HC Deb 11 November 1947 vol 444 cc177-9
13. Mr. Gammans

asked the Minister of Labour what is the result of his negotiations with the Amalgamated Engineering Union regarding the employment of Poles; and if any obstacles of any sort still exist regarding such employment.

Mr. Isaacs

My discussions with the Union on this subject are still proceeding, and in these circumstances I would ask to be excused from making any statement at the present time.

Mr. Gammans

Does the Minister have to admit that, after four months, it is the trade unions and not the Government who are deciding who shall work?

Mr. Isaacs

I am not admitting that at all. We have very recently been in direct contact with the organisations in an effort to remove the difficulties that existed. After all, we want these men in the works, but if there are difficulties, and if one man walks in and 20 walk out, that does not help us. This is the kind of difficulty we are trying to overcome. I am negotiating with the union, and I do not want to say something here this afternoon which will make this task more difficult.

Mr. Stokes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in my own constituency, engineering firms are crying out for labour of all classes, and how does he expect to get the industrial output which we require unless every sort of labour is brought into use?

Mr. Isaacs

That is a point on which I am trying to negotiate.

Mr. Kirkwood

Regarding the supplementary questions which have been put about my union, the Amalgamated Engineering Union, may I say that no body of men has made greater sacrifices in order to help to take our country out of its present difficulties and during the War.

15. Mr. D. J. Williams

asked the Minister of Labour how many Poles are now being trained for coalmining employment in South Wales; and how many have been placed in employment in the collieries.

Mr. Isaacs

One hundred and ten Poles were in training at the Oakdale training centre in South Wales on 10th November. Up to the week ending 7th November, 1,019 Poles had been placed in collieries in the South Wales district.

Mr. Williams

Can the Minister say what factors govern the allocation of these Poles to the various collieries and whether in every case every effort is made to place them in the most productive pits?

Mr. Isaacs

My Department having pro vided these Poles for the use of the mining industry, their training, allocation to pits, and so on, is left to the National Coal Board.

Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison

Can the Minister say whether the views of the union and the Government now coincide in the matter, or are they still poles apart?

Mr. Isaacs

No, Sir, they are not poles apart; they are poles in close proximity to each other.

16. Mr. D. J. Williams

asked the Minister of Labour how many Poles are employed in tinplate mills in South Wales; at which mills are they employed; and what living accommodation is provided for them.

Mr. Isaacs

Thirty-two Poles are at present employed in tinplate mills in South Wales. Twenty-two are employed at Baglan Bay Works, Britton Ferry, eight at Old Town Forge, Pontypool, and two at Melingriffith Works, Cardiff. Accommodation is provided partly in hostels and partly in private lodgings.

Mr. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there has been considerable delay in finding employment for these Poles in the tinplate mills because of lack of suitable living accommodation; and further, is he satisfied that the accommodation now available is adequate to meet the demand for Polish labour in these mills?

Mr. Isaacs

No, Sir, not at the moment. Every step is being taken to get more accommodation and to make the available accommodation suitable, but I am sure the House will be interested to know that there is now a greater willingness among ordinary people to accept the Poles into their houses in private billets.

19. Mr. Heathcoat Amory

asked the Minister of Labour what is the present strength of the Polish Resettlement Corps; and what are the reasons for the continued delay in absorbing the men concerned into productive industry.

Mr. Isaacs

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to his two similar questions on Thursday, 6th November.

Mr. Amory

Does not the right hon. Gentleman feel that the total of 43,000 represents a melancholy position two and a half years after the end of the German war, and does not he think that it shows a deplorable lack of drive and determination in dealing with this matter from the beginning?

Mr. Isaacs

In my opinion, it does not show any lack of determination or drive; it shows a lack of assistance from the other side.

Hon. Members

Which side?

Mr. Isaacs

I am sorry if that could be misunderstood. I mean the other side, the people with whom we are negotiating—not the A.E.U., but the Poles themselves.