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Written Answers

Volume 389: debated on Wednesday 12 May 1943

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Written Answers

Fuel And Power

Coal Output (Miners' Diet)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food, in view of the attribution by miners' leaders of the poor output of coal to the inadequate diet of miners, what this diet is; and whether any efforts are made to ensure the consumption of nutritious food by the workers in question?

Miners in addition to the household rations, either receive the special cheese ration or are able to obtain nutritious meals at pithead canteens. These canteens are entitled to supplies of food on the Category A Scale of allowances to industrial canteens which includes special allowances of bacon, meat, fats and sugar. Canteens in operation are serving a total of 684,000 men and further canteens are in course of construction or development.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the number of coalminers who are provided with a hot meal at pit canteens and the number who are not able to get such a meal; and whether he is taking any new measures to improve the diet available to miners?

About 245,000 coal-miners (35 per cent. of the total) work at collieries which have canteens serving full meals but only 29 per cent. of these men were actually taking advantage of that service in January when returns were last obtained. These and some of the other colliery canteens also serve hot snacks, but the number of men who take these is not known. Additional full meal canteens are under construction or in preparation at 216 collieries which, when completed, will extend the service to 61 per cent. of all the miners employed. As regards the last part of the Question I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to him on 5th May.

Clinic, Kirkby Colliery

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether his attention has been called to the clinic for physical treatment of miners erected by the Butterley Colliery Company at their Kirkby Colliery; and how many treatment clinics on similar lines already exist in this country?

Yes, Sir. My chief medical officer has visited this clinic and has reported on the good work which is being done there. I am not aware of the existence of any other colliery clinic providing the same range of treatment, but there are collieries at which more limited provision is made.

Miners(Release From Forces)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why ex-miners over 44 years of age and whose medical category is below B I are kept in the Army while young men from the land colliery-surface workers are sent to work down coalmines?

The first part of the Question was answered on 4th May by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. The coalmining industry is suffering from a general shortage of young underground workers and the decision of the Government that there can be no further release of ex-miners from the Forces only adds to the value of the arrangements referred to in the second part of the Question.

Open-Cast Workings (Output)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the number of tons of coal got from open coalmining for 1942 and the average cost per ton delivered to the consumers; and what is the prospect for 1943?

The output of coal from the Ministry's open-cast workings for the year ended 31st December, 1942, was roughly 1,300,000 tons. The cost of this coal delivered to consumers varies greatly and an average price cannot be given; but the price charged corresponds with the price for comparable mined coal from pits in the neighbourhood of the workings. It is anticipated that the output for the year ended 31st December, 1943, will exceed 3,000,000 tons.

Safety Measures (Orders Of Exemption)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the number of applications made to his Department by employers for a relaxation of safety measures under the Coal Mines Acts; the number agreed to; and the figures for each district in the British coalfields?

I think my hon. Friend has in mind orders of exemption granted under Defence Regulation 59 (2), and the information is being tabulated. If he has any particular order in mind and will let me know I will deal with that specially.

Coal Mines (Nationalisation)

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the failure to resolve the coal crisis within the limits set by the private ownership of mines in Britain, the Government will now reconsider its position and make preparations for the nationalisation of the mines?

I am not prepared to accept the assumption on which this Question is based, and the latter part of the Question does not, therefore, arise.

Coal Mines (Inspection)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the number of His Majesty's inspectors under the Coal Mines Acts in the mining industry; the number in each district in the British coalfields separately; and the number of mines and inspections made for the years 1939, 1940, 1941 and 1942?

The following is the information:

H.M. Inspectors of Mines under the Coal Mines Acts.
Numbers borne at 12th May, 1943
Inspection DivisionInspection
Headquaters staff8
1. Scotland15
2. Northumberland and Cumberland8and 1 shared
3. Durham11
4. Yorkshire15and 1 shared
5. North Midland12
6. North Westland11
cardiff15and 1 shared
Swansea11
Midland and southern13
Total122

Inspections made by H.M. Inspectors of Mines at Mines under the Coal Mines Acts 1939–1942.

