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Oral Answers To Question

Volume 380: debated on Wednesday 17 June 1942

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Poles (German Treatment)

2 and 3.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether he is aware of the recent introduction by the Germans of compulsory labour service for all Poles by yearly age groups from 18 to 60 years of age; and whether, as this is a violation of international law, he will have it notified to the German Government that unless this practice is immediately stopped a similar compulsory labour service with conditions of equal severity will after the war be applied to all members of the Nazi party;

(2) whether he is aware of the quantity of Polish university professors and scientists deliberately murdered by the Nazis or caused to die in concentration camps, and especially the 60 Polish professors arrested in Lwow, 11 months ago, who have completely disappeared; and whether he will announce that all German professors of Nazi philosophy, Nazi geopolitics and of the pseudo-science of racial superiority will at the end of the war be themselves placed in prison for a lengthy term of years?

His Majesty's Government have received information regarding these and similar crimes and violation of international law committed by the German occupying authorities in Poland. I am glad to have this opportunity to remind those authorities and also the Polish people, who are showing such tenacity and fortitude in their present trials, of the Prime Minister's statement on 25th October last that retribution for such crimes must henceforward take its place among the major purposes of the war.

Spain

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make a statement on the activities of the German Naval Mission which arrived recently in Spain?

According to my information, there is no German naval mission in Spain at present.

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that careful watch has been kept on the great variety of missions going from Germany to Spain?

My hon. Friend may be sure that I checked this information before I gave my answer.

Ethiopia

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the name of Ethiopia was omitted from the list of United Nations to whom the Prime Minister's message was addressed; whether the omission was due to the Government of Ethiopia not having yet signed the Pact; if so, what steps have been taken to bring the Pact to the notice of the Government at Addis Abbaba; and how soon the appointment of a diplomatic representative of that Government in London may be expected?

Ethiopia was not included among the United Nations because the Government of Ethiopia is not a party to the Declaration of the United Nations. The Emperor is naturally aware of the terms of that Declaration. I have not been informed when the Emperor proposes to appoint a representative in London.

In view of the difficulties of communications between Ethiopia and this country, cannot something be expedited so that as soon as possible Ethiopia may be in a position to join the other Allies in conference, in view of the effective resistance to the Axis which she gave during the combat in that country?

I can assure my hon. Friend that there is no difficulty about communications. The Emperor is fully aware of the position, and I think we must, at least, leave it to him to take his own decision.

Royal Air Force

Personnel (Crown Colonies)

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is prepared to reconsider his decision and allow men who have come from the Crown Colonies to wear a shoulder flash bearing the name of their Colony and thus follow the practice accorded to men from the Dominions and the United States of America?

I have been asked to reply. This suggestion has been considered on several occasions and is again under consideration at the present time. The administrative and other difficulties are, however, considerable and may prove to be insurmountable. My hon. and gallant Friend will be informed of the outcome in due course.

Missing Personnel (Effects)

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Air the manner in which his Ministry deal with the personal effects of airmen who do not return from operational duties?

As the answer is long, and somewhat detailed, it is, with the hon. and gallant Member's permission, being circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

The duty of safeguarding the personal effects of officers and airmen of the R.A.F. who lose their lives is entrusted to committees of adjustment appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Regimental Debts Act, 1893. In this country, the effects are collected and listed at the officer's or airman's station and despatched without delay to a central depository. This is done whether the officer or airman is reported as deceased, missing or a prisoner of war. In the case of deceased personnel the effects are subsequently released to the person entitled to receive them; in that of missing personnel, they are normally retained until it is known whether the officer or airman is a prisoner of war or deceased. The effects of a prisoner of war are not released without his authority. In Commands overseas, the same principles apply except that the effects of missing personnel and prisoners of war are retained at the unit or by the local standing committee of adjustment. The effects of deceased personnel are normally returned to this country and stored until released to the person entitled to receive them unless the committee of adjustment, being in an area of operations, anticipates delay in communicating with the next-of-kin or finds the storage of effects impracticable when the committee may dispose of effects locally by sale reserving only articles of intrinsic or sentimental value.

Operational Medals

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will consider issuing an operational medal to all pilots and members of aircrews who have completed a certain number of operational trips, or a certain number of hours of operational flying?

No praise can be too high for the superb gallantry and determination of our operational squadrons, but my right hon. Friend feels that the course suggested would not be in the best interests or traditions of the Service. It is doubtful whether the special distinction which would thus be conferred would be welcome to the officers and airmen concerned, since they know full well that many pilots and aircrews who are anxious to take part in operations must be employed on duties of a less spectacular kind which are nevertheless indispensable and call for high qualities of courage and skill. The proposal to distinguish between one type of service and another would react adversely upon the efficiency of the Royal Air Force as a whole.

Will my hon. and gallant Friend bear in mind that under the present system some operational pilots can take part in, say, 30 operations with complete success, but, owing to the fact that no untoward incidents take place, they do not get any recognition? Will he not consider issuing Service medals to all operational pilots who have taken part in quite a small number of operations?

I will bring that point to the attention of my right hon. Friend. I would, however, point out that it is thought that the automatic issue of medals or badges might become so common as to have little significance.

Petrol Allowance

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will consider the possibility of issuing a basic petrol allowance to the Royal Air Force of 200 miles a quarter, instead of the present allowance of 250 miles for leave only?

No, Sir. My right hon. Friend regrets that he does not feel that an increase in the existing scale of allowance would be justifiable in present circumstances.

