§ 3.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Dodds (Erith and Crayford)
I beg to move,That this House, appreciating the human problems caused by technological change in industry, urges Her Majesty's Government, in co-operation with employers and trade unions, to take steps to alleviate any consequential hardship to individuals by means of manpower planning and research, development of the services provided by employment exchanges schemes of training and retraining and financial provision for redundancy.During nearly 19 years as a Member of Parliament for a constituency in the south-east of England, which is so frequently referred to as a land flowing with honey, I have heard in the last few months far more references to redundancy than I did in the previous 18 years. On the part of the people throughout the South-East at least, there is a great awareness of the changes that are taking place, and the threat of redundancy hangs over everyone's head.
During the last few months firms such as Braby's, Thames Ammunition Works, Woolwich Arsenal—belonging to the Government—the G.E.C. and, more recently, International Computers and Tabulators Ltd. have all had their redundancy troubles. In addition, we have had several programmes on television showing what computers will do. We have had the statement of the Leader of the Opposition who has told us that over the next few years 10 million new jobs will be required. As it is known that out of all the scientists who have ever lived 95 per cent. are living today, there is, as a result of this great change, a feeling of insecurity.
Recently, International Computers and Tabulators Ltd. sent a notice to all its employees about forthcoming closures. One paragraph of the notice read:We shall be rationalising production by closing some factories and concentrating production in others. In so doing the company is following the general tendency of British industry to concentrate production in a smaller number of modern and efficient units.In my constituency the firm of Braby's—previously looked upon by all as the sort of organisation that one could join on leaving school and depend upon it that it would be there until the end of one's working days—has closed 996 down a modern factory. The tendency has continued that where there were six factories throughout the land the number is being reduced to five.
It is possible that if I had asked the Ministry of Labour what has happened in that case, the hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary would, no doubt, have been able to say that most of the workers have got other employment. But if I were to ask the Ministry what were the lessons to be learned from such a closure, I doubt very much whether we should get any information about what has happened to the workers even though they have got other jobs.
I want later in my speech to bring home, I hope, to the Ministry of Labour, in connection with the sudden cancellation of a Government order for Blue Water missiles, that there has been an inquiry by a research team from Cambridge which has looked into what has happened to a high percentage of 750 adult workers from Stevenage who have left their jobs. I have in mind that sort of lesson when I ask that the Ministry of Labour should not just be content to find that men have found other work, but should discover what has been their experience in the process of looking for other work and how so many of them have a much worse deal as a consequence of having to change their jobs when redundancy occurs.
There seems to be a need for frankness and firmness about redundancy and the prospects for the future. I suggest that the people have a right to know just what is going on. It seems that the Government and the bulk of the employers have failed to present a coherent policy for redundancy. But this, I submit, does not exonerate the trade unions from some responsibility for letting the subject go by default.
In America, where there have been some remarkable agreements on this sort of thing, agreement was obtained not by the Government but largely through the militancy of the trade unions. It seems that the great difficulty which presents itself today in formulating any schemes is that, as I accept, redundancy is difficult to identify. Therefore, I suggest that we need much more intensive research, and there is, I further suggest, little time to do it.
997 I know that the Ministry of Labour has issued a number of pamphlets from time to time—I am sure that they have been appreciated—but very much more is needed now than pamphlets. Redundancy may be for some only a temporary inconvenience, while for others it can be a social upheaval and even cause distress and misery. Under modern conditions redundancy is in many ways harder to bear than the long stretches of unemployment that were such an unfortunate feature of the 1930s. It seems that misery is easier to bear when there is meanness and squalor around, and that it can be unbearable in an affluent society.
On 22nd February, 1964, the Economist said:Among the first of all needs for Britain is an efficient system to encourage people to move out of industries in which the demand for labour is declining, into jobs where men are needed.Economic and social considerations together make it imperative that they should be adequately paid while they are suffering disturbance.Efforts have been made to bring in the necessary legislation to provide severance pay for redundant workers. Much thought has been given to this matter by my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond), and he has had wonderful support from my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. J. Silverman) and other hon. Members. One cannot, however, ignore the fact that widely differing views are held about severance pay. The British Employers' Confederation said that provision for severance payments should be on a voluntary basis, and that legislation might discourage mobility of labour, but I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester has demolished that argument.
The Trades Union Congress argues that priority should be given to increasing National Insurance benefits, and that if there are to be severance payments it is vital that they should be paid as compensation for loss of office and prospects; and I support that view.
To quote the Economist again, when it criticised the Bill which my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester sought to introduce, it said that firms going into bankruptcy would sometimes 998 not have funds to meet their heavy obligations under the Bill. I suggest that that is ill-conceived criticism, as one can appreciate by considering the agreements which have been made in America by which contingency funds are set up on case of bankruptcy to deal with that very point. But even if the worst happens—and it is unlikely to happen in many cases—it will be a matter for the Government to deal with, and if the will to deal with it is there, no difficulty should be experienced in working out a satisfactory solution.
I think that my hon. Friend and those who support him will agree that severance pay is only a small part of the cover which should be provided for people declared redundant. The main object should be to provide fresh work as soon as possible, and to ensure that while that work is being provided the unfortunate individual suffers as little financial disturbance as possible. There are many aspects to be considered when dealing with this problem. There is the social uprooting which can be severely disturbing to any family, particularly if there are children. We must, therefore, ensure that in making redundancy arrangements the individual's housing problem is dealt with as well, because it is no use providing a man with a lob 50 or a 100 miles away from his family, which means that he has to keep two homes going.
It very often happens that in the areas where it is easiest to find jobs it is most difficult to find homes. A survey recently carried out by the Acton Society Trust showed that there is a profound objection to mobility if it involves an individual having to move his home. The conclusion reached by the survey is that it is better to take work to the worker than to move the worker to another district, though we all know that in many cases it cannot be avoided. What research are the Government doing into that aspect of the problem?
I support the demand for severance pay, but I assert that this is not the most important need. The fundamental need is to gat the redundant worker into a new job as quickly as possible, and to ensure that if he has a skill it is used to the best advantage. Because of the innumerable developments that are taking place, it is the worker with 999 the lower capacity who finds it the most difficult to get a new job, and prolonged periods of reundancy are likely to occur among older and unskilled men. For them there may be a need for rehabilitation training rather than the usual retraining, and I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to tell the House what plans the Minister of Labour has for dealing with the older and unskilled workers who may need that training.
To tackle the problem of redundancy with any hope of success, I suggest that the Government ought to consider bringing in a national policy on housing, embracing the needs of redundant workers, a plan to provide better social insurance benefits, a better plan for the location of industry, and a plan for the retraining of workers in new and changing skills. In short, what is needed is national economic planning if the problem is to be tackled properly.
Whether the Government bring in a national plan or not, it is their responsibility to cover all the aspects of the problem as part of their overall social and economic responsibility. But in saying that I do not want it to be thought that industry should not carry its share of the burden. It has most of the workers and it must play its part in dealing with the problem, but it will be up to the Government to ensure that backsliders do not avoid their responsibilities. Industry's contribution should supplement the State's responsibility for seeing that the economy is projected in the right direction.
Redundancy can cause bewilderment to workers and management alike, and perhaps some thought should be given to educating people in this respect. From my researches—and this is a fascinating subject—I have found that the Government, employers, and the trade unions, have so far been incredibly slow to react to the challenge of change. One cannot fail to be driven to that conclusion if one considers what has been done in other countries. I submit that if we wait until the changes are upon us we will make a mockery of our affluent society.
I know that other hon. Members have dealt with this subject with varying degrees of success. In 1955, my hon. 1000 Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. R. Edwards) tried to introduce a Bill on automation and electronics. Being frustrated by the House in his efforts to do so, he published a booklet Automation—blessing or curse? Without casting reflections on the ability of the Parliamentary Secretary or of the present Minister of Labour, I regret that my hon. Friend has not been at the Ministry since 1955. I suggest that if he had been, we would have had a better story to tell today. But he will probably get his opportunity before long.
There seems to have been a regrettable lack of thought and action in respect of apprenticeships and training schools for industrial purposes, but we now have a belated Government move, in the Industrial Training Act, which must be welcomed. However, very little seems to have been done in connection with the problem of retraining men in their forties and fifties. Some of these men possess skills which have become outdated, and I should like to know what proposals the Ministry has for training these men and developing the present rather limited ideas on the matter. I have read all the Questions which have been asked in the House on this subject, and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to tell us if anything is known on this subject which we have not yet been told.
A working party was recently set up to study the manpower situation—to find out more about the shortage of skilled labour, the need for more training courses, and for some control over the location of industry. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to make a statement today telling us what stage we have reached in this connection, and whether he is satisfied that everything that might be done is being done. Can there be a solution of this problem without Government action? Over and over again we come back to the question of the need for a national policy—a need which governs so many other aspects of our national way of life.
One of our great weaknesses is the almost complete lack of provision for adult workers to enter other skilled trades and, even worse, the lack of appreciation of any need for a new approach in this matter, with special provision being made. Ministry of Labour documents 1001 seem to show that all too often this problem is regarded as similar to the problem of training young workers. With the changes which are now taking place in industry the training of adults is probably going to be much more important. Last year the Government issued a White Paper entitled Industrial Training—Government Proposals. In it the terms "industrial training" and "apprenticeship" were used as though they were synonymous. I should like to know whether it is now recognised that the training of adult workers may be even more important than the training of young apprentices, at least in terms of numbers.
Debates arising from the White Paper have brought out many weaknesses of our training system. We now have an Act which deals with the problem, and although it is permissive rather than mandatory in its terms it provides scope for improvements. Nevertheless, the emphasis is still on the training of young workers. More research is required. The Parliamentary Secretary may tell us that some planning committee or other body of the Ministry is now urgently studying the question of the training of adult workers.
Nevertheless, my feeling that little has been done in this direction has been confirmed by the National Joint Advisory Council, which has said thatthere are comparatively few opportunities in industry for retraining skilled workers who have to change their employer as well as their occupations.That passage was quoted in the Ministry of Labour Gazette as recently as February, 1962, and I should like to know whether there have been any further developments.
On 6th March, in answer to my Written Question concerning training and resettlement schemes, the Minister of Labour replied:Older redundant workers who are suitable for training are eligible for admission along with other suitable applicants to any of the 3,128 training places at Government training centres…Is not that a pitiful figure, to cover all the types of employment involved? What more is being done? Later in his Written Answer the Minister said thatthe training places in Government training centres are being increased to about 5,700.In reply to another Written Question by me, the Minister said: 1002There are 552 places for first year apprentice training in Government training centres which should be increased to 852 by the end of the year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th March. 1964; Vol. 690, c. 270–1.]All who study this subject say that that is unsatisfactory, and that much more needs to be done. If we include all the places that we can find both in Government centres and private industry we find that no more than 15,000 workers each year, taking part in six-monthly courses, can be catered for, at the very outside. This is farcical when compared with activities in other counties, especially Sweden and the United States. In 1961–62, no fewer than 20,000 persons out of a labour force only one-seventh the size of ours took part in Swedish adult training schemes. In the United States, the Manpower Development Training Act of 1962 will provide for about 750,000 workers over a three-year period.
To match that effort we would have to train well over 100,000 adults per year. Sweden and America probably have other problems, but the situation indicates that some explanation is necessary. If Sweden and America can make provision on that scale it seems to show that a certain amount of apathy exists towards the problem of training our adults.
What investigation has taken place, or is contemplated, on the question of the extent to which training can be stepped up if required—as we expect will be the case—in situations where advantage can be taken by using existing factory premises? The editorial column in this morning's Daily Mail is headed, "Good For the Young" and it contains some pleasing comments on the new Industrial Training Act. The end of the article says:The Act is only a beginning. By 1970, we shall need at least another 1,500,000 highly skilled men to serve growing automation—and even these training schemes can hardly produce them. The time has come when every modern device—television, radio, teaching-machines—must be brought into use to raise the technical and educational standards of the nation.Does the Ministry of Labour agree with the Daily Mail? If so, what does it propose to do about the question?
