House Of Commons
Thursday, 4th November, 1943
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
Oral Answers To Questions
National War Effort
Ex-Service Men And Women
asked the Minister of Labour what steps are being taken, through employment exchanges or otherwise, to ensure that preference in employment shall be given to those who have served in the Forces?
At a time when all available workers can readily be placed in employment if they are fit for it, no question of according a preference to any particular class arises. In the case of disabled ex-Service men, special measures are taken in appropriate cases, under the interim scheme for the training and resettlement of disabled persons.
While thanking my right hon. Friend for that Reply, might I ask whether he appreciates the anxiety of men and women in the Forces with regard to their future?
I appreciate their anxiety, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and I have elaborated the best scheme we can to deal with the problem.
Reinstated Employee, Leigh (Wages)
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that A. Parr, 14, Eyet Street, Leigh, a mineworker, employed at Bedford Colliery, Leigh, was discharged on 25th September; that he appealed to the tribunal, won, and was directed back to his employment; that owing to the time of the appeal and resumption of work he lost seven days' wages, and the employers refuse to pay this to him, as they claim it does not come within the Essential Work Order; and will he have inquiries made?
This workman was discharged with the permission of the National Service officer. In such a case the Essential Work Order does not make the employer liable for back pay if he is subsequently directed to reinstate the workman. I regret that I cannot see my way to impose this obligation on the employer in such circumstances.
Might I ask my right hon. Friend to consider the position where an employer wants to get rid of a workman and the workman objects? Even although the National Service officer says that he can be discharged, would it not be better to keep the man in employment until the issue of the tribunal's findings, thus saving labour? Payment could then be made to the man if he won the case.
If the National Service officer has given his decision that the man may be discharged, that is an act of a State official, and I cannot hold the employer responsible if subsequently the man is reinstated. It is only where the National Service officer has given a decision and the man is subsequently reinstated that the question arises.
Why not keep the man at work until the tribunal issues its findings? It is not a matter of misconduct.
I am sorry, but the case cannot arise until the National Service officer has given his decision. The man is at work until then. I cannot hold the employer responsible after the officer has given his decision.
Directed Women Workers
asked the Minister of Labour why Miss Elizabeth McDonald, 404, Mathieson Street, Glasgow, was transferred to Wolverhampton on 1st September, where, for three days the firm could find no employment for her, afterwards she was told she could bring her own knitting or write letters; that the National Service officer refused her an interview without an appointment; that for three days employment she received the sum of £1 5s. 9d., less cost of lodgings; that her total wage for a full week was £2 11s. 6d., from which she had to pay tax of about 13s. and omnibus fares of 5s.; and whether he will see that girls are not transferred from Glasgow to places where there is no work?
Miss McDonald was one of too women transferred from a factory in Scotland to a firm in Wolverhampton during the first week of September. There was some temporary difficulty at the factory over the settling in of the large number of new workers who arrived during that week. A group of six workers, of which Miss McDonald was one, were told that the job for which they were actually wanted was not quite ready, and that they would be given other work for the time being. My inquiries do not support the statement that Miss McDonald was told to bring her own knitting or that she could write letters. Trained workers in this factory are fully employed and work long hours, and I am informed that the other women who were transferred at the same time as Miss McDonald are now settled in their new jobs. For the week ending 5th September Miss McDonald received £1 5s. 7d. for 21 hours attendance. During the next week she received £2 12s. 6d. for 45¾ hours' attendance. I have no information about Income Tax payments which she may have had to meet. No tax deductions were made by the firm from her pay packets. During the first week the daily cost of a workman's return ticket from her billet to the factory was 2d. She was subsequently billeted further away, and the return daily fare was 5d. There is no record at the exchange of Miss McDonald having been told that she must make an appointment before she could see the National Service officer, but I cannot see anything unreasonable in this.
Cannot my hon. Friend see that when girls are transferred such long distances from their homes they are not told when they get there that, for some technical reason, work is not to be found for them?
We do that when we can, but my hon. Friend, who has long industrial experience, will understand the difficulty. I am bound to admit that things are not absolutely perfect in all cases, but we do our best when such cases arise.
asked the Minister of Labour how many of the women, 46 to 50 years of age, recently registered have been directed to war work; and whether; he will state its nature?
No directions have so far been issued to women of these age classes as a result of their registration, but hon. Members may be interested to know that since the registrations were announced over 10,000 women in these age classes, not already in industry, have entered full-time paid employment. The numbers who have entered part-time employment are not yet known.
Conditions Of Employment And National Arbitration Order
asked the Minister of Labour whether the expression "trade dispute" in the Conditions of Employment and National Arbitration Order, 1940, covers both the case of a workman, employed under the Essential Work (General Provisions) Order, 1942, and whose contract of service has been lawfully terminated by his employers with the consent of the National Service officer and the local appeal tribunal, and the case of an employer desiring to retain a workman whom the National Service officer and local appeal tribunal have permitted to change his employment, or whether he will amend the Orders and place both employer and workman on an equal footing as regards appeals to the Ministry?
In cases of the kind mentioned in the Question an equal right is given to the employer and to the workman to bring the matter before a local appeal board. The question whether a trade dispute could subsequently be held to exist on account of dissatisfaction with the decision must depend on the precise circumstances, and I could not attempt to give any general answer; but I can say emphatically that I should be very sorry if either side attempted to carry the matter further by converting it into a trade dispute, instead of loyally accepting the decision.
Disabled Ex-Service Men (Training Facilities)
asked the Minister of Labour how many training centres for disabled ex-service men now exist; and the total number of men who can undergo training at one time?
Separate training centres are not at present provided for disabled ex-Service men, but facilities for them are provided in 18 Government training centres, supplemented by three residential centres run by voluntary organisations with financial assistance from my Department, and by 57 technical colleges. There are 771 disabled ex-Service men at present in training, and additional training places are available for such men, so far as these may be needed.
