HC Deb 21 December 1955 vol 547 cc2018-9
43. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that doctors who served at weekends at the Home Office Civil Defence Training Establishment, Washington Hall, Chorley, Lancashire, had their contracts cancelled without notice and without compensation although they had been assured in writing that their services would be required for at least two years and had made arrangements accordingly; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ward

Three civilian doctors were employed at Washington Hall, Chorley, to examine Royal Air Forces reservists undergoing initial training as fire-fighters. As a result of the recent decision to restrict the Reserve training of National Service men, airmen who are allocated for training as fire-fighters will in future complete the course at Washington Hall during their whole-time service. Before beginning it, they will be examined by Royal Air Force doctors at their units. The three civilian doctors are therefore no longer required, and their contracts were accordingly terminated at one month's notice. If claims for compensation are submitted, we shall, of course, be willing to consider them.

Mr. de Freitas

Is the Minister aware that, as indicated in my Question, the doctors received a written assurance, signed by a group captain, that the jobs would subsist for not less than two years? Will that fact be taken into account when considering the question of compensation?

Mr. Ward

Yes, but we must also remember that less than a month later these doctors signed a formal agreement which in my view made it reasonably clear that the agreement could be terminated at one month's notice; and the letter from 63 Group, to which the hon. Member refers, was, I think, merely an expression of intent given in good faith without knowledge that there was likely to be a change in policy.

Forward to