HC Deb 04 July 1938 vol 338 cc32-4
55. Major Procter

asked the Minister of Labour the number of labourers from Southern Ireland who are employed on factory and other construction work for His Majesty's Government; and, with a view to reducing unemployment in Lancashire, whether he will consult with the appropriate authority with the object of employing men drawn from the Lancashire Employment Exchanges?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the, Ministry of Labour (Mr. Lennox-Boyd)

The information in the possession of the Department does not enable me to give the figure asked for in the first part of the question. As regards the second part, it is now the practice for a clause to be inserted in all important Government contracts making it obligatory upon the contractor to notify vacant situations to to the local Employment Exchange. In submitting for the contractor's consideration workpeople who appear to be suitable, the exchanges always select work-people on the local register first. Where it is necessary to bring workpeople from other districts in this country, the exchanges give first preference to those who come from areas of heavy unemployment.

Major Procter

Can my hon. Friend give any information to the House as to why it is that some thousand of Irish labourers have been brought into Lancashire to do Government work, when we have unemployed miners and other people well able to do this work?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

As my hon. and gallant Friend knows, no restriction can be placed on the free movement of people of the British Empire into this country. If he has in mind in particular the works at Chorley, I can assure him that the vast majority of the people employed have been recruited in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Is it not a fact, nevertheless, that a good number of Irish workers from Ireland have been employed there, and that labour was advertised for in Ireland?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I have no information on that.

Mr. Jenkins

Is it not possible to get the figures asked for in the first part of the question?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

That would lead to innumerable inquiries. It might lead to misunderstanding, and I think it is undesirable.

Sir William Davison

Should there not be reciprocity in this matter, so that British labour in Southern Ireland is treated in the same way as Irish labour in this country?

Mr. Benjamin Smith

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the wages paid to Irish labourers, as against the wages paid to English labourers, is a reason for bringing them into this country?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I have no information as to that.