Will my hon. and gallant Friend ask his right hon. Friend to consider the possibility of issuing an even lower mileage allowance than that suggested in the Question if the supplies of petrol are limited, on the grounds that it would be very much more useful to Air Force personnel employed on stations, which are often isolated, as against using petrol for leave purposes which is both extravagant and unnecessary?

Aircraft Production

Northern Ireland

11.

asked the Minister of Aircraft Production whether, in connection with his recent visit to Northern Ireland he was satisfied that everything was being done to increase aircraft production and produce war material?

Very good work is being done, but I want even greater output.

May I ask my right hon. and gallant Friend whether he will assign all possible work to Northern Ireland, as we are prepared to do our part in the war effort and more?

Factory (Play Prodlxtion)

12 and 13.

asked the Minister of Aircraft Production (1) whether he is aware that the nine executive officers in a certain aircraft factory, who spent two hours of working time in discussing the production of a play, held other meetings, with the same object on 28th and 30th March, and 2nd and 16th April; how long each of these meetings lasted; whether any additional executive officers were present, including the managing director; and what steps be proposes to take to stop any neglect of necessary production at this place;

(2) whether he is aware that rehearsals of a play were held at an aircraft factory on 2nd, 4th and 5th April; how long those rehearsals lasted on each day; how many of the workers took part; whether any of the executive officers were present; and, if so, the length of time they were present on each day?

I am told that on 28th March the committee concerned met for one hour, on 16th April for 30 minutes, that some members of the committee discussed the matter for one hour on 30th March, and for a quarter of an hour on 2nd April. The managing director and two other officers attended on one or two occasions for a short time. Rehearsals took place on the days mentioned by my hon. Friend, but as only one employee took part, and as he is a member of the accounts department, I am not much concerned as to how long these rehearsals took. I, however, asked the managing director to come and discuss this matter with me. He has given me an assurance that at any similar meetings which there may be in the future, he will see that so large a number of executive officers do not attend.

What action does the Minster intend taking with regard to the time which has been lost by these executive officers while they were away from their duties of producing necessary aircraft to consider the production of a play? Only one employee was evidently engaged in the rehearsals. How many outsiders were permitted to enter this important factory, and were they given the necessary passes?

I should want notice of the second part of that question, but, in regard to the executive of the firm, as I told my hon. Friend on the last occasion, they are up to date with their work. What I am anxious to secure is the future rather than looking into the past.

Is it not the case that, although they may be up to date, the executive officers might have increased production if they had paid attention to their duties instead of to the production of a play? Will the Minister consider my other point with regard to bringing people into the factory who were not employees merely for rehearsing a play? On a point of Order. Is it not an important matter, Mr. Speaker, that outsiders should be brought into a very important factory engaged on aircraft production during working hours to rehearse a play? Could not these rehearsals have been conducted outside?

The hon. Member has already asked two supplementary questions, and I am afraid we cannot take up too much time on one Question.

There is too much time being taken up in this factory on outside matters.

Ministry Of Works And Buildings (Staff)

15.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings whether, as there are many highly skilled, experienced, professional and technical men above military age unemployed at this time and as the Central Register does not function for this purpose, he will apply to the various professional institutions for lists of suitable men available to replace those in his Ministry who are medically fit and below the age of reservation?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works and Buildings
(Mr. Hicks)

The hon. Member appears to be under a misapprehension about the functions of the Central Register of the Ministry of Labour and National Service. This Department is the official channel for the recruitment of professional and technical staff in all Government Departments and for this purpose maintains the closest liaison with the professional Institutions. I would refer him to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service on nth December, 1941, regarding the setting up of the Appointments Department and to my reply to his Question on 13th May; no men below the age of reservation have been retained in the Ministry of Works and Buildings except with the concurrence of the Kennet Committee.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there are a great number of men capable of doing this work who are over military age? Why should they not replace these men?

As I have informed the hon. Member on previous occasions, where these men are called up, and they are being called up with the exception of those reserved by the Kennet Committee, older men are appointed in their place.

Will the hon. Gentleman consider sending some of these highly skilled men to clear the blocked channels of the Central Register?

As in every instance there is a tendency for young men of military age to pledge their consciences to their seniors, will not the hon. Gentleman do what he can to encourage them to redeem their consciences?

Bahamas (Labour Riots)

16.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can give any information regarding the riots which occurred recently in the Bahamas?

Yes, Sir. On 29th May, as a result of discussions between a delegation of labourers and the Labour Officer as to increased wages for work being carried out in New Providence by American contractors at a little above current local rates of wages, the Acting Governor received a letter from the labourers requesting substantial increase of pay. The question was being investigated by the Acting Governor, who was preparing to appoint a Board, when a dispute broke out on the evening of Sunday, 31st May, amongst one section of labourers. They were told by the Labour Officer that their complaints were being investigated and were advised to return to work on the following Monday. A further conference between the Labour Officer, labour leaders and American contractors was held that evening. On the morning of Monday, 1st June, the labour leaders met the men and advised them to go on working, but all struck. By 9 a.m. a thousand men were rioting and looting shops in the city, and the labour leaders were unable to control them. The Volunteer Defence Force was mobilised and the Riot Act was read. A mixed party of police and military were attacked by 800 rioters, 15 shots were fired, which killed two and wounded seven of the rioters, one soldier being injured. A curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. was ordered. On the Tuesday morning rioting continued in certain parts and attempts by the mob to break into the city were dispersed by armed forces without further shooting. Since the night of Tuesday, 2nd June, rioting has ceased, except for a few small incidents. His Royal Highness returned to the Colony on the Tuesday, and after discussion with all sections of the community and the labour leaders, he made a broadcast on the Wednesday night that no negotiations could be begun until he was satisfied that peace and order had been restored, and he advised the men to return to work pending consideration of the wages question. By 6th June, 1,500 had returned to work representing about 60 per cent. of the workers previously employed. The situation is now quiet.

