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Civilians (Discharges)

Volume 155: debated on Thursday 15 June 1922

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asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that approximately 900 men belonging to the general building trades have been discharged from the Royal Engineers' yards, Aldershot, and that this number includes carpenters, plumbers, painters, bricklayers, and labourers; that the work previously done by these men is now being done by serving sappers; and that a large number of the discharged workers are ex-service men; and whether he can assure the House that this policy will be reversed and the work continued as formerly?

The expenditure on Army building services has, in the interests of essential economy, been much reduced everywhere, and about 600 civilians have on this account recently been discharged in the Aldershot Command. No soldiers have been enlisted to replace the civilians discharged, but soldiers already serving in the Army are being employed as may be found necessary. The arrangements which have been made are necessary for due economy, and I regret that they cannot, therefore, be varied.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that civilian drivers of motor lorries and steam Foden wagons have been discharged from the Royal Army Service Corps (Mechanical Transport) and their places taken by Royal Army Service Corps drivers; that storemen, clerks and labourers have been discharged from the field stores and their places filled by the Royal Army Ordnance Corps; that owing to these dismissals there are 2,000 unemployed in this district out of an approximate population of 30,000; and whether he is prepared to reconsider this policy and give employment to those men who have been dismissed?

It has recently in many cases been found possible to assign the duties in question to soldiers who were already serving in the Army, and accordingly to discharge the civilians previously employed on such duties. It would obviously be uneconomical to reengage men for whom there is now no work, and I regret that the answer to the last part of the question must therefore be in the negative.