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Written Answers

Volume 380: debated on Wednesday 3 June 1942

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Written Answers

Royal Air Force (Treating In Messes)

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether there is any no-treating rule in Royal Air Force messes?

Treating between members of the same mess is forbidden by King's Regulations. A member of one mess may however treat a member of another mess when visiting the mess as a guest and off duty. A member of a mess may also treat a civilian who is his guest if the latter is not an honorary member of the mess. The treating of mess employees is forbidden.

Fuel And Light

Aircraft Factories (Black-Out)

asked the Minister of Aircraft Production whether he is aware that his officers are still giving instructions to black-out daylight in factories by the use of bitumen and like substances, thereby causing unnecessary consumption of artificial light; and what action does he propose to take to stop this practice and encourage the maximum use of natural, instead of artificial, light, thereby saving fuel?

I am taking steps to see that maximum use is made of natural light wherever that is possible, having regard to the necessity of complete blackout during the hours of darkness.

Naval Establishments

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what steps he has taken to see that proper economies have been, and are being effected, in the consumption of light and fuel in all establishments and formations under his control; and whether he will consider the appointment of a qualified officer to ensure that all such considerations are effectuated as time and opportunity permit?

Commanding officers have been especially charged to see that proper economies are being effected in the consumption of light and fuel. Monthly reports are to be rendered showing the savings and these will be closely examined by the Admiralty. The appointment of a single officer as suggested in the last part of the Question is not considered necessary.

Royal Air Force Establishments

asked the Secretary of State for Air what steps he has taken to see that proper economies have been, and are being effected, in the consumption of light and fuel in all establishments and formations under his control; and whether he will consider the appointment of a qualified officer to ensure that all such considerations are effectuated as time and opportunity permit?

I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the Air Ministry Order setting out the measures that have been taken, in co-operation with the Mines Department, to ensure the strictest economy in heating and lighting at R.A.F. establishments. A further Order, dealing with economy in the use of solid fuel, is about to be issued. The operation of these and other Orders relating to economy in the use of materials is closely watched by the Controller-General of Economy who was specially appointed last year.

Food Supplies

Distributive Trade (Registrations)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is still increasing the number of registrations required for the continuation of businesses concerned with the distribution of food?

Eggs (Packing Station, Tamworth)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food how frequently did the Tamworth egg-clearing station collect from producers during April and May?

The Tamworth packing station collected eggs from their producers weekly in nearly all instances in April and May. In part of the Kingsbury round, and in the case of producers of small quantities however, collections were only made once a fortnight.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he will give figures showing the intake and out-turn of eggs at the Tamworth egg-clearing-station during March, April and May; and the number of eggs remaining at the clearing-station at the end of each month?

The intake and out-turn of eggs at the Tamworth packing station for March, April and May, and the number of eggs remaining ungraded at the station at the end of each month, were as follow:

Boxes of 360 eggs.
Intake.Out-turn.Ungraded at end of Month.
March66957099
April1,157978278
May847869256

Royal Navy

Long Service And Good Conduct Medal

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether consideration can be given, with a view to revision, to permit naval ratings to reckon war service towards the award of the naval long service and good conduct medal when not rendered under an engagement to complete time for pension?

Continuous service men who are detained under Royal Proclamation after their engagement has expired and who do not re-engage for pension are allowed to count the time towards the award of the long service and good conduct medal. For other men it is a condition of the award of the active service, long service and good conduct medal that they shall have re-engaged to complete time for pension.

Reservists (Detained Pay)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will consider a revision of the regulations to allow of Royal Naval Reserve ratings, whose engagements have expired since they were called up, to re-engage for further service in the Royal Naval Reserve, and to receive detained pay under Article 1593 of King's Regulations?

