HC Deb 09 April 1952 vol 498 cc2733-5
46. Mr. George Sylvester

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence whether, in view of the increasing need for more miners, he will consider releasing from Her Majesty's Forces all miners with underground experience who were serving in Korea and the Far East last summer, and were not then allowed to apply for release, but are now repatriated.

48. Mr. T. Driberg

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence if he will cause it to be made known to all ranks in the three services that ex-miners who were serving in the Far East last year, and were therefore debarred from applying for release under the general scheme in order to return to the mining industry, may now apply for such release as individuals.

Mr. Birch

As I informed the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) last Wednesday, there is no question of reopening the general scheme.

Steps are, however, being taken by the Service Departments to bring to the notice of all ranks that ex-miners who were debarred from applying for release from the Forces to return to the mines under last year's scheme because they were then serving in the Korean theatre may apply for release for this purpose on completion of their service in Korea.

Mr. Sylvester

Will the Minister make this generally known to these men because an injury was done to them in that they were serving their country and could not take advantage of the scheme; and, secondly, in view of the fact that his right hon. Friend, about a fortnight ago, said that there were nearly 12,000 vacancies in the mining industry, would not these men be of assistance to the mining industry, because they could go into productive work with very little training and at less cost than it takes to train trainees?

Mr. Birch

With regard to the first part of the supplementary question, the orders will go down in the ordinary way, and that has been arranged. The second part of the question involves re-opening the whole scheme, and that, as I have several times said, we are not prepared to do. We are not changing the policy of the last Government, and I think that it would be unreasonable to open the whole matter again.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

Will the orders go down to these men in such a way that they understand that the Government realise that they should come back to the coal mines because they can render better service there than in the Forces?

Mr. Driberg

Will the hon. Gentleman do his best to make sure that this information reaches all ranks, as very often there are deficiencies in information which filters through company orders and so on, as he well knows?

Mr. Birch

It will be done in the way that all these things are done. It will go through Army Council Instructions and so forth.