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Written Answers

Volume 393: debated on Wednesday 3 November 1943

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Written Answers

Kenya (Tea Industry)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will inquire from the Kenya Government whether tea planters in the Colony are satisfied with existing opportunities of development; and whether such development is affected by the international control of the industry?

The development of the tea industry in Kenya has not been adversely affected by the existence of the International Tea Agreement, since Kenya was allotted under that agreement new acreage and an export quota, neither of which has been fully achieved during the period of the Agreement. The Agreement is being renewed for the duration of the war and one year thereafter. The terms of Kenya's co-operation in this extension have been negotiated and agreed with the International Tea Committee by a representative of the East African industry, and accepted by the Kenya Legislature and it may therefore be taken that the industry is reasonably satisfied.

Civil Defence Order

asked the Home Secretary why no explanatory memorandum was attached to the Emergency Powers (Defence) Civil Defence Order (S.R. & O., No. 1475, of 1943), having regard to the fact that it involved reference to five earlier Orders?

The Order referred to five earlier Civil Defence Orders and extended them to a combined Civil Defence Service. It was considered sufficiently self-explanatory since the subject matter of the earlier Orders was described in the text so as to indicate the effect of the new Order.

School Meals

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will arrange, with such consultations as are necessary, for continuous inquiries to be made throughout the country, both urban and rural, to ensure that rations for school children's dinners are sufficiently nourishing and are being properly served?

The arrangements made by local education authorities for school meals are under constant inspection by the Board's expert inspectors, one of whose principal objects is to ensure that the special allowances of food made available by my Noble Friend the Minister of Food are fully taken up, and that the meals are well cooked and are served under the best conditions practicable in present circumstances.

County Court, High Wycombe

asked the Attorney-General whether, in view of the serious inconvenience and financial loss to litigants, their witnesses and advocates practising in the County Court by reason of the journey to Aylesbury under war conditions of transport, arrangements with the Borough Council of Chepping Wycombe will be made with a view to enabling the County Court to be held at Wycombe as in the past?

Consultations have been taking place between my Noble Friend the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Borough Council at Chepping Wycombe and it is hoped that the County Court sittings at High Wycombe can now be resumed at an early date.

Wife's Savings (Ownership)

asked the Attorney-General whether his attention has been drawn to the recent decision in the Appeal Court that a wife's savings from house-keeping are the property of her husband; and whether he will consider amending the Married Women's Property Act, 1882, in order that a wife who exercises thrift may not be penalised and her work in the home given some monetary recognition?

My attention has been drawn to the case referred to which, of course, turned on its own facts. Husband and wife are free to enter into any arrangements with regard to money or other property which they like. In the absence of any special arrangement the balance of money given by one to the other for a special purpose and not used for that purpose belongs, according to ordinary principles, to the giver. With regard to the last part of the Question, legislation, even if in principle desirable, would clearly be very difficult. It would have to define the services and provide how the monetary recognition was to be valued. In any case the Government could not in present circumstances consider legislation of this kind.

Quarter Sessions (Chairmen And Deputy-Chairmen

asked the Attorney-General whether he will consider making the possession of legal qualifications a condition of the appointment of all chairmen and deputy-chairmen of Quarter Sessions?

Such a requirement as my hon. Friend suggests could only be imposed by statute. During the passage through Parliament of the Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1938, the question whether such a requirement should be made statutory received careful consideration, and it was decided that the object in view would be obtained with greater expedition and with less friction by the method adopted in that Act. In fact I am glad to inform the House that out of 62 Courts of Quarter Sessions the Chairmen of 56 Courts, and the deputy-chairmen of 32 Courts possess such a statutory qualification as is required by the Act of 1938 and the four chairmen who do not possess such a qualification have great experience in the position in which they occupy and command general confidence.

National Fire Service Buildings

asked the Home Secretary what expenditure has been authorised for the erection of buildings for the N.F.S. in London and the provinces, respectively; what extra staff has been employed and at what cost; whether in all cases there has been prior consultation with the local authorities concerned in view of their town planning schemes; and whether undertakings have been given that these buildings will be removed at the end of the war unless required by the local authorities for their resumed fire services?

