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Written Answers

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1943

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Written Answers

Petrol Rationing (Taxi-Cabs)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that there is disquiet at the waste of petrol by taximeter-cabs on unnecessary journeys; and whether he will issue instructions to guide local authorities as to action on the question?

I am aware of, and I appreciate, the expression of some public disapproval of the hiring of taxis for certain journeys. My hon. Friend will be aware, however, of the existing legal provisions (embodied in the Control of Motor Fuel Order, 1942) for the control of journeys by taxi. Beyond these measures it is difficult to go in the way of enforceable restriction. I could not usefully issue instructions to the local authorities, who have no powers in this matter.

British Army

Exercises (Lifebelts)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, when soldiers are carrying out naval exercises in rough weather, any attempt is made to provide them with lifebelts?

City Of London Home Guard (Accounts)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that there is considerable disquiet at the non-publication of the accounts of the nth Battalion, City of London, Home Guard; why the Canteen Fund Committee has not met for two years; and whether he will make an inquiry into the position?

This matter is being investigated and I will communicate with my hon. Friend when I receive the results of the investigation.

Factory Site Clearance, Wales

asked the Secretary of State for War on what terms were Army motor-lorries and personnel used for the purpose of clearing the site of a fire-damaged balloon factory in South Wales; and upon whose instructions?

As far as I am aware no Army transport or personnel were used for the purpose suggested by my hon. Friend. It is possible that some assistance was rendered by the Royal Air Force and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air is making inquiries and will communicate with my hon. Friend.

Disability Pensions (Claims)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will ensure that soldiers who are discharged from the Forces on health grounds are informed that if they wish to claim a pension it is essential for them to make an application, as many are unaware of this fact?

My hon. and gallant Friend appears to be under a misapprehension. Cases of men invalided from the Army are referred automatically for the consideration of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions. I would also refer to the reply given by him to a Question on a similar subject by the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Horabin) on 19th November, 1942.

Armed Forces

Navy, Army And Air Forces Institutes (Tobacco)

asked the Secretary of State for War why well-known brands of tobacco are not on sale to the troops in Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes canteens?

I understand that in general all N.A.A.F.I. canteens hold stocks of the well known brands of tobacco but the stocks are not unlimited. If my hon. Friend will send me details of the brands and of the canteens to which he refers N A.A.F I. will endeavour to meet the demand.

Pre-Natal Allowances

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the new pre-natal allowances made to the wives of other ranks in His Majesty's forces will also be made to the wives of officers?

No, Sir. As stated by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council when he announced the introduction of this allowance on 26th November, 1942, it is restricted to the wives of soldiers, sailors and airmen.

Trade And Commerce

Electric Hand-Driers

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the shortage of towels in industrial establishments, he will consider modifying Order, 1453 of 1942, so that electric hand-driers can again be manufactured?

No, Sir. I have already made special arrangements for the provision of towels to factories and I regret that I could not justify, in present circumstances, the diversion of scarce labour and materials to the manufacture of electric hand-driers.

Books And Periodicals (Import Licences)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in consultation with the Treasury, he will consider giving facilities for a limited importation into this country from Canada and the United States of America, through authorised export and import agencies, of books and periodicals of strictly educational, political, scientific or military value for purchase by those individuals who require them for their work?

Import licences for books and periodicals of this kind are granted to importers on a liberal scale, in proportion to their past trade; and in addition licences may be given outside the normal quota to meet special individual requirements. I see no reason to vary these arrangements.

Razor Wades

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that war-time razor blades have a much shorter life than pre-war blades; and whether he will introduce a utility blade of fixed price and guaranteed quality?

The production of some of the better quality brands of razor blades has had to be discontinued owing to raw material difficulties, and a large proportion of the output of the more popular brands is now being supplied to the Armed Forces. The introduction of a standard blade would seriously interfere with production, and this I am most anxious to avoid.

Post Office (Research Organisation)

asked the Postmaster-General the size and annual cost of the research organisation under his control and who is at the head of it?

