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Written Answers

Volume 345: debated on Thursday 30 March 1939

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Written Answers


Chain Stores And Football Pool Employés

asked the Minister of Labour whether girls employed on one or two days only during each week by chain stores or football pools receive unemployment pay for the days they are not at work?

Persons normally employed for not more than two days a week are, in general, disentitled to benefit under the Anomalies Regulations. The question whether the regulations apply in any particular case is, of course, one for determination by the independent statutory authorities.

Insured Persons (Statistics)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will give the estimated number of insured persons 14 to 65 years of age in employment, with the number of registered as unemployed in the several administrative divisions, Ministry of Labour, at the end of the following years, 1923, 1929, 1930, 1934, 1935, and at the latest date?

pursuant to his reply (OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th March, 1939; col. 1943, Vol. 344), supplied the following statement:The available figures relate to a date in June of each year. The table below gives, for each administrative division, comparable figures showing (

a) the estimated numbers of insured persons, aged 16–64 years, in employment in June of the years 1923, 1929, 1930, 1934, 1935 and 1938, and ( b) the numbers of insured persons of those ages recorded as unemployed at the same dates. These figures are exclusive of workers insured under the special schemes for the banking and insurance industries, from whom a geographical analysis is not available.

Estimated numbers of insured persons, aged 16–64, in employment.
South Eastern6287978068779101,004
South Western633738742764783892
North Eastern1,1011,1581,0991,0931,1021,243
North Western1,6531,7971,6031,6741,6841,717
Great Britain9,61010,57510,15210,47810,69411,707

Numbers of insured persons, aged 16–64, recorded as unemployed.
South Eastern573353646473.
South Western7055731019271
North Eastern106150231280269200
North Western297259512422402426
Great Britain1,2161,1261,8482,0621,9331,741

(1) For 1923, when persons over 65 years of age were insurable, estimates have been made of the numbers aged 16–64.
(2) Juveniles under the age of 16 did not become insurable against unemployment until September, 1934, and the agricultural scheme of unemployment insurance did not come into operation until May, 1936. These classes are accordingly excluded from the figures.
(3) The figures relating to persons in employment shown above are obtained by deducting from the estimated numbers insured at the beginning of July the numbers of insured persons recorded as unemployed at a date in June. The numbers of insured persons unemployed in June, 1938, were ascertained on the basis of the revised procedure for counting the unemployed, introduced in September, 1937, under which persons subsequently found to be in employment at the date of the count are excluded from the figures.

Cannock Chase Coalfield

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will state the number of miners unemployed throughout the Cannock Chase coalfield at the last convenient date?

pursuant to his reply (OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1939; cols. 1459–60, Vol. 344), supplied the following statement:At 13th February, 1939, 607 insured men and boys, aged 14–64, in the coal mining industry classification, were recorded as unemployed at Employment Exchanges serving the Cannock Chase coalfield.

Assistance Allowances

asked the Minister of Labour how many applicants receiving unemployment assistance allowances have had such allowances terminated by the board during the past year, to the nearest date, under Sub-section (1) (c) of Section 36 (1) of the Unemployment Act, 1934?

Statistics of allowances which were terminated by the operation of Section 36 (1) (c) of the Unemployment Assistance Act, 1934, are not available.

Air-Raid Precautions

asked the Lord Privy Seal, whether when a borough brigade is called out to deal with a fire, a certain number of air-raid precautions volunteers are equally asked to turn out, with the object of gradually training them in peacetime to deal with conflagrations such as they would have to extinguish in wartime?

Practical experience at actual fires is recognised as an essential feature in the training of auxiliary fire service personnel, and the attention of local authorities has already been drawn to the need for taking such steps as may be feasible from time to time to give effect to this policy. The local arrangements for the purpose must rest with the individual fire authorities and their officers.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether private householders who do not in any way come under proposed legislation or regulations, can apply to the local authority for guidance as to what action they should take in providing reasonable anti-air-raid provision for their families and employés?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on Monday last in answer to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington South (Sir W. Davison).

