Mann Committee (Reports)

Oral Answers to Questions — Public Building and Works – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd December 1968.

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Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Hornsey 12:00 am, 3rd December 1968

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether he will now publish the second and third Reports of the Mann Committee; and whether he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether he will now make a statement on his policy regarding his Department's direct labour force, in the light of the Reports of the Mann Committee.

Photo of Mr Robert Mellish Mr Robert Mellish , Bermondsey

A joint examination of the work of selected depôts has just been completed, and I am discussing with the trade unions the results of this examination and the further steps which should now be taken. It would be premature for me to make any further statement, or to publish the Reports at this stage.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Hornsey

When will the House be told what the third Report of the Mann Committee contains? Will the Minister confirm or deny that he is considering making up to half of his Department's direct labour force redundant?

Photo of Mr Robert Mellish Mr Robert Mellish , Bermondsey

The last part is not true. The Mann Committee reported to me as Minister and I regarded that information as confidential. I have acted upon sample surveys taken by the Mann Committee by establishing an inquiry into one of my important depôts. Based upon the result of that inquiry, in which I am taking the trade unions with me step by step, I shall come to certain decisions. When that is done, I will inform the House. But it must be for me to decide.

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington

This is not very satisfactory. Surely the Minister will confirm that it seems likely that this Report will show that there is a 25 per cent. difference in productivity between direct labour and private enterprise, and therefore we need a full statement.

Photo of Mr Robert Mellish Mr Robert Mellish , Bermondsey

The Mann Committee took sample surveys only and came to certain conclusions. I was not prepared to accept the Report of the Mann Committee at face value. This had to be tested and proved. Therefore, I set up my own investigation over a wide area of my Ministry's activities, in conjunction with the trade unions. Based on the results of that inquiry, I will be in a stronger position to say whether the Mann Committee was right. It does not follow that, because the Mann Committee has issued a report, it is right.

Photo of Mr Adam Hunter Mr Adam Hunter , Dunfermline Burghs

Will my right hon. Friend say whether he has had representations from M.P.B.W. workers in Rosyth dockyard on the question of redundancies, and can he give an assurance that everything possible will be done to preserve jobs in this sector, bearing in mind that it is a development area?

Photo of Mr Robert Mellish Mr Robert Mellish , Bermondsey

I understand this. This is why I am handling it in the way that I have described. We are dealing with men's livelihoods. Some men have been working for my Ministry for 30 to 40 years. We cannot glibly say that we shall sack 25 per cent. I am not that kind of Minister.

Photo of Mr Robin Chichester-Clark Mr Robin Chichester-Clark , County Londonderry

Is the Minister aware that in March he said that 50 per cent. of the maintenance was done by his direct labour department and in July that 40 per cent. was done by his direct labour department? Does that mean that there has alreday been a run-down, or is there some other reason?

Photo of Mr Robert Mellish Mr Robert Mellish , Bermondsey

My Department's record on maintenance is very good. The exact proportion, whether it is 60 per or 50 per cent., I cannot give off the cuff. All I can say is that it varies. A considerable proportion is already done by contractors, and some of those are very inefficient.