HC Deb 07 June 1917 vol 94 cc320-2

asked the Minister of Munitions how many men of the Scottish Rifles and Highland Light Infantry have been transferred to the Reserve and are now employed on un skilled labour by the Ministry of Munitions at Morecambe; whether he is aware that these men find it impossible to maintain their wives and families at Glasgow and themselves in Morecambe on the wages paid them, even with the addition of the subsistence allowance; whether he is aware that the employment of men on unskilled labour at such a distance from their homes involves heavy losses to the State; and whether any efforts have been made to secure un skilled labour for Morecambe in Lancashire or from Class W Reserve men belonging to Lancashire?


Twenty-eight men, formerly of the Highland Light Infantry, and one hundred men, formerly of the Scottish Rifles, but now enrolled as A.R.M.W.'s, are employed at Morecambe. There seems no reason to believe that these men do not earn sufficient wages to support themselves and their families. Each man is paid at least the full civil rates for the work upon which he is employed, and receives, in addition, where eligible, subsistence allowance and children's allowance. The average earnings at Morecambe are about £2 2s. a week, and, in addition, a bonus system is in operation whereby 80 per cent, of the workmen receive a bonus which works out, on an average, to more than 10s. a week. With regard to the latter part of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer to a similar question which he asked on this subject on 21st May. Endeavour is continually being made by the Ministry to replace imported labour by local labour wherever possible. Every effort has been made to obtain the labour needed at Morecambe from local sources, but without success.


asked the Minister of Munitions whether he is aware that a representative of the Ministry of Munitions explained the National Service scheme to the men of the 5th Scottish Rifles and informed them that if they signed the form volunteering for National Service they would get twenty-one days' furlough, with Army pay and allowances, during which they could obtain work of national importance at Glasgow, where their homes were, and, if they failed to find such work themselves, they could apply to the nearest labour exchange, which would find work for them as near home as possible; whether he is aware that these men on signing were returned to Hipswell Camp, Catterick, for civilian clothes, kept working there for three weeks, then transferred to W Reserve, and sent to work at unskilled labour under the Ministry of Munitions at Morecambe, where some' fifty of them are now so employed; whether he is aware that discontent prevails among the men, who believe that they were induced to sign the form on false pretences; and whether he proposes to take any action?


The conditions of the Army Reserve munition workers' scheme were fully explained to the men of the Scottish Rifles previous to their enrolment, in the first place by their commanding officer and later by an officer of the Employment Department of the Ministry of Labour. I am assured that there are no grounds whatsoever for the suggestion that any misrepresentations were made in the matter. The hon. Member's reference to the National Service Department's scheme in this connection appears to be due to a misapprehension. Information in the possession of this Department shows that there is no general discontent amongst the men.