HC Deb 21 January 1947 vol 432 cc7-8
8. Mr. Manningham-Buller

asked the Minister of Labour if he has now reviewed the question of allowing those who opted for service in the coalmines on registering for National Service in response to the Government's invitation and who, prior to being called up for service in His Majesty's Forces, were discharged on medical grounds from service in the mines, to count their service in the mines for the purpose of release under Class A in the same way as those directed to the mines can do so; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Isaacs

It is a general rule that civilian employment before enlistment does not count towards priority of release from the Forces under the age and service scheme. This is necessary if men with long service in the Armed Forces are to be treated fairly, and any exceptions must, therefore, be kept within the narrowest limits. An exception was in fact made in the particular case of coalmining ballotees, and in my statement to the House on 29th November, 1945, I explained why I considered that a distinction should be drawn between ballotees who were compelled to enter coalmining against their will and other men who had been employed in the industry. After careful consideration, I am satisfied that those reasons are still valid and I could not agree to allow men other than ballotees to count their coalmining employment towards release from the Forces.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that he has not, either now or previously, stated (he reasons for his decision? Does he appreciate that his decision means that volunteers to the mines in response to an invitation of His Majesty's Government at the time are penalised if their service in the coalmines terminated on medical grounds before they were called up, whereas the man who was balloted for and leaves the coalmine is not penalised but counts his service?

Mr. Isaacs

I am under the impression that the reasons have been fully set out in previous statements, but, in any case, the requirements under the scheme are that men who go into the Forces and then come out again can only have their time in the Forces counted towards their release. After all, these men did volunteer to go out of the Army and into the coalmines and they cannot have it both ways.