I now turn to the problem of instructors. If we are to have this great development in training schemes, instructors will be one of our most essential 1003 requirements. Am I not right in thinking that instructors are in short supply today? If so, as well as providing more places, do the Government intend to do anything to obtain the necessary instructors for those additional places? This might be an obstacle to development in training schemes.
The Minister of Labour gave a very interesting reply in the Second Reading debate on the Bill on severance pay, introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Aston. The reply was interesting in that although the Bill dealt only with severance pay the Minister departed from the subject and made some interesting comments on other industrial problems. Unfortunately, the Economist was not very impressed with his reply. It seemed to suggest that the Minister had made a good-natured speech, and implied that the coming General Election might have awakened a desire on his part to explain to the House what was being done for the workers. However, he did say that he could not see need at present for severance pay.
We have been rather misled on this point, because last year I cut out a piece from a national newspaper which said:Redundancy pay law this year.The Government may bring in legislation before Christmas laying down a minimum of one week's pay for every year of service for workers who become redundant.Mr. John Hare, Minister of Labour, hinted to his National Joint Advisory Council yesterday that he would soon be presenting them with proposals for a redundancy law.It is not a great help, on the eve of a General Election, suddenly to show that the problems which should have been tackled long ago are now at last to get some form of lip-service. That is what the Minister did, and yet what the Minister of Labour said in the House was a complete change from what he had been saying four months before.
Nevertheless, we welcome this belated change of heart. I wish I had time to quote from HANSARD some of the many things which have been said about this matter, and what the Minister said, for it was certainly a most interesting speech and there seems to have been a flash of genius in it. What we now want is action so that the words may come to fruition in the near future. Since we do not know whether the election 1004 will be in June or October there would seem to be time for the Government to say, not what will happen under a new Government, but at this moment.
I should like to ask, too, about the manpower research unit. Many feel that this is a matter of too little and too late and that the research unit, with the number of people in it, can only tickle the problem, which is much more deep-rooted than the Parliamentary Secretary or the right hon. Gentleman believe. Redundancy has struck a very nasty note in the minds of men in this country. I think that it arises from the dramatic redundancy clash with the extraordinary sacking of 5,000 workers by the British Motor Corporation in 1956. It really was a disgraceful operation at that time. When one sees the agreement drawn up for the automobile workers in America—a remarkable document—what happened in that case really was disgraceful, and it struck fear in the hearts of many workers.
In asking for research I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to bear in mind the research by the unit from Cambridge which looked into what happened with the 750 adult workers from Stevenage after the sudden cancellation of the Blue Water missile. It was found there that the weekly workers who got about three to three and a half weeks' severance pay reacted very differently from those monthly salaried workers who got from three months' to three and a half months' redundancy pay. It seemed that the weekly people had very limited severance pay and had to take the first jobs they could possibly get, whereas those with three to three and a halt months' pay were able to look around and were much more able to get the sort of jobs to which their skills fitted them.
Again, there is a lesson to be learned, because of those who quickly had to take a job for economic reasons it was found that more than 20 per cent. after 11 weeks were so dissatisfied with their new jobs that they were looking for other jobs. That is not the best way to get the workers of this country thoroughly satisfied. It was found that some had to pay money to go to look for jobs, and many lost fringe payments and pensions. If there is some research I suggest that the Ministry of Labour have a look at what happened to those 1005 workers, to find out the implications of redundancy, so that when agreements are drawn up it will be possible for them to be drawn up in such a way that they will give to the worker and his family a fair opportunity of living reasonably well and to get a job in which his skill can be used.
§ Mr. Charles Curran (Uxbridge)
I entirely agree with all the hon. Member is saying about discrepancy in the English Electric plant and the difference between the severance pay offered to some of the staff as compared with the severance pay offered to the weekly workers. I think that this was disgraceful and completely indefensible, but would the hon. Member not agree that the existence of this discrepancy which biased the odds so heavily against the weekly workers is something which the trade unions ought to have tackled? Does he not agree that this is a responsibility which rests heavily on the trade unions, for permitting this discrepancy to continue?
§ Mr. Dodds
That may be so, but I think that the hon. Member is mistaking one point. These were not men at work on the floor of the factory. They were all white-collar workers. They were all the same. Therefore, there was a difference between white collar worker and white collar worker, technicians, draughtsmen, and others. The hon. Member is asking a question about something different from the case I was giving.
§ Mr. Curran
I think that the hon. Member has not quite followed me. He has referred to the report of Mrs. Wedderburn of what happened at Stevenage and Luton, and one of the facts she spotlights is the contrast between the treatment of the men paid by the month and the men paid by the week. That is the contrast to which I was drawing attention and to which the hon. Gentleman was drawing attention. Does he not agree that the contrast which she illustrates between the better position of the monthly paid workers, as compared with the worse position of the weekly paid workers, is a contrast which is really a matter for the unions to tackle first and foremost?
§ Mr. Dodds
That is an amazing request. One would think the employer 1006 had nothing to do with it. I would like to bet that the trade unions have done their best to get the employers to do just that. If the hon. Gentleman says it is not so, I am surprised. Perhaps he would employ some of his enthusiasm to get the employers to see what they can do to end this anomaly, which is disgraceful. If he will do that I will do my best—if I have any best—to see the trade inions do what they can to get what we all want.
That is why I say the Ministry has got a job to do here. These things should not be kept quiet in the Ministry of Labour. We have arrived at a time when not just the employers and not just the trade unions but other people as well—a lot of people—have an interest in seeing that there are proper agreements to cover redundancy.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)
The hon. Member is on an important point. Would he not agree that this is a difficult problem, because, clearly, the monthly paid worker, in any event, would justify a redundancy payment by virtue of the fact that he has a month's notice, whereas the weekly worker ha o a week's notice, and that, therefore, the question is whether there is too grew a difference in what is paid to them, although the white collar worker who is on monthly notice would justify some more.
§ Mr. Dodds
Nobody would disagree with that at all I am saying is that the Government, in the last resort, must ensure that any man who loses his job is given fair terms of contract, subsidised if necessary by the State, so that in a period of transition he does not suffer a heavy drop in his living standard.
This is done in other countries. I wish I had time to give details of agreements which there are in other countries, which show what can be done. Why cannot we do it? Of all the industrial countries we are, in this respect, one of the worst, whether it is because of the trade unions or the employers or not. I am asking that the Government take this up.
The nationalised industries set the best example that I can find. All the nationalised industries have some form of redundancy payment. According to the latest figures we have from the Ministry 1007 of Labour, in private enterprise only about one out of five have them. No one is saying that the agreements of the nationalised industries are perfect.
We are saying that they are the basis of the framework on which it is hoped that private industry will follow. There is a need even for progress there. When speaking earlier, on severance pay, I made the point that the main essential when men lose their work is not so much severance pay, but that it should be seen that they get other jobs. The strength of the agreement with the trade unions is that redundancy should be brought down to the absolute minimum and every effort should be made when men are displaced to find them other work in the nationalised industries, and that the social and economic problems that must flow from it are covered in this way.
How I wish that that could be said about private industry. I should, however, like to pay a tribute to one firm in private industry—I.C.I. I think that it has a marvellous agreement. I am asking that the Ministry of Labour should do what has been done for so long in America—obtain from the best firms in private industry specimen agreements so that they may be available for other firms.
Why I mention particularly the I.C.I. agreement is because it is called "Protection of Employment", and symbolises what we all should be trying to do. It says:This booklet could perhaps have been given the title 'Redundancy' instead of 'Protection of Employment' since it deals with arrangements to meet cases of redundancy, but to have done so would be to put the emphasis in the wrong place. The Company's first aim is the protection of employment and it is only when that is not possible that the question of redundancy arises.I would give 100 per cent. marks to the objective of this redundancy scheme, which is an excellent one in every way. The emphasis is on other employment.
The Ministry of Labour gives us a lot of information in its Gazette, but it does not give it in a way that is helpful. It says:A few policies also contain certain provisions which apply only to self employees.I ask the Ministry to consider getting out some specimen agreements from 1008 some of the best firms so that at least they would be available to spotlight attention on firms that have not even taken this up. I think that the Minister knows that 236 policies were examined, and that it is simply farcical to call many of them redundancy agreements. Therefore, we have to do more about the agreements that are being made.
I am sorry to have taken so long, but this is a very big subject and my biggest problem, in the last few days, has been to eliminate much that I would like to say. But I have learned that this is a fascinating study and the more it is brought up in the House, and talked about, so that all of us can learn from the experience of others, the sooner we shall get that form of education which is necessary but a far better state of affairs.
Finally, I quote from Aristotle. He said:When looms weave by themselves man's slavery will end.Automation does indeed promise to end poverty, but not without cost. If we are reasonably prepared we can get the maximum benefits for the minimum cost. The national economy must grow faster now to maintain plenty of new jobs, particularly for workers displaced by automation. More important is that the obvious and highly-publicised advantages of automation from management should not be allowed to oversight the plight of the little man searching for a place in a growing economy.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Colin Turner (Woolwich, West)
I think that the House will be indebted to the hon. Member for Erith and Cray-ford (Mr. Dodds) for raising this subject today. As he said, this is one on which, as yet, very little research has taken place. In my constituency we are faced with the gradual closure of the Royal ordnance factory. This brings me face to face with a situation that I did not appreciate and did not realise would arise within my own knowledge and area. Therefore, if, in some of the things that I say today I refer to Woolwich, it is because these problems are uppermost in my mind and in the minds of many of my constituents. Many of the factories which the hon. Gentleman has quoted are in the neighbourhood of my 1009 constituency and, therefore, many of my constituents have similar problems.
One of the most significant things which the hon. Gentleman mentioned was the wording of the I.C.I. booklet, "Protection of Employment", because redundancy today, in an era of almost full employment, is more a social than an industrial problem. I want to deal with some of the social problems that arise on this question because I believe that if we solve these social problems, or help to solve them, we can very greatly reduce the importance in the national economy of redundancy.
Rather like the problems that arise in exports, the problems that arise in redundancy are very varied. It is, therefore, one of the most difficult things to try to deal with by legislation, because the problems of no two firms are exactly alike. 'The reasons for redundancy are never Some may be involved in mergers where for production purposes and economy it is necessary to merge two factories in two highly different places. It may be that the Government have given a particular manufacturer encouragement, when he wishes to expand, to move to one of the under-developed areas of the country—the so-called growth areas—away from the South-East.
In the closure of the Royal Ordnance factory, we have one of these set of circumstances. We have had it announced by the Secretary of State for War that there are, in fact, vacancies in one form or another in Government employment for every one of the employees of the factory. It is not that many of the employees in this factory, and the same would apply to many others, are not prepared to move, even though this is a great social upheaval. While a man is ready to go to Leeds or Nottingham and play his part in an expanded R.O.F. in those cities, it is his wife and family which hold him back. One of the factors is that he has children at school.
What is even more important, however, is the question of housing. As long as a large number of people live in what amounts to tied housing, by which I mean council houses, it is extremely difficult for them to find suitable accommodation at the other end. I should like, therefore, to make a suggestion in this connection.
1010 Quite apart from the closure of the Royal Ordnance factory, I have recently found two constituents who were made redundant in South-East London and could not find similar work in the area. They succeeded, however, in finding employment elsewhere, in one case at Stevenage and in the other further north. These people were exceptions, because they were determined to achieve something. Both of them lived in council houses. They succeeded in finding in their new areas of employment a council house tenant who wanted to move to the South East. They succeeded in mobilising both borough councils into arranging an exchange. This is usually extremely difficult.
My suggestion to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is that he might take up with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government the suggestion whether it would not be possible to set up either a central register, or some other form of register, of council housing and of people who wish to make exchanges in that way. It is an extremely difficult matter for an individual to undertake, particularly with a borough council a long distance away. If it were possible to do this, we would be striking a blow against redundancy and its social effects.
If a man could find a suitable job elsewhere and could also find somebody who wished to move down to his own part of the country, this would be much better than retraining somebody in a new profession or trade. It is surely right to bring the people who are able to carry on a certain trade to that work if it is available, no matter where it is, and to do an exchange with somebody working in a different trade.
