§ Mr. Alfred Edwards
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can make a statement regarding a number of Greek seamen, officers and men, who arrived recently at the port of Middlesbrough for the purpose of joining, other Greek ships under charter to the Ministry of War Transport and who have been refused permission to land by the Immigration Authorities.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede):The seamen in question arrived as passengers and applied for leave to land in order to join ships in this country. As there is already a large surplus of Greek seamen available for sea employment, including over 300, both officers and ratings at Cardiff, it has been decided in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of War Transport that no more Greek seamen should be allowed to land here and swell the surplus. These men were accordingly refused leave to land, and I am not aware of any reason for reconsidering this decision.
These men were not warned that this might arise before they left Greece and apparently they had authority to come to this country. Is it not pretty hard on these men that they should now have to follow this ship to Canada; and, when they get to Canada, will they be allowed to land there? Every one of them has a Greek ship to join which needs their services. One ship is lying in the Tees, just on the other side of the river.
§ Mr. Ede
No, Sir, that is entirely contrary to the information in my possession. These men had no authority when they left Greece which would lead them to 913 imagine they would be able to land in this country. If Greek seamen are needed to man Greek ships, there are over 300 unemployed Greek seamen in this country at the present time. The view taken by my right hon. Friend the Minister of War Transport and myself is that those men should be employed before fresh Greek seamen are brought here merely to swell the number of unemployed Greek seamen in this country.
§ Mr. Edwards
Whilst I agree entirely with the point of view expressed by the Minister, as there appears to be some misunderstanding, and these men have arrived here, and have been engaged for the sole purpose of joining ships in the charter of our Government, can the right hon. Gentleman look into this and see if the intense hardship caused to these men cannot be alleviated?