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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 25 May 1943

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Trade And Commerce

Children's Shoes


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that while ample stocks of adults' shoes are available in shops there is a shortage, particularly in London, of children's shoes; that this shortage is causing much anxiety to parents, schools and nurseries; that his Department has been repeatedly warned of the development of the shortage; and what steps are being taken to meet the difficulty?

Some shortage of children's shoes is, I am afraid, inevitable at this stage of the war, since we have lost nearly all our rubber supplies, and hides must mainly be imported from overseas and run the risk of enemy action on the way. Civilian requirements must, moreover, be balanced against very heavy Service requirements. I cannot, therefore, hold out any hopes of an increase in the total civilian supplies. I have, however, been taking steps to maintain the supply of children's footwear at the highest possible level and gave instructions last October to switch production, so far as feasible, from adults' to children's footwear. The production of children's leather footwear has now for some months been at the rate of about 30,000,000 pairs a year, that is to say more than three pairs a year per child. More children's leather footwear is being produced now than before the war, though no new rubber footwear for children is being made. I am also encouraging the development of children's shoe and clothing exchanges which, with the help of the W.V.S. and other women's organisations, are making rapid progress in many parts of the country. These exchanges are principally for children under five, but I am glad to say that many schools are running similar exchanges for older children. The House may rest assured that, in spite of the inevitable difficulties which lie ahead, I shall do my utmost to maintain supplies for the children.

Is the right hon. Gentleman that the complaint is not of a shortage of adult shoes? There are plenty of useless, stupid, adult shoes available. The shortage of children's shoes is extremely grave. Is he aware that, although our home production has certainly increased, it is the shortage of overseas supplies that causes the trouble, and that a special increase is needed? What is the Department doing to satisfy that special demand?

I have given the figures of the shortage and of our present production. Those figures should be known. Overseas supplies are, of course, a very grave pre-occupation. The U-boat is still the enemy of the child. I have indicated that cargoes of hides have to run the gauntlet of enemy action. We are very well aware of these matters, and I have given evidence to show that we have had them very much in mind for some time.

I beg to give notice that I will raise this question on the Adjournment.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is necessary to have strong shoes for the country child?

Toys (Price)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the new price control order for toys, Statutory Rule and Order, 1943, No. 615, will result in the same article being offered in different shops at a wide divergency of prices, the difference between the highest and the lowest being as much as 33i⅓ per cent.; and what action he proposes to take to prevent this anomaly?

Yes, Sir. But this is not peculiar to the price of toys. Variations in retail prices were normal in peacetime, and it is not in the public interest to eliminate them.

I think the right hon. Gentleman is doing what he can, but the toy industry as a whole is rather disturbed. If he will give the matter further consideration, I am sure that he will be able to eliminate a number of these anomalies.

I have given a good deal of time and thought to the question of toys and have thought it desirable to have prices fixed well in advance for next Christmas. That is why the Order has been made now. If you fix prices at each successive stage between the manufacturer and the consumer, as you must do, if there is a variation in the number of stages there must be a consequent variation in the maximum price. These are maxima within which a good number of sales take place.

Concentration Of Industries


asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of businesses that have been concentrated up to date, stating what are those businesses, the number of firms closed down by this process and the number of nucleus firms left; whether concentration is being pursued further; and, if so, which industries are to be dealt with?

Concentration of production has been applied by my Department to nearly 70 branches of industry. Up to date, 6,156 nucleus certificates have been issued and 3,294 establishments have been closed. The only industries where concentration is now proceeding are the clothing and printing industries.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the desirability of not concentrating industries in those parts of the country which suffered severe industrial depression between the two wars and are likely to suffer it again when this war is over?

I think my hon. Friend knows that I am very deeply concerned to see that we do not have, so far as it is within our power to prevent it, any repetition of the state of affairs in prewar distressed areas. These concentration matters are a war-time provision, and it is laid down in the White Paper issued by my predecessor that the Government will give all facilities for the re-opening at the end of the war of businesses which have been closed down. I will, however, bear in mind what my hon. Friend said.

If my right hon. Friend concentrates some of these small businesses out of existence during the war, it does not follow that they will re-open at the end of the war.

Clothes Rationing (Heavy Industries)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the difficulty experienced by persons engaged in mining and other heavy industries in obtaining suitable clothes with the coupons now available, he is disposed to reconsider the position and increase the number of coupons allotted to them?

