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Oral Answers To Questions
14 October 1943
Volume 392

National War Effort

Prospective Employees (Medical Examination)

2.

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the growing practice of employers to engage medical officers to examine prospective employees; that this practice tends to transfer the determination of employment into the hands of the doctors, increases unemployment and must create a pool of permanently unemployed persons especially if the medical fitness required is of a progressively high standard; and whether he will consider this problem?

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It is my policy to encourage the greater use of doctors' services in industrial establishments in the interest of the medical welfare of the employees. I have no evidence that this is leading to the imposition of unnecessarily high standards of physical fitness in prospective employees.

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Will my right hon. Friend inquire whether pressure is brought to bear upon employers by the premium insurance companies dealing with workmen's compensation so as to avoid compensation risks by throwing out certain persons who would otherwise be eligible for employment?

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I could not undertake an inquiry into that at this stage, but, if my hon. Friend has any knowledge of any such cases, I should be glad to consider it.

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What steps does my right hon. Friend take, if a man does not pass a doctor, to provide suitable employment?

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I have an arrangement with my right hon. Friend that, if a man passes out through injury or is unsuitable to go back into the employment, I take him over immediately for training for some other employment.

Statutory Rules And Orders

3.

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asked the Minister of Labour why no explanatory memorandum was attached to the Emergency Powers (Defence) Employment of Women (Control of Engagement) Order (S.R. & O. No. 1278 of 1943)?

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This Order made certain changes in the classes of employments which are to be subject to the Employment of Women (Control of Engagement) Order, 1943 (S.R. and O. 1943 No. 142). It would have been better, I agree, if an explanatory memorandum had been issued, and I am now circulating an explanation in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

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Would the right hon. Gentleman arrange, if possible, for some explanation in the Press, because it is important, as this Order affects so many hundreds of thousands of women, that they should be conversant with it so that they may exactly know their position?

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I will certainly do that.

Following is the explanation:

The purpose of the Order referred to is to control the engagement of certain nurses, midwives and whole-time members of voluntary aid detachments by requiring all engagements of such persons to be made in future through a local office of the Ministry of Labour and National Service or an approved employment agency. The engagement of such persons had hitherto been excluded from the operation of the principal Order. The amending Order does not apply to the employment of any person as a member of a Civil Nursing Reserve, and the principal Order contains certain general exceptions which will also be applicable to the amending Order, e.g., the Order will not apply to the engagement of persons under 18 or over 40 or of any person who has living with her a child under the age of 14.

18.

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asked the Minister of Labour the estimated number of man-hours required for the completion by employers in seven-fold of Form L.17 (October, 1943) under the Undertakings (Records and Information and Inspection of Premises) Order, 1943?

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I regret that I am unable to make an estimate, but I can assure my hon. Friend that only the minimum of information is asked for consistent with the proper planning of man-power policy.

Women's Albert Hall Meeting

6.

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asked the Minister of Labour why the Meeting at the Albert Hall on 28th September was paid for out of public funds; the total cost of the meeting; how the audience was selected; why 75 per cent. were women of the age group 45–50; and why the Press was excluded?

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This meeting was organised by the Government, and the invitations to attend were issued by me on behalf of the Government. It was therefore in accordance with precedent and proper practice that the expenses, including reasonable sums for travelling and subsistence allowances, should be paid out of public funds. About 6,000 persons attended, and the estimated total cost is about £17,000. The invitations were issued through national voluntary organisations representing women in the home, in industry, in the professions and in the many forms of voluntary service, and the persons attending were those selected by those organisations. As regards the ages of those who attended, my hon. Friend evidently has access to sources of information which are not open to me; I have no information whatever on this subject. The meeting was confidential and therefore not open to the Press.

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Having regard to the fact that the only news of the meeting is that which was officially circulated, can the right hon. Gentleman explain why one Press report stated that 75 per cent. of the audience was between 45 and 50, and is there any precedent for a meeting of this kind in which confidential information is disclosed by a Minister other than to Members of Parliament?

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With regard to precedent, this meeting follows precisely the precedents in the case of docks, shipbuilding, aircraft production, coalmining and other trades in the promotion of the war effort. As to what the Press said or imagined, I am not responsible.

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As the only official reports made were those issued by the right hon. Gentleman's Department to the Press, is he not responsible for the Press reports?

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I have not seen the statement anywhere that the Press said the ages were between 45 and 50. That was not issued by my Department.

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In view of the inspired statements in the Press, can Members now be furnished with a copy of the proceedings?

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It was done in precisely the same way as the statement about the miners' meeting was published. This Conference was called to promote the war effort in the fifth winter of the war, and I am satisfied that it is one of the best steps that have been taken.

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Did the other meetings referred to cost the same amount as this?

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Proportionately, I should say about the same.

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When the right hon. Gentleman says that the meeting was confidential, is he seriously suggesting that secrets of a security nature were disclosed to a meeting of 6,000 people? Further, is it correct, as reported, that he said on this occasion that he did not trust the Press?

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That is another piece of imagination by the Press, of which my hon. Friend is very well aware and at which he is an expert. It is a piece of sheer imagination. I am not going to satisfy the Press as to what I said at the meeting except to deny that I ever made that statement. As to the question of secrecy, we followed exactly the precedent followed in the other cases. There were no secrets in the sense of official secrets revealed at all. These Conferences have served a better purpose handled in this way than merely turning them into ordinary public assemblies.

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Could my right hon. Friend's views about the Press be communicated to his new colleague Lord Beaverbrook?

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I do not think there is any need to communicate them. He knew my views about it long before I was a Minister.

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On a point of Order. Is the right hon. Gentleman entitled to blacken my character in the way he did by suggesting that I was an expert at imagining things?

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Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is the first occasion during the war that a mass meeting of women workers has been called in order that a Minister may pay a tribute to their work, and is he aware that the only criticism that can be levelled at the meeting is that it was long overdue?

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Then why have it in secret?

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Why have it in camera?

17.

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asked the Minister of Labour what degree of privacy was attached to the meeting at the Albert Hall on 28th September and for what reasons?

