Issued by the Labour Party Press and Publicity Department, Transport House, Smith Square, London, S.W.1. 8. 2. 1950
BY THE RT. HON. JAMES GRIFFITHS
WEDNESDAY, 8th February, 1950, at 9.15 p.m.
Since the last election many millions of people have come home from the war but this time it has been different.
I can recall another homecoming, after 1918. Tens of thousands of men came home to find that they were not wanted. The ex-serviceman with his sandwich board and the accusing words on it - 1915 Suvla Bay, 1916 the Somme, 1917 Ypres, 1921 the road - that summed it all up.
But this time it has been different. This time the young men whose careers were broken by war service have been helped to complete their training. This time the men came home to a job and a reasonable wage and security. They came back to full employment.
Millions of our fellow countrymen up and down these islands know what that means. And they know too what it means not to have full employment.
Last week I was in the Rhondda. I remembered what it used to be like, I remembered a village in the top end of the Valley which I visited in the thirties. I was then President of the Welsh miners. I had gone there to meet the people - old miners, shopkeepers, clergymen, to see if anything could be done to re-open their one coal mine. It has been closed since 1926. The youth had gone away - only the old and the disabled remained.
I called at the home of an old comrade. He was nearing 60. He had worked at the same pit from boyhood until it closed and he was now too old to move. All he and his wife had to live on was his unemployment allowance, 18s. a week after paying rent - all that the Tory Government of the thirties allowed them. Remember that when the Tories say they fought for the Social Services.
The same evening I called to see Dai Jones - another old mate. He had been a fine strapping man and a skilled worker - what we in the pits called a Hard Groundman. He was still in his early forties but he looked old and haggard, a victim of silicosis, struggling for breath all the time. All he had was his compo - workmen's compensation - 29s. a week to keep his wife and five children.
I saw the children come home from school. A survey showed that 27% of the children in the schools of the Rhondda - 27%, more than one in four were under-nourished. There were no ration books then and no points and no queues. There was no money to queue with.
That evening they crowded the Village Hall and they sang. They sang the lovely tune named after the Valley - Cwm Rhondda - "Bread of Heaven, Feed me till I want no more".
That is what it was like before the war.
Last week I was there again. And this time I saw what full employment means. What a change! The old pit is being reopened and modernised. This is happening everywhere. The miners are now getting a square deal. Without public ownership of coal we should have faced industrial disaster.
New factories are being built. Men are in full employment. And the women now know the blessing of a full pay packet on Friday. The children get milk and meals at school. There is no under-nourishment.