HC Deb 26 July 1965 vol 717 cc18-20
25. Mr. Freeson

asked the Minister of Labour what number and percentage of insured workers in the United Kingdom have three weeks' paid holiday per year; and what steps he proposes to take to increase this number.

Mr. Thornton

About 735,000, or 5 per cent. of the manual workers covered by collective agreements or statutory wages regulation orders, have three weeks' paid annual holiday and a further 440,000, or about 3 per cent., will have three weeks at a future date under the terms of some recent settlements. In addition, there are a number of agreements and statutory orders under which the annual holiday entitlement varies be-between two and three weeks, according to length of continuous service. It is not possible to estimate the number of manual workers entitled to three weeks' annual holiday under these arrangements, but 2,440,000 are employed in the industries and services covered.

In the public sector the majority of non-manual workers receive a basic three weeks or are entitled to three weeks after a period of continuous service. The annual holiday provisions for non-manual workers in the private sector are in many cases not determined by collective agreement.

Holidays with pay are normally dealt with by collective bargaining and my right hon. Friend does not think that any action on his part is called for.

Mr. Freeson

Would not my hon. Friend agree that, even on the basis of the figures which he has quoted, we are well behind the majority of West European countries and possibly some other territories as well in this matter? Is he aware that most of these countries have a minimum of three weeks' holiday paid and that we very much need to extend this kind of holiday service, if one likes to call it that, throughout the majority of our workers?

Mr. Thornton

My hon. Friend is probably right in saying that we are behind West European countries on the question of paid holidays. However, in recent years unions and employers' organisations have been tending to give more attention to fringe benefits, which include longer holidays.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Will the hon. Gentleman use his influence to try to persuade workers in the Coventry area not to jump the gun over holidays, to stick to the arrangements, which have been properly drawn up between the unions and the employers' associations, laying down the holiday period, and not take an extra week ahead of the holiday period?

Mr. Thornton

I think that point is covered by a later Question.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the agricultural industry, because of the last Price Review in particular, is in no position to give extra holidays? Nevertheless, there is a strong case for agricultural workers having three weeks' holiday. It is an industry which has never gone on strike but has always done a great job for the country. Will the hon. Gentleman look into this?

Mr. Thornton

I note the hon. Gentleman's remarks, while not necessarily agreeing with his opinion.