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The Government wished to meet representatives of the women of the country in private conference. A full report of the speeches of Ministers at the meeting was issued to the Press, and a report of the Conference is being circulated to those who attended.

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As the 6,000 women were intended to report to their organisations, was the Press excluded merely in order to give a sensation of intimacy?

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I am not guilty of that.

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Will this report also be made available to Members of Parliament?

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I have no objection.

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Will it be made available?

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I will go into that.

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Will the Minister say whether His Majesty's Government put up a good show in this brains trust?

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We must separate the true from the false and the real from the unreal.

Strikes

7.

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he has any further information regarding the origin of the recent outbreak of unofficial strikes; what policy he proposes to adopt in order to deal with them; and whether he will seek powers to punish those responsible, whether employers, workers, or outsiders, by death or imprisonment for life?

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I have nothing to add to the statement which I made on 24th September in the course of the Debate on Man-Power, or to the reply which I gave on 23rd September to the Question put by the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley (Major Conant).

19.

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asked the Minister of Labour whether arising out of the shipwrights strike on the Clyde and the Vickers-Armstrong strike at Barrow-in-Furness, he is considering modifications of the Essential Work Order for the purpose of speeding up negotiations and the rapid settlement of grievances?

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No, Sir. Any dispute can be reported under the Conditions of Employment and National Arbitration Order, and the Order provides that where a dispute is so reported and steps taken to settle the matter do not result in a prompt settlement, the dispute must be referred to the National Arbitration Tribunal within 21 days from the date on which the dispute was reported.

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Is the Minister not aware that employers can carry on negotiations for month after month—in the case of the shipwrights it was over nine months—until the workers are provoked into taking action which may be exceedingly undesirable, and then they come under the ban of the Minister? Would it not be better for the Minister to intervene long before things come to that point?

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That is not a statement of fact. The employers cannot carry on negotiations longer than the union is willing to carry them on. Immediately a union see that there is no possibility of a settlement they can report it, and as soon as they report it I have a legal obligation to refer it.

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Is the Minister not aware that in the case to which the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) referred the shipwrights were negotiating for nine months before it came to a settlement?

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That may be, but the onus is upon the union if they cannot settle to refer the matter to me, and I do not propose to depart from the policy that we have followed during this war and proceed to take the responsibility off the hands of the respective parties.

20.

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he will give the names of all employers who have deliberately provoked strikes for ulterior reasons?

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No, Sir.

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Will my right hon. Friend say why not?

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I cannot add anything to what I have said.

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May I ask why in that case he made the allegation in the speech which he made in this House recently?

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There were very good grounds for it.

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May I ask why it is that men's names are given if it is not alleged against them that they are responsible?

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If the hon. Member will look up Hansard, he will see that I referred to no names of either parties.

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In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter on the Adjournment.

Italian Prisoners Of War

9.

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he has considered the possibility of relieving the man-power shortage by making further use of Italian prisoners of war, especially of skilled men in their pre-war occupations?

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This matter is under consideration.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman do his best to get these Italian prisoners of war a new status under his organisation so that further use may be made of them, not confining the use to quarrying and agricultural work?

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I am responsible for the allocation of prisoners of war in this country to the various Departments which call for them under the present régime, but as I have said in my answer it is obvious now that matters will have to be reconsidered.

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Will the Minister consider whether we cannot use German prisoners of war as we did in the last war?

Discharged Waaf, Bargoed (Unemployment Assistance)

10.

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that a discharged member of the W.A.A.F., for whom his Department could not find suitable employment, was paid 18s. per week unemployment assistance by the Bargoed assistance office, whilst the girl's board and lodging was 25s. per week; and whether he will see that the Assistance Board pays such allowances in this type of case as will enable these ex-service women to live free of undue hardship?

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I am having inquiry made and will communicate with my hon. Friend.

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Is the Minister aware that this girl, discharged from the W.A.A.F., was offered either the streets or the workhouse, had it not been for the good offices of the manager of the exchange at Caerphilly, and will he take steps to see that these girls are protected when they are discharged?

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I cannot accept what the hon. Member has said before making inquiries. I do not know the facts.

Mobile Women Workers, Scotland

13.

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asked the Minister of Labour the number of young women directed to employment from Scotland to English workshops who left Glasgow by train on Monday night, 3oth August; and how many left on Wednesday night, 1st September?

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The total numbers of women travelling to employment in England from Glasgow were 107 on 3oth August and 94 on 1st September. Not all of them were in receipt of writtten directions.

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Did the officials of the Ministry inform those girls before they were sent down there that they had a right of appeal?

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The officials have instructions to inform everybody about that, and if my hon. Friend has any evidence that these girls were not informed, I will look into it.

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Is it not the case that in a number of instances that information has not been given to the girls?

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If the hon. Member will give me instances, I will look into them.

14.

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asked the Minister of Labour the number of occasions on which girls from Scotland were sent to factories in England and found no work to start on, or no arrangements made for billeting, and had to return to Scotland?

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I am not aware of any such cases, but if my hon. Friend has any particular cases in mind and will let me have details, I shall be glad to have them investigated.

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Is the Minister aware that in the Debate on man-power I gave him a particular instance where one girl was prosecuted for going back to Scotland, and may I ask whether in that case she has now to go back to England again?

21.

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that when a factory in Renfrewshire stopped working a shift a large number of girls received their notice of dismissal, officials from the Labour Ministry interviewed the girls in the factory, and travelling warrants and the necessary papers to go to English factories were already made out for and handed to them; how many girls were sent; and whether they were told they had the right to appeal against the direction?

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If my hon. Friend will give me the name of the factory, I will have inquiries made and communicate with him.

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Will my right hon. Friend do his best to impress upon the Supply Departments to place contracts in Scotland, because that would avoid incidents of this nature?

Young Girls (Employment)

15.