Can my right hon. Friend say if the troops used were all British troops?

In view of the continuous-, opposition of the Legislative Council to progressive labour legislation, can consideration be given at an early date to a revision of the Constitution of this territory?

That does not arise out of the Question, but I will call my Noble Friend's attention to what the hon. Member has said.

Are not these riots a sequel to the refusal of the Government to face up to the problem?

Were any of the registered trade unions in the Colony involved in the dispute, and had previous representations by trade union leaders been rejected by the local government?

Jamaica (Labour Recruitment, Panama)

17.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can state the conditions under which workers are recruited in Jamaica for labour in the area of the Panama Canal; and whether this recruitment is in any way supervised by the labour department in Jamaica?

The recruitment in Jamaica of workers for employment in the Panama Canal Zone is carried out in accordance with the terms of the International Labour Conventions relating to the recruitment of workers and the regulation of written contracts. The Answer to the last part of the Question is in the affirmative.

Was inspection of the conditions of labour in the area in consultation with the Government of Jamaica and the United States included?

Palestine (Immigration)

18.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies why permission to enter Palestine has been refused to Heinz Hirschmann, aged 12 years, whose mother died recently, and whose father and grandfather are resident in Palestine; and will he agree to the request of the grandfather that the boy be admitted?

My noble Friend is in communication with the High Commissioner for Palestine on this matter, and I will communicate later with my hon. Friend.

Trinidad (Factory Inspection)

19.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether arrangements have now been made to send a factory inspector to Trinidad to deal with the admittedly unsatisfactory conditions prevailing in that Colony; when he will commence investigations; and when it is anticipated the necessary work will be carried out?

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. With regard to the other parts, the officer in question is not being sent out to conduct a special investigation of the factories and workshops in Trinidad. He is taking up the new appointment of Senior Inspector of Factories, and his duties will automatically entail the continuous inspection and supervision of factory conditions generally in the Colony.

Will an effort be made to see that this inspector gets on more quickly with the work he is doing now than when the effort was made to get him on the job?

British Guiana (Welfare Schemes)

20.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction in British Guiana regarding the smallness of the sums granted under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act; why the proposals of the Welfare Commission are not discussed in the Legislative Council, who wish to see progress made with land settlement and workere housing schemes; and whether he will ensure that substantial advance is made in these directions?

No, Sir. Ten schemes have already been approved, involving free grants of £50,843, while it is hoped that another five schemes for free grants amounting to £25,897 will be approved shortly. A number of other applications are being considered. Under wartime conditions, progress so far may be regarded as satisfactory.

Will the right hon. Gentleman reply to my point with regard to the Legislative Council discussing the programme of work that requires to be done?

The Controller's recommendations are, no doubt, considered by the Executive Council, which includes some of the elected members of the Legislative Council, but it would not be appropriate that consideration should in all cases be given to the details of the scheme by the full Legislative Council.

Sierra Leone (Convicted Labourers)

21.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that recently 21 labourers, employed by the sanitary department of Sierra Leone, were convicted for taking part in a strike and fined £2 each or 30 days imprisonment; and whether, as these illiterate workers were wrongly informed by the chief labour officer that their work came within the schedule of essential undertakings under the provisions of the Defence (Essential Work) (General Provisions) Order, 1941, although, in fact, the sanitary department had never been so scheduled, he will secure the appropriate restitution to these natives and that improper interference with their legal rights shall cease?

It is correct that 21 sanitary labourers in Sierra Leone were convicted for taking part in a strike and fined £2 each or 30 days' imprisonment. They pleaded guilty on the advice of the defending counsel. They were charged under paragraph 6 of the Defence (Settlement of Labour Disputes) Order, 1941, which prohibits strikes and lockouts unless the dispute in question has been reported to the Chief Labour Officer in accordance with the provisions of the Order. Before they were charged they were warned on two separate occasions that they should submit their cases for consideration under the terms of the Order and that unless they did so the strike was illegal. The men, however, declined to accept advice and refused to return to work. It is not correct that they were informed by the Chief Labour Officer that their work came under the provisions of the Essential Work Order, as the Sanitary Department has not been scheduled under that Order. There was no improper interference with the legal rights of the accused, and the question of restitution does not therefore arise.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Press of Sierra Leone is very heavily censored and that the authorities permitted incorrect statements to be published which are general throughout the town? Can these persons not have restitution?

I do not quite follow the hon. Member's Supplementary Question. I should have thought that if the Press was heavily censored, that would make it more difficult for incorrect statements to be published.

Could not the provisions of the Atlantic Charter be applied to this Territory? Will the right hon. Gentleman revive some of the sentiments which did him so much credit before he joined the Government?

Am I to understand that it is out of Order to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should revive some of the sentiments which did him so much credit before he joined the Government?

If the hon. Member had submitted that Question to the Table, it would not have been accepted.

I do not desire to refer to you, Sir, in a disrespectful fashion, but I refuse to be muzzled.

Is it not a fact that the best Supplementary Questions would never appear on the Paper?

Malayan Governments (Capital Assets)

22.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies the present balances standing to the credit the Malayan Governments in this country and in other parts of the British Empire?

The nominal value of the capital assets of the Malayan Governments, not now in enemy control, was on 31st May approximately £71,750,000, of which approximately £36,500,000 was earmarked for special purposes.

