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Written Answers

Volume 387: debated on Tuesday 23 March 1943

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Written Answers

Soapmaking (Nucleus Factories)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he can give a list of the nucleus factories which have been proposed to the Ministry of Food by the Council of the Soap Makers' and Fat Splitters' Federation?

No, Sir. The list to which my hon. Friend refers is only a provisional one and cannot be disclosed. The choice as to the nucleus factories is dependent upon there being made available additional employees required in those factories to replace the much larger number released elsewhere. As soon as this matter has been settled the information for which my hon. Friend asks will be made available to the trade.

Public Health

Tuberculosis (Statistics)

asked the Minister of Health to state, for the year 1938, the number of deaths from pulmonary and non-pulmonary tuberculosis, respectively, which occurred in the following areas of England and Wales, respectively, the administrative county of London, the rest of Greater London, excluding the county boroughs of Croydon and East and West Ham, the county boroughs, the non-county boroughs and urban districts and the rural districts?

The figures for which my hon. Friend asks are as follow:

Respiratory TuberculosisOther Tuberculosis
London Administrative County2,590347
Croydon County Borough11720
East Ham County Borough818
West Ham County Borough17219
The rest of Greater London1,777318
Outside Greater London
County Boroughs8,4741,492
Other Urban Areas5,9681,375
Rural Districts2,751667
My hon. Friend might like to refer to Table 24 of the Registrar General's Statistical Review of England and Wales for 1938, in which the numbers of deaths from respiratory and other tuberculosis are analysed in considerable detail of area, sex and age.

Soldiers' Dependants (Medical Treatment)

asked the Minister of Health what arrangements there are for wives and children of serving soldiers to obtain free medical treatment if they are unable to afford to pay a doctor's fee?

My right hon. Friend is not aware that the pay and allowances of serving soldiers are insufficient to cover the normal costs of any necessary medical treatment for their wives and children. Moreover, the War Service Grants Advisory Committee have power to supplement the pay and allowances in cases of exceptional hardship, including cases where heavy medical charges are incurred. In any exceptional case which is not met by these arrangements, the wife of a serving soldier who requires medical treatment for herself or her children and is unable to pay for it may apply for free treatment through the district medical service of the county or county borough in which she resides.

Women's Land Army (Hostel, Halesworth)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has considered the complaint of 29 lands girls living at an East Suffolk war agricultural hostel at Halesworth, Suffolk, that they have no meals between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5.30 p.m., and not enough hot drinks; and what action he proposes to take to remedy this?

The Land Army volunteers living in the Halesworth Hostel, Suffolk, like most other agricultural workers who go out daily from hostels, have an early breakfast before leaving, and the main meal of the day on their return from work. They take a packed luncheon with them, consisting of sandwiches, meat pies, cheese and so forth, and I believe the quantities provided are adequate. The Land Army volunteers at Halesworth were equipped with a thermos flask apiece so that a hot drink could be taken out with the packed luncheon, but most of these flasks have been broken and replacements are difficult to obtain. Where it is not practicable to provide individual hot drinks but the girls are working near a farmhouse, tea and sugar are supplied and arrangements made, if possible, for tea to be made at the farm for the whole party.

Disabled Persons (Rehabilitation)

asked the Minister of Labour whether the Government is prepared to accept the recommendations of the Departmental Committee on the Rehabilitation and Resettlement of Disabled Persons and introduce legislation giving effect to the recommendations; and whether steps are being taken to appoint a joint committee, representing the Departments concerned, to prepare for the introduction of the scheme?

The Government has accepted the recommendations of this Committee as a basis for discussion with the organisations concerned, and these discussions are proceeding. When these discussions have been completed, it is proposed to consider the introduction of the necessary legislation to enable the scheme to be put into effect on the termination of hostilities. A joint committee representing the Departments concerned has already been appointed to co-ordinate the work of the various Departments in preparation for the introduction of the scheme.

Skilled Occupations (Apprenticeship)

asked the Minister of Labour the periods of apprenticeship in the principal industries governed by trade agreements, together with particulars of the age at which the apprentice normally enters into full journeyman status?

The usual age for the commencement of an apprenticeship is 16 years, the normal period of apprenticeship being five years, ending at the apprentice's 21st birthday. There are, however, so many variations that it is not possible to generalise. In some cases boys of 14 or 15 years are accepted as apprentices and serve a six or five-year apprenticeship, while other employers in the same industries regard the boys as probationers up to the age of 16 and as commencing the apprenticeship at that age. In some trades, again, the period is reduced in the case of boys who have undergone a course of pre-apprenticeship technical training, the period so spent being recognised as part of the apprenticeship. It is unusual in England and Wales for the apprenticeship to extend beyond the youth's 21st birthday, but in Scotland an apprenticeship may begin later, up to 18 years of age, and terminate at as late as 23 years. Reference may be made to the "Report of an inquiry into apprenticeship and training for the skilled occupations in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 1925–26" in seven volumes, published by H.M. Stationery Office.

