HC Deb 30 July 1942 vol 382 cc660-1
9. Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

asked the Minister of Labour whether it is permissible to send mobile girls from Scotland to England when they are working locally on No. 1 A Priority Certificate work?

Mr. Bevin

The grant of No. 1 A priority to a firm does not determine the supply or withdrawal of labour, but a firm in this position would in general be engaged on work from which women other than ancillary workers are not withdrawn under the National Service Acts or the Registration for Employment Order. Ancillary workers withdrawn from such firms would be liable, if they were mobile, to be transferred to areas where the shortage of labour is most acute in accordance with my general plans for making the best use of the available supplies of labour.

Mr. Lindsay

As there appears to be some confusion about this, would my right hon. Friend make the position quite clear to these people, if I give him an example from Scotland?

Mr. Mathers

Will my right hon. Friend give an undertaking that at least girls who are directed from Scotland to England and find the conditions at work and in their living arrangements unsatisfactory, will not be punished if they go home?

Mr. Bevin

I cannot agree to that. What I will do is that if, in respect of any girl, from anywhere, not only from Scotland—they are all the same to me, and from wherever they come they are citizens—any case is reported to my Department of unsatisfactory accommodation or not proper conditions of employment, I will undertake to get it looked into immediately, but I cannot agree to allow the law to be ignored and production held up.

Mr. Kirkwood

Will not the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the idea of stripping Scotland of all its women, and will he not leave some of the women in Scotland, because we want these women? [Laughter.] It is no laughing matter; it is a very serious thing, and everybody connected with the business will get to know of it. We are losing the women that we require to carry on the work in Scotland—never mind anything else—and the Minister should not laugh at this serious position.

Mr. Bevin

I hope my smiles are but an appreciation of the hon. Member's point. I cannot agree not to take the women from Scotland equally with women from other parts of the country. If they are short of labour in Scotland perhaps I can arrange to send back some men.