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Clause 13 (Sister Tutors)

Volume 388: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1943

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I beg to move, in page 9, line 34, at the end, to add:

"Such persons shall be known as nursing teachers and shall include male and female."
In some quarters I have been given credit for knowing English, but I should never be satisfied as to the correct designation of what is now known as a sister tutor that would include both male and female. In the nursing profession various training schools have decided upon "sister tutor." The Royal College of Nursing grants a certificate for what it terms a "nursing tutor." If these authorities are unable to find a euphemistic term acceptable to nurses and describing them satisfactorily, I feel no shame in confessing my bankruptcy in this respect, and I ask the Minister to consider the difficulties of the position. The sister tutor is so termed not because that officer is a woman but because there is an office or grade of nurse which has arrived at the position of sister. There are no brothers among the male nurses, notwithstanding that an hon. Lady said previously that she knew of at least one. There are many male teachers of nurses. If we are to tidy up this matter we must try to do the job properly.

If there are men engaged in teaching, why should we not have a recognised term and, instead of a nurse-teacher's certificate being issued by one body and an assistant-teacher's diploma by another, say that there shall be one type of examination and one title, which shall include both male and female? I hope that the reasonableness of this suggestion may be seen. I do not know whether the world is undergoing a side-slip, but the masculine gender is losing its superiority. A mere male can never attain to the dignity of the female in some cases. You cannot have a male nurse on the register. He is on the supplementary register. I consider that is unfair. True, he may not study gynæcology or obstetrics, but he would if you would let him. He qualifies in accordance with what is required and attains the standard which has been laid down. If he does that, why should he not be given the same status as is given to a woman? In some cases the male nurse studies, to a greater degree than the female, genito-urinary diseases. My idea is to simplify this designation and get a term sufficiently comprehensive to indicate that the teacher has reached a required status. In our legislation we always use the language of the masculine gender to include the feminine. We need a term which is sufficiently descriptive. I am not wedded to my phraseology, and I hope that the Minister will give his attention to the matter. Many male nurses feel that they are entitled to the position they have attained. I hope we can get some encouragement from the Minister on this point.

I would like to assure the hon. Gentleman that there is complete equality between male and female teachers. If he will look at Clause 13, he will see that there is no difference between men and women. The marginal note only says: "Sister tutors." We are suggesting that the marginal note should be, "Qualifications for the teaching of nurs- ing." Once we get that into the marginal note the difficulty will be overcome. There is nothing in the Clause to suggest difference between male and female teachers. When the wording is the same for both, it would be a pity to decide here and now by Act of Parliament what a person is to be called. If the hon. Member will agree to withdraw his Amendment, the change will be made in the marginal note, and there will then be nothing laid down by Act of Parliament as to what the teacher is to be called.

It has been my weakness in life that I have been unable to resist responding to the blandishments of the ladies. In this instance I must agree, and I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdraw.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 14 ordered to stand part of the Bill.