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Written Answers

Volume 395: debated on Thursday 2 December 1943

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Written Answers

Trade And Commerce

Clothing (Surplus Stocks)

asked the President of the Board of Trade how he proposes to relieve manufacturers and traders of the surplus stocks of clothing, including overalls, which are now held by them for various reasons, including the inability of the public to provide the necessary coupons for purchase which, in many cases, causes at least temporary financial embarrassment to those manufacturers who cannot at present dispose of their stocks, upon the production of which they have devoted their energies and capital?

Yes, Sir. Production of clothing is, in general, confined to the minimum required to meet coupon demand. There are, however, limited stocks of certain kinds which appear surplus to current needs, and arrangements have been made with the Ministry of Supply for their acquisition. Full details of the clothing required, including overalls, and the procedure and conditions for purchase, have been given to the trade associations concerned.

Perambulators (Northern Ireland)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the shortage of perambulators in Northern Ireland; and what steps he is taking to provide a sufficient supply of these for use in Ulster?

Arrangements have now been made to manufacture perambulators in Belfast, and production there should shortly be well under way. In the meantime, I have asked producers in this country to increase their deliveries to Northern Ireland, but as my hon. Friend is aware, the safe transport of these articles presents a real difficulty.

China (Post-War Development)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the United Kingdom Commercial Corporation will extend its activities to assist in the post-war development of China or whether it is proposed to take any steps to collaborate in this respect with the Government of China which is anxious for foreign economic assistance?

It is not yet possible to say whether there will be any part for the United Kingdom Commercial Corporation to play in the post-war development of China, on which subject I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Stourbridge (Mr. R. Morgan) on 23rd November by my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

Post-War Trade (Competition)

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether, in order to maintain employment and the standard of living in this country after the war, he will take measures to protect British industries against unfair competition arising from the depreciated currencies of certain other manufacturing countries;(2) whether, with a view to facilitating the orderly re-establishment of the export trade after the war, he will negotiate with the Governments of other countries regarding the application of spheres of influence to certain industries?

His Majesty's Government will neglect no measures conducive to the re-establishment of industry and trade and their expansion after the war, but I cannot at this stage give any undertaking with regard to the particular suggestions put forward in my hon. Friend's Questions.


Deaf Children (Training)

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware of the success of the methods of the National College of Teachers of the Deaf, especially in training deaf children for a useful life; and whether he will consider how the training of deaf children may best be furthered by his new Education Bill?

Yes, Sir. I am aware of the valuable work performed by teachers in schools for the deaf and have informed the National College, which represents these teachers, that full consideration will be given to the suggestions they have made to me in regard to the education and training of deaf children.

Upper Stratton Senior School (Disciplinary Action)

asked the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware that as a disciplinary measure scholars are being deprived of their midday meals by their headmaster, Mr. Brice, at Upper Stratton Senior School, near Swindon; and does this practice meet with his approval?

I have called for a report on this matter and I will communicate with my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

Public Health

Radiography Facilities, Yorkshire

asked the Minister of Health whether the radiography system is to be extended to cover Yorkshire and on what lines it is proposed it should work?

Facilities for mass raidography are to be made available in Yorkshire as far as is at present practicable in view of wartime limitations on the manufacture of apparatus required for this system. One unit is being sent to Leeds almost immediately, and another is to go to Sheffield within the next few months. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the official memorandum explaining the general lines on which mass radiography is to be worked.

Tubercular Patients (Treatment)

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been drawn to the case of Mr. T. Hannam, of Townsend, Henstridge, Somerset, an ex-Service man who in June, 1943, was certified by his doctor to be suffering from tuberculosis of the throat and who sent him home as the county sanatorium was full; whether he is aware that in August the British Legion informed the Ministry of Health that a bed was available for the patient at the Legion's tuberculosis sanatorium at Preston Hall, Maidstone, and suggested that Hannam should be transferred there at once; that this was not done and that the patient died at his home on 18th October; and what action he proposes to take for this neglect by the officials of the Somerset County Council and to prevent such neglect in the future?

My right hon. Friend is aware of some of the circumstances of the case to which my hon. Friend refers and he is in communication with the Somerset County Council about it. My right hon. Friend will write to my hon. Friend further as soon as possible.

asked the Minister of Health whether he has officially inquired into the details of a case of pulmonary tuberculosis which ended fatally after a radiograph had been taken which was interpreted as normal; and with what result?

