HC Deb 10 December 1919 vol 122 cc1294-8
19. Captain LOSEBY

asked the Minister of Labour if he can name an approximate date upon which he anticipates that the 20,000 ex-Service men officially recognised as awaiting training will have been afforded the promised and necessary facilities?


The speed with which the necessary training facilities can be provided depends entirely upon the progress of the negotiations for the acquisition of further instructional factories. I may add, however, that many new factories are at present in process of being equipped, and it is hoped that the number of men in training will show a marked increase in the New Year.


May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has now any difficulty from the A. S. E. in regard to these men being trained, or working with these men?


I do not think that question entirely arises out of the question which I have just answered. As matters stand at present, as he will remember, the A. S. E. by ballot refused to help in the matter of taking in discharged men—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"]—but they have been helping us in connection with the training schemes.

Captain COOTE

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the possibility, in cases where men have been approved for training by local committees and have to wait for a long period before a vacancy occurs, of the granting to such men of a training allowance pending the vacancy?


There may be cases of hardship arising, but in most of the cases which came before me the men have been receiving either out-of-work donation or a training allowance under a system of general education.

20. Captain FALCON

asked the Minister of Labour if he will inform the House to what extent he is dependent upon the Office of Works in the matter of accelerating the completion of institutions suitable for the reception of the thousands of ex-soldiers promised and awaiting training?


The Ministry of Labour is dependent on the Office of Works to the extent that the latter is responsible for estimating and reporting on the reasonableness of the cost of premises and equipment for training institutions which are to be borne on the Ministry of Labour Building Vote: for the actual hiring or purchase of such premises, and, when requested, for finding suitable premises and providing the necessary equipment.

Captain LOSEBY

Is it the fact that the delay in equipping these institutions, which we hear is holding up some thousands of men, is largely owing to the fact of delay on the part of the Office of Works in doing the work?


I should not like to say it is due to delay on the part of any other Government Department. It arises out of difficulties which are inherent to the management of such things where various Departments are involved, and, necessarily, we must proceed through the recognised Government Departments in dealing with these matters.

Captain LOSEBY

Would it not be possible to put it up by private contract?


Obviously, where you are giving a grant of money for the purpose of instituting training, you must have a Government check, and you could not possibly put it into the hands of private contractors.

21. Captain FALCON

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that there is general dissatisfaction with the manner in which the training of ex-soldiers is being administered by the Appointments Department of the Ministry of Labour; and if he will consider the advisability of instituting a special inquiry with a view to a reorganisation?


I am aware that the Appointments Department has been subjected to a good deal of criticism for its administration of the Training Grants scheme; but I believe this criticism is in the main the result of a generalisation from a comparatively small number of individual cases. The working of the Department is closely watched, and improvements are constantly being made in the light of the experience gained. I do not consider that a special inquiry would have any advantageous results.

Colonel ASHLEY

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this dissatisfaction is by no means as widespread as indicated in the question?

Captain LOSEBY

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his Department is advertising special technical training in certain subjects, and on receiving applications has, in many cases, not given a reply to the applicants?


I should regret very much if there were cases in which no reply was given to these men, and I should like to look into it if the hon. and gallant Member would give me any certificates. There would be no excuse for that, but I hope the House will realise that the Department is working under very considerable difficulties in regard to finding opportunities of employment. We do have, as the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Ashley) has just pointed out, not only criticism, but from time to time a considerable amount of praise.


asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been called to a letter written to him on 10th November with regard to the case of ex-Sergeant George F. Hall by the hon. Member for Consett; whether a reminder from the hon. Member, dated the 1st December, reached his office; and whether any grant will be given to Mr. Hall to help him to qualify himself as a journalist, or a grant to compensate him for his expenses during the six weeks of training which was rendered of no avail because of the mistaken information given to him by the Appointments Department, Ministry of Labour, Newcastle-on-Tyne?


I duly received my, hon. Friend's letters on behalf of ex-Sergeant Hall, and I am writing to him about the case.

29. Captain FALCON

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that many ex- officers who, in reliance upon advice given from his Department of adequate monetary assistance have undertaken university and other similar courses, have, after undertaking grave responsibilities, been notified of monetary awards which are quite insufficient for the purpose for which they are nominally awarded; and if he will take steps to ensure that candidates promised assistance are at the same time informed of the full extent of that assistance?


Grants in respect of university courses are made by the Board of Education and the corresponding Departments in Scotland and Ireland. In the case of grants for training in offices and works, which are administered by the Appointments Department, an applicant who is awarded a grant which he considers insufficient for reasonable maintenance has the right of appeal. I am not sure that I understand the last part of the question, but I may say that no member of the interviewing boards or of the Appointments Department has authority to make any promise in advance of final sanction, when full particulars of the grant awarded are, as a matter of course, notified to the applicant.

30. Captain LOSEBY

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that many ex-officers throughout the country who, in reliance upon promises from his Department of monetary assistance, commenced technical training in September and October have not yet received payments promised and are considerably embarrased thereby; and if he will take steps to ensure that this unnecessary hardship is removed?


I must refer the hon. and gallant Member to my reply of the 3rd December, in which I stated that, although such grants are not normally paid in advance, half the first month's grant may be so paid in necessitous cases. In the normal case of men awarded grants by the Appointments Department, and commencing training in September and October, payments would be made in October and November respectively. I shall be pleased to make inquiry in any such cases where payments were not punctually made. Meanwhile, I can assure the hon. Member that every effort is being made to ensure that the men concerned are spared unnecessary embarrassment owing to delay in making payments.

51. Captain LOSEBY

asked the Prime Minister the number of Departments of State that are concerned, directly or indirectly, with the matter of providing the promised training facilities to ex-soldiers?

Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)

As the answer is long, I will, with the hon. and gallant Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The following is the Answer promised:

The Ministry of Labour alone is directly concerned with the provision of industrial training facilities for ex-soldiers, except in agriculture, for which the Board of Agriculture is responsible. The Board of Education and the Interim Forest Authority are also concerned in so far as use may be made of schools and institutions which fall under these authorities. Other Departments indirectly concerned in matters of finance, equipment, and the acquisition of premises are the Treasury, the Ministry of Munitions and the Office of Works.

The Minister of Labour has also a general responsibility for the Grants scheme for higher educational, professional, and business training. The immediate responsibilities lie with the Education Departments in respect of training given in universities and other educational institutions approved by them, with the Agricultural Departments in respect of agricultural training, and with the Appointments Department in respect of office and works training.

In the case of men undergoing treatment who are not certified as fit for industrial training, the Ministry of Pensions provide such training as is suitable, except in tuberculous cases, which are dealt with by the Ministry of Health.