Sir T. Moore
asked the Minister of Supply whether special steps are being taken to increase the importation of steel into this country from the United States of America and the Dominions?
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply (Mr. Harold Macmillan)
My hon. and gallant Friend may rest assured that the question of obtaining increased supplies of steel from the United States of America and the Dominions has received special and urgent attention. He will not, of course, expect me to give exact details of the arrangements which have been or are being made.
Sir T. Moore
But are they satisfactory—that is the essential point?
Satisfaction in regard to both questions and answers is a matter of degree.
asked the Minister of Supply whether, in view of the paper shortage, it is proposed to restrict the large number of brochures and catalogues sent out by fashionable shops and large stores, especially in view of the fact that they mainly advertise goods of a luxury nature?
Mr. Harold Macmillan
Under the Control of Paper (No. 16) Order, the gratuitous distribution of circulars by retailers and others in any three consecutive months is cut to one-third of the distribution in the corresponding period of 1939. For this purpose retailers and others can use existing stocks of paper, but it is improbable that further quantities of paper will be made available for the purposes mentioned by my hon. Friend.
Hotel Residents (Identity Cards)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether during the emergency, he will consider the advisability of visitors to licensed premises or boarding-houses, who may be requiring rooms, producing their identity cards to prove their British nationality, in addition to the required written statement?
The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peake)
The production of a National Registration identity card would not secure the hon. and gallant Member's object, since these cards do not show whether their bearers are of British or foreign nationality.
Why do they not?
That is a question with which the Ministry of Health are more concerned than the Home Office because the Ministry of Health prescribe forms of this kind.
Mr. De la Bère
Is it not desirable that these antiquated methods should be done away with?
Civil Defence (Water Reservoirs)
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that representatives of northern waterworks undertakings are of the opinion that the Government are not taking adequate precautions to safeguard the water supplies of this country; and what action he intends to take?
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend on Thursday last to Questions by my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Mr. Etherton) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Leeds (Captain V. Adams).
The answer on Thursday did not cover the point. I want to know whether adequate precautions are being taken, because people in the north who know all about the business say that precautions are not being taken. May I have an answer? On a point of Order. I am told this question was answered, but it was not, and I want an answer to-day. It is an important Question and it ought to be answered.
The Minister says that it was answered last time.
I have had trouble in the city of Liverpool in regard to this. Can I have an answer? On a point of Order. If I call attention to an important point with regard to defence without giving any publicity, is it not necessary that I should get an answer?
A similar Question was asked the other day and the Minister did not answer because he did not think it was in the national interest to do so, and to-day he has said the same thing.
Post Office (Telegraph Service)
asked the Postmaster-General what has been the ascertained loss on the telegraph branch of the Post Office for each of the last three financial years; and what proportion of that loss is estimated to be due to the granting of reduced rates for Press telegrams?
The Assistant Postmaster-General (Captain Waterhouse)
The losses on the telegraph service during the three years ended the 31st March, 1939, which are the latest years for which figures are available, were £635,600, £739,000 and £823,300, respectively. The proportions of those losses which it is estimated were attributable to the inland Press service are, 14, 11 and 8 per cent., respectively. These figures are arrived at after allocating to the Press traffic a proportion of the general expenses of the telegraph service. They do not purport to represent savings which would follow the cessation of Press telegrams.
Naval And Military Pensions And Grants
asked the Minister of Pensions when the terms of the amendments that have been approved by the Government to the Royal Warrant of September last will be available to Members of this House?
The Minister of Pensions (Sir Walter Womersley)
Some delay has unavoidably occurred in the matter, but I am hopeful that copies of a new Royal Warrant embodying the recommendations referred to will be available to Members in the course of next week.
Spain And Russia (British Missions)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how much in sterling per year is represented by frais de representation in the cases of the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare) and the hon. and learned Member for Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), respectively?
The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Butler)
I can at present only reply to the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's Question. As I stated on 29th May, frais de representation will be at a rate appropriate to the mission concerned in present circumstances.
May I ask whether it will be possible to pay the right hon. Gentlemen in future according to results?
What does frais de representation mean?
It means expenses.
Why did not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman put it in the Question?
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can yet say when our diplomatic representation by an Ambassador in Moscow will be resumed; and whether he will give an assurance that the Government is prepared to enter into fully normal relations with the Russian Government?
I hope to be able to give a reply on this subject to-morrow. As regards the second part of the Question, the answer is in the affirmative.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in the case of national demonstrations being held in connection with the purpose of the war, consideration will be given to the desirability of having also a representative, such as M. Blum, of the French nation, to cement the comradeship of the nations; and whether he will make a like offer from our side to the French nation for an exchange of information, Ambassadors and interpreters of our common purpose?
