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asked the Minister of Labour (1) how many dock workers were registered for employment at Cardiff in 1951 and 1957, respectively;
(2) the percentage of dock workers who, because of absence of employment at Cardiff docks, have had to prove attendance, at the latest available date.
The numbers of dock workers on the Cardiff register at June, 1951, and at June, 1957, were 1,017 and 764, respectively. During the week ending 15th June, 1957, on an average approximately 12·4 per cent. of the dock workers proved attendance daily because work was not available.
Is the Minister aware that the last figure he has given is an underestimate of normal conditions in Cardiff, and that, yesterday morning for example, 65 per cent. of the dockers of Cardiff were out of work? Is he aware that this situation is of growing seriousness there, and that the men are really wondering whether they have any future at all, the difficulties of living on a guaranteed week of £5 14s. being such as to make things practically impossible for them?
In view of what the hon. Member said, I will look at the numbers of those proving attendance over a longer period than I indicated in the Answer. As he knows very well, that figure fluctuates so much that the figure for any given day is not necessarily significant.
The size of the labour force in a port is a matter for the National Dock Labour Board and not for my Ministry. If there is any way in which my colleagues in the Government can help after I have made the examination which I have undertaken to make, I will bring it to their notice.
Bearing in mind that for generations Cardiff, as a coal-exporting port, played a very big part in the economic life of this country, and bearing in mind that because of changed circumstances that trade has gone, is it not essential to attract new trade to Cardiff; and, as part of that plan, will the Minister discuss this matter with the Minister of Transport to find out whether an improvement in the road communications between Cardiff and the Midlands, in particular the Severn Bridge, in order to bring new trade to Cardiff, would be one of the ways in which this problem could be met?