House Of Commons
Wednesday, 3rd November, 1943
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
For the County of Durham (Consett Division), in the room of David Adams, Esquire, deceased.—[ Mr. Whiteley.]
Oral Answers To Questions
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the position with regard to the establishment of the special international tribunal for the trial and punishment of war criminals referred to in M. Molotov's note of 14th October, 1942, and published by the Inter-Allied Information Committee?
No final decision has yet been taken by the United Nations Governments on this matter, but I would refer my hon. Friend to the declaration issued by the Prime Minister, President Roosevelt and Premier Stalin at the end of the Moscow Conference.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what has been the response to the request by the United Nations to neutral Powers that they should not harbour war criminals?
The communication made by His Majesty's Government to certain neutral Governments took the form of placing on record our attitude in this matter, and did not specifically call for a reply. The replies which have, however, been received from some of these Governments suggest that while reserving their rights in the matter they appreciate the motives which His Majesty's Government had in mind in making their representations.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Ethiopia is to be included among the United Nations which have already been announced as a Commission to decide about the treatment of war criminals?
I would refer the hon. Member to the written reply which was given yesterday to the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) by my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary.
I have not seen the reply, but may I ask whether it is not a fact that all the Allied nations are entitled to be represented on that Commission with the exception of Ethiopia, and why is Ethiopia excluded?
Generally speaking, the policy of the United Nations in this matter is that only those nations who were associated with this question at the beginning should be members of the Commission. I can assure the hon. Member, however, that the Ethiopian Government were informed at the time these negotiations began and that they have offered no comment on them.
In view of the use of poison gas by the Italians against the Abyssinians, would it not be an act of justice to hand over Italian war criminals to the Ethiopians?
That was a different war.
Is it part of the war for democracy that the elaboration of this new technique about frying war criminals should be completely without any discussion in this House or any effective discussion in this country?
There has been a good deal of discussion at Question Time at any rate.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say on what fronts Ethiopian troops are now engaged in capturing any of these prisoners?
In view of the obvious difficulties and embarrassments which this and similar Questions are causing, could we not have some clearer definition as to what exactly a war criminal is and to what extent that should cover not only this campaign but others?
Wolfram And Tin (Portuguese Exports To Germany)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action has been taken by his Majesty's Government during the past year to persuade the Portuguese Government to refrain from supplying the Axis with wolfram and tin; and whether, in view of the fact that Portugal is the main supplier to Germany of these metals, which are vital for the production of war materials and these supplies have increased materially each year, he will immediately approach the Portuguese Government with a view to their banning any further deliveries of these metals to our enemy?
His Majesty's Government have left the Portuguese Government in no doubt as to the importance which they attach to Portuguese exports of wolfram and tin to the Axis. Agreements have been entered into which provide that the greater part of the total Portuguese wolfram output comes to the United Nations. But for these agreements the quantity of wolfram reaching the enemy would undoubtedly have been very substantially greater than has in fact been the case. Nevertheless the need for securing a reduction in these exports to the Axis is never forgotten and I can assure my hon. Friend that every effort will be made to reach a further agreement with the Portuguese Government to this end.
Could the right hon. Gentleman take steps not only to exert whatever pressure is possible on the Portuguese Government but to bring home to the Portuguese people that the exports of wolfram to Germany have increased by 10 times in the last two years and the exports of tin by 20 times and that without those exports a large part of Germany's industry would have come to a standstill?
I can assure the hon. Member that we shall do everything possible to impress on the Portuguese Government and people the importance we attach to this matter.
Are not the Portuguese an ancient and honoured Ally who will do their best to help us, and is it not a great mistake to annoy them by such questions?
Prince Paul Of Yugoslavia
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now hand Prince Paul of Yugloslavia over to the Yugoslavian Government so that they may be responsible for his safe custody until such time as they think fit to try him for his treachery to his country?
In one way and another is not the considerate way in which we protect and cherish this man and his family very touching, and would not innumerable Britishers be grateful for a quarter of the consideration that is given by our Government to this quisling Prince?
Since when has a man's family been responsible for his actions?
Captured Polish Nationals (Polish Army)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can furnish the exact text of the agreement which German prisoners, captured at Tunis, were called upon to sign before being accepted by the Polish Army?
Yes, Sir. I have sent a copy of the document in question to the hon. Member. I should like to take this opportunity to state that the arrangements for the transfer of these prisoners to the Polish Army have been worked out in close collaboration by the Polish and British military authorities and that the document which the men are called upon to sign contains nothing to which anyone, other than our common enemy, could possibly take exception.
With regard to the duties that may be subsequently imposed on these men, have the Russian Government been consulted?
I am afraid I should have to have notice of that Question.
Would the right hon. Gentleman look into this matter, because there is an allegation—I do not put it higher than that, and I do not vouch for it—that these men were called upon to agree that they may at some stage be fighting against the Russians?
I am grateful to the hon. Member for saying that that allegation has been made, and I can take this opportunity of saying that there is not one single word of truth in it.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a large number of Poles have no objection to fighting in the Armed Forces of this country but have the utmost objection to fighting in the Polish Army?
Could not this Agreement be furnished to the House in the OFFICIAL REPORT as well as to the hon. Member?
I think it would be extremely undesirable, for purely military reasons which must be obvious, to publish it.
Are we to understand that Germans are now fighting on the side of the United Nations?
No, Sir, the hon. Member should understand nothing of the kind. These are Poles who were inducted into the German army, and when they were made prisoners by the Allied Forces they wanted to fight for their own country instead of for Germany.
Are they German nationals?
No, they are Polish nationals.
International Labour Office
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps His Majesty's Government are taking to implement their policy of strengthening and developing the I.L.O. and making it the main instrument to give effect to Clause V of the Atlantic Charter?
