HC Deb 05 May 1949 vol 464 cc1204-6
43 and 44. Vice-Admiral Taylor

asked the Minister of Labour (1) whether, in view of the great difficulty experienced by and the small numbers of Polish officers of the Polish Resettlement Corps of over 50 years of age who have been able to obtain work through the employment exchanges, he will take special steps to obtain work for them;

(2) whether, in view of the difficulty of Polish other ranks of the Polish Resettlement Corps of over 50 years of age, he will take special steps, in addition to the employment exchange procedure, to obtain work for them.

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

Yes, Sir, I will continue to do all that is possible to settle these cases, subject to the point that I cannot give them preference over British persons similarly situated. The hon. and gallant Member will appreciate that there are exceptional difficulties in resettling these older officers and men.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

I am aware of what has been done in the endeavour to get work for the officers and the men. As the Parliamentary Secretary is replying to two Questions at once I hope I shall be allowed to put two supplementary questions. First, with regard to the officers. The Parliamentary Secretary has explained that there is great difficulty so far as the skilled men are concerned. They have not carried out manual labour during their lives. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speech"] I want only to put the difficulty—the extreme difficulty —of these men. Is it not the fact that the Labour Government have not been able to obtain work for them? Therefore, will the right hon. Gentleman make a special arrangement—which, I understand, he is making now with regard to our own people over 50, that they may work—for the sake of these officers? With regard to the men, they have a great deal of difficulty also when they are over 50. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that special consideration must be given to them in order that they may obtain work? We owe them special consideration.

Mr. Ness Edwards

I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman must pay tribute to the Department for the very large number of these men who have been settled in employment. We have been left with 1,095 officers who are over 50, and we are taking special steps, in cooperation with the Polish organisation, to get these men settled as quickly as we can.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

They want work.

Mr. Gallacher

Would not my hon. Friend invite those who made propaganda to keep these Poles from going back to their own country now to take responsibility for them?

65. Vice-Admiral Taylor

asked the Minister of Labour what provision is made for the Polish Land Forces officers and other ranks, ex-prisoners of war, who were not allowed to join the Polish Resettlement Corps and who are unable to obtain employment.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Any former members of the Polish Land Forces who, though not eligible to join the Polish Resettlement Corps, were permitted to remain in this country are given all possible help by my Department in obtaining work. The number is very small.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

But that does not answer the Question. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the number of these officers and men is small; that they constitute a very special case, being former prisoners of war, taken in the early stages of the war and imprisoned in Germany; and is he further aware that if they do not obtain employment they must look forward to spending the remainder of their lives being maintained by the Assistance Board, being in receipt of 5s. a week; and is that not a most disgraceful thing?

Mr. Ness Edwards

The hon. and gallant Member is badly misinformed. There were some thousands of these men, all of whom with the exception of less than 250 are now in employment. We are doing our best to put the others into employment.