Industrial Conscription

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st July 1952.

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Photo of Sir Martin Lindsay Sir Martin Lindsay , Solihull 12:00 am, 31st July 1952

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will take steps to call up young men who fail to pass their medical examination for the Armed Forces, but who are fit for factory work. for contemporary employment in the aircraft industry, in view of its vital national importance and that it is at present undermanned.

Photo of Mr Harold Watkinson Mr Harold Watkinson , Woking

No, Sir, my right hon. Friend is not prepared to introduce industrial conscription for this purpose.

Photo of Sir Martin Lindsay Sir Martin Lindsay , Solihull

Is my hon. Friend aware that many of these young men escape with such defects as a hammer-toe or flat feet, and does he not think that it is unfair that these men can get a two years' start in their careers over their contemporaries who have to do National Service? Will he ask his right hon. and learned Friend to give much greater thought to it than he evidently has been able to give since this Question was put down?

Photo of Mr Harold Watkinson Mr Harold Watkinson , Woking

This is a difficult problem. It is only Category 4 people who are excused military service and they represent a comparatively small number. Many of them are quite unfit for employment in industry, but we shall have a look at it.

Photo of Mr George Isaacs Mr George Isaacs , Southwark

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that in the time of the last Government the Members on the benches behind him were most insistent that we should abolish direction of labour, and will he bear in mind that the party opposite quite obviously do not support the hon. Member For Solihull (Mr. M. Lindsay)?

Photo of Mr Harold Watkinson Mr Harold Watkinson , Woking

I do not think that that is quite so, and I have said quite plainly in my original answer that to do this thing would be to imply industrial conscription. That is why we are not prepared to look at it at all, but there may be some way of looking at the number of people who escape in this manner. We will consider that.

Photo of Mr Ellis Smith Mr Ellis Smith , Stoke-on-Trent South

While welcoming the employment of all men who are to assist in the aircraft industry, is it not a fact that the greatest difficulty is the need for highly skilled workers so that tool and basic work can be done first?

Photo of Mr Harold Watkinson Mr Harold Watkinson , Woking

I quite agree, and the hon. Member might like to know that the numbers employed in the aircraft industry have increased by 15,000 in the first live months of this year.