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Written Answers

Volume 387: debated on Wednesday 3 March 1943

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Written Answers

Armed Forces (Pensions And Grants)

asked the Minister of Pensions the peak number of pensions granted for disablement in the great war; what is the total amount which has been paid; what was the average amount of pension per head; the highest and lowest amount per person; and how many pensions are now being paid?

, pursuant to his reply [OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th February, 1943; col. 311, Vol. 387], supplied the following figures:The aggregate number of pensions granted for disablement in the Great War was 1,700,000 and the total amount paid to 30th September, 1942, was approximately £753,000,000. The average amount in payment is £51 a year per pensioner and the total number of Great War disablement pensions in payment on 30th September, 1942, was 395,000. The highest disablement pension was £420 per annum payable to a totally disabled General; the lowest pension was 8s. per week (plus appropriate family allowances) payable to a private, 20 per cent. disabled; the same rates applied to equivalent ranks in the other Services.

Food Supplies

Restaurants, London (House Charges)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food what is the highest house charge a London restaurant is allowed to make where there is no music or dancing?

Bread (Waste)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is satisfied that sufficient propaganda has been devoted against the wastage of bread; and what further steps he intends to take in this matter?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher) on 17th February.

Tea Permits

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, in connection with the new issue of tea permits, he will consider amending the Order so as to permit of retailers, whose sales for eight weeks ending 6th February have been less than 25 lbs., being eligible for the issue of the new tea permits?

No, Sir, but as in the case of rationed foods for which registration is necessary, my Noble Friend is anxious to avoid inflicting hardship upon any retailer of tea or occasioning inconvenience to consumers and to this end instructions have been issued to Food Control Committees that before withholding permits they should satisfy themselves that the public will not be inconvenienced and that there will be no hardship to the individual retailer.

Soft Drinks Industry (Concentration)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food the manner in which it is proposed to implement the assurance given on 24th February that the representatives of closed firms on the Committee of the Soft Drinks Industry War Time Association will be satisfactory to those concerned?

No, Sir. I am not at present in a position to add anything to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead) on 24th February.

Milk Bottles (Collection)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food, in connection with the public warning regarding the collection and return of milk bottles, whether he is aware that in many districts there are a quantity of derelict milk bottles, especially on empty premises; and on whom rests the responsibility for collecting such bottles?

The Milk (Use of Bottles) Order, 1943, which came into force on 1st March makes it clear that the responsibility for making bottles available for collection rests upon the user and the responsibility for collection upon the dairymen. I shall be glad if my hon. Friend will give me particulars of the locations of the bottles to which he refers in his Question.

Home Guard (Women)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can now make a statement with regard to the enrolment of women for service with the Home Guard?

This question is still under consideration, but my right hon. Friend hopes to be able to make a statement shortly.

Ministry Of Information

"Daily Worker" (Ban On Export)

asked the Minister of Information whether he will now lift the ban on export of the "Daily Worker"?

I will inform the hon. Member as soon as I am able to make a statement on the matter.

Russia (British Propaganda)

asked the Minister of Information what steps are being taken to explain to the public of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics the magnitude and importance of the war effort of this country to the common cause?

All the means of publicity at our disposal are being used for this purpose. A daily news service and a weekly war commentary are despatched from London for the use of the Soviet Press and radio. Articles, photographs, films and translations of books are regularly sent. In addition, a weekly newspaper, "The British Ally," is widely distributed in the U.S.S.R., and a large photographic exhibition has been opened in Moscow.

United States (Gift Books)

asked the Minister of Information whether he is aware of the difficulties in the way of sending gift books to the United States of America; and whether he will consult with the other Departments concerned so that present hindrances may be overcome?

Discussions are now taking place with representatives of the trades concerned with a view to removing difficulties as far as possible.

War Casualties

asked the Prime Minister whether he is now able to state the numbers of killed, wounded, missing and prisoners of war from our Forces since the outbreak of the present war?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave to him on Wednesday last, to which at present I have nothing to add.

Government Contracts (Holidays With Pay)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether it is the practice of the contracting departments of the Admiralty, War Office, Air Minis-try and the Ministry of Works to insist that their contractors operate the holidays with pay scheme as agreed between the employers and operatives of the building trades, civil engineering; and do the employing sections of the same Ministries operate the same scheme in relation to their own building trade employees?

The various contracting Departments have considered the question of the operation of the holidays with pay scheme in connection with the contracts for which they are responsible. Under the conditions of Registration under Defence Regulation 56AB, the contractor is bound to observe the terms and conditions which have been fixed by joint agreement in the industry, and it is considered that this should ensure the observance of the scheme. In the case of building trade and civil engineering operatives who are directly employed by the Ministries mentioned in the Question, the arrangements already in force compare favourably with those laid down in the scheme, and in these circumstances the question of the application of the scheme does not arise.

Armed Forces

Trailers (Rear Lights)

asked the Home Secretary whether efforts are being made to unify the arrangements now in force in the three Service Departments in regard to the provision of front and rear lights on trailers on roads during darkness; why, as one of the Service Departments finds it possible to comply with the lighting provisions required for civilian vehicles, the other services fail to do so; and, in view of the danger to other drivers and the many accidents which have occurred at night owing to unlighted trailers, will he endeavour to obtain agreement to adopt the lighting applicable to trailers in civil use?

