§ 23. Mr. WATT
asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Department of Customs and Excise has refused on any conditions to allow any of its men to enlist in the New Army; if so, whether this position is to be adhered to; and will he explain wherein this Department differs from other State Departments where enlistment is permitted, those remaining willingly doing the work, especially in view of the fact that the Government have stated to the House that all possible facilities to enlist would be given to Civil servants?
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Acland)
I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the 3rd instant to the hon. and gallant Member for the Melton Division of Leicestershire. The reason why permission to serve with the Colours cannot be given in the Customs and Excise Department as freely as in some others is that since the War began the Department has, to a large extent, become a War Department. In addition to its ordinary duties, it has to do a great deal of work in connection with national defence, examination of ships and cargoes, and separation allowances. Retired officers have been recalled to active service in very large numbers, but in spite of this the pressure of work is very great.
§ Mr. ACLAND
If the hon. Member means to ask whether a limited number could be allowed to enlist, all the persons in the Department are needed in the Department. If by "limited" he means that some part of their time might be given to military service, that again I think is impossible, because they are already working as much overtime as they can do.
§ Mr. ACLAND
They have been called up in very large numbers indeed. There is a limit of age beyond which it is not desirable to call up retired Civil servants.