I turn next to the question of the older people who are made redundant. Here the State has to play a growing part in one form or another in assisting these people. It is difficult for people between 50 and retirement age, no matter whether they are in Government service or in private industry, to find another job at that time of life. I feel that some form of extra assistance must be made available by the Government in addition to any terminal grant which these people may get. I have a large number of elderly people in employment at the Royal Ordnance factory and I 1011 must give the Government Departments concerned great credit for the way they have leaned over backwards to find employment for this older age group from the Royal Ordnance factory. The efforts of the Departments have been very much appreciated and they have been extraordinarily successful.
I should like next to turn to the question whether a redundancy payment is the most effective way to help people. This comes back to my earlier question of housing. When people are moving, and if we are to get mobility of labour, we must overcome the housing problem. As long as there is a housing shortage in the main industrial' centres and the great areas like London and Birmingham, people will always be tied. Surely, it would be better for Government and industry, if necessary in partnership, as in some cases may have to be done, rather than give merely a cash sum, to direct whatever form of monetary assistance they give towards enabling people, where necessary, to purchase a house.
I have a number of constituents in that category. They have live all their lives in the Borough of Woolwich in council housing. They are ready and willing to go to, say, Leeds or Nottingham, but it is quite outside their means to put down the deposit and purchase a house, although their weekly income would enable them to meet repayments if they could overcome this obstacle.
§ Mr. John Robertson (Paisley)
Will the hon. Member tell us what would be the weekly cost to such a worker of buying a new house, apart from the deposit? What would be the cost in repayments and rates?
§ Mr. Turner
It is possible for some of these people, who are getting as much as £25 a week, to purchase a house out of this sum, on the building society basis that 25 per cent. of their basic wage is available for housing. On this basis, they could do it for £8 a week very easily, inclusive of rates and mortgage repayment. These people are able to do it. They merely do not have the ready cash available for the deposit.
I had an interesting reply from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War on this matter, saying that the 1012 only assistance that his Department could at present give to these people is in the payment of legal charges and similar items, and that, of course, is a help. These people, however, are established employees of the War Office and in many cases they are in more fortunate circumstances than people who are involved in redundancy in private enterprise.
I agree that we have made far too slow progress in the setting up of redundancy agreements. I hope that in the very near future my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour will be able to announce Government proposals in this direction. I had hoped that at the time of the Redundant Workers (Severance Pay) Bill he would have been in a position to make an announcement. I hope that he will make one before many weeks have passed. I shall await with interest to see whether my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is able to say anything about this when he replies to the debate.
I echo the hope expressed by the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford that the Government will set up some form of detailed research into the social and economic circumstances of people who are made redundant. I am certain that there is wide scope and that many lessons can be learned for the future which will assist Government and private enterprise employees alike if much-feared redundancy comes about.
It should, however, be the principal aim of Government and private industry alike to follow the example of I.C.I. and prepare schemes to ensure that their workers are found other employment elsewhere when major redundancy schemes occur. Rather than have the emphasis upon cash payments, the basic thought should be to look to the future and to secure employment.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Mr. William Whitlock (Nottingham, North)
I am sure that the whole House is grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Dodds) for this opportunity to debate a very great and important problem. We are talking about redundancy, a euphemism for unemployment, in a period of technological change. To be unemployed can be a very demoralising experience, whether it comes about because of 1013 technological change, or any other reason, whether it is an individual personal problem, or part of a pattern of local or national unemployment.
Few of us here can possibly understand the fund of human misery which exists behind the statistics of unemployment. Obviously, we must strive our utmost to alleviate and eradicate that misery, not only because we feel that none of our fellow human beings should suffer it, but also because it represents a criminally stupid waste of the abilities and talents of our people, a waste which obviously affects the whole nation.
Ten years ago, hardly anyone had heard of the term "automation", or knew what it meant, but today many people, some of them to their cost, know what is meant when we harness mechanical muscles to electronic brains to make machines which, in turn, make other machines, which mend machines and mind machines and which can digest and store information which enables those machines to build up a kind of electronic memory capable of enabling the machines to react at lightning speed in almost any circumstances.
In this situation, the introduction of automation is not, as some would suggest, just a speeding up of the industrial processes which have been going on since industrial life began. It is something which goes much further than that, something which creates fears even greater than those which increased mechanisation in industry produced in the past. It is those greater fears which we have to overcome if as a nation we are to benefit from all the things which are coming along in industry.
We live in an age of rapidly increasing scientific and technical progress. New devices and new techniques are coming along everyday and we as nation, living as no other nation does on its export trade, must use these new devices and these new techniques faster than any other country. But, as we have all seen, they can bring in their train vast social, human and economic implications. New industries can mushroom overnight and old industries suddenly be seen to be obsolete or obsolescent, with all the heartache and upheaval which come with such a situation.
Science has provided us with the means of production for the future, with the 1014 means of transforming the world if we are sensible enough to make use of these new opportunities; but science has not automatically given us a system of society which enables us to ensure that all the benefits of these new devices and new techniques are shared by all.
In the first Industrial Revolution, rickets, a disease of malnutrition, was so prevalent a along the children of the working class in this country that it became known on the Continent as the English disease. We are now only at the beginning of the second industrial revolution, at the beginning of the uses of automation, electronics, nuclear energy, manmade materials, and so on, and while I do not for a moment suggest that in the second industrial revolution we shall see a return of rickets among our children, it seems ob 'ions that, unless we make the right preparations for the situation which is coming along, we shall have social inequalities and social injustices visited upon the backs of the people who will be the new modern victims of progress.
Just as we shall suffer if we do not use these new techniques as quickly as others, we can also suffer if they are introduced in an entirely unplanned manner. Increasingly, even a Government of hon. Members opposite cannot leave the introduction of automation, for instance, to the whim and fancy of those motivated by a desire purely for private profit, nor even in an entirely unfettered way to industrialists who may have the public good closely at heart, but who cannot, in the nature of things, possibly know the national consequences of what they propose to do.
No economic planning today makes sense unless it is on the basis of technical knowledge of what is going on and of what ought to be going on in every industry. That is why my hon. Friend has spoken about the need for increased co-operation among Government, employers me trade unions to cope with the situation arising from the increased use of these new devices. Hon. Members may know the story of the American industrialist who very proudly showed a trade union official around his newly automated motor car factory. Turning to the trade union official he said, "You cannot sell trade union cards to those machines"; whereat the trade union official replied, "No, and 1015 you cannot sell your motor cars to the machines, either".
Obviously, if a factory is automated and production is greatly increased with but a fraction of previous labour costs, and if that process merely increases the dole queue and that kind of thing goes on all over the country, disaster lies ahead for us all. Almost limitless possibilities are before us if we are wise, but all must benefit from the new methods and those who are made redundant must be part of the all. Only if that is so will there be a disappearance of the resistance to change.
The fear of unemployment among men faced with this change is very real, and if in any industry men becoming redundant are faced with a catastrophic fall in their incomes, they will obviously resist the change which means that their skills are no longer needed. Who can blame them when we remember that the present unemployment benefit is so low that the man who becomes unemployed suffers a far sharper fall in his income than did the man who became unemployed in the 1930s?
If the nation is to benefit from the disappearance of the skills of these people, the man who suffers that unemployment is entitled to say that he should not be compelled to make a sacrifice and to suffer the miseries of unemployment. If he is to be retrained in a new job, why must he put up with a paltry pittance while he is in training? What justice would there be for a man compelled to go to a new job after retraining if he is paid a much lower wage?
All these things must be examined and, as was said by the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Turner), we must look at the problem created by the situation of the older man whose skill has been made redundant by the introduction of machinery and who may not be able readily to acquire new skills. Do we leave these men on a kind of human scrapheap and in receipt of a very low rate of unemployment benefit, after they have given a lifetime of service and when their difficulties arise through no fault of their own? Such men must not be treated as though they were an unfortunate and embarrassing casualty, for ever to be assigned to a 1016 reduced standard in a life without hope or purpose.
We must, as my hon. Friend has said in his Motion, make adequate financial provision for all these circumstances as a matter of social justice as well as of enlightened self-interest. We must reinvest new hoards of capital to re-employ men who have, perhaps several times in a lifetime, been put out of work because of the introduction of new methods. We must provide for industrial training on a scale never before contemplated. The provisions of the Industrial Training Act show that the Government admit to some responsibility for industrial training. I believe that we shall see the need for the creation of many more Government training centres than have ever before been considered necessary, because more and more the State will have to provide facilities for training such as industry cannot, or will not, undertake.
This Motion has been inspired by a look forward into the kind of world which we shall experience in the future. Technological change will produce upheavals in our lives which are not contemplated in the terms of the Motion. The increased use of automation inevitably will result in shorter working hours. This, in turn, will bring us greater problems about the proper use of leisure and these problems will have an impact upon our education system, which will be faced with the task of equipping us to use our increased leisure wisely. The need to prepare our children with new skills will have its own repercussions on the education system. The future will involve more and more State intervention in a society which will feel the impact of the things about which we have been talking and which will become increasingly complex.
So, once again, I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford for enabling us to have this discussion today.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
I congratulate the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Dodds) on providing us with an opportunity once again, within a month, to discuss the important subject of redundancy. I feel particularly grateful to him and to you, Mr. Speaker, because on this occasion I 1017 have been given the opportunity to speak. We may consider the Motion against the background of the debate on severance pay for redundant workers which took place on 14th February and against the background of the Contracts of Employment Act. Both are important in their effect on the security and happiness of a man at his work.
It is a cliché to say that the country is facing a second industrial revolution. I believe that many of those engaged in industry are not facing it at all. Some are trying to forget it, others to ignore it, and some are actually trying to run away from it. During this debate hon. Members will have an opportunity to present industry with a picture of the advantages which will come if we accept change and of the dangers which will confront the country if we ignore it.
Many hon. Members will have read an article which appeared recently in the Sunday Times by Mr. William Allen, in which he suggested that Britain is a half-time country getting half-pay for half-work under half-hearted management. As one working in productive industry—I suppose, because of my duties in this House, on a half-time basis—I believe that there is a lot of truth in the statements contained in that article.
Much thinking has been done about the problems of change. I wish particularly to draw the attention of the House to a booklet called Industrial Change—the Human Aspect published by the Committee set up by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in his capacity as chairman of the Conservative Party's Advisory Committee on Policy. With my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. K. Lewis), I had the honour of sitting as a member of that Committee.
On the Committee which produced the document there were representatives of management—including Sir Max Bemrose, this year's chairman of the Conservative Party National Union—of trade unions, the law, and this House. The conclusions contained in the pamphlet are that change of technique and product are desirable and essential if "the country is to remain a leading industrial producer. If we have tech- 1018 nological change, therefore it must be welcomed and not opposed. We must, therefore, remove the fear of the consequences of technological change and thus we are led to the various types of provisions for redundancy and severance at the time of change.
I wish to mention one other aspect, the retraining of people who have to change their jobs, and to ask my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to consider whether there is need to use Government training centres for the training of people who could go back to their companies and help train apprentices, and others who needed retraining.
Redundancy presents two problems: the medium and long-term problem of possible unemployment and the immediate blow to an individual at the time when he declared redundant. From the debate on 14th February we know that the Minister and his right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance are considering the implications of a graduated scheme for unemployment benefit. I realise the great dangers which would follow if the House and the Government committed the taxpayers of the future to unpredictable commitments. I believe that the industrial side of the National Insurance scheme should be divorced from the remainder, and, possibly, put under the control of the Ministry of Labour, and that substantial increases in unemployment benefit and sick pay could be met at not too great a cost if they did not automatically lead to changes in the other rates covered by the National Insurance Scheme.
I believe that 1d. a week from the employer and the employee alike would produce £10 million per year. Assuming, for the sake of argument, a rate of 3 per cent. unemployment nationally, the benefit rate for a single man of £9 per week would cost an additional £221 million a year. This could be produced from an extra 1s. a week from the employer and the employee.
That is not an enormous figure to produce a very great change in unemployment benefit. On a 5 per cent. unemployment figure nationally and again £9 a week the additional cost would be £368 million a year, which would be found by about one 1s. 8d. per week additionally from each. I shall not 1019 argue the merits and demerits of such a scheme because there are many complications. After a little personal research I emphasise that if the industrial side of insurance were divorced from the rest, changes could be made which would not be too great for the country as a whole. That might be part of the Government's effort in improving unemployment benefit.
