§ Lord Hylton
asked Her Majesty's Government:
When the Home Office, Department of Employment and Foreign Office will reach agreement on adequate safeguards against exploitation for concessionary foreign domestic workers in Britain; and whether they will make a statement before the Summer Recess.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)
We have concluded our review of the exceptional arrangement outside the Immigration Rules and the work permit scheme under which a domestic servant who has worked abroad for at least the previous 12 months for an employer who comes to the United Kingdom may be admitted to continue working for that employer here.
We very much regret that any cases of abuse and exploitation of overseas resident domestics should have occurred in this country, but we have concluded that in most cases the current arrangement benefits the servants themselves, who might otherwise lose their jobs if they were unable to come here with their employers. It is also important for the United Kingdom not to discourage those people with a substantial contribution to make to our prosperity who expect to be accompanied by their households when travelling here. We have therefore decided to continue the concession and allow domestic servants working as a member of their employer's household abroad to accompany or join their employer, or a member of his immediate family, in the United Kingdom. We shall however impose the following controls in order to minimise the chances of abuse and exploitation:
- (i) All domestic servants will be required to obtain entry clearance before coming here.
1438 The entry clearance officer will carefully consider the individual circumstances of each application and will refuse entry clearance unless he is satisfied about the bona fides of the domestic arrangement and that it comes within the terms of the concession;
- (ii) The domestic servant must have been in continuous, paid employment with the employer abroad for at least the previous 12 months before coming with a visitor or at least two years in all other cases;
- (iii) The minimum age at which a domestic servant will be granted entry clearance is 17 years;
- (iv) Information leaflets will be issued both to employers and domestics at the entry clearance stage setting out the legal rights of domestics working here and the protection available to them under United Kingdom law.
Further work is required on the details before these new arrangements can be fully implemented, but we hope that this will be complete by the autumn.