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West End Bespoke Tailors (Labour Supply)

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd July 1957.

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Photo of Mr William Shepherd Mr William Shepherd , Cheadle 12:00 am, 3rd July 1957

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that West End bespoke tailors are refusing overseas orders, largely from the dollar area, because they are unable to obtain sufficiently highly skilled labour; and what steps he proposes to take to deal with this.

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West

Although I have not heard that export orders are being refused I am aware that there is a shortage of skilled workers. My local officers will continue to bring vacanies to the attention of qualified workers registering for employment. There is competition among school leavers for apprenticeships and learnerships with West End bespoke tailors and it is expected that all such vacanies will be filled at the end of the summer term.

Photo of Mr William Shepherd Mr William Shepherd , Cheadle

Is my right hon. Friend aware that firms are unable to expand their businesses because of the shortage of labour, while there are at least 200 skilled coat makers who are unemployed in Italy and who are willing to come over here to work? Will my right hon. Friend try to persuade the trade unions concerned to change what is an obstructive attitude in this matter, and will he also try to get English people interested in this trade, for of thirty-one trainees at present working in London only one is English?

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West

We have surprisingly few vacancies at the London employment exchanges for these people. As for apprenticeships, I am told there are always more applications than there are vacancies. Although there may be difficulties at present, they will be of very short duration. When the summer term ends, my people are confident that all these places will be filled.

Mr. Lee:

What is the difference between apprenticeships and learnerships?

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West

I shall have to have notice of that question.

Photo of Mr William Shepherd Mr William Shepherd , Cheadle

While there is an adequate number of what we may describe as second-grade coat makers, the grade of workers who produce first-class bespoke work in the West End are just not available.

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West

I have noted the point my hon. Friend has made.