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Written Answers

Volume 395: debated on Wednesday 1 December 1943

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Written Answers

Royal Navy

Clothing And Equipment

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will inquire into the distribution of clothing and equipment among naval depot stores and take steps to ensure that supplies of necessary items of clothing are adequate to meet reasonable demands?

The distribution of clothing and equipment among naval establishments is based on Fleet requirements, and I am satisfied that the necessary steps are taken to ensure that reasonable demands can be met without undue delay.

Kit Upkeep Allowances

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the daily rate of kit upkeep allowance paid to naval ratings and the percentage by which this has been increased since the outbreak of war?

Kit upkeep allowance is credited to naval ratings at quarterly rates and in advance, and varies with the description of uniform worn.The present quarterly rates are:

£s.d.
C.P.O's and P.O.'s2100
Other men not dressed as seamen280
(e.g. artisans, writers and supply ratings, stewards and cooks.)
Men dressed as seamen (namely, seamen and stokers below P.O.)246
These rates are approximately 44 per cent., 45 per cent. and 65 per cent. above the rates in force in 1939.

Amgot

Viscount Hinchingbrooke asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will institute courses for naval officers and/or civilians with experience of dockyard administration, of the type now held by the War Office Civil Affairs directorate, in order that the closest contach may be maintained between the Royal Navy and A.M.G.O.T. and, in view of the great number of naval establishments now in enemy occupation, which will become subject to allied control?

As I explained in reply to my Noble Friend on 10th November, the fact that the territory concerned is under military government does not involve any change in the normal duties of naval officers in ports operated by the Royal Navy. Military administration of civil affairs functions as part of the general organisation of military forces in the field, and the Navy's contacts with the Civil Affairs Branch are made in the same way as with other military contingents. Taking over naval establishments from an enemy Power is no new experience for the Royal Navy, and is provided for in the normal course of operational planning and training. The magnitude of the task confronting the Allied Navies in taking over ports now in enemy occupation is fully appreciated by the Admiralty, and appropriate plans are being made.

Detention Barracks Inquiry (Report)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will take immediate steps to mitigate the harsh conditions in naval detention quarters, as revealed in the report of the inquiry into detention barracks, in particular in regard to the complete prohibition of communication with other prisoners throughout the sentence and the rule that a prisoner, for at least a fortnight, normally has to lie at night on bare boards with no blankets?

The report of the Oliver Committee is being considered as a whole and I cannot at present make a statement on any particular part of it.

Released Wrns Officers (Ration Books)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has considered the particulars sent to him concerning a married member of the W.R.N.S. who was given leave without pay on 1st October on account of pregnancy, but not provided with civilian clothing coupons and given only a emergency food ration card, was taken ill on 2nd November at Oxford, where a child was prematurely born and lived only II hours; and, as this was due to travelling, worry and anxiety, will he ensure that, when members of the W.R.N.S. are granted leave under similar circumstances, they are given civilian status and provided with full coupons and ration cards from the office of the Director of the W.R.N.S.?

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for bringing this matter to my notice. New regulations came into force on 1st October whereby officers granted indefinite unpaid leave under such circumstances were to be given a certificate to enable them to obtain a civilian identity card, which would in turn enable them to get their ration book and their supplementary food and clothing coupons. This officer's release was authorised on 14th September to take effect from 1st October. By an unfortunate error the correct certificate was not given to this officer at the time of her discharge. I am assured that steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence of this error, which is deeply regretted.

Food Supplies

Milk (Transport Costs)

asked the Minister of Food whether he will take steps to standardise costs of collection and transport of milk from producers to wholesale depôts?

Yes, Sir. As announced on 25th November the Ministry of Food will pay to the Milk Marketing Board for England and Wales with effect from 1st October, 1943, an additional 1d. per gallon for all milk purchased by wholesale from the Board. Of the additional sum thus made available, the Board will be directed to use such part of it as is necessary to remove anomalies arising from the incidence of the standard freight deduction.

