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Written Answers

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 25 May 1943

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Written Answers

Trade And Commerce

Utility Furniture, South Wales

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that dealers in utility furniture in Swansea have been informed by the manufacturers that a waiting period of over six months is operating on all orders; and, as this is causing distress amongst people who have waited for years to renew furniture destroyed by enemy action, whether he will expedite the delivery of this furniture?

I am aware that there have been delays in delivery of utility furniture in South Wales. I have taken special steps to stimulate production there and I trust that, as a result, deliveries will soon be speeded up.

Medical Supplies, Middle East

asked the President of the Board of Trade why a system of bulk markets has been introduced for British medicines exported to the Middle East; and what steps have been taken by his Department to ensure retention of the individual trade and good will of proprietary medicines affected?

The system of bulk indents for medical supplies for the Middle Eastern territories was introduced in order to ensure a steady flow of these essential requirements, many of which are in short supply, from the United Kingdom and the United States of America and to establish a fair distribution between these territories. The question of including proprietary medicines is now being examined in Cairo by a representative of my Department.

Schools (Clothinǵ Requirements)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the clothing regulations of some boarding schools, both for girls and boys, where the school authorities insist on the same number and types of garments and underwear as in pre-war times; and whether he will circulate to all such school authorities a notice pointing out the severe strain their policy imposes on parents' coupons and informing them that overalls and simple underclothes will be supplied at special rates?

My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education has already issued two circulars, copies of which I am sending to my hon. and gallant Friend, asking schools to reduce to a minimum their clothing requirements. Many schools have already complied with this request and I hope that Cue remainder will fail into line.

Women's Junior Air Corps (Uniforms)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it is possible for the Women's Junior Air Corps to have their uniforms coupon free, in the same way as the Sea Cadets, Army Cadets and the Air Training Corps have their uniforms, or a proportion of their uniforms, coupon free?

Uniforms for the pre-Service training units, namely the Sea Cadets, Army Cadets and Air Training Corps are issued by the Service Departments, and do not come out of civilian supplies. Owing to the increasing stringency of these supplies, I regret that I cannot make any coupon concession for the uniform of the Women's Junior Air Corps or other similar youth organisations.

British Army

Ats (Discharǵed Personnel, Clothing Allowance)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can now make an announcement that discharged members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service are to receive an increased clothing allowance?

I have nothing at present to add to the answer given to my hon. Friend on 13th May on this subject.

Troops, North Africa (Reading Matter)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is satisfied with the supply of books and literature to the Forces in North Africa; and, if not, what steps he proposes to take to improve the situation?

As a result of the arrangements I described in an answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) on 6th April, of which I will send the hon. Member a copy, the troops in North Africa are now reasonably well supplied with books and other reading matter. I would not go so far as to say that I was satisfied but everything possible is being done to maintain and improve the supply.

Dufay Air Photo Process

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to the Dufay air photo process which has recently been made available; and whether, in view of the moral value of this process, he will do everything possible to facilitate its development and use?

Hut Accommodation, Northern Ireland

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the sleeping accommodation in Nissen huts and wooden huts in Northern Ireland has been reduced in cubic space per man, without any additional ventilation being provided, and that wooden huts previously accommodating 19 men are now to accommodate 28; will he see that the health of the men is not impaired through lack of sufficient ventilation; and if the medical authorities have approved of this?

It has been necessary to issue instructions to increase the number of men sleeping in huts but only if adequate ventilation approved by the medical authorities is provided. If my hon. Friend will send me particulars of the cases to which he refers I will have them investigated.

House Of Commons Official Report (Public Libraries)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what percentage of public libraries avail themselves of the privilege of purchasing copies of Hansard at the reduced rates?

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what are the arrangements for the supply of copies of Hansard at reduced prices to public libraries?

The arrangements are that public libraries may obtain Government publications, including Hansard, at half price.

>National Finance

Old Aǵe Pensions

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any consideration has been given to the fall of income of old persons of 70 years of age applying for an old age pension, owing to the lessened return from investments held by them, such as those of building societies, etc.; whether the total amount of income from investments is still reckoned on the old basis; and what the limit of capital investments is for a single person and a married couple to receive full pension?

The question of the treatment of capital held by claimants for noncontributory old age pensions was reconsidered when the Pensions and Determination of Needs Bill now before the House was in preparation, and it was decided to propose no change. In the case of a single person whose yearly means are derived wholly from invested capital, the full rate is payable, unless the capital held£865. When the claimant is one of a married, couple living together in the same house, the full rate is payable unless the capital held by both exceeds £1,730.

Income Tax (Allied Government Officials)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Allied Government officials resident in the United Kingdom are favoured with statutory exemption from United Kingdom Income Tax or treated as privileged in this respect; and whether he will furnish a statement subdividing the total figure according to nationalities?

I regret that the statistics collected in relation to Income Tax do not enable me to furnish the information asked for in my noble Friend's Question.

Seaside Resorts (Schedule A Assessments)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, as the war draws to a close, he will consider whether any special assistance in regard to Schedule A assessment can be given to residents in seaside resorts especially exposed to enemy action?

I am afraid I could not see my way to propose a special relief from taxation in the,cases to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers.

Detainees (Letters To Members Of Parliament)

asked the Home Secretary whether letters from 18B detainees to Members of Parliament are subject to any censorship other than on security grounds; and whether note is taken of their contents for reference when the cases of such detainees come up for review?