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider the facilities for training these men sufficient, considering the large number of casualties we may have?
We have made provision for expansion, but I am against separate disablement training centres, except for special cases. I think that it is preferable to train disabled men with able-bodied workmen, rather than to isolate them.
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that he has given sufficient encouragement to manufacturers to train these men themselves?
I should be grateful if manufacturers would come forward in their hundreds to help me in this way.
Are these men being trained alongside of able-bodied men, or separately?
It depends on the particular case. In the main, they are being trained alongside able-bodied men or in separate parts of the same training centres, the idea being to associate them with able-bodied men, to make them forget their own condition. We regard this as the best way.
Transferred Workers (Fares And Settling-In Grants)
asked the Minister of Labour what powers he has to pay initial fares and settling-in grants to workers transferred to undertake clerical duties in Government industrial establishments; and why such grants have been refused in certain cases of persons transferred to certain Royal Ordnance Factories of which he has been informed.
Fares to the job, with travelling allowances and settling-in grants, are payable to workers transferred by my Department to undertake clerical duties in Government establishments beyond daily travelling distance from their homes, under the same conditions as apply to transferred industrial workers. My Department has no knowledge of any eligible workers at the establishments of which he has notified me being refused these allowances, but if my hon. Friend will let me have particulars of any individual workers he has in mind I will have their cases examined, and will communicate with him later.
Young People (Hours Of Work)
asked the Minister of Labour how far the recommendation that the working hours of young people of 14 and 15 years of age should be reduced to a 44-hour maximum per week and those of 16 and 17 years of age to 48 hours has been implemented; what evidence he has of excessive hours of work still continuing among young people; and what further steps have been taken to prevent this?
I presume my hon. Friend refers to the decision announced in the White Paper on Youth Registration to review, in consultation with representative organisations of employers and workers, all cases of war-time relaxations of hours of employment, with the object indicated in the Question. A sub-committee of the Joint Consultative Committee, on which employers and workers are represented, has been set up to review the general question of authorising hours in excess of those normally permissible. In the meantime hours have been reduced at some works, and if I were to receive evidence of injury to health due to excessive hours at a particular factory, I should not hesitate to take the matter up with the firm concerned.
Has the right hon. Gentleman had many such intimations of excessive hours of work?
Sentence Of Imprisonment, Trafford Park
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that Marion West, age 26, of 58, Old Hall Street, Kearsley, Manchester, employed on work of national importance with a Trafford Park firm of steel manufacturers, was recently sentenced to prison for three months without the option of a fine for failing to comply with a direction of the National Service officer to return to work in a textile mill; what qualifications Dr. Smith, who examined her for the Ministry, possesses to decide whether her eyes were affected by six years' employment in that trade; whether his Department presses magistrates to send offenders of this kind to prison without the option of a fine on their first appearance in court; and whether the Trafford Park firm will be prosecuted?
I am having inquiries made about the particular case referred to and will write to my hon. Friend. I can say at once, however, that the answer to the third part of the Question is "No!".
Has the right hon. Gentleman ever thought of the distress he is causing in the homes of these poor people by prosecuting them and sending them to prison in this fashion?
Single Woman (London Restaurant Band)
asked the Minister of Labour why the 25-year old single woman he has been notified of is permitted to work in a London restaurant band?
Having regard to the provisions of the Control of Engagement Order, I am having further inquiries made into the circumstances of the recent employment of this young woman in a London restaurant band, and I will write to my hon. Friend in due course.
In the fifth year of total war, is it right that young people should be used in this fashion when middle-aged women are being called from their homes and directed to work on munitions?
I must receive the facts.
Insurance Brokers' Employee, Amersham (Release)
asked the Minister of Labour whether he has concluded his inquiries into the case of Miss Hedgcock, a 20-year old employee of a firm of insurance brokers at Amersham who, for six months, has endeavoured to secure her release so that she may take up nursing or join the Forces; and what is the reason for her continued deferment in employment where the maximum number of hours never exceeds 36 per week and where the employees are free each weekend from 5 p.m. on Fridays until 11 a.m. on Mondays?
As I have informed my hon. Friend, my information is that Miss Hedgcock has at no time applied to my Department for her release and that her short working hours are due to a special arrangement made by the firm to enable her to go home at each week-end.
Does it not indicate that there is something radically wrong when a young woman who wants to be a nurse is prevented from becoming one, and yet you are calling on women of 65 years of age to take up nursing?
Unregistered Dock Workers
asked the Minister of Labour whether he has had his attention drawn to delays in the discharge of ships due to area board managers of port registration committees being unable to employ dockers who, though available and full members of their union, are not registered with the committees; and whether, to avoid such delays, he will authorise such committees temporarily to employ such men?
Article 4 (3) of the Essential Work (Dock Labour) Order, 1943, provides that
The Order was made on 30th July, 1943, and, since that date, authority has been given for the employment of unregistered labour on eleven occasions, covering eight ports."if the Minister is satisfied as regards a port to which an approved Dock Labour Scheme applies that
(a) port transport work is urgently required to be done; and (b) it is not reasonably practicable to obtain port transport workers for the purpose of that work;he may inform the Corporation accordingly, and in that case and for that work, the Corporation may allocate or send to a port transport employer a person who is not a port transport worker."
Will my right hon. hon. Friend see that these instructions are understood by the port officers concerned, because cases of delay since that Order was issued have definitely occurred in certain ports of the country where ships are being held up for two and three days for discharge owing to lack of labour?
I cannot allow large numbers of men to be drafted into the ports on the off-chance of doing one shift and then standing there idle. I have to keep the balance of labour requirements going all over the country.
Is the Minister aware that in the case to which I have drawn his attention dock labour was available in the port except for the fact that the men were not registered?
The hon. and gallant Member appears to be giving information and not asking a question.