His Majesty's Government are giving full support financially and otherwise to the International Labour Office. Close contact is being maintained with the Chairman of the governing body and with the Acting-Director of the International Labour Office with regard to the work of the organisation. In particular consideration is being given to arrangements for holding meetings of the governing body of the International Labour Office at which action in connection with post-war reconstruction will be discussed.
As the International Labour Office seems to be the only part of the League of Nations which is working, will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to maintain the International Labour Office and scrap the rest?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Economic Section of the League of Nations is doing a very valuable job of work?
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the subcommittee of the Interim Commission on Food and Agriculture, which has been set up to work out a plan for a permanent organisation, will take into account the desirability of the I.L.O. being fully represented on such a body?
The International Labour Office were invited to submit papers for study by the Hot Springs Conference on Food and Agriculture, and I am sure that the desirability of asociating them in some appropriate manner with the permanent organisation will not be overlooked.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the I.L.O. will be invited to participate in the United Nations Relief and Reconstruction Administration, in view of the resolution passed at the New York Conference in 1941, that the I.L.O. should be represented at any peace or reconstruction conference?
His Majesty's Government would welcome the participation of the International Labour Office in an appropriate manner in the work of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. It will be for that Administration, when set up, to decide whether, and in what manner, this participation can best be arranged.
Chinese Troops, India (British Assistance)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give an indication of the assistance which has been given under Lend-Lease by His Majesty's Government to the Chinese troops in India?
The House will know that, by agreement between the United States authorities and ourselves, the main responsibility for the equipment of Chinese troops in India rests with the United States Government. It will also be understood that, for reasons of security, it is not advisable to give full details of the help which we provide to these troops. I may say, however, that His Majesty's Government have extended the Lend-Lease terms of "arms, munitions and military equipment" to China to cover the Chinese troops in India, who, though largely equipped by the United States Government, are supplied as required, free of charge, with everything which we supply to our own troops, such as rations, local currency for pay and allowances, quarters, transport, hospital services, medical and ordnance supplies and equipment. Anglo-Iranian oil has also been provided free in India and sent into China to the Chinese Air Force. The projects which have been financed by Lend-Lease from this country to China include construction by Chinese labour of strategic roads to Northern India. This, in general terms, is the aid which His Majesty's Government are giving to the Chinese operating in India.
Will the right hon. Gentleman see that this important statement receives the fullest possible publicity in China and in the United States?
Allied Prisoners Of War, Far East
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any representations have been made, jointly with the United States and other Allied Governments to the Japanese Government, that they will be held personally responsible for their continued refusal to allow the International Red Cross to operate in Malaya and other Far Eastern territories where Allied prisoners of war are at present interned?
Representations have continually been made to the Japanese Government by the Protecting Power with a view to securing permission to visit prisoners of war camps in Japanese-occupied territories, that is, territories such as Malaya, Burma, the Netherlands East Indies and Siam. The most recent reply of the Japanese Government, just received, is to the effect that it is not at present possible to allow such camps to be visited. So long as the Japanese Government persist in this attitude, they cannot complain if all civilised nations assume that inspection of these camps by neutral observers would reveal serious breaches both of the letter and of the spirit of the Prisoners of War Convention. His Majesty's Government will continue to press this matter by every means open to them, and so far as they are concerned they will certainly hold the Japanese Government responsible for violations of the standards set by the Geneva Convention.
Will my right hon. Friend consider approaching the United States Government with a view to joint representations, instead of representations from this Government alone?
Joint representations are not always desirable; but if my hon. and gallant Friend carefully reads the reply he will see that it covers all camps, of all nationalities.
What participants in the present war, on both sides, are not parties to the International Red Cross Convention?
That is another question.
Do they include Japan?
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the bad treatment of our war prisoners, the Allied Powers will, after tae war, refuse to recognise Japan as a Power sufficiently civilised to be allowed to adhere to such treaties as the Geneva Convention?
His Majesty's Government are not, of course, in a position to speak for the Allied Powers, nor to make any pronouncement at present as to the attitude to be adopted towards whatever Government may emerge in Japan after her defeat. As I have stated in reply to a previous Question, His Majesty's Government, for their part, will certainly hold the Japanese Government responsible for violations of the Geneva Convention.
Refugees (Inter- Governmental Committee)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from which of the States invited to appoint representatives to the Inter-Governmental Committee on Refugees are answers still awaited; whether, in view of the time elapsed since the decision to reconstitute the Committee, steps are being taken to hasten the completion of its membership; and how soon may a statement on the work accomplished or planned by the Committee be expected?
The hon. Lady can rest assured that the Committee is taking all suitable steps to complete its membership. In regard, however, to general statements on the progress of planning the Committee's work, I would refer to my reply to the hon. Lady on 13th October, when I described the international and independent character of the Inter-Governmental Committee, of which His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are only one of a number of other Member-Governments. It would, therefore, be more appropriate that requests for information as to the progress of the Committee's work should be addressed to the Committee's headquarters, which, as the hon. Lady is aware, are here in London.
Cannot we be informed which countries are not yet represented? In view of the fact that the whole matter of rescue and post-war settlement of refugees was referred to the Inter-Governmental Committee as long ago as last April, is it not time that the House was told something of what the Committee are doing; and is it not time that this very small and unrealistically-composed executive committee was reconstituted? May I have an answer?
The hon. Lady's question was so long that I called the next Question.
French Provisional Consultative Assembly, Algiers
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will arrange for a small Parliamentary delegation to convey greetings to the French Provisional Consultative Assembly in Algiers?
No, Sir. I do not consider that the action suggested is appropriate at present.
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that such a gesture from the oldest Parliament in the world would be very much appreciated in French circles? Would he not consider sending a message to the meeting of this Assembly to-day?
