Clause 1. — (Power to raise women's land and air forces.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Army and Air Force (Women's Service) Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th February 1948.

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Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire 12:00 am, 13th February 1948

I apologise, Sir Robert, but I was quoting from that Debate in order to support my argument that a further extension of expenditure on the Armed Forces was unnecessary and undesirable. I bow to your Ruling, and I will not quote any more.

I would like to know something more substantial than the sentimental arguments put forward in this House last Friday by the Minister of Defence and the Financial Secretary to the War Office. In that Debate, we all paid tribute to the courage of the members of the Women's Services during the last war. Yesterday, I went to the headquarters of the Women's Auxiliary Air Service, and there I saw emblazoned a slogan,—"Courage Is Not Enough." That seemed to me to be rather a new slogan in a military institution, though a very intelligent one. It reminded me of that other slogan to be seen on a London statue—"Patriotism Is Not Enough"—and I think that a further inscription in that case might be—"Patriotism Is Not Enough; I Must Have No Hatred Towards Anybody." If that was the motto of the War Office, we would not be considering this Bill today. We are not entitled at present to demand from the depleted women power of this country the additions to the Women's Services that are suggested and outlined in this Bill, and, by limiting the expenditure and the numbers that can be enrolled under this Bill, we will be doing a really national service in the present economic crisis.

I ask the Secretary of State for War again where we are going to get these women? I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman realises the extent of the demand that will be made on the woman power of our country, and the extent to which other Government Departments are also making demands on that woman power. I have here a report from my own constituency by people who are very concerned whether this new drive in recruiting for the women's Services will deplete the number of women required for the Women's Land Army, and I have a resolution passed by the National Farmers' Union in my constituency.

The farmer who raised this question was very perturbed about the prospects of securing the necessary number of women for the Women's Land Army. He warned the Government that, unless we had the women for the Land Army, the farmers would not be able to get their 20 per cent. increased production. But where are the women to come from in this new drive which the Secretary of State for War suggests? We shall have one Government Department competing with another for these women, with the result that women will be withdrawn from the land where they should be assisting the farmers and their wives who are struggling and striving to increase food production.