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Mine Ballotees

Volume 416: debated on Tuesday 20 November 1945

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2.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the total number of boys directed to the mines; how many of these are missing; and if he will take steps to end this form of conscription.

The number of boys who have been directed into the mines under the ballot scheme is 20,893. In addition, some 24,000 optants have entered the industry as an alternative to the Forces. Of the optants and ballotees on colliery books about 5,000 are unaccounted for. As regards the last part of the Question, the ballot scheme has been suspended since the end of the European war.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the son of one of my constituents committed suicide and will he stop this form of conscription, because the free people of Britain will not stand for it?

I am extremely sorry to hear about the fate of the hon. Member's constituent, but I assure him that it has nothing to do with the mining industry.

As men engaged in the industry can now absent themselves from work as much as they please without penalty, what is the point of retaining this conscription for boys?

The two points are quite unlike. We are dealing with cumulative measures in respect of miners in general, which have nothing to do with optants or ballotees subject to the directions of the Minister of Labour under the National Service Acts.