Government Departments (Staffs)

Oral Answers to Questions — Military Service – in the House of Commons on 1st October 1942.

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Mr. De la Bére:

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will give an assurance that there will be a comb-out from all Government Departments of men of military age before any groups covering men who were on active service in the last war are called up, since the calling-up of older ex-Service men entails the destruction of their businesses which have been built up over many years?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I do not consider that any exceptional action with regard to the staff of Government Departments is warranted for the purpose of postponing the call-up of the small number of men who can come within the category to which my hon. Friend refers. The policy of His Majesty's Government is to retain in the Civil Service only those fit men of military age who are necessary for the maintenance of the essential services of National Government.

Mr. De la Bère:

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that a number of older ex-Service men have been called up and as a result many of them have had to close down their businesses and very great hardship has been caused, whereas younger men from Whitehall would not have to undergo the same hardship?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

These problems are not dealt with by making invidious distinctions between one class of the community and another. The cases of the men who were in the last war and of the one-man business are being dealt with very carefully on their merits.

Mr. De la Bère:

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the British Legion—and my hon. Friend the Member for the Deritend Division of Birmingham (Sir Smedley Crooke) can confirm me in this—is very exercised over it; and will he give this matter real consideration with a view to seeing that no hardship is inflicted, as it is a very real thing?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

I am constantly reviewing questions of men who served in the last war and of the one-man business, but it is not my intention, and I will not be placed in that position, to deal with it on the analogy of somebody else. It must be dealt with on its merits.

Mr. De la Bère:

Will my right hon. Friend deal with it fully on its merits?

Photo of Mr William Brown Mr William Brown , Rugby

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the more effective organisation of the work in Government Departments would result in the release of many thousands of men to do more important work; and will he use his very great influence with the Prime Minister to see that joint committees on the lines of the production committees in factories are set up in Government Departments with a view to the more effective organisation of that work?

Photo of Mr Ernest Bevin Mr Ernest Bevin , Wandsworth Central

That question does not arise out of the Question on the Paper.

Photo of Mr Oliver Locker-Lampson Mr Oliver Locker-Lampson , Birmingham Handsworth

May I ask whether the War Office could not be induced to take people over the age of 60?