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Wrns (Meal Complaints)

Volume 531: debated on Wednesday 27 October 1954

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty to give details of the inquiry which he has ordered into the diet of the Women's Royal Naval Service.

I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to reports in the Press concerning meals of ratings of the Women's Royal Naval Service at Lee-on-Solent. I have ascertained that the complaints made were exaggerated, and could have been dealt with earlier had they been represented by the ratings in the proper Service manner. They certainly do not call for any general inquiry into the messing of these ratings, which is, I am glad to say, on a high standard.

May I ask the Minister whether there are not catering officers employed in the Navy, in the same way as in the Army and Air Force, and is it not their duty to study the diets provided for the various personnel? May I ask whether it is not just as easy to employ women cooks as well as men cooks to serve women personnel? Are there not mess committee meetings held at various intervals in the same way as meetings were held before the war and at home stations during the war, at which such complaints as the one under discussion could be dealt with?

In answer to my hon. Friend's first point, I would say that we do attach great importance to catering in the Navy. We have a Supply captain on the Council of the Hotel and Catering Institute, and other officers are members. The matter is treated very seriously. With regard to men cooks and women cooks, there are certain establishments in the Royal Navy where there are female cooks, but that is not the case at the place that was mentioned in the Press. There are, of course, mess committees which deal with such complaints, and that is what I meant when I said that representations should have been made in the proper Service manner. As a matter of fact, the complaints from this particular place were extremely varied and sometimes very contradictory.