New Clause. — (Expenses of Employees, etc., in Travelling to and from Work.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th June 1952.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sir Austen Albu Sir Austen Albu , Edmonton 12:00 am, 17th June 1952

I support my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) in his plea to the Minister. I realise that the Clause as drafted is far too wide in one sense. In a way, it is also too exclusive. It would be unfair as between one employee whose expenses were refunded by his firm and another whose expenses were not. I do not know how that matter could be dealt with, but I am certain that we must consider the question of labour mobility, especially in the engineering trades.

The position in industries such as the aircraft industry which are having to expand rapidly is most serious. Local authorities have given housing priority for key workers, and so on, and no doubt this helps. I am sure that most of these firms would be willing to assist their workers by financial grants or otherwise, if they could get workers from a distance. Something must be done to assist them. It is no good the Minister saying that we shall solve the housing problem in any- thing like the time in which we have to deal with the re-armament problem and the balance of payments crisis. That was complete nonsense.

The immediate problem is the transfer of workers to essential industries many of which are having to be built up at a rapid rate. The aircraft industry is an example. Anything of this nature that can be done to attract workers into these industries, especially from areas where there is unemployment, should certainly be done. I am glad that the Minister says that the Government intend to look at this problem.

I am aware of the doubts of my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton). I think that the Minister under-estimated the extent to which there is tax evasion at present. It is natural for people to tend to evade the payment of tax if loopholes appear. This sort of change certainly provides loopholes. Nevertheless, there is a good deal in the idea. I do not agree with it for those who are permanently established in the outer London suburbs—and I have some interest in that myself. People who finally settle down in a certain area make up their mind to do so with a full understanding of the facts and of the conditions under which they do it.

Certainly, for the temporary situation in which we have to get a rapid transfer of labour, particularly key labour, to the engineering industry, this matter should be looked into. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman will be in a position to answer the question next year, but I hope that by then the matter will have been given friendly consideration.