§ 81. Mr. C. DUNCAN
asked the Minister of Munitions whether a Belgian turner named Mertens, who is the branch secretary to the men's union, has been discharged from the National Projectile Company's works, Durham County, for distributing union literature outside the works in his own time; whether he is aware that the Belgian works manager, Mr. Le Panne, has personally warned five of the Belgian workmen that they were not permitted to be members of a trade union; and whether he will inquire into this matter, with a view to making it quite clear that the Belgians have exactly the same right to join trade unions as other workmen?
§ Mr. REA
The factory referred to by the hon. Member is under the management of the Belgian Government. The staff consists of the most part of soldiers, the bulk of whom are unfit for further military service, a small proportion being skilled men withdrawn from the Army for special work in the factory. It is provided that English rates of wages should be paid, but the other conditions within the factory are within the discretion of the Belgian Government. I am making inquiries from the Belgian authorities as regards the points mentioned in the hon. Member's question, and will inform him of the result.