Domestic Service.

Oral Answers to Questions — National War Effort. – in the House of Commons on 27th January 1942.

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Photo of Sir Henry Morris-Jones Sir Henry Morris-Jones , Denbigh

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has been able to give further consideration to the question of domestic service in relation to our man- and woman-power in our war effort; what standard or proportion of domestic personnel in relation to a household has been decided upon to avoid the inequalities that now exist; whether he will consider allowing a minimum and maximum amount of domestic service in relation to a reasonable standard of household requirements; and further, whether he will make domestic service on a defined basis a form of National Service?

Photo of Mr George Tomlinson Mr George Tomlinson , Farnworth

Yes, Sir. The Minister has considered this question further and is advised that it is not possible to lay down hard and fast rules as to the amount of domestic service to be allowed to households of varying size or composition. Each case must accordingly be considered on its merits. Instructions have been issued laying down the general principle that, while pre-war standards cannot be maintained, women in private domestic service who are clearly essential to a household should not be expected to move unless they can be replaced. Special consideration will be given where one domestic worker only is employed in any household if (a) there are young children or invalids or aged and infirm persons, (b) both husband and wife are working, (c) the employment is in a doctor's household, or (d) the employment is on a farm and farm work is also done by the domestic worker. Consideration is being given as to what further steps can be taken to assist in determining cases locally on a reasonable basis. In answer to the last part of the Question, women who are performing domestic work from which, under these principles, they will not be moved, are regarded as undertaking an important form of national service.

Photo of Sir Henry Morris-Jones Sir Henry Morris-Jones , Denbigh

Is it not a fact that these cases are not being considered on their merits at the present time? How does my hon. Friend explain the fact that small households are able to keep four and five domestic servants whereas in many cases husbands and wives going to work and invalids are unable to get domestic help?

Photo of Mr George Tomlinson Mr George Tomlinson , Farnworth

I am not prepared to accept the statement contained in the first part of the supplementary Question. If my hon. Friend will give me particulars of the second part, I will have inquiries made.

Photo of Sir Alfred Beit Sir Alfred Beit , St Pancras South East

Will it not be possible to extend the Essential Work Order to the class of worker to which the Question refers?

Photo of Mr George Tomlinson Mr George Tomlinson , Farnworth

No, I do not think so.