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Civil Aviation

Volume 390: debated on Wednesday 30 June 1943

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Quantas Empire Airways


asked the Secretary of State for Air what requests Mr. Fysh, of Quantas Empire Airways, has made for concessions or co-operation for operating his company; and whether any statement can be made?

No requests for concessions have been made. Quantas Empire Airways, of which Mr. Fysh is Managing Director, are associated with the British Overseas Airways Corporation and were partners in the operation of the U.K.-Australia service before the Japanese invasion of Malaya. The purpose of Mr. Fysh's visit was to discuss with the Corporation matters of mutual interest. I am accordingly not in a position to make a statement, except to say that, according to my information, the visit has been most valuable to all concerned.

Do I understand from that answer that Mr. Fysh got exactly what he came to get?

No, I said that I was not in a position to make a statement, except to say that according to my information his visit was most valuable to all concerned. I can inform the hon. Lady that Mr. Fysh has been seen by Ministers and has had frequent contact with Air Ministry officials, who have benefited by his views and ideas.

No; this is a domestic matter between the British Overseas Airways Corporation and Mr. Fysh. If the hon. Lady would ask the Corporation, they may be in a position to tell her what the result will be.

Flying Boats


asked the Minister of Aircraft Production whether the firms who have been commissioned to evolve designs for post-war civil aviation have to take into consideration sea-plane as well as land-plane construction?

No, Sir. In accordance with the advice of Lord Brabazon's Committee, existing plans will produce flying boats suitable for post-war civil use.

Shelmerdine Report


asked the Minister without Portfolio whether it is now proposed to publish the Shelmerdine Report on Civil Avation; and what is the reason for the delay in doing so?

It is not proposed to publish this Report, which deals with secret and confidential matters.

War Factories (Fires)


asked the Minister of Aircraft Production whether he will arrange that the substance of his recent address on the wastage of effort and material that arises from constant fires occurring in war factories, caused in the majority of cases by the carelessness of individuals, receives publicity in all war factories?

Yes, Sir. All Government Departments are co-operating to see that this matter receives the utmost publicity in all war factories.

Colonial Subjects (Commissions And War Honours)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will consider publishing the number and ranks of Colonial subjects and, in particular, those of the West Indies and West Africa who hold commissions in His Majesty's Forces, and those who have won honours for courageous or meritorious conduct during the course of the war?

I am looking into the matter and will write to my hon. Friend as soon as it is clear what information is available.

When the Minister finds it possible to make a statement, will he do so publicly in this House, because numbers of West Africans and other Colonials will appreciate very much a statement of this character?

I will give it the utmost publicity I can, but I am not quite sure that I can give accurate information in the form in which the hon. Member has asked for it, and I would like to be in a position to write to him first.

Mauritius (Development And Welfare)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether detailed consideration, with a view to prompt action, is being given to the Report of Major St. J. Orde Browne, as to the improvement of the condition of the workers in Mauritius, described by him as a poorly paid, under nourished and sickly population?


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, arising out of the Orde Browne Report, comprehensive plans are now being prepared for improvements in regard to health, economic and sub-economic housing and nutrition in Mauritius; and whether he will make a substantial grant from the Colonial Welfare and Development Fund to assist the Colony in these directions as soon as circumstances permit the work to be commenced?

The Governor of Mauritius has under consideration the recommendations in Major Orde Browne's Report, and will, I am sure, lose no time in submitting plans prepared in the light of those recommendations. An anti-malarial unit is operating at Mauritius at present, and a malarial engineer is shortly being sent to Mauritius at the Governor's request, to prepare, in conjunction with the local authorities, long-range plans for reducing the incidence of malaria. A nutrition unit is also working in the Island, and plans for further extension of its activities are awaited. I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Leicester (Major Lyons) that any applications for assistance under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act to, forward these, and other schemes for improvement, will be most sympathetically considered.

As Major Orde Browne's Report is now getting old, can we have some action?

Everything will be done as quickly as possible in so far as war conditions will permit, but the hon. Gentleman must realise that both materials and labour are extremely scarce in Mauritius at the moment.

Omnibus Facilities (Workers)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that the withdrawal of unlimited travel facilities by the West Yorkshire Road Car Company, Limited, and other omnibus operators, increases the cost to the workers without curtailing travel, as most journeys made by contract tickets are unavoidable; and whether he will issue instructions that some other method of curtailing travel is to be sought?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport
(Mr. Noel-Baker)

I regret that I cannot accept the assumptions made by my hon. Friend in his Question. The withdrawal of tickets allowing an unlimited number of journeys has undoubtedly reduced the amount of unnecessary travel and has, I believe, done so without causing any avoidable hardship. In the area to which my hon. Friend refers, multiple journey tickets or daily workmen's return tickets have been substituted for unlimited travel tickets. They are available on the outward journey up to 9 a.m. and are also provided for Sunday and night shift workers. Some workmen's tickets are cheaper and are available till a later hour than they were before. Similarly, for some tickets which allow six return journeys a week, the fare is less, while in others where there is an increase, the amount of the increase is very small.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the implication of his statement is that workmen will take their meals in restaurants instead of at home, thus throwing a burden on the Ministry of Food, and, further, is he aware that this step has caused great indignation, as has been shown by the many petitions and resolutions of councils?