Potato Stocks, Scotland

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that large quantities of ware potatoes are rapidly deteriorating in the county of Angus because the Ministry cannot or will not dispose of them nor give permission to use potatoes for feeding livestock; what he intends to do in relation to this matter; why one processing factory situated in one of the largest potato growing districts of Scotland has drawn potatoes for processing from the extreme south of England during the early season and is now drawing supplies from Lincolnshire; why Scottish potatoes are not used in this factory; and whether he can give the tonnage of potatoes that have been sent from England to processing factories in Scotland during the last four months?

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that thousands of bags of potatoes are lying in stores and on farms in the East of Scotland which are sound but unsaleable owing to Ministry of Food regulations and are now beginning rapidly to deteriorate; that a processing factory in the heart of a potato district in Scotland is drawing its supplies mainly from England, while large quantities of suitable Scots potatoes are left unused; and what action he is taking to put a stop to this threatened waste of food?

I am not aware of any general complaint that potatoes in Angus or elsewhere in East Scotland are deteriorating rapidly. Stocks of ware potatoes remaining in the possession of growers in which serious wastage threatens will be bought by my Department from the growers for early disposal, but until the seasonal supply position is better known it would be wrong to allow the general feeding of potatoes to livestock. The processing factory referred to is making a special product for which the only potatoes so far known to be suitable are matured King Edward variety preferably grown on silt soil in districts adjacent to the Wash, and all supplies have been drawn from this source. Matured King Edwards have not been available locally up to now, but experiments are at present proceeding to find out which Scottish potatoes produced near the factory are suitable for the purpose in view. 1,477 tons of potatoes have been sent from England to Scotland during the last four months to this factory, which is the only one of its kind at present operating in Scotland.

Labelling (Order)

asked the Minister of Food on what approximate date it is intended to introduce the new Order with regard to the labelling of pre-packed foods?

An Order dealing with the matters referred to in paragraph 8 of the White Paper on the Labelling and Advertising of Food (Cmd. 6482) will, it is hoped, be made before the end of the year.

Christmas Turkeys

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the un- easiness felt by residents outside Manchester, Salford and Liverpool that these cities will be unduly favoured in the distribution of Northern Ireland turkeys; and whether he will make special inquiries to ensure that this scheme will operate equitably in all parts of Lancashire?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Members for Dudley (Mr. Lloyd) and Stretford (Mr. Etherton) to-day.

asked the Minister of Food what arrangements are being made to decentralise the distribution from Manchester in the Heywood and Radcliffe districts of Northern Ireland turkeys; and what representation on the organising committees setting up the poultry retailers' buying groups will be shared by local retailers in the areas mentioned?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Members for Dudley (Mr. Lloyd) and Stretford (Mr. Etherton) to-day.

Slag Cement

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works whether the production of slag cement is cheaper than ordinary cement; whether it is as good in quality; and why it is not more extensively used?

Slag cement is a cement composed of a mixture of blast furnace slag and Portland cement in which the latter predominates. I am informed that the answer to the first part of the Question is "No." Slag cement is satisfactory for all ordinary purposes. Its extended use will depend on the advantages that it can offer as compared with Portland cement.

School Milk (Bottles)

asked the President of the Board of Education whether, in view of the fact that many children do not take milk at school because of the fear of infection, he will impress upon local education authorities that, where possible, the milk should be given each child in a separate bottle and, where this is not practicable, proper care should be taken to see that the drinking vessel used by one child is thoroughly washed before it is used by another?

I am sending the hon. Member copies of two circulars in which the Board have impressed upon local education authorities the desirability of providing school milk in one-third pint bottles and the importance of securing the utmost cleanliness in drinking vessels and other utensils.

Unemployment Insurance (Salary Limit)

asked the Minister of Labour what representations he has had in favour of raising the salary limit in unemployment insurance to £600 per year; and what reasons are given for the proposal?

My right hon. Friend has received representations on this and other matters affecting the unemployment insurance scheme. He considers, however, that any statement on the subject should come, if at all, from the persons making the representations and not from him.

Local Elections (Temporary Provisions) Act

asked the Home Secretary the number of persons who have become members of local governing bodies without popular election during the war as a result of the Local Elections (Temporary Provisions) Act; and what relation this bears to the total membership of such bodies?

The information for which my hon. Friend asks could only be obtained from the local bodies concerned and as there are over 8,500 of these I should not feel justified in incurring the labour involved in collecting statistics from all of them, but I am inquiring whether some sample figures can be obtained quickly.

