HC Deb 12 February 1951 vol 484 cc7-8
8. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will make a statement as to the result of his conversations with the National Union of Mineworkers on the subject of the use of further Italian labour in the mines.

12. Mr. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is now the policy of His Majesty's Government in regard to the recruitment of foreign workers from European countries for work in British pits; whether he can indicate the number of additional foreign workers it is proposed to recruit during 1951; the countries of origin; the terms of employment in British pits; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Robens

In their recent agreement with the National Coal Board, the Executive of the National Union of Mineworkers have pledged themselves to use their best endeavours to secure the willing acceptance of foreign workers in every pit where there is at present a shortage of men. This agreement was endorsed, with only one dissentient vote, at a delegate conference of the union held in York three weeks ago. The terms of employment for foreign workers in the mines will be the same as for British workers, but I cannot yet make any estimate of the number who will be recruited during 1951.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say whether any steps have been taken to get any of these people here?

Mr. Robens

Yes, Sir. The labour attaché in Rome is in contact with the appropriate people there about recruitment.

Mr. Nabarro

Would the Minister now answer the second part of my Question No. 12, which asks for the countries of origin in which these miners will be recruited? Can he also tell the House what measure of success is anticipated from this scheme, in view of the failure of a similar desire in Belgium to employ Italian and other foreign workers?

Mr. Robens

As this is a scheme for employing Italians I assume that they will come from Italy.

Mr. Hamilton

Can my hon. Friend say to what extent we are competing with Belgium in taking Italian labour?

Mr. Robens

No, Sir. But there are many Italians experienced in mining work who are prepared to come to this country.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Is it not owing to the slow action of the Government in this matter that they now find themselves in competition with Belgium for what Italian miners there are?

Mr. Robens

No, Sir.

Mr. James Glanville

Would my hon. Friend impress upon the Opposition that the objection to employing Italian labour is not on the grounds of nationality but on the grounds of language? Will he point out, for the edification of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who know nothing about this, that in a coal mine it is necessary that each man should understand the language of the man with whom he is working?