asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that not all men who volunteer for the Territorial Army have their wages made up by their firms when they attend the summer camps and, in view of the need for recruits, what steps does he intend to take to rectify this situation which is acting as a deterrent to prospective recruits.
As has been indicated on many occasions, it is hoped that all employers who can will make up the difference between civil and Army pay, in cases where the former is higher, for employees who attend camp as volunteer members of the Territorial Army. I do not, however, consider that it would be desirable to attempt to use compulsion in this matter.
Is not the Minister wrong in putting the onus upon employers of labour? After all, this House has voted £700 million for Defence, and out of that sum could not the right hon. Gentleman ensure that these men are not at a disadvantage when they go to camp?
There is no question of putting any onus on anybody. It is a question of responsibility, which we all share.
Would not the best encouragement be that all Government Departments and local authorities should set the example in carrying out that policy?
That is precisely what they have done. Every Government Department has agreed to provide leave with pay; so have many of the nationalised industries. Where they have not yet agreed, the matter is under consideration. As regards municipal authorities, so far as I know there are no exceptions to the rule.
Is it not the case that the Government Departments who grant leave with pay do so at the expense of the taxpayers, and is there any reason why private employers should not similarly be able to give these men their pay at the expense of the taxpayers?
The Government have accorded this privilege and it is working quite satisfactorily. If employers are prepared to do as Government Departments are doing, very well; but if they are not prepared to do so, then we must suffer.
This Question dealt with firms and not with Government Departments, I think.