13. Mr. Lee
asked the Minister of Labour how many persons whose last jobs were in the steel industry are now unemployed; and how many still in the industry are working on short time.
§ 23. Sir P. Roberts
asked the Minister of Labour the latest figures of unemployment and short-time working in the steel industry, compared with similar figures of a year ago.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
On 16th June, 1958, 9,040 workers, whose last employment was in the iron and steel industry, were registered as wholly unemployed, compared with 3,190 on 17th June, 1957. In the week ended 24th May, 1958, 25,697 operatives were working short-time compared with 5,556 in the week ended 1st June, 1957. I regret that separate figures for the steel industry are not available.
Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that those figures from such a vital industry as the steel industry, which is the genesis of so much of our manufacturing industry, are most alarming, and does he know that the Paymaster-General gave me a reply yesterday that they were now running at some 80 per cent. of capacity, which experts tell me is an overestimate? In view of all this, does not the Minister agree that extra effort must now be made to increase our steel production again, otherwise the engineering and other manufacturing industries will be in great trouble before long?
§ Mr. Macleod
I certainly agree that these figures are distinctly disturbing. On the wider Question which the hon. Gentleman put to the Paymaster-General yesterday, I am in constant touch with my right hon. Friend and with the President of the Board of Trade and with my other colleagues in the Government on all these questions and on how best we can stimulate activity.
§ Mr. Robens
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in fact, there are any plans for stimulating activity, in view of the reply he gave in the House some 374 time ago that the Government had plans ready for such an occasion?
§ Mr. Macleod
I do not think one can go into all the details. That point is covered by my previous Answer and the answer is, yes, we have planned as far as possible what we can do.