On all these matters I am advised by the T.U.C. Full particulars of the arrangements made, after consultation with the T.U.C., for meeting the special needs of miners and workers in other heavy industries were given in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) on 7th April last.

Are negotiations still pending between the T.U.C. and the right hon. Gentleman?

I am constantly in touch with them. They have regular meetings with my officers at the Board of Trade and we are constantly watching these matters. The latest provision that has been made is that, in addition to the General Occupational Supplement, there has been set up a special pool of coupons in each undertaking for workers in the heavy industries—in the case of miners and iron and steel workers at the rate of five coupons per head. These are distributed by committees on which the workers are represented.

I am quite aware of this arrangement, but it is because it is still unsatisfactory that I raised the question.

I am afraid that this and many other matters will go on being somewhat unsatisfactory until the end of the war.



asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that utility perambulators are made without extensions and without brakes; and, as without extensions these are generally useless for babies after about 10 months old, and as without brakes they frequently endanger the lives of their occupants, will he take steps to remedy these defects?

A large number of wartime perambulators are made with drop-ends and can, therefore, be adapted for use by older children. In view of the vital need to save material and labour, fitted brakes cannot now be provided, but a sufficient supply of leather strap brakes is available.

Bespoke Tailoring


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the dissatisfaction which exists among bespoke tailors concerning certain aspects of the operation of clothing control in its application to bespoke tailoring, and concerning the present methods of consultation with the clothing industry, he will arrange for the appointment of special officers in his Department to operate control in the bespoke clothing trade and for special consultation with the trade?

The organisations which represent the bespoke tailoring trade are already in constant touch with my Department, and I see no reason for appointing special officers to deal solely with matters affecting the bespoke trade.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the widespread dissatisfaction in the bespoke tailoring trade?

There are two organisations, the National Federation of Merchant Tailors and a more recent break-away organisation. I have seen both, and they have seen my Director-General of Civilian Clothing on several occasions, and we do our utmost to meet their requests, but I must frankly say that some of their requests are quite unacceptable in view of the present shortage.

To what extent are bespoke tailors represented on the committee which deals with tailoring and clothing generally?

The one that deals with tailoring and the wholesale manufacture of clothes.

There is one that advises us on which the National Federation is represented.

Works Of Art (Export)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that there is a steady drain to the United States of America of the richest treasures of this country in furniture, pictures, plate and the like; and whether he will lock into this situation and take the action best calculated to bring it to an end?

No articles more than 75 years old, nor any work of art, may be exported without a licence from the Board of Trade. When, in any particular case, my officers are in doubt whether export is in the public interest, they consult the Museum authorities and only issue a licence with their concurrence.

Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that there is an important outflow of objects of art from this. country, and does he not think, whatever private reasons may apply to a sale, there are solid public reasons for retaining for the nation these quite irreplaceable products of the crafts of a former generation?

I should be very grateful if the Noble Lord would give me examples of these rich treasure that are being exported. The answer that I have given suggests that there are sufficient safeguards, and the Museum authorities ought to be good judges of what it is in the public interest to retain in the country.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think there is, and has been, a considerable inflow of American money into this country and that to do a thing like this now would be one of the most foolish things we could do?

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that unless snobbish Americans buy the furniture of aristocratic houses, we shall not be able to pay for a Ministry of Social Security?

Does my right hon. Friend include in the export of treasures to America the Prime Minister?

I am afraid that I have failed to make myself cleat. There is a ban in the sense that an export licence from the Board of Trade must be obtained before any work of art is exported. That is a ban unless I raise it, and I keep it down if the Museum authorities want me to keep it down. I consult them on all cases of doubt.

Axis Powers (Supplies From Denmark And Rumania)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether he has any information as to the extent to which factories in Denmark are being utilised by the Germans for the production of war material and propelling plant; and what is his estimate of the amount of oil supplied to Germany from the Rumanian oilfields?