The hon. Gentleman is under some misapprehension. This body in Algiers is not a Parliamentary body, it is a consultative body. There are 20 members of the two Houses in it, but they are a minority—20 out of 84.
Is not the initiative in sending a delegation of this kind a matter for the House, and not for the Government?
How many Members of this House have not been on a delegation of some kind or other since the beginning of the war?
Repatriated Prisoners Of War
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he will retain on full pay and allowances all sick and wounded returned prisoners of war until their economic position has been assured by the settlement of their pension claims and/or the securing of employment?
I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given on 27th October by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, which applies equally to officers and men of the Royal Air Force
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will retain on full pay and allowances all sick and wounded returned prisoners of war until their economic position has been assured by the settlement of their pension claims and/or the securing of employment?
I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the Secretary of State for War's reply on 27th October to a similar Question relating to the Army. The practice of the Admiralty is broadly speaking the same.
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman ask the First Lord to see to it that the Merchant Service men are treated as nearly as possible on an equal footing with the naval personnel?
That is a matter for the Ministry of War Transport.
Bombing Destruction, United Kingdom And Germany
asked the Secretary of State for Air how many acres of housing property have been destroyed in Germany since March, 1943, by Allied bombing attacks, and how many were destroyed by German air attacks in this country in 1940 and 1941?
My hon. Friend has been good enough to inform me that by "housing property" he means all built-up property, including factories and industrial plants. Comprehensive statistics of this character are not available, but the photographic and other evidence shows beyond doubt that the area destroyed in Germany as a result of Allied bombing in the six months ended September last was many times greater than that inflicted on this country by all the German air attacks of 1940 and 1941.
In view of the fact that our bombing is discriminatory and that we seek only industrial targets, whereas the German bombers over this country go for civilian targets in a large percentage of cases, do not those figures afford further proof of the desirability of concentrating our heavy bombers and those of the United States Army here on destroying the war production of the enemy?
Is there any reason to believe the figures given at the week-end, showing that through the bombing of Germany over 1,000 civilians lost their lives?
If the statement was given out by my Department, it is bound to be true. With regard to the first supplementary question, certainly all our bombing attacks are directed to the destruction and dislocation of the German war machine.
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether, following the successful completion of the Empire Civil Aviation Conference in London, any arrangements have yet been made for an international conference to consider the same subject; and, if so, who will represent this country?
No arrangements have yet been made for an international conference on civil aviation, but when arrangements are made a list of the representatives will be published.
In view of the very active steps being taken, and the very large sums being expended, in the United States on planning for post-war civil aviation, will my right hon. Friend see that a conference between the United States and this country is held at an early date, so that some agreement may be reached?
I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that there will be no avoidable delay.
Royal Air Force
Air Training Corps
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he has, as promised in 1941, been able to review the financial arrangements affecting the A.T.C.; and whether he can now promise that travel concessions will be given to cadets attending parades from the more distant areas of their headquarters in order to increase recruiting?
The review was completed early last year, and led to increased provision for collective travelling. The conclusion was reached, however, that the policy should be maintained under which expenses incurred by cadets in travelling between their homes and their place of duty are not refunded. This is in line with the practice of the Sea Cadet Corps and the Army Cadet Force.
asked the Secretary of State for Air how many cadets from the A.T.C. have passed into the R.A.F. and the Royal Navy since the inception of the scheme?
During the period from the formation of the Air Training Corps to the end of September, 1943, approximately 72,000 cadets attested for service with the Royal Air Force. Some 55,000 of these have taken up duty. During the same period about 13,000 cadets left the Corps to join the Royal Navy, including the Fleet Air Arm and also the Merchant Service.
In view of those excellent figures, can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the A.T.C. will be continued after the war?
It would not be proper for me to give such an assurance, but I hope it will be.
Accident, Salisbury Plain
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he can make any statement as to the recent accident on Salisbury Plain, when seven people were killed by an object which fell from a low-flying aeroplane?
This regrettable accident occurred on 23rd October in the course of routine Army training, with which a Royal Air Force aircraft was co-operating. The immediate cause was the accidental release from the aircraft of a certain item of equipment. An investigation into all the circumstances is now being held. I am sure that the House will wish to join with me in expressing sympathy with the relatives of those who lost their lives and with the injured.
Ministry Of Information
Sabotage, Enemy-Occupied Countries
asked the Minister of Information whether the B.B.C., before it decided to urge civilians in enemy-occupied countries to commit acts of sabotage, consulted international conventions on the subject?
I am not clear what the hon. Member has in mind as I know of no international Convention relating to the subject.
Does the hon. Gentleman think it is fair to ask civilians without any means of defence in any of the occupied countries to take the risk of losing their lives in committing acts of sabotage?
The hon. Member asks us to refer to a particular Convention. We cannot refer to a non-existent Convention, and if he will indicate what Convention he has in mind, we will consider the matter further.
Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the citizens of this country wish these civilians success in all their acts of sabotage?
Allied Propaganda (Co-Ordination)
asked the Minister of Information whether he has now anything to communicate in regard to the setting up of a Joint Allied Propaganda Council?
I would remind my hon. Friend of the answer my right hon. Friend gave him on 30th September, 1942. Since then there has been increasing collaboration between the Information Services of the Allies and if this develops satisfactorily it may lead to the creation of more formal machinery.
Would my hon. Friend say whether his right hon. Friend the Minister of Information gave attention to this matter while he was in America? I understand the difficulties of the right hon. Gentleman in the matter; my object is simply to urge that propaganda should be unified as far as possible.
I am afraid I cannot answer that question without notice.
In view of the disastrous state of affairs in connection with propaganda in Greece and Jugoslavia, does the hon. Gentleman realise that it is vitally important to the success of the Allied nations?
I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that we are pushing forward with this matter of collaboration as quickly as we can.
