Miners (Release from Army).

Oral Answers to Questions — Coal Industry. – in the House of Commons on 19th May 1942.

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Mr. Robertson:

asked the Secretary for Mines why the applications made by Fordel Mains (Midlothian) Coal Company, Limited, for the release from the Army of their surface foreman, Guardsman T. Craig, have been refused; and whether he is aware that this man is grade 2, employed in a sanitary squad at a home depôt and anxious to get back to his work in the pits, where he would be doing work of greater national importance?

Photo of Mr David Grenfell Mr David Grenfell , Gower

The arrangements for the release of men from the Army relate to men for whom underground work is immediately available. The application for the release of Guardsman T. Craig for employment as a surface foreman is, therefore, not within this arrangement.

Mr. Robertson:

Is the Minister aware that Guardsman Craig is a key-man and that his firm miss his services? Is he aware that the firm have, without success, made every effort to release him and that he is employed only on these duties? Will the hon. Gentleman not make representations to the Army authorities for his release?

Photo of Mr David Grenfell Mr David Grenfell , Gower

I recognise that there are key-men not working underground, but the agreements for releasing men so far are confined to men for whom work underground is available. I will, however, take note of what my hon. Friend says.

Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

Will the Minister consider making a public statement on what exactly men have to do when they want to get back to the mines?

Photo of Mr David Grenfell Mr David Grenfell , Gower

I do not think it can be made plainer. It has been done, and 20,000 applications have been made. The men are not returning because of the limitations of the terms of release which the Government have set down.

Photo of Mr Tom Smith Mr Tom Smith , Normanton

Is the Minister aware that many miners in the Services for whom applications have been sent are now writing to complain that they have heard nothing more about it?

Photo of Mr David Grenfell Mr David Grenfell , Gower

There is a delay. Applications were made a long time ago, but at the moment releases are few compared with the number of applications.

Photo of Mr Robert Taylor Mr Robert Taylor , Morpeth

Is the Minister aware that men are being sent who do not want to go?

Photo of Mr David Grenfell Mr David Grenfell , Gower

That is not supposed to be the case. I cannot help it if there are individual cases, but men are under no compulsion to go home.