Ex-Service Men

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th October 1949.

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Photo of Sir Arthur Harvey Sir Arthur Harvey , Macclesfield 12:00 am, 20th October 1949

asked the Minister of Labour (1) how many ex-officers and other ranks of the Fighting Services, who are registered as unemployed, are over 40 years of age;

(2) how many ex-officers and other ranks of the Fighting Services were registered as unemployed at the latest convenient date.

Photo of Mr George Isaacs Mr George Isaacs , Southwark North

I regret that statistics are not available. Persons who have served in His Majesty's Forces are not separately distinguished in the unemployment figures.

Photo of Sir Arthur Harvey Sir Arthur Harvey , Macclesfield

How is it that up to about a year ago the right hon. Gentleman was able to give this information, and is there any reason why these men who are suffering considerable hardship and poverty should be forgotten? Has the right hon. Gentleman any views or ideas as to how he is going to render some aid to these men who have served their country so well?

Photo of Mr George Isaacs Mr George Isaacs , Southwark North

I do not agree that there is a number of men suffering hardship and poverty because they are ex-Service men. The fact is that when men register for employment at the present time we do not ask them, "Have you or have you not been in the Forces?" We treat them all exactly the same, as workers.

Photo of Sir Arthur Harvey Sir Arthur Harvey , Macclesfield

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these men, unlike others who were employed in industry during the war, gave us six or seven years of their lives in the Fighting Services? Are they to be forgotten?

Photo of Mr George Isaacs Mr George Isaacs , Southwark North

The hon. and gallant Gentleman now talks of six or seven years in the Forces. Is it suggested that those who served six or seven years in the Fighting Services should be treated better than those who served, say, three years?

Photo of Major Donald Bruce Major Donald Bruce , Portsmouth North

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we no longer see them begging in the streets as we did after the first world war?

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

Could not the liaison officer of the right hon. Gentleman's Ministry provide some answer to this question?

Photo of Mr George Isaacs Mr George Isaacs , Southwark North

No, Sir. As I have indicated, when men come to sign on at the employment exchange we do not ask them whether they have served in the Forces, and we do not intend to ask them.

Photo of Mr Thomas Scollan Mr Thomas Scollan , Renfrewshire Western

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the tendency of every private enterprise concern was to sack men at 40—"Too old at 40" was a common thing—and that there is nothing to compel them to take them on now? Does the Minister think that they ought to be imposed on nationalised industries when private industry rejects them?

Photo of Sir Arthur Harvey Sir Arthur Harvey , Macclesfield

As the Minister has given an unsatisfactory answer and seems to have lost his sympathy with the ex-Service man, I wish to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.