British Army

Royal Hospital, Chelsea (Pensions)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the Army Council will instruct the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, that in assessing the needs of a Boer War pensioner under Army Order 288/1924 they will exclude the first £of a disability pension?

I regret that it is not considered possible to accept my hon. Friend's proposal.

Clerical Duties (Instruction)

asked the Secretary of State for War the purpose of an instruction he has issued restricting or preventing the engagement of additional civilian clerical strength in the outstations of his Department which causes additional military and A.T.S. personnel to be drafted for clerical duties into the same establishments in direct conflict with the principles announced to the House following the report of the Departmental Committee presided over by Lord Cozens-Hardy?

The instruction referred to was issued in view of the present manpower situation. My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension in thinking that the instruction causes additional military and A.T.S. personnel to be drafted to fill vacancies which would otherwise have been filled by civilians: such a course was specifically barred by the instruction.

Royal Army Pay Corps (Officers' Emoluments)

asked the Secretary of State for War what are the present annual emoluments, including allowances appropriate to a married officer, of a captain and a lieutenant, respectively, of the Royal Army Pay Corps; in the case of a Regular officer and in the case of an Emergency Reserve or other non-Regular officer, respectively, what civilian incomes would these figures be approximately equivalent to, taking into account the exemption of Army allowances from Income Tax; and what are the annual emoluments of civilians covering like posts in Army pay offices in the case of an established civil servant and in the case of a temporary civil servant, respectively?

Any direct and immediate comparison of pay between the soldier and the civilian is impossible since their systems of remuneration are essentially different. The annual emoluments of military officers of the Royal Army Pay Corps and of civilians covering similar posts in pay offices vary according to the number of years the individual has served altogether and also according to the number of years he has served in a particular rank or grade. The emoluments of military officers do not vary as between those who hold regular and those who hold non-regular commissions. The total emoluments issuable to a military officer depend on various factors, e.g., the date on which he was commissioned, whether he is drawing certain issues in kind or in the form of an allowance and whether he is married. In the latter case his emoluments vary further according to the code of family allowance for which he has opted, the size of his family and whether he is living with his family or not.The gross annual emoluments (to the nearest £), i.e. before the payment of Income Tax, of single officers in the R.A.P.C. and the gross equivalent of these emoluments if they were taxable on the normal civilian basis as follow:

££
Lieutenant388494
Paymaster—
(Lieut. or Capt.) after 18 months with the Corps449572
(Lieut, or Capt.) after 7 years' commissioned service (if not promoted Supervisory Officer earlier)497648
Supervisory Officer (Captain)534656
Paymaster (after 5 years as such)579703
Paymaster (after 15 years' commissioned service)662785

The above figures assume that the officers are not provided with single quarters, servants, rations, fuel and light and that they draw the appropriate allowances in lieu. If such an officer is married and is living with his wife he does not receive the single rate of lodging allowance, which amounts to £62 a year, but family lodging allowance which if drawn under the new code would amount to £91 a year. If he is separated from his wife by the exigencies of the Service his family lodging allowance is reduced by £18 a year but if he is not provided with public quarters he receives in addition the single rate of lodging allowance of £62 a year. These allowances are not subject to Income Tax.If civilians are appointed to cover posts at present held by captains and lieutenants in Army Pay Offices their emoluments would be:

Departmental Civilian Officer (established)

  • Scale of salary £375 rising by increments of £18 a year to £525.
  • Plus War Bonus £36 10s. (on salary up to £500). £25 (on salary over £500).

Junior Temporary Assistant ( male) (temporary).

  • Normal starting rate £325 with annual increases of £18 rising to the maximum of the range of £400.
  • Plus War Bonus £36 10s.

In addition, a departmental civilian officer is entitled to overtime pay at common time rate for hours worked in excess of 192 in any period of four consecutive weeks subject to an overriding maximum of 5s. an hour. A junior temporary assistant is eligible for overtime at common time rate for hours worked in excess of 48 a week subject to an overriding maximum of salary (exclusive of bonus) plus overtime of £112 10s. a quarter.

Second-Hand Goods (Prices)

asked the President of the Board of Trade what further steps he proposes to take to control the prices at auction sales of essential furniture and other household requisites?

