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Florence Nightingale Letters

[Letter, Rosalind Nash to Florence Nightingale, January 15, 1893] Nash, Rosalind Nightingale Jan 15, 1893

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 Please return to F.N.   Loughton, 15 Jan 1893   Dear Aunt Florence, Mr. Asquith intends to appoint women factory inspectors, not specially for sanitary arrangements, but, to being with for certain trades in which women only are employed.  He intends to make a small beginning & will watch the experiment & no doubt make such arrangements as experience justifies.  The probability is that they will be attached to a trade, rather than to a district & will work under a Chief Inspector but Asquith told Vaughan this the other day in conversation and this is of course strictly confidential.  This plan will I think answer some of your questions as to the best methods. I suppose those who are in the deputation know that the suspension of sanitary arrangements in workshops is now in the first resort under the local sanitary authority.  The factory inspector is supposed to notify the sanitary authority if he finds things wrong, whilst in the case of factories he himself takes action. If the deputation want women sanitary inspectors for workshops they would therefore have to approach the local authorities or the local Government Board whilst if they want sanitary inspection in factories the only course is to ask for women factory inspectors who would have the opportunity of seeing how things were in the workshops whilst discharging their non-sanitary duties in workshops. I should hardly think it advisable that the deputation should go in for advising Mr. Asquith as to the methods of appointment, or dismissal or the status of the women inspectors.  But perhaps that is not what was intended.  Any one in touch with him might perhaps suggest privately that those who are selected should be given to understand that in, say, a year's time they should be expected to pass an examination to bring them up at any rate to the men's inspectors' standard.  As to selection, I believe Mr. Asquith has for some time past been giving very careful attention to the matter & he has no doubt consulted freely those who would be likely to know, as to the best people.  I am afraid that the system of selection adopted in the future will depend so much upon the Home Secretary that it will be very difficult to form any self-acting scheme for the selection of good people on their own merits, apart from examination.  The Home Office as you know has no doctor or sanitarian in connexion with its factory department & no standard of efficiency, worth speaking of, is required of its officials.  If we had our experts, there would be an examining board who might be trusted.  But there doesn't seem to be the least chance of getting them whilst the present person is Chancellor of the Exchequer. I see no reason why women inspectors should not ultimately act in places where both women and men are employed, though there would be a little official friction at first.  But I think it is wise to being with such trades as dressmaking & those departments of textile industry in which women only are employed. Personally I quite agree that it would be a mistake to draw the inspectors from any one class only.  Since suitable women could surely be found in any. Mr. Asquith deserves some credit as every official in the Factory Dept whom he has consulted is dead against women inspectors. I have been writing this with the assistance of my private secretary, whose handwriting I hope you will be able to read, whilst I have been resting. We shall be coming into London for an evening function at South Kensington on the 16th.  I wonder whether it would suit you to see me that afternoon. With our love Ever yours Rosalind Nash


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