The approximate annual cost is £400,000 and about 800 persons are employed. The organisation is under the direction of the engineer-in-chief. My hon. Friend will appreciate that in present circumstances, the research and development work of the Post Office extends beyond the requirements of the Department's commercial services.


Incapacitated Workers (Wages)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that in the event of a member of the Women's Land Army being injured the employer is expected to pay full wages during incapacity and, at the same time, to pay full wages to a substitute employee; that the only means available for the employer of obviating the double payment of wages is to tender notice of dismissal to the injured employee; and whether he will consider remedying this injustice to injured workers?

The employer of a. Women's Land Army member (or of any other agricultural worker) who falls sick is under legal obligation to continue to pay full wages until he has given the employee notice terminating the employment and that notice has expired The Workmen's Compensation Acts provide, however, that wages are not payable concurrently with compensation under those Acts, so that where a Women's Land Army member is incapacitated as the result of an injury at work, and she is entitled to receive compensation during incapacity, there is no obligation upon her employer to continue to pay her wages in addition.

Women's Land Army (Recruitment)

asked the Minister of Agriculture to what causes are attributed the inadequate recruitment for the Women's Land Army?

Recruitment for the Women's Land Army has averaged about 1,000 a week for some time now. The difficulty of obtaining sufficient recruits to meet all the needs of agriculture and other vital war work including the women's services is due to the general shortage of mobile women.

Workers' Cheese Ration

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, in connection with the issue of the double cheese ration to agricultural workers, he can extend this so as to include those agricultural workers who are not contributors to, and covered by, the unemployment scheme where the workers can produce a signed statement by a local justice of the peace certifying that they are full-time workers?

If my hon. Friend will supply me with more precise particulars of the kind of agricultural worker he has in mind, I shall be glad to have the matter examined.

National Stud

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can make any statement on the sale of the National Stud to the Eire Government?

No Sir. The sale of the National Stud to the Eire Government is not contemplated.

Scrap Metal Collection (Durham County)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works the amount of scrap metal that has been collected from collieries and other industrial undertakings in the county of Durham up to the most recent date?

Up to 30th April last 69,000 tons of scrap metal have been collected from collieries and other industrial undertakings in the county of Durham.

National Finance

Machinery Price Increase (Taxpayer's Claim)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that, owing to Government requirements and the action of a Department of His Majesty's Government, an order for a lathe given to one firm of machine toolmakers was compulsorily transferred to another; that, in consequence, a delay of many months occurred in delivery; that when the order was executed there was a substantial increase in price; and why, in this instance, the Inland Revenue Department insist that such increase must be treated as a capital outlay and cannot be admitted as chargeable against revenue as a loss arising from frustration of contract?

I am not aware of the case to which my hon. Friend refers, but the fact that the price of plant and machinery to any particular purchaser may be increased by reason of arrangements necessarily made in war conditions would not warrant any departure from the normal treatment for taxation purposes. In any case I would remind my hon. Friend that the determination of any such point does not rest with the Inland Revenue Department, for any dispute regarding the expenses allowable for taxation purposes falls to be settled by the appellate tribunal of the General Commissioners or the Special Commissioners.

Civil Nursing Reserve, Allowances (Taxation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why allowances paid to nurses in the Civil Nursing Reserve in lieu of free board and lodging are subjected to Income Tax when other allowances paid by the Treasury to other sections of the community in the interest of the war effort are tax free?

The cash allowances to which my hon. Friend refers are payments towards the nurses' ordinary living expenses and are assessable to tax as part of their emoluments. This treatment is in accord with the general practice in relation to cash allowances paid to civil employees in lieu of free board and lodgings.

Income Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the number of persons who pay Income Tax and Surtax at the maxi- mum rate, with their gross and net incomes, or, if none, the highest rate paid in fact and the relative gross and net incomes?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for Walton (Mr. Purbrick) on 23rd July, 1942. [OFFICIAL REPORT; Col. 201, Vol. 382.]