Post-War Reconstruction (Advisory Committee On Economic Conditions)
asked the Minister of Labour whether he will give further information as to the progress of the establishment of the Advisory Committee on the Economic Conditions of Post-War Reconstruction, in view of his announcement that he would discuss the matter with the acting director of the I.L.O. during his visit to this country?
I understand that arrangements are under consideration for a meeting of the Governing Body of the I.L.O., or of the Emergency Committee of the Governing Body, at an early date, at which it may be assumed that the decision to which my hon. Friend refers and other questions of policy will be discussed.
Has my right hon. Friend met the acting director of the I.L.O.?
Yes, I had some personal conversations with him. But those conversations must be reported to the Governing Body before I can deal with them anywhere else.
Service Personnel (Reinstatement In Industry)
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that Messrs. Alexander Duckham and Company have informed a sergeant, now serving in the Forces in India, that owing to their reorganisation and staffing requirements no, guarantee of re-engagement to any pre-war member on their staff is possible, apart from any legal obligation; and, in view of the fact that this soldier served the firm for eight years prior to joining His Majesty's Forces and that such action is liable to destroy the morale of the men in His Majesty's Forces, will he take the appropriate steps with this firm?
Yes, Sir. I have seen this letter and have been in communication with the firm about it. They inform me that, in their opinion, the letter cannot be interpreted as indicating that past employees now in His Majesty's Forces are not likely to be re-employed by them postwar but that they consider it would be no kindness to a soldier to let him feel that his re-employment post-war is a certainty. The firm have not committed any legal offence, and I am willing to believe that they meant no harm, but I must express my astonishment at their stupidity in not realising the effect which such a letter must have on its recipient and my condemnation of their apparent disregard of any considerations other than those directly affecting their own interests.
Does this case not reveal a very anomalous position, inasmuch as some employers are compelled by an Order to reinstate their employees whereas others have no such obligation, and will the Minister attend to that point?
It has already been announced in this House that proposed legislation will be forthcoming dealing with this and other matters. Whether this particular case can be brought within the law I cannot say, but I hope that the answer I have given to-day will have the effect on the mind of employers that they should not send such letters to men who are actually in the fighting line.
Will Messrs. Duckham be invited to withdraw the circular and substitute it with another one?
I have already communicated with them, and they have shown no desire to change. I hope that this answer may lead to their conversion.
Is it a fact that this firm is on Government contracts and therefore under an obligation to reinstate?
Town And Country Planning
asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether societies such as the Boy Scouts, the Girl Guides, camping clubs, the Youth Hostels Association, the Holiday Fellowship and the Workers' Travel Association are being encouraged and guided in preparing plans for constructing accommodation for holiday-makers after the war, or for taking over existing accommodation?
I will consider, in consultation with my right hon. Friends the Minister of Labour and National Service and the President of the Board of Education, the best means of giving effect to the object which my hon. Friend has in mind.
Will my right hon. Friend also consult these societies?
Footpaths And Bridlepaths
asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether any record is being kept of footpaths and bridleways, including coast paths, which during the war have been diverted, ploughed up or closed?
Yes, Sir. I understand that each Government Department concerned keeps a list of those footpaths and bridlepaths, including coast paths, which it closes under Defence Regulations.
Is my right hon. Friend exercising any sort of supervision over this matter?
Yes, Sir, the matter is under supervision.
asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether any steps are being taken to give effect to the recommendation of the chairman and four other members of the Committee on Land Utilisation in Rural Areas for the establishment of a valuation showing the value of land and sites?
Is it not highly desirable that this instrument of planning should be available?
That is a matter of opinion, but the recommendation to which the hon. Member refers forms no part of the majority Report of the Committee and was, I think, rejected by im- plication by Mr. Justice Uthwatt's Committee.
River Wissey (Dredging)
asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he was consulted by the Ministry of Agriculture before the agricultural scheme was authorised which devastated the upper reaches of the River Wissey in Norfolk recently dredged at the request of the Ministry of Agriculture by the Ouse Catchment Board in such a way that the amenities will not recover for at least 20 years?
The answer to my hon. and gallant Friend's Question is "No"; but I must not be taken as accepting his description of the work referred to.
Is it not a fact that the river has been completely devastated by the work of the Ouse Catchment Board, and will the Minister reverse the emphasis of his namesake in the Cabinet and exercise a little war-time control over these matters?
I do propose to consult my right hon. Friend with a view to preventing any undesirable development of this sort.
asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether the estate recently acquired by the London County Council for housing has been approved by the town planning authorities for this purpose?
I am not aware that the London County Council has recently acquired any estate for this purpose.
Association Of Municipal Corporations (Deputation)
asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he will give the date upon which he received a request from the Association of Municipal Corporations asking him to receive a deputation; and whether he has yet received that deputation?
By letter dated 8th October, 1943, the Association inquired whether I should be prepared to receive a deputation, and were informed on 15th October, 1943, that I should be glad to do so. On 28th October, 1943, the Association approached me regarding a date, which is now being fixed to suit our mutual convenience.
Is it not a fact that this very important body was exceedingly anxious to have a deputation received at a very early date, and can the Minister give some assurance that a date will be fixed within the next few days?
I made inquiries of the Association, and I understand that they have no sense of grievance in the matter. The date is being fixed as early as possible.
The Minister and myself have very different information as to whether they are under a sense of grievance.
Armed Forces (Pensions And Grants)
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will agree that allowances to widows or to dependants of men or women dying or being killed while serving in His Majesty's Forces will not be stopped in any case where an appeal against his decision not to grant a pension is lodged until the case has been decided by the Appeal Tribunal?
The Government have already provided for the continuation of family allowances by the Service Departments to the widow or dependant of a deceased member of the Forces for a period of 13 weeks following the member's death. This normally enables a decision as to pension to be reached and notified to the applicant before the allowances cease. In my opinion this arrangement is reasonable, and I do not feel justified in proposing the change suggested by my hon. Friend.
