§ 3.41 p.m.
§ The Chairman
The first Amendment I propose to call is that in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Northants, South (Mr. ManninghamBuller).
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
On a point of order, Major Milner. I wonder whether, as a convenience to the Committee, you would think it appropriate to indicate which of the Amendments you propose to call.
§ The Chairman
I do not think I can undertake to indicate at this stage all the Amendments that are to be called, but if the hon. Gentleman cares to inquire at the Table, some indication can be given to him as to the Amendments which, up to a certain point, I have decided to select.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller (Northants, South)
I beg to move, in page 4, line 5, to leave outwhether legally enforceable or not.As I understand you have given notice that you have selected this Amendment, Major Milner, I hope to be able to put the points fairly shortly. I can say straightaway that this Amendment is tabled not in any hostile fashion but with a view to seeking an explanation. One sees in subsection (5, b) on page 4, the following statement:references to a liability to undergo training are references to any obligation, howsoever arising and whether legally enforceable or not,…Those are rather unusual words to find in a Bill particularly dealing with an obligation in respect of training. I should be interested to know from the Government what is the object of inserting those words. It appears that this definition in subsection (5, b) relates back to subsection (3) of the Clause, which deals with liability for periodical training. I think that is so, and perhaps I have said enough already to apprise the hon. Gentleman of the point on which we desire an explanation. I hope that explanation will be now forthcoming.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for War (Mr. Michael Stewart)
I think I shall be able to satisfy the hon. and learned Member that there are good grounds for keeping these words in the Clause. Some Reserve officers, both from the Army and Air Force, have a liability which is not legally enforceable to come up for training. There are certain sanctions attaching to that liability, for example bounty might be withheld or an officer might be required to relinquish his commission, but the liability itself is not legally enforceable, whereas such officers enjoy the exemptions referred to in Clause 1 (3) and paragraph 2 (a) of the table to Clause 1. The Committee will notice that in both cases men who have-liability to train have benefits or exemptions conferred upon them.
In no case does any reference to a person's liability to a period of training impose any further liabilities on anyone. Our object, therefore, is to make sure, and to put it beyond doubt, that these benefits and exemptions attach to officers 2306 who have liability to training which is not legally enforceable. I hope, therefore, the hon. and learned Gentleman, and I trust the Committee, will be prepared to agree that it is reasonable to keep those words in the Bill.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I thank the hon. Gentleman for the explanation, which is satisfactory for once and satisfies me that these words should remain in the Bill. Therefore, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
I beg to move, in page 4, line 15, at the end, to add:(7) The powers confirmed by this section do not extend to the calling up of persons serving in agriculture and fishing, mining, building or the textile industry, or any other industry which the Minister of Labour shall certify is of urgent importance to the national interest.I believe it is recognised in the Quiz that has been circulated that the mining industry is not affected by this Clause and that miners will not be liable to Z call-up. I do not see why the same should not apply to the various industries which I have enumerated in the Amendment, and also why the Minister of Labour should not be given power to certify that certain industries indispensable to national welfare should not suffer as a result of this call-up.
I think the case of agriculture does not need any further stressing and I wish to deal mainly with the question of the calling up of building trade workers. I suggest that the principle of the Z call-up applies at present to the building industry and that the Minister of Labour should have special power to exempt the building trade workers from the Z call-up. I believe that at present every building trade worker is urgently needed on the home front. It is indispensable to the continuation of the housing programme, especially in Scotland, that there should not be withdrawn from the building trade force the workers we urgently require for the fulfilment of the building programme.
I do not think that requires any further argument, except to say that in a recent letter I received from the Minister of Labour he attempted to reply to the question that I put to him as to how many building trade workers were called up for 2307 National Service from 1st January to 31st October, 1950. The reply from the Ministry of Labour stated that the number is about 20,000. For several reasons I submit that the building trade operatives are more necessary at present in the building industry than in His Majesty's Forces.
I want to state another reason in support of this Amendment which may appeal to hon. Members opposite. I should like to know whether the building trade will be a reserved occupation in the event of war. I submit that we shall then need all the building trade operatives on the home front in order to repair the damage to buildings resulting from destruction by air raids. If, as was suggested recently by the Leader of the Opposition, we may receive 50 atom bombs in this country, the most urgent need will be for the building trade operatives to be on the home front and nowhere else. For those reasons, and for others which I will not enumerate, I submit that this is a reasonable Amendment.
§ The Secretary of State for Air (Mr. Arthur Henderson)
I regret that it is not possible to accept this Amendment. We prefer to deal with this kind of problem by administration and not by legislation. My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) has referred to one of the industries mentioned in this Amendment, namely the coal mining industry. We have already announced in Parliament that we do not propose to call up underground coal mining workers for 15 days' training this summer. We have also indicated that fishermen in general will not be called up either to the Army or the Royal Air Force, and I understand that the Navy are not recalling any of their fishermen reservists for 15 days' training this summer.
The position of those who are engaged in industry is at this moment under consideration by an inter-departmental working party under Ministry of Labour chairmanship. On this basis the Ministry of Labour have indicated which of those reservists whom the Service Departments might wish to recall would be available for early recall in the event of an emergency. It is from among these lists, which are at present being screened, that the War Office and Air Ministry have decided to 2308 select those whom they desire to recall for service this year. In short, we feel that the position will be amply safeguarded by administrative action which is being taken under the ægis of the Ministry of Labour and that there is no reason to embody any such provision in this Bill.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)
I should like to ask one question about the industries scheduled in the Amendment. Will agriculture be dealt with administratively rather than by legislation? If we are to deal with all these industries administratively what are the administrative proposals which are intended?
§ Mr. Henderson
As I say, the matter is under consideration by this inter-departmental working party under the chairmanship of a representative of the Ministry of Labour who will formulate their proposals which can be implemented administratively. Agriculture, or course, will not be excluded from their review.
§ Mr. Henderson
I could not say. I imagine that if it is not excluded it may well be included. In view of the recent announcement, I do not think it is likely that the Government will reverse the decision about the call-up of workers in agriculture.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)
I support this Amendment, and I am disappointed with the Minister's reply. My right hon. and learned Friend has referred at some length to the desirability of administrative action rather than legislative action. He has supported his case mainly by reference to the miners and fishermen, and now, after an intervention from the Liberal benches, by reference to the agricultural workers. My hon. Friend, however, devoted the main part of his speech to the question of builders.
I rise mainly to express disappointment at the attitude of the Conservative Opposition. On the Tory Benches there is great enthusiasm for a building target of 300,000 houses a year, which, long after the dangers on the international horizon had presented themselves, that party still thought possible. Now that they know the Socialist programme is 200.000 houses per annum, I cannot understand how they can possibly risk leaving this building question in its present state. My hon. 2309 Friend has pressed, as I still press, for more information about what action is to be taken on this question of building labour. I am sure that my hon. Friend is justified in pressing this Amendment further.
