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Commons Chamber

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 18 May 1943

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House Of Commons

Tuesday, 18th May, 1943

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business

London County Council (Money) Bill

Mr. SPEAKER laid upon the Table Report from one of the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, That in the case of the following Bill, referred on the First Reading thereof, the Standing Orders which are applicable thereto have been complied with, namely—

London County Council (Money) Bill,

Bill to be read a Second time.

Oral Answers To Questions

British Army

Billeting Allowances


asked the Secretary of State for War what revision is to be made in billeting allowances to civilian householders?

The details of the new rates will be published in a Statutory Rule and Order which will be laid on the Table of the House in the course of this week. I will also arrange for some copies to be available in the Vote Office.

Cadets (Education And Recreation)


asked the Secretary of State for War what educational and recreational schemes exist for Army cadets?

In units based on schools the governing bodies of the schools are responsible for the education and recreation of the cadets. Other units are encouraged to develop their own club life, and they are often connected with existing boys' clubs and youth centres. In co-operation with the Board of Education and the local education authorities, a technical training scheme for these cadets was introduced in 1942, which includes such subjects as engineering.

Will the right hon. Gentleman look into the schemes run under the supervision of the Air Ministry and the Admiralty, because his scheme is considered much inferior to those in respect of the facilities offered to these youths?

I will certainly do that, without accepting the implications of the last part of the Supplementary Question.

El Alamein (Losses From Mines)


asked the Secretary of State for War what number of the 13,600 officers and men lost at the battle of El Alamein were lost owing to the necessity for going ahead of the armoured equipment in order to detect and remove mines?

I have no information which makes it possible to allocate casualties to one specific hazard or enemy weapon rather than to another.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Prime Minister in his statement in November last remarked that severe casualties were suffered by Engineers and Pioneers in mine-removing? On what basis did he make that statement?

The statement that severe casualties were involved in one particular incident is not the same as a specific calculation such as the hon. Member asks for.

Tank Accident, Bath


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can give any information in connection with the Army i6-ton tank that killed a boy and knocked down a wall whilst going down a hill at Bath; the age of the boy; and whether the parents will be compensated?

This accident was the result of sudden mechanical defect, which put the steering gear and the brakes out of action. A military court of inquiry is being held. A boy seven years old was killed, and I should like to take this opportunity to express my sympathy with his parents in their loss. The War Department Claims Commission will carefully consider any claim.

Pending consideration of that claim, will the boy's parents have the right to sue for loss of expectation of life?

Voluntary Aid Detachments


asked the Secretary of State for War whether the Committee appointed to consider the status of the Voluntary Aid Detachments in military hospitals has finished its work; whether it has reached an agreed settlement; and whether its recommendations will be carried into effect?

As I informed my hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward) on 13th April, I have received the Committee's report. I am consulting the other Departments concerned, and hope to be in a position to make a statement to the House before very long.

Will that be done as soon as possible, in view of the anxiety and the bad effect on the Services caused by this whole question?

Inoculation Experiments


asked the Secretary of State for War whether the recent experiments in inoculating Service men and women with the object of producing the disease known as impetigo contagiosa were performed with his knowledge and consent; and whether the consent of the subjects was obtained in every case?

I assume my hon. Friend is referring to some investigations reported in "The Lancet" of 1st May. The regulations do not require an officer to obtain authority to carry out research work of this kind unless it is likely to interfere with his specific military duties. I understand that all the experiments were carried out on volunteers.

Will the War Office make itself responsible if any harm is caused to these people as a result of the experiments?

I would like notice of that. As I said just now, I hesitate to answer questions about legal liability without careful consideration.

Married Men (Living-Out Allowance)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that married men serving in the Eastern Command, for whom no married quarters are available, are no longer allowed to draw living-out allowance and rations; whether this change is universal; and whether he is prepared to reinstate the arrangements prevailing up to November, 1942, when the allowances in question were granted?

The separation of officers and men from their families is a normal feature of the exigencies of war-time service. For operational reasons, officers and men of the Field Army or on the staffs of establishments With operational responsibility are not in general allowed to live with their families. They are usually accommodated in War Department buildings, and have their meals in mess. They cannot at the same time draw allowances for accommodation and rations. But officers continue to draw family lodging allowance for their families, and soldiers families continue to draw family allowance. I have recently considered this question very carefully, but I am satisfied that there is no case for altering these arrangements at this stage.

Will the Minister have regard to married men in static employment disconnected with operational units, with a view to making some concession, so that their conditions may be more comparable with those of men for whom married quarters are available?

I think that the trouble in the case which has been brought to my hon. Friend's notice is the difficulty of drawing the line between operational and static units. That is a point which I have very much in mind.

Detention Barracks (Conditions)

15 and 17.

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether, in view of the widespread anxiety caused by allegations made in evidence at the inquest on Rifleman Clayton, he will make a statement on conditions and methods of discipline and inspection in detention barracks generally;

(2) whether he is aware that treatment, similar to that which led to the death of Rifleman Clayton, has been administered regularly to prisoners in detention barracks for at least 18 months past; and what steps he proposes to take, having due regard for disciplinary necessity, to introduce penal standards in greater conformity with normal civilised practice?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has now been able to review the evidence given at the coroner's inquest on the death of Rifleman William Clarence Clayton, caused while undergoing sentence of detention, and, in particular, the jury's expression of grave dissatisfaction with the camp medical supervision; and what action he proposes to take?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can give any information in connection with the charge against Regimental Sergeant-Major Culliney and Quartermaster-Sergeant Salter for the punishment inflicted on Rifleman Clayton, of Enfield Wash; and what action he intends taking against the officers?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the findings at the inquest on the death of Rifleman William Clayton, he will cause a searching investigation to be made into the methods of discipline employed in detention camps?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the recent revelations of ill-treatment in connection with the death of a soldier in delicate health, he will bring to an end in the British Army harsh treatment of any member of His Majesty's Forces as the present case has caused unrest among the parents and friends of serving soldiers?

In the first place, I should make it clear that I do not believe that the case of Rifleman Clayton is in any way usual or typical of the treatment received by men in detention barracks. A departmental investigation was made some 18 months ago as to whether the treatment, training, accommodation and feeding of soldiers under sentence in detention barracks were in accordance with modern standards and satisfy the requirements of a war-time Army. It was found that in general the conditions were good. Moreover, a number of improvements have been made since then. The life of the men in detention barracks must obviously be subject to certain restrictions, but their treatment is humane and in general they now lead a normal life. This includes military training outside barracks, exercise such as football and boxing, and the lectures and debates of Army Education and A.B.C.A. Every detention barracks is inspected weekly by an officer not below field rank, and the commander of the area or district often visits the detention barracks in his command. In addition, the Inspector of Military Prisons reports direct to the War Office on his frequent visits. Since this departmental investigation four cases only of striking or bodily ill-treatment have come to notice, and in only two of these were convictions obtained.

On this particular case, I cannot at present add anything to the findings of the inquest and to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) on 4th May. Two men concerned have been charged with manslaughter and now await their trial by a civil court. The inquiry by the military authorities must therefore be suspended until the trial is over. I can assure my hon. Friends that when it is resumed it will deal fully with all the issues raised by this distressing case.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is not the case that the inspectors' "frequent visits," of which he spoke, are always notified in advance to the responsible authorities in each barracks?

I think that that has been the practice, but if the hon. Member is suggesting that the inspectors can have wool pulled over their eyes, I emphatically disagree with him.

I take it for granted that, if the man in question is found guilty of the offence against him, the right hon. Gentleman will consider as to the advisability of allowing such a man to remain under the War Department?

As I explained to my hon. Friends, the two men concerned are under trial by a civil court, and I think it is inadvisable to say anything while the case is sub judice.

Can my right hon. Friend say what is the usual rank of an officer in charge?

Not without notice. I imagine it is "lieutenant-colonel," but I will let my hon. Friend know.

The right hon. Gentleman has not answered that portion of my Question which I do not think need wait until the result of the criminal trial. I refer in particular to "the jury's expression of grave dissatisfaction with the camp medical supervision."

