HC Deb 04 February 1947 vol 432 cc1553-4
21. Sir Patrick Hannon

asked the Minis ter of Labour the volume and quality of surplus labour available in Italy, Austria and Hungary which could be introduced into this country to supplement deficient manpower in productive employment and in promoting the interests of British export trade; and if plans can be arranged with trade unions to enable the expansion of production with the aid of foreign imported labour.

Mr. Isaacs

I have no information which would enable me to answer the first part of the Question, but I am at present investigating all practical possibilities in regard to the additional introduction of any suitable and available foreign labour that could be used to meet labour shortages and to expand production.

Sir P. Hannon

Can the Minister say when he hopes to be in a position to give the House some definite information about filling up the present gaps in manpower?

Mr. Isaacs

I could not undertake to give definite information at a very early date. There is the question of finding out from which countries we can get them, their capacity for work, opportunities of placing them in employment here, and, above all, the overriding problem of finding accommodation for them.

Mr. Peter Thorneycroft

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that only a few months ago the President of the Board of Trade said that the introduction of foreign labour into this country was a wholly impracticable suggestion? Are we to take it that the Government, at any rate, have had a complete change of mind on that matter?

Mr. Isaacs

It is not for me to interpret the answers given by my colleagues, for the simple reason that I do not think they need any explanation.

Mr. Frank Byers

Is it not a tact that the vast majority of displaced persons have now been classified, so that the information which the Minister said he was going to get is available? Can he not get into touch with U.N.R.R.A., to see whether something cannot be done to expedite this matter?

Mr. Isaacs

I do not think it is necessary to get in touch with U.N.R.R.A. We are in touch with the Control Commission and other missions which have been sent out to investigate the matter. I ask the House to accept the assurance that we intend to get as many people here as we can provide work for.

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