HC Deb 03 December 1958 vol 596 cc1169-71
18. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the decision of Her Majesty's Government to terminate the call-up in 1960, he will regard with greater leniency claims made for deferment on compassionate grounds.

Mr. Wood

Applications for postponement of call-up on grounds of exceptional hardship are considered with the fullest sympathy. Amending Regulations which were laid before the House in February, 1957, provided more lenient conditions for the grant of postponement and during the current year more than 68 per cent. of the applications have been granted.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that within my own experience, arising from communications I have received from persons concerned, the attitude of some of the hardship tribunals is rather more rigid now than heretofore? In view of the early termination of the call-up, would not it be desirable at any rate to show rather more compassion in particular to men with family responsibilities?

Mr. Wood

The right hon. Gentleman' view is not borne out by the figures for the country, which show that from 1956 to 1958 the numbers of applications granted have increased from 59 per cent. to 68 per cent. In answer to his personal case, about which I know he has written to my right hon. Friend, I would point out that this man had his call-up postponed till next January, and he was told that if his family circumstances continued to be difficult in January, he could apply again, and, no doubt, the hardship committee would reconsider it.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Would the hon. Gentleman consider the problem of the number of men who have been doing some service with the Merchant Navy and who, to my mind, are being treated rather unfairly when they come back to deal with family problems? That type of case is a very real one.

Mr. Wood

If the hon. Gentleman will give me particulars, I will look into them. It is very difficult to do so without knowing the cases.

40. Mr. Moss

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will modify the deferment regulations so that young men who have completed their apprenticeships and are denied further day-release can attempt to obtain a professional qualification within a short period afterwards by attending evening classes.

Mr. Wood

No, Sir. I think that the existing rule is a good one and serves the best interests of all concerned.

Mr. Moss

Is there not a conflict between the national policy of encouraging young men to obtain technical and professional qualifications, and the present deferment regulations? The regulations prevent a young man from qualifying if he has completed his apprenticeship and has to take the fifth year of a five-year course in his own time and at his own expense by attending evening classes instead of taking part in a day-release scheme. Is not this a good point which has nothing to do with employers?

Mr. Wood

The hon. Member recently wrote to my right hon. Friend about a personal case which has been settled. However, the main points of this rule are to secure that a substantial amount of training as opposed to employment takes place, and to encourage part-time day release in order to help a young man to have plenty of time to study when he is fresh and able to do so, rather than at the end of the day.