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Festival of Women

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th April 1957.

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Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn 12:00 am, 11th April 1957

asked the Minister of Labour what reply he has sent to the offer of free space for a display by his Department at the Festival of Women on 7th to 29th June.

Mrs. Butler:

asked the Minister of Labour if he has now considered the offer of the festival authorities to his Department of free space for a display stand at the Festival of Women in June; and what has been his reply.

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West

I have replied that the offer of free space does not enable me to alter the decision which I announced in answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) on 12th March.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

But will not the Minister seriously reconsider this offer of something for nothing? Is he not aware that members of his Government are constantly exhorting women to take a fuller part in scientific education and public life and a hundred and one other modern activities? Is it not ludicrous that his Department should throw away this offer of showing to women how the recruitment which his Department does can help them to do this work?

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West

I took those matters into account, including the offer of free space but that is by no means the only expense involved. After consultation with my right hon. Friends in the Government who have also had a similar offer, I did lot feel able to take advantage of it.

Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Erith and Crayford

asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the desirability that the Festival of Women should be a success and the importance of using the event as a means of attracting young women to take up careers in industry, and although he has decided that the need for economy will preclude direct support, if he will examine all means of assisting and co-operating with the Festival which do not involve heavy expenditure.

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West

Although it is true that I have decided, on grounds of economy, that my Department cannot take part directly in this Festival, I will consider any suggestions not involving expenditure put to me along the lines of the hon. Member's Question.

Photo of Mr Norman Dodds Mr Norman Dodds , Erith and Crayford

In view of the nature of the Budget that we had earlier in the week, how can the Minister say that we are so hard up that he cannot spend any money to help this important Festival to be a success? Does he not appreciate that the fact that a Government Department adopts this attitude lowers prestige with regard to other would-be exhibitors? If he wants a suggestion, will he bear in mind that his Department has, as I understand, an excellent nursing mobile unit? In view of the need to recruit nurses, could he not at least make use of that? Otherwise, is it not disgraceful that he should get up at the Box and be so unhelpful?

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West

All that that proves is the truth of the statement of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, in his Budget speech, that everybody is for economy in general and against every particular economy. The nursing recruitment van becomes in a short time the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

Why was this matter not referred to my right hon. Friend's Women's Consultative Committee, in view of the fact that we might then have had all the facts both of the expenditure involved and the offers made by the authorities running, the Festival of Women? Does he not think it a little unfair that, when he has a first-class Women's Consultative Committee, those steps were not taken?

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West

No, Sir. I have an excellent Committee—that is perfectly true—which I am delighted to consult; but a matter like this involving Government policy in a number of Departments must, of course, be decided by the Ministers concerned.