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Written Answers

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 18 May 1943

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Written Answers

Public Health

Diphtheria (Immunisation)

asked the Minister of Health how many immunised children under five years of age and how many over that age were there in the country at the end of 1941; how many at 30th June, 1942, and how many at 31st December, 1942; what were the ages of the diphtheria cases in 1941 and in each half-year of 1942, distinguishing between immunised and unimmunised; and what were the ages of the fatal cases of diphtheria, immunised and unimmunised, in 1942?

The numbers of children immunised against diphtheria under local authority arrangements in England and Wales up to 31st December, 1941, were approximately 547,000 under five and 1,818,000 between the ages of five and 15. The corresponding figures at 30th June, 1942, were 725,000 and 2,114,000; and at 31st December, 1942, 1,150,000 and 2,598,000. To obtain the particulars referred to in the last two parts of the Question would necessitate a special return from all local authorities which I should not be justified in requiring them to make in view of the labour which it would involve.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that only 45 cases of diphtheria were registered in the administrative county of Northampton in 1942; what percentage of children under five years of age had been immunised at the end of 1941 and what percentage over that age; and how many children were immunised in the county in each month of 1942 at ages under five and over five?

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir." With regard to the other parts, I regret that I am not able to give the particulars asked for. Percentage rates based on the child population of particular localities cannot be precisely calculated during war-time fluctuations of population and to ascertain the details asked for in the last part of the Question would involve all local authorities in the county in substantial labour which I should not feel justified in asking them to undertake.

asked the Minister of Health how many of the notified cases of diphtheria in 1942 were in children under five years of age; how many from five to 15 years of age and how many over 15 years of age?

The only information available to me concerns children under 15 years of age in total, among whom returns received from local authorities show that the number of notifications of diphtheria during 1942 in England and Wales was approximately 28,500, of which about 87 per cent. were cases of non-immunised children.

asked the Minister of Health whether children who take diphtheria after the first inoculation are put into the unimmunised class in the records sent to the Ministry by medical officers of health?

For the purpose of returns regarding immunisation of children against diphtheria local authorities are asked to show in how many of the cases of diphtheria notified in children under 15 the child is known to have completed the course of immunisation not less than 12 weeks before the onset of the disease. Children not satisfying these conditions are considered as unimmunised.

County Maternity Homes, Lincoln (Charǵes)

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been drawn to a circular letter sent by the county council of Lincoln (parts of Lindsey) to doctors to the effect that where expectant mothers have engaged a private doctor to attend them at their confinement and are admitted to any of the county maternity homes full cost of maintenance will be charged; and whether he will take appropriate steps to prevent so obvious an injustice?

My attention has been drawn to this circular. The question of the charges to be made for maintenance in their maternity homes is one within the discretion of the county council, and I am not in a position to intervene.

Agricultural Workers' Cottages

asked the Minister of Health whether plans and specifications for all the 3,000 war-time agricultural cottages have yet been completed; and whether he has had the assurance that the necessary building trade operatives and quantities of building materials will be available for each group at the time required?

The answer to the first part of the Question is "No, Sir." On the second part, I would refer to the statements made on 1st April last by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service and on 6th May by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Evesham (Mr. De la Bère).

asked the Minister of Health the all-in estimated cost, including the services of water, electricity or gas and sanitation, but excluding the land allowance, for each different type of wartime agricultural cottage and the comparable highest and lowest all-in contract price accepted so far from a contractor for each type?

Many of the local authorities concerned will be obtaining competitive tenders for the building of houses for the first time since 1939 and whilst this process is proceeding it would be contrary to the public interest to announce the official estimates of cost or to make public comparison between the prices which different local authorities are proposing to accept. Before proceeding each local authority must obtain my approval to their scheme and this will not be given unless I consider the costs to be reasonable.

Uncertificated And Supplementary Teachers

asked the President of the Board of Education how many uncertificated teachers and how many supplementary teachers are now employed in public elementary schools; and how does the percentage of these teachers compare with the figures for 1918?

I regret that the information required is not available, since under war conditions the collection of statistics has been reduced to a minimum. I have no evidence, however, to suggest that the percentage of uncertificated and supplementary teachers in relation to certificated teachers has materially increased.

Kenya, Native Reserves (Food Supplies)

asked the Secretary or State for the Colonies to what extent unemployed Africans in Nairobi have been returned to the native reserves; and whether this new pressure on the already-depleted native foodstuffs in the reserves is being provided for?

