HC Deb 07 November 1939 vol 353 cc22-3
36. Mrs. Adamson

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a large amount of clerical and typing work is being done in the outstations of his Department by members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service; whether it is with his authority that women applicants for employment at Ministry of Labour Employment Exchanges are being informed that there is no possibility of their being placed in clerical posts in the Government service unless they are prepared to join the Auxiliary Territorial Service; and whether he will take steps to bring an end to this undue pressure, and also help to solve the present unemployment problem by allowing clerical and typing posts in his Department to be filled by the appointment of suitable civilian applicants registered at the Employment Exchanges?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

The answer to the first part of the question is "Yes, Sir." The Auxiliary Territorial Service has a definite place in our military organisation and has a patriotic appeal which is of the utmost value. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour informs me that there is no warranty for the suggestion contained in the second part of the question, and while Ministry of Labour offices doubtless inform all applicants of vacancies, there is no pressure put upon them to join the Auxiliary Territorial Service. Those who do so are uniformly inspired by the same motives of service as impel men to undertake military duties. The last part of the question does not, therefore, arise except that the Auxiliary Territorial Service is a mobile service and its members can perform work of the utmost value in all areas, including those where civilians are not available. No woman employé of the War Department has been displaced by a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, but many men have been released for service.

Mrs. Adamson

Will the right hon. Gentleman take into consideration any facts that we can give him in regard to the pressure that is being brought to bear on these women?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

At the Employment Exchanges? I will certainly take into consideration any facts which the hon. Lady lays before me.