House Of Commons
Thursday, 25th March, 1943
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
Telegram From Grand National Assembly
made the following communication to the House:I have to inform the House that I have received the following telegram from the President of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey: "While making the Ministerial declaration to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey on the occasion of the constitution of his new Cabinet, M. Sukru Sarajoglu, President of the Council, defined Anglo-Turkish relations in the following terms:
I am happy to tell you that this declaration on the part of the President of the Council was received with applause and an enthusiastic and unanimous ovation from the whole Assembly. I take this opportunity to pay to you, Mr. Speaker, my highest respects."'After this survey of the general lines of our policy there is one point on which particular emphasis should be laid, that is, Anglo-Turkish friendship. After the Adana conference, having got to know Mr. Churchill more intimately, we have begun to love him better. We see around us the outstretched hands of all British statesmen beginning with Mr. Churchill and we hear the cordial words of these same statesmen. The House of Lords has also been the scene of a new manifestation of this friendship. Our British friends may rest assured that with all sincerity we grasp their outstretched hands and that we consider the cordial words which come to us from England as the echo of those which we from the bottom of our hearts address to London. For it is our conviction that Anglo-Turkish friendship is not only a friendship dictated by mutual interest but also by one of the most vital needs of the two countries.'
I propose to send the following reply on behalf of the House:"It was with great pleasure and satisfaction that the House of Commons, to whom I have communicated your Excellency's message, learned of the friendly references to this country made by the President of the Council in his recent speech to the National Assembly. In thanking you on behalf of the House, I send you and the National Assembly a message of cordial good wishes and an assurance of the importance which we attach to the continued friendship between our two countries."
Oral Answers To Questions
Demobilised Persons (Further Education And Training Scheme)
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is in a position to state what provision is to be made to enable young men and women whose careers have been interrupted by the war to resume or begin their training when the war is over?
The Government fully recognise the need for assisting suitably qualified men or women to obtain after the war, the further education or training which their war service has interrupted or prevented. Close attention has accordingly been given to this matter, and the Government's plans are now sufficiently advanced to enable a statement to be made on the general nature of the arrangements proposed. As the statement is rather long, I will, if I may, arrange for its publication in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the statement:
FURTHER EDUCATION SCHEME.
Further Education for Demobilised Members of the Forces and other War Workers.
1. His Majesty's Government announce that plans have been approved for providing financial assistance to enable suitably qualified men and women, on demobilisation, to undertake or continue further education or training (i.e., beyond the secondary school standard).
2. The aim of the scheme is to replenish the supply of persons qualified to fill responsible posts in the professions, industry, including agriculture and commerce. It is intended to cover training in professional, commercial and industrial concerns as well as courses at universities, technical colleges and training colleges.
3. It will apply to those whose further education or training has been prevented or interrupted by their war service.
4. The scheme is primarily intended for His Majesty's Armed Forces and their auxiliary and nursing services, together with the Merchant Navy, police auxiliaries, full-time Civil Defence personnel and civil nursing reserve. A certain number of places will, however, be available for suitable candidates whose further education or training has been similarly prevented or interrupted by employment in other work of national importance.
5. Facilities of the kind which will be made available on general demobilisation will be afforded at once to suitable applicants who have been discharged on medical grounds from their war service and who are not required by the Ministry of Labour and National Service to undertake cither forms of national service.
6. Inquiries should, until further notice, be addressed as follows:
In the case of candidates normally resident in England or Wales to:
Board of Education,
In the case of candidates normally resident in Scotland to:
Scottish Education Department,
St. Andrew's House,
Further Education and Training in the Services.
7. It is intended that, so far as it is practicable and the exigences of Service duties permit, corresponding opportunities for further education and training should be provided by the Service Departments during the period of resettlement before demobilisation is complete for men and women likely to remain in the Armed Forces for a substantial period.
Committee on Further Education and Training.
8. An interdepartmental committee, which will include representatives of the universities, is being appointed to ensure that the educational and training arrangements are closely related to the prospects of employment at home and abroad, and to secure co-ordination between the facilities to be provided outside and inside the Services.
Arrangements for Finding Employment.
9. Consideration has also been given to the development of arrangements for assisting persons with qualifications for the higher posts in the professions, industry and commerce to find opportunities of suitable employment during the period of resettlement after the war. These arrangements are to be centred in the Appointments Department of the Ministry of Labour and National Service, and an independent committee is being appointed to advise the Minister on the organisation of the work and the best methods of securing close co-operation with the appropriate professional, industrial and business organisations, and with the education authorities.
10. Lord Hankey has agreed to become Chairman of the interdepartmental committee on further education and training, and of the committee to advise upon the work of the Appointments Department.
National War Effort
Women Agricultural Workers
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that, under recent directional orders, full-time women agricultural workers on the land have been directed to do part-time work with the National Fire Service and other bodies, in some cases three or four miles from the farm on which they work; and whether, in view of the importance of the fullest possible hours of labour being made use of on the farms, he will make some concession in these cases, so that the programme of farm work will not be unduly disturbed?
No complaints have been brought to my notice, but if my hon. Friend will let me have particulars of any cases in which he considers that hardship has been caused through directions issued by my officers, I will have them investigated.
Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that food is an all-important munition of war, and will he issue some comprehensive instructions so that girls on outlying farms having to walk four or five miles should not be made to waste time which could be used for the production of food? It will be worse when the harvest is here.
I am afraid that I cannot do this job under comprehensive instructions. Man-power has got so tight that I have to deal with almost individual cases.
Does not my right hon. Friend realise that that is the reason I am rubbing it in?
