HC Deb 15 October 1942 vol 383 cc1736-8
9. Mr. Foster

asked the Minister of Labour the number of miners prosecuted in the courts for absenteeism and loss of output under the Mining Industry Essential Work Order; the number fined; and the number sent to terms of imprisonment?

Mr. Bevin

The figures asked for up to the end of August, 1942, are as follow:—The number prosecuted for absence from work without reasonable excuse or for persistent lateness was 572. Of these, 430 were fined 115 sentenced to imprisonment and 12 bound over. Fifteen cases were dismissed. The number prosecuted for failing to comply with lawful and reasonable orders or for persistent behaviour at work impeding effective production was 3. Of these 2 were fined and I sentenced to imprisonment. The number prosecuted for leaving without permission was 37. Of these, 20 were fined, 13 sentenced to imprisonment and 3 bound over. One case was dismissed.

Mr. Foster

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in these cases the miner is at the mercy of local magistrates who have no knowledge of the work in the mining industry and who may be influenced by their patriotic feelings; also does he consider that sending men to prison is the most effective way of dealing with this problem of absenteeism?

Mr. Bevin

I must remind my hon. Friend that in these cases affecting miners, I act in consultation with the Ministry of Fuel and on the advice of pit production committees. On that footing, after they have dealt with the cases, and they report a case as being one in which there is absolute refusal to obey the discipline of their own men, I am asked to take action. I must then carry out the law. The final sanction under the Defence Regulations is imprisonment, and I cannot interfere with that.

Several hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

The Minister has answered the Question on the Paper.

13. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Minister of Labour the approximate percentage of the scheduled hours which employees in the light engineering industry failed to work over the most recent convenient period?

Mr. Bevin

I presume my hon. Friend refers in his Question to the extent of absenteeism in the light engineering industry. I regret that the specific information for which he asks is not available in my Department.

Mr. Simmonds

Does not the Minister think that in order that this matter may be assessed more accurately, it is important that his Department should obtain statistics from industry?

Mr. Bevin

The statistics of actual absenteeism are collected by the Production Department.

Mr. George Griffiths

Is it not possible, say next week, for the Minister to bring in an Order in Council that all workmen shall be chained to their benches, so that they will not require to go home to have any sleep at all?

Mr. Hannah

Is not that rather reactionary?

14. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Minister of Labour in how many cases from 1st July, 1942, up to the latest convenient date have National Service officers in the Birmingham area been requested by works committees to take proceedings against habitual absentees or latecomers; in how many cases during that period have such proceedings been instituted; and the number of convictions which have been recorded?

Mr. Bevin

I am obtaining the requested information and will communicate with my hon. Friend.