HC Deb 24 February 1942 vol 378 cc6-7
17. Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that certain local authorities have ordered their employees to resign from the Home Guard; and whether he can see his way to communicate with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Home Security with a view to securing the rescinding of this order, or, alternatively, whether he will put into effect the National Service Act and have those men directed back into the Home Guard?

Mr. Sandys

I am aware that certain local authorities have advised some of their employees to resign from the Home Guard. The Ministry of Health has issued a circular to local authorities advising them as to the proper procedure to be followed in cases where it is thought that there may be a conflict between an employee's civil and Home Guard duties. The Ministry has, however, no statutory power to order local authorities to give effect to its advice in this matter. In deciding whether, in any particular area, the compulsory powers under the National Service Act should be applied, the operational effect of any abnormally large number of resignations would naturally be taken into account.

Sir A. Lambert Ward

Is my hon. Friend aware of the adverse effect this is having on recruiting for the Home Guard? Is he further aware that managers in private firms are now saying, as local authorities do not do their duty by supporting the Home Guard, why should they?

Mr. Sandys

I must make it clear that the War Office do not approve of this action, and have no power to enforce their views on local authorities.

Mr. Hannah

Would it not be well to take such powers?