Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 390: debated on Thursday 3 June 1943

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answers

Armed Forces (Pensions And Grants)

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has considered the representations from the Dumbarton County Council on the pension rights of parents whose sons have lost their lives on service; and what action he proposes to take?

These representations relate to the grant of a flat rate pension to parents in all cases irrespective of means. This matter was raised in the recent Debate on War Pensions, when I explained that I was not prepared to recommend that the proposal should be accepted and further consideration has not led me to change my view.

National Finance

Fitzwilliam Estate (Death Duties)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the late Earl Fitzwilliam left unsettled estate of no less than £1,311,458, of which £811,175 was net personalty, and that the duties charged on this were £52,044; and will he state the reason for this low charge of duty upon such a large estate?

The amount paid in respect of Estate Duty in the case to which my hon. Friend refers was £520,444.

Civil Service Pensions

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the basis upon which pensions are paid to members of the Civil Service; and whether such pensions are subject to any sliding scale in respect of the cost of living?

Apart from a few cases to which earlier arrangements apply, a civil servant's pension is calculated upon his average salary and pensionable emoluments for the last three years of his service at the rate of one-eightieth for each complete year of reckonable service, subject to a maximum of forty eightieths. It does not vary with the cost of living. A lump sum "additional allowance" equal to three times the annual amount of the pension, subject to a maximum of one and a half year's pensionable pay, is also paid on retirement.

Prison Service (Promotion)

asked the Home Secretary what has been done to eliminate the stagnation of promotion in the prison service?

If, as I assume, the hon. Member is referring to the prospects of promotion of male members of the prison disciplined staff, the position is that in 1938 such officers were promoted to the rank of principal officer on an average after just under sixteen years' service, and in 1942 and 1943 after just under seventeen years' service. The main cause of this change is that in present circumstances the man-power situation makes it right to retain fit and efficient officers in the posts of chief officer or principal officer up to the age of 6o instead of calling on them to retire, as was the normal pre-war practice, at the age of 55. The proportion, however, of higher posts to the total numbers employed is now higher than it was before the war, and additional higher posts are created whenever this is justified by the needs of the service.

asked the Home Secretary how many officers in the prison service have passed part II of the examination of officer for promotion to principal officer; how many of the successful candidates have been promoted; how many candidates for this part of the examination are awaiting examination; and what percentage of the officer grade can expect promotion to the principal officer grade?

There are at present 386 officers of the basic grade who have passed part II of the principal officers' examination; 193 officers who have passed the examination are now serving in the higher ranks and 35 applicants are awaiting examination. Out of 220 officers who have retired from the prison service during the last four years, 45 per cent. retired in grades higher than the basic grade. Success in the examination makes an officer eligible for promotion but is not the only factor that has to be considered when filling a vacancy.

Sentenced Man's Death (Investigation)

asked the Home Secretary whether he has investigated the case of Victor Kenneth Walker, sentenced on 2nd December, 1941, to 12 months' imprisonment for an offence on conscientious grounds, who, died some weeks after the end of his sentence; and what treatment was given him by the prison authorities after receipt of his brother's letter expressing alarm, on 20th April, 1942, and the first diagnosis of heart trouble, on 18th May, 1942?

Investigations into this case are still proceeding, and I will communicate with the hon. Member as soon as they have been completed.

Heavy Vehicles (Speed)

asked the Home Secretary whether, in the interests of the conservation of rubber and petrol, he will give instructions to the police force to prevent heavy vehicles on main roads, particularly in rural areas, from driving at speeds in excess of the legal limit?

It is generally recognised that excessive speed, particularly by heavy vehicles, leads to a disproportionate wear of tyres and consumption of petrol, and I have already asked the police to do all they can to secure observance of the speed limits.

Police Forces (Amalgamation)

asked the Home Secretary whether it is proposed to amalgamate any further police forces?

The question whether any further amalgamation of police forces may be called for in war-time depends on the development of the military situation, and I am not in a position to forecast what future military needs may be. I cannot, therefore, say more than that I have no further amalgamation schemes in contemplation at present.

Women Prisoners (Maternity Cases)

asked the Home Secretary the number of women prisoners received in the prisons of England and Wales during 1942; the number who were pregnant; the number of babies born in prisons; and the number of mothers whose young babies accompanied them into the prisons?

7,311 women prisoners were received in prisons in England and Wales during 1942. I have asked for a report on the number of babies born in prison and will send the figures to my hon. Friend as soon as they are received. I regret that separate statistics are not available showing the number of women who are pregnant or who are accompanied by young babies on reception into prison, and to obtain them would entail a special examination of prison records which I do not consider would be justified in present circumstances.

