HC Deb 01 April 1941 vol 370 cc834-8
10. Miss Ward

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any statement to make with regard to new arrangements for strengthening the health and welfare of sick members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service?

Captain Margesson

The facilities for the treatment of sick members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service are comparable in all respects to those provided for soldiers, and I propose, with my hon. Friend's permission, to circulate a detailed statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

As my hon. Friend is aware, an eminent woman doctor has been appointed to the Auxiliary Territorial Service Council to advise on all medical questions affecting the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

Miss Ward

I asked my right hon. and gallant Friend whether there were any new developments in regard to the health services. Can he say whether, as a Result of the appointment, there are any new proposals?

Captain Margesson

If my hon. Friend will be good enough to study the report which is to be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT, she will see what has been done.

Miss Ward

Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.

Following is the statement:

Auxiliary Territorial Service personnel who wish to report sick attend at the medical inspection room provided for the unit or detachment or nominated for use by the Auxiliary Territorial Service in any particular area, and can there receive out-patient treatment from the medical officer.

To meet the needs of those who require more than out-patient treatment, reception stations are provided for detachments of 300 and upwards and sick bays are opened at medical inspection rooms for smaller units. At reception stations, the medical officer, who may be a woman medical practitioner, has a staff including Voluntary Aid Detachment nursing members and members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, and may have a sister or staff nurse, if required. Auxiliary Territorial Service orderlies are authorised in sick bays where the strength of the detachment is over 40.

As regards hospital accommodation, a wing for Auxiliary Territorial Service patients has been established in a large military hospital near London,, and there are Auxiliary Territorial Service wards in over 20 of the larger military hospitals. In addition, military families hospitals are used for the Auxiliary Territorial Service, and all the hospitals of the Emergency Medical Service of the Ministry of Health are available for them.

So far as convalescent treatment is concerned, there is an Auxiliary Terri- torial Service convalescent depot, and a Red Cross convalescent home is reserved for the use of women serving with the Forces. Courses of lectures in hygiene have been arranged as part of the training of officers and other ranks of the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

11. Miss Ward

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give an assurance that no action which will be financially or materially prejudicial to the present status of the Auxiliary Territorial Service will be countenanced; and that no action will be taken against civilians reporting on conditions in the service through Parliamentary channels?

Captain Margesson

As regards the first part of the Question, I do not know whether my hon. Friend has any particular proposal in mind, but she may be assured that the interests of the Auxiliary Territorial Service will continue to engage my Department's close and sympathetic attention. With regard to the second part of the Question, I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to a misunderstanding which arose out of a long-standing decision to replace civilians by Royal Army Medical Corps women doctors, where available, on the panels formed to examine Auxiliary Territorial Service recruits. As my hon. Friend has since been informed, notice of the termination of their appointments was sent simultaneously to all the civilian members concerned, and there was therefore no question of discrimination against an individual.

Miss Ward

What were the difficulties with regard to the payment of civilian doctors referred to in the Under-Secretary's reply to my letter?

Captain Margesson

The decision to replace civilians by Royal Army Medical Corps personnel was taken partly because the method of payment of civilian doctors was unsatisfactory, and partly for the purpose of economising in medical personnel.

Miss Ward

Can my right hon. and gallant Friend tell me why the payment of civilian women doctors is unsatisfactory compared with the payment of male civilian doctors?

Captain Margesson

Perhaps my hon. Friend will put that Question on the Paper.

14. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction among the troops at the unsatisfactory character of Army libraries, particularly at the way in which the best books are retained for the officers' libraries; whether any steps are projected for improving the provision of books for the troops in quality and quantity; and whether the services of trained librarians at present serving in the Army will be utilised for organising these libraries on the best possible lines?

Captain Margesson

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the negative. All units have recently been circularised with a view to ascertaining the types of books for which there is most demand, and there is no reason to suppose that the supply is not satisfactory either in quantity or quality. As regards the reference to officers' libraries, the hon. Member will appreciate that both officers and men have access to the unit library, and the same books are therefore available to all. Officers' mess libraries, where maintained at public expense, do not contain recreational books, but official publications and books of an instructional nature. As regards the last part of the Question, I have no doubt that commanding officers will be glad to avail themselves of offers of assistance in the organisation of unit libraries from trained librarians serving in their units.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Minister aware that complaints in regard to the inadequacy of the libraries provided for the troops are being made not only by serving soldiers? Is it not very desirable that a public request should be made to all librarians to come forward and help?

Captain Margesson

No complaints of this nature have reached me.

Sir H. Williams

May I ask whether the "best books" referred to include Sir Walter Citrine's report on Soviet Russia?

Miss Rathbone

Is the Minister aware that soldiers have very little access to books which state the nature of the cause for which we are fighting and the horrors of Nazi rule? Will he see to it that the libraries are ever stocked with books of that kind to keep up the morale of the troops?

15. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Secretary of State for War under what conditions officers of the Regular Army are granted honorary rank of a higher grade to their substantive rank on being placed on retired pay; and whether such conditions also apply on retirement to officers of the Regular or Territorial Army Reserve and those who have held emergency commissions provided they have held acting or temporary rank for an inclusive period exceeding six months as in the last war?

Captain Margesson

I would ask my hon. Friend to await the outcome of discussions which are at present proceeding with the other two Service Departments.