I am sorry, but there is another Question later on, and I will answer that in connection with it.

The right hon. Gentleman has, with my permission, answered or purported to answer my Question, and cannot he say whether we have to wait until this criminal trial finishes before we can get some improvement in the medical supervision?

There are various Questions on the medical aspect later on, and I think that it is convenient to deal with these together. I am sorry if it does not meet the convenience of the hon. Member.

In spite of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman talked about wool being pulled over the eyes of inspectors, does he not think it would be right to have impromptu inspections?

That raises a very large general question about the system of inspection in the Army, and I would not like to deal with it now on a particular case.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is satisfied that the two medical examinations of soldiers sent to detention barracks are carried out generally with sufficient care?

The regulations on this point are clear and explicit. The military court of inquiry which will be held as a result of the case of Rifleman Clayton will no doubt examine whether the regulations were observed in his case and whether they are generally observed at the Chatham detention barracks. The medical officer of this barracks has now been transferred elsewhere.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in view of the considerable publicity that has been given to this case in the newspapers, he will disclose to this House and the country the results of the inquiry which he proposes to set up?

I will certainly make a statement in regard to the inquiry, and none of the issues will be burked. I hope that the hon. Member will be content to leave it at that for the time being.


asked the Secretary of State for War the medical category of the late Rifleman William Clarence Clayton on admission to detention camp; and whether there was any diagnosis of tuberculosis recorded on his medical history sheet?

Rifleman Clayton was in medical category C. The answer to the last part of the Question is, "No, Sir."

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is customary for men in medical category C to be sent to detention camps to undergo the rigours of these camps, of which he is aware?

I hoped that the long answer which I gave just now would have shown that, normally speaking, conditions at these camps are not unduly rigorous.

Wounded Soldiers (Drugs)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether the drug M and B, or any allied preparation, is supplied to American soldiers in Africa for use if wounded; whether there are any figures as to the precentage of lives saved thereby; and if British troops are so supplied?

I am informed that drugs of this type were issued to American soldiers in Africa. These drugs are not issued to individual soldiers in the British Army, but medical officers hold the necessary stocks of them. The figures asked for by my hon. and gallant Friend are not available.

Will my right hon. Friend consult with the American authorities and find out what the results are, and, if necessary, adopt them?

I will certainly collect any information from any source possible, but I must say that I am prima facie indisposed to distribute these drugs broadcast among the troops, without control.

Lectures, Ipswich (Cancellation)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether the reasons which led to the suspension, after the eleventh lecture, of a series of lectures by Mr. John White to certain troops at Ipswich imply any reflection against his moral character?

I am sorry if anything I said in the recent Debate was capable of conveying any kind of reflection on Mr. White's moral character. I certainly had no intention of conveying anything of the sort.

Are we to understand that the reasons for which these lectures were stopped were purely political? They cannot be anything else.

No, Sir. The hon. Member is capable, I am sure, of inventing other reasons than moral and political.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is to clear up the situation by making a statement to the House of the reasons why these lectures were stopped?

In view of the most unsatisfactory nature of the reply [Laughter]—it really is nothing to laugh at— I propose to raise the matter on the Adjournment at as early a date as possible.

Prisoners Of War


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give, up till 30th April or latest available date, the total number of British prisoners in German hands and of German prisoners in British hands, and also corresponding figures as regards the Italians?

On 15th April there were 33,315 German and 284,776 Italian prisoners in British hands. Since then about 109,000 Germans and about 63,000 Italians have been captured by Allied Forces in North Africa. There are about 8o,000 British prisoners in German and about 70,000 in Italian hands. These figures include all the Services and Dominion, Colonial and Indian troops.

The only exchange which is under consideration at the moment is that of badly-wounded prisoners and pro- tected personnel under the Convention. I have answered Questions about that quite recently.

Are the figures which the right hon. Gentleman has just given the complete figures for the North Africa campaign?

No; they are an approximation to the final figures as far as we can tell at the moment, but they may be subject to variation.


asked the Secretary of State for War what deductions are made monthly from the pay of officer prisoners of war of different ranks on account of the food received in German prison camps?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether prisoners of war receive notification of alterations in pay or rank; and, if so, by whom?

Notifications of alterations in rank of officers are sent through the Protecting Power to the detaining Power, and should be communicated by the latter to the prisoner concerned. Arrangements have now been made for paymasters to notify other ranks of such changes as occur in their rank. Notifications of alterations in pay are not sent automatically to prisoners, but statements of account are furnished to all who ask for them. The addition to the mails and to the work of pay offices involved in sending notifications in other cases would not, in my view, be justified.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that it would be better to indicate these alterations in the rates of pay to the nearest relatives of the prisoners, as there are many cases where civilian employers make up the pay of men serving to the level of their civilian emoluments, and if these men are called upon after the war to refund money, it will give rise to trouble?

That is a matter which the hon. and gallant Member has ventilated more than once in this House. I have answered the Question.

Would it be possible, if a prisoner indicates that he would like matters affecting his rate of pay to be notified to his next of kin, for that to be done?

I have said before that if a prisoner indicates that he would like such notification to be made to his next of kin, that is invariably done.

Arrested Woman (Error In Posting)

18, Mr.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that Miss Frances Sanderson, of Middleton, who was awaiting call-up for the Women's Auxiliary Air Force was, on Saturday, 8th May, arrested at her home by an Auxiliary Territorial Service escort on the charge of being an absentee from the Auxiliary Territorial Service; whether, prior to orders being given for her arrest, reference was duly made to the Minister of Labour to substantiate Miss Sanderson's claim to have been earmarked for the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, and whether he will now arrange for Miss Sanderson to be transferred to the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and for her to receive an apology for the inconvenience and unpleasantness she has suffered?

This case has been investigated. The A.T.S. Training Centres are notified of the recruits they are to receive, and they are concerned to see that these recruits report for duty at the appointed time. The commandant of the centre concerned in this case genuinely thought that Miss Sanderson had properly been posted to the A.T.S., particularly as it was on medical grounds that she did not originally report for duty and as it was on these grounds that the commandant of the centre granted her deferment for some weeks. But I agree entirely that it would have simplified matters if inquiries had been made into Miss Sanderson's claim. I understand that she has been discharged from the A.T.S. and will no doubt be called up into the W.A.A.F. in due course.

Will my right hon. Friend answer that part of my Question which asks that Miss Sanderson should have an apology from his Department?

The Minister of Labour is, I understand, answering that Question in a sense which, I hope, will be satisfactory to my hon. Friend.


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will have inquiries instituted into the mistaken posting of Miss Frances Sanderson, of Middleton, to the Auxiliary Territorial Service, instead of to the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, the service of her choice, for which she had already been earmarked; and why no steps were taken by the North-eastern Regional Office to rectify this erroneous posting between 19th March, 1943, the date when the error was brought to their notice, and 8th May, the date of Miss Sanderson's arrest by Auxiliary Territorial Service military police?

I very much regret that owing to a clerical error in the Ministry, Miss Sanderson was posted to the Auxiliary Territorial Service on 19th March instead of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. When she called attention to the error it was too late to cancel the posting notice. Owing to sickness, however, she did not join on 19th March and obtained sick leave from the A.T.S. Centre to which she sent medical certificates. Owing to an unfortunate oversight, for which I apologise, the Regional Office did not bring the error to the notice of the Ministry Headquarters who alone could take steps to rectify it, until a day or two before the escort visited Miss Sanderson on the expiration of her last period of sick leave. Miss Sanderson was formally discharged from the A.T.S. on 15th May; arrangements to post her to the W.A.A.F. proceeded immediately and will be completed in the shortest possible time.

Ministry Of Supply (Inspection Staff Meeting, Chilwell)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that Colonel R. T. Raikes, D.S.O., M.C., proposes to pay an official visit to Chilwell, on Saturday, 26th June; that light tea will be served followed by a cabaret; that vouchers will be issued, covering inward and outward journeys of considerable distances, and that the staff will be allowed to claim travelling allowances and subsistence; that overtime and subsistence allowance will be payable to anyone unable to return on Saturday evening; and whether his approval was given to these arrangements?