I turn now to the redundancy arrangements which might be made between employer and employee. The object of these payments should be to cushion the discomfort of the employee at the moment when he loses his job through no fault of his own. In general, I support the line taken by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. J. Silverman), and also the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond), in the Bills that they have produced from time to time suggesting that about one week's pay per year of employment might be paid to an individual on becoming redundant.
However, I draw attention to a particular anomaly in the debate on 14th February. It arises from statements by hon. Members opposite. I have them with me, but I will not read them in full. The hon. Member for Aston, speaking about workers declared redundant, said:We do not think that these people should have to wait another year for such legislation…it ought to be introduced during the present Session.The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse), said:I regard the Bill as providing the minimum of what should be done. I hope that when the next Labour Administration comes into power men with a sense of urgency and dynamism will deal with this subject".Even the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) said:We believe that such a man is entitled to severance pay and that this should be something over and above any improvement in the unemployment benefits."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th February, 1964; Vol. 689, c. 698, 732–3, 760.]That is all very well, but some of us on this side of the House felt almost nauseated by the "holier than thou" attitude of hon. Members opposite. If one looks at the Labour Party's recent policy statement, "New Frontiers for Social Security" of October, 1963, in 1020 which are set out detailed proposals of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, one finds there is not a single word in the conclusions advocating severance pay for redundant workers.
We have had all these imprecations upon the Government, yet in the Labour Party's plan there is no mention of severance pay, except the rather half-hearted passage which states:We are in no way opposed to the provision by progressive employers…of their own superannuation, redundancy and sickness schemes.That does not seem to be a very dramatic and forward-looking policy by the Labour Party on the question of severance and redundancy. I hope that the support of hon. Members opposite of the Redundant Workers (Severance Pay) Bill will not make the country feel that the Labour Party, in the unlikely event of being returned to office, is committed to a Bill covering severance payment for redundant workers.
I urge the Government to do something more themselves. With my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. J. H. Osborn), on 14th February, and with my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Turner) in the debate today, I am disappointed that we have not already received a detailed Government statement on their plans for redundancy. Although I realise that it is important that this should be considered in the context of a Government scheme covering unemployment benefit, I do not see why work on a Conservative severance pay Bill should not be continuing now and, if necessary, produced before the other Bill is passed.
There is an obligation on a company to reward its employees who have invested their efforts in the company over a number of years. A good employer—a number of good employers do this—feels it to be his duty. I should like all companies to be compelled to discharge these obligations which at present are accepted by only a few. A redundancy scheme such as that outlined in the Bill of the hon. Member for Aston has great advantages for the employee, but I also believe it has great advantages both for management and trade unions when looked at in the context of the Contracts of Employment Act.
1021 If such severance payments and benefits were written into a contract they would be forfeited if the employee were to break his contract, particularly in the context of "wild-cat" strikes. This would increase the strength of the individual employee to resist any proposal which would make him take action in contradiction of his contract. That is something which I think we would all welcome. It would strengthen the power of the contract and give much greater authority to it.
I wish now to quote an interesting dialogue which took place on 5th March between the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter), who, I am very glad to see, is present, and my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies). The hon. Member for Southwark was speaking in Committee on the Contracts of Employment Bill. I will read what he said, because I think it vitally important. He said:It has always amused me when it has been said that somehow we must deal with unofficial strikes. If there is a pit in which the boys are having a row, and they walk out half-way through a shift, so that they are on unofficial strike, they will not sit back and think, ' Well, now, what about the continuity of employment? 'If they are prepared to lose the shift's pay because they are in a paddy and are having a row with the management, of course they will not worry about continuity of employment.In the same way the management will get the union boys together and say, let us get back to work; no victimisation'.Then my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet intervened:Suppose that instead of losing just a week's pay they lost a half-year bonus? A situation would certainly arise in which Jack would not get George out on strike, because he would not be prepared to lose that amount. He would not do it, would he?Then the hon. Member for Southwark said:If this Bill offered a big enough carrot, that would be a different matter. I am always prepared to look at the carrot, but there is not much of it in this Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 5th March, 1963; c. 22.]
§ Mr. Page
I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman, and those were exactly my sentiments.
I thought that there was not nearly enough of the carrot in the Bill. How- 1022 ever, if we could produce a really substantial carrot in the form of a severance payment on behalf of an employee I think that that would be a carrot of sufficient size even to help the hon. Gentleman to see better in the dark.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
Is the hon. Gentleman proposing to write into severance and redundancy legislation a penal clause which would exclude a workman from benefiting, if and when he becomes unemployed through a technological change, if he had taken part in a strike the year before? If that is what the hon. Gentleman is saying he ought to come clear about it.
§ Mr. Page
I think that the hon. Gentleman is going quite a big stage further. think that the severance payment aspect would automatically be written into the contract of employment. Therefore, if a man broke his contract he would automatically I ask the benefits of that contract whatever happened to him at some future stage.
§ Mr. Page
I think that I am with the hon. Gentleman as far as that, but it does not have any effect on whether a man becomes redundant or not a year later, except that if he broke his contract, one year later he would be on the basis of a man employed for one year and not for a longer period.
The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) raised the point which I as a matter of fact, was going to raise next, because when we have this new, important and valuable legislation I think it will be absolutely necessary for us to institute some kind of labour courts which would deal with appeals against unjust dismissals and other allegations of breach of contract between employer and employee. This was another recommendation in our pamphlet on industrial change.
I would conclude by pointing out some of the difficulties with which we are faced in connection with preparing a Bill dealing with severance payments. I am only saying this so that when my right hon. Friend the Minister is working on the Bill, as I hope he will, these will be some of the ideas which he will have in mind. First, there is the difficulty of the 1023 definition of "redundant". Then there is the position of the company which has to lay off a number of its work people temporarily because of, say, a strike in another industry.
Let us suppose that there was a strike in the motor industry and that a firm was making components exclusively for that industry. One wonders whether or not, in the event of the closing down for a short period of the components factory, the redundancy scheme would come into operation. Next, one wonders whether firms such as Vauxhall Motors, Aspro and others which already have substantial redundancy schemes would be allowed to contract out because, if they were, it would leave in any scheme which might be organised by a consortium of insurance companies only those firms and industries which might be in a rather weak position.
Lastly, there is the point mentioned by the hon. Member for Erith and Cray-ford concerning how the scheme would be funded and what would happen in the event of the bankruptcy of any of the firms in the scheme. Again, I think that it should be acceptable for the Government to underwrite any scheme, on similar lines to the third-party insurance scheme for motor cars, during the first few years and that the Government should certainly take over the responsibilities as far as redundancy payments are concerned on behalf of firms which go bankrupt so that those employed by such firms would not lose their redundancy benefits.
Those are some of the difficulties, but I am quite certain, like the hon. Gentleman, that all these difficulties can be overcome. We are all looking forward to the production of the Government scheme. I hope that it will be presented very early in the next Session and that details of it will be given in our party's election manifesto so that those in industry will have no fear of the technological change which is absolutely necessary if the country is to prosper.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
The hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) said several times in the course of his speech that he did not want anyone to be afraid of the technological change which was occurring 1024 and that it was part of the Government's duty to introduce such legislation so that no one would fear what might happen to him in the case of his job being declared redundant. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman has not rendered the Government a very great service by the proposal which he made and on which I took him up a few minutes ago. If he is suggesting to the Government that they would dispel fear by linking redundancy legislation with penal clauses against people who had been engaged in unofficial industrial activity in their past employment, then he would make quite certain that there would be a devil of a row and that such legislation would be received with the deepest resentment and suspicion by the workers.
§ Mr. John Page
Would not the hon. Gentleman accept the view that if there is a contract it should be kept and that if it is broken unilaterally there should be penalty clauses?
§ Mr. Mendelson
We are dealing here with new proposals for redundancy legislation. I am well aware that among the Tory modernisers of trade union law and legislation there are quite a few who wish to go back on the historic legislasion of the Trade Union Acts of 1913 and 1906 and who wish to reverse the process and put trade unionists once again in a strait jacket. I understand that trend of opinion very well. What I am saying is that if the hon. Gentleman wants to proceed on those lines he can do so, but that in that case he will meet the united opposition of the trade union movement in the country. I am quite certain that the more senior members of the hon. Gentleman's party who are responsible for policy, including those engaged in modernising processes, will move away from the hon. Gentleman as far as possible.
Turning to the main considerations which my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Dodds) has put before the House, I should like to say that I am particularly grateful to him because he has made his Motion fairly wide. My hon. Friend pointed to technological change at the very beginning of the text which he put down.
It is not enough to consider the details which may be introduced by employers 1025 or by legislation and which may be made effective by employers or by the Government after redundancy has already occurred. I detected in some speeches by hon. Members opposite far too easy an acceptance of the fact of redundancy in the first place, and a misunderstanding of how work people must look at this problem. There must be no facile acceptance that they will be declared redundant but an anxiety that long-term economic planning will take place in good time so as to reduce very severely the amount of redundancy at each stage of technological change, with an assurance that new industries will be introduced into those areas in time where it can be foreseen that technological change will force a certain amount of redundancy. We must ensure that if an arrangement is made for training and retraining, there will be new jobs for the men after they have been retrained. This comment applies not only to the present Government but to a Government formed by my right hon. Friends.
Any Government must understand that in the trade union movement the policy of setting up training centres for retraining is fully supported. But when a predecessor of the present Minister of Labour suggested that some district officers in the trade union movement had shown apprehension as to what might happen in their area and therefore had not been sufficiently active in supporting the idea of retraining, he did not understand the feeling among work-people that we should couple the setting-up of training centres with the introduction of new industries in which new skills can be used and that unless we do this we are not doing even half the job; we are doing no part of the job at all.
This is particularly important in a period, when, quite rightly, with the support of all sides of the House and the trade union movement, we are bringing special aid to certain hard-hit areas, when we are deciding—not necessarily supported by all of us in the manner in which it is being done—to bring new or additional industries into areas of high unemployment and of a considerable amount of short-time working. Because in the past neglect has hit these areas, and because of the absence of 1026 long-term planning, we are bound to create a certain distortion in our economic development, because we are bound to affect some of the natural economic development which would have taken place by the many initial advantages which are given to employers and firms if they move into the special areas.
In my area of South Yorkshire we are fully in support of special aid being given to the development districts, but we believe that there are two important ways in which our area can be protected from becoming a special area in future. We must deal with the problem by looking at the day after tomorrow. South Yorkshire is not the only area affected in this way; there are many others in the same position. There are two solutions to the problem which will develop. Ours is an area which at the moment has not very high unemployment. We have gone through a difficult period during which there has been considerable short-time working. In one or two of our major industries, such as steel and engineering, people have been working four shifts instead of six or three shifts instead of six over 18 months or so. We have only just emerged into the new pre-election boom. For over 18 months or two years much short-time working has taken place in my area and other areas—and short-time working is nothing but unemployment and redundancy under another name.
In these areas we have a number of old-established industries, such as coal mining, steel and certain types of engineering, which go back a long way and which are designed to meet the needs of the present but which are not necessarily very well designed to meet the needs of the future. There are only two ways in which the economic dangers of the future can be met. First, the works must modernise themselves—and a good deal of modernisation has taken place in the works in my area; but when they modernise themselves, they are bound to need less labour.
The Government must make quite certain that their acceptance of the idea of redundancy legislation, if they accept it, must not be a substitute for long-term economic planning and for recognition of the need of new industries and the diversification of industry in our old 1027 industrial areas. It will not be enough for them to say, "We know that there is a fair amount of redundancy occurring but we are doing something about it once people have become redundant". Once people have become redundant, if the problem grows it will become unmanageable.
We must always keep in mind that all these ideas of training and retraining make sense only if they are kept to certain limits. If we had thousands and thousands of people being declared redundant in some older industrial areas as a result of technological change, we should not be able to cope with the problem. The Government might set up more training centres, but what would the men do after they had acquired new skills? The Government must couple any ideas which are currently being discussed about redundancy legislation with the need for long-term economic planning and, in particular, the planning of additional opportunities of employment in the older industrial areas.
