64. Lieut.-Colonel Sir J. HOPE
asked the Postmaster-General whether, in considering applications for vacancies in the Post Office ex-service men will have priority of consideration; and whether there is any intention of reinstating conscientious objectors or considering their claims for vacancies until all suitable applicants among men who fought for their country have been appointed?
§ The ASSISTANT POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Pike Pease)
Vacancies on certain grades of the Poet Office staff are filled by appointments from lower grades in the Post Office. 2132 Subject to this limitation the reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative, and to the second part is in the negative. Eighty-nine thousand two hundred and fifty-five ex-service men are now employed in the Post Office.
§ Earl WINTERTON
Is it quite clear from the answer that no conscientious objectors will be reinstated at all until all the ex-service men have been reinstated?
§ Mr. PEASE
I can give the Noble Lord a statement in regard to the men in the Post Office. There are 89,255 ex-service men employed in the Post Office. Certain conscientious objectors have been reinstated, and I think that reply is applicable to other Departments of the State. The whole of the conscientious objectors previously employed in the Post Office have been either reinstated or dismissed, and the further question of reinstatement does not arise at the present time at all.
Sir J. HOPE
Will the right hon. Gentleman promise that dismissed conscientious objectors will on no account be reinstated—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"]—until the ex-service men have been attended to?
§ Mr. RONALD McNEILL
Can the right hon. Gentleman explain to the House the reason why, under any circumstances, conscientious objectors are employed by the Government?
§ Mr. PEASE
I could deal with that question at some length, but I may say that the total number of conscientious objectors in the Post Office was 256. They were divided into several categories: men who secured exemption (whether absolute or conditional) from tribunals, and were allowed to remain on Post Office duty; also men who secured exemption from tribunals, but were required to take up work of national importance outside the Post Office as a condition of exemption. This includes, among others, men who were required to join the Friend's Ambulance Unit. There are many other categories and I will send my hon. Friend a list.