HC Deb 07 July 1955 vol 543 cc1289-90
27. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Minister of Labour if he will remove from the list of merchant seamen exempt from National Service all those employed as waiters or catering staff.

Sir W. Monekton

Catering ratings, like other merchant seamen, while not exempt from National Service, will continue to have their call-up deferred so long as they remain satisfactorily employed in that occupation, for the reasons stated in the reply given by my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) on 28th June.

Mr. Johnson

May I ask my right hon. and learned Friend whether he is aware that many people find it rather strange that waiters in what are virtually floating hotels are exempt from National Service if they remain in that employment while those employed in hotels on land are not so exempted? Will he therefore say what training in seamanship, if any, is given to waiters and catering staff?

Sir W. Monckton

One must first consider the difference between waiters in hotels and stewards on ships—the latter go to sea. Our experience is that cooks would be required however the ships were used in time of war, and stewards are trained as deck ratings so that when occasion requires they can man lifeboats, and so forth.

Mr. Mahon

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman keep in mind the contribution made by the Merchant Navy in the darkest days of this country's history? Will he also realise that any discrimination made now between the engine room department, the deck department, and the catering department would be contrary to the traditions of that great Service?

Sir W. Monckton

I yield to no man in the respect that I pay to that Service.

34. Major Anstruther-Gray

asked the Minister of Labour to what extent exemption from National Service granted to merchant seamen applies equally to deck hands on sea-going fishing vessels.

Sir W. Monckton

Men who were bona fide sea fishermen at the date they were due to register under the National Service Acts have their call-up deferred if they are enrolled in the Royal Naval Reserve (Patrol Service). If such men give up fishing, or for any reason cease to be members of that Reserve before their National Service liability expires, they are available for call-up,

Major Anstruther-Gray

Will my right hon. and learned Friend bear in mind that there may be some hard cases of men whose eyesight is not sufficiently good? Can he give an assurance that in these cases sea-going fishermen will receive no less favourable treatment than merchant seamen?

Sir W. Monckton

I think that I have explained what the position is for these sea-going fishermen. There are some 1,482 of them who were, in fact, deferred under this arrangement at the latest available date.