Control of Engagement Order

Part of Orders of the Day — National Service (Amendment) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th December 1948.

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Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne 12:00 am, 6th December 1948

No, not against my will. Does the hon. Gentleman really suggest that the miners would all voluntarily have chosen to be miners, against all other professions? Is it suggested that, when dock labour was casual, a man would choose voluntarily, from all the occupations he might have chosen, to be a casual dock labourer? Do hon. Members carry their argument a stage further? Do they suggest that a man should be free to decide whether he will work at all, or not? Is it suggested that that choice has ever been open to anybody? It really is nonsense, and they know it is nonsense.

What they want is that there should be a reservoir of unemployed labour, driven to do all the objectionable tasks, and the existence of which employers can hold over others who want better conditions. What the Government have said is that, if it is right in times of economic crisis that the Government should exercise control over the national resources, national wealth, and national raw materials, it is also right that they should have the power to deploy the national labour force to the best advantage of the community. That deployment of the labour force, as the Government have done it, so far from depriving men and women workers of any liberty they ever enjoyed, has added most extensively to their liberty.