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Written Answers

Volume 388: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1943

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Written Answers

Fuel And Power

Coalmines (Medical Service)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether the appointment of doctors for the miners' medical services is yet completed?

Appointments have been made to six of the eight regional posts and five of the medical officers concerned have taken up duty. Appointments have also been made to the two headquarters posts, but the deputy chief medical officer will not be assuming duty for a few weeks.

North Midland Region (Production Director)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether it is his intention to engage a Production Director for the Midland area to fill the vacancy; by whom the duties of the late director are being performed; and is he satisfied that the work is being done efficiently?

Yes, Sir. The duties of the former Director of Production in the North Midland Region are, however, at present being carried out by a Commission of 7 (6 of whom are mining engineers) who are voluntarily giving up part of their time to the work; my right hon. and gallant Friend and I are glad to take this opportunity of paying tribute to these gentlemen for their public spirit and for the efficient manner in which they are assisting the Regional Controller.

Whitwell Colliery (Employment)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many employees who were at work at Whitwell Colliery, near Worksop, Derbyshire, have had their services dispensed with during this last six months; how many have been reengaged in the mining industry; the number who have got work of another character; the number who have been unable to get work; and the number of partial compensation men who have now been directed outside the mining industry from this colliery?

The number of employees of Whitwell Colliery whose services have been dispensed with during the last six months is 64; of this number 26 have been re-engaged in the mining industry; 16 (including two men in receipt of partial compensation) have been absorbed in other industries; of the remaining 22, 17 are either in receipt of old age pensions or are sick or in receipt of compensation.

Town And Country Planning (Lectures)

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will institute, in consultation with the Minister of Town and Country Planning, courses of lectures in town and country planning which can be attended by trained and practising architects whose existing knowledge prepares them for professional work of this nature?

My right hon. Friend will consult my right hon. Friend the Minister of Town and Country Planning and see whether arrangements can be made for the provision of courses of the type indicated in the Question.

Food Supplies

Non-Pasteurised Milk (Newcastle-Upon-Tyne)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (1) whether he is aware that in certain towns where considerable quantities of non-pasteurised infected milk are consumed there is adequate pasteurising plant to safeguard the entire town's milk supplies; and whether he will utilise such plant to capacity and diminish the incidence among consumers of milk-borne diseases;(2) whether he is aware of the supply of large quantities of milk to Newcastle-upon-Tyne from his Ministry which the medical officer of health cannot reject, bearing pathogenic organisms causing various diseases to consumers; and when it is expected that this source of loss of life, health and financial resources of Newcastle citizens will cease?

I am aware that in certain towns there is sufficient plant to enable all the milk required for human consumption in those towns to be heat treated. I am also aware that in Newcastle-upon-Tyne as in some other cities a certain proportion of the milk is not heat treated. My Noble Friend hopes shortly to be in a position to make an announcement of policy in this matter.

Tuberculosis Patients (Rations)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether arrangements can be made for an extra allowance of butter and bacon for persons suffering from broncho-consumption?

The nutritional needs of persons suffering from various types of tuberculosis have received and will continue to receive close attention by the Food Rationing (Special Diets) Advisory Committee, by whom my Noble Friend is guided on all matters affecting the dietary of invalids. After consultation with other bodies closely concerned with the care and treatment of persons suffering from the disease, the committee have advised that the existing scale of rationed foods is adequate to the needs of such persons. My Noble Friend would not, therefore, feel justified in granting the extra allowances suggested by my hon. Friend.

British Restaurant, South Benfleet

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food, what loss has been incurred in connection with the British Restaurant, Brook Road, South Benfleet, on capital account and on trading account respectively; what will be the ultimate apportionment of the total ascertained loss between the Exchequer and the local authority; and whether the local authority acted as a principal in the establishment of this restaurant?