I have been reply. Colonel Raikes, the Chief Inspector of Fighting Vehicles of the Ministry of Supply, proposes to hold a meeting of the inspection staff in the Chilwell area in order to explain to them the changes which have recently been made in the inspectorate system. Since attendance at this meeting will be obligatory, pay and allowances at normal rates will be issued. I am satisfied that the meeting will serve a useful purpose. If, after the meeting is over, the staff care to arrange social activities in their own time and at their own expense, I can see no objection.

Is the hon. Gentleman able to state what qualifications this officer holds?


Milk (Pasteurisation)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has received any demands for a compulsory pasteurised milk supply in Scotland; and what action is he prepared to take?

Apart from Glasgow Corporation's private legislation proposals of 1936 that all milk sold in the City should be pasteurised, no such demands have been made recently. The recommendations for an extension of pasteurisation made by the Committee of the Medical Research Council on Tuberculosis in War-time are presently under consideration.

Timber Houses, Lanarkshire


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the cost of the timber houses erected by the Scottish Housing Association at Clympy Road, Forth, Lanarkshire?

The average cost of the houses in this scheme, including connections to water mains, etc., was —507. There are 120 hours in the scheme, 56 of three rooms, 44 of four rooms and 20 of five rooms.

Maybole Town Council (Filling Of Vacancies)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that Maybole Town Council has twice, within recent months, violated the political truce by declining to elect two Labour representatives to vacancies in the Town Council caused by the death of two Labour members; and what action does he intend taking to bring home to the Council the abuse they have perpetrated?

My right hon. Friend is informed that in recent months two vacancies have arisen on Maybole Town Council through the deaths of members who represented the Co-operative party and that the same gentleman was nominated on behalf of that party to fill each vacancy but did not secure election. The Secretary of State has no power to intervene in the filling of vacancies on town councils. He is, however, expressing to the Council his concern that, at a time when national unity is of the first importance, they should have failed to respect the Government's view, to which their attention has already been drawn, that the political balance in a local authority should not be disturbed.

Could my hon. Friend tell us whether it is the intention of the Secretary of State for Scotland, in the circumstances, to arrange for an election to enable this grievance to be rectified?

Is my hon. Friend aware that two seats have been stolen from the Cooperative party in Maybole? As these people are quite incapable of carrying out a gentlemen's agreement, will he ask his right hon. Friend to dismiss them?

Is it not rather strange that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sloan), who so consistently breaks the political truce himself, should be concerned over this matter?

Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that I have never at any time broken the political truce?

Contractor (Proceedings)


asked the Lord Advocate when it is proposed to proceed with the trial of the Scottish contractor who was proceeded against on petition and liberated on substantial bail?

The investigation of this case has been unusually difficult and prolonged. I expect to be in a position within a very short time to decide whether or not to proceed further with the case.

Will the Lord Advocate be good enough to communicate with me or answer a Question in the House when he is in a position to take action?

Certainly. I will inform the hon. Gentleman as soon as I have decided.

Pit Ponies


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the number of ponies employed underground in the mines of the country this year compared with 1938?

The number of horses, as recorded, on colliery books at 3oth June, 1938, at mines under the Coal Mines Act in Great Britain was 32,524. Particulars for 1943 are not available but the comparable figure at 30th June, 1942, was 26,593.

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that in collieries where mechanisation has been advanced there are still sufficient pit ponies?

We have had no complaints recently, but if my hon. Friend has any particular pit in mind, I shall be glad to go into the matter.


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what extent, in the interest of maximum production, he receives reports as to the proper feeding and reasonable employment of pit ponies in the mines of the country; and how far there has been an increase in fatality rates due to underfeeding and overwork?

The feeding and conditions of work of pit ponies are watched from day to day by the Inspectors of Mines who take such action as is necessary at the time and report to my right hon. and gallant Friend periodically on the general situation, which continues to be satisfactory. The fatality rate has not increased and I know of no evidence which would suggest that ponies have died from underfeeding or overwork.

Is my hon. Friend aware that 44 per cent. of the ponies in Northumberland and Durham Counties are unemployed and that there are allegations in certain districts that ponies are being worked two shifts and are dying through exhaustion and underfeeding?

I know that relatively Northumberland and Durham County have the largest number of pit ponies underground. If my hon. Friend knows of any particular pit where ponies are being treated unfairly, I shall be glad to look into the question.

Electricity Supply

Consumption, London


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how far the consumption of electricity in London has gone down owing to voluntary and other economies; how far tariffs have been increased to meet consequent loss of revenue; and whether he will devise a means of preventing the public from being thus obliged to pay for their efforts at economy?

It is not possible to assess precisely the many different factors affecting the consumption of electricity under war-time conditions and I cannot therefore give a precise reply to the first two parts of the Question. As regards the last part, electricity supply undertakings have not, since June, 1941, made any increases in their charges without the approval of the Government and I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the only grounds on which such approval is given is when the increases are unavoidably necessary to enable the undertaking to continue its function of maintaining supplies essential for the life of the community.

The hon. Gentleman has used the word "unavoidable." Does he consider it is right that the public should be asked to economise in electricity while at the same time tariff rates are put up; in other words that they should have to pay for their own economy?

I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman can take it that there has been no great increase in the charges for electricity due to economy. He will also recall that there were complaints about minimum charges being excessive when they were about 15s. per quarter. An order was made later altering that to 25s. a year, which was certainly an advantage to small consumers.

Could we not economise in electricity by letting God's daylight into this House?

Palace Of Westminster


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works whether he is satisfied that the Palace of Westminster is receiving its electricity supply on the most favourable terms; what applications have in the past been made for a supply on a maximum demand basis; when, and how, did these negotiations conclude?

I am not satisfied with the terms for supply of electricity to the Palace of Westminster, and attempts have been made without success at intervals over a period of years to obtain more favourable treatment. A recent application for a revision of terms is still before the supply authority.

As this has been going on for many years, will my hon. Friend get his Ministry to take a much firmer line with the Central London Electricity undertaking?

Is not this building so wired that if alternating current were supplied the system would break down? Is my hon. Friend aware that until the Office of Works rewire the building so that alternating current can be supplied the electricity company will have to have a special installation to supply this building alona?

In reply to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, we will certainly press forward with all possible vigour. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams), I have discussed this matter with him on previous occasions.

Is not this building so inefficiently wired that they dare not put alternating current in the mains?

I might have to come to the House for a considerable sum of money to change it.

Have the Government considered the advisability of installing their own electricity plant?

Imperial Chemical Industries House


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, whether he will obtain figures to show the average price per unit, including fixed charges, being charged to the Government by Central London Electricity, Limited, for electricity used in Imperial Chemical Industries House, Millbank, and to the latter before the Government took over their premises; and the total bill per annum payable by the Government and by Imperial Chemical Industries, calculated at the average price charged to them, respectively?

The information in question is already available and forms part of the case on which my Ministry is seeking more favourable terms from the supply authority.

Trade And Commerce

Cycle Repairs (Labour)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to see that a sufficient number of cycle repairers remain to take care of the essential needs of the civilian population?

The arrangements for the calling-up of men for military service are in the hands of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour. But my deferment officers are well aware of the need to maintain an adequate service for cycle repairs, and they are in close touch with the District Man-Power Boards.

Clothes Rationing


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the number of coupons at present issued to persons whose clothing has been destroyed by enemy action is sufficient to enable such persons to obtain one suit of clothes only; and whether he will give instructions that a sufficient number of coupons be issued to enable such persons to obtain two suits of clothes?

Sufficient coupons are already issued to enable persons, whose clothing has been destroyed by enemy action, to bring their stock of clothing up to a standard which provides for at least two suits.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the reduction of the number of clothing coupons, he will consider the possibility of reducing the number of coupons which have to be surrendered for the purchase of women's stockings?

No decision has yet been taken regarding the number of clothing coupons to be made available in the next rationing period.

In fixing the ration in future, would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that people are being asked to surrender for stockings more coupons than they can possibly afford?