Nigeria (Compulsory Labour)

23.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any inquiry by a commission, including some member with special knowledge of the conditions of African native life, was held prior to the enactment of regulations in Nigeria for the conscription of African labour for civil work, on the lines of the commission of inquiry in Kenya prior to the enactment of the ordinance on compulsory labour; why the regulations for Nigeria contain no provisions to safeguard the conditions of employment; and whether such provisions have subsequently been made, or will be made without delay?

24.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies why forced labour has been adopted in the private tin mines of Nigeria?

The regulations to which the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. Harvey) refers were enacted as a measure of great urgency by the Government of Nigeria to meet the situation resulting from the loss of the Far Eastern sources for the supply of tin. It was necessary to proceed upon the wide knowledge of the conditions of native life already available to that Government, and my Noble Friend has every confidence that the knowledge was adequate for the purpose. Section 4 of the regulations in question gives power for the Government to regulate the conditions of employment with a view to ensuring the well-being of the persons selected; but while the general powers appear to be adequate, the question of providing more specific safeguards is being taken up with the Acting Governor.

Is it not an urgent matter that proper safeguards in regard to labour should be enforced without delay?

Is there not forced labour to-day in the coal mines of Britain?

In view of the great shock to all progressive opinion in this country caused by this decision to extend forced labour to Nigeria, where there is already a considerable surplus of labour which could be employed, on what public grounds was the decision taken? What is to be done in regard to the profits and royalties which will be gained out of the exploitation of cheap native labour for private profit and private enterprise?

In reply to the first supplementary, it was a considerable shock to this country when 60 per cent. of the world supply of tin was lost to us, and it has been very necessary to make it good. With regard to the second and third parts of the Question, the profits of the company will be liable to Excess Profits Tax of 100 per cent. and the royalties, if they are increased, will go very largely to the revenues of the Colony in question.

Is my hon. Friend aware that it is a violation of the Forced Labour Convention that this labour shall be employed for private enterprise for the purpose of private profit, and on these grounds will he reconsider the whole policy?

If my hon. Friend will study the International Labour Convention carefully, I think he will find that there is no violation of the Convention.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the question on the Adjournment.

Ministry Of Information

Anglo-Soviet Alliance

30.

asked the Minister of Information why he has decided only to support the rally of the National Council for British-Soviet Unity on the occasion of the anniversary of the Anglo-Soviet Alliance; and whether he will on similar occasions in future consult with other bodies interested in Anglo-Soviet friendship?

At the request of the Bishop of Chelmsford and the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore), the Ministry agreed to assist this rally by giving advice and arranging for a film record of the proceedings to be taken for sending to Russia. In answer to the second part of the Question, the Ministry is always willing to consider similar requests from other bodies and to give assistance where it is in the public interest to do so.

Is the Minister aware that on page 16 of the National Executive's report to the Labour party's conference this body is listed as being under Communist influence, and will he in future consult with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Dominions before he makes a similar decision?

I do not think there is any cause for me to consult my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Dominions. This meeting is fostered by two Conservative Members of this House, by a flock of bishops, by a number of eminent Liberals and by a large number of orthodox Labour people.

Is there any similar society in Russia such as "Britain To-day" which is boosting Great Britain and the Anglo-Soviet Alliance? If not will he take steps to secure reciprocity in boosting?

There is, of course, a society for cultural relations in Russia, and the Ministry of Information has become responsible for starting a newspaper in Russia. I am not optimistic enough to hope that we can at once fulfil all the desires of my hon. and gallant Friend, but we can try.

"Review Of World Affairs"

31.

asked the Minister of Information whether his attention has been drawn to the contents of a publication called "Review of World Affairs," dated 1st June, 1942; whether he is aware that its contents are of a definitely defeatist character and calculated to create misgivings in the minds of the people who read it of the assistance that can be given in the war by Russia; and what steps he is prepared to take to counteract the anti-Ally propaganda of this publication?

Yes, Sir. My attention has been drawn to the contents of this publication. I think that the achievements of our Ally Russia can safely be left to speak for themselves, and I do not think that I need to set out to counteract the opinions of the few people who seek to belittle the Russian war effort.

As the names of several Members of this House and of the other House appear on the heading of this Review, will it not attain in this country a considerable amount of false influence with people who think that this is being done virtually by the authority of Members of Parliament?

I cannot accept that assumption. If the names of Members of Parliament are connected with a newspaper, that does not give the newspaper any right to be looked upon as a second sort of Hansard. It is a great pity really to criticise expressions of opinion. I do not like this publication at all, but this House is constantly beating the Government up for their attempts at censorship, and it is strange that when Members see something they do not like they want it censored and, on the other hand, they want to give expressions of opinion that are not sometimes acceptable to other people.

Northern Ireland And Eire (Food Smuggling)

34.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has taken steps, in view of the encouragement to smuggling which insurance against loss is giving, to make it illegal for British insurance companies to insure smugglers of food from Northern Ireland into Eire against loss?

I have no evidence that any British insurance companies are entering into contracts of this kind, but if my hon. Friend will send me particulars, I shall be grad to investigate them.

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman make it clear that any such insurance is illegal, because it is causing a great deal of dissatisfaction in Northern Ireland?

I do not see any object in making clear that the practice is illegal. If my hon. Friend will send me cases, I will certainly go into them.

Small Traders (Supplies)

35.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered the statement prepared by the Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce and sent to him on the question of a more equitable allocation of supplies to the small retailer; and what action he proposes to take thereon?