Cannot we learn a great deal from the Russians, who are the best propagandists in the world?
Effects Of Alcohol (Propaganda)
asked the Minister of Information whether he will use all the means of propaganda at his disposal to impress on people, young and old alike, that indulgence in alcoholic liquors is not only harmful to the individual but also a serious hindrance to the war effort and that national sobriety is essential for achieving the best work towards a speedy victory?
No, Sir. It is no part of the duty of the Ministry of Information to lecture the public on the good or evil effects of alcohol.
Will my hon. Friend cause regular statements to be made to the public through the Ministry of Information that persons under 18 cannot be served with alcoholic liquor in public houses and that it is illegal for adults to treat such persons?
I suggest to my hon. Friend that it is no part of the function of the Ministry of Information to give lectures on the use or abuse of alcohol. I do not think the House would wish it to do so.
Is it not true that no Government since the world began have ever cared less about temperance than this Government?
Is not this House still without a milk bar?
Is it not the duty of the Ministry of Information to provide the public with information, and will the hon. Gentleman take steps to inform the public where it can get alcoholic liquor?
As the Ministry of Information is advising the public to curtail the consumption of all sorts of things, such as fuel and water, might it not consider advising it to curtail the consumption of beer?
The duty of the Ministry of Information is to give information to the public, but it is not the duty of the Ministry of Information to indulge in propaganda on contentious subjects.
Will the Parliamentary Secretary use his powerful influence on Guinness's, of Dublin, for the restoration of the supply of Guinness's stout in Northern Ireland?
Food Parcels From Abroad
asked the Postmaster-General the average number of parcels of food sent weekly to individual recipients in this country from abroad; and what number or proportion of these come from parts of the American Continent, from India and from other countries?
I regret that the desired information is not available.
Is it not time that this sending of food parcels should be stopped, as it is wasteful and especially as you prohibit the sending of even small parcels to India?
That is quite another question.
Government Building Programme (Sunday Work)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works why the Emergency Powers (Defence) Building and Civil Engineering Contracting (Hours of Employment) Order (S.R. & O., No. 1454, of 1943) permits Sunday work every other week; and why no explanatory memorandum is attached to this Order?
In view of the urgent necessity for maintaining output on the Government building programme, my Noble Friend, after consultation with the Industry, decided to continue the practice of previous years, whereby work proceeds on alternate Sundays between November and February, when the hours of daylight are short. An explanatory memorandum was not attached to the Order, as its purpose was considered to be sufficiently clear.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent public funds have been expended in subsidies to farmers in Kenya during each year from 1939 to the latest available date; and to what extent Africans have benefited from these subsidies?
It is not, I am afraid, possible to give figures in the form required, but I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement giving such statistics as are available. Subsidies in this form are not available to African cultivators, as the difficulties they were intended to meet do not occur in the farm operations customarily carried out in Native Reserves. The price of native foodstuffs has, however, been subsidised by the Government, especially in the recent period of shortage.
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that his statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT will be read very carefully by a large number of people who are very deeply concerned about the way in which things are being worked in Kenya at the present time?
I am very gratified to think that that will be so.
Following is the statement:
Prior to 1942, the amounts involved were in any case, in the aggregate, relatively small.
Since 1942 the Government has had powers under the Increased Production of Crops Ordinance to make direct subsidies to non-African farmers, and the amounts issued during 1942, or which it is estimated will be issued during this year are as follow:
|(1) Subsidies to guarantee a minimum return per acre for land placed under cultivation in certain crops at the order of Government||480||7,000|
|(2) Subsidies for the breaking up of new land||35,208||90,000|
|(3) Subsidies for fertilisers||—||20,000|
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the composition of the Settlement Section of the Agricultural Production and Settlement Board, set up for the purpose of settling Europeans in Africa; who is the chairman; how many settlers are members; and in what way African opinion is consulted?
I presume that my hon. Friend is referring to Kenya. I will circulate particulars asked for in the OFFICIAL REPORT. There is no representation of African interests in the Section, which is only concerned with settlement in the European areas of Kenya.
Could the right hon. and gallant Gentleman indicate what African opinion is consulted in this matter, which must affect them in some way?
It is merely a question of the use of land which is already in the settlement area.
Following are the particulars:
The Settlement Section of the Agricultural Production and Settlement Board in that Colony is composed of a Chairman, a Deputy Chairman and 15 members.
The Chairman, Major Cavendish Bentinck, is an Unofficial Member of the Executive and Legislative Councils; the Deputy-Chairman is an official, the Com- missioner of Lands and Settlement. The Director of Agriculture is a member of the Board, and the remaining members are European unofficial residents of the Colony.
Although the Board's terms of reference include planning for further settlement and advising prospective settlers, I understand that its main function is that of an executive body to implement settlement policy as approved by the Government, in collaboration with the Commissioner of Lands and Settlement.
Hotel Accommodation, London
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works whether, as the result of the restriction of hotel accommodation by recent Government action, he is aware that many business men from the provinces who require to stay in London overnight are unable to find accommodation; and what he proposes to do to remedy the position?
The American Army has asked us to provide extra accommodation. To meet this demand we are preparing accommodation in large houses and we shall complete this by the end of the year. To meet their present needs we have had to reserve 500 beds temporarily in an hotel until the alternative accommodation is available. We are aware of the hardship on business men and, as stated, are taking immediate steps to relieve the position.
While I thank the Minister for his reply, will he realise the great hardship to business men when they have to come up to town and may call at a dozen or more hotels without getting any accommodation at all, and will he also realise that this is a matter affecting the war effort and see whether it is possible to deal with the problem?
Would it not be simpler to reduce the number of Statutory Rules and Orders which no one understands and which affect tens of thousands of business men?