Will the Minister consider that if the appeal goes against him all back money should be paid up, or is it in fact paid up at present?
Appropriate arrangements have been made where an appeal is successful so that arrears can be paid.
asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in view of the public feeling that the care of dependants of disabled airmen, who are at present left unprovided for, should be a first charge on the Exchequer, he will consider amending the allowances to the members of the R.A.F. and R.N.A.S. who become disabled in the service of the country, in order that they may have an adequate allowance and so discontinue the practice whereby their dependants are, to a large extent, dependent on charity?
Provision is made in the instruments for which I am responsible for the wife and children of an airman or other member of the Forces disabled as a result of service, provided marriage took place before the date of the injury and the children were born within 9 months of the end of the member's war service. Various improvements including special provision for the families of seriously disabled unemployable pensioners and increases generally in the allowances payable, were announced in the recent White Paper, Cmd. 6459, and I am unable to accept the implication in the last part of the hon. Member's Question.
Does not my right hon. Friend appreciate that we owe an undying debt of gratitude to these men and that they will want some effective guidance, because so many are not aware of the benefits which they and their dependants can get? Will he take some steps to give effective guidance in this matter, because it is no use unless dependants know their rights?
I quite agree with my hon. Friend that we must do everything possible for these men and that we should give them proper guidance. I can assure him that we do give them this guidance.
Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that what he has done by his previous refusals to respond favourably to the hon. Member for Evesham (Mr. De la Bère) has driven him across the Floor of the House?
It is not a question of sides; nothing is too good for the dependants of these fighting men.
Rice (Milling Method)
asked the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that there is in existence a new method of milling rice, a British invention, which not only preserves the vital germ of the grain but results in a larger product; that this method has been taken up in the United States of America and is about to be taken up in this country; and whether will consider the introduction of this modern milling technique into India with a view to mitigating any future rice shortage?
I have heard of the process to which I presume the honourable Member refers. There are certain drawbacks to its application, even to the 27 per cent. of Indian rice that is not hand pounded, but if the honourable Member has any information on the subject that he would like to furnish, I will consider communicating it to the Government of India.
Has it been possible, as a result of the famine conditions, to do anything to reduce the amount of polishing of Indian rice?
Yes, Sir. I think efforts have been made in that direction.
Food Imports And Exports
asked the Secretary of State for India the latest month covered by Table II in the October White Paper showing the net imports and exports of food grains during the fiscal years 1937–1943 and whether a return or approximate estimate can now be given for any later months?
The latest month covered by Table II in the White Paper is March, 1943. Figures of exports of foodgrains from India during subsequent months, up to the latest available date, are shown in Table III. Imports of foodgrains on private accounts during the three months April to June, 1943, were negligible.
In view of the rather startling fact that during the fiscal year 1942–43 exports of food grains exceeded imports by no less than 361,000 tons, can we be assured that the balance has now been redressed and that imports are exceeding exports?
Yes, certainly. These figures of imports do not include imports on Government account. Otherwise, the figures would look more closely balanced.
asked the Secretary of State for India whether exports of food other than grain from India are continuing to any considerable extent; and whether the sending of food parcels from India to individuals in this country has been, or will be, prohibited?
The recommendation of the Foodgrains Committee is that no exports of food should be permitted from India, unless such exports are fully compensated by imports. I have not yet seen the actual orders passed by the Government of India on this point, but they can be relied upon to safeguard food supplies required for Indian consumption. The information asked for in the last part of the Question is not available in this country; I have asked the Government of India to furnish it.
In view of the fact that the sending of individual food parcels, although they may be almost negligible in quantity, is likely to have a bad effect on Indian public opinion, could not a stop be put to food exports of that kind?
I will look into that.
Is the Minister aware that the sending of individual parcels is having a very bad effect on people in this country, let alone the people in India? Will he not agree that it should be stopped right away?
That is a matter of opinion.
Do the exports of food include exports to Indian troops overseas?
I am not quite sure on that point. They do include exports mainly to Ceylon and the States on the Persian Gulf, where there has been a food shortage.
asked the Secretary of State for India the amount of capital standing to the credit of the Relief Fund started with a donation from the Maharajah of Jaipur after the famine of 1899–1900; the annual income from investments; and the extent to which the fund has been used for the relief of distress in Bengal?
The reference is presumably to the Indian People's Famine Trust set up in 1900. This is a rupee fund administered in India, and I shall have to ask the Government of India for the information desired by my hon. Friend.
Will my right hon. Friend advise the Government of India not to hesitate to draw freely on this fund for relief of distress, although it is not a money famine but a food famine at the present time?
I am sure they will consider that.
Small States (Incorporation)
asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any information respecting the incorporation of the Kathiawar States in other States; and what is the present position respecting the proposed incorporation of other small States?
I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the Press announcement of 16th April last explaining the Crown Representative's proposals to secure better administration of a number of small States of Kathiawar and Gujerat, whose individual resources are too small to enable them to attain to modern standards of administration.
Can the Minister say whether other States may also be incorporated?
In so far as they are, they would, naturally, come into consideration.
asked the Secretary of State for India what restrictions are imposed on Indian newspapers and upon news sent from this country; and for how long public statements by British Members of Parliament are intercepted and delayed when despatched by news agencies and newspaper correspondents to the Indian Press?
The Central and Provincial Governments in collaboration with the Press Advisory Committees encourage the Press in India itself to impose any necessary restrictions on its members, but have power to issue orders as necessary under the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act, 1931, and Defence of India Rules 40 and 41. As these Orders vary in different Provinces and are subject to constant review I am unable to give the hon. Member detailed information about them. Press messages reaching India from outside are subject to scrutiny by the Indian Censorship but the delay involved is kept to the lowest possible degree.
Is there, on this side, any kind of censorship or interception of communications sent to India?
