HL Deb 18 April 1978 vol 390 cc982-4

2.57 p.m.

Baroness VICKERS: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in view of the report submitted to the Home Office in September 1977 by International Youth Welfare concerning au pairs in the United Kingdom, action is being taken to update the Home Office leaflet Au Pair in Britain.


My Lords, yes; a revision of this leaflet is in hand. International Youth Welfare sent their final report, Au Pair in Britain, to the Home Office on 14th March last. There had been a meeting in October 1977 at which a preliminary report had been discussed; and we were sent in January a draft for a new leaflet to be used in connection with the revision which we had already begun. We are grateful to International Youth Welfare for the work they have done and the draft they have provided. Partly in consequence, the revision of the Home Office leaflet is now well advanced, and my right honourable friend will shortly be consulting other Departments and organisations which are involved or which may be able to offer helpful advice.

Baroness VICKERS

My Lords, may I thank the noble Lord for that Answer? I must say, and he will be pleased to hear, I am sure, that it is the best Answer I have ever had on this subject. In view of the fact that there are 15,000 girls coming from 24 different countries, and that 67 per cent. of them did not receive the present leaflet, w ill he make certain that this is put right in the future, in view of the fact that a lot of girls are having to work 50 hours instead of the regulated 30 hours laid down by the Home Office and that 10 per cent. of them do not get a free day and 44 per cent. get a free day only at the will of their hosts?


Yes, my Lords, the noble Baroness is on to an important point. It is obviously highly desirable that these girls should have copies of this leaflet, and certainly we will do everything possible to ensure that they get them. They are made available by members of the immigration service, and they are also available at British posts abroad; but the noble Baroness, as I have indicated, is quite right. We are aware of the concern in this particular matter, and we will certainly do what we can to ensure that these copies are distributed as widely as possible.


My Lords, is the Minister aware that many of us have never heard of so much ill-treatment to au pair girls? Is the Minister also aware that those of us who have children and grandchildren, and friends with children, very rarely come across any such ill-treatment but find that the au pair girls have much leisure, plenty of time for education, a place in the family and good wages? I, for one, find it very difficult to have any kind of strong feelings about this.


My Lords, I think the position is that in many cases the situation is exactly as my noble friend describes it, but I am bound to say that in others there have been fairly disagreeable episodes concerning some of these girls, and obviously we want to deal with this matter as satisfactorily as possible.


My Lords, if I may presume that the reason why au pair girls wish to come to this country is to learn English or to improve their English, can the noble Lord say in what languages, apart from English, these leaflets are produced?


My Lords, I am afraid that I cannot give an answer off-hand to that question, but I will make inquiries and let the noble Lord know.

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