in those areas it should have been tackled with the same determination and vigour as it was in the Development Areas. I shall illustrate that by quoting figures I have quoted in the House on a previous occasion, but which bear repeating. In July, 1932, the percentage of the working population unemployed in the six Development Areas was 38 per cent. In July, 1939, the figure for those areas was 18 per cent. There was an appreciable decrease in that period.
In the County of Anglesey, from 1932 to 1939, the average amount of unemployment was 40 per cent. of the insured population. In other words, the average unemployment in Anglesey in those years was far higher than the average for the areas subsequently designated as Development Areas and which benefited from the provisions of the Distribution of Industry Act.
Since the end of the war, our unemployment figures have been high above the national average and in recent years they have reached alarmingly high proportions. In Anglesey today about 11 per cent. of the insured population are unemployed. As was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. D. J. Williams), in a cogent speech, we in North-West Wales have not shared in the industrial prosperity of the post-war years. The truth is that we have had no prosperity at all.
Nor do our unemployment figures tell the whole story. There is a good deal of concealed unemployment in these counties. The figures do not include, for example, those men over 65 years of age who are prepared to carry on working. They do not include the women who have failed to find work over a long period, and who have now gone off the register. They do not take into account the men and women who, over the years, have left the district to find work. They do not include the school leavers; there are about 600 a year in Anglesey at present and the figure will be 900 in 1960. A large percentage of these young people leave the county to find work. They acquire skills and crafts elsewhere and they want to return to the county to settle down, but there is no opportunity or 119 scope for them. The figure of 11 per cent., therefore, is not complete, because it does not include these categories.
No community can afford to lose its young people in this way. The ultimate result is an unbalanced community, where the number of elderly and the middle-aged is out of proportion to the number of young people. What we are losing in these counties, as my hon. Friend said, are the young men and women between 21 and 40, and those are the people that no community can afford to lose indefinitely.
Both the Government and a number of other armchair critics are fond of telling us that we should help ourselves in this matter. Let me say at once that everything that can be done locally has been done by the county council and by the other local authorities who will be only too glad to consider any original ideas which may not have occurred to them. If the President of the Board of Trade can tell us tonight of any additional way in which he thinks that these areas can help themselves, we shall be very glad to know what it is.
While we in Anglesey have been trying to open doors, the Government have been closing them. Let me give an example. Twelve months ago we in Anglesey launched an advertising campaign to tell industry in Great Britain what we had to offer. We published an attractive brochure, with photographs of suitable industrial sites; we said that we had plenty of intelligent surplus labour and that we had housing estates in pleasant surroundings and other amenities.
The response to that advertising campaign was excellent. We had inquiries from between 30 and 40 reputable industrialists in the country, some from Birmingham, London, Manchester, Liverpool and the North of England, asking for further details. Out of the 30 or 40 there were five or six who meant business; they sent representatives to see what we had to offer, negotiations proceeded and we were hopeful that something tangible would emerge. Indeed, if four or five of these industrialists had built factories in the pockets of unemployment in Anglesey, it would have gone very far towards solving our problem.
120 What happened? The former Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the increase in the Bank Rate to 7 per cent. and these industrialists were compelled to withdraw. Negotiations are now at an end. Let me read from a letter from one of these industrialists:We fear that the Government's present economic policies must, for the time being at least, delay our plans for expansion.This has been a very great disappointment to Anglesey, because, had they come, these industries would have gone a long way towards alleviating our difficulties.
My main point is that the Government's restrictionist policy towards industry is stifling expansion in these very localities which the Government say they want to assist. How can we reconcile the Government's general economic policy, which is constricting industry, with the lip service which they pay towards development in counties such as Anglesey and Caernarvonshire? I do not think that the two views can be reconciled. It is no use the Government saying that they want to help us, when their policies are making development almost impossible.
On 29th March, the Government's policies towards our district were outlined in an Answer given by the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. It reads:The Government recognise that there is a special problem of unemployment in parts of the area surveyed and accept that some further industrial development is needed;The Parliamentary Secretary went on to say that scheduling under the Distribution of Industry Act would not be appropriate as a means of dealing with the problem. He continued:We shall try to steer suitable industry to the area, and my right hon. Friend understands that the Development Commission will be prepared to consider recommending further assistance upon a limited scale in the building of factories in suitable cases."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th March, 1955; Vol. 539, c. 202.]So far, this policy, as outlined in 1955, has proved totally inadequate. It has not touched the fringes of the problem in the area. It is equally clear that had we had the benefits of the Distribution of Industry Act and the building of a limited number of advance factories in these pockets of unemployment, our position today would be very different.
I am fortified in what I say by the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates dealing with Development Areas, 121 which was published in December, 1955. The Select Committee drew attention to these districts outside Development Areas whichthough small, are in a sufficiently grave plight to warrant adding to the Schedule.This morning I read the evidence before the Committee and it shows that one of the areas which was in the Committee's mind was Anglesey and another was Caernarvonshire.
I know that other hon. Members wish to speak in the debate, but before I conclude, I want to ask the Minister a number of questions to which I shall greatly appreciate specific replies. First, are the Government anxious to see the establishment of new industries in these pockets of unemployment, and, if so, what practical help are they prepared to give to the areas to induce industry to settle there? Secondly, will the Government look again at the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates on the Development Areas, and will they have special regard to the recommendation that pockets of employment should be added to the Schedule?
Thirdly, will the Minister confirm clearly that the policy outlined in the Parliamentary Answer to which I have referred still holds good? Is he still prepared to recommend the Development Commission to build medium-sized factories in these pockets of unemployment? Lastly, will the Government also consider giving special concessions to these areas when estimates for public works are under review? For example, a little more money on road works alone would mean a lot to Anglesey and Caernarvonshire in terms of employment.
I agree that our problems are difficult, but they are not incapable of solution. The hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. J. E. B. Hill) spoke critically of the direction of industry. I would say that people have been chasing industry far too long in this country, and it is time that, for a change, industry came to the people. The important thing is that there should be a diversification of industry in those areas where industry is most needed, otherwise these communities will die. If these communities, which are so important to Wales and to the rest of the United Kingdom, are allowed to perish it will be the responsibility of this Government, and they will not be readily forgiven for it.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mrs. Patricia McLaughlin (Belfast, West)
As it is not very often that Northern Ireland Members can concentrate on such matters as the one now under discussion here in Westminster, I am grateful to be able to join in this debate. It is often very difficult to raise many of the matters that concern us in that part of the United Kingdom. I have been interested to note that, as this is a human problem, it has been discussed very sensibly and calmly this afternoon. People who quote statistics may often prove many things, but every hon. Member to whom I have listened today has been conscious that we are dealing here, not in figures but in the lives and futures of many of our people.
I was particularly grateful to the Minister for his sympathetic speech, in which he mentioned the value of the remoter areas for setting up new commercial concerns. We want new concerns, but we also need to concentrate on those industrial concerns already set up in those areas. They, too, require just as much attention in the present difficult situation.
I am the Member for one of the largest industrial constituencies in the British Isles, which has within its borders a very wide diversity of industry. One could honestly say that practically every one of those industries was experiencing difficulty in one way or another at the present time. My hon. Friends the Members for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) and for Belfast, South (Sir D. Campbell) have both given very admirable surveys of the general problems in Northern Ireland.
Figures have been mentioned of the high rate of unemployment there, and I can remember the days, when I was a small girl, when the unemployment figures in our area were even greater, and the difficulties much larger, than they are today. They are there today, however, and have to be tackled, and it is because, in Northern Ireland, the Government, the Development Council and the people are tackling them that we who represent the people there feel that it is right to bring this problem to Westminster, and to ask for further very strong consideration of them.
It has often been said that in certain areas it is obvious that a certain modicum of unemployment is bound to remain. I have listened with great sympathy 123 to different hon. Members putting the points of view of their own areas and asking for special consideration. I will try not to concentrate on one special area, because to do that in Northern Ireland would not be the right thing. Unemployment is spread throughout the whole province, though it is certainly worse in some districts than in others. I have with me here the returns for a number of towns, and there is not one town in which there is not a large percentage of unemployment.
We have to face the fact that in Northern Ireland we are at the extremity of the United Kingdom, and that the strip of water that divides us creates many problems when it comes, not only to gaining new industries but to maintaining those that we have, Unemployment in Northern Ireland has been consistently higher than that in the rest of Great Britain, and it is very much harder for us to recover any position we may lose in this sector.
