HC Deb 02 November 1937 vol 328 cc720-2
59. Sir Isidore Salmon

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any announcement to make about the vocational training of soldiers?

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Hore-Belisha)

His Majesty's Government have decided to make vocational training available to the fullest practicable extent to every eligible man in the British Army. This training will be given to soldiers before they leave the Colours and not, as at present, after they have returned to civil life. Under the new system Army Training Centres at Aldershot, Chisledon and Hounslow will remain open, and in addition use will be made of the Ministry of Labour Training Centres in various parts of the country, some of which will be used exclusively for vocational training of soldiers. The vocational training at both types of centre will be given to the men as soldiers, who will receive their full military pay and appropriate allowances as such. Soldiers returning from overseas will, if necessary, be permitted to extend their colour service to take advantage of these courses. The new system will be experimental for six months and, if successful, it can be continued.

Sir I. Salmon

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman, will he kindly say whether at the camps other than those in which they are being trained at the present time the trainees will receive the same practical training as they are receiving now?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

Yes, Sir, and in some cases better training.

Mr. A. Bevan

Is it intended to mingle men of His Majesty's Army with civilians at the training centres?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

In some cases that will be inevitable, but in some cases the centre will be exclusively reserved for the soldiers.

Mr. Bevan

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that it is desirable to introduce members of the Army into the civil training centres?

Mr. Bellenger

Are we to understand that the soldiers will pay no fees whatever at the training centres?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

They will pay no fees whatever, and they will be paid as soldiers. It must be borne in mind, in reply to the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) that the soldier is a citizen.

Mr. Bevan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he is not treated as a citizen?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

He is treated as a citizen, with this distinction that he has the additional advantage of receiving while he is still in the pay of the Government a training which will suit him to find employment in civil life.

Mr. G. Griffiths

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that at least in these vocational training centres there will be a few coal miners, in order to give a chance of pay for some of our chaps?