§ 3.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Ben Ford (Bradford, North)
I beg to move,That this House, recognising the importance of skilled manpower in an expanding economy and the need to take into account the implications of technological development and change and our prospective manpower resources, urges Her Majesty's Government to take these factors fully into account in its policies for securing an adequate supply of skilled manpower.While waiting to be called I think I have experienced every human emotion, ranging from eager anticipation to uttter frustration. Nevertheless, my time is upon me.
It is fortuitous that two Motions of this character should be on the Order Paper on the same day; it is a question of the luck of the draw, I suppose. Yet I doubt whether it would have been humanly possible to devise two more perfectly complementary debates.
This being my first major utterance in the House, perhaps I may be allowed to digress from a strict application to the terms of the Motion for a minute or two in order to draw attention to the constituency which I have the honour to represent, Bradford, North.
Bradford is famed for its wool textile industry—an industry which, among many other virtues, exports yarns, tops and cloths to a value of more than £165 million per annum. Although the wool textile industry is the staple employer, there is a large and growing engineering sector, the problems of which I am acquainted with from personal experience. It might, therefore, be considered peculiarly apposite that I have been fortunate enough to catch Mr. Speaker's eye today in moving the Motion.
Some may ask why I, a native of the southern counties, have gone to a northern constituency. The answer is quite simple and straightforward: I am merely making my contribution to the arrestment of the south-east drift. The previous Member for Bradford, North represented the constituency for 14 years with great distinction. His public activities, both within and without Parliament, were ably conducted and brought him well-earned recognition. His innings is 1476 now closed. I hope that mine will be as long and effective.
It may appear at first sight that the Motion is rather imprecisely drawn. That is so, for the original intention was to allow a wide-ranging debate on this crucial and important matter which must be understood and dealt with if we are as a nation to survive and progress in the economic and social fields. Indeed, I am pleased to note that my right hon. Friend the Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) intends to reply personally to the debate on behalf of the Government. I am sure that the House and the nation will find his remarks most noteworthy.
The first thing we have to do today is to define what we mean when we talk about skilled manpower. Generally, the term "skilled man" has been taken to mean a man who has undergone an apprenticeship or a defined period of training and reached a certain standard of proficiency in manual occupations. In a science-based economy, this definition is far too narrow and I shall be referring to a far broader spectrum of ability in addressing myself to the terms of the Motion.
Let me mention just a few of the other occupations involving skills equal to or surpassing that of the artisan: research workers, draughtsmen, designers, laboratory technicians, technical salesmen, technical writers, production engineers, work study engineers, installation engineers, supervisors, middle management and executives. We should not forget that even managing directors are hired and fired these days. Therefore, when we are speaking of change due to technological development, this concerns a wide area of the working population.
If one were to develop the theme to its fullest extent, the discussion would involve not only my right hon. Friend, but Ministers from four or five other Departments. I noted with interest yesterday that the Statistical Unit of my right hon. Friend's Department had gone to the Ministry of Defence for one of its sources of information. I am rather intrigued by this. Perhaps it was only to make a general inquiry about whether there would be war within the next few years. If that were so, we would all be interested in the reply.
1477 The central problem is to provide for a smooth transition as patterns of employment change. To achieve this, the first requirement is reasonably accurate forecasting of what in many factories is called the forward load. We have to know what is the impact of the strides in science and technology, what changes are taking place in the structure of standard jobs, what are the new jobs, what jobs are disappearing and what jobs are most in demand. We know that new jobs are coming into existence, but we do not know precisely when these jobs develop. We also know that some of the jobs which are disappearing are of the simpler type which involve processes replaced by automation, as well as the lower levels of supervision and management. We cannot say that they are obsolete because people remain employed in these jobs. The significant change which is taking place is in the numbers of persons employed in different occupations, which offers clues as to what jobs are in most demand and those for which demand is shrinking in our changing economy.
The Manpower Research Unit of the Ministry of Labour is endeavouring to supply this requirement in analysis and Information. It published a report last year in which employment patterns were forecast until 1973 in terms of insured workers. Assuming a generally high level of economic activity, the report suggests an increase in the numbers employed from 25,790,000 in 1963 to 26,596,000 in 1973, an enlargement of 806,000 in the working force. Even then, however, we shall be short of skilled labour. No doubt my right hon. Friend has more up-to-date information at his disposal.