Cyprus (Cost Of Living)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will inform the House about the one day protest strike in Cyprus on 25th October against the failure of the Government to take effective steps to check the rise in tire cost of living; whether the trade union leaders of the protest, who were arrested under an old decree, have been released; and what steps have been taken to meet the grievance?
As the reply is necessarily long, I am circulating a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I am, however, glad to say, that, as a result of the measures to which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs referred on 13th October, the cost of living index had fallen by 47 points by the beginning of October.
Is the Secretary of State aware of the keen feeling in Cyprus about the rise in the cost of living, which has not been adequately checked, and that large numbers of them consider this protest was justifiable? The right hon. and gallant Gentleman has not replied to the point in my Question about the release of those who have been in prison because of making a publicly justified protest.
On a matter of this kind, it is obviously not fair to attempt to deal with it piecemeal. Therefore, the statement must necessarily be long, and I am circulating it in the OFFICIAL REPORT, and this point will be covered.
Following is the statement:
On 24th October meetings were held in Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca by the trade unions, supported by the Cyprus Working People's Party know as Akel, when it was decided to call a 24-hours' strike as a protest against the cost of living. The strike was to be confined in the case of men employed on essential works to a 15 minutes' halt. Shops were to be closed from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The strike, which was described by the unions as a general strike, took place on the following day, but it was in effect confined to urban areas and shopkeepers of the towns of Nicosia, Limassol, Famagusta and Larnaca. In these towns the response was only partial and other areas generally were unaffected. Following the meetings on 24th October, processions were organised for which no permission was sought. It is illegal in Cyprus under legislation enacted in 1932 for any public procession (except for certain special purposes, i.e., circumcisions, marriages and funerals) to be held without a permit. In Nicosia a procession of about 2,000 persons, although warned by the police, marched to the main square, breaking a police cordon en route. Here the crowd was addressed by one of the leaders, who threatened more serious action if the Government failed to take steps to reduce the cost of living. Thereafter the crowd was persuaded by the police to disperse. There was no disorder and no actual force was used by the police. Subsequently eight of the leaders were arrested and charged with organising and taking part in an illegal procession. All pleaded guilty. Five were released with a caution. One was fined £10. Two who had previous convictions, including one conviction in each case for seditious conspiracy, were sentenced to six months' imprisonment. Similar processions were held in Limassol and Larnaca. They were orderly and the police did not attempt to break them up. The leaders in Larnaca, sixteen in number, were prosecuted, and fines ranging from 21s. to 60s, were imposed. Summonses against the leaders in Limassol are due for hearing on 4th November.
Certain shopkeepers in Nicosia, Larnaca, Limassol, Famagusta and Polis who stock essential goods are being prosecuted for closing for periods varying from 4 to 24 hours on 25th October in breach of the conditions of their licences. Twenty-four cases have already been heard and penalties imposed ranging from cautions to fines of varying amounts between 15s. and £12. Other cases are pending.
My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs made a general statement on the measures being taken by the Cyrus Government to reduce and control the cost of living in reply to a Question by the hon. Member on 13th October. He explained that the cost of living index figure has, if clothing is left out of account, remained for some time at about 100 per cent. above pre-war level and that wages have on the average risen proportionately. Including clothing the index stood on 1st September at 178 per cent. above pre-war level, but, mainly as a result of the special steps taken in regard to clothing, this figure fell by 47 points during September.
I would again emphasise that wages for unskilled labour have risen in Cyprus from an average of 1s. 8 piastres a day for a 56-hour week to an average of 4s. a day for a 48-hour week; and for skilled labour the corresponding figures are 2s. 8 piastres and 6s.; but wages for skilled labour vary considerably in different trades.
Nigeria (Native Chiefs, Appointment)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will give particulars respecting the Nigerian Ordinance vesting the chiefs with sole native authority; whether he is aware of apprehension among political and other bodies lest this abrogates traditional communal control of those chiefs; and whether he will sympathetically consider representations on the matter?
Authority to appoint chiefs as sole Native Authorities has in fact existed since 1916. The only difference which the 1943 Ordinance now introduces as compared with the position previously obtaining is that authority now exists for appointments as a native authority of a chief associated with a council. The Government is anxious to associate councils with chiefs wherever this is practicable. Although some of the unofficial members of the Legislative Council spoke against the provisions of the Bill referred to, all voted in favour of the Bill. I am not aware of any apprehension in the matter, but I am always ready to consider any representations which may be made through the Governor.
Is the Minister aware that to many applicants this represents a retrograde step, seeing that previously chiefs were appointed in relationship to democratic principles? This seems to abrogate those principles entirely.
The hon. Member must be under a misapprehention. Previously the position has been that it has always been possible to appoint a chief without a council. The only object of this new Ordinance is to make it possible to do what for some reason was not done before—to appoint a chief in association with a council. It is not a retrograde step but a progressive step.
Malta (Bishop Gonzi's Appointment)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will give particulars respecting the appointment of Bishop Gonzi, of Gozo, as coadjutor to the Archbishop of Malta; whether this appointment was by arrangement with the Governor or the British Government; and whether he is satisfied that the appointment is in the interest of the people of Malta?
Yes, Sir. This appointment was made by the Holy See with the concurrence of His Majesty's Government. It will enable Bishop Gonzi to give immediate assistance to the Archbishop, who, I regret to say, has not been in good health for some time. Bishop Gonzi will remain in charge of the See of Gozo as Apostolic Administrator. The answer to the last part of the Question is in the affirmative.
Is the Minister aware that there is other feeling on this matter and that this particular Bishop is not looked upon as being at all sympathetic to the democratic aspirations of the people of Malta?
Is it necessary for Questions of this character about a well-known Bishop to be asked by people who know nothing about the subject?