We shall naturally always be delighted to welcome members of the French Government and other distinguished representatives of the French people at any gatherings in this country of the sort indicated by the hon. Member. In the same way Members of His Majesty's Government and other representatives of the British people visiting France have never failed to find the most cordial reception. Unity of purpose and complete co-operation between this country and France has already been so clearly achieved that I do not think it is necessary to propose further joint machinery as suggested by the hon. Member.
Since this Question was put down a large number of Frenchmen have involuntarily landed on these shores, and would it be possible to make representations to the Secretary of State for War that members of the French Forces should be taken to other parts of the country in order that the people can see them and get the same inspiration from them as the French people get from our men?
Refugees (Military Service)
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will consider the desirability of issuing regulations to provide that Dutch and Belgian subjects who wish to remain in this country during the war shall be under the same liability to military service as British subjects?
I understand that the Netherlands and Belgian Governments are already calling up for service in their own forces all their subjects in this country of military age.
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the announcement by the Belgian Ambassador, prior to the surrender of King Leopold, that every male Belgian in this country should register for Army service still holds good?
Members Of Parliament (Emergency Service)
Mr. R. C. Morrison
asked the Prime Minister whether he will open a register for Members of both Houses of Parliament who wish to enrol for useful work during times when Parliament is not sitting?
Sir R. Clarry
asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the urgent necessity of utilising to the fullest extent the nation's man-power resources, including business and technical knowledge and administrative experience, he will immediately consider some method of using the services of those Members of Parliament who have the requisite time and ability to undertake additional duties during the present emergency?
His Majesty's Government is desirous of utilising to the full the services of hon. Members, and I am considering the best way in which to meet the desires of hon. Members in this respect.
asked the Prime Minister whether he is now able to make a statement concerning the proposed changes in the economic organisation of the Government's activities?
As the reply is rather long and detailed I propose, with Mr. Speaker's permission, to make a statement at the end of Questions.
The work of Ministers, under the direction of the War Cabinet, falls into three divisions:
- The First Lord of the Admiralty,
- The Secretary of State for War,
- The Secretary of State for Air
Can the Lord Privy Seal say whether Lord Stamp will devote the whole of his time to this work, and if not, what proportion of it? Will he be a half-timer?
His position is unchanged in that respect.
Is the economic committee with which Lord Stamp was associated, and over which the Chancellor of the Exchequer formerly presided, now abandoned in that form?
Yes, Sir. As I have explained to the House, there is now a committee under the Minister Without Portfolio, dealing with general economic matters. Lord Stamp's organisation will report to that committee.
Are we to understand from that answer that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer will not preside over that committee?
As I have said, the Minister Without Portfolio will preside.
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider co-opting on the Economic Advisory Committee men like Professor Harrod and Mr. Maynard Keynes?
Mr. Garro Jones
May I ask a question, Mr. Speaker, which is whether any Minister is specifically charged with the vitally important task of the co-ordination of foreign intelligence in regard to counter espionage?
That subject is dealt with by the Cabinet, and the special organisation dealing with the subject.
Mr. Garro Jones
Is any Minister specifically charged with that responsibility?
The Lord President of the Council is specifically charged with it.
Mr. Glenvil Hall
May I ask that Lord Stamp should not be put on this Organisation?
Armed Forces (Wireless Orders)
Mr. Hamilton Kerr
asked the Prime Minister whether he will issue an order that, in the event of an attack on this country, all orders apparently given on the wireless to cease fire or lay down arms shall automatically be disregarded by the fighting services?
Appropriate measures are being taken to deal with enemy interference of the kind suggested, but I would add that it seems to me inconceivable that members of His Majesty's Forces should ever assume that orders of such a kind were genuine.
Eire (Invasion Dangers)
Sir Henry Morris-Jones
asked the Prime Minister whether he is satisfied that, in our measures of defence in this country, adequate safeguards have been taken to protect us from an attack on and through our western seaboard by air and submarine via the Dominion of Eire; and whether, in particular, adequately armed detection and prevention personnel is provided for the Isle of Man, Anglesey, Bardsey, Stockholm, Lundy, Caldy and Walney Islands?
As regards the first part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to a similar Question of his on the 23rd May. As regards the second part, I do not think it would be desirable to enter into details as regards particular localities.
Bank Rate (Control)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he now controls the fixing of the Bank Rate?
