§ Mr. WATT
asked the Minister of National Service whether his attention has been called to the number of young men at work in the various powder manufacturing works throughout the country, and particularly in Scotland, and to the fact that men between forty-one and fifty years of age are now being taken for active service, in some cases men with large families of young children, from the neighbourhoods where these factories exist; and has any action been taken by his Department to substitute such older men in the factories for the younger ones?
§ Mr. BECK
As the hon. Member is aware, the release from military service of men employed in powder factories is regulated under the Schedule of Protected Occupations by the Department responsible for production—in this case1870W the Ministry of Munitions. I am informed by the Ministry of Munitions that in no circumstances is a man of military age and fitness protected in a powder factory unless he is exceptionally qualified by skill and experience. In cordite factories the percentage of such men is extremely small, most of the work being done by women. In black powder factories the percentage of skilled hands required is far higher, but the total number of hands is very small.