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that, under present conditions the demand for the labour of girls between the ages of 16 and 18 years is so great that they are continually being enticed from one employment to another at increasing wages and that many of them are being offered £3 10s. per week or more; and whether, in view of the unfairness to older girls, whose employment is controlled and the difficulties caused to employers, he will consider instituting some form of control which will put an end to this abuse?

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I am not aware that the difficulty to which my hon. Friend refers is widespread. Girls of 16 and 17 years employed in undertakings scheduled under the Essential Work Orders may not leave their employment without the permission of the National Service officer, and a large proportion of the girls of the age mentioned come under these Orders.

Military Service

Butchers (Deferment)

5.

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider granting indefinite deferment to butchers of low medical category over 30 years of age employed on travelling shops in rural areas especially where the customers are employed full-time in industry and find it difficult to travel to the towns for their shopping?

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Deferment is not normally granted to men born in 1905 or later who are engaged in the occupation referred to by my hon. Friend. If such men are placed in medical Grades III or IV, they are not, at present, called up for the Armed Forces, but are transferred to industry to some work of greater national importance. Applications for the deferment of those born before 1905 are dealt with by district man-power boards on their merits, irespective of the man's medical category.

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Will my right hon. Friend ask his officers to have it in mind, because it is a very great convenience to the public, particularly in the rural areas, to have these travelling butchers' shops, otherwise they would have to travel miles by bus to do their shopping?

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The man-power board have instructions to take all factors into consideration, and I consult with the Minister of Food on all these matters.

Conscientious Objectors (Boys' Clubs)

12.

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that conscientious objectors have been ordered to run boys' clubs as a condition of their exemptions; and whether he will cause this practice to cease immediately?

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The conditions under which conscientious objectors are exempted from military service are specified by tribunals. These are independent statutory bodies, whose decisions cannot be varied by me. I am not aware of any cases in which tribunals have ordered a man to take up work with boys' clubs, but certain men have been allowed to continue such service.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman look further into this matter? Is it not absolutely scandalous, when this country has placed the obligation of military service upon all fit men, that any conscientious objector should be excused military service on condition that he takes up a post in which he has an opportunity of influencing young people against military service?

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I cannot interfere with the tribunals. With all the difficulties over conscientious objections, I am sure the House will agree that in this war the problem has been handled with the minimum trouble.

Detainees

23.

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many individuals are still detained under Regulation 18B; and how many have been released since 15th July, 1943?

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A report is presented to Parliament each month as to the action taken under Defence Regulation 18B. During the period 15th July to 30th September last 64 persons have been released from detention under the Regulation and on 30th September 364 persons were still detained, of whom 258 are persons of hostile origin or association.

Prison Service

Women Officers

25.

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asked the Home Secretary why his instructions that women officers at Holloway prison were to be granted two hours weekly for shopping purposes have not been obeyed, whereas his instructions to increase the hours of these officers by 12 each fortnight has been carried out?

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In connection with the arrangement made in April last that prison officers should work six hours overtime per week so as to enable prisoners to be out of their cells for an extra hour, it was agreed that women officers should be allowed two hours off duty each week for shopping purposes. There was a short delay in introducing this concession at Holloway while consideration was being given to representations from the staff about the way in which it should be applied, but it became effective in the middle of May and has continued since then except for one week when owing to exceptionally heavy calls on the staff it was impracticable to allow time off for shopping.

27.

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asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the shortage of women officers in the prison service which is causing essential services in respect of prisoners to be overlooked; that four assaults have taken place upon officers at Holloway prison recently and that discipline is deteriorating by reason of this shortage of staff; and whether he will approach the Departments concerned with a view to releasing volunteers from the women's Forces for employment in the prisons, consider releasing the existing staff from the abnormal number of hours they are now working, and give instructions that the essential services to prisoners are to have a prior claim to the output of women's prisons?

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Yes, Sir. For some time great difficulty has been experienced in filling vacancies on the staffs of women's prisons, and the shortage at Holloway Prison in particular is now acute. I am in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service as to the best method of overcoming this difficulty. But I cannot accept the suggestion that in general essential services to prisoners are overlooked. At Holloway Prison officers have been assaulted on three occasions this year, but any suggestion that the prisoners are out of hand would be misleading. Nor can I accept the suggestion in the last part of the Question that the productive employment of prisoners is not an essential service. Shortage of staff has made it necessary to shorten the hours of associated work at Holloway, but this is an undesirable expedient which I should be unwilling to extend and hope to discontinue as soon as possible.

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When does the right hon. Gentleman consider that his discussions with his right hon. Friend will produce a result which will ease the situation in Holloway?

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It is difficult, I admit, but my hon. Friend may be assured that I will do all I can, and I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour will be as helpful as he is able to be.

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But is not part of the problem due to overcrowding of the prisons, because magistrates are now sending persons to gaol for offences that were never punishable before?

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That Question had better be put down. My impression is that that is not so.

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Could not convicts of military age be sent overseas and thus release some of the persons who are now looking after them?

Officers' Quarters, Dartmoor

26.

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asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that officers at Dartmoor prison are being compelled to occupy official quarters that were condemned years ago and that, in some cases, officers and their families have to descend two flights of stair-4 in order to avail themselves of lavatory facilities; and what steps he proposes to take in this matter?

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Though the quarters in question are inconvenient by modern standards, it is misleading to describe them as condemned. Under present conditions it is not possible to reconstruct them or to replace them by modern houses, but such work as is practicable to improve them has been done.

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If it be the case that, unsatisfactory as these premises may be, we are compelled, by the exigencies of the case, to use them, will the Home Secretary consider reducing the normal period of time during which these officers have to remain there?

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I will certainly consider that point, in so far as it is possible to do so, but the present staffing problem is one of very great difficulties. I am not unsympathetic about it. I am not particularly proud of these habitations, but we are bang up against a difficulty of labour.

Polish Government (Newspaper Attacks)

28 and 29.

