HC Deb 01 July 1971 vol 820 cc569-70
17. Mr. Duffy

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will have talks with the Irish Embassy about migratory workers; and what plans he has for regulating the activities of labour contractors.

Mr. David Howell

I am aware of the allegations of intimidation, underpayment and sub-standard living conditions of certain Irish immigrant seasonal workers employed in Scottish agriculture. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is investigating these. If the hon. Member has other matters in mind, I should be pleased to have details. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment is not contemplating special action to regulate the activities of labour contractors.

Mr. Duffy

In view of the growing activities of labour-leasing agencies involved in the recruitment of British workers for employment on the Continent, notably in German shipyards and steelworks, would it not be desirable for his right hon. Friend to put this recruitment on an official footing in labour exchanges?

Mr. Howell

I cannot comment at the moment on the point which the hon. Gentleman raised in his original Question, since these matters are still being investigated. As for the broader point raised in the hon. Gentleman's supplementary Question, we do not see the need for legislation. We think that the resources available will be better spent on improving public employment services than on more and more controls.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, under the new Immigration Bill, Commonwealth citizens will have to enter the country to work on work permits and will in future be temporary and migratory? In view of that, when will his Department reveal the intended numbers of work permits, so that we know how many temporary and, therefore, migratory workers we shall have under the new set-up?

Mr. Howell

That is going a long way from the original Question, which was about Irish immigrant workers in Scotland. There is free movement of labour between Ireland and Great Britain. If the hon. Gentleman cares to put down a Question on the other point, I shall be delighted to answer it.

Mr. Duffy

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of those replies, I beg to give notice that I shall seek an early opportunity to raise the matter on the Adjournment.

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