Public Health

Special Diets (Medical Certificates)

asked the Minister of Health whether, in cases where a patient requires his panel doctor to complete the necessary forms for certificates required under the food regulations to enable the patient to obtain special items of additional diet, such as milk and eggs, necessary for the patient's state of health, the doctor is authorised to charge his panel patient any fee for completing the necessary documents?

Insurance medical practitioners are required to give medical certicates only for the purposes of the National Health Insurance Acts. They are not forbidden to give and charge for certificates required for other purposes.

Tuberculosis (Free Treatment)

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that in the areas of certain local authorities tuberculosis officers are only prepared to give free treatment to post-sanatorium patients undergoing treatment for tuberculosis at times when those in employment are unable to attend, thus making it necessary for them to be treated outside the area of their own local authorities, in which event they have to pay for the treatment; and whether he will take steps to remove this anomaly, particularly in view of the steps which are being taken generally to give financial assistance to sufferers from this complaint and their dependants?

No, Sir. But, if my hon. and gallant Friend will send me particulars of any cases on which his Question is based, I will make further inquiry.

National Health Service

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the misapprehensions resulting from his negotiations with the British Medical Association on his proposals for a National Health Service, he will renew the Government's assurance that Assumption B of Sir William Beveridge's Report still forms part of the Government's policy?

Camp Schools (Cost)

asked the Minister of Health what is the weekly cost per child of maintaining the camp at Hemel Hempstead run by the National Camps Corporation; what is the average cost of similar camps throughout the country; what is the reason for difference; and what steps are taken to ensure that these camps are economically and efficiently run?

The average weekly cost per child of maintaining the camp at St. Margarets Farm, Hemel Hempstead, for the year ended 31st March, 1943, was 25s. 7d., the average weekly cost for the remaining 29 camps being 26s. The difference of 5d. is due to the varying number of children in each of the camps and to local variations in wages. An expert manager has been appointed in each camp and continual supervision is exercised by the corporation with a view to securing economical and efficient running of the camp.

River Pollution

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning to what ex- tent he bears the responsibility for the prevention of the pollution of rivers, as this is vital to the preservation of natural amenities.

Responsibility under the Rivers Pollution Prevention Acts, 1876 and 1893, rests locally with local authorities and river boards, and centrally with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health. I also bear a responsibility under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1932, since rivers may be affected by the allocation of land for industrial purposes under a planning scheme and by permissions to erect industrial buildings. In relation to such matters when they came before me I should consider the danger of river pollution in consultation, if necessary, with my right hon. Friend.

National Parks

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning, whether any districts have as yet been scheduled for national parks; and, if so, which?

No, Sir. But I am making preliminary investigations to ascertain which areas might be selected for this purpose.


Assistance Board Office, Johnstone

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the closing down of the local office of the Unemployment Assistance Board in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, and of the resulting hardship to those who have to apply to the board's office and particularly to old age pensioners who have to travel to Paisley, in many cases at great inconvenience; and whether he will reconsider the decision to close down this office?

My right hon. Friend is aware that in the interests of economy of 'staff, the Assistance Board have closed their office at Johnstone. As, however, old age pensioners are seldom required to visit an office of the Board, it is not thought that the closing will cause them inconvenience,. Under normal practice pensioners are visited at their own homes, and they are given post free forms on which they can request a visit by a Board's officer at any time if they wish to raise matters with which the Board is concerned.

Teachers (Recruitment And Supply)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in connection with the post-war extension and improvement of education, he is studying the cause of the scarcity of teachers and especially the question of pay in comparison with the higher salaries offered for analogous work in other civil activities; and whether he can make a statement on his intentions to meet adverse criticism in this respect?

The Advisory Council on Education in Scotland are considering whether the existing arrangements for the recruitment and supply of teachers in Scotland are adequate. In their consideration of this question the Council will no doubt have regard to the salaries obtaining in the teaching and other comparable professions. They have been asked for an early report.

Food Supplies

Retail Prices (Subsidies)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food in connection with the subsidies and applied trading profits of £137,000,000 voted to keep down the cost of living, what, in the case of each main commodity, this represents in £ s. d. on retail prices?

The figure of £137,000,000 represents the approximate annual rate of subsidy on foodstuffs in the quarter ended 31st March, 1942, as stated by my Noble Friend in another place on r4th July, 1942. I informed the House on 13th May, 1943, that the cost of food subsidies for the year ended 31st March, 1943, was approximately £145,000,000 net, and, if I may be allowed to base my reply on these up-to-date figures, the subsidies represent in the case of the principal commodities concerned reductions in retail prices of the following amounts:Bread, 2d. per quartern; flour, 3½d. per 7 lbs.; meat 1½ per 1b.; milk, ½d. per quart; potatoes, 3½d. per 7 1b.; eggs, 1s. 9d. per dozen; sugar, 2⅓d. per 1b. on sugar other than for manufacturing purpose.In addition the National Milk Scheme provides for the sale of milk at 2d. per pint (or free) to beneficiaries as compared with the current retail price of 4d. or 4½d. per pint.

