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European Volunteer Workers

Volume 443: debated on Thursday 30 October 1947

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asked the Minister of Labour what steps are taken to check the qualifications of volunteers recruited on the Continent for employment in this country who are classified as skilled workers in specific trades.

European volunteer workers are recruited on the basis of suitability and adaptability for broad ranges of employment, mainly for manual work in the essential undermanned industries, and for textiles, and only to a very limited extent because of actual experience in specific trades. In all cases, selection on the Continent is undertaken by experienced and specially chosen Ministry of Labour officers, who interview each volunteer to determine whether he is generally suitable: Allocation to particular jobs in this country is undertaken by experienced placing officers of my Department, who are attached to the holding hostels here for this purpose.

But is the Minister aware that this does not always work out satisfactorily? His Department brought four Italians to this country classed as skilled moulders, and, on arrival at a factory in Bridport, it was found that they knew nothing whatever about the job.

Part of' the difficulty arose in Italy. There was a great deal of difficulty in sorting out the right types for work here; we found the methods in Italy differed so much from methods here.


asked the Minister of Labour why a husband and a wife coming into this country as volunteer workers under the Displaced Persons Scheme, are separated on arrival; and whether volunteers are allowed to bring their young families with them.

It is now the normal practice for husbands and wives among the European volunteer workers to be sent on arrival in this country to the same holding hostels, from which every effort is made to place them in employment, either together or as near as possible to each other. The arrangement is for non-working dependants to be brought to this country after the actual workers, as soon as provision can be made for their accommodation. The European volunteer workers are informed in writing of the above conditions at the stage at which they are recruited.

Can my hon. Friend make any statement yet as to the numbers of relatives of people who have already come over here from Europe, expected in the near future?

The first batch of dependants arrived in this country yesterday; two very large batches are expected next month, and we hope to clear the queue by the beginning of next year.