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Written Answers

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 1 April 1943

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Written Answers

Armed Forces (Pensions And Grants)

asked the Minister of Pensions how many 100 per cent. disabled men of the last war and this war are receiving attendant allowance at the full rate, the three-quarter rate, the half rate or less than the half rate, and what percentage of these men are not drawing a wife's allowance?

The statistics maintained by my. Department do not show specifically the number of Great War disability pensioners in receipt of an attendant's allowance. Some years ago a special count was made, and allowing for deaths during the intervening period it is estimated that the present number is in the neighbourhood of 2,500 of which probably 400 are at the maximum rate, 350 at three-quarters rate, 1,400 at one-half rate and 30 at one-quarter rate. Corresponding figures for the present war are 6, 5, 26 and I respectively. The percentage of these disability pensioners who are not drawing wife's allowance could not be obtained without a disproportionate loss of time and labour but, as I informed the House on the 23rd March, approximately 57 per cent. of New War disabled men are drawing wife's allowance. The balance of 43 per cent. includes, of course, unmarried disability pensioners.

India (White Paper)

asked the Secretary of State for India, whether the contents of the recently published White Paper have been communicated in their entirety to Mr. Gandhi and leaders of Congress?

I do not know whether this has yet been done but I have no Objection to putting the suggestion to the Government of India.

African Colonies (Prison Service)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in the light of the recommendations contained in the Stockdale Report on the West Indies he will arrange for an expert to travel round the African Colonies to see what improvements should be made in the treatment of delinquency and in the prison services?

Mr. Alexander Paterson, one of His Majesty's Prison Commissioners, visited the prisons and inspected the other delinquency services of Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Aden and Somaliland during 1939. His recommendations were carefully considered by the Governments concerned, and a number have been put into effect, in spite of war conditions. A similar tour of the prisons of West Africa, which was planned during 1940, had to be postponed owing to the war situation. This proposal is again under consideration.

National War Effort

Women Workers (Scotland)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that young women in Wembley are being advised by their local employment exchange that they must go to work in factories in. Scotland; and whether young women in Scotland, who are being compelled to go down to work in England, will be allowed to undertake this work in the workshops of their own country?

I have had inquiries made which have not brought to light any cases where young women in Wembley have been advised by the employment exchange that they must go to work in factories in Scotland. If my hon. Friend has any particular case in mind I should be glad to make further inquiries.

Northern Ireland (Employment)

asked the Minister of Production whether, in view of the unemployment still prevailing in Northern Ireland, he will issue instructions that for all work under the several British Ministries, Admiralty, Air, Aircraft and War, within that area, no workers outside its bounds will be given work until its own workers have been absorbed in employment under the above Departments?

I am looking into the matter and will communicate with my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

Agriculture

Standard Seed Mixtures

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will arrange with the war agricultural executive committees standard seed mixtures for one, two and three year leys which can be supplied by the seed merchants and recommended to farmers, so as to secure the maximum yield from the temporary pastures?

After consultation with local seed merchants, several county war agricultural executive committees have already recommended seed mixtures for use in their respective counties this season, and the Seed Production Committee of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany are arranging to prepare a list of recommended mixtures for use in all parts of the country next season.

Rabbits Order (Wire Netting)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that wire netting is no longer obtainable for fencing against rabbits; whether the war agricultural executive committees have the power, in cases where netting is not obtainable, to require tenants to reduce rabbits by gassing; and what is the procedure when the person thus instructed is an elderly woman unable to do such work?

In reply to the first part of the Question, it is only in Very exceptional circumstances that wire netting can be released for fencing against rabbits; the reply to the second part of the Question is in the affirmative; in reply to the third part of the Question, if an occupier is herself unable to comply, or to obtain the necessary labour to enable her to comply with the requirements of an order made by a county war agricultural executive committee under the Rabbits Order, 1940, the committee can arrange to carry out the work on behalf, and at the expense, of the occupier.

