§ 40. Miss Wilkinson
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the minimum age for commissions in the Women's Royal Naval Service; how many commissions have been granted to girls under that age; and whether he will consider raising the age at which these commissions can be granted and insisting that such minimum shall be observed in all cases?
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty (Sir Victor Warrender)
Officers of the Women's Royal Naval Service do not receive commissions. The minimum age for entry into the W.R.N.S. is 18 years, but in practice a rule is being applied that no candidate shall be granted officer rank who is less than 21 years of age. There are nine officers serving who are exceptions to this rule; seven of them are 20 and two are 19 years of age. All of these young women were called up on the outbreak of war having received training prior to it. I am satisfied that great care is taken in the selection of officers for the W.R.N.S., none of whom is placed in charge of a unit if she is under 25 years of age, and I see no reason for interfering with existing practice.
§ Miss Wilkinson
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some of these very young girls are engaged merely on routine clerical work, and does he not think that some inquiry should be made into granting commissions, or whatever they are called in this case, to girls so young and doing purely routine work?
§ Sir V. Warrender
From inquiries that I have made, I am advised that experience does not bear out what the hon. Lady has said. These young ladies are discharging their duties most efficiently.
§ Miss Wilkinson
Will the Minister be so kind as to reply to the actual Question which I put to him, in view of the fact that I did not make any criticisms of what these girls are doing? I was only 1220 asking for an inquiry to be made as to whether it is necessary to rank for commission young girls doing purely routine clerical work?