As regards furniture, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which was given on 9th November to my hon. Friend, the Member for Dartford (Mrs. Adamson). The Central Price Regulation Committee are also considering the control of prices of other second-hand goods.

International Labour Office

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government, in view of the terms of the resolution adopted at the New York Conference of the I.L.O. in 1941, will invite the I.L.O. to summon a session of the International Labour Conference for the consideration of the problems of labour which will arise in the transition from war to peace?

The chairman of the Governing Body of the International Labour Office has decided to hold a meeting of the Governing Body in London on 16th December. The principal item for consideration at this meeting will be the date, place and agenda of an early session of the International Labour Conference.

Bombing Attacks By Germany

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the date of Germany's first aerial attacks on unfortified Polish towns and the date of Herr Hitler's reply to President Roosevelt's request not to embark on a bombing war?

Germany's first aerial attack on an unfortified Polish town occurred on 1st September, 1939, when Warsaw was bombed six times. Hitler replied to President Roosevelt's appeal on 3rd September, 1939.

British Council

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent the British Council is financed by His Majesty's Government; and to what extent the Council is responsible to the Government for its activities?

The British Council is financed from a grant-in-aid provided by His Majesty's Government. The grant-in-aid for the current financial year is £1,875,000, augmented in July last by a supplementary grant of £100,000. The revenue this year from other sources amounts only to £1,250. Under the terms of the Council's charter, the management of the Council's affairs is vested in its Executive Committee. The Lord President of the Council, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs, the Dominions, the Colonies and Scotland, the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary of the Department of Overseas Trade have each the right to appoint a representative on the Executive Committee. The estimates of the Council are submitted in full detail through the Foreign Office to the Treasury, who consider them in consultation with the Departments of His Majesty's Government concerned. The Foreign Office, with the aid of His Majesty's Representatives abroad, control the general policy of the Council and supervise its expenditure in respect of foreign countries in accordance with certain general principles laid down by the Treasury. Corresponding arrangements exist in regard to expenditure on activities in the British Empire.

Women's Land Army (Railway Fares)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he will take steps to give members of the W.L.A. the same reduction in railway fares as are given to members of the Forces?

Members of the Women's Land Army are employed by the farmers for whom they work, and the conditions of their service cannot, therefore, be compared with the conditions of service of members of the Women's Forces. For that reason, I regret that it would not be justifiable to extend to them the reductions in railway fares allowed to members of the Forces.

Coal Deliveries (Reorganisation)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport what saving of transport, labour and petrol has been realised by the more drastic schemes for reorganising coal distribution in all or any of the places in which such schemes are in force?

I regret that I have not exact figures of the saving in transport, labour and petrol obtained by the reorganisation of house-coal deliveries for which my hon. Friend asks. It is estimated, however, that an overall saving of about 2,800,000 gallons of petrol a year has been made by all these schemes together. Of the more drastic schemes, the figures available for Leeds, Nottingham, Hereford show annual savings of about 46,000, 25,000 and 10,300 gallons respectively.

Road Transport

Empty Vehicles

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport why road vehicles 7Q10/31, 7Q10/34 and 7Q10/41 were sent empty from Swindon Transport, Limited, on 22nd October last to Newport to report to the A.R.H.O. there and then ordered to proceed empty to Skewan where, eventually, they were loaded; whether he is aware that this involved four days of travel, including a full day on Sunday, 24th October, at double rates of pay and 426 miles of unloaded journey; and whether he will now consider using the services of established clearing houses to obtain a more efficient use of road transport?

These vehicles, with others, were sent to South Wales to move urgent and essential traffic for which local transport was not available. The journey from Swindon to the point where loads were obtained took a little more than one day. If clearing houses had had traffic available and suitable for road movement to load the vehicles from Swindon to South Wales, they would, no doubt, have offered it in the usual way.

Future Policy

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether the Government are now in a position to make some pronouncement regarding the future of road transport undertakings in this country, especially as regards operations that they will be permitted to carry out in competition with the railway services?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement made by my Noble Friend in another place on 27th October.

