§ 14. Miss Wilkinson
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that, except in one case, no qualifications other than the possession of a title or an O.B.E. are shown in the list of county and senior commandants of the Auxiliary Territorial Service in the latest available list; and whether he will issue a list of the full qualifications these ladies possess for the information of persons seeking to qualify for these positions?
§ Sir V. Warrender
The question is not readily apprehended. Neither the possession nor the absence of a title or of an O.B.E. is, in itself, a qualification. In the absence of previous experience, it was not possible to say in advance how competently any particular duty would be discharged, but it is anticipated that, in future, the posts of chief and senior commandant will normally be filled by promotion. It will be borne in mind that the appointments to which the hon. Lady refers are often arduous, and that they are not paid.
Would it not be possible for the hon. Member for Jarrow 2816 (Miss Wilkinson) to be given honorary rank and suitably photographed?
§ Miss Wilkinson
Perhaps I have not made myself clear, but may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether, in view of the list as it is now published, he really thinks that the system of appointing only from a very narrow social class, the class of lords lieutenant of counties, does, in fact, produce the best type of women for these posts; and whether he does not think it would be wise to use some other qualification than that of frequent appearances in the illustrated society papers?
§ Sir V. Warrender
I can assure the hon. Lady that what she suggests in the last part of her supplementary question is not the basis on which appointments are made. I do not think that she would really endeavour to establish that the possession or non-possession of a title is a qualification or a disqualification. These ladies were selected as being considered the best choice which was available. I think it could be said for the most part that they are ladies who have taken a prominent part in local activities and that on that ground alone, they were suitable for these positions.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Is it not singular that these positions should always be filled by persons who belong to what is called the upper classes?
Would it not be possible for the hon. Lady the Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) to be given honorary rank?