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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 1 April 1943

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National War Effort

Disabled Persons

1.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will arrange for disabled persons, who are unfit for work under ordinary industrial conditions, to make a contribution to the war effort by providing sheltered employment in establishments run by the Ministries of Labour, Supply or Production and engaged on assembly or other appropriate jobs?

Arrangements are to be made under the post-war scheme to provide sheltered employment in special workshops, under non-competitive conditions, for the relatively small proportion of the disabled whose disability is so severe as to preclude any kind of normal employment. I doubt if it is possible to make progress on those lines in war conditions for these exceptional cases, and the best way to help them is to press on with the present arrangements for finding them employment on work they can do in establishments employing mainly non-disabled workers and in various schemes for organising work to suit the difficult personal circumstances of individual workers.

Agricultural Workers' Cottages (Labour Supply)

2.

asked the Minister of Labour, whether he can now make some statement as regards the allocation of labour, skilled and unskilled, that will be available for the erection of farm cottages in connection with the Government's proposed scheme?

Yes, Sir. The Government building programme has been adjusted to the resources of building labour expected to remain available, and allowance has been made for the labour necessary for the construction of these cottages. The supply of labour will be arranged, when required, through the local offices of the Ministry in the usual way.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is being suggested in authoritative quarters that the cause of the delay is due to the difficulty over labour, and does he not realise that an adequate supply of labour is necessary for the cottages and that these are vitally necessary? Why is it that agriculture has always to take second place to everything else? Food is vitally important.

I do not know that I can make an adequate answer to that eloquent speech.

Coal Strippers, Bowhill (Medical Examination)

3.

asked the Minister of Labour, who was responsible for sending several Bowhill strippers for medical examination; what action was taken by his representative in Fife; and on whose advice did he take it?

The instructions were given by me, and action was taken by my local representatives strictly in accordance with these instructions.

Are we to understand from the Minister's reply that he ordered the local officer to take the step of sending key men for military service without consulting the Minister of Fuel, the Fuel Controller or anyone associated with the men's organisation? And will he refrain from anything of that sort in the future?

I ought to make it clear that men of military age are soldiers. They are deferred for national work. When it is reported to me that they are no longer following that national work, their deferment ceases, and it is my duty then to issue instructions for their medical examination.

Will the Minister say who reported it to him or to his local officer that these men were no longer following their occupation? That is what I want to know. Can I have an answer?

I do not reveal who reports anything to me. The point is the direction to people who are off the pay roll and are no longer reported as being in employment. I have immediately to make a choice, and if they are not following their employment, they must carry out what this House says they shall carry out.

Is the Minister not aware that at this colliery a very serious dispute was in operation, and is it now the policy of my right hon. Friend to resolve disputes by sending those in dispute for medical examination?

No, Sir, there was no dispute reported at this colliery at all. These men were reported to me as having left the colliery. I acted on the basis of their having left. They were not in employment or on the pay roll of any colliery, so far as I knew, when I issued the instruction.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply, I propose to raise the matter at an early opportunity. I want to find out who reported this matter.

Employment Agencies

4.

asked the Minister of Labour whether, under the Control of Engagement Order which permits, as an alternative to application by women to employment exchanges, recourse to employment agencies approved by his Department, he accepts applications from individual firms; and what are the conditions governing the basis of approval?

It is open to any individual firm of employment agents to apply for approval under the Control of Engagement Order. The principles on which agencies may be approved are set out in the replies given to the hon. Member for Stourbridge (Mr. R. Morgan) on 29th January, 1942, and to the hon. and gallant Member for King's Norton (Major Peto) on 10th March, 1942, of which I am sending copies to my hon. Friend.

Is it not a fact that practically none of the commercial fee-charging agencies have been approved so far; that, of the 28 agencies which have been approved, 19 are universities and the rest are industrial organisations; and that no commercial fee-charging agencies have been approved?

14.

asked the Minister of Labour the names of the 28 agencies which have been approved under the Employment of Women (Control of Engagement) Order.

With my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, I will circulate a list of the approved agencies in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Does that list include any of the well-known and established workers' agencies which were functioning as such before the war?

I answered that question a few moments ago, in reply to another hon. Member. It is very difficult to fit them in for the placing of labour in connection with the war effort.

Following is the list:

Approved Agencies.Type of Person to be placed.Type of Employment in which to be placed.
1.University of Aberdeen Appointments Board.Students and graduates of the University of Aberdeen.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
2.

Birmingham University Appointments Board.

Students and graduates of Birmingham University.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
3.University of Bristol Appointments Board.Students and graduates of the University of Bristol.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
4.

Cambridge University Women's Appointments Board.

Students and graduates of Cambridge University.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
5.University of Durham Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of Durham.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
6.University of Edinburgh Appointments Committee.Students and graduates of University of Edinburgh.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
7.The University, Glasgow Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of Glasgow.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
8.University of Leeds Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of Leeds.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
9.University of Liverpool Appointments Bureau.Students and graduates of University of Liverpool.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
10.University of London Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of London.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
11.

Manchester University Appointments Board.

Students and graduates of Manchester University.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
12.University College, Nottingham Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University College, Nottingham.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
13.

Oxford University Women's Appointments Committee.