I understand that the case to which my hon. Friend refers is that reported in the medical Press on 6th November last. The report is very full and my medical advisers do not feel that inquiry would add materially to the information already available. The conclusion expressed in the report that radiography is not an infallible criterion of the presence of tuberculosis is already the accepted view, well illustrated by this case. It will be noted from the report that the patient, in spite of the absence of radiographic evidence, was on clinical grounds treated for tuberculosis.


asked the Minister of Health whether he has any information to convey to the House concerning patulin; and whether this drug is being tested on a large scale?

An account of the discovery of patulin, and of its chemical nature and anti-bacterial properties, has been published in the medical Press by Professor H. Raistrick of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and his colleagues. Their paper also gives the results of preliminary trials of the use of patulin in the treatment of the common cold, including some which were made in the Navy. The results of similar trials made in the Army have since been briefly published by three officers of the Royal Army Medical Corps. The Medical Research Council have now accepted an invitation to undertake the organisation of controlled clinical trials on a considerable scale, and arrangements are in hand for instituting these immediately. For the time being the use of patulin in the treatment of the common cold must be regarded as still in the experimental stage. The preliminary trials have not given consistent results, although some of these have been promising, and it is uncertain what value the drug will eventually prove to have. It will necessarily take some months to collect adequate information on this point, and as regards the best methods of administration, the proper dosage, and the conditions under which the drug can be used with safety. It would be inadvisable to take steps to make patulin generally available until there is sufficient evidence on these questions.

National Health, Service

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the successful protest made by the Federal Council of the British Medical Association in Australia against the attempt made by the Federal Government to bring about the nationalisation of the medical profession in Australia on much the same lines as has been proposed for Great Britain in speeches by the ex-Minister of Health; and whether he will apply the argument put forward by the Australian Association, also to this country, that it is unjust to make plans for the medical profession while many doctors serving in the Forces cannot make their views heard?

I am very alive to the importance of enabling doctors in the Forces to see for themselves what the Government's proposals are, and to discuss them and express views on them before legislation is undertaken. That is one of the objects of the forthcoming White Paper.

Milk Production (Supervision)

asked the Minister of Health whether he will transfer the supervision of milk production to county councils in England and Wales in the same way as such functions are performed in Scotland by county councils as outlined in paragraph 37 of the White Paper on Milk?

No, Sir. I would refer the hon. Member to the Government proposals contained in paragraphs 13 and 14 of the recent White Paper upon Measures to Improve the Quality of the Nation's Milk Supply.

National Finance

Tea, Tobacco And Beer Prices (Old Age Pensioners)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the increased war-time cost to old age pensioners of their normal consumption of tea, tobacco and beer?

I am afraid I have no data as to normal consumption by old age pensioners or any other special class of consumers. Prices commonly charged for the commodities in question before the war and at present are as follow:

Tea, per lb.24210
Cheaper pipe tobacco, per oz.2
Smaller sized cigarettes per packet of 1010½
Beer (draught), per pint610

Closed Businesses (Compensation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in the case of businesses closed by the requisitioning of their business premises by one of the Service Departments, compensation is payable for disturbance and loss of trade as in the case of businesses closed under a Board of Trade concentration scheme?

No compensation is payable from public funds for disturbance and loss of trade, either when business premises are requisitioned by a Service Department, or under a concentration scheme, nor for many other types of loss brought about by the war. The scheme for the concentration of industry was deliberately made flexible, and a wide variety of arrangements between nucleus and closed firms is possible under it. When businesses are closed because their premises are needed by a Service Department, no such arrangements are practicable, but, in this case, a compensation rent and other payments are payable from public funds under the Compensation (Defence) Act, 1939.

National Expenditure (Opportunities Of Debate)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the restriction of debate on finance in the House, he will consider simple ways and means of bringing home to the public the great and growing increase in national expenditure?

My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension in thinking that there is any restriction of debate on our national expenditure. Nor have the Government any intention of proposing any such restriction. Many opportunities of debate arise in each Session in the ordinary course of our financial business.

Requisitioned Premises, Bathgate

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works whether he is aware of the serious public inconvenience caused by Bathgate Employment Exchange being housed in the halls of Bathgate Co-operative Society, which are normally used for large public functions; and whether he will arrange to restore the halls to the society and make them again available for public use?

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir." In regard to the second part, arrangements are being made which will enable the Bathgate Co-operative Society's premises to be derequisitioned and every endeavour will be made to release them at the earliest possible date.

Flax Prices, Northern Ireland

asked the Minister of Supply whether, in view of the figures that have been supplied to him as to the cost of producing flax in Northern Ireland, he will increase the price for 1944 to a standard commensurate with the increased cost of production and rearrange the present system of grading which is causing dissatisfaction?