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asked the Home Secretary (1) whether his attention has been drawn to an article, under a false name, in the "Tribune" newspaper of l0th September, attacking the head of an allied foreign State resident in this country, and complementary to a more abusive article in the "Daily Worker" of i4th September; and whether he will warn both concerned that persistence in this campaign of British newspapers against Britain's Ally, Poland, will furnish grounds for their suspension from publication;

(2) whether, in the interests of the United Nations and the better prosecution of the war, he will consider the reimposition of the ban on the "Daily Worker" for their systematic campaign of abuse and denigration against the Government of Poland, as specially evinced in their article of 14th September?

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I have seen the article attacking the Polish Government in the "Daily Worker" for 14th September, and also the article in "Tribune" for l0th September. I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend in deploring abusive attacks on an Allied Government in the British Press. While our Allies will not look for an immunity from criticism which is neither accorded to nor sought by His Majesty's Government, responsible and reputable organs of the British Press recognise that restraint and courtesy should be used in discussing those Governments and particularly the heads of States who are our guests in this country. My powers of interference with the free expression of opinion in the Press are strictly limited, at the wish of the House, to the minimum necessary to prevent the conduct of propaganda which endangers the prosecution of the war, and, while I shall keep a watch for mischievous attacks on our Allies, I do not at present think that I should be justified in taking the action suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend.

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Are not such attacks equally undesirable when they appear in "Soviet War News"?

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Is it not the case that the article in "Tribune" was a statement of objective fact, the truth of which has not been denied by anybody, that it was not abusive, and that it was plainly written in the best interests of the democratic cause for which the Allies are fighting; and have not the British Press just as much right to comment on the personnel and actions of Allied Governments as they have to comment on the actions or personnel of the British Government?

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I do not think I could accept my hon. Friend's description of the article. I have made no reflection on the British Press as a whole. The British Press as a whole sees the obvious point that if there is controversy in the public Press as to the heads of other Governments and those Governments, it cannot be helpful to the unity of the Allies' cause.

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Is the Minister not aware that if he were to ban newspapers in this country for attacks and slanders on the Allies, there would be a wholesale closing down of papers in this country? Is he not further aware that, in view of the character—the vicious character—of the Polish Press, he should commend to the questioner the remark of the War Minister, that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander?

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On a point of Order. May I ask the hon. Member to withdraw his slander on the Press of an allied nation? It is absolutely and positively untrue to assert that the official Polish Press is in any way vicious.

Channel Islands (Red Cross Facilities)

30.

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asked the Home Secretary whether he will secure for the Channel Islands the same Red Cross facilities as are accorded to occupied mainland European countries?

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The Occupying Power has not so far permitted a representative of the International Red Cross to visit the Channel Islands, but otherwise the same Red Cross facilities are available to the islanders as to other occupied territories in Europe, Channel Islanders who are detained in camps in Germany as civilian internees receive Red Cross parcels from the British Red Cross in the same way as other British civilian internees. But such parcels are not sent to civilians at liberty in the Channel Islands or elsewhere in occupied Europe.

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Thank you, Sir.

Crimes Of Violence (London Black-Out)

31.

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asked the Home Secretary how many complaints have been received by the police of crimes of violence in London during the black-out during the past 12 months; how many convictions have been obtained; arid in how many cases have the offenders been flogged?

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196 cases of robbery or assault with intent to rob during the hours of darkness were reported in the Metropolitan Police District in the 12 months ended 31st August, 1943. 52 of these reported offences occurred in some house or building and not in the street. 86 cases were cleared up, 155 persons having been charged in connection with the crimes. 108 of the persons concerned were found guilty and in two cases the offenders were ordered to be birched.

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Has special attention been given to the number of brutal assaults upon elderly persons?

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Very careful attention is given to all aspects of this matter, and, of course, that would be a particularly objectionable kind of assault. I can assure my hon. Friend that we are doing everything that we can, but obviously the situation is difficult.

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Is this crime on the increase?

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I should need notice of that question.

Civil Defence

Factory Fire-Watching (Pay)

32.

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asked the Home Secretary whether the National Advisory Council for Fire Prevention has made further recommendations with regard to the current rate of 1s. an hour paid for fire-watching in some factories operated on behalf of the Government; and whether this will now be reduced to the standard rate of 3s. a night?

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I hope to be in a position to make a statement on this subject at an early date.

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As these experiments have now been going on for two years, will not my right hon. Friend expedite the decision?

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I am always expediting everything, I can assure my hon. Friend.

Regional Commissioners

33.

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asked the Home Secretary whether he is satisfied that the Civil Defence schemes of local authorities, after a period of years, are now working well; what proportion of the activities of the Civil Defence Regional Commissioners are thereby rendered unnecessary; and whether he can now see his way to make reductions to a skeleton basis of the staffs of the latter so as to render fresh manpower available for the national needs?

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Generally speaking, the answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. The local Civil Defence organisation must, however, be constantly adapted to the changing circumstances of the war, and the Regional Commissioners' function of helping, advising and co-ordinating the local authorities is continuous. Moreover, in order to achieve considerable economies in man-power and material in the local authority services, certain additional functions have been laid upon the Regional Commissioners, such as the organisation of the Civil Defence Reserve. I am satisfied that the Regional Offices are a necessary and valuable link in the chain of Civil Defence, both administrative and operational, and that it would be impossible to reduce their staffs to a skeleton basis. In recent months these staffs have been continually reviewed and pruned where possible, and a further such review is about to be undertaken.

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Is my right hon. Friend aware that a certain amount of overlapping of activities takes place in this matter, of which I could give him particulars, if he wished?

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If my hon. Friend will let me have those particulars, I shall be very happy to look into them.

66.

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asked the Minister of Health how far the Civil Defence schemes of local authorities now working satisfactorily for a period of years make it possible to reduce the overlapping work of the Civil Defence section of his Department, so as to effect reductions of staff to a skeleton basis and to set free a reserve of man-power for the national needs?

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The staffing of the Ministry, both centrally and regionally, is kept under continuous review in the light of all the circumstances, including that referred to by my hon. Friend.

Young Offenders

36.

