HC Deb 01 May 1947 vol 436 cc2163-4
50. Mr. Douglas Jay

asked the Minister of Labour if arrangements are now in force for farmers to apply to county A.E.Cs. for German prisoners of war to remain in employment here with civilian status where they are willing to do so; and whether prisoners have been informed of this.

Mr. Isaacs

I hope to bring the arrangements into force very shortly, when they will be communicated to all concerned.

Mr. Jay

In view of the Minister's statement that anything can be done by the Ministry of Labour, with which I agree, does he not think that there is a case for extending this sensible arrangement to other essential industries, such as brickworks?

Mr. Isaacs

I would not like to express an opinion apart from the actual industry with which we are dealing at the moment, but the possibility of extension is not ruled out.

Mr. Niall Macpherson

Would the Minister say what arrangements are made for paying these people if they are allowed to stay, and whether they will still be restricted?

Mr. Isaacs

If these people stay on as civilians, they will be employed at trade union rates, and will, I hope, take advantage of the opportunity to become trade union members.

Mr. Robens

Will there be any provision in the scheme for allowing the wives and families of those who remain to join them subsequently?

Mr. Isaacs

I do not know whether that is one of the provisions in the scheme, but I can say quite definitely that we are most anxious, where a family has been parted for many years by the cruelty of the enemy, to give them the opportunity to be reunited here. If we can, we shall certainly do that.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Will the Minister bear in mind the undesirability of the prisoners hearing of these arrangements by rumour, through the B.B.C. and the Press, rather than through the official announcements made to them by their commanding officers, which should be prompt and should be made before they hear this information in these other ways?

Mr. Isaacs

The information must be complete before we can communicate it to them.

Mr. Frank Byers

Will the Minister have a word with the Home Secretary who, at the present time, is separating mothers and children coming from Austria?

Mr. Isaacs

Not in this connection. I stand by my answer that if we can reunite families by bringing them here to work. we shall do so.

Mr. David Renton

Will the Minister ensure that, once the scheme comes into operation, if a man makes application to stay, he will not be sent back to Germany, and thus create the difficulty in bringing him back to this country which was experienced in the case of the Italians?

Mr. Isaacs

It must be borne in mind that it is not a matter of application by the man concerned, but whether the farmer or the employer can guarantee him employment, and can find him suitable accommodation. It is not the need of the prisoner, but the need of the employer which is the deciding factor.