HC Deb 03 April 1939 vol 345 cc2446-8
51. Mr. Anstruther-Gray

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether it is proposed to revise the age limits laid- down in the Schedule of Reserved Occupations (Provisional) (Cmd. 5926), in view of the urgent need for Territorial recruits?

52. Mr. Ralph Beaumont

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is aware that the field of recruitment of the Territorial Army has been greatly restricted by the Schedule of Reserved Occupations; and whether, in view of the recent decision that the establishment of the Territorial! Field Army is to be doubled, he will consider a drastic alteration of the Schedule in order to facilitate recruitment?

68. Captain Sir William Brass

asked the Secretary of State for War whether is is aware that recruiting for the Territorial Army is being adversely affected by the assumption that all applications to enlist have to be sent to the Employment Exchange before a man is permitted to serve his country in any military capacity; and whether, in view of this reading of the regulations, he can make some early pronouncement clarifying the position and modifying the list of reserve occupations?

Sir J. Anderson

As my hon. Friends will be aware, recruiting for the Territorial Army has in general been such that, notwithstanding the application of the Schedule of Reserved Occupations, in many instances it has not hitherto been possible to absorb all the large numbers of volunteers desirous of enlisting, although some difficulty in recruitment has been experienced in certain districts where the local industry is predominantly of a kind which would be of vital importance in war. Certain amendments of the Schedule, and certain adjustments of its application to meet particular needs, have already been made, as announced publicly at the end of last week; and in view of the recently expanded needs of the Territorial Army the question how far some further temporary adjustments may be necessary is now being examined. As regards the method of applying the Schedule, the position is that under present arrangements applications to enlist in the Territorial Army are not referred to, the Employment Exchanges.

Mr. Anstruther-Gray

In view of the vital importance of obtaining these Territorials by voluntary methods, may I take it from his reply that the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to reconsider this matter in the light of the increased demand for Territorial volunteers?

Sir J. Anderson

I have said so.

Sir A. Knox

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this Schedule as it stands at present prevents thousands of patriotic men doing their duty, and also gives an excuse to many others who want to "scrimshank" out of this duty?

Mr. Crossley

Will the right hon. Gentleman give special consideration to the question whether shop assistants should be in a reserved occupation?

Sir J. Anderson

The matter is being examined from every aspect.

Mr. Leslie

Would it not greatly help if the hours of shop assistants were reduced? How can you expect them to join the Territorial Army if they have to work 65 hours a week?

Sir W. Brass

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that an expert rhododendron grower has been refused to be allowed to enlist because he is in a reserved occupation?

Sir J. Anderson

That case has not been brought to my notice.

67. Lieut.-Colonel Macnamara

asked the Secretary of State for War by what date does he expect the recently announced increase in the Territorial Army to be effected; and whether he will do all that is possible to urge the national and local Press and the British Broadcasting Corporation to co-operate over a long period, and not just a few days, in recruiting?

The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Sir Victor Warrender)

It is clearly impossible to forecast the rate of recruiting, and, with regard to the magnitude of the ask and the difficulties generally, I would direct my hon. and gallant Friend's attention to the speech made by my right hon. Friend at Bermondsey on Friday last. The Press and the British Broadcasting Corporation, who are most wholeheartedly suporting the campaign, will Certainly be asked to be so good as to continue extensively the valuable help they have already given.

Lieut.-Colonel Macnamara

Ought not some date to be laid down after which we could review the situation to see how we are getting on?