HC Deb 05 December 1939 vol 355 cc489-90W
Sir E. Graham-Little

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the fact that two-year students in training colleges are receiving differential treatment in different parts of the country on being called up, and that in some cases they are graded for languages or commissions whilst in other cases the local recruiting boards are refusing to grade two-year students, he will issue instructions to the joint Recruiting Boards that all two-year students should receive more favourable treatment on their calling up?

M. E. Brown

Joint Recruiting Boards have a double function. In the first place they may receive applications from university undergraduates or resident graduates under the age of 25 for the purpose of assessing their suitability for training as officers. But this first function of the hoards gives them no power to grant any postponement of service. Secondly, with the assistance of their Technical Committees they may receive applications from certain defined classes of men under 25 with scientific or technical qualifications and they recommend that such men should be used for scientific or technical work either in the Forces or in a civilian capacity, or that they should complete a course of training so that they may be better qualified to undertake such work. This arrangement is confined to the following classes of men: (a) Men with university degrees in any of the following subjects:—Engineering (including Naval Architecture), Metallurgy, Chemistry, Physics, Geology, the Biological Sciences (including Agriculture) and Mathematics (including Statistics); (b) Men with Higher National Diplomas or Higher National Certificates in Mechanical or Electrical Engineering, or with the Associate-ship of the Institute of Chemistry; (c)—(i) Men who have completed to the satisfaction of the University at least one year's work of a course for a specialised honours degree in Engineering (including Naval Architecture), Metallurgy, Chemistry, Physics, Applied Mathematics, Geology, and the Biological Sciences (including Agriculture); (ii) Men who have started or are about to start their final year's study for a pass degree in Engineering or Metallurgy; (d) Men who have started or are about to start their final year's study for the Higher National Diploma or Higher National Certificate in Mechanical or Electrical Engineering or for the Associateship of the Institute of Chemistry.

In this connection it should be understood that the fact that a student is in training for the teaching profession does not in itself qualify him to come within the scope of the work of the Joint Recruiting Boards.

Joint Recruiting Boards have already received instructions with regard to their functions. If it is alleged that any of the boards are not keeping within their terms of reference I should be glad if my hon. Friend would send me particulars. I see no ground for extending their functions to cover two-year students in training colleges.

So far as postponement of the liability to be called up for service is concerned, Training College students are in exactly the same position as university students in that the Military Service (Hardship) Committee machinery applies to both categories.