Yes, there is a censorship at this end, strictly dealing with matters of military information.
Could the Minister say why it was that a letter sent to the "Manchester Guardian" by the hon. Member for West Leyton was intercepted and delayed for some time after publication in this country?
I will be delighted to look into that if the hon. Member will provide me with the details.
31 and 32.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether, in view of the strictures passed by the High Court recently in the case of a boy birched by order of a juvenile court, which illustrated the impossibility of reconciling the right of appeal with the rule requiring prompt inflictment of the punishment, he will introduce legislation to abolish whipping by order of the juvenile court;(2) how many sentences of birching were passed by juvenile courts during the last 12 months for which statistics are available; and in how many cases was an appeal made against the sentence?
The number of birchings ordered by summary courts in England and Wales in 1942 was about 300, and there were no appeals. In 1938 the Departmental Committee of which my hon. and gallant Friend was Chairman reported that:
Whether any advice can usefully be given to justices on this aspect of the matter is a question which, as I mentioned in my statement on 21st October, I am considering. The question whether the courts should by an amendment of the law be deprived of power to order birching is—as my hon. and gallant Friend knows—controversial; but in the Memorandum on Juvenile Offences sent to justices in June, 1941, they were reminded:"appeals are rare and it has not been found necessary to adopt a practice of postponing the birching till after the expiration of the period within which appeal proceedings could be commenced."
"that the Departmental Committee on Corporal Punishment came unanimously to the conclusion that, as a court penalty, corporal punishment is not a suitable or effective remedy for dealing with young offenders."
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that you cannot drive boys but only lead them and that that equally applies to all other sections of the community?
Has not the time come when birching and flogging should be abolished? Will the Minister receive a deputation?
I do not think it will be any good receiving a deputation on the subject. It is a controversial matter which the House had earlier under consideration and on which no conclusion was reached. I hardly think that the Government can raise the matter at this juncture.
Mobile Reserve Orders
asked the Home Secretary whether he can state the purpose of the National Service (Civil Defence) Civil Defence Force Order (S.R. & O., No. 1474, of 1943) and the National Service (Civil Defence) Discharge and Transfer Order (S.R. & O., No. 1473, of 1943), both of which relate to the Civil Defence Mobile Reserve of Kent and West Sussex?
The National Service (Civil Defence Force) Order, 1943, revokes an earlier Order referred to therein and made in 1942 by which the Kent and West Sussex County Civil Defence Mobile Reserves were declared to be Civil Defence Forces for the purpose of the National Service Act, 1941. The object of that declaration was to make it possible for persons called up for service under that Act to be posted to the Mobile Reserves in question, but it has subsequently been found impracticable to do this, and the Order has accordingly been revoked. The second Order referred to by my hon. Friend is consequential upon the first Order. It revokes a previous Order which became redundant on these two Mobile Reserves ceasing to be Civil Defence Forces.
Fire-Guard Duties (Enemy Aliens)
asked the Home Secretary in what circumstances is an alien of enemy nationality liable to be registered for compulsory fire-guard duties?
All aliens of enemy nationality who are exempt from curfew restrictions are required to register for fire-guard duties in the same way as British subjects; but for security reasons those who are not so exempt are not subject to this requirement.
Is the right hon. Gentleman considering the problem which is arising in this connection in the Soho district of Westminster?
Isle Of Man (Immigration Order)
asked the Home Secretary whether it is the intention, under the Emergency Powers (Defence) Leaving United Kingdom Order (S.R. & O., No. 1486, of 1943), that an immigration officer shall not refuse a permit to a civilian, provided the latter produces his National Registration identity cards; and why British subjects desiring to proceed to the Isle of Man can only do so from a place which is an approved port for the purpose of the Aliens Order?
The answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. The object of the Order is not to prevent persons going to the Isle of Man but to keep a check on those who go there. For this purpose it is necessary to require that passengers shall travel by the regular routes where systematic provision is made for the control of passenger traffic. The ports approved for the purposes of the Aliens Order are those which are regularly used for passenger traffic.
Holloway (Complaints, Investigation)
asked the Home Secretary whether he has considered the report made by five women recently imprisoned at Holloway for non-criminal offences alleging defects in hygienic provision, such as insufficiency of soap, articles of clothing nominally supplied unavailable or supplied dirty, new prisoners put into dirty cells, prisoners with minor complaints unable to see the medical officer except by sacrificing a day's work and exercise; and whether he is taking steps to remedy such defects where they exist whether in Holloway or in any other prisons?
Yes, Sir. As a result of this report the Chairman of the Prison Commissioners and the Women and Medical Commissioners have conducted a special investigation into the complaints of conditions at Holloway Prison. While the report does not give a balanced picture of these conditions, it is true that in prison establishments—as elsewhere—war conditions have affected the standards of efficiency. Certain of the complaints have already been remedied, but our difficulties are due, in the main, to the shortage of staff, the rationing of commodities and the nature of the prison buildings. As I told the House last week, steps are being taken with the assistance of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service to find women who will be suitable recruits for the staff. I think it only fair to say that, considering the difficulties with which they have had to contend, there are no grounds for criticising the work of the prison officers. If my hon. Friend would care to see the conditions at Holloway, I shall be pleased to arrange for a visit at any time.
asked the Home Secretary the daily average population of the prisons of England and Wales at the present time and the number of unofficial visitors actively and regularly engaged in visiting; and whether he can state, approximately, the proportion of prisoners visited by unofficial visitors?
The daily average population for the year ending 31st March, 1943, was 12,640. Though precise figures are not yet available, the daily average population for this year is probably about 12,800. The number of unofficial prison visitors who are actively engaged in visiting prisoners is 484, but it is not possible to say how regularly they are able to visit or what proportion of prisoners receive visits.
In view of the small number of visitors and of the increased number of prisoners and the fact that they are now left alone in the cells for long hours in view of the cessation of educational work, could the Minister arrange for the number of visitors to be increased?
