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Employment

Volume 437: debated on Tuesday 20 May 1947

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Older Workers

84.

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that a considerable number of men and women over 45 years of age are unable to get work of any kind although they are in good health and often have useful experience; and if he will take steps to prevent this unnecessary loss of valuable manpower.

I would refer my hon. friend to the reply given to the hon. member for Taunton (Mr. Collins) on 29th April, a copy of which I am sending her.

Nfs Personnel (Training)

85.

asked the Minister of Labour whether in view of the number of discharge notices recently issued to personnel in the N.F.S. in the South Wales area, he will extend to such discharged personnel facilities for training for other employment.

The facilities provided under the Resettlement Training Schemes are already available to members of the N.F.S. who are discharged.

Prisoners Of War

87.

asked the Minister of Labour whether in view of the fact that a considerable number of prisoners of war are anxious to stay in this country as alien civilians in employment other than agricultural, he will consider drawing up a scheme to make this possible in all those cases where there is a shortage of British labour, the prisoners are suitable for the occupation they seek and our own citizens would not in any way be adversely affected by their retention.

No, Sir. The position remains as stated in the reply to my hon. Friend's Question on 13th May.

Will not my hon. Friend look at this question again, because there are a large number of occupations in which German prisoners have experience for which there is a grave shortage of British labour, and in which they might be usefully employed?

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that his answer will enjoy the wide support of the people of this country who feel that it is time that the Germans were allowed to return to Germany and British men brought home?

Aliens

88.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is yet in a position to make a statement about the future of the restrictions which prevent aliens resident in this country from earning their living.

I am not clear what restrictions my hon. Friend has in mind. It is necessary, in the interests of British workers, to exercise a certain measure of control over the employment which may be taken by aliens, but I cannot admit that this control has the result suggested in the Question in the case of aliens who are permitted to enter or to remain in this country for the purpose of engaging in employment. If my hon. Friend has any specific cases in mind and will send me particulars I shall he glad to look into them.

Is not my hon. Friend aware that large numbers of aliens arc in this country and have been in this country for many years with a specific restriction endorsed on their visas that they are allowed to remain only so long as they refrain from entering into gainful employment, and is it not ridiculous that we should be scouring Europe for aliens to come here to work while there are thousands here already who are only too anxious to earn their own living and many of whom are prosecuted and imprisoned for doing so?

I do not think it right that an alien who comes into this country on compassionate grounds should then seek to gatecrash into employment.

Would it not be in the national interest that everyone who lives in this country should be allowed to earn his living so as to eliminate parasites of every kind?

There is a much wider consideration. If people come into this country on compassionate grounds their cases ought to be looked at entirely from the point of view of compassionate reasons. If they use compassionate grounds for coming in in the first place when their intention is to remain here permanently, surely that ought to be stated in the original application and should be dealt with by the authorities?

May I ask the Minister how in his own mind he reconciles the expression "gatecrash into employment" with the terms continuously used by Members of the Front Bench opposite about the shortage of manpower?

Very often the types of employment for which many of these aliens make a demand are employments which are completely manned.

When a person is legitimately in this country, can the Parliamentary Secretary tell the House of one valid reason why that person should be kept in compulsory unemployment?

If the person in question wants to take up employment for which British workers should have preference, I think that is a case in which he should not be allowed to take up such employment. I do give the undertaking, however, that, if the aliens who come in on compassionate grounds are prepared to go into the undermanned basic industries, we shall take a much more favourable view.

Before my hon. Friend again commits himself to making offensive remarks in public about people who desire to earn their living in this country—

Will my hon. Friend realise that to accuse an alien, whose only desire is to make a contribution to his own upkeep by his own labours, of gatecrashing is offensive? Before he makes remarks of that kind again I hope he will consult with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and discover, as I am sure he will, that my Question was put down at the Minister's request—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—in order to enable him to make a statement about the results of his communications with the Home Office about this matter?

With regard to gatecrashing, I thought there was rather a distinguished precedent for the use of that term. I did not mean it to be offensive. What I had in mind is that aliens who come into this country on compassionate grounds often seek to obtain employment in the musical world, in opera and so on, and that British artistes have raised the most strong objections. That is what I had in mind, and as to the communication between my hon. Friend and the Minister I know nothing about that.

Is it not a fact that if you try to manage everything you prove that you can manage nothing?

In view of what the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) has said, may I ask the Parlia- mentary Secretary if he will now give the House the answer which his right hon. Friend intended should be given?