All letters from persons under detention are examined before being despatched, and there have been—as I have informed the House—some exceptional cases where letters to M.Ps. have been referred to me for instructions before being sent on. Whether there has been a case in which the contents of such a letter have been thought to be relevant to a review of the writer's case I could not say without lengthy research, but if the hon. Member has some particular case in mind I shall be glad on receipt of particulars to look into it.

Employment Of Children (Newspaper Delivery)

asked the Home Secretary what is the policy of his Department towards the varying employment of children over 12 years of age so far as the delivery of newspapers is concerned?

By Section 18 of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, Parliament placed it within the discretion of local education authorities to decide whether children over 12 may be employed for not more than one hour before school. About no local authorities have by-laws permitting children to be so employed in the delivery of newspapers.

Open-Cast Coal-Mining (Workers Under 30)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works whether any undue proportional entry of persons under 30 years of age has taken place in winning coal by open-cast methods?

I have no evidence of any undue proportional entry of men under 30 years of age to this work, which is classified as civil engineering contracting. The men concerned have been transferred from other civil engineering contracting work and are subject to the same rules as to call-up, deferment and transfer as apply to other workers in that industry.

Food Supplies

Dehydrated Veǵetables

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he will hold off the market till the coming winter all the dehydrated vegetables which are now being treated?

A small number of firms produce insignificant quantities of dehydrated vegetables, which they at present market themselves. Under the Ministry scheme, dehydrated vegetables are produced for disposal to the Services only, and none of these products is at any time sold on the market.

Ration Books And Identity Cards (Distribution)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware of the inconvenience caused, especially to rural elderly persons and young mothers, holders of ration and identity cards, by having to present them at distant food offices in local towns, where in many cases the distance to be travelled is from six to nine miles each way at a time when transport is very scarce, very dear, and always overcrowded; and whether he will consider allowing cards to be issued by volunteer agents in parishes, as was done in the first instance?

I am aware that some inconvenience to the public is inevitable in connection with the issue of new ration books and identity cards. This should not necessarily involve persons such as those mentioned by my hon. Friend as the single visit necessary can be made by a friend. It is not possible to adopt any of the methods which have been used in previous years. The close association of the food ration book, clothing ration book and the identity card, itself a matter of great convenience to the public, necessitates strict security conditions and very careful handling. Furthermore the staff of Officials which can be made available is very limited. The issue is being spread over a number of weeks and its effects will be closely watched. Every endeavour will be made to minimise inconveniences locally.

Retail Food Prices

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he can give figures showing the changes in the retail prices of the basic foodstuffs since the beginning of the war?

According to the statement appearing in the "Ministry of Labour Gazette" for April, 1943, the changes between 1st September, 1939, and 1st April, 1943, in the retail prices of the foods included in the cost of living index, which comprise the majority of the basic foodstuffs consumed in this country, were as follow:

Percentage Increase (unless otherwise shown).Per cent
Beef British—
Ribs11
Thin Flank27
Beef Chilled or Frozen—
Ribs35
Thin Flank23
Mutton British—
Legs13
Breast8
Mutton Frozen—
Legs16
Breast
Bacon50
Fish32
Flour26
Bread9
Tea21
Sugar (granulated)1 (decrease)
Milk32
Butter—
Fresh21
Salt31
Cheese30
Margarine—
Special12
Standard12
Eggs (fresh)1
Potatoes5

On the basis of the above figures the average level of retail food prices at 1st April, 1943 was nearly 20 per cent. higher than at the beginning of September, 1939.

Railings Removal, Renfrew-Shire

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works whether is, is aware that the regulations of his Department, by the removal of the railings which divide back gardens in Renfrewshire, result in serious damage to. planted vegetable gardens by the engines of removal and exposure to depredation by dogs and children, thereby handicapping those who are responding to the "Dig for Victory" campaign; and if he will take steps to alter these regulations?

Yes, Sir; I am again examining the instructions with a view to meeting the conditions referred to by the hon. and gallant Member.

Parcels From United States

asked the Postmaster-General the number of parcels, and their weight, received from America and delivered to houses in Great Britain for the years 1938, 1940, 1941, 1942 and 1943, respectively?

The number and weight of parcels for civil addresses from the United States of America, to which I understand the hon. Member refers, are as follow:

Number of Parcels.Weight in Tons (estimated)
1938405,0001,270
1940155,000490
1941435,0001,350
1942815,0001,450
March Qtr., 1943145,000250
I regret that no records are kept distinguishing parcels delivered to private houses from those delivered to other civil addresses.

Black-Listed Schools

asked the President of the Board of Education the number of black-listed schools, provided and non-provided, in England and Wales, county by county, up to the most recent date?

I am sending the hon. Member a copy of an answer I gave on 13th May giving,the total number of black-listed schools, provided and non-provided respectively. I do not think that time and labour should be spent on further analysis of the list, since the passage of time—the list is 18 years old—and the effects of the war, particularly enemy action, have made it out of date. A new survey of school premises will be an essential preliminary of post-war educational reconstruction.

Air-Crew Volunteers (Air Training Corps)

asked the Secretary of State for Air what percentage of air-crew personnel recalled to Royal Air Force service from deferred service during the three months ended 31st March, 1943, received training with the Air Training Corps?

Of the volunteers for air-crew duties on deferred service who were recalled to the Royal Air Force during the three months ended 31St January, 1943, 28 per cent. were members of the Air Training Corps and 45.5 per cent. had been attached to the corps for training after attestation. A total of 73.5 per cent. had, therefore, received training with the Air Training Corps. Later figures are not available.