HC Deb 21 November 1966 vol 736 cc918-9
11. Mr. Heffer

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what efforts are being made to find alternative work for the unemployed building workers in the North-West; whether there is building work available for them in housing, schools, and factories in development areas; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Boyden

The normal services of the employment exchanges are helping men to find alternative jobs. Over the North-West as a whole, orders for new construction work have been maintained fairly well. On Merseyside, increasing employment opportunities for building workers are likely to be available in new town and overspill areas.

Mr. Heffer

Is my hon. Friend aware that since July there has been an increase in unemployment amongst building operatives? Is not this absolutely ludicrous when at the same time we have talked in terms of cushioning development areas from unemployment? Would my hon. Friend give me an assurance that every effort will be made to ensure that there is full employment in these areas?

Mr. Boyden

I am sure that my hon. Friend would not like to exaggerate and give comfort to the Tory Party. In the North-West Region as a whole in October, 1966—only a few weeks ago—there were 6,151 building workers unemployed, 50 fewer than in October, 1964.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Can the Parliamentary Secretary explain how the facts in the latest N.F.B.T.E. bulletin, which show that the development areas are now being hit by the building squeeze, tie up with the much vaunted Government policy of regional no stop-go?

Mr. Boyden

The figures for unemployment in the building industry on the Merseyside region are 244 down on the same period two years ago.

Mr. Blaker

Will the Parliamentary Secretary confirm that in the two months up to October of this year the number of unemployed building workers has risen by 50 per cent.? Is it not a likely result of the Government's present policies that that number will continue to increase in future months?

Mr. Boyden

No, that is not correct.