HC Deb 21 February 1916 vol 80 cc443-4W

asked the Minister of Munitions if his attention has been drawn to the action of Messrs. Richardson, Westgarth, and Company, of Newcastle, in giving the first intimation of their intention to dispense with the services of a starred workman named F. N. Myers, a single man of military age employed by them as an engineer's patternmaker, to the recruiting officer, Major Martin, of West Hartlepool, and not to the workman himself, thereby precluding the workman in question of the opportunity of accepting one of a number of offers of employment on munition work, at which work he could most usefully serve in the present crisis; whether he is aware that Messrs. Richardson and Westgarth induced their starred workmen to attest under the Derby group system on the assurance that as starred workmen they would not be likely to be called up for service; and whether he will take steps to give the workmen mentioned in this question and other workmen who have been treated in the same manner by the same firm an opportunity of working on munitions elsewhere than at Messrs. Richardson and Westgarth's?


I am informed that Myers' name was not, as suggested in the question, supplied to the recruiting officer by the firm. The usual summons to the Colours was addressed to him by the recruiting officer, and Myers applied for and received a release from his foreman. The firm state that they are not aware of any inducement having been held out to their employés to attest, or of any special assurances having been given to them. I have drawn their attention to the fact that they have no power to release a starred munition worker for military service without the consent of the Minister of Munitions. If my hon. Friend will give me further details of the cases he has in mind, I will consider whether any further action in regard to them is possible.