Cocktails in the House

27 Sep

It’s rare for cocktails to be discussed in the House of Commons—at least as part of official parliamentary business. But in June 1934 Robert Hudson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, answered questions on entry permits granted to foreigner workers, leading to the following interesting exchange:

Mr. T. WILLIAMS [Don Valley] asked the Minister of Labour how many permits have been granted to foreign waiters and cocktail mixers to accept employment in British hotels during the past four months?

Mr. HUDSON Permits for the employment of foreigners in hotels—apart from those required for highly specialised posts—are limited to student-employés under reciprocal arrangements made with foreign countries which provide corresponding facilities for British students. The number of such permits issued during the first five months of this year is 252.

Mr. WILLIAMS Before the Ministry grant a permit do they ascertain whether the foreigner in a specialised occupation is displacing a long-established British workman?

Mr. HUDSON To the best of my knowledge, I do not think that cocktail mixers can be regarded as specialist workers.

Mr. T. SMITH [Normanton] Will he be insured?

Mr. H. WILLIAMS [Croydon South] asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that two British employés, with many years’ service at the Savoy Hotel, were recently displaced by foreigners; whether his Department granted permits to the latter; and, if so, for what period?

Mr. HUDSON I have no information leading me to suppose that any employés at this hotel have been displaced in consequence of permits issued by the Ministry; but if the hon. Member will give me any particulars that he has I will have inquiry made.

Mr. WILLIAMS Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this specialist cocktail-mixer has been employed by the Savoy Hotel for no less than 14 years, and that he has now been dismissed and replaced by an importee from New York, and does the Department give a permit in such cases as that?

Mr. HUDSON I am not aware of that, and if the hon. Member will give me the particulars I will have them looked into.

Mr. HANNON [Birmingham Mosely] Surely we can get cocktail-mixers in this country. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take steps, in consultation with the committee for training waiters, in order to see that we have no more foreigners mixing cocktails?

— HC Deb 28 June 1934 vol 291 cc1285-7.

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