HC Deb 14 July 1955 vol 543 cc2094-5
30. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Minister of Labour if in view of the shortage of labour in a large number of important industries, he will introduce legislation to abolish National Service.

Sir W. Monckton

No, Sir. The need to maintain the current scheme of National Service was explained in the Statement of Defence, 1955 (Cmd. 9391) and was approved by this House after the debate on 28th April, 1955.

Mr. Hughes

But is the Minister aware that even the "Daily Express" in a leading article is now calling attention to the waste of manpower as a result of the continuation of conscription; and now that Lord Cherwell, the National Farmers' Union and the "Daily Express" are joined together, is it not time he became more conciliatory in this matter?

Sir W. Monckton

Now that the hon. Gentleman has added himself to all these distinguished persons, I shall certainly have to keep thinking.

Mr. Yates

Does the Minister not think that the time has arrived when there should be a conference with those who represent industry to consider the very serious effects that the continuation of National Service is having upon our manpower and our productive resources?

Sir W. Monckton

That is a very different question to whether National Service ought to be stopped altogether.

Mr. Shinwell

In fact, does the present review of the tactics in warfare not indicate that ground forces are not required to the same extent, demonstrating that there is no longer any need for a two-year period of National Service, and will the right hon. and learned Gentleman continue to justify two years for the young men of this country and only 18 months for our Allies on the Continent, including the West German Government?

Sir W. Monckton

The question I was asked to answer was whether we should abolish National Service. This is a different question and not entirely for me. I do not want to answer supplementaries on another matter.