I am giving most careful consideration, and will continue to do so, to the questions of the basic ration in the next period, the various supplementary rations and the pointing of different garments. I would like to assure the hon. Gentleman that a great deal of thought and trouble is being put into this question of stockings. No lady is satisfied with them, as I know, and I am doing my best with expert advice, both male and female, to improve the quality. That, I think, is a better solution of the problem than altering the number of coupons.

Will my right hon. Friend take into consideration the advisability of exempting clothing for deceased persons from the application of the coupon order, in view of the great hardship which is placed upon relatives in having to provide clothing for shrouds and the like?

That is a different question from the one on the Paper, but I should be glad to have a word with my hon. Friend about it.

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that many women are not wearing stockings at all now?

No doubt that is due to the weather. There may have been a particular temptation to go without last weekend.

Hosiery Machine Needles


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered the complaints made by the Leicester Hosiery Machine Needles Company, Limited; why they cannot have the needles they want; and what he intends doing about the matter?

The complaints of the Hosiery Machine Needle Company, Limited have been fully considered. As I informed my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cleveland (Commander Bower) on Tuesday last, I am satisfied that the fairest method is to issue licences to importers in proportion to their trade during the 12 months before the outbreak of war. This company asked recently for a licence to import certain needles, but as they have since admitted that their pre-war imports of such needles were negligible, I do not propose to grant their request.

Illiterate Children


asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is in a position to make any statement as to the degree of literacy of the present school generation; and whether he has any information as to the number of boys and girls in senior schools and in youth clubs who cannot read?

No, Sir, the information which my hon. Friend desires is not available.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that there are a number of young people who leave school illiterate, partly due to very large classes which involve the bringing-up of a child with an age group and not getting proper attention?

I should not like to generalise, but there are instances of what the hon. Member refers to. I think one of the reasons is that there is no con- tinuing education after children leave school, and they are very often tested long after they have left school and have not had facilities for continuing the education they ought to have had.

May I take it that the right hon. Gentleman is going to get rid of that disability in future?

Burma (Operations)


asked the Prime Minister whether he will take an early opportunity of stating, so far as is possible, the complete position of the Arakan operations in Southern Burma; and whether, as a matter of urgency, he will consider arranging to have sent to India forthwith a mission comprising a few officers of high rank and experience in the Army and Royal Air Force drawn from the armies serving with General Alexander, to advise on improved methods of training, tactics and air cooperation, as gained through experience in the recent operations in North Africa?

I have nothing to add to the reply given to the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville) on 5th May.

In view of the urgency of the matter, will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the suggestion in the light of all present circumstances?

I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the lessons of one campaign bearing on another are very carefully considered. I do not think the particular suggestion that he has made would be useful.

Is there not a considerable difference between the terrain, the climate and the malaria-sodden jungles of Arakan and the deserts of Tripoli and the mountains of Tunisia?

National Finance

Fighting French Forces (Financing)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what method the Fighting French Forces pay us for equipment and services; and whether gold from French stocks has been ear-marked or passed to our credit for this purpose?

The Fighting French Forces are financed out of a credit which has been granted by His Majesty's Government. The answer to the second part of the Question is in the negative.

Wives' War Savings


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will take steps to ensure that a husband shall not be able to claim his wife's war savings in stamps, certificates or bonds even when it can be proved that she used part of the housekeeping money for this purpose?

In the case of Savings Certificates and bonds in respect of which re-payment can be required, application for payment must be made in writing by the registered holder. There is no register of holders of savings stamps, and a signature is not required when they are cashed. As regards the position if a husband disputed his wife's right to receive re-payment in these cases, I would refer to the reply which the hon. Member received from my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General on 12th May.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider discussing the matter with the Attorney-General in order to remove this injustice?

Would not the suggestion in the Question be conducive to dishonesty among wives and perpetuate a standards of housekeeping and faked figures which would not be good for the husband?

Post-War International Currency


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he proposes to publish a third White Paper constituting a compromise between the British and American Currency Schemes?

I would refer the hon. Member to the statement which I made in the Debate on 12th May, that the form which further expert consideration should take must largely be settled by convenience and that I shall continue to keep in close touch with Mr. Secretary Morgenthau as the matter proceeds and develops.

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that there is no such White Paper in draft and will he tell our American friends that we have no intention of going back to gold at any time under any circumstances whatever?

Is Mr. Morganthau's assistant, Mr. White, the same Mr. White who has been making speeches to soldiers at Ipswich?

United States Silver (Release To Industry)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the United States silver to be made available under Lend-Lease facilities will be released to industry through the bullion market?

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that the price will be fixed by the market or by the Government, and has this the approval of the United States Administration?

House Of Commons Official Report (Sales)


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the average daily sale of Hansard for the period January to April, 1943, or any other convenient period, and the sales of the Hansard which reported the Beveridge Debate?

The average daily sale of reports issued for the period November, 1942, to February, 1943, including the three Beveridge Debate reports, was 2,438 copies. The average daily sale for the Beveridge Debate was 4,626 copies.

Are not a very large number of copies of the OFFICIAL REPORT put into the scrap basket every day? Does the Treasury get any payment for that salvage?

Lifeboats (Improved Devices)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the latest improve- ments in life-saving apparatus and equipment in lifeboats; and whether these include at least partial protection against exposure to seas and weather?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport
(Mr. Noel-Baker)

I have been asked to reply. In the comprehensive answer on the subject of lifeboats which I gave to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Hertford (Sir M. Sueter) on 16th December last, I explained that protection against sea and weather had been provided by fitting canvas hoods and weather cloths to the boats, and by giving protective suits for crews and passengers. Since I made that answer, the new devices adopted include the following: Luminous compasses, apparatus for converting sea water into drinking water, a fabric rain catcher, modifications in the life-saving waistcoat to render the wearer more conspicuous in the water and to facilitate rescue, lifeboat ladders and lifeboat seat extensions to enable the occupants to lie down. Further improvements are in preparation.

Will the hon. Gentleman consider extending these improvements as soon as possible to the smaller minelaying craft, many of which have no equipment whatever in their lifeboats?

Did my hon. Friend some years ago see a demonstration in the river here in connection with a life-saving jacket? Are any of these packets in operation now?

I should like notice of that Question. We have many very recent improvements in life jackets.

Yes, Sir. It is simply a question of perfecting ideas on which we have been working for some time.

Air Transport Auxiliary (Women Pilots' Pay)


asked the Minister of Aircraft Production whether women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary receive the same rates of pay as men?

It has been decided that from the beginning of next month women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary who are engaged on full flying duties will receive the same rates of pay, rank for rank, as men similarly employed.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware how gratifying it is that this decision has been arrived at without pressure from the women Members of the House?

Is it the case that pilots in the Air Transport Auxiliary are paid at a much higher rate than pilots of the Royal Air Force?

Foreign Policy And Relations


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will consider the publication of a report on the foreign policy and relations between the years 1928 and 1942 and to include a copy of the relevant documents; and will he arrange for copies of the United States publication entitled "Peace and War" to he available to the House?

His Majesty's Government have this matter under consideration. I shall be glad to place in the Libraries of the Houses of Parliament the United States publication entitled "Peace and War."

University Grants Committee


asked the Minister of Health whether it is proposed to add to the membership and funds of the University Grants Committee, in view of the plans for increased teaching in voluntary hospitals?

It is too early to express any view upon this, pending the report of the Committee on Medical Schools which is now sitting under the chairmanship of Sir William Goodenough.

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that none of this money will be allowed to go to a bogus university at Boscombe known as the College of Divine Metaphysics, Incorporated, Indianapolis?

My hon. Friend can assume that any money available will be carefully and properly distributed. I noticed that "Janus" has been looking two ways.

Flying Accident, Downside School

(by Private Notice) asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has any statement to make on the accident which took place on Saturday, 15th May, on the playing fields at Downside School, as a result of which nine boys were killed and 15 wounded, 10 seriously; whether the strictest instructions will be given forbidding low flying over playing fields and buildings in future, and whether in any instructions issued the public will be invited immediately to report any low flying in similar circumstances, whether carried out by the Fleet Air Arm or the R.A.F.?

