HC Deb 21 March 1940 vol 358 cc2105-6
18. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the increasing number of cases of severe hardship among owners of small businesses through inability to dispose of their businesses when conscripted or through inadequate periods of postponement; that this will increase, even more seriously, as higher age groups are called up; whether he proposes to take any action to secure more equitable treatment for these men; and whether he has any record of the total number to date of the appeals on business grounds, the number of rejections, and the number and periods granted of those who were allowed postponement?

Mr. E. Brown

I am aware that the higher age groups will include a greater number of owners of small businesses who will desire to make applications for postponement, but I consider that the provision made by Regulation 2 (2) of the Armed Forces (Postponement Certificates) Regulations should be adequate to meet such cases. Up to 29thFebruary, out of 8,772 applications made on the ground of business responsibilities and interests, 5,190had been granted for varying periods up to six months and 3,582 rejected. Out of 214 applications for renewals, 125 had been granted and 89 refused.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in fact no rules can extend beyond a maximum period of 12 months, and, in view of the fact that an increasing number of the small business men have sunk their small capital in small concerns and are in danger of losing the lot, could he not reconsider the question?

Mr. Brown

I am aware of the first part of the hon. Member's Question. I informed the House in a recent Debate of that matter but, as I said in my answer, I am sure the present arrangements are adequate.