Food Distributive Trades
asked the Minister of Labour whether, before he decided on the latest call-up of persons employed in the distributive trades, he consulted with the Ministry of Food, employers and trade unions concerned, and satisfied himself and them that there would be a sufficient staff left in food shops to conduct the distribution of rationed and other commodities efficiently; and how many food shops he estimates will close as the result?
By agreement with my Noble Friend the Minister of Food and after consultation with representatives of the employers and workers concerned, arrangements have been made to regulate the withdrawal of men and women from the food distributive trades in such a way as not to impair an efficient service to the public or to cause the closing down of any business which is necessary for the proper distribution of food.
If I send the right hon. Gentleman one or two cases where employees and employers are feeling very desperate about this business, will he look into them?
Ordnance Factory Workers' Meeting
asked the Minister of Labour whether he received any report regarding police interference at a workers' meeting of those employed at a certain ordnance factory; will he say from whom the report came, the nature of the meeting and the reasons of police activity; and whether the demand for an inquiry will be granted?
No, Sir. No report of this nature has been addressed to me.
Did the right hon. Gentleman see the telegram I sent him about this matter?
Yes, Sir. The hon. Gentleman asked me whether I had received a report of the circumstances, but all I have received up to now is his telegram.
Disabled Persons (Training)
asked the Minister of Labour how many disabled persons are being trained for industrial work and how many for the professions, respectively, under the Tomlinson Scheme?
The scheme recommended in the Tomlinson Committee Report is designed for the post-war problem, but interim measures are in operation to meet current needs. Under these measures approximately 1,250 disabled persons are now receiving training for industrial and commercial occupations, while about 25 persons are receiving training for the professions or are taking courses of higher education in accordance with a statement which is being circulated to-day.
Will my right hon. Friend see that the greatest publicity is given to this valuable Report?
Industrial Health Advisory Committee
asked the Minister of Labour whether the Industrial Health Research Board is specifically represented on the newly formed Industrial Health Advisory Committee; how liaison will be maintained between these two bodies; whether the new committee is to be concerned with the industrial health research; and whether he is satisfied there will be no duplication of the functions of the two bodies and that there will be no need to alter again the recently revised terms of reference of the Industrial Health Research Board which include the carrying out of research into health and disease of industrial workers?
The Industrial Health Research Board is not specifically represented on my Committee. A number of members are common to both bodies and effective contact will be maintained through these members and through official channels. Duplication of functions will be avoided; the Board is a research body whereas my Committee will not conduct research and will advise me on technical and scientific problems arising out of the current administration of my Department. The terms of reference of my Committee were settled with due regard to the revised terms of reference of the Board and will not therefore occasion any alteration in the latter.
Would it not be useful to have a representative of each body on the other body so that the results of research of one committee are applied in the other?
I can assure my hon. Friend that the organisation is so arranged that immediately it ceases to be a thing that can be dealt with currently and needs long research it will be passed on. I think that is the better way of dealing with it.
asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the dissatisfaction in the Women's World that women's representation is inadequate on his new Industrial Health Advisory Committee, he will take steps to balance his committee, particularly on the industrial, nursing, nutrition and canteen sides?
This is a Committee to advise me on technical and scientific matters and not to represent particular bodies or interests. It is, therefore, a question of personal qualifications and not of balancing the sexes. I am, however, considering the addition of one or two people with suitable qualifications who are women.
Does the answer imply that there are no technical women suitable to be put on the Committee?
No, not at all.
Has my right hon. Friend elucidated the meaning of the words "Women's World" in the Question? Is it a new paper or a new hemisphere?
I think it is a place where they invite men to.
War Factories, London (Male Labour)
asked the Minister of Labour whether there is any shortage of male labour in the munition and other war production factories in the Metropolitan area?
In the Metropolitan area, as in other parts of the county, there is a shortage of male labour of certain types required for munitions production, including skilled workers and men capable of heavy manual work.
Will my right hon. Friend approach the Home Secretary with a view to getting some of the police on traffic duty into some of these factories, or is that a reserved occupation?
That is a Question for the Home Secretary.
Childless Married Women
asked the Minister of Labour whether he will make arrangements by which a childless married woman, whose husband lives at home, who has no domestic help but who has voluntarily taken on full-time work and finds later that she is unable to run her home and do her job, can appeal to the women's panel for redirection to part-time work?
No new arrangements are required. If such a woman works in an undertaking scheduled under the Essential Work Order she may apply to the National Service Officer for her release, and if dissatisfied with his decision she has a right of appeal to a local appeal board. In other cases she should consult the local office of the Ministry of Labour and National Service and ask for her position to be reviewed. In the event of disagreement her case would be referred for advice to a women's panel.
Employment Agencies (Naafi)
asked the Minister of Labour whether, since the Control of Employment Order offers, as an alternative to application to a labour exchange, recourse to an employment agency approved by his Ministry, Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes is such an approved agency: whether it recruits only for its own needs; and how many employment agencies in all have been approved by his Department under the said Order?
My hon. and gallant Friend is no doubt referring to the approval of agencies for the purposes of the Employment of Women (Control of Engagement) Order. The answer to the first two parts of the Question is in the affirmative. With regard to the last part of the Question, 28 agencies have so far been approved.
Is not the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes a concern whose primary duty is to cater for the wants of the Services, and how does that fit in with its use as an employment agency?
I would like to have notice of that question.
asked the Minister of Labour why the Essential Work Order is applied to British Restaurants and not to essential works canteens?
As I have explained in reply to previous Questions, the proposal to schedule works canteens separately from the factory which they serve gives rise to difficulties which are at present under consideration. These difficulties do not apply to British Restaurants.
The right hon. Gentleman says that these difficulties have been under consideration for some time, and may I ask how much longer they are to be under consideration? Already a long time has elapsed.
That is quite true. On the other hand, we cannot amend the whole of our factory procedure in a moment, and I am averse to treating a canteen as if it were another part of a factory.