Students and graduates of Oxford University.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
14.The University Reading, Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of Reading.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
15.University of Sheffield Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of Sheffield.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
16.University College, Southampton Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University College, Southampton.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
17.The University of St. Andrews Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of St. Andrews.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
18.University College of the South West of England Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University College of South West of England.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
19.University of Wales Appointments Board.Students and graduates of University of Wales.Vital war work suitable to their capacities.
20.Industrial Welfare SocietyTrained or experienced Personnel Managers.Personnel Managers
Trained or experienced Welfare Supervisors. Welfare Supervisors
21.Institute of Hospital Almoners.Certificated Hospital AlmonersHospital Almoners
22.Society of Women Housing Managers.(a) Trained Yousing Managers(a)Housing Managers
(b) Students accepted for training who satisfy the requirements from time to time in force contained in instructions issued by the Minister for students taking courses at Technical colleges and other similar institutions.(b) Student Housing Managers in offices approved by the Society for training purposes.
23.Institute of Labour Management.Trained or experienced Personnel Managers.Personnel Managers
Trained or experience Welfare Supervisors. Welfare Supervisors
24.The Society of RadiographersRegistered members of the Society of Radiographers.Radiographers
25.Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes.Any women covered by the Orders, with the exception of single women or widows who are being dealt with under the N.S. Acts.Any full-time employment in the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes, except ancillary employment in Headquarters and Command Offices, and Distributing Warehouses.

Approved Agencies.Type of Person to be placed.Type of Employment in which to be placed.
26.Association of Psychiatric Social Workers.Members of the Association of Psychiatric Social Workers.Psychiatric Social Workers
27.Central Pharmaceutical War Committee.(a) Qualified Pharmacists(a) Pharmacists
(b) Dispensers(b) Dispensers
(c) Women who have been regularly employed in the handling of drugs and medical and surgical appliances for a minimum period of six months other than those who are liable under the National Service Acts and in the age classes being dealt with under those Acts.(c) Drug Hands
28.The Scottish Central Pharmaceutical War Committee.(a) Qualified Pharmacists(a) Pharmacists
(b) Dispensers(b) Dispensers
(c) Women who have been regularly employed in the handling of drugs and medical and surgical appliances for a minimum period of six months other than those who are liable under the National Service Acts and in the age classes being dealt with under those Acts.(c) Drug Hands

15.

asked the Minister of Labour as Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes is an approved employment agency under the Control of Employment Order and solely enrols applicants for its own service, how it is possible for this primary duty effectively to be combined with its functions as an employment agency; and whether other organisations of a similar character will be similarly treated?

N.A.A.F.I. has been approved in this connection for the purpose only of engaging women for their own staff, and does not operate otherwise as an employment agency. The circumstances of these Institutes are exceptional and would not apply, so far as I know, to any other organisation. Nevertheless, I am reviewing the whole situation as regards these Institutes.

Is N.A.A.F.I. either licensed in London or registered at its address in Surrey? Both of these conditions, I understand, are necessary for employment agencies. Unless they are fulfilled, is N.A.A.F.I. really qualified to act as an employment agency under the Order?

I am indebted to my hon. and gallant Friend for putting down this Question. As I said, I am reviewing the whole position.

Is it not a fact that N.A.A.F.I. has one of the right hon. Gentleman's own officials on the headquarters staff, to ensure that the Regulations are carried out?

I can only repeat that this Question caused me to look into the matter. I am not quite sure that the Regulation is carried out, and I propose to review the position.

Women's Land Army (Recruitment)

5.

asked the Minister of Labour how many women his Department has permitted to join the Women's Land Army in each of the past four weeks; and what steps his local officials are taking, especially in the rural areas, to encourage suitable women to undertake this vital form of National Service?

I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries that the numbers enrolled by the Women's Land Army in England and Wales during each of the past four weeks are 1,005, 917, 933 and 1,083 respectively. The precise number of women submitted to the Women's Land Army by my local offices is not known. but it is substantially larger than the number enrolled as the result of such submissions. Subject to the satisfaction of other equally urgent labour requirements, every encouragement is given by my local officers to the recruitment of suitable women, especially in rural areas.

In view of the inadequacy of these numbers, what further steps is the Minister taking to impress on his local officials that the need for more women workers on the land is very urgent?

One of the immediate steps I am taking with my right hon. Friend is to make the conditions more comparable with other bodies, by which recruiting will be made much easier.

Cold Storage Undertakings, Port Of London

6.

asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been drawn to difficulties which have arisen in regard to the position of cold storage undertakings under the Dock Labour Scheme for the Port of London; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?

Yes, Sir. I am aware of these difficulties, and I have appointed Sir John Forster to conduct an inquiry. His terms of reference are:

"to inquire into the application of the Port of London Dock Labour Scheme to cold storage undertakings, and to make recommendations."

Is the Minister aware that there are 20 stores concerned in this question, none of whose premises are dock-side premises, and that none of them have employed any dock labourers nor do they employ casual labourers? Does he feel that at this time a public inquiry such as he suggests is fair to many busy men who have to leave their work of national importance and waste their time?

When a claim comes up requiring investigation, I think the best way of solving it is to have an impartial investigation to help me to arrive at a decision.

Young Workers (Holidays)

7.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will encourage, wherever possible, the granting of two weeks' holiday for young workers over the next six months so that they may take full advantage of the many open-air pre-service forestry and harvest camps and thus combine a measure of rehabilitation with direct service to the war effort?

As my hon. Friend is aware, the question of annual holiday arrangements is a matter which is normally settled between the employers and unions in the various industries. I am, however, sympathetic on every ground to my hon. Friend's suggestion, and I should like to see the fullest possible opportunity given to young workers to take advantage of these valuable outdoor activities.

Would the Minister be as strong with the young workers as with the old workers? He can make the old people do what he wants; for goodness sake make the young people do what is good for them.

Independent Medical Reports

8.

asked the Minister of Labour what further steps a person can take who is not satisfied with the report of the independent medical man chosen by his Department to submit a report on the man's condition to the local appeal board under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts, as there is doubt over this point?

Consideration would be given to any other relevant evidence submitted by such a person, but perhaps my hon. Friend will let me have particulars of any actual case he may have in mind.

