HC Deb 26 April 1965 vol 711 cc18-9
17. Mr. Ioan L. Evans

asked the Minister of Labour how many engineering workers are unemployed; and what is the number of unfilled vacancies at the latest available date.

Mr. Marsh

35,361 workers last employed in the engineering and allied group of industries were registered as wholly unemployed on 8th March 1965. There were 72,122 notified unfilled vacancies in the same group of industries.

Mr. Evans

Will my hon. Friend give separate figures for skilled and unskilled engineering workers, and, in the light of the figures he has given, will he assure us that there are no fears for those workers employed in the defence and aircraft industries who may become redundant because of further developments?

Mr. Marsh

In the main engineering occupations which are generally accepted as skilled, there were in February, 1965, fewer than 8,000 unemployed and over 25,000 unfilled vacancies. I confirm the implication of my hon. Friend's remark, that, by and large, it should be possible, on the basis of these figures, to find employment for most of the people who will become redundant.

Mr. Lubbock

While appreciating that the problem is quite easily solved for skilled and unskilled workers, may I ask whether the hon. Member does not agree that it may be rather more difficult for white-collar workers and, in particular, for design staff in the aircraft works, whose capabilities are so specialised that it may be more difficult for them to find alternative employment?

Mr. Marsh

I hasten to correct the impression—if I gave it—that this exercise is easy. Obviously there will be difficulties for some people involved. The problem of design staff was raised a great deal over the Hawker Siddeley redundancies. In fact, the experience so far has shown that this is not so big a problem as we thought it would be.