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Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 3 May 1949

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Canteen Advisers


asked the Minister of Labour how many persons are employed by his Department as factory canteen advisers throughout the country; what amount is spent in this connection; and what average percentage of the recommendations put forward by these advisers are adopted by factory managements.

There are 18 canteen advisers and the present cost of their salaries is about £11,000 a year. As to the third part of the Question, statistics are not available. The advisers visit factories for the purpose of giving advice on all sorts of matters of detail connected with the running of canteens, and it would be quite impossible to say what percentage of their suggestions is in fact adopted, though employers do, in general, welcome their advice and most of the advisers' visits are made in response to direct requests for help by managements.

Is the Minister aware that one of these advisers visited a firm in Macclesfield which is exporting 90 per cent. of its output and that, among many recommendations, one was that the porcelain sink should be replaced by a galvanised one; and would the right hon. Gentleman please instruct the advisers that, while they carry out a useful job, they should try to be a little more serious about their recommendations?

I would not care to express an opinion on that until I knew all the facts of the case, but now that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has raised the matter I will have it looked into.

Has an adviser the right to walk into any canteen without permission; and is a firm liable to prosecution if it does not carry out the recommendations of the adviser?

Shoe Factory Foremen (Advertisement)


asked the Minister of Labour why the approval of the employment exchange at Northampton has to be obtained before an advertisement offering employment to foremen in a shoe factory in South Africa can be inserted in a Norwich newspaper; and under what regulation this is required.

I have been unable to trace this case, but I shall be glad to make inquiries if the hon. and learned Member will send me details.

As I understand that the branch of the Ministry of Labour at Norwich gave this information which, of course, recognises the importance of Northampton, I will give the right hon. Gentleman particulars and perhaps he will say later whether there is any regulation which makes this necessary?

If the hon. and learned Member will send me particulars, I will let him have the fullest information possible.

Displaced Persons, Conway


asked the Minister of Labour why his Department refused permission for 12 displaced persons to be loaned to Conway Borough Council from a neighbouring camp to assist temporarily in developing the borough's water supply scheme.

Because suitable unemployed British workers were available locally. All the contractor's demands have been met promptly by the submission of suitable British candidates. At the time the borough surveyor was trying to arrange for the contractor to be supplied with 12 E.V.W.s, the contractor had no outstanding demands with the local office. He then asked for six British and these were sent the following day. All demands put in later have also been met.

Employees (Political Tests)


asked the Minister of Labour whether, before making the facilities afforded by his Department available to commercial firms, he will come to a general agreement with them that no political tests shall be imposed on employees supplied by him.

No, Sir. In submitting workers for employment my Department does not discriminate on grounds of race, colour, sex or belief.

Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to the recent proposals by the John Lewis partnership to make members of their staff sign a political declaration on pain of dismissal if they refuse to do so, and does he consider that the security problems involved in the sale of ladies' underwear are sufficiently important to warrant this intolerable intrusion into the private lives of their employees?

I can only say that as far as my Department is concerned, we do not discriminate in these political activities. I hope that firms also will follow the same example.

Would not the-Minister agree that although a great many Communists are notorious trouble makers it is very undesirable that there should be any discrimination by commercial firms against the employment of all Communists as such?

In reply to that question. I think that it is fair to state that there are many known and active Communists who in the workshops are first-class and reliable workers.

Can the Minister say whether any man dismissed under this arrangment would be entitled to unemployment benefit and, if so, whether there is any method of preventing this firm from applying their own political opinions to their staff at the public expense?

So far as unemployment benefit is concerned, without expressing myself too definitely, I should have thought that this would not deprive a man of his right to benefit, but as to whether we have any influence with the firm, all I can say is that I hope that they will not continue this practice.

We cannot go on with this Question indefinitely. I once said, "Is your supplementary really necessary?" We must get on with Questions. I called the hon. Member to ask Question No. 9.

While welcoming the Minister's assurance, in view of the tremendous political importance of the principle involved. I beg to give notice that I shall seek an early opportunity to raise the whole matter on the Adjournment.



asked the Minister of Labour what are the safeguards subject to which he decides whether or not to allow employers to employ Germans.

The safeguards are the same as those applied in the case of other foreign nationals. Permits are granted only if the employment is of a useful and necessary character, if no workers resident in this country are available and if the wages and other conditions of employment proposed are not less favourable than those commonly accorded to British workers.