Article 1593 of the King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions applies only to active service personnel. The payment of detained pay to Royal Naval reservists who were detained on active service by Royal Proclamation beyond a period of three years, was provided for in the Royal Naval Reserve Volunteer Act, 1859, but was abolished by the Royal Naval Reserve Act, 1927. This latter Act authorised instead a bounty not exceeding £5, which is paid to Reservists reporting on mobilisation. As Royal Naval reservists are retained in service under Royal Proclamation their re-enrolment in the Reserve would be superfluous.

Ministry Of Supply

"Channel Islands Monthly Review"

asked the Minister of Supply whether he will now reconsider his decision to withhold paper and thus make possible the continued publication of the "Channel Islands Monthly Review "?

A licence has now been issued for the publication of the "Channel Islands Monthly Review," and paper is being made available for it.

Golf And Tennis Balls

asked the Minister of Supply what is the approximate amount of rubber used annually for the production of golf and tennis balls; and, if these were returned after being used, to what extent could their rubber contents be re utilised without any material loss of rubber?

The tonnage of rubber normally used in the manufacture of golf and tennis balls is not large, but in the present emergency even small amounts are important. Old tennis balls can only be used as scrap. The original rubber core of golf balls is being used again inside a new gutta percha cover, but supplies of gutta percha may not suffice to permit the continuance of this practice.

Synthetic Rubber

asked the Minister of Supply whether he will reconsider the decision not to set up in this country a plant for the synthetic production of rubber?

Large quantities of synthetic rubber are being made in the United States, where the necessary raw materials are readily available. Importation of the raw materials for large scale production in this country would impose a heavy additional burden on our shipping resources. I have, however, appointed a Synthetic Rubber Committee which is keeping the whole situation under review; and steps have been taken for the production in this country of substantial quantities of a rubber substitute material.

Empty Cartons (Shop-Window Displays)

asked the Minister of Supply whether, in view of the large quantities of dummy paper boxes, cartons, etc., still being displayed, he intends to order these to be surrendered for papermaking purposes?

Directions have been issued to local authorities to collect waste paper (which includes empty cartons) from unoccupied premises. As a result of consultation with representatives of the tobacco industry regarding the disposal of empty cartons in the windows of occupied shops, the matter is being discussed with representatives of the retail trade.

Industrial Agreements (Enforcement)

asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been called to instances of employers, municipal and private, who refuse to operate Joint Industrial Council awards; and, in view of the fact that the employees' only method of enforcement is by striking, will he consider introducing legislation to make such awards obligatory?

The Conditions of Employment and National Arbitration Order, 1940, requires employers to observe such recognised terms and conditions of employment in the trade or industry in the district as have been settled by representative joint machinery. Questions in dispute can be reported to the Minister and if it is found necessary referred to arbitration. Furthermore, the Order prohibits strikes in connection with trade disputes unless the dispute has been reported and has not been referred to arbitration within 21 days of the date of the report. In fact, very few cases have been reported to my right hon. Friend under the Order of refusal by employers to observe agreements of Joint Industrial Councils. Certain questions relating to the application of the Order in the case of municipal employees are at present the subject of legal proceedings.

Government Departments

Publicity Officers (Military Service)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many of the staff of 1,086 officials engaged on public relations and Press work in the 27 Government Departments are reserved from military service?

Of the 1,086 officials referred to 384 are men. Of these 230 are over military age; no are over the reservation age for their grade; 13 are medically unfit; 10 have not yet registered; of the remainder, 7 have been granted varying periods of deferment, one has been released from the Army and 13 are awaiting call-up under the normal enlistment procedure.

Overtime And Staffing

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether, in view of the unsatisfactory conditions that exist in regard to super-abundant staff in the Civil Service and to the large amount of overtime paid, he will arrange for a special independent inquiry into this matter?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave to him on 13th April, 1942.

Motor-Car Taxation (Exemptions)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether, in view of the small revenue that will be received and the fact that all private motor-car owners in receipt of E supplementary petrol coupons are engaged on important national service, he will exempt from Road Fund licence duty all such motor-car owners after 1st July next;(2) whether, after 1st July next, he will exempt from Road Fund licence duty, private cars owned by naval, military and Royal Air Force personnel who are required to use such motor-cars exclusively for official journeys, thus making service transport available for other use?