Prison Service Officers (Overtime)

asked the Home Secretary whether he will state the total number of hours which were due to the discipline staffs in the English prison and Borstal services, as at the 1st September last, in lieu of overtime worked, and for which no compensation, either by way of pay or time off in lieu, had at that date been given?

The total number of hours due on the 1st September last was 4,241, in respect of which the officers concerned have received, or will receive, either equivalent leave or overtime pay. On that date there were some 2,200 officers in the service liable for duties which might involve overtime, and the average number of accumulated hours worked overtime was accordingly about two per officer.

Tithe Redemption Commission

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he can state the number of cases which have been before the Tithe Redemption Commission; the total amount of arrears involved; and the total sum which has been recommended for remission?

The number of notices served upon the Tithe Redemption Commission requiring reference to the Arrears Investigation Committee is 4,130, relating to arrears of tithe rent charge totalling £130,438. Directions have been given by the committee in 3,912 cases, involving arrears amounting to £121,261, Remission has been directed in 1,546 of these cases, the amounts remitted being in all £24,824, in respect of a total of £69,909. In 830 of these cases, the committee further directed that the arrears should be recovered by instalments: they gave similar directions in 603 cases, relating to £18,873, where there has been no remission.

Petrol And Alcohol (Duties)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he proposes to take to remove the anomaly by which petrol bears a duty of 9d. per gallon whereas alcohol used for motor fuel purposes only pays an effective tax of ¼d. per gallon owing to the Treasury allowance of 8¾d. per gallon?

I cannot accept the suggestion that power alcohol only pays an effective tax of ¼d. per gallon.

Trade And Commerce

Merchandise Marks Act

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will consider the modification of the Merchandise Marks Act to secure that foreign imported goods from countries whose wage scales are well below British standards can be so marked for the guidance of British buyers?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave on 28th March to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Sudbury (Colonel Burton).

Textile Industries

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether in any negotiations for improved inter-trade working with nations in South-Eastern or Northern Europe special attention is being paid to the possibilities of aiding our heavy textiles export?

The interests of the textile industries are always kept prominently in mind during negotiations for trade agreements with overseas countries.

British And German Industrial Groups (Negotiations)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can now state the results of his conference with the Federation of British Industries as to the implementation of their agreement with the Reichsgruppe Industrie; and can he now make a statement of the Government's policy thereon?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave on 28th March to the hon. Members for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell), Wolverhampton, East (Mr. Mander) and Leyton, West (Mr. Sorensen).

Prevention Of Fraud (Investments) Bill

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the publication of a brochure on property investment by a firm of estate agents in London offering a net return to investors of 12½per cent. with complete security and a return of the invested capital in full if and when requested; and whether he is satisfied that solicitations of this kind are caught by Clauses 12 and 13 of the Prevention of Fraud (Investments) Bill?

My attention has been called to the publication referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. I am advised that circulars of this kind would be covered by Clauses 12 and 13 of the Prevention of Fraud (Investments) Bill when it becomes law.

Ships Under Construction (War Risks Insurance)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether ships under construction will be covered by any scheme of Government insurance against War risks?

It is the intention of the Government in connection with the proposed scheme of insurance for essential commodities to provide facilities under which ships under construction in this country, which fall within that description, can be covered against war risks. All ships would be covered except private pleasure craft.

Coal Industry (Output Statistics)

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he will, with the object of giving additional information of interest, consider expanding the usual Quarterly Statistical Summary of Output, and of the costs of production, proceeds and profits of the coal-mining industry, so as to make further sub-divisions in respect of each coalfield separately; and whether he will now give that information in respect of the year 1938?

There are serious objections to altering the form of the published Quarterly Summary, but I am sending a more detailed return, which involves a lengthy statistical statement, to my hon. Friend and will put copies in the Library.