§ Mr. Edgar Granville (Eye)
I shall not try to answer the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson), nor shall I incur the displeasure of the Chair by arguing whether we can have this wholesale call-up and build 300,000 or even 200,000 houses a year. But, as the hon. Gentleman said when he moved the Amendment, the fact remains that there will be a tremendous building programme, requiring a large number of building operatives, if the Government carry out this large re-armament programme involving the construction of factories for armaments and so on.
Therefore, like the hon. Member for Ealing, North, I am rather disappointed by the vagueness of the reply of the Secretary of State for Air to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris). He said he thought that agricultural workers would be included in the inter-departmental working party's review, but he seemed certain that they would not be excluded. I hope he will bear in mind that his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour has categorically stated that the blanket would be removed from agricultural workers and that they would be called up. I hope he will refresh his memory by reading the speech of the Minister of Labour on this subject, which is directly related to this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman said that the most important thing is our civilian technique in our war potential and certainly in our industrial war potential. I am very worried that the Government under this Bill, by calling up those artisans referred to in this Amendment, are making it impossible for these various building jobs to be done.
On the question of food, the Secretary of State for Air must have seen the resolution which has been sent forward by the National Farmers' Union county branches and by the central branch in Bedford Square, saying that if the Government go ahead with this scheme it will be impossible to get a harvest this year or to get any food reserves at all. 2310 I hope the Government will learn the lessons of the past and will have another think about this problem. Wars are not always won by khaki; it is the vital war potential, the shells and food, which also count.
The Government are going too far and calling up far too many of these men. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consult his advisers and see whether something can be done, not administratively but legislatively, if not by this Amendment by some other Amendment, to provide a larger number of agricultural workers who will not be called up under this Bill.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) also referred, in moving his Amendment, to textile workers, and I did not hear anything at all in reply to that from the Front Bench. Nor have I been able to gather, in my researches on the subject, any very clear idea as to how this scheme will work at all. Quite apart from the powerful speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire, there are other difficulties. No answer whatever has been given, for instance, about the difficulty created through taking key men out of industry.
Anybody who knows the textile industry realises that it employs a very small number of men in a very large space, and in each department there is the key man. If we were to take two or three men from a spinning mill, for instance, that mill would have to close down. I do not profess to be an expert on building, but I think the same applies to many building schemes. If the comparatively small builder loses one or two bricklayers he might as well close down the firm for a fortnight as try to find something else for the labourers or plasters to do.
I think we are entitled at this stage of the proceedings, before we pass from consideration of this Amendment and of this important Clause, to have a very clear idea put before us of the Government's proposals, as to how representations are to be made—that is a special difficulty—as to who can make them, as to whether a man himself can make an application to say that he is a key worker and it 2311 will do harm to call him up or whether the employer must do it; or, if the employer makes the application and the man still wants to go, whether he has to go; or what happens if a man establishes his case and is not supported in it by his employer.
I feel that it is unreasonable for the Government to come to the House and say that they require us to give them a complete mandate. What are the proposals which have been brought before the House upon what has certainly proved to be a great controversial issue —and in respect of which I say, quite frankly, that I should be very glad to see the whole Bill withdrawn. I feel it will create much more difficulty than it will give help. Before we pass from this Clause we must press the Front Bench to give us much fuller information as to how they propose to work this scheme, and what rights of representation there will be on behalf of industry, on behalf of employees and on behalf of trade unions. I urge that that information should be given.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), must realise that this is a selective call-up, which largely makes the Amendment unnecessary. Those who are being selected are people who will very largely follow their civilian occupation in their military role. I can assure the hon. Member that there are not many bricklayers used as such in the tail services of a division or corps. If we could find out the actual number of bricklayers being called up we should find it was infinitesimal. Another point which I dislike about the Amendment is that it mentions the whole building industry not only the bricklayers, but also the people who make the tea and those who work in the offices. The Amendment is in my view, therefore, far too wide.
I think this is an example of the sort of difficulties into which the Government are running because they will not face the problem of deciding what are to be the reserved occupations and of making an announcement on the subject. Many of their problems about volunteers and many of the difficulties mentioned by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. L. Hale), would be solved if the country and 2312 individuals knew exactly where they were. I implore the Government to realise the vital importance of this matter from the whole aspect of call-up and defence.
§ Mr. Yates (Birmingham, Ladywood)
I do not agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) that because this happens to be a selective call-up we ought not to object, for example, to building trade workers being called up. The vital question is whether they are to continue with their work for civilian purposes or whether they are to work for war purposes. I realise the difficulties involved in an Amendment of this kind, which is rather wide, but I should like the Government to consider the effect upon the housing programme of any further interference with the labour used on that programme.
We appreciate, of course, the problems of mining and agriculture, but I can think of no problem more grave for the nation than that involved in the housing of the people, following two world wars. In some parts of the country the situation is impossible. The most amazing thing is that hon. Members opposite have sat back this afternoon and shown no desire to protect the civilians from any further encroachment upon the labour available for the building of houses. I cannot understand that, after all the fuss we have heard during the past few weeks.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
I do not think the hon. Gentleman heard me say that, if the figures were available, I was sure we should find that the number of bricklayers to be called up would be found to be infinitesimal.
§ Mr. Yates
It is not only a question of bricklayers but of building trade workers. I understand, for example, that one building trade worker can build a house in a year. Look at the problem which we have in a large city like Birmingham, where we cannot build more than 2,000-odd houses a year, whereas we need 10,000 a year if we are to deal satisfactorily with the problem. I am not prepared to agree that it is right and proper to make any serious interference with the work of the civilian housing programme in the country, and I ask the Government or the Minister to consider what kind of administrative action he is prepared to take to deal with the problem 2313 of the building industry and the building of houses.
A further problem arises in a city like Birmingham, which has to contribute to the re-armament programme. We have been told, for instance, that we shall require something like half-a-million more men on armaments. They will have to be taken from other industries. Many of these people—I do not know how many, but probably one-third of them—will go to the Midlands and a great number will have to go to Birmingham. But we just cannot accommodate them. We have no hostels to accommodate further workers. In fact, the population of the city has increased by 60,000 over the last two years.
How are we to deal with this enormous problem if we are prepared constantly to interfere with the building programme? I hope the Government will give further consideration to the Amendment and certainly will give us some hope that the housing programme will not be held up by an interference with the manpower in the industry.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
The disturbing part of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's answer to this Amendment was that in which he referred to the speech of his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour about the position of agriculture. The object of the Bill is to ensure the defence of the country. If war breaks out two classes of those mentioned in the Amendment will become of major importance. The miners may be of major importance to the defence of the Realm, and so may agricultural workers. It is absolutely important that they should be kept where they are. There is no purpose in calling them up under the Bill; that will merely disturb the industry for no purpose whatsoever.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman gave us no assurance that this matter will be dealt with administratively, let alone dealt with by statute. To disturb these people would do nothing at all to secure the defence of the realm should a crisis arise. We should have from the Government a definite undertaking, not to put agricultural in a privileged position—that is not what we are seeking—not to put the miners in a privileged position, but to put them in the position where they will be needed for the defence 2314 of the Realm, which is the object of the Bill.
