HC Deb 20 February 1919 vol 112 cc1155-7W

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is aware that applications for pivotal men by employers, which are dealt with by the labour authorities in two or three days, are, even when all the particulars required are furnished correctly, retained by the Admiralty for seven or eight weeks before being forwarded to the commanding officers of the ships in which the men are borne; and whether, as these men are urgently required, he will give instructions that these claims by employers shall be dealt with more expeditiously and that, upon receipt of their pivotal papers by commanding officers, all pivotal men must be demobilised without delay?


I can assure my hon. Friend that where all particulars required have been furnished correctly, the necessary orders have been issued to commanding officers within two or three days of the "pivotal" names being received at the Admiralty from the Ministry of Labour. Commanding officers have already been ordered to release "pivotal" men (with the exception of writer, victualling, and sick berth ratings) immediately orders for their release are received. The only cases in which orders for the release of "pivotal" men were suspended at the Admiralty were for a small number of engine room artificers of a particular trade who could not at the moment be spared. As regards "pivotal" names, therefore, the records of the Department show that in spite of the considerable inaccuracies in lists received, names have been traced and forwarded within a few days.


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware that the writer, sick-berth, and victualling ratings who joined the Navy for hostilities only, and who are pivotal or slip men, are being penalised in regard to securing demobilisation under a certain Admiralty order requiring that immediately their services can be spared from their present duties they are to be sent to their home depots, with, the possibility of being re-drafted or indefinitely retained, instead of being demobilised from their present bases as in the case of all other ratings similarly situated as regards terms of enlistment and post-war employment, resulting in a strong feeling of injustice and discontent, and in petitions against the order in question having been made to their commanding officers; and will he therefore take steps to remedy this grievance by granting to some or all of the afore-mentioned three branches the same facilities for demobilisation as are allowed to all other branches of the Navy?


The services of writer, victualling and sick berth ratings have been essential to the early stages of demobilisation, and their indiscriminate release would have resulted in a considerable slowing down of the rate of demobilisation of men of all other classes from the Navy. These ratings, like all other members of the naval service, are liable to draft wherever and whenever necessary. Contrary to leading to their indefinite retention, their discharge to depot is especially designed for the purpose of releasing first those men who have the highest industrial claim to release, no matter where they may be serving. Whilst under the necessity of retaining these men's services during the early stages of demobilisation, the Admiralty are aware of the fact that it is in great part due to the loyal and hard work of these ratings that over 100,000 of naval personnel have already been demobilised; nor is the Admiralty unmindful of the comparative disabilities in regard to release under which these ratings have been during the earlier weeks. In regard to this latter, the Admiralty have, in the early part of this month, authorised the issue of an appeal to the prospective employers of any such men to the effect that, whilst the man is temporarily and necessarily retained, the Admiralty trust that his retention will not in any way prejudice his engagement with that employer.


asked the Secretary for War whether he will give immediate attention to the applications for the release of pivotal men from the Army in the interests of the boot and shoe industry; and whether he will release all men for whom application is made with the promise of immediate employment?

Captain GUEST

Men who have been certified by the Ministry of Labour and registered by the War Office as pivotal men before the 1st February, 1919, are being demobilised as quickly as possible. With regard to the second part of the question I cannot undertake to entertain this proposal, unless these men are eligible for demobilisation under the recent Army Orders, making provision for the composition of the Armies of Occupation.