The prices of flax in Northern Ireland have recently been raised as indicated in the notice, of which I am sending my hon. Friend a copy, and I am satisfied that they are at a standard not incommensurate with the cost of production. Complaints in regard to grading have been discussed with the representatives of the various interests concerned, including those of the Ulster Farmers' Union. In agreement with them, instructions have been issued providing for appeals by farmers against assessments by graders to be made direct to the inspectors, and not through the graders, and for the standards of 1942 to be maintained unaltered.

National War Effort

Munition Factories (Alcoholic Drinks)

asked the Minister of Production whether he will follow the example of the Australian Government and prohibit the use of all alcoholic drinks in munition factories?

Mine Worker's Appeal (Medical Referee's Decision)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will inquire into the case of Mr. W. Bailey, of The Avenue, Pontycymmen, Glamorgan, whose application for release from the mining industry on health grounds, supported by an experienced medical practitioner, was overruled by the Ministry's doctor, whose decision was upheld by the Appeal Tribunal; that after about two weeks further work at the coal face Mr. Bailey became so ill that his doctor advised him to stop work; that Mr. Bailey has since died; and whether he will review the medical arrangements made by his Department to prevent similar cases arising in future?

I have received a full report on this case. The medical referee by whom Mr. Bailey was examined is a practitioner of very high standing and great experience in colliery work. The question whether he was justified in reaching the decision which he did involves difficult considerations of a medical character, and I am writing my hon. Friend more fully on this.

Rehabilitated Ex-Service Men (Employment)

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in appealing to employers to provide work for rehabilitated ex-soldiers, it is intended that they should, in return, release workpeople for the fighting Services?

No, Sir. I have not made an appeal in this form. It is, of course, always necessary for me to take account of the total staff employed by a firm and it may happen also that a rehabilitated ex-Service man is a suitable substitute for a man due to be called up; but that is a different matter altogether.


asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the shortage of thatchers for essential repairs of rural houses the local officers of the Ministry are directed to consult with the rural district councils before experienced thatchers are called for the Armed Forces?

County war agricultural executive committees are consulted before thatchers who have been identified as rural craftsmen are called up. I have no reason to think that this arrangement fails to retain the services of thatchers who are needed for essential repairs to rural houses, and I do not think the additional consultation suggested by my honourable Friend is needed. If he will send me particulars of any case that he may have in mind inquiries will be made.

Women Workers (Utilisation)

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the comprehensive comb-out that has been carried out by the Ministry of Labour in calling up young girls and middle-aged women from the shops, hotels and domestic service, he will confer with the Minister of Production so as to ensure that the factories to which this personnel may be directed are able and willing to absorb them; and whether it is now possible to have a complete overhaul of those already employed in war factories and Government offices with a view to ascertaining whether their services are still essential and that they are actively engaged?

The general demand for labour is far in excess of the supply and individual demands are as far as practicable examined by my officers before workers are supplied. I am also in constant touch with the Minister of Production and other Ministers concerned to ensure that the available labour is supplied with due regard to production priorities. The primary responsibility for the efficient use of labour rests with the employer and the Department concerned but officers of my Department are in addition constantly undertaking inspection of establishments in co-operation, where necessary, with the Department concerned. I do not think it necessary to take any further special measures at the present time. The efficient use of labour in Government offices is primarily a matter for the Treasury.

Worker's Reinstatement (Direction)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has given consideration to the resolution of the Yeading Lane branch of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, forwarded to him by the hon. Member for West Fife; and what steps he proposes to take to implement their demand for a stronger application of the Essential Work Order in the case of employers refusing to reinstate dismissed workers when directed to do so by the National Service officer?

Yes, Sir. The resolution arose out of the case with which I dealt in my reply to the hon. Member for West-houghton (Mr. Rhys Davies) on 1st December, to which I would refer my hon. Friend.

Production Capacity (Utilisation)

asked the Minister of Production, what steps he is taking in cases where factories are switching from one form of production to another to prevent the workpeople paid off having to resort to unemployment relief?

Special arrangements have been made under the auspices of my Department for the close co-operation of all Departments concerned to ensure that whenever the decision to cut production is made, arrangements are at once put in hand for the capacity or labour affected to be utilised wherever practicable upon production that is expanding.

War Reserve Constables

asked the Home Secretary (1) why War Reserve constables attached to Streatham and other police stations have been called for interview at employment exchanges to ascertain their special qualifications, in accordance with a special police Order dated 10th September, 1943, and been told by their interviewers that they are redundant to the police although the fact has never been communicated to them by their own officers;(2) why War Reserve policemen over 43 years of age, attached to Streatham and other police stations, have been called for interview to employment exchanges and told that their services are redundant and they are to be transferred to labouring or other work?

