HC Deb 10 May 1948 vol 450 cc1733-4
51. Mr. Donner

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether there is a quota limiting the number of German prisoners which can be recruited as civilian farm workers.

Mr. T. Williams

Yes, Sir. The number of German prisoners of war authorised for recruitment as civilian farm workers in England and Wales is 16,000. As stated by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, on 25th March, this figure may be exceeded to enable a farmer to retain the services of a German who has been working for him regularly as a prisoner of war, if this is essential in the interests of food production.

Mr. Donner

Will the right hon. Gentleman say why would-be employers are being informed by officers of the Minister of Labour that no such quota is in operation, nor has it been for some time?

Mr. Williams

I can only assure the hon. Member that 16,000 have been recruited, and that they are working here civilianised.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is the Minister aware that, through the good offices of the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) and the trade union movement, a considerable number of Germans are being obliged to return to the ruins of Germany although they do not want to go, and will he use his influence with the Minister of Labour to keep such men in this country, where they are willing and able to work, in order to help with the harvest, afforestation and agricultural work generally?

Mr. Williams

I think the House is aware that the Government took a decision some time ago that 16,000 German prisoners should be retained and civilianised, plus 4,000 for Scotland, and those numbers have been recruited.