§ Mr. Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
If we were dealing with general mobilisation or a large scale call-up then, I think, there would be some point in discussing an Amendment of this nature, but I would ask my hon. Friends and the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) to have a sense of proportion in this matter, for we are dealing only with roughly 230,000 people for a period of a fortnight spread over a long period. The number of key people involved, I think, can easily be dealt with by administration, and that would be, in my view, the best way of dealing with the problem of key people if the call-up of any of them were likely to dislocate an industry or a section of an industry. However, I think we ought to get some undertaking from the Government that they do mean business administratively
I would suggest that where an employer can make out a case against the calling up of a man who has received a warning that he will be called up, the employer —it ought to be the employer, I feel, and not the man—should be able to make an approach to the Ministry of Labour about the matter.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale
The question is whether an employer will be able to foresee the difficulties arising on vital work because he may be faced with the simultaneous absence of a number of employees. In the Quiz there is a question:If an employer foresees serious difficulties arising on vital work because of the simultaneous absence of a number of employees, will it he possible for the call-up dates to be adjusted?And the answer virtually is that it will not. The answer states:It will be difficult to make adjustments but the Services are willing to do their best to meet exceptional circumstances. It will be specially difficult to adjust the call-up dates of Class Z Reservists…
§ Mr. Chetwynd
I agree with my hon. Friend, but that deals with the case where a large number of men are being called up from the same place. The case we have to bear in mind is that of a key man. As I understand the Quiz, no provision is made for an employer to make an appeal against a man's call-up. In previous call-ups it has always been possible for an 2315 employer to make an appeal for a man to be released from Service on the grounds of his being a key man.
While I am certain that the Government must ask us to reject the Amendment, for the reasons I have given I do hope they will look far more sympathetically than they have up to now at the question of allowing employers to specify men whom they wish to retain, and I suggest that there should be some kind of tribunal in the machinery of the Ministry of Labour for the investigation of these cases.
§ Brigadier Thorp (Berwick-on-Tweed)
The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) has reiterated some remarks I made in my Second Reading speech, and I am very glad to have his support for my case that an employer should be allowed to apply for a man's exemption. However, the main point I want to make about this Amendment is that it has brought out some interesting views. We have certain hon. Members opposite who, quite honestly and sincerely, I am sure, voted for re-armament, and yet here they are quite obviously bringing forward Amendments to the Bill to try to wreck re-armament in its first stages —[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—which, I am sure, is not what the Government want, although I am quite certain that it is what the pacifists want.
We have another interesting point made by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. L. Hale), who said that one of the reasons for putting down the Amendment was that there seemed to be such a muddle in the Government's mind that it was not clear what was to happen. I am very glad to see that now at last even the Government's own supporters are realising how much muddle there is in the mind of the Government. This Amendment is doing some good, apparently.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has made two statements about me both of which are completely inaccurate. One was that I voted for rearmament. Quite probably I should have done if forced into that position, although very reluctantly; but the Opposition put down a darn silly Amendment to the Motion approving the Government's defence policy, thus enabling me to vote—against that Amendment—without any qualms of conscience at all. The second was that I used some inelegant expression about 2316 some "collective mind" of the Government. There are moments when I would not venture to psychiatrise any such thing as a "collective mind." What I did say was that there was a lack of clarity in the information we had, and that we ought to have clearer information before the Clause is finished with, and I still say that.
§ Brigadier Thorp
That is very interesting indeed. I think the Committee will take full note that the hon. Gentleman went into the Lobby against our Amendment, which obviously meant that he approved of re-armament. I am sorry if I did not use the precise words that the hon. Gentleman used. I know that he is a great artist in words, and he uses more words to the gallon than anybody else I know. However, I think his case was clear, and I think I fairly interpreted his words. I do see the point of this Amendment, but I think that my hon. and gallant Friend has stated the case very well. This is a selective call-up, and, of course, as the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees said, it is a call-up of certain men for a short time. Therefore, I cannot feel that this Amendment is really anything more than a wrecking Amendment.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Hamilton (Fife, West)
I am bound to support the Amendment and I feel that the hon. and gallant Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Brigadier Thorp) is totally wrong when he says it would wreck the re-armament programme. I think it would help us to understand the matter better if we had more information about the actual numbers involved, but, in any case, I do not think that there can be any doubt at all that we are already in such a national emergency in coal, and that the housing situation is so bad, that we simply cannot afford to take into the Forces a single miner or a single building worker. I do not think there can be any doubt that those two industries, at any rate, should be left alone. The agricultural and fishing industries, perhaps, can be dealt with by administrative action, but I suggest that, at any rate, the coal mining industry and the building industry should be dealt with by legislation.
§ Mr. Michael Astor (Surrey, East)
The hon. Gentleman who put down this Amendment has, in my opinion, one great 2317 merit, and that is that he does introduce a quaint sense of humour in matters of debate, which is more than one can say of some of his colleagues. I see that 100 or more of the hon. Gentleman's Friends, according to this morning's paper, had to apologise to the Italian Prime Minister because it had been suggested that the Minister of Defence was considered fit to speak to the Italian people.
§ Mr. Astor
I quite agree, and I apologise. However, there is one thing I would ask about the matter of the call-up of agricultural workers. Is the call-up of agricultural workers to be used to get at men who have shifted their jobs? The hon. Gentleman did suggest so, and it will be difficult to discuss this aspect of this particular Amendment, and aspects of other Amendments, until we know more clearly the Government's exact intentions behind the call-up of these categories of men.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Frederick Lee)
I do hope the Committee will not get this question out of perspective. One would think from hearing the discussion that the Government were unmindful of the necessity of preserving manpower in each industry to the maximum extent compatible with the requirements of the Services. The hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) said we were in some way trying to alter the basis of legislation laid down in the war period. As a matter of fact, there was no such legislation during the war period. This was done entirely administratively. I hope that the Committee will realise that that, in fact, was the case. The classes of men reserved have to be altered considerably from time to time.
My hon. Friend, in the Amendment, mentions a list of industries. At the end he gives power to the Minister of Labour to certify which industries are of urgent importance to the national interest. In these days, I just do not know any industry in Britain that is not vitally important. No matter what industry we think of, certainly amongst those mentioned in the Amendment, we find that it depends on transport. Why, then, should we not have transport mentioned in the 2318 Amendment as well? So one could go on throughout the whole range of British industry. We could suggest that each industry should be treated in the way my hon. Friend wants us to treat those particular industries he has mentioned.