Cattle (Housing Order, Essex)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that six dairy heifers are, under an Order L. 4, made by the Essex War Agricultural Executive Committee, on 5th February, 1943, at present confined to buildings in the parish of Nazeing; that the owner appealed against this Order; that the member of the Essex Committee who investigated the appeal stated no fault could be found either with the condition of these cattle or the dryness of the land upon which they were being wintered, but that as the Order to house cattle was a general one throughout the county he could not recommend an exception in this case; that, on 12th March, the owner pointed out to the Essex Committee that the cattle on five adjoining farms were at grass and asked for the above Order to be rescinded, but was refused without any reasons given; and on what grounds is this Order enforced in one case and breaches of it ignored in the five other stated cases?

I am aware of the Order referred to, which was necessary to ensure the preservation of the grassland on the farm concerned for summer grazing. There is no general Order in force in the county requiring the housing of cattle. Each case is dealt with on its merits.

Agricultural Tractors (Road Use)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether if he is aware that in many cases the benefits of the Order permitting extended use of agricultural tractors licensed at the 5s. rate will be nullified because drivers under 21 years of age are not allowed to use these vehicles on the roads except during the internal working of a farm; and will he reduce the age to 17?

Drivers who are 17 or over are allowed to drive agricultural tractors on public highways for the purpose of moving the tractors from one farm to another. The Government are at present considering whether it is desirable during the national emergency to allow them also to drive agricultural tractors on public highways for the purpose of hauling the produce of a farm or market garden, or articles which the farmers or market gardeners may require.

Oranges (Delayed Consign- Ment)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he can give any information in connection with the 1,000 tons of oranges condemned as unfit to eat; and what was the cause of the delay that prevented the oranges being landed before they had gone bad?

The oranges were waiting on the quay for some days before a ship could be made available to lift them and the ship which loaded them had to wait some time for its convoy to sail. The long total period of transit which resulted accounts for the unsatisfactory condition of the oranges on their arrival here.

Post Office

London Telecommunications Region (Staff)

asked the Postmaster-General how many redundant clerical officers and higher clerical officers are there in the London Telecommunications Region?

Various economies have recently rendered possible a reduction of about 250 in the clerical staff of the London Telecommunications Region. Over 200 of the persons concerned have already been absorbed. There remain for disposal 21 clerical officers, of which nine are awaiting call up for the Forces, and 25 higher clerical officers. They are being absorbed as quickly as circumstances permit and are being employed for the time being on training and to reduce, overtime.

Sub-Office, Southwark (Closing)

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the inconvenience caused to a large number of old age pensioners and other residents by the closing down of the Rodney Road, Southwark, post office, necessitating their going to the Old Kent Road post office, where pressure of business has therefore greatly increased; and will he consider the possibility of establishing another sub-office in this area?

The sub-post office in question was temporarily closed on 24th January, following a burglary at the office, to enable essential security alterations to be made. Difficulties have been experienced in securing the necessary labour and materials for the alterations, but it is hoped that the work will be completed and the office re-opened in the course of the next three or four weeks.

Statutory Rules And Orders

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many Statutory, Rules and Orders that have been made since 1st January, 1943, have not been made available to honourable Members, either in the Vote Office or in the Library?

A copy of all published Statutory Rules and Order is available in the Library of the House; 25 copies of all such published Orders made under emergency powers are made available in the Vote Office. The number of Orders of 1943 not thus available (excluding Orders now in the Press) is 77. These are local non-printed orders, the largest class being those which regulate traffic in named streets of named towns.

British Army

Home Guard

asked the Secretary of State for War, whether, in view of the increasing responsibilities of officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the Home Guard, he will see that compensation and pensions, in the event of casualties, be put on the same basis as that of the Regular Army?

I would refer my hon. Friend to replies given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions on 7th. May and 22nd July, 1942, of which I am sending her copies.

Leave (Northern Ireland)

asked the Secretary of State for Wax, whether, owing to strong feeling in the matter and the dissatisfaction expressed, he will allow Northern Ireland members of His Majesty's Forces stationed in Great Britain to spend two additional days at their homes, when on leave, by adding to their leave the 48 hours allowed between their home visits?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend on 15th December last to my hon. Friend the Member for Basset-law (Mr. Bellenger) of which I am sending him a copy.

