52. Viscountess ASTOR
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether, seeing that women are employed on Customs work in other European countries, he will consider the appointment of suitable women as Customs and Excise officers here?
Owing to the nature of many of the duties on which officers of Customs and Excise are employed, it has been found necessary to reserve these posts to men; but during recent years certain duties, previously performed by officers, have been assigned to a clerical class to which women are eligible for appointment, and, as far as practicable, work in connection with old age pensions has been assigned to a separate grade of women pension officers for which men are not eligible.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that certain grades of work for which women are not considered eligible in England are being perforated by women in other countries, and does he think that women in England are less able to carry out those duties than are women in other countries?
I cannot know what goes on in other countries. But I know that women might possibly be maltreated or insulted if they carried out such duties at docks, harbours, breweries, and places where rather rough treatment might be expected. It is for that reason only that these duties are closed to women.
Is it not the case that if that argument held good we should never have women police; and did not women very often, during the War, handle rough men better than men themselves?