HL Deb 09 July 1947 vol 150 cc259-61

2.40 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government the other question standing in my name.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government, whether it is the intention of the Prime Minister to make a statement on the granting, of leave for annual training to the Territorial Army and auxiliary forces as it affects production and whether they will instruct employers of labour to grant the necessary leave as well as holidays.]


My Lords, the withdrawal of young men from industry for periods of annual training in the auxiliary forces, either as volunteers or compulsorily under the National Service Bill, will inevitably have an adverse effect on production. The Government had this in mind in deciding that the total period of whole-time training to which national service men called up after January 1, 1949, will be liable during their six years' reserve service shall not exceed sixty days. As regards the granting of leave in addition to normal holidays to enable members of the auxiliary forces to attend for whole-time annual training, the position of national service men is safeguarded by Clause 14 of the National Service Bill, which provides that their annual holidays shall not, except at their own request, be taken within the period of annual training.

The Government have no power to instruct employers to grant leave additional to annual holidays to volunteer members of the auxiliary forces, but are urging employers to do so. The Minister of Labour and National Service, on behalf of the Government, has consulted both sides of industry on this question through the medium of the National Joint Advisory Council, and that body has endorsed the principle that neither volunteer members of the auxiliary forces nor national service men subject to annual reserve training should be compelled to forego the whole or part of their holiday, and that the period they spend in training camps should, unless they wish otherwise, be additional to their normal annual holidays. The British Employers' Confederation has since undertaken to bring the matter to the notice of employers' organizations throughout the country. The question of a further announcement by the Government on this subject is receiving consideration.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Viscount for his reply on what is a very urgent question. I should also like to ask again if the noble Viscount will make urgent representations, first of all with regard to members of the Territorial Army who are now going into their regiments. They are still without any information as to whether their holidays are to count as part of their training. I hope the noble Viscount will give that his urgent attention. I would further like to ask about the potential numerical strength—in view of the urgency of our Army being re-formed—of young men who have not served in the war but have completed their service under the National Service Bill and who are now in neither the Territorial Army nor, apparently, in any other unit. Can His Majesty's Government turn their attention to that and try by some means to get these men into the picture?


My Lords, the urgency of this question is, of course, fully seized by His Majesty's Government, and the fact that it is hoped that a pronouncement will be made about this matter soon causes me to be hopeful that it will have a very beneficial effect. With regard to the potential strength of the Territorial Army, I am afraid that I could not reply to that question without having notice in the form of a question on the Order Paper.


Could the noble Viscount say whether His Majesty's Government are encouraging civil servants to join the Territorial Army?


Will the noble Viscount add to that the nationalized industries?


It is very gratifying to note the interest taken in newly-hatched nationalized industries. I hope and trust that all employers of labour will be ready to follow what I hope will be a very good example which will be set by the nationalized industries. As regards the question put by the noble Earl, Lord Munster, it is intended that encouragement should be given to civil servants on the basis of the reply to the question.