Although much has been done—and very admirable efforts have been made, and we are very grateful to all who have helped—it is not enough. The Northern Ireland Government have been untiring in their efforts, and we are also very grateful for what the United Kingdom Government have done to help, but we believe that it is impossible for us, by our own efforts, to take up the slack between what is happening by way of redundancy and what is being done in the new industries to provide employment. The new industries from America are very welcome, as are those from the United Kingdom. They are bringing valuable work to our province. Nevertheless, many of our own Ulster firms are feeling the effects of the credit squeeze, the high Bank Rate and the present generally difficult trading conditions.
We recognise that Britain's economic stability is essential to us; that it will not be possible for Northern Ireland to be economically sound unless Great Britain is, for our economies are one and our prosperity is inextricably linked. But we expect the Government to recognise Ulster's special problems and needs, because we are still in a different and very unusual position as compared with any of the other places mentioned in the debate so far, 124 High taxation, and the stern measures taken last September have not made it easy for our small firms—and we have a very large number of small firms in Ulster—to continue. They have not a large amount of capital behind them. They have not the possibility of increasing that capital, and they have not a very great possibility of competing with large concerns, as they have only a very small margin that they can afford to spend on publicity and on sending people out lo sell their products. We must look very carefully, not only in Northern Ireland but generally, to find some method of helping the smaller businesses that are dotted all over the country. Those are the businesses that are feeling the pinch so much today.
I would like to see some method devised to help our old established industries in Ulster to reinvest any profit they may make in Ulster so as to expand existing industries. I believe that that would be a very satisfactory way of combating the unemployment already rife, unemployment which we expect, unfortunately, to become more rife in the days that lie ahead.
We must take a further look at this problem, because a country is only as sound as its body, and in the economy of Britain we have, in the perpetual unemployment in Northern Ireland, definitely a running sore. It is a sore that can be cauterised if the right therapeutical methods are used, or, at least, it can be made to shrink into something much more practicable. This is a problem that must be of general concern to everybody, and great concentration will need to be brought to bear on it before it is solved.
We have the challenge facing the British aircraft industry today. We have had difficulties of redundancy in our own aircraft industry in Belfast. We hope that a share of B.E.A. contracts will help us there. Our textile trade has great difficulty in finding new markets because, as a result of world changes and developments, many countries are closing their doors to our imports. We have lost a great amount of ground in Brazil and the Argentine, and with the present tight money policy it is extremely difficult to embark on new publicity, and to find new markets.
125 The defence policy is essential to this country, but we all recognise that it also brings local problems. It has brought problems to Northern Ireland. There will be a cutting in the Ministry of Supply contracts. There will be the difficulty of people returning from the Forces to burden our already overloaded population, that is suffering from enough unemployment as it is. We are faced with cutting down and alteration in various large Northern Ireland machine-making concerns. In recent years they have been unable to export machinery for which previously there was a very wide market. That market is gradually shrinking, because many countries are developing their own industry and are not accepting many of the products for which British, as well as Northern Ireland firms, used to find a ready and an easy market.
On short-term policy, one thing that the British Government could do would be to get on with the building of Nutts' Corner Airport, now that it has been finally decided that we are to have our own civil airport there. The contract work involved would help the shrinking building and allied industries which are at present finding that private enterprise has not the capital and, in many cases, has not the confidence to embark on building projects, when they are not certain that they will be able to finance them or find the markets for their products.
I should also like to remind the Government of the special activities in Northern Ireland of the I.R.A. Indeed, in addition, certain pockets of Communism, inevitable in any society, are inclined to flourish in the difficult conditions imposed on a community where there is too high a rate of unemployment. That is something in which we have a special interest.
We must maintain our standard of behaviour. So far, the very satisfactory arrangements between our Government, our police force and those in authority in this country have enabled us to ensure that our borders have been maintained, and peace maintained within those borders. It will be very difficult for that position to continue in the somewhat unsatisfactory situation in which we have more and more unemployed people becoming miserable and, perhaps, very bitter.
126 I do not believe that hon. Members fully realise the tremendous importance which every citizen in Northern Ireland attaches to the fact that our economy and prosperity are allied to those of Britain. We have shared in all the problems of war. We have undertaken all the enterprises and efforts which are required by individuals in war. We have also undertaken to use our land as a base for the Americans when they were gathering to go to Europe, and also for British military bases, and we welcome the fact that we have some of those bases still within our borders. But we feel that if we are to be used when we are valuable, we are entitled to considerable thought and care when we need help in a situation like this.
A spirit of pessimism is growing among some of our smaller tradespeople. I hope it will not go very far, and I am certain that if the Minister can give Northern Ireland an assurance that the Government are determined to assist us to assist ourselves we shall be in a position to say to those people that pessimism is not the way to live, but that we should roll up our sleeves and get on with the job.
One of the things which we have got to consider carefully is the difficulty of getting three points of a triangle in coordination and turning them into a straight line. Those are the three points of the workpeople, the employers and the Government. We are often going to one point or to the other point or from point 1 to point 3. This country has got to re-think from every point of view our whole approach to industrial relations and gain confidence one with another. If we concentrate not on this but rather on who gains from whom, we may find it too late.
It is not easy to go out in to the world today and say, "These are British goods and are the best", and find a ready market. Let us face it. We are up against very severe competition. We have concentrated too much on looking at each other with suspicion and failing to recognise this as a national problem to be faced by everyone with inevitably the giving of some sovereignty on each side before we can reach a permanent and satisfactory agreement by which we may go forward together without so many "ifs" and "ands" and restrictions as we have at the moment.
127 In Northern Ireland we are proud of our parity with Britain in everything except employment. We recognise that our links with the trade unions are important to our workers. Our workers must be under the umbrella of wages agreements which are reached by the trade unions in Britain. We recognise that, with our limited natural resources, it is hard to tempt new concerns to come across to us when they feel that transport and fuel costs as well as other rising costs will be the straw which breaks the camel's back.
We have some specific problems which merit consideration. We do not have National Service and, therefore, we do not have a large number of our young people spending a proportion of their working life in the Forces. We have raised our school-leaving age to fifteen, and that at the moment has helped to camouflage what next year will be a much bigger problem unless we do something about it now. My hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry mentioned our increase in population. An increase in population is valuable for a country because it is the younger people who will be for us the real and only wealth which we shall have in the years to come. But all these factors at the moment bring great problems to us because we are not able to match the need with the supply.
Knowing that Her Majesty's Government and everybody in the country have very much at heart the interest of Northern Ireland, we are anxiously awaiting the winding up speech of the President of the Board of Trade. We hope that he will make a strong statement indicating the Government's plans for Northern Ireland. We are thankful for what has been done. We merely ask for the right to participate in our fair share of the industrial cake of the United Kingdom, of which we are part. Finally, may I say that the people of Northern Ireland look with confidence to Her Majesty's Government, and I believe that the Government will honour that confidence.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. F. H. Hayman (Falmouth and Camborne)
I agree with much of what the hon. Lady the Member for Belfast, West (Mrs. McLaughlin) said, and particularly with her opening statement. We 128 are here dealing not with statistics or figures, but with an essentially human problem. Every unemployed person is in an extreme difficulty, and if he is a wage earner or the head of a family he suffers especially, with his wife and children. That theme has been running through the debate today, and I for one welcome the fact that it has been stressed.
The hon. Lady also said that Northern Ireland was far away out on a limb. I come from Cornwall, and we too are far out on a limb. Today, most of the speeches have concentrated on pockets of unemployment in the Celtic countries—Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland—and although I would not call Cornwall a Celtic country, I would point out that we used to be known as West Wales.
The Motion before the Housecalls upon Her Majesty's Government to take appropriate action to remedy the situation"—namely, the recent increases in local unemployment. I am glad, because I think that today, for the first time since I have been in the House, we have had a debate directed especially at local unemployment rather than the problem as a whole, which often includes dissertations on the economic situation.
The Government have put on the Order Paper an Amendment whichwelcomes the intention of Her Majesty's Government to continue the practical steps being taken to deal with pockets of unemployment in particular localities.Having listened to so many speeches as I have done, one finds that these localities which are suffering so much are precisely those which have suffered most in years gone by, and that the practical steps taken by the Government are not very evident. I should like to ask the President of the Board of Trade, in particular, what steps are being taken for Cornwall which have shown any practical effect.
