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The right hon. Gentleman will surely not dispute the contention that, in future years, as a result of the introduction of atomic energy and automation, there might be considerable redundancy, and, if we are to mitigate the harsh results of redundancy, is it not better to proceed in a progressive and co-ordinated fashion for a reduction of hours rather than by piecemeal negotiation?
With respect, I would dispute that contention. All forms of technological change lead to different jobs or to better jobs, but not to fewer jobs. The matter referred to in the second part of the right hon. Gentleman's Question is something for industry-by-industry negotiation in this country.
Of course, we are having many studies, by the D.S.I.R., by my National Joint Advisory Council, and by other authorities. Naturally, I do not say that precisely the same level of employment will apply in each industry or factory. One must look at the overall position. I am confident that we have nothing to fear from the coming of technological change, and it will not mean widespread redundancy over the country.
Is the Minister aware of the situation, for example, in the tin-plate industry where in a very short time there has been tremendous technical change, and one of the problems thrown up—a very important one—concerns men of fifty years of age who lose their old skill and who very often find it difficult to adjust themselves to new methods? Is this not a special problem which ought to receive attention?