The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Kingsley Wood)
Under Clause 2 of the recent Emergency Powers Regulations and within the ambit of those Regulations I have power to give directions in this matter.
Could the right hon. Gentleman exercise the authority which he states that he now has?
Sir K. Wood
I could do so, but I am not satisfied that the situation requires it.
Bank Of England (Profits)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is proposed that the profits of the Bank of England should be subject to 100 per cent. Excess Profits Tax?
Sir K. Wood
Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer aware that under Section 68 of the Income Tax Act, 1918, the Bank of England is empowered to assess its own profits for taxation, and will he put an end to that ridiculous system so that they may be fairly assessed by an independent authority?
Sir K. Wood
That is another question, and perhaps the hon. Member will put it on the Paper. I thought I had given him a very good reply.
Mr. Glenvil Hall
Can we assume that the Bank of England will now publish a proper balance-sheet?
Sir K. Wood
That is another story.
Limitation Of Dividends Bill (Withdrawal)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the decision to raise the Excess Profits Tax to 100 per cent., he intends to proceed with the Limitation of Dividends Bill?
Sir K. Wood
The decision to raise Excess Profits Tax to 100 per cent. all round has materially affected the limitation of dividend proposals. The main object of the Bill was by limiting dividends to prevent an increase in the purchasing power in the hands of shareholders and this will now be substantially attained. Moreover, companies which would now be mainly affected if the Bill is passed are those which have shown themselves prudent in the distribution of their dividends. In these circumstances, I have decided not to proceed with the Bill. The prohibition imposed on bonus issues for the period of the war will, however, remain. I should like to emphasise that the objective of the original proposals remains as important as ever, and to the limited extent that it is not attained by the imposition of 100 per cent Excess Profits Tax, I am sure that all public companies concerned will act in accord with the general principles underlying the Bill. The national interest requires reduced consumption by individuals and the greatest measure of support for new Government loans from all.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that as a result of the decision he has just announced it will be possible for certain companies, in spite of the 100 per cent. Excess Profits Tax, to pay increased dividends if they so desire? Will he give the matter further consideration before abandoning what was really an excellent Bill and is still desirable?
Sir K. Wood
I think my hon. Friend will see that I have anticipated a question of that kind, because the companies he refers to are those which have been prudent in regard to the distribution of their dividends.
Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer state exactly what will prevent a company from distributing its reserves in additional dividends?
Sir K. Wood
I think I have already referred to that.
Mr. Benjamin Smith
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that by dispensing with the 100 per cent. Profits Tax he will create a very sad feeling among workmen who have thrown in their whole lot on the assumption that this tax was to be included?
Sir K. Wood
I do not think my hon. Friend could have heard my answer.
Emergency Convalescent Homes
asked the Minister of Health whether, in addition to those voluntarily offered to the Government, he will acquire other large houses or mansions suitable for conversion into convalescent and recreation homes under public control and in which wounded and sick men of the fighting forces, women, children and the aged and civilian male workers could be accommodated?
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Horsbrugh)
This question has already been carefully considered in its various aspects, and I can assure the hon. Member that the Government will be prepared to use to the full the powers which it possesses as the need may arise.
Is the hon. Lady satisfied that an adequate number of these houses and mansions are being used for convalescent homes?
I think all the houses of which we have heard are being inspected, but, as the hon. Member will realise, some of them, although they may have been quite suitable and very nice as family residences, are not suitable to become convalescent homes.
Evacuated Children (Medical Services)
asked the Minister of Health whether he is satisfied that arrangements are adequate for the medical examination of children to be evacuated; whether the examination was fully carried out in the recent evacuation; whether he is making arrangements medically to examine refugees and their children; and whether those refugees can fully utilise the public medical services in the municipal areas in which they are billeted?
Very thorough arrangements for the medical examination of children in the event of further evacuation have been prescribed for all evacuation areas. The evacuation last Sunday from towns on the East Coast which had not hitherto been classed as evacuation areas was carried out at short notice, but so far as time permitted the same arrangements were made there. The evacuation on the previous Sunday, referred to in the second part of the Question, was a transfer of London children from reception areas on the East Coast to other reception areas in Wales. This was carried out at still shorter notice, but my right hon. Friend has received reports which show that the authorities in the new reception areas are well satisfied with the condition in which the children arrived. As regards the third and fourth parts of the Question, refugees are medically examined both at the ports where they land and at the receiving centres in Greater London. Directions have been issued to authorities in whose areas refugees are accommodated to bring to the notice of refugees the health services that are there provided.