DURHAM COUNTY. (Hansard, 18 March 1936)
HC Deb 18 March 1936 vol 310 cc428-30
69. Mr. W. JOSEPH STEWART

asked the Minister of Labour what steps are being taken to deal with a large number of the unemployed population of Durham County, described in a memorandum prepared by his Department upon the industrial surveys of the distressed areas for 1931 as definitely surplus, for whom provision will have to be made?

Lieut. - Colonel MUIRHEAD

The measures that are being taken for the assistance of this and other Special Areas are set out in the report of the Commissioner for Special Areas, presented to Parliament last month, and were fully discussed in the Debate in this House on 2nd March.

Mr. STEWART

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that in the Commissioner's report it is stated that a transference scheme on a large scale is expected to solve the unemployment problem, but that the experience of the Industrial Transference Board has shown that it is very difficult to transfer unemployed from this particular area, owing to the fact that 67,000 of them are over the age of 35, with family responsibilities, and 52,000 of them are married?

Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD

I do not think that the Commissioner ever said that transference would, to use the hon. Member's words, solve the unemployment problem. It has always been considered both by the Commissioner and the Government that transference is one method of helping to ease the problem but there are a great many other methods besides.

Mr. STEWART

Is it not suggested in the Commissioner's report that the transference scheme is expected to help in the solution of the problem; and may I ask what is the hon. and gallant Gentleman's remedy to deal with this large number of persons over 35 years of age whom the transference scheme will not cover?

Mr. SHINWELL

May I ask whether, apart from the proposals embodied in the Commissioner's report to deal with unemployment in these areas, the Government have any proposals of their own to deal with the question of surplus labour?

Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD

The Government are helping to solve the unemployment problem throughout the country, as well as in the Special Areas, by the steady improvement in trade which has taken place. Along with that, they are taking such measures as the establishment of trading estates and the encouragement of new industries in the Special Areas; also by means of transference, where practicable, they are trying to give to the people in the Special Areas the advantages of improved trade in other parts of the country.

Mr. SHINWELL

Is the trading estate policy not part of the Commissioner's policy; and, therefore, are we to understand that, apart from the proposals of the Commissioner, the Government rely entirely for a solution of the problem on a progressive improvement in trade?

Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD

The hon. Gentleman cannot divide the Commissioner's proposals from the Government's proposals. Indeed, one of the complaints of hon. Members opposite was that the Government had taken no notice of the Commissioner's proposals. The Commissioner's proposals are placed before the Government and the Government take notice of them and act upon them.

Mr. H. G. WILLIAMS

Does the hon. Gentleman opposite take the view that there is a progressive improvement in trade?

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