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asked the Home Secretary how many first offenders under 21 years of age have been sent to prison without the option of a fine for refusal to take up employment as directed and for absenteeism or lateness, respectively, during the 12 months ended the 31st August, 1943; and in how many cases of this nature the offender was placed on probation?

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I regret that all the information asked for is not available. New methods of classifying returns have recently been adopted, and at present I can only give figures for the first four months of this year. The statistics do not enable me to distinguish between first and other offenders or to give separate figures for the different offences under the same Defence Regulation. In the four months January to April this year 331 persons between the ages of 17 and 21 years were found guilty of offences under Defence Regulation 58A. Of these, 33 were sentenced to imprisonment without the option of a fine and 12 were placed on probation.

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Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Lord Chancellor has recently said that it is very undesirable to send young persons to prison for a short period, and could he not use his influence to see whether these young offenders, many of whom offend through ignorance, could be dealt with differently?

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I think it must depend on the nature and extent of the offences, and I do not like interfering with the courts in the exercising of their discretion if I can avoid it.

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Are any of those sent to prison directors convicted for being late or absent?

Evacuees (Allocation)

76.

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asked the Minister of Health whether, in settling the policy for evacuees, he will consider withdrawing all those to London who are billeted in places where accommodation is urgently needed for war workers?

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No, Sir. The allocation of evacuees to the various reception areas is adjusted with due regard to the demands for accommodation for war workers. If my hon. and gallant Friend will send me information of any particular area where he believes difficulties to be occurring, I will at once make inquiries.

Aliens Order

34.

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asked the Home Secretary why no explanatory memorandum is attached to the Alien Restriction Order, No. 1317, of 1943; and what is meant by the words in paragraph 1 (i), "An alien coming to the United Kingdom from a place within the United Kingdom"?

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The Aliens Order, which operates, as my hon. Friend knows, in time of peace as well as in time of war, provides for the giving of Directions as regards particular aliens or classes of aliens, and it has not been the practice to attach explanatory memoranda to these Directions. A Direction of 6th August, 1942, which applied the landing and embarkation provisions of the Aliens Order to aliens who arrive in the United Kingdom as recruits for one of the Allied Forces contained an exception for those coming from Canada and the United States. I recently decided that this exception was too wide and ought to be limited to members of the military or naval forces of the United States. The new Direction of September, 1943, gives effect to this decision. It is not, however, necessary that these landing and embarkation provisions shall apply to aliens crossing from Northern Ireland to Great Britain or vice versa; and it is for this reason that the Direction contains the words to which my hon. Friend refers in the last part of his Question.

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Will the right hon. Gentleman continue to be very vigilant? He has promised the House to avoid jargon of this nature appearing in similar Orders. Will he also watch in future to avoid incomprehensibility of Orders, because many Orders are not easy for the House to understand?

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I did take the point which the hon. and gallant Member mentions in the last part of his Question. I received an explanation which convinced me it was right, though I am not sure that I could stand a cross-examination on it. I will do what I can in the matter.

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Will the Home Secretary now issue a short memorandum explaining his answer?

Refugees (Naturalisation)

35.

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asked the Home Secretary whether he is prepared to receive, at the present time. applications for British naturalisation from refugees now resident in this country even though no decisions upon such applications are intended to be taken until the end of the war; and, if so, will priority of consideration be given according to the order of the applications being received?

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I cannot prevent people from sending me applications, but to invite them to send applications which cannot at present be considered would not be a justifiable course. To undertake that after the war applications will be dealt with in the order in which they have been received would be unfair to those who have considerately refrained from troubling the Home Office during the war with applications which cannot at present be taken up and would be an invitation to all potential applicants to add to the work of my Department by sending in their applications as early as possible.

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Could not some assurance he given to aliens who are serving in the Armed Forces and yet are quite uncertain as to whether, after the war is over, they will not be bundled out of this country? If they are good enough to serve in the British or Allied Forces, are they not good enough for naturalisation?

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I would not accept that. I think it would be most unwise that such a sweeping commitment should be entered into. The question of naturalisation must be kept open to be settled on its merits in due course.

Eire Workers' Earnings, Great Britain

40.

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asked the Home Secretary whether, before the 33,465 Irish workers who returned to Eire, during the To weeks ending 4th September, were allowed to leave England and take their earnings with them, they had to submit evidence that they had paid Income Tax in this country?

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No, Sir. Persons applying for exit permits to leave this country are not required to produce evidence that they have discharged their public or private financial obligations. Questions of collection of tax and prevention of evasion are, of course, matters for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

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Will not the Wage-earners' Income Tax Bill provide a remedy for this abuse?

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It will make its contribution.

Workmen's Compensation

42.

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asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that workmen's compensation in the British coal-mining industry is almost wholly administered by trade mutual insurance companies; why none of these companies were consulted by his Department regarding the Workmen's Compensation (Temporary Increases) Bill; and how far the consultations which occurred between his Department and insurance interests were confined to the Accident Officers' Association, a body representative only of tariff companies?

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The mutual indemnity companies to whom my hon. Friend refers are associations of employers whose views are, I understand, represented through the British Employers' Confederation, with which there was consultation. In addition to the British Employers' Confederation and the Accident Officers' Association, representatives of non-tariff insurance companies and Lloyds underwriters undertaking employers' liability insurance were also consulted.

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Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that this Bill affects accidents going back over a period of nearly 20 years and imposes an additional liability on employers of all workmen drawing weekly payments since January, 1924? In those circumstances, and having regard to the fact that a great many of these cases could not possibly be covered by existing—

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That is becoming a speech, not a question.

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Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that something more than the perfunctory investigations he has carried out are necessary?

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No, Sir, we gave the matter very careful consideration. There were discussions as regards these particular companies, and they are associated with the employers' organisation which was consulted. I do not think that any injustice has been done.

Education

Association Of Education Committees (Resolutions)

43.

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asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has considered the Resolutions relating to Part III. Authorities and the proposals of the White Paper passed at a recent meeting of the Association of Education Committees; and what action he proposes to take thereon?

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The Board have received copies of the resolutions passed at the general meeting of the Association of Education Committees and have expressed their readiness to discuss them with the Executive Committee of the Association.