The execution of the National Fire Service building programme has been largely decentralised, and much of the work has been carried out by local authorities, whose accounts, as a result of war conditions, are submitted for re-imbursement at varying intervals after the expenditure has been incurred. More-over, the character of the work is such that it would be impossible to distinguish the cost of new building and the cost of improvements of existing premises without an inordinate amount of labour and research. It is estimated, however, that the expenditure authorised for the erection of buildings is something of the order of £2,000,000. As regards, staff, apart from the use which has been made of the technical officers of local authorities and of members of the National Fire Service itself, the work has been undertaken by the technical staff of my Department; for this purpose 17 additional technical officers have been appointed, at a total annual cost of approximately £7,450. As regards consultation with local authorities in view of their town planning schemes, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given yesterday to his Question on this subject by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Town and Country Planning. No general undertaking has been given with regard to the disposal of National Fire Service emergency buildings after the war, some of these buildings will serve a useful purpose, at any rate on an interim footing, in the post-war period, but the great majority obviously serve only temporary purposes and will have to be removed as soon as possible after the need for them has passed.

Metropolitan Juvenile Court

asked the Home Secretary how many probation officers there were allocated to the London Juvenile Courts in 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942 and 1943; and how many children were under their supervision during the same periods?

The number of probation officers allocated to the Metropolitan Juvenile Court was:

  • On 31st December, 1939–28.
  • On 31st December, 1940–32.
  • On 31st December, 1941–28.
  • On 31st December, 1942–33.
The number at present so allocated is 36. An additional appointment has recently been authorised.
Diphtheria: Scotland.
Year.Total deaths.Children under 5.Children between 5 and 15.Persons over 15.
193843021619519
193939520017619
194067535228043
194151728118551
19422901579637
1943 (first half)126624321

Milk Prices

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that the delay in adjusting milk prices is having a deterrent effect upon the production programme

The number of children and young persons under the supervision of these officers was:

  • On 31st December, 1939–1,530.*
  • On 31st December, 1940–1,428.*
  • On 31st December, 1941–1,631.
  • On 31st December, 1942–1,723.
  • On 30th September, 1943–1,947.

* Approximate.

asked the Home Secretary the number of boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 14 brought before the courts in the Metropolitan police area in 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942 and 1943?

The exact figures for which my hon. Friend asks are not available, but the numbers of juveniles aged 11 to 14 years of age inclusive, arrested or summoned for indictable offences in the Metropolitan Police District in die years 1939 to 1942 and in the first nine months of 1943, were as follow:

19392,986
19402,518
19412,642
19422,905
1943 (January to September)2,633

Diphtheria (Deaths, Scotland)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many deaths from diphtheria were recorded in each of the five years 1938 to 1942 and the first half of 1943; and how many of the deaths were children under five, children between bye and 15 years and persons over 15 years of age?

The figures asked for are as follow:of dairy farmers; and whether he will make an early announcement?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement I made on 28th October concerning agricultural prices. Discussions with the industry are at present proceeding. I hope to make a further announcement shortly.

Manual Workers (Contracts Of Service)

asked the Minister of Labour how many industries have contracts of employment for manual workers; and what is the usual period?

I assume that my hon. Friend has in mind the period of notice of termination of engagement usual in written or implied contracts of service of manual workers. Detailed information is not available, but in so far as the period of notice is laid down in trade agreements they normally apply to particular occupations or localities and variously provide for notice of either one hour or a week. In establishments scheduled under an Essential Work Order one week's notice must be given except in cases of alleged serious misconduct.

Brandy

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether, in view of the high price of brandy even for medical cases, he is proposing to import brandy from South Africa?

Although stocks of brandy are small my Noble Friend does not consider it necessary to arrange for further imports at the present time. If, however, my hon. Friend will let me have particulars of any case where brandy is not available for medical purposes at a reasonable price I shall be glad to look into the matter.

Merchant Navy (Second Mate's Certificate)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that a cadet in the Merchant Navy, having served a period of three years at sea, is expected to come home and take a promotion course of three months; that such a cadet is paid for the first two months by the Merchant Navy Pool and thereafter has to depend on his unemployment insurance of 16s. per week for all expenses; and if he will take steps to make better provision for men of the Merchant Navy?

The National Maritime Board, which includes representatives of all the officers and men's societies decided, after full consideration, that apprentices, cadets and deck ratings who are candidates for the second mate's certificate examination, should be allowed two months' leave ashore to complete their studies. For this period, the candidates, under a National Maritime Board agreement, receive their full pay at the Reserve Pool rates. An additional month's leave may be allowed; Reserve Pool pay is not given, but as a special concession the candidates may receive Unemployment Insurance Benefit.

Transport Advisory Council

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is in a position to make any further statement with regard to the meetings of the Transport Advisory Council set up under the provisions of the Road-Rail Act?

