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Written Answers

Volume 390: debated on Wednesday 30 June 1943

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Written Answers

Food Supplies

Fruit (Preservation)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, in view of the fact that he is absorbing practically all the output of soft fruits this-season at the time of a prolific crop, he proposes to increase the jam ration, at all events in the coming winter?

My noble Friend will be happy to adopt my hon. Friend's suggestion if at any time the supply position permits.

Home-Grown Onions Order

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that, under the provisions of the Food (Home Grown Onions) Order, No. 763 of 1943, persons who do not cultivate for sale are exempt under paragraph 2, but, under paragraph 3 (2) are required to notify their onions to the Minister; and whether he will take steps to amend the Order so as to remove the ambiguity?

As there is no ambiguity in this Order, and as Article 2 does not exempt persons who do not cultivate for sale, the question of amending this Order does not arise.

Rations (Agricultural Workers)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food, whether, in view of the fact that men and women working on farms are unable to use canteens, and in view of the long hours and arduous nature of their work, he will consider increasing their rations, especially of meat, bacon and cheese?

Full consideration has been given to the position of agricultural workers but it is not possible to add to the special facilities already provided for supplementing their household rations.

Strawberry-Grower's Complaint (Knockholt)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (1) what are the results of his inquiries into the threatening language used by a representative of a jam factory acting on the authority of the Ministry on 3rd June, to a strawberry grower at Knockholt, Kent, particulars of which have been sent to him; and what action does he propose to take;(2) whether he is aware that a divisional enforcement- officer of his Ministry from Tunbridge Wells, on 23rd June, walked on to a smallholder's strawberry ground, particulars of which have been sent to him, bought a basket of strawberries and then informed the smallholder that a summons would follow; has he authorised such methods; and will he give instructions that such methods shall not be used in future?

As consideration is being given to this case with a view to legal proceedings it is not desirable for me at this stage to reply to my hon. Friend's Questions.

Soft Fruit (Distribution)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food why, in certain district of the West Riding, such as Huddersfield and Halifax, there has been such a small supply of strawberries and gooseberries during the past few weeks as compared with many other districts; and what steps he proposes to take to meet this grievance?

As I have explained on previous occasions, the total supply of soft fruits such as strawberries and gooseberries is too small for even distribution to consumers throughout the country.

Dispositions Of Income (Charities)

asked the Attorney-General whether he is aware of the cases concerning dispositions of income for utilisation by charitable trusts and the like which become the legal income of the recipients and which are not directed wholly into channels beneficial to the community, but are diverted again by devious methods for the benefit of disponers; and whether his powers are adequate for prevention and, if necessary, prosecution?

I am not aware what cases my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind, but if he will send me particulars I will look into them.

County Court Bailiffs (Allowances)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of a dispute arising from the unwillingness of the Lord Chancellor's Department to pay to county court bailiffs the allowances for the use of their private motor cars prescribed in an agreement reached with the Civil Service National Whitley Council, and their unwillingness to agree to the matter in dispute being referred to the Civil Service Arbitration Tribunal in accordance with the arbitration agreement prevailing in the Civil Service; and whether he will agree to the request that the issue be referred to the National Arbitration Tribunal?

My right hon. Friend is aware of this difficulty. I understand that the matter in question is open to negotiation by the recognised association of which the officers concerned are members and that, failing agreement by negotiation, the normal arrangements for arbitration in the Civil Service will be available.

Colonial Dependencies (Trial By Jury)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in how many territories under British rule does the right of trial by jury in civil and criminal cases not exist; whether such right has been abolished by an Imperial Act or by a local law; whether he is aware of the many British subjects being arraigned before the courts in Palestine and tried without a jury and, as there is a growing British community there, will he, in the case of British defendants, authorise by law the empanelling of a jury of British residents?

Trial by jury does not exist in the following Colonial Dependencies:

  • Ashanti.
  • Northern Territories of the Gold Coast.
  • Uganda Protectorate.
  • Tanganyika Territory.
  • Palestine.
  • Seychelles.
  • Western Pacific:
  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate.
  • Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony.
  • Pitcairn Island.
  • Cyprus.
  • Northern Rhodesia.
In none of these Colonial dependencies has there ever been any actual right of trial by jury. The question of its abolition by an Imperial Act or by a local law, therefore, does not arise. With regard to the last part of the Question, I have no information which would enable me to confirm the statement that many British subjects are being arraigned before the courts in Palestine, or that there is any demand for trial by jury. In these circumstances I do not think that the need for any action on my part arises.