An official inquiry is being held into this tragic occurrence, and until this has completed its work it would be premature for me to make any detailed statement. I can, however, say at once that standing Admiralty orders prohibit flying below 2,000 feet except in a few specially selected training areas. Some cases of low flying by naval aircraft have previously been reported by members of the public and have been dealt with by the appropriate authorities. It would seem therefore that the public are well aware of their rights and duties in this matter. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing the deep sympathy of the Board of Admiralty with the authorities of the school and the relatives of the boys who were killed and injured.

While not wishing to prejudice the issue in view of the inquiry, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend is not aware that this was not just an incident and that these planes were flying low over the field for a considerable time, only a few feet above the ground, so that the game had to stop?

I am sure that all the necessary evidence will be given at the inquiry.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider, unless questions of security are involved, making the report of the inquiry public?

Secret Session

I propose shortly to spy Strangers and ask the House to go into Secret Session in order that I may make a statement which it is inadvisable to make in public. When we come out of Secret Session and before proceeding with the Orders of the Day, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister will move a Resolution of thanks to His Majesty's Forces and the Forces of our Allies for the victory in North Africa.

Notice taken, that Strangers were present.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to Standing Order No. 89, put the Question, "That Strangers be ordered to withdraw."

Question agreed to.

Strangers withdrew accordingly.

The House subsequently resumed in Public Session.

Victory In Africa

Thanks Of The House

I beg to move,

"That this House, at the triumphant conclusion of the operations by land, sea and air which have secured the unconditional surrender of all the enemy remaining on the Continent of Africa, hereby places on record, with pride and thankfulness, its high appreciation of the services of all ranks of His Majesty's Forces and of the Forces of the Allies operating in that theatre of war, by whose sacrifice, persistence and devotion to duty, sustained by the labours of those at home, this brilliant victory has been achieved."
I am certain that Parliament will desire, on the ending of one phase of the war with the complete destruction of the Axis forces in the Continent of Africa, to record by a formal Motion its thanks to all those who have contributed to this great achievement. Just two years ago the Prime Minister moved a similar Motion after the conquest of Abyssinia and the victories of General Wavell in North Africa. The Libyan Campaign was then part of the offensive—defensive which the British Commonwealth and Empire was conducting single-handed against Germany and Italy. To-day I am inviting the House to express its thanks to those who, moving from defence to attack, have delivered a great and resounding blow against our enemies.

Last week, in announcing the surrender of the armies of the Axis, I gave the House some figures of our casualties during the Battle of Tunis. To-day I bring to the notice of the House the total casualties incurred by the Forces of the British Commonwealth and Empire in Africa and in the Middle Eastern theatre of war since Italy entered the war. They amount to about 220.000 in killed wounded, missing and prisoners. The price of victory has had to be paid. In our rejoicing, let us remember and extend our sympathy to all those who mourn. On the other side, excluding over 200,000 casualties among the native troops in the service of Italy in the Abyssinian and Somaliland Campaign, the figures of total casualties are: Germans, 227,000, Italians 400,000.

Our thoughts naturally turn with gratitude first of all to the land, sea and air Forces that co-operated in the victory in Tunis, to the supreme Commander, General Eisenhower, to General Alexander, Admiral Cunningham and to Air-Marshal Tedder. I would like to have mentioned the names of many other officers who have well earned commendation, but it is hard to make a selection. Let it suffice to say that victories require not only good weapons and good fighting qualities in the officers and men, and good staff work, but, above all, good leadership. We may count ourselves fortunate in having found leaders who have that essential gift of radiating confidence throughout their commands, from headquarters down to the individual fighting man. The American troops have, for the first time in their history, fought in Africa, and the name of Bizerta will ever be remembered in their military annals. French troops, after two years of gloom, have had the satisfaction of receiving the surrender of tens of thousands of Germans.

To turn to our own Forces, we have now in North Africa not one, but two, British Armies, which have won great glory, under generals who have proved their high qualities in the field. General Anderson's First Army, composed of divisions from Great Britain, is now a weapon brought to a fine temper in the fires of war, and we do well to be proud of its brilliant achievements. It shares the glory of the capture of Tunis with General Montgomery's Eighth Army, that Army in which United Kingdom, New Zealand and Indian troops have gained imperishable renown. After that long pursuit through the desert, after many months of fighting, it has had the satisfaction of seeing the remnants of the army that once was Rommel's brought to bay and to destruction in the mountains of Tunis.

In the course of these operations there has been built up a splendid comradeship and understanding between the men of the air and the men of the land and of the sea, while throughout the African campaign sea power, applied with supreme courage and resolution, often in face of great odds, has been a vital factor in deciding the issue in our favour. In our thanks, we should recall the earlier phases of the campaign, the ebb and flow of the fight in Libya, the victory at El Alamein and the long pursuit. We pay our tribute to all those who fought, suffered and laid the foundation of the future victory. In that bitter fighting in the desert, Australians and South Africans rendered yeoman service. Nor can we be unmindful of the work of the Fleet in the Eastern as well as in the Western end of the Mediterranean. We give our thanks, too, to Malta, its people and its garrison, so long beleaguered and so heavily attacked. Malta's constancy and endurance for months as an isolated point of defence, brought their reward in the later stages, when it became an advanced post from which devastating attacks were delivered against the enemy's ports and lines of communication.

This great campaign, fought so far away from the home countries of the combatants, needed for its support the constant, arduous and unwearied services of the men at the bases and on the lines of communication, westward from Egypt and Eastward from Algiers by land, round the Cape and Southward and Eastward across the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean by sea. The Merchant Navy brought and the Royal Navy guarded the weapons, supplies and food fur the fighting men, which were brought up to the front across long and difficult trails. We can never be sufficiently grateful to those who performed these less spectacular services. We can recall with pride that in the course of this North African adventure, the greatest seaborne expedition of recorded time was safely brought from the homelands of Britain and America to the North African shore. I must mention here, too, the work of the medical service—of the doctors, the nurses, and all the non-combatant services. Finally, the men and women in the workshops on both sides of the Atlantic and those who are operating the transport services, had their share in this triumph. They made the weapons—the tanks, the aeroplanes, the guns, the shells, and the mines—and every kind of requisite for war. They had them ready at the right time. They brought them to the places where they could be despatched to reach the hands of the fighting men. To these and to all those who have contributed to this great triumph, we pay our tribute.

I ask the House to pass this Motion, in a spirit not of boastfulness, but of thankfulness and pride; thankfulness for dangers passed and victory achieved, pride in the achievements of the men of our race. Let us pass it, not in a spirit of complacency, but in a spirit of firm determination, resolving that the work of destroying the evil powers that oppress the world, so well accomplished in Africa, shall be carried forward, in concert with our Allies, in Europe, in Asia and in the islands of the Pacific, until, in God's good time, complete victory shall have been achieved, wars shall cease and peace resume her reign.

I wish, in a very few words, to associate those for whom I speak with the expression of the nation's thanks to His Majesty's Forces and to those of the United Nations who have so magnificently demonstrated that spirit of unity of aim and action which has given to our common cause a resounding victory, which has struck with cold fear the hearts of our enemies and made more certain than ever our ultimate success. Especially do we thank our own kith and kin and our brothers of the British Commonwealth, with special sorrow and gratitude to those who are missing from our ranks, and all those members of our Forces who have filled our hearts with pride in their great achievement, have uplifted and fortified our spirits and won for all time an honoured place on the imperishable scroll of human history, as men who fought the good fight for the salvation and security of the freedom of mankind.

