West Indian Mechanics, Liverpool

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Supply – in the House of Commons on 18th November 1942.

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Photo of Mr Benjamin Riley Mr Benjamin Riley , Dewsbury

asked the Minister of Supply whether he can make any statement regarding the coloured West Indian technicians who are now employed in a certain Royal Ordnance Factory at Liverpool; whether these West Indian skilled workers are working in friendly co-operation with their British fellow workers; how many of the West Indians have received any promotion in status because of special skill and efficiency; and whether there is any bar to their promotion on the ground of colour?

Photo of Sir Andrew Duncan Sir Andrew Duncan , City of London

Yes, Sir. The relations between the West Indian mechanics and their British fellow workers are good. AH except three of them are in receipt of rates of wages in excess of the standard rate by reason of special skill and efficiency, and two have been promoted to supervisory status. There is no bar to promotion on grounds of colour.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Riley Mr Benjamin Riley , Dewsbury

I am thankful for that reply, but is the Minister aware that I have in my possession a copy of a letter recently sent by a manager of a factory in Liverpool to West Indian workers in which he states specifically that he will not promote them in status, but is prepared to give them an increase in wages? Does the right hon. Gentleman approve of that course?

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton West

Will not the Minister consult the Trades Union Congress or the appropriate trade unions with a view to breaking entirely the colour bar which exists in some parts of the country?

Photo of Sir Andrew Duncan Sir Andrew Duncan , City of London

I can only repeat that there is no colour bar in this matter whatever.