Yes, this is certainly comparing it with the winter, but the figures also compare favourably with those of a year ago. Figures for the filling factories also show considerable improvement, but they are less satisfactory, and as various hon. Members have pointed out this is due partly to the great size of these undertakings, and partly to the fact that a very great many of the workers in them have been quite unused to factory life, that they have sometimes very long distances to travel and that there is a great deal of fatigue attached to it. But even they show a considerable improvement. They show a reduction in casual absence in the last six months, for men from 12 to 4.6 per cent. and women women from 23.5 to 13 per cent. That is a great improvement, whatever anybody may say, and is certainly not accounted for by the time of year. We must remember that in these filling factories by far the greater part of the population is female, and it is inevitable, owing to domestic and other reasons, that absenteeism is higher among women than it is among men.
I hope the House will not think that my right hon. Friend and I are in any way satisfied, or that we are unconscious of the fact that we must continue to make the greatest efforts to do better still. We have been fortunate in having the goodwill of the trade unions and of the workers, and, given those two factors, I have no doubt that conditions will continue to improve. While we condemn strongly truancy of any sort, I am sure the House recognises the great difficulties with which the working population of this country has been faced, and the really gallant way in which both men and women have faced the difficulties.