I have read the statement to which my hon. Friend refers, but for the reasons given in my reply to a similar Question by my hon. Friend on 10th June, my right hon. Friend could not undertake to guarantee a definite share of available supplies to each retail trader.

Does the reply mean that while my hon. and gallant Friend is not able to accept this scheme, he is not prepared to put forward alternative proposals?

We feel that arrangements we have by which who salers are asked to share out their supplies reasonably fairly is by and large meeting the position.

Would my hon. and gallant Friend at least once more draw the attention of wholesalers to the fact that small retailers feel they are not getting their fair share and ask them to do what the Government have asked them to do?

I am only too anxious to do that in any specific case. A general request of that kind would be without effect, but if my hon. Friend will give me definite instances of areas in which the retailers are suffering I will most certainly take it up with the wholesalers.

Houses (Prices)

36.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the greatly increased prices that are being asked in certain areas for houses offered for sale; and will he control the prices of houses on the basis of pre-war rateable value?

My right hon. Friend understands that in some reception areas there has been a rise in the prices of houses for which vacant possession can be given. In view of the protection afforded to tenants under the Rent Restriction Acts and the powers available by way of requisitioning and billeting for various war-time needs, he does not feel that he would at present be justified in seeking Parliamentary powers on the lines suggested by my hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend is, however, keeping the situation under careful watch, and he would be glad to receive any facts which my hon. Friend has in his possession.

If it is possible to control rents, why is it not also possible to control the prices of houses, and how does my hon. Friend reconcile the answer with the Government's pledge that profits shall be taken out of war?

As to the difference between controlling rents and controlling houses for sale, my hon. Friend will realise if he looks at the Rent Restriction Acts that it is keeping rent to what it was before. If he will give me definite facts of houses where he says the price is excessive, we will look into them.

Is not putting houses on to the market for sale defeating the purpose of the Rent Restriction Acts by excluding those who can only pay rent and making it possible for those who have large sums of money to spend to buy them, and subsequently raising the rent of those houses?

I do not think it affects the Rent Restriction Acts because these houses may never have been rented before.

Voluntary Aid Detachments

37.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether any change is contemplated in the Voluntary Aid Detachment organisation?

38.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the opposition which exists to the proposal that the Voluntary Aid Detachments should be absorbed in the Auxiliary Territorial Service; and whether he will either cancel this proposal or give an assurance that this House shall have an opportunity of expressing its views on the subject before a final decision is taken?

39.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give an assurance that mobile members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment, serving in hospitals of His Majesty's Forces, shall not, without their consent, be absorbed into other organisations, but may remain under the auspices of the British Red Cross Society and wear their customary uniform?

I have at present nothing to add to the answer (given to my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) on 2nd June.

Could the hon. Gentleman give any reason why that change is contemplated?

My right hon. Friend explained in a previous answer that it would not be possible to give the full story in answer to a Parliamentary Question. The position now is that the Army Council are expecting a deputation from the societies concerned, and perhaps my hon. Friend will await the result of this.

Why are the War Office taking a different view in this matter from that of the Admiralty and the Air Ministry?

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind the high public esteem in which this organisation is held?

I am well aware of the feeling on this question, and my right hon. Friend has already agreed to receive a deputation, which I think the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) is arranging.

On a point of Order Mr. Speaker. May I point out that Question 39, which refers to hospitals of His Majesty's Forces, was addressed to the Prime Minister and was then transferred to the Secretary of State for War? In these circumstances is not my hon. Friend presumably authorised to speak on behalf of the other Services, and is he entitled to decline to answer for their policy?

Married Women Teachers

40.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether the policy of the York education committee in advertising for women teachers, with a specific ban on married women, has his approval; and whether, as it is likely under present conditions to lead to a lowering of teaching standards in that city, he will make representations to the York authority on the matter?

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the negative. In view of the shortage of teachers and the importance of making full use of the teaching power available, my right hon. Friend considers that any bar to the employment of married women teachers should be suspended at least for the period of the war, and this has been urged in a Circular issued by my Department to local education authorities last week. My right hon. Friend is communicating with the York education authority accordingly.

While thanking the Minister for his reply, may I ask whether he can say whether York is now the only education authority in the country that advertises such conditions?

Petroleum Board (Profits And Prices)

41.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how much profit was made by the Petroleum Board for the financial years ended 31st March, 1940, 1941 and 1942, respectively, and whether such profits are collected by the Treasury?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power
(Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)

In reply to the first part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the replies given on 5th and 12th May to the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards), of which I am sending him a copy. The answer to the second part of the Question is in the negative.

May I ask my hon. Friend whether the profits all go to the oil industry?

42.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, what price is paid by the Petroleum Board to the Government for pool petrol and high-octane spirit, respectively, delivered free under Lend-Lease, and at what prices they are retailed or delivered in bulk to the Services?

Petroleum products obtained under Lend-Lease arrnagements are sold by His Majesty's Government to the Petroleum Board on the basis of the commercial prices ruling at the time. As regards the second part of the Question, I regret I am not able to depart from the established rule not to publish the terms on which the Government purchases goods from suppliers.

Am I to understand that the Petroleum Board sell the oil which is shipped free to the Government under these Lend-Lease arrangements at retail or approximately retail prices to the Services, so that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to raise a loan in order to pay the difference between the price to the Petroleum Board and the price at which the Services buy from the Petroleum Board?

Minister Resident, West Africa

43.

asked the Prime Minister whether Lord Swinton is to be a member of the War Cabinet?

44.

asked the Prime Minister what political duties will be assumed by Lord Swinton in West Africa; what authority he will exercise in relation to the governments in British West Africa; and whether he will exercise his responsibilities through the Secretary of State for the Colonies?