May I be allowed just to add a few words to the eloquent tribute paid by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister? He could not have expressed better the feelings not only of the House but of the whole country on this really great occasion, that the British Commonwealth and United Nations have secured a great, historic victory, which will take its place among the great victories of history. Our thanks are due to the men who have borne the brunt of this fighting. Drawn as they have been from civilian occupations, from banks, offices, workshops and factories they had, only three or four years ago, no military ambitions. They were ordinary men who did not belong to a military nation but who were inspired by a sense of duty to stand up to the greatest military Power in the world. That Power, less than two years ago, expected to be in possession of Egypt. On this occasion we ought not to forget the men who then, in the most difficult circumstances, ill-equipped, ill-provided with materials and munitions, by their courage and tenacity saved Egypt. Those pioneers made possible the great victory we are celebrating today. What is to us a special satisfaction is the unity, first, of the three arms, the Army, the Air Force and the Navy, and, secondly, between the British Commonwealth the United States of America and our French Allies. May it he a harbinger of victory and give us inspiration to carry on through the ups and downs of war, until we are assured of ultimate success.

I hope the House will allow me the opportunity of expressing the fullest support of this Motion. This victory has been achieved by men of the Allied nations. We pay our sincerest tribute to the endurance and bravery of our Allies, but here, to-day, it is not unreasonable that we should think predominantly of the men of the British nations, of the men from this country, from the Dominions, from India and from the Colonies, who have fought in the Navy, in the Army, in the Air Force, and in the Merchant Service—all those who have made this result possible. It has been, I suggest, by the closest co-operation of all the Services that we have succeeded and that we are in a position to pay this tribute to-day. It has also been by the unceasing work of the people of this country in the factories throughout the land.

This victory has done much for us as a nation. No one in this House, and I believe no one in the country, had any doubt regarding the valour of our men. None the less, considering what we knew and had read of the hordes of the German army, of their dog-like obedience and complete equipment, and of the immense preparation which Germany had made before the war, some of us were perhaps inclined to wonder how long it would be before that final victory, which everyone in this country believed would be the end of our struggle, would really be achieved. This blow struck in North Africa, therefore, means a great deal to this nation. It is not only a victory for the bravery of our men, it is a victory in which our enemies have been out-manoeuvred and out-generalled. It has shown not only that we have valour, but that we have genius in leadership.

In this country in the last three and a half years men and women have borne great sacrifices, and have worked long hours in difficult and uncongenial surroundings to make this rejoicing to-day possible. There have been criticisms in the past, not of our men in the field or in the workshops, but as to whether we have been using all our resources in the best way to end the war at the earliest possible moment. If those criticisms are held genuinely and with conviction, I have no doubt they may be heard again, and, if so, it is right that they should be made here, in this House of Commons, to a free assembly. But to-day we have none of those considerations in mind. We are able to celebrate a victory in which our own men have shown that, properly equipped, they are more than a match for any of their enemies. It is right also, I think, that the House should take this opportunity of congratulating the Government. The Government have had a very difficult time and it is right that they should be congratulated on this victory, particularly the War Cabinet who carried the greatest responsibility and more especially perhaps the Prime Minister who, in the last few days, probably for the first time, sees the beginning of his reward for the great burden he has borne during these three and a half years of war.

Our task is far from complete. In fact it may almost be said to have only well begun. But sooner or later the end is sure, and I suggest to the House that even now, through this mist of horror and bloodshed, we should endeavour to see something of the glory which we believe lies ahead. Retribution will fall, and rightly fall, upon the German people. There can be no shrinking from their being made to feel that they, who have three times in a short space of years, plunged the world into war, are to be punished, so that they will know, once and for all, that this method of putting forward their claims can never be justified and can never bring them the results they desire. They have made men, women and children suffer and die, not only in their own nation, but all over the world. Punishment must be drastic and definite. I suggest however that we are entitled to look past this stage through the haze ahead and try to see something of the light beyond. War passes, and in time the day dawns when Germany and all other nations can take their part in a sane and peaceful world. Is it too much, I ask the House, to hope that after 1,900 years of preaching peace the world at last will begin to see the folly of war and that we shall be able to set up some form of international justice and make it impossible for nations, in their own interests, to resort to the method of war to achieve their aims? In that hope I believe every Member of this House joins. I speak for myself, but I am certain that I express the views of every Conservative, every Liberal and every Labour Member in this House when I say that we believe complete victory will come. We shall strive and hold until that day comes, and when it does we shall look for a greater and freer life for Europe and the world. In that belief, and that our great success in North Africa leads to final victory for the Allied arms and to that brighter future, this tribute is fittingly moved in the House to-day.

On a point of Order. May we assume hum the speech of the hon. Gentleman that he is moving an Amendment to the Motion to include the name of the Minister of Defence in this Motion of congratulations?

In the most eloquent and sincere speech with which my right hon. Friend introduced this Motion he rightly widened its scope to include those who laid the foundations of this victory. The story did not begin in Tunisia. It began three years ago, and during that period a large proportion of our production has been devoted to the African theatre of war. Millions of tons, in the aggregate, of our shipping nave half encircled the world to provide the Army with its necessary supplies. It has been costly in life, although proportionately, as we have learned to-day, not so costly as it might have been. But the dead bear their share of this triumph as well as the living. Among them were two Members of this House, Colonel Kellett and Colonel Somerset Maxwell, whose name I may be pardoned for mentioning as he was a loyal and devoted Parliamentary Secretary to me. Members also have been bereaved, including the hon. and gallant Member for South Cardiff (Colonel Arthur Evans), who lost a son at Tebourba. It has indeed been costly both nationally and personally. But at the conclusion the British people are entitled to rejoice without qualification.

It was General Wavell who first set the pattern that warfare was subsequently to follow in the desert. The Italians had made the mistake of believing that fighting would be static and that their overwhelming infantry—numerically overwhelming—would be able to blanket us and wipe us out. They were mistaken. The contribution of General Wavell's offensive was that he created the conditions in which his superior armour could win the day. He had as overwhelming a superiority of armour as Marshal Graziani had of infantry, and that fact is not, perhaps, generally realised. General Auchinleck, languishing in his retirement, may console himself with the reflection that to him and to his decision to stand, not at Mersa Matruh but at El Alamein, was attributable the saving of the Eighth Army, the subsequent instrument of our victory. It was a great and courageous decision to make to stand at El Alamein. Had he tried to make it earlier, he might have been completely outflanked, and we should have been ousted, perhaps, from the whole of Africa and Asia. No general has had to face a more critical situation, and I think he is entitled to be remembered at this moment.

During these three years, in which our troops have borne every hardship—apart from long absence from home, they have suffered from the elements—they have conducted themselves with the utmost bravery. The best reward we can give them is not the passing of this vote of thanks, but to put into application the doctrine, while the time is ripe, of the rapid exploitation of victory. We must now profit from the consternation of our enemies, particularly the Italians, to follow up this brilliant triumph.

I do not want to intervene in this Debate except to ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether, for obvious reasons, he could say what proportion of the casualties are prisoners of war. I think that quite a large number of people in this country would be very pleased to know, if he can give the House and the country that proportion of the casualties.

On Friday, when I was at home, I met a mother whose lad was a comrade of my own lad. He was missing, and I think that in offering these congratulations it is desirous that this House should give a thought to the mothers of this country whose lads are in the Forces, and many of whom have already lost one, two, or three members of the family. There is another thing which I think should be emphasised, and that is the part that the Eighth Army played in this victory. There is not the slightest doubt about it that the ceaseless pursuit over the desert ate the heart out of the Nazi army and prepared the way for the demoralisation that was evident at the finish. The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne) reminded me of something. I will not discuss the Vote of Censure he put down in connection with the African campaign. That is in the past, but in view of the cynicism which is often expressed in regard to Parliament and politicians, and in view of the cheap remarks often passed about politicians in the House and in the factories who discuss the second front, I think that notice should be taken of the fact that a politician between whom and myself there is very little affinity—as a matter of fact, we are at opposite poles—but a politician who happens to be the Prime Minister at the present time, played a very big part at that meeting in Cairo where he took the responsibility of changing the Command, and must therefore get a certain amount, maybe a considerable amount, of the credit for the successful campaign. At any rate it demonstrates the fact that Parliament and politicians have a very important part to play in every phase of the campaigns that are going on.

