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Written Answers

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 8 April 1943

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Written Answers

National War Effort

Mobile Women (Transfers)

asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been drawn to the continued practice of employment exchanges to send girls 100 miles and more from home when vacancies for war work exist close to their homes; and whether, in view of the discontent this practice creates, he will take effective measures to terminate it?

It is the case that, where necessary, mobile women are required to leave their home districts for vital war work in other parts of the country. I have no desire to transfer women unnecessarily away from their homes, but I have to pay regard to the demands of war production in areas where the local supply of labour is exhausted, and to the question which vacancies it is most important to fill. I could not discontinue this practice without grave harm to war production.

Administrative Appointments (Women)

asked the Minister of Labour (1) how many women the Appointments Bureau has placed in senior administrative posts in the temporary Civil Service during the last year;(2) how many administrative posts in the temporary Civil Service have been filled by the Appointments Bureau during the last year;(3) how many women of first-class ad ministrative qualifications there are on the appointments register for whom posts have not been found?

Precise figures are readily available only for the posts described as those of principals and assistant principals. During the year ended 31st March, 1943, 67 persons were placed in temporary posts as principals and 176 as assistant principals by the appointments department. These figures include seven women principals and 149 women assistant principals. Statistics are not available as to the number of women of first-class administrative qualifications for whom posts have not been found.

Demobilised Persons (Training)

asked the Minister of Labour whether his proposals for the further education and training of demobilised persons include facilities for the completion of apprenticeships of young men whose service in this capacity has been interrupted by the war, including financial and practical assistance during the period of such training and in obtaining jobs?

I am in consultation with representatives of the employers' organisations and trade unions concerned on the arrangements which may be necessary to enable young people whose apprenticeship has been interrupted by service in H.M. Forces to resume employment and complete their training when they are discharged from the Forces.

Military Service

Actors

asked the Minister of Labour how many actors under 30 years of age have been exempted from military service?

Apart from five men employed by E.N.S.A. whose cases are at present under review by Lord May's Committee, there are no actors now on deferment who were under the age of 30 at the date of their registration.

Home Guard (Directions)

asked the Minister of Labour whether a man dividing his time between two different employers is entitled to count the average hours of work done for both combined when his obligation to serve in the Home Guard is under consideration?

Where a man is employed by two different employers account is taken of the total number of hours which he works in considering whether exceptional hardship would be involved if the man were directed to join the Home Guard.

Osteopath (Appeal)

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that Mr. A. Vickery, an osteopath, of Palmers Green, London, was recently sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for refusing to undergo Army medical examination, and that he took this action to call attention to the unsatisfactory treatment of osteopaths; and will he consider reducing the sentence?

As to the first part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on 6th April by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health to the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Dr. Peters). If the appellate tribunal to which Mr. Vickery has appealed under Section 5 of the National Service (No. 2) Act, 1941, should find that he committed the offence by reason of conscientious objection, I will consider, in accordance with my usual practice, whether the remission of the remainder of the sentence can be recommended.

Doctors (Staffs)

asked the Minister of Health whether he will confer with the appropriate Departments with a view to ensuring that doctors who have lost members of their staffs through the call up and have recently lost further members of their staffs, should be allowed to have those members recalled from the Forces in cases where exceptional hardship is involved?

In view of the requirements of the Forces, I am afraid that I should not be justified in asking my right hon. Friends to make general arrangements for this purpose beyond those applying to other cases. As my hon. Friend will know, there are already arrangements for considering release in special cases.

Licensed Premises (Permitted Hours)

asked the Home Secretary the names of those licensing districts which, at the recent licensing sessions, were granted an extension to 10.30 p.m. on weekdays, specifying which were for the whole year and which for a lesser period; the names of the districts in which last year the permitted terminal hour on weekdays was 10.30 p.m. during the summer months but which, this year, have reverted to 10 p.m. closing; and a complete list of licensing districts where the justices have extended permitted hours on weekdays to 10.30 p.m. either for the whole year or part of the year?

The information is not yet available but I hope to communicate particulars to my hon. Friend when they are ready in about two or three weeks' time.

Foreign Service (Post-War Recruitment)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will cause an inquiry to be made into the relation of his plan for the recruitment of the Foreign Service with the general scheme of national education in the post-war period; and, in particular, whether steps will be taken to organise for young persons between the ages of 15 and 21 education of various degrees of specialisation to fit them for all activities which imply contact with foreign peoples as: the Foreign Service, trade, banking, shipping and journalism?