It is as though my hon. Friends said, "We agree that it is necessary to get the men for training," and then proceeded to do everything in their power to stop the Government from getting the men for training. I do not think that that is an unfair way of describing it. Let me put this to my hon. Friends. In the past we have tended to believe that engineering, because of the very nature of the job, would naturally carry exemption for all those in the industry, but during the war we realised that we had reached a situation in which engineers had to be called up to the Forces because of the very skill they possessed as engineers. I mention that to show that from month to month industry can change in its relevance and importance to military matters.
Do I take it from my hon. Friends who have supported this Amendment that a person engaged in digging out foundations is necessarily a building worker? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] Not at all. That same man may be employed in the building industry for only two weeks. There are many classes of people in an industry who are not necessarily tradesmen skilled in that industry. There is a huge turnover of people who constantly move from one industry to another, who at one time may be employed in agriculture and at another time in the building industry. What are we to do about all this?
§ Mr. W. J. Taylor (Bradford, North)
Surely a worker is classified at the Ministry of Labour in a particular category, and that should be the basis upon which this matter is considered.
§ Mr. Lee
Let us keep this in perspective. We are asking for a total of some 240,000 men for 15 days each, spread over five months. That is approximately 1 per cent. of those engaged in industry, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will keep that basic fact in mind. We are not asking for a huge call-up which will disrupt industry. We are asking for 1 per cent. of the employable males for 15 days each spread over five months, and I suggest that against the background 2319 of what we are asking this Amendment is out of focus and out of perspective.
I assure my hon. Friends who have put down this Amendment that the Ministry of Labour, in conjunction with the Service Departments, will do everything possible to ensure that the call-up for 15 days of a key worker of a small employer will not entail disruption in the workshop, or hardship in any way; we shall do everything possible to vary the period of call-up in order to help. It is in that spirit that I ask the Committee to keep in mind the size of the problem, and the fact that the Ministry of Labour, in conjunction with other Departments, will do everything possible to make certain that industry is maintained at its maximum. Because of all those preparations that we are making I ask the Committee to reject this Amendment.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale
My hon. Friend says he will do everything possible to help an employer. This is what the Quiz says on the subject:May employers appeal on the grounds that men recalled could not be spared in an emergency?The answer is:No.How do they appeal, to whom do they appeal, and when do they appeal?
§ Mr. Lee
Machinery is being set up in local departments of the Ministry of Labour and an appeal can be made to the local people. We shall have machinery to do all we can to vary the period of call-up in order to help local employers. We realise how important this sort of thing is to industry. The two sides of industry have been consulted on this problem, but as yet industry has not had sufficient time to assimilate all the small difficulties which can arise. We are keeping in constant touch with both sides of industry, whose advice we are seeking on this matter. The basis is as yet provisional, and a certain amount of security is involved, and any suggestion that the basis of deferment should be made public is, I think, quite wrong.
The Amendment asks for special consideration to apply to mining and fishing. Certain announcements have already been made to that effect. One was that no underground coal mining workers and only a few surface workers required for 2320 work of particular importance to the Services for which they are qualified will be recalled for 15 days' training this summer. For the fishing industry an announcement has been made that fishermen will, in general, not be recalled to the Army or R.A.F. for 15 days' training this summer.
I suggest that, with all those provisions in mind it cannot be seriously suggested that the absence of the relatively small number of men concerned in this call-up could have the slightest effect upon industry.
§ Mr. W. J. Taylor
The hon. Gentleman mentioned security. What is the position of nuclear physicists engaged in research work in connection with atomic energy? Will they be called up or not.
§ Mr. Lee
—my hon. Friends will be equally entitled to ask about every section of industry. I ask the hon. Gentleman to bear in mind that all we are asking for is 15 days. If one looks at the amount of absenteeism due to illness, can any of us guarantee that we shall be able to attend this Committee or be at work for a certain two weeks' period of any year? Can we legislate to ensure that 'flu germs do not beset the hon. Gentlemen at any one moment?
§ Mr. McCorquodale (Epsom)
As one who had some experience of this sort of thing during the war, I hope that on administrative grounds no Amendment on these lines will be accepted. To have a rigid and absolute prohibition of the calling up of certain categories of people in an emergency is the most inefficient 2321 method of handling manpower that one can devise. If that is so, we must ensure that this is handled efficiently, and in any selective call-up of this description I am sure that the Ministry of Labour, from what I know of them, are capable of handling this matter in the interests of all concerned.
On the other hand, this discussion has been of great value in impressing upon the Government the necessity for the closest consultation with industry in this matter. The Parliamentary Secretary mentioned inter-departmental committees. I am always rather scared of interdepartmental committees. I would rather have the Ministry concerned going straight to the man, the employer and the industry to find out the facts. In respect of what is said in the Quiz that has been issued, I hope that some method will be devised by which the employer can, in suitable categories, with the approval if necessary of the employee, go to the appropriate tribunal or appropriate section of the machinery established, to have a case for deferment heard. There may be cases in small establishments where one man going off at the same time as another for an extra fortnight might cause acute difficulty. Apart from that, I think the method proposed in this Amendment could not be worsened.
I would also ask the Minister to keep under close consideration the suggestion made by my hon. Friend that he should publish the list of scheduled or reserved occupations, if possible. The Minister in mind, but if at any time he found it possible to publish it, I believe that by said that on security grounds he did not wish to do so, and that must be borne doing so he would add greatly to the smooth running of the scheme.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Donnelly (Pembroke)
A number of us are not satisfied about the answers given regarding agriculture. The hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) made clear the vital importance of agriculture in regard to defence. I think that agriculture is in a completely different category from other types of industrial production. One person taken from a farm is a very much more important factor as a key worker than one person taken from a large factory employing several hundred 2322 people. The complicated administrative machinery to deal with the question of exemptions, deferment and so on, seems to have no elasticity to deal with this kind of individual case. I cannot see what is the use of calling up a man for 15 days if in time of war he is one of the men whom it is vital to have on the home front.
§ Mr. Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)
The right hon. Gentleman said on one occasion that this matter would be dealt with by administrative action. One thing which this debate has brought out is that insufficient co-ordination has taken place so far, and it is upon that point that I think the Committee would wish to have an assurance. How far has regard been had to the occupations that men are in now in the selection for call-up? Have they been selected purely with regard to their fitting into the military machine, because it is obvious that with a selective call-up the men who are wanted most for military purposes are often the men that industry would most like to keep?
