HC Deb 20 January 1949 vol 460 cc332-3
52. Sir John Mellor

asked the Minister of Labour why Josef Rokoczy, a qualified dentist, was directed to agricultural work and prosecuted for refusal.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Isaacs)

This man came to this country as a European Volunteer Worker, having signed the usual undertaking to accept the work selected for him. He repeatedly refused agricultural work, and, indeed, said that he intended to emigrate to the Argentine and had no intention of doing any work in this country in the meantime. The prosecution which followed was instituted by the police on the ground that he had contravened the conditions on which he had been allowed to land in this country.

Sir J. Mellor

Is it not a fact that this man was quite willing to follow his profession, if he was giver a chance to do so? Why was he not given that opportunity?

Mr. Isaacs

In the first place, he signed up to come here as a volunteer to take such work as was offered to him; secondly, we have no evidence that he is a dentist; thirdly, he made no application to the authorities to be accepted as a dentist, and we do not know if they will accept him if he does make application; and finally, he has been living in England, sitting in idleness, while school children have been doing agricultural work.

Mr. Stanley

In view of the interest aroused in this case, will not the right hon. Gentleman try him out as a dentist?

Mr. Isaacs

Yes, Sir, if the right hon. Gentleman will accept the trial.

Earl Winterton

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the intention of successive Governments of this country to allow refugees to come here after being persecuted abroad, has now been departed from by this Government?

Mr. Isaacs

No, Sir. It is not quite right to put that interpretation upon it. We posted notices in displaced persons' camps on the Continent asking if anybody was ready to volunteer to come here to work. Only those who said they were prepared to accept agricultural or such other work as was offered to them were brought here. This man volunteered to come here to work; he did not come here as a refugee.

Mr. Hale

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that this country has for many years had far too many people in idleness, and that we would rather export than import them?