HC Deb 12 April 1965 vol 710 cc928-30
6. Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

asked the Minister of Labour what consideration, in deciding to issue a voucher on account of a genuine offer of employment, he gives to the availability of accommodation for the employee and his family.

Mr. Gunter

My Department has regard to the availability and suitability of accommodation in two types of case—when the offer of employment is made to a young person or when residence is an essential or customary condition of the kind of employment involved.

Mr. Lloyd

Would it not be advisable more broadly to consult local housing authorities before giving vouchers for employment in a locally crowded area?

Mr. Gunter

We appreciate that, but the right hon. Gentleman's Question refers only to vouchers in category A. We all desire that means should be found to provide suitable accommodation for all workers, but the right hon. Gentleman asks about holders of vouchers in category A and the steps which we have taken.

Mr. Godber

On the question of vouchers being issued, are those who are coming in now wholly coming to specific jobs or are there still some coming in to look for jobs? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with the First Secretary that there should be free entry of these people?

Mr. Gunter

The right hon. Gentleman knows that vouchers in category C have not been issued for a long time and therefore nobody is supposed to be coming in to look for a job. He is also aware that we are having a complete review made of the voucher system.

36. Sir D. Renton

asked the Minister of Labour how many labour vouchers have been issued to British Rail and London Transport under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962; how many of those were granted; how many of those granted were taken up; and whether he will make a statement as to the number of vouchers which he proposes to issue for British Rail and London Transport during 1965.

Mr. Thornton

Up to 26th March, 1965, about 1,500 vouchers had been issued for employment with London Transport. The number issued for employment with British Rail is not readily available but is known to be small. No statistics are available to show how many of the vouchers issued were taken up. I cannot say how many vouchers will be issued this year to individual employers.

Sir D. Renton

In view of the Minister's Answer to the Question of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell)—that there are 33,000 unemployed in the North-East—will the hon. Gentleman say why it is necessary to grant any vouchers for people coming in in order to work on British Railways?

Mr. Thornton

It will be well appreciated by the House and by the country that a remarkable contribution has been made to our services, particularly the National Health Service and transport, by coloured immigrants.

Mr. Shinwell

Is my hon. Friend aware that in the North-East the immigrant problem is negligible and that we are hardly troubled by it?

Mr. Ronald Bell

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether London Transport Executive is still actively recruiting Commonwealth immigrants? If so, would he not agree that that is inconsistent with the policy which has been put forward by the Home Secretary?

Mr. Thornton

Vouchers are still being issued, but I could not say what the numbers are without notice.

37. Sir D. Renton

asked the Minister of Labour how many labour vouchers he intends to issue under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962, during 1965; how many of them will be respectively A, B, and C vouchers; and what steps he has taken to try to avoid adding to the immigrant population in this way.

Mr. Thornton

The number of vouchers to be issued will, as in the past, be determined by the Government from time to time in the light of the relevant factors; I cannot foresee how the vouchers issued will be distributed as between the various categories.

Sir D. Renton

Is it not very disturbing that we cannot get the information which we require from the Ministry of Labour in order that we can form a judgment on these important immigration problems? Would the hon. Gentleman, in particular, answer the last part of my Question and say what steps he is taking to try to avoid adding to the immigrant population in this way?

Mr. Thornton

I cannot give any undertaking on this. All I would say is that any issue of vouchers would add to the immigrant population.

Mr. Thorneycroft

Is not this an extraordinarily unsatisfactory statement from the Government? Surely there must be some policy on this grave and serious problem. I appreciate that the Parliamentary Secretary may not know it now, but could the Minister, at some early and convenient moment, try to make a statement about the Government's policy on the issue of these vouchers, because this matter is causing grave concern to many millions of our fellow countrymen?

Mr. Thornton

As my right hon. Friend has indicated, the review of the voucher scheme is well under way and these matters will be tied up with the conclusions from the review.