§ Mr. Challen
asked the Minister Labour whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction caused by the differentiation between the treatment of ballottees, optants and volunteers on being released from the coalmines on medical grounds, in counting time towards their demobilisation groups; and whether he is now prepared to apply the same rule to all categories that at present only applies to ballottees.
§ Mr. Isaacs:
To allow employment in industry to count as the equivalent of service in the Armed Forces for de mobilisation purposes, save in the most exceptional circumstances, would do violence to the Release Scheme and would result in great injustice to large numbers of men in the Forces. As I explained in my statement to the House on 29th November, 1945 (HANSARD, col. 1543), an exception was made in the case of ballottees because they had been directed into coalmining without regard to their wishes, having declined to exercise an option to enter the industry. I should not be justified in extending the concession to men who opted or volunteered to go into the mines in the exercise of their own choice as an alternative to military service.