There is uneasiness in every industrial pocket in Cornwall, and, as the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Sir H. Roper) pointed out, in the rural areas as well. Each industrial area, each small town—we are all small towns in Cornwall—is clamouring for light industry, so much so, that, like the County of Anglesey, Cornwall has issued a brochure outlining the opportunities for industries which might come to our county.
129 The hon. Lady the Member for Devonport (Miss Vickers) spoke about the problems of Plymouth. I suggest to the President of the Board of Trade that he might consider asking the Government to revise their decision which prevents the Tamar Bridge Council from going on with plans to provide the Tamar Bridge at the first opportunity, because it may well be that, if there is a serious recession, we shall need to put the Tamar Bridge project into operation to relieve a difficult employment situation.
The Torrington by-election has already aroused interest in unemployment, and the Minister himself spoke of the high level of unemployment in North Devon. I make no excuse for speaking about my own constituency, Falmouth and Camborne. I read in a newspaper recently that two cinemas in Camborne—Redruth are about to be closed. The Minister of Supply knows that I have seen him several times and we have had correspondence about the Ministry of Supply factory at Camborne—Redruth, where redundancies have occurred during recent months and where we feel that more may occur. I hope that these fears will prove wrong and that the Minister will give us some hopeful statement in his speech.
During a recent debate in the House on agriculture, I mentioned the two bacon factories in my town which are working at 30 per cent. capacity. The engineering works of the Climax Rock Drill Co, has declared redundant 10 per cent. of its staff in the last twelve months and, although the company has recently secured a very satisfactory contract for the Ministry of Supply, a fear of redundancy is still there. The I.C.I. factory in the same town is working one shift less, and I understand that 50 or 60 women who were employed there have lost their jobs.
The Falmouth Shipyard, principally a repair yard dealing with tankers, has had three or four serious recessions during recent years. There was one in the winter of 1950–51; there was another in 1954; there was another in the spring of last year; and we had a very serious recession in recent months. The last recession had no connection with the troubles in 1957. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour gave me that assurance in a letter he was kind enough to send me early last December, and I 130 refer to it because some hon. Members opposite have spoken to the contrary, saying that the labour dispute of last year was, in some way, responsible for the recent recession. As the Parliamentary Secretary has said, the Suez crisis played its part.
Early in November last, 1,300 men had been declared redundant from the docks. From mid-November until 3rd December, 1,700 men had been affected for various periods. Unemployment in my constituency in December was over 2,000 and exceeded 8 per cent. On 13th January, partly because more work had come to the docks, unemployment had dropped to about 7 per cent., still considerably in excess of the average for the country.
In the last return, there were 400,000 people shown as unemployed in the United Kingdom, giving, as the Minister said, a level of 1.9 per cent. In the south-west region, the percentage is 2.4. In Cornwall as a whole, it is 6 per cent. Consistently over the years, unemployment in the south-west region and in Cornwall, particularly in West Cornwall, has been well above the national average. In my constituency, I, like many hon. Members, have a core of elderly men who find it almost impossible to get work.
The Minister referred to the remote pockets of unemployment. Cornwall is remote, and one of our chief difficulties at Falmouth is that the nearest ship repairing yards are 200 miles away, at Bristol and Southampton. One of the frightening features of the recent recession has been that our highly skilled men have been able to get work outside the county and, as an hon. Member opposite has already pointed out, if the skilled men are lost, then that particular industry is almost crippled. The Times today has photographs of five or more ships laid up on the Clyde and on the Tyne. But we have 20 or more ships laid up in the River Fal and many have been there for months.
The reason why I am particularly concerned is that in my constituency, in the 'thirties, the average figure of unemployment over ten years was 25 per cent. It is the fear of a return of those dreadful years that now haunts the people of Cornwall. It is not only the manual workers who are frightened, but some of 131 the men in executive and technical positions are afraid that their jobs may be gone, men of middle age who can see little prospect of obtaining another job.
The Cohen Report, therefore, came as a great shock to us last Saturday. The Western Morning News, which circulates in the West Country, had the heading: "Cohen Report: Some jobless essential." We in this day and generation have reached the pitch, and are still at the pitch, where a pool of unemployment is essential to our economy. Surely that is beyond belief. If we cannot move to a state where we can overcome and wipe out the fear of unemployment, then we shall, as the hon. Lady the Member for Belfast, West said, go under, perhaps to Communism, because the people of the country will not be prepared to put up with conditions which we had to endure in the 'thirties.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Montgomery Hyde (Belfast, North)
The hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) has rightly reminded the House that the Motion and the Amendment are concerned with local employment and pockets of unemployment in particular localities. He will therefore forgive me if I do not follow him in detail about the difficulties which he has been experiencing in Cornwall, although I greatly sympathise with him. I particularly sympathise with the inhabitants of Redruth, who apparently are being deprived of the opportunity of going to the films through the closing down of two of their cinemas.
This debate has been very moderate in tone. It has ranged over the whole of the United Kingdom. No one has attempted to score party points. Indeed, unemployment is too tragic and serious a subject to use for party purposes. In the few moments that remain before the winding-up speeches, I am glad to supplement what my colleagues from Northern Ireland have said. Certainly we cannot complain that we have not had a good look-in this afternoon. Two of my colleagues who represent other parts of Belfast have spoken, and we have also heard from that part of Northern Ireland which is most particularly affected—namely, Londonderry—in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark). Cer- 132 tainly, we have deserved this look-in, because with us the problem is, perhaps, more acute than in any other part of the United Kingdom.
I should like briefly to indicate why the problem with us is so serious and to suggest two or three remedies for the consideration of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. Certainly, I remember no period during my lifetime when there were not men and women out of work in Northern Ireland. Since the beginning of the last war, the number of unemployed has never fallen below 20,000, or 3.8 per cent. of the insured population. At the beginning of the war, in 1940, it was as high as 60,000, and twelve years later, in 1952, we still had 60,000 unemployed. The number has, of course, fluctuated. The most recent figure is a little over 44,000, but it is clear from the remarks made by the Minister of Finance in Northern Ireland last week that this month's figures will be considerably higher, probably 4,000 or 5,000 more.
It is rather grim that nearly two-and-a-half years since the setting up of the Northern Ireland Development Council, of which we have heard something today, the unemployment figures should be several thousands higher than when the Council was established in the autumn of 1955. That is not to say that the Council, under the chairmanship of a former Minister in this House, the noble Lord, Lord Chandos, has not done a good job since it began to operate.
In its most recent Report, for the second year of its operations, the Council sets out briefly what it has done in the way of providing additional employment. It states:The over-riding aim of the Northern Ireland Government in setting up the Development Council was to obtain help in reducing unemployment. In the period under review"—that is, from December, 1956, to November, 1957—seven firms announced their decision to establish new plants with initial labour targets totalling 2,000, including about 1,700 males. Two more announced important expansion schemes to employ 460. This compares with last year's record of six new firms to employ 1,200 and two expansion schemes to employ 500. Moreover, firms already established under official development programmes are in many instances still moving towards their initial employment targets: not a few of the more recent establishments are only a little past the starting point. The total of jobs still to be created 133 and filled in firms which have already begun operations, or are committed to do so, is of the order of 15,000 over the next five or six years.So much for the Northern Ireland Development Council. Looked at against the background of what the Government of Northern Ireland have done, there is a picture which, as far as it goes, cannot be called unsatisfactory.
Since the end of the war, the Northern Ireland Government have promoted over 130 new firms and have helped about 90 others to expand. They have provided employment for 32,400 workers, of whom more than 20,000 were males. When their present plans are completed for new industries and the expansion of existing industries, it is estimated by the Government of Northern Ireland that there will he jobs for over 47,000 men and women in Ulster.
Why then, it may be asked, do the unemployment figures in Northern Ireland constantly fluctuate? Why have they been steadily rising, despite the local Government's efforts and despite the efforts of the Development Council? The first factor is the increase in population. The population in Northern Ireland is increasing and has been increasing more rapidly than in any other part of the United Kingdom. This, naturally, is reflected in the rate of growth of the working population, which is about three times that of Great Britain. Employment has been steadily increasing at the rate of about 6,500 new jobs every year, but, unfortunately, employment has not been sufficient to keep pace with the net growth of the labour force, despite factors like emigration, let alone being able to take up the slack of unemployment which has never fallen below 20,000 even at the most favourable period in the war in 1944.