Refugee Children (Society Of Friends, Brynmawr)

asked the Home Secretary whether he has considered the letter forwarded by the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor from the Brynmawr Society of Friends Offering each to take and support one Jewish or starving child from the Continent; and whether he has any statement to make thereon?

I am grateful to the meeting of the Brynmawr Society of Friends for their generous offer to look after refugee children from the Continent of Europe; but hitherto the Axis Powers have shown themselves unwilling to allow even a small number of children to leave their territory. The question of what further steps can be done to help the victims of Nazi oppression will be one of the subjects for discussion at the forthcoming conference at Bermuda; but it is obvious that the only really effective means of securing their freedom is to rid Europe of the present tyranny.

National Finance

Taxation Appeals (Accountants)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the activities of the Anglo Union of Accountants, Auditors and Secretaries, Limited, by Guarantee; that the membership diplomas issued by this body are not regarded as of any value in professional circles; and whether he will take steps to restrict the activities of organisations of this kind?

I understand that the Question relates to taxation procedure. I would refer my hon. Friend to the provisions of Section 137 (3) of the Income Tax Act, 1918, from which he will see that any member of an incorporated body of accountants is entitled to be heard by Appeal Commissioners, and I do not feel that any amendment of these provisions Would be justified by reference to the activities of any particular body.

Income Tax (Subscriptions)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what amount of Income Tax was repaid by the Inland Revenue for the year ended 5th April, 1942, in respect of subscriptions paid under convenant to institutions whose income is by law exempt from Income Tax; and whether he can give an estimate of the amount of Surtax affected by this concession?

It is estimated that the amount of tax involved is about £2,000,000 for Income Tax and £1,000,000 for Surtax.

Building Society Investments (Taxation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can give an estimate of the total sum invested in building societies by depositors of £3,000 and upwards; and whether, in view of his forthcoming Budget, he will further investigate this question with a view to making certain that large depositors are not escaping taxation?

I am afraid that the figure for which my hon. and gallant Friend asks is not available, but the total sum invested by shareholders and depositors is approximately £687,000,000. The longstanding arrangements under which building societies pay tax at a composite rate take into account the liabilities of all classes of shareholders and depositors, and when the arrangements are reviewed from time to time the position is examined in order to see that they produce the full tax to which the Revenue is entitled. The composite rate does not apply to deposits exceeding £5,000, the interest on which is charged at the full standard rate.

Government-Acquired Private Under Takings (Post-War Disposal)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is the intention of His Majesty's Government when the war is over to return to the owners and managers concerned the private businesses that have been taken over by the Government for various reasons in the national interest?

This question has to be considered in relation to the disposal, after the emergency, of assets of which the Government has acquired ownership for the purposes of the war. That question is receiving preliminary study, but decisions as to the scope and method of such disposals will depend upon a variety of circumstances and considerations which cannot be fully assessed at the present time including, of course, the possibility of changes in the nature and value of the assets while they have been in Government hands.

Civil Service Arbitration Tribunal

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will take steps to appoint a woman on each of the panels forming the Civil Service Arbitration Tribunal?

The members of the panels of the Civil Service Arbitration Tribunal are appointed by my right horn Friend the Minister of Labour. While I will take note of my hon. Friend's suggestion in so far as it relates to the panel of persons representing me, I must emphasise the need for any such panel to consist of the most suitable persons for the task and I cannot be committed to any particular basis of choice. The composition of the panel of persons representing the Staff Side of the National Whitley Council is not a matter for me.

Public Health

Infected Milk

asked the Minister of Health whether he will take legislative' steps to ensure that local authorities are entitled to grant special compensation in cases of prolonged illness or of permanent-spinal or other bodily injuries in children traceable to the consumption of infected milk?

No, Sir. It would not in my view be reasonable to place on a local authority liability in respect of a disability for which they are not responsible.

Epidemic Catarrhal Jaundice

asked the Minister of Health the reasons for the recent considerable increase in the incidence of jaundice?

I am advised that it has not been possible to establish the causes of outbreaks of epidemic catarrhal jaundice in this and other countries. A special study of this disease is at present being made under the auspices of the Medical Research Council.