Teachers (Service In Forces And War Work)

44..

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asked the President of the Board of Education how many certified teachers have now left their employment to serve in His Majesty's Forces and in other war work?

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Exact figures are not available, but it is estimated that the number of men teachers who have left employment in public elementary and secondary schools to serve in His Majesty's Forces or on other war work is between 20,000 and 22,000.

Teachers' Certificates

54.

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asked the President of the Board of Education how many teachers' certificates were issued in 1938 and in 1943 in England; and how many in Wales?

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The numbers of students who qualified for recognition as certificated teachers in 1938 were: England 5,530, Wales 638. Figures for 1943 are not yet available, but the numbers for 1942 were: England 4,366, Wales 479.

Schoolchildren (Use Of Countryside)

55.

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asked the President of the Board of Education whether he proposes to give effect to the recommendations in the Scott Report for organising visits of schoolchildren to rural districts and for educating the public in the proper use of the countryside?

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The Board have for many years encouraged organised visits of schoolchildren to the countryside, and I hope to see a wide extension of such visits in the future. As regards the second part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave him on 23rd September, a copy of which I am sending him.

Council For The Encouragement Of Music And The Arts

56.

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asked the President of the Board of Education whether it is within the powers of C.E.M.A. to finance the building of theatres?

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The moneys at the disposal of C.E.M.A. would not permit them to embark on enterprises such as my hon. Friend suggests.

Education Bill (Roman Catholics, Lancashire)

57.

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asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware that estimates prepared by the Catholic hierarchy in Lancashire show that the new Education Bill will impose a burden of £2,500,000 on Lancashire Catholics; and whether he will consider ways and means whereby this other burden can be considerably reduced?

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I have seen some estimates of the anticipated burden on the Roman Catholic community. I have also received representations from the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, and these, together with representations from other interests, are being considered.

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Will my right hon. Friend see that every feeling of injustice is removed from this section?

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Does the right hon. gentleman not agree that it is very unfortunate that private pockets should be called upon to defray such a large share of the expenditure on national education?

Mass Unemployment (Prevention)

45.

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asked the Prime Minister whether the Government are prepared to consider granting facilities to Sir William Beveridge to have access to information available in Government Departments in connection with the independent inquiry he is carrying on into the problem of unemployment and its cure, in view of the great importance of the question and the necessity for obtaining the fullest advice on the subject?

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On this particular subject I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington (Mrs. Cazalet Keir) on 13th April last.

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In the event of any application for facilities being received, would it receive sympathetic consideration?

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Does the Prime Minister appreciate that if Sir William Beveridge is to be accorded such privileges every hon. Member is entitled to them?

Tobruk

46.

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asked the Prime Minister whether he is now in a position to complete the story of the fall of Tobruk, in view of the escape from captivity of General Klopper?

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General Klopper has returned to South Africa. Everyone will congratulate this gallant officer on his escape from being a prisoner of war. In due course I have no doubt the story of what happened at Tobruk in June, 1942, will be reconstructed, but I have no new information about it at the present time.

Electoral Reform

47.

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asked the Prime Minister whether it is now proposed to give the House an opportunity of discussing questions of electoral reform?

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Yes, Sir. The Government propose to give time for a Debate on electoral reform.

As the House is aware, a Bill has been presented to give effect to the scheme recommended by the Departmental Committee on Electoral Machinery. The Government are fully conscious of the importance of giving attention to all measures designed to secure that whenever there is an appeal to the country—whether at by-elections or at a General Election—the result shall be fully and truly representative of the views of the people. It will no doubt be the wish of the House, as it is of the Government, that this Measure should be passed before the end of the present Session. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has also announced the Government's intention to submit to Parliament legislation on the subject of redistribution.

In addition, however, to measures of this kind designed to improve the machinery by which the existing Parliamentary franchise is exercised, the Government recognise that full consideration ought to be given to various proposals for changes in the existing franchise law, for controlling the expenditure allowable to candidates, and for other amendments designed to secure the maximum of fairness in the conduct of elections. In the opinion of the Government the best method of securing a full examination of these problems will be by a Conference, presided over by Mr. Speaker, and if the House concurs in the proposal the Government would propose that Mr. Speaker should be invited to undertake this important task in addition to his already onerous duties.

In the first instance, however, as I have already stated, the Government desire that there should be a wide Debate on electoral reform in order to give the House a full opportunity of expressing its opinion. We propose, therefore, to set apart two days for this Debate early in the new Session.

Post-War Employment

48.

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asked the Minister without Portfolio what economic reforms he proposes to introduce before the end of the war so as to ensure that in time of peace there may still be more jobs to be done than there are people to do them as has proved to be the case in time of war?

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If my hon. Friend will refer to the speeches of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject of economic policy of 2nd February last and of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on the same topic of the following day, he will find a complete survey of the problem of employment after this war and of the lines we should follow to secure maximum employment. I cannot add to the statements then made except to say that the maintenance of full employment in time of peace is under the constant and continuous study of His Majesty's Government.

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Would my right hon. and learned Friend give his mind to the terms of the Question? He has not dealt with the Question at all. If he does not understand the Question, will he consider taking a course at the School of Economic Science?

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Cannot this familiar reply, that the matter is under the constant study of the Government, be varied in some way? Can it be amplified? Can my right hon. and learned Friend add something new to what he has already said?

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It was amplified by my answer in which the lines of study were indicated.

Agriculture

Women's Land Army (Accidents, Legal Aid)

49.

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asked the Minister of Agriculture whether similar facilities for obtaining legal aid in the event of an accident are guaranteed to members of the Land Army as to members of the Fighting Forces or whether, in such circumstances, members of the Land Army are expected to rely on the support of their trade unions?

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Although the special arrangements for the provision of free legal advice to members of the Forces do not apply to members of the Women's Land Army, the latter can seek the assistance of voluntary associations, such as the poor man's lawyer or the citizen's advice bureau. In addition, of course, my Department, including headquarters and county offices of the Women's Land Army, are always prepared to give all the general advice and assistance they can in cases of accident.