It is extremely important, as the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) has said, that we should not incur the waste of calling up men just now with a very scant chance, as is quite plain from the Quiz and from what has already been said, of their being able to get off through representations being made. We should not call them up in these circumstances if they are not to be called up. if a real emergency arises. That would be pure waste. The Committee need further explanation on this point. They have not only a right to know the extent of the administrative action which will be taken, but that the administration taken so far has been right. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will reply to that point.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)
I agree that this matter should be dealt with on administrative lines rather than in the way proposed in the Amendment. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to clear up one point in the interesting remarks which he made. He said that if employers would make representations to local officials that the calling up of a particular man would involve hardship to his firm, the officials would be prepared to do everything they could to help. Does that mean that they would be 2323 prepared to alter the date of call-up, or that in certain cases they would be prepared to waive the call-up altogether?
§ Mr. Emrys Roberts (Merioneth)
I think that it is generally agreed that it is preferable for this matter to be dealt with by administrative action. The difficulty to which the speech of the Secretary of State for Air gave rise was that the Government did not seem to be clear in their mind what kind of administrative action they would employ. As the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. L. Hale) pointed out, it is very important for the man who receives a call-up notice to know exactly what he must do to take advantage of the administrative machinery provided.
I do not think that the Parliamentary Secretary's answer that he should go to the local office of the Ministry of Labour is good enough. I also thought that his remark that the basis of exemption must be kept secret on security grounds was very weak. If there is anything which causes a sense of injustice, it is that some men should receive exemption or postponement and others should not, and that the basis on which that choice is made should be kept secret. I thought that the Parliamentary Secretary's speech was most unworthy, particularly his airy assumption that it did not matter much, because a man might be away ill for a fortnight anyway. The Committee ought not to leave this matter without a far more satisfactory indication that the Government have definite proposals in mind.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
On this particular point, I have considerable sympathy with my hon. Friend who has replied for the Government. I can understand that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) would be in favour of the Amendment in precisely the form in which he has put it down, as would other hon. Members who are in principle against this call-up.
I listened with considerable astonishment to hon. Members in all parts of the Committee who are in favour of the principle of the Bill but who are against any practical steps for carrying out that principle. They would like to see the Z Reserve men recalled to serve in this way, but they would leave out all those who are making a solid contribution to more con- 2324 structive activities. That is a laudable desire, but it is not reconcilable with the Bill, because it would apply to 90 per cent. of the men. No one would be in favour of this Bill at all if the only ground of call-up was the greater value productively of the work which a man was doing or the greater value productively of the 15 days' call-up under the Bill.
I thought that the whole principle of the matter was that we felt ourselves compelled to call men away from their productive activities in order to meet a danger in a particular state of international affairs. If that is so, one has to contemplate that one cannot do it effectively without calling up a great many people in this way who would, in other circumstances, be more usefully employed, elsewhere.
§ Mr. Hopkin Morris
I understand that men employed in mining and agriculture would not, if war came, be called up, and should not those categories therefore be left out?
§ Mr. Hamilton
Within the last quarter of an hour, I have opened a letter from one of my constituents, and perhaps I might refer to part of it. He mentions the difficulties of the call-up and says that a man who is a miner working underground has been called up for 15 days. Can the Minister explain that?
§ Mr. Silverman
That leads me to my next point. I fully appreciate that, in spite of all the arguments, there may be some basis of discrimination between one productive category and another whereby some are called and some are left. In that case, I would prefer to see the basis of discrimination determined by the Committee and put into the Bill rather than that it should be left to administrative action which leads to the kind of contradiction which my hon. Friend intervened, quite rightly, to point out. If we are to have discrimination, let it be a clear demonstration of principle sanctioned not by administrative action, but by the very Act of Parliament on which the whole matter proceeds.
§ Mr. Profumo (Stratford)
I am in general agreement that this is a matter which should be dealt with by administrative action. I join issue, however, with 2325 Members opposite on one point, which I think is something they had in mind in putting down the Amendment. This Bill is going to require a Koh-i-noor of administration, but some Members are wondering whether the Government are capable of carrying out these administrative duties.
I personally am very worried. I see that the Minister of Defence is smiling. but he was not here when the question of the Quiz was brought up and it was proved to be wrong. If it has been proved to be wrong at this stage, where do we go from here? Can we have an assurance from the Government that they are going to treat this matter of administrative detail as a matter of the highest priority? I think it was Henry Ford who once said that anyone can think out an idea but it takes a genius to carry it out. My eyes may be faulty, but I cannot see any genius on the Government Front Bench. We must have a guarantee that the Government will take this administrative problem very seriously indeed.
§ Mr. Keenan (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
I can think of a good many trades and occupations which could also be included as being of the utmost importance to the nation. There are the dockers, for example, who I am satisfied are most essential. What I am really complaining about is that a lot of the speeches that have been made in favour of the Amendment to limit the call-up have been made by Members who do not want any call-up at all. It is not a question of particular categories, but that they do not want anyone called up. For that reason, I am opposed to the Amendment.
§ Mr. Ian L. Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)
I am very grateful for what the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Keenan) has just said. We must stand by the main principle of the Bill, but I cannot help adding that the Government should put more urgency into the matter. The difficulties which have arisen are largely due to the fact that the Secretary of State has unfortunately been unable to give the Committee details of the machinery that has been set up or is to be set up. Is the machinery already in action, or is there no machinery?
This talk about inter-departmental committees worries me a great deal. It should have been possible for the right 2326 hon. Gentleman to come to the Committee and give the details. He should have been able to tell us that he is in touch with those in industry and the whole thing has been worked out. Surely it should have been worked out by now. If he had been able to do that I do not think any of this trouble would have arisen at all. I ask the Secretary of State and the Minister of Labour to get busy on the job and to work at it very fast indeed. If the machinery is fully understood there should be no grave difficulty.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Lee
May I say, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood), that I am afraid I have rather misled the Committee in regard to what I said about the local offices. Applications should be made to the War Office and the Air Ministry, and not to the local offices of the Ministry of Labour. The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) wanted to know a little more about the arrangements that have already been made between the Service Departments.
§ Mr. Hollis (Devizes)
The hon. Member said that applications should be made to the Air Ministry or to the War Office. I have a letter in my possession concerning an application made by a farmer in my constituency to the Air Ministry. The Air Ministry have written back to say that they can do nothing about it, giving no indication of the next step that should be taken. Does the hon. Member mean that he will set up this machinery?
§ Mr. Lee
I shall be obliged if the hon. Member will let me see the letter. If he looks through the questions and answers of the Quiz he will see that most of these points are answered. However, I shall be glad to see the letter.
In regard to the machinery of the Service Departments, the Service Departments have accepted the basis on which the availability of reservists for call-up should be decided, and that has been worked out by the Inter-Departmental Committee, to which my right hon. Friend referred, which is under the chairmanship of a representative of the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry of Labour has indicated which of the reservists the Service Departments wish to recall would, so far as can be foreseen, be available in 2327 the event of an emergency. The Air Ministry and the War Office have selected from these those who are to be called up for training this year.
