42. Colonel GRIFFITHS
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he 712 will take steps for the immediate reorganisation of the Labour Exchanges throughout the country by reason of the number of men employed therein of a military age and replacing them with wounded or partially-disabled soldiers now fit for light duties?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Pretyman)
The Employment Exchanges are now almost wholly concerned in work directly necessary for the prosecution of the "War, and a very large part of their work relates to the supply of labour for munitions. Nearly 1,200 of the staff have already joined the forces and their places have been taken by women or by men unfit for military service. This number forms a much larger proportion of the total male staff than in the case of industry generally or of the Government Departments as a whole This result has been achieved in spite of the special difficulties arising from the fact that a great part of the staff is scattered in small numbers through 400 Exchanges in various parts of the country instead of being concentrated in large numbers in the same building. It must further be remembered that the Employment Department being a very new one, the staff naturally contains a much higher percentage of young men than that of old established departments. The possibility of effecting any further substitution without detriment to the work is constantly under consideration, but I could not take the risk of carrying the process so far as to impair the efficiency of the Exchanges for carrying on work which is vitally necessary for the purposes of the War.
Cannot women conduct the whole of this work and by degrees be put in to replace the men?