HC Deb 26 April 1965 vol 711 cc13-4
8. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the need to utilise all available labour in the national interest, if he will take steps to make better use of the labour potential of gypsies and other travellers, particularly in the South-East.

Mr. Marsh

Any gypsies or itinerants who register for work at our local offices are helped to find suitable employment. There are, of course, special difficulties, but we are anxious to do all we can for those who want jobs.

Mr. Dodds

Is my hon. Friend aware that when there is a labour shortage it might be useful to investigate this possibility with a view to trying to find sites where these people might camp so that they can go to the local exchange and register? Is he aware that we have a costly scheme for bringing Italians into this country to work in the brickfields and we have to provide them with hostels and homes when it might be found that some of these people might be able to do a job of that kind?

Mr. Marsh

I think it would be accepted that the unsettled way of life of these people and their lack of industrial experience do not make it easy always to fix them up with jobs in industrial employment. [An HON. MEMBER: "A poor reply."] No, we have not come to the best part yet. The National Assistance Board has specialist officers who deal purely with this type of people, and in the Rochester area, for instance, they are having some success.

Mr. Murray

Does my hon. Friend agree that within the labour market in the South-East there is a state of emergency? Is he aware that during the war gypsies and other travellers were used by the Ministry of Labour? Cannot we have the same state of emergency preparations to deal with the present problem?

Mr. Marsh

I repeat that there are difficulties in finding steady employment for people of this type. There are specialist officers dealing with the problem and records show that so far they have met with some success. I agree that there is a problem here.