The "Special Police Order" to which my hon. Friend refers is an Order issued by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to implement the decision of the Government that arrangements should be made to provide for a further contribution by the police service to the needs of the Armed Forces and of industry. The Order, which was issued to every station for the information of all ranks, made it clear that the men concerned would be interviewed by the Ministry of Labour and National Service, and that those selected would be released for other work of national importance.

Telephone Kiosks (Coin Boxes)

asked the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the shortage of pennies, he will have the coin boxes in telephone kiosks adapted to take halfpennies?

There are more than 50,000 public call offices, and the coin boxes would need radical alterations to the mechanism before they could take halfpennies. I do not consider that this work would be justified at the present time.

Food Supplies

Copra (Price)

asked the Minister of Food what is the contract price paid by the Ministry for copra from Ceylon and the Seychelles, respectively?

The figures are £19 14s. 0d. and £18 10s 0d. per ton respectively, f.o.b. and bags included in both cases.

Farm Workers (Meals Services)

asked the Minister of Food what progress has been made with the provision of mobile canteens for the provision of meals for farm-workers; and whether any restriction is imposed on the service of those already operating under the auspices of county war agricultural executive committees?

Although arrangements have been made in some rural areas for the distribution of hot meals in insulated containers from British Restaurants, the provision of such facilities has not been found generally practicable. Encouragement has therefore been given to the organisation by local authorities, approved voluntary organisations and individuals of schemes for the supply of prepared meals such as pies, snacks and sandwiches to farm workers and other rural residents. For these meals services use is made of such transport facilities as can be arranged locally and special vehicles have not generally been found necessary. I have no information about the use for meals services of vehicles operating, as my hon. Friend suggests, under the auspices of county war agricultural executive committees.

Farmers' Potato Stocks (Payment)

asked the Minister of Food in what circumstances he is refusing to pay farmers for potatoes held by them on his behalf which, owing to delays in collection, have gone bad?

The only circumstances in which payment is withheld are when the grower is considered not to have carried out the conditions of his contract. If my hon. Friend has any particular case in mind and will supply me with particulars I will gladly have them investigated.


Repaired Houses (Reletting Or Reoccupation)

asked the Minister of Health whether he will issue instructions that owners and leaseholders of dwelling-houses who have been promised equal facilities with local authorities to repair and relet and reoccupy their houses before they are seized, will be granted a minimum period of one quarter following the executions of repairs in which to effect such reletting or reoccupation?

Local authorities have been asked, before requisitioning an unoccupied house for the accommodation of a family inadequately housed to afford the owner or tenant a reasonable opportunity of letting or re-occupying it. My right hon. Friend is not aware that this has caused any hardship to owners but would be glad to consider any cases which my hon. and gallant Friend may care to bring to his notice. I should hope, however, that an owner, save in very exceptional circumstances, would be able to secure the re-occupation of his house within a period substantially less than that mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend.

Housing Act, 1919

asked the Minister of Health what is the outstanding liability of the Government under the Housing Act, 1919?

Government Grants

asked the Minister of Health the amount of Government contributions paid in each financial year 1940–41, 1941–42 and 1942–43, under the Housing Act, 1919, the Housing Act, 1923, the Housing Act, 1924, the Housing (Rural Workers) Acts, 1926 to 1938, the Housing Act, 1936 and the Housing Act, 1938, respectively?

The amounts are as follow:

1919 Act5,756,0794,940,7174,644,563
1923 Act2,468,1342,301,1482,383,738
1924 Act3,934,5984,176,1444,068,543
1926 Act66,35160,86364,988
1936 Act2,980,5692,804,6542,745,729
1938 Act475,290521,911570,152

Repatriated Prisoners Of War (Press Arrangements)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in the case of further repatriation of our prisoners of war, he will ensure better facilities for newspaper representatives to do their work?

On the recent occasion when repatriated men arrived in this country, 94 Press representatives availed themselves of the facilities provided for them at the ports, while no less than 226 were afforded interviews with men in hospital and at depots. I do not think that Press representation on this scale can be regarded as inadequate.

Pensions Appeal Tribunal, Leeds

asked the Attorney-General when the first appeal tribunal is expected to begin to function in Yorkshire and where it will operate?

Arrangements have been made for a Pensions Appeal Tribunal to sit at Leeds on 13th December next and during the remainder of that week.

Supreme Court Fees (Order)

asked the Attorney-General why the Supreme Court Fees Order (S.R. & O., No. 1574, L. 33, of 1943), which was signed on 29th October and came into operation on 1st November, was not available in the Library until 6th November?