I am glad that mention was made of the contribution of the men and women in the factories. In general, throughout the factories the men and women are very proud to have the opportunity of giving service to the lads in the Navy, the Air Force, the Army and the Merchant Service. I am certain that this victory will spur them on to greater efforts than ever they have made before, in the sure and certain hope that in the days that lie ahead the demoralisation that became a feature of the Nazi and Fascist armies in Africa will become a feature of the enemy forces throughout all the fighting areas, that the victory in Tunisia will be the stepping-stone to the complete victory over Fascism and Nazism, and that the days of peace will be restored to us once again. Therefore, I have pleasure in associating myself with this Motion.

When we pass this Motion, as we shall, with deep emotion and profound gratitude, with our thanks to the living and we toll for the dead, I think there should be more than the passing references which have been made to the part of one who is not in his seat to-day as the man who has filled so great a part in conceiving, co-ordinating and directing this great enterprise, the organiser of victory, the inspirer of the troops wherever they have fought, and the oriflamme of our unity, the Minister of Defence—the Prime Minister. May I say, with very deep respect, that I think this House fell a little short of its usual generosity when, last week, we spoke of the victory and did not speak of the organiser of the victory—an omission which His Majesty graciously and promptly repaired. As I look back over these three years, I think upon all the bitter disappointments which have fallen, and must fall, on the Prime Minister; I remember that never once in all those hard and anxious days did his courage falter, nor were his cheerfulness and confidence impaired. I cannot let this occasion pass without supplementing my profound gratitude to our Fighting Forces and my deep devotion to the armed legions who have come from every part of the Dominions, India and the Colonies, by this humble tribute to one who has been in the forefront, the inspirer of the spirit of victory, the embodiment of resolution ever since the day when the first shot was fired.

I wish to associate myself in every way with the Motion moved by the Deputy Prime Minister. I could not agree more with his dictum about the necessity of leadership and the greatness of the leadership which has been given to our Armed Forces. But I remember, and perhaps my hon. Friend will remember also, how in the course of battles in the last war we did not always know the names of our divisional generals; we certainly did not know the names of our corps generals and the names of those in charge of the artillery, and so on; but we did know our comrades in the ranks, those around and about us. While I agree that the Deputy Prime Minister could do no more than mention those outstanding names—and well they deserve any Motion of thanks that this House could pass—to pay real tribute to our Forces in Africa for their magnificent victory, one should read the whole of the names of the men who served there, officers and men, of every Service and every arm, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, with the roll of a thousand drums, because of their magnificent character.

It is quite true that you cannot win battles, in the air, on the land, or on the sea, unless you have the officers who can give the leadership that is required. How many of those officers now come from the ranks and give that leadership? But it is also true that you cannot win battles unless you have men of the quality required; and the magnificent quality of our men, on land, on the sea, and in the air, is something which only those who have served with them, as many Members of this House have done, know. Their endurance, their courage, their humour, their quickness, their initiative in a difficult situation, are remarkable. The only reason why the millions of the men in the ranks are not mentioned is because there are so many of them; but this House wholeheartedly appreciates the greatness of their effort and the splendid character of those men, facing every day death and danger. I hope that the whole House, irrespective of whatever views there may be about the war—and there are some differences—will decide that we must give our men during the war every help they require, and make it possible for them after the war to achieve the same greatness in peace-time conditions as they have achieved in war.

As an old air pioneer, may I say a few words? We are expressing our gratitude to the Royal Air Force for its wonderful work in all the theatres of war. We are grateful to the Service for carrying out its duties so efficiently and for making such sacrifices. This is a new arm, and it has surpassed all that we ever thought it would do. But who is responsible for creating the Royal Air Force? I submit that when we are expressing grateful thanks to the Royal Air Force, we should remember that it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) who created the Royal Air Force in 1918. We are grateful to him for his foresight and wisdom, and, as an old airman, I ask the House to pay tribute to him. We are also grateful to the Secretary of State for Air and the Under-Secretary, and the Commander-in-Chief Bomber Command for organising the great air attack that resulted in our gallant pilots breaching the Ruhr dams, as we read in the Press to-day.

It is with great diffidence that I add my voice on this historic, proud, and happy occasion. I do so merely because I think I can claim to some extent to speak on behalf of the mothers, the wives, and the sweethearts, whose sacrifice has contributed so much to this victory in North Africa. It is on their behalf that I should like to say "Thank you" for what my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has said. I should like to add, on their behalf, that we shall be proud if this House gives a lead in building a world worthy of the sacrifice of our greatest and our best.

I will not detain the House long, but I want to remind hon. Members and the country, on this occasion of rejoicing, of a debt that we owe. To a large extent, this Motion deals with the living, with those who have survived the battle; but the Deputy Prime Minister has reminded us of the cost in human sacrifice of this victory. I have no doubt that in due course honours and rewards will be given to some of those eminent leaders who have achieved this victory for us; but I would remind my hon. Friends—I am sure they do not want reminding, but it is sometimes necessary to say these things in this House—that there are many to-day who mourn the sacrifice made by so many of our gallant comrades who have fallen in battle. Therefore, I would ask the Government to remember, when they are considering various aspects of these questions, affecting the relatives who are left behind, that this Motion is not complete unless the Government are generous in the payment that they make to those dependants who are now mourning the loss of husbands or sons.

"There's none of these so lonely and poor of old
But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold."
So sang one who was a comrade of my right hon. Friend in Gallipoli. I hope that we shall not forget those who have given their sons, husbands, and fathers in this campaign.

May I have your guidance, Sir, on one point? A few minutes ago I raised a point of Order. I now want to ask whether it is possible to suggest to the Government that they include, in his absence, the name of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence in this Motion? He is the man who, by his courage, his leadership, and his resolution, has done more than anyone else to achieve this victory.

The hon. and gallant Member cannot ask for that to be incorporated in the Motion now. He might introduce an Amendment himself, but I might not accept it at this stage.

I rise as an old corporal of the victorious Salonica Army of the last war, which recognised the need for something more than votes of thanks when we came to the end of hostilities in that war. I believe that the late General Willans was engaged in organising entertainments and diversion for our boys in the African theatre of war, and I believe that there is active co-operation in the Welfare Department to provide for recognition in kind. These boys are now saying that they are not getting enough.

This is specifically a Vote of thanks to our Forces, and the Government obviously cannot extend the Vote of thanks to include one of our number. The other matters which have been raised would obviously be better raised in questions.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, nemine contradicente.

"That this House, at the triumphant conclusion of the operations by land, sea and air which have secured the unconditional surrender of all the enemy remaining on the Continent of Africa, hereby places on record, with pride and thankfulness, its high appreciation of the services of all ranks of His Majesty's Forces and of the Forces of the Allies operating in that theatre of war, by whose sacrifice, and devotion to duty, sustained by the labours, of those at home, this brilliant victory has been achieved."

Will you please direct, Sir, that the Resolution be recorded in the Journals of the House as having been passed nemine contradicente?

Orders Of The Day

Finance Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

On a point of Order. There are two Amendments down to this Motion, and I think it would be for the convenience of the House if you could give us an indication, Sir, as to whether either of the Amendments is to be called, or if you could give us any other guidance as to the course of the Debate

I am obliged to the hon. Member. It will not be possible for me to call either of the Amendments, but I would suggest that, in order to deal with the subjects which hon. Members want to raise, we should start by having a general discussion for the next two hours or so, and then hon. Members wanting to speak particularly on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) would be more likely to catch my eye for the next hour and a half or so. Then hon. Members who want to address themselves to the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), might be able to do so. I make that suggestion to the House.

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

This Bill, of course, gives effect, so far as legislation is necessary, to the Budget which I opened last month. On the provisions of the Bill which affect the finances of the year—the rate of Income Tax, the duties on liquor, tobacco, and entertainments, and the Purchase Tax—I feel I need say nothing further to-day. We have already had some detailed Debates on them, and if necessary there will be further opportunities for discussion on the Committee stage. I think I can say, with the assent of the House, that there has been general acceptance of those proposals.