Dependants' War Pensions (Regulations)

asked the Minister of Health why, having regard to the fact that paragraph 4 of the Contributory Pensions Dependants War Pensions Regulations, 1943 (S.R. and O. No. 1424, of 1943), is phrased in language not likely to be understood by those affected, no explanatory memorandum was attached to the Order?

The regulations to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers exclude from the provisions against double pensions in Section 14 of the National Health Insurance and Contributory Pensions (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1939, such dependants war pensions as are "needs" pensions; these regulations replace earlier regulations substantially to the same effect, which have been in operation ever since the Contributory Pensions Scheme came into force in 1926, and paragraph 4 reproduces with minor drafting alterations a paragraph which appeared in all the earlier regulations. In the circumstances it was not considered necessary to issue an explanatory memorandum with the new regulations.

Medical Personnel

Priority Committee

asked the Minister of Health how many times the Medical Personnel Priority Committee has met during the past 12 months; and what was the date of the last meeting?

The Committee has held seven meetings during the past 12 months, and last met on the 10th November.

Emergency Medical Service

asked the Minister of Health the present cost of the Emergency Medical Service and the number of salaried medical practitioners engaged; and whether, as this service was planned more than four years ago to meet events which have not happened and has resulted in a redundant supply of doctors to hospitals and districts remote from towns and to small specialists staffs at voluntary and teaching hospitals, especially in London, and withdrawing adequate medical attendance from the civilian population whose illness risks have at the same time increased, he will immediately readjust the distribution of medical man-power?

With regard to the first part of the Question, the cost of the salaries, fees and expenses of medical officers enrolled in the Emergency Medical Service is at the rate of approximately £1,200,000 a year, and the number of medical officers receiving whole or part-time salaries, which fluctuates somewhat from time to time, is about 1,550. I do not accept the implications in the second part of the Question or see any justification for the re-distribution of hospital staff which my hon. Friend suggests. Although the Service has fortunately not been called upon to treat so many casualties as was at one time expected, it has been employed in caring for the numerous other classes of patients brought within the scope of the Emergency Hospital Scheme. Among these classes are large numbers of civilian sick transferred from town hospitals to outer hospitals having more adequate facilities for their treatment, and other civilian patients transferred from hospitals with long waiting lists. In the result the emergency scheme has greatly expanded the hospital facilities provided for the civilian population as a whole and has made specialist medical skill available to much larger numbers of patients than ever before.

National Finance

War Damage Contribution

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the Prime Minister's declaration on 22nd September that the war damage scheme has ultimately turned out to be highly profitable to the Exchequer and, recognising that the demands for contributions have been severe, when taking into consideration that the charge is not on the amount which owners of property would normally insure, seeing that the Schedule A assessment includes land in addition to property, he will, as empowered under Section 42 of the Act, consider reducing or suspending payments or giving a credit if not used and thus dispel the feeling generally held, that the operation of the War Damage Act gives excessive profits to His Majesty's Government?

No, Sir. As my hon. Friend will note, if he will examine the annual statement laid on Tuesday of last week and the corresponding statement laid last year, payments made by the War Damage Commission have considerably exceeded receipts from contributions. Moreover practically all value payments and most of the heavier cost of works payments remain to be met after the war.

Companies, Taxation (Crown Colonies)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the approximate total sum received by the British Exchequer since the outbreak of the present war by way of Income Tax and Excess Profits Tax, respectively, from companies registered in the United Kingdom but operating in the Crown Colonies?

Malaya (Political Future)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in order to counter Japanese propaganda, he can make a statement regarding the political future of Malaya after its reconquest?

The first objective of His Majesty's Government must be the liberation of Malaya from the Japanese invader and the reversal of the Japanese action in handing over four of the Malay territories to Siam. After this objective has been secured the main aim of His Majesty's Government as regards the political future of Malaya will be the development of its capacity for self-government within the Empire.

Malayan Volunteer Defence Force (Dependants)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that in the case of British subjects who were in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion and, as members of the Volunteer Defence Force, were called upon to defend the Island and were subsequently killed or taken prisoners, their dependants receive no allowances on the grounds that these men were civilians; that in most cases this has caused hardship both to the actual dependants and to their relatives who have had to maintain them; and whether the matter will be reviewed in the immediate future and these hardships removed or adjusted?