Wages (Percentage Increases)

9.

asked the Minister of Labour the percentage increase in wages since 1939 paid to those employed in the engineering industry on plain time rates, the percentage paid on wages since 1939 to those employed on piecework, the highest percentage increase paid in all industry and the average increase paid in all industry?

The percentage increase in wages varies widely, not only in different industries, but in different occupations, districts and undertakings in those industries, and the available information is not sufficient to enable me to answer the first three parts of the Question. It is estimated that the average weekly increase in full-time rates of wages from the beginning of the war until the end of February, 1943, was about 33 per cent. or 34 per cent. The latest available information, about average earnings in the principal industries relates to July, 1942. This was published in the "Ministry of Labour Gazette" last December.

Engineering Industry (Tribunal Award)

10.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the effect on good will of those employed in the engineering industry by the tribunal award of 20th March; will he give the names and professions of those who compose the tribunal; is he satisfied with Subsection (3) paragraph (b) of the award; and that the highly-skilled men are receiving the reward due to them for the great contribution which they have made to the national effort since 1938?

With my hon. Friend's permission, I will circulate a list of the names of the members forming the tribunal, in the recent case relating to wages and conditions in the engineering industry, in the OFFICIAL REPORT. It would be impertinent of me to express any opinion with regard to the award. I have no reason to doubt that both sides of the industry will accept and implement the decisions of the tribunal with good will.

Is the Minister aware that before this award was made the engineers were paid, with the basic rate and national bonus, 1s. 813/16d. That was made up of 11¾d. basic rate and 91/16d. national bonus. Now, with the 6s. of the award, which is on the bonus and not on the basic rate, and with £1 taken from the bonus and put on the basic rate, the basic rate for engineers, instead of being 11¾d. per hour will be 1s. 4½d. and 10006d. What is the Minister going to do to clear up the serious discontent throughout the country?

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that men in the Services, who by giving their lives to the country contribute much more to the war effort, get sufficient reward for their services?

Following are the names:

Appointed Members:

The Hon. Mr. Justice Simonds (Chairman), Judge of the Chancery Division, High Court of Justice.

Sir John Forster, barrister at law.

Sir W. David Ross, Provost of Oriel College, Oxford.

Panel Members:

Mr. W. O. R. Holton, of William Holton and Sons Limited, manufacturers of fancy woollens.

Mr. A. M. Wall, J.P., General Secretary, London Society of Compositors.

Gipsies

11.

asked the Minister of Labour whether the gipsy population of the United Kingdom is liable to National Registration; and, if not, whether some other means will be devised of making the considerable supply of gipsy labour readily and continuously available to agriculture?

I understand from my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health that gipsies are liable to National Registration. They are also liable to register under the National Service Acts and the Registration for Employment Order. My hon. Friend will appreciate that their migratory habits make it peculiarly difficult to secure that those gipsies who have not been called up are continuously engaged on war work, including agriculture, but I will consider with other interested Departments whether any further steps can usefully be taken with that end in view.

Transferred Workers (Cheap Travel Scheme)

12.

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of his announcement that bank holidays will be two days in order to give war workers the necessary additional holidays, he will arrange for the cheap travel vouchers to be available for transferred workers, so that they may really benefit by the additional holiday concession?

In order to avoid undue congestion on the railways, which would impede essential war traffic, I regret that it is necessary to suspend the operation of the cheap travel scheme for transferred workers, in common with other warrant or voucher schemes, at the Bank Holiday periods. On the other hand, I would remind my hon. Friend that this year the scheme will be in operation for the whole of the six months April to September inclusive, as compared with the period nth May to 15th September last year.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the present arrangement is very disappointing to the transferred workers?

Police Investigations, North London

16.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the apology tendered to Mr. Somers, of 47, Marquess Road, N.1, by an inspector of police for the mistake made over his identity card, he will see that the plain clothes police officers, 250G and 510G, are reprimanded for the hectoring manner in which they carried out their investigations; and will he give an assurance that in future only men fully conversant with their duties are employed in such important work?

The fact that an apology was tendered does not imply that the police officers carried out their investigations in an improper manner, and I regret that my hon. Friend has made this allegation, for which there is no foundation. As the hon. Lady has already been informed by my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, the circumstances were fully investigated by the Commissioner of Police, who found no justification for reprimanding or admonishing them. I am informed that both officers had considerable experience of this type of work.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that these two plain clothes police officers accused Mr. Somers of being a deserter and behaved in a very bullying manner to his wife? Surely my right hon. Friend thinks that they should be reprimanded for this very un-British method of performing their duties?

No, Sir, I am not aware of these things, nor are they admitted in the letter which the Under-Secretary wrote to the hon. Lady.

Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Detainees

17.

asked the Home Secretary how many British subjects, at present detained under Regulation 18B, it is proposed to retain in custody until the end of the war?

The case of every such person is reviewed from time to time, and detention is continued only so long as I am satisfied that it is necessary for reasons of national security. I cannot say in advance in how many cases, or for how long, those reasons will continue to obtain.

Would my right hon. Friend give special consideration to those who served our country with honour in the last war and also to those who are eager to serve it in this war? From the man-power aspect alone, the matter is important.

That factor is taken into account, but my basic duty is to consider the safety of the country, and I will carry that duty out.

Will the right hon. Gentleman keep Sir Oswald Mosley under lock and key?

Local Government Elections

18.

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the fact that Parliamentary by-elections are permitted during the war period, and that the war has extended for nearly four years, he will consider taking steps to amend the Local Elections and Registered Electors (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1939, which has been renewed each year, to permit of the holding of local government elections; and on what grounds, having regard to the duration of the war, the continued suspension of local elections is justified?