China (Anti-British Propaganda)

asked the Prime Minister whether he has received any reports regarding anti-British propaganda now being stimulated among the newly-formed regional Governments in China by the Japanese?

My Noble Friend has seen reports of such propaganda, but he has as yet received no official confirmation.

Telephone Service, Chiswick

asked the Postmaster-General when it is proposed to instal an automatic telephone service in Chiswick?

In accordance with the general programme for the provision of the remaining 45 automatic exchanges required within a radius of 10 miles from Oxford Circus, the Chiswick exchange is due to be converted to automatic working in 1944.

Anti-Tuberculosis Service, Wales

asked the Minister of Health whether he can now state the date on which the conference on the Welsh local authorities is to be held to consider the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Anti-Tuberculosis Service in Wales and Monmouthshire?

My right hon. Friend is taking steps to obtain the views of local authorities on the matters dealt with in this report, but he is not yet in a position to-say on what date it will be possible to arrange the conference which the hon. Member has in mind.

Fighting Forces (Dependants, Public Assistance)

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that in a substantial number of cases the dependants of men serving with His Majesty's Forces are being relieved by the public assistance committees; and will he take steps to see that the full maintenance of men so serving, and their dependants, is made a national charge?

I am aware that cases occur from time to time in which relief is granted to wives of men in His Majesty's Forces who have married before they are entitled to marriage or family allowances. As regards the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. S. O. Davies) on 6th March and to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War in the course of the Debate on the Army Estimates on the 14th March.

Smallpox Deaths

asked the Minister of Health how many deaths from smallpox were recorded in England and Wales in the year 1938; and what were the ages of the persons to whom the certificates refer?

There were three deaths from smallpox in England and Wales during the year 1938, two of males aged 20 and 73 respectively, and one of a female aged 23.

Local Taxation Licences

asked the Minister of Health what is the total sum retained per annum by local authorities in England and Wales in respect of local taxation licences?

In the year 1937–38 the total sum retained by local authorities in England and Wales in respect of local taxation licence duties was £1,330,380.

Old Age Pensions, Forest Of Dean

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that there is considerable delay in the Forest of Dean in the granting of old age pensions; that there are now cases where the husband died four months ago and pension has not been received, thus necessitating that the applicant has, in the meantime, to apply for public assistance; and whether he will look into the matter with a view to a remedy?

I am not aware that the position is as stated in the first part of the question but if the hon. Member will let me have particulars of specific cases I will certainly look into the matter.


asked the Minister of Health whether he can make any statement on the memorandum on prepared honey sent to him by the Honey Producers' Association?

This memorandum asks me to make regulations under Section 8 of the Food and Drugs Act, 1938, regulating the sale of honey, and as a first step I am ascertaining the views of the organisations and bodies concerned.

Milk (Bacteriological Samples, Wales)

asked the Minister of Health whether information is available of the number of milk samples taken for bacteriological analysis by the several local authorities in Wales during the past year?

Royal Air Force (Land Acquisition)

asked the Secretary of State for Air how much agricultural land in Wiltshire has been acquired by his Department, and what further acquisitions are proposed?

Approximately 5,500 acres of agricultural land have been acquired by my Department in Wiltshire, and action is at present in train for the acquisition of approximately a further 1,000 acres.

Civil Aviation (Flying Boat "Cavalier")

asked the Secretary of State for Air (1) whether he will inform the House why his technical advisers, and the technical advisers of Imperial Airways, Limited, failed to take action on receipt of the report of the captain of the "Cavalier," dated 8th October, 1938, on the trouble experienced with engines failing during icing conditions; and whether he will consider immediately introducing new personnel into these two departments;(2) whether it is proposed to suspend the certificate of airworthiness of the Empire flying boats used in Europe, in view of the report by the chief inspector of accidents on the loss of the "Cavalier," until the necessary modifications to the carburettors have been carried out?