Inspection Division.1939.1940.1941.1942.
Mines at Work.Inspection made.Mines at Work.Inspection made.Mines at Work.Inspection made.Mines at Work.Inspection made.
1. Scotland4263,9894063,9984093,7954033,601
2. Northumberland and. Cumberland

*381

4,7723725,1013704,8643734,939
3. Durham
4. Yorkshire2304,1302273,7982223,9752214,181
5. North Midland1832,9451793,1991743,1531703,321
6. North Western2373,2392203,2392143,2862243,160
7. Cardiff and Forest of Dean2633,1892462,9072393,0632273,242
8. Swansea1872,3191772,4751752,4641792,925
9. Midland and Southern1752,0121722,5701662,0231642,080
Totals2,08226,5951,99927,2871,96926,6231,96127,449

*NOTE.—Prior to 1st January, 1943, these two areas formed one for inspection purposes, known as the Northern Division.

Statutory Rules And Orders

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food what is the nature of the flaps included in Statutory Rule and Order, 1943, No. 546?

asked the Postmaster-General what changes are made as a result of the repeal of the Post Office (Executive of Documents) Warrant, 1938, and its replacement by the Post Office (Executive of Documents) Warrant, 1943 (S.R. & O., No. 606, of 1943)?

Since the issue of the 1938 warrant there have been changes in the organisation of the Post Office, and it became necessary to delegate existing powers of signing certain documents to officers on newly created grades. Some minor extensions of power to sign on my right hon. Friend's behalf have also been made, for example, of the power to issue licences for the sale of stamps.

Holidays At Home (Royal Parks)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, whit arrangements are being made to entertain the public in the Royal Parks as part of the Holidays at Home Campaign; and whether a fair with roundabouts will be provided in Central London during the longest days of the year?

The arrangements include, in addition to the band performances, which this year will total 230, a season at the open air theatre at popular prices and open-air dancing in Regent's Park. The usual facilities for bathing, boating and fishing will also be available. War requirements have made considerable encroachments on areas formerly used for recreation but steps are being taken to make an appreciable addition to the ground available for games in Hyde Park. As regards the second part of the Question, I am informed that the London County Council are arranging for fairs to be held during the summer in various parts of London where suitable sites are available.

Cloths And Towels (Dairy Farmers)

asked the Minister of Agriculture what arrangements he has made with the Board of Trade to enable dairy farmers to purchase cloths or towels for the purpose of keeping clean their dairy utensils and cows' udders, without having to sacrifice their personal clothing coupons?

Particulars of arrangements made in regard to this matter are contained in a Press notice, which was issued by the Board on 4th May. I am sending my hon. and gallant Friend a copy.

Electoral Machinery (Committee's Report)

asked the Home Secretary whether he is now in a position to state the action which His Majesty's Government propose to take on the Report of the Committee on Electoral Machinery?

My right hon. Friend is not yet in a position to make a statement on this matter, but he hopes to do so at an early date.

Armed Forces (Pensions And Grants)

asked the Minister of Pensions what allowances are paid to ex-Service men and for their dependants during the time such ex-Service men are in hospital receiving medical treatment?

In accordance with the terms of Articles 34 and 35 of the Royal Warrant of January, 1943, a disabled ex-Service man of the present war who undergoes a course of inpatient treatment approved by the Ministry, and in consequence suffers the loss of earnings on which he ordinarily depends for his own support and that of his family, may be granted an allowance equivalent to pension at the total disablement rate, plus the appropriate additions for his family. A prescribed deduction is made towards the cost of maintenance where the treatment is provided at the expense of public funds. The net payment for the private soldier is as follows:

A week.week.
s.d.
Single man200
Married man265
Wife or unmarried dependant living as a wife92
1st child71
Each other child55

>Ecclesiastical Commissioners'estates (Sub-Letting)

asked the honourable and gallant Member for New Forest and Christchurch, as representing the Ecclesiastical Commissioners whether, in view of the present housing shortage, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners will now alter their decision that all houses in their property must be tenanted by not more than one family; and if they will help present necessities by allowing the sub-letting of suitable rooms?

The policy of the Commissioners is to maintain amenities and to improve conditions, but it is not the case dial all houses on the Ecclesiastical Commissioners' estates must be tenanted by not more than one family, and they have no general rule against sub-letting of rooms by tenants in suitable cases. All applications will be treated on their merits.

Cinematograph Film, "Via Persia"

asked the Minister of Information whether any steps are being taken to prepare a film showing the engineering work which has been accomplished by the Allies in bringing supplies and equipment from the Persian Gulf to the armies in Southern Russia?

A short film on this subject entitled "Via Persia" has already been made by the Army Film Unit, and was released last autumn for showing in all cinemas.

