HC Deb 26 October 1908 vol 194 cc1601-2
VISCOUNT HELMSLEY (Yorkshire, N.R., Thirsk)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that, even when unemployment has reached an acute stage, nearly 50 per cent. of the boys in the Ordnance Factories at Woolwich should be discharged on attaining the age of twenty-one years; whether the period of notice of discharge given on Ordnance, Factory Form 64 is only three weeks; whether the boys discharged have been taught any trade during their period of service which they could pursue after discharge; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure that a larger proportion of boys should be permanently retained after attaining the age of twenty-one.


As the House is already aware, the boys employed in the Ordnance Factories may be divided into two classes: (a) Trade lads who on passing an examination are taught a trade which they can pursue after discharge; (b) unskilled lads who are not taught any regular trade but who are employed on work not requiring any trade instruction. Fifty per cent. of the lads in Class (a) may be retained on reaching the age of twenty-one, the number of lads admitted to this class being limited. All the lads in Class (b) are at present discharged on reaching the age of twenty-one as if retained they must be taken on as men, and the numbers being in excess of the approved establishment there are no vacancies for men. When the numbers have reached the approved establishment by wastage any vacanices can be filled by retaining boys who reach twenty-one. I may add that Form 64 is only a blank form filled in according to circumstances. All trade lads now get six months notice, and all the other lads know that they have to go at twenty-one.

LORD BALCARRES (Lancashire, Chorley)

But is it not the fact that under Form 64 boys can be discharged at ten days or a fortnight's notice?


I have the form here; it says nothing of the kind.


Does not the form issued of the last, few days provide for the discharge of boys at twenty-one years of age at a fortnight's notice?

MR. HALDANE replied in the negative, and added some words which were inaudible in the Gallery.