HC Deb 25 May 1939 vol 347 cc2475-6
19. Mr. Leslie

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the hardship which would ensue upon small farmers dependent on family help if their sons are called to the Colours next month, he will postpone the date until October, so that sons of military age could assist in hay-time and harvest?

22. Mr. T. Williams

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is in a position to state what arrangements he proposes to make under the Military Training Bill for the calling up during the off-season of persons engaged in seasonal industries; and whether he will have special regard to the position of agriculture?

Mr. E. Brown

In the early stages of the military training scheme, it will not be possible, save in a small number of well defined cases, to depart from the procedure of calling up men according to age. It has, however, been decided to postpone until November the calling up of agricultural workers, men engaged in the fishing industry, and anthracite miners. Men in these industries will in general receive their calling up notices on or about 1st November, to report to their units a fortnight later. In the first group to be called up in July miners, other than anthracite miners, will be called up in the ordinary proportion, but it is not proposed to call up any more miners until next March. I should add that the arrangements must necessarily be subject to any postponements in individual cases on grounds of hardship.

Mr. T. Williams

Are we to understand from the reply that should any agricultural labourer, or anyone in the other categories specified, be called upon by mistake, he will be permitted to appeal for a postponement of the date?

Mr. Brown

The right of appeal to the hardship committee is quite unlimited. This is a general arrangement which is thought to be common sense in the case of these particular industries.

Mr. Benn

Is this a decision of the Ministry of Labour? It has nothing to do with the hardship committee?

Mr. Brown

It has nothing to do with the hardship committee. The hardship committee comes into operation only on appeals by the individuals concerned.

Mr. Benn

Is it in the power of the Ministry of Labour to exempt widows' sons and those having one-man businesses?

Mr. Brown

This is not an exemption, but a postponement.

Mr. R. Acland

In view of the fact that in the holiday resorts there are people who have better opportunities of getting employment in the summer than in the winter, will the right hon. Gentleman arrange that these people should be called up in the winter, or at any rate allow them to state their case?

Mr. Brown

That is the reason the Bill is drawn in the way it is.

Mr. Lawson

Did I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that the calling up of miners was to be postponed until March?

Mr. Brown

That refers to the anthracite section. Non-anthracite miners will be called up in July, and after that, the official calling up will take place in March.