HC Deb 15 December 1948 vol 459 cc1206-9
46. Mr. Cobb

asked the Minister of Defence whether he is yet in a position to make a statement upon pay and allowances of the Women's Services.

47. Mrs. Middleton

asked the Minister of Defence whether he is yet in a position to make a statement upon pay and allowances in the Women's Services.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. A. V. Alexander)

With permission, I will ask my hon. Friends to await the statement I propose to make at the end of Questions.

At the end of Questions

Mr. Alexander

The Government have now reviewed the pay codes of the Women's Royal Naval Service, the Auxiliary Territorial Service and the Women's Auxiliary Air Force.

During the war these Women's Services were paid at approximately two-thirds of men's rates—the ratio originally applied when the A.T.S. was first established on a non-regular basis in 1938. When the post-war codes of pay and allowances for officers and men of the Forces were introduced in July, 1946, the Women's Services remained on their existing pay code, but officers were given an increase of 1s. a day and other ranks an increase of 8d. a day, as a provisional arrangement pending consideration of the future organisation and structure of these Services.

They are now to form a permanent part of the Armed Forces of the Crown, and the A.T.S. and W.A.A.F. will be incorporated in the Army and R.A.F. respectively under the Army and Air Force (Women's Services) Act which passed through the House earlier this year.

The Government have decided, therefore, that the pay of the Women's Services should again be fixed as a proportion of that of men in the Forces and that this proportion should be raised from the wartime level of about two-thirds to about three-quarters. This ratio will confer increases, in many cases substantial increases, over present rates of pay, the cost of which on present strengths will be approximately £1 million a year. Arrangements will be made on similar lines to those adopted for the men's Forces to ensure the retention of existing rates of pay in any case where by reason for example of War Service Increments these exceed the new rates.

Officers and other ranks of the Women's Services are, of course, entitled, in addition to basic pay, to free accommodation and rations, or allowances in lieu. These allowances will continue to be at the same rates as those for men.

Following the decision to establish the Women's Services on a permanent basis, the Government have also decided to establish scales of retired pay, Service pensions and long service gratuities. Those for the men's Forces were fixed on the basis that men in the Forces are often retired in middle life and will generally have family commitments. These considerations do not apply to women to the same degree, and retired pay, pensions and gratuities for the Women's Services have accordingly been fixed at about two-thirds of those of men of corresponding rank and length of service.

I am arranging for a White Paper to be issued as soon as possible giving full details of the new rates which will be effective from 24th November, 1948. In the meantime I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a comparative statement showing typical basic rates of pay under the old and new scales.

Mr. Cobb

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that this extra cost of £1 million a year is gross, and that he ought to set off against this the saving which is effected by appointing a large number of women in the Services to do men's jobs, which is occasioning a considerable saving? While thanking my right hon. Friend for the moderately satisfactory increase of about 13 per cent., I wish to ask him if he will see that the Women's Services are posted and handled in such a way that their expenses are kept down to a minimum?

Mr. Alexander

I am not necessarily able to accept, in the case of all appointments of women, the principle outlined by my hon. Friend. It may be that in some cases some saving could be shown but in most cases I would not admit the principle. I will look into the second point which my hon. Friend has mentioned.

Mr. Eden

I quite understand the principle on which the right hon. Gentleman has proceeded, but is he quite sure that it will work out satisfactorily and that he will not find a position in which the junior officer will get the least percentage increase and the senior officer the largest percentage increase?

Mr. Alexander

I am quite certain from all the consultations with the Services themselves that they would wish the different grades in the Women's Services to have the same ratio of grades and intervals between grades as exist in the men's Forces. It is giving them a permanent Regular status, with every single grade having a rate of pay at a fixed ratio to that of the men.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Will the Minister of Defence say whether the Women's Services are satisfied with these increases?

Mr. Alexander

I should think that they will be eminently satisfied.

Sir Ian Fraser

Will retired pay and long service pensions be raised consequentially and pro rata?

Mr. Alexander

The cases of pensions and gratuities have hardly applied previously in the case of the women's Services except in cases of gratuities which may arise in special re-engagements of short-service women. In effect, therefore, these are new rates but they are on a fixed principle of two-thirds of what is being paid to the men.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the Minister of Defence aware that these new conditions make the women's Services more attractive than the nursing profession in Scotland? Is he aware that we have insufficient nurses in Scotland to nurse tuberculous victims of the last war, and will he cease recruiting women for the Armed Forces until we meet the need in respect of tuberculosis patients?

Mr. Alexander

I cannot possibly accept that principle. I am quite sure that the position of the women in the nursing services will be effectively dealt with elsewhere. I cannot give up the necessity of recruiting all the women necessary until we reach our target.

Wing-Commander Hulbert

Can the hon. Gentleman confirm that the professional branches in the women's Services will not be affected by anything which he has said today? They now have the same rates as men.

Mr. Alexander

I take it that the hon. and gallant Member is referring to doctors and dentists. They will be treated exactly

The rates shown in this Table are typical annual cash rates of basic pay for women officers in the A.T.S. who also receive food and accommodation in kind. They are reasonably typical of the W.A.A.F. but W.R.N.S. rates, because of earlier promotion under the Naval system, will in certain ranks be somewhat lower than the rates, rank for rank, of A.T.S. and W.A.A.F. officers. W.R.N.S. officers' rates of pay will be about three-quarters of the rates of pay of Naval officers of corresponding rank
Present Rates New Rates
Basic Rates Basic Rates
Daily Annual Daily Annual
s. d. £ s. d. £
2nd Subaltern 8 4 152 2nd Subaltern 9 9 177
Subaltern 9 8 176 Subaltern 11 3 205
Junior Commander 12 0 219 Junior Commander 17 3 314
Senior Commander 20 0 365 Senior Commander 26 3 479
Chief Commander 29 8 541 Chief Commander 35 6 647
Controller 34 3 625 Controller 48 9 889
Senior Controller 39 10 726 Senior Controller 57 9 1,053
NOTE: In addition to the rates shown there will be incremental pay on the same basis as for male officers in certain ranks.