HC Deb 19 April 1917 vol 92 cc1836-8W

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of National Service (1) whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that a man who registered at Bournemouth as a national volunteer, and was interviewed by the official at the local Employment Exchange on the 22nd February, has not been placed in work; will he explain the cause of the delay; and whether six weeks may be taken as the average period taken to place a man in work after enrolment; and (2) whether his attention has been drawn to the complaints made by national volunteers against the Employment Exchanges owing to men being sent long distances to do work for which they are totally unfitted; whether he is aware of the case of a draper sent from Christchurch, Bournemouth, to Paisley, a distance of 500 miles, who returned the same night owing to his inability to perform the work assigned to him; whether he is aware that another man, who had never done labourer's work in his life, was sent from Bournemouth to Paisley and put to do the work of a bricklayer's labourer and that many men in Paisley could easily have done the work; and will he say how this transfer of labour from one district to another where there are men already able and willing to do the work compares with the principle laid down by the Director-General of National Service that an essential part in his scheme is that men are not to be transferred from one district to another if there are men in the other district already there and equally capable of doing the work?


My hon Friend has asked me to answer these questions. If the hon. Member will be good enough to send me the names and addresses of the three National Service volunteers to whom he refers, I will have inquiries made, and will send him a report as soon as possible. On the general question as to the time taken to place a volunteer in employment, I should explain that, on the date mentioned, the machinery for transfer was not yet in operation. Under present arrangements it is possible to place a volunteer in employment forthwith, provided that he is not in employment, that he is willing to move at once, and that a vacancy suitable for the qualifications possessed by the volunteer is available. In the ordinary case, however, certain formalities have to be complied with, and it is open both to the volunteer and to his employer to protest against the transfer. In addition to the period which must necessarily elapse, and which must be of varying duration, before the volunteer is accepted by the employer to whom he has been offered, the volunteer is entitled to certain periods of notice before he can be transferred, which may amount to 17 days. These periods do not, of course, relate to cases where the volunteer or his employer lodges a protest against the transfer, in which cases the transfer may be further delayed, or may be cancelled altogether. As regards the general question of transferring volunteers from one district to another, the instructions provide that supplies of local labour, suitable for the vacancy, are to be exhausted before men are brought from a distance. In the absence of particulars, I cannot, of course, say whether the instructions have been carried out in the instances referred to.