HC Deb 29 November 1971 vol 827 cc13-4
15. Sir A. Meyer

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will issue a circular to local authorities in Wales recommending that they stipulate, when placing contracts, that local labour must be employed as far as possible.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

No, Sir. Local authorities are fully aware of the employment situation in their districts and the need to take all practicable steps to alleviate problems of unemployment.

Sir A. Meyer

I am well aware of the difficulties in this matter, but is my hon. Friend aware that all too often major contracts, particularly construction contracts, placed in areas of high unemployment result in a very large immigration, very often from Ireland, of building labourers? At the end of the process of construction, the result is that the unemployment level is as high as it was before construction began. Is there not some way in which the situation could be remedied?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

My hon. Friend will agree that specialist labour has to travel from job to job, but there is considerable scope for contractors to employ local labour in addition to specialist elements. If my hon. Friend has any particular cases in mind on which I could help, I should be grateful if he would let me know.

Mr. William Edwards

Perhaps I could help the Minister on this matter. Is it not a fact that most of the immigrant labour comes in when contracts are given to very large firms already contracting in the areas? Is it not true that the hon. Gentleman's Department has encouraged local authorities in Wales to put contracts out to private firms rather than undertake them with direct labour within the local authority?

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Whether or not that is so, some 160 local authorities in Wales are at present using direct labour to carry out projects.

Back to