HC Deb 15 May 1918 vol 106 cc337-8

asked the Minister of National Service whether the Government have agreed to set up special colliery committees to deal with applications for exemption by men employed in collieries in South Wales, and to recommend exemptions; whether the grounds for such exemptions are, inter alia, that the workman is the main support of the family, that the family has already contributed a reasonable proportion of their members for military service, and that the workman was under eighteen years and eight months of age on 1st January, 1918, or was over twenty-five years of age on that date; whether in the Proclamation of 2nd April a man whose exemption is withdrawn thereby is only allowed exemption on personal grounds if he is the last surviving son of a widow of whom at least one son has died as a result of wounds received in, or sickness contracted by, service in the armed forces during the present War; and whether, having regard to the fact that Conscription was stated to mean equality of sacrifice, he will amend the Proclamation of 2nd April so as to give the same rights to exemption to the general public as to the miners?


The answer to the first part of the hon. Member's question is in the negative. As regards recruiting from the coal mines, a proportion only of the young men employed at each pit are taken for military service. Those men who are to serve are either chosen by ballot or by age groups. In all parts of the country the methods by which recruitment from the coal mines should be carried out have been left practically entirely in the hands of the local regional officials of the Ministry of National Ser- vice, in consultation with the local branches of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain and all concerned. This system has been very successful, and very little friction has occurred. The right of any miner between the ages of nineteen and twenty-three, who has been drawn in the ballot, to apply to a tribunal is subject to the same limitations as apply in the case of other persons of those ages.