HC Deb 21 February 1946 vol 419 cc1302-4
61. Mr. Henderson Stewart

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the growing amount of unemployment among ex-Servicemen, and the British Legion's anxiety on this matter; and what steps he is taking to keep himself informed of the large numbers of men affected and to insure that ex-Servicemen receive the most sympathetic attention of his employment offices in allocating jobs which come to their notice.

Mr. Isaacs

Following the very heavy increase in the numbers released from the Forces the number of unemployed ex-Servicemen has shown some increase in recent months, but at 14th January the figure represented only 1.3 per cent. of the number released up to that date. I am watching the position very closely and can assure the hon. Member that my local officers have explicit instructions to do everything in their power to place ex-Servicemen in suitable employment with the minimum of delay.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that his Department will keep in close touch with the British Legion who are greatly disturbed about this matter?

Mr. Isaacs

We will keep in touch with all those who are interested in this matter, but the key to the whole question is contained in the words, "suitable employment." We can offer employment to some of them, which is not suitable for them or for which they are not suitable. The situation is being kept in mind, and we recognise the responsibility of finding these men work.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Has the right hon. Gentleman any knowledge of the large number of men who have had recourse to their rights under the Reinstatement Act?

Mr. Isaacs

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put down a Question on that, because the thing is working most satisfactorily, and I think that the public should know how very generally reinstatement is being. accepted by employers.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a very great case of difficulty of ex-Servicemen is that they are trained when in the Services, but they are not acceptable apparently for similar offices in peacetime occupation? Will he go into that?

Mr. Isaacs

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman gives me any examples of cases we will look into them, because when cases come to us, we generally find the trouble is due either to a misunderstanding or too ready an acceptance by the organisations of these people.