The number, and, in certain cases, the type of trailer in use by the War Department and R.A.F. present special difficulties in adaptation to comply with the civilian lighting regulations. In conjunction with my Noble Friend the Minister of War Transport, however, I am raising the matter with the Departments concerned.

Pensioners (Prevention Of Victimisation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will take steps to prevent officers and men who leave the Forces with gratuities, pensions or commutable pensions, both during and after the war, from being lured into parting with their money; and whether, when any such money is paid, he will, at any rate once, send to the recipient a note warning him of these dangers and telling how to set about seeking sound advice?

No doubt this matter will be considered at the appropriate time by the responsible Departments.

Motor Driving And Maintenance (Instruction)

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the value of mechanical knowledge to the Services and especially to the Army, in respect of motor-vehicle driving, he will arrange with the President of the Board of Education for mechanical tuition and driving to be given to everyone for one year before they join the Forces so that, when they are called up, they will be able to drive and maintain vehicles?

No, Sir. My right hon. Friend does not regard the proposal as practicable.

Postal Frauds (Prevention)

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that the Federal Government of the United States of America enforces within its own borders a law against using the mails to defraud, which has resulted in extensive extinction of bogus universities in the States; and whether he will put into operation similar methods in order to discourage efforts to transfer these activities to this country?

I have no knowledge of the law or of the practice of the United States Federal Government referred to by the hon. Member. As regards this country, I have no general power to open and detain correspondence and can only do so under a warrant from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The suppression of fraud is primarily a matter for the police.

Merchant Navy

Shipping Movements (Control)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that a recent case in the King's Bench Division disclosed that a merchant captain, being instructed by a commander, Royal Navy, to take his ship, being then unloaded and light, from the port of St. Nazaire on account of the weather conditions, protested, but was overruled, whereby the steamer stranded and sustained much damage; and whether he will consider the advisability of instructing that similar decisions should be taken in future, when possible, by a naval officer of a higher rank than that of commander?

Subject to the ultimate responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief or of the Admiralty, the control of merchant shipping movements must be exercised by the responsible local naval authorities. I would point out that the Admiralty has no hesitation in entrusting to officers of commander's rank and below the command of His Majesty's destroyers, corvettes, submarines and other warships.

Immersion Foot And Frostbite

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether the advice, prepared by his Ministry, to masters, officers and men of the Merchant Navy on the prevention and treatment of immersion foot and frostbite, is now being issued through Mercantile Marine offices throughout the United Kingdom to all shipmasters?

Yes, Sir. The notice on immersion foot and frostbite is issued to all shipmasters in the Merchant Navy, and supplies have been made available to the Allied shipping authorities. In addition, short lectures are given by a doctor at convoy conferences to the masters of ships sailing for certain overseas ports. We are now considering whether this method of instruction can be more widely used.

Jewish Refugee Children (Spain And Portugal)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make a statement on the Jewish refugee children at present in Spain and Portugal; and whether arrangements are being made to remove them to Palestine or some other place of safety?

My information is that the number of refugee children at present in Spain and Portugal is very small. The number of visas available is ample for their needs. The difficulty of transport is still great but the best means to overcome it are being worked out.

Flowers (Carriage By Rail)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport the authority under which searches are made of passengers' luggage in the train or at stations, or otherwise, to ascertain whether flowers are being carried by train in contravention of S.R. & O., No. 232, of 1943; and the number of such searches made since the date of that Order?

Powers of search under certain conditions are given by Regulation 88A of the Defence Regulations and power to arrest without warrant on reasonable suspicion by Regulation 88c. So far, when police officers have had grounds for suspicion, they have so informed the passengers and invited them to open their luggage, and in all cases the passengers have agreed to an inspection. Flowers have been carried by train in contravention of the Order, and certain prosecutions have taken place, and convictions have been obtained. Other cases are pending. Since the date of the Order 47 containers have been opened.

Fuel And Power

Injured Coal Miners (Rehabilitation)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the progress being made in regard to rehabilitation services in the mining industry?

Responsibility for ensuring that rehabilitation treatment is available for injured coal miners has, at the request of the Government, been undertaken by the Miners' Welfare Commission and under war conditions it is a big and difficult task. The Commission's first step was to investigate in association with the Health Departments and the district miners' welfare committees, to what extent existing accommodation and facilities could be made to serve the purpose. Where that has been found impossible, the Commission is taking steps to obtain and adapt other premises, and to recruit and train the necessary staff. Despite the difficulties the Commission has made gratifying progress. Centres are already in operation for six coal districts; the centres for the four Scottish districts being provided by the Department of Health for Scotland. Premises have been acquired for three districts and are under negotiation for seven districts, while in three districts the problem is before the district committees. The remaining six districts are too small to have special centres and will be fitted into the scheme as it develops.

Mines, Medical Service (Report)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, in view of the importance attached to the development of the miners' medical service in the various coalfields, whether he will publish at an early date the report of the Inter-Depart- mental Committee or arrange for the full summary of the Committee's proposals to be made accessible to Members of Parliament?

