HC Deb 01 February 1945 vol 407 c1603
9. Mr. Rhys Davies

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the fact that Army personnel were recently employed in the distribution of coal in the London area, he will see to it that in future a sufficient number of employees accustomed to the job are left in civilian life so that merchants may deliver coal without recourse to military assistance.

Mr. Bevin

Having regard to the manpower position generally, I am satisfied that existing arrangements for call-up are not inadequate to meet normal conditions. When, however, conditions are abnormal it is necessary to take abnormal measures.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Does it not appear anomalous to my right hon. Friend that he conscripts men for the Fighting Services and then returns them in military clothes to do civilian work? When he talks of special conditions, surely he is aware that the winter in this country is severe as a rule?

Mr. Bevin

This is the first winter for four years that it has been necessary to do it.

Captain Duncan

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that, when normal weather conditions return, there will be sufficient labour for the delivery of coal in London?

Mr. Bevin

I cannot give my hon. and gallant Friend that assurance. The amount which the War Cabinet has decided I must find for the Forces this year may interfere with it.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the people of London who have been suffering during this cold spell are deeply grateful to the soldiers for the assistance they have given?