Hotels and Entertainment (Work Permits)

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th November 1973.

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Photo of Mr Tom Cox Mr Tom Cox , Wandsworth Central 12:00 am, 27th November 1973

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if, in the allocation of work permits for the hotel and entertainment industries, he will take account of the level of wages paid to permit holders in those industries.

Photo of Mr Dudley Smith Mr Dudley Smith , Warwick and Leamington

This is done in all cases. Before a work permit is issued my Department must be satisfied that the overseas worker will receive the same level of wages as do British workers in the district doing the same job.

Photo of Mr Tom Cox Mr Tom Cox , Wandsworth Central

In spite of that reply, is not the hon. Gentleman aware that there is ample evidence to prove that many people who are allowed into the country are working extremely long hours for extremely low rates of pay? Unfortunately, many of them are frightened to do anything about it because of their status as immigrants. They are told that if they complain they will be sacked and deported. Is it not time that the Minister ensured that people coming into the country to work in catering, entertainment and other industries received trade union rates for the job?

Photo of Mr Dudley Smith Mr Dudley Smith , Warwick and Leamington

We give all the guidance we can to those who come into the country. Our impression is that overseas workers are well informed about rates of pay and conditions, and we rarely get complaints. If the hon. Gentleman or anyone else has specific examples I shall be happy to look into them.

Photo of Mr Harold Gurden Mr Harold Gurden , Birmingham, Selly Oak

Will the Minister not be led into a short-term solution by increasing the number of Commonwealth immigrants to satisfy the need for more workers?

Photo of Mr Dudley Smith Mr Dudley Smith , Warwick and Leamington

I think that my hon. Friend knows that for hotel and catering workers there is a limit of 5,000. We have offered to look at the reallocation of permits in view of representations we have received from the trade.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

Does the hon. Gentleman know anything about the conditions of non-English-speaking workers from Hong Kong, many of whom are employed in Chinese restaurants in London? Is he aware that in some cases their pay and hours of work are appalling? As they do not speak English, they do not know what is the situation here and what are their rights.

Photo of Mr Dudley Smith Mr Dudley Smith , Warwick and Leamington

I have given individual attention to the so-called sweat shops and, as the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) knows, I have received deputations about them. I am not aware of allegations about Chinese restaurants, but if the hon. Gentleman will either see me or send evidence, I guarantee to look into the matter.