Arrangements are being made to provide that where a Government servant is required to use his car on official duties and receives no petrol for other purposes, he should be relieved of the cost of licensing and insuring it. Similar arrangements are being applied in analogous cases, e.g., Civil Defence, but I cannot undertake to extend them over the whole range of the E supplementary coupons.

Armed Forces (Pensions And Grants)

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware that the widow of a commissioned officer killed on duty receives, in addition to pension, a gratuity, whereas the widow of an able-seaman killed in action receives a pension only; and whether he will take steps, with due regard to the difference in service rank, to secure equality of treatment in this respect?

The fact that the compensation awarded to the widows of other ranks killed in action is wholly in the form of pension does not mean that they are treated unequally as compared with the widows of commissioned officers killed in action whose compensation is by long tradition divided between pension and gratuity.

Private Road, Kensington

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that the private road in Palace Gardens, between Bays-water and Kensington, is now being used by heavy military lorries without any bad results, and will he therefore reconsider his decision and open it for light traffic with a view to the saving of petrol and for general economy?

To open the road as a thoroughfare for vehicles of any kind would, I understand, cause traffic difficulties at the junctions with Kensington High Street and Bayswater Road, and, for this and for the other reasons I have previously stated, I see no reason to change the decision already made.

Mechanised Transport Corps

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport what are the conditions of service of members of the Mechanised Transport Corps; and what allowances are payable for the use of private motor-cars?

Members of the M.T.C. are not in the employment of the corps itself, but of the authority or institution to which they are attached. The conditions of service thus vary from case to case; normally they are the same as those of other persons employed by the same authority or institution. Members of the corps who use their own motor cars in the service of Government Departments are paid the same allowances for the use of these cars as members of other organisations doing similar work. I am sending my hon. Friend particulars.

Retail Deliveries (Rationalising)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether, in order to equalise conditions and avoid complaints of undue stringency in one town as compared with others, he will prepare a general scheme for the rationalisation of retail deliveries, to be made applicable, with minor local variations, to all towns and require all such schemes to come into operation on the same day, say 1st July, 1942?

When my Noble Friend, together with the President of the Board of Trade, and the Minister of Food, launched the present plans for rationalising retail deliveries, they explained the objects in view and suggested ways in which these objects could be attained. The methods of detailed execution were left for local decision in the light of local conditions. It is plain that no uniform scheme would be equally appropriate for large towns, small towns, suburbs, villages and rural areas. The schemes are brought into operation as soon as they are ready, but they can be adjusted and improved later, as experience may dictate. In this way we secure the desired economies at the earliest practicable date. About 2,000 schemes are already working.

Ministry Of Information

Foreign Broadcasts

asked the Minister of Information whether he is aware that the greatest asset of the foreign service of the British Broadcasting Corporation is its reputation for truthfulness; and whether he will give an assurance that nothing likely to impair that reputation will be put out by the British Broadcasting Corporation?

I share my hon. Friend's belief in the importance of the B.B.C.'s reputation for truthfulness and it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to support the B.B.C. in maintaining that reputation.

British Information Bureau, Istanbul

asked the Minister of Information who has been appointed successor to the late Sir Denison Ross in the British Information Office in Istanbul; and on what date?

Mr. A. L. B. Ashton has been placed in charge of the British Information Bureau at Istanbul and of all the Ministry of Information's work in Turkey. The appointment dates from 1st January, 1942.

Employees (German Nationality)

asked the Minister of Information how many women of German birth are employed in the censorship department of his Ministry?

These particulars cannot be obtained without a very considerable expenditure of time and labour. I can, however, state that no woman of German nationality is employed in any censorship department of the Ministry; nor is any person taken on without proper investigation.