Armed Forces, Middle East (Newspapers)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will consider arranging for the transport by air of a certain number of daily papers to the troops in Africa and the Middle East, as troops serving in the Middle East complain that they never see a paper except "The Times," and even that is three or four months old?

This question has not been overlooked. Daily newspapers from this country would not reach the troops early enough to be of any interest unless they were flown all the way. The number of aircraft needed to transport anything like an adequate supply of papers cannot be made available at this stage of the war. Arrangements are made for local newspapers to be available for the troops and Service papers are specially produced locally to give them more general reading matter.

Ministry Of Supply (Medical Service)

asked the Minister of Supply whether the regulations of the Ministry's medical service permit a nurse to diagnose cases and administer dangerous drugs; and what course is open to the medical officer in charge who disapproves?

No, Sir; in accordance with accepted professional standards, medical officers in the Ministry's service are solely responsible for diagnosis and treatment, including the administration of dangerous drugs. The nurses act under the instructions of the medical officers.

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware of the disquiet which exists in an Ordnance Factory, the address of which has been given him, at the unsatisfactory state of affairs in connection with the factory medical service; and whether the medical officer in charge is subject to the authority of the superintendent or assistant superintendent on matters connected with the medical service?

There have been certain difficulties in the medical department of the Royal Ordnance Factory referred to and action is being taken to remove them. The medical officer in charge is on the staff of the superintendent and is responsible to him for the discipline and administration of the medical department. On technical and professional matters he is responsible to the chief medical officer at headquarters.

Merchant Shipbuilding (Research Organisation)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what steps have been taken towards implementing recommendations 18 and 19 of the 17th Report of the Select Committee on National Expenditure that an organisation should be established for directing and co-ordinating all research and development relating to merchant Shipbuilding?

Recommendations 18 and 19 of the 17th Report of the Select Committee on National Expenditure deal respectively with the appointment of a technical intelligence staff and the selection of one firm as leader for each part of a ship. The proposal to establish an organisation for directing and co-ordinating development and research to which the hon. Member refers is contained in Recommendation 17.After very full consideration the Admiralty are unable to accept the Committee's conclusion that the present arrangements for the direction and coordination of research in respect of merchant shipbuilding are unsatisfactory. The existing organisation which deals with this matter in the Department of the Director of Merchant Shipbuilding works in the closest co-operation with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, including the National Physical Laboratory, the Admiralty Director of Scientific Research and other Admiralty Departments concerned, the survey staff of the Ministry of War Transport, the classification societies, the technical staffs of the various shipbuilding firms, and other authorities who are able to afford assistance in the various problems which arise from time to time. By means of this elastic organisation decisions on problems concerning the war-time production of merchant ships can be taken with the rapidity necessary under present conditions when the results which are of importance are those which must be achieved in the immediate future rather than a number of years hence. A reply to the Report of the Select Committee is now on its way back to the Committee.

Royal Navy

Barge Sinkings, Welsh Coast

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty why was a rowing boat launched from H.M.S. "Rosemary" on the occasion of the naval disaster off the Welsh coast, with the result that the whole crew were drowned?

H.M.S. "Rosemary" was standing by one of the barges which was in difficulties in a high wind and sea on a lee shore. The barge was seen to sink and the crew to be in the water. A whaler was at once sent away in a gallant effort to save life. I think it will be agreed that this action was in the highest traditions of the Service. I cannot say anything further about this incident until all the reports have been received and studied by the Admiralty and by the senior officers concerned.

Personnel

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what percentage of officers and ratings serving with the Fleet and other establishments of the Royal Navy are regular officers and ratings; and what percentage are Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, respectively?

I regret that it would not be in the public interest to announce the figures asked for.

Usa Ambassador To United Nations (Diplomatic Immunity)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether diplomatic immunity has been granted to the American Ambassador to the United Nations, whose war effort is directed from London; and, if so, in respect of which nations?

His Excellency the Hon. Anthony J. Drexel Biddle, Junior, enjoys diplomatic immunity in his capacity as Ambassador of the United States accredited to the Belgian, Netherlands, Norwegian; Polish and Yugoslav Governments established in this country, and as Minister to the Czechoslovak Government. Mr. Biddle is also accredited as Ambassador to the Greek Government.

Post-War Economic Reconstruction

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is able to make any statement on the progress of conversations with the United States of America and Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics on economic reconstruction after the war?

