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Royal Navy

Volume 389: debated on Wednesday 12 May 1943

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Limbless Ratings (Pre-19I4 Pensions)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty on what scale sailors who lost limbs when on duty prior to the war of 1914 to 1918 were pensioned; and what weekly amount was accorded to a man who lost one leg?

The naval regulations in force prior to the last war provided for the grant of pensions to the ratings in question according to length of service, rating, and character, and the circumstances of the casualty, within a range of 7s. to 10s. 6d. a week for the loss of one limb and l0s. 6d. to 14s. a week for the loss of two limbs, with appropriate additions in respect of Good Conduct Badges and Medal, arid for each year's service in the rating of petty officer.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether any wound pensions are now paid to officers and men who have lost a limb or who have been wounded in this war and whose services are retained in this war and who are still serving?

Industrial Undertakings (Authorised Controllers)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the number of industrial undertakings predominantly working for his department to which, as competent authority, he has appointed an official controller?

Two authorised controllers have in the past been appointed to industrial undertakings by the Admiralty. In one case the control was terminated by the Admiralty when they were satisfied that it was no longer necessary; in the other case it was terminated by the Admiralty because the undertaking was being taken over by the Government at the request of the shareholders of the company.

Constantinesco Watercraft Invention


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the powers granted to the Admiralty by Order No. 1780/1941, paragraph 3 (3), under the Defence (Patents, Trade Marks, etc.) Regulations, 1941, have been exercised in order to obtain the design of the watercraft invented by Mr. George Constaninesco?

I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman is aware that Mr. Constantinesco has been asked to supply in confidence particulars of his design but has consistently refused to do so. If he wishes, as I am sure is the best method, to let this be of advantage to the country from patriotic motives, we are prepared at any time for experts to examine it under the assurances that I have repeatedly given.

What on earth is the use of taking powers to acquire particulars of an invention of this sort if they are not used? Surely the Admiralty want to use this thing?

I cannot see how the Admiralty can want to use a thing of which they have been given no particulars.

Is it not a fact that Mr. Constaninesco refused to submit his invention because it had to go to Professor Lindemann, in whom he had no faith?

Barge Sinkings, Welsh Coast


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has yet received the report on the disaster off the Welsh coast in which a number of ratings and marines lost their lives; and will he communicate its terms to Parliament?


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can now make a further statement on the result of the recent inquiry into the disaster to two barges off the Welsh coast as a result of which 81 ratings lost their lives?

The Report of the Board of Inquiry which was convened to inquire into the circumstances attending the loss of these barges has now been received, and is being examined. Until this examination is finished, it is not in the public interest to make a statement, except that in the meantime steps are being taken to prevent, as far as is humanly possible, any recurrence of this unfortunate event.

I take it that my right hon. Friend has not definitely turned down the idea of communicating the Report to the House?

There is no precedent at all for the Report of a Board of Inquiry being published, but I am prepared to consider, when due consideration has been given to it, the question of making a statement.

I am sure my right hon. Friend is too progressive-minded to say he will not make a statement because it has never been done before.

There are considerations that arise about the holding of a Board of Inquiry which it is essential to observe if we are always to get the fullest possible information.

Fruit Drying Experiments


asked the Lord President of the Council whether he can give any information as to the test of drying English fruit carried out by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research at the Ditton laboratory, near Maidstone, Kent?

Preliminary experiments were carried out last season at the Ditton Laboratory of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research on the drying of English fruits, mainly apples, pears and plums. The results so far obtained from these experiments and from the examination of the dried products after six months' storage are encouraging. The subject is being further pursued. Close contact in this work is being maintained between the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Ministry of Food, the Agricultural Research Council and the Ministry of Agriculture. Representatives of the National Farmers' Union visited the laboratory last week and were told of the methods employed and shown the results obtained.

Does this experiment in any way extend to Scotland at the present time, or will it be extended to include Scotland?

In that case will the Secretary of State for Scotland be brought into the picture in addition to those mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman?

Civil Aviation


asked the Minister without Portfolio when he will be in the position to make a full statement of the Government's policy with regard to civil aviation generally and so relieve public anxiety that little progress is being made in this connection?

I have at present nothing to add to the answer which I gave on 20th April to Questions by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Ellis Smith).

Can my right hon. and learned Friend say when he will be in a position to announce the policy of the Government?

It depends on the conclusion of the discussions with the Dominion and Indian Governments, and I cannot give any date at all.

Machine Tools


asked the Minister of Production whether he is aware that a large number of machine tools from America are still unallocated and are lying in stores; that machine tools now being manufactured in this country are being sent into store; that the production of machine tools and the placing of orders for machines continue uninterruptedly; and what steps he is taking to obviate surplus production?

Unallocated new British and American machine tools, of which the large majority are British, amount to only a small fraction of a year's supply. Of the machines in stores some are held available to meet requirements for the replacement of worn out and damaged machines: while a small number go into store as a result of changes in production programmes with consequential changes in the type of machines required. As in other forms of business, a small stock of machine tools is essential to secure prompt replacement and flexibility.

In view of the fact that it is a little difficult to reconcile that answer with the fact that there are over 8,000 machine tools in the hands of either stockists or agents, and that I do not think we shall be able to make much progress, will my right hon. Friend consent to receive some representations from me afterwards?

Joint Production Committees


asked the Minister of Production whether he will give an assurance that the advisability of continuing in peace-time as a permanent part of our industrial system joint production committees is receiving active consideration?

Joint production committees are voluntary bodies established by agreement between employers and workpeople. I am sure that in the light of the experience gained their continuance after the war will be given the closest consideration by the organisations directly concerned.

Is there any possibility that these bodies will be continued after the war so far as the Government have any influence in the matter?

They are voluntary bodies, and the initiative must lie with industry.

Does the Minister suggest that there is any question of abandoning these most useful institutions?