HC Deb 05 October 1944 vol 403 cc1105-6
21. Mr. Lewis

asked the Minister of Labour if he will consider whether under existing circumstances he can now allow all married women who have homes of their own to look after but who have been directed to various forms of employment to leave such employment if they so desire.

Mr. Bevin

No, Sir, I regret that the demands of war production and the maintenance of necessary civilian supplies and services will not permit of any general adoption of my hon. Friend's suggestion in present circumstances.

Mr. Lewis

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise the very grave social consequences involved? Will he undertake that, as soon as circumstances permit, he will release these women, if necessary by successive age groups?

Mr. Bevin

The whole matter of release is being gone into, and I cannot give any pledge at this stage. I hope at a later date to issue a White Paper, as has been done for soldiers, sailors and airmen.

Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of releasing elderly and middle-aged married women—those over 45—from their present employment?

Mr. Bevin

That is being considered but I have two difficulties. I have been pressed to release people for the re-establishment of our trade, and I take the view up to now that if I can retain in the munitions industries people who will peter out of those industries altogether, and thus release other people to get our trade going, I shall get a balance which will enable trade to start and still keep munitions going.

Mr. Bellenger

Will this White Paper, which I take it will deal with industrial demobilisation, be issued before the close of the Session? Mr. Bevin: I cannot promise that.

Sir Herbert Williams

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that, before the White Paper is published, he will place in the Library an index so that we can find all these White Papers?

Mr. Bevin

I should have thought that the hon. Member who spends so much time in the House would know everything that is here.