HC Deb 23 October 1973 vol 861 cc964-5
16. Mr. O'Halloran

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what studies he proposes to commission to investigate the adequate utilisation of skilled craftsmen in the building and construction industry; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Manpower utilisation in the construction industry is already under study by the Building Research Centre and by the relevant economic development committees. I do not propose additional studies by my Department.

Mr. O'Halloran

I am grateful for that reply, but is the Minister aware that because of lump labour the London borough of Islington—and this applies to many other London boroughs—is unable to get contractors to undertake work? When will the Government introduce legislation to abolish lump labour?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

I have already dealt with this issue. It is a matter for the Department of the Environment, and my right hon. and learned Friend is setting up a committee to inquire into this whole practice.

Mr. Sydney Chapman

As the problem is one of a shortage of skilled labour, can my hon. Friend say whether any progress has been made in the talks to streamline the period of apprenticeship in the construction industry?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Yes, Sir. As I understand it, discussions are still taking place between both sides of industry to bring the period of certain apprenticeships down from four years to three. I understand that progress is being made, and this will be very welcome indeed.

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