§ General Sir George Jeffreys (by Private Notice)
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any information to give the House regarding the strength and status of the Auxiliary Territorial Service?
§ The Secretary of State for War (Captain Margesson)
Yes, Sir. The Auxiliary Territorial Service has proved so valuable to the Army in replacement of men that the Government have decided to increase its numbers greatly and to enlarge the range of duties which it performs. Members of the Service are already discharging important functions connected with the air defence of Great Britain as well as with the rest of the Forces at home, and these are of a character which renders it desirable that the volunteers performing them should be definitely declared members of the Armed Forces of the Crown. The whole Service will accordingly be given full military status. Women will, of course, be employed only on work for which they have a special aptitude, but the House should know that such work includes duties at searchlight and gun stations. We have a particular need for women with good educational qualifications. The Service will remain a women's Service under the general direction of women, and the disciplinary Code of the Army will be applied to it only in so far as the wider responsibilities now envisaged necessitate. I should explain that existing members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service enrolled on the specific understanding that they would be subject on active service to military law and to such penalties as might then be prescribed. They are therefore not being made subject to conditions inconsistent with the terms on which they were enrolled, and I have every reason to believe that they will welcome their new status.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Will this change necessitate any change in the Army Act governing the discipline of the Auxiliary Territorial Force?
§ Captain Margesson
No, Sir, there will not be any change. It simply means that the parts of the Act which are applicable to women's service will be applied to the Auxiliary Territorial Service.
Miss Cazalet (by Private Notice)
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he has any information to give the House regarding the strength and status of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Captain Harold Balfour)
Yes, Sir. The Government have decided to introduce similar measures in respect of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force to those just announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War in connection with the Auxiliary Territorial Service. It is proposed to give full Air Force status to the W.A.A.F., but the Force will continue as heretofore so far as its organisation and administration are concerned, and the disciplinary code of the R.A.F. will be applied to it only in so far as is appropriate and necessary in view of the wider spheres of employment which are envisaged for it. The position of existing members of the Force is similar to that outlined by the Secretary of State for War in respect of the Auxiliary Territorial Service. It is proposed greatly to increase the strength of this Force, so as to allow of the greatest practicable substitution of women for men over a wider range of duties.