In view of the fact that it is the policy of the right hon. Gentleman's Department generally to accept a decision which has been come to by both employers and employed, as is the case here, may I ask why he does not accept the decision in this instance?
I can assure my hon. Friend that that is not the issue involved. It is a different issue entirely. The question is whether we should remove all obligations of the principal employer for the persons in the canteen. Up to now I have taken the view that the canteen is a part of the factory, and I have to look at the Canteen Order to see what changes must be made.
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that some British Restaurants, in addition to employing voluntary labour, are paying lower wages to their paid staff than the rates paid by industrial caterers to canteen workers at essential works under a National Joint Industrial Council agreement; and whether he will apply the terms of such an agreement to British Restaurants?
According to my information the rates of wages recommended for British Restaurants by the Joint Industrial Council for local authorities non-trading services (manual workers) are in general higher than those provided for in the agreement with industrial catering contractors, to which I assume my hon. Friend refers. I have no authority to impose this latter agreement on local authorities in respect of British Restaurants.
asked the Minister of Labour under what authority factory inspectors enter works canteens, criticise the cooking and service, and express opinions on the desirability, or otherwise, of factory occupiers engaging industrial caterers under contract; and whether he will see that the factory inspectors called on to perform these duties have experience in catering?
I have wide powers under the Factories Act as well as under Defence Regulations to impose requirements on occupiers of particular factories for the welfare of the persons employed, including arrangements with regard to meals at canteens, and I am advised that factory inspectors have full powers to investigate such arrangements. It is not within their authority to advise that industrial caterers should, or should not, be employed. A fair judgment as to whether meals are well or badly cooked or served can be formed without experience of catering, but the inspectors are assisted by expert canteen advisers, who also give advice or make suggestions to factory occupiers and catering staffs.
In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the replies on all these three Questions, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on a subsequent occasion.
British Broadcasting Corporation (Staff)
asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the world-wide importance of the service of the British Broadcasting Corporation, he will cease calling up men or women working at the British Broadcasting Corporation and call up all men and women working on the land who can be replaced by prisoners of war?
No. Sir. Adequate arrangements exist for the retention of essential staff by the British Broadcasting Corporation, and workers who can be spared from agriculture are called up.
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether the time has not come to call up a few more farmers to fight for England?
Is it not essential to leave on the land as many skilled agricultural workers as possible?
Could the right hon. Gentleman not replace them by Italian prisoners?
Does the right hon. Gentleman think the B.B.C. can really live by eating their own words?
I have no doubt that my hon. Friend is experimenting.
asked the Minister of Labour whether he will return to the British Broadcasting Corporation Mr. Bruce Belfrage and Mr. Alvar Liddell, in view of the importance to the national war effort of their radio services?
Both these men are in the Forces, and my hon. and gallant Friend should address his request in the first instance to the Service Ministers concerned.
Discharged Employees (Appeals)
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that a man who has appealed against his discharge from his employment is frequently unemployed for some time owing to the delay in the hearing of his appeal and, in view of the waste of man-power involved, will he fix a maximum period of not more than seven days within which an appeal against discharge must be decided?
A man who appeals against his discharge need not necessarily remain unemployed pending the hearing of his appeal, and it is the policy of my Department to place him, wherever possible, in temporary employment meanwhile. The Department aims at securing a recommendation from a local appeal board within seven days, but my hon. Friend will appreciate that it is not always practicable to keep within rigid time-limits.
Can my right hon. Friend say whether a man who is directed to temporary employment must necessarily go outside his own area if he is appealing?
It all depends. If he goes outside the area, he is brought back when his appeal is heard. What I have to do is to place him where work can be done.
If a man is directed to temporary employment outside his area and appeals, when his appeal is heard are his expenses met?
That is another question.
Instruction In Finance
asked the President of the Board of Education, whether, in view of the desirability of a more widespread knowledge of finance, he will ensure the inclusion in the curriculum of the schools throughout the country of some instruction on this subject?
While the younger children learn something about pounds, shillings and pence, my hon. Friend will no doubt appreciate that a study of advanced finance is appropriate only for older children. Some such instruction is already given in secondary, central and junior commercial schools as well as in part-time evening classes. The question of its proper place in the curriculum of secondary schools in the future is under consideration by the Norwood Committee.
Will my right hon. Friend see that it is not made impossible to ensure that really comprehensive instruction in finance is carried out in secondary schools in the near future, and will he include the methods by which bankers make their profits, and also the banking system and Treasury deposit receipts?
asked the President of the Board of Education when he contemplates being able to bring in the promised new Education Bill?
asked the President of the Board of Education whether it is proposed to introduce an Education Bill this Session?
I cannot at present add to previous replies, particularly that which I gave to the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) on 28th January.
While I realise that my right hon. Friend wishes to bring in a really comprehensive Bill, can he say whether it is contemplated that it will be brought in this Session? Discussions have been going on now for nearly three years.
As my hon. Friend will realise, to recast our educational system is a big task, and therefore I can give no undertaking, but while my answer may appear negative I do not want the hon. Member's hopes to be dashed or any fears to be aroused, because I hope to make steady progress.
If the right hon. Gentleman cannot give us an assurance about this Session, can he hold out a reasonable prospect of our getting the Bill this year?
I certainly desire that progress should be made as rapidly as possible.
Does the right hon. Gentleman's original answer mean that the Bill when introduced will be a really comprehensive Bill?
I trust that it will be found to be so.
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain exactly what is holding up this Bill?
While there is nothing holding up the preparation except that there is much hard work to be done, I think it would be wrong if I allowed the Bill to be rushed and there was bad work in consequence.
asked the President of the Board of Education whether it is his intention in the proposed new Education Act that parents shall continue to have the statutory right of their children being educated in accordance with their religious faith?
