HC Deb 15 November 1977 vol 939 cc267-8
4. Mr, Hal Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what shortages of skilled and unskilled workers have been reported to him from the West Midlands area.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. John Golding)

Reports have been received from the West Midlands of shortages of skilled workers in a few trades and localities.

Mr. Miller

Will the Minister tell the House what reports have been received about unskilled workers, and if his civil servants have not taken the trouble to find out what the situation is, will he accept that I have received constant complaints about shortages of skilled and unskilled workers? Will he explain how, in a time of high unemployment, this apparent contradiction occurs and what policy formulation he is taking to remedy such a situation?

Mr. Golding

The hon. Member asked what shortages have been reported to my Secretary of State, not whether his officials could make inquiries. The short answer is that no complaints have been made to the Secretary of State in respect of a shortage of unskilled workers.

Mr. Stokes

Is the Minister aware that the shortage of skilled craftsmen in the Midlands is still most serious? Is he further aware that part of the reason for this shortage is the lack of differential in pay between the skilled man and the unskilled man? Does he realise that if these differentials were restored the shortage of skilled men would decrease?

Mr. Golding

The reasons for shortages are many. Pay is certainly one of them in certain circumstances. Lack of housing, difficulty of access to the firm, selectivity by employers, poor working conditions in some places and strong competition from other firms are all factors that we certainly have to take into account. But the paramount aim must be the maintenance of the Government's pay policy.

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