As I stated when the Local Elections and Register of Electors (Temporary Provisions) Bill, 1942, was in Committee last October, the position will be considered when the time comes to prepare a further Bill next autumn, but hitherto Parliament has not taken the view that the possibility of holding Parliamentary by-elections is a reason for holding local elections during the war, and there would be many difficulties in doing so. One of them is that the depleted and overburdened staffs of the many local authorities concerned would not be able to undertake the heavy additional work which would be involved.

Nevertheless, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the present method is undesirable and very undemocratic? Many of these people are co-opted, and the number of members co-opted is getting larger than the number elected. This matter wants reviewing.

I appreciate the difficulties, but one of the reasons why British democracy survives is that in critical times it can adapt itself to the difficulties.

When a Member passes away or resigns are not his constituents entitled to have a by-election?

Civil Defence

Refugees (Visas)

19.

asked the Home Secretary whether the possibility of instituting a system of block visas for refugees has been considered by His Majesty's Government and will be tried sooner than lose any chance of saving persecuted Jews?

A system of block visas would not be of any assistance in helping refugees to escape from enemy or enemy-occupied territory. As regards refugees who have already escaped to neutral territory, the difficulties are not due to the administrative arrangements for granting visas and would not be removed by an alteration of those arrangements. The question whether some representative should be authorised to distribute blocks of visas among applicants would only arise if it were first decided that there should be a policy of wholesale admissions to this country during the war of fresh classes of alien refugees.

Does the Home Secretary seriously maintain that if neutral countries know that blocks of visas are available for refugees to enter this country from enemy-occupied countries, that will not encourage them to admit more refugees?

Are we to infer from the answer that, in spite of the declaration of 17th December, it is not my right hon. Friend's intention to admit any kind of refugee to this country who was not admissible under the Regulations of his Department as they existed before that date?

As my hon. Friend knows, discussions are about to proceed on international action, and the Government are unable to alter their policy in advance of those discussions.

33.

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the bad effect on the morale of men in alien companies of the Pioneer Corps and on other men and women doing valuable war service, of refusals to rescue their parents from danger by admitting them to this country, he will, pending a general revision of the present regulations for visas, relax these regulations to the extent of granting visas to parents in such cases where there is no individual reason to the contrary?

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the replies which I gave to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) and the senior Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) on 18th March, to which I have nothing to add.

Does that mean that the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to consider any individual cases, however hard they may be?

I am often considering individual cases, and many individuals have been permitted to come into this country.

As the Home Secretary has said that we must wait for international action, is he aware that the United States regulation visas long ago anticipated ours in this respect and that the reuniting of severed families is one of the principal objects of the United States regulations? Cannot we follow the example of the United States in this matter?

34.

asked the Home Secretary whether the present regulation permitting the granting of visas to wives of men serving in the Forces or doing valuable war work for ourselves or the Allies will be extended to the husbands of women similarly occupied?

If the circumstances of an alien woman in this country are analogous to those of an alien man whose wife is allowed to join him, I would certainly give sympathetic consideration to any application for the admission of such a woman's husband.

National Fire Service

26.

asked the Home Secretary whether there was any avoidable delay upon the part of the National Fire Service in ordering pumps and personnel to proceed to fires on a certain recent occasion to which his attention has been directed; whether the pumps and crews turned out promptly when the order was given; and whether he is able to make any statement upon the subject?

I have received a full report on this incident. I understand that a few minutes' delay was caused through the call to the National Fire Service being received at a station which was not the nearest one to the fire, but that an appliance was on the spot within seven minutes of the call being received. Calls for assistance from the fire after the arrival of the first appliance were subjected to some delay owing to the local interruption of communications, but a second appliance appears to have arrived four minutes after the first, and a third appliance some eight minutes later. I cannot find any reason for thinking that the pumps and crews did not turn out promptly when the calls were received.

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he proposes to hold any investigation into this matter at which persons who desire to do so may give evidence?

When my hon. and learned Friend's Question was put down I caused inquiries to be made—I did so before, as a matter of fact. Considerable inquiries have been made, and this is the result. I hardly think that the question is one for a complicated inquiry with witnesses but if my hon. and learned Friend has any further evidence he would like to put to me, I will have it looked into.

Fire-Guard Duties

27.

asked the Home Secretary whether he will have inquiries made as to the circumstances in which Mr. Leonard Powell, employed as a carter at Ancoats Goods Station, Manchester, London Midland and Scottish Railway, has been excused fire-watching at his place of work?

I am making inquiries in regard to this case, and will communicate with my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

Will the right hon. Gentleman also make inquiries into the case of the Liverpool dockers?

Is the Home Secretary aware that the decision to exempt this man from fire-watching duties has not only added to the difficulties of the railway management but has met with very deep resentment from the members of the National Union of Railwaymen, who emphasise that all eligible employees should share the burden of fire-watching duty on terms of equality?

I think that my hon. Friend will agree that, as I do not yet know the facts, it would be best for me not to express an opinion.

Will the right hon. Gentleman do as I suggested and make inquiries as to whether the dockers in Liverpool have to serve as fire-watchers or not?

I am always willing to inquire into anything connected with that great city.

Air-Raid Warnings

28.

asked the Home Secretary whether any local authority has the power to have any other method than the siren in the case of an air-raid?

No, Sir. No public alarm other than the siren may be sounded without my specific authority; but certain towns on or near the South and East coasts which are liable to hit and run raids have been permitted to sound a local alarm signal publicly in addition to the national warning sounded on the siren.

Has my right hon. Friend granted permission for a siren that sounds like a cuckoo?

It is obviously most undesirable that I should answer questions about particular places in public.

Emergency Water Tank, St Albans

29.

asked the Home Secretary whether he can give any information in connection with the emergency water tank built close to an air-raid shelter at St. Albans; who was responsible for placing the tank in this position; and what action he intends taking about the matter?