The Transport Advisory Connell consists of about 30 members. It is constituted on a representative basis and in peace time it has given much valuable advice and assistance to the Minister of Transport. It is not, however, a suitable consultative body for the special problems of war. It will be re-assembled when matters arise which can appropriately be referred to it.

Local Government Reform

asked the Minister without Portfolio what were the services to which he referred as being in need of extension and improvement in paragraph 3 of his letter of 22nd September, addressed to the Association of Municipal Corporations, which has been widely circulated; what is the nature of the fundamental changes which he indicated might be involved; and to what extent these changes will affect the position and powers of local authorities?

I should not like any words of mine to appear to set definite limits to the field within which improvements in our local government services after the war should be considered, but I may mention by way of illustration the changes in regard to public health and public assistance services involved in the Beveridge plan and the Government's education proposals recently laid before this House. The changes in the position and powers of local authorities involved in the last mentioned proposals have been set out in the relevant White Paper. The implications of the Government proposals in regard to public health and public assistance will become apparent when these are similarly laid before the House.

Civil Aviation

asked the Minister of Aircraft Production whether he has all the information necessary in regard to the requirements of the various types of aircraft for civil use after the war; and has his Department started making the designs for such aircraft, including the engines, to fill these requirements?

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. A start has been made with designs for aircraft and the matter of engines is now receiving attention. The amount of staff which can be utilised on this work is of course strictly limited.

Food Supplies

Nutritional Values

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he will now consider adopting a policy of improving the quality of amenity foods, such as biscuits, cakes, sweets, sausage, cake, etc., even if it means some reduction in quantity?

My Noble Friend has taken and will continue to take every opportunity of improving the quality of foods such as my hon. Friend mentions, when supply and labour conditions permit; for example, the recent improvement in the nutritional value of sausages by the addition of soya flour, and the prescription of minimum standards for cakes. He does not consider, however, that he would be justified in improving quality at the expense of quantity in view of the large demands for these commodities and the good standards of quality which have been generally maintained.

Fruit Juices (Children)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether children in rural districts are assured of fruit juices; and whether the juices are sold at any local food offices?

Yes, Sir. Arrangements have been made which should ensure that children in all districts are able to obtain supplies of orange juice and cod liver oil. All food offices, except in the most exceptional circumstances, are required to distribute the products during the hours that they are open.

Milk (Pasteurisation)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food what evidence against pasteurisation of milk his Department considered before the issue of the recent White Paper?

Consultations were held with representatives of the medical profession, milk producers and milk distributors and representations were also received from other interests including those who are opposed to pasteurisation. The policy set out in Command Paper 6454, was only adopted after a full consideration of all the facts available and the arguments advanced.

Dried Fruit (Christmas Supplies)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he can make any statement as to the expected provision of dried fruits for Christmas?

In September the quantities of dried fruit distributed for domestic use were increased and I am glad to be able to say that the quantities released during the last quarter of the year will be 50 per cent. greater than previous releases during the year.

Merchant Navy (Post-War Employment)

asked the Minister of Labour whether the shipowners and seamen's organisations have worked out any scheme for post-war continuous employment?

I have been asked to reply. Yes, Sir. My Noble Friend the Minister of War Transport has for some time been in possession of the National Maritime Board outline plan for providing continuity of employment for the Merchant Navy after the war. This plan is now being considered in connection with the general Social Security Scheme which is now under examination by the Government.

Railways (Seat Reservation)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he will consider adopting one class fares for all carriages on long distance trains excepting in special carriages in which numbered reserve seats could be booked in advance, as is done on railways in the United States of America and other countries?

I have carefully considered the proposal made by my hon. Friend, but I regret that, like similar proposals which have been made before, their adoption would involve great practical difficulties. The reservation of seats and the decisions on claims to priority would involve an additional burden on the Ministry and railway personnel which in itself would outweigh any advantage that might result.

International Cartels (Metallgesellschaft)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is satisfied that all relations between British firms and Metallgesellschaft of Germany are completely broken off and that there is no understanding or arrangement that, on the end of the war, those relations will be renewed?

I have no evidence of any relations between British firms and Metallgesellschaft since the outbreak of war. Such relations are prohibited under the Trading with the Enemy Act, and any person contravening the Act would be subject to very severe penalties. As regards renewal of relations after the war, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave yesterday to my hon. Friends the Members for Croydon, South (Sir H. Williams) and Stoke (Mr. E. Smith).