Yes, Sir. The Danish capacity for the manufacture of war material in the strict sense of the term is extremely small. There have, however, been deliveries to Germany ever since the occupation of small calibre A.A. guns, and there is reason to believe that such deliveries are still continuing. I have also received information showing that Danish firms have been engaged in the manufacture of engineering components for incorporation in items of war material assembled in German factories. The manufacture of propelling machinery in Denmark is largely a matter of marine diesel engine production, which was covered by the reply which I gave to my hon. and gallant Friend on 26th January. The value to the enemy of this manufacturing capacity is much reduced by the restrictions which his present oil position imposes upon his use of this type of engine. As regards the second part of the Question, it is estimated that oil supplies are now reaching Germany and Italy from Rumania at the rate of approximately three million tons a year.

Will my hon. Friend see that any target in Scandinavia and Denmark from which supplies are going to Germany is put on the list of those to be bombed by the Royal Air Force?

My answer is two-fold. While it is true that my Department has certain advisory functions in connection with bomb targets, the final responsibility for the selection of targets must always rest with the Air Ministry. Secondly, my hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that it is difficult to discuss specific bomb targets in public Debate.

But is not my hon. Friend aware that his Department submits possible targets to the Air Ministry?

War Office (Public Relations Officers)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the number of public relations and Press officers at the War Office, which was given in the official record in May, 1942, as 356 at a cost of £112,370, he can state what the increase or decrease has been in May, 1943; and whether the future policy of the War Office will be to reduce both the number and cost?

The net reduction in numbers since May, 1942, is 63. The future policy is under review.

Can my right hon. Friend tell me what is even now the necessity for such a very large number of people being employed by the War Office on this work, and can he say how many of this number are of military age? Is it not possible to get them reduced to a reasonable number? It is a very bad example.

I have answered Questions with regard to military age, but if the hon. Members wants the up-to-date figures, I would ask him to put a Question down. As regards the other part of the supplementary, I said that the future policy is under review, but I would like to point out that most of the complaints against the War Office are that the Army is not getting enough publicity.

British Army

Explosives (Accidents To Children)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can now give consideration to the question of the defence of contributory negligence against infants under the age of 16 who are injured in connection with explosives left by military personnel; whether, in view of the new type of danger now brought to children in this connection and the increased use of these explosives through intensified training, he will waive this defence in all cases where permanent injury is caused, so that in such cases compensation can always be paid for the benefit of the maimed victim?

My hon. Friend's proposal has been carefully and sympathetically considered. In questions of this kind I feel, however, that I must be guided by the general attitude of courts of law in similar cases. Children over 10 are usually regarded as capable of contributory negligence and I regret therefore that I do not feel justified in issuing a general direction as suggested by my hon. Friend. Every case is considered separately on its own merits and ex-gratia payments are often made and other assistance given notwithstanding contributory negligence. In conjunction with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education steps are being taken to bring these dangers to the notice of all concerned by means of posters and warnings issued to schools and on the wireless.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his sympathetic reply, may I ask him to impress on the authorities the great importance of not leaving about dangerous explosives which are the cause of these accidents?

I will certainly do my best to do that, but in the more realistic military training a certain amount of that becomes inevitable.

Home Guard (Bicycles)


asked the Secretary of State for War for what reason bicycles recently issued to Home Guard mobile platoons are being withdrawn?

I am not aware that any bicycles used by the Home Guard have been withdrawn, but if my hon. and gallant Friend will send me particulars of the cases he has in mind, they will be investigated.

Territorial Army Officers (Promotion)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will reintroduce substantive promotion in the Territorial Army that has been embodied?

I am not satisfied that there is sufficient case for changing the present policy under which Territorial Army officers receive promotion under war-time regulations only.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in some units Regular Army officers are receiving substantive promotion which has been denied to Territorial officers, and will he reconsider the matter?

Substantive promotion in the case of the Regular Army is based on the pre-war establishment.

Personnel, Prisoner Of War Camps


asked the Secretary of State for War the number of soldiers passed A.I and fit far military service who are now employed at prisoner of war camps; if they are eligible for service overseas; and whether he will consider replacing these men soon by men who are older and are not A.I, or who have already seen some active service?

About 850 non-commissioned officers and men employed at prisoner of war camps are under 40 and in medical category A.I. The position is reviewed from time to time, and as many A.I men are released as possible, but my hon. Friend will appreciate that a nucleus of these men is necessary as stiffeners for the large majority who are of low medical category.

Does the right hon. Gentleman seriously consider that a nucleus of these men is necessary to guard what are mostly Italian prisoners? Surely it is fantastic.

