HC Deb 29 January 1957 vol 563 cc843-4
18. Mr. Allaun

asked the Minister of Labour if he will permit deferment of National Service for those undergoing approved courses of study in commerce and retail distribution.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Deferment is already granted to apprentices in certain retail trades where recognised apprenticeship schemes exist, and I am always prepared to extend these arrangements if suitable schemes are submitted to me. The position as regards commerce is under consideration.

Mr. Allaun

While thanking the Minister for that reply, which indicates some progress, I should like to ask him whether he is aware that these young workers studying for their national certificates are the only ones at present refused deferment, that this is causing great difficulty to shipping, commercial and similar offices, and that these young men find it very hard to resume their studies after two years' National Service, and consequently many of them never do resume them?

Mr. Macleod

The hon. Member's Question refers to study. There is something of a difficulty here because deferment has been granted only so that a man can complete his training and not normally for whole-time courses of study, unless they are at a university, technical college or similar institution. There is a scheme for commercial apprenticeships, and although it has not yet been formally submitted to me, that will be done in the near future. The scheme is being informally studied in my Ministry at present.

33. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Labour how many men were deferred from call-up for National Service on 1st October, 1955.

Mr. Iain Macleod

The number on 3rd October. 1955, was 437,110.

Mr. Lipton

Has the right hon. Gentleman taken note of the fact that the figure has gone up from 437,000 to 445,000 in twelve months, although he is not calling up the full number in the age groups? Is that not an indication that this National Service system, under which about 70 per cent. of the young men concerned are not required, is just a lot of nonsense and ought to be dispensed with at the earliest possible moment?

Mr. Macleod

The hon. Gentleman really cannot build that castle on such a tiny amount of sand. There is only a 7,000 increase between the years. Unless one studies the number of young men who were born eighteen years ago in regard to each of these figures, no comparison is valid.

Mr. Lee

While appreciating the need for certain types of reservation, may I ask whether it is not undesirable that we should continually narrow the base from which we draw people who go into National Service?

Mr. Macleod

The whole future of National Service is a subject which the Government are considering and on which they will make their pronouncement in due course. As I told the hon. Gentleman a week ago, there are more young people coming into the net at the present time than are needed.

Mr. Gaitskell

Could the Minister help to clarify the position by saying what proportion the deferments are to the number called up?

Mr. Macleod

I think, speaking without the book and subject to correction, that about 300,000 are originally in an age class, that about 200,000 of those, because of medical or other reasons, are active candidates for National Service, and on the average 70,000 or 80,000 of those are deferred for any given reason.

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