HC Deb 24 February 1969 vol 778 cc1063-4
21. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity whether she is aware that a significant number of skilled men over the age of 45 years cannot obtain comparable employment after being made redundant; if she will have a special survey made of this problem; and what proposals she has for remedying it.

Mr. Fernyhough

I am aware of the difficulties experienced by older workers who become redundant although these affect unskilled more than skilled men. It is my Department's policy to encourage employers to make capacity, not age, the test of suitability for any job and the proposals in the Redundancy Rebates Bill for changing the rate of rebate on redundancy payments are designed to discourage undue concentration of redundancy among older workers. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, retraining courses are available at Government Training Centres which are being substantially expanded.

Mr. Smith

But is it not a fact that many companies are refusing to consider skilled men over the age of 45 who have lost their jobs? Can a nation in economic difficulties afford to dispense with the skilled services of such people?

Mr. Fernyhough

No, it cannot, and I am surprised that employers, particularly in the area which the hon. Gentleman represents, should take that line. The hon. Member will be glad to know that, compared with this time last year, when there were four skilled men out of work for every three jobs available, this year there are approximately four jobs available for every three skilled men out of work.