HC Deb 01 July 1968 vol 767 cc1071-2
27. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what is the estimated total of workers in the building and construction trades unemployed at the latest available date.

Mr. Fernyhough

At 10th June, 1968, there were in Great Britain 94,900 persons registered as unemployed who last worked in the construction industry, Minimum List Heading 500 of the Standard Industrial Classification.

Mr. Hooley

Is my hon. Friend satisfied, in the light of these figures, that it is reasonable to provide so many places in Government training centres for these trades? Is there not an abundance of labour in these trades?

Mr. Fernyhough

I cannot accept that. After all, almost half of the 94,000 are unskilled workers. They do not necessarily have a long attachment to the industry. They join it at one time and leave it at another. Generally speaking, it is very necessary to continue our training schemes, remembering that we cannot have too many skilled men.

Mr. Heffer

Would my hon. Friend agree that 94,000 operatives, of whom almost half are skilled, being unemployed in the construction industry is much too high a figure? Can he say which trades are involved? Will he bear in mind that we still have a housing shortage in Britain and that these workers should be building houses and should certainly not be unemployed?

Mr. Fernyhough

I agree that the figure is too high. We are anxious to see both skilled and unskilled men in employment. It would take a considerable time to give my hon. Friend a breakdown of the figure of skilled men unemployed and, if he will permit me, I will give him the information later.

Mr. Speaker

Before calling the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Kenneth Baker) to ask Question No. 28, I remind hon. Members that the amplification system is not working and that they should speak up.