HC Deb 18 February 1944 vol 397 cc579-80
Mr. Leslie (Sedgefield)

I beg to move, in page 8, line 43, to leave out "fifty," and to insert "one hundred."

Under this Clause, the fine payable is not to exceed £50. I do not suppose for one moment that if a small trader were before the court he would be fined the maximum of £50. Generally, the fine would be much less. But let me tell the Committee of my experience after the last war. I had to negotiate a large number of cases relating to men who held responsible positions before they joined the Army, some as buyers, some as shop-walkers, and some as managers. During the war the firms had been reorganised, and they appointed women, at a lower wage, to take the places of these men. When the men came back they failed to get reinstatement. For such firms I think the punishment ought to fit the crime. A fine of £50 is too little for wealthy firms to pay when they fail to reinstate men who have risked life and limb on their behalf.

Mr. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)

I would like to support my hon. Friend by giving another illustration. It may be that some members of the Forces returning after the war will have been in a more substantial form of employment than that of the manual workers to whom reference has been made. Men who have worked for several years with a firm may have been in receipt of substantial salaries when they left to join the Forces. In such cases paying £50 might be a cheap way for the employer to rid himself of liability. I hope that that illustration will add weight to the argument put forward by my hon. Friend.

Mr. McCorquodale

We have two precedents here. The sum of £50 has been lifted out of our Armed Forces Act, 1939. The Disabled Persons (Employment) Bill, which the House passed recently, provided a penalty of £100 for certain offences of much the same type. If the Committee wish £100 to be inserted, instead of £50, we should have no objection, and I would not oppose the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 12 to 15 ordered to stand part of the Bill.