HC Deb 30 April 1970 vol 800 cc1428-9
3. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what is the total sum so far paid out in redundancy payments; what is the number of recipients; and what is the average amount received by each beneficiary.

Mrs. Castle

During the period 6th December, 1965, to 28th February, 1970, the latest date for which figures are available, a total of £210,781,000 was paid to 945,260 redundant employees. The average amount received was £223.

Mr. Fernyhough

No one appreciates more than I do how helpful this £210 million has been to the workers affected, but does my right hon. Friend realise that redundancy payments are no substitute for a job, and that in my constituency in the next few weeks 1,100 men will become redundant at Palmer's ship repair yard? Will she give me an assurance that, with her Ministerial colleagues, she will do everything she possibly can to keep the yard open, and so provide employment in an area which has already had more than its fair share of unemployment?

Mrs. Castle

I agree with my hon. Friend that redundancy payment is no alternative to a job, but it provides a breathing space to enable the employee to look around and to enable my Department to move in and help to re-deploy redundant labour. He will be aware that the future of the yard which he mentioned is a matter for my hon. Friend the Minister of Technology, but I assure my hon. Friend that my Department is setting up a special job-finding team to go into this area and do everything in its power to ensure that the redundant workers are given other jobs.

Dame Irene Ward

Is the Secretary of State aware that there is great anxiety on the Tyne that, in spite of all the efforts of the Government and the Opposition, the unemployment situation is becoming worse? Will she tell us what the Prime Minister means when he says that he will have a special look at ship building, because this would be of great interest to the Tyne and to all of us?

Mrs. Castle

The hon. Lady is well aware, as I have said to my hon. Friend, that the policy for the ship building industry is not for me. I am aware of the unemployment anxieties which have been expressed by my hon. Friend and by the hon. Lady, and I give an assurance that my Department will be working actively to help place these men in other jobs.