The Chandos Report emphasised that point in one sentence when, in reference to last year, it said:… there was a plus figure of 6,400 representing new jobs created against a minus figure of 11,000 through shrinkage of employment elsewhere and the growth of the labour force.The hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne and other hon. Members have emphasised that where there is endemic or chronic unemployment and conditions get worse in other parts of the country, that is felt by a chain reaction, as it were.
Workers who have come from Northern Ireland to Great Britain to take employ- 134 ment in the building trade, for example, have been displaced in recent months and have returned to Northern Ireland. Through reciprocal arrangements, they have registered with the local labour exchanges, thereby swelling the ranks of our unemployed. Northern Ireland is also considerably under-capitalised. Published figures show that about £400 million have been exported in the way of capital from Northern Ireland against about £85 million invested locally.
Now for the remedies or the practical steps which might be taken. I put these forward not as new remedies but for consideration, and I hope with becoming humility. First of all, I should like to see more powers taken by the Government to direct industry to Northern Ireland. I apologise for quoting again from the Chandos Report, but in a sense it is our economic sheet-anchor. This is what it says about the Council's activities last year in this connection:Those firms that were anxious to press on with enlargements of plant or expand in other directions were undoubtedly discouraged by the circumstances of the day. In fact some firms with whom discussions were well advanced"—that is, in Great Britain—felt compelled to withdraw. Reasons given were a lessening in demand, doubts about creating new capacity and greater ease in obtaining both labour and premises in certain areas of the mainland.The Council can merely advise; it cannot compel or direct.
Secondly, I should like to see some further relaxation of the credit squeeze. It is true that credit restrictions have not been enforced in Northern Ireland with the severity shown in Great Britain. Yet we were told in 1956, and I quote from the speech in the Northern Ireland Parliament of the then Minister of Finance on 28th June, 1956:No credit squeeze will be applied in Northern Ireland.We have, of course, had a credit squeeze, and we have felt its effects. Interest and overdraft rates have made borrowing by industry very difficult, and it is anomalous that across the border in Eire borrowers can obtain accommodation at 1 per cent. or 1½ per cent. less than in Northern Ireland, and frequently from branches of banks which also operate on our side of the border.
135 Thirdly I should like to see more Government contracts, particularly for the aircraft industry; and Short Brothers have been mentioned this afternoon in this connection. Finally, I should like to see considered the creation of an industrial finance corporation sponsored by the Imperial Government, which would provide capital for new firms at low or interest-free rates and which would also assist existing firms to obtain additional capital for expansion. Corporations of this kind have been set up in different parts of the Commonwealth, in Canada, South Africa, and Eire, and they seem to be working well, so I ask my right hon. Friend to consider this suggestion.
Among those who favour a relaxation of current financial restriction is the Northern Ireland Minister of Labour, Mr. Ivan Neill. In an important speech he made in Belfast last week, he called for a five-year plan to defeat unemployment in Ulster. He made the point, which I think is a good one and has not been made before, that one reason why action is now imperative is because of the imminence of the European Free Trade plan. I agree with his opinion that the chances of Northern Ireland making up economic leeway with Great Britain will be poorer after the plan comes into operation. My conclusion on this subject is that, unless the cold breezes of financial austerity which are blowing from Whitehall, and have been blowing for the past year, are somehow tempered to the shorn lamb of Ulster's economy, our unemployment figures are likely to reach unprecedented heights. I beg the Government, with all the sincerity I can command, to take some action before it is too late.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)
In beginning his reply to the excellent speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) the Minister of Labour expressed the opinion that there was little between the Motion which my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself have put on the Order Paper and the Government Amendment. We on this side of the House believe that there is a great difference between the two.
Our Motion expressesconcern at [...] increases in local unemployment and calls upon Her Majesty's Government 136 to take appropriate action to remedy the situationwhereas the Amendment recognisesthe concern felt at recent increases … welcomes the intention of Her Majesty's Government to continue the practical steps being taken to deal with pockets of unemployment.In other words, whereas we are asking for a new and distinct type of action which has not yet been taken the Government are merely threatening to continue with the sort of action which has brought us to the situation about which we complain.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
My hon. Friend will be aware that in Lancashire, as distinct from these very recent and sudden pockets of unemployment, we have been a pocket of continuing unemployment for many years. If the Government are only to continue the practical steps which they have so far employed in North-East Lancashire, the outlook is very grim.
§ Mr. Lee
My hon. Friend has confirmed my diagnosis. I agree that our objective in moving our Motion was not to ask for whatever policy the Government have been following to date, but to protest that that policy has failed and failed dismally. It appears that not only on this but on other subjects the proof which the Government require of their policies in order to continue them is that they should fail dismally to achieve the objectives which the Government say they have in mind.
Very many industries have been mentioned during the debate and it is not possible for me to refer to all the localities which have been mentioned, but I put it to the House that when we have a debate in which so many industries are mentioned as being in recession then it is time that the Government re-examined the problem which they have so far failed to face. I quote the building industry, the slate quarrying industry of North Wales, the tinplate industry, the steel industry, the aircraft industry, Admiralty docks—and also London Docks. I understand, 350,000 tons of shipping stood idle last Saturday—Royal Ordnance factories, agriculture and textiles in Lancashire. I do not pretend to have covered the whole list. To refer to the last named, about which I know a little; the latest move is that the Mayor of Oldham has called together the mayors of 27 other towns, so concerned are they 137 about the problems of textiles in Lancashire.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) said, this is not a new problem. For years we have been trying to get the Government to make a move and yet we have not had the slightest response. In my hon. Friend's constituency this week, 3,000 people will be on short time out of a very reduced population. In Burnley, about which there was so much argument before we could get it designated as a Development Area, very little has been done to assist it since it became a Development Area.
I put it to the Government that unless new thinking can be brought to bear on the issues which have been discussed today, it may well be that we shall get into very serious trouble. Since 1952, some of us have not disguised our belief that matters concerning levels of unemployment would one day become a major issue between the parties. Whereas the creation and maintenance of full employment were and are great principles to my hon. Friends—indeed, the net product of much of our thinking and economic planning—we have always believed that in Tory thinking they have occupied a far less elevated position. I do not say that they abandoned our economic planning to create unemployment, but I do say that the question whether it would bring unemployment was not strong enough to prevail against their own political dogma.
When industrial matters have been discussed in this House—they have been discussed, incidentally, only when the Opposition have found the time—hon.Members on this side have often suggested that if we abandon the policy necessary to maintain full employment we have not the right to believe that full employment will prove to possess a sufficiently adhesive quality to cause it to cling of its own volition. Having created a catch-as-catch-can economy, in which everyone grabs what he can and inflationary pressures were bound to become more intense, the Government became more impatient of the full employment which, they believe, makes inflation inevitable. They passed from a position of neutrality towards employment levels to one of rather active hostility.
138 We on this side do not believe that inflation is an essential concomitant of full employment. It requires a great deal of new thinking, but we have not heard—nor did we hear today from the right hon. Gentleman—any new thinking on the great problem of how one maintains full employment without the creation of inflationary pressures. Listening to the speeches today, one noticed not only deep and intense anxiety, but a certain amount of frustration. There seems a feeling that the unemployment that we are discussing is occurring not despite the efforts of the Government to prevent it, but because of the determination of the Government to promote it. That leads inevitably to the frustration about which I have spoken.
The policies of restricting and cutting back demand, which the Government are now pursuing in the economic field, are sterile. They are bound to create pockets of unemployment. Without exciting the House very much, I have said that the policies of the Government are designed to create unemployment. Had I said that a few months ago we should have heard protests, and hon. Members opposite avowing that they had no such objective in mind. Part of the mark of their deterioration is that today when challenge them about the fact that their policies have been undertaken in the full knowledge that they would create unemployment, protests do not come from the benches opposite.
The country faces a situation which has been unknown at any period since the end of the war, in which the Government, acting on the principle of an economic policy, deliberately discard the attempt to maintain full employment. Although we are not discussing it today, the Cohen Report—which, I think, we shall require to discuss—has been mentioned by several hon. Members and refers to the need for more unemployment. That has caused apprehension, bitterness and fear. I put it to the House that it emphasises the need for the policy which the Government have embarked on.
