§ 58. Mr. Dodds
asked the Secretary of State for War how many of the 500 redundant employees of the Royal Ordnance Factory, Woolwich, are between 40 and 50 years of age; how many are over 50; how many of the 3,800 employees will be over 50 when their services are dispensed with; and, in view of the long service that may have been given and of the fact that age in a high percentage of the cases will be a handicap in finding suitable alternative employment, what special action is to be taken to assist them to obtain alternative employment or financial assistance or both.
§ Mr. Ramsden
We shall not know the ages of the 500 employees who are immediately redundant at the Royal Ordnance Factory, Woolwich, until the 213W individuals have been selected in accordance with the normal redundancy rules.
Of the total redundancy of about 3,000, I estimate that nearly two-thirds will be 50 or over by the time they become redundant. About four-fifths are established.
We shall be able to offer an alternative job in the Government service, appropriate to his skill, to every established man; but not many of these jobs will be within reach of Woolwich. To those who do not wish to move their homes, and to all unestablished men, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and I will provide all possible help in finding new jobs, including facilities for retraining where needed. Courses could be arranged at the factory itself if necessary.
The normal terminal benefits which are already weighted in favour of the older men with longer service will apply.
§ 62. Mr. Mayhew
asked the Secretary of State for War what use has been made during the past 10 years of the 500 acres of land at the Woolwich Arsenal now offered to the London County Council.
§ Mr. Ramsden
The main use for about 360 acres was storage and transhipment of explosives until 1957 and decontamination was in the main completed in 1960. A magazine, the wheel-testing track and married quarters for War Department constables are still in use in the remaining area. The unused part of this area is being decontaminated.
§ 63. Mr. Mayhew
asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that a higher level of industrial employment will be needed in the Woolwich area; and what discussions his Department has had with the London County Council about the future of the Royal Ordnance Factory, Woolwich.
§ Mr. Ramsden
My Department has not had direct discussions with the London County Council about the future of the Royal Ordnance Factory, Woolwich, but I would draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to my Statement of 4th December with regard to the Govern-214W ment's intentions for the future use of the site.
The question of the level of industrial employment in the Woolwich area is for my right hon. Friends the Minister of Labour and the President of the Board of Trade.