My hon. Friend will be aware of the Food Conference which is to be opened on 18th May, and about which I made a statement on 6th May in answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby). I have not at the present time any statement to make on the progress of conversations on other aspects of postwar economic reconstruction.

Court Awards (Income Tax Deduction)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the hardship caused by the deduction at source of Income Tax at the rate of 10s. in the £ from amounts awarded in the courts at petty sessions for separation, desertion, etc.; and will he consider taking steps, in consultation with the authorities, to mitigate this hardship and speed up settlements with claims for readjustment?

Arrangements designed to avoid hardship in the type of case mentioned in the Question, including arrangements for prompt repayment of tax at short intervals, are already in operation. If my hon. Friend has in mind any particular case in which hardship appears to have been caused and will let me have the necessary details, I shall be glad to look into it.

National Bread

asked the Parliamentaly Secretary to the Ministry of Food, in view of the variety and discrepancies in the taste of bread supplied to the public and the unpalatability of some of it, what procedure is adopted by his Department to instruct various bakeries in the technique of baking, and what guidance is given to the less expert baker who appears to be responsible for some of the bread about which complaints arise?

There is no evidence of any wider variation in the taste or palatability of National Bread to-day than there used to be in white bread before the war. My Department makes continuous efforts to improve the quality of bread throughout the country by such means as direct communication with individual bakers and notices in the technical Press giving details of the best production methods.

Laundry Zoning Scheme, Oxford

29.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport (I) whether he has considered the complaints regarding the imposition of the Laundry Zoning Scheme to the city of Oxford, and what steps he proposes to take to remedy these complaints;

(2) what steps he took to consult with representatives of the consumer with the Oxford City Council, or any other democratically elected body, prior to the imposition of the Laundry Zoning Scheme on the city of Oxford?

Noel-Baker: The Oxford Laundry Zoning Scheme which came into operation on Monday, was prepared by officers of the Board of Trade, and of my Ministry, in consultation with the proprietors of the laundries. Local authorities are not normally consulted when such schemes are being prepared, but the Regional Transport Commissioner will of course consider any recommendations they may care to make. No complaints about the scheme have been received. One local newspaper has suggested that the customers have not been notified of their new laundries. To meet this difficulty, advertisements were placed in the Press, and laundry rounds-men are being instructed to notify individual customers.

Girl Guides Rally, Huntingdon (Transport)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether, having regard to the national importance of sustaining interest in the Youth Movement, his Ministry will reconsider its decision refusing road transport to a number of Girl Guides and Brownies from Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, to Huntingdon, in July, at a proposed rally to be attended by Lady Baden-Powell, having regard to the impossibility of rail or other transport facilities?

My noble Friend regrets that, for reasons which have already been communicated to my hon. Friend, he cannot alter the decision which has been made.

Wife's Housekeeping Allowance (Court Decision)

asked the Attorney-General whether his attention has been drawn to the decision given in the Oxford County Court to the effect that money which a wife has saved from housekeeping can be claimed by her husband; and whether he will take steps to amend a law which denies a working wife's right to a share of the family income?

asked the Attorney-General whether his attention has been drawn to the decision of Judge Hurst, at Oxford County Court, on 3rd May, that money saved by a wife from her housekeeping allowance belongs to the husband, notwithstanding universal family practice based on a contrary belief; and will he consider the introduction of a short Bill to remedy the position?

I have only seen a newspaper reference to this case. The conclusion seems to depend largely on the nature of the arrangements made between the wage-earner and his wife. I am afraid that it is not possible to undertake in existing circumstances the complicated task of altering the law on this subject.

asked the Attorney-General whether his attention has been called to the recent decision of the Oxford County Court, when a plaintiff succeeded in a claim for £103 standing to his wife's credit in the local co-operative society, on the ground that this sum had been saved from the housekeeping money; and whether he will consider introducing legislation, at an early date, to amend the Married Women's Property Act, 1882, in order to prevent a recurrence of this injustice?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for West Fulham (Dr. Edith Summerskill) and the hon. Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Leach).

British Somaliland (Soil Conservation)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the soil conservation services are at work and being extended to meet the deteroriation going on in Somaliland?

The question of deterioration of pastures in British Somaliland receives the close and continual attention of the Agriculture and Veterinary Department of the Military Administration. A report surveying this problem together with the kindred problems of forestry and grazing control has recently been made by an expert on these matters. The recommendations made in the report are at this moment under consideration by the War Office and Colonial Office.