My hon. Friend must have been misinformed. Dependants of members of the Malayan Volunteer Defence Forces who were killed or taken prisoner are being paid pensions or allowances, as the case may be, at the rates applicable to dependants of members of the Regular Forces.

Cyprus

Public Demonstrations

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will now have the trade union leaders, shopkeepers, municipal councillors and mayors and others in Cyprus who have been imprisoned or heavily fined for taking part in an admittedly orderly demonstration, or even for closing their shops, released from prison and their fines remitted and the oppressive legislation which prohibits such demonstrations repealed; and whether, in view of the failure of government by oppression, he will try conceding to the people of Cyprus as much freedom as the Moscow Conference contemplates for the inhabitants of occupied Italy?

These people were prosecuted for a deliberate breach of the law, of which the authorities in Cyprus were bound to take notice. The circumstances were fully described in my reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers) on 3rd November. I regret that experience has shown that it is necessary, particularly under war conditions, that the Cyprus Government should have powers of control over public processions. I know of no reason to sup- pose that these powers are unreasonably exercised, and I do not accept the suggestion in the last part of the Question.

Cost Of Living

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, seeing that the Government of Cyprus has been unable, either by repression or by constructive effort, to calm the discontent of the people over the constant fall of real wages, he will now accept the proposals of the trade unions for control of supplies through a council representing all organised classes, for the taxation of capital and for the increase of income tax on large incomes in order to subsidise foodstuffs and thus to reduce the cost of living which is now approximately 360 per cent. over pre-war level?

I do not accept the suggestions underlying this Question. As regards the measures taken by the Cyprus Government to control the cost of living, I would refer to the replies given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs on 13th October and by myself on 3rd November to Questions on this subject. The increase of 360 per cent. in the cost of living which the hon. Member quotes is much exaggerated, the official figure being 132 per cent. The Cyprus Government have invited the trade unions to provide representatives on all Advisory Committees appointed to deal with the cost of living. But the trade unions have recently declined to do so unless the Committees are given complete executive control—a step which would be manifestly inconsistent with the responsibilities of the Government to the community.

Post Office

Armed Forces Abroad (Postal Orders)

Major Studholme asked the Postmaster-General whether, in cases of postal orders sent to members of His Majesty's Forces serving abroad which reach the recipients out of date owing to time taken in transit, he will consider dispensing with the present requirement that a commission equal to the original poundage be deducted?

The arrangements for which my hon. Friend asks already exist so far as cases in which the delay is due to the war are concerned.

Mails, North Africa

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the continued delay in delivery of both letters and air mail to the forces in North Africa; and whether he can give satisfactory reasons for this?Mr. Turton asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that a certain unit serving in North Africa, the identity of which he has been informed, received no air mail for a period of 17 days in October, 1943; that on 25th October, 1943, the most recent sea mail received by this unit was posted in the United Kingdom on 6th August; and whether he will take the necessary steps to improve the postal facilities between this country and North Africa?

Surface mails for His Majesty's Forces in North Africa are despatched by the Army Postal Authorities, and I am assured that every available outlet is used. They advise me that congestion at the port of disembarkation resulted recently in unavoidable delay to some of the mails, but the trouble has been eliminated. The mails from this country are now taking up to four weeks to reach the Base Army Post Office in North Africa. I am unable at the moment to explain why on the 25th of October the unit referred to by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton had received no sea mail from home since that posted on the 6th August, because I am advised that at least a dozen despatches from the United Kingdom made after the 6th of August were received and dealt with at the Base Army Post Office in North Africa before the 25th of October. The Army Postal Authorities are therefore having inquiries made overseas, and I will communicate the result to my hon. Friend when their report is received. Air letter mails for North Africa suffered delay during part of October, but I am informed this was due to interruption of the air service owing to weather conditions.

British Prisoners Of War, Far East

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in view of the paucity of news regarding British prisoners in Japanese hands and the inability of the friendly Power to obtain informa- tion, whether joint representation may be made by the British and United States Governments to all neutral Powers having their representatives still in Japan to ask the Japanese Government to permit an immediate inquiry by International Red Cross representatives of neutral countries, who would render a Report to their respective Governments on all aspects of the position?

