HC Deb 02 July 1958 vol 590 cc1328-9
47. Dr. King

asked the Minister of Labour what was the number of unemployed in the Southampton district for the latest available date, and for the same date in 1957, 1956 and 1955.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Two thousand, seven hundred and eighty-two at 16th June, 1958, compared with 1,461 in June, 1957, 1,303 in June, 1956, and 1,354 in June, 1955.

Dr. King

Is the Minister aware that these figures reveal that serious unemployment has broken out at Harland and Wolff's and Thorneycroft's in the shipbuilding and ship repairing industry? Will he give some attention to the question of enabling firms of this kind to get ship repairing contracts, and will he especially look into the problem of the ship repairing work going away from this country to Europe?

Mr. Macleod

Yes; these figures are steeper at Southampton than for most other ports in the country, and are getting on for double the figures of last year and the previous year. I should like to consider with some of my colleagues in the Government what the hon. Member has said in his supplementary question.

Mr. Osborne

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that much of the ship repairing work is being lost because German firms do the job much cheaper than firms in this country? What stops can any Government take to stop Germans doing their work cheaper and, therefore, obtaining the work?