The King's Printer's copies of the Order were published on 6th November. I am sorry that they were not available before. By an oversight the draft of this Order had not been sent to be printed before it was due to be signed. I regret that this should have happened but I do not think any inconvenience was caused to practitioners.


Evacuated Area (Livestock)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the farming community in the villages that are to be evacuated, in order to provide a practice battle ground for United States troops, are to have their stock taken over by the Government at current prices?

It is not the intention of the Government to take over the livestock which will have to be evacuated, but my Department is arranging through the county war agricultural executive committee, in conjunction with the local representatives of the Ministry of Food, to render all possible assistance to farmers in connection with the disposal of their stock by sale, either as stores, or where appropriate to the Ministry of Food for slaughter. It is hoped that with the present demand for livestock farmers will not incur losses on sale, but if owing to exceptional circumstances over which he has no control, any individual farmer should suffer loss, he should get in touch with the officer of the Service Department concerned dealing with his case.

Rooks (Destruction)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will amend his orders on the subject of rook destruction in view of the findings of the meeting of his pest officers in Scotland that rooks in reasonable numbers do more good than harm to agriculture?

No, Sir. The purpose of the Rooks Order, 1940, is to secure the destruction of rooks only in those cases where a local excess in the rook population is prejudicial to crop production.

Returned Prisoners Of War (Livestock Keeping)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether returned prisoners of war wishing to make a livelihood by raising livestock will be assisted by being granted the necessary stock rations?

In their own interests prisoners of war and other ex-Servicemen should seek the advice and guidance of the appropriate war agricultural executive committee, before they decide to take up livestock keeping.

Farm Workers Cottages (Tenants, Selection)

asked the Minister of Agriculture the composition of housing committees entrusted with the selection of tenants for the farm-workers' cottages at present under construction?

The responsibility for the selection of tenants lies with county war agricultural executive committees, and the composition of sub-committees to deal with the matter is entirely within their discretion.

Women's Land Army

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is satisfied with the amenities and entertainment at present available to members of the Women's Land Army?

Yes, Sir. As members of the country community, Women's Land Army volunteers can take part in the activities of such village organisations as Young Farmers' Clubs and Women's Institutes. They are also eligible for the special amenities provided for transferred war workers, such as grant-aided clubs and entertainments arranged by E.N.S.A., C.E.M.A. and the Ministry of Information, while in addition there are some 600 clubs organised by the Land Army itself which plan their own recreational activities. For those members of the Land Army who work in particularly isolated areas, I am glad to say that my Department has now been able to arrange weekly transport facilities to the nearest town.

Bulls (Licensing)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, as his Department now registers bulls against a registration fee, he will consider recommending to his veterinary surgeons that, when issuing a certificate, they should advise owners regarding the best treatment of these animals?

Bulls are inspected for licence by livestock officers, who are not veterinary surgeons. In suitable cases these officers give general advice to owners on the care and feeding of bulls.

Payments To Farmers (Deductions)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that the Ministry of Food, when making payments to farmers in the capacity of agents for the Ministry of Agriculture, deducts from the payments due to farmers sums said to be due by the farmers to local agricultural executive committees; and whether, as liability for these latter payments is sometimes disputed, he will arrange for payments from the Ministry of Food to farmers to be made without deduction?

The procedure referred to is an economical and effective method of settling debts due to the county war agricultural executive committees and I see no reason for discontinuing it. If the hon. Member will let me have particulars of any cases in which liability to a committee is disputed, I will have them investigated.

Land Settlement (Ex-Service Men)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the Government have evolved any policy of settling ex-Service men generally on the land; and whether, to assist in providing a scheme, he will ask the county councils for a statement on the number of applications they have individually received and the acreage desired by applicants?

No, Sir. The question of land settlement for ex-Servicemen will fall to be considered as part of the general problem of post-war agricultural policy.

National Fire Service

asked the Home Secretary whether it is his intention to introduce a N.F.S. flag to be flown at some or all of the N.F.S. stations and to institute a daily ceremony of saluting the flag at these stations?

A National Fire Service flag has been approved and presented to the Service. The flag is flown daily at appropriate National Fire Service establishments: no instructions have yet been issued on the question of saluting the flag, but I am aware that in some National Fire Service establishments a simple ceremony is observed daily when the flag is hoisted.

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that trailer-pump teams from Streatham and other places attend on Sunday mornings for training at fire stations and on each occasion some or all of them have been soaked to the skin; and will he take immediate steps to have waterproof clothing available for the use of these middle-aged volunteers?

