In general, all labour released from specific war work is still required for other war work. I have made arrangements, however, in consultation with my right hon. Friends the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Production and my other colleagues concerned, for any such labour as is not required for war work to be submitted for employment on essential civilian work, including work for export.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the factories on Merseyside controlled by Messrs. Rootes Securities, Ltd., large numbers of men have already been released and have been found no other employment, and that they are greatly concerned at the position?
asked the Minister of Labour if, in view of the national urgency of resuming export at the earliest possible moment and the imminent call upon exporters, particularly of raw and semi-manufactured materials, to be ready to trade with liberated countries possibly even before the end of the war, he will release from the forces key men and men trained specially for export by priority and defer the call-up to the forces of young men similarly trained from now on.
Although I appreciate the importance of restoring our export trade as soon as possible, the needs of the Armed Forces must, for the time being, remain the paramount consideration, and I am not prepared, therefore, to ask the Service authorities to release any considerable numbers of men for the purpose referred to in the Question at the present stage. My hon. Friend will now be aware of the provision made in the Government's plans for the release of key men required for urgent reconstruction work after the end of the war in Europe.
Will my right hon. Friend take note of the need which is involved in this Question, as I am not asking for the release of these men now, but at the earliest moment?
Yes, we have that in mind, and the whole scheme is based on being able to deal with this problem. I would ask my hon. Friend to remember before I begin getting other people in the lower age groups out of the Army, Air Force or Navy, that the employers must consider first the re-absorption of the men they will get out in Class A.