HC Deb 04 March 1947 vol 434 cc229-31
27. Mr. Douglas Jay

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will restore the full option as existing before 1st January, 1947, for all men liable for call up for the Forces to volunteer for underground work in the coal industry; and whether he will give full publicity to the present arrangements.

Mr. Isaacs

The new arrangements are more comprehensive than those hitherto operating. For the next five years a young man who is now registered or who registers in future for military service and goes into underground coalmining before he receives an enlistment notice in the normal course, will not be called up so long as he is satisfactorily employed in that work; but if he leaves that employment he will be regarded as available for call up if men of his age class are being called up at that time. An announcement to this effect has already been issued to the Press, and the arrangement is being brought to the notice of all young men by means of a printed slip at the time of registration.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

If a man is called up will he be able to count his service in the mines, for which he has opted, as service for the purpose of release?

Mr. Isaacs

Not under this scheme.

28. Mr. Symonds

asked the Minister of Labour if he is prepared to offer immediate release from the Forces to men wishing to be trained as miners.

Mr. Isaacs

No, Sir. It is not considered that out-of-turn release from the Forces would be justified in the case of inexperienced men solely on account of their expressed willingness to enter training for coalmining employment.

Mr. Symonds

Is not this rather putting the cart before the horse? No miners no coal, no coal no industrial resources to keep an Armed Force going.

Mr. Isaacs

But it is still felt that if men want to get out of the Army to go into coalmining many months must elapse before they can be of use and it would be better to let them finish their term in the Services and use other men in these ways.

Mr. Mikardo

Why spend all these months training Poles as miners instead of Britons?

Mr. Isaacs

Because we have to train someone, and we are training those who are immediately available.

Mr. Marples

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that people volunteering to work in the mines who have gone to the labour exchanges have not received any acknowledgment for six or seven weeks?

Mr. Isaacs

I should be grateful indeed if the hon. Gentleman would send me any examples of that. The recruiting officers of the Ministry of Fuel and Power and my own Ministry have been actively successful in these cases, and if the hon. Gentleman will give me an example of that I will take the matter up.

Mr. Marples

I certainly will.

Mr. S. Shephard

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the supplementary question which I put to him on Question 18—have Class B releases been offered to the underground miners still in the Forces?

Mr. Isaacs

I understood that my answer covered it, but I realise now that it did not. All miners in the Forces have been offered release, whether Class A or B, but some of them have decided not to take advantage of it.

Mr. Shephard

Underground or surface?

Mr. Isaacs

Underground and surface.

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