The importance of relating post-war recruitment for the Foreign Service with the general scheme of national education has been taken into account in framing the proposals in Command Paper 6420. As regards the second part of the Question, I understand from my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education that the question of including suitable preparation for service abroad in the curriculum of the higher age groups in the secondary school is under consideration.

Agriculture (Military Damage)

asked the Minister of Agriculture what percentage of destruction of food production cultivation is caused by military manoeuvres?

The information necessary to enable an accurate figure to be given is not available. Existing arrangements with the War Office aim at minimising damage, which is however unavoidable in view of the absolute necessity of military training.

Soap-Making Industry (Concentration)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, in view of the efficient scheme that has been put forward by the Cake and Biscuit Manufacturers' War Time Alliance as a counter proposal for the concentration of the biscuit industry, he is prepared to consider favourably some such similar scheme suitably adapted to the requirements of the Soap Makers' and Fat Splitters' Federation?

No, Sir. The principles of the scheme for the concentration of the soap-making industry have already been agreed with the council of the Soap Makers' and Fat Splitters' Federation and approved by the trade as a whole.

Crime (Insanity)

asked the Prime Minister whether he will consider arranging for an investigation by Royal Commission or Select Committee of insanity in relation to crime?

I do not consider that a further investigation into this difficult problem would be justified at the present time.

Public Health

Penicillin

asked the Minister of Health whether he can give any report on penicillin; and whether it is available, under proper control, for appropriate cases?

Investigations of penicillin, including clinical trials, are being conducted at present by an expert committee set up by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply, who informs me that owing to the great difficulty of the problems involved, this substance is unlikely to be available for general use in the near future, even if the results of the committee's investigations are favourable.

Midwives And Nurses (Gloucestershire)

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that there is a serious shortage of midwives in parts of Gloucestershire; that the Public Health Committee has had to refuse applications for admission to local hospitals because of this; and whether he will consult with the Minister of Labour with a view to directing those midwives that are available to employment in the most necessitous areas?

I am well aware of the shortage of midwives not only in Gloucestershire but in the country generally. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service has, in consultation with me, set up a National Advisory Council to advise him on the recruitment and distribution of midwives and nurses. On the advice of this Council a special registration of midwives and nurses is to be held on 10th April. I hope that following this registration action may be taken which will, to some extent, relieve the present shortage.

asked the Minister of Health whether he has now considered the representations made to him relating to the shortage of midwives at maternity hospitals and units, and also to undertake domiciliary midwifery in the county of Gloucester; and what action he proposes to take?

There is a general shortage of midwives for both institutional and domiciliary work. As my hon. Friend is aware, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service has, in consultation with me, set up a National Advisory Council to advise him on the recruitment and distribution of midwives and nurses. On the advice of this Council, a special registration of midwives and nurses is to be held on 10th April. I hope that following this registration it may be possible to take action which will to some extent relieve the present shortage.

Medical Service (Discussions)

asked the Minister of Health by whom is the point of view of the public who like freedom of choice of doctor represented in the discussions now taking place between the British Medical Association and the officials of his Department?

Discussions are taking place not only with representatives of the medical profession but also with representatives of the voluntary hospitals and of the local authorities. My hon. and gallant Friend may rest assured that the point of view to which he refers is fully appreciated by all taking part in the discussions.

Rent Restrictions Act (Poster)

asked the Minister of Health whether his new poster on the Rent Restrictions Act will, in addition to setting out the advantages to the tenants, indicate the difficult position in which many landlords find themselves owing to the impossibility of executing repairs to-day on a basis of, 20 years ago?

This poster, which has already been issued and of which I am sending my hon. Friend a copy, is designed to bring to the notice of landlords and tenants the main provisions of the Rent Restrictions Act. It does not therefore deal with the repair of houses.

Road Haulage Scheme (Cost)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he can estimate the yearly cost, including salaries and establishment charges and administration, of operating the new Government haulage scheme?

I regret that, until I know what sums will be payable to controlled road haulage undertakings, and what numbers of vehicles will be taken into the scheme on hire, I shall not be able to estimate the annual cost of the scheme.

Fuel And Power

Coal Miners (Dermatitis)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, having regard to the increasing incidence of dermatitis in the mining industry, any trial or tests have been made of skin barrier applications; and whether any exchange of opinion on this medical preventive means has taken place between the medical factory inspectorate of the Ministry of Labour and his Department and with what result?