The Japanese authorities at the start of their military campaign made it clear that they would not allow representatives either of neutral Powers or of the International Red Cross Committee to establish themselves in newly occupied territories. All neutral representatives were either recalled or were no longer recognised. The International Red Cross Committee have repeatedly requested the Japanese Government to relax this ruling and to allow the appointment of International Red Cross delegates in Malaya, the Philippine Islands, the Netherland East Indies and Burma. This the Japanese authorities have persistently refused to do.The plain fact is that the Japanese have no intention of allowing neutral or international observers to see conditions in the occupied territories until it suits them. We are therefore bound to conclude that the Japanese have something to hide and that the conditions in those areas, especially of our prisoners of war and civilian internees, would not bear independent investigation. I would emphasise that it is not the method or the channel of approach to the Japanese authorities which is at fault, but simply the Japanese character and attitude towards the Geneva Convention and prisoner of war questions generally. I am satisfied that everything that is humanly possible is being done both by the Swiss authorities and by the International Red Cross Committee on behalf of our men and women in Japanese hands.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty the total number of Royal naval officers and ratings in the hands of the Japanese; what information has so far been received affecting how many officers and ratings; and what steps the Admiralty have taken to obtain confirmation of such information as has been received and to obtain further information?

The total number of officers and ratings known to be prisoners of war in Japanese hands are 189 and 1,707 respectively. Approximately two-thirds were identified by radio broadcasts; the remaining third were reported by Tokyo through the International Red Cross at Geneva, except a few who communicated direct with their relatives at home. The Foreign Office after consultation with the Admiralty and acting on behalf of the United Kingdom and Dominions Governments has made strong representations to the Protecting Power protesting against the failure of the Japanese Government to furnish complete lists of prisoners of war and of those who have died in captivity. Unfortunately, so far little success has been achieved.

Electrical Torches And Batteries

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that electric torches are not included under category of electrical goods for trade purposes, and whether he will consider revising this Order?

In the Schedule to the Location of Retail Businesses Order, 1942, there are separate categories for electrical torches and batteries and for electrical goods and appliances (other than torches and batteries). If a trader wishes to deal both in electrical goods and in torches and batteries he must apply for a licence for both categories. I see no reason, therefore, to revise this Order.

Royal Air Force

Released Waaf Personnel (Ration Books)

asked the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements are made to ensure that members of the W.A.A.F., who are granted leave on account of pregnancy, are provided with clothing coupons and ration cards?

A member of the women's Services discharged, or released from the Services pending discharge, on grounds of pregnancy is issued by her unit with a form which enables her to obtain at once a civilian identity card. This in turn enables her to get at the same place the combined food and clothing ration book, and, on production of a medical certificate, the 60 expectant mother coupons and the ration book for the unborn child.

Bombing Attacks, France

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether, in view of the present highly organised state of the resistance movement inside France and the greater accuracy of sabotage compared with air bombing, and also in the interests of Anglo-French good-will after the war, he will, subject to the overriding needs of strategy, divert our bombing raids from French to German targets to an increasing extent?

The main weight of our attack is already directed against Germany. The amount of bombs dropped on France is relatively small and the proportion of bombing done on French as compared with German targets has decreased during the past three years.

Vaccination

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether, in the event of vaccination of the personnel of the Air Force being unsuccessful, the fact is recorded; and how many such unsuccessful vaccinations have been recorded since the outbreak of the war?

Unsuccessful vaccination is recorded only in the personal documents of the individual concerned and no central record is maintained. The information asked for in the second part of the Question is accordingly not available.

Families (Passages From United States)

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether any facilities are provided for the return to this country of wives of R.A.F. personnel who were accompanied by their wives when they took up administrative duties in Washington and who have now been recalled to this country; and what arrangements there are by which these wives can obtain money to pay their living expenses pending their return?

Yes, Sir. Families are placed on a waiting list in accordance with established priority procedure. Passages can, at present, be obtained within a reasonably short time. Officers and men reposted home in advance of their families may remit the greater part of their pay to their families. In case of need, these remittances may be supplemented by special allowances administered locally. So far as I am aware, the arrangements are satisfactory, but if the hon. Member knows of a case where difficulties have arisen I shall be pleased to look into it.

