HC Deb 24 June 1948 vol 452 cc1555-6
45. Mr. Driberg

asked the Minister of Labour if he has now been able to ascertain how many of the 400 unemployed West Indians, who were due to arrive at Southampton on 22nd June, are skilled workers, and in what trades; how many have indicated readiness to volunteer for the Forces or for training in undermanned industries; and how soon he expects that they will all have found suitable work.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Ness Edwards)

About 240 of these men did not wish to stay in London and were assisted on their way to their destinations. Twenty-five wished to join the Forces; 185 registered yesterday for employment; 73 of these are men claiming varying degrees of skill. Of the remainder, 19 have so far volunteered for coalmining, and 14 for agriculture. It is too early to forecast when the last of them will have found work.

46. Mr. Driberg

asked the Minister of Labour to give an assurance that the arrangements made for the employment, accommodation, and welfare of British subjects from the Empire overseas are in every respect as good as those made for European voluntary workers.

Mr. Ness Edwards

European volunteer workers come to this country under an organised scheme designed to provide additional workers for the undermanned industries. The arrangements for their reception, employment, accommodation and welfare have necessarily to be organised in advance, and in considerable detail. The comparison made by my hon. Friend with individual British subjects who come here on their own initiative to seek employment is not, therefore, appropriate.

Mrs. Manning

While, perhaps, it is not appropriate to compare these two classes of workers, is there not some comparison between British subjects emigrating to other parts of the Commonwealth, and for whom the Commonwealth would make better arrangements than we seem to be making for those who come here?

Mr. Ness Edwards

I was asked to draw a comparison between those who come on their own initiative and those who come in organised parties. It will be appreciated that those who come in organised parties have an entirely different standard of treatment from those who come individually.

Mr. Driberg

In order to ventilate further this rather important matter, with its possible further ramifications—since it is reported that 2,000 more West Indians are now on the point of sailing to this country—I propose, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, and subject to the convenience of my right hon. Friend, to raise it on the Adjournment tonight, instead of the subject of which I had previously given notice.