Prisoners Of War


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a further effort, through the Protecting Power, to obtain a full list of British prisoners in Japanese hands as a result of the fighting in the Malay Peninsula and the capitulation at Singapore?

The flow of notifications by the Japanese Government of the names of British prisoners of war in their hands has shown a distinct improvement lately, and I do not think that further representations through the Protecting Power at the present juncture would result in a speeding-up of the process.

In view of the fact that these lists were compiled over a year ago and have been deliberately withheld by the Japanese Government, will the British Government let it be known that the refusal of the Japanese Government to follow the practice of civilised countries will be borne in mind when the final reckoning is made?

There are a large number of other counts against the Japanese, and some of them much more serious than this. I have no doubt that all these things are being put down in the bill.

Is there a Protecting Power? I understood that the Swiss Government were unable to act in this respect.

There is a Protecting Power. My recollection is that they are not given the normal access which Protecting Powers in other cases are given.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is his intention that before long the bulk of the German prisoners captured in Tunisia and elsewhere will be employed on the land and on reconstruction work in this country?

For a variety of reasons I do not think that my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion is practicable.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that no communications have been received by some relatives of men held as prisoners of war in Campo P.G. 154 since October last; and can he say what action is being taken to trace the present location of these men?

As regards the first part of the Question, the answer is "Yes, Sir," and I regret to say that inquiries that have been made about individuals through the International Red Cross have failed to elicit any information about them. As regards the second part of the Question, urgent requests for information have been made to the Italian Government, but so far without result.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether any Service or battle-dress, the property of officers who have been taken prisoner, is at present being held in the baggage depots in the Middle East; and whether, in such cases, he will arrange for the despatch of the Service or battle-dress to the relative prison camp?

The kit of officers who are taken prisoner is held in the Middle East for a short time and then as shipping permits is sent back to this country for storage. The kit cannot be disposed of in the Middle East without the officer's directions, and before these were received the kit would in many cases have left the Middle East. Even if it had not, it would be difficult to implement my hon. Friend's proposal as the only means of sending things directly from the Middle East to enemy prison camps is by it lb. postal parcel, and I do not think it would be desirable for special arrangements to be made in the Middle East for opening officers' kits and sending them individual items of clothing.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is done frequently in many cases of individual officers, and has been done in the last six months?


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that seven weeks ago Roman Catholics in Oflag IX A/ H were transferred to Oflag IX A /Z; that this camp, where there are also many seriously wounded, is overcrowded, 570 being housed in accommodation which used normally to hold 100 to 150 girls; that washing, cooking and sanitary arrangements are very bad; and whether he will make representations, through the Protecting Power, with a view to the improvement of these conditions?

The answer to the first part of the Question is, "Yes, Sir." I understand that this move was made because there is a Roman Catholic chaplain at the new camp. I believe Oflag IX A /Z was formerly a boarding school for boys, but I do not know how many pupils it accommodated. The report of a visit carried out by the Protecting Power at the end of November, 1942, states that the washing and sanitary arrangements were adequate and that there were no complaints about the cooking arrangements. The camp was visited by a representative of the International Red Cross at the end of March. The telegraphic report on the visit states that the accommodation was then overcrowded and the sanitary installations inadequate. The full report is expected soon, and the attention of the Protecting Power will certainly be drawn to any unsatisfactory features it may disclose.

Has the right hon. Gentleman any idea why it is that the reports of the Protecting Power are so invariably optimistic and do not tally with the letters which we get from prisoners?

I could not give any general explanation about that, because it would be an admission of a general statement which I am not prepared to accept without a good deal of further investigation, but in this particular case there is an interval of four months between the two reports, and it is clear that the circumstances have altered materially.

In view of the distress that will be caused to relatives by a Question like this, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that certain officers, including myself, have received better reports from that camp than the Question of my hon. and gallant Friend implies? Also, I believe that not only the Red Cross but representatives of the Protecting Power visited the camp at the end of March or the beginning of April, and will the right hon. Gentleman get a special report?

One of the awkward features about conditions in prisoner-of-war camps is that we do get contradictory and conflicting testimony from prisoners in the same camp about conditions there.

