HC Deb 06 June 1957 vol 571 cc1449-50
17. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Labour if he has now completed his reconsideration of his refusal to allow the Salford engineering research technician, details of whose case have been sent to him, to take his final bachelor of science examination by studying after working hours before entering National Service.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I wrote to the hon. Member about this case on 21st May, and I have nothing to add to what I said in my letter.

Mr. Allaun

But is the Minister aware that working alongside this man are younger men who, having taken their degrees the easier way by full-time university study, have now been granted complete exemption from call-up? Why should the working-class student making exceptional efforts be granted less favourable treatment?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir. I do not think that is the position. I have written to the hon. Gentleman, and I should be very glad if he would care to publish the letter, because I think it is the fair approach to the matter. This man, after his apprenticeship, has, most exceptionally, had further deferment granted until August, 1958, to complete a two-year course for the intermediate B.Sc. I am quite satisfied that, as long as National Service lasts, one must be fair not only to the man but to all his contemporaries as well, and that, I am sure, is the principle on which this case must be judged.

Mr. Robens

But is it not the case that we have here a young man who went to an ordinary elementary school and then became an apprentice and, because of his ability, decided to enter for B.Sc.? Had he been in a family where money was available, he would probably have gone to the university instead of leaving school at fifteen. The boy is now within reasonable reach of becoming a B.Sc. Is it not reasonable that, as the country needs scientists, the right hon. Gentleman should look into this case and realise that it is only because of the circumstances of this boy that he is not now a B.Sc. and free from military service.

Mr. Macleod

I have looked most closely at that. The circumstances in which additional deferment has been granted to this lad are already most exceptional. It is not possible for him to complete a final study for the B.Sc. before he reaches the age at which he would pass out of National Service. I do not think any Minister has made more relaxations than I have in these matters during the last year, but it is essential that while National Service lasts all people concerned are treated on the same basis.