Mr. Gresham Cooke:
As these 363,000 are workers employed by public authorities who will get a refund of the Selective Employment Tax compared with private contractors who have to pay it, and as the productivity of direct labour is only about half that of the private builder, would it not be better Government policy to apply S.E.T. to local authorities?
As far as productivity is concerned, hon. Members opposite always pick the worst cases and never say anything about the good cases. I utterly refute what the hon. Member says. 71,000 of the workers employed by public authorities are engaged on new work, and 292,000 are engaged on repair and maintenance. That means that practically half the repair and maintenance work is done for public authorities by direct labour, and the S.E.T. is most unlikely to affect them.
asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what was the gross output per person per annum for the year ended 31st March, 1966, for persons employed in construction by private contractors and what were the figures for persons employed by the direct labour departments of local authorities.
Figures are available only in respect of output per site operative per annum. The figures at current prices are:
Private Contractors £2,965.
Local Authorities £1,575 (provisional estimate) Comparison of these figures is meaningless, not least because local authority direct labour employees, unlike contractors' men, are mainly engaged on maintenance. When local authority direct labour departments and private contractors compete there appears normally to be little difference in tender prices.