If my hon. Friend will give me particulars of the case I will have inquiries made and communicate with him.

Civil Defence

Invasion Committees

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the changed circumstances, he will abolish invasion committees?

No, Sir. In the Government's view it is desirable that these committees, which, if circumstances were to change, might have an important part to play, should be kept in being for the present and that their plans should be in good order. In present circumstances and in view of the stage of completion which these plans have already reached, this policy does not involve any undue demands upon the time and efforts of the members.

London Regional Staff

asked the Home Secretary the numbers of men and women under the age of 40 on the staff of the London Civil Defence Regional Commissioners now or at the latest date for which figures are available; what proportion this is of the total number employed; what reductions of both categories have been made during the last six months; and whether these reductions are in the same proportion as the reductions in the staff of his Ministry?

The latest date for which full particulars of regional staffs are readily available at the headquarters of the Ministry is 1st September, 1943. On this date there were employed in the London Civil Defence Region 91 men and 375 women under the age of 40. These figures represent 47·5 per cent. of the total staff of the Region, excluding industrials and uniformed staff dealing with National Fire Service matters. The reductions in staff under 40 years of age since the 1st March, 1943, have been 12 men and 14 women. The staff of the London Region was reduced during the six months in question by approximately 3·4 per cent. The percentage reduction for the Ministry as a whole during the same period was 2.3 per cent.

Temporary Constables (Emergency Rules)

asked the Home Secretary whether he will explain the necessity for the Temporary Constables (Emergency) Rules, 1943 (S.R. & O., 1943, No. 1527), and particularise where the new Rules differ from those revoked?

New rules were required to give effect to an undertaking which I had given to provide a right of appeal against a disciplinary award involving dismissal or reduction in rate of pay. It was thought that these and other minor changes should preferably be embodied in a revised code rather than issued as amendments to the existing Rules.

Duty (Exemptions)

asked the Home Secretary whether he will now issue instructions to exempt from duty or compulsory service all Civil Defence workers and persons covered by any fire-watching Order who can produce a medical certificate declaring that he or she is suffering from thrombosis or phlebitis?

Provision is already made for the exemption to such extent as may be necessary of persons permanently or temporarily medically unfit to perform civil defence or fireguard duties.

Public Assemblies (Alert Warnings)

asked the Home Secretary whether he will issue an Order compelling proprietors of all places of public assembly in London and the Home Counties to display a warning notice immediately an alert is sounded?

Warning notices or an oral announcement are already required in places to which the Public Entertainments (Restriction) Orders apply. I have no reason to believe that the extension of this requirement to other places where people may gather together is called for.

Fireguards (Duration Of Duty)

asked the Home Secretary whether the regulation in operation providing that firewatchers for industrial premises must be in attendance for 30 minutes prior to and after blackout time is imposed at the discretion of local authorities or whether it is incumbent under Home Office regulations?

The number of fireguards required to be available at business premises at different times is governed by the arrangements for those premises made by the occupier and approved by the appropriate authority. The period referred to by my hon. Friend is the period specified in the Order as that in which the method of reporting fires to the National Fire Service under the Fire Guard Plan is to operate.

Villages (Static Water Supplies)

asked the Home Secretary what is the policy with regard to the provision of static water supplies to villages with and without piped supplies and ponds; and what is being done to render a village, whose identity he is aware of, less liable to destruction by fires due to enemy action?

I am communicating to my hon. and gallant Friend the information for which he asks regarding the particular locality to which he has drawn my attention.

Approved Schools And Remand Homes

asked the Home Secretary what means are adopted by his Department to supervise the institutions to which delinquent and other children and juveniles may be sent by juvenile courts; are there any restrictions as to the hours to be worked by them and the form of punishments that may be imposed on them; are the persons responsible for their education or instruction qualified teachers; and what help is given to them on leaving the institution?

The institutions mainly used by juvenile courts are the schools which I approve for the purpose in accordance with the provisions of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933. These schools are subject to rules made by the Secretary of State and to close inspection by officers of my Department. The curriculum must be approved by the Chief Inspector of the Children's Branch of the Home Office and the only forms of punishment which may be used are clearly defined in the Rules. The teachers are appointed on the same qualifications as teachers in elementary schools, nearly all of them being certificated teachers, and the trade instructors have recognised technical qualifications. The managers are required to make every effort to find suitable employment, and suitable lodgings if necessary, for boys or girls leaving the schools, to provide them with a sufficient outfit and to make adequate arrangements for their aftercare. Remand Homes are provided by the local authorities and are also subject to rules made by the Secretary of State and to inspection by officers of my Department.

asked the Home Secretary "whether he will abolish the name approved school" now given to those schools to which child delinquents and children whose parents fail to effectively control them may be sent by the courts, as these children are frequently penalised in after life; will he consider calling these schools residential schools and, whilst maintaining disciplinary training, transfer the control of the schools from the Home Office to the Board of Education, thus minimising the stigma now attaching to children from approved schools and giving them a more fair chance in life?