I regret that we have had to make similar arrangements in many different parts of the country. They have caused a certain amount of inconvenience to begin with, but they were accepted as being necessary in the national interest.

Will the hon. Gentleman reconsider this matter to see that workers are not charged more; under the new conditions and so that they can go back in the middle of the day?

As I have explained, in some cases workers are actually being charged less. Where the charge is higher it is only a very little higher, and I think that on the whole it has come out extremely well.

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that facilities are adequate, especially in the Elland Division, where they are all cross-country and there is no real sectional transport road?

The definition of the word "adequate" varies according to what the hon. Member has in mind. Unfortunately, we have to do the best we can with our limited resources, and we have to hold the balance equally between the different areas.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that some workers are paying 16 guineas a year more under the new travel system?

African And West Indian Colonies (Income Tax)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will set out the current rates of Income Tax in the East African, West African and West Indian British Colonies, respectively?

Income Tax in the Colonies is in general assessed at a fixed rate in the case of companies and a table of the company rates in the Colonies referred to will be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT. In the case of individuals there are many varying rates in each Colony, according to the person's income; and the deductions allowed in respect of a wife, children, etc., vary between the different Colonies. It is not, therefore, possible to draw up a simple statement giving the information asked for. The minimum and maximum rates of tax (including Surtax) in those Colonies will, however, also be included in the table circulated with the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the table:

(rate in £)(rate in £)

East Africa:

Northern Rhodesia601080

West Africa:

Gold Coast{Income Tax legislation is to be introduced this year based on the Nigerian legislation.
Sierra Leone

West Indies:

British Guiana501120
British Honduras50126

Leeward Islands:

Virgin IslandsNilNilNil
St. Kitts-Nevis701136

Windward Islands:

St. Vincent404106
St. Lucia506100

Shipping Companies (Reserves)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether his attention has been called to the accounts of the ship liner companies and their accumulations of profit and, in particular, to the recently published accounts of the Ocean Steamship Company, Limited, which has a nominal capital of £425,337, with, in addition, accumulated reserves which have increased from £5,390,241 in 1939 to £9,676,283 in 1942; and whether he proposes to take any steps to reduce freights or revise agreements which permit of such increments?

My Ministry receive and scrutinise the published accounts of the shipping companies. In determining rates and conditions of hire, however, and for other financial purposes, we take all relevant information into account, and do not rely on these Accounts alone. If my hon. Friend will look at the accounts of the Ocean Steamship Company again, he will see that the increase in reserves to which he draws attention includes the insurance money paid for ships which have been lost. I am sure he will agree that adequate reserves should be held for the replacement of tonnage after the war. In general, the present arrangements are designed to allow a reasonable return to owners for the use of their ships, but the rates of hire are subject to revision from time to time, and I should like to assure my hon. Friend that, in the future as in the past, the whole matter will be very closely watched.

Is my hon. Friend aware that after the last war there was a sense of horror among people when they saw the great fortunes left by shipowners, that figures of this kind, unless carefully checked, might lead to a similar situation after this war and that it would be considered a great reflection on his Department unless a careful check was kept?

My hon. Friend may be assured that fortunes on the scale made after the last war are not now being made. With regard to these figures, we must remember that the shipping companies show their fleets in their accounts at a depreciated value when they have been written down year after year, whereas they insure them at their full replacement value.

Are we to understand that my hon. Friend is doing everything possible to prevent any impairment of the capitalist system?

My hon. Friend may understand what he likes, but I think, if he examines the thing, he will see that this is a pretty fair arrangement all round.

Is the hon. Gentleman sure that there will be adequate employment after the war in shipbuilding and the Merchant Navy?

Channel Tunnel


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether, in view of the success of the tunnel underneath the Mersey, he has now made plans for tunnelling under the Channel in order that, after the war, easy access for road and rail traffic may be made available between this country and the Continent?

Will the hon. Gentleman reconsider his answer in view of the fact that employment results when there are easy communications and access to trade? In making plans for the future, is not this an important consideration?

I do not want to express an opinion on the merits of the Channel Tunnel, in favour of which I have spoken in the past, but no new plans can be made except in co-operation with the authorities who rule on the other side of the Channel, and it is premature to hope that the present authorities will give it their help.

Would it not be advisable to give priority to a tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland, of which the distance would be only 19 miles, say, between Portpatrick and Donaghadee?

Shipwrecked Seamen (Wages And Leave Concessions)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he has a statement to make as to the payment of full wages to shipwrecked seafarers and at whose charge and the commencing date of same?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for this opportunity of saying that my Ministry, in agreement with the shipping industry and with the representatives of the officers' and men's societies, have recently revised the arrangements made for shipwrecked seamen. In future, every shipwrecked seaman will receive full wages, including his war risk money, until he returns to the United Kingdom, or until he is offered employment in another ship or manning pool abroad. He will also be granted, on arrival in the United Kingdom, 14 days' special shipwreck leave, with full pay, and this will be in addition to any normal Service leave which may be due to him. These arrangements will apply to all shipwrecked seamen who arrive in the United Kingdom on or after 1st July, 1943. Half the cost will be paid by the shipowners, and half by my Ministry.

Upon whom does the responsibility rest that this was not initiated at the outbreak of the war?