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Is my right hon. Friend aware that in a recent case no help was forthcoming from any officer of his Department?

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I wrote to my hon. Friend giving a very complete list of the people to whom this girl's parents could apply for advice.

Workers' Transport (Petrol)

50.

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asked the Minister of Agriculture the maximum amount of petrol which he instructs the county war agricultural executive committees should be used to transport a single land-worker to and from a day's work?

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Arrangements for local transport of land workers to and from work are made at the discretion of county war agricultural executive committees who have been instructed to exercise a strict economy in the use of all kinds of fuel.

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Does the right hon. Gentleman really think it right that a three-ton lorry, using 31 gallons of petrol, should be used to take four girls to work? Is that not waste of petrol?

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I would not like to express an opinion on that without knowing the full facts. It might well have been an individual case.

Post-War Policy

52.

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asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in order to allay growing discontent and give confidence to farmers as to the future in their farming operations, he will, at the earliest possible moment, make a full statement of the Government's plans for post-war agriculture in the United Kingdom?

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I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on 23rd September by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister to the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) to which I am unable to add.

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Arising out of that inconclusive answer, might I ask whether, in face of the strong feeling among farmers in the United Kingdom—and in no place more so than in Ulster—in favour of a definite post-war plan for agriculture, the right hon. Gentleman will take immediate steps to prepare such a plan, in order to prevent agriculture drifting well-nigh to disaster, as it did after the last war?

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Will my right hon. Friend consider that what the agricultural community wants is a discussion in this House before the Government put forward any policy, so that the Government can hear the agricultural community's views?

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Does the right hon. Gentleman not recollect how badly the Ulster farmers were let down after the last war? Will he not take any steps that he can to see that these loyal citizens are not discouraged in their efforts to grow more corn and more flax?

Livestock Grazing

53.

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asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the great hardship to many owners of livestock whose land adjoins that of the Forestry Commission by the fact that the Commission is under no statutory obligation to erect and maintain fences round land acquired by them for afforestation; and, having regard to the need for maintaining adequate supplies of home-produced meat, what action he proposes to take to enable this land to be grazed by stock to its full capacity in the national interests?

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I have received no specific complaints of the nature referred to. If my hon. Friend will send me particulars of any cases in which difficulties have arisen, I shall be happy to look into the matter.

Rating And Valuation

58.

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asked the Minister of Health how many rating authorities have continued to revise the current valuation list in accordance with Section 37, Rating and Valuation Act, 1925, during the years 1939 to 1943; and how many rating authorities have postponed such revision, taking into consideration the provisions of the Rating and Valuation Act (Postponement of Valuations) Act, 1940?

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As my hon. Friend is aware, the postponement of the compulsory quinquennial valuations does riot preclude either ratepayers or rating authorities or county valuation committees from making proposals interim for the alteration of the assessments of rateable pro- perties. I regret that I have no information to show how far either ratepayers or rating authorities have refrained from taking advantage of their rights in this respect.

Public Health

State Medical Service

59.

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asked the Minister of Health what steps he has taken to ascertain the views of doctors serving in the Armed Forces, both in this country and abroad, in regard to the future of medical practice?

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I am quite alive to the need for this, but the appropriate time will be when the White Paper has been issued as the basis for public discussion.

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Is it not a fact that no steps have been taken to ascertain the views of about 30,000 doctors connected with the Armed Forces? Would my right hon. Friend give a political assurance and guarantee similar to that of the Prime Minister yesterday in the case of coal, that the medical profession will be protected?

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The proper time to deal with that matter will be when the White Paper is issued. The country and the House will then be able to express an opinion.

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Are we to understand from the answer that the right hon. Gentleman has taken advice only from the older doctors, and not from the younger ones, who are in the Services and who will be called upon to administer the medical service?

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I have pointed out that the time to deal with these questions will be when the White Paper is before Parliament.

72.

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asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the representative body of the British Medical Association has, in 1942 and 1943, recorded almost unanimous opposition to the establishment of any whole-time salaried State medical service to the extinction of private practice, as proposed in Assumption B of the Beveridge Report; that similar oposition has come from numerous plebiscites of the profession; and whether he still adheres to his declaration at Westminster Hospital, on 4th October, that the Government has accepted Assumption B and is engaged in putting its provisions into operation?

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The answer to the last part of the Question is, Yes, Sir. But, if my hon. Friend will look again at Assumption B of the Report, he will find that it does not contain the particular proposal which he describes—nor does it purport to deal at all with the method of organising the new service.

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Will my right hon. Friend contradict the statement which he is said to have made, that this matter has been determined already and that it is actually being put into operation?

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I have never said that.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that more than 90 per cent. of the profession have recently turned down the matter, and that they are particularly disturbed at the Socialistic scheme he brought forward at the outset?

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The hon. Member is now repeating what he said on the Adjournment, with not very great satisfaction to himself.

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Is the Minister aware that the national health service is more important than the opinion of a few private practitioners?

Bovine Tuberculosis (Children)

67.

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asked the Minister of Health whether the absence of any reference in his Annual Report, Cmd. 6468, among the details of the causes of deaths, to deaths of children due to bovine tuberculosis, indicates that his Department regard this cause as non-proven?

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No, Sir. Deaths from bovine tuberculosis are included under deaths from tuberculosis.

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Will the matter be dealt with in future under this heading?

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My hon. Friend will know that at the moment we are able to issue only a short summary. It is very difficult to put all the detail in. When considering the next summary I will bear that point in mind and see whether we can do it.

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Is the Minister aware that the summary is very full?

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If my hon. Friend will compare it with the normal pre-war Report he will find that it is a summary indeed.

National Health Insurance

70.

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asked the Minister of Health whether health insurance authorities are entitled to reduce their payments to insured persons while they are in receipt of treatment allowances?