The schools to which my hon. Friend refers used to be called "reformatory" and "industrial" schools. The term "school approved by the Secretary of State" was adopted for the purposes of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, on the strong recommendation of the Departmental Committee which enquired into the whole subject and which had in mind the same considerations as my hon. Friend. Though a generic title is necessary for statutory purposes, each school has a separate name and the high standard of success reached by their pupils does not lead me to believe that they do in fact suffer from any stigma. I am unable to accept the implications of the latter part of the Question.

Juvenile Courts

asked the Home Secretary whether any steps have been taken to instruct in their duties justices who sit in the juvenile courts?

Yes, Sir. It is the practice of the Home Office to send to juvenile court justices information about the procedure in juvenile courts, the provisions of the Children and Young Persons Act, and the methods of treatment available to juvenile courts, including in particular the probation system and education and training in approved schools. There was also sent to them in 1941, the joint memorandum on the subject of juvenile offences issued by my right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Education, and myself in 1941. Prints of the lectures bearing on their work which have been given under the auspices of the Clarke Hall Fellowship have been sent to them; and within the last few months there has been distributed a Clarke Hall Fellowship pamphlet written specially for juvenile court justices by Mr. Leo Page.With the cordial support of the justices themselves and their clerks, and often on their initiative, many conferences have been organised, with the help of the Home Office, in different areas. Recently there was held the first of a new series of conferences arranged between the Home Office and the Magistrates' Association, whose ready co-operation on this and on many other occasions I much appreciate. The Home Office is also anxious at all times to facilitate visits by justices to other juvenile courts and to schools and other institutions of which they may avail themselves. Members of the Probation Branch of the Home Office, who often have the advantage of meeting justices in the course of their duties, are always ready to help them on request with information and advice.

Young Persons (Excessive Drinking)

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the amount of excessive drinking among young persons and other social ills arising therefrom; and whether he has any proposals to counteract this growing evil?

While inquiries indicate that in some areas there may have been an increase in drinking among young people, the information before me does not provide substantial evidence of excessive drinking, or that extensive social evil is being caused. Both the police and the licensees are doing all they can according to my information to secure compliance with the Act of 1923 which prohibits the sale and supply of intoxicating liquor in bars to persons under 18; and arrangements have been made for the prominent exhibition in all licensed premises of a notice setting out in simple form the provisions of this Act.

Sir Oswald Mosley (Release)

asked the Home Secretary what period of treatment his medical advisers consider requisite for Sir Oswald Mosley before he is fit enough to return to prison?

The medical reports which I have received do not include any estimate of the length of treatment which may be needed to guard against an extension or recurrence of the condition from which Sir Oswald Mosley is suffering, and I am advised that it would be premature to express any opinion on the point. As I have explained, I shall have no hesitation in ordering immediate detention, irrespective of any medical considerations, should I come to the conclusion that the interests of national security so require.

asked the Home Secretary whether he will publish the medical opinions on which he acted in releasing Sir Oswald Mosley, that is, the opinions of the Medical Commissioner of Prisons, two prison doctors, Lord Dawson of Penn and Dr. Geoffrey Evans?

The opinions of the medical practitioners referred to were unanimous and were included in the statement made by me in Parliament on 23rd November and in my speech in yesterday's Debate and have already been published in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

asked the Home Secretary on whose representation Lord Dawson of Penn and Dr. Geoffrey Evans were brought into consultation to examine Sir Oswald Mosley; and whether he paid the fees for these consultants?

asked the Home Secretary whether the five medical men who attended Sir Oswald Mosley had their fees met by the State or were privately paid by Sir Oswald Mosley?

Lord Dawson of Penn suggested that it would be helpful if the prison medical authorities would confer with himself and Dr. Geoffrey Evans, both of whom had attended Sir Oswald Mosley as their private patient, or, alternatively, with two other doctors of equal standing. As Lord Dawson and Dr. Geoffrey Evans had already examined Sir Oswald Mosley and were accordingly in a position to judge the progress of the disease, the prison medical authorities welcomed this suggestion and decided, with my approval, to take Lord Dawson and Dr. Geoffrey Evans into consultation. The question of fees for the two consultants out of public funds has not yet been raised, so far as I am aware. No question of fees arises in the case of the prison medical authorities.

