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National War Effort

Volume 389: debated on Thursday 20 May 1943

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Control Of Employment (Directed Persons) Order


asked the Minister of Labour whether, having regard to the wide powers affecting the lives of large numbers of persons taken by the Control of Employment (Directed Persons) Order, 1943, No. 651, he will withdraw this Order and substitute a new Defence Regulation which can be debated?

No, Sir. This Order does not take any additional powers to direct persons into employment. What it does is to provide safeguards as to conditions of employment for persons directed into employment under the existing powers provided by Defence Regulation 58A.

Does not the Minister think that generally speaking, in the interests of democratic practice, it is advisable that this kind of change should be made by a new Defence Regulation which can be debated in the House and not by a subsidiary Order over which Parliament has no control?

No, Sir. Defence Regulation 58A has given me power to direct all persons, and I see no reason for amending that power at the present moment. I think it is suitable procedure to safeguard people by means of Orders to protect them.

Will my right Friend be careful when he is moving men and women about the country?

Further, will the right hon. Gentleman hear in mind that the small round-the-corner shopkeeper has got to be protected further than has been done?

Food Distribution Firms {Workers)


asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the warning by the President of the National Union of Distributive Workers at their recent annual conference of the danger to the distribution of foodstuffs consequent upon denuding shops of skilled employees, whether he intends to take action in the matter?

I am satisfied that the arrangements recently made in agreement with my noble Friend the Minister of Food for the withdrawal of a limited number of workers from firms engaged in food distribution will not endanger the efficient distribution of essential foodstuffs.

Will my right hon. Friend be good enough to watch the statistics of sickness among shopworkers, consequent upon the heavy strain upon them these days and will he also inquire into the problem of housewives who are having grave difficulty in shopping because there are not sufficient skilled staffs left in the shops to serve them?

I have these things constantly under review, but I have to meet war circumstances.

Would my right hon. Friend consider the advisability of setting up a training school so that substitutes who are to take the places of trained assistants can obtain some little knowledge of the food trade beforehand?

Disabled Persons (Rehabilitation)


asked the Minister of Labour whether it is intended to introduce legislation to implement the recommendations of the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Rehabilitation and Resettlement of Disabled Persons; and whether a joint committee, representative of the Departments concerned, has been set up to supervise the preparation of such legislation?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for the Moss Side Division of Manchester (Mr. Rostron Duckworth) on 23rd March, of which I am sending him a copy.

Can the Minister give me an answer now to the second part of my Question?

My Department has been preparing preliminary details which will be discussed with other Departments.

Will the Department do what the Committee had no power to do—consult the voluntary agencies concerned in this work?


asked the Minister of Labour whether he has yet ascertained the views of the British Employers' Confederation, the Trades Union Congress General Council and the King's Roll National Council upon the proposals of the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Rehabilitation and Resettlement of Disabled Persons; and whether he has any statement to make thereupon?

The Report of this Committee is under discussion with the British Employers' Confederation and the Trades Union Congress General Council. It has already been discussed with the King's Roll National Council, whose views on it are under consideration.

Transferred Women


asked the Minister of Labour how many girls have been directed from Scotland to England and from England to Scotland in connection with the war effort?

The number of women transferred from Scotland to employment in England after registration under the Registration for Employment Order and the National Service Acts was 3,385 up to 17th March, 1943, from i6th May, 1942, on which date my Department started to maintain records in this connection. In the same period 57 women were transferred from England to Scotland.

In view of the strong feeling among mothers, does not the Minister think that some exchange could be made, even though a comparatively small number of Englishwomen have been sent to Scotland, so that our Scottish mothers can be relieved in their minds?

The people we sent to Scotland went with certain firms. They were specially skilled and specially trained. Otherwise, we have sent no people from England to Scotland, although we get a constant influx of Scotsmen into England.

Sanitary Services, Eton Rural District


asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been drawn to the closing down of arrangements for the disposal of sewage by the Eton Rural District Council in the parishes of Burnham, Datchet, Iver, Horton and Wraysbury, owing to the lack of man-power, and whether he will release sufficient personnel to prevent a serious epidemic?

My Department has already met some of the labour requirements of the Eton Rural District Council for the maintenance of its sanitary services, and further efforts are being made to meet those outstanding.

Could the Minister send down an inspector to inquire into the situation locally?

War-Time Prosecutions


asked the Minister of Labour what is the total number, to the best available date, of workpeople prosecuted by his Department for offences that did not appear on the Statute Book before the outbreak of war; the number sent to prison, male and female, respectively; and whether the number of these prosecutions has increased recently?

I am obtaining such information as is available and will communicate with my hon. Friend.

Does my right hon. Friend consider from time to time whether prosecutions of this kind actually further the war effort? Does he consider that sometimes we may poison the whole community by prosecutions of this kind?

Every prosecution is carefully studied. It is not to help me in my war effort, but the country's war effort.

Parsonages (Domestic Help)


asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been called to the special difficulties involved in the calling up of the only resident domestic helper in the case of large parsonages which the incumbent cannot get rid of, particularly where the wife of the clergyman is actively engaged in social ' and National Service; and whether he will make arrangements to permit of domestic help continuing to be possible in such cases?

Yes, Sir, the general arrangements made for the withdrawal of domestic workers permit of special consideration being given to cases of exceptional hardship arising in this way.

Flag Days (Man-Power)


asked the Minister of Labour whether any record has been kept of the number of people engaged in making, distributing and selling flags and similar tokens in aid of charitable causes, and the time spent by them in so doing?

Will not my right hon. Friend take steps to discourage this tiresome work by well-meaning ladies who might be engaged in some more useful occupation?

I addressed the Question to the Prime Minister, because I did not know under whose name it came. It was transferred to the Ministry of Labour.

I was asked for certain statistics which I have not got. I am not responsible for flag days.

Surely my right hon. Friend is responsible for the employment of these women whom we have seen wellmcaningly wasting their time.

Should we encourage those people who are too mean to put something in the box?

Is it not true that a large number of married women and come of their daughters do this flag selling?

Small Traders (Women)


the President of the Board of Trade whether he will confer with the Minister of Labour regarding the recent pronouncements in connection with the calling up of one-woman shopkeepers and the wives of small one-man family businesses where the husband has been called up, in view of the possibility of these women being directed to full-time or substantial part-time employment, which would necessitate the closing down of the businesses?

My right hon. Friend has done so, and has been assured by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour that any woman in the position described may apply for her case to be considered on grounds of exceptional business hardship.

Is not the Minister aware that the attitude of the Government in regard to the small, round-the corner shopkeeper shows a definite failure to understand the apprehension and the uncertainty which are caused? Is it not a fact that to reprieve him is not enough? What he wants is an assurance. Will my hon. and gallant Friend ask the Minister of Labour to give further attention to this matter, which is not only not satisfactory but is thoroughly unsatisfactory?

Is not the Minister aware that the policy of taking one person out of a small business in which only two persons are involved is causing ruin to those persons in many instances? Is it not a mockery to suggest that the remaining person ought to get alternative labour, when it is impossible to do so?

I am well aware of the hardship in these cases and it is for that reason that the Minister of Labour has agreed that hardship shall be a consideration taken by these appeal tribunals.