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Widowers (Domestic Help)

Volume 387: debated on Thursday 18 March 1943

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that widowers with families are being deprived of the services of their daughters for housekeeping even where the girls are only experienced in domestic work; that these girls have been told they must take work of national importance and that other girls, already engaged on munition work, will have to undertake household duties; and will he say what purpose is served by this action?

I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to cases where a widower father has two daughters, one of whom acts as housekeeper, and the other is employed on munitions. In an area where immobile women are available as substitutes it is in the national interest for one or other of the daughters of the widower father to leave home and go to work which has to be done by a mobile woman and for any consequent vacancy in munitions to be filled by a woman who in no circumstances could be expected to leave the district. I am prepared to leave it to the family to decide which daughter shall leave home. The other who remains at home will probably be available for some employment locally. In other areas where the daughter on munitions could not be replaced by the services of an immobile woman, the housekeeping daughter is not sent away from home, even though, when considered solely from the point of view of exceptional hardship, postponement would not be justified.

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that a considerable amount of hardship is being caused through daughters who have been working as housekeepers being called up for National Service, so that no-one has been left to look after the house?

I have dealt with a number of cases, but if my hon. Friend has others and will let me have them, I will look into them immediately.

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that in the last few weeks I have sent him a number of cases on the same point? Last week I had a reply from him which had the effect of depriving a widower of any female help whatsoever.