On the face of it, I do not see why there should not be more visitors, if we could get them, but it will be a problem to find them, I am afraid.
Injured Officer, Dartmoor (Allowance)
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that Prison Officer N. R. Gurton, who has been compelled to take 365 days sick leave in the last four years, most of which is agreed to be the consequence of an assault made upon him by three prisoners at Dartmoor who kicked him into unconsciousness, has been informed that his wages will no longed be paid and that he will receive an allowance amounting with deductions to 19s. 4d. per week on which to maintain his wife and two children; and whether he will take action to ensure that Officer Gurton does not suffer this financial loss in addition to the suffering he has sustained by the assault?
I am looking into this case and will communicate with the hon. Member.
36 and 37.
asked the Home Secretary (1) the names of those local authorities who have employed women police and found them unsatisfactory;(2) the proportion of local authorities throughout the country employing women police?
Out of a total of 158 police forces in England and Wales, policewomen are at present employed in 47. There are in addition a few forces in which the appointment of policewomen has been approved, but appointments have not yet been made. I am informed that in forces where they have been longest employed their services have been found to be of definite value, and I am not aware of any force where the employment of policewomen has been discontinued because it has been found unsatisfactory.
As the right hon. Gentleman's reply shows how very few policewomen there are, and also that they have never once been given up where they have been introduced, does he not think the time has come to make it compulsory upon all local authorities to have women police? Is it not true that unless the Government had made it compulsory to have men police some local authorities would not have had them?
My Noble Friend is right to this extent, that I have said that I am not aware of the employment of policewomen being discontinued owing to their being unsatisfactory, but, on the other hand, conditions in police areas do vary, and I think it would be going rather far to compel every one of the police authorities to employ policewomen; but, as the Noble Lady knows, it is the policy of the Home Office to encourage their employment.
Why is the right hon. Gentleman so reluctant not to press the larger units to introduce policewomen?
I have in certain cases raised the matter with the larger units, but, short of legislative authority, I do not think it would be right for the Home Secretary to interfere with the discretion of the police authorities.
Will the right hon. Gentleman look into the position in some of the larger units and see whether the time has not really come, in the interests of the safety of young people, to make it compulsory to have women police?
Certainly, and we often do that. As a matter of fact in the Metropolitan area at the present time I could employ, and the Commissioner is willing to employ, more policewomen, but the trouble is to find suitable women.
Is it not the case that the strong wish of local authorities to have more policewomen is often frustrated by the personal prejudices of chief constables?
There are personal prejudices knocking about in all sorts of quarters.
Publication "The Vanguard"
asked the Home Secretary whether he is still keeping under observation the Scottish Protestant League's organ "The Vanguard," and the activities of its editor, Mr. Alexander Ratcliffe, in view of the demand for a negotiated peace with Hitler in the October issue of "The Vanguard" and as Mr. Ratcliffe has published a second edition of his 20-page anti-Semitic, anti-Soviet pamphlet, "The Truth About the Jews"?
Yes, Sir. I am still keeping an eye on this paper and its editor. I am glad to say that the effect of his objectionable writings is negligible, and I think public morale is sufficiently robust to ignore them without assistance from me.
Could the right hon. Gentleman say, or can he find out, what is approximately the circulation of this paper, and of the pamphlet?
I know that the circulation of the paper is very, very small. The circulation of the pamphlet I do not know. I would warn my hon. Friend that Questions in Parliament can increase it.
Court Decisions (Successful Appeals)
asked the Home Secretary the number of successful appeals in any recent year against decisions of lay magistrates, stipendiary magistrates and judges, respectively?
The Criminal Statistics do not distinguish in the figure of appeals to quarter sessions between the decisions of stipendiary and lay magistrates. The latest year for which the statistics are readily available is 1938 and in that year 939 out of 778,870 persons found guilty by magistrates' courts appealed to quarter sessions. In 184 cases the conviction was quashed and in 270 the sentence was varied. In the same year out of 8,612 persons found guilty at assizes and quarter sessions 587 applied to the Court of Criminal Appeal and in 34 cases the conviction was quashed and in 43 the sentence was varied.
Justices' Clerks (Committee's Report)
asked the Home Secretary when he expects to receive the Report of Lord Roche's Committee on the Conditions of service of Clerks of Justices?
This Committee had to suspend its sittings on the outbreak of war, but it has recently been able to resume work. I am informed by the Chairman that it is hoped to present a Report in the early part of next year.
Taxicab Sharing, London
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the official sharing of taxicabs' scheme now in successful operation in Washington and other cities in the United States of America; and whether he will consider introducing a similar system in London in order to save petrol and make the fullest use of available transport facilities?
I am aware of the scheme to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers; and the question whether some features of it are appropriate for application to the Metropolitan area is under examination. As regards the steps which have already been taken to encourage the sharing of cabs in London, I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to my answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss) on 28th July last. I understand that my Noble Friend the Minister of War Transport has under consideration further steps designed to facilitate cab sharing.
War-Damaged Houses (Repairs)
asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the urgent necessity for repairing war-damaged houses and of the difficulty owners and tenants of such houses have in obtaining an interpretation of the law owing to Ministry of Health circulars, Ministry of Works licensing rules, War Damage Commission instructions and Ministry of Town and Country Planning Orders and other interested authorities' regulations, several of which overlap, he will consider issuing a White Paper showing clearly how the existing law now stands?
Arrangements are being made for the issue of a leaflet giving the necessary guidance in a brief and popular form. This leaflet, when approved, will be available free to all inquirers.
While thanking the Prime Minister for his most satisfactory reply, may I ask whether he will put it into Basic English, which will make it more simple?
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the same facilities will be given to private owners who are anxious to recondition their houses for habitation as are given to local authorities?
