HC Deb 23 May 1960 vol 624 cc9-10
3 and 4. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Labour (1) why he has granted a labour permit to a United States citizen to play the part of an Arabian prince in a British television play, in spite of the objection of the professional trade union concerned and unemployment amongst British actors;

(2) to what extent he has taken into account the advice of the trade unions concerned and availability of British citizens for employment in deciding whether or not to grant labour permits to aliens.

Mr. Heath

A permit is issued only if no suitable British worker is available, and it is the practice to consult the trade union concerned. In the case quoted by the hon. Member, I was satisfied that the employer had made adequate but unsuccessful efforts to find a suitable British actor. I am always grateful for any advice by the trade union con- cerned, and I took full account of the views expressed before I reached a decision to issue this permit.

Mr. Swingler

Is it not a fact that Equity, the union involved in this, has always been reasonable in the past when consulted about the granting of labour permits? Is it not also a fact that in this case Associated Rediffusion unfortunately adopted blackmailing tactics by threatening to cancel this play unless this permit, involving one out of 300 actors, was granted, whereas the professional association took the view that there were British actors available to do the job? Has not the attitude of the employer been highly objectionable?

Mr. Heath

It is true that in the great majority of cases my Department is able to reach an amicable conclusion with those concerned, both employer and the union. I am sorry that in this case it was not possible to do that and therefore the decision finally rested with me as Minister. I came to the conclusion that this permit should be granted. I was not in any way influenced by any attitude taken by the employer. We were concerned to consider this purely on its merits.