§ Mr. Lee
Both sides of industry are being consulted. As far as agriculture is concerned, there can be very few agricultural workers concerned, because for the most part they were reserved during the last war. Therefore, only a comparatively small number can be reservists due for call-up this year. There will not be any great demand on them. But it must not be assumed that all agricultural workers will be reserved in the case of an emergency. For instance, men with previous military experience of very special value who may have gone into agriculture since their release may be needed. A count has already been taken of occupations as well as of service ability in selecting people for this training. I think I have dealt with all the points that have been raised, and I hope that the Committee will now agree to get on with the Bill.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
Surely we can come to a decision as we have already had a very long debate.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
I wish to make a point which might at first seem to be sectional, although it is really one of wide national importance. The training these men will have will be the training of a soldier, and that will be no good to fishermen. No one will deny the great service the fishing community has rendered the country in the past. But the training envisaged under this Bill is training for soldiering purposes and not for naval purposes. It will be agreed, therefore, that those in the fishing industry are in a peculiar position, and that their case for exclusion is unanswerable, whatever may be said about other categories of men.
§ Mr. Angus Maude (Ealing, South)
Is the hon. and learned Member aware that the R.A.S.C. would be delighted to have 2328 fishermen in the War Office fleet at any time?
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I do not think that this Clause should stand part of the Bill, and I hope that hon. Members realise what they are doing if they vote for it. We have had a great many assurances from the Ministry of Labour about the administrative machinery. How does it work? The Minister of Labour recently said in the course of the defence debate.…the 'blanket' shall be removed from agriculture."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 15th February, 1951; Vol. 484, c. 732.]He also told us that 15,000 agricultural workers were to be called up. That phrase about taking the blanket away is something that will stick in the minds of agricultural workers.
How is this administrative machinery to work? An hon. Member on the Liberal benches asked what consultation took place between industry and the Government. When there are questions of prices or subsidies for cattle, a very elaborate machine comes into operation and there is much consultation. In this case the Farmers' Union and the representatives of the farm workers were not consulted at all, but were told 24 hours before what was going to be done. That is not consultation; that is dictation. The Ministry of Labour have given no assurances at all, but have handed everything over to the Service Departments. They say what they want and the Ministry of Labour agree. I was reading recently a speech by the Minister of Labour to the Fabian Society in which he recalled the effect in his early Nonconformist days—
§ Mr. Hughes
I am giving an illustration of how the Minister of Labour has surrendered to the Service Departments.
§ Mr. Lee
Is the hon. Gentleman asking, in the first place, that industrialists who employ people, no matter what the industry is, should, before the Ministry of Labour can call up any people in that industry, be asked, "Please, do you agree to our calling up people from your industry"? They would all say, "No, we 2329 do not." The second point is that there was actual contact with the agricultural industry, and as a result we decided not to begin to call up workers in agriculture until November of this year.
§ Mr. Hughes
Obviously the contact was good, but contact does not mean consultation. What I say is that when an important key industry like agriculture is being considered, particularly because of its importance to our food supply, the Ministry of Labour should take counsel with the industry in regard to the calling up of such a number of workers as 15,000. How was that number arrived at? It was not by consultation between the farmers, the farm workers and the Government. The industry was told what was going to happen. We are not going to have consultation in the real sense of the word if everything is to be sacrificed to the military machine.
§ Mr. Hughes
That gives us an idea of how the machinery works. Here we are trusting implicitly to this piece of machinery, which hardly appears to be under the control of the people in the Ministry itself, but rather under the control of the military authorities. What is likely to happen is that it is not to the Ministry of Labour that the farmer or small employer will go, but to the Service Departments. What sort of help is he likely to get there? I submit that the assurances which we have had are not assurances at all, and that we are sacrificing the whole problem of labour to the military machine.
§ Mr. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
We want more information about the procedure, because it appears that the Quiz, as I understand it, is wrong. If a man wants exemption he has now to write to the War Office or the Air Ministry, which appears to me to be rather a heavy responsibility to put on men who are not so accustomed as are Members of Parliament to writing to Ministers about these matters. It will prevent these men from seeing someone who will know something about the difficulties they are in. I should like to know whether what I say is true and whether the Quiz is wrong?
2330 Secondly, we have heard a great deal about the difficulties caused on the farm by the removal of one or two men for a limited period. That is quite true, especially if it happens in midsummer, but I am concerned with another aspect of the matter. Comparatively few men are to be called up under this Bill, and that makes it all the more important that the right men should be called up and the best use made of them. Looking at it from another point of view, what assurances can the Army or Air Force have that if they have these men for 15 days and fit them into their units, they are ever going to see them again? We were told that one of the chief reasons for this call-up was to train men in the units in which they would serve in war. They were to get to know their war units. and comrades. If after the call-up it turns out that these men are to be reserved, then all the arguments about fitting them into war jobs vanish into thin air.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale
I want to put a very small point, though it is an important one, and it is necessary that we should have a clear answer to it. We have been told by the authorities that 235,000 men are to be called up, and certainly the general principle to be applied on the whole is that of "last out, first in," which is rather a reversal of what was done before, though it seems the fairest thing to do in the circumstances if men have to be called up at all.
I do not want to over-state the matter, but I suppose it is possible for mistakes to occur in the War Office. I was told by a distinguished officer in the last war that certain officers were to be promoted as a result of an examination, but that due to an error those who failed were promoted and, so far as one can gather, no one ever found out. Certainly, mistakes can occur, because constituents of mine who are to be called up under this Clause have told me about them.
I have seen Z men in my area who have approached this matter perhaps with stronger support for the Government than I have, and they have said to me, "We have no objection in general to the principle of the call-up. We do say, however, that the people who have served a long time might now be given a rest in favour of the people who have not served at all." I have been told by others. "I 2331 was called up for six months in 1938, and I was told that I was serving my country but that nothing was likely to happen. There followed six years' service in the army, much of it abroad, some of it as a prisoner of war of the Japanese." I must here add that, while I could quote cases of men in my constituency who have had six years foreign service and are now to be called up, I have not had a case of a prisoner of war of the Japanese who is to be called up.
§ Mr. Hale
I am much obliged. Apparently my hon. Friend has one. The point I am putting is how one is to know whether a man of 34 who has two children and who has served before is not really being called up by mistake for his younger brother of 26. How is that to be overcome? Surely there must be machinery under which these men can make representations and say, "We have served our country with courage and distinction and we are willing to serve it again, but there are others who should be called first."
I want to make this point, because it arises under this Clause. It is all very well for the Parliamentary Secretary to say, "We are only considering a fortnight's service." What does concern these men is that once they have been called up for that service, they are liable to be the first called up if war occurs. That is most important for them, and it is perfectly reasonable that consideration should be given to a man who can say, "I have a wife and five children and a small business. I have already served six years, most of the time, against Japan, but my next-door neighbour has not served at all, and surely he should be available first for call-up."