I should like notice of that Question.
asked the Prime Minister when the Committee of Ministers set up to study and report upon Basic English are expected to reach their conclusions?
I hope to receive the recommendations of this Committee before very long.
When we do get this Report will the B.B.C. be asked to adopt it, or will they still continue to use Basic B.B.C.?
Basic English is not intended for use among English-speaking people but to enable a much larger body of people who do not have the good fortune to know the English language to participate more easily in our society.
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider introducing Basic Scottish?
Does Basic English include the word "triphibious"?
I have tried to explain that people are quite purblind who discuss this matter as if Basic English were a substitute for the English language.
Palace Of Westminster (Amenities)
asked the Prime Minister whether he will move to appoint a Select Committee to consider the improvement of the amenities of the Palace of Westminster, the Committee's findings to be correlated with those of the Select Committee on the Rebuilding of the House of Commons?
Does not the Prime Minister agree that there was a very strong wish expressed in the Debate last week by most of the hon. Members who spoke, that the question of facilities and amenities could be considered at the same time?
Those are rather matters which the Committee can take into their purview and deal with, and we shall have the advantage of seeing their Report on the subject in general.
Will a direction be given to the Committee that the House shall not be ventilated by air driven through hon. Members' feet?
Orders In Council
asked the Prime Minister the total number of Orders in Council that the Government have introduced in the period 3rd September, 1939, and 1st November, 1943?
The total number is 2,757.
Will the Prime Minister endeavour in the future to limit their number, and will he also review the very large numbers which have been made, as some of them are rather indigestible and require further thought?
I certainly do not desire to take such a laborious task upon myself.
Approved Schools (Administration)
asked the Prime Minister whether he will consider transferring the administration of approved schools from the Home Office to the Board of Education?
I have no statement to make on this question at the present time.
In view of the general recognition that this system is very desirable, would not the Prime Minister consider putting this very important type of school under the control of the people who are concerned with education, the education authorities?
I have no statement to make on this subject at the present time.
Will not the Prime Minister consider it? Surely he is capable of answering "Yes" or "No" to that question?
asked the Prime Minister whether, in planning for the peace, he will see that due consideration is given to the important pronouncement, a copy of which has been sent to him, recently issued by United States churchmen of different denominations, setting forth the seven basic principles of peace for the post-war world?
I trust that due consideration will be given to all important pronouncements on subjects which so powerfully affect the future of mankind.
Africa And 1939–43 Stars
asked the Prime Minister for how many soldiers, sailors and airmen supplies of ribbons of the Africa and 1939–43 Stars have already been despatched for issue?
The ribbon of the Africa Star has been sent out in sufficient quantities to provide for the decorating of 365,200 officers and men. The ribbon of the 1939–43 Star is available for 33,120 persons. The demand for the latter Star is not so large.
When shall we have the promised Debate on these Stars?
Well, I hope after the new Session begins.
When the Prime Minister says that the demand is not so large for the second Star, does that mean that the individual recipients have to demand it themselves, or is it issued automatically through headquarters?
I thought that the first thing was to get it out to the men in the Mediterranean, and the airmen and sailors engaged in the most severe forms of fighting here, I said that the demand is not so large. I should have said that the case is not so urgent.
asked the Prime Minister whether he can make any statement about guerillas in Albania and His Majesty's Government's policy towards them?
Yes, Sir. Thousands of Albanian guerillas are now fighting in their mountains for the freedom and independence of their country. From the experience of other occupied countries they have learned that the so-called independence conferred by Germany is a cruel fraud. Some weeks ago the Fascist occupation, which for over four years they had refused to accept, was replaced by German oppression. The Germans are employing all the usual methods by which they seek to subdue warlike peoples; already they have bombed Albanian villages and killed Albanian women and children; but the Albanian guerillas continue to harass the enemy and to attack his communications.The British liaison officers who are with these guerillas have paid high tribute to their fighting qualities. We look to the Albanians to play their part in accordance with their ancient warlike traditions in the future military developments in the Mediterranean area. The policy of His Majesty's Government remains as explained by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in his statement on 17th December, 1942; that is to say, we wish to see Albania freed from the Axis yoke and restored to her independence. The frontiers will of course be considered at the Peace Settlement.
River Wissey (Dredging)
54 and 55.
asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) what action was taken by the Norfolk W.A.E.C. to see that the owners of land through which the River Wissey flows and the tenant farmers on its banks, kept the river and ditches clear, before taking the sudden action which resulted in this river being drastically dredged by the Ouse Catchment Board;(2) why it was necessary to carry out a major dredging operation on the River Wissey in Norfolk, bringing up the gravel bottom and dumping it along the banks with devastating results to the amenities, when a normal clearance of the weeds and mud would have achieved the necessary degree of drainage?
I am advised that an effective increase in food production from lands adjoining the upper reaches of the River Wissey could not be secured without removal of flint, gravel and other obstructions from the river bed by dredging: that the partial action suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend was accordingly not taken; and that whilst some loss of amenity was unavoidable it has been kept to a minimum and is confidently expected to be temporary.
Is the right hon. Gentleman trying to convert this stream into another Hudson River?
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the National Union of Agricultural Workers will be represented in the forthcoming consultations on post-war agricultural policy?
Threshed Corn (Protection)
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the fact that when corn is threshed and bagged it has to remain on the farm until collected and taken to a certain centre; that, owing to the delay in collecting, much of it is eaten and destroyed by rats; and will he see that this corn is collected as soon as possible after the threshing is completed?
I am aware of the importance of facilitating the speedy disposal of grain after threshing and sale. My Noble Friend the Minister of Food has made arrangements to this end, and farmers themselves can help by planning as far as possible their threshing programme after consultation with their merchant. At the same time, I must emphasise that farmers are responsible for providing protection for grain while it is on the farm and for preventing damage by rats.
asked the President of the Board of Education what steps he proposes to take to ensure that all county education authorities recognise the urgency of establishing school canteens or of providing some means by which dinners brought by children can be warmed up, especially during the winter?