Concealed in those figures are the movements of workers between industries as technology develops and it seems to me that there is a long way to go before we have all the information at our disposal to enable us to provide for our education and training programmes. We classify people by occupation, but what are we doing about investigating the changes in the occupations themselves? In the United States of America, human engineering is sometimes referred to. In other places, it is called cybernetics. But an enormous amount more study has to be undertaken in these fields.
In passing, I might say that in my opinion training for skill covers not only 1478 manual occupations, but all the occupations which I have mentioned earlier, including business administration and management. A little while ago, the Acton Society Trust carried out a survey of business trades and revealed that we had quite a way to go in deciding what we want in this direction and the best way to go about it. It seems to me, therefore, that the functions of the industrial training boards will have to be extended considerably to deal with the situation and that Government finance and positive Government direction will to some extent be necessary. Automation and computer techniques are often made out to be bogeys, but so far as I have been able to assess the position we should have no fear of these devices, and in a well-run society should actually welcome them both as a relief from drudgery and as an economic necessity. The fact is that in future the total population of Great Britain will be increasing faster than the working population, so we actually require these aids to productivity.
In any event, the forecasts available to us so far indicate a continuing shortage of skilled workers, and, perhaps more seriously, a shortage of professional scientific manpower. Indeed, the Report on Scientific and Technological Manpower in Great Britain, Cmnd. 2146, presented in 1963, estimates a total shortfall of scientists and technicians in this year, 1965, amounting to 28,000. The Annual Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, Cmnd. 2538, presented in December, 1964, also draws attention to the shortage of this type of manpower, urging the importance, in particular, of the technicians who, whilst not being qualified graduates, nevertheless stand between the scientists and the draughtsmen, and are complementary to both.
If we can draw the threads together, then it appears that N.E.D.C., regional planning boards, industrial training boards must all work closely together in this matter and be supplied with the best possible information. General education must be tied up more closely with industrial requirements. Technical education must be expanded rapidly, and more university places made available. We have not anything like approached the technical high schools of the American or Continental pattern. We have to begin a process of education to accustom people 1479 to change, not only in occupation but in location, for the changing industrial society will require a considerable degree of flexibility.
It must never be forgotten that in the end we are talking of people, and that everything possible must be done to help them maintain their dignity and sense of purpose, and it is here, of course, that the State has a great rôle to play. Perhaps one difficult problem will be the older employee who cannot so easily be retrained.
Most thinking people are agreed that to face the situations arising from technological development and economic necessity the three-sided partnership of Government, management and labour must become a living reality, with the Government taking a somewhat larger share of responsibility than heretofore, for, of course, these changes affect the very nature of society itself. There are still those who refuse to accept this thesis. For instance, disputes are taking place up and down the land at this moment over the question of trade union recognition, nearly always with small and medium-small employers who dig their heels in and refuse to accept that, like it or not, trade unions will be a central feature in our industrial system for the foreseeable future. Those people are the industrial troglodytes of the 'sixties.
I have something to say to the trade unions as well, and I believe that I am well qualified to make utterances in this direction, having spent thirteen years on the shop floor in the engineering industry prior to taking my seat here, eight of those years as the convenor of shop stewards in a large establishment and responsible both for organisation and negotiation.
My message is simply this—pull the trade union structure out of the horse and buggy period into the space age. It is more than time that we carried out a little cross-breeding on the T.U.C. cart horse to fine down the stock: speed is just as important as strength these days. Communications within some trade union organisations are appalling, based as they are on procedures originating in rule books more applicable to the age of the itinerant journeyman than to the highly concentrated mass memberships of today.
1480 Some trade unions will not even assist full-time officials to buy cars to carry out their work, and in most of them research facilities and specialist departments dealing with such things as work study and cost analysis are almost non-existent. Trade union full-time officers are still some of the most overworked and underpaid people in the country, but, having said that, I also say that the trade unions should look closely at their methods of selection.
There is no escape for any of us from total involvement in the coming society. Each individual has his contribution to make, and it really matters.
I have been in some difficulty today as to the best manner of comporting myself before the House in this unusual situation of moving a Motion, and doing it with a maiden speech. I am aware of the conventional brevity expected of maiden speeches, but even now I feel that I have done only scant justice to the Motion. I hope that the House will accept that I have attempted to make a happy compromise, and that I will carry the House with me.
§ 3.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)
I start by congratulating the hon. Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Ford) on his fortune in the Ballot, and on his choice of subject. He said that this was his first major speech in the House. I can assure him that I crave the same indulgence as he craved, because this is my first major pronouncement from this bench on matters to do with the Ministry of Labour.