Terminal Airport Facilities, Great Britain

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether, in the development of civil aviation after the war, he will consider an airport for transatlantic transport in England and not in Eire in view of the attitude of the latter country towards the Allied war effort?

There is not the slightest doubt about the need for terminal airport facilities for transatlantic air traffic in Great Britain after the war.

Housing (Estimates)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what respective estimates have been made of the requirements in respect of housing in Scotland to replace slums, to end overcrowding, to house persons married since 1938, to meet the requirements of those on waiting lists since before 1938, to meet bomb damage, and to meet prospective demands during the next 10 years arising from population increases and needed improvements in housing standards?

Present circumstances make it impossible to carry out a survey to get an accurate estimate of the number of new houses required in Scotland. The following provisional estimates have, however, been made of the number of houses required under each category:

(i) houses required to replace unfit houses121,000
(ii) houses required to end over crowding (1938 figure)200,000
(iii) houses required as a result of the increased marriage rate since December, 1938130,000
(iv) houses required to meet general needs and to replace houses destroyed by bombing65,000
516,000
Deduct houses completed since December, 193850,000
466,000
The prospective demands for further houses during the next decade will depend upon a number of factors including the marriage rate, the rate of wastage of houses and rising housing standards and it is impossible to make any estimate at the present time.

asked the Minister of Health what respective estimates have been made of the requirements in respect of housing in England and Wales to replace slums, to end overcrowding, to house persons married since 1938, to meet bomb damage, to meet the requirements of those on waiting lists since before 1938, and to meet prospective demands during the next 10 years arising from population increases and needed improvements in housing standards?

The generally accepted estimate of 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 houses is a broad indication of the probable housing need during the first 10 to 12 years of the peace and has been arrived at not so much by the combination of a series of detailed estimates, which could not be precise, as by reference to the two overriding considerations, namely, the number of dwellings required to replace slum dwellings and dwellings in a poor condition or grossly deficient in modern amenities and the number required to give each family a separate dwelling and so eliminate overcrowding. One million five hundred thousand to 2,500,000 dwellings are included for the former purpose and 1,500,000 for the latter. Compared with these figures the number of houses destroyed or damaged beyond repair is, I am glad to say, not material.

National War Effort

Worker's Reinstatement (Direction)

asked the Minister of Labour what steps have been taken by his Department to compel Messrs. Dessouters, at a factory of which he has been informed, to re-employ Mr. V. G. Jackson, in accordance with the directions of the. National Service officer?

A National Service officer directed Messrs. Dessouter Brothers, Limited, on 26th October, to reinstate Mr. V. G. Jackson in his former employment on 27th October. The firm maintained that they had no work to give Mr. Jackson and complied with the reinstatement direction only to the extent of paying him his wages. Action was therefore taken in accordance with the procedure outlined in the reply I gave my hon. Friend the Member for West Willesden (Mr. Viant) on 10th June, 1943, and another worker was withdrawn from the firm to enable them to provide work for Mr. Jackson. The firm were given a further direction on 9th November to reinstate Mr. Jackson on 11th November. I understand that they have not complied with this direction. I regard this as symptomatic of their general attitude towards their obligations under the Essential Work Order and, without prejudice to any other action I may decide to take in the matter, I propose to cancel their certificate of scheduling under the Essential Work (General Provisions) (No. 2) Order, 1942.

Production, Northern Region

asked the Minister of Production, in view of the fact that it is now the Government's policy to set up war-time industries in the North-Eastern area, how many such undertakings have been started in this area during the last four months; how this number compares with the number set up during the same period in other parts of the country; and whether he is bearing in mind the important effect which the introduction of war-time industries is likely to have upon industrial conditions when peace is restored?

I regret that it would not be in the national interest to publish the information asked for in the first part of the Question, and I am accordingly writing to my hon. Friend. The efforts which have already been made have considerably increased the amount of work in the Northern region, but I am not yet satisfied with the extent to which the available resources of the region have been harnessed, and I am continuing my efforts to encourage the establishment of further war production there. I realise that this may have an effect on industrial conditions there after the war, and I shall keep in close touch in the matter with my right hon. Friends the Minister of Reconstruction and the President of the Board of Trade.