The report by the captain of the "Cavalier" was not communicated to the Air Ministry and no question can therefore arise as to the technical staff of my Department in this connection. I also cannot accept the implication that the technical staff of Imperial Airways were remiss in dealing with this report. I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to paragraph 5 (f), pages 14 and 15 of Command Paper 5975, from which it appears that the trouble experienced in this case was, after examination of the carburettor in England, attributed to a mechanical defect found in the carburettor.The receipt of the further report of 17th December indicated that the previous conclusion as to the cause of the trouble might have been incomplete. Further immediate research on carburettor-icing prevention problems for these engines was put in hand in conjunction with the engine designers and the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, with the object of incorporating an improved system of carburettor heating.Meantime, as I informed my hon. Friend on the 2nd March, Imperial Airways have issued instructions to their pilots to avoid flying through severe ice-forming conditions and to delay the service when such conditions are forecast and cannot be avoided by change of route.In these circumstances it is not proposed to suspend the certificates of airworthiness of the Empire flying boats in Europe.


Bacon Factories, Scotland

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many bacon factories there are in Scotland; what their aggregate curing capacity is; and what proportions of this total fall into different classes, according to throughput or capacity?

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many bacon factories there are under his jurisdiction; what their aggregate curing capacity is; and what proportions of this total fall into different classes according to throughput or capacity?

The licensing of bacon-curing premises in Great Britain is a matter for the Bacon Development Board. I take this opportunity of correcting certain errors in the reply given to the hon. and learned Member on 22nd March: the correct figures for Great Britain, together with the corresponding figures for Scotland and for England and Wales separately, are as follow:

Number of Curing Premises.Great Britain.Scotland.England and Wales.
Class A premises881474
Class B premises15333120
Small curers' premises.34133308
I am unable to state the aggregate curing capacity for Scotland and for England and Wales separately.


asked the Minister of Agriculture when legislation will be introduced to give effect to the Government decision to extend the financial assistance to barley growers?

Legislation to give effect to the proposals for additional assistance to barley growers, to which reference was made in my reply to the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) on 23rd February, will be introduced as soon as possible. Discussions with the interests concerned are still proceeding and I regret that I am not yet in a position to name a probable date. I would, however, remind my hon. and gallant Friend that in the meantime payments of subsidy under the Agriculture Act, 1937, in respect of the 1938 crop will be made at the appropriate time to those barley growers whose applications have been accepted, and that in the forthcoming legislation it is proposed that the long-term policy shall be applied retrospectively as far as practicable to the 1938 crop.


asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) whether there has been any extension of the milk-in-schools scheme and of local authorities schemes for making available to expectant and nursing mothers and to children under school age milk at a reduced price or free since the passing of the Milk (Extension and Amendment) Act, 1938, which increased the sum available for these purposes from £500,000 to £750,000;(2) whether the milk distributors have now agreed to operate the draft scheme for the distribution of milk at a reduced price to expectant and nursing mothers and children below school age, scheduled to begin on 1st October, 1938; or whether the refusal of the distributors to operate the scheme, as disclosed at a meeting between the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Milk Marketing Board, and Central Milk Distributive Committee on 22nd September, 1938, is still holding up the scheme?

Revised arrangements for the milk-in-schools scheme came into operation on 1st March. The principal amendment effected by the new arrangements is an extension of the existing scheme so that children who normally get milk under the scheme may continue to do so when absent from school through illness, provided the parents make arrangements for the milk to be fetched from the school. As regards a scheme for reducing the price of liquid milk to local authorities for the purposes of their maternity and child welfare arrangements, I am not in a position to add to the reply that I gave to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox) on 20th February.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what money has been expended since 1st October, 1938, to date, respectively, on the milk-in-schools scheme, and the provision of milk at reduced prices or free for expectant and nursing mothers and children below school age out of the amount of £750,000 made available by the Milk (Extension and Amendment) Act, 1938?

