Ground Staffs (Miners).

Oral Answers to Questions — Royal Air Force. – in the House of Commons on 8th July 1942.

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Photo of Mr Jack Lawson Mr Jack Lawson , Chester-le-Street

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will make an investigation among the Air Service ground staffs to find how many men are serving who were miners up to the time of the fall of France and whose registration had been changed to labourer; and whether he will take steps to have such miners returned to the industry?

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

As I indicated in the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend on 24th June, particulars have already been obtained of airmen who have at any time been employed as coalminers. If he has any specific cases in mind and will let me have details, I shall be glad to look into them.

Photo of Mr Jack Lawson Mr Jack Lawson , Chester-le-Street

In certain cases that has been done, and I appreciate it and the courtesy of the Air Ministry, but is my right hon. Friend aware that there is considerable disturbance of mind in mining circles about the number of men who are on the ground staffs of the Air Force and who are doing work which, compared to mining, is simply a waste of time? Will he make an investigation into the number of miners who are on the ground staffs of the Air Force and who could be doing better work?

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

I can assure my hon. Friend that I have made this investigation. We have found a fairly substantial number—not very large—who have served in the mines, four-fifths of whom have been offered release. Of the remaining fifth one-half have refused to go back and the other half are employed in air crew work or in most important trades connected with the ground staffs.

Photo of Mr Jack Lawson Mr Jack Lawson , Chester-le-Street

This is a very important point, and I would ask my right hon. Friend to pay attention to it. There are many men in the Air Force who would like to go out. They were miners before the fall of France, and the Ministry of Labour asked them to help in the making of aerodromes and factories. They were then registered as labourers Is my right hon. Friend quite sure that there are no miners who have been registered as labourers now in the Air Force and who would like to go out?

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

Yes, Sir. My hon. Friend was good enough to draw my attention to this point some time ago, and that has been made perfectly clear.