HC Deb 20 November 1946 vol 430 cc859-60
The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Bellenger)

With Mr. Speaker's permission I propose to make a statement about extended service engagements for the Women's Services.

As announced to the House by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour on 30th May last, the Government have decided that the W.R.N.S., the A.T.S. and the W.A.A.F. will be continued on a voluntary basis as permanent features of the Armed Forces of the Crown, and it is the Government's intention to introduce at a later date the necessary legislation. The A.T.S. and the W.A.A.F,, with such alteration in titles as may be necessary and appropriate to their altered status, will be incorporated in the Army and the R.A.F. respectively and will be subject to the Army and Air Force Acts, with such modification as may be desirable. It is not the intention to make the W.R.N.S. subject to the Naval Discipline Act.

Pending the passing of this legislation the Government have decided to offer to women of the W.R.N.S., the A.T.S. and the W.A.A.F. now serving, and to those who have already been released, an opportunity of entering into an extended service engagement in these Services. The recruitment of women on emergency engagements will continue and both these women and the women who enter into extended service engagements will be eligible to apply for transfer to regular engagements when such engagements are introduced. Women appointed to extended service engagements will be given the option of leaving the Service on marriage, subject to a minimum period of notice.

The scheme will be opened immediately and will remain open for a limited time only. I will, with permission, circulate the broad lines of the extended service scheme for the W.R.N.S., the A.T.S. and the W.A.A.F. in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I am sure that I can count on the coopera- tion of Members in bringing the advantages of the scheme to the attention of their constituents who may be serving or who have served in the Women's Forces during the war.

Major Legge-Bourke

Is it the intention that members of the Women's Services would serve abroad?

Mr. Bellenger

I imagine that some may be given the opportunity, but I should not like to give a specific reply to that question now.

Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite

Will the rates of pay be as at present?

Mr. Bellenger

I have referred to rates of pay in the statement which I am circulating.

Following is the statement: