HC Deb 27 June 1940 vol 362 cc572-4
5. Mr. Lyons

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will take steps to mobilise for national service the many persons whose names have been enrolled on the Central Register and others who are ready and willing to engage themselves in the war effort but who have received no suggestion of employment; whether he will arrange for them to be considered by qualification at once, and set up machinery whereby a great number of those persons of varying ages can be utilised forthwith?

Mr. Bevin

The purpose of the Central Register has been to keep a record of persons with scientific, technical, professional or higher administrative qualifications who have offered their services, with a view to submitting such persons for posts, mainly in Government Departments, where their professional or other qualifications would be of service. The great majority of persons enrolled on the Central Register are already in employment. It must, however, be recognised that, however valuable these qualifications are in peace time, many of them are not in demand in war time. I am therefore taking immediate steps to bring to the notice of such persons other ways in which they can usefully serve the country at the present time. I should point out that, apart from such opportunities as are offered by the Armed Forces and Civil Defence services, these would for the most part be in the nature of manual work. I am issuing a notice on the subject to-day, and, with my hon. Friend's permission, I will circulate a copy in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Lyons

Is it not a fact that a large number of the people whose names are on the Central Register are not in employment at all, and that when employment is given in a Government Department the people are chosen from outside and are put on the Register for appearance sake? Is he also aware that there are thousands of people ready and willing to work in the national interest who get no more than a postcard acknowledgment?

Mr. Bevin

I have made investigation personally into the position of the Central Register, and I find that nearly 90 per cent. of the people are in fact in employment. I have no knowledge of the latter part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's statement. It has certainly not occurred since I have been in office.

Mr. Lyons

Will my right hon. Friend look into the matter?

Following is the notice: At the present time very many offers of service are being received at the Ministry of Labour and National Service, and the Minister wishes to thank everyone who has volunteered to help in the present emergency. There is, in this country, a large reserve of labour not directly employed on work connected with the war. War conditions have led to the dislocation of many peace-time activities, and many workers cannot be found employment in their normal sphere of activity. This applies in particular to many professional and business men and women whose special ability is not required for the war industries. It is, therefore, inevitable that many such persons will not be able to find any post during the war in which their special knowledge can be put at the country's disposal. There are, however, many ways in which such persons can serve their country at the present time if they are willing to take on jobs which are arduous and probably quite different from any job which they would have ever considered under peace-time conditions.


For men, there are, in the first place openings in the ranks of the Armed Forces, particularly for many kinds of skilled tradesmen not at present employed on work of national importance and in the Royal Navy (Patrol Service) for fishermen or men with similar experience. There are also many openings in the Civil Defence services such as Auxiliary Police and Auxiliary Fire Service under local authorities, for civilian police and store-keepers in Service and Supply Departments and in forestry and for male domestic staff at emergency hospitals. There is also a big demand for semi-skilled workers for work on aircraft and armaments production, for which courses of training at Government training centres are available. Allowances are paid during training and suitable men can thereby qualify themselves, after about four months, for employment in semiskilled work in the manufacture of munitions. Civilian instructors, particularly in the trades of wireless, armament engine and air frame fitters are also urgently needed at Royal Air Force training establishments.


In the case of women, urgent demands exist for cooks, clerks, orderlies, motor drivers, storewomen, teleprinters and telephonists in the Auxiliary Territorial Service; for teleprinters, cooks, mess and kitchen staff, and women with good general education as clerks for special duties in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force; and for accountants, clerks, typists and kitchen staff in the Women's Royal Naval Service; for mobile members of the Civil Nursing Reserve, for workers in Government store establishments; for domestic staff in emergency hospitals; for drivers and attendants for ambulances attached to casualty services of local authorities; for attendants in first aid posts; and for recruits for the Women's Land Army.

All these jobs mean hard work and long hours, but they are of vital importance for the defence of the country. Most of the jobs will entail living away from home. Volunteers for the Armed Forces should apply to any Navy, Army or Air Force recruiting centre; application to join the Royal Navy Patrol Service should be made to the nearest registrar, Royal Naval Reserve or to the fishery office at a port. The addresses of these offices may be obtained from any Employment Exchange or police station. Those who wish to offer their services in a civilian capacity should register at their nearest Employment Exchange and state precisely what they are willing to do in the present emergency and particularly whether they are prepared to leave home. A certain amount of time must be taken to fit persons who offer their services into appropriate jobs, but if volunteers find that they cannot be fitted, within reasonable time, into their first choice, they should not hesitate to apply for some other post where there may not be similar delay. In the meantime, if they are now in employment they should remain in such employment until they are approached by the Employment Exchange. No one need hesitate to register for employment at an Employment Exchange since the Exchanges constitute the recognised Government machinery for the proper distribution of the nation's manpower.

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