There is no departure from that policy. It may be a question of emphasis or degree, but there is no difference in principle from what we have been seeing for quite a long time now. It is argued that no economy can function successfully except against a background of 139 unemployment. We have now had from the "high priests" on the Front Bench opposite, and those who prepared the Cohen Report, that that is the case. I therefore suggest that the people of the country be given a very early opportunity to decide between that sort of policy and a planned economy which can function without unemployment, and which it is now important that we should have.
Last night, on television the Prime Minister refused to condemn the suggestion that there should be more unemployment, and that there would have to be more unemployment to make the policy pursued by his Government successful. The right hon. Gentleman rather tried to cancel himself out of it by suggesting that he did not write the Cohen Report, anyway. He went on to make a statement to which I wish to draw the attention of the House, that his Government could not support a position in which there were five jobs for every three men.
When I heard that statement I realised that it was a deliberate attempt to convince the national that there were, in fact, five jobs for every three men. The truth is, of course, that if every unemployed person were in precisely the vicinity of every vacancy there would still be thousands of people without a job at all. Instead of there being, as the Prime Minister tried to say, five jobs for every three men, there is not a job for every person. The Government's policy is designed to make that position even worse.
The right hon. Gentleman stressed the seasonal aspect of the present level of unemployment, which, I think, is now running at about 425,000. I take the point, of course; these months always were those in which we had certain levels of purely seasonal unemployment. I was reading the same arguments being put by Ministers in the United States of America, where the Federal Reserve Board says that American industrial production dropped in January, 1958, to its lowest level since February, 1955. I agree that the seasons are getting a bit mixed up, but I doubt whether, either in the United States or in Britain, we are working on a three-yearly cycle.
In Canada, there are 520,000 unemployed in a comparatively small labour 140 force. When I was in Australia, a few weeks ago, I was told of the anxiety of Australian people—remember, Australia is in the sterling area—because there are 100,000 unemployed in a working population of 4 million. Therefore, we must ask the Government whether they really are tackling the problem of the repercussions on our own economy of the things which are happening in other parts of the world, some of them within the sterling area.
Northern Ireland has had a good run tonight. About five hon. Members for Northern Ireland have spoken. They ought to have thanked the Opposition for providing the time for them to air their grievances. Had they waited for the Government to do so they would never have had their opportunity. The Minister is not able to give us the actual figures for Northern Ireland, but we know that on 13th January there were 44,402 unemployed, an average of 9.13 per cent. of the labour force. Since then a number of linen mills have closed down. The last report of the Development Council shows that during 1957 about 6,400 new jobs were created, and that 11,000 jobs disappeared.
Some of my friends in Northern Ireland have suggested what should be done about this problem. They say that for the short term a public works programme should be undertaken, to deal with mounting unemployment among unskilled workers, financed from the central Exchequer by grants to local authorities for an approved public works scheme; and, for the long term, the establishment of a Northern Ireland development corporation, capable of providing finance and technical assistance to establish and support industries based on the country's national resources. I quote that from suggestions made by the Northern Ireland Labour Party, supported by trade unions over there.
I say to the Government that to apply the full rigours of a credit squeeze, high interest rates, and so on, to a country whose economy is so notoriously unstable is not playing fair. I see that one or two hon. Members who represent Northern Ireland have come back into the Chamber. I put this point to them, in all friendliness. Before deciding to vote tonight they should decide whether they are to vote in favour of a Motion 141 which asks for new thinking—for which all of them have asked in their speeches and a new approach to the problem. Or are they to support a continuation of the policies which have brought Northern Ireland to the position that she is in tonight? It is for them to decide.
I return to the Minister. Answering Question No. 39 on 19th February, about the building industry, he pointed out that in the twelve months ended December, 1957, 26,800 had left the industry and, despite that, unemployment increased by 5,600 between January, 1957, and January, 1958. Then the right hon. Gentleman used these words:it seems unlikely that the industry will, in present circumstances, regain the abnormally high level of employment experienced in 1956."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th February, 1958; Vol. 582, c. 1212.]I have a great respect for the right hon. Gentleman. He is a very able man, but he is now getting into the habit of using the sort of language which the extreme Right-wing of his party deems to be appropriate to the conditions. I ask him to come away from the elements which are taking him off the straight and narrow path while he has time to do so.
The building industry is in great trouble. In the North-West the unions believe there is now a level of 10 per cent. unemployed in the industry. What does one do when one finds men who have served apprenticeship as bricklayers, plasterers and the like, and who now are being condemned not to seasonal unemployment, but to permanent, chronic unemployment? A bricklayer or plasterer cannot be adapted to a skilled engineering job. Either he works as a skilled man in his own trade, or joins the scramble for vacancies in unskilled jobs which may be available.
The North-West Regional Council of the National Federation of Building Trade Operatives has written to local secretaries in these words:In the present industrial situation it is morally wrong for some men to be working consistent overtime while their fellow-building operatives are signing the unemployment register.It is the first time since before the war that such a move has had to be made by the Federation.
I prophesy that if the sort of fears which are demonstrated in the letter I have quoted go on, the next move will 142 be to demand that all people over 65 years of age shall retire from the industry. In other words, we shall get back to the defensive attitude so necessary in pre-war days, in which there was no possibility at all of expansion. Indeed, if we came to the point of a demand for people of 65 to retire it would be interesting to know what the full effect would be on the National Insurance Scheme. I have made no calculations, but I feel that it would be disastrous.
Apparently the Government are determined to cling to these policies of restrictions and high interest rates which, the Minister agrees, are responsible for these results. May I once again quote the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft)? This is a quotation which I used a few weeks ago, but in the context of our present discussion I think it will stand quotation again. On 25th July, he said:I would just say to those who urge these actions"—that is, the restrictions—that they must have the courage of their convictions. When we see, as we may see in certain areas and as a result of these reductions and restrictions already in operation, some increase in the number of unemployed or some decrease in the number of unfilled vacancies, we must recognise that it is the corollary of reducing the pressure of demand,—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th July, 1957; Vol. 574, c. 647.]We have reached a point at which, because the Government have abandoned the economic planning which we introduced, we have a fantastic situation in which they have a vested interest in keeping production down and in creating unemployment.
May I ask this question: what levels of unemployment are necessary to prove the success of the Government's policy? I am not suggesting that we face a similar type of problem to that which we faced in pre-war days. The problem which we face now is the science of getting the jobs available and those who need them into the same place at the same time. Which of these two is to be moved, the man or the job? In opening the debate, my right hon. Friend referred to the distribution of industry policy. When we were in office we used the Act extensively. Indeed, had we not done so we could never have brought unemployment down to 200,000, no matter how busy the United Kingdom as a whole might have been. 143 As far as my investigations go, the present Government have practically forgotten that the Distribution of Industry Act exists. Is there any factory building now? Power is given to the Board of Trade to build or acquire factories in Development Areas. Can the right hon. Gentleman saw how extensively is it being used? My information is that it is being used on a very limited scale indeed.
Again, provision is made within the Acts for the Board of Trade to give financial assistance for the development of basic services within the Development Areas. I believe that practically nothing of that sort is being done now. Provision is made for Treasury loans through the Board of Trade. How much is being done with those powers? As far as I know, the loans are given in only very exceptional circumstances.
No matter how well-meaning Ministers may be, or how often they come to the Box and say, "We are trying hard to get industry to go into the Development Areas," unless they are prepared to use the Measures which are at their hand for use we are entitled to reply, "You are not trying as hard as you ought to try to get industry to go there."
I can remember the time when I was a member of a Government committee that handled this sort of thing. On many occasions, a big firm with its parent factory in London, Birmingham, Coventry, or the like, would say that it wanted to establish another factory in that area. We said that we would not permit it, and, in many cases, helping as this Act permitted we got the firms to go into the Development Areas—and a very good job most of them did when they got there. But, of course, so much of the authority that we possessed in this sort of negative control, as it were, depended on our ability to refuse industrial building licences in the main theatre in which they operated.
I remember that when the Government proposed to abandon industrial building licences I tried to dissuade them. I suggested that once that was done it would no longer be possible to tackle the problem by telling a firm that it would not be allowed to build in London or Coventry, or one of the other big cities, because there were there probably 30,000 vacancies waiting to be filled and 144 that it would lead to employers competing for what labour there might be. We relied very much on that sort of argument to persuade people to go to the Development Areas.
