HC Deb 13 March 1941 vol 369 cc1397-9
8. Sir Patrick Hannon

asked the Minister of Labour whether, following upon the appeal which he has made for the immediate registration of 100,000 women for employment in munitions production, he will state the organised methods which are being set in motion in order to bring this appeal to the homes of workers and to enlist the advocacy and co-operative effort of employers, trades union leaders and representatives of various societies dealing with the interests of women whose influence can be employed in this great national work?

9. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Minister of Labour the number of women for whom it is estimated there are immediate vacancies in war industries; and by what date he proposes these vacancies shall be filled?

Mr. Bevin

I propose to make a general statement on this subject at an early date.

Sir P. Hannon

Does my right hon. Friend realise that when an appeal of this kind is made by Ministers or their representatives it is important that some organisation should be created to follow it up and put into practical shape the substance of the appeal?

Mr. Bevin

The appeal was made to get an immediate response to fill certain vacancies. It is not in substitution of the more comprehensive scheme in which the two will be dovetailed together in the announcement I am to make.

Mr. Simmonds

Is it not a fact that there are hundreds of thousands of machines engaged on war work in the day-time which, owing to the lack of female labour, are idle at night; and does not my right hon. Friend think that some more advantageous steps should be taken to get these women into industry even though he cannot announce his full plans in the immediate future?

Mr. Bevin

The problem of night work and the problem of instructing women are two separate problems. I am afraid that some employers imagine that to order women with domestic responsibilities into factories at night is an easy problem. I can assure the House that to handle this women's problem is a very delicate matter.

Mr. Simmonds

Is it not a fact that although women with domestic responsibilities may not find it easy to work at night, there are hundreds of thousands of women without domestic responsibilities who, if they were correctly approached, would go into industry?

Mr. James Griffiths

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that it is essential in the interests of national unity to understand that this appeal is not to working women only but to other women who are now wasting their time?

Mr. Bevin

The proposed registration will be universal.