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman very sincerely on the constructive and moderate way in which he introduced and discussed this subject. I think we all feel that he is admirably fitted to his task. I notice that, by profession, he is an electronic fitter wireman, which is a highly skilled occupation, and one from which we on this side of the House feel that he can ill be spared, especially when we think with pleasure of our friend and colleague whom he replaced in Bradford, North.
I do not think that it is possible to exaggerate the importance of labour mobility, the two senses of mobility which the hon. Gentleman mentioned, the sense of workers moving from place to 1481 place, from location to location, and the sense of movement from job to job, from skill to skill. As the tempo of industrial change increases, and as the need for greater adaptability increases, these two things must surely become paramount in terms of our survival as an industrial nation.
I do not know the figures for the actual change in the mobility of labour. I imagine that in the last five years between ½ million and ¾ million people changed their jobs. It would be interesting if the Minister of Labour had figures of this sort of thing. I imagine that in the next five years nearly 1 million people will change their jobs, because this is what is necessary to adapt ourselves to changing circumstances.
Leaving aside the local employment problem, which I do wish to discuss here, the basic problem that we face as a nation is the shortage of men and women of all kinds—managers, technicians, skilled and even unskilled people—as is evidenced by the alacrity with which immigrants can snap up jobs even if they have no skills at all.
I am sure that this is at the back of much of the success of Germany and some of our European counterparts in that they have had an enormous influx of labour and people of all sorts into their countries. I am sure that the growth rate of Germany would look much less impressive if we could see it on a per capita basis rather than on a national basis. That country must have had 5 million to 6 million immigrants into Germany since the war.
In this country we should all reject the solution of increasing our total labour force by such means. We have the vital necessity of getting everybody in this country in the job where he can do the most productive work, and it is in that light that we wish to look at the problem. The only way to solve the shortage of manpower is to make sure that everybody is encouraged to enter the right job from the point of view of the country as well as from his own point of view.
The pamphlet of the Manpower Research Unit, to which reference has been made, contains some extremely interesting information in this respect. It confirms what I have said—that the increase in the growth of our labour force 1482 will slow down, that, from natural causes, there will be a slower growth in our labour force in the period of years lying adhead. We expect a relatively bigger expansion of jobs in manufacturing and servicing and a relative slackening off of jobs in the rest of the economy. There will be an increase in female employment and at the same time an increase in technical or white-collar jobs at the expense of manual jobs. All of this underlines, if it were necessary, the need for extreme flexibility to make the most efficient use of everybody that we have.
Nor do we find it easy to assess the future of the skilled elements in our labour force by looking at the industries which are likely to expand and those which are likely to decline in the future. For instance, I notice that only 20 per cent. of the work force in textiles is skilled whereas in shipbuilding 53 per cent. is skilled. These are declining industries, and it is therefore difficult to say that by running down certain industries we are likely to bring many skilled, or unskilled, men on to the market. We can determine no such trend by looking at the figures and we are faced with a very confusing situation.
Luckily, as the economy grows and absorbs and needs more men, so at the same time new techniques and technological advances will make for us labour-saving devices and new means of doing work; machines will do the work which men have done in the past. The problem again boils down to one of distributing people into the right jobs.
In the previous debate we discussed careers and the need to get new starters in work into the right jobs. It is fitting to talk a little about moving those who are already in work into the jobs in which they should be. I am convinced that the greatest single problem which faces us in this respect is to remove the fear of change from men's minds—to remove, on the one hand, the fear of redundancy and unemployment and, on the other hand, the fear of the novelty and difficulty of trying to learn new skills and new jobs.
The hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett), whose maiden speech earlier this afternoon I greatly enjoyed, mentioned this subject, as did the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Binns), whose maiden speech was no less excellent. He 1483 talked about Luddites. Happily, we have gone beyond the stage where workers will march on Elliot Automation and break up the machines and computers which are being produced there. We have got away from that.
Nevertheless, this exemplifies the whole attitude which we have to break down. The whole range of restrictive practices, of demarcation, of the limitation of apprenticeships, were designed to safeguard the status quo. It is understandable, when there are no other jobs for men to go to, that they should employ these devices, but I put it to the House that it is unforgivable, when there are plenty of other jobs for people to go to, that these devices should be maintained.
One of the serious tasks which face us—and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me—is to find ways of removing this psychological fear, this feeling of insecurity, which stands in our way in this respect. The first course of action which has developed over recent years for removing this fear, this resistance to change and to mobility, lies in the way of making unemployment less of a hardship.
