HC Deb 13 December 1956 vol 562 cc594-6
9. Mr. Hurd

asked the Minister of Labour to make a statement on the progress in finding suitable employment and living accommodation for the refugees whom this country has welcomed from Hungary, and in particular how many families and single men are likely to be settled most appropriately in agriculture; and what offers of farm employment and accommodation have already been received through farming organisations.

16. Mr. Knox Cunningham

asked the Minister of Labour how many offers to employ refugees from Hungary have been received; how many of the 11,000 refugees in the country are now in employment; what steps are being taken for the welfare of such employed persons; and if he will make a general statement with regard to the employment of such refugees from Hungary.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Over 1,000 employers have notified one or more vacancies for Hungarian refugees. Up to 8th December some 500 refugees had been placed by my officers in employment with suitable accommodation. Approval of employment has been given in other cases where the refugees have secured work through friends or relatives.

Many of the refugees wish to go on to Canada and other countries. If they are unlikely to get passages in the near future, efforts are being made to find temporary employment for them.

The National Farmers' Union and individual farmers have notified many vacancies for agricultural work, but very few of the refugees have yet been identified as agricultural workers.

As regards welfare, in addition to the care given to them through the normal arrangements made both by industry and by local offices of my Department, I understand that the British Council for Aid to Refugees has made arrangements with the national voluntary organisations who specialise in family case work.

Mr. Hurd

While we should all wish to pay tribute to the very fine work which the voluntary organisations are doing in helping these people to get jobs and accommodation, may I ask my right hon. Friend how many more Hungarian refugees he hopes to see settled within the next fortnight or by the end of this month?

Mr. Macleod

The position, as my hon. Friend knows, changes all the time. I am trying to get the latest information, and it may be possible to give the House the latest information concerning labour matters in the debate which, I believe, we are to have next Thursday. If I can do so I will.

Mr. Lee

Is the right hon. Gentleman keeping the trade unions concerned informed in order that they can help in expediting the taking of these people into the various industries?

Mr. Macleod

I think that the trade unions have been most helpful throughout.

Mr. Gibson

While we are all willing to help and anxious to do so, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will ensure that when these men and women are placed in jobs the established trade union rate of wages is paid by the employers?

Mr. Macleod

Yes. It is a condition of employment for anyone in this country, no matter whence he comes, that he shall not be employed at rates of wages lower than those which would normally be paid.

Mr. Knox Cunningham

Will my right hon. Friend give special encouragement to the voluntary bodies so that when they make offers of employment to the refugees such offers can be taken up?

Mr. Macleod

That is a very important point. An undertaking as great as this can be carried out only if there is true partnership between the State, the trade unions and the voluntary bodies concerned.

Mr. Usborne

Can the Minister say, in the event of there being a new Government in Hungary and a proper settlement there, how many of the refugees coming from Hungary will wish to return immediately to their homes?

Mr. Macleod

I cannot answer that question without notice, but my interviewing officers, at the second stage, that is, when the reception and documentation have been undertaken, do make that sort of inquiry of the refugees coming to this country. We shall be able in due course to give the House such figures as become available.

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