Recruitment (Coloured Men)

Oral Answers to Questions — Coal Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th July 1948.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Wing Commander Geoffrey Cooper Wing Commander Geoffrey Cooper , Middlesbrough West 12:00 am, 8th July 1948

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if, in view of the recent incidents of coloured men from the Colonies being turned down in their application for recruitment to the coalmining industry, he will exercise his powers of direction to the National Coal Board to get this policy altered, thus enabling volunteers from the Colonies to be trained as miners.

Photo of Mr Alfred Robens Mr Alfred Robens , Wansbeck

No, Sir. I am informed by the National Coal Board that they raise no objection on racial grounds to the employment of individuals suitable and willing to take underground work.

Photo of Wing Commander Geoffrey Cooper Wing Commander Geoffrey Cooper , Middlesbrough West

Is my hon. Friend aware that although that may be the policy, it is not, in fact, being carried out in practice, and would he look into incidents which have recently been reported to see if, in fact, practical expression cannot be given to the theory that these men are on an equal citizenship basis with ourselves?

Photo of Mr Alfred Robens Mr Alfred Robens , Wansbeck

From the point of view of the National Coal Board there is no objection at all, but in some parts there is objection by the local mining community and we must take into consideration their views on this matter.

Photo of Mr Emrys Roberts Mr Emrys Roberts , Merionethshire

Could the Parliamentary Secretary say how many coloured men have been accepted for employment and in what collieries?

Photo of Mr Alfred Robens Mr Alfred Robens , Wansbeck

Not without notice.

Photo of Mr John Lewis Mr John Lewis , Bolton

If there is any objection made at any time to these men, is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that they are welcome in the cotton industry in Lancashire, where many of them are employed and where they are doing a good job?

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Bristol West

When the Parliamentary Secretary says we must take into account the views of the mining community on this matter, surely he is not going to allow a view contrary to every feeling and expression of this House to persist without making some effort to break it down?

Photo of Mr Alfred Robens Mr Alfred Robens , Wansbeck

It is not a question of what the right hon. Gentleman says. The fact is that in relation to the employment of people underground there is an agreement that the local lodges of the National Union of Mineworkers will be consulted concerning E.V.W's. and other people. There have been one or two objections for various reasons and we have to take into consideration all these factors, but it is not general throughout the whole coalfields. It is gradually being broken down and where we can use our influence we certainly do so.

Photo of Mr Emrys Roberts Mr Emrys Roberts , Merionethshire

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say on what grounds objection is taken to the employment of coloured people?

Photo of Mr George Sylvester Mr George Sylvester , Normanton

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that if he had been at Doncaster at the Yorkshire miners' demonstration a fortnight ago he would have found a coloured man walking behind his local lodge banner, as he has done for a great many years?

Photo of Sir Martin Lindsay Sir Martin Lindsay , Solihull

Will not the Parliamentary Secretary say, as he has been asked, on what grounds objection is taken?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

Lieut. - Commander Clark Hutchison.

Photo of Sir Martin Lindsay Sir Martin Lindsay , Solihull

On a point of Order. The Parliamentary Secretary rose to reply to my question. Might I not have an answer?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

If the hon. Member will sit down perhaps I will rise, but not until then.

Photo of Sir Martin Lindsay Sir Martin Lindsay , Solihull

Further to that point of Order. I asked you a question, Sir, and I should be very much obliged if I might have an answer.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

The hon. Member remained on his feet and, therefore, I did not get up, but he asked a question, "Should the Minister not reply?", and the Minister has not replied.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

And I called the next Question. If the hon. Member wants to question my Ruling he must not do so.