Soya Sausages

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he can give any information in connection with the making of soya sausages; whether it will be compulsory to have meat content of 37½ per cent.; and when the sausages will be commenced?

In reply to the first part of the Question, directions for the making of soya sausages will be issued to all concerned. As the matter is somewhat technical I have sent to my hon. Friend a copy of these directions. In reply to the second part of the Question the answer is in the affirmative, but there will be a limited tolerance above and below 37½ per cent. In reply to the last part of the Question the new arrangements will come into force in respect of the soya content on 25th July and somewhat earlier in respect of the meat content, but sausage makers are being encouraged to apply the new recipe as soon as they secure their supplies of soya, distribution of which is now in train.

Soap Manufacture (Restriction)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is now in a position to issue a list of the soap and fat-splitting factories now closed and scheduled for closing?

Notification to cease manufacturing soap has been issued to 27 firms. Of these, only four have actually transferred production to essential factories, so far. It is not considered desirable to publish the list of firms just mentioned, but I shall be happy to let my hon. Friend have a copy for his confidential information.

Housing (Post-War Subsidies)

asked the Minister of Health whether, in any scheme of State subsidies for post-war housing, he will consider a different rate of subsidy for houses specially earmarked for larger families?

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given on 17th March to my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. Bossom). In the discussions with local authority associations, no practicable basis of subsidy will be overlooked.

Great Britain And United States (Mutual Aid Agreement)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the Government in the United States of America are keeping a close record of supplies under Lend-Lease, and how he proposes to deal with any claim made against this country at the end of the war, in view of the fact that no similar strict account is being kept of any supplies or services rendered by this country to the United States?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the Mutual Aid Agreement of 23rd February, 1942. Our position will not, in my judgment, be prejudiced by the fact that we do not keep a strict monetary account of the value of supplies and services rendered by this country to the United States. I explained in my Budget Speech why we do not do so.

Travel To India (Women And Children)

asked the Secretary of State for India whether the ban on the wives of some 200 Civil servants who desire to rejoin their husbands in India can be lifted as soon as possible; and whether some priority passages will be arranged with the shipping companies for these ladies to travel to India?

I am afraid that I have nothing to add to the answer given on 1st June to the Question by the hon. and gallant Member for Blackburn (Sir W. Smiles), a copy of which I am sending to my hon. and gallant Friend.

Disabled Servicemen (Artificial Limbs)

asked the Minister of Pensions why only two artificial legs are given to disabled service men, however long they live; what is the cost of such limbs and their period of effective use; and how such men should provide themselves with additional limbs in later life?

As regards the first part of the Question, disabled ex-service pensioners are not limited to the initial issue of two artificial legs, as the limbs are repaired and renewed, at the expense of the Ministry, as and when found necessary by the Department's Limb Surgeons. The period of effective use of an artificial leg may be as much as, 20 years but depends on several factors, such as occupation of wearer, the personal care given by the pensioner to the limb and his willingness to co-operate in maintaining the limb in effective condition. The remaining parts of the Question do not therefore arise.

Building Industry (Junior Technical Schools)

asked the President of the Board of Education what progress has been made in the establishment of junior instructional schools for boys intending to enter the building industry; and whether opportunities will be given to girls desiring entry into appropriate sections of this industry?

Since the issue last February of the Board's Circular 1582 to local education authorities asking for a considerable expansion of junior technical schools for building, 95 new schools or extensions of existing schools have been opened; providing for an annual intake of 3,146 pupils. Eleven further new schools or extensions are expected to open shortly for an additional annual intake of 485. These schools are of a pre-apprenticeship type for the training of boys in the building crafts. Authorities would, I am sure, make facilities available for girls to train for openings in the industry that may be appropriate for them.

Ministry Of Information (Mr H P Smollett)

asked the Minister of Information, what was the nationality of Mr. H. P. Smollett, head of the Soviet Relations Division of the Ministry, before he became naturalised, and his name before he changed it to Smollett?

I cannot delve into the private life of a civil servant in order to satisfy the curiosity of the hon. and gallant Member. Mr. Smollett's appointment fulfilled the usual conditions governing the employment of naturalized British subjects in the Government service.

German Airman's Burial, Weston-Super-Mare

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he can give any information in connection with the German airman found dead on the beach at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, who was buried with military honours near the communal grave of people killed in air-raids?

