HC Deb 31 October 1966 vol 735 cc18-9
26. Mr. Ridley

asked the Minister of Labour what he expects will be the total number of men redeployed during the winter of 1966–67.

Mr. Gunter

I am unable to estimate the number of men who will change jobs in any given period.

Mr. Ridley

Did the Minister without Portfolio show the right hon. Gentleman a copy of his Press hand-out, in which he appears to advocate the direction of labour? Can he deny that this is any part of Government policy?

Mr. Gunter

What this has to do with the Question before us I have no idea. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I am coming to the answer. The Minister without Portfolio immediately sent out a correction. All I say is that there is no thought at all in the mind of the Government on the question of the direction of labour. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that when he asks a Question of this character at least he should know that between 8 million and 9 million people change their jobs every year, so how I can be asked to assesss how many will do so by next winter I do not know.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a very senior official who has advised Cabinet Ministers said, some months ago, that either we should have S.E.T. or direction of labour? He said that to me personally. Will the right hon. Gentleman now deny that it is not in the Government's mind to consider this?

Mr. Gunter

I have no observation at all to make on what I should imagine was a private conversation.

Mr. Strauss

On a point of order. Is it right for an hon. Member of this House to quote a senior official, presumably a civil servant, giving the impression that he conveyed certain information or ideas, particularly without mentioning his name?

Mr. Speaker

Whether it is right or not is for the House to judge. It is not a point of order.