Influenza (Deaths)

asked the Minister of Health what number of deaths, due to influenza, have been recorded this year to the latest available date; and what was the figure for the comparable period of last year?

The only available figures of deaths from influenza are those returned by registrars for the 126 great towns. The number returned in 1943 for the 11 weeks ended 20th March was 1,008 and for the corresponding period in 1942, 790. For the week ended 27th March a few cards have not yet been received, but the number of influenza deaths is approximately 75, the number for the corresponding week last year being 42.

Milk Purification (Process)

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been drawn to the system of milk purification, perfected in Denmark prior to the war, called "Stassanisation"; and whether he will take an early opportunity of giving the House the details of this process and the considered opinion of his Ministry thereon?

Yes, Sir. This Ministry is aware of the 'process known as "Stassanisation." I am advised that briefly, the process is to raise milk to a temperature of between 163.4 and 167 degrees Fahrenheit for about seven seconds, by passing it in a thin layer between two water heated pipes, If properly carried out, the method is efficacious for destroying pathogenic organisms.

War-Time Nurseries (Prevention Of Infection)

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the danger to the health of all children in combined day and night war nurseries from infectious diseases arising from the daily entrants; and whether he will give instructions that day-time and night nursery children shall be kept separate?

I am well aware of the dangers to the health of children remaining by night as well as by day in wartime nurseries. For this reason I have limited the number of children who may be kept at night to one-third of the total for whom provision is made in the day nursery. Moreover, the staff is strengthened where children are kept by night and there are special provisions for the airing and ventilation of the nurseries before the day children are admitted and after they leave the premises. As the children who have to be accommodated at night require this provision for short periods only, the children are constantly changing and under these circumstances it is not practicable nor has it proved necessary to keep them separate from those who are attending by day only.

Rag Flock Acts

asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider extending the scope of the Rag Flock Acts and Regulations, with a view to the establishment of standards of cleanliness for upholstery and bed fillings, particularly so that any such filling materials released after the cessation of hostilities from barracks, fire-guard centres, etc., shall be thoroughly cleansed and certified as pure, in the interests of public health?

I have received representations on this matter which are being examined in consultation with other Departments concerned.

Housing (Rural Areas)

asked the Minister of Health how many houses have been built by private persons for use of the agricultural population under Section 3 of the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act, 1938; and what was the average amount of subsidy paid on each?

Up to 31st March, 1942 (the latest date for which figures are available) 1,208 houses had been completed by private persons for the agricultural population under Section 3 of this Act; the usual amount of Exchequer subsidy for each house was £10 a year for 40 years.

West Ham (Financial Assistance)

asked the Minister of Health, in view of the serious damage inflicted upon the county borough of West Ham, the amount of Government grants issued to them up to December, 1942; and whether he has any beneficial proposals to make?

It is not in the public interest to disclose the authorities to whom financial assistance has been given or the amounts involved. If the last part of my hon. Friend's Question refers to the position at the end of the war, I can only say that this will be discussed when the time comes with the local authorities concerned and a reasonable solution found having regard to the circumstances of the areas affected and the country generally.

Food Supplies

Flour (Storage)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether his attention has been called to the waste of flour in stock through it being kept too long; and what control his Department exercises over offences of this nature?

Yes, Sir. Cases of this kind have come to my notice. A firm was recently prosecuted and convicted under the Waste of Food Order for allowing flour to become unfit for human use by keeping it too long. My Department will consider taking proceedings in all such cases where sufficient evidence is obtained.

Fish (Retail Sales)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, in those districts where fish retailers have come to a private arrangement for the registration of customers, such retailers have the right to refuse to serve an unregistered person?

There is no legal obligation upon any food trader to sell anything to any particular person.

Ministry Of Information

Hospital For Natural Healing, West Ham

asked the Minister of Information whether he is aware of the widespread appreciation of the hospital for natural healing situated in West Ham; and whether he will grant permission for one of the qualified practitioners to present its case to the public?

The practitioners of this hospital like anyone else are free to present their case to their fellow countrymen without any permission from me.