I want a simple answer. Here is Mr. Brown, of Oldham, who has a wife and family. He was called up in 1938 and he has done six years' service abroad, with distinction. How does he say to me, or to somebody: "I think there is a mistake," when he gets his call-up notice? He wants to say: "This is not in accordance with the Minister's statement. I am sure that nobody intended to call me up. Someone has made a bloomer. I don't think I'm the man intended." 2332 That is point number one. The Parliamentary Secretary has just said something to me privately about technical service. I think I understand his difficulty. It is difficult, if a man served for six years, and if he got down to the technique of a Bofors gun, got a few extra stripes, and became an instructor. He no doubt did a first-class job and he is indefinitely liable to be called up.
It is rather the reverse of the usual principle to say that a man shall be rather severely penalised for his success in a technical rank. There may be some technicians who will want to argue the point. We really must know what is the basis, and how we are to view this matter. In view of the position which will exist under Clause 6 of the Bill, it is imperative that people should know the proper method of making objections and representations. It is important that we should put this question now, and have a clear and unequivocal answer.
§ Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton (Inverness)
I want to mention one or two points in connection with the call-up of aircrew. About 1,000 aircrew are to be called up and it is very important to know what sort of training they are to do, where they are to be trained and whether they are to have modern types of machine. That is very important. I want also to know something about flying instructors. The supply of aircrew is always a delicate matter for the Air Force. They must never be taken for granted. They always take time to train, and that entails skilled flying instructors to train them.
I want to consider the position of these instructors who are to be called up. It means considering the whole position of flying instructors in this country. Flying instruction is a skilled and exacting job, not without risk. The instructors are presumably people who have already served their time in the Royal Air Force. They may be older men, aged, say, from 26 to 30. They may have been settled in some kind of civilian job. In the Bill there is provision for reinstatement in civil life, but if we call men up for 18 months it is very difficult for them to settle back into any kind of civilian existence. Some of the people who have received their call-up notices are very 2333 anxious to know whether this provision remains firm, and what provision will be made for them.
The point that we have to bear in mind is that some firms might be unwilling to take on a man from the Royal Air Force if they knew that he was a flying instructor, because he might be called up for 18 months. The whole position of flying instructors ought to be considered here. Some men might want to go on and make a career of flying instruction. There are many branches of instruction—the ab initio training, conversion to advanced types, and top-line flying instruction which is conversion to the latest types of operational aircraft, which always change as time goes on.
We have to consider what these people are to do in the way of a career. This is a highly-skilled job, and the career finishes as a rule at the age of 50. At the present time there is little opportunity for carrying on in civil life. It is not inappropriate to mention that in America one person in every 320 citizens holds some kind of air licence, while in this country that is true of only one in approximately 6,200. In a country like America there is very much more opportunity. If we are to be a nation of airmen, we have to learn to consider our flying instructors' position, which is our insurance for the future. We must ensure that the flying instructors get a square deal.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
Hon. Members have expressed concern as to the choice of men for this call-up. We should make the machinery clear. A man receives his warning notice. If he wishes to protest against his call-up it is correct, as is stated in the Quiz, that he makes his representation to the Service authority. As I said on the Second Reading, we shall have a branch in the War Office which will deal with these applications. I understand that similar provision is being made in the Air Ministry.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
When the warning notice goes out, will it contain on the face of it the information which my hon. Friend has now given? If the man upon whom a warning notice is served feels that he has a legitimate objection to raise, does the notice give him the name and address of the authority to whom his representation is to be made?
§ Brigadier Head (Carshalton)
I think I am right in saying that at the present time the warning notices have no such information.
§ Mr. Stewart
I should have said that it will be on the letter going out with the warning notice. The letter indicates that the man can apply, in the case of officers to the War Office branch, or in the case of other ranks to the Record Office. The man concerned gets that information at the same time as he gets the warning notice. Similarly, if he has an objection on the ground of conscience and not on domestic hardship, the information given in the Quiz about what he has to do is correct.
Another point about which hon. Members showed some concern is about the man who feels not so much that he should plead domestic or business hardship, or conscience, but wonders why it should be he rather than somebody else who is called up, with regard to his age group, occupation and so on. I did say, during the Second Reading debate, that the principle of age and service operated only in the second degree, namely, that the first concern was to select those men who would make up the units as required. That means certain types of men. It may be only those who were in the Services towards the end of the war, but for other types we may have to go a good deal farther back to earlier age and service groups.
We are not entitled to assume that because men of earlier age and service groups are called up that has been done in error. It will be open to men to make the same sort of representation on this ground as they would make on grounds of hardship. I think the Committee will appreciate—although it will be unwelcome to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes)—that in the end it is the Service Departments who must be the judges whether it is necessary to go back to a certain age group or not.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale
My hon. Friend has stated the doctrine that the service Departments must be the judge. Does he really suggest that the soldier must write to the War Office and say: "I think somebody is making a bloomer in calling up me. I have a younger brother who 2335 would be much more suitable." Are the War Office going to write back and say: "We think you are quite right"?
§ Mr. Stewart
If we received a case such as my hon. Friend describes we should certainly look at it, and if we had made a mistake we should certainly admit it.
There is another channel the use of which, as I said on Second Reading, we do not wish to encourage. If hon. Members have brought to their notice cases which seem to be really outstanding and for which no possible explanation can be found, there is the recognised process whereby hon. Members may approach my colleague and myself, although I believe the House agreed on Second Reading that it was not desirable to use that channel in every conceivable instance. I believe that we have provided for the various types of objection that may be made to call-up.
In consequence of this, I think it is reasonable to ask the Committee to accept the working of the scheme as applied to the men described in Clause 1 and to allow the Clause to stand part of the Bill.
§ Mr. Collick (Birkenhead)
I wonder if I understood my hon. Friend aright in conjunction with what has been said by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, that in the case of any business hardship or occupational difficulty, or some such problem, the man may make an appeal to the Air Ministry in the case of the Air Force and to the War Office in the case of the Army. Is not there the difficulty that a man who feels himself aggrieved will have his case decided by the Service Departments, and not somebody outside the Departments? Is it not possible to devise some machinery by means of which somebody outside the Service Departments can hear cases of this kind?
§ Air Commodore Harvey (Macclesfield)
The Government appear to be in some difficulty over this and I attribute it to the fact that they have not given the matter sufficient thought over the last three years. The Minister of Defence has been most uncomfortable in his seat all the afternoon. I should like to know what he has to say about it. The Government have been warned by the Oppo- 2336 sition time and time again to check up on the reservists and to find out who are the key men, because it is certain that if we are unfortunate enough to become involved in another war, not everyone will be able to fight and that the battle will be won just as much by those who are in the factories producing equipment. The Government ought to have considered the matter in the greatest detail during the last two years and certainly since the Berlin air-lift, because the troubles at that time were a good pointer to the way things were going.