The total capital expenditure incurred in respect of the British Restaurant, Brook Road, South Benfleet, was £1,450 8s. 11d., of which £701 15s. 4d., being expenditure on structural alterations and installation of equipment, must be regarded as a loss and will fall on the Exchequer. The remaining £748 13s. 7d. was expended on equipment, which will be recovered and used elsewhere. The trading account for the period up to the end of December, 1942, showed a loss of £414 9s. 6½d. That for the period 1st January to 5th March, 1943, has not yet been submitted by the Benfleet Urban District Council. When it is received, the extent to which the losses incurred can properly be reimbursed by the Ministry will be considered. The Benfleet Urban District Council acted as a principal in the establishment of the Restaurant under powers conferred by S.R. & O. No. 103 of 1941.

Trade And Commerce

Clothes Rationing (Heavy Industries)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has any statement to make as a result of his discussions with the Trades Union Congress about further clothing concessions to workers in the heavier industries?

Yes, Sir. The Trades Union Congress have agreed that in present conditions the various arrangements which my right hon. Friend has already made for industrial workers meet the essential needs of the great majority. There may however be individual cases of hardship among some of the workers in the heaviest industries. To meet these special cases, arrangements have been made to make a small pool of coupons available to any undertaking engaged in mining or quarrying or in the heavy chemical, iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, carbon, coke and by-product, gas or shipbuilding industries. Details of these arrangements are being notified to the employers and workers concerned.

Cinematograph Films (News-Reels)

asked the President of the Board of Trade his reason for reducing the variety of programmes that can be shown at news-reel theatres; and whether he is prepared to reconsider the present policy?

The shortage of cinematograph film has made it necessary to limit the amount which any one distributor may obtain. In order to avoid the waste involved by the cutting of two or more news-reels in order to show a longer composite reel it is possible that theatres will in future be limited by their suppliers to one news-reel on first release, though they may still be able to obtain the previous issue as well. However, one of the five standard news-reels—which will only be slightly shorter than formerly—will still be available to every news theatre on the date of release. My right hon. Friend would not feel justified in taking steps to prevent this small but useful economy from being made.

Sea Cadet Corps And Boy Scouts Association (Co-Operation)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is satisfied that the arrangements for co-operation between the Sea Cadet Corps and the Boy Scouts Association are working satisfactorily; and will he consider the scope for the further development of the Sea Scouts?

I have nothing to add to the reply which I made to the hon. Member on 17th February.

Uganda Jubilee (Publicity)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any steps were taken by his Department to publicise the current jubilee of Uganda; and whether, in view of the success of our rule in this Colony and the desirability of making the British public more familiar with our overseas responsibilities, he will ask his Public Relations officer to ensure some measure of publicity in cases of this kind?

Yes, Sir. Information supplied by the Colonial Office about the history of Uganda, the progress made under British rule and the Protectorate's war effort, was widely used by the national Press. The messages exchanged were published, a special feature programme was broadcast on the Empire Service, a talk was broadcast on the Home Service and frequent reference was made to the Jubilee celebrations, both in the Home and Empire broadcasting services. As regards the second part of the Question, I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that every opportunity is taken to ensure as much publicity as possible on occasions of this kind.

Sierra Leone (Reforms)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the demands of the workers of Sierra Leone for the establishment of unemployment insurance, free education for workers' children and free medical attendance on workers and families, for the formation of a Merchant Navy pool and the provision of labour exchanges; and whether he will recommend that the reconstituted Labour Advisory Board should consider and report upon these and/or other reforms to the Government?

I am aware that increasing interest is being shown in the Colonies in these matters, but no specific representations with regard to them on behalf of any class of workers in Sierra Leone have so far been brought to my notice. A labour exchange has already, I understand, been set up in Freetown. As regards the second part of the Question, I will certainly ask the Governor to consider, if he has not already done so, to what extent the Labour Advisory Board should be deputed to examine and report upon any of these subjects.

Armed Forces

Pre-Natal Allowances (Officers' Wives)

asked the Lord President of the Council whether it is explained to personnel of the Armed Forces that the ante-natal children's allowances granted to other ranks are not payable to the wives of commissioned officers, including those who have served in the ranks?

I have been asked to reply. My right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council made it clear in his original statement and in his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) on 26th January that officers were not entitled to this allowance on behalf of their wives. The instructions since issued do not specifically exclude officers but this is implied by the fact that the instructions relate to family allowance which is issuable only to soldiers, sailors and airmen.

