§ 26. Mr. Driberg
asked the Secretary of State for War how many R.A.S.C. clerks in groups 68, 69, and subsequent groups, serving in M.E.L.F., are to be affected by the impending deferment of their release; if he is aware of the under-employment of many of these clerks and of the unfairness of discriminating in this respect between clerks from different arms of the Services doing identical work; and by what authority the Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, has extended the principle of deferring the release of individual key men, whose services are operationally vital, to cover whole groups numbering many hundreds each.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I cannot forecast how many men in groups 68, 69 and subsequent groups the Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, may find it necessary to defer. I have no reason to believe that the clerks concerned are under-worked. These R.A.S.C. clerks are being deferred because the job they are doing is vital and they cannot at present be replaced by men in later groups. Even if it were possible to replace them by men in the same group from other corps, no useful purpose would be served by doing so. As regards the total number deferred, I am confident that the Commander-inChief is not deferring men unnecessarily.
§ Mr. Driberg
Could my right hon. Friend re-examine the question of underemployment, about which a good deal of actual evidence has been given to him?
§ Mr. Shinwell
Since the matter was brought to my notice, we have been examining the allegation but, so far as I am aware, there is no under-employment.
§ Mr. Charles Smith
Can the Secretary of State say how long it takes to train an R.A.S.C. clerk, and what steps have been taken to avoid such steps as this by the training of efficient personnel?