Women's Royal Naval Service

Oral Answers to Questions — Royal Navy – in the House of Commons on 14th October 1942.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Colegate Mr Arthur Colegate , The Wrekin

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty why officers of the Women's Royal Naval Service working at the Admiralty or at the Women's Royal Naval Service headquarters do not receive the allowance given to officers of the Royal Navy working at the Admiralty; and whether he is taking any steps to remove this anomaly?

Photo of Mr George Hall Mr George Hall , Merthyr Tydfil Aberdare

It has recently been decided to pay Admiralty headquarters allowances to officers of the W.R.N.S. at two-thirds of the rates payable to naval officers of the same relative rank. Payment will be retrospective to 31st July, 1942.

Photo of Mr Arthur Colegate Mr Arthur Colegate , The Wrekin

Upon what principle is the two-thirds allowance based?

Photo of Mr George Hall Mr George Hall , Merthyr Tydfil Aberdare

It is in accordance with a policy which is common to the three Services.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Lewisham West

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty in the case of girls born between 1918 and 1922, hitherto retained in important civilian work but now urged to volunter for the Services, what are the qualifications demanded of them before they can be accepted as volunteers for the Women's Royal Naval Service; whether he is aware that such girls are being told at Employment Exchanges that they have no hope of acceptance unless they can say that they have relations in the Navy; and whether he will make clear that entry into this Service depends on personal merit and suitability, not on family connections?

Photo of Mr George Hall Mr George Hall , Merthyr Tydfil Aberdare

I welcome the opportunity of dealing up any misunderstanding on this Question, and as the answer is somewhat long I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

Women in the conscribed age groups are only allowed to volunteer for the Women's Services through the Ministry of Labour and National Service. The requirements of the W.R.N.S. are much less than those of the other two Services and applications are only referred to the W.R.N.S. when volunteers have certain qualifications. If a women fulfils any of the following seven conditions her application may be referred to the W.R.N.S. though it is not possible to guarantee that all those whose names are forwarded will be accepted: —

  1. 1. Past service in the W.R.N.S. or Admiralty; or in the Sea Transport Office of the Ministry of War Transport or G.P.O. Fleet Mail Office.
  2. 2. Practical experience of boat work, e.g., Sea Rangers or ex-members of the River Emergency Service.
  3. 3. Previous experience of domestic work and desire to enter as a cook or steward.
  4. 4. If written application to join the Women's Royal Naval Service was made before becoming liable for call-up under the National Service Acts.
  5. 5. Father or brother in the Navy or sister or mother in the W.R.N.S.
  6. 6. Ability to speak and translate German fluently.
  7. 7. School certificate standard in mathematics and/or physics.

Any impression which may have gained currency that a volunteer cannot be accepted for the W.R.N.S. unless she has relatives in the Navy is false.

I would emphasize that these restrictions on entry to the W.R.N.S. refer only to women born between 1st January, 1918, and 30th June, 1922. They have been imposed in order to apportion the available numbers in the conscribed groups to each of the three Services in accordance with its needs.