We had the Contracts of Employment Act, 1963, which was a tremendously important Measure. In what it gave the worker it was not, perhaps, so very important, because the mere fact of giving two or three weeks' notice is not enough to remove the worry in a man's mind. What it seemed to do was to bring the Ministry of Labour directly into the ring, so that it was beginning to work towards positive solutions to this problem rather than being, to a greater or lesser extent, a spectator holding the balance between the two sides of industry. For that reason alone, I think that the Contracts of Employment Act was of immense importance.
I am delighted that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour is to follow up this Act with the severance pay Bill which we are expecting to be introduced at any time, because I am certain that it is the logical consequence and the next stage in this policy as a whole which has the great benefit of being very largely a non-party policy. Whether the right hon. Gentleman should bring forward wage-related benefits or a severance pay scheme is a question 1484 which it would be wrong for me to debate now. I will only say that I welcome the general direction of policy towards trying to make the period of unemployment between jobs not at all harmful to the individual.
I wish to bring to the right hon. Gentleman's notice the importance which is given to this matter in the Common Market. It is indicative of the tremendous importance which the countries of the Common Market attach to this matter that the cost of retraining, of moving home, of living expenses while the man is at a retraining institution and of, perhaps, finding a new house is borne by the Community. Each country pays into the fund its share and draws out what has been expended on mobility of labour expenses; its own share. Therefore, if a country in the Common Market falls down on its job it loses financially, and if it does more retraining and gives more help over mobility then it gains financially. This illustrates the very great stress laid upon this whole thing in the Common Market.
This raises in our minds the question whether we should extend our encouragement for the mobility of labour to such things as help with houses, retraining grants, help with the removal of furniture and effects, and also to many other aspects of the difficulties which face a man when he has to move not only from one skill to another but from one part of the country to another.
Then, of course, there are the employment exchanges themselves, and I would be churlish not to mention what great and important work they have done in the past and are still doing. I was delighted to see that when the right hon. Gentleman addressed a gathering recently he talked about the work of the white-collar employment exchange. This principle must be one which is spread right across the field of employment. I think it fair to say also that this is another very big link-up with the debate which vie had earlier this afternoon.
The careers advisory service that has been conceived today was discussed very largely in terms of a service for school leavers starting their first job. But, surely, the same sort of service is needed for adults who are thinking of changing one job for another. The skills they have already acquired may be better utilized 1485 due to the benefit of advice concerning a second alternative.
My hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Dudley Smith), in his admirable speech, hoped that we would reach a time when men had two skills each. The more the merrier so far as I am concerned, but this is clearly the direction in which we must move and this brings us to the vital importance of training and retraining. It is easy to pay lip-service to these two very important subjects, but I should like to dwell for a minute or two on the subject of retraining itself, because it is of much greater importance to people changing their jobs in the middle of their lives than is the original training.
We must continually watch the grants which men receive when attending retraining courses. I know that they have been kept under review, but I should like the Minister to see whether there is any possibility of improving them—not only now, but as time goes on—because it is clearly a great disincentive if the grant which a man receives when attending a training course is inadequate.
Secondly, I hope that he will continue to develop retraining courses as fast as he can. The last Government more or less doubled the number of places on paper to be provided and I hope that good progress is being made in getting those places finished so that we can start using these retraining colleges. Can the right hon. Gentleman say what further plans he has for building more? If he cannot say now, perhaps he will make a statement on the whole subject at some other time, because there is clearly a vast amount to be done.
Time forbids me to talk at length about many other important aspects of this vital question. We hope that the rate of change of people from one job to another and one place to another will be accelerated. We hope that it will become almost a pride in people that they have a mobile outlook and can move from job to job. Of course, we do not want to go so far as people always changing their jobs perhaps for a few extra shillings, or anything of that sort, but we want to encourage a reasonably adventurous spirit, willingness to accept change and to get over the difficulties which I have mentioned, and to have an outlook suitable 1486 for the second Elizabethan age and its rapid technological change.
The hon. Member for Bradford, North has done a great service by drawing the attention of the House to these problems. My only regret is that time prohibits more hon. Members from taking part in what is such an important debate that we have not been able to do it justice. I welcome the Motion and say that we on these benches give it our full support.
