HC Deb 26 July 1965 vol 717 cc26-8
38. Sir A. V. Harvey

asked the Minister of Labour what steps are now being taken to retain former workers on the TSR2 in this country who are now considering going overseas.

Mr. Gunter

None, Sir, except by maintaining a high level of employment here and by providing all possible help through the employment exchange service for those who need help in finding other work.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Does not the right hon. Gentleman recall that in the past eight months the House has been frequently told that men becoming redundant from the TSR2 project would go to jobs helping exports? How does he square that with the fact that it is now reliably reported that between 200 and 300 of these men are to join the Atlas Aircraft Corporation in the Union of South Africa, where they will be completely lost to this country?

Mr. Gunter

I have heard of these Press reports, but they have not been confirmed and we cannot get confirmation of them. We have had reports of the activities of American firms here, one of them using a British agent in Weybridge pubs. The agent, who was offering £200 a week, was subsequently disowned by his own firm. We have no means of stopping men who want to go abroad, but our information—and I cannot attach any figures to it—is that not many are going.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, despite the alarmist talk of widespread redundancy among certain aircraft firms, few of the men are unemployed and that other aircraft firms are advertising for labour? Will he bear that in mind when what I hope are drastic armament cuts are proposed in the future?

Mr. Ronald Bell

Has the right hon. Gentleman any figure of the number of these aircraft workers he expects to go abroad? Would he not agree that it would be lamentable if we were to import aircraft and export aircraft workers?

Mr. Gunter

The hon. Gentleman should be aware that we are living in a free society. I have no authority to go around checking on what people do.

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