HC Deb 27 June 1940 vol 362 cc574-5
9. Dobbie

asked the Minister of Labour what is the present position with regard to recruitment for the Government training centres?

Mr. Bevin

The number of civilians in training at the Government training centres is now about 10,700. This is a record number. It is nearly 1,000 more than a week ago and nearly 2,000 more than a fortnight ago. In the last four weeks more than 6,000 men have been sent forward to training centres. This is also a record, but we need many thousands more. Those awaiting entry into training will be quickly absorbed, and a continuous flow of applicants will be needed to keep the centres at full strength and to fill the new places which are being provided. Shift working is being introduced and new centres are being established, and greatly increased numbers, both of men for training and of instructors, are required. The shortage of fully qualified instructors is at present the most serious factor limiting the increase of the numbers in training. I hope any fully skilled fitters, machine operators and instrument makers, who are not only highly skilled craftsmen but can also impart their knowledge to others and who are not at present employed on work of vital importance, will come forward at once for this most important work.

Mr. Benjamin Smith

When these trainees are given work will they be put on to useful production, that is, on things that can be used in the war and not on mere matters that are ultimately wasted?

Mr. Bevin

The whole of the schedule for training has been changed to bring it into strict conformity with the immediate placing of men in war industry.

Major Leighton

Is my right hon. Friend taking steps to train women instead of men of military age?

Mr. Bevin

Not in the training centres. We are trying to establish a system by which large works take a proportion of women to train. That is the best place for training women for the kind of work which they will have to do in factories.

Miss Rathbone

Is use being made of the central committee for the employment of women, which has done good work but which is not being fully utilised?