Distressed areas

Letter to Hugh Dalton, Chancellor of the Exchequer, from a member of the Electrical Trades Union, Newport branch. The Chancellor requested the Ministry of Labour to reply, 6th May, 1946 (T 161/1367)



Melford Road

The Rt. Hon. Hugh Dalton,

Dear Sir,

It is only after careful consideration that I write to you, not as a Branch Official, but as one those key workers who have been transferred to a former “distressed” area. I feel that our problem is one that is likely to affect the Government’s whole plans for dispersal of areas.

With your recent Durham speech in mind, in which you promised financial support to new industries, I would ask you to consider the plight of transferred key workers to the development areas.

My own firm, Standard Telephones and Cables, Ltd., have recently taken over the Ordinance Factory at Newport and some 60 or 70 key workers were transferred here. Some 1600 local workers will be employed. The majority of these key workers has already been dispersed from N. Woolwich to Leicester and had received Ministry of Labour assistance by lodging allowance removal expenses, etc. From this point I will use my own case as a typical example.

I am at present in receipt of a wage of £5.15. 0. per week and since March 4th have received an expense allowance of 35/-per week from the firm. This allowance is for 13 weeks only. I maintain a wife and 3 children in Leicester, pay 37/6d a week Board and have to buy my midday meals out. While I receive the 35/- allowance, I can just exist without any surplus of clothes, cigarettes, etc. When the allowance ceases it will be impossible to carry on and I shall have no alternative but to leave my job and find another in Leicester. Other workers and myself have made application for the Ministry of Labour Allowance of 24/6d. but sixth months have elapsed in some cases without definite information as to whether this allowance will be paid, and if so, for how long.

The question of housing has been vigorously pursued by the workers and the Management, but, during the interim period, the financial strain is intolerable for the ordinary worker.

I am not sure whether this is a matter for your department or that of your colleague, Mr. Isaacs, but I sure our assistance will not be sought in vain. Believe me, sir, our opponents will be only too pleased to wreck our future plans and, personally, I include the employers among them. My own firm insist that the Government forced them to come to Newport against their will and that they originally intended to rebuild at N. Woolwich. This point of view has been stressed by them again and again, their main object apparently being to get the workers to blame the Government for everything. They give this as the reason for not continuing their allowance beyond 13 weeks.

I trust you will regard this matter as urgent and, if it is not a matter for your department, you will pass it on to the Department concerned.

Best wishes,
Yours sincerely,

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