HC Deb 23 November 1939 vol 353 cc1368-9
6. Mr. McEntee

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that large numbers of chauffeurs have become unemployed as a consequence of petrol rationing and of personal economy by private motor car owners; and will he endeavour to secure employment for some of these men by the release of such ambulance, lorry and motor car drivers as are now employed on air-raid precautions and other war work and who are in receipt of wages but who do not normally require to work for wages?

Mr. E. Brown

I am aware that the number of chauffeurs registered as unemployed has increased since the outbreak of war. Every effort is being made to find them work either in their own occupation or in any alternative occupation for which they may appear to be suitable. As regards the second part of the question, I have consulted my right hon. Friend the Minister of Home Security, and I understand that he would not feel justified in suggesting the replacement of competent drivers who have volunteered and have now been trained in air-raid precautions or other war work, by others who have not had the specialised training required for the duties involved.

Mr. McEntee

Is it not a fact that these chauffeurs do not require any training, because it is their living, the work they have done all their lives, and that as these jobs have been taken by people who do not require wages these chauffeurs have to go on the dole?

Mr. Brown

My right hon. Friend does not take that view at all. The question I am asked to answer is about air-raid precautions. There is a double side to it. There is the question of driving and competency to carry out other work.

Mr. McEntee

With all due respect, that was not the question. The question was whether these people, who are not usually earning wages, are now taking these jobs?