6 JANUARY 1923, Page 24


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—In the discussions on Government schemes for training girls for domestic service instead of giving them doles, one aspect of the case seems to have been little noticed—the increasing employment of foreign girls. The shortage of domestic servants has never been seriously felt by the rich. Where a dozen servants are kept they have always been procurable. It is the middle class mothers of young families, and the ever-increasing class of professional women, who cannot possibly do their own domestic work, who find it difficult to obtain trained help even at the present high wages. But they are now discovering that Danish girls of a superior class are glad to come here and give their cheerful help in what is to them an interesting and skilled occupation. German Swiss cooks are also arriving, and in one instance I know of a coloured cook who was sent all the way from South Africa, because her mistress on coming home to England found it difficult to get a capable maid. If, with Government help or otherwise, domestic service is organized and some standard of efficiency insisted upon, it might be raised to the status of a skilled profession like that of nursing.

The Labour Members who scoff at the suggestion as " train- ing slaves for other women " evidently know nothing of the present conditions of domestic service. Nor, perhaps, do they realize that to turn an untrained factory girl into a skilled domestic worker, to teach her habits of order, cleanliness and gentle speech, is to make her a far more desirable wife and mother when, after perhaps a few years of well-paid work, she starts a home and family of her own. Surely such training is better for any self-respecting girl than to receive a dole and learn nothing, while a stranger takes her place as helper in our homes ?—I am, Sir, &c., ERI•ESTI'E MILLS.