HC Deb 07 July 1955 vol 543 cc1291-2
29. Mr. Osborne

asked the Minister of Labour how many workers, students and others have been granted indefinite deferment from National Service; and the numbers for each of the main industrial groups, separately.

Sir W. Monckton

The number of workers granted indefinite deferment at 4th April, 1955, the latest date for which figures are available was 171,337. The numbers in the principal industrial groups were:

Coal mining 70,877
Merchant Navy 41,574
Agricultural workers—born before 1933 54,526

No students are granted indefinite deferment.

Mr. Osborne

May I ask my right hon. and learned Friend whether he will consider afresh the groups entitled to deferment and view more sympathetically the electronic engineers and research workers who have such an important part to play in our future?

Sir W. Monckton

I have that constantly in mind. I did not give the figures for the smaller groups. The scientists and engineers engaged on certain priority projects and fundamental research number 1,930, and we have not yet had all the applications for the quota of fundamental research workers for which I have provided.

Mr. Shinwell

In view of the number of Questions on the Order Paper which seem to disclose anomalies in the operation of the National Service Acts, and, in particular, in view of the speech of Lord Cherwell in another place, may I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he thinks the time has arrived when the Government might institute an inquiry into this matter?

Sir W. Monckton

Frankly, I do not think the time has arrived for that. I am constantly watching these applications for deferment, and it is an extremely difficult matter to deal with. It was pointed out to Lord Cherwell in another place that he was asking for more fundamental research workers when the quota we had allowed for had not yet been filled.