As a result of representations recently made to me, this matter has been investigated, and it has been decided to halve the capacity of the tank by constructing a dividing wall and to use only that half of the tank farthest from the shelter. Other subsidiary precautionary measures will also be adopted and I am satisfied that the combined effect will be to prevent the possibility of water entering the shelter in the event of the fall of a bomb in the immediate vicinity. The siting of the tank was the subject of consultation between the Senior Regional Technical Adviser and the City Engineer.

Identity Cards

32.

asked the Home Secretary whether, in the new identity cards about to be issued, provision will be made for the insertion of such particulars as may be necessary to enable these cards to be used, if it should be decided so to use them, for purposes of electoral identification?

Will there be provided a space which could be stamped by the polling clerk to show that the card had been used at an election?

I doubt whether that would be practical, because I would not know how many elections would take place.

62.

asked the Minister of Health whether he proposes to enforce the attachment of a fingerprint of the holder to each of the new identity cards?

I know of no considerations which modify the conclusions previously reached that neither a photograph nor finger prints upon identity cards could be relied upon unless authenticated by a responsible declarant having personal knowledge of the holder. My hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate the difficulty of insisting upon this condition in the reissue of cards to some 36,000,000 persons. Apart from this chief consideration, finger prints would be of little use on the occasions when identity cards are produced for inspection by the police or by members of the Armed Forces.

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that he has taken adequate precautions to prevent the new cards being forged, as the present ones are?

Is it not a fact that in every area where the British Army are responsible for security they insist on having photographs on identity cards?

The hon. Member knows of the long answer given by my predecessor, to which I have nothing to add.

Motor Vehicles, Metropolitan Area (Speed Controls)

20.

asked the Home Secretary what considerations are taken into account by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in the selection of certain 220 yards stretches of road on which to operate traps by timing vehicles by stop-watch in war-time; and whether he will see that in future such roads are selected because accidents due to a speed over 30 miles per hour have occurred upon them in the recent past?

Speed controls in the Metropolitan Police District are operated on roads where it is apparent that speed limits are being habitually exceeded, and in selecting a stretch of road for the purpose account is taken of various features such as cross and converging roads, pedestrian crossing places, bus and tram stops, refuges, schools, and so forth. The suggestion in the second part of the Question that the police should not take preventive measures until after an accident has occurred is not one which I could accept.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the real reason why certain stretches of road are selected is because they are open stretches, perfectly safe on which to exceed 30 miles an hour, and in order to obtain a large number of convictions; and will he come with me to some of these roads and let me show him what they are like, and then he can judge for himself?

With great respect, I do not wish to go with the hon. and gallant Gentleman. His argument is based on the assumption that it is not the duty of the police to enforce the law. I am awfully sorry, but it is the duty of the police to enforce the law, whether the law is right or wrong.

Is the Home Secretary aware that this Question has been put to him by an unrepentent sinner?

Has the hon. Member any right to call another hon. Member a sinner?

21.

asked the Home Secretary how many drivers, timed by plain-clothes officers with stop-watches over stretches of 220 yards in the Metropolitan police area, during the last six months of 1942, have been proceeded against for dangerous or reckless driving in addition to, or in substitution for, the technical offence of exceeding 30 miles per hour in a built-up area?

I regret that the particulars for which my hon. and gallant Friend asks are not available.

Is it not a fact that no one has been prosecuted except for exceeding the limit of these traps, which illustrates the point I made in the previous Question I asked?

I am sorry. As the facts are not available, I am unable to answer the hon. and gallant Member.

If the police on the roads can waste their time doing this, surely they could look up a few figures?

The police do catch an offender now and again, as my hon. and gallant Friend knows.

22.

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the acute shortage of male labour in the London area, he will instruct the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police area that the large number of officers ordinarily allocated to setting police traps in that area should be found work more closely connected with the war effort?

No, Sir. The law imposes speed limits, and it is the duty of the police to enforce the law. Road accidents, apart from the suffering entailed, involve a serious loss of man-power and it is therefore of importance to the national effort to prevent them.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is an acute shortage of labour in the London area, as the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour told me a few days ago, and could he not use the police for that purpose; and also that this sort of trapping is only done in the Metropolitan area and not in any other part of the whole of this country?

I am, of course, aware of the shortage of labour in the London area, and I have released as many policemen as I can. I do not think I can release any more, otherwise we shall never catch anybody who does anything wrong.

Dog Tracks (Totalisator Receipts)

23.

asked the Home Secretary the total receipts for the 70 greyhound racing tracks for 1938 to 1941; the returns that are available for 1942; the receipts on the three tracks in Birmingham for 1942; the latest return for Rother-ham; and what the Rotherham returns showed in 1939?

I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to receipts from totalisators on dog tracks. As I have explained in answer to previous Questions, these figures are not available in my Department, and I regret that the labour involved in collecting them would not be justified.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that figures have already been printed, and I will send him the list so that he can keep it in front of him?

I shall be very grateful if my hon. Friend can supply me with the figures with which his Question has asked me to supply him.

Truck Acts (Voluntary Wage Deductions)

24.

asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider introducing amending legislation, or a Regulation under the Defence Regulations, to regularise the position of employers who, with the consent of their employees, make deductions from wages in respect of the provision of accommodation in the nature of lodging, or in respect of contributions to the Red Cross Penny-a-Week fund and similar charities, as the former practice is, and the latter may be held to be, contrary to the requirements of the Truck Acts?

I recognise the force of the considerations which my hon. Friend has in mind, but any amendment of the Truck Acts is by no means a simple or easy project; and I am anxious to avoid at the present time the large expenditure of time and labour which would be required in framing a satisfactory scheme for the modernisation of their provisions.

