§ 9. Mr. Hall-Davis
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what information is available to his Department regarding the average interval that occurs between the creation of an employment vacancy by a retirement at normal retirement age and the filling of the vacancy by the employer.
§ Mr. Booth
I regret that no information about vacancies caused by retirements in the form requested by the hon. Gentleman is available to my Department or to the Manpower Services Commission.
An approximate estimate of the average duration of vacancies handled by the general employment services in the fourth quarter of 1975 is a little under three weeks. However, it is probable that the majority of vacancies are filled more quickly and that the average is affected by a smaller proportion of those with a relatively long duration.
I would not expect the interval that occurs in the filling of a vacancy caused by retirement to differ very much from that which occurs when vacancies are caused by other reasons.
§ Mr. Hall-Davis
Will the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues consider, as possibly the only way in which they can prevent unemployment from rising further this year, encouraging, by a scheme of Government assistance, the voluntary retirement of men aged 63 and 64 in cases where the employer gives an undertaking that he will immediately fill the vacancy created?
§ Mr. Booth
I understand that the hon. Gentleman has written to my right hon. Friend on this matter, and I know that he has made a number of constructive suggestions on the effect of unemployment of changes in retirement arrangements. Retirement policy is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services, and the hon. Member might like to take up the proposals with her. There are difficulties in a voluntary scheme such as the hon. Gentleman proposes. We would have to gauge what the effect of it would be on unemployment and whether the additional cost to the Treasury would be the most effective way of spending the money, in comparison with some of the other measures open to us.