Will the right hon. Gentleman get a special report from the Swiss Government? I understand that representatives of the Swiss Government visited the camp.



asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that the supplies of bitumen are now so restricted that various manufacturing processes are being seriously handicapped; and whether any considerable quantity of bitumen is being used on road and runway construction although available fluxed pitch could equally well be used for such purposes at a price much lower than bitumen?

In order to reduce the consumption of imported oil, it is the policy of my Ministry, with the co-opera tion of other Ministries, and of the industries concerned, to secure the fullest possible use of coal tar products in place of bitumen for manufacturing processes and for roads and runways. The quantity of bitumen used for road and runway construction is relatively small as compared with fluxed pitch, and I am advised by my right hon. and Noble Friend the Minister of War Transport that care is taken to ensure that bitumen is not used for such work if fluxed pitch could be used with satisfactory results.

Communist Party Organ, South Africa


asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs on what grounds "Inkululeko," official organ of the Communist Party of South Africa, is prohibited from entering the Protectorates of Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland; on what grounds the request by the Communist Party of South Africa for an interview with the High Commissioner for the Protectorates, in order to appeal against the ban, was refused; and whether, in view of the fact that "Inkululeko" is not restricted anywhere in the Union of South Africa, he will take steps to see that this prohibition is removed?

I am informed that the entry of this paper into the territories mentioned was originally prohibited by the Resident Commissioners, with the approval of the then High Commissioner, because of articles which had appeared in 1940 calculated to hamper the war effort. Though the views expressed in the paper have in some respects altered since the entry of Russia into the war, the High Commissioner feels that certain of the policies which it advocates are likely to be misunderstood by rural natives and cause unrest during the war. The High Commissioner thought it unnecessary to grant an interview to the Communist Party in South Africa in order to discuss the matter since it could suitably be dealt with by correspondence.

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that in general the natives will be more capable of understanding the message in this paper than is the High Commissioner, and will he not use his influence to get the paper into the hands of the natives?

Does the hon. Gentleman make that statement on the ground that the natives cannot read the paper?

House Of Commons' Members Fund


asked the right hon. and gallant Member for Rye, as representing the Trustees, whether he is aware that the income of the House of Commons Members' Fund, derived from the statutory contributions of hon. Members, is proving to be 10 times as great as the calls on the fund; and whether, in these circumstances, he will obtain an early report from the Government Actuary, as provided under Section 3 of the House of Commons Members' Fund Act?

I apologise for my absence last week when this Question first appeared on the Paper. An interim report from the Government Actuary was obtained in January, 1943. The actuarial status of the Fund is that the accumulated reserve is not yet sufficient to meet all estimated demands which may be expected in the near future.

In view of the fact that this is a domestic issue of some interest at the moment to Members of this House, will my right hon. and gallant Friend consult with the Patronage Secretary with a view to our having an occasional discussion about it, say once every two years? We have not had any opportunity of discussing the management of the Fund or the position since the Act was passed.

Will my right hon. and gallant Friend consider raising the minimum limit for giving pensions to people?

The limits are laid down by the Act under which we are working, and the Fund has not yet been in operation over a General Election. I think it is likely that we may get a great deal of fresh experience after the next General Election.

Fire Guard Duties (Women)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the date on which it is expected that the new Order respecting the liability of women for fire-watching duties will be issued?

The recent establishment of close working arrangements between the Fire Guard Service and the National Fire Service has made it necessary to introduce certain changes in the draft Orders. My right hon. Friend hopes, however, that he will be able to sign the Orders next month.

National Finance

Government Borrowing (Bank Loans)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that £1,500,000,000 new money has been created by the banks since the commencement of the war until the late autumn of 1942; and whether he is in a position to state what it costs to create this money?

I do not agree with the implication in the first part of the Question, nor do I follow the figure there given. I can only refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 11th May, to which I do not think I can usefully add.

Arising out of that most unsatisfactory reply, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that the figure given in the Question has been computed by a well-known authority on this subject, and if I put another Question down to my right hon. Friend, will he state specifically what he considers the amount of newly-created money to be?

No, Sir. As I guessed it, the figure had come from Stokes's Encyclopedia of Phrase and Fable. [Laughter.]

This is not a laughing matter. Has my right hon. Friend taken the trouble to assess for himself the amount of newly-created bank money since the war started? Does he not think it is one of his duties as Chancellor of the Exchequer to do so?



asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the fact that we pay 3 per cent. on £90,819,000 borrowed from the United States of America for war purposes, he proposes to invite the United States of America to borrow a similar amount from us at 3 per cent. to pay for a portion of supplies and services now rendered by us to the United States of America under Lend-Lease or to make other- suitable arrangement to the same effect?

