§ 56. Mr. HOGGE
asked the Prime Minister whether, before the House goes into Committee on the Military Service Bill, he can announce the decision of the Government with regard to discharged men now subject to re-examination and recall under the Military Service (Review of Exceptions) Act; and whether it has been agreed that such men shall be given the alternative of engaging in work of national importance and, so long as they remain engaged in the same, shall not be subject to recall unless and until a national emergency warrants it?
§ Mr. BECK
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply. The Government propose to make the following further concession with regard to men at present in civil life who have served in His Majesty's Forces and have been discharged in consequence of disablement or ill-health, and who are now, or who may become, subject to re-examination and recall for service under the Military Service (Review of Exceptions) Act, 1917. It is proposed that any such man who has served in the Forces and who is not for the time being engaged on work of national importance shall have an opportunity which it is proposed to fix as a standard at the period of one month, but for good cause shown in any individual case this will be extended, in which he may engage in work of national importance. The period would run from the coming into force of this arrangement in the case of men already discharged, and from the date of discharge in the case of men who may be discharged hereafter. The work of national importance would be in an industry contained in a list to be settled and revised from time to time, such as shipbuilding, iron ore mines, munitions, agriculture, public utility 663 undertakings and the like. Each man himself must take steps to apply for employment, but every facility will be given through existing Government machinery to enable him to obtain such employment. Special arrangements are already in force to enable soldiers now being discharged to obtain civil employment. The arrangement will apply to men already engaged on work of national importance. These will on application be given a protection certificate to show that they are rightfully continuing in civil life. In order to secure the smooth working of these administrative arrangements, it is absolutely essential that all discharged sailors and soldiers should keep the local officials of the Ministry of National Service fully informed as to their whereabouts and the nature of their employment, and I venture to express the hope that all associations interested in their welfare will co-operate.
§ Mr. HOGGE
Arising out of this extremely important answer, is my right hon. Friend aware that men who are now in the condition which he has explained who have served overseas are entitled now to their final discharge without the answer he has given, and does his answer mean that all men who have been discharged disabled and who have not served overseas will, first of all, be given the alternative of work of national importance, and so long as they are engaged in that, according to the list he has explained, they will not be subject to re-examination?
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Will the hon. Gentleman have the answer corrected in the OFFICIAL REPORT, because, as the answer at present stands, it is a limitation on the concession granted by the Under-Secretary of State for War in July last, when he conceded the point that all men who had served overseas would not be called up?