HC Deb 09 February 1948 vol 447 cc8-10
15. Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

asked the Minister of Works whether his attention has been called to the details of form 6662, dated 29th October, 1947, which forms the basis of a questionnaire to housewives about their cooking appliances; whether he is aware that this questionnaire contains 392 questions, including a demand for information as to the precise height of each housewife in inches; what is the estimated cost of the inquiry to be conducted with the use of this form, and whether it is still intended to proceed with it as originally arranged.

Mr. Key

This form is being used in connection with an inquiry undertaken by my Department in collaboration with the Ministry of Fuel and Power at the request of the Central Housing Advisory Committee. The object is to ascertain what type of solid fuel cooker best meets the requirements of the user. The inquiry involves visits to some 500 housewives and will be completed within two months at a cost of approximately £400. The form calls for a maximum of 137 answers and is not completed by the housewife but by the officer conducting the inquiry. I am glad to say that the housewives who have been interviewed have been most co-operative.

Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

In view of the extreme gravity of the position in this country, is it really necessary to employ the staff, spend public money and, above all, waste the time of the housewives, in answering II pages of questions? Has not the housewife got enough to do already standing in queues?

Mr. Key

Most housewives in this country have in the past had to put up with inadequate equipment in their homes, and we are doing a real public service now in making the necessary changes in the equipment for the benefit of the people who have to use it.

Mr. Marlowe

Can the Minister say how the housewife is to answer question 9 (J), which asks whether she finds it easier to shut the oven door with her hand, or her foot, or with neither, or with both?

Mrs. Leah Manning

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is quite time that household apparatus scientifically adapted to a woman's anatomy should be prepared in this country, and that I should have no trouble in answering question 9 (J), and know exactly how to shut an oven door with my hand, my foot, neither and both?

Mr. Key

The interpretation which has been put upon question 9 (J) by the hon. and learned Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) is an entirely false one, because that question does not ask the question which the hon. and learned Member has stated.

Mr. Marlowe

On a point of Order. Since the right hon. Gentleman says it does not ask that question, may I refer him to question 9 (J), which states: Is the oven door easier to open with one hand, by foot, both or neither?

Mr. Key

As is usual with people who make false statements, the hon. Member has omitted one very important word in the question. It says: Is the oven door easy to open"— [Laughter.] The laugh will be the other way in a minute. Is the oven door easy to open with one hand"— then, No. 2, not "by foot," but— by foot lever, which is an entirely different thing.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

I think we had better close the battle now.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

On a point of Order—

Mr. Speaker

I think we have gone on long enough on this subject.

Sir T. Moore

I understood, Mr. Speaker, I had been fortunate enough to catch your eye to ask a supplementary question, but my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Marlowe) got in his point of Order first. I would, therefore, suggest that when the point of Order had been disposed of, my supplementary question might have been heard.

Mr. Speaker

The contest has lasted long enough. We had better get on to the next Question.