Third Party Damages (Pension Adjustment)

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is aware of the hardship inflicted on Service personnel who recover damages in actions brought against civilians in respect of injuries sustained whilst on duty through the negligence of such civilians by the practice of the Ministry of Pensions in converting the capital sum so awarded as damages into its equivalent in terms of weekly income, thereby reducing the amount of weekly pensions payable to such Service personnel; and whether he will take steps by regulation or otherwise to limit such conversion to the amount awarded in respect of future disability and not to include sums awarded in respect of special damages and as compensation for pain and suffering?

While the State accepts ultimate responsibility in respect of accidents of this nature, it is clear that an injury which is due to the negligence of a third party is not entirely attributable to service. It is therefore reasonable that the payment by the State should be reduced, and the present arrangement, which I explained in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Moss Side (Mr. Rostron Duckworth) on 9th September, 1942, represents a fair adjustment.

Directional Signposts (Replacement)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to make a statement about the replacement of directional signposts in rural areas where Home Guards are available to remove them in an emergency?

Rural Industries

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is taking any steps to encourage the revival or replacement of village light industries?

Encouragement and assistance to the light industries normally carried on in the countryside are afforded by the rural industries bureau which, since 1921, has provided an intelligence and advisory service operating in association with the county rural community councils. The bureau is financed wholly from Government funds, and grants are also made in assistance of the work of the rural community councils. During the war activities have been directed, by agreement with the Government, mainly to the instruction of rural blacksmiths in modern methods and of rural potteries in the production of agricultural drainpipes.

National War Effort

Electrical Repair Workers

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that under the new registration requirements about 75 per cent. of the staffs of electrical firms will be withdrawn from their employment; that this will entail delay in repairs for domestic users of electricity who employ electrical washing machines, electric irons, etc., and who now find that launderers will not accept any further customers; and whether he will ensure that such repairs will be executed with the minimum of delay?

I would refer my hon. Friend to my right hon. Friend's reply to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Major Petherick) on 25th March of which I am sending her a copy. My right hon. Friend does not expect that it will be necessary to withdraw from any one branch of industry a large proportion of the men registered under the Specified Classes of Persons (Registration) Order and now employed in that branch of industry. Industrial needs will be taken fully into account before withdrawals are made.

Work Stoppage (Lner, Stratford)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the grievance of the locomotive men engaged at the Stratford section of the London and North Eastern Railway resulting in a Sunday strike of nearly 50 per cent. of the drivers and firemen; and, as this is causing great inconvenience to workers, will he intervene in order amicably to settle the dispute?

As a result of action taken by the unions concerned I understand that normal working has been resumed in this case.

Building Operatives (Rural Areas)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the difficulties encountered by local authorities, and other property owners, in maintaining cottages in a fit state of repair; and whether he will consult with the Minister of Health on this matter, and give instructions that no more building operatives are to be called up from rural districts, but that, if possible, the staff of local builders shall be augmented in order that the work should be properly overtaken?

The requirements of the Forces and the continuing needs of the Government building programme have inevitably made it necessary to draw on supplies of labour which might otherwise be available for maintenance work. Special regard is, however, paid to the difficulties of rural areas in considering applications for deferment of call up of men of military age, and men above that age are not withdrawn from essential agricultural maintenance work unless substitutes can be provided. In the present man-power situation it would be impossible for my right hon. Friend to undertake to increase the staffs of local builders for maintenance work.

Merchant Seamen (Artificial Legs, Footwear)

asked the Minister of Pensions whether all seamen who lose their legs, owing to enemy action, are entitled to have shoes, free of charge, supplied to them; and what is the practice in this respect in regard to similar sufferers in the fighting services?

With the first issue of an artificial leg ex-Service men are supplied with a pair of boots or shoes suitable for their use in civil life. Merchant seamen are usually in possession of suitable civilian footwear, but boots or shoes would be supplied if the seaman were not in a position to provide them or the nature of the amputation made a special pair necessary.

Coastal Areas (Restrictions)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether, in view of the proposed ban on visits to certain areas, he will arrange with the various railway companies that notices will be clear and well displayed indicating the areas that are forbidden and, if possible, arrange to decline issue of tickets to banned areas?

