HC Deb 09 October 1945 vol 414 cc72-4W
Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that there are confusion and disappointment in the minds of the men concerned and their relatives regarding the rate of release from the Services; and whether he will consider the publication from time to time of as comprehensive and explicit an official statement as may be possible of the immediate intentions of the Government in this respect for each of the services.

Mr. Isaacs

As the hon. Member will be aware, a comprehensive statement on releases from the Services was published on 3rd October. Further statements showing the progress of releases from the Forces will be issued monthly.

Mr. E. P. Smith

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider doubling the period of paid leave on demobilisation, so that the speed of demobilisation can be greatly increased without the danger of non-reabsorption into industry of ex-Service labour.

Mr. Isaacs

No, Sir. Demobilisation is proceeding as rapidly as it can and would not be accelerated by increasing the period of paid leave.

Mr. Warbey

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider the advisability of permitting service of national importance in W.T. Reserve to be included for the purpose of calculating age and service release groups.

Mr. Astor

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will review the position of men who volunteered from the Army for underground work in the coalmines, in respect of their category for demobilisation.

Mr. Isaacs

The question whether periods on release from the Forces to civil employment, including coalmining, should be allowed to count in determining the order of release from the Forces has been fully considered, both when the release scheme was first drawn up and subsequently. To allow such periods to count for this purpose would, however, be most unfair to other men who have served continuously in the Forces and I should not feel justified in reopening the matter now. The question as to when those men who were granted indefinite release from the Forces to industry and are still on release shall be freed from their special liability to recall is at present under active consideration.

Mr. Ayles

asked the Minister of Labour whether any compensation is to be given to men and women in the Services whose release for any Service reason has been or is being delayed beyond that of those similarly qualified.

Mr. Isaacs

No, Sir. Apart from the very great administrative difficulties involved I could not accept the underlying assumption of my hon. Friend's suggestion that a man has a promise of release in Class A on a certain date. That is not the case. The promise is that, subject to military requirements, men will be released in a certain order.

Mr. Palmer

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that men released to the reserve list for employment in industry before the end of the war in Europe are not receiving the release benefit axed at 21 days' pay now paid to those released from the services in Class B; and if he will remedy this anomaly.

Mr. Isaacs

The purpose of the 21 days' pay granted to a man released in Class B is to cover the period which may elapse between his release and his taking up the employment for which he was released. This has no application to the case of men who were released indefinitely from the Forces to civilian work before the release scheme came into operation and went straight into the employment for which they were released, and I see no justification for making a special retrospective payment in such cases.

Mr. Marlowe

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in the case of men whose entry into the Forces was deferred because they were retained compulsorily in industry and who are now consequently in late release groups, he will allow the time, or a part thereof, spent in reserved occupation prior to enlistment to count towards service for release.

Mr. Isaacs

No, Sir. To allow time spent in a reserved occupation before enlistment to count towards priority of release would completely undermine the release scheme and be most unfair to men with longer service in the Armed Forces.

Mr. Sparks

asked the Minister of Labour the estimated number of men and women who have been, or will be, released from the Army during the period from 26th July to 20th January next under Class A scheme; the number of men similarly to be released under Class B scheme for the same period; and the corresponding numbers of releases from the Navy and Air Force, separately.

Mr. Isaacs

The detailed statement of releases from the Forces, which was published on 3rd October, a copy of which I am sending my hon. Friend, gives the desired information for periods ending 31st December, 1945, and 30th June, 1946. I am not able to give information for intervening periods.

Mr. Sparks

asked the Minister of Labour whether the release of the men from the Armed Forces under Class A, by age and service groups, is taking place at the same speed in all branches of the Forces; and if he will state the reasons for any discrepancies between the three Services in the rate of release.

Mr. Isaacs

The release of men from all three Services is taking place at the maximum rate possible. It is, however, inevitable that this rate should vary between the three Services, and to some extent between different branches of each Service, in view of the differences in the size of the groups and the nature of the commitments.

Mr. Nield

asked the Minister of Labour if he will give an assurance that the age and length of service scheme for release will operate equably, so that men serving overseas are released in accordance with their groups at the same time as men in the same groups serving at home.

Mr. Isaacs

Yes, Sir; every effort will be made to this end.