The right hon. Gentleman did not answer that part of my Question suggesting it might be done by some form of regulation, and would he consider this method very carefully, owing to the widespread feeling which has grown up in the country that this can be done by agreement between the employers and trade union representatives, as it is all done to help the war effort; and will he consider the possibility of regularising the position not by legislation but by some form of regulation?

If it were so restricted, it is conceivable, I agree, that it might be done by Defence Regulation, and I will consider my hon. Friend's points. I assure him that this Truck Acts issue bristles with difficulties and controversy, and I am a little nervous about going into it.

Police Widows' Pensions

25.

asked the Home Secretary whether the Police Federation now accept the principles for increased pensions for widows of police officers suggested by the Snell Committee; what is the position as regards increased pensions for existing police widows in that event; and if the Police Federation have not accepted the principles suggested by the Snell Committee, will he reconsider the decision contained in his reply of the 22nd October, 1942, with a view to compelling acceptance of the recommendations of the Snell Committee?

I am not aware that the Police Federation have modified their views on the Report of the Snell Committee. The second part of the Question does not therefore arise. As regards the last part of the Question, the absence of agreement on the fundamental question of the incidence of cost of the proposed increases makes it impossible in my view to contemplate the introduction of legislation.

Prisoners (Time For Exercise)

30.

asked the Home Secretary whether improved arrangements have now been instituted in prisons to enable prisoners to spend more time out of cells; and what are the hours per day now spent in cells?

Yes, Sir. Arrangements have recently been made for an increase in the hours of duty of prison officers which will enable prisoners to be out of their cells each day for one hour longer than hitherto. As a result, prisoners will now be out of their cells for employment and exercise for about seven hours 20 minutes from Monday to Friday, three hours on Saturday, and 3½ hours on Sunday for chapel and exercise. These periods are substantially increased in the cases of those prisoners who attend physical training classes and educational classes.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his announcement will cause great satisfaction and will undoubtedly produce a beneficial effect on prisoners?

Mr D F Springhall (Journey To Russia)

31.

asked the Home Secretary whether he can say on what dates, round about the beginning of the war, Mr. D. F. Springhall left and returned to this country?

My information is that Mr. Springhall left London on 19th August, 1939, on a boat sailing for Leningrad, and arrived back on 24th September, 1939.

Can my right hon. Friend say what was the declared purpose of the business of Mr. Springhall?

So far as I know, there was no declared purpose, and, of course, it was a pre-war journey under the ordinary passport arrangements.

Education (History Books)

35.

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will ask the Governments of the United States of America and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to nominate members to Professor Barker's Committee now set up to consider the publication of objective history books of all countries for the post-war years?

I have been asked as chairman of this Conference of Representatives of the Allied Governments established in the United Kingdom and of the French National Committee, whom I invited to meet me to consider the needs of enemy-occupied countries, to inform the Representatives of the Governments of the U.S.A. or of the U.S.S.R. of our activities. I hope to secure their interest and co-operation.

My right hon. Friend has not answered my Question. I asked him whether he had approached, or would approach, the United States and the Soviet Governments with a view to sending representatives to serve on Professor Barker's Committee, especially in view of the fact that the modern history books of both these great countries have partly led to the misunderstandings now, happily, being cleared up.

I answered the Question specifically by saying that I hope to enlist their co-operation.

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider getting this Committee to examine our own history books, some of which are terrible?

Public Institutions (Aged People)

36.

asked the Minister of Health whether he will recommend to local authorities managing institutions for the final care of the aged, the introduction into dormitories of some measure of cubicle privacy, in view of the present absence thereof and the objection of the aged to communal living?

I am in full sympathy with the objects of the Question, but in view of the shortage of labour and materials of all kinds, I should not feel justified at the present time in making any general recommendation to local authorities on the subject.

Public Health

Milk (Pasteurisation)

37.

asked the Minister of Health what standard of cleanliness is required in pasteurised milk?

Standards of cleanliness for pasteurised milks are prescribed in the Milk (Special Designations) Order, 1936. "Pasteurised" milk must contain not more than 100,000 bacteria per millilitre and "Tuberculin Tested Milk (Pasteurised)" not more than 30,000 bacteria per millilitre at any time after pasteurisation and before delivery to the consumer.

Is my right hon. Friend sure that he is alive to the danger of pasteurisation as at present carried out covering up foul and filthy milk by falsely engendering the idea of safety behind this process? Is he aware too of a recent case, published by a reputable journal, in which a labourer's boot covered with dry manure was found in a receptacle containing this milk?

Why is "T.T." milk ever pasteurised? Is not such an action quite inexcusable?

What number of germs are there in one-thousandth part of a quart?

Typhus Squads (Compensation)

38.

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been drawn to the public-spirited action of men in Norfolk Rural District Council areas who have volunteered for work in typhus squads in case outbreaks should occur; and whether he will take steps now to assure them of compensation for personal injury on the terms that apply generally to Civil Defence volunteers?

Yes, Sir. It does not appear that the statutory provisions of the Personal Injuries Scheme as applicable to Civil Defence volunteers could be applied, as they stand, to the persons to whom my hon. Friend refers; but I am considering the matter further and will confer about it with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions.

Artificial Limbs (Children)

64.

asked the Minister of Health whether he can yet make any statement as to the advice to be issued to the maternity and child welfare authorities with regard to the provision of artificial limbs for children in need of them; and whether he will lay down that no child who loses a limb shall be deprived of the right to an artificial one by reason of the inability of the parents to purchase one should it be recommended by the medical authorities?

A circular, to be issued jointly by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education and myself, is now being printed and will I hope be issued before the middle of the month. I will send my hon. Friend a copy. I have no power to require welfare authorities to supply artificial limbs but the circular will give approval to the exercise of their powers for this purpose.