Armed Forces

Call-Up (Industries)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he can give an estimate in percentage form of persons enrolled for the Forces from agriculture, distribution, engineering, textiles, transport and mining, respectively?

Personnel (Letters To Press)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the position of members of the Navy in relation to writing letters to the Press on other than military matters is substantially the same as that of members of the Army?

The naval regulation which forbids officers and men to communicate to the Press any matter or information relating to the Naval Service, unless the permission of the Admiralty has been first obtained, extends also to anything of a controversial nature affect- ing other departments of the public service or relating to matters of public policy.

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether the position of members of the Air Force in relation to writing letters to the Press on other than military matters is substantially the same as that of members of the Army?

The regulations governing communications to the Press by personnel of the Royal Air Force are substantially the same as those for the Army.

Civil Service (Post-War Entry)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether, in the plans which the Government is making for the staffing of the Civil Service after the war, he will specially consider the claims of, and the valuable experience of, young men and women who have served in the Armed Forces or the women's auxiliaries in preference to others who will not have the advantage of having rendered this disciplined service?

The question of the conditions under which ex-Service men and women will enter the Civil Service after the war will be a matter for the Government of the day, but I have no doubt whatever that their claims will be fully and sympathetically considered.

Railway Junctions (Accommodation)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is satisfied that the night accommodation at important railway junctions for men and women of the Fighting Forces moving about the country is adequate and satisfactory?

I am satisfied that in general the accommodation is as good as can be provided with the limited materials and labour available. If the hon. and gallant member has any particular dormitory in mind which should be improved I will gladly have it investigated.

Education Service (Post-War Entry)

asked the President of the Board of Education whether, in the plans which the Government is making for the staffing of national education after the war, he will specially consider the claims of, and the valuable experience of, young men and women who have served in the Armed Forces or the women's auxiliaries in preference to others who will not have the advantage of having rendered this valuable service?

I am making arrangements which will bring the claims of the education service to the attention of men and women in the Armed Forces and the Women's Auxiliary Services, and provide special training for those who wish to become teachers. I doubt whether any question of preference will arise since there will probably be employment for all the teachers whose services can be secured.

Torpedoed Seamen (Leave)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he will explain the arrangements that are made in respect of leave, either with or without pay, for torpedoed seamen?

Under arrangements made with the representatives of the owners, officers and men, a seaman whose ship is lost, as a result of enemy action, receives full wages until he returns home or is offered alternative employment, with a minimum of one month's pay from the date of the loss of the ship. Half of the cost of these additional wages is borne by the Ministry; the other half is borne by the shipowners. On his return the seaman is not called upon to report to the reserve pool until he has exhausted his right to pay under this arrangement and has taken the service leave to which he is entitled. In all cases, arrangements are made for the seaman to have a minimum period of seven days at home before he is called upon to report for further employment.

Middle East (Non-Essential Imports)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport who pays for unloading the cosmetics, corsets, etc., carried from the United States of America in convoyed ships to the Middle East?

All civil goods proposed for import to the Middle East are now checked by the Middle East supply centre, and this organisation decides whether or not such goods are essential. I understand that under this arrangement space in United States ships is not made available for luxury goods. The importers, or their agents, are liable for all costs incurred in connection with the importation of goods consigned to them.

Fuel And Power

Coal (Quality)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware of the feeling of injustice and grievance existent amongst the consuming public arising as a result of the low quality of coal often supplied to them; and, if the distribution of this low-grade coal is necessary in the national interest, will he arrange that it be sold at a lower price?

As regards the first part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on 16th March to my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Sir A. Gridley). As regards prices, these are fixed by the Statutory Schemes set up under the Coal Mines Act, 1930, which include provision for price adjustments for variations in quality. In addition, I am at present considering machinery to ensure an equitable settlement of difficulties which cannot be settled in this way.

Volunteer Car Pools (Petrol Allowances)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether the invitation issued by the petroleum officer for the Southern Division to all motorists to register for emergency driving jobs is to be taken as a command; whether similar invitations have been issued in other parts of the country; and how far acceptance of the invitation governs the amount of petrol to be granted to those motorists to whom this communication is addressed?

The printed slip in question is not a command but an invitation to motorists to volunteer for the Volunteer Car Pools controlled by the Ministry of Home Security. It was issued by the regional petroleum officer, Reading, in the envelopes containing petrol coupons, at the request of the Regional Commissioner, who wished the appeal to be brought to the notice of motorists with the maximum economy of labour and postage. Other regional petroleum officers have co-operated similarly. Volunteers receive the coupons needed for their voluntary duties from the Volunteer Car Pool. Acceptance or rejection of the invitation does not affect the petrol allowances made by the regional petroleum officer.