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. R. J. Gunter)
May I, first, congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Ford) on having had the courage to make his first contribution on so major a subject and in so short a time? I am sure that the House will look forward to having the benefit of his experience in industry. May I also say, with some diffidence, that the speech of the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) was worthy of the Ministry of Labour, where we forsake all our party politics?
There is no subject more fitting for discussion and analysis than that of skilled manpower in industry. Whatever theories we may have, we are faced with the fact that unless we can get into our industries a sufficient number of skilled men, not only in the old crafts but in the new, there is not much hope before us. The first fact we face is that there is a general shortage of skilled manpower.
Against this background, we need to know how the situation will develop over the next few years so that we can, as the Motion says, take account of the developing position in our policies and so ensure a sufficient supply of skilled manpower in the longer term.
The first questions we face in considering our future needs for skilled manpower are simple enough—how many skilled men are we likely to need and in what occupations, how are the content and structure of the skilled work likely to change, and as far as we can predict, in what areas of the country are requirements in particular types of skill most likely to arise.
Those are questions which, on the surface, appear very simple, but they are difficult to answer. They cannot be answered simply by projecting past trends, 1487 nor by just carrying out detailed inquiries into industries' plans. Both of these are necessary sources of information, but the results obtained by such methods must be examined in the light of such factors as, for example, technological change and likely economic developments in the country as a whole and in particular regions.
There are many agencies pondering these complicated questions of forecasting and planning. Our industrial training boards, our E.D.C.s and many universities are turning their attention to them. In particular, I might mention the unit which has already been referred to, my Ministry's Manpower Research Unit. Last summer, a wide and comprehensive review of the general manpower situation which we can expect to see for some years ahead was brought out. The unit is now engaged on a number of other studies from which we hope to throw light on the changing requirements for skilled men in the most important industries.
These industries have been selected not only for the importance of their contribution to the needs of the economy, but also because of their susceptibility to technological change. We have a study of the metal manufacturing and metal-using industries which will be published shortly.
Unfortunately, time does not permit me to deploy all the arguments and facts that I should like to have raised in the debate, but I would say that the Manpower Research Unit—which we hope to develop—is doing a very useful job. We are hoping that its work can be developed, for if there is one field in which sound and good prophecy is required, it is in the field of our manpower requirements, particularly our skilled manpower, during a period of technological change.
The hon. Member mentioned the importance of industrial training. In the quest for more skilled manpower we welcome the Industrial Training Act and we shall do all we can to implement it. As the House knows, there are already established five industrial training boards—for engineering, construction, iron and steel, wool and now shipbuilding—and we propose to cover a vast area of industry as rapidly as we can. During 1965 the boards that we have established will be raising their first levies and paying 1488 out grants to firms carrying out training. To get the machinery for this going is a really major operation. The imposition of the levy is bound to have a tremendous impact on the industries covered by boards and will itself encourage firms to think seriously about training.
But is will obviously take a longer period of time for boards to work out training standards. Each board is responsible for ensuring that sufficient training of an adequate standard is done to meet its industry's requirements. Because of the rapid pace of technological change and changing market circumstances, it is clear that, in the future, these boards will have to keep their training requirements under constant review.
The boards will also have to make sure that the training given enables men to be adaptable to change. This means that training for occupations requiring skill will have to be broadly based and accompanied by an element of further education. A great deal of retraining goes on in industry today—far more, I suspect, than industry is ever given credit for. I hope that the industrial training boards will help to establish what is being done in that way. Ultimately the boards will take responsibility for ensuring that adequate provision is made in the field of adult retraining. At the moment, they are primarily concerned with new entrants, and, for the time being, the Government must make a large direct contribution to adult retraining.
The Government training centres have been engaged in the accelerated training of adults for many years and they have made a substantial contribution to our skilled labour force. They provide courses which are short, but intensive—in most cases of six months duration—in which they teach the basic skills of a trade. They are, therefore, admirably adapted to serve a double purpose. The first is to provide a quick increase in the skilled labour force where it is most urgently needed. The second is to enable men who unfortunately may have missed training and apprenticeship, or whose skill has become out-dated by industrial change, to acquire quickly a skill that is in demand.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
Following my right hon. Friend's eulogy of Government training centres, may I 1489 ask whether he can make sure that at the end of the day those who have been through such courses will find it easier to obtain a job?
§ Mr. Gunter
That is a task with which, as my hon. Friend knows very well, I have been struggling for many months. There are certain complicated aspects, but we are dealing with them to the best of our ability.
