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Foreign Domestic Workers

Volume 884: debated on Tuesday 21 January 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will review the system of granting permits to domestic workers from overseas with a view to eliminating the exploitation of such workers.

My Department has recently carried out a review of this and various other aspects of the work permit scheme, and has sent proposals for a number of new safeguards to the CBI, TUC and Manpower Services Commission. I am now awaiting their comments and hope to make an announcement in the near future.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Does he accept that his Department is responsible for ensuring that the conditions for foreign workers are fair, and will he accept that the onus for proving that such conditions are fair should rest upon the employer who is seeking to bring foreign labour into the domestic trade? Will he consider establishing a system of compulsory registration for agencies involved in this business, so that the worst of them can be eliminated?

I accept that responsibility and I am anxious to ensure that there is no exploitation of foreign workers. As for the agencies, we intend to tighten up the regulations to control agencies and to make sure that people are not exploited by having to repay excessive fares. I accept responsibility for trying to improve conditions for foreign workers.