asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the harm done to the Women's Auxiliary Services by the publicity given to complaints which may be unjustified, he will give an assurance that, if such complaints are sent to the appropriate Minister or to the director of the Service in question by Members of Parliament, they will be investigated and a report sent so that the Member can judge whether it is necessary to give publicity to the complaint?
I can assure my hon. Friend that any such complaints sent to Ministers by Members of Parliament will certainly be investigated and the Member of Parliament concerned will be informed of the result. Complaints by serving members of the Women's Auxiliary Services should, however, be made through the usual Service channels. Complaints made in this manner are dealt with as quickly as possible in the same way as those submitted by officers and men in accordance with King's Regulations, and the importance of using the correct official channels was fully explained in the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) on 10th December, 1940.
As it is almost impossible to overtake slander and grave harm has already been done to these Auxiliary Services by charges which afterwards have been proved to be exaggerated; would it not be better if Members could have encouragement to make inquiries direct?
It is no doubt true that it is difficult to overtake slander, but the truth is very powerful, too, and also comes along at the same time, and I do not think any serious harm has been done up to the present to these Women's Services.
Is the Prime Minister aware that in one well-known case when a Member of this House made such inquiry and complained to the Secretary of State for War he was given the reply that having addressed the inquiry to the head of the Service concerned and having accepted that answer, the Minister did not propose, to hold any further inquiry? Does that encourage Members of this House to direct their attention to complaints of this kind?