In reply to the first part of the Question, the Minister s duties are to ensure the effective co-operation in the prosecution of the war of all Services, Civil and Military. His appointment is thus administrative rather than political. As regards the second part of the Question, no constitutional change is entailed in the four Colonies, which will remain under their own Governors, who on all normal questions of Colonial administration will continue to act under the authority of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. With regard to the third part of the Question, and to the Question by my hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) the Minister will be of Cabinet rank but will not be a member of the War Cabinet. He will work in close consultation with the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He will, of course, have the right to address any Minister direct, though when he does so his normal channel of communication will be through the Colonial Office.

Do I understand from that Reply that the position will be different from that of the Minister of State in Cairo, who is a member of the War Cabinet?

May I ask whether he will assume the duties of a kind of Governor-General? Will he have any overriding authority over the local Governments or over the Governors? Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that so far as the social and economic policies of the respected territories are concerned, they will be safeguarded in accordance with the programme and policy of the Colonial Office?

If the hon. Gentleman will study the Answer I have given, he will see, I think, that his point is fully covered. The Governors have their full responsibilities for the ordinary running of their Colonies. This is only for matters concerning the co-ordination of the war effort.

As the Minister has Cabinet rank, who will answer for him in this House?

I think the most convenient thing would be to put questions to the Colonial Secretary.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that if at any time the Minister should make a report, this House would like to hear it?

Does not this appointment fall into a new category of Cabinet Ministers whose duties are administrative and not legislative, because apparently this Minister has no political responsibility to anyone?

I do not think so. I think the position is analagous to that of the Minister of State.

British Broadcasting Corporation (Governors)

45.

asked the Prime Minister what changes he is contemplating making in the personnel of the governors of the British Broadcasting Corporation?

The King has been pleased to approve the re-appointment as Vice-Chairman and Governor of the Corporation of Mr. C. H. G. Millis, whose term of appointment recently expired.

Is my right hon. Friend not aware of the feeling, which is widespread, that if there were other changes in personnel, it might bring about a change in policy which is so much desired?

Production

Regional Boards

46.

asked the Minister of Production how many of the new regional controllers have been appointed; how many remain to be appointed; and when he hopes the new regional organisation will be in full operation?

I have been asked to reply. No appointments have yet been made, but a number of suitable persons have been interviewed and provisional selections have already been made for all but two of the posts. The appointments will be made very shortly, and I hope that the reconstitution of the Regional Boards will be complete before the end of the present month. In the meantime, the existing Boards are continuing to function.

Can my right hon. Friend say why there has been this abnormal delay in carrying out something which the House has desired for more than two years?

The selection of personel for these Boards is a very important matter. It is a matter to be dealt with after due consideration of a large number of possibilities, and I can assure the House there has been no avoidable delay.

Abertillery

47 and 49.

asked (1) the Minister of Production whether he has considered a communication from the Abertillery Chamber of Trade regarding the establishment of suitable industries in the area covered by that organisation; and the nature of his reply;

(2) the Minister of Supply whether he has considered the letter received from the Abertillery Chamber of Trade regarding the location of industries; and the nature of his reply?

I have been asked to reply to both these Questions. The Abertillery Chamber of Trade were inforrned in reply to their communications that their suggestion would be considered. I may add that while the existing public services would admit of the establishment of further industries, the premises at present available are small and unsuitable, and the narrowness of the valley greatly restricts the possibility of establishing new factories of any considerable size on fresh sites. In the circumstances I fear there is no prospect of making any special arrangements for the area, but my right hon. Friends would be very happy, to follow up any practical suggestion which took due account of local conditions.

Does that answer apply to all the coal valleys in South Wales? Factories are certainly being kept away from them.

Will the Minister keep in mind the Hemsworth Division? We have not got anything there.

Is it not a fact that there is a large amount of labour in South Wales which is not at present being utilised?

There is very little labour in that particular valley which is not fully occupied.

Ministry Of Supply

Publications (Foreign Nationalities)

48.

asked the Minister of Supply whether, in view of the shortage of newsprint for the British Press, steps have been taken to lessen the number of 63 publications for the emigrés of the 14 foreign nationalities now in this country?

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Information and I have reexamined this matter and have decided that it would not be desirable to withdraw the facilities given to any of these publications. The supply of paper to them is small and it is kept constantly under review.

Is it reasonable that 14 of these nationalities should require 63 papers, especially when there is such a shortage of newsprint elsewhere?

Is the Minister aware that a large number of these papers are delivered free to people who do not want them, including Members of Parliament? Does this not suggest that the publishers cannot sell them and that there is not as big a demand for them as some people suggest?

Is the Minister aware that many of the so-called foreign nationalities should be regarded as Allies rather than as foreigners; and, in view of the special anxieties which they are undergoing about the fate of their native countries, would it not be inhospitable on our part to deny them the right of expressing their separate points of view, which differ among them just as opinions differ in this House?

There are 14 nationalities involved, and the 63 papers cover all 14. Some of the papers are weekly, others are fortnightly, and others are quarterly publications. There is a great variety. Some are published for each of the; separate Services. I have great sympathy with the view expressd by the hon. Lady.

Can the Minister stop all these people sending copies of their publications to Members of Parliament?

Unfit Army Horses (Sale)

50.

asked the Minister of Supply what contracts to buy Army horses that are aged or unfit for further service and condemned by the veterinary officer has been granted to Mr. Christopher, of Lincoln; when was it negotiated; were tenders invited by public advertisement; and how the present contract price now compares with the control prices, wholesale, for horseflesh fixed by the Minister of Food?