I think that when the hon. Member sees my proposals as a whole he will be satisfied on this point.
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has formed any estimate of the number of elementary and secondary men and women teachers, respectively, who will be available during the next three years; the total number required; and how many are likely to be received into training colleges and have finished their training during the next three years if hostilities have not ended?
As the answer is necessarily somewhat long, and contains a number of figures, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that an adequate supply of teachers will be available in the next three or four years?
The answer goes into that question in considerable detail and shows that that will be the case, but that does not mean that I underestimate the difficulties or the wisdom of the hon. Member in putting this Question.
Is it possible for the Board to take any steps to bring back to the schools some of those teachers of very low medical category who are now in the Forces? Surely they could be much better employed in the schools than upon some of the jobs they are now doing?
I am in touch with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service about the call-up and about the question of demobilisation of teachers at the end of the war.
Following is the answer:
According to the latest returns received from local education authorities (December, 1942) the number of public elementary school children was 4,602,559 and the number of teachers in these schools was 151,651, of whom 29,322 were men. The ratio of one teacher to just over 30 children is practically the same as it was in the years before the war. In Secondary Schools the number of pupils in October, 1942, was 512,545 and the number of teachers was 24,972, of whom 10,400 were men. At present the ratio of one teacher to just over 20 pupils is roughly the same as in the last year before the war.
I hope that local education authorities will be able to maintain this position by the various means, such as the recall or retention of teachers who have married or reached retiring age, which have served hitherto during the war, but this must depend upon circumstances which I am not in a position to forecast but shall continue to watch closely.
I anticipate that the number of men and women who will complete their courses of training in 1943, 1944 and 1945 will be approximately 500 men and between 4,000 and 4,500 women in each year. The figures for 1944 cannot at this stage be given with any accuracy owing to the claims of other forms of National Service on those admitted in 1942 over the age entry below which entitled students to the completion of a full course of training; and the figures for 1945 are necessarily conjectural since it is not yet known how many students will be admitted to two year Colleges in 1943. It is not possible to give any estimate of output in 1946 in the absence of any decision as to what the conditions of admission will be in 1944. The men students proceed to the Forces on completion of their training: the women go straight into the schools; and something under one-tenth of them serve in the secondary schools.
Civil Nursing Reserve, South Wales (Wage Rates)
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction in certain South Wales hospitals as a result of the Welsh Board of Health refusing to allow boards of management to pay the same rates of wages to members of the Civil Nursing Reserve as are now to be paid to the normal staff; and, as all these nurses are performing similar duties, will he reconsider the attitude of his Department to this problem?
The recommendations of the Nurses' Salaries Committee cannot be automatically applied to members of the Civil Nursing Reserve, whose conditions of service are in some respects different from those of normal hospital staff. I am now reviewing the rates of pay of the Civil Nursing Reserve, in the light of the recommendations of the Nurses' Salaries Committee, but new rates cannot be paid until the review is completed. Any changes will operate, retrospectively if necessary, from the same date as the scales proposed by the Nurses' Salaries Committee for the ordinary staff of hospitals.
Can my right hon. Friend give an indication of when he is expecting a decision?
Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the payment of allowances to the Civil Nursing Reserve without deduction of Income Tax?
asked the Minister of Health whether any action has been taken hitherto to give effect to Regulation 33B in relation to contact cases?
I am not at present able to say to what extent the compulsory powers conferred by the Regulations have as yet been exercised, but I hope shortly to receive reports which local authorities were asked, early in January, to submit quarterly.
28, 29 and 30.
asked the Minister of Health (1) why the Burnley Corporation tender of £1,832 8s. 8d. for a war-time nursery at Rosehill School, being the only tender submitted, has been refused by his Department and the local authority instructed to incur further expense and delay by re-advertising;(2) why the Burnley Corporation Works Department tender for a war-time nursery at St. Mary's School of £575 9s. 6d., being the lowest tender received, has been rejected by his Department in favour of a higher figure from a private firm, there being no question as to the quality of the work of the local authority's works department; (3) why the Government have a different form for assessing expenditure on works carried out by local authorities from that used for private contractors with the result that, although equal in quality and cheaper in price, the tenders of local authorities are frequently refused; and whether he will take steps to alter this system?
The Burnley Corporation has in hand proposals for the provision of two nursery classes, and I am prepared to repay to the Corporation the approved cost of their construction. The question at issue is whether the basis of repayment shall be the actual cost of the work to the Council or an estimate of the cost made in advance, and the Council are not prepared to proceed with the work unless the second basis is adopted. Where a tender from an outside contractor is accepted, the estimate contained in that tender is the actual cost to the Council and therefore a proper basis of repayment. An estimate by the works department is not necessarily the actual cost and is therefore not a proper basis of repayment. No special form is prescribed by my Department for assessing expenditure on works carried out by local authorities.
Is it not a fact that because the allowance made for superannuation purposes to local authorities is restricted to a definite amount, they cannot meet that charge, because their labour costing is different; nevertheless, they can make that up by other means, and supply, without exceeding the limits, at a cheaper rate than the other people, but because of that particular formula, they are in difficulties?
I think we had better see whether we can resolve this matter by local discussion.
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the strong demand for a nursery school at Elm Park to enable married women to take part in war work; and whether he will take steps to hasten its opening?
My attention has been drawn to the demand for a war-time nursery at Elm Park, and my regional officer has agreed to the use of certain premises for the purpose. Subject to labour and materials being available for the necessary adaptation, every effort will be made to get the nursery opened at an early date.
Doctors' Practices (Sale)
asked the Minister of Health whether, in adopting the medical recommendations of the Beveridge Report, he will safeguard the position of doctors who have planned to make provision for their retirement by selling their practices with or without houses and surgeries?
