Refugees (Employment).

Oral Answers to Questions — National War Effort. – in the House of Commons on 19th February 1942.

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Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is satisfied that refugees received in this country, for example, the evacuees from Gibraltar, are provided with full-time employment contributory to the war effort?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

In so far as the Question relates to foreign refugees, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on 27th November last to a Question asked by the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Dobbie). I understand that more than 85 per cent. of the foreign refugees from enemy occupied countries are now in full-time employment. All cases of British refugees from Gibraltar still remaining unemployed are being scrutinised by my Department in consultation with the Ministry of Health and the wardens of the hostels in which the refugees are billeted. The majority of the able-bodied men are already working.

Photo of Sir Patrick Hannon Sir Patrick Hannon , Birmingham Moseley

Is the Minister aware that in the case of refugees from Gibraltar, large numbers of them are wandering around Kensington and other parts of London, without having any employment; and will he remedy that position as quickly as possible?

Photo of Miss Eleanor Rathbone Miss Eleanor Rathbone , Combined English Universities

Is the Minister aware that the chief obstacle to the full employment of refugees, especially foreigners, is not any unwillingness on their part to work, but a prejudice against refugees which, unfortunately, is fostered in this House by some hon. Members?

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the position is not wholly satisfactory with regard to refugees, and will he look into the matter?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I think the fact that 85 per cent. of refugees from enemy occupied countries are in full work—and not in separate works, but associated with British workers in British works—is the best answer to the hon. Lady's question about prejudice against them. It is a great tribute to everybody concerned. There are difficulties, which I do not want to enumerate, with regard to evacuees from Gibraltar, but we are trying to overcome those difficulties.