There is a second way in which these areas which are not at the moment special areas must be helped, and that is by a more active export policy. In my area there is an engineering and foundry firm which is very worried because, although the order book does not look too bad for the next five to ten months, when the firm looks beyond that period it finds that a number of opportunities which it might have had will probably be re-directed by a certain amount of new investment into special unemployment areas. The only answer which they see is to concentrate more on export markets. Therefore, a policy which helps the special areas and which introduces redundancy legislation, but which at the same time does nothing to give special help to exporters in the older industrial areas, does not make sense.
I am speaking for an area which is not at the moment an area with heavy redundancy, but it is the duty of all of us who come from such older industrial regions to make the point in time so that the Government have no alibi when, in five or seven years' time, unemployment and redundancy occur in these older industrial areas which at present are not so deeply affected. It would not be 1028 sufficient for them to say, "We have provided for severance-pay legislation".
This explains why there is more than one opinion in the trade union movement about priorities in legislation. I fully support the point of view recently expressed by the General Council of the T.U.C. in its intervention with the Government—that priority in legislation ought to be given to improvements in general unemployment benefits. I share the view held by some in the trade union movement that not only might an attempt be made to include in new legislation all sorts of things which have been mentioned in passing today—I do not regard this as a serious danger—but, far more important—and I do regard this as a serious danger—special redundancy legislation might hold back the necessary advances in general unemployment and social insurance legislation which should take place as soon as possible.
I turn from these more general but decisive back ground problems to some of the reasons given today for redundancy. One hon. Member said that a firm with interests all over the country might decide to close one plant and transfer the work which was carried on there to another works. Such decisions are normally made by interlocking directorates or by the directorate of a holding company. The people who make such decisions remain in the same position—no matter where the work may be carried on, their £15,000 a year as directors of the combine or corporation will not be affected.
The matter is viewed in a very different light by those who live in the district where a plant is to be closed. Recently in South Yorkshire this happened in a very big way: 1,200 were declared redundant. It recently happened in Doncaster, where 2,000 were declared redundant. The experience up there has been dismal indeed.
The Ford Motor Company, which I give as my second example, was given a great deal of help to move to Merseyside. One hon. Member said that this policy itself might cause redundancy, because the Government, rightly, encourage a major corporation to move into an area of high unemployment and set up a new plant. As a consequence of this policy, the Ford Motor Company 1029 decided to close its plant at Doncaster. Some of my colleagues and I tabled questions to the former Minister of Labour, who is now Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, about the redundancy position in Doncaster. He said in answer that no final decision had been taken and it was not yet certain what redundancy might arise in Doncaster. On the very same day that the right lion. Gentleman gave me that answer notices of redundancy for 800 employees in Doncaster were being typed in the offices of the Ford Motor Company.
I am not charging the former Minister of Labour with deliberately misleading the House. He was ignorant of the facts. The remarkable situation arose that a major corporation, in spite of the aid and encouragement it received from the Government to move to Merseyside and set up a new plant there, did not, think it necessary to inform the Minister of Labour of the large-scale redundancy affecting 2,000 people which it was planning in Doncaster. The Minister of Labour was unaware of these facts. There was no liaison between the Ministry and Fords. The Minister said to me feebly at the end of our exchanges, "The hon. Gentleman has now given me the information and I will get on to my officers on the spot to get busy".
The Minister should have been the one who should have told the House what was happening in Doncaster. This is creating the worst possible impression among workpeople and it makes many people feel that there is grave danger in easily accepting a redundancy or severance-pay policy which might become an alibi for the kind of treatment which has been meted out to some employees of Fords at Doncaster.
I want to quote another example from my own constituency. A certain amount of redundancy occurred in a well-established engineering works of considerable tradition. A report appeared in the local Press one Saturday afternoon to the effect that 70 members of the staff were to be declared redundant. The report later indicated to the readers that another 70—this time not members of the staff, but other employees would also be declared redundant in a short time. I happened to be in my constituency on that day. I was attending a 1030 function that evening which was attended also by the chairman and secretary of the shop stewards committee at that firm. They said that the notice in the Press on the Saturday afternoon was the first they had heard of any question of 70 workpeople, in addition to those on the staff, being threatened with redundancy. These were the very men who were responsible to their members in the works for matters concerning the protection of their conditions of work and their jobs.
There emerges from this clear proof of the grave need for employers to change their attitude about consultation. The Government should ensure that employers are encouraged to consult. All major changes brought about by technology at change or rearrangement of work as between one plant and another should be the subject of consultation between employers and work-people well before the decision is finally taken.
§ Mr. R. Gresham Cooke (Twickenham)
I am not defending what happened in the instances the hon. Gentleman has quoted, but might not there be this explanation, because I have known this happen before? A very active paper—I imagine that papers like the Sheffield Star or the Sheffield Telegraph are very active; it was probably the Sheffield Star—can get hold of a rumour that there is to be redundancy, perhaps three or four months ahead. The paper then issues a headline—"Seventy may be redundant". It causes much upset to both management and men, even though the management have not taken the final decision.
§ Mr. Mendelson
That can happen. Nobody would contradict the hon. Gentleman in saying that it sometimes happens. I can tell him, however, that that is not what happened in the case I instanced. I know of other cases—there is no time to go into them now—where it did not happen in the way the hon. Gentleman suggests but where it was based on something much more serious than a rumour.
Because of a number of discussions which later took place between the representatives of the workpeople and the management, and also because of the amount of public feeling which was 1031 created in the area, only a very small number of the additional 70 who it was reported were to come under the axe in the near future did in fact become redundant. In fairness, I must add that in the first 70 mentioned there were a number who were very near retiring age, but by no means the whole 70 were in this category. However, although I ought to mention all these facts, if the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) wants me to go into the details, there is no question about the main fact that the announcement about the potential threat to the additional 70 workpeople—it was an existing threat, not an imaginary or rumoured one—was seen for the first time by the representatives of the workpeople in the public Press.
This is scandalous, but it happens again and again. It happens because the directorates of many major corporations are still as old-fashioned as they were in the 1920s and 1930s in this respect. Most of them do not believe that this is a matter in which consultation with the workpeople is either necessary or called for. Many of them are convinced that it is solely a decision for management, that they will take it, and that they will then have "consultation"—what they call consultation—namely, discussions on the details of redundancy after the major decision has already been taken.
I am not arguing for a hard and fast system whereby the trade unions must take part in every decision of management. That would be absurd. I say that because it is easy to be misunderstood when debating these matters. It has been proved time and again that it is not possible any longer to entrust the future of workpeople to the decisions of interlocking directorates without having regard to what happens to a plant in a given area and the social consequences of the plant being closed down.
We must also consider the position and duty of the Government in this situation. If one believes that the economy generally and Government policy in this sector should be left to the decision of management, one will not get very far in following the course I am suggesting or accepting my criti- 1032 cisms of the present system. However, if one accepts that Britain as a manufacturing country can move into the next stage of economic development only on the basis of a planned economy, then I think that we will get somewhere.
This should be the basis of the working of N.E.D.C. Although I admit that so far it has not been found possible by the Federation of British Industries to make a contribution to certain parts of N.E.D.C.'s policy, no doubt the six industrialists who represent British employers on N.E.D.C. are well ahead in some respects of their colleagues in the country. Recently those six industrialists accepted three proposals as the basis for a discussion of N.E.D.C.'s incomes policy, but that acceptance was later repudiated by the General Council of the Federation of British Industries, so I suppose that, in that respect, the six industrialists on N.E.D.C. do not really represent their colleagues.
Suffice to say that on general long-term economic planning it was assumed that there had been some agreement on the basis of how this problem was to be tackled. N.E.D.C. appeared to agree that it would be solved only by all sections being taken into consultation; and that meant the Government employers and employees. It should follow, therefore, that any major problems arising out of technological change should be a matter for discussion between employers and employees.
It is interesting to note that in a country so addicted to the capitalist system as the United States, a certain amount of that is already taking place. As we know, the trade union movement there employs many people who are called "business agents", along with a considerable number of technologists and economists. In a limited number of American industries the trade union representatives, accompanied by their experts, are called into consultation by employers at a very early stage when technological changes force a rearrangement of the process of work or a rearrangement of the labour force. Although this will not please the hon. Member for Harrow, West, this has come about in a number of American industries, purely and solely in some cases, because the major American trade unions have threatened to take their men 1033 out on strike unless the unions were consulted when such changes were being contemplated.
Hon. Members who have studied American developments in this sphere probably know that proposed changes can lead to a spreading-out of any unpleasant results; for instance, arrangements can sometimes be made whereby a certain amount of redundancy is reduced. In time, some of the redundancy can be absorbed in other ways. There is also the possibility of the work itself being spread but arranged in such a way that redundancy does not result. The American employers have another reason for accepting this sort of policy, for we must remember that America has between 51 million and 6 million unemployed. There would be a dim future for the capitalist system in America unless some of the more enlightened employers agreed with the trade union representatives on some palliative measures like those I have been describing.
Whatever economic system we adopt in Britain it must be accepted that, in the long term, decisions affecting technological change which might involve redundancy or have an adverse or other effect on the whole future of a group of workers must be the subject of consultation. It must become the duty of management to work with trade unions and discuss and consult at the earliest possible stage when decisions, particularly decisions of this magnitude, are being contemplated.
Several schemes for severance pay and redundancy have been suggested. The hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Curran) intervened on this matter earlier. I appreciate that he thinks deeply about these social problems. When he speaks on these matters, particularly on the subject of social insurance, it is obvious that he has given a great deal of thought to the subject before speaking. Earlier he challenged my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford about the example which my hon. Friend gave. The hon. Member for Uxbridge asked why the trade unions on their own did not settle the matter. I admit that he did not use the words "on their own", but he wondered why the trade unions did not get tough. The simple answer is that in many cases the trade unions have been tough but the final decision has still gone against 1034 them. In such circumstances, the unions find themselves in a difficult position.
As I said earlier, and I deliberately repeat this, the attitude of the work-people wren their jobs are threatened with redundancy is the desire to remain in employment; and, naturally, the trade unions must express that attitude. This does not apply only to workpeople in industry. An example of how it can apply even in this House has occurred with the presentation of the Government's controversial Measure covering r.p.m. A number of hon. Members opposite may find it easy to say that workpeople should accept change, while they themselves are on this occasion finding it difficult to accept what the Government propose to do to r.p.m.
§ Mr. Curran
These examples are instances of the general problem. Everyone is in favour of change as long as it does not affect him personally. It is rather like chastity or temperance in this country; everyone believes in it as long as it is in general terms.
§ Mr. Mendelson
I am pleased that the hon. Member intervened, because he helps me to illustrate my point. The lesson which he should draw with me is that we should accept with a great deal of caution the words we use when we urge others to accept major changes which may affect their future employment position. We should accept that it is an essential pre-condition to create an atmosphere in which Luddism is a thing of the past and in which hesitation, doubt and worry about bringing unions and workers into consultation on any scientific or technological change are also things of the past.
Workpeople must be convinced that what is being done is being done in a planned way without imposing sacrifices on only one section of the people and not on another We must also convince them that what we are doing is scientifically necessary o benefit the economy, and that by accepting the consequences of the new scientific and technological changes at will benefit. If we are conscious of these things then, against this background, the details of redundancy arrangements can be discussed across the table—but, unless we adopt this attitude, doubts will persist and technological change will not have the meaning it should have in this country.
1035 The present trend of allowing economic policies to be influenced by short-term political considerations and of having stop-go economic policies partly dictated by electoral considerations are the worst possible preparations for a policy of long-term planning which will give a sense of security to industry, and to workpeople in particular. If we are serious in welcoming technological change we must also attune our long-term policy to the change that is inevitably coming.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith (Brentford and Chiswick)
I agree with the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) when he says that the great desire of the working population is to remain in employment, particularly when threatened with redundancy. We have had a fairly wide-ranging debate. The parents of my generation were worried about unemployment; it bit very deeply into their souls, and set the tone for the depressed 'thirties. My generation is increasingly worried about problems of redundancy, and the generation that is to follow will be even more concerned about it.
