§ 44. Mr. DICKINSON
asked the Minister of Munitions whether he is aware that, of the 420,000 men engaged in munition factories and other war work who were debadged by his instructions on 18th December, 1916, only 17,000 have been called up; whether the number of employés in factories where these debadged men are working is being reduced by eliminating men 2388 over military age and women and girls; whether these men and women are not capable of doing the work required; and, if so, will he say why this method of reducing the staff is adopted instead of calling up the men of military age?
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
I am aware of the figures quoted in the first part of the question. The practice referred to in the second part does not represent the policy of the Ministry of Munitions, which is to increase to the greatest possible extent the employment of women and of men ineligible for military service on all munitions work which they are able or can be trained to perform. The 420,000 men who have been debadged includes men of all ages and of all medical categories. Only a small proportion may be expected to be fit for general service (Category A), and of these a considerable number are engaged on ship construction and repair, and on essential war work of a kind which can only be performed by able-bodied men.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
Is it not a fact that there are factories where women and labouring men are being discharged now, and a large number of these debadged men are still kept on?
§ Mr. KELLAWAY
As the question is put to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Munitions, I should say that that is not a fact, but I will have inquiries made if the right hon. Gentleman will give me any particular instance.