HC Deb 14 April 1943 vol 388 cc1208-10
47. Dr. Little

asked the Minister of Production how many Eire nationals are employed in Northern Ireland by the Admiralty, the Ministries of War, Air and Aircraft Production, respectively; and how many workers from Northern Ireland have been transferred to Great Britain for war work?

The Minister of Production (Mr. Lyttelton)

As regards the first part of the Question, I regret that the information is not available. In reply to the second part, the latest information available is that given by the Northern Ireland Minister of Labour, in reply to a Question in the Northern Ireland Parliament on 25th March, 1943. It was stated then that since 12th February, 1940, the first date from which a separate count was made, 38,807 vacancies in Great Britain were filled by workers from Northern Ireland.

Dr. Little

Does not my right hon. Friend recognise that, in view of the state of unemployment in Northern Ireland at the present moment, a clear and unequivocal answer to the first part of the Question should be given, and that it is really demanded by the Ulster people?

Mr. Logan

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that Questions like this are likely to bring about a better working arrangement in Ireland? In regard to Northern Ireland, what were the ages of those who came over? Were they fit for military service or not? May I have an answer?

Mr. Lyttelton

That is not part of the original Question.

Mr. Logan

Yes, it is. Surely the right hon. Gentleman knows how many workers there are, and their ages?

49. Dr. Little

asked the Minister of Production whether, as Northern Ireland could do much more war work through skilful planning and judicious placing of factories, he will appoint a representative of his Ministry to take a survey of the potentialities of Northern Ireland for war work, and have enough factories erected as speedily as possible to give work to every employable person in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Lyttelton

With the approval of the Minister of Commerce and Production in Northern Ireland, the Secretary of his Department acts as my Regional Controller. He also acts as the Regional Controller of my right hon. friends the Ministers of Supply and of Aircraft Production and maintains close touch with the Regional Controller of my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty. My colleagues and I are kept fully informed of the potentialities of Northern Ireland for war work. The arrangement I have described makes for a very high degree of co-ordination, and I do not think that a special survey would serve any useful purpose. It is, of course, our aim to make the fullest possible use of the labour in Northern Ireland, but the provision of new factories in Northern Ireland and elsewhere must be governed by the needs of the war programme as a whole.

Mr. John Beattie

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Government of Northern Ireland have failed in their responsibility to the people, and——

Mr. Speaker rose