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Ministry Of Labour

Volume 148: debated on Wednesday 9 November 1921

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asked the Minister of Labour if, in view of the great number of ex-service men now unemployed, he will give all those under notice and/or on the pool at the joint substitution board an opportunity of being employed on work of a casual nature in Employment Exchanges or in place of the writing assistants in his Ministry who have no responsibilities in life, until such time as this House has had an opportunity of deciding as to the best means of dealing with the problem of ex-service men in the Civil Service?

As regards the additional work which is now falling to Employment Exchanges, ex-service men only are being appointed for the work on the men's side of the Exchanges. The women staff, graded as writing assistants, who are employed in the Ministry of Labour are permanent civil servants, and, as such, are not substitutable by temporary ex-service men. My hon. and gallant Friend may be assured that the staff of the Ministry of Labour has been again and again reviewed, in order that ex-service men may be substituted for women, married or single, liable to substitution under the terms of the Lytton Reports and not dependent on their earnings for a livelihood.

Is it not a fact that in spite of the unsatisfactory conditions associated with the work of writing assistants, numbers of ex-service men would prefer to take these positions rather than remain out of employment, and will the right hon. Gentleman consult the ex-service men's associations on this matter?

Already a review has been made of the work which is being done by women at Kew, and a great many of the posts are paid at a rate which is considerably less than the lowest amount paid to men clerks—

Owing to the different character of the work. I do not know whether I could offer ex-service men wages at such a low rate, but I should like to discuss the matter with my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington (Mr. Raper). I gave an undertaking, which I carried out, that I would review this matter from top to bottom once more, as I had done many times previously. There are posts which men might possibly take; these posts, however, are paid at such a low rate that I doubt very much whether men would take them.