War Workers for Ireland

HC Deb 22 February 1917 vol 90 cc1450-2

Mr. GINNELL asked the Prime Minister whether it is the present policy of the Government to conscript for the Army carpenters brought from Ireland to this country to work on buildings for munition works, hospitals, and other war requirements; under what law Mr. Cecil Chapman, magistrate, ordered James Bray, an Irish carpenter in the foregoing circumstances, to be handed over to the military authorities; under what law Bray is now being punished for refusing to become a soldier; and whether he will be sent back to his skilled work or allowed to return to Ireland?

Mr. MACPHERSON I must refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Dublin Harbour on the 14th February. It is assumed that James Bray was handed over to the military authorities by the learned stipendiary magistrate in accordance with the provisions of Section 15 of the Reserve Forces Act, 1882. Bray is at present being punished for refusal to obey orders in accordance with the provisions of the Army Act. The hon. Member for Dublin Harbour has already been informed that if he will supply further particulars of this case further inquiries will be made into the matter.

Mr. GINNELL Will the hon. Gentleman say why this magistrate sent Mr. Bray away without offering him an opportunity to prove how he had been employed since he arrived in this country?

Mr. SPEAKER The Minister is not responsible for the action of the magistrate.

Mr. GRAHAM asked the Minister of Munitions whether he is aware that early in January about 200 Irishmen were induced, on the promise of receiving £2 10s. per week, to come to a northwestern county of England to be employed in a munition factory; whether he is aware that these men, who were enticed away from agricultural work and constant employment in Ireland, were without lodging accommodation, and in many instances were obliged to herd in the slums of a large town, many of them being only seventeen years of age, and, in consequence of their sufferings, two have died and many others are now in workhouse hospitals suffering from pneumonia; whether he is aware that they are obliged to travel thirteen miles to and from their work morning and evening, some being unable to do so owing to the want of means of conveyance, and are consequently left in a state of starvation; whether he is aware that if they apply for a change to another factory they are informed they will be taken over by the military authorities; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter’?

The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Mr. Bridgeman) My right hon. Friend has asked me to take this question. If the hon. Member will inform me of the particular munition factory which he has in mind, I shall be glad to have inquiries made and to inform him of the result.

Mr. GRAHAM Has a note been sent stating the facts?

Mr. BRIDGEMAN I am afraid that the note has not been seen by the Minister. I will make inquiry.

Source: UK Parliament