I do not know the numbers of Africans who have been returned to the native reserves in view of the temporary difficulty in maintaining food supplies in Nairobi and other parts of the colony. The export of any native foodstuffs from native reserves has been prohibited under the Native Foodstuffs Ordinance, except with special permission; and I have no doubt that all possible steps are being taken in other ways to safeguard the food position in the reserves themselves.

Northern Rhodesia (African Labour Corps)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can make a statement on the working of the African Labour Corps in Northern Rhodesia?

This Corps, which was established by the Emergency Powers (African Labour Corps) Regulations, 1942, is administered by a Controller appointed by the Government under those Regulations. The corps can be used for any work, including road construction, as the Governor may direct in furtherance of the war effort. Where members of the corps are employed otherwise than directly by the Government, a fixed rate per man is payable to the Government. The members of the corps receive 12s. 6d. per month, plus 2s. 6d, per month bonus, at the termination of employment, together with full scale Government rations. This rate is higher than the normal wages rate for labourers in Northern Rhodesia. The maximum period of service of the corps is twelve months. The regulations provide for enrolment either by voluntary recruitment or by conscription. There is a right of appeal against conscription to a board with native representatives, on grounds of undue hardship to family or detriment to the economic life of the community concerned, or recent employment, or other good cause. A total of about 500 labourers, of whom 115 were conscripted, has been enrolled in the corps. Labourers are sent to farms in batches of 25 under a native headman and reports received show that they are contented and have performed good work. The establishment of this corps has made it unnecessary to continue the earlier scheme for direct conscription of labour for the farms.

Food Supplies

Food Rationing (Special Diets) Advisory Committee

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food how often the Food Rationing (Special Diets) Advisory Committee meets and how many times it has met this year; what is its method of collating and considering the representations made for extra allowances of particular food for sufferers from particular diseases; what consultations with other bodies has it had since the beginning of this year; and what are the bodies concerned?

I have been asked to reply. The Food Rationing (Special Diets) Advisory Committee of the Medical Research Council has held 14 full meetings in all. Owing to the decrease in the number of questions referred to the Committee, and particularly of questions involving new principles, it has not so far been necessary to convene a full meeting in 1943 although a sub-committee has met. Minor questions arising between meetings are circulated in the form of memoranda and the opinions of members obtained in writing. The other bodies consulted on behalf of the Committee since the beginning of this year, in addition to Government Departments specially concerned, are the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Joint Tuberculosis Council and the Tuberculosis Association.

Pigs (Licences For Slaughter)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, to induce farmers who have sold pedigree herds of pigs for slaughter to recommence breeding, he will accord them the right to kill two pigs a year for the consumption of their own households?

Subject to certain conditions, farmers already have the right to apply for and obtain licences to kill two pigs a year for the consumption of their own households.

Tomatoes (Growers' Prices)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (r) whether he is aware that growers of outdoor tomatoes who have responded to appeals of the Ministry of Agriculture and war agricultural committees have subsequently been unable to dispose of their crops at a reasonable price to cover the growers' costs; and whether he can give an assurance that his Department will accept all tomatoes grown and at a fair price;(2) whether he can give an assurance that this year tomato growers will get an assured price for their tomatoes at a predetermined reasonable price in exactly the same manner as is done with blackcurrants and other soft fruit?

In 1942 the tomato acreage, voluntarily planted, in many counties exceeded the target figures, and my Noble Friend is aware that during a certain period the prices received by growers, particularly for the lower grades of tomatoes, fell below the maximum levels prescribed by the Home Grown Tomatoes (Maximum Prices) Order, 1942. He has, however, received no evidence that the return to the growers for this large tomato crop was unremunerative. In 1942 a scheme for the distribution of tomatoes was introduced for the first time the object being to move them from areas of surplus production and share them evenly among markets deficient in supplies. The scheme was intended primarily to improve distribution, but in so doing it reduced the risk that growers might suffer as the result of particular markets being over-supplied from time to time. The prices prescribed by Order both for tomatoes and for black currants and other soft fruits are maximum prices. It would not be practicable to pre-determine fixed prices for produce so variable in quality and supply. Moreover, there is no comparison between he utilisation of this crop and that of black currants and other soft fruits. My Department does not therefore propose to provide a guaranteed price or a guaranteed market for tomatoes. However, the allocation scheme, which was put into operation last year, will be repeated this year with certain improvements which have been introduced after consultation with representatives of the growers and the trade. When supplies are heavy a reduced price must be expected particularly for the lower grade produce, and a general reduction in price might occur should weather conditions cause an undue proportion of the crop to ripen simultaneously. It is, nevertheless, hoped that the distribution scheme this year will enable the growers to dispose satisfactorily of a crop even heavier than in 1942 and will give them substantial protection against price variations due to local inequalities of supply.

