HC Deb 20 July 1949 vol 467 cc1342-3
2. Mr. Langford-Holt

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many Women's Royal Naval Service personnel are employed at Chequers; and on which Vote their cost is borne.

Mr. Dugdale

There are at present 13 W.R.N.S. ratings serving at Chequers. They are paid initially from Navy Votes, a grant towards the cost of their pay and victualling being made from the Chequers Trust Fund, and credited as an appropriation in aid.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House what are the duties of the W.R.N.S. at Chequers? I am not complaining of the fact that there are W.R.N.S. at Chequers, but I wonder if he could tell us what their duties are. Secondly, would he make a point of seeing that no charge for these duties goes on the Navy Vote at a time when this House keeps very strict watch on this Vote?

Mr. Dugdale

The duties are the ordinary household duties of cooks and stewards. So far as the cost is concerned, we receive a refund of £800 a year for victualling, and apart from that, £600 by way of grant from the Chequers Trust.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Would my right hon. Friend say whether this practice of employing women at Chequers was not started when the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) was Prime Minister?

Mr. Dugdale

Yes, Sir. That is perfectly correct.

Captain Marsden

Are these W.R.N.S. volunteers, and if not, why not, in view of the fact that they joined the Naval Service and are now employed in the heart of the country?

Mr. Dugdale

No, Sir. They are drafted, and they are drafted in the service of the Prime Minister who is himself the head of our defence. It is perfectly correct that they should be so drafted, in the opinion of the Admiralty.