By Rosie Cox
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Additional resources for Au Pairs' Lives in Global Context: Sisters or Servants?
9 The entry of foreigners for employment, including domestic service, was allowed upon receipt of a permit that was usually issued for no longer than one year but could be renewed at the end of that period. Around 4,475 permits were issued to foreign women seeking domestic situations in 1930. 10 The rhetoric was nevertheless powerful enough to convince a population severely hit by the economic depression that foreign domestic servants were displacing English ones. The figure of the ‘foreign au pair visitor’ emerged in this context as a way of softening the blow of public criticism against the recruitment of foreign maids.
E. ‘in exchange’) was required to show that the proposed arrangement was of mutual benefit to both parties; interchange of languages was one key advantage. 11 The vagueness of the policy, particularly relating to what counted as work that was ‘normally’ paid for, soon raised questions about the abuse of those conditions. 12 Hoare’s defence of the au pair policy is perhaps unsurprising given that this was a practice mostly favoured by upper-middle-class families in Britain and on the Continent, who knew each other or had mutual friends and swapped daughters for a time to improve the girl’s general education and knowledge of languages.
20. National Health Service Act, 1946 (LMA), LCC/CL/PH/01/126: Domestic Help Service (1949–1957). 21. Household Service Sectional Committee: Minutes of Meeting on 13 March 1946, LMA, ACC/3613/01/58. 22. Friends of the Island Newsletter, June/July 1958, LMA, ACC/1888/026. 23. ‘Families Exploited by Au Pair Girls’, Times, 30/05/1962. 24. ‘Au Pair’ in Britain, Home Office leaflet, 1960. 25. British Vigilance Association, ‘Report on Labour Permit and “Au Pair” Situation in Great Britain’, April 1958, Women’s Library, File 4/BVA/A/15, Box FL344, p 1.