Redundancy is a more sophisticated variation of the theme of unemployment, but it is just as real, though for entirely different reasons. I agree with the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Dodds), who moved his Motion so admirably, that unemployment and redundancy are much harder to bear in a time of affluence than in a period of depression, when so many are in the same position. To be unemployed and redundant when there are more "haves" than "have-nots" is very demoralising.
We have heard much today of redundancy being part of automation. Automation will be the biggest industrial headache of the 'seventies, if not of the late 'sixties. To use a broadcasting term, it is still at the "cat's whisker" stage, but I am sure that even in our own lifetime it will develop out of all knowledge. Redundancy is an ugly word, and perhaps not expressive of what we are trying to convey in this debate. The Shorter Oxford Dictionary gives it as meaning excessive, superfluous, pleonastic…" One of the most bitter experiences there can be in life 1036 is for a man to find himself superfluous in society, particularly when it is not through a fault of his own or any particular failing. It becomes a very big issue—
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
A good deal of fear has been expressed on both sides today about automation. It is a problem, but would not my hon. Friend agree that automation, in the sense of manual work or work done by machines tended by men being done automatically, has been with us for about thirty years? It is not new.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
It is not new, I agree, but it is developing out of all knowledge, because technology has made tremendous strides even in the short time I have been on the surface of the earth, and it will develop beyond all expectation in twenty or thirty years. This is not just a problem relating to manual workers, but on both sides the tendency has been too much to relate it to the manual operation of machines. The hon. Member for Erith and Crayford gave some very useful facts, and mentioned an interesting case involving white-collar workers. Every worker, whether professional or artisan, is entitled to look for security in his employment if, in return, he is to give his loyalty and industry. As automation develops, probably as many white-collar workers as manual workers will be affected.
I should have thought that satisfactory industrial progress cannot possibly be maintained if men have a continual fear of the sack because of redundancy. Many of the country's best firms have proved already that realistic redundancy schemes can lead to improvement in turnover and in profits, and I am certain that other firms will have to follow suit in due course. On the other hand, we must be realistic; with the best will in the world we cannot make it quite certain that all firms can provide security in an age of technological change and varying trading conditions.
Firms change with new trade conditions, and some go out of business. We must therefore be flexible all the way round. No one undertaking can promise a particular employee a job for life, and all of us, however good we may be at our jobs, must face the time when, 1037 inevitably, we may have to change. I should have thought that we, as Members of Parliament would particularly appreciate that point.
It is true to say that in this enlightened society any man who plays an important part, who marries, brings up a family and gives his loyalty and skill to a firm, must in return be able to expect a decent job and a decent standard of living. That view is now accepted on both sides more than it has ever been before, but we must avoid paying too much lip-service to it and not doing enough about it.
The biggest problem to be learned by both sides of industry is that although redundancy cannot be avoided, it can be deflected and its effects mitigated. Advanced industrial planning is the key to the whole problem. In this, as in other industrial spheres, there is need for co-operation between management and employees, and need for the Government to tie the ends together. There must be better appreciation and understanding of automation, particularly of its techniques and development, and not a fear of it. That is why I think that the studies initiated by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour are vitally important.
My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn & St. Pancras, South (Mr. G. Johnson Smith) and I have asked Parliamentary Questions on the subject, as did the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford the other day, and we have been promised a report in due course of what is going on—
§ Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)
I agree with all that my hon. Friend says, but would not he agree that much could be done by managements giving bad news as well as good; imparting knowledge to workers as the company progresses so that they feel part of the set-up? Keeping workers in the picture goes a long way towards mitigating bad news.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
I agree—there is a tremendous public relations job to be tackled within industry itself, and I do not think that enough is being done in that direction at present. Some industries and firms make a good job of it; others must follow suit. Greater research is needed, and I hope that my 1038 right hon. Friend and the Parliamentary Secretary will give the necessary impetus.
In the long run, co-operation is the only way of settling the problem. We have heard of recalcitrant managements—as long as they do not co-operate to the full, and unless the two sides get together, particularly on automation, there will be severe trouble for industry and its workers. We all know that tough management operates in some fields, and tough management and an overcrowded labour market may do quite well for a time, but eventually it will come unstuck, just as trade unions that go about things the wrong way will only do a disservice to their members. But there are other dangers in redundancy and automation that go a little beyond the confrontation between employers and employees. Even with a sympathetic approach, and even given good will, these attitudes will have to be watched very carefully by the Government of the day, whatever its political complexion.
This is becoming an age of qualifications and specialisation. It will probably reach the stage, even in my lifetime, when nobody will be able to get a job in the professions or in management without a university degree, and when nobody will be able to undertake skilled work of any sort without having the requisite number of school examination passes that may then be in operation. This is good in many respects but, in other ways, if we are not careful, we shall be creating a new élite and a new poor—a new poor who will be poor in both earning capacity and in spirit.
That may well be accentuated by a rapid development of automation, which is not kept easily in check. The effects could be dreadful in the long-term, and I very much hope that the Minister of Labour of the day, and of the future, will, with his colleagues in the Cabinet, keep a continual watch on the tendency to divide the nation into the skilled and the unskilled.
At the moment, as we all know, there is a scramble in the industrial and labour markets for youth. It is common for hon. Members on both sides of the House to be approached by people who are fit in mind and limb and who desperately want jobs, but who, because of 1039 their age, cannot get them. This, again, is a very serious problem which emphasises itself to us far too often. This constant scramble for youth has its dangers. We used to hear that people were too old at 60. It is now becoming common for people to be too old at 50, and probably in due course they will be too old at 40. Unless we make the fullest use of our labour resources, we shall not develop our industrial markets to their widest extent.
More emphasis must be placed on retraining, and in education we must develop the concept of people with two skills at their disposal. There are clever people who can do a variety of jobs, but too many have developed only one talent, and if a man's talent goes out of commission as a result of industrial change he finds himself stranded. We must all try to develop extra skills. Members of Parliament are adept at this because their lives in the House of Commons are tenuous. Outside the House there are extra skills to be learned simply and easily, and the acquisition of these can ease many pains in the long term.
The cardinal rule for employers must be that redundancy provisions, should become a normal part of management outlook. Redundancy should be taken into consideration at all levels—at the level of recruitment when a person enters an industry, at the level of training—and the Industrial Training Act which has just come into force will be very useful here—at the promotional level when people take executive responsibility, and at the retirement level when the time comes to make way for other people.
I support the Motion. I should particularly like my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to say something about the development of the services provided by employment exchanges. I think that today's debate will have done some good. One of the snags about Parliament is that we debate all too infrequently the question of industrial change and difficulty, just as we debate too infrequently the questions of education. But at least some of the doors have been opened today and there has been a good airing. Retraining will remain of paramount importance. We have got to adopt the technique of 1040 changing old skills for new ones. As times goes on, I think that we shall find that a reasonably good start has been made, and I look forward, during the course of the next Parliament, to seeing the necessary legislation introduced at an early stage. This applies to any Government, whatever its political colour.
A Government of any complexion will ignore at its own peril the changes which are likely to take place in industry through automation. In addition, that Government will ignore these changes at the peril of the country's interests at large, for whatever ensues from the longterm policy as decided by any Government, the interests of its people must remain paramount.
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Edwards (Bilston)
I join with hon. Members on both sides of the House in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Dodds) on introducing a Motion of such importance and in such a practical and eloquent way.
I was greatly interested in the speech that we have heard from the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Dudley Smith). It was very stimulating. There was an absence of complacency which, so far, has characterised many of the speeches that have been made from the benches opposite. I agree with the hon. Member that we are only just beginning to consider the revolutionary economic and social consequences of the application of automation and electronic devices in British industry and agriculture.
It is perfectly true, as one hon. Member has said, that automation has been operating in British industry for many years. This is particularly true of the great chemical industry, the motor car industry in particular and the engineering industry in general. Automation is complete in the new atomic energy industry.
The picture today of the chemical and motor car industries is the blue print for all our basic industries. This is the kind of development that is to take place in the coal mining industry. In the future many of our coalmines will become vast underground chemical factories. Our steel industries will be 1041 completely rationalised automatically, employing fewer and fewer workers. Unless there is active co-operation now between the Government, managements and trade unions, and unless we begin to control the second industrial revolution which is unfolding before our eyes, the troubles that we had in the 1930s and the mass unemployment that occurred in those days will seem like a picnic compared with what we shall face in the future.
My hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford dealt with a number of redundancy agreements which operate in British industry. He quoted the Imperial Chemical Industries agreement. I can assure him that it is not the best agreement which operates in the chemical industry. If I may be permitted to say so, I think that the company over which the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) has some influence has a much better arrangement and agreement.
§ Mr. Dodds
I am interested in what my hon. Friend is saying, but he appears to have forgotten what I said. I did not say that the I.C.I. agreement was the best one. I said that it was an agreement for the protection of employment and that it placed the proper emphasis on what we all want, namely, employment and not redundancy payments.
§ Mr. Edwards
I understand my hon. Friend's point. However, it should not be accepted that one firm in Britain has produced the perfect agreement. Indeed, some of the agreements in our nationalised industries are among the best.
These agreements have not been granted to the trade unions without a struggle. All these agreements have been negotiated in the most prosperous industries. Let us not forget that. They have been negotiated in industries with expanding production, in industries where there is a shortage of labour, in some industries like chemicals, for example, that have never known a slump, industries which have vast sums of liquid capital, which can introduce new methods of production and new technical devices, which have the capital necessary to enable the introduction of 1042 these new methods that have increased the volume of production.
By negotiation with the unions, they have given advance information of their intentions to introduce automatic methods that will put so many men and women out of employment. By negotiation they have established methods for training the staff and workers who are likely to be made redundant, to enable them to do new jobs and create new products in the same factory.
Time is limited, and I want to raise one or two fundamental points rather than repeat what has already been said. In Soviet Russia, there is a Minister of Automation whose task is to establish training facilities to produce 500,000 new technicians skilled in the knowledge of automatic processes and electronics. In 10 years, the Soviet Union will have 2½ million trained technicians—more technicians than there are in the whole of the Western World put together. The Russians are dealing with the matter in a realistic way. In the United States, there is a permanent standing commission to deal with the problems of automation, the social, economic and technical problems, problems of leisure, the mobility of labour, wages and so on.
We have no such facilities in this country, yet we are the nation which started the Industrial Revolution, which was the cradle of modern methods of production. We have not started to deal with this massive problem yet. The future of our country is based on our ability to increase the production of wealth. If we fail steadily to increase our productivity in this country, the living standards of our people will be shattered. We shall have to introduce in most of our basic industries modern methods of production which will reduce the amount of labour power required and increase production very greatly indeed.
If we are to avoid economic crisis, we shall have to devise a method of improving the purchasing power of our people so that they can buy the products of mass production. These are vast economic and social problems with which the Government are not dealing.
I am very grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford for his mention of the modest Bill which I 1043 tried to introduce in 1955, the Automation and Electronics Bill. All I wanted the Government to do was to establish a permanent committee representative of all sections of industry, the nationalised industries, the trade unions and the consumers, served by economists and technicians of repute, which would be responsible for a constant flow of ideas and reports on the requirements of technical training for new methods of production, the problems of the mobility of labour and the social problems involved, the problems of incomes, shorter working hours, training for leisure, and the rest. That is all I wanted the House to do, but I did not even get a debate on the Bill. It was blocked every Friday by some hon. Members opposite who thought that it was Socialism by homeopathic treatment, and that it was my aim to control the business of industrialists.
I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) wishes to speak, so I will conclude by once more thanking my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford for giving us this brief opportunity to debate a subject which is of vital importance to the House and to our country's future.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Ray Gunter (Southwark)
We all congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Dodds) for bringing this matter, if only for a short time, before the House. One day, we may be able to have a really good debate about it and on that day, perhaps, we shall hire a bus, send all the Whips away and really express our views.
There is sometimes a tendency to be a little gloomy about this subject. I am getting on a bit now, but I find this challenging period of technical revolution to be one of the most exciting in history. I do not know what the Victorian theologians would have thought about it, but I believe that it may well be a period in which the curse laid upon Adam,In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat breadwill pass. The day of hard manual toil may go. That curse has been used over the years, in one sense, as a religious discipline, at least upon the working class, 1044 and people have been encouraged to look for the crown in the future if they would subject themselves to the discipline of hard manual labour. But there is at this time a possibility—I put it no higher—that we shall reach a stage when the true creative aptitudes of men will be better employed than in the dreary drudgery and routine of manual toil.
