HC Deb 18 March 1952 vol 497 cc2077-8
6. Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

asked the Minister of Labour what representations he has received from the National Coal Board in regard to the introduction of foreign workers into our coal mines; and what action he has taken.

Sir W. Monckton

I have received no representations on the subject but, after discussions with the National Coal Board, further recruitment of Italian labour has for some time been suspended in order to absorb the large numbers in Italy already selected for coalmining employment, parties of whom are continuing to arrive weekly in this country.

Sir T. Moore

If there are not sufficient numbers of our own people who are willing to work in the pits—and I do not blame them for that—surely the obvious solution is to import foreign labour which is willing to work in the pits?

Sir W. Monckton

I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that I would do anything I could to encourage the incursion of more labour into the mines, but it is no good getting more men than can be absorbed.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the Minister aware that in Ayrshire many Scottish miners have no houses in which to live and that it would be very difficult to find any place in which the Italian workers could live?

Sir W. Monckton

indicated assent.

10. Mr. Cyril Osborne

asked the Minister of Labour if, in view of the threat of unemployment in many parts of the country, he will reconsider the policy of encouraging further foreign workers to come to the United Kingdom, and so safeguard the employment of our own people.

Sir W. Monckton

I think the position is already safeguarded adequately by the present policy under which foreign workers are admitted for employment only when suitable workers are not available in this country.

Mr. Osborne

Is the Minister aware that there is already fear of redundancy in many industries, and that there will be a great deal of resentment if our own people find themselves out of work while foreigners keep their jobs? Will he safeguard against that danger?

Sir W. Monckton

It is my belief that the position is safeguarded now. If an industry or a firm wants to recruit foreigners, then before the scheme is put into operation we satisfy ourselves that agreement has been reached between both sides of the industry concerned. One of the conditions is that which I mentioned in my answer.

Mr. E. Shinwell

How does the right hon. and learned Gentleman account for the rise in unemployment since this Government came in?

Sir W. Monckton

That, of course, is quite a different question.