HC Deb 18 March 1976 vol 907 cc1515-6
1. Mr. Powell

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what consideration he has given to the operation of the Protection of Employment (Northern Ireland) Act after 1977.

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Stanley Orme)

I shall be considering the matter in due course in consultation with both sides of industry.

Mr. Powell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, especially in the present employment situation in Northern Ireland, any sharp transition as soon as the end of 1977 would be highly dangerous from many points of view? Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that this matter is pursued with a view to continuing derogation?

Mr. Orme

I take the right hon. Gentleman's point, but he will be aware of the present economic situation. I do not think that there will be a stampede of people looking for employment in Northern Ireland. As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, derogation does not end until 1977. The bodies that I shall be consulting through the Northern Ireland Economic Council will include both sides of industry—namely, the trade unions and the employers.

Mr. McCusker

Is the right hon. Gentleman in a position to tell us the level of applications for work permits in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Orme

I shall need notice before I can answer that question. The hon. Gentleman may be interested to know that in June 1975 there were 5,598 immigrant workers—that is, 1.1 per cent. of the total work force—in Northern Ireland.