HC Deb 08 February 1962 vol 653 cc588-90
5. Mr. Boyden

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he accepts the recommendation of paragraph 47 (b) of Command Paper No. 1586, 7th Report of the Overseas Migration Board, that Great Britain's ability to provide for increased numbers of skilled and professional men and women for service in Commonwealth countries should be strengthened; and what steps he has taken, since the publication of the Report, to represent these views to the Government bodies concerned.

Mr. Braine

Yes, Sir. It is very desirable that we should be able to meet requests from other Commonwealth Governments for skilled manpower to help in the implementation of their development programmes. As to the second part of the Question, the Oversea Migration Board's recommendation has been brought to the notice of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour, the Department for Technical Co-operation and the Office of the Minister for Science; and, because of its special interest in the subject, the Robbins Committee on Higher Education.

Mr. Boyden

I am grateful for that answer as far as it goes. Can the hon. Gentleman be a little more precise, however? On Tuesday, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in answering a similar question, was very vague. Can the hon. Gentleman tell us when we can expect to see some tangible results in the Ministry of Education and the Treasury in relation to say, raising the school leaving age in England, offering sixth form scholarships, or increasing maintenance allowances, so that our own stocks of people for these purposes are increased?

Mr. Braine

As I understood it, my right hon. Friend said yesterday that every effort is being made to meet all requests from overseas Governments. I agree that every effort should be made. British "know-how" is more than a valuable export; it is a vital thread in the fabric of Commonwealth relations.

Mr. Walker

Will my hon. Friend consider the possibility of establishing one central Commonwealth employment bureau, whereby any Commonwealth country in need of skilled people could advertise its requirement in that bureau and thus notify the jobs concerned to all those in this country possessing the necessary skill?

Mr. Braine

As my hon. Friend will be aware, the Department of Technical Co-operation was set up to assist recruiting of that kind. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Technical Co-operation will bear my hon. Friend's suggestion in mind.

Mr. Mitchison

Will the hon. Gentleman make it his business to tell the Minister for Science that the views expressed in the Report of the Overseas Migration Board appear to be somewhat in conflict with those in the Report on Scientific Manpower? Will he ask his noble Friend for his comments?

Mr. Braine

I do not think that there is anything very surprising in that. There may be some occupations where the emigration of skilled and professional men from this country would cause difficulty and concern, but I think it is generally agreed that we should make every effort, where possible, to meet the requests of Commonwealth countries.