HC Deb 15 June 1939 vol 348 cc1490-1
19. Mr. Dunn

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that Mr. Fred Vernon of 4, Riddings, Thurcrofts, near Rotherham, has been discharged from his work by Messrs. Rodgers & Sons. plasterers, Rotherham, and that the boy was 20 years of age and had been an excellent worker with the firm, but was discharged at a minute's notice by Messrs. Rodgers & Sons, on 3rd June, the day when he was due to register in the Militia; and has he any observations to make concerning this case?

Mr. E. Brown

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

Mr. Watkins

Are not occurrences such as those detailed in the questions happening all over the country? Are not boys being sacked without redress at all? Can the Minister do nothing to help?

Mr. Brown

I could not accept that statement of the position. I have had some communications about it, but I must warn the House that my preliminary inquiries in one or two cases show another side of the story. That is not to say that what is alleged may not be true in some cases. If on further inquiries I find it is so, I will do what I can to stop it.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn

Is it not the fact that these boys have no legal redress?

Mr. Dunn

Is the Minister not aware that the man in this case has been interviewed and that already a statement has appeared in the northern Press? I do not, therefore, understand the Minister saying that he does not know anything about it.

Mr. Brown

I had no information about it, but I did set inquiries on foot.

Mr. Benn

Has the Minister any power to save a young man if the case occurred before the regulations were issued?

Mr. Brown

I have already pointed out to the House what the position is.

Mr. Tinker

If the Minister has heard only the employer's side, will he consult with the hon. Member who has made the complaint?

Mr. Brown

Most certainly.

Mr. Silverman

Why was it impossible to make the regulations retrospective having regard to the fact that the Government had made it clear from the outset that it was their intention to prevent this sort of thing happening?

Mr. Brown

The question put to me asked what legal power I had, and I answered it, but that is not to say we are powerless to take action by throwing the light of day on the case.