British Army

Chaplains (Pay)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will award the chaplains holding the relative rank of captain the recently announced 2s. 6d. per day increased pay for captains on completing an aggregate of three years full pay service in that rank, especially, in view of their work on the various battlefields.

The concession which my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind is no doubt that announced by my right hon. Friend the Lord President on 26th November last. This provided that combatant officers of the rank of captain who have completed three years' service in the rank should be eligible for pay at 17s. 6d. a day, an increase of 1s. a day on the normal captain's rate of 16s. 6d. a day. The same considerations do not apply in the case of chaplains who are eligible with effect from the date of their being commissioned for pay at 15s. 4d. a day which is considerably in excess of that of a combatant officer commissioned as a subaltern, and is also more than the 14s. 6d. for which a combatant lieutenant is eligible after three years' commissioned service.

Warning Notices (Welsh Language)

asked the Secretary of State for War how far his promise to the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire that all warning notices of danger areas in Wales shall in future be posted in Welsh, as well as in English, has been implemented?

I am informed that boards carrying notices in Welsh have been prepared and should by now be in position at all points where firing is likely to take place in Snowdonia. The orders to erect similar notices in other parts of North Wales are no doubt being carried out, but I have no details about them. In South Wales the notices have been published in Welsh for some time.

Officers, Middle East (Promotion)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, instead of sending out from this country officers to take command of troops in the Middle East, he will promote officers on the spot who have long and successful experience of desert warfare?

The Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, carries out all promotions in his command up to and including the rank of brigadier. Senior officers are sent out from this country at the request of the Commander-in-Chief and he only asks for them when he has no one in his command to recommend for the appointments.

Eighth And First Armies (Colonial Allowance)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the personnel in the Eighth Army in receipt of Colonial allowance whilst in Egypt will continue to receive Colonial allowance after crossing the border into Libya; and whether Colonial allowance is drawn by any of the personnel of the First Army?

The answer to both parts of the Question is "Yes, Sir." The officers and men of the Eighth Army draw Colonial allowance at the rates applicable to Egypt whether they are in Egypt, Cyrenaica, Tripolitania or Tunisia. The officers and men of the First Army have also drawn Colonial allowance at these rates since 2nd February, 1943, when the rate of exchange was altered. Prior to that date they drew the allowance at the rates applicable to Gibraltar.

National Finance

Income Tax (Scientists' Expenses)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the Income Tax authorities draw a distinction between scientists who are employed and scientists who are practising on their own account in the matter of counting subscriptions to scientific bodies as allowable expenses for purposes of Income Tax relief; and whether, before the introduction of the next Finance Bill, he will consider this matter with a view to taking steps to allow all scientists and technicians to count as allowable expenses for Income Tax purposes any subscription to recognised scientific bodies in this country or overseas?

I am afraid I cannot entertain any amendment of the provision of Rule 9 of Schedule E which limits the expenses deductible under that Rule to expenses which are wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the performance of an employee's duties.

Bank Of England Notes

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the fact that orders have been issued to the staffs of railway companies not to accept any of the Bank of England promissory notes for £5 without endorsement of the name and address of the user; and whether, as this instruction is giving cause for alarm, he will arrange that all issues of such notes shall be stamped with the name of the issuing bank, thus taking precautions against counterfeits?

I understand that following upon the successful passing of a forged note at a booking office, one of the railway companies reintroduced the practice, which had fallen into abeyance, of requesting tenderers of £5 bank notes to endorse them with their name and address. This practice is not uncommon among the trading community and I see no objection to it, nor have I any reason to suppose that the instruction issued by the railway company has caused alarm. The precaution may sometimes be useful where it is required to trace the history of the ownership of a note which has been lost or stolen, and it protects the tenderer of a genuine note inasmuch as it cannot be afterwards alleged that the note which he tendered was forged. I am not prepared to adopt the suggestion in the last part of the Question; it would afford no additional protection to the public.

Admiralty Establishments, Londonderry (Employment)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that there are several hundred unemployed men, some of whom are ex-Service men, on the Londonderry employment exchange and, in view of this, what were the circumstances which led recently to the employment of 11 men from Eire of military age, none of whom were ex-Service men, by Admiralty establishments at Londonderry?

I have recently learned that there are now a number of men registered as unemployed at the Londonderry employment exchange. The normal practice is for Admiralty establishments to notify vacancies to the local exchange and to fill these vacancies from candidates with the necessary qualifications submitted by the exchange. Of the 11 persons referred to, eight were domiciled in Northern Ireland. Seven of the total number are seamen whose services were required for the operation of small civilian-manned craft. Of the remaining four, one was a woman cleaner sent by the employment exchange, and the other three were entered after all suitable candidates submitted by the local exchange had been absorbed.