Disabled Service Men (Employment)

Oral Answers to Questions — Colonial Empire – in the House of Commons on 15th March 1944.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Major Abraham Lyons Major Abraham Lyons , Leicester East

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has issued, or intends to issue, any recommendations or instructions to all Colonial Governments with regard to arrangements for the retraining and suitable employment of European and non-European disabled Service men.

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Westmorland

Yes, Sir. I welcome the opportunity of making a statement on this matter. As it is rather long, I propose to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Photo of Major Abraham Lyons Major Abraham Lyons , Leicester East

I take it that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will see that his answer gets publicity in the required quarters?

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Westmorland

It will be printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the statement:

My purpose is to secure that, as far as the Government measures can prevent it, throughout the Colonial Empire, as in the United Kingdom, no disabled service man should find himself compelled by reason of his disability to subsist on charity. The resettlement in civil life of Colonial persons disabled as a result of enemy action (including their training to a new occupation where that is necessary) is an obligation of the Colony in which they live. The establishment of rehabilitation centres is likely to be a matter of considerable difficulty and expense in providing the specialised staff and equipment, and it is clear that the best results are likely to be achieved from the establishment of a few highly-efficient institutions, each serving as wide an area as possible, rather than relying on small institutions which can provide neither the specialised medical or surgical treatment, nor the training necessary in many cases to provide an alternative means of livelihood for the disabled person.

Rehabilitation centres are being established in Accra, to serve Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and the Gambia, and in Nairobi, which will accept disabled service men from all the East African territories, and also from Mauritius and Seychelles if required. At each of these centres the facilities provided will, it is hoped, include a vocational training centre (under a supervisor trained in modern methods), at which the men will be taught such trades as will afford them a reasonable prospect of earning a livelihood. The Palestine Government have put forward specific proposals regarding the medical problems of rehabilitation and are now considering the problem of vocational training. In Malta also these problems are under close examination. I have addressed the Governors of a number of other Colonies with a view to ensuring that local arrangements are prepared in detail.

Colonial Governments are being given particulars of the facilities provided for disabled men, both service and civilian, in this country, and are being asked to consider whether any special legislation is required locally, such as is contained in the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act. In considering questions of rehabilitation of Colonial persons, the fullest use is being made of the knowledge and experience of the Ministries of Health, Pensions, and Labour and National Service. The training of blinded persons for employment in the Colonies presents a special problem, on which St. Dunstan's and the National Institute for the Blind have been good enough to promise their co-operation. Colonial disabled service men who are brought to this country are eligible for all the facilities provided for British troops, and a few cases are now under treatment and about to start their training before they return to their homes.