The railways will continue to exhibit posters listing the areas to which visits for holidays, recreation or pleasure are forbidden by directions made by Regional Commissioners under Defence Regulation 16A. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said in his statement on 30th March, access to particular places within the coastal belt to be declared a regulated area under Defence Regulation 13A may, for military reasons, be restricted or completely barred from time to time by the Military Authorities, without prior notice being given. It will not be possible to make any general public announcement as to the nature, place or time of any restrictions which may be imposed by the military. Advice on the position can only be given locally. The railway companies will not therefore be in a position to notify intending passengers. In any event they could not suspend the issue of tickets to such places, since they are not in a position to decide whether a particular visitor is properly entitled to travel to his destination or not.

Austria (Post-War Status)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware of resolutions passed at week-end meetings of the Free Austria movement, asking for a firm statement by the United Nations as to the status of Austria after the war; and whether he is prepared to make that statement at the present time in order to reassure Austrian opinion in this country?

Submarine Detection

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information as to the identity of the Vichy Minister or official who informed the German Government of our secret methods of ascertaining the proximity of enemy submarines?

Foreign Service Personnel (Aliens)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, under the revision of the diplomatic and consular services, the utmost care will be taken to avoid having aliens, especially Germans, as in pre-war times, representing Great Britain as vice-consuls and honorary vice-consuls?

As with the diplomatic and career consular services in the past, membership of the new Foreign Service will be restricted to British subjects by birth. Honorary consular posts, a certain number of which may be desirable at places where the appointment of a career officer would not be warranted, will continue to be filled by British subjects wherever possible, though it may occasionally be necessary, as hitherto, to appoint foreigners to such posts in cases where suitable British subjects are not available.

Post-War Currency

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, (1) whether he will instruct representatives attending the United Nations conference in the United States of America on post-war currency that consideration should be given to the currency arrangements operating within the British Commonwealth of Nations before the war;(2) whether he will instruct his representatives attending the post-war currency conference of the United Nations in the United States of America not to commit this country to a return to a gold standard under the joint control of the United States of America and Britain, to the amalgamation of the dollar and the pound as a joint currency system, nor to a universal system of money to supersede all existing national and international currencies;(3) whether he will instruct his representatives attending the post-war currency conference of the United Nations in the United States of America to submit for consideration the establishment of a stabilisation currency committee in each of the countries of the United Nations working in the closest co-operation with an international currency stabilisation board which will be responsible for maintaining equilibrium between world currencies through a common equalisation fund?

I think my hon. Friend will find it convenient to await the White Paper which will be available to-day.

Refugees (Assistance, British Empire)

asked the Prime Minister, in view of the generous help to refugees given by the United States of America and other countries, of which details have lately been made public, what help, both before and during the war, has been afforded to refugees by the United Kingdom, India and Colonial and Mandated territories?

At the outbreak of war the number of adult refugees from Germany and Austria in this country was approximately 55,000. A large number of these had children, and, further, there were more than 13,000 child refugees who had been admitted without their parents. In addition, nearly 10,000 Czechoslovak nationals had found a refuge in this country during the 12 months preceding the war. Since the outbreak of war there have been, it is estimated, the following admissions of aliens who came as refugees from enemy and enemy-occupied countries, namely: In 1940, about 35,000; in 1941, more than 13,000; and in 1942, over 15,000. The total number of these refugees in the three years 1940–42 thus amounted to more than 63,000. This total includes about 20,000 seamen, but is exclusive of the very large numbers who have come as members of Allied Forces. If all children who came with their parents are allowed for, the total of refugees who were here at the beginning of the war or who have come here since is approximately 150,000.The sum spent on refugees out of Government grants from the National Exchequer between 1st October, 1939, and 31st December, 1942, amounted to £1,210,000. This does not include the expenditure incurred by the Ministry of Health, as no separate record is kept of the cost falling on this Department in respect of the accommodation and support of alien, as distinct from British, refugees. From 1933 to the present date the contributions in money and kind from private sources are estimated at not less than £9,500,000. Large numbers of British subjects, for example those from the Channel Islands and Gibraltar, have had to be given refuge and be maintained in the United Kingdom.