Diphtheria Immunisation (Cost)

43.

asked the Minister of Health the amount of the expenditure incurred by his Department in the advertisement and carrying out of the policy of immunisation against diphtheria during the last financial year for which the figures are available; and the estimated amount of such expenditure for the current year?

The cost to the Exchequer of publicity advocating the immunisation of children against diphtheria was £2,276 in 1941–42, and £19,909 in 1942–43. The cost of carrying out immunisation falls on the local authorities except as regards the toxoid, which the Government supply to the authorities free of charge. The cost to the Exchequer of the toxoid was £14,638 in 1941–42 and is estimated at about £17,000 in the year ended 31st March, 1943.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that, in view of the fact that the benefits up to now have been quite nil, the expense should now be terminated?

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that this is a very cheap price to pay for the very large number of lives that have been saved?

Venereal Disease (Treatment Fees)

44.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that fees are charged for treatment of venereal diseases at many hospitals and clinics; and whether this can be abolished so as to remove this deterrent to improving the nation's health?

No, Sir. It has been made clear to local authorities that treatment of venereal disease at approved centres under their control is to be free. If my hon. Friend can send me particulars of any case where fees are being charged at such a centre, I will look into it. I have no jurisdiction, of course, as regards treatment not connected with the public health service of local authorities.

Is it not a fact that a great many people think that unless they pay for treatment it is not good?

Hospital Nurses (Welfare)

63.

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the longer hours worked and the strenuous service rendered by hospital nurses, he will recommend to local authorities that particular consideration should be given to the need of providing an adequate and nourishing diet for nurses and an arrangement for hours of duty and holidays for probationer nurses who have to sit for examinations, so that undue strain is not imposed upon them?

I have no reason to suppose that the importance of an adequate and nourishing diet is not fully appreciated by local authorities and other hospital authorities; but I will look into any particular instances which my hon. Friend may bring to my notice. As regards hours of work and length of holidays for student nurses, I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to paragraphs 50 and 52 of the First Report of the Rushcliffe Committee, which has been generally commended to all hospital authorities.

Would it not be useful to circularise local authorities, in view of the fact that some nurses are undoubtedly feeling the increasing strain?

I do not think there is any need for that, because the authorities are represented on the Committee.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to raise the standard of cooking?

Is the old rule still in existence by which Members are responsible for facts stated or implied in Questions? If it is implied that conditions are unsatisfactory, ought not Members to get to know that the facts are correct before putting such a Question on the Paper?

I think the hon. Member is asking if Members are responsible for the facts stated in their Questions. Yes, every Member is responsible.

May I ask you, Sir, to elucidate that further, because what is the point of asking a Question if you are certain of the reply?

When one asks a Question, one does not state facts. One states the circumstances from which the Question arises, and one is responsible for ensuring that these are as reasonably accurate as is possible before putting a Question on the Order Paper.

If the facts stated by the Member are wrong and he is responsible, what is the sanction?

Housing

Agricultural Workers' Cottages

39.

asked the Minister of Health what steps he is taking to see that the 3,000 cottages he is allowing local authorities to build for agricultural labourers are used for that purpose only, now and in the future; and what is his definition of "agricultural labourer" for that purpose?

These cottages will be subject to the requirements of Section 2 (2) of the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act, 1938, which provides that the local authority shall secure that a number of houses equal to the number in respect of which the agricultural subsidy is being paid are reserved for members of the agricultural population, except in so far as the demand for housing accommodation on the part of members of the agricultural population can be satisfied without such reservation. Agricultural population is defined in Section 115 (2) of the Housing Act, 1936, as meaning "persons whose employment or latest employment is or was employment in agriculture or in an industry mainly dependent on agriculture and includes also the dependants of such persons." Agriculture is defined in the same Section as including dairy farming, poultry farming, the use of land as grazing, meadow or pasture land or orchard or osier land or woodland or for market gardens or nursery grounds.

Is the Minister aware that when an agricultural labourer leaves his cottage it usually gets into the hands of the local authority, which puts one of its own roadmen or other employees into it?

I would not say it has not happened, but I would not accept that as a generalisation.

Durham County

41.

asked the Minister of Health the number of two, three and four-apartment houses in the administrative county of Durham and the county boroughs of Sunderland and South Shields, respectively?

As the reply involves a tabular statement I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the statement:

Number of occupied dwellings consisting of
1–3 rooms.4–5 rooms.Total sizes.
Administrative County of Durham88,52699,302206,403
Sunderland County Borough9,45013,52231,970
South Shields County Borough13,1219,39325,527

Planning (Density)

71.

asked the Minister of Health the regulations controlling the density of houses permitted to the acre in both rural and urban districts?

As my hon. Friend was informed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Town and Country Planning in a recent reply, there are no such regulations.

Will my right hon. Friend give some guidance in this matter, because it is rather important in the laying-out of houses in future?

I shall keep in close touch with the Minister of Town and Country Planning on this subject. There was a provision in the Act of 1924, but that was repealed by the Act of 1933.

Local Authorities (Financial Assistance)

40.

asked the Minister of Health whether it is the policy of the Government to obtain full repayment from those local authorities who have received financial assistance in order that essential services may be maintained; and when will these authorities be expected to repay such sums?

The policy of the Government in this matter was fully set out in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Sir J. Mellor) on 24th June, 1941. Seventy-five per cent. of the necessary assistance is by way of grant, the remaining 25 per cent. being an advance free of interest. Ultimate liability for repayment of the latter will be a matter for discussion after the war with each local authority concerned in the light of the circumstances, both national and local, then prevailing.

Is the Minister aware that the policy of the Government in this matter is very much resented by local authorities generally?

I have had representations on certain points, but there was no general disagreement.