Women And Young Persons (Hours Of Work)

asked the Minister of Labour the number of factories and other places, coming under the Factories Act, 1937, which applied for and received permission to extend the hours of work for young persons by virture of the General and Special Emergency Orders during the years 194o, 1941 and 1942?

This information is not available. The approximate number of premises at which emergency modifications of the provisions of the Factories Act as to hours of women and young persons were in force was, at the end of 1940, 6,500; at the end of 1941, r,000; and at the end of 1942, 19,000. In many of these cases only women over 18 are affected but I cannot give the figure, and the hours authorised are often shorter than could be worked under the ordinary law. Further particulars will be found in the annual reports of the Chief Inspector of Factories.

Requisitioned Ships (Insurance)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport, in view of the problem of tonnage replacement necessitated by losses which shipowners are at present only allowed to insure on pre-war valuation, later increased by a small percentage, whether he will now reconsider current values in the light of the cost of replacement and take action accordingly?

The values of requisitioned British vessels for war risks insurance purposes are reviewed periodically, and the cost of replacement is taken into account. I do not consider that any increase in the present values is necessary.

Merchant Navy Personnel (Legal Aid)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether, in view of the fact that arrangements have now been made to extend the scheme for free legal aid to members of the Royal Navy, he will consider whether it is possible to include also members of the Merchant Service?

Members of the Merchant Navy are provided with legal aid by the different officers' and men's societies, and it is, therefore, unnecessary to make arrangements of the kind suggested by my hon. Friend.

Third Party Insurance (Central Fund)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he will consider introducing legislation to place third party insurance upon the vehicle involved in an accident, irrespective of who the driver may he and the circumstances in which he is driving, for the creation of a pooled fund from the insurance companies for cases where no policy exists or where the driver is untraced and for entitling representatives of those killed to compensation up to a limited amount without having to give proof of negligence or fault?

When war broke out legislation was being prepared to implement the report of the Committee on Compulsory Insurance. As regards the first and second parts of the Question, the proposals of the Committee, if adopted, would ensure that an injured third party should not lose his claim to compensation by reason of a breach of the permitted conditions in an insurance policy relating to the driving or use of a vehicle. It was recommended by the Committee that such claims, and those where no insurance exists, should be met by a central fund. As regards injury by a vehicle which cannot be traced, however, the Committee pointed out that in such a case it is impossible to establish a case against anyone, and considered that the grant of a right of claim against the central fund would lead to abuses which would render such a course unsuitable. I am afraid that it is not practicable to proceed with the legislation at the present time, but the question of legislating when circumstances permit is kept constantly in mind.

StationFriday April 23rdSaturday April 24thSunday April 25thMonday April 26th
No. of trainsSeatsNo. of trainsSeatsNo. of trainsSeatsNo. of trainsSeats
King's Cross2110,3671710,415104,240189,492
It has not been possible to ascertain the number of passengers travelling by each of these trains. This would involve an investigation at every point at which each train stopped. Most of them left London full and with passengers standing in both classes, though a few had seats available. More passengers joined these trains at intermediate stops, and they became very,crowded. Passenger traffic was generally normal on Easter Sunday, though a few trains were heavily loaded.

Ministry Of Information (Mr Smollett)

asked the Minister of Information what was the name of Mr. Smollett, the director of As regards the third part of the Question, I should hesitate to accept the principle that an owner or driver should be made liable where there is nothing to show that the driver has been negligent.

Railway Traffic (Easter Holiday Period)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport the number of seats available in the through trains which left Euston, King's Cross, Paddington and Waterloo on Friday, 23rd April, Saturday, 24th, Sunday, 25th, and Easter Monday, respectively; and how many passengers travelled by those trains?

The number of through trains leaving each of the London termini referred to on each of the days in question, together with the total number of seats provided on those trains, was as follows:Anglo-Soviet relations at the Ministry of Information, when he was a Hungarian?

French North Africa (Administration)

asked the Prime Minister how North Africa will be governed in the future; and whether General de Gaulle and General Giraud will be consulted?

French North Africa is at present administered by the French civil and military High Command under General Giraud at Algiers, subject to certain powers which the Allied Commander-in-Chief enjoys in virtue of the arrangement which he concluded with the local French authorities after the Allied landings last November. Any alteration in these arrangements would presumably be a matter for discussion between the parties concerned. General de Gaulle is not yet associated with the French High Command in North Africa.

Withdrawing Traders (Registration)

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many withdrawing traders have registered with his Department up to date?