Government Office, Jerusalem (Employment)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the chief clerk of the Jerusalem Custodian of Enemy Property is insisting on certificates of exemption from military service in the British Army from all applicants for employment in that Department, notwithstanding that they may not be British subjects; as this requirement is contrary to a local Defence Regulation and to Article 16 of the Mandate, under what law the custodian is purporting to act; and whether he will direct the High Commissioner to withdraw such instructions as may have been given to the custodian?

No, Sir, but I am asking the High Commissioner for a report on the situation and will communicate further with the hon. Member when I have received his reply.

Messrs Short Brothers (Output)

asked the Minister of Aircraft Production whether he is now able to make any statement with regard to the output at Messrs. Shorts since it was taken over by the State, as compared with the production before that?

Last month's output showed a marked increase, but the new management has not yet been long enough in control for me to arrive at a considered judgment as to the full effect of the change.


Strawberry Production, Kent (Cost)

asked the Minister of Agriculture the cost of production this year per pound of strawberries in the North-West Kent area?

I have no precise information about the cost of producing strawberries in the North-West Kent area.

Farms (Electricity Supplies)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he proposes to take action to give effect to the suggestion of the North Wales and South Cheshire joint electricity authority that the principle of grants for land drainage should be extended to the provision of electric supply to farms, where such is recommended by the county war agricultural executive committee; and whether he is aware that in North Wales the provision of more electricity supplies to farms is much needed?

The limited supply of material and labour available for the manufacture and installation of electrical equipment, and the increasing needs of the Services for purposes connected with the immediate prosecution of the war, preclude any comprehensive schemes for rural electrification at the present time, or the satisfaction of any substantial increase in demand which financial inducement would stimulate. Where there would be an appreciable increase in food production in relation to the quantity of labour and materials involved, individual installations can be authorised in North Wales, as elsewhere, under existing arrangements.

Ministry Of Supply

Home Flax Production Department

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is now in a position to make a statement as to the action which has been taken in respect of the recommendation for a reorganisation of the Home Flax Production Department of the Ministry of Supply contained in the Report of the Select Committee on National Expenditure on home-grown flax?

A reply to their Report has now been sent to the Select Committee by my right hon. Friend. This reply will no doubt be reported to the House shortly. In the meantime my right hon. Friend agrees that a formal appointment should be made to the post of Director of Home Grown Flax Production and proposes to take action accordingly.

Haws And Rose Hips (Collection)

asked the Minister of Supply whether it is proposed again to invite the collection of haws and rose hips?

Yes, Sir. It is intended, in addition to inviting the collection of rose hips again this year, to arrange for the collection of haws, which have a certain medicinal value.

Emergency Powers (Defence) Regulated Areas Order

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport what notice was given to those affected that the Emergency Powers (Defence) Regulated Areas Order (S.R. & O., No. 716 of 1943), which was signed in London on 28th May, became operative in two Scottish counties on the same day?

The Order to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers came into force on the day on which it was signed. Its effect was merely to make good the accidental omission of the names of two counties in an Order made a month earlier, on l9th April. My hon. and gallant Friend may rest assured that nobody was in any way prejudiced by the fact that prior notice was not given.

Merchant Navy (Contagious Diseases, Treatment)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport what steps are being taken to provide facilities for continued treatment of seamen suffering from contagious diseases on board ships that do not carry a medical officer and that may not wait long enough in port to secure continuous treatment?

Every master of a ship is provided with the "Sea Captain's Medical Guide," which contains instructions for the treatment of seamen who fall sick, or who suffer from contagious diseases; and every ship must carry adequate supplies of the appropriate drugs. If necessary, a seaman who suffers from a contagious disease is detained for treatment ashore; if that is not required, then it is the general practice for his doctor to give the directions for his further treatment.

Parcels Post (Loss By Enemy Action)

asked that the Postmaster-General, whether his Department refunds to the senders the cost of the parcels destroyed in the recent fire at an enemy attacked post office?

No, Sir. As announced on several occasions in the Press and on the wireless, the Post Office does not pay compensation for loss or damage directly or indirectly due to enemy action.

Conscientious Objectors (North Wales Tribunal)

asked the Minister of Labour the number of cases decided by the North Wales local tribunal dealing with conscientious objectors under the chairmanship of Sir Artemus Jones and under the chairmanship of His Honour Judge Samuel, giving the number and percentage in each case of adjudications of unconditional exemption, conditional exemption, non-combatant duties and military service respectively?

The North Wales local tribunal under the chairmanship of Sir Thomas Artemus Jones ordered 71 persons to be registered in the conscientious objectors register unconditionally, 788 conditionally and 297 for non-combatant duties and ordered the names of 122 persons to be removed from that register. Those figures represent 6, 62, 23 and 9 per cent. respectively. The corresponding orders made by the tribunal under the chairmanship of Judge Samuel up to the 31st March, 1943 were 5, 148, 87 and 281 representing r, 28, 17 and 54 per cent. respectively.