However, the Government decided, in the cause of freedom, or whatever they call it, to abandon industrial building control. I have not looked at the figures recently, but I know that some time ago we had reached the absurd position where there was more industrial building going on in London than in all the Development Areas put together—and that at a time when we were talking about dispersing industry from London and the other big cities. I therefore say that the maldistribution of industry that we are now seeing comes from the abandonment of industrial building licences and from the fact that, for all practical purposes, a distribution of industry policy no longer exists.
It is, therefore, necessary for us to ask the Government to retrace their steps in this matter. We shall judge of the sincerity of the utterances we have heard today by whether they are prepared to use the powers at their disposal. I do not say that the Distribution of Industry Act, great as has been its performance should remain, and must remain, necessarily ideal to the new situation that we are entering. For my own part, I have said before—and here I speak only for myself—that I would not agree to all types of industry going into all types of areas.
I would encourage specific types of industry to go to areas where the skills of the workers were peculiarly adapted to that type of work. I would specialise in that more than we were able to do in years gone by. As I say, the Act may not necessarily be ideal to the new situation that we face, but a tribute is due to the terrific amount of work done by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton), in the days when he had so much to do, in producing that first great Measure.
We have heard of the tragic position of Sheerness, Portland, Chatham, and other places now affected by the Admiralty's decision to close dockyards. This is a classic example of the failure to plan. Years ago I repeatedly asked the then Prime Minister, the right hon. 145 Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), what preparations were being made to substitute other types of work for personnel affected by reduction in defence work. I was trying to anticipate the present position. Nothing was ever done.
I know the present anxieties of my right hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley) and my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham (Mr. P. Wells), and others of my hon. Friends who have spoken today. The fact is that we tried to crystalise all this by asking the Government to plan their way out before the crisis ever arose. Nothing was ever done, and it would appear that many of these areas, to the Government's way of thinking, are now to be left to die. The Government have done precisely the opposite of what was asked of them. Instead of expanding civil work as defence work contracted, they have deliberately restricted both defence and civil work at precisely the same time, with the result that we are now in the present unhappy position.
I wanted to talk a little about automation. My right hon. Friend mentioned the state of the tinplate industry. I could talk about the engineering and other industries which have to face this problem. There are two schools of thought, one of which says that automation is bound to bring about massive unemployment, and the other which says that it can be contained within the economy. No matter what school of thought one follows, the one fact which must be accepted is that automation cannot be introduced into any economy unless its basis continually expands, for unless the basis of the economy expands unemployment will undeniably and inevitably occur. At a time when automation is operating in the tinplate industry and in so many others, it is fantastic that the concomitant of that state of affairs should be a stagnant economy which cannot possibly contain it without producing unemployment.
The other day, in a very effective speech, the Minister of Labour spoke of the differences in the Ministry of Labour, comparing the days when large sums of unemployment benefit were paid out and the great work which is done in these days. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, however, that that change is nothing 146 like so intense and far-reaching as the change upon which the Ministry must now embark. I believe that the Ministry must act as the medium for vast training schemes, especially among the middle-aged who now have to adapt themselves to different conditions. There must be agreement with the employers who introduce automation, both on the training of employees and on the financial effects which they are prepared to accept. I will not go into the question of compensation for displacement which my right hon. Friend mentioned, but it is a live issue which the Government should face.
We have all agreed on the need to eliminate as many restrictive practices from industry as we possibly can. Is this the way to get rid of them? If I had the time I could tell the House of personal experiences in this connection. From 22 to 26 years of age I never knew what it was to have a regular job. When I was working, if I saw a few castings at the end of my lane I wanted to make them last as long as I could, for I preferred wages to unemployment. Today, were I back in industry and if there was a policy which threatened my job, I would do the same again, and so would every sensible man in industry today.
The Government, by their policy, are bringing back fear into the minds of people who thought that they would never have to experience it again. One of the greatest assets which this country possesses is a new generation which does not know fear, which serenely believes that full employment is not abnormal but is a natural state of affairs. Once that serenity is taken away, production levels in Britain will take a decade to get back to where they are today.
In these matters it is so vital to consider the psychological aspect. Life in Britain has changed in other ways. Hundreds of thousands of young couples are buying their houses, furniture and household effects on deferred payments. What happens to these youngsters if they get out of work now? It is sheer calamity to think of it. My generation at least knew that we were in danger and we prepared accordingly. The 20 year-olds and 30 year olds of today do not recognise the danger and they do not prepare accordingly.
I therefore ask the Government to think again about these issues. I believe 147 that the greatness of this nation depends upon the co-operation that we can get from all sides of industry. Today, it is threatened by a stagnant, sterile policy which has no place in an expanding economy like ours. I ask the Government to change it now or to get out before they do more damage.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Sir David Eccles)
Both sides of the House paid tribute to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour for the serious, sober and objective note they struck in opening the debate. I believe that the House has found this a useful and very timely debate. We have heard the voice of Wales, Scotland, North Cornwall, Northern Ireland, East Anglia, the Medway, Lancashire—and I may have left out others. All hon. Gentlemen speaking for those areas were concerned with local unemployment.
We have, I think, been asked two questions: first, what are we doing about patches of unemployment; and, secondly, what are the chances of more general unemployment, and what should we do if it came? The second question is hypothetical, and I say straight away that one cannot be precise about practical measures required to meet a situation which has not arisen and need not arise. Indeed, my right hon. Friend showed clearly that we do not have a national unemployment problem today. By no stretch of the gloomiest or most political imagination could the present figure of 1.9 per cent. be called either dangerous to the progress of the economy or dangerous to our social wellbeing.
It is the Government's deliberate policy to reduce the excess demand for goods and services at home in order to lessen the strain on the balance of payments. [An HON. MEMBER: "Which means un-employment."] "It means unemployment", says an hon. Member opposite—yes, but the foundation of full employment is earning enough abroad to keep our factories going, and if we do not put that very high on our list of priorities we certainly shall have unemployment on a very great scale. Inflation, therefore, has to remain the enemy until we are sure that it is no longer a valid cause or 148 excuse for increasing our costs out of line with production. A mild recession in the United States increases the need for us to hold our costs in line with those of our competitors. This is not a time to practise reflation out of step with the rest of the world. We should break the £ if we did. On the other hand, as I shall show, we have to be prepared with measures in case the American recession should turn into a slump. I was asked particularly about that by my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) and by the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson), and I hope to answer their questions later. I have had a number of questions put to me about local unemployment. If there is time, I shall try to answer them, but if I have not time tonight, after making some general observations of policy, I will write to each hon. Gentleman.
At this time, we have in the United Kingdom to deal with patches of local unemployment. Hon. Gentlemen reminded us that the figure for unemployment in certain areas being much above the national average is the cause of very deep concern to people living there. We are well aware that the average is meaningless to a man out of work. These are all special situations, each having to be treated on its merits and requiring different and very careful handling.
We all agree upon one thing. We reject the direction of labour as an instrument for putting men to work. That goes for wage earners and for management. Therefore, our influence on the siting of industry has to be by persuasion; we cannot order a factory to move or a firm to start in an area it does not want to go to. The Labour Government took the same view when they were in office. It has been very frustrating at times to hear of firms having large order books—export orders in particular—which they could not fulfil for want of manpower, or to hear that we imported coal because the mines were undermanned. Nevertheless, we must surely put direction of labour out of our calculations.
Although we cannot compel a firm to go anywhere, we do possess the negative sanction of the industrial development certificate. Anyone who wants to build more than 5,000 square feet of industrial premises has to come to the Board of 149 Trade for one of these certificates. As a matter of regular policy, we refuse the certificates when the area is congested. The hon. Member for Barry asked me which those areas were. The answer is: the London area, South-East England, the Birmingham area and, in most cases, South Yorkshire. It is very rare indeed that a new factory is allowed to go to any of these areas.
Of course, extensions are a different matter. We can very seldom refuse to let a factory put its extension, if it is a small one, alongside its existing works. It would not be economic elsewhere, and the Board of Trade has to keep one eye on industrial efficiency. If the firm wants to build an extension which is the equivalent of a new factory in itself, immediately we enter into an argument with it.