Up to the end of last week the total number of applications received was about 8,500.

Lend-Lease (Tobacco)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why tobacco is no longer subject to the operation of Lend-Lease?

It rests with the United States Administration to decide what goods are supplied on Lend-Lease, and at the present time tobacco is not being so supplied except in so far as required for the use of the Armed Forces.

Armed Forces

Gifts (Import Duties)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether any concession on import duties can be made to members of the fighting Services who take home gifts for their families from the various theatres of war?

As announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a scheme has recently been introduced permitting members of the Forces serving overseas to send home free of duty as gifts under certain conditions four parcels a year and he is not prepared to give a further concession on the lines suggested.

Canteen, Boston

asked the Secretary of State for War why the Fighting Forces Canteen, Boston, Lincolnshire, run by local ladies and gentlemen is reduced from Grade A to B, whilst the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes' canteen, although more recently established, is permitted the privileges attaching to an A canteen; what representations have been received from officers commanding units and from other persons interested in the welfare of the troops; and whether he is prepared to reexamine the position with a view to restoring to this canteen the facilities they previously enjoyed?

N.A.A.F.I. canteens are established where the military authorities consider that they are necessary for the welfare of the troops. They are all at present expected to provide cooked meals and are therefore not graded into those which are and those which are not allowed to supply cooked meals. The services of other canteens are always much appreciated by the troops and they would not be interfered with but for the need to cut down all unnecessary consumption of food. At the present time such canteens can only be allowed the food to provide cooked meals if N.A.A.F.I. canteens are unable to cater for the troops in the area. The decision to grade this canteen B was reviewed in October as a result of representations by the local R.A.F. commander and again since as a result of representations from the town clerk of Boston and from my hon. Friend. I regret however that the need of the troops does not justify a departure from the present strict rule.

British Prisoners Of War

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered the complaints regarding the shortage of Red Cross parcels delivered to Oflag VII.B.; and whether he will allow supplementary parcels from foreign countries to be sent as formerly to prisoners of war at this camp?

According to my present information this camp is regularly supplied with sufficient Red Cross parcels to maintain the standard issue of one per man per week. The answer to the last part of the Question is "No, Sir."

British Army

Chatham Detention Barracks

asked the Secretary of State for War how many men have died in Chatham detention barracks in the past 12 months?

Deserted Wives (Claims)

asked the Secretary of State for War how many legal wives of soldiers have claimed and are not receiving any allowance because, though deserted, they have not obtained any separation order from the courts?

I regret that these figures are not available. I append a note of the action taken by the military authorities in these cases.

Following is the note:

A wife who has been deserted by her soldier husband has the same remedy as the wife of a civilian, namely, to apply to the courts. If the court makes an order against her husband, the military authorities ensure that it is met, by means of compulsory stoppage from the soldier's pay together with State assistance in many cases. Since the wife may have difficulty in obtaining an order against the soldier husband, especially if he is serving abroad, she has the alternative right to appeal to the officer in charge of records (the officer deputed by the Army Council under Section 145 (2) (b) of the Army Act) who may make an order against the husband on similar lines to those the courts would employ. Such an order is enforced in the same way as a court order. If the wife takes neither of these steps to obtain an order for the maintenance of herself and her children and the soldier does not voluntarily contribute to her support, the Army Authorities take no steps to enforce payment to her.

Ats (Non-Commissioned Officers)

asked the Secretary of State for War why many women who volunteered for the Auxiliary Territorial Service, gained promotion on merit and have good records, are now being deprived of their non-commissioned rank; and whether he will make a statement?

Owing to the reduced rate of expansion of the A.T.S. some training centres have been closed. The permanent staff of these establishments have therefore had to be posted to other units. War substantive non-commissioned officers can only be reverted in rank if they are inefficient or unsuitable and such noncommissioned officers have therefore had to be sent to posts which were unfilled or filled by non-commissioned officers who were not yet war substantive. This does not mean that the non-commissioned officers who were displaced were not doing their duty efficiently or that their chances of future promotion will be impaired.

Courts-Martial Sentences

asked the Secretary of State for War the number of men, belonging to a unit named to him privately by the hon. Member for Maryhill, sentenced to confinement to barracks, field punishment and /or loss of pay during the last four weeks, and the number of cases now awaiting court-martial?

Inquiries are being made and I will communicate with my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

Army Educational Corps (Officers' Pay)

asked the Secretary of State for War what are the basic rates of pay for first- and second-lieutenants in the Army Educational Corps, and how they compare with the corresponding rates for infantry officers; whether the education officers are required to hold university honours degrees; why they are paid less than all other officers; whether he is aware that this anomaly is causing considerable discontent; for how long the question of increasing these rates has been under consideration; and when a decision is likely to be reached?

