HC Deb 25 October 1949 vol 468 cc1148-9
36. Mrs. Leah Manning

asked the Secretary of State for War what arrangements are made for the welfare, education and recreation of young women serving with all Forces abroad, especially in Austria.

Mr. Shinwell

Women serving with the Army abroad receive the same educational and welfare facilities as men. These include preparation for Army certificates of education and a wide range of voluntary studies, and cultural and recreational activities. In Austria, in particular, there are, in addition to unit canteens, to which women may bring their friends, Young Women's Christian Association establishments at Klagenfurt and Vienna, and a Catholic Women's League Hostel at Zermoos. Leave centres are provided for both summer and winter.

At Klagenfurt, the Crusaders' Club run by the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute, has regular dances and whist-drives; there is a cinema three times a week and frequent entertainments are given by the Young Men's Christian Association in the barracks. Organised games and sports include netball, tennis, riding, skiing and fencing, and educational centres provide music and art. Recreational transport is available.

Mrs. Manning

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in a recent case it was stated that after they had finished their duties there was nothing for young women to do except drink or go back to their lodgings? Are these young women free to take advantage of the numerous activities he has mentioned; and are there people who will help these young women and introduce them to these activities?

Mr. Shinwell

I must say that the allegations to which my hon. Friend refers have no foundation in fact. The women members of the Forces in this theatre have access to all the facilities to which I have referred. I have recently been there and made personal inquiries, and I am satisfied that they are contented.

Professor Savory

Would the right hon. Gentleman inform us what efforts are being made to teach these young ladies the German language instead of whist-driving, and that sort of thing?

Mr. Shinwell

Facilities for acquiring a knowledge of the German and other languages are available in the educational centres.

Mrs. Jean Mann

Does access to these facilities include access to bars and access to gin?

Mr. Shinwell

So far as the unit canteens are concerned, no spirits of any kind are sold.

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