I say at the outset that I hope that none of us, trade unionists, industrialists or Members of the House of Commons, will be too much obsessed by the enormous difficulties, for it we are, we may fail to present to the people of this country the glorious opportunities which await us if we are prepared to adapt and adjust ourselves to what is coming. Severance pay is very important, of course. It is one of the most important aspects of the matter with which we have to deal. But, for heaven's sake, let us not make it the priority. For heaven's sake, let us ensure that it is but a part of the solution of our major problems.
One of the difficulties which I encounter—perhaps other hon. Members have the same experience—is in finding the facts. It is one of the most joyous exercises of all sorts of people, politicians, economists and the rest, to throw figures at us about what will happen in the next ten years. Millions of new jobs will be required, by 1969 there will be 1½ million unskilled workers redundant, and so on. I do not know the true facts. Therefore, the first point I make is that it is the duty of the Government to tackle, as a matter of priority, the ascertaining of as many as possible of the facts upon which we can base our policies for the future.
We need a new scale of thinking about redundancy and industrial mobility, and for this purpose we shall have to get to know a great deal more about the problems involved. It is strange that, even at this time, there are few industries which know how many apprentices they now have, let alone how many skilled men they will want in ten years. An enormous amount of research will have to be done so that we may have as accurately as possible an assessment of the situation which can then be put to the nation, with these words "These are the facts as we see them. Now let us get down to the consequences which flow from them". I have sufficient faith in the genius and ability of our people to believe 1045 that we can embrace all the changes which are to come and adapt ourselves to them if we have the facts.
§ Mr. Curran
I entirely endorse what the hon. Gentleman says about the need for more facts. Will he agree that, in addition to the facts to which he has called attention, we need to have the exact facts about the extent of job pension schemes so that we can proceed not by samples or pilot surveys but know in detail precisely what is happening on that side of employment?
§ Mr. Gunter
I entirely agree, but, since I am trying to embrace the whole technical revolution in about fifteen minutes, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will let me use just one illustration.
The Government—let us be fair about it—have shown an awareness of the need to assemble as many facts as possible, but I wonder whether the steps which they are taking can lead to the assembly of the facts in a short enough time. As I understand it, participation by firms in the supply of the information which we want is at present purely voluntary. A lot of field work is, I know, being done by the Ministry of Labour's regional offices in trying to persuade firms to co-operate. Quite a lot of work is being done in the construction industry in consultation with the Ministry of Public Building and Works. But are we dealing with the problem of the assembly of the information that we want as a matter of priority?
As far as I can see, what the Government have done so far can be regarded only as a start. They are a bit late, and they are trying to assemble only a little of all the information that we want. The major projects are being based on voluntary returns from firms of their own estimated requirements. Experience shows that surveys of this kind invariably under-estimate the pace of change. There is little evidence in this country of what has been done in other industrial nations, and that is research in depth based on scientific techniques to lead us to the right conclusions.
What I think we need as a matter of urgency is the type of analysis which has been started by Professor Richard Stone at Cambridge. He does not claim to be precise, but he has assembled certain facts and statistics which give us 1046 an indication of how the technical revolution, even in its earlier stages, is working out. Professor Stone and his colleagues have based their facts on certain assessments of economic growth over the next few years and have anticipated changes within the more important industries.
I suggest to the Minister that it is necessary to draw up fairly detailed categories of jobs skill, in view of possible redundancies. It is necessary then to know, as far as possible, by how much each industry is likely to expand. After that it is possible to calculate within rough limits the number of people needed at each level of skill.
These are figures which can be more or less proved to a stage and then become a measure of speculation over the next seven years. I refer to the change in tie required skill within the manpower force. It is assessed that the managerial staffs, as a percentage of our labour force, will continue to rise, and must rise, until at least 1970. It is assessed that at the same time the clerical staffs will considerably decline in number.
The significant assessment is this. As far as can be ascertained, the percentage of unskilled workers in 1951 was 12.8 of our male labour force. In 1961, it was 15. However, it is assessed that by 1970—and I think that in the end this will be found to be a fairly accurate assessment—unskilled labour will have declined to a figure no more than 7 per cent. of the labour force. Therefore, we appear to be passing into a decade which be termed "the twilight of unskilled labour".
Professor Stone and his colleagues do not claim to be precise about this startling assessment, but it is at least an indication of the trend. They estimate that vie shall require a net addition of 155,000 craftsmen each year and a subtraction of 151,000 unskilled workers each year. It is assessed that by 1970 there will be a net annual increase of 55,000 technicians and 50,000 technically qualified people and, at the same time, a net reduction of almost 50,000 clerical workers. These are the patterns which are emerging.
I emphasised at the beginning that what we want are the facts. There is 1047 too much talk on a basis which cannot be proved. The matter is of importance because of one fact. I say from my experience of dealing with redundancy that we should never exaggerate the number of men who will be affected. One of the worst features of modern industrial managements is that when redundancy problems face them, instead of quietly sitting down and analysing them from their various aspects, they boldly and baldly announce that thousands may be affected, with the result that they unnecessarily frighten a great many people. In the limited time at my disposal, I do not wish to say any more about the question of the assembly of information.
Much has been made about adult training. I do not think it does any good to try to score party points in a debate like this. I hope that the Minister will not misunderstand me when I say that we have not looked at the question of industrial training on a big enough canvas. I know that it will be claimed that the Industrial Training Bill will do this and that, but, comparing what we are doing in this country with what is being done in Russia and America, our efforts over the next two years can only be described as derisory. It could well be found that we are making provision only for the training of one redundant person out of approximately 60. Our targets must be much more ambitious.
One of my hon. Friends said that we should be setting ourselves the target of training and retraining no fewer than 100,000 men a year. That is the only figure which by the 1970s will have given us a measure of escape from what is likely to happen. The hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) intervened to say that we have had this state of affairs for 30 years. Of course, we have not. We have had mechanical processes which have displaced men. But the opportunities of this period and of this time are much greater. We know that whatever increase there may be in the volume of as yet unproduced consumer goods in the technical revolution each new industry—one might call it each scientifically based industry—which emerges will be fully automated from the beginning and therefore there will be no new industries into which large battalions of labour will be directed.
1048 We look forward inevitably and, I trust, hopefully to the gradual decline in the number of jobs. We face the problem of how to canalise and distribute the rewards which flow from this technical revolution. That is the fundamental reason why I am a democratic Socialist.
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
It may be that the intensity of the problem is new, but the problem itself is not new. We have had automatic machinery for the last 30 or 40 years. The electric telegraph and railway train, when they came in, displaced the horse and coach and the carrying of letters on the road by horse and coach.
§ Mr. Gunter
The old stage coach and the train each had two men. We are within sight of the driverless train. This will come about within five years. Again men will be displaced. However, I take the hon. Member's point.
There are much wider ranging problems which I should have liked the opportunity to discuss, but I have not the time to do so. In the few minutes available to me, I want to say a word on three points.
First, I believe that we shall surmount the difficulties that face us only in so far as we have a partnership between the Government, management and employees. I do not for a moment think that industry itself can solve the problem, and I am darned sure no Government can solve it. There must be the closest co-operation. Therefore, it is incumbent on the Government to provide as quickly as possible the maximum of information upon which we can base our assessments.
I may run some risk in saying this about the duty of the Government in this place which is the guardian temple of individual liberty, but it could well be that a little tough leadership will be necessary. In saying this, I have in mind the complete reliance on voluntary methods to which the British people are so accustomed and by means of which in some ways they find an outlet for their laziness. It may well be that the Government will have to give tough and hard leadership in the solution of some of these problems by bringing employers and trade unions to an understanding of what is required from them in this period of change.
1049 Having asked the Government to give the fullest facts and leadership, I should like to say a word about management. Everybody blasts the unions. When hon. Members opposite have nothing better to do over the weekend, they think "Let us have a blast at the unions.'' There has already been reference by the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) to wildcat strikes and what is involved in all this. If one talks to some of the best of the industrialists today, they will go on record as saying that more than half of the wildcat strikes and so on are due entirely to bad management. Therefore, how can one talk about bringing in industrial discipline in dealing with the problem? Management itself has a great deal of work to do. If industrial training is necessary for craftsmen and for workmen, it is equally necessary for management. It is absolutely necessary today that management should understand that it has a tremendous part to play and that if one happens to come from a public school, that does not necessarily qualify one for a job in top-level management.
Management has a job to do, and particularly in this field it has a duty to undertake. As we face the consequences of change and the redundancy that flows from it, one thing management has to give priority to is the handling of industrial relations. It must give a lead. It has been said from this side of the House that when men are insecure and faced with redundancy they are not always rational. I am darned sure I should not be rational if I were going to be put out of my job. Therefore, there is a duty on the part of management to do whatever it can in industrial relations.
As my last point, I would say a word to my trade union friends. Unless they are prepared to adapt and change their attitude, we shall be in a right mess. I would say to some of my trade union colleagues that it is very nice to hold fast to historic wage structures and very nice to put on the altar and guard differentials which were relevant in differing days when differing processes were applied in industry. But they will have to sit down and come much closer together and understand that the wage structures in the future and the differen- 1050 tials that flow from them have to be seen in the light of an automated works and not in the light of what existed in 1937 and 1938.
Given Government leadership, and having the facts, I believe that management will play its part and that the trade unions will play theirs. I suggest to the House that if we have sufficient faith in our people and tough leadership at the top, we can surmount many of the difficulties that are bothering us.
I conclude as I started. For goodness sake, do not let us get too obsessed with all the problems and difficulties. Rather would I like to go on the platforms of the country and tell our people that if now they will change their ways and exercise the disciplines which they ought to, the opportunities that lie before this nation, which still has the finest craftsmen in the world, are limitless and Britain can still be a very great Power.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. William Whitelaw)
I am sure that the whole House is grateful to the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Dodds) for giving us this opportunity of discussing an extremely important subject. I congratulate him on his comprehensive speech, and thank him for his courtesy in letting me know in advance some of the points that he wished to raise.
I agree with the hon. Member that this subject represents a fascinating study. It is certainly one on which it is extremely difficult to limit one's remarks within a given period. I am very conscious that I have something of a reputation for being carried away past the time that is available to me. I should like to give notice now, in case I should be carried away on this occasion, that I have every intention of resuming my seat in time to ensure that the House passes the Motion. Although, having left the realm in which I used to live, I might be tempted to agree with the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) about the best place for the Whips, I assure him that on this occasion I think that a Whip close to me would be a very good thing.
In replying for the Government, I want to base what I have to say on two simple and widely accepted premises. First, as the hon. Member for Southwark stressed, in what I think the whole House 1051 would agree was an extremely interesting and very wise speech, our nation will be economically strong only if we are prepared to accept rapid technological change and take full advantage of the opportunities which it offers. Secondly, and no less important, we must attach the highest priority to overcoming the human problems which the resulting changes in our employment pattern inevitably create. It is necessary to appreciate what this involves. I assure the hon. Member for Bilston (Mr. R. Edwards) that I am certainly not complacent about it.
I start by giving some indication of the employment changes which have taken place in recent years and the trends which we must expect in the future.
Since the war nearly 1 million new jobs have been created in engineering industries, nearly ¾ million in financial, professional and other services and more than ½ million in the distributive trades. In the same period the numbers employed in agriculture have fallen by ¼ million, there are more than 150,000 fewer people employed in the mines, over 100,000 fewer in the textile industries and over 50,000 fewer in shipbuilding.
The balance, therefore, has been favourable. There has been a net increase in the total working population during the post-war years of more than 2½ million people. Much of this increase has come from the employment of married women. These figures show clearly what rapid and extensive changes can take place in the composition of the labour force in a few years.
In the future we cannot assume that the pattern will be exactly the same, but some of these trends at least are likely to persist. The total numbers at work will continue to grow, though a little more slowly, partly for population reasons and partly because we cannot expect women's employment to continue to increase at the same rate.
