HC Deb 21 November 1966 vol 736 cc911-2
3. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what proposals he now has to deal with the problem of labour-only sub-contracting in the building and civil engineering industries.

Mr. Prentice

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and I have decided in principle that an independent inquiry into this subject is desirable, and we hope shortly to make a further statement after receiving comments from the Economic Development Committees for Building and for Civil Engineering.

Mrs. Short

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is very serious concern about this problem, which has been going on for some time? We should like to see some action now and not delay until another inquiry and further discussions have taken place. Will he do something about it soon?

Mr. Prentice

Yes, we are aware of the very great concern on this, but because of the great complexity of the problem which involves labour relations in the industry, and also a number of Government anxieties about the future of industrial training and so on, we need an inquiry into the facts. I agree, however, that this is a matter of urgency.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us more about what he means by an independent inquiry? Is he proud of the fact that the only Government contribution so far has been the Selective Employment Tax, which has increased the incidence of "labour-only".

Mr. Prentice

This problem existed long before the Selective Employment Tax. The E.D.C.s for the building and civil engineering industries are meeting today and tomorrow respectively and will have before them a letter from the Ministry of Labour with which I am associated. In the light of their comments on that, we hope to make a further statement.