From 1948 the centres were reduced in number and by 1963 there were no more than 13, with a capacity for fewer than 2,500 men. In that year the need for their expansion was seen and a programme was launched to raise their number to 30 and their capacity to 6,000. The House knows that we have been pushing on at a rapid speed with this programme which is now nearing completion. There are now 26 training centres. Two more will shortly begin training and the remaining two are to be completed by the end of this year.
We shall then be training at a rate of up to 12,000 men a year. But the signs are that this will not be sufficient for our needs and I am considering with great urgency what further expansion of Government training centres should now be put in hand. Already, I have decided to establish two new centres in areas which are not at present conveniently served. These are the Plymouth area and the area of the Medway towns.
This operation calls for the whole-hearted co-operation of the trade unions and of the employers. I am gratified by the support which has been forthcoming. If there are still points of difficulty with some of my union friends I hope that those concerned will see the necessity for this training and decide to accept the men we train. It would be deplorable if new industry were discouraged from coming into those areas where it is most needed because of a shortage of the types of skilled labour demanded, or if new factories or houses so urgently required were delayed because men trained as builders were not allowed to work in their new trades.
A few words now about the efficient use of skilled labour. Besides increasing our resources of skilled manpower, we must face the paramount need to make better use of the skilled men we already have. This is one aspect of the broader 1490 problem of the more efficient use of manpower generally. It is not to the credit of this nation that it can be demonstrated that we are using our skilled manpower at present far less efficiently than our competitors overseas.
If I were asked to make an estimate or hazard a guess as to the manpower saving that could be achieved by better utilisation of labour I should say that it was in the region of 10 to 15 per cent., and I doubt that any informed person in industry today would challenge that. We simply cannot afford to continue in this way. There are many ways in which skilled labour in particular is being under-employed. I have not the time to go into the matter now, but we all know that in many of our great industries today skilled men are doing unskilled jobs. It ought to stop.
Now, just a few words about aids to the mobility of labour. I am glad to be able to tell the House that, in pursuance of the policies set out in the Government's White Paper on the Economic Situation, the various allowances payable under the Ministry's transfer schemes will be increased as from 18th February. The lodging allowances will go up from 42s. to 70s. a week. The incidental expenses grant and assistance towards legal and other costs of buying and selling a house will be increased. A small settling-in grant will also be payable. The number of assisted fares home a year to which transferred workers will be entitled in the appropriate cases will be six instead of three.
I am also making arrangements so that workers who are involved in redundancies may be considered under this scheme up to six months before the discharges are to take effect. The old rule said one month and also limited the scheme to the workers who were actually to be declared redundant. Now, the arrangements are to be wider so that workers in a class of whom a substantial number are involved in redundancy may apply for assistance. I am sure that these changes, which are estimated to cost £250,000 in a full year, will make for a more effective scheme.
As regards redundancy pay and wage-related benefits, I was glad that the hon. Gentleman opposite welcomed as least in principle what we are trying to do for redundancy pay. It is quite obvious— 1491 the hon. Gentleman was quite right in saying this—that one of the biggest obstacles in getting men to change is fear—fear of reduction in their standards of life and fear of change of home. Therefore, we must do all we can to ensure that the most generous treatment is given to men who, because of national requirements, are asked to move their homes or their jobs.
I hope that the spirit which the hon. Gentleman evinced in his argument will be made manifest when we have our debate on redundancy pay. Of course, there is an argument about whether we should have had wage-related benefits first. In a perfect world it would be the most desirable thing to implement redundancy pay and wage-related benefits both at the same time. But this is not possible, or, at least, we should find it extremely difficult. I do not want to deploy the arguments now, but there would be a number of difficulties. Therefore, I hope that, when the matter comes before the House, the hon. Gentleman will at least share in leading for the Opposition and that we shall have his support in dealing with redundancy pay. We can debate the other aspects after the Bill is before the House.
If we are really to solve the problem of skilled manpower, if we are to get labour more mobile—as is our present primary requirement—then let us deal with the men affected as generously as we possibly can. If we do not, there will be sourness abroad, and in our primary requirement—to get men to move, to get them out of uneconomic industry, to get them retrained, and to get the nation as a whole moving forward—we shall not succeed.
I welcome the Motion very much, and I again extend my thanks to the hon. Member for the manner in which he approached it.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That this House, recognising the importance of skilled manpower in an expanding economy and the need to take into account the implications of technological development and change and our prospective manpower resources, urges Her Majesty's Government to take these factors fully into account in its policies for securing an adequate supply of skilled manpower.