The subject of dermatitis among miners and the possibility of using barrier substances have been discussed by my chief medical officer of mines with the factory inspectorate and with the advisory panel on dermatitis, set up by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service. Generally speaking, as my hon. Friend will be aware, barrier substances are useful only in the case of certain processes and this factor governs their use to a great extent among miners. I regard this question, however, as one of great interest, and certain collieries have already been advised of the existence of these substances with a view to their experimental use. The results will be closely watched by the mines medical officers.

Petrol Rationing

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether motor-car users in receipt of petrol coupons undertake to exchange their motor-car for one of less horse-power or for a motor-cycle, will he then so adjust the petrol issue so that a greater release may be covered in the case of users living in isolated districts and using their motorcars for shopping purposes?

A motorist who exchanges his car for one of lower horsepower or for a motor-cycle receives the shopping allowance appropriate to the circumstances of his case for the vehicle of the lower horse-power. I cannot undertake to treat him more favourably because he previously owned a car or motor-cycle of higher horse-power.

India (Deputation To Viceroy)

asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any information as to the reasons why the proposed deputation of Mr. Rajagopalachari and other Indian political leaders to the Viceroy, which was to have taken place on 1st April, was abandoned?

The Viceroy originally agreed to receive a deputation on the explicit understanding that he should receive an advance copy of its address, to which he would reply in writing. The deputation later indicated their wish for supplementary oral discussions. The Viceroy replied that he must hold to the conditions on which he originally agreed to receive them, but asked them to amplify their statement in any way they thought fit. The deputation thereupon made a material addition to the statement, and told the Viceroy that while still ready if he wished to present it in person, they did not wish to waste his time with formality, and that if he agreed it might be taken as having been officially presented and be published with his reply. To this the Viceroy readily agreed. It was obviously essential, in a question of such public importance that the Viceroy should confine himself to a considered reply to the matters raised by the deputation, and that there should be no room for any misunderstanding of what has passed in conversation or discussion.

British Army

Courts-Martial (Home Guard Officers)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether in courts-martial on Home Guard officers there are direct representatives of the Home Guard fully conversant with the conditions under which the Home Guards work; and, if not, will he consider altering the constitution of courts-martial accordingly?

A court-martial on an officer of the Home Guard normally includes an officer of the Home Guard. This officer must, however, be eligible to serve on a court-martial under the terms of the Army Act, that is, he must at some time have held a commission during not less than three whole years. If there is no such officer available the convening officer must add a certificate to this effect to the convening order. I do not consider that any alteration in these arrangements is called for.

Restricted Areas

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps are proposed by the Department without delay to notify the residents in any coastal area to which access may be barred as to the operation, duration and extent of the official decision?

Registered Aliens (Refugees)

asked the Home Secretary the total number of registered Europeans and Stateless aliens, excluding Russians, Spanish and Portuguese, in this country in each of the years 1931 to 1942, stating whether the totals given include children and refugees; if not, how many of the latter there are; and how many of the totals given may be regarded as refugees from Nazi oppression?

The total number of European (excluding Russians, Spanish and Portuguese) and Stateless aliens over the age of 16 registered with the police in the United Kingdom in each of the years 1931 to 1942 are as follow:

1931132,532
1932122,795
193395,974
193493,668
193592,640
1936111,152
1937119,100
1938126,018
1939169,618
1940163,387
1941189,554
1942204,642
As regards the total number of persons now in this country who can be regarded as refugees from Nazi oppression, detailed information is not available, but I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the statement made by the Prime Minister on 7th April in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for East Willesden (Mr. Hammersley). This statement gives the number of German, Austrian and Czech refugees who were here at the commencement of the war, and of other refugees who were admitted to this country in the years 1940, 1941 and 1942.

Coastal Areas (Restrictions)

asked the Home Secretary whether in view of the reduced possibility of invasion and the desirability of encouraging the spending of holidays near home, he will arrange for the maximum relaxation of coastal bathing restrictions during the coming summer?

As I indicated in the announcement about the new regulated area along the coast which I made in the House on 30th March, the existing restrictions on access to beaches remain in force, and I regret that I should not feel justified in authorising their relaxation at the present time.

Adjournment And Sittings Of The House

Resolved,

"That this House, at its Rising this day, do adjourn till Monday next and that no Questions for Oral Answer be taken that day, except Questions that are of an urgent character and relate either to matters of public importance or to the arrangement of Business."—[Mr. James Stuart.]