I should, however, like to remind the House again that the proposals in this Bill—and, indeed, the whole financial policy of taxation and borrowing followed in my Budget speech—are part and parcel of the wider policy of the Government on the economic problems raised by the war. Our financial policy has been not merely co-ordinated with that wider policy, but it has been made an integral part of it. I take, as a useful example, the implications of rationing.The shipping situation and the need for devoting as much of our physical resources as possible to the war effort made necessary the rationing of food and clothing and the restriction of the supplies of practically everything else that entered into normal private consumption. In such circumstances the policy of high taxation, coupled with the Savings Campaign, was clearly necessary. The volume of purchasing power which would otherwise have been left in the hands of the public might have endangered the success of the rationing scheme and placed too great a strain on the various measures of price control. Similarly, in regard to such matters as the Purchase Tax and other indirect taxation, the House is well aware that I have endeavoured to pursue a policy which has paid regard to the general economic position rather than to purely revenue considerations. In that policy, taxation and saving, as I have said, play an essential part. Just as all sections of the community have submitted themselves willingly to restrictions and controls like those on food and clothing, so they have all readily borne their share of the burden of taxation, and large numbers have responded to the appeals for saving and lending.

One of the two objects of our high war taxation has been to keep as low as possible the post-war burden of the service of the National Debt. We shall not, I hope, be led away by any easygoing suggestions that, because the payment of interest on all but a fraction of the Debt represents a transfer of income within the country, the post-war cost of the Debt is something we need not take too seriously. The cost will have to be raised by taxation in one form or another; and the more revenue we have to earmark for the service of the Debt, the less easy will it be to find revenue to meet, among other things, many of those very desirable developments of our national life, upon many of which we are now working. The inconvenient final result of a dental extraction is not averted by an anesthetic or by the dentist's dexterity in using a variety of instruments. Neither is the total burden of taxation generally made more congenial to the individual taxpayer by telling him that it is merely a means of redistributing the national income or by levying it in some new form which is claimed to be theoretically less repressive or discouraging. One of our post-war aims must certainly be to keep the total burden of taxation as low and reasonable as is consistent with proper provision for, among other things, all those national services and projects which have a just claim upon the Exchequer.

Great as have been the burdens which the country has borne in war taxation, the war will still leave us an inevitable legacy in the shape of a greatly increased National Debt. We have had to borrow so far during the war more than the whole of the Debt outstanding at the beginning of the war—yet the total cost of the Debt has only gone up by some 75 per cent. Before the war the average rate of interest on our internal Debt was 3 per cent., and now it is 2½ per cent.—that is, on the aggregate of the internal Debt existing before the war plus the new internal Debt contracted since. Our war borrowings have been borrowed at an average rate of only 2 per cent., and this, after allowing for Income Tax, represents a net cost of just over 1 per cent. Not a little of the country's steady support of our loans —and through them of our general financial policy—has been due to the general satisfaction that we should have been able to borrow on terms which are so much more favourable than those during the last war and which are generally regarded as fair and proper to-day. In this, as in other things, nothing succeeds like success.

I now desire to turn briefly to some of the Clauses in the Bill on which the House may wish to have some explanation. Most of them, however, I do not think need any comment, as they deal with matters arising out of the Budget with which the House is familiar and which has been generally approved. Clause 6 gives effect to the increase of Entertainments Duty which I announced in my Budget speech, and I do not think I need say any more on the general aspects of this proposal; they have not been objected to. I should, however, like to deal with the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery) in the course of the general Debate on the Budget Resolutions. He referred to the administration of the provision in the Act of 1916 which first established the Entertainments Duty, and under which performances are exempt from the duty if the entertainment is provided for partly educational purposes by a society not conducted for profit. With the further increases in the rates of duty now proposed, the value of the privilege of exemption from duty is necessarily enhanced. Accordingly, the never very easy task of interpreting the exemption provision fairly and reasonably requires all the more care, and I am considering whether there might not be some advantage in having a small advisory committee to assist the Board of Customs in this work. I would, however, like to say to my hon. Friend and to the House that I am not aware of any deliberate attempts to abuse the exemption privilege, but I am taking steps to ensure that the position is closely examined in order to ascertain whether any further action is required.

Clause 8 gives legislative effect to a concession which I have already announced in the House in anticipation of Parliamentary sanction. It represents a considerable extension of the conditions under which farm tractors may be used on roads while still paying only the reduced licence of 5s. At present the reduced rate is limited, broadly speaking, to tractors owned by farmers hauling the produce of the farm or articles required for the farm from one part of the farm to another or to or from a railway station. The new Clause removes the limitation to journeys to or from a railway station or from one part of the farm to another; it will allow the hauling of agricultural produce or articles required for the farm without any limit of starting point or destination. It will also allow such haulage to be undertaken for any farm or market garden instead of only for the land belonging to the owner of the tractor; and it will apply to agricultural contractors as well as to farmers who themselves occupy land. The concession is proposed as a temporary wartime measure, and I feel sure that the House will welcome it as a contribution to the vitally important work of doing all we can to assist home food production during the war.

Clause it gives the courts power to inflict both a fine and imprisonment for serious Customs and Excise offences, and it raises the maximum period of imprisonment in default of payment of the fine from six to nine months where it exceeds £100, and to a year where it exceeds £250, provided always that the aggregate period of imprisonment shall not exceed two years. The existing position in the matter has been the subject of comment in the courts, and it has been suggested that where a sentence of imprisonment has been awarded on one charge and fines have been awarded on others, the fines were merely paper penalties, as imprisonment in default of payment would run concurrently with the sentence on the first charge. The principle of a combined penalty of imprisonment plus a fine has already been recognised in the case of black-market offences, and I think the House will not dissent from the view that the same principle should apply in those cases in which illegal profits have been made by evading the present rates of Customs and Excise Duties.

I am again making provision in Clause 16 for the relief which has been provided in each successive Finance Act since the war by which individuals whose earned income has been substantially reduced owing to circumstances connected with the war may SUbStitute a current-year basis of assessment for the usual preceding-year basis. Even though we are in the fourth year of the war, cases may still occur in which, owing to war circumstances, the earnings of an individual may fall substantially below his assessment. In such cases the Clause will continue the measure of relief which has been given in previous years.

Will that apply also to the workers in regard to their Income Tax?

I think it is a general Clause, but I will ascertain that definitely. Clause 18 gives legislative effect to the undertaking which I have already given that the Post-War Credits of the Armed Forces shall not be liable to Income Tax. The Clause also extends the same provision to the Post-War Credits which are accumulated at similar rates and on the same general conditions for members of the full-time Civil Defence and other Services. The House will remember that one of the reasons for the institution of these post-war credits was to provide a post-war nest egg corresponding broadly to that provided for civilians by the Income Tax Post-War Credits, and since the Income Tax Post-War Credits, being refunds of tax, will not be taxable, it is clearly right that the same provision should apply to the Post-War Credits of the Fighting Services and of the Civil Defence Services.

Clauses 20 and 21 carry out the new concessions relating to the E.P.T. charge on concerns working certain classes of wasting assets which I mentioned briefly in my Budget speech. With regard to Clause 20, hon. Members may remember that the question of extending the relief given by Section 31 of the Finance Act, 1941, was raised in the Debates on the Finance Bill last year. Since then further discussions have taken place with the Supply Departments concerned and with representatives of the industries, and I am satisfied that there is a good case for extending the relief to concerns working sand or gravel pits, and also to those working asbestos and mica, all of which are vital war materials. The general principle of the relief given by Section 31 of the Finance Act, 1941, is that a concern should not be penalised by a charge to E.P.T. on the normal rate of profit earned by an acceleration of output made in the interests of the war effort when this has the effect of shortening the life of the mine or the oil well concerned. In such cases the additional output represents an anticipation of output which would not normally have been produced until the closing years of the life of the mine or the oil well; that is, at a time when presumably the profits on the additional output would not be subject to E.P.T. I am satisfied from the representations which have been made to me that there are many cases of sand and gravel pits with five, 10, 15 or 20 years of expected normal life, in which output has been accelerated in the national interest, sometimes to three or more times the normal output, and this increase has been made to meet vital war needs such as the construction of aerodromes and war factories.