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Ministry Of Supply

Volume 389: debated on Wednesday 19 May 1943

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Tree Felling


asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that trees have been felled in an area, of which he has been informed, by contractors under his Department before any agreement has been made and in disregard of the terms of the draft agreement with the owner, in violation of the requirements of good felling and without regard to representations made to his officials on the subject; and will he take steps to rectify grievances in this case and avoid such damage and breach of contract elsewhere in future?

Yes, Sir. I regret that, owing to a misunderstanding, felling commenced on this estate before the agreement had been signed and before the work had been authorised. Steps are being taken to rectify the grievances in this case and to avoid a similar happening in the future.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his frank confession, may I ask him whether he recognises that the trees that have been felled and that were reserved for that particular estate, are no longer of value to the estate as felled trees because they cannot grow any more.

I am very sorry, and I regret what happened in this case, but I cannot do any more than promise that we will take any steps we can to rectify it.

Form Rp 331A


asked the Minister of Supply how many forms, R.P. 331A, have been issued by his Department; and what is the estimated number of man-hours required for their completion by the recipients?

We have so far issued 288 copies of this form, which has been approved by a panel representing the industry. It is not possible to estimate the time required to complete the form, as this must depend on the number and nature of the contracts held and the state of the firm's records.

Is not consideration given to the amount of time required to fill up this form? Is my right hon. Friend aware that in one small company the filling-up of this form occupied four men a whole week?

I am surprised to hear that that is so. In any case, this form was approved by a panel of the industry consisting of technical persons all engaged in this business who knew exactly what was required. In such cases as I have been able to get information about the time has varied from five minutes to three hours.

Scottish Bank Notes


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that Scottish Service men stationed in England only receive 19s. 6d. in exchange for notes issued by Scottish banks; and will he take steps to end this practice?

Scottish bank notes are not legal tender in England, and a bank cashing such notes in England may charge for the service of forwarding them to the Scottish bank of issue for collection. In practice, I am advised that the holder of a Scottish note can cash it without charge at the head office in London of any of the Scottish banks. As pointed out by my hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General in the reply which he gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Kennedy) on 26th March, 1942, post offices accept Scottish bank notes if tendered in payment for any post office transaction. Generally, the number of Scottish notes presented in England has been reduced by the administrative arrangements under which payments to members of the Forces proceeding from Scotland to England are made in Bank of England notes.

Is it not about time this position was rectified? If Scottish bank notes are not legal tender in England, will the hon. Member take steps to abolish them altogether?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that banks in Scotland are more or less controlled by banks in England, and why should the shareholders benefit from this transaction?

As Scotsmen make the pound go very much further than Englishmen, is it not fair that there should be such a charge?

As the Post Office pays 20s. for each Scottish pound note, will the hon. Gentleman undertake to get a promise from the banks that they will pay 20S.?

Public Road Transport Dispute, West Riding


asked the Minister of Labour whether he can make any statement regarding the present position of the stoppage of public road transport in Dewsbury, Huddersfield, Wakefield and other West Riding districts; and what action is being taken to reach a settlement of the dispute?

Following the issue of the arbitration award in respect of the recent application on behalf of road passenger transport workers, unofficial stoppages of work or restrictions on normal services have occurred in a few areas in different parts of the country. The unions concerned have taken urgent steps to secure a resumption of work, and a full resumption has taken place, except in some areas served by certain undertakings in the West Riding.

Is not the situation rather more serious than the hon. Member seems to indicate? It is not just two places, because a large number of districts have been without transport for several days.

Is the Minister aware that this stoppage—I will call it a stoppage; I had better not use the other word—is affecting the production of coal, and will he and some of the Members behind him keep this fact in mind, and not in future throw it at the miners that they are not producing coal?

Will the Minister not take some action to bring the parties together, so as to remove what is causing the greatest inconvenience to war workers in the area in addition to the mining industry?

The unions concerned have taken urgent steps in the matter, and I would rather not add to the answer which I have given.