Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign Workers (Medical Examination)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th July 1949.

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Photo of Mr George Oliver Mr George Oliver , Ilkeston 12:00 am, 28th July 1949

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the low medical grade of many of the foreign workers admitted into this country and the resulting high rate of sickness among these workers; and whether, in view of the present difficulties in staffing and finding accommodation in our hospitals and sanatoria, he will seek authority to have all foreign labour adequately medically examined in the country of origin before allowing their entry into this country.

Photo of Mr George Isaacs Mr George Isaacs , Southwark North

Foreign workers recruited under official schemes for which I am responsible are already required to undergo a general medical examination, and an X-Ray examination to detect tuberculosis, before they are accepted and brought to this country. In proportion to the numbers recruited, the cases of serious sickness have not been numerous, but as these workers are mostly displaced persons the privations which they have undergone may have resulted in some cases in breakdown in health after their arrival.

Photo of Mr George Oliver Mr George Oliver , Ilkeston

Has my right hon. Friend consulted the regional hospital boards about the large percentage of foreign workers who come into the country and have recourse either to a hospital or a sanatorium? What is the standard of examination of people before they are admitted to the country?

Photo of Mr George Isaacs Mr George Isaacs , Southwark North

As to the first part of that question I have not made such inquiries, because no evidence of any sort has come to me to show that there has been an exceptional number of people admitted to hospitals. If my hon. Friend has information of that sort I would like to look at it. As to the examination, I could not do justice to the matter in a short answer. I will send him a copy of the medical form which is used in this connection.

Photo of Mr Malcolm McCorquodale Mr Malcolm McCorquodale , Epsom

Is it not a fact that the very great majority of the foreign workers have proved both healthy and willing?

Photo of Mr George Isaacs Mr George Isaacs , Southwark North

It is only fair to them to say that I have had very little evidence of their breakdown in health. They perform very useful service, especially when one remembers that they are living in hostel accommodation.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

What happens to any of them who fail the medical examination when they get here? Are they sent back to the country of origin or kept in a hospital and cured here?

Photo of Mr George Isaacs Mr George Isaacs , Southwark North

I do not know about the examination on arrival. There is certainly a check-over when they get here. I will look into the question with a view to finding out, and I will let the hon. and gallant Gentleman know.