My hon. Friend may be sure that this factor will be fully appreciated in considering the new arrangements.
Is not that answer most satisfactory?
asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the conflicting policies which still obtain in regard to the pasteurisation of milk supplies in Great Britain, he will institute a comprehensive inquiry to establish a final settlement of the issues at stake in the light of all available scientific and economic evidence?
No Sir. I am advised that the facts are well known, and I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by the course suggested.
Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that pasteurisation will not be made compulsory?
I can give no undertaking of that kind.
Institution, Moss Side (Dental Treatment)
asked the Minister of Health whether he will hold an inquiry into the provision made for the dental treatment of patients at the Moss Side State Institution for Mental Defectives, in view of the fact that a patient, with only one tooth with which she was able to bite, was not considered to need partial artificial dentures and these were recommended by the dental surgeon at another institution immediately she was transferred there?
I am looking into the case referred to by my hon. Friend.
Maternity Homes (Staff)
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the acute difficulties with which nursing homes, catering for maternity cases, have to deal in respect of shortage of midwives and domestic staff; and what steps he proposes to take in the matter?
I am aware of the difficulty experienced by maternity homes, owing to the general shortage of midwives, nurses, and domestic staff. Measures for improving recruitment and distribution of midwives and nurses are now being considered by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service in consultation with me and with the assistance of the National Advisory Council which he has recently set up. As regards domestic staff, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward) on 18th March.
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that no specific representative or specialist of psychological medicine sits on the Representative Medical Committee; and whether he will take steps to remedy this?
I do not think I should be justified in enlarging the Medical Advisory Committee at this stage, but it has always been contemplated that the Committee's membership should be periodically renewed, and I will bear this suggestion in mind.
Will the Minister meanwhile consult the accredited organisation of those engaged in psychological medicine with a view to an appointment when a vacancy occurs?
That is another question.
asked the Minister of Health to what extent his Department concerns itself with the bona fides of the many products which are advertised as containing large proportions of vitamin C.
My Department is not directly responsible for this matter, but local food and drugs authorities have power to take proceedings against any person who publishes, or is a party to the publication of, an advertisement which falsely describes any food or drug or is otherwise calculated to mislead as to its nature, substance or quality.
Is the Minister really satisfied that there is such a thing as vitamin C?
asked the Minister of Health the number of widows deprived of widows' pensions in cases where the husband has not made the necessary 104 contributions and give figures for each of the past five years?
I regret that the particulars asked for are not available, as rejected claims to widows' pensions under the Contributory Pensions Acts are not classified according to the specific ground of rejection.
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware of the great hardships that exist in some of these cases, because no allowance is made for the circumstances responsible for the failure to make the necessary contributions? Would he consider taking action to ease the position?
My hon. Friend will know that this has been a matter of discussion from the beginning of the Acts and that wherever you draw the line, there are bound to be difficulties.
Could not the right hon. Gentleman obtain the particulars asked for, so that we shall know the exact position when we discuss the Beveridge Report? Could he not see whether it is possible to do away with the contributions?
As the rejected claims are not classified according to the ground of rejection I do not see how I can do that.
In view of the fact that old age pensioners can make good arrears of contribution, could not the right hon. Gentleman extend the same facility to widows?
asked the Minister of Health whether he can furnish an estimate of the weight of paper that will be needed and the number of man-hours involved in the proposal to furnish every person with a new identity card?
I am informed that the weight of paper involved in the re-issue of identity cards is estimated at 190 tons for the whole of the United Kingdom. With regard to the number of man-hours involved, the re-issue procedure now under consideration is so closely interwoven with the arrangements for the normal annual re-issue of food and clothing ration documents that it is not possible to estimate separately the man-power cost of the identity card re-issue. The arrangements as a whole are being planned with the utmost regard to man-power economy; and I am informed that the inclusion of identity cards in the re-issue arrangements involves a relatively small addition only to the man-power cost of the annual reissue of rationing documents.
Will the occupation of the person be included in the particulars to be given?
I should like notice of that Question.
Would it not be an advantage if photographs were affixed to identity cards?
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the matter has been discussed on several occasions, and that it has been thought, on the whole, better not to do so.
Building Material (Chalk)
asked the Minister of Health whether he has considered the desirability of encouraging the building of houses of chalk in certain suitable districts, in view of the availability of material on the spot and small amount of skilled labour required?
The possibilities of building houses in chalk will doubtless be considered, along with other methods, by the inter-Departmental Committee on building materials and construction methods, whose appointment I announced in my reply to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for South Battersea (Mr. Selley) on 19th November last, of which I am sending my hon. Friend a copy.
If I send my right hon. Friend some of the correspondence I have received on this subject, will he have the matter further looked into?
I shall be most happy to do so.
Why has there been this delay, in view of the fact that thousands of houses in my constituency and through the South of England have been built of chalk in the past? In view of the great lack of working-class houses, why is this matter still under consideration, after three and a half years?
Because we want to be sure that we are taking a modern view of people's desires, as to type and design of cottages.
Will the Minister consider the preparation of model by-laws as to design, for local authorities, so that the best type of houses will be built?
We shall have to consider all those things when we get the report of the Committee.
Post-War Schemes (Land Acquisition)
asked the Minister of Health whether his Department is permitting local authorities to acquire land now for their post-war housing schemes at prices in excess of the value of such land on 31st March, 1939?
I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the circular I have recently issued to local authorities on the subject, from which he will see that I have made it clear that the proposed purchase price should not be in excess of the 1939 value.
Service Men's Houses (Possession)
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that men who are serving in the Forces and have let their houses on an annual tenancy or for a short term of years are unable to regain possession after the expiration of the period on the ground that the houses are controlled under the Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act; and will he consider introducing legislation so that the Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Act does not apply in such cases?