National Registration

42.

asked the Minister of Health whether he can make any statement on the matter of a fresh national registration of the people?

If my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind a fresh enumeration to obtain fresh returns from every member of the people on the lines of the initial compilation of the National Register in 1939, no such proposal is contemplated. Apart from the heavy man-power burden involved, it is not seen that it would have any advantages.

Does it not mean that the proposal that new cards should be issued in place of the present cards will preserve the anomalies now existing and permit the fraud and evasion which occur so often and which are not always brought before the courts?

The cards will be issued in the light of the experience which has been gained.

Will they be issued, in the light of experience gained, to the same people on the same terms, because, if so, the inaccuracies will be perpetuated?

Post-War Reconstruction, Northern Ireland

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether Northern Ireland, as a part of the United Kingdom, will be embraced in the four-year post-war plan which he has outlined to the nation and receive its full share of all the advantages accruing there-from?

Post-war reconstruction in Northern Ireland is mainly a matter for the Northern Ireland Government, but His Majesty's Government will take them into the fullest consultation, and it is hoped that the close collaboration we enjoy at present on all matters will continue after the war.

Equal Compensation (Committee's Report)

46.

asked the Prime Minister what policy has been decided upon for compensation of war injured civilians after consideration of the Report of the Select Committee on Equal Compensation?

His Majesty's Government's decisions in this matter will be announced in a statement to be made before Easter.

Civil Aviation

48.

asked the Minister without Portfolio whether he is in a position to make a statement on the discussions with the Dominions on the future of civil aviation as it affects the British Commonwealth of Nations?

No, Sir; except that the discussions are proceeding satisfactorily.

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman give an assurance that the Dominions will be fully consulted on air lines and the production of air liners? Would it not be better to set up a Commonwealth Development Board instead of having occasional consultations?

Agriculture

Water Supplies (Cattle)

49.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the importance of ensuring that a supply of clean uninfected water is made available to cattle, he will consider extending the assistance at present given to farmers to local authorities in rural districts so as to enable them, if necessary, to put in hand water schemes which cannot be financed out of rates or revenue?

I cannot undertake to introduce legislation extending grant-aid by my Department to local authorities who are water undertakers to put in hand new schemes of water supply. The grants made at present to farmers in aid of capital expenditure incurred by them in obtaining a supply are available whether or not the water is obtained from a local authority.

Diseased Cattle (Removal)

50.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will take steps to ensure that the Order prohibiting the removal of cattle infected with tuberculosis in a clinical form from farm premises to an open market is rigidly enforced; and whether he will extend this Order to include cattle suffering from contagious abortion?

All practical steps are taken to ensure that cattle infected with tuberculosis in a clinical form are not removed from farm premises to a market. With regard to the latter part of the Question, the exposure in a market of a cow which has calved prematurely within the preceding two months is prohibited by the Epizootic Abortion Order of 1922.

Returns And Forma

51.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can how give consideration to the reduction of the number of returns and forms which are issued for completion to both farmers and farm-workers, with a view to assisting them and to enable them to devote the maximum amount of time to the production of food?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Mr. A. Edwards) on 12th February, 1942.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware of the urgent need for more common sense in this matter, and further, is he not aware that common sense is the rarest sense and is not always available at the Ministry of Agriculture?

I am afraid it is because a large number of people do not exercise common sense that we have to use so many forms.

Foot And Mouth Disease Order, 1928 (Orkney)

53, 54 and 55.

asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) why he refused to confirm a regulation made by the county council of Orkney on 5th January, 1943, under Section 22 (1, a) of the Foot and Mouth Disease Order, 1928;

(2) whether it is his policy to refuse to confirm all regulations made by local authorities under Section 22 (1, a) of the Foot and Mouth Disease Order, 1928;

(3) whether he is aware that his decision not to confirm the regulation made by the county council of Orkney under Section 22 (1, a) of the Foot and Mouth Disease Order, 1928, which was sent to him by express letter on 5th January, did not reach the county council until 23rd January, and will he explain the delay?.

I refused to confirm the Regulation in question because I was satisfied that the control measures exercised by my Department were adequate to meet the situation and that in the circumstances the additional restrictions proposed by the Orkney County Council constituted an unnecessary interference with movements of stock. My refusal to confirm this Regulation was based on the merits of the particular case. In different circumstances my decision might well be otherwise. The delay in communicating my decision was more apparent than real. In the 11 days which elapsed between the receipt of the letter from the Council and the despatch of my final decision, verbal communications took place between representatives of the Council and officers of my Department.

Part-Time Workers (Industrial Firms)

56.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been drawn to the arrangements made by some industrial firms to adopt farms in their vicinity so as to supply teams of part-time workers to help in the growing and harvesting of crops during the summer; and whether he will approach other suitable firms to induce them to give similar aid to food production in other parts of the country?

Yes, Sir. Arrangements on these lines are being made in a number of counties and should prove extremely valuable. I have suggested to all county war agricultural executive committees that they should approach local firms, either direct or through chambers of commerce, to ask for this kind of co-operation.

Prisoners Of War

57.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will issue a statement explaining the conditions laid down for the employment of prisoners of war in agriculture and the arrangements for their control and supervision?

The conditions of employment vary according as the prisoners are living in on farms or employed from a hostel or from a central camp, and I am sending my hon. and gallant Friend copies of leaflets explaining these conditions which are issued to farmers who employ prisoners. As regards the second part of the Question, working parties of 12 or more prisoners are provided with an armed escort, who is responsible for their safe custody and also for checking any idleness and securing a proper output of work. Farmers employing unescorted prisoners are responsible for their safe custody. It is in all cases the responsibility of the employer to see that the work of the prisoners is properly organised and supervised.