I assure the House that we are firmly using the negative sanction of industrial development certificates. I shall be particularly watchful to see that that is so this year. But there can come a point when the firm says, "If we cannot go where we want to, we shall not build at all." That does not happen very often, because we meet with very good cooperation from industry. But, when it does, we have not the power to direct them, and it would be useless if we had.
I should like to turn to the types of local unemployment with which we are dealing. It is due, I think, to changes of three kinds in the economy. First of all, there is the technical change—such as the new process for tinplate making, or the bulk handling at the ports of sugar or fertilisers—which has put men out of work at Greenock and elsewhere. Secondly, there is the change in fashion. One hon. Gentleman mentioned slate for roofs. There can also be a change of fashion in the clothing trades. Thirdly, there may be a change in defence requirements, such as the closure of armament factories and Royal dockyards. The effect is the same. There is a pool of unemployment above the national average.
As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour said, it is very much easier in times of good general trade than many people fear at first for the redundant labour to find other work. What has happened at Blackpool about the Hawker factory, the Isle of Wight about Saunders-Roe, or Swynnerton about the 150 R.O.F., is very remarkable. Nearly all those workers have found other jobs far more easily than we or hon. Members representing those areas thought at first. It would be a mistake to stimulate artificially new work for redundant workers who can on their own fill vacancies that exist. We must have plenty of movement in the economy, movement of manpower and capital, or we cannot take advantage of technical change.
One of the good changes in the present situation is that, with modern transport, men can travel to work much longer distances without undue strain. Modern transport has assisted so much in the redeployment of labour in Lancashire. That is also true of Clydeside; but there are other areas where the old tradition of not going very far from home has not been changed as we should like. However, in the areas hit by change there may remain a hard core of workers who cannot find new work near enough to their homes. We then have two methods of giving help: either by encouraging and assisting employers to bring work to those unemployed, especially to the older men and women, or assisting the unemployed in moving to where work exists for them.
I am sure we must always be ready to use both methods. However, to know which method is likely to be most effective, we need to have as accurate information as possible, both of the likely patches of continuing local unemployment and of the growing points in the economy, so that we can match one with the other. My right hon. Friends and I are working together to keep up to date in respect of both the weak and the strong employment areas.
I know that some patches occur in seaside or rural areas; they were referred to by the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Gooch) and by one of the hon. Members representing Cornish constituencies. We always give an industrial development certificate in an area of that kind and do our best to get industry to go there. One must, however, face the fact that such areas often do not have an industrial tradition and that very often the employment is seasonal; and in the summer-time there is not much unemployment, tourism being their major industry. However, in some cases the Development Commission 151 has been able to assist. Certainly we will keep the Cornish situation in mind. I will talk about North-West Wales later.
Where these patches of unemployment occur inside a Development Area—that is important, because there are some now outside Development Areas—we have power under the Act to attract industry to those areas. The best-known attraction is a Government-built factory to rent at an attractive figure. Rent, however, is only a small element in the costs of most businesses. It therefore cannot be a very strong inducement unless the business has no cash or cannot raise capital to build for itself. Such firms are not among the most likely to want to expand.
Some hon. Members opposite may have been misled by the experience in the Development Areas in the years following the war. There was then a great shortage of industrial premises, and also great pressure on the building industries. Many firms would go anywhere to get started. Besides, at that time there was a shortage of industrial capacity in the light industries—for instance, to make consumer goods such as toys, radio parts and stockings. That kind of product can be made in factories that are more or less standard, and it does not matter so much if the transport of the raw materials and of the finished goods is somewhat expensive. For that reason, Government-built factories and advance factories were a success.
The conditions today, however, are not the same. We have a great many more factory premises in the United Kingdom than we had then. Now, roughly speaking, we need heavy industry rather than light industry, because the great demand which we cannot fulfil is for capital goods at home and abroad. The siting of plants for that kind of industry is more restricted by the various facilities which they require, and the firms themselves generally need to have a factory built to their own specifications. That is one of the reasons why advance factories are not such a hopeful method as they were.
We have been charged with having abandoned the Development Area policy, and I was asked how much we had spent on it. In the last six years, we have spent £25 million on factory building and extensions in Development Areas. The demand has fallen off, as 152 one would expect when there has been such a great increase in privately-financed industrial building since the Conservative Government have been in power.
The amount that I can spend on factory building in these Development Areas is to be found in the Board of Trade Vote, and the Vote is £2¾ million next year. But we have recently said in respect of Dundee and of South-West Wales that if any suitable firm comes forward with a project for either of these two areas the finance will be found. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is very ready to look at projects if we can get someone to the point of a firm proposal.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Would the right hon. Gentleman consider whether he would add to the two areas he has mentioned the North-East Development Area in Lancashire, which has been subject for many years to creeping paralysis of almost its only industry? They are crying aloud there, and the area is getting no help of any kind from the Government. If anybody has to be given any preferential treatment, this area is entitled to it as much as anybody else.
§ Sir D. Eccles
I will take into consideration what the hon. Member has said. We have power to build factories there, and if any project comes along—and in the past many have been started there—we will look at it.
As for Dundee, we have succeeded in getting four or five small new factories or extensions, and we have just settled arrangements with Morphy-Richards for a large factory which will help a good deal.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
Would not the right hon. Gentleman give us a pledge that, in addition to directing factories there, he will not narrow any further the mark-up of jute until the employment figure returns to normal in Dundee?
§ Sir D. Eccles
I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman that pledge, because I do not know what will happen to the jute trade. I understand what the right hon. Gentleman says, but I must watch this matter in relation to our imports from India.
153 In South-West Wales, there is a four-man commission which will shortly report, and we shall follow up what it says. It often happens that it is not a factory that will attract a firm but better communications, and that has been very true of Wales. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has included in his programme the Port Talbot bypass, the Ross Spur and the Heads of the Valley road, and I think that that will make it more attractive to firms to go into the area.
§ Sir D. Eccles
These areas could do more perhaps to help themselves. I am sure that it is no good giving oneself a bad name in order to get one's troubles into the news. It is far better to write up the advantages of the neighbourhood. Much good is done by good salesmanship, and the Scots are particularly good at this. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Welsh Affairs is doing his best to encourage the Welsh to advertise in this way.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that we should conceal figures of unemployment? They are published by the Ministry of Labour and everybody knows that in South-West Wales they have more than doubled in the last few months. As for help, if the Government will tell us what they expect us to do, we will do it.
§ Sir D. Eccles
My right hon. Friend is now giving that kind of advice. The hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. P. Wells) raised the subject of the dockyards. We could not go into action to attract industry into the dockyards which were to be closed until the announcement was made. Within three days we have already received some firm inquiries for Sheerness, and I hope very much that one of them will be successful. We shall also go into action at Donibristle, and I think that with the time available we ought to be able to do something there.
On Northern Ireland—
§ Sir D. Eccles
Greenock is already being looked after. On Northern Ireland, the hon. Members for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) Belfast, South 154 (Sir D. Campbell) and Belfast, West (Mrs. McLaughlin) did very well to remind us of the unique position there, and I want to give them the assurance they asked for, that we will do all we can to help the Northern Ireland Government to solve this problem.
I come now to Development Area policy, which is a matter of great concern to the House. This policy was based on unemployment in large areas of heavy industries. That situation has changed completely, yet here we are with Development Areas covering 18 per cent. of the insured population, and in many of those areas there is now a high level of industry. Indeed, the North-East coast, for instance, is probably the busiest area in the kingdom.
I ask hon. Members what they would say if we proposed to de-schedule some of these areas and to add others to the schedule—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Exactly. The de-scheduling process under the Act is rather difficult. Every local authority has to be consulted, and we also have to consult various other bodies. Then there has to be an affirmative Resolution of this House. I put it to right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House that we have not got the flexibility today in the Development Area policy which we ought to have, given the conditions of 1958, and that it would be really worth our while to consider moving off the scheduled areas, now entirely different in their employment situation from what they were before the war, in order to concentrate more the power we have got on the places that need them.
§ Mr. Ernest Popplewell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)
Would the Minister allow me to interrupt, as this appears to be a very important statement? Linking it up, as he did, with the North-East position, can we be assured—particularly those of us in the North-East—that there is no intention on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to de-schedule the North-East as a Development Area?
§ Sir D. Eccles
I am putting a suggestion to the House, which needs careful thought, that unless we de-schedule some areas there is no point in adding any more.[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because, if we spread the butter so thin, it will be no good anywhere.