Colonial and United Kingdom Mandated Territories

The latest figures for those principally concerned may be summarised as follow:

  • 1. Jamaica—Additional population maintained is 3,058; this includes 558 refugees, 1,500 evacuees from Gibraltar and a number of prisoners of war and civilian internees.
  • 2. Cyprus.—Additional population maintained is 4,830 (including 4,650 refugees from Greece).
  • 3. East African Colonies.—Additional population including Italian prisoners of war and Polish refugees 90,964, nearly three times the normal white population. Polish refugees, moved or in the process of being moved from Persia amount to 21,000, and are distributed between Uganda, Tanganyika, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Camps in Kenya and Tanganyika have accommodated 3,000 Greek refugees in transit from the Greek mainland via Turkey and Egypt to the Belgian Congo.
  • Palestine.

    Over 18,000 legal immigrants reached Palestine between 1st April, 1939, and 30th September, 1942. The total number of Jewish immigrants who entered the country during that period, including illegal immigrants, was about 38,000 and the great majority of these came from countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The quota for the period ended 30th September, 1942, provided for the grant of 1,000 certificates, 800 of them being allocated to Polish-Jewish refugee children in Persia. Actually 858 children, accompanied by 369 adults, reached Palestine from Persia on the 18th February last. The immigration quota for the three months' period ending 31st December, 1942, provides for 3,000 Jewish immi- grants, and this includes 1,000 orphan children and 200 adults from former Vichy France. In addition, arrangements have been made to admit Jewish children from Rumania and Hungary, and it has now been decided to admit further children from these countries up to a total of 500.

    The Government of Palestine have agreed to admit from Bulgaria 4,000 Jewish children and 500 adults, and the necessary negotiations for their release and transport are taking place through the Protecting Power. As the Secretary of State for the Colonies announced on 3rd February, His Majesty's Government are prepared, provided the necessary transport is available, to continue to admit into Palestine Jewish children with a proportion of accompanying adults, up to the limits of immigration permissible for the five-year period ending 31st March, 1944, that is up to approximately 29,000. In addition Palestine has provided a temporary refuge during the war for some 4,000 people from Central Europe and Greece.


    India has provided accommodation, and, where necessary, support for over 400,000 evacuees. The bulk of this number is of Indian origin, but she has also received large numbers of evacuees from the Balkans, Malta and other areas, covering many nationalities. She has already received 1,000 Polish refugee children and has undertaken to provide for 5,000 Polish adults and 5,000 more Polish children.

    Grand Total.

    The total number of refugees, evacuees, and additional population in the form of internees and prisoners of war maintained in British territory and Palestine (but exclusive of the Dominions and of the very large numbers who have come as members of the Allied forces) amounts to 682,710. It will be appreciated that a great part of the work on behalf of refugees indicated in this statement has been carried through by Government and local authorities, and by private generosity, under exceptional conditions, with all the well-known difficulties of food supplies, accommodation and restrictions occasioned by enemy action or the demands of the war effort. The resources of Great Britain have been strained to the utmost in maintaining her traditions of asylum and hospitality while subjected to intensive enemy attack and forming not only a base for offensive operations, but an armed camp to an extent far beyond anything in her previous history.

    Clock, Hyde Park Corner (Repair)

    asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works when the repairs promised to be undertaken to the clock at Hyde Park Corner are likely to be completed?

    Tenders for the repair of the clock have been invited and will be available shortly. If these are satisfactory, the work will be put in hand at an early date; but I regret that I am not in a position at the moment to promise completion by any specified date.

    Nurses And Midwives

    asked the Minister of Health what representations he has received from local authorities as to their requirements, both of nurses and mid-wives, if they are to carry out satisfactorily their statutory duties to the public?

    My right hon. Friend has received a number of representations from individual local authorities and others about the shortage of nurses and midwives. According to the latest available information hospital authorities, both municipal and voluntary, required another 11,341 nurses of all grades to make up present deficiencies. 560 midwives were needed to make up the shortages in institutions, and another 227 midwives for domiciliary work.