Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
No, Sir. The Stourbridge and Brierley Hill Employment Committee which has already tendered its advice on this proposal, is one of the committees specially constituted under statutory authority to advise me on the local working of the employment exchanges, and I feel that it is to this committee that I must look primarily for advice on local opinion and any local factors affecting the matter.
Is the Minister aware that Stourbridge has a majority on that committee? Is he aware that there is 100 per cent. opposition to this decision from the traders' and manufacturers' association, the trades council and Urban District Council in Brierley Hill? Why has he singled out the Brierley Hill area in the whole of the West Midlands for three closures, two of them in the Black Country conurbation, at Brierley Hill and Bloxwich? Will he look into the matter again? If he will not himself receive a deputation, will one of his higher officials receive a deputation?
I have answered the question about a deputation. I think that for that sort of thing I must look primarily to the local employment committee. As for Stourbridge or Brierley Hill having a majority on that committee, that question should not arise, for it is an employment committee which is supposed to look at the problems of employment of that area and to advise me, irrespective of comparative local interests within that area. It is, of course, natural that the Brierley Hill employers or the employers in any other district would like to have an employment office immediately on their doorstep. In the final decision which I make I will take into account the views which they and the hon. Member have put to me.
Will the Minister take into consideration the fact that the local people regard this office as part of the essential social services in the area and that its closure would deprive them of an essential avenue of information? Is he aware that, apart from its service to the unfortunate recipients who sign on for their unemployment pay, it is also an avenue whereby information can be given for limited openings of employment suitable to people in the area? Will he pay due regard to representations which have been made along those lines?
The local employment committee concerned has asked me to retain the office at Kinning Park, Glasgow. The agreed minutes of the special meeting held to consider the question of closing the office are not yet available, but I am advised that the main points made were that the office covered an area which was expanding industrially; that hardship would be caused to disabled persons and to casual dock workers especially and that the savings which would be achieved were small compared with the loss of services involved. I shall give full consideration to the views of the committee before reaching a decision.
Is the Minister aware that that was the unanimous decision of the local employment committee, and that no one at all at the meeting supported his proposal to close the office at Kinning Park? Is he also aware that there was an expression of view on the part of the committee that what was wanted here was a reorganisation of these facilities in view of the fact that the adjacent exchange, in South Side, had been enormously expanded due to the introduction of new housing schemes and that the closing at Kinning Park would not help at all? Will the right hon. Gentleman consider this matter?
Yes, I will. When I say that I have not taken a final decision, that is perfectly true. I have not. I think Kinning Park is an extremely difficult case. There are a large number of people on the register. The reason for closing it was simply its proximity to other local offices. I shall, of course, bear in mind the additional point the hon. Member has just made.