Purchase Tax (Hearinǵ Aids, Batteries)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has been able to give further consideration to the question of removing Purchase Tax from the batteries required for the operation of deaf-aids?

Yes, Sir. I am happy to say that I have now found it possible to agree a formula on the basis of which I can exempt from Purchase Tax certain high tension batteries specially designed for use with hearing aids. The Treasury has accordingly made an Order giving effect to this decision which becomes operative from to-day. I should perhaps add that, for the reasons which I indicated is my reply of the 13th May last to my hon. and gallant Friend, I have not been able to extend the concession to low tension batteries.

Bank Note Issue, Scotland

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what was the average aggregate amount of the bank notes of the Scottish banks of issue in each of the last three financial years; what was the rate of composition in place of the Stamp Duty on them; and what was the total amount of that composition paid to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue in each of these three years?

The average aggregate amount of bank notes of Scottish banks of issue in each of the last three financial years is as follows:

The composition for Stamp Duty on bank notes issued in Scotland is charged half-yearly at 4s. 2d. per £100 on the average weekly amount of notes in circulation on the Saturdays in the half-years ending in June and December. Information as to the amount paid in composi- tion for the three months ending the 31st March, 1943, is not yet available, but the amounts paid for the last three years ending on the 31st December are as follow:Year ending 31st December, 1940—£119,948 2s. 6d.Year ending 31st December, 1941—£140,619 3s. 4dYear ending 31st December, 1942—£182,400 4s. 2d.

Journal, "Aircraft Recognition" (Cost)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what expenditure has been incurred out of public funds in respect of the publication of the journal, "Aircraft Recognition," and whether he can give an estimate of further expenditure during the next 12 months?

The Stationery Office expenditure on "Aircraft Recognition" for the period to 31st March, 1943, was £7,010; and the estimated Stationery Office expenditure for the ensuing 12 months is £11,500. In addition, expenditure incidental to the preparation of the journal amounting to £920 was incurred by the Ministry of Aircraft Production, the corresponding figure for a full year being £1,380.

Conditions Of Employment And Arbitration Order

asked the Minister of Labour how firms who are not members of the Engineering and Allied Employers National Federation, but who have to comply with the terms and conditions of employment provided for in the Employment and National Arbitration Order, 1940, can obtain the necessary information for compliance, as this information is refused by the Employers' Association and is apparently not available from the Ministry of Labour?

Reference is made in the "Labour Gazette" each month to principal changes in rates Of wages and hours of labour reported during the month. These changes may be due to arbitration awards or industrial agreements. Copies of awards of the Industrial Court and the National Arbitration Tribunal may be purchased through His Majesty's Station- ery Office. If an employer who is not a member of the Engineering and Allied Employers' Federation finds difficulty in ascertaining his obligations under the Conditions of Employment and Arbitration Order he can consult the Regional Industrial Relations Officer of my Department.

Rural Housing, Scotland (Cost)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the average cost per house of the new rural houses now being allocated to the counties in Scotland?

The local authorities are pressing on with preliminary work and should be in a position to invite tenders shortly. Until these have been received, I regret there is no reliable basis for a firm

Number of cases Notified.
YearEngland and Wales.Wales
Notifications in Age Groups.
Elgland and Wales.
Percentage increase or decrease in 1942 compared with:
Percentage increase or decrease in 1942 compared with:

estimate of costs. I attach, however, the utmost possible importance to getting these houses produced at a reasonable cost.


asked the Minister of Health the number of cases of tuberculosis notified during the past year; whether he will give separate figures for Wales, the comparable figures for 1938 and 1941, and indicate whether any particular age group shows an increase?

pursuant to his reply [OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th May, 1943, col. 283, Vol. 389] supplied the following statement:The numbers of cases of tuberculosis notified in England and Wales together, and in Wales alone, in 1938, 1941 and 1942, and the percentage increases or decreases in age groups, are as follow: