HC Deb 11 March 1954 vol 524 cc2402-4
2 Mr. Short

asked the Minister of Labour if he will arrange for university graduates with high honours in science and mathematics to be given the option of doing two years' teaching service in a school or university instead of the normal National Service with the Armed Forces.

Sir W. Monckton

No, Sir. I have no power to do this.

Mr. Short

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the present shortage of graduates in science and mathematics is having a disastrous effect in our schools and universities, and very shortly that effect will be felt in industry, and more particularly in the armament industry? Does he not think that this idea is worth thinking about and discussing with his right hon. Friend?

Sir W. Monckton

I think that I can say that the subject will be included in those matters which will be considered by the Technical Personnel Committee, the revived Hankey Committee, when it meets on 23rd March. I have had no representation from other bodies advising this change.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Can my right hon. and learned Friend say whether there is any intention to review the whole question of the universality of the call-up, as to whether it is a good thing, generally speaking, to call up, in peace-time, at considerable expense, people whom we have no intention of calling up in the event of war?

Sir W. Monckton

It is very important, in my view, that we should retain the universality of the call-up. Whenever an attempt is made to alter it, the danger is that we shall open the door to many other alterations.

Mr. Peart

Will the Minister give this matter very careful consideration? As he knows, I submitted a case to him in which a student of Leeds University is unable to follow an honours course in metallurgy because arrangements cannot be made for his service outside the normal procedure. It is very important that we should not lose these technicians.

Sir W. Monckton

I am well aware of the importance of this subject. One thing which I want to make clear is that I cannot contemplate in any event the change which is the subject matter of this particular question. That would make two years of teaching service in a school or university equivalent to all the service which a National Service man is called upon to do.

3 Mr. Keenan

asked the Minister of Labour if his attention has been directed to the efforts being made to persuade students in their final year at the universities and colleges to accept offers to go to Canada, before they are called up for National Service; and if he will take steps to ensure that by so doing they will not escape doing their National Service.

Sir W. Monckton

I am aware that opportunities for employment overseas, in Canada and elsewhere, are offered to such students, but, wherever possible, the men are called upon first to discharge their liability under the National Service Acts.

Mr. Keenan

I thank the Minister for that answer, which is rather different from what I expected. Does he remember that a few months ago his Ministry gave me figures showing that there were 525,000 deferments in the last five years, from which only 239,000 were called up in the same period? I suggest to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that his Department should at least make an inquiry, because this kind of evasion should not take place.

Sir W. Monckton

I do not recollect those precise figures. The number of deferments cannot be related to the number of people who are called up in any one year. I am satisfied that there is no considerable evasion on the lines suggested in the Question.

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