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European Volunteer Workers

Volume 440: debated on Tuesday 22 July 1947

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asked the Minister of Labour what action he is taking to ensure that displaced persons now arriving in this country with experience in agriculture, horticulture and forestry, are being encouraged to take up such employment.

European volunteer workers possessing such experience are quickly placed in agricultural employment, subject, of course, to no British or Polish worker being available, and we are particularly anxious to obtain from farmers applications to employ a man and his wife where suitable accommodation is available.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that a number of these Baltic displaced persons with special university degrees in agriculture and forestry are now employed in humble positions in the textile industry, and that one Balt who has a forestry degree is washing dishes near Cambridge? Will he look into this matter again?

Certainly I will have the details about any such Balt looked at. Our intention is to try to put them into the job where they can make the best contribution.

Is not the experience of each displaced person known and compiled before they are brought here?

Each person is interviewed and states his qualifications, and as far as possible he is fitted into the job in our economy in which he can make the biggest contribution.

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that individuals supplied to positions of this kind are very fortunately placed compared with those applying for employment in the mines, in so far as they have not to he screened by the miners' union?


asked the Minister of Labour why the recruitment of displaced persons as European volunteer workers has not been extended to Italy; and if he will now so extend it.

The outstanding labour demands in this country which the scheme for the recruitment of European volunteer workers is designed to help to meet are to a very considerable extent for women workers. It is understood that the displaced persons in Italy are mainly men, and that the field for the recruitment of women workers is extremely small. It was, therefore, at this stage considered desirable to concentrate on the recruitment of European volunteer workers in Germany and Austria as the most fruitful field. A high proportion of the men recruited in these countries are in fact relatives of women workers who are coming here at the same time. I shall, however, be glad to consider later the question of recruitment from Italy in relation to the progress of recruitment from Germany and Austria.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether or not there is any machinery in Italy for recruiting these people?

No, Sir. We have no machinery yet, but we have had a survey made by the International Relief Organisation, and we have all the facts at our disposal.