This is a matter of old controversy and one to which I have given close attention. It is only fair to the Bishop to state that the Governor of Malta told me of the complete co-operation which he has had from the Bishop during the difficult times Malta has gone through.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, as the result of his personal investigation, he has reached any conclusion as to the desirability of grouping the Colonies of East and West Africa, each group under a Governor-General, such Governors-General to be appointed, unless specially qualified members of the Colonial Civil Service are available, from men experienced in the public life of the Empire?
The question of getting the best possible co-ordination between groups of Colonies, whether in Africa or elsewhere, is obviously of great importance. I am not yet in a position to make any statement upon it.
Sierra Leone (Health Conditions, Freetown)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has had an opportunity of personally inquiring into the responsibility for the deplorable conditions of health, lack of fresh water, bad drainage and housing at Freetown; and whether he can give the House an assurance that he is satisfied that improvement has been effected and will be sustained until these serious shortcomings have been completely rectified?
The present very unsatisfactory conditions at Freetown are primarily due to the enormous strain suddenly thrown upon the Administration of Sierra Leone by the exigencies of war and the consequent great increase in its population. I am satisfied that the Administration is doing its best to improve conditions as quickly as possible, but its efforts are very seriously hampered by acute shortage of skilled personnel and of essential materials, adequate supplies of which cannot be expected to be available for a long time to come.
Can my right hon. and gallant Friend say whether the Administration which allowed this shocking state of affairs has been strengthened in any way?
I do not think it is fair to blame the Administration of the Colony for whatever may have been the conditions at the beginning of the war. The then existing system had to work under the then income of the Colony, and an Administration which has had to work under those handicaps cannot be blamed for the result. Fortunately, we have now altered that principle, and in future the House will be able to help where a Colony cannot do the requisite thing.
Does my right hon. and gallant Friend agree that no Colony can afford the state of affairs I have indicated, and is he satisfied that steps are being taken to bring the position more closely to his notice?
It is not necessary to bring it more closely to my notice, because I am just as interested as my hon. and gallant Friend in getting this matter right. I would like to point out, also, that the demands of the Services in Freetown are very large and that it is important that they should have priority.
Government Employees (Working Conditions)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether steps can be taken in Jamaica to deal with the representations of the Government employees' organisations in regard to their working conditions and thereby terminate the delay in the consideration of the improvements asked for?
I understand from the Governor that certain representations by these bodies are under active consideration in Jamaica and will be forwarded to me by an early air mail.
Electric Light Undertakings, Kingston
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has any information whether permission has been given to the Kingston, Jamaican Corporations request to the Jamaican Government for permission to take over the licences of the electric lighting undertakings in the corporate area when the existing licences end in 1945?
I have no information on the subject. I will ask the Governor for a report.
Anglo-American Caribbean Commission
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that President Roosevelt recently appointed a coloured American judge and two natives of Porto Rico to serve on the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission; and whether he will consider appointing qualified West Indians to represent the Colonial Office on the Commission?
No, Sir. No such appointments have been made by President Roosevelt to the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission. As regards the last part of the Question, I have nothing to add to the reply given to a Question by the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) on 3rd June, 1942.
Has the Minister noticed the reports in the West Indian Press that such appointments have been recommended by President Roosevelt? In view of the fact that the British Commission concerns the West Indies, ought not West Indians to have consideration?
I think the hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. He must have muddled up this matter with appointments by President Roosevelt to serve on his Caribbean Advisory Committee, which has no connection whatsoever with the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission.
Land, Hornchurch (Purchase Price)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that the Hornchurch Essex Council was offered a piece of land, area 40 square yards, recently for the sum of £300, which works out at £36,000 an acre, required for the purpose of street widening; that other onerous conditions were attached to the sale; that the Hornchurch Highways Committee recommended that no purchase should take place on account of the high price and onerous conditions; and what steps he proposes to take to put an end to this practice of holding up public authorities to ransom?
The Hornchurch Council have not approached my Department about this piece of land, which I understand is required for widening a footway. Powers for the compulsory purchase of land for street widenings are already available to local authorities, subject to confirmation of the necessary Order by my noble Friend.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that in Glasgow many long-distance passengers formerly boarded the Corporation omnibuses at stopping places on the routes which the Glasgow Transport Committee have now ruled they will stop only at fare stations; that those passengers now have to use tramcars to take them between their place of work and the nearest omnibus stop; and whether, in view of the extra expense and discomfort caused to these war workers, he will now cause the Town Council to reconsider their decision and revert to the old method?
As I have previously informed my hon. Friend, the purpose of the Glasgow City Corporation in eliminating some stopping places on three of their routes was to divert short-distance passengers to the trams, and thus to leave more room on the omnibuses for long-distance passengers. I am assured that this purpose has been successfully achieved. I would add that where the restriction applies the omnibus stops are only half a mile apart, and that, in addition, certain stops near large works and schools have been retained. I shall be glad, however, to consider the restoration, of any particular stop to which my hon. Friend may attach importance.
It is not any particular stop, it is a number of stops. Is my hon. Friend aware that many people wish to go to the bus terminus and are, therefore, long-distance passengers? Will he go into the matter with the Glasgow Town Council?
The Regional Transport Commissioner is satisfied that the advantages of this plan greatly outweigh its disadvantages.
But has the Regional Commissioner ever travelled in any of these buses? If he had he would not be satisfied.
asked the Minister of Production the number of factories that have been built for war purposes in Scotland during the past 12 months?
I regret that I am unable to publish the figure desired by the hon. Member, but I am sending him some figures about the considerable expansions of war production in Scotland during the period to which he refers.
asked the Minister of Production the number of factories, or parts of factories, that have been closed down in Scotland during the past 12 months; and the approximate number of workers that have been transferred to other works?
I regret that information is not available in the form in which the hon. Member asks for it. My information is that only three small factories engaged upon war production have been entirely closed. Any transfer of labour resulting from changes in production programmes is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour.