Uganda Jubilee (Broadcast)

asked the Minister of Information whether he is aware that the British Broadcasting Corporation are broadcasting a tribute on the occasion of the jubilee of Uganda only in the Empire Service; and whether, since the British public needs educating on our colonising work, he will consider with the Governors including this tribute in the British Home news?

The B.B.C. programme in connection with this jubilee included a short talk on Uganda in the Forces Programme and the occasion will be referred to in news bulletins unless some exceptional pressure prevents it.

Aerodrome (Tree-Felling)

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that, without any previous warning, woodmen have marked for felling the collection of ancient oaks, the property of a gentleman of whose name he has been informed, and that he has been told the chimneys and possibly the antique restored house thereby will probably be demolished in the near future; and what action he proposes to take to prevent this happening?

An officer from my Department visited the owner of the property referred to on 25th February and explained the need for felling certain trees and topping others which would be a dangerous obstruction to aircraft using a nearby airfield. As far as can be judged, the demolition of the house will be unnecessary, although the lowering of the chimney stacks may prove to be unavoidable. The hon. Member may be assured that disturbance and interference with amenities will be reduced to the minimum compatible with flying safety.

Nurses And Midwives (Wales)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the feeling among local authorities in Wales at his omission to appoint any representative from Wales upon the National Advisory Council for the Recruitment and Distribution of Nurses and Midwives; whether he is aware of the activities of Welsh authorities in dealing with these questions; and whether he will reconsider his decision and grant to Wales fair representation of experts who have full knowledge and experience of the shortage of nurses, etc., in the principality?

I have had this matter under consideration and have decided to appoint two representatives from Wales. I am in consultation with the various organisations concerned as to the persons to be appointed.

Day-Old Chicks (Sales To Children)

asked the President of the Board of Education whether his attention has been called to the sale of day old chicks to children who do not know how to feed them properly so that a large percentage of them die; and whether, in the interests of poultry-keeping and of the proper treatment of these birds, he will consider, the desirability of suggesting to local education authorities the issue through teachers of a warning to children not to purchase these young birds?

I understand from my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture that the Domestic Poultry Keepers Council have advised against the purchase of day old chicks by domestic poultry keepers, who include schoolchildren. I trust that my hon. and gallant Friend's Question and this answer will help to bring this advice to the attention of local education authorities and teachers.

Prisons (Statistics)

asked the Home Secretary the approximate number of persons detained and serving terms of imprisonment; and the number of police and other officials employed in connection with them?

12,840 persons were confined in prisons and Borstal Institutions in England and Wales on 9th March,. 1943. The most recent figures available show that on 1st January last 3,130 persons were employed on the staff of prisons in England and Wales. I understand that the figures for which my hon. Friend is-asking in respect of the police are the total numbers of police in England and Wales, but I regret that it would not be in the public interest to furnish this information.

Police

Identification Numbers

asked the Home Secretary on how many occasions has it been reported to him that police constables on duty have worn two different identification numbers on different articles of official uniform; whether this practice of the wearing or borrowing of other constable's clothing whilst on duty is forbidden by police regulations; and what penalties are attached for such behaviour.

I can only recall one such case, which was the subject of a Question by my hon. Friend which I answered on 25th February. There may have been other cases where a police officer has inadvertently put on a coat which did not belong to him, but no record is available, and any suggestion that officers make a practice of wearing or borrowing one another's clothing is quite unfounded. If an officer was found to have done so for an improper purpose he would be liable to penalties under the discipline code, the nature of which would depend on the circumstances.

Traffic Patrol Duties

asked the Home Secretary the age and rank of police constable X626; how long has he been engaged on motor police duties in London, and especially in the Regent's Park area; what reservations from military service apply in the case of police constables engaged on motor duties; and what reduction in numbers in London of police constables so employed have taken place since September 1939?

I know of no public purpose which would be served by giving the particulars asked for in the first part of the Question, and it would be contrary to the public interest to give any detailed information in regard to the third part. The answer to the second part is that in the matter of reservation no distinction is drawn between constables engaged on traffic patrol duties and others.