HC Deb 23 May 1960 vol 624 cc11-2
6. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the urgent need to increase the exports of pottery and other North Staffordshire manufactured products, if he will make a statement on this matter, regarding which he has received correspondence from the hon. Member for Stoke, South.

8. Mrs. Slater

asked the Minister of Labour if he will grant a total exemption for military service for engravers engaged in the pottery industry.

9. Dr. Stross

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the serious shortage of engravers in the pottery industry, and that only 60 engravers are available for the whole of the industry; and whether he will now exempt engravers from military service.

Mr. Heath

I recognise that employers are always reluctant to have useful young workers called up, but I cannot automatically exempt such men from their obligations. I am, however, looking into the difficulties in the particular cases raised by the hon. Members and I will write to them in a few days' time.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Whilst I appreciate the sympathetic approach to this question by the Minister, will he undertake to have personal consultations with the President of the Board of Trade about the pottery industry, which could greatly increase its exports if problems of this kind were solved?

Mr. Heath

We are always in close consultation with the Board of Trade in these matters. Only three engravers in the pottery industry are involved in the whole of the year. I will look at this again carefully.

Mrs. Slater

It is important that this should be done as quickly as possible. Will the right hon. Gentleman consider this matter with some urgency, because these people are so vital to the industry?

Mr. Heath

Yes, it is being treated with urgency.

Dr. Stross

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind, in looking at this problem, that although only three young men are concerned, the value of each to the industry is£70,000 a year? The right hon. Gentleman may imagine what a blow it is if they cannot be replaced when he takes them away.

Mr. Heath

I recognise the value of each one of them.