Women (Employment)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th April 1972.

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Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West 12:00 am, 20th April 1972

asked the Minister of State for Defence what is the highest post held in his Department by a woman; how many women are in posts higher than that of assistant secretary; and from which posts are women excluded.

Photo of Lord  Balniel Lord Balniel , Hertford

The highest post held by a woman in the Ministry of Defence is at assistant secretary level. The type of posts from which women have been excluded in the past, and the reasons, were given in my reply to the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Bishop) on 10th March, 1971.—[Vol. 813, c. 128–30.]

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many of the categories from which women were excluded, according to an answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Joyce Butler) on 22nd February last year, where it was indicated that 12 categories of work within the Defence Department excluded women, including civilian instructors, chief instructors reproduction class grade A, whatever they may be, are now open to women and how many of the assistant secretaries to whom the right hon. Gentleman has referred are women?

Photo of Lord  Balniel Lord Balniel , Hertford

I cannot answer that point specifically. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that women are only excluded from certain posts in the Ministry of Defence if by generally accepted standards it is impractical for them to carry out the work. The House will be gratified to learn that I am announcing today by a Written Answer the pay award for the Services. This carries equal pay for women a further step forward.

Photo of John Gummer John Gummer , Lewisham West

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is disquiet at the lead being given by Government Departments in the equal employment of women? Will he look at this matter more carefully, in general if not in specifics, to see that women are not excluded from any jobs other than those which they are unable to carry out through physical incapacity?

Photo of Lord  Balniel Lord Balniel , Hertford

It is not only a matter of physical incapacity. The Government are anxious that women should be employed in all categories in which it is appropriate that they should be employed. However my hon. Friend will appreciate that there are certain environments in defence where it is not appropriate that women should be employed.