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Written Answers

Volume 389: debated on Wednesday 5 May 1943

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Written Answers

Royal Air Force

Officers (Retiring Gratuities)

asked the Secretary of State for Air what arrangements he proposes as regards the grant of retiring gratuities to officers of the Royal Air Force at the end of their period of service?

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. W. H. Green) on r7th February.

Trainee (Removal From Draft)

asked the Secretary of State for Air, with reference to the airman who was recently removed from draft after eight months' flying training, whether the inquiries into the complaints have now been completed; whether the airman himself has been given any information as to the nature of the complaints or asked to assist in elucidating them; whether he will have any opportunity of knowing the charges made against him, of making his answer to them and of making his complaints against the complainants; and how much longer is to elapse before this man continues his training?

The answer to the first and second parts of the Question is "No, Sir." I regret that it is not possible to answer the remainder of the Question until the inquiries are completed.

Welfare Arrangements

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he has further considered the necessity of instituting a welfare department, with appropriate officers, to advise and assist both ground staff and flying personnel respecting personal problems?

I am sending the hon. Member copies of recent Air Ministry Orders describing the functions of the Directorate of Air Force Welfare in the Air Ministry, welfare arrangements generally in the Service and the facilities open to airmen and airwomen for obtaining legal advice on their personal affairs. The hon. Member will, I think, agree that the need to which he has drawn attention has been fully met.

Ill-Health (Pay And Rank Reductions)

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware of discontent arising from reduction in rank and pay through ill-health; whether he will consider a modification of this so as to avoid hardship being added to the misfortune of ill-health, especially when caused or aggravated by flying duties; and whether he will decide that reductions shall only be applied when the ill-health has supervened within a short time of the commencement of flying duties?

I am considering whether any modification is desirable in the arrangements for dealing with cases of this kind and I will bear the hon. Member's suggestions in mind.

Canteen Prices, India

asked the Secretary of State for India if he is aware that members of the Royal Air Force serving in India are compelled to pay 4 ½d. for safety razor blades, 3s. for a tube of tooth-paste and 7 ½d. for a packet of envelopes in service canteens; and if he will inquire why such prices are charged to members of His Majesty's Forces serving abroad?

Canteen prices are fixed by the Government of India, who are well aware that it is desirable that necessities should be available at reasonable prices, and I do not think that interference on my part with their discretion would be helpful.

Aircraft Production

Dismissed Workers, Reinstatement Orders (Wage Payments)

asked the Minister of Aircraft Production whether he has considered a recent decision of the High Court to the effect that employers ordered by National Service officers to reinstate workers whom they have dismissed without justification can comply with the law by paying such workers wages whilst refusing to allow them to work; and whether he will take, steps to ensure that no money paid out in. this way shall be charged directly or indirectly against any contract with his Department?

Money paid in the circumstances outlined in the Question would not be taken into account in fixing fair and reasonable prices for supplies by the firm under the Department's contracts.

Ultra Electric, Ltd

asked the Minister of Aircraft Production whether he is aware of the friction between the management of Ultra Electric, Limited, and its workers, and of the resulting injury to production; and whether he will inquire into the causes of this friction and take steps to remove it?

I am aware of differences between this firm and some of its workers and am in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour in regard to them.

Messrs Short Brothers

asked the Minister of Aircraft Production whether any former directors of Short Brothers, Limited, retain any executive, administrative or technical appointments with the company?

Yes, Sir. Three of the former directors retain appointments of the nature mentioned.

Royal Navy

Lifebelts And Life Jackets

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, when sailors are carrying out naval exercises in rough weather, any attempt is made to provide them with lifebelts?

Yes, Sir. All seagoing naval personnel are supplied with a personal issue of an inflatable lifebelt. Except under tropical conditions, when some relaxation may be permitted at the discretion of the commanding officer to the extent of lifebelts being kept handy, Admiralty instructions are that these life-belts shall always be worn at sea. In addition to the above, all H.M. Ships are supplied with cork filled life jackets for use by personnel in boats in rough weather and in other circumstances where their use is an obvious seamanlike precaution.

Wrns Training Establishment (Diet)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will have inquiries made as to the suitability of the diet and as to the adequacy of the actual quantity of the food now being supplied at breakfast and supper to the Women's Royal Naval Service trainees, for radio mechanics now stationed in a southwestern district of London?

I have had inquiries made and although there may have been some initial difficulties I am satisfied that the diet at this W.R.N.S. Training Establishment is now both suitable and adequate.

Food Supplies

Milk (Cheese Manufacture)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, since milk is more plentiful, he will; preferably to increasing the daily supply, stimulate the manufacture of cheese, in view of the possible shortage of meat next winter?

Arrangements have been made for the manufacture of cheese and other milk products to be undertaken to the maximum extent which plant and available labour permit, and the allowance of milk to non-priority consumers will be reduced as and when necessary to maintain this output.

London County Council (Meals Service)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food what is the gross profit earned under the meals service controlled by the London County Council; how is that profit absorbed; and what percentage is devoted to better equipment of the depots and to the relief of rates?

As there is no gross profit, the latter parts of my hon. Friend's Question, therefore, do not arise.

Production Control (Appointments)

asked the Minister of Production how many production engineers, and how many chartered accountants, have been appointed to positions of control in Government and privately-owned factories by the various production departments?

