HC Deb 12 April 1965 vol 710 cc932-3
11. Mr. Gurden

asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to encourage workers to use the services of the employment exchanges in competition with other agencies.

Mr. Gunter

Various steps are being taken to improve the efficiency of the service. These include experiments in organisation, a review of staff training, and the addition of some further staff. We are also hoping to make the premises more attractive.

Mr. Gurden

Does the Minister feel that his services are as efficient as those of other agencies and can cover the work which other agencies do?

Mr. Gunter

Yes, Sir, I do. We will improve them and I think they will be far better than the agencies.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the last Labour Government, in 1950, I think it was, announced their intention to introduce legislation to control fee-charging employment agencies but lost office before being able to do so, and the Tory Government, for 13 years, although they announced their intention to introduce legislation from time to time, did not do so? Will he now introduce legislation to control the operations of fee-charging employment agencies, as recommended by the I.L.O. Convention No. 49, and as carried out by a large number of other countries, including all the Western European countries?

Mr. Gunter

I have outlined the steps we are taking. I am not sure what the Leader of the House would say if I even mentioned the words "further legislation".

Mr. Godber

Has any further progress been made with the suggestion that we might arrange for payments of unemployment benefit to be made by postal draft so as to free the exchanges for more positive work?

Mr. Gunter

If I may just comment on that point, one experiment which is to start shortly provides for the unemployed to attend at the exchange once a week only and to receive their benefit through the post. Another involves the grouping of several employment exchanges under an area manager in order to improve co-ordination. We are also studying, with the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance, the possibility of using computer techniques for the calculation and payment of unemployment benefit.