HC Deb 24 October 1966 vol 734 cc636-7
46. Sir C. Osborne

asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the Government's policy of providing for 460,000 unemployed, and the Prime Minister's warning that this figure might rise to 2 million, if he will now cease issuing work permits for immigrants to come to this country seeking jobs; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to my right hon. Friend's reply on 8th August.

Sir C. Osborne

As the Government's deliberately created unemployment of 1 million is likely to arise during this winter, is it not crazy——

Mr. Wilkins

The Conservative Government deliberately created it in 1963.

An Hon. Member

It just happened.

Sir C. Osborne

—we did not regard it as a laughing matter either—to allow, as the figures issued today show, 60,000 immigrants to come into the country in September to flood the market?

Mr. Chapman

They are not seeking work.

Sir C. Osborne

Will not the hon. Lady look at the problem again and safeguard the rights of British workers in our own home market?

Mrs. Williams

The hon. Gentleman is speculating a little wildly with figures. The 60,000 were not seeking work. Of those seeking work, only two groups are admitted. One group is for professions in which there is extremely high employment, such as doctors and nurses, and the other group is persons for whom employers have asked on the ground that the jobs are available for them. If there is a job which can be filled by a British citizen, it is most unlikely that an employer would ask for one of these people.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Can my hon. Friend say on how many occasions under Tory Administrations the number of unemployed exceeded 400,000?

Mrs. Williams

In 1963, 1962, 1959 and 1958, the national unemployment figure was well above what is is today.