14 JUNE 1940, Page 14

BRAIN-WORKERS' HOURS SIRS I am very glad you have called

attention to the dangers of the present wholesale increase in working hours. Let me speak of what I know.

In the Ministry in which I am temporarily employed, as in others, a considerable extension of hours has been commanded. None of us like to protest, even in private, lest we should seem to be thinking of our own convenience. We are all ready to work till we drop if that would help to win the war But, in fact, most of us realise that in creative mental work there comes a point when the human machinery demands a rest if it is to turn out ideas that are worth having.

I am not primarily concerned for the undoubted harm which the new regulations are doing to the civil servants themselves : that is a secondary consideration at the moment. I am concerned at the short-sightedness of the authorities. My colleagues can be trusted to work as long as it is worth while working. The danger is that they will work longer than that. Already many have been putting in many hours of overtime. If instead of turning this voluntary effort into an obligation the authorities had insisted upon their taking more time 'off for recreation, they would have done more for the progress of the war.

I have just heard of the dangerously long hours being worked by a friend of mine engaged under another Ministry in research and testing work—dangerous not only to him, but ultimately to the Forces, who depend upon his accuracy and alertness.

Surely somebody in the Treasury—which is said to be the culprit—can read the recorded lessons of the last way ; or, at least, they might be sent a marked copy of last week's Spectator.—I enclose my card, but subscribe myself, yours faithfully,