HC Deb 26 November 1917 vol 99 c1624

asked the Minister of Munitions whether he can make a statement as to the result of the abolition of leaving certificates under the Munitions of War (Amendment) Act?

Mr. KELLAWAY (Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions)

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for having consented to several postponements of this question. I am now able to give him a somewhat fuller answer. There has been no widespread and abnormal movement of labour since 15th October, and, in consequence, no general dislocation of work as a result of the repeal of Section 7 of the Munitions of War Act, 1915. Considerable movement, has, however, according to my information, taken place in certain skilled occupations, more especially toolroom men. The effect of this will not necessarily appear in output for some little time. The application for transfers in shipyards has been very low. Such movement as has taken place has varied a good deal according to localities, certain isolated areas having suffered more than others.

There is a tendency in some quarters for men to use their freedom as a lever for securing higher wages. I have also received a number of complaints of firms offering inducements to workmen to leave their employment contrary to Regulation 8 (b) of the Defence of the Realm Regulations. I am advised that the action of the Government in agreeing to the payment of a bonus of 12⅛ per cent. to men engaged on time in munitions work, has had a marked effect in reducing the movement of labour.

On the whole, it may be said that the abolition of the leaving certificate has not been attended by evil consequences to the extent that was anticipated, and that an undoubted cause of discontent and unrest among munition workers has been removed.