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A person discharged from His Majesty's Forces who is in receipt of treatment allowances for injury or disease attributable to his service is disentitled to benefit under the National Health Insurance Acts in respect of incapacity arising from that injury or disease for a period of 26 weeks reckoned from the date of the injury or the first removal from duty. If the incapacity continues beyond those 26 weeks and treatment allowances remain in payment, the person becomes entitled to sickness benefit at half rate, but he continues to be disentitled to disablement benefit. This reduction or suspension of benefit ceases, however, when he has been employed for a prescribed period since the date of his discharge, namely, 26 weeks in the case of sickness benefit and 104 weeks in the case of disablement benefit.

Mass Radiography

74.

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asked the Minister of Health the names of those towns which have now been supplied with mass miniature radiography machines in connection with his campaign against tuberculosis?

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Miniature radiography units have now been supplied in England to the County Councils of London, Lancahire, Middlesex and Surrey, and to the Staffordshire, Wolverhampton and Dudley Joint Tuberculosis Board. Another unit has gone to Scotland, and one is on the point of delivery to the Welsh National Memorial Association.

Venereal Diseases

80.

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asked the Minister of Health whether he is in a position to make a statement with regard to the progress made under Regulation 33B?

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The Regulation is substantially helping local authorities to get into touch with persons suffering from venereal disease and to induce them to undertake treatment. Up to 30th June last 1,893 cases were brought to the notice of medical officers of health in this way. The number of cases reported more than once as alleged sources of infection was 110. In three cases it was necessary to take proceedings for failure to carry out treatment.

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In view of the fact that only six men have been reported under Regulation 33B, is the Minister satisfied that this Regulation is making a satisfactory contribution to the reduction of the incidence of venereal disease?

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I would say that it is making a very useful contribution.

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Can the Minister say whether the majority of the 1,800 cases to which he refers were voluntary sufferers or persons who had been compulsorily examined?

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They were cases that were brought to the notice of medical officers.

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Can the Minister say what has been the result of the recent Regulation?

Housing

Post-War Plans

64.

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asked the Minister of Health what response he has received from local authorities in the Welsh region to Circular No. 2778 issued by his Department in March, 1943; and what number of houses are covered by the plans submitted?

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Proposals have so far been submitted by 91 local authorities in Wales, covering 13,934 houses.

65.

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asked the Minister of Health which local authorities in the county of Glamorgan have submitted plans for a first year programme for postwar housing; and what number of houses are covered by these plans?

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As the answer involves a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The total number of houses covered by the programme is 2,924.

Following is the answer:

The undermentioned local authorities in Glamorgan have submitted plans for a first year's housing programme, as follow:

Swansea County Borough Council457
Barry Borough Council158
Neath Borough Council200
Aberdare Urban District Council100
Bridgend Urban District Council360
Glyncorrwg Urban District Council52
Maesteg Urban District Council500
Ogmore and Garw District Council76
Pontypridd Urban District Council369
Cardiff Rural District Council256
Cowbridge Rural District Council100
Neath Rural District Council138
Penybont Rural District Council158
Total2,924

Rent Restrictions Committee

73.

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asked the Minister of Health whether he can now give the names of the members of the promised Committee on Rent Restriction and its terms of reference?

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As already announced, the Chairman of this Committee will be my Noble Friend Viscount Ridley, and I hope to be able to announce the names of the other members shortly. The terms of reference will be:

"to review the question of rent control, including the working of the Rent Restrictions Acts, and to advise whether any, and if so what, changes are necessary."

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Is the right hon. Gentleman asking the Chairman to expedite the report of the Committee?

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I hope that the Committee will get to work at once.

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Do the terms of reference mean that the examination will only cover the ground previously covered by rent committees?

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Not at all; the answer says "if so, what changes are necessary."

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Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the terms of reference will not exclude the consideration not only of rents of houses but of rents charged for parts thereof, furnished rooms and so on?

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I think my hon. and gallant Friend can be satisfied that we have drawn up the terms of reference as widely as possible.

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Can the Minister give the House an assurance that there will be a representative of working-class organisations or trade unions on this Committee?

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Perhaps the hon. Member had better wait until he sees the composition of the Committee.

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Will the terms of reference cover not only the matter of rent restrictions but the inflated selling prices of houses which are now being obtained?

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I would like notice of that question.

Agricultural Workers

75.

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asked the Minister of Health the all-in cost of each of the cottages built hitherto under his 3,000 construction scheme?

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The all-in costs in the two schemes where figures are available are £963 and £955 respectively.

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Is the Minister making much progress with these cottages? How many has he available now?

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That is not covered by this Question.

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Can the Minister say how many?

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If the hon. Member will put that question down I will gladly answer it.

Rural Housing

78.

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asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider the need for a survey of the condition of rural workers' houses so that as soon as means can be arranged urgent repairs may be carried out?

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A Sub-committee of my Central Housing Advisory Committee is reviewing the whole field of rural housing under the chairmanship of Sir Arthur Hob-house, and I understand that the question of a comprehensive survey of rural houses is one of the matters which they have under consideration. I am expecting the report of this Sub-committee about Christmas time. The carrying out of urgent repairs, however, need not and should not await this report. Local authorities, including rural district councils, are being urged to undertake urgent repairs at once, and to take advantage of the facilities afforded under the new scheme for concentrating immobile labour on essential housing work.

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Has the Minister considered the report now published on rural housing by the Communist Party?

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I have the advantage of having a copy.

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Has the right hon. Gentleman read it?

Local Authorities' Boundaries

77.

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asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider altering the boundaries of various local authorities in view of changes that have taken place affecting industrial and social conditions in the neighbourhood and many areas; and what steps should hon. Members take to bring the views of local authorities to an appropriate body?

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No alteration of boundaries can be made while the Local Elections and Register of Electors (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1939, remains unaltered but the changes to which my hon. Friend refers will clearly have to be taken into account when the time comes for any re-arrangement. Meantime, I shall be glad to receive from hon Members any information about their own constituencies, which they think ought to be on record.

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Does not my right hon. Friend realise that it is very hard to make plans until the local authorities know the areas in which they are going to plan?

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That is quite clear.