Soft Drinks Industry (War Time) Association, Ltd

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food if he can make a statement on the results of the extraordinary general meeting of the Soft Drinks Industry War Time Association, on Thursday, 24th June; and, in particular, whether the Minister's voting power was used?

At the extraordinary general meeting of the Soft Drinks Industry (War Time) Association Ltd., which was held on 24th June a vote was taken, each trade member having one vote, on six resolutions and eight amendments. With two exceptions all of these motions were determined by a show of hands, in none of which did the Minister's representative vote. One of these motions dealt with the question of an independent chairman. The meeting decided to continue the present arrangement by which a committee of the Association appoint a chairman from among its own members. In two cases a poll was demanded. The first of these rejected by 672 votes to 206 an amendment to the scheme which, if adopted, would have required that the members of the committee should in future be elected on the basis of "one firm one vote." A poll was also taken for the resolution accepting the scheme for the reconstitution of the committee which had been approved by my Noble Friend. The result of the poll was that 663 trade members voted in favour of the scheme and 123 against. The representative of the Minister voted only in the case of the two motions for which a poll was taken. In each case he voted with the majority but his votes are not included in the figures I have given.

Miners (Release From Army)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will have a careful survey made on an individual basis as to the practicability of releasing coal-getters who are not irreplaceable in their respective units?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 4th May to my hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth (Mr. G. Griffiths) of which I am sending her a copy.

War Damaged Houses (Repair Expenditure)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works how many applicants to date have been authorised to incur repairs to the value of £200; and how many applications have been refused?

I am afraid the figures asked for are not available but if, as I assume, the hon. and gallant Member is referring to the issue of licences for the repair of war-damaged houses which was the subject of my reply to the hon. Member for Moss Side (Mr. Rostron Duckworth) on 12th May, 1943, 1,252 applications up to a value of £200 have been received from that date until the 25th June, 1943. 1,096 were granted and 156 refused. These figures are exclusive of houses repaired by local authorities, for which licences are not required.

Railings Removal (Tenant's Liability)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works what would be the position of a tenant who, on the expiry of his lease, was asked by the landlord, in accordance with the terms of the lease, to make good any dilapida- tions in the property, including the replacement of any railings that might have been removed by the Ministry, though the landlord and not the tenant had received official compensation for the removal of the railings; and whether, in such a case, the tenant would have the right of appeal to the General Claims Tribunal?

The tenant is protected by the provisions of paragraph 2 of Defence Regulation 50B which frees him from any such liability.

Building Industry

asked the Minister without Portfolio whether he is aware of the present state of the building industry in North Wales and the plight of many small builders and contractors; that in the town of Colwyn Bay, where this has been for years a staple industry, builders are losing their craftsmen and contractors themselves have no orders; and whether, in any review of the building industry for the post-war period, any measures are contemplated to see that small builders and contractors secure their proper share of the post-war building?

I have been asked to reply. The building industry has of course been seriously affected by the transfer to the Forces and munitions of more than half of its normal personnel. Work required for the war must come first, but it is my Ministry's concern to maintain the structure of the industry as far as possible to meet the work of reconstruction after the war. Measures to that end, including the spreading of Government contracts over as many suitable firms as possible, are at present in operation. Whilst drawing up the post-war building programme, my Department will aim at a programme geographically spread so as to use all parts of the building industry.

Royal Air Force

Airfields (Land Cultivation)

asked the Secretary of State for Air what steps have been taken by his Department to secure the fullest use for growing food of the land on aerodromes not required for operational purposes; whether any record is kept of the land on each aerodrome which is available for that purpose and of the percentage of that land which has been turned to use?

All large tracts of land on airfields which can be cultivated without interfering with operations are farmed under arrangements made by the county war agricultural executive committees, who also undertake grass cutting from suitable areas for hay or silage. Similar arrangements have been made in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Royal Air Force personnel are given every encouragement to cultivate smaller areas in their spare time. Detailed instructions have been issued and horticultural advisers attached to the Air Ministry are available for advice and guidance. I am generally satisfied that everything possible is being done to secure the maximum yield from all suitable land under the control of my Department. Some 7,200 acres are being cultivated by Royal Air Force personnel, but I regret that details of the areas for which county committees are responsible are not readily available.

Women's Auxiliary Air Force

asked the Secretary of State for Air what is the total personnel now employed in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force?

I regret that it would not be in the public interest to give this information.