No, Sir. I would, however point out that under Section 3 of the Rent and Mortgage Interest Restrictions (Amendment) Act, 1933, and Section 3 of the Rent and Mortgage Interest Restrictions Act, 1939, an owner can obtain from the court an order for possession of his house for occupation as a residence for himself without proof of alternative accommodation, unless the court is satisfied that greater hardship would be caused by granting the order than by refusing to grant it. If my hon. Friend has any cases of special difficulty in mind, perhaps he would send me particulars.
Does the Minister consider that those men who have been serving overseas, and have often gone voluntarily to serve, are at a disadvantage compared with the men who stayed at home, and would he not give first consideration to them?
I should be very glad to do anything for their advantage, but I do not see that any special difficulty arises under the present law. If my hon. Friend has any information on the point, I should be glad to have it.
asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether the pre-war regulations as to the number of houses to the acre will continue to apply in post-war housing development schemes?
There were no statutory regulations before the war governing the number of houses to the acre. The provisions to be made by a planning scheme must depend on the circumstances and requirements of the particular locality.
Could my right hon. Friend look into this and make recommendations so that the recommendations and suggestions of the Ministry of Health can be scientifically considered? It is not quite satisfactory at the present time.
Is it not true that large numbers of local authorities did establish a rule that not more than so many houses to the acre could be built?
There were provisions to that effect in town-planning schemes, and they will be continued.
Would not this problem solve itself if the Minister had the good sense to introduce a thorough-going tax on site values?
That is another matter.
asked the Minister of Health whether individual application for industrial billeting should now be made on the typewritten form provided by his department through the Supply Ministries concerned or to the local billeting officer?
The normal procedure for industrial billeting is for form E.D.249 to be filled up by local officers of the Ministry of Labour and National Service, or authorised officers of the firms concerned, and passed to the local authority, who then proceed to billet.
European Post-War Recon- Struction (Personnel)
asked the Prime Minister to whom he has entrusted the selection and training of personnel for assistance in reconstruction work in Europe; what qualifications are laid down for enrolment; and what terms of agreement for service are entered into?
The personnel to assist individual European Governments in the reconstruction of their countries will be recruited internationally. Until the number of British subjects required by such international agencies can be more accurately assessed, His Majesty's Government consider it inadvisable to initiate training schemes which would interfere with the war-time occupation of the candidates.
Is the Prime Minister aware that personnel is already being recruited to a considerable extent by certain organisations in this country and that training schemes are already in operation. Would he kindly look into the matter?
I am speaking, of course, of what the Government will do.
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the recent claim broadcast by the German news agency that more than 30 ships of a convoy, totalling 200,000 tons, were sunk in a recent attack in the Atlantic; and whether he will now adjust the policy of complete secrecy concerning the increasing attacks and losses on our sea communications and, in particular, make a statement on this convoy?
All sorts of claims are made by the German radio, and they would very much like to know how far adrift they are from the truth. But nothing would induce me, while I am responsible, to do anything to clarify enemy knowledge on this matter. I may however state for general reassurance that the United Nations have afloat to-day a substantially larger fleet than they had at the worst moment in the U-boat war and that this improvement is continuous.
Is the Prime Minister aware that there is a very considerable measure of anxiety on this subject? Might he not be able to consider at some time conveying some more information, at any rate to Members of this House?
I think the public have pretty good confidence in the Government, and I think it would be undesirable to add to the information which has been given. I feel that very strongly. I see the enemy making all sorts of absurd claims, and I much prefer to leave him in his delusions than to give him the accurate information to enable him to find out what success he has had with which attacks and which submarine commanders were telling the truth, and so on.
May I ask the Prime Minister, without controverting what he has said it would be very improper to do, whether he can give favourable consideration to this fact? Necessarily it was impossible for the First Lord of the Admiralty, when introducing his Navy Estimates, to tell the House anything of real importance about this campaign against the U-boats; would it not be desirable to have a meeting in Secret Session when the Prime Minister could address the House?
As I say, if there is a general desire, I could say things in Secret Session that I would not be able to say outside, and I could, in particular, give an idea to the House of the difficulties we are encountering and are surmounting. On the other hand, I would not like, even in Secret Session, to give the facts.
Is it not true that there is still an insufficient number of bombers being supplied for the protection of convoys? Is the Prime Minister further aware that there is an insufficiency of interception equipment?
I do not think that arises out of the Question, but I am very fully acquainted with every detail of the matter.
Veterinary Inspection Scheme
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can give the figures, to date, of the farmers and livestock owners who have entered the veterinary inspection scheme for the control of the diseases of dairy cattle?
The owners of 5,525 dairy herds comprising 150,000 cows and 80,000 heifers are now participating in the scheme.
Can the Minister say whether any improvement in the health of dairy herds has been observed?
I do not think there has been time yet.
Italian Prisoners Of War
asked the Minister of Agriculture what reports on the work of the Italian prisoners as agricultural labourers have been received; and whether he will allow more Italian labourers to be made available for the coming harvest in England?
Reports received by my Department show that on the whole the work of Italian prisoners employed in agriculture is satisfactory. Arrangements have been made to bring further Italian prisoners to this country for agricultural work this year, and I hope that by harvest time there will be a total of between 30,000 and 40,000 available.
Is the Minister aware that in the last war we had 500,000 prisoners working for us on the land, so that we were able to release a comparable number of our agricultural population?
No, I do not know.
Women's Land Army (Milk Distribution)
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that some milk producer/retailers are employing Land Army girls to distribute milk from door to door, and that the rate of wages in their case is 48s. per week as against the trade board rate of 55s. paid by other milk retailers; and whether he will take steps to remove this anomaly?