A contract with Mr. Christopher, covering cast animals from No. 1 Reserve Veterinary Hospital, Doncaster, was placed by the Ministry of Supply, as agent for the War Office, on 25th April, 1941, as a result of competitive tenders invited from licensed slaughterers. The contract was reviewed and renewed on 1st November, 1941, and 1st February, 1942. The contract price for live animals is in line with the wholesale controlled prices.

Were other horseflesh dealers not given an opportunity of competing or tendering in February, 1942, along with Mr. Christopher?

Is it not reasonable to suggest that everybody in the trade should have an opportunity of tendering for what is a very profitable business to-day?

I should be glad to look into the matter, but transport and local conditions must be borne in mind in regard to this matter.

Is the Minister aware that Mr. Christopher, of Lincoln, carries out his trading operations in a highly satisfactory way?

Ophthalmic Service (Factories)

51.

asked the Minister of Supply the incidence of eye accidents in factories under his Department, and the steps taken for their prevention and treatment?

Returns of eye injuries at Royal Ordnance factories have not hitherto been abstracted from case records, but arrangements have now been made to obtain these returns. Adequate preventive measures are taken by the provision of guards or goggles where necessary. Minor injuries are treated at the factory surgery, but where the injury is serious the employee is sent to hospital.

Does that answer not emphasise the need for the services of ophthalmic surgeons, who understand the very important questions that arise in injuries of this kind?

52.

asked the Minister of Supply what arrangements are made for the service of ophthalmic surgeons to be available to factory workers under his Department; and to what extent he relies on the service of sight-testing opticians?

Eye examination is a part of the normal medical examination by factory medical officers in the Royal Ordnance factories. Under present arrangements, ordinary cases would be referred by the factory medical officer to sight-testing opticians on the register of the Joint Council of Qualified Opticians. The arrangements also provide for consultations where necessary between the factory medical officers and ophthalmic surgeons.

Is it not desirable to make use of the regular services of ophthalmic surgeons, who alone can see the really important damage that may be at the back of these injuries and which cannot always be appreciated by sight-testing opticians?

There are cases which it may be necessary to refer to skilled eye surgeons, and this is done.

Are not eye-testing opticians more competent at discovering these things than ordinary doctors?

Is all possible use being made of the services of ophthalmic surgeons?

Yes, Sir. The hon. Member brought a deputation to see me, as a result of which we are in contact with the eye surgeons and have made an offer to them in connection with a number of our factories.

Factory Staff (Letters)

53.

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that at a Royal Ordnance factory, the name of which has been communicated to him, instructions have been given that if any members of the staff leave stamped letters at the registry to be posted all such letters are to be opened and read; and whether he will take steps to stop this interference with the personal liberty of the employees?

I have made inquiries, and am assured no such instructions have been given.

Food Supplies

Salmon And Carrots

55.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food why salmon and carrots have disappeared from the shops since their prices have been controlled?

I am aware that, shortly after the introduction of control of salmon prices, there was a scarcity of supplies in retail shops in certain parts of the country, but from such information as I can obtain this scarcity was in large measure due to a falling off in home supplies and also in imports from Eire. With control of prices there was an increased demand from a wider range of consumers. Every effort is being made by my Department to ensure that the small supplies available are distributed as equitably as possible. There is no evidence that control of prices has caused carrots to disappear from the shops. A shortage of main crop carrots is to be expected at this time of year as the season is nearly over.

Is the Minister aware that, while it was impossible to obtain salmon in the shops, there was a plentiful supply in the restaurants? Can he explain the effect of price control upon that situation?

I do not think that is wholly true. The shortage in the shops arose during the second week of control, and that coincided with extremely bad weather in Scotland, which restricted the supplies of salmon coming on to the market.

Will the Minister watch the situation and see that there is a reasonable supply available?

It is being watched very carefully, and every effort is being made to see that supplies come to the shops.

Liquid Milk (Animals)

56.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food why liquid milk is supplied for dogs used for vivisection purposes and refused to veterinary surgeons for sick and injured dogs?

The demand for liquid milk for human consumption is so heavy that none can be made available for animals unless it can be shown to be necessary for scientific purposes. The quantity used for this purpose is negligible. A limited quantity of damaged dried milk powder is available for veterinary hospitals and similar institutions for the feeding of sick and injured dogs and other animals.

Why is this preference given to dogs for cruel vivisection purposes rather than to sick dogs which veterinary surgeons are seeking to cure?

The scientific purposes include a great number of experiments that are of great value in nutritional matters. The amount authorised for this purpose is only 70 gallons a week, and an amount of damaged dried milk is made available for veterinary purposes and also for warehouse cats.

Bread (Consumption)

58.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food what reduction in the consumption of wheat is being effected by the introduction of wholemeal flour?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on 19th March last to my hon. Friend the Member for Moss Side (Mr. Rostron Duckworth), to which I have nothing to add.

Has the consumption of bread gone down since the introduction of the wholemeal loaf?

I should like my hon. Friend to look at the answer to which I have referred.

British Restaurants

59.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food what powers he has to open a British Restaurant without the consent of the appropriate local authority; in what localities such powers have been used; and in what circumstances?

My Noble Friend, under the Defence Regulations, has power to establish British Restaurants. He has delegated this power to local authorities subject to his approval in each case. The primary responsibility for assessing the need for a new Restaurant has been entrusted to the local authority. No occasion has yet arisen in which my Noble Friend has considered it necessary to provide a British Restaurant where a local authority has not done so.

