HC Deb 23 January 1947 vol 432 cc362-3
55. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Labour how many Poles have yet started work in the mines in this country.

Mr. Isaacs

We are in process of registering skilled underground Polish miners and they are being placed in employment as soon as possible.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Does that answer mean that none have yet started work?

Mr. Isaacs

No, Sir. The answer does not mean that. It means what it says: they are being placed in employment as soon as possible.

Hon. Members

How many?

Mr. Isaacs

I could not say at any given moment. I must ask the House to remember that one cannot take a Pole, however skilled he may say he is in coal milling, out of the recruiting centre and put him straight down into the pit. He must be put into contact with the place where he is to be employed and must get some form of training. That is the procedure. There are very great prospects of a considerable introduction of these men in the near future

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

May I press the right hon. Gentleman to answer the Question on the Paper? It is a perfectly clear Question as to how many of these men have actually started work.

Mr. Isaacs

If the hon. Gentleman would be good enough to dictate to me the answer he wants me to give him, I will consider it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I am still under the impression that it is the right of the Member to ask a Question and I think the Minister has the right to give his answer.

Mr. Hogg

On a point of Order. Is it the Minister's right to answer a totally different question from the one which was put down?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of Order; I am quite certain of that.

Mr. Molson

Will the right hon. Gentleman say if we are to understand from his answer that, so far, no Pole has started work?

Mr. Isaacs

If my answer is studied, I think hon. Members will find it is perfectly clear.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I beg to give notice that in view of the right hon. Gentleman's refusal to answer the Question, I shall take the earliest opportunity of raising the matter on the Adjournment.

Sir W. Smithers

On a point of Order, Sir, is it not a fact that the Government are "up the pole"?