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Volume 391: debated on Tuesday 13 July 1943

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether optants for the mining industry require to go to mines where there are special schemes for training in operation, or whether they may go to work in mines where they would be under the supervision of a relative even though no training scheme operates at such mines?

The general instructions are that men who choose underground mining employment as an alternative to service in His Majesty's Forces should be sent only to coalmines where approved training arrangements are in force.

Is the Minister not aware that the relatives of die young men who wish to go into industry often train them, and does he not agree that it is ridiculous to take young men from mining villages and send them elsewhere, hundreds of miles away, to be trained?

If my hon. Friend will give me any case where a young optant has been transferred hundreds of miles, I will gladly look into it. It is quite unnecessary that anybody should be transferred hundreds of miles, because we have in operation at this moment 560 training schemes.

Is the Minister not aware that it has always been the practice that fathers or elder brothers should train the young miners who went down the pits? Does the new arrangement mean that that practice will be discontinued and that young men will be sent to training pits?

I am not saying that what was the practice in the past must always remain so or that it was the best. What I am saying is that we are determined that young men shall not go to work in the pits unless they are adequately trained. It is the aim of my Ministry to have training schemes in every colliery.

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman's Ministry is becoming bureaucratic.