If it could be shown in a given case that the consent of the local authority has been unreasonably withheld, would the Minister act?

I am sure that my Noble Friend would desire to persuade the local authority, and I am sure that the hon. Member will agree that persuasion is far better than compulsion, since local cooperation is most important.

60.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food what evidence of need he requires before consenting to the establishment of British Restaurants?

Before approving a scheme for a British Restaurant, my Department require an assurance from the local authority concerned that owing to war-time conditions a sufficient number of people have difficulty in obtaining hot nutritious meals at a reasonable price to justify the establishment of the Restaurant. Among the factors taken into account by local authorities are such considerations as the increase of population, difficulties experienced by officially evacuated persons preparing meals in billets, the number of women employed on war work, the existing provision for hot meals by industrial canteens and canteens of a similar nature, and the facilities provided by existing commercial catering establishments.

Civil Defence

Detainees

61.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is prepared to disclose, if necessary in Secret Session, the reasons which have guided him in refusing to accept the recommendations of his Advisory Committee in regard to the release of British subjects interned under Regulation 18B?

No, Sir, my right hon. Friend could not undertake to disclose even in Secret Session the reason why he has felt unable in the interests of national security to adopt the Committee's recommendation that a particular individual should be released. As my right hon. Friend has explained in the course of Debate on Defence Regulation 18B, in the cases where he has differed from the Committee it has not been on questions of fact but on the question whether, accepting the Committee's view of the facts, the interests of national security require that the individual concerned should continue to be detained.

63.

asked the Home Secretary what useful, profitable or educational duties are open to persons interned under Regulation 18B?

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to my right hon. Friend's replies on nth June to the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. E. Harvey) and to himself. As regards educational facilities, there is a sufficient supply of educational books both in prisons and in the Camp at Peel, and, in addition to the Camp Reading Room at Peel, a separate house has been set apart for classes and study.

Does my hon. Friend think that it is right or justifiable in these days that any able-bodied people should not be suitably employed on war or other useful work?

I think that feeling in the House would certainly be strongly against subjecting detainees to compulsory labour.

Does not my hon. Friend think that it would be inequitable if there were no differentiation between the position of detainees who have not been tried and prisoners who have been tried by the ocurts?

Yes, Sir. That is one of the reasons why these people are not compelled to go to work.

Personnel (Alternative Employment)

62.

asked the Home Secretary whether he can make any general statement on the more effective employment of voluntary Civil Defence workers who, for the moment, are finding sufficient leisure to help in other directions also?

I am not clear whether my hon. and gallant Friend is referring to employment for whole-time or for part-time members of the Civil Defence Services, but the potential loss to production inherent in the present system of manning will diminish with the development of the policy of release to industry and providing alternative employment referred to in Home Security Circular 88 /1942, of which I am sending him a copy. So far as part-time members of the Services are concerned, the majority are engaged in standby duty after a full day's work. My right hon. Friend fears that it is not practicable to attempt to organise industrial work during night shifts at the Civil Defence depots. These are widely dispersed, employ relatively small numbers and seldom have workshop facilities.

"Review Of World Affairs"

64.

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to a publication entitled "Review of World Affairs," dated 1st June, 1942, in which untrue and derogatory statements are made about our Russian Allies calculated to weaken confidence in the alliance; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave yesterday to the Question by the hon. Member for Denbigh (Sir H. Morris-Jones).

Ex-Servicemen (White Feathers)

65.

asked the Home Secretary whether he will by legislation take powers under which action can be taken against senders of white feathers to ex-Servicemen who have been discharged on medical grounds?

Everyone will sympathise with the desire of my hon. Friend to put a stop to this mischief, but, in my view, the remedy is to be found not in legislation creating a new criminal offence but by educating public opinion to a realisation of the fact that in this war in which the whole energies of the nation are engaged, a man's patriotism and courage cannot be gauged by reference to the clothes which he wears. Civilians, whether ex-Service men or not, are required to perform the work for which they are best qualified and in which they can best serve their country, and I hope that the publicity which has been given to this matter will put a stop to this stupid and objectionable practice.

While I appreciate the nature of that reply, and quite apart from the harm and the suffering which are caused to the recipients of white feathers, has the hon. Gentleman no legal means at his disposal for dealing with something which creates despondency and alarm?

I think that legislation on this matter would be very difficult to frame in the first place and impossible to enforce in the second.

Basic Petrol (Unused Allowance)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is now in a position to make an announcement as to whether it will be possible for individuals to use up their remaining supplies of basic petrol after June 30th?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power
(Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)

Yes, Sir, my right hon. Friend and I have considered this problem carefully in the light of the views expressed in the House and of other representations which I have received. There appears to have been some misapprehension as to the consequences of the abolition of the basic petrol ration, and inconvenience or, in some cases, hardship may arise. I was about to make an Order the effect of which would be to prohibit the use of petrol after 30th June except for the purposes for which petrol will be granted after that date; but, in order to ease the position of those who may have saved some petrol under the misapprehension to which I have referred, the date on which the Order comes into force will be postponed by one month.

Has it been decided what they are to do with any excess of petrol at the end of that period?

Bill Presented

Allied Powers (War Service) Bill

"to make provision as to the liability to war service of the nationals of allied Powers, to define for the purposes of the Allied Forces Act, 1940, membership of certain allied and associated forces, and to remove doubts as to the powers of imprisoning or detaining persons sentenced by service courts exercising jurisdiction by virtue of that Act;" presented by Mr. Ernest Bevin; supported by Mr. Herbert Morrison, Mr.