The basic rates of pay for second-Lieutenants, lieutenants and captains in the Army Educational Corps is 10s., Its. 10d. and 19s. a day. The corresponding rates for infantry officers is 11s., 13s. and 16s. 6d. a day. Except in the case of selected warrant officers and non-commissioned officers of long experience in the corps and occasional officers with specialist qualifications in music, art, etc., candidates for commissions in the Army Educational Corps are required to possess honours degrees coupled with experience of teaching and /or educational experience. The rates of pay of the Army Educational Corps are the some as the rates for infantry officers, before the changes made as a result of the recommendations of the Warren Fisher Committee. Rates for infantry officers were then increased for subalterns and decreased for junior captains; the Committee did not, however, make any recommendations regarding Army Educational Corps rates or, for that matter, regarding departmental rates generally. The question of increasing the Allay Educational Corps rates has been under consideration since last September and a decision is expected shortly. I am not aware of the discontent referred to in the Question.

Seychelles (Man-Power Recruitment)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what proportion of the population of Seychelles has been recruited for overseas service; and whether full provision has been made for the families of these men?

I regret that it is not in the public interest to give figures, but the hon. Member may rest assured that a substantial proportion of Seychelles man-power has been recruited for overseas service. Full provision for the families of these men has been made.

Bermuda ((Economic Advisor Committee)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what recommendations have been made by Professor Richardson, who has been investigating economic conditions in Bermuda; what action it is proposed to take; and if this Report will be made available to the public?

Professor Richardson was appointed by the Governor of Bermuda, not to undertake any special inquiry into economic conditions in the colony, but to advise on various current problems of administration and in particular to act as chairman of a local Economic Advisory Committee which was set up last year by the Government of Bermuda. That committee has made a number of recommendations to the Government of Bermuda, the most important of which are summarised in a review of economic conditions, policy and organisation in Bermuda prepared by Professor Richardson before his departure from the colony and published locally last February. It is not proposed to arrange for the publication of this review in this country, but a copy will be placed in the Library of the House for information of hon. Members.

West Indies

Development Schemes

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will give particulars to the latest convenient date of the sums which, having been approved for development in the West Indies, have actually been expended?

I assume that the hon. Member has in mind schemes which have been made in connection with the various West Indian Colonies under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, 1940. The figures for these schemes up to 31st March, 1943, are:

Schemes approved2,228,178

Commodity Prices (Subsidies)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies which West Indian Colonies are subsidising foodstuff prices; what sums have been voted for this purpose; and what amounts have been expended by each Colony to the latest convenient date?

The price of certain essential commodities is being subsidised in thefollowing colonies:—Barbados, British Honduras, British Guiana, Jamaica and Trinidad. Exact and completely up-to-date figures regarding expenditure under this head are not available. The following are, however, the latest estimates received of the cost to 31st December, 1942, in respect of a period of approximately six months:

British Honduras6,000
British Guiana60,000
Making a total of about248,000

Mining Industry (Hours Of Work)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will rearrange the distribution of working hours in the mining industry so as to provide for the present hours to be worked during a five-day week?

This matter has been discussed on many occasions, but there appears to be no substantial agreement between the parties concerned.

Debtor's Statement (Racial Description)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered the summary of a debtor's statement of affairs, a copy of which has been sent him, in which the debtor is described as a Jew, aged 41 years; and whether he will take steps to prevent the unnecessary introduction into official documents of discriminatory labels of a racial or religious kind?

I have seen the document to which my hon. Friend refers. The description of the debtor is based on a written statement made by him, and I am assured by the official responsible that, so far from desiring to create any prejudice against the debtor, this description was intended to help to remove any misunderstanding among his creditors as to the reason for the debtor's financial misfortunes in Germany. I have, however, given instructions that unnecessary racial descriptions are not to be inserted in statements of this kind in the future.

Royal Observer Corps Personnel (Enlistment In Raf)

asked the Secretary of State for Air what arrangements are made for members of the Royal Observer Corps to be admitted to the Royal Air Force when called up; and how many members have been refused admission or compelled to enlist in the Army?

Members of the Royal Observer Corps were until recently given special consideration if they wished to enlist in the Royal Air Force. Now that the number of vacancies in ground-trades is limited, it is possible to accept only those members who are suitable for flying duties or for a small number of specialist trades. The information asked for in the second part of the Question is not available.