HC Deb 18 March 1975 vol 888 cc1445-6
17. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects to receive the Manpower Services Commission's study of private employment agencies.

32. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he has yet discussed with the Manpower Services Commission the making of a study into the effect on employment and the mobility of labour of fee-paying employment agencies and the Employment Services Agency.

Mr. Harold Walker

I have not yet discussed with the commission the possibility of its undertaking such a study. The matter is still under consideration, since it raises important questions as to the scope of any study and the most appropriate thing.

Mr. Huckfield

Is it not time that the Manpower Services Commission was asked to undertake such a study? Is my hon. Friend aware that private employment agencies are rapidly increasing and are now supplying anything from secretaries to lorry drivers to airline pilots? Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Government still intend to enable the commission to be the only employment agency in the country?

Mr. Walker

My hon. Friend is no doubt aware that we are proposing to introduce regulations consequent on the Employment Agencies Act, but this will be delayed because of our announced intention to transfer the responsibility for administration and enforcement of regulations and licensing provisions to my Department. We do not rule out the fact that following experience gained it may ultimately be possible to transfer this responsibility to the Manpower Services Commission.

Mr. William Hamilton

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a good deal of dissatisfaction with this Act on the Labour side of the House? Does he appreciate that there would be almost unanimous, if not unanimous, support for the complete abolition of profit-making within this area? Is he aware that the sooner it is brought into public ownership the better it will be?

Mr. Walker

I must remind my hon. Friend that when the Employment Agencies Bill—a Private Member's measure—was before the House it was not opposed but enjoyed a large measure of support from hon. Members on both sides. I made it clear on 18th February, in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Huck field), that we have by no means ruled out the possible ultimate abolition of private fee-charging agencies.