There will, no doubt, be further declines in some sectors, such as agriculture and mining. On the other hand, the service industries, already numerically more important than manufacturing industries, will certainly continue to 1052 increase. In manufacturing industry we shall see a continuation of the trend towards the employment of more white collar workers. This is in the administrative, technical and clerical jobs. I would also agree with the hon. Member for Southwark that we may well be passing into what he described as the twilight of unskilled labour.
These are the general trends, but it is clear that if we are to assess accurately training requirements and give good advice to young people in their choice of career, we must give more precise information.
This, of course, is what the Motion requires when it refers to manpower planning, and this point has been emphasised by the hon. Member for Erith and Cray-ford himself and by my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Dudley Smith). It was to obtain such information that the Ministry of Labour, a year ago, set up the Manpower Research Unit. The hon. Member for Erith and Crayford asked for some further information about this.
The full-time staff of the unit at headquarters is now 18. In addition, a large number of the staff in our Statistics Department and in the regions are involved in the work of the surveys. Also, the work of the unit is supplemented by a number of academic research projects. I would like to assure the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford that we are associated with these.
Besides looking at the general picture, the unit is now going into some of these trends in greater detail. As the House already knows, the unit is conducting special surveys of the metal manufacturing and metal using industries and the construction industries and has recently launched an inquiry into the effect of computers on office employment. By means of all these studies the unit hopes to throw some light not only on the future general distribution of manpower between industries but, of equal importance, on the likely changes in the occupational structures in these industries.
It is a commonplace that the increasing concentration of industry into larger units and the introduction of more advanced techniques in leading to increased demands for people with higher qualifications and skills.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)
Could my hon. Friend tell us when he expects the unit to report on office employment?
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I am coming to that in just a moment.
This, clearly, has important implications for our systems of education and industrial training. The unit is examining these trends in an attempt to discover more clearly which categories of workers are being affected by these economic and technological changes, and—and this, I think, and hope, answers the question of my hon Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mr. G. Johnson Smith)—is hoping to publish some of the results of this work this summer. By setting up the unit the Government have shown in a practical way their commitment to manpower planning and we hope that the information which the unit publishes will make it easier for industries and firms alike to plan their own manpower requirements.
At industry level the industrial inquiries of the National Economic Development Council have thrown up a great deal of information which can provide a most useful basis for further work both by employers' associations and also individual employers for the assessment of their own needs. I would have thought that the work of N.E.D.C. and all the "little Neddies" which have been set up gives some sort of answer to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bilston, who said that when he introduced a Bill he did not get a debate in the House.
There will also be an important rôle in the field of manpower planning for the boards to be set up under the new Industrial Training Act which became law last Thursday, and which, as the House heard at Question Time today, is being implemented with the greatest possible speed by my right hon. Friend.
Forward planning of manpower is not only important at industry level. It is also essential in the individual firm. No employer would think of handling his financial affairs on a day-to-day basis. He would be wanting to look at least a year ahead, often much further. Surely he has like need to look ahead at his manpower supply.
1054 This was stressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick, in what I thought a most interesting speech. If a potential redundancy is foreseen well in advance it will often be possible to avoid it altogether or at least to keep it to manageable size. Here, I would agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Southwark that it is a great mistake to exaggerate in advance the likely scale of a redundancy. All experience goes to show the truth of that remark.
At the same time, it is certainly not in the best interests of the nation, the employer, or, indeed, of those employed in the firm, for workers to be kept on when productive employment cannot be provided for them. But the employer will be able to do much to minimise dismissals by adjusting recruiting, providing alternative work, and retraining redundant workers for other jobs within the firm—provided always that he has time for these things, and only forward planning can give him the time.
§ Dr. Jeremy Bray (Middlesbrough, West)rose——
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I am very sorry I cannot give way. I did my best to allow as many hon. Members to take part in the debate as possible before I spoke, and I want to answer as many of the points as I pan. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will appreciate why I cannot give way.
We must not think that the effects of redundancy are confined to those who lose their jobs. The fear of redundancy and the feeling of insecurity which it engenders can affect the workers in a firm, or indeed in an industry, with far-reaching effects on industrial relations and on productivity, and a lot of damage can be done where the workers are kept in the dark about what is happening, so that gossip and rumours are given a free field. This is why it is so important that workers, through their representatives, should be taken into the confidence of the management at the earliest possible moment—I was very glad to hear what my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) said in an intervention about this.
I also feel that it is most important that the maximum amount of warning should be given to individuals who will 1055 be affected. The Contracts of Employment Act, which comes into force next July, sets minimum requirements for notice, but I would emphasise here, as we did throughout the passage of the Bill, that that is a minimum, and that the good employer will, I think, want to give a much longer period of warning than mere compliance with these requirements would satisfy.
As was very properly stressed by the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford and by my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick and others, what the redundant worker most wants is a new job. I am glad that the hon. Member, in his Motion, has referred to the part which the employment exchange services can play in meeting the problems of redundancy. The employment exchanges have a carefully devised and highly flexible procedure for dealing with redundancy as soon as the exchanges are informed of forthcoming redundancies in their areas. They make arrangements to register the workers who wish to use the Ministry's services as far in advance of the date of discharge as possible. Each worker is given a full employment interview and efforts are made to put him in touch with employers who have suitable vacancies.
In many cases, I can say to my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Turner), who made the interesting point about housing, employers agree that offices may be set up at factories where the redundancies are taking place, as has happened in the case of the Royal Ordnance Factory at Woolwich. This often saves a good deal of time, and sometimes lists of vacancies are put up so that workers can indicate those in which they are interested. Redundant workers are considered for local jobs and special approaches are made to likely employers who may have vacancies. In addition, suitable vacancies in other areas which are circulated through the employment exchange machinery are brought to the notice of redundant workers who are willing to take jobs away from home.
If a redundant worker wants to work in a particular area away from home, arrangements can be made to find him a suitable vacancy in that area. I can 1056 only say that, of course, with all this work it greatly helps our employment exchanges if employers give good notice of any forthcoming vacancies.
§ Mr. Mendelson rose——
§ Mr. Mendelson rose——
§ Mr. Whitelaw
The hon. Member spoke for a very long time himself and I am trying very hard to answer as many points as I can and to conclude before seven o'clock.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
Some hon. Members have referred to the relatively small part played by the employment exchanges in placing redundant workers from English Electric at Stevenage and Luton, as described by Mrs. Dorothy Wedderburn in her interesting study, "White Collar Redundancy".
I think that it must be pointed out that the Stevenage and Luton areas are good employment areas with a high demand for labour, particularly skilled labour. Many of the men concerned were in scarcity occupations, draughtsman, technicians, inspectors, and so on, who could obtain jobs quickly by applying direct to nearby firms or answering newspaper advertisements. Also, English Electric invited 160 other employers to visit the premises and engage people direct.
It should also be stated that the value of an employment exchange's work in a redundancy of this sort cannot be judged solely in terms of the placings which it makes. Frequently, a man obtains a job on his own as a result of help and advice which he has received at the employment exchange. Nevertheless, we have to realise that in the minds of some workers, and, indeed, some employers, there is a prejudice against the employment exchange. They are apt to regard it mainly as a place for paying out "the dole." I am very glad to have this opportunity of stressing publicly how keen everyone in the Ministry of Labour is to eradicate this misleading and out-of-date image. We shall be most grateful for any assistance or 1057 advice that hon. Members can give us in this task in their own constituencies.
During the last two years, I have had the good fortune to visit many employment exchanges in all parts of the country. I realise that the building itself and its location in the town are extremely important factors. I think that anyone who has seen some of the new employment exchange buildings will agree that they are both attractive and modern. I should like also to tell the House how struck I have been by the enthusiasm and efficiency of the staffs. They are extremely anxious to play their full part in providing a placing service with human understanding.
In her study Mrs. Wedderburn also referred to the more specialised service provided by the Professional and Executive Register. I think hon. Members know the purpose of this service, which is operated at 38 of our larger employment exchanges. It caters for those, among others, whose good administrative jobs overseas have ended when Colonial Territories have gained their independence, and also for those who have retired from responsible positions in Her Majesty's Forces. I am sure that the House will agree that the resettlement of these people is extremely important.
In 1963, 6,000 placings were made, and I have here a few examples of them. A consultant barrister was placed as a computer manager at £2,800 a year. An I.L.O. vacancy for a senior industrial engineer was filled at £4,300 a year, plus expenses. I should like to stress to the House that we have many good candidates on the register, frequently from people in employment, who want to exchange their jobs. We would, therefore, welcome more co-operation from employers in notifying vacancies. This would give rise to a wider range of openings. I am sometimes surprised to see that some employers spend considerable sums of money in inserting advertisements without even trying to find out whether they could meet their requirements through a free service.
Hon. Members have rightly stressed the importance of training and retraining in any programme of readjustment. Here, I agree very much with the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick 1058 that it is important that young people who come into industry should receive training which is sufficiently broadly based for them to adapt themselves to technical change later in their lives, and to undertake retraining if necessary. I am rather disturbed when I hear of young people receiving an unnecessarily narrow and specialised training. If changes labs should make that training out of date, they will be in almost as bad a position as if they had received no training at all.
The Industrial Training Act recognises the shared responsibility of the employers, the unions and the world of education for seeing that the training given to young people reaches a sufficiently high standard. One aspect of that responsibility will be to see that the training, takes into account the likelihood of continuing technical change. This is a very important feature of the duties which the Act will place on the new industrial training boards. Their first task wall undoubtedly be concerned with the training of young people, and I should like to make it perfectly clear that they have responsibility for all forms of training, and adult retraining comes into that as well.
In the shorter term, the Government's main contribution is the expansion of facilities for the training and retraining of adults at Government training centres. I should like to say, in this connection, that I was greatly heartened recently when I visited the new centre at Dunfermline and talked to some of the trainees, ninny of them former miners from areas affected by closures. I was delighted to find that they were extremely enthusiastic and felt that they had been given new hope by the training they were receiving, and were looking forward to taking their places in industry again as skilled workers. I think that their enthusiasm was tremendous and it deserves every possible encouragement.
Some hon. Members, notably the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford and the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Whitlock) have suggested that our programme is inadequate to satisfy the need. I was rather impressed by what was said by the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson). I believe that we have to be guided by experience, and 1059 match the facilities, as far as possible, to the demand, while remaining reasonably satisfied that both the kind of training that we give and the numbers we train are in line with the jobs available.
I am sure that hon. Members will appreciate how important this is if we are to obtain the support and co-operation of employers and trade unions which we need and which we hope to receive without reservation. But I should like to agree with what hon. Members have said that we must, and we will, keep a very close eye on the situation as it develops and remain prepared to make whatever changes may be justified in our programme.
I noted what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) and the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford about instructors, We have, in fact, courses for the instructors and we are certainly looking into that aspect of it.
I turn to the last, but certainly not the least, important requirement of the Motion. The Government are keenly aware that one of the major problems of industrial change is the financial loss which it can bring to a worker through a spell of unemployment or a possible fall in earnings unless proper plans are made. That is why I welcome the reference to "financial provision for redundancy". During the Second Reading debate of the Private Member's Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. J. Silverman) my right hon. Friend went into this problem in considerable detail and also gave the House a full account of the Government's consultations with industry. I shall not go over the same ground again. I shall not be tempted to test my mathematics with that of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West or come between him and the hon. Member for Southwark on the question of carrots and their size.
These are some of the ways in which we are seeking to solve the human problems involved in the changing pattern of our industry. Many hon. Members have suggested ways in which our services could be improved. I can assure them that their constructive ideas will be most 1060 carefully studied. When, as in this case, we are dealing with matters very important to individual men and women one can never, indeed should never, be satisfied. Nevertheless, I have sought to show the House just how much the Government are already doing and indeed thereby to counter some of the criticisms which have been made.
I am sure that it will be the general view of the House that the Motion which we are debating has enabled us to have a helpful and constructive debate. By their actions and in their plans the Government have given ample proof that they accept its terms.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That this House, appreciating the human problems caused by technological change in industry, urges Her Majesty's Government, in co-operation with employers and trade unions, to take steps to alleviate any consequential hardship to individuals by means of manpower planning and research, development of the services provided by employment exchanges, schemes of training and retraining and financial provision for redundancy.