Civil Defence Personnel (Conditions).

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance. – in the House of Commons on 3rd February 1942.

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Photo of Mr Ian Orr-Ewing Mr Ian Orr-Ewing , Weston-Super-Mare

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether he can now make a detailed statement as to the position of whole-time and part-time voluntary Civil Defence workers under the Order issued last week;

(2) whether the absence of any specified age in the new Order affecting Civil Defence workers indicates that the alteration in duties therein specified applies to Civil Defence workers of all ages or whether it is limited to people under 50 years of age; and whether it equally applies to the many young people serving in the Civil Defence Service in their early twenties?

Photo of Sir Charles Lyle Sir Charles Lyle , Bournemouth

asked the Home Secretary whether, when voluntary Civil Defence workers are placed on exactly the same plane as paid Civil Defence workers as regards mobility in their areas, hours of work and day and night service, such workers will be permitted to claim equal treatment with paid workers in respect of remuneration; whether he is aware that many people have hitherto been ready to work on a voluntary basis because they had some reasonable freedom of choice in respect of all the considerations mentioned; and whether, under the new scheme, they have any safeguard of their legitimate interests, industrial, domestic and physical?

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

The Orders which require part-time members of the Civil Defence Services, special constables and other part-time police auxiliaries, to continue to serve until their services are dispensed with, apply to all such persons who have attained the age of 18 years. Local authorities have been advised that, if they refuse to grant an application for release, the applicant should be informed that he is entitled to ask the Regional Commissioner to reconsider the matter. Local authorities have also been advised that, while many of those who volunteered for unpaid service devote a large amount of time to their Civil Defence duties and will want to continue to do so, the recognised standard of compulsory duty for part-time members (including for this purpose those giving whole-time unpaid service) should be a maximum of 48 hours in each period of four weeks. It has been explained to the authorities that, in fixing hours and times of duty, full regard should be had to the ordinary employment and other day-to-day obligations of the members and, where necessary, to personal and domestic circumstances. In accordance with general policy, members should not be detailed for stand-by duty within their ordinary working hours or in numbers in excess of those required for the efficient functioning of the Service.

The Orders place the part-time members under obligation to present themselves for duty at a given place and time and to obey lawful orders given in the course of the Civil Defence employment. My right hon. Friend is confident that local authorities will exercise their powers reasonably and with the objects of maintaining an efficient service and at the same time avoiding hardship to individuals and any unnecessary disturbance of existing duty rosters. There is already in force a scale of compensation for loss of wages sustained by persons who are absent from their employment because of attendance on authorised Civil Defence duty. The changed status of the part-time members does not put them in a position comparable with that of the whole-time paid personnel, or present a case for payment for part-time services. I will send my hon. Friends copies of the circulars issued to local authorities.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

Does that answer mean that civil conscription has been applied to persons over 60 years of age who in the past have done voluntary service, whereas people over 60 who have never done anything are exempt?

Photo of Mr William Mabane Mr William Mabane , Huddersfield

It means that those who have been part-time volunteers in the past, irrespective of age, will be required to continue to perform those duties.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

In other words, those who have never done anything at all are to be exempt from that obligation?