155 Now I want to say a word about national unemployment. We have not got that problem today and I cannot see national unemployment arising from the internal measures we have taken unless at the same time the recession in world trade deepened and persisted. If it did, then, of course, we should get here a problem that required action. Unemployment through a recession in world trade can only be solved by international action. The United Kingdom alone cannot shore up commodity prices, nor can we offer long-term finance for development abroad to a much greater extent than we do now, nor can we replenish the world's liquid reserves.
What we could do would be to cooperate with and give a lead to other countries in working out any action needed to deal with a world recession. Is such a recession likely? Nobody knows for certain, but when I was in the United States a month ago I found so many different opinions about what would happen in the second half of the year that I felt no one was a reliable guide. On the other hand, everyone in the United States is convinced that the immense and sure power of the American economy to resume expansion is there and that before long it will resume. It is further believed that the United States Government have the power to release the expansion again.
That is a very different situation from 1929, when no one knew whether the slump would be cured or not. It would not be so easy for our Government as for the United States Government to spend their way out of unemployment, because we have to pay so much attention to the balance of payments. None the less, we have been thinking about what we should do, supposing that we wanted to put more money into the
§ economy, and on what criteria those measures should be based.
§ There will be general agreement that the first relaxations should be concentrated on strengthening our power to earn more abroad. Exports would have to be the first test we applied, but one could interpret that test somewhat widely, and it may be that in a later debate, which some right hon. Gentlemen opposite have foreshadowed, the Government could come back to this subject.
§ I can assure the House that in regard to local unemployment we have measures which we are using and that we are prepared to finance more factories if the projects are there, and that if national unemployment should occur we shall be prepared with plans in reserve for dealing with it.
§ I hope that the House will adopt our Amendment, since it shows both that we have measures to deal with local unemployment and that we share the concern of all hon. Members for any family whose breadwinner is out of work.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Edward Heath) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Mr. Speaker
When the Question, "That the Question be now put," is proposed, the Standing Order obliges me to put it forthwith, which means without any point of order.
§ Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 258, Noes 309.161
|Division No. 45.]||AYES||[9.58|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Blackburn, F.||Burke, W. A.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Blenkinsop, A.||Burton, Miss F. E.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Blyton, W. R.||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Boardman, H.||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Callaghan, L. J.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Carmichael, J.|
|Baird, J.||Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Castle, Mrs. B. A.|
|Balfour, A.||Bowles, F. G.||Champion, A. J.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Boyd, T. C.||Chapman, W. D.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Chetwynd, G. R.|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)||Brockway, A. F.||Clunie, J.|
|Benson, Sir George||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Coldri[...]ck, W.|
|Beswick, Frank||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Collick, P. H.(Birkenhead)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Collins, V.J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Cove, W. G.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Randall, H. E.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech(Wakefield)||Rankin, John|
|Cronin, J. D.||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Reeves, J.|
|Cullen, Mrs, A.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Reid, William|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Rhodes, H.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Kenyon, C.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement(Montgomery)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||King, Dr. H. M.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lawson, G. M.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Ledger, R. J.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Deer, G.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Ross, William|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Royle, C.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Diamond, John||Lewis, Arthur||Short, E. W.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lindgren, G. S.||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Lipton, Marcus||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W.Brmwch)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Dye, S.||McCann, J.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||MacColl, J. E.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Edelman, M.||MacDermot, Niall||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||McGhee, H. G.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McGovern, J.||Snow, J. W.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||McLeavy, Frank||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Finch, H. J.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Steele, T.|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mahon, Simon||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Foot, D. M.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Stonehouse, John|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mason, Roy||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Mayhew, C. P.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. G.||Mellish, R. J.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Messer, Sir F.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Mikardo, Ian||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mitchison, G. R.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Monslow, W.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Moody, A. S.||Timmons, J.|
|Hale, Leslie||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Tomney, F.|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Come Valley)||Morrison,Rt.Hn.Herbert(Lewis'm,S.)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Hannan, W.||Mort, D. L.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Moss, R.||Viant, S. P.|
|Hastings, S.||Moyle, A.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Mulley, F. W.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Healey, Denis||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Weitzman, D.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||O'Brien, Sir Thomas||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Oliver, G. H.||West, D. G.|
|Hobson, c. R. (Keighley)||Oram, A. E.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Holman, P.||Orbach, M.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Holmes, Horace||Oswald, T.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Holt, A. F.||Owen, W. J.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Houghton, Douglas||Padley, W. E.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Paget, R. T.||Willey, Frederick|
|Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Hubbard, T F.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pargiter, G. A.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Parker, J.||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Parkin, B. T.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Paton, John||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Peart, T. F.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Pentland, N.||Woof, R. E.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Janner, B.||Prentice, R. E.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena(Holbn & St.Pncs.S.)||Prober
, A. R.
|TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Proctor, W. T.||Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Pearson|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Arbuthnot, John||Balniel, Lord|
|Aitken, W. T.||Armstrong, C. W.||Barber, Anthony|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Ashton, H.||Barlow, Sir John|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Astor, Hon. J. J.||Barter, John|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Atkins, H. E.||Baxter, Sir Beverley|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathooat (Tiverton)||Baldock, Lt.Cmdr. J. M.||Beamish, Col. Tufton|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Baldwin, A. E||Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Gurden, Harold||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, w.)|
|Bennett, F. M, (Torquay)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Macmillan, Rt.Hn.Harold(Bromley)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Maddan, Martin|
|Black, C. W.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)|
|Body, R. F.||Harvey,Sir Arthur Vere(Macclesf'd)||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)|
|Boothby, Sir Robert||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Bottom, Sir Alfred||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hay, John||Marshall, Douglas|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Mathew, R.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Maude, Angus|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Mawby, R. L.|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.|
|Bryan, P.||Hesketh, R, F.||Medlicott, Sir Frank|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden)||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Campbell, Sir David||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Carr, Robert||Hirst, Geoffrey||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hobson, John(Warwick & Leam'gt'n)||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Channon, Sir Henry||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Neave, Airey|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hope, Lord John||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Hornby, R. P.||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Cole, Norman||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)|
|Conant, Maj. sir Roger||Horobin, Sir Ian||Noble, Comdr. Rt. Hon. Allan|
|Cooke, Robert||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Cooper, A. E.||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Howard, John (Test)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Orr-Ewtng, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Osborne, C.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Hurd, A. R.||Page, R. G.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)|
|Cunningham, Knox||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)||Partridge, E.|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Hyde, Montgomery||Peel, W. J.|
|Dance, J. C. G.||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Iremonger, T. L.||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Pott, H. P.|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Drayson, G. B.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Duncan, Sir James||Joseph, Sir Keith||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Kaberry, D.||Profumo, J. D.|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Keegan, D.||Ramsden, J. E.|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Elliott,R.W.(N'castle upon Tyne,N.)||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Redmayne, M.|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Kershaw, J. A.||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Kimball, M.||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Erroll, F. J.||Kirk, P. M.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Lagden, G. W.||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Fell, A.||Lambton, Viscount||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Finlay, Graeme||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Leather, E. H. C.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Forrest, G.||Leavey, J. A.||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Leburn, W. G.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (M'[...]mbe & Lonsdale)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Freeth, Denzil||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Russell, R. S.|
|Gammans, Lady||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Sharples, R. C.|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||Llewellyn, D. T.||Shepherd, William|
|Glover, D.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Sutton Coldfield)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Glyn, Col. Richard H.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Godber, J. B.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan||Longden, Gilbert||Soames, Christopher|
|Goodhart, Philip||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Speir, R. M.|
|Gower, H. R.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Grant, W. (Woodside)||McAdden, S. J.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R.(Nantwich)||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Green, A.||McKibbin, Alan||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Mackle, J. H. (Galloway)||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Storey, S.|
|Gro[...]venor, Lt.-Col, R. G.||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Studholme, Sir Henry||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Summers, Sir Spencer||Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Vane, W. M. F.||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Teeling, W.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Temple, John M.||Vickers, Miss Joan||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Thorneycroft, Ht. Hon. P.||Wall, Patrick||Mr. Oakshott and Mr. Wills.|
§ Proposed words there added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
That this House while recognising the concern felt at recent increases in local unemployment welcomes the intention of Her Majesty's Government to continue the practical steps being taken to deal with pockets of unemployment in particular localities.