My noble friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy, Lord Truscott has made the following written statement.
Following the Prime Minister’s statement on 24 January this year in relation to the recognition of the contribution made by the Bevin Boys who worked in the UK coalfields during and immediately after World War II I would like to update the House on the recent developments.
Members will be aware that the Bevin Boys scheme was introduced in 1943 by then Minister for Labour and National Service, Ernest Bevin, in response to an increasing shortage of labour in the coal mining industry. The scheme ran between 1943 and 1948 and involved recruiting men aged between 18 and 25 years to work in coal mines rather than serve in the armed forces. Some 48,000 men worked in the mines under the scheme.
I am delighted to announce that the DTI is launching today a lapel badge in recognition of the contribution this group made to the war effort.
Of the 48,000 some 43 per cent. were conscripted directly into the mines and are known more generally as “ballotees”. The remaining 57 per cent. were those who opted for mine work in preference to joining the armed forces or those who were in the armed forces and volunteered to become miners. Only those who fall into these categories will be eligible for the badge.
The Bevin Boys Badge is a survivors badge and I would encourage Bevin Boy veterans to wear it in public in order visibly to raise awareness of the important role they played during World War II and in the postwar reconstruction of the UK. Widows and estates will not eligible.
The application process for the badge will be launched towards the end of the year. With a view to the first badge being awarded to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the demobilisation of the final Bevin Boys in March 2008.
The DTI have worked closely with the Bevin Boys Association, who have expressed their extreme pleasure at the introduction, to ensure that the design of the badge suitably reflects the work they carried out. It is important that we never forget the sacrifices that were made both at home and abroad during the war, and this badge is a fitting way to remember the Bevin Boys’ work to keep the coalfields going.
A copy of the badge design has been placed in the Library.