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Orders of the Day — Economic Position

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th July 1952.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw 12:00 am, 30th July 1952

That to a certain extent meets my point. If I understood the right hon. Gentleman aright, there has been an exceptional call-up because there is a larger number of men eligible to be called up and waiting to be called up, whereas next year there will be a lesser number of men eligible for call-up. That is a fortuitous economy and I do not know whether it will be repeated as the years go on. I hope that the Minister of Labour at some time will be able to tell us what the arrangements are for future call-ups, so that we may know quite accurately and precisely whether we are to effect long-term economies or whether it is to be a fortuitous economy, which is what I gather from the intervention of the right hon. Gentleman.

I only want to add this. When I was Secretary of State for War I had some part in introducing the Bill concerned with post-war conscription. I have never been enamoured of National Service, because I do not think that National Service is being operated on a fair basis. If we must have National Service, it should be universal and not synonymous with military National Service. Therefore, I only say by way of a footnote that I very much hope this whole subject can be reviewed.

I should add that I do not fully agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) when he suggests that we should reduce the period of service. I do not think it is possible to do it at the present moment. However, I think this whole question of the call-up of our young, able manpower, which for two years may serve a military purpose but which detracts from the strengthening of our economic resources should be reviewed, just as we review defence and economic matters. We must remember that while there will be a reduction of 30,000 next year, we are still calling up something like 200,000 of our best young men who could contribute to the strengthening of our economic resources.