HC Deb 16 July 1919 vol 118 cc407-8W
Colonel ASHLEY

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Munitions whether he is aware that of sixty-two discharged soldiers who had been given employment at the National Aircraft Factory No. 1 at Waddon, after a course of training, all but twenty-two had been dismissed by the 23rd June last, although men who have not seen a day's military service, and many women, are still retained in good positions; that sums amounting in some cases to –20 per head, which had been advanced by the Ministry of Pensions to set these men up in tools, have been practically wasted in consequence; that owing to the inadequacy of the training these men had received, followed by only a few months' engagement on repetition work, they are now greatly handicapped in their search for employment; and whether it would be more in accord with the avowed policy of the Government to discharge, first of all, some of the women and men who had not served, and instead of dismissing the discharged disabled men to have given them the option of transfer to an ordnance or other suitable establishment where they could have been put under competent instructors for the completion of their training?


At the date of the Armistice there were forty-seven disabled discharged soldiers employed at the Waddon National Aircraft Factory who had been trained under the Government scheme prior to their engagement. Since that date eleven have left of their own accord, one was discharged for misconduct, and thirteen have been discharged owing to a reduction of staff rendered necessary by the discontinuance of certain work at the factory. As regards the men. who were discharged, this action was only taken after a committee appointed by the ex-Service men and the shop stewards bad satisfied themselves that the men in question were incapable of performing the work done by any of the women and non-Service men retained. So far as I am aware, none of these trained disabled men were supplied with tools by the Ministry of Pensions, the necessary tools being provided by the factory. I believe everything possible has been done to provide disabled men with suitable employment in the factory, but I should point out since the Armistice it has been necessary to reduce the total number of employés from 3,036 to 735. Of the present staff of 601 men, 277 are ex-Service men. There are obvious difficulties in the adoption of my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion that disabled men should in such circumstances have the option given them of transfer to another Government establishment, but I will consider it and see whether anything can be done.