The report in question was a report made to me by a number of officials of different Departments under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. I can see no reason for departing from the usual rule that such reports to Ministers are confidential. The report was fully summarised by the Joint Parliamentary Secretary in his statement to the House on 1st October, and I do not think any summary which I might issue would be an improvement on that statement.

Coal (Output And Employment Figures)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the average output per manshift over all persons employed in the mining industry, giving the latest figure before and after the present form of control was applied to the industry; the total number of persons employed and for each district separately?

In the last four full weeks before the acceptance of the Government's White Paper by the House, output per man-shift over all persons employed was 1.048 tons; in the most recent four weeks for which figures are available, output per man-shift was 1.056 tons. Productivity in the latter period was affected by seasonal factors, especially sickness, and in the four most recent normal Weeks preceding the incidence of these factors, output per man-shift was 1.064 tons. The total numbers of persons employed in the industry last summer was about 708,000 and at the present time is about 714,000. It is not desirable to publish figures by districts, but if my hon. Friend desires I am prepared to let him have these in confidence.

Scrap Timber, Scotland

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps are being taken to make the large quantities of scrap timber, resulting from cutting operations in the Highlands, available as fuel to civilian populations; and what other steps are being taken to prevent it going to waste?

In so far as this scrap timber is suitable for use as fuel, Scottish local authorities have been urged to organise schemes for the accumulation of stocks as emergency reserves and a considerable tonnage of such wood is now in store. A large proportion of this timber is not, however, suitable for fuel, but considerable quantities are used in industry as pulp wood for paper making, and in other ways, though the cost in labour and transport makes it difficult to bring to the large consuming areas such available scrap as is not used in the locality.

Royal Air Force

Trainee (Removal From Draft)

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that a corporal in the Royal Air Force, of whom he has been informed, recently completed some eight months' flying training; was placed on draft to proceed to complete his training; was taken off at the last moment without reason given; that he is not to be put on draft until further instructions; whether he has given satisfaction; whether complaints have been made against him; for what reason, not in existence when he began his training last June, he has been thus treated; and whether the right hon. Gentleman will take steps to avoid injury to morale and waste of training by ending such treatment?

The airman in question was removed from draft for reasons which are good and sufficient. The other points raised by the hon. and learned Member are under consideration.

Tuberculosis Cases

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether a man serving with the Royal Air Force is immediately discharged if he is found to be suffering from tuberculosis; and what is the maximum period for which he would be entitled to receive his Service pay in such circumstances?

Airmen found to be suffering from tuberculosis are retained in-the Service and remain on pay during treatment if there is a reasonable probability of their becoming fit for duty within a period of 9 months in the case of trained personnel or 4 months in the case of those still under training. Airmen who are to be invalided from the Service are granted 28 days leave with pay before being discharged.

Radio Mechanics And Operators (Training)

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether the Royal Air Force training establishments are completely fitted up with modern wireless equipment for the efficient training of radio mechanics and operators?

The establishments referred to are adequately equipped to meet requirements in this branch of training.

Palestine Administration (Salaries)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the present salary of the High Commissioner of Palestine and those of the principal members of the Palestine Administration?

The information required is as follows:

The High Commissioner for Palestine:££
Duty Allowance1,500
The Chief Justice:
Expatriation Allowance250
The Chief Secretary:
Expatriation Allowance250
The Attorney General:
Expatriation Allowance250
The Financial Secretary:
Expatriation Allowance250

National Health Insurance

asked the Minister of Health whether he will give the text, the date and the legal authority for the amendments of National Health Insurance Regulations, 1936, empowering insurance committees to give effect to the arrangements described as voluntary, embodied in the British Medical Association's Probation Practices Scheme; and, inasmuch as these amendments have resulted in material restriction, as shown in examples submitted to him, of the insured person's statutory right under the Insurance Acts of free choice of doctor he will reconsider the position?

Where the arrangements in question are on a voluntary basis they are operated by means of reciprocal agreements between the practitioners participating therein and do not involve any amendments of the National Health Insurance Regulations of 1936, though insurance committees assist in their operation. The agreements do not, in my view, restrict the statutory right of insured persons as to choice of doctor and I see no sufficient reason for advising insurance committees to withdraw their assistance.

Schools (Holiday Opening)

asked the President of the Board of Education what are his present instructions to local education authorities with regard to the opening of schools in holidays; and whether he is aware that, as recent examples submitted to him demonstrate, the past attendance of pupils under this scheme has been of such negligible proportions as to cause widespread dissatisfaction among teachers whose leisure has been thus sacrificed?

I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of Circular 1615 which deals with the opening of schools during the holidays. In view of the widely varying circumstances of particular areas I am clear that the decision whether schools should be opened and, if so, on what basis, is one which could only be decided by the local education authority. The Board have, however, suggested in the circular that the task of supervision shall be shared by teachers in all types of elementary and secondary schools on a rota. I have considered certain complaints from individual teachers forwarded to me by my hon. Friend, but I have no reason to believe that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the working of the circular.