Automation (Ministerial Responsibility)

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th June 1956.

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Photo of Mr Maurice Edelman Mr Maurice Edelman , Coventry North 12:00 am, 28th June 1956

asked the Prime Minister whether he will extend the scope of the Ministry of Labour to include matters affecting automation; and whether he will retitle the Ministry accordingly.

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service is already responsible for the effects in the employment field of automation as for other forms of industrial development.

I do not consider that it would be helpful to make one Minister responsible for all the aspects of automation, but I have made arrangements for co-ordination between the Government Departments most concerned. I would be opposed to adding the word "automation" to the title of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service, which is long enough already.

Photo of Mr Maurice Edelman Mr Maurice Edelman , Coventry North

In view of the great crisis in the motor industry, which automation is likely to increase rather than to diminish, would it not be desirable, as a matter of efficiency, that overall responsibility for matters concerning automation—social, industrial and technical—should be brought under one Minister rather than, as at present, be fragmented through a whole variety of Ministers? Does not the present system lead to inefficiency, and prevent the concentration of responsibility which is probably what the Prime Minister himself would like to see?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I do not think that it would help very much to make the changes which the hon. Member suggests. Nor do I think I ought to accept his suggestion that automation is creating the crisis in the motor industry. Most people, I think, would probably agree that the difficulty was competition in export markets.