Engineering and Electrical Industries

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Labour – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th July 1967.

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Mr. Edward M. Taylor:

asked the Minister of Labour what has been the drop in numbers employed in engineering and electrical industries between July, 1966, and the latest convenient date.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

It is provisionally estimated that between July, 1966, and May, 1967, the numbers employed in Order VI of the Standard Industrial Classification (Engineering and Electrical Goods) fell by approximately 63,000.

Mr. Taylor:

Is the hon. Gentleman not thoroughly ashamed of Government economic policies which have resulted in a reduction of 63,000 employees in these vital growth industries, with increases in the nationalised industries and the Civil Service? When will he change these policies?

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

The hon. Gentleman knows that the reason for much of this lies with the benches opposite. It was they who left the country sick, economically, and it is we who have had to do the surgical work to begin to put it on its feet.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

How is it that the engineering industry, with 63,000 fewer people, requires 4,000 more people in gas, electricity, and water to service it?

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

That question is unworthy of the hon. Gentleman. He knows that this year we shall build 400,000 houses and they will need electricity, water and gas. To pretend that all the consumption of these services is taken by industry is childish. The hon. Gentleman knows that we must expand these industries not only to meet what I would call civil needs but also to prepare for the expansion in production which will take place some day.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Does my hon. Friend confirm this figure of a drop of 63,000? Is it not the case that in 1964 the numbers employed in this engineering and electrical goods sector were 166,900 and in 1966 181,500, a substantial increase over the last year of the last Conservative Government? Surely the figure of 63,000 is a gross exaggeration?

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

I would much prefer my hon. Friend's figures to those of hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Photo of Mr Michael Shaw Mr Michael Shaw , Scarborough and Whitby

asked the Minister of Labour what was the ratio of vacancies to unemployed among electrical and electronic workers in April, 1967 and April, 1963, respectively.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

Analyses of unfilled vacancies and registered unemployed, which identify this group of occupations, are made quarterly. At 13th March, 1967, the latest date for which this information is available, the number of notified vacancies remaining unfilled to every 100 persons wholly unemployed was 85·5. In March, 1963, the number was 36·7.

Photo of Mr Michael Shaw Mr Michael Shaw , Scarborough and Whitby

Do not these figures mean that when re-expansion begins again, we will be in a worse position than we were to assist this re-expansion, particularly in this important sphere?

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

I do not understand the logic of that question. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will explain it to me after Question time.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

Is not the Parliamentary Secretary aware that these figures show that there is an even more acute shortage of skilled workers and that, without these workers, expansion will be more difficult to get going?

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

I do not accept that at all.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

asked the Minister of Labour what was the ratio of vacancies to unemployed in the engineering and allied trades in April, 1967 and April, 1963, respectively.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

Analyses of unfilled vacancies and registered unemployed, which identify this group of occupations, are made quarterly. At 13th March, 1967, the latest date for which this information is available, the number of notified vacancies remaining unfilled to every 100 persons wholly unemployed was 82. In March, 1963, the number was 33.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

As was the case in regard to the last Question, will it not be more difficult to arrive at a solutioit than it was a few years ago?

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

Can I take it that the hon. Gentleman would like there to be fewer vacancies than there are?