Women's Land Army labour is only supplied for employment with milk producer/retailers where minimum agricultural wage rates apply—that is, where only part of the worker's time is spent on the round and she does not therefore come under the trade board rate.
The point I am trying to get at is that the lower rate of wages paid to these land girls for doing exactly the same work as retail milk distributors means that they are blacklegging the trade board rates of wages.
No, Sir; because they are not doing exactly the same work.
Is the Minister aware that certain co-operative societies are using no fewer than seven or eight of these land girls in large towns to distribute the milk, and is this not a sad misuse of labour needed on the land?
A case: of that description in Wiltshire has come to my notice, and I am having investigations made. If it is found that my hon. Friend is accurate, then arrangements will be made for the girls to be correctly employed or to be found other work on the land.
Is the Minister satisfied that a considerable part of their time is occupied on agricultural duties other than milk distribution?
If they are mainly or almost wholly employed in milk distribution, it is not at all what I want. I want these mobile women to be employed on the land, producing milk. If the hon. Member can give me any cases, I shall be only too delighted to look into them.
Rat Destruction (Cats)
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the growing rat pest, he will investigate the possibility of encouraging the raising of a strain of cats specially suited for dealing with rats on the lines of a similar strain formerly cultivated at Le Havre in France for use in connection with ships?
No, Sir. The most efficient methods of dealing with rats are poisoning, gassing and trapping.
Has the Minister tried pasteurised milk?
Will the Minister consider feeding rats on unpasteurised milk in order to reduce their number?
Will the Minister consider employing some of the cats in this House?
Armed Forces (Pensions And Grants)
asked the Minister of Pensions in how many cases, to the latest convenient date, have ex-Service men who have been refused pensions been referred to an independent medical expert; in how many of those cases have medical examinations been made by that expert; and in how many cases has the decision of the Minister been reversed and awards made in favour of the appellants?
The total number of cases of all categories of the present war referred to an independent medical expert is 238 of which 78 have been admitted to pension. These figures include III cases of disabled ex-Service men in which pension had been refused and of these 40 were accepted. The expert decided to examine the man in II cases.
In view of that extraordinary disclosure that only 11 medical examinations have taken place, may I ask the Minister whether in those cases where, on attestation, it was distinctly stated that the man was not suffering from a complaint for which he was subsequently discharged, he will review the whole of the outstanding cases and give a medical examination in every case instead of the window dressing which we know now takes place?
I review these cases myself, and in the cases I have stated I have sent them without any appeal from the men at all to the independent medical expert. I think that is the best way of dealing with them, and I cannot agree with my hon. and gallant Friend as to reviewing the whole of these cases. Certainly, I shall take note of any cases brought to my notice either by Members of Parliament, the British Legion, or my own war pensions committees, who are at this moment investigating all the cases in their particular areas.
Will the Minister be good enough to reply to the point I made that in those cases where on attestation, on the attestation paper itself, it is clearly stated that the man is not suffering from the complaint which is the basis of his discharge some two years later, the Minister should go into these special cases and see whether he can put an end to the criticisms?
I have said that I am going into all the cases which are brought to my notice and that my war pensions committees are investigating all the cases in their own areas. That covers all the cases in the United Kingdom.
asked the Minister of Pensions whether the number of soldiers enlisted as grade I who have been discharged as medically unfit for any further service and have been refused pensions; and the number of such who have served over one year, over 18 months and over two years, respectively, prior to date of discharge?
It is not in the public interest to give figures indicating the number of discharges from the Forces. Apart from this the detailed information desired by the hon. Member could only be made available by a disproportionate expenditure of time and labour.
While the Minister does not want to disclose the number of men he has turned out without a pension in their disability, will he consider taking some steps to review every such case where the man has been in the Army for any length of time at all as A1 and then discharged as medically unfit, leaving his wife and dependants to public charity?
India (Corporal Punishment)
asked the Secretary of State for India whether any committee has been set up in India similar to the Departmental Committee on Corporal Punishment set up here; and whether there is any Province or State in India where sentences of whipping or caning are not imposed?
I am not aware of any such committee having been set up in India. With regard to the second part of his Question, the hon. Member will be aware that whipping is a legal penalty for certain offences throughout British India, but it would be impossible to answer his Question without very extensive inquiries.
Has the right hon. Gentleman any information regarding the Native States? Also, in view of the unanimous condemnation of corporal punishment by this Committee in this country, why could he not draw the attention of the Provincial Governments to the decision of that Committee over here?
I will certainly draw the attention of the Government of India to that matter.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can make an up-to-date statement regarding the duty of the public to carry, or not to carry, gas-masks?
I have nothing to add to the statement which I made to the House on 30th July last, when I indicated that if and when there was any reason for a change of policy I would advise the public without delay.
Is it not a fact that the principal officer of the A.R.P. Department of the Ministry of Home Security has stated that in his opinion Hitler will use gas, and that Lord Halifax has said the same thing? Is it not undesirable that the British public should receive contradictory advice?
I do not recall that advice having been given. Everybody is entitled to his opinion. The British Government have expressed their opinion at the moment, though that opinion may have to be changed.
National Fire Service (Women's Accommodation)
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the unsatisfactory nature of the sleeping accommodation for women members of the National Fire Service who have to be adjacent to the control rooms to enable them to be available for duty, inasmuch as there is a lack of proper ventilation and general amenities; what steps he is taking to have these matters rectified; and whether he will give an assurance that until such steps have been taken women will not be called upon to sleep under these conditions?
Improvements in the sleeping accommodation for women in the National Fire Service are being made, as part of the programme for improving National Fire Service accommodation generally, as rapidly as the restricted supply of labour and materials allows. Instructions have been given that the 48/24 hour system of duty is not to be applied except when accommodation is reasonably satisfactory. I have written to my hon. Friend in regard to the particular station to which he has drawn my attention, where the accommodation for women appears to be adequate.
