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Control Of Engagement Order

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 29 March 1949

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he is satisfied that the Control of Engagement Order is in accord with the Declaration of Human Rights; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure this accord.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Article 23 of the Charter states that everyone has a right of free choice of employment and does that right hold good in the Control of Engagement Order?

If the hon. Member would read Article 29 (2) of the Declaration he will find there an explanation of this scheme; and it refers to the Charter requiring to meet the just requirements of morality, public order, and the general welfare—[HON. MEMBERS: "Under a Socialist Government."]—I know it makes hon. Members opposite laugh when we talk about the general welfare—public order and general welfare in a democratic society.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Article 23 is a categorical statement and there is no qualification in it whatever? Do the Government propose to hold to that statement?

Does not the Minister think it would be better to keep the Declaration in the spirit as well as in the letter?

That is exactly what this Order intends to do—it keeps it in the spirit and not in the letter.

Are we then to understand that the right hon. Gentleman now admits that His Majesty's Government are breaking the letter of this international agreement?

If it is possible to twist what I have said in answer to a supplementary question — [Interruption]. If hon. Members say it is not, well and good. The answer on behalf of His Majesty's Government is that we intend to adhere to the intention and the purposes of this Order, and we do not consider that at the moment we are in any way deviating from it.