No, Sir. This would not be in accordance with the Reciprocal Aid Agreement of 3rd September, 1942 (Cmd. 6389).

In view of the fact that probably most of the £90,000,000 mentioned was bogus bank-manufactured money, would it not be at least a gracious thing for the Government of the United States to suspend payment of interest for the duration of the war?

Post-War International Currency


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the theoretical aggregate of the quotas as defined in the Clearing Union plan, on the assumption that all the United Nations came into the scheme?

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for asking this Question. In the course of the Debate on the Clearing Union Plan I said that this aggregate amounted to £25,000,000,000. I should have said 25,000,000,000 dollars.

Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer satisfied that even his figure of 25,000,000,000 dollars is correct? Is it in fact the aggregate of the sum of the export and imports of the United Nations, or is it the 75 per cent. of that sum which is suggested as the basis of quotas in the Keynes plan?

Perhaps my right hon. Friend will allow me to consider that question, and I will give him a considered answer.

Old Age Pensions (Computation Of Income)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is his intention to bring the computation of income derived from capital in the case of persons claiming a non-contributory old age pension into line with the proposals relating to supplementary pensions in Clause I of the Pensions and Determination of Needs Bill now before Parliament?

Under the Pensions and Determination of Needs Bill the national income assumed to be derived from capital up to £400 would be substantially the same under both the Supplementary Pensions Scheme and the Non-contributory Old Age Pensions Scheme; beyond this point in the case of Supplementary Pensions capital is regarded as available to meet the applicant's needs. There are, however, respects in which the noncontributory pensioner in possession of capital has advantages over the supplementary pensioner, and assimilation of the two systems would clearly not be of benefit to the non-contributory pensioner.

Could the right hon. Gentleman explain whether what he is referring to concerns the calculation for the purpose of assessing whether the individual is entitled to a pension under the non-contributory scheme apart from the supplementary pension?

The matter I had in mind which made it clearly not of benefit to the non-contributory pensioner was the absence of the £400 limit which I have referred to in my answer and the special deduction from means not derived from earnings.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not think it is a little unfair that when a person hopes to get a pension he has first to submit to a calculation based on one set of figures, and that if he gets his pension and then has to apply for supplementary pension, his capital should be taken on an entirely different set of 'considerations?

Yes, Sir, that may be so, but it is to the advantage of the noncontributory pensioner. We shall have an opportunity when the Clause in the Bill comes before us to deal with the matter a little more fully.

Are the Government really going to proceed with the Bill, in view of the large number of abstentions and votes against it?

Officer Prisoners Of War, Italy (Income Tax)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether officer prisoners of war imprisoned in Italy are allowed a deduction from their income tax liability in respect of sums deducted from their pay for their maintenance in the prison camps?

In accordance with the normal practice, in the case of serving officers who are abroad, the Service pay, but not the family allowance, of a prisoner of war is assessed to United Kingdom Income Tax, and there is no deduction for amounts spent on maintenance. I understand, however, that in the cases to which my hon. Friend refers a special allowance is credited to the officer's account here towards the expenses on account of maintenance which have to be met from his pay issued in Italy, and this special /allowance, like the family allowance, is not charged to United Kingdom Income Tax.

United States Silver


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the price of the United States silver to be made available to industry will be fixed by the Government or by the bullion market; and whether the arrangements have the approval of the United States Administration?

The price of U.S. silver to be made available to industry will be fixed by the Treasury. This continues the existing arrangement, and the question of obtaining the approval of the U.S. Administration has not arisen.

Private Business (Notice To Members)

May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you have any statement to make in regard to the publication of notices concerning Private Business?

Yes. I have looked into this matter, and I can now announce that the office clerks in the Vote Office have instructions to draw the attention of Members calling for the Blue Papers to the Private Business sheet on any day when there is one published and on any such day the box containing Private Business sheets will be placed alongside the box for the Blue Papers in the Members' entrance. I hope that these arrangements will be sufficient to keep Members informed of Private Business to be taken in the House on any particular day.

Thank you very much indeed, Sir, for the great trouble you have taken in this matter.