HC Deb 11 November 1947 vol 444 cc173-5
9. Mr. Sidney Shephard

asked the Minister of Labour under what conditions European Volunteer Workers can leave the employment to which they have been directed.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Isaacs)

A condition of the recruitment of European Volunteer Workers is that they take only employment approved by the Ministry of Labour and change their employment only with the consent of a Ministry of Labour local office.

Mr. Shephard

Is it not a fact that very often these people undertake work which they afterwards find they do not like, and, in those circumstances is leave freely given for them to change their employment?

Mr. Isaacs

It is not exclusively a question of work which they do not like, but of work for which they may be unsuitable for various reasons, and every opportunity is taken to place them in work which is suitable for them in every other way.

14. Mr. Vane

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will make a statement on the progress of the scheme "Westward Ho," stating the original monthly target and the number of persons who have reached this country.

Mr. Isaacs

Under the scheme, approximately 28,000 European volunteer workers, of whom nearly 20,000 are men, have so far come to this country. The latest available figures show that employment in essential industries and services had been found for 24,300, a further 1,700 were under submission, and vacancies were in prospect for the remainder. The original aim of 4,000 arrivals per week was, as indicated in the reply given on 29th April last to the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Major Beamish), dependent upon the rate at which suitable volunteers could be absorbed into employment and provided with suitable accommodation, particularly in the areas of employment. The rats of arrival has varied from time to time in accordance with these factors, the lack of accommodation being the chief difficulty.

Mr. Vane

Will the Minister say, first, what numbers he expects to arrive in the near future; secondly, what are the essential industries to which he referred, and, thirdly, whether he can give the House any idea of the cost of administering this scheme per worker who arrives in this country?

Mr. Isaacs

The industries mainly concerned are agriculture and textiles. None of these workers is going into mining, but we have been very successful indeed in getting them into agriculture and textiles, and I may say that everybody who has taken them is very pleased with them. As to the number they are likely to take, that will depend on how many are suitable. We are now bringing in these people at the rate of about 1,000 a week, but how long we can continue at that rate, I do not know. We are only bringing in as many as we can properly place.