Does the right hon. Gentleman know how many factories have been partly closed, or how many departments have been closed down, and employees dismissed or transferred to other parts of the country?
It is that information which, as I have said, it is difficult to obtain.
Road And Rail Traffic (Synthetic Rubber)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether, in view of the changed situation and the extended manufacture of synthetic rubber, some of the necessary road services, both passenger and goods, can be restored; and whether, in the national interest, he can now review the present policy of transfer of traffic to rail?
As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour said on 23rd September, the Government are anxious to make all practicable improvements in the transport facilities for workers. Arrangements are, therefore, being made to strengthen omnibus services where the need is urgent, and where the necessary drivers and conductors can be found. Goods vehicles are available, and will be used to relieve the railways, when they are required. But I must warn my hon. and gallant Friend that, in spite of the present improvement in fuel supplies and the prospect that we may receive some synthetic rubber, it is still necessary to economise in fuel, tyres, vehicles and man-power, and, therefore, to avoid any unnecessary use of road transport.
In view of the recent statement made by the proprietor of one of the biggest synthetic rubber plants in America, while in England, will the hon. Gentleman take some steps to review the matter?
Yes, but much the greater difficulty is the provision of omnibus crews and maintenance personnel. The pressure on personnel in the coming winter will be very heavy indeed.
Railway Locomotive Workshops (Location)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware that before the outbreak of war the policy of some railway companies was to concentrate the construction and repair of locomotives increasingly on their larger workshops; and whether he will take steps while the railways are under Government control to see that post-war planning shall not be allowed so to allocate future work as to reduce townships in which the railway companies have hitherto operated to derelict areas?
I am glad to assure my hon. Friend that, in the preparation of post-war plans, the considerations to which he draws attention will not be overlooked.
Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that when railway companies opened their workshops small townships grew around them and that it would be wise to bear this in mind if the tendencies of the railway companies in peace-time are to be pursued?
I fully realise the importance of my hon. Friend's point.
Will my hon. Friend remember the township of Horwich, Lancashire, in this connection?
Railway Electrification, London Area
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether any plans are being prepared for the electrification of the railway from Liverpool Street to Chingford at an early date after the end of the war with Germany; and what extension is proposed beyond Chingford?
A special committee appointed by the four main line railways and the London Passenger Transport Board is now considering the electrification of the line to Chingford, and other plans for future railway development in the London area.
asked the Prime Minister whether he has any statement to make on the agreement announced by President Roosevelt to have been reached at the Moscow Conference?
I have nothing at present to add to the very full and very satisfactory official statement which appeared in the Press of yesterday about the Moscow Conference.
Is the right hon. Gentleman likely to be able to make a statement to the House in the near future?
I am afraid that I have nothing to add at present to the statement.
Cannot my right hon. Friend tell the House now that this will be used as an occasion for a full-dress Debate upon foreign affairs? Cannot I have an answer?
That is very much the same question put in a different form. My answer was that I have at present nothing to add to the statement.
Will my right hon. Friend not agree that it is desirable that hon. Members should hear a statement from the Prime Minister and not be compelled to rely exclusively on Press reports?
I am quite sure that the Prime Minister, who very frequently does come to this House, will make a statement at what he considers is the appropriate time.
Service Personnel (Pyjamas)
asked the Minister of Production whether he will ensure that the allocation of cloth to the Service Departments is sufficient to permit a limited issue of pyjamas to other ranks?
asked the Minister of Production whether he will increase the allocation of pyjama material to the trade in order that fuller provision may be made for non-commissioned ranks in the Army and R.A.F.?
In allocating material to the Services, I have to bear in mind the supplies needed by the civilian population, and I regret that I cannot see my way at the present time to increase the quantity of clothing allotted to the Services, who necessarily use an amount equivalent to a much greater number of coupons per man than can be allowed to civilians.
Having regard to the fact that people in the Services need outdoor clothes and pyjamas just the same as ordinary civilians, why should they be restricted in this respect?
My difficulty is that at a time when the level of civilian clothing is reduced to the bare minimum I could not justifiably say that pyjamas are a necessary weapon of war for the pursuit of victory, or, indeed, in the back areas for the pursuit of sleep.
If pyjamas are a symbol of social superiority, ought they not to be abolished in a democratic war?
However that may be, I am sure my hon. Friend would not wish to make the device of the Ministry of Production bear the words Cedant arma pyjamae.
Paper Supplies (Books)
asked the Minister of Production whether, in view of the need for an increase in the supply of paper for books and especially for books of an educational and scientific character, he has now been able to make a larger allotment of paper for this purpose?
Yes, Sir. I have authorised an increase of 2½ per cent. of pre-war consumption in the allocation to each publisher, and an addition to the reserve to meet special needs. As in the case of newspapers and periodicals, I shall expect the publishers to give special attention to the needs of the Services.
Is it not the case that educational books are in very short supply, and that in many schools one book has to be used by five pupils? Does the right hon. Gentleman think the additional allocation he is making will be sufficient to cover the quantities required?
Supplementary Questions are becoming almost speeches.
House Repairs And Conversion, Northern Ireland
asked the Minister of Production whether, towards repairing houses, converting houses into flats and completing unfinished houses in Northern Ireland to the amount of £250 for each house, he will release the essential materials required for that purpose, as the matter is urgent owing to the shortage of houses?
I am informed by the Government of Northern Ireland that the categories of building work referred to by the hon. Member are not at present, and are not likely to be, restricted for lack of essential materials.
Is it a fact that the Minister has refused to allow the Government of Northern Ireland to proceed with the erection of these houses, and is he aware that 4,000 houses have been erected in Eire and only 626 houses in Northern Ireland? Does the Minister think that is equal justice for that part of the United Kingdom?
