HC Deb 09 March 1944 vol 397 cc2214-5W
Sir C. Edwards

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that a welfare centre is being erected, at a cost of £70,000, at a place of which he has been informed, to induce workpeople to live nearer their factory; that local councils and trade unions have opposed this plan, demanding dwelling houses to be built for the workpeople instead; that the workpeople living in hostels there have been warned that when the centre is completed the charge for board and lodging will be brought up to the standard of the National Service Hostels Corporation, who will take over the administra- tion involving an additional payment of from 7s. 6d. to 10s. a week; whether this corporation is a private concern; and what has been his reply to the opponents of the scheme.

Mr. J. P. L. Thomas

The provision of welfare facilities for the hostels at the place referred to by my right hon. Friend is in accordance with the policy of H.M. Government of ensuring that workers accommodated in hostels shall enjoy proper facilities for rest and recreation. I assume that the representations referred to by my right hon. Friend are those which were made by the workers when the altered arrangements were laid before them some weeks ago. These representations have been formally raised with the Admiralty by the trade union side of the Admiralty Industrial Council and will, no doubt, be considered at the meeting of that body next week. These complaints have nothing to do with the representations made last year by the local Trades Congress, through the T.U.C., about married accommodation. For some years it has been Government policy not to build married accommodation in factories established during the war, owing to scarcity of building materials and labour. It is not possible to vary this rule.

The workers have been notified of a rearrangement of the charges in the hostels, but this is not strictly connected with the provision of the new welfare centre. The residents of the hostel have, up to now, been obtaining board and lodging at charges appreciably, less than the standard charges normally made to residents of Government hostels. An adjustment of this state of affairs would, in any case, have been necessary. Other alterations in the management of the hostel had to follow the completion of the welfare centre, and it was desirable for purposes of administration to make the adjustment of charges at the same time. For some residents the increased charge is negligible; for the others the all-in cost will work out at 5s. 5d. a week. At present they pay for their meals separately. The arrangements for the future management of the hostel are under consideration, and it is premature to say that the National Service Hostels Corporation will take over the administration. Any questions relating to the status of the Corporation would be a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service.