HC Deb 20 July 1959 vol 609 cc78-80W
63. Mr. Mikardo

asked the Minister of Labour what has been the loss in employment to Remploy Limited, and what proportion of the appropriate plant has been left unused, as a result of a change of policy by the Ministry of Supply concerning preservation, identification and packaging work.

71. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Labour what action he has taken since 27th April last for securing the placing of further Government contracts for preservation, identification and packaging work with suitable Remploy factories.

Mr. Wood

There has been substantial under-employment during the past two years in Remploy's packaging factories, and the company estimates that the plant in these factories is at present being used to only one-third of its maximum capacity. This is due to the difficulty of obtaining commercial work as well as to the decline in Ministry of Supply contracts. As my right hon. Friend informed the hon. Member for Coventry, South (Miss Burton) on 8th June, the main responsibility for obtaining orders must rest with Remploy. I understand that the company has already taken steps to improve the position, including an increase in the sales force and the changing over of some packaging factories to other trades.

64. Mr. Mikardo

asked the Minister of Labour the value of Government contracts placed with Remploy Limited during the last five years.

Mr. Wood

The total value of such contracts was nearly £5,300,000. I am circulating with the OFFICIAL REPORT the figures for each of the last five financial years. The following are the figures referred to:

1954–55 1,320,500
1955–56 1,227,200
1956–57 1,131,000
1957–58 828,600
1958–59 788,900

69. Mr. Parkin

asked the Minister of Labour the total capacity for the employment of severely disabled persons in the existing ninety Remploy factories; and how many persons were employed in those factories at the latest available date.

Mr. Wood

The total capacity of the existing Remploy factories is about 7,200. On 19th May, 1959, the number of severely disabled workers employed in the factories, including staff, was 6,071.

70. Mr. Parkin

asked the Minister of Labour the value of Ministry of Supply work in hand at the Sheffield (Hands- worth) factory on 16th June, 1959.

Mr. Wood

I understand that the hon. Member is referring to the Remploy factory at Handsworth. The value of the work in question was £160.

72. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Labour what action he has taken since 14th April, 1955, to persuade the local authorities and the nationalised undertakings, either directly or through their contractors, to place contracts with Remploy Limited; and what was the value of such contracts.

Mr. Wood

Last year, circulars were issued by my right hon. Friends, the Minister of Housing and Local Government and the Secretary of State for Scotland, reminding local authorities of the types of work which the sheltered workshops can do and suggesting that they should make special arrangements to provide these undertakings with opportunities to obtain contracts. Consideration is now being given to the question of local authority representation on the joint committee which was set up last year to promote closer co-operation between the priority suppliers and Government purchasing Departments.

The nationalised industries have recently been invited to participate in the work of the Priority Suppliers Committee which includes representatives of the main priority suppliers, including Remploy. The total value of contracts placed with Remploy by local authorities and nationalised industries during the last five years was £303,000.