HC Deb 08 June 1939 vol 348 cc574-7
7. Mr. Noel-Baker

asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been called to the dismissal of Miles McCarthy, of Huddersfield, from a position of under-gardener, which he had held for more than two years, on the ground that he would shortly be called up for compulsory military training; and what steps he proposes to take to protect the rights of Miles McCarthy?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

My attention has not been called to this case. If the hon. Member will send me Mr. McCarthy's address and that of his employer, I will make inquiry.

9. Mr. Sloan

asked the Minister of Labour whether he proposes to take any action regarding the recent intimation by the West Scotland branch of Scottish Oils and Shell-Mex, Limited, that young workers may not be retained in their employment beyond the age of 19 years, especially as this announcement by the firm conflicts with the assurances of the Government in connection with their decision to impose conscription?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I have no information as to the circumstances of this particular case, and am making inquiry.

15. Mr. R. C. Morrison

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that Reginald North, aged 20 years, employed as a fitter's labourer by Woodhall-Duckham Company, Willoughby Lane, Tottenham, was asked by his foreman, on the 1st instant, whether he was due to be called up as a militiaman, to which he replied that he had to report on Saturday, the 3rd instant; that on Saturday North was discharged at one hour's notice; and what action does he propose to take?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am making inquiries, and will communicate with the hon. Member as soon as possible.

Mr. Shinwell

Is not this due to the delay in issuing regulations, and cannot the Government expedite the regulations so that employers may understand that they have no right to dismiss men prior to their being called up for military service?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

It would have been impossible to publish the regulations before the Bill became law.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Is the hon. Member not aware that, unless this practice is dealt with very firmly at the outset', it is likely to extend? Is he aware that this youth now has no prospects at all of getting employment before he is called up for training, so no employer will employ a man who has been discharged from his employment on the day that he was examined? Will he consider whether it is possible to let the young man commence his training straight away, as he would be better off doing that?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Without accepting the statements of the hon. Member, I would certainly say that, as a matter of general principle, any such action is, of course, to be entirely deprecated. I cannot accept the statement in the question without proper inquiry.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn

But how can this employer be dealt with, inasmuch as the regulations are not made and will not be operative until they are made?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

It will be possible to deal with the cases when the regulations are made.

Mr. Arthur Greenwood

Is it not the case that this man will have no right of reinstatement after his service, and that he will have no redress?

Mr. Tinker

Will the Minister let it be broadcast what the feelings of Parliament are on this matter?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The hon. Member had better wait until we have made inquiries into this case. It will be possible to put similar questions down again then, and to get a satisfactory answer.

Mr. Greenwood

May I press for a reply? My question is: Is it or is it not the case that the man has lost all rights of reinstatement under the Act because of the action of the employer?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

He would not in such circumstances have these rights under the Act itself. Any such rights would apply in cases which might arise when the regulations are made.

Sir Percy Harris

Quite apart from individual cases, will the Government make it clear that it is against their policy that individuals of the age which qualifies them to be militiamen should be dismissed in anticipaction of their serivce? If the Government issue a statement deprecating it, it may have some effect.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The hon. Baronet, perhaps, did not hear me say that quite clearly. I emphatically repeat it.

Mr. George Griffiths

It is starving the young men. People are being sacked, and are getting nothing to eat.

Mr. Macquisten

Why not make the regulations retrospective?

18. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Minister of Labour whether he can make a statement on the negotiations between the Industrial Assurance Commissioner and the industrial assurance societies and companies on the subject of payment of premiums on policies; and whether the Government propose to accept any financial responsibility so as to prevent militiamen being penalised?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I anticipate that provisions on this subject will be contained in the Orders in Council to be made under Section 11 of the Military Training Act and Section 4 of the Reserve and Auxiliary Forces Act, drafts of which will be laid before Parliament for approval at an early date.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the hon. Member aware that the Industrial Assurance Commissioner is exerting pressure on these companies and societies which will have the effect of penalising those who hold policies; and can he give an answer to the last part of the question as to whether the Government propose to shoulder any financial responsibility in the matter?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I cannot accept the contention of the hon. Gentleman, and I can assure him that the intentions of the Government on this subject are perfectly well known, and will be fully carried out.

Mr. Shinwell

Has the hon. Member made himself acquainted with the documents which the Industrial Assurance Commissioner has laid before the industrial assurance societies in conference? Is he aware that from these documents, which I have in my possession, it is clear that the holders of policies are to be penalised?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

My responsibility is in stating the attitude the Government intend to take, and I have said that I anticipate that this is one of the matters which will be contained in the Orders in Council to be laid before the House.

Mr. Benn

Will these Orders in Council be retrospective.