Women's Services (Committee of Inquiry).

Oral Answers to Questions — Post-War Reconstruction. – in the House of Commons on 3rd February 1942.

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Miss Cazalet:

asked the Prime Minister whether he will consider setting up a committee to inquire into the conditions of the Auxiliary Territorial Service and the other women's Services?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

A Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty and with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for War, my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg), the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Air, my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Captain Balfour), and the Parliamentary Secretary, Minister of Labour, my hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Assheton), as members, has been set up to consider and report to the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Secretary of State for War, the Secretary of State for Air and the Minister of Labour and National Service, on the standards of amenities and welfare conditions in the three Women's Services.

The Committee will, in the course of its consideration of these questions, receive the advice of the Directors of the W.R.N.S., A.T.S. and the W.A.A.F. and these Directors will attend the meetings of the Committee as may be required. These Directors will investigate and report upon the comparative conditions of accommodation, issues of clothing and equipment and other matters affecting the well-being of the Services, and will present their conclusions and any suggestions to the above Committee. In addition, the Committee have expressed their willingness to receive representations and views on any questions affecting welfare from the Women's Consultative Committee, which advises the Minister of Labour on all questions relating to the recruitment of women.

Miss Cazalet:

Does not my right hon. Friend think it would be a good thing if some responsible women were co-opted to the Committee?

Photo of Mr George Garro-Jones Mr George Garro-Jones , Aberdeen North

Is it not rather an odd and unusual procedure to appoint a Committee of Parliamentary Under-Secretaries? How are they going to find time from their other duties to attend the Committee?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

I do not think it is unusual.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

Will evidence be given before the Committee from outside people, or will it be limited to official evidence?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

That is a matter for the Committee.

Photo of Miss Eleanor Rathbone Miss Eleanor Rathbone , Combined English Universities

Will the husbands and parents of these young people be reassured by a report from four young men in high positions?

Miss Ward:

Will the representatives of the Services be full members of the Committee and will they sit with the Committee on every occasion?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

As I pointed out, the Committee will seek the advice of the directors, and they will attend the meetings of the Committee as required. That does not mean they are full members of the Committee.

Miss Cazalet:

Does my right hon. Friend think it would be a good thing to set up an all-women committee to inquire into conditions in the male Services?

Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth North

Is it not really a mistake to have an investigation into the conditions in these Services by the people responsible for those conditions?

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr District of Burghs

As these matters are of great interest to the community, may the report of the Committee be published?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

That is a matter for the Committee.

Photo of Miss Eleanor Rathbone Miss Eleanor Rathbone , Combined English Universities

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise this question on the Adjournment.