HC Deb 02 July 1941 vol 372 cc1355-6
66. Mr. Leslie

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the importance set by the Government on increased production of coal in the national interest, he will consider the advisability of releasing miners from the Army for a period, as has been done with soldiers to assist farmers during the harvest time?

The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Richard Law)

I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to the scheme whereby agricultural workers serving in the Army at home can be released for periods up to 28 days in the year to return to their former farms to help at times of seasonal pressure. I am afraid that it would not be possible to make similar arrangements for miners without seriously curtailing the periods of normal leave granted to other members of the units concerned.

Mr. Leslie

We all agree that that is very essential for the production of food, and is this not equally important? If such an arrangement can be made to help the farmer, surely a similar arrangement can be made to release some of the miners for a short period, particularly in the county of Durham, where so many men have joined the Colours and are, at the same time, required at the pits?

Mr. Law

Conditions are entirely different, and, with regard to any injustice, if the same arrangement were made with regard to miners, it might cause serious injustice to the serving soldier, who would be deprived of his leave.