I should want to have notice of that Question.
Hostel Site, Pontypool (Purchase Price)
asked the Minister of Supply with a reference to land compulsorily acquired from the trustees of the Pontypool Park Estate for a hostel, whether he is aware that the owners wanted £2,861 for it, whereas the district valuer assessed the site as agricultural land at a valuation of £1,175; what is the area of this site; what was its rateable value previous to purchase by the Ministry; whether the arbitrator has given his award; and, if so, what was the amount?
The area of the site referred to is approximately 28 acres. The official arbitrator has given his award in the sum of £1,441.
asked the Minister of Supply whether, bearing in mind the greater sacrifice made by the woodlands of this country than by those of any other in each of the world wars, he will consider curtailing immediately, as far as the war situation will allow, the wholesale slaughter of immature woodlands by clear felling?
The demands upon our diminishing resources of standing timber are still very great, but we shall certainly endeavour to curtail, as soon as the situation allows, the rate at which woodlands are being depleted.
asked the Minister of Supply whether it is the policy of his Department now to cease the production of tanks and rely on supplies from the United States of America; and whether any of the experts who constituted the Special Vehicle Development Committee have been consulted as to the design and production of a new tank excelling the German Tiger, both in armour and armament?
The answer to the first part of the Question is "No, Sir." In this connection I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Production to the hon. Member for East Willesden (Mr. Hammersley) on 22nd September last. As regards the second part of the Question, individuls who were members of the Special Vehicle Development Committee are consulted in appropriate cases.
May I ask my right hon. Friend to state whether they have in fact been consulted in regard to the construction of a tank of this kind?
I do not suppose they have been, unless it was appropriate that they should be.
Will my right hon. Friend consider the desirability of making a statement on the policy of tank production, in view of the great anxiety which exists in the House on the matter?
55, 56 and 57.
asked the Minister of Supply (1) why he sent Mr. Oliver Lucas on a tank Mission to America in spite of the War Office having expressed dissatisfaction with tank design and asked for the removal of Mr. Lucas from the post of Director-General of Tank Research and Development;(2) why he appointed Mr. Oliver Lucas chairman of a tank Mission to America in spite of the United States authorities having expressed a desire that such a Mission should not be headed by Mr. Lucas; (3) why he did not give effect to the desire of the United States authorities that the War Office should be represented on the Tank Commission now in America?
I cannot accept any of the statements contained in these Questions. As I explained on 20th October last, this Mission was appointed after consultation with the War Office and has their support. In addition I assured myself by consultation with the American authorities here that the Mission would receive full acceptance and co-operation in America.
As I am satisfied that all the statements in my three Questions are correct, would my right hon. Friend ask the Select Committee on Expenditure to inquire into them?
I do not know where my hon. Friend gets his information. All I can say is that I have consulted the constituted authorities and did so before sending this Mission to America. I give my assurance to the House that it has their approval.
Would it not mitigate anxiety in these matters if my right hon. Friend indicated to the House that he was pursuing a policy when individuals are proved to be failures of dispensing with their services rather than giving them alternative employment?
There is no question of failure leading to alternative employment in this case, and there never has been. Mr. Lucas was easily the most suitable person to lead this Mission and was therefore appointed chairman of it.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of us have information on this subject which, if he would give the opportunity for a Debate in secret, we would reveal and that it would astonish the House?
Old Hens (Auction Sales)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is satisfied that there is adequate control by the Ministry's inspectors over the sale by auction of old hens as stock birds?
No, Sir. Proposals to improve the control are under examination in consultation with the Agricultural Departments.
Milk, West Scotland
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food why the public in the West of Scotland were not informed of the cut made in milk supplies to retailers during the week ending 24th October?
No announcement was made of the reduction in the allocation of milk to distributors in the area of the Scottish Milk Marketing Board during the week ending 24th October, as the reduction applied to a limited area and was due to a local shortage which it was hoped to remedy in the subsequent week by transferring supplies from other areas.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the shortage amounted to 26,000 gallons a day and how was it possible for such a shortage to arise without the knowledge of the hon. Gentleman's Department?
I think the hon. Member knows that imports of milk have had to be sent to Scotland in order to satisfy the demand there and it was hoped those imports would be available.
Has the position been rectified?
As the hon. Member knows, it was announced on Sunday last that the ordinary allowance would be two pints a week in future.
Batch Bread, Glasgow
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that one firm of bakers in Glasgow is producing an almost white loaf; and why this loaf produced from national flour is produced by only one firm?
I am aware that some of the batch bread produced in Glasgow is of a very light colour, but have no reason to suppose that the terms of the Bread (Control and Maximum Prices) Order, which permit the use of up to 25 per cent. of white flour in batch bread are not being complied with. I am not aware that this bread is baked by only one firm, nor do I know of any reason why this should be the case.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this Question is based on information from the locality, and is it not a peculiar circumstance that there is only one firm turning out that type of bread?
I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows the peculiar qualities of batch bread which make it rather more nearly white than other classes of bread. I have no reason to believe that only one firm can or does make this type of bread.
Can the hon. Gentleman give me an assurance that he will have the bread analysed?
We have already done so.
May I ask the Minister whether the trade is aware of the distinction made between batch bread and other kinds of bread?
I should have thought that the trade, generally, knew the position in regard to batch bread.
Canned Meats (Nominated Firms)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that Messrs. Woolworth and Company have nominated as suppliers of canned meats under the points banking system firms who never at any time supplied Messrs. Woolworth with goods; that the registration was made without the knowledge or consent of such firms; and will he take steps to cancel the nominations?
This matter is now being investigated. Declarations by firms, however, of the names of their suppliers of points foods for the purposes of the points banking system are in no sense nominations or registrations and do not confer any right to supplies.