I support what has been said by my noble Friend the Member for Inverness (Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton) about the Royal Air Force. There is no doubt that not in numbers but in terms of service, the volunteer reservists and the auxiliaries are taking the brunt of the additional service up to 18 months, and they will be liable again. As my noble Friend said, a flying instructor who is taken back into the Service for 18 months leaves his job and has to specialise in what has become almost a science, teaching other people to fly. I should have thought that it would have been far better if the Government did not call such men up for 18 months but took them on for something like five years, perhaps giving them a super-short service commission.
§ Air Commodore Harvey
With the greatest respect to your Ruling, Sir Charles, I am concerned about the future of these men when their term of service is completed.
§ Air Commodore Harvey
I am very sorry to have gone beyond the Clause, Sir Charles.
The Government should, even at this late hour, nominate the men who will have to stay behind in the key jobs in all industries, including those concerned with re-armament. What is the point of spending all this money on rearmament if key men are to be called up or are uncertain about their future and we have not the equipment with which to train them? The Government have fallen down very badly on this matter. 2337 My advice to the Minister of Defence is to get busy and get some good people to advise him and let these men know where they stand.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Snadden (Kinross and West Perthshire)
Those of us who represent agricultural constituencies are puzzled about the effect that this will have on agricultural workers. I agree that not many will be affected under the Bill, and we all know that this is quite separate from the other Measure, but in the case of the key men—in Scotland we are very short of skilled workers such as shepherds and byre-men—who will decide whether a man is or is not a key man? I understood the Minister to say that application would have to be made direct to the War Office. Is there to be no consultation at all with the agricultural executive committees?
§ Mr. Snadden
I take it that when the hon. Gentleman refers to the Minister of Agriculture, he means that the applications will go through the agents of the Minister, the county committees. I only want to clear up the question of who will decide whether or not a man is a key man. I do not want agricultural workers exempted as a class, but I am anxious that key men in remote areas—some Z reservists have become skilled men since the end of the war—will not be at the mercy of the War Office, and that the decision shall be taken only after consultation with the competent technical authority which, locally, would be the agricultural executive committee of the county concerned. May we have an assurance on that?
§ Mr. Hollis
I do not feel that I can let the speech of the Financial Secretary pass without uttering three or four sentences of comment on the important question of appeals. The Financial Secretary sketched the machinery, but, according to all my investigations, the machinery is entirely in cloud cuckoo-land. He gave us the impression that machinery was in existence, but it is not 2338 in the least in existence, as I tried to say in my short intervention when we were discussing an earlier Amendment.
The Financial Secretary tells the people who wish to appeal that they must make their representations to the Service authority, but in certain cases when applications are made to the Air Ministry, instead of the representations receiving consideration, the applicants receive a letter to say that the Air Ministry can take no cognisance of the matter and that it is the business of the Minister of Labour. The whole situation is one of complete and absolute chaos, and we should not part with the Clause without making it more workable.
§ Mr. Angus Maude
I wish to direct the attention of the Under-Secretary of State for War to a small point in connection with the Territorial Army Reserve of Officers and to ask him one or two questions about it. Officers of the Territorial Army Reserve of Officers are specified in the Clause as persons liable to call-up. These officers fall into two separate and quite distinct classes. There are the T.A.R.O. officers who served in the Territorial Army before the war, were embodied in August, 1939, and went on to T.A.R.O. on their demobilisation after the war, but there are also Territorial Army Officers who were re-commissioned in the Territorial Army on 1st May, 1947, and have since gone on to T.A.R.O. having completed less than four years' engagement. Many of the latter class have been called up under this Bill.
The accompanying letter with the warning notice says clearly, and quite rightly, that the principle which has been followed is that of "last out, first back." I take it, therefore, that quite a large number of those who have gone on to T.A.R.O. in the last few years will have been called up.
That may be convenient, and it may be efficient from the point of view of getting the people with the most recent training back to fill gaps in the Army, but I want to direct the attention of the Under-Secretary of State to the fact that this is precisely the system which will strike those Army Reserve Territorial officers as being the least just that could possibly have been devised. Those who have done two or three years' service voluntarily in the Territorial Army since the war are called up, whereas a substantial number 2339 of people who have not done volunteer service since the war are not being called up. I should be glad, therefore, if the hon. Gentleman could tell us how many people are affected by that, because I know some are so affected.
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan (Bromley)
I would not have intervened except for some observations which have fallen from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour. I think the whole Committee wants this Clause except those who are against the principle of the Bill. We all want it to operate in a way that is most effective in the national need because, after all, except for domestic hardship or conscientious objection, which is an individual claim, the major consideration in any cases of exemption is not the individual need; it is whether the nation is better served by the man staying in his industry or upon his farm. Therefore, it is the national need that is the overriding consideration in every case except that of hardship or conscientious feeling.
On the other hand, the Committee are a little disturbed at what seems to be the stage to which these arrangements either have been formulated or have become known. The Parliamentary Secretary said that this is still being discussed with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Secretary of State for Scotland, but, as we all know, that is the early stage. It takes some time after these things are worked out for them to become known and for comment to be made on whether or not it is good machinery.
So I hope the Committee will feel that this Clause must stand part, but that on the Report stage, or if it is not possible then, at any rate at an early date, the Government will make a clear statement and publish a clear document as to the precise machinery laid down in order that there shall be no doubt. When these negotiations are finalised, there should be an absolutely clear picture in the minds of everybody as to the system which is, I repeat, brought into being for the purpose of securing the greatest national advantage.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Are we not to have an answer to the appeal of my right hon. Friend, Sir Charles? If the right hon. and learned Gentleman will say that he will comply with our request for the publication of a statement either before or upon the Report stage, showing exactly what the procedure will be, then we can get on with the Bill, but we should not be left without an answer.
§ Mr. A. Henderson
I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that there is no desire on the part of the Government not to co-operate with hon. Members opposite on a matter like this. I entirely concur with what the right hon. Gentleman said as regards the basis upon which all these men are being called up. As far as the Royal Air Force is concerned, we have to take into account the needs of the Royal Air Force in relation to the strengthening of our air defences. It may well be that a certain skilled worker is an important person in his own industry and, at the same time, extremely useful to the Royal Air Force in our control and reporting organisation. So it is quite evident that the needs of industry and of the Royal Air Force will have to be balanced.
The object of the working party to which I have referred, presided over by the Ministry of Labour, is to try to assess whether key men in certain trades should be retained in industry, or whether they should be made available for call-up by one of the Armed Services. There is no reason why I should not give an undertaking that later on, when we have the information fully before us, we will arrange for some statement to be made on the Floor of the House.
§ Mr. Angus Maude
Could I have an answer from the Under-Secretary of State for War to the point I raised?
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.