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Written Answers

Volume 437: debated on Friday 9 May 1947

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Written Answers To Questions

Friday, 9th May, 1947

African Territories (Migrant Labour)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) whether he will give an assurance that any agreement covering the recruitment of workers in Nyasaland for employment in the Rhodesias will include a Clause placing upon the employer or upon the Government of the territory concerned the obligation to repatriate the worker;(2) whether he will give figures for the territories of East and Central Africa to show the numbers of workers seeking employment outside their own territory; the average length of time they stay away; and how many remain away permanently;(3) what recommendations on migrant labour have been made by the Central African Council; and whether he will give an assurance that workers from Nyasaland will not be encouraged to take their wives and families with them to the Rhodesias, unless they have a contract of employment before starting.

I am sending him him a copy of the published statement issued by the Central African Council in regard to the recommendations made by its Special Committee on Migrant Labour. These recommendations have been accepted by the three Governments concerned and are incorporated in a new Inter-Territorial Agreement, which I have welcomed as an admirable and progressive contribution towards the solution of this difficult problem. The Agreement will provide for the repatriation of workers after a period not exceeding two years, as well as for deferred pay and family remittances, adequate housing, food and medical services, and adequate inspectorate staff. Having regard to the safeguards and protection to be afforded to the migrant worker under the new Agreement, the Council felt that the advantages accruing to the worker accompanied by his family justified special provisions in the Agreement for workers wishing to establish themselves with their families in the neighbourhod of their employment. The Council also considered that to prohibit emigration for work except on a long-term contract of employment executed before departure might be regarded as an interference with individual liberties and might not always be in the best interest of the workers. Provision will, however, be made in the Agreement for the continuation of the present facilities for migrant workers who desire to enter into such a contract. I would refer my hon. Friend to the full and lucid analysis of these questions in the published statement.Reliable statistics on migrant labour are not ascertainable, but estimated figures of the numbers involved in the Central African Territories are given in the statement. The general habit of the migrant worker is to return to his own country after a comparatively short absence of one or two years, though a number which cannot be precisely stated may remain permanently in the country of employment. Migration of labour from the British East African territories is inconsiderable and does not constitute a problem; rather, there tends to be an inward flow of workers from neighbouring non-British territories. If my hon. Friend requires any further information regarding this agreement, I shall be glad to arrange for this to be supplied to him.

Old Age Pensions

asked the Minister of National Insurance why no explanation or apology for delay in sending her pension book was sent to Mrs. Reynolds, 45, Royal Road, Sutton Coldfield, old age pension No. 46498159, in response to arty of her seven applications in writing between October and March.

This pensioner has been in touch with the area officer of the Assistance Board acting on the Minister's behalf since November last, and has had more than one letter of explanation and regret from the area officer.

asked the Minister of National Insurance why no explanation or apology for delay in sending his pension book was sent to Mr. Herbert Symes, 126, Chester Road North, Sutton Coldfield, old age pension No. 16506622, in response to any of the applications which he made each month from October to March inclusive.

While of course I regret the delay, I understand that Mr. Symes did not get into touch with the local office of the Assistance Board, in accordance with the action which my right hon. Friend has repeatedly urged pensioners to take, till 22nd March, and the correct pension book was issued soon afterwards.

asked the Minister of National Insurance why no explanation of the delay in sending her new pension book has been given to Mrs. Powell, 291, Eachelhurst Road, Sutton Coldfield, old age pension No. 20508158, who has repeatedly written to his Department since September requesting its despatch; and when she will receive the pension and arrears to which she is entitled.

asked the Minister of National Insurance when Mr. and Mrs. J. Wilmott, Southview, Horsecastle, Yatton, near Bristol, pension books Nos. 0750114 and 40477887, can expect to have new pension books; and whether he is aware that since 23rd January this aged couple have been unable to draw any pension due to the absence of their books.

Inquiries into these cases are in hand and I will write to the hon. Members as soon as possible.

Road Maintenance Arrears

asked the Minister of Transport what requests have recently been made to county highway authorities to reduce their estimates for expenditure on road maintenance and improvement during 1947; and what was the reason for such requests.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir J. Mellor) on 30th April

Redhill Hostel, Hereford

asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider taking over vacant accommodation in the Redhill Hostel, Hereford, for housing purposes.

Discussions with a view to use of a part of the hostel for housing are proceeding.

King's Proctor (Interventions)

asked the Attorney-General the number of cases in which the King's Proctor has intervened successfully and unsuccessfully in each year since 1914.

The information for which my hon. Friend asks is contained in the following table of interventions by the King's Proctor from 1st January, 1914, to 6th May, 1947:

Total InterventionsSuccessful InterventionsInter Dismissed etc.
NOTE:—In addition to the above there are 12 current Interventions.

Spain (Trial)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will protest in the strongest possible terms to the Spanish Government against the sentences of death imposed upon nine young Spaniards, all under the age of twenty years, for political activities

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the full statement which was made in reply to a question regarding this case on 30th April. The official statement issued by the Spanish Government made it clear that none of these young Spaniards had yet been tried, still less sentenced to death, and that only four of the accused were under 20 years old.

Separation And Maintenance Orders

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the number of separation and maintenance orders made by magistrates each year since 1914