HC Deb 06 May 1952 vol 500 cc162-3
8. Mr. Cyril Osborne

asked the Minister of Labour how many foreign workers there are in the United Kingdom; in which trades they are chiefly engaged; from which countries they have come; what steps are being taken to ensure that British workers are not made redundant whilst foreign workers remain fully employed; and to what extent it is proposed to repatriate them when they are no longer required.

Sir W. Monckton

I am unable to say what is the total number of foreign workers at present in the United Kingdom, but since the war more than 200,000 have been absorbed into employment in this country under official or semi-official schemes. With permission, I propose to circulate the remainder of the answer, which involves a table of figures and information about the issue of individual permits, in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Osborne

Will the Minister see that foreign workers do not remain in employment when English workers are out of work, and that when redundancy arises foreign workers will be put off first?

Sir W. Monckton

In the case of those who are here under organised schemes for bringing foreign workers into the United Kingdom, most of the agreements between the two sides of the industries concerned provide that foreign workers shall be the first to be discharged in the event of redundancy. It is, of course, for the parties to those agreements to see to their implementation.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

While appreciating that foreign workers must not be retained at the expense of British workers, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind that many of the foreign workers were brought in to remove bottlenecks which arose from the reluctance of our own workers to do the job; and will he see that there is no dislocation of industry to any excessive extent from the necessity to remove these foreign workers?

Sir W. Monckton

indicated assent.

Following is the statement:

Official and Semi-Official Schemes
Origin Approximate numbers Industries in which they were chiefly engaged when first employed in United Kingdom
Main Group
Poland (Polish Resettlement Corps, etc.) 100,000 Agriculture, building, brickmaking, coalmining, iron and steel, textiles, hotel and catering, nursing, domestic work in institutions.
Displaced Persons from various places in Europe to which they are unwilling to return (Baltic States, Ukraine, etc.) 77,000
Former Prisoners of War—
Germans 15,000
Italians 1,000
Ukrainians 8,000
The above were accepted for settlement in the United Kingdom.
Subsidiary Groups
German women 9,600 Domestic work and textiles.
Austrian women 2,300
Italian women 2,000
Italian men 6,700 Iron founding, tin plate, brickmaking, coalmining, etc.

All those in the subsidiary groups are liable to be repatriated when their services are no longer required, but steps are being taken to see how far redundant foreign workers who do not wish to leave the country might be suitable for other vacancies which cannot be filled by British subjects. It is customary, however, not to enforce repatriation after a foreign worker has been satisfactorily employed for four years.

Where there have been organised schemes for bringing foreign workers to the United Kingdom most agreements between the two sides of the industries concerned provide that foreign workers shall be the first to be discharged in the event of redundancies. The implementation of these agreements is a matter for the parties to the agreements to decide.

Individual Permits

In addition, during the years 1946-51 inclusive, some 172,000 permits for limited periods were granted to employers who applied for permission to employ foreign workers, mainly from European countries, in various occupations, predominantly in domestic service but also as entertainers, student-employees, nurses, teachers and workers in agriculture, textiles, tin plate and brickmaking. It is not known how many of these permits were utilised by employers or how many foreign workers have remained in this country on extension of the period for which the permit was originally granted.