Forty-seven persons with practical experience in the direction or management of engineering concerns and 15 chartered accountants have been appointed by the Supply Departments as authorised controllers of private companies, directors of Government-owned manufacturing companies or to take charge of Government-owned factories. No directors have ben appointed to the board of privately-owned companies under compulsory powers.

Ministry Of Supply

Scrap Metal Dump, Mersea Island

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that in Mersea Island there are dumps of scrap metal which have been lying there for over two years; that the failure to collect this metal is discouraging the collection of further scrap in the district; and what steps he is taking to collect it?

I am informed that the local authority's dump was cleared by the Ministry of Works in December last and that another clearance will be made shortly. I am not aware of other dumps on Mersea Island, but if my hon. Friend will give me particulars I will make inquiries.

Industrial Electrical Equipment (Control)

asked the Minister of Supply what additional staff will be needed to enforce the provisions of the Control of Industrial Equipment (No. 1) Order, 1943?

Arrangements for controlling the supply of industrial electrical equipment have been in operation by agreement with the manufacturers since January, 1942, and no additional staff is being recruited for the purposes of the Order.

Armed Forces (Colonial Personnel)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will consult the appropriate Ministers of the fighting Forces with a view to granting an option to Colonials serving in these Forces to serve in the areas near their own Colonies?

No, Sir. I do not think that the arrangement would be either desirable or practicable. Colonial members of the Imperial Forces have accepted a general service liability and their posting must be arranged in accordance with Service requirements.

British Army

Mails (North Africa)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the changed circumstances in North Africa, mail to the Eighth Army is still sorted at the Army Post Office, Cairo?

Mail for the Eighth Army other than airgraphs is sorted in this country. The bags are then sent, not to Cairo, but direct to North Africa. Airgraphs are at present sent to Cairo for processing and thence by air to the Eighth Army.

asked the Postmaster-General the average time airgraph and airmail letter cards take to reach troops of the First and Eighth Armies, respectively?

The average time of transmission of the mails containing airgraphs and air letters to the base of the First Army is 3–4 days and to the base of the Eighth Army 4–5 days. These times exclude the interval between posting and the departure of the aircraft, the time, depending on the location of the addressee, required to effect delivery, and, in the case of airgraphs, the time required for processing at each end. Normally the opportunities for the despatch of airgraphs are more frequent than in the case of air letters.

Royal Engineers (Civil Employees)

asked the Secretary of State of War whether, in view of the manpower problem, he will consider waiving in suitable cases the rigid rules requiring civil employees in the Royal Engineers, such as garrison engineers, clerks of works are ex-service men of foremen of works, most of whom are ex-service men of former wars, to be retired at the age of 60 years?

Under normal rules civilian employees in the R.E. Services are liable to be called upon to retire at the age of 60, but at present they are retained beyond that age provided that they are fit and efficient.

Easter Holiday Railway Travel (Blackpool)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that duplicate trains were run by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company to cope with the rush of Easter visitors from Manchester to Blackpool; that 12 special trains officially described as a readjusted service were used to bring such visitors back to Manchester on Easter Monday; and, as such action is contrary to the instructions of his Department that there should be no extra travel transport at holiday time, what steps it is proposed to take to prevent a repetition at future holiday periods?

I am glad to assure my hon. Friend that he is mistaken in thinking that the instructions given by my Ministry to the railways about trains at Easter were not observed. The railways were told that between 22nd April and 27th April the number of long distance passenger trains run on any day should not exceed the maximum number run on any weekday or Sunday, as the case might be, in March, 1942; and that no more local trains should be run on Easter Monday than on an ordinary Monday in March, 1942. On Easter Monday the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company ran 11 unscheduled local trains from Blackpool. But in the division of that Company's system which includes Blackpool, the total number of trains run was more than 100 less than the number which my Noble Friend's instruction would have allowed.

Fuel And Power

Coal Mine Accidents (Youths And Boys)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the number of accidents to youths and boys of 16 years of age and under in the coalmines of Great Britain; and the number of accidents which proved fatal, respectively, for each of the three -years ended December,1940, 1941 1942?

Information for 1942 is not yet available, but the figures for 1940 and 1941, for the age-groups "under 16 years," and "16 and under 18 years," are as follow:

Number of Persons Killed and Injured aged under 16 years, and 16 and under 18 years, at Mines under the Coal Mines Act in Great Britain during the years 1940 and 1941.

Under 16 years.16 and under 18 years.Under 16 years.16 and under 18 years.Under 16 years.16 and under 18 years.
(a) 19401333641937
(a) 19412227823029
(a) Number of Persons Killed.
(b) Number of Persons Injured and Disabled for more than 3 days.

Coal Output (Miners' Diet)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that there is growing evidence that fatigue is affecting the output of coalminers, and that this is in part due to deficiencies in the diet; and what further steps he is taking to deal with this matter?

My right hon. and gallant Friend has no evidence at present to support my hon. Friend's suggestion that wartime diet is responsible for any marked fatigue among coalminers, but the matter is being very closely watched.

Local Authorities (Housing Committees)

asked the Minister of Health what powers housing committees of local authorities have to co-opt outside experts, especially women; and to what extent they exercise these powers?

Local authorities have a general power under Section 85 (3) of the Local Government Act, 1933, to include in their committees persons who are not members of the local authority. These powers are known to be widely exercised, but I regret that I have no information indicating the precise extent.