HC Deb 07 December 1944 vol 406 cc695-7
1. Mr. W. J. Brown

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that the Essential Work Order appeal body at York, wrongly heard on 3rd October last an appeal by Mr. F. W. Batley, whose case was appropriate to the War Office Substitute Appeals Committee; that on the National Service officer ordering Mr. Batley's reinstatement following the appeal, the War Department, as employer, refused, but placed him under an industrial employee, with forfeiture of all overtime in breach of instructions and in circumstances where there was very little work to do; and whether he will specially investigate this case and ensure that in future his National Service officers follow the correct procedure in such cases.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Bevin)

I regret that Mr. Batley's case was not heard by the appropriate appeal body, and I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War is arranging for it to be re-heard by the War Department Substituted Appeal Committee. I am taking steps to try to avoid a recurrence of an error of this kind.

15. Lieut-Commander Hutchison

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in cases where there is a difference of opinion between the family doctor and the medical referee employed by his Ministry as to the fitness of a person to undertake work in respect of which a direction has been issued by his depart- ment, arrangements can be made to refer such cases to an independent medical arbitrator instead of leaving local appeal boards, composed of laymen, to adjudicate between conflicting medical opinions as is the present practice.

Mr. Bevin

The medical referee is an independent examiner, nominated for the purpose by a local medical war committee. Local appeal boards realise this, and normally accept his opinion; if, however, they so desire, they may ask for a further examination, if necessary, by a specialist.

Lieut.-Commander Hutchison

Arising out of that reply may I ask what happens if the aggrieved applicant is dissatisfied with the decision, and wants to make a further appeal?

23. Mr. W. J. Brown

asked the Minister of Labour in what circumstances authority has been given to Government Departments, and through them to employers, to circumvent the operation of the Essential Work Order by permitting them to apply to headquarters in advance of applying to the National Service officer for permission to discharge individuals engaged in scheduled undertakings as, under this arrangement, his Ministry takes steps to ensure that the National Service officer gives permission to discharge, thereby fettering his discretion, and instructs employers not to attend the hearing of appeals against discharges, and neither the workers nor the appeal boards are informed of the grounds of the discharge.

Mr. Bevin

On very rare occasions it has been found necessary in the interests of security that certain information should be handled by the headquarters of Departments and not by local offices and local appeal boards.

Mr. Brown

Is it right and proper that men should be discharged from employment without having their case heard by a tribunal, or even knowing the character of the charge against them; and is it necessary in the interests of security to do that?

Mr. Bevin

It has been found necessary during the war on several occasions to do that.

Mr. Brown

In these circumstances, is there anything to prevent an employer getting rid of a man on the ground that security is involved, the man having no opportunity of knowing the charge against him?

Mr. Bevin

It is only through Government Departments and where workers are on special security work.

27. Mr. Daggar

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that a young woman was directed, on 27th November, by the employment exchange, Brynmawr, Breconshire, to employment at High Wycombe, and the undertaking to meet her at Paddington and High Wycombe was not observed; and will he take steps to see that such arrangements are carried out and authorise an enquiry into the system of direction to employment from the local Phœnix factory by the same exchange.

Mr. Bevin

I am having inquiries made into this case and will write to my hon. Friend.