Does my right hon. Friend say that the accommodation is adequate?
"where the accommodation for women appears to be adequate."
Is it suggested that the accommodation to which I am drawing attention is adequate?
Yes, Sir, I say that it appears to be adequate.
Will my right hon. Friend think again? Otherwise, I am afraid I shall have to raise the matter on the Adjournment.
Yes, Sir. I am always willing to think again.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that his answer is thoroughly unsatisfactory?
asked the Home Secretary whether he has considered the complaints regarding the working conditions of women who staff the control rooms at National Fire Service posts; and what action he proposes to take to improve them?
Yes, Sir. The matter has been receiving my attention, and improvement is continuing progressively as part of the programme for the improvement of National Fire Service accommodation generally. I think the complaints in this particular matter mostly relate to stuffiness of the rooms at night, and that this is very often due to the occupants having, of their own accord, blocked vents which would have allowed the free circulation of air.
asked the Home Secretary what steps have been taken to benefit from the experience of the last London air-raid; and is it intended to ask all local authorities to check their shelters and welfare organisations in order to have the most efficient shelter and welfare services ready to meet all emergencies?
I am informed that work has been put in hand, or is in progress, at a number of the larger shelters to facilitate the admission of the public and to improve lighting of stairways, and I am considering whether further guidance to local authorities is required on specific points in the light of the Report of Mr. Dunne's Inquiry.
asked the Home Secretary the figures for juveniles convicted for offences during the war years; and whether an increase or decrease can be deduced from these?
The number of boys and girls under 17 found guilty of indictable offences increased considerably in each of the first two years of the war, but I am glad to say that there was a reduction in the third year. I will circulate the figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
In view of the fact that the provisions of the Criminal Justice Bill would have dealt with many of these cases, can my right hon. Friend hold out any hope of its introduction?
I shall require notice of that Question.
Following are the figures:
Number of boys and girls under 17 found guilty of indictable offences in the Juvenile Courts in England and Wales.
|September, 1938—August, 1939||…||29,123|
|September, 1939—August, 1940||…||38,688|
|September, 1940—August, 1941||…||44,298|
|September, 1941—August, 1942||…||37,846|
Lincoln City Police (Uniforms)
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that regular members of the Lincoln City Police Force have each to surrender 18 coupons per annum for uniforms, and whilst this has been done no new uniforms are now being issued to them and no new overcoats have been issued since before the war; and, in view of the fact that special constables are provided with new uniforms of standard quality, coupon free, will he at once take steps to end an anomaly which is causing discontent?
I understand that the regular police at Lincoln have received new issues of certain items of uniform clothing during the war, but issues are now being made only to replace unserviceable garments. I am assured by the Chief Constable that each member of the Force is in possession of serviceable garments. The surrender of clothing coupons cannot properly be related to new issues of uniform; and any comparison between the regular police and special constables in this respect is misleading. The former wear uniform regularly, and there is a corresponding saving on civilian clothes. Special constables are on duty in uniform only occasionally, and the saving of wear and tear on civilian clothing is too small to justify any surrender of clothing coupons.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in Hull these special constables have had to surrender coupons without getting any equivalent supply of clothing? They have given up the coupons, and there has been no return of clothes at all.
If that is so in the case of special part-time constables, I shall be glad to look into the matter, but if they are full-time War Reserve constables, their position is the same as that of the regulars.
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that prison officers who are recalled to work at their previous trades during the war period and in the national interest, are charged a higher amount for the rent of their official quarters than the pensionable value upon which Income Tax is assessed; and whether he will inquire into the matter with a view to limiting the charge to the pensionable value of the quarters?
For pension purposes the value of official quarters is necessarily reckoned at a figure which is the same for all officers of equal rank, regardless of the question whether an individual officer has before his retirement been occupying a house of relatively high value in a town or one of lower value in the country. Certain officers who have been released temporarily from the Prison Service in order that they may take up other work required in the national interest during the war, have asked to be allowed to remain in their official quarters, and where the Prison Commission are able to spare the quarters they have been anxious to comply with such requests. In such cases, however, the applicant is in the same position as any member of the public who might rent a house belonging to the Prison Commission, and the rent charged is accordingly the fair economic rent for the particular premises.
Is it not a plain anomaly that one figure should be taken when a charge is made by way of rent, and another, often lower, for assessing pension?
This arises upon persons leaving the Prison Service. I do not think that we should charge them a lower rent than other members of the community have to pay.
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that acute dissatisfaction exists among clerical staffs employed in the Prison Service as the result of recent promotions which involved 52 senior members of the staff being passed over by their juniors; that the unpromoted senior officers were all classed as efficient when their last annual increments were due; that many of them have performed duties proper to grades above their own; and whether, in these circumstances, he will cause an investigation to be made into the matter and give an assurance that the just claims of the men not promoted will not be overlooked when further promotions become due?
As in other services, promotions in the Prison Service are made on the principle of endeavouring to select the best possible candidate for the available post. In making a selection full weight is given to length and quality of service, but these considerations by themselves are not decisive. I have no reason to think that these principles were not applied in making recent promotions or that these promotions have caused acute dissatisfaction.
Approved Schools (Accommoda- Tion)
asked the Home Secretary what progress has been made during the last 12 months in the provision of adequate accommodation in approved schools for children requiring it; and in what areas is the accommodation still insufficient?
During the last 12 months nearly 700 places have been added to the accommodation available in approved schools in England and Wales. The total number of places has gone up from 9,900 to nearly 10,600, and premises which have been acquired will, when the necessary alterations have been made, provide about 1,400 further places. The shortage of accommodation is mainly in the South Eastern counties.