Skip to main content

Vad Nurses

Volume 116: debated on Wednesday 10 April 1940

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

5.29 p.m.

had the following Notice on the Paper: To call attention to the status of V.A.D. nurses at the present time compared with their position in the last Great War; to emphasize the necessity of improved accommodation for them by the military authorities; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I understand that the Under-Secretary of State for War will make a statement with regard to this matter and I beg formally to move for Papers.

My Lords, I should like to express my obligation to my noble friend Lord Daryngton for not pressing the Motion which stands in his name on the Paper to-day. I saw him this morning, and made certain suggestions which led him to take the action he has now taken. The matter which he wished to discuss has been engaging the very careful attention of the War Office for several months. It is not by any means an easy matter upon which to reach general agreement. No fewer that five Departments of His Majesty's Government are interested in this question, as well, of course, as the V.A.D. Council and the Executive Committee of the Red Cross. I had hoped that I could have indicated to your Lordships the basis upon which we expected to reach an agreement, but at this stage of the proceedings, when we are hoping to reach agreement within the next few weeks, no good purpose would be served by my doing so to-day, and it might even lead to some further difficulties. I have put that to my noble friend Lord Daryngton and he agrees. If my noble friend will repeat his Motion in the course of the next few weeks I hope then to be able to give him a very full reply as to the agreement that we have been able to reach, and the differences which it will make in the status and general welfare of the women who are employed under the Army Council.

5.42 p.m.

My Lords, I would like to say, in reference to what the noble Viscount has just stated, that I got information only this morning that he would like this Motion withdrawn today. Therefore I must apologise to your Lordships for not having done anything about it before now. There is an intense feeling in the country upon this question, not only with regard to the V.A.Ds., but in regard to women's work and war work generally. The amount of correspondence that I have received since I put this Motion on the Paper has made me realise the intensity of the feeling that exists. I have great regard for the noble Viscount, and, apart from the War Office, I should not like to do anything he did not wish me to do. I should be quite willing to bring forward this Motion at a later date if it is thought wise that I should do so. I do not want to prejudice the position. I want, if possible, to find a via media by which this difficulty can be overcome. I think these women, who are a very important part of the community, have a great grievance, because I raised this question in the first instance as long ago as last December. It is some time since I took any steps in this matter, and I wanted to explain to your Lordships exactly how the present position has arisen. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

5.44 P.m.

My Lords, if I may, by permission of the House, I will say a few words on this matter. I happen to be directly connected with the negotiations going on at the War Office at the present time, and I only wish now to emphasize the very great feeling that has been provoked owing to the status of the members of the V.A.D. in many parts of the country. The matter is of really serious importance, and I would venture to urge upon my noble friend Lord Cobham and on the War Office that a solution of this matter should be expedited lest a considerable amount of harm be done. Already the matter has taken considerably longer time than some of us had hoped would be necessary. Therefore, I venture on this occasion merely to emphasize the importance of it, not only from the point of view of those who are members of Voluntary Aid Detachments, but also of the nursing and military services as a whole.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

House adjourned at a quarter before six o'clock.