The body of a German airman was found on the foreshore at Burnham-on-Sea on 24th May and was buried with Service honours at Weston-super-Mare cemetery on 27th May in accordance with the obligations of. His Majesty's Government under the Geneva Convention, 1929. The burial took place in a section of the cemetery reserved for Service personnel which is some zoo-30o yards from the nearest civilian graves. Enemy dead have previously been interred in this plot.

Furniture, Requisitioning

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works the Government's policy in regard to the taking over of furniture, crockery and the like owned by hotel proprietors and others which is not actually in use but is genuinely required as a reserve against damage and breakages?

Certain stocks of furniture not actually in use by hotel proprietors have been requisitioned by my Department for urgent war purposes. I am always prepared to consider sympathetically any representations against taking furniture genuinely required to replace damage and breakages. It is not the practice to requisition crockery. The basis of payment for furniture requisitioned and the arrangements made to enable owners to repurchase similar types of furniture after the war are stated in my reply to the hon. Member for Horncastle (Mr. Haslam) of 18th November last, of which I am sending the hon. and gallant Member a copy.

Ration Books And Identity Cards (Distribution)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware of the serious inconvenience caused to residents in the hamlet of Out-wood, Surrey, by being required to apply at Oxted for their ration books and identity cards as there is no omnibus service and the nearest station is three miles away and the train journey involves a change and a minimum cost of 2s.; and whether he will make some other arrangements?

I would refer the hon. Member to my general statement yesterday on this matter in reply to the hon. Members for the Isle of Wight (Captain P. Macdonald), New Forest and Christchurch (Colonel Mills), Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) and Colchester (Mr. Lewis). I am advised that in order to eliminate inconvenience to residents in Outwood an arrangement has been made for a local resident to collect the documents on behalf of the others and I understand that this arrangement is working successfully.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether his attention has been drawn to the inconvenience to residents in rural districts in being forced to attend at main food offices in order to draw their new ration books and identity cards, for instance, to obtain their cards for the three residents in one house in Gerrards Cross, whose names begin with different letters, three separate journeys to Slough will be necessary, a total distance of 45 miles; and whether he will arrange that a single householder be empowered to collect all the household's cards or that their cards be made obtainable at sub-food offices?

I would refer the hon. Member to my general statement yesterday on this matter in reply to the hon. Members for the Isle of Wight, New Forest and Christchurch, Gorbals and Colchester. Arrangements have been made both to enable the ration books of all the residents in any one house to be collected on a single occasion and for a sub-office to be opened at a later date for the distribution of ration books in the Gerrards Cross Area.

Aircraft Factories (Accidental Fires)

asked the Minister of Aircraft Production whether he can give any further explanation of the r,000 fires which occur daily in factories; and what is the aggregate loss in money represented and in working time?

The figure quoted in my recent speech referred to the total number of fires of all descriptions occurring daily—not all of them in factories or industrial units. So far as fires in aircraft factories are concerned, an analysis of reported fires indicates that approximately 50 per cent. are caused by cigarette smoking; 25 per cent. arise our of industrial process, the balance being due to miscellaneous causes. I an doing everything possible to impress on all concerned the dangers of negligence and the need for the utmost care being exercised. I regret that I am unable to give the information asked for in the last part of the Question.

British Prisoners Of War, Germany (Raf Raid)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, with a view to allaying the anxiety of relatives of prisoners of war in Germany, he can state whether any British lives were lost as the result of the destruction of the Mohne and Eder dams?

The German High Command stated that no British prisoners of war lost their lives as a result of the Royal Air Force raid on the Moline and Eder dams. This information was handed to the B.B.C. and the Press on 24th May and was given to the public by them.

Tinplate And Steel Works, Wales

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the closing down of the Glanrhydd tinplate works, Pontardawe, Messrs. Richard Thomas and Company, Limited, and that a large number of men employed at Messrs. Gilbertson and Company, Limited, have received notice to terminate contracts; will he take steps to restart Glanrhydd and have the notices withdrawn at the other; is he also aware that a number of skilled men have already been taken away from this area to congested areas in England; and will he give assurances that, if these industries are to close permanently, steps will be taken to establish new industries in the area where all the facilities are available for industrial purposes and for accommodating the workers?

I have been asked to reply. I am informed that the discharging of men from Messrs. Gilbertson and Company's steel works was due to a change in the type of orders handled, although the total output of the works was not reduced. The Glanrhyd tinplate works was closed down for the same reason as the Dynevor works, about which I replied to the hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) on 2nd June. With regard to the remainder of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to what I said in that reply to which at the moment I cannot add anything.