Since 1st October last £262,000 has been, or is in process of being, paid in pursuance of Section 2 of the Milk(Extension and Amendment) Act, 1938, in respect of milk supplied under the milk-in-schools schemes during the months October, 1938, to January, 1939, inclusive. No sums have yet been paid under this Act in respect of the provision of milk to mothers and to children below school age.

Regent's Park Zoo (Low-Flying Aeroplanes)

asked the First Commissioner of Works whether he is aware that the Report of the Committee on Control of Flying states that low-flying aeroplanes have stampeded elephants which could break down the fences of Regent's Park zoo and thus constitute a potential danger of some magnitude to the general public in the park; and what steps has he taken to safeguard the public by strengthening the fences in the park?

I have been in communication with the authorities of the zoological gardens in Regent's Park, who are responsible for the fences between the gardens and the park, and I am assured that the present fences are quite sufficient to prevent an elephant from stampeding into the park. I understand that airmen have been requested to avoid low-flying over the zoological gardens.

War Office (Clerical Staff, Sidcup)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has completed his promised consideration of representations made to him on the 11th January last by the Civil Service Clerical Association regarding the unsatisfactory working conditions of clerical staffs employed in the Pay and Record Office at Sidcup, and representations regarding reductions of pay of the lowest grades which were effected on their transfer from Woolwich to Sidcup; and what decisions have been reached?

The question of accommodation is under urgent consideration and it is hoped that a decision will be reached very shortly. The move of the Record and Pay Office from Woolwich to Sidcup has brought it into an area where provincial rates of pay apply, in place of the London rates which were previously in issue, and I regret that it is not possible to give higher rates than those which are now in force.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what was the number of convictions under the native registration law in Kenya in 1936 and 1937, respectively?

I have been asked to reply. The actual number of convictions under this law in 1937 was 4,405. Unfortunately an error occurred in the mechanical tabulation of these statistics, with the result that the figure in the published reports was exactly double the true total. As regards the number of convictions in 1936, there is some doubt as to the correct figure. The number given in the Judicial Department Annual Report was 4,797, while the number given in the Annual Report on Native Affairs was 5,090.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what are the normal rates of pay for juveniles in Kenya?

The largest employers of juvenile labour in Kenya are the tea estates where, according to the Committee on Juvenile Employment, the minimum wage is 5s. per month (=2d. per day), but earnings in some cases amount to 15s. per month (=6d. per day). On the sisal estates, wages range from 4s. to 7s. per month, and only in the mining industry, where a day's task in many cases occupies only five to six hours, are they as low as 3s. to 7s. per month.In addition to cash wages, these juveniles are supplied by the employers with food and medical attention and, if employed away from their homes, with housing. On the tea estates facilities for education and recreation are provided. For purposes of comparison, it may be mentioned that in 1937 the cash wages (i.e., exclusive of food, etc.), received by adult unskilled workers ranged from 10s. to 14s. per month.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether there have been any recent changes in the penalty for harbouring a runaway servant or labourer in Kenya; and whether he is in a position to make any statement on the matter?

The facts are as follows: In the legislation in operation prior to 1937 a penalty of a fine not exceeding £5 or imprisonment not exceeding six months was prescribed for the offences of decoying away or unlawfully inducing a servant to quit the services of his employer, or attempting to do either of these things, or knowingly harbouring a servant who may improperly quit the service of his employer. In a Bill introduced into the Legislative Council in 1937 the maximum fine for decoying or inducing a servant to quit his employment was raised to £150, and the maximum fine for harbouring to £10.The relevant clause was redrafted in Committee and by inadvertence the fine of £150 was made to relate to all these offences. When forwarding the Ordinance to my predecessor in January, 1938, the Governor reported what had occurred and stated that steps would be taken to rectify the error at a convenient opportunity. An Ordinance reducing to £10 the maximum fine for harbouring was enacted in December, 1938, a maximum fine of £150 being retained for the offences of decoying, etc.