HC Deb 22 December 1916 vol 88 c1832W

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he is aware that during the past three months circulars or notices have been issued in Ireland inviting Irish labourers to take work at Rosyth, in Scotland; will he say if assurances have been given by one or more members of the Government to any member of the Irish party that Irishmen of military age undertaking such work will be exempt from compulsory military service; and, seeing that Englishmen of military age employed on railways in the Liverpool area have been called up to serve as soldiers and their places taken by Irishmen, and having regard to the provisions in the Government of Ireland Act reserving military affairs to the Imperial Parliament, will he say what action he proposes to take?


I have seen copies of the circulars and notices mentioned. The assurances given were that the men brought from Ireland and employed by Messrs. Easton Gibb and Son, for war work at Rosyth, would be recommended for exemption from military service while they were engaged on such work. Men so employed are regarded as resident in Great Britain for a special purpose within the meaning of the Military Service Acts, and, therefore, exempt from military service as long as they remain in such employment. I understand that a number of Irishmen are employed on railways in the Liverpool area; but I have no information that these men have taken the places of men who have been called to the Colours. If my hon. Friend will furnish me with particulars of any such cases, further inquiry will be made.