HC Deb 23 January 1945 vol 407 cc642-3
51. Captain Prescott

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether there is a general ban on the employment in Government Departments of married women doctors; and whether, in view of their special qualifications, especially for employment in the Ministry of Health, he will consider action to secure their employment in suitable cases.

Sir J. Anderson

The normal rule is that married women are ineligible for appointment to established posts in the Civil Service, and that women holding such posts should be required to resign on marriage; but an exception may be made, upon application by the woman concerned, in any case where it is considered that the employment of a married woman is advisable in the light of her special qualifications, or special experience in relation to the duties required of her, or of the special requirements of the Department concerned. In view of the power to make exceptions in such cases, no special action seems to be needed in relation to women doctors.

Captain Prescott

In view of the shortage of doctors at the present time, a shortage which is likely to continue in the future, and of the special adaptability of women doctors for certain branches of the Service, ought not the general ban to be lifted?

Sir J. Anderson

The case of doctors is certainly very special, and, as I have just explained, the general rule can be relaxed. I know of no case whatever in which permission has been refused to a woman doctor.

Captain Prescott

Why should the ban be retained? Is it not redundant, actually?

Sir J. Anderson

That is a matter of debate.

Sir H. Williams

Would it not be better to do away entirely with the ban on the employment of married women? Are they not more sensible than spinsters?

Mr. Gallacher

Is not the Government policy one of equality on this question, as applied to married teachers? Why cannot it be the same in regard to married doctors? Why does it work in one way and not in the other?

58. Mrs. Cazalet Keir

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many women have been retained, on marriage, in the Civil Service since the outbreak of war.

Sir J. Anderson

Very large numbers of women have been retained on marriage in the Civil Service during the war, though in an unestablished capacity; I regret that no figures are available.

Mrs. Cazalet Keir

Does not my right hon. Friend think the time has come when, in the best interests of the Civil Service itself, this old fashioned marriage bar regulation should be done away with?

Sir J. Anderson

My hon. Friend must realise that this is a matter on which there is considerable difference of opinion, and difference of opinion in the Civil Service. I do not think it should be a matter for a snap decision at Question Time.