As a result of the circulars issued by the Board during the past three years, local education authorities are fully alive to the importance of establishing school canteens in county areas, and I am satisfied that authorities generally are doing their utmost. In the absence of canteens the Board have always encouraged authorities, where practicable, to make arrangements for warming food brought by children who have to travel some distance to reach school.
What percentage of children are now receiving school meals?
There is a Question very shortly, the answer to which will give the figures.
Is it not a fact that a great deal of the difficulty is caused through lack of staff and cooking facilities, and can the right hon. Gentleman not look into these matters and arrange for facilities to be made available, particularly in the country districts?
Yes, Sir, we recently issued new provisions for this, and I hope they will have some effect.
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will expedite the provision and furnishing of one or more hostels in the borough of Lymington for the accommodation of the secondary school boys from Portsmouth who are attending the Hampshire County Council's secondary school at Brockenhurst?
I am informed that arrangements have been made by the Lymington Borough Council for the provision of a hostel at Milford-on-Sea, which it is hoped will be furnished and equipped ready for occupation by boys of the Portsmouth Southern secondary school at the beginning of next term. The local education authority are considering the question of transport to enable the boys to attend their school at Brockenhurst and can be relied upon to co-operate in the arrangements so far as their assistance is required.
asked the President of the Board of Education when he expects to introduce his Education Bill?
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Graham White) on 23rd September, a copy of which I am sending him.
Is not that answer most discouraging? We are all waiting for a definite answer; when shall we get it?
I do not think the answer could be more encouraging at present.
asked the President of the Board of Education the terms and purpose of his message to the Special National Assembly of the National Union of Teachers, held on 30th October, to inaugurate a public campaign concerning the next Education Bill?
Certainly, Sir. The terms of the message which I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT make its purpose quite clear.
Will the right hon. Gentleman give equal encouragement to the religious denominations and to the Part III authorities to put their views before the public?
They do not seem to have needed any encouragement.
Did the National Union of Teachers?
Is it not true—
Following is the Message referred to:
"I am happy to send a message to this National Assembly of teachers from all parts of the country.
Of the strength of the support for the Government's outline plans for Educational Reconstruction there can be no doubt.
Ever since I spoke to your Annual Conference in April of last year we have been gathering momentum, and the time is now approaching when our ideas must be carried to their logical conclusion.
I welcome this campaign of yours to bring home to the general public the urgency of educational reform. You will show that the teaching profession are alive to their responsibilities and to their opportunities.
We should all endeavour, through our public activities, to extend the measure of participation in this great scheme of reform. We should seek to widen the area of understanding and co-operation.
I have no doubt that this is the spirit in which you are setting out on your fresh initiative. I am confident that your influence will be deeply felt.
It is right that you should lead public opinion to realise that we must provide for a progressive and enlightened educational system if we hope to reap the full fruits of victory."
Schoolchildren's Footwear (Boot-Repairing Classes)
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware of the danger to the health of schoolchildren through not being properly shod; and whether he will encourage the local education authorities to extend the craft training of schoolchildren to boot repairing?
Yes, Sir. I am fully aware of the importance of schoolchildren being properly shod. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has given special consideration to the matter and has taken steps to improve both the quality and quantity of children's footwear. A number of schools have classes in boot repairing, but in view of the present shortage of leather and rubber and the difficulty in obtaining suitable instructors, it would not be practicable to make extensive provision of such classes throughout the country.
asked the President of the Board of Education whether he will ask for a report from His Majesty's inspector of schools for Stoke-on-Trent on the bad state of footwear of the schoolchildren attending the Orthopædic Clinic and the effect it has on the work of the clinic which is being largely under mined as a result; and whether he will take such steps to remedy the evil as is deemed necessary?
I am arranging for one of my medical officers to visit Stoke-on-Trent to inquire into this matter, and I will communicate with the hon. Member when I have received his report.
Bomb Destroyed Houses (Rebuilding)
asked the Minister of Health whether he can promise workers whose houses, their own property, have been destroyed by enemy action, the highest priority when rebuilding becomes physically possible?
I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Mr. Parker) on 8th April last, of which I am sending him a copy. I will certainly press for the highest possible priority.
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that many local authorities within the Greater London area have decided to reduce their area population below that of 1939 by refusing to allow the rebuilding of houses on many bombed sites so that they may secure more open spaces and less overcrowding; that this, coupled with the establishment of a green belt round London, will result in difficulty in securing suitable housing sites inside the green belt; and what steps he is proposing to take to meet the housing needs of people who must live further out from London as a consequence of this policy?
I am aware of the views in this sense which have been expressed by certain local authorities and planning authorities. As regards any necessary rehousing, I have already asked local authorities to submit proposals for immediate post-war programmes and I am discussing with them the difficulties thrown up by those programmes. I shall be ready to consider with them as soon as possible their long-term programmes and the problems which they raise. In all these matters I am keeping in close touch with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Town and Country Planning.
Unoccupied Houses (Requisitioning)
asked the Minister of Health whether he will make it compulsory for local authorities to requisition suitable empty premises for re-housing when they have waiting lists for housing accommodation?
No, Sir. The necessary powers have been delegated to local authorities, and I have no information which suggests that they are other than anxious to exercise them to the fullest practicable extent.
asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider introducing a time limit of three weeks by which owners must either re-let or re-occupy empty houses?
I am doubtful whether the imposition of a rigid time limit would be equitable in all circumstances, but I shall be prepared to consider any representations on the matter which may be made to me by local authorities in the light of their experience of the working of the present arrangements.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a good deal of discontent on the ground that some local authorities in some parts of London are not requisitioning houses when neighbouring areas are doing so and have used up all the houses available?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it will take more than two or three weeks to put a house into a condition to be occupied?