Cotton Industry (Women).

Oral Answers to Questions — National War Effort. – in the House of Commons on 26th March 1942.

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Photo of Sir Harold Sutcliffe Sir Harold Sutcliffe , Royton

asked the Minister of Labour, whether the response to his appeal to women to return to the cotton industry has been satisfactory; and whether he will state the provisions which have been made for the care of their children?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I assume my hon. Friend is referring to the appeal organised by the Cotton Board with the support of the Government and the two sides of the industry and particularly directed to those operatives, estimated to number some thousands, who having been formerly employed at mills now closed on concentration did not seek other employment when the mills stopped. I understand that some 2,000 of such operatives have been interviewed and approximately 850 have been found available. My hon. Friend will understand, however, that these numbers are not adequate to achieve the increase of production required and I am in consultation with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade as to the measures to be adopted. As regards the second part of the Ques- tion, the circumstances of former operatives who have children are fully considered Every effort is made to provide satisfactory arrangements for the care of children, and where mothers are unable to work a full shift they are encouraged to undertake part-time employment. Supplementary to war-time nurseries the registered guardian scheme is now operating satisfactorily in many centres.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Does not the Minister think it grossly unfair to these cotton operatives to throw them out of employment under the concentration system of the Government and then ask them to come back again after they have found decent jobs elsewhere?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

No, Sir. War is not a settled thing; it is changing in its character every day, and adjustments have to be made according to the circumstances of the war.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

Is the Minister aware that the Government were warned against the probable result in this matter?