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asked the Minister of Labour what is the object of his forthcoming visit to Coventry; whether he will use the occasion to examine the possibility of redundancy in certain aircraft firms; and what opportunities exist of maintaining the highly skilled men thus displaced in employment where their skill will be used to the utmost of its capacity.
The occasion of this short visit is to address a conference of the Women's Engineering Society. I hope to have an opportunity of informal discussion with representatives of engineering employers and trade unions on the general employment situation in Coventry. There is still a national shortage of skilled engineering workers, though it might not be possible for redundant workers to obtain in Coventry the precise sort of work to which they were accustomed.
While assuring the Minister a cordial welcome when he comes to Coventry, may I ask whether he will make his visit rather more than a congratulatory programme? Will he look particularly into the question of the highly-skilled aircraft workers whose skill is now being lost, either through the workers concerned emigrating or through their turning to work which requires far less skill, with a resultant loss to the country?
This visit arose simply from an invitation to make a speech, and I am glad to accept it. I wanted at the same time to have an opportunity personally to meet some of the people and to talk over just the sort of problem which the hon. Member has in mind. Indeed, the one which he has mentioned is one of those which I particularly intend to look at.
Could the right hon. Gentleman find time for a visit to the large modern factory at Anstey of the Armstrong Siddeley firm? In that firm there are 6,000 highly-skilled aircraft workers, and there is intense anxiety among the shop stewards and other workers about their redundancy in the future. Could he see them, if no one else, on his visit to Coventry?
I do not think that I shall be able to pay a special visit because I think my programme has already been arranged, but I can certainly discuss the question he mentioned with local people.
Will the Minister consult his right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply with a view to considering legislation so that it is possible for these aircraft firms, where there is redundancy, to make aeroplanes originating in other firms, for example, the Viscount, where these other firms are already working to capacity? As this was done in the war, why cannot it be done now?