Aliens (Naturalisation)

asked the Home Secretary how many aliens have become naturalised British citizens since 3rd September, 1939; whether facilities are granted to aliens serving in His Majesty's Forces more readily than to civilians; and whether the Government's naturalisation policy is in accord with that of the Government of the United States as regards aliens serving in the armed forces of their respective countries?

Between 1st September, 1939, and 31st October, 1943, there have been 3,633 certificates granted to British born women who had lost British nationality by marriage. In addition 1,327 certificates were granted in other cases in the early months of the war before the policy of restricting naturalisation work was adopted. Since 1st September, 1940, the certificates granted to persons other than British born women have numbered only 354. The answer to the second and third parts is in the negative. There are many aliens besides those serving in the Forces who are rendering valuable service to the Allied cause. Furthermore, persons admitted as immigrants into the U.S.A. were so admitted after proper selection with a view to their becoming permanent citizens in due course whereas in this country many have been admitted for temporary refuge with a view to going elsewhere.

Prisons (Blacked-Out Accommodation)

asked the Home Secretary in how many prisons in England and Wales are evening activities impracticable because there is no large room efficiently blacked out; and whether he will take immediate action to secure that every prison has at least one such room blacked out and available for educational work?

So far as I am aware there is no prison in which educational or other activities have been hampered or prevented by lack of blacked-out accommodation, but, if my hon. Friend has information to the contrary and will let me have particulars, I will have inquiries made.

Magistrates' Courts (Expert Advice)

asked the Home Secretary whether, in regard to post-war plans, he will consider the desirability of providing a staff of qualified officers to visit magistrates courts regularly, advise them on matters of general policy and keep all courts informed of successful experiments carried out by other courts?

I am in full sympathy with my hon. Friend's desire that all magistrates' courts should be enabled to get expert advice not only on questions of law and procedure but also on all aspects of the treatment of offenders; and I understand that the Committee which is now sitting under the chairmanship of Lord Roche is likely to make some important recommendations for improving the status and qualifications of the clerks to justices. The suggestion made, in the Question would, I think, be open to objection as likely to impair or to have the appearance of impairing the principle that the courts must be independent of the executive; but it is the practice of the Home Office frequently to issue circulars and memoranda to the justices and to co-operate with the Magistrates' Association in arranging conferences in different parts of the country. Moreover, with the help of the justices the Home Office has been able in recent years greatly to strengthen the probation service and a substantial number of trained probation officers have been appointed who are familiar with modern methods of treatment.

Defence Regulation 18B (Detentions)

asked the Home Secretary how many members of the British Union of Fascists are still in detention under Order No. 18B?

asked the Home Secretary the number of persons belonging to the British Union of Fascists who are now being detained under Regulation 18B?

Of the persons who were detained under paragraph (1A) of Regulation 18B on the ground of their membership of, or activity in the furtherance of the objects of, the British Union, 29 are still in detention. In addition, 287 persons still remain in detention under other provisions of Defence Regulation 18B, some of whom were connected with the British Union.

asked the Home Secretary how many persons known to be members of the Communist Party have at any time been interned under Regulation 18B; and how many are now so interned?

Persons who have been, or are, detained under this Regulation may include some who are Communists but no person has been detained merely on the ground of membership of the Communist Party.

asked the Home Secretary whether he will now reconsider the case, details of which have been sent to him, of a lady who has been detained under 18B in Holloway prison since April, 1940, on the grounds that she had a German mother, was partly educated in Germany, and has many German friends, as several responsible British subjects have offered to supply personal guarantees for this lady's loyalty as a British subject, and her mother, who has lived for the last 50 years in England is now over 80 years of age and is in need of her daughter's company and help?

This case was already noted for review. I will inform my hon. Friend of my decision in due course.

Eire Travel Permits (Members Of Parliament)

asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the increased accommodation now provided for the transport of labourers between this country and Eire, merely on leave certificates, he still insists on an examination into the reasons why a Member of Parliament wishes to visit Eire before he will issue a permit for him to do so?

I presume my hon. Friend refers to the re-opening of a service to Eire from Fishguard. This is available to the general public, and not merely to those Irish workers temporarily in this country who obtain leave certificates, in lieu of exit permits, when visiting their homes in Ireland. All such persons would qualify for exit permits. I cannot see that this addition to the steamer service to Ireland has any bearing on the last part of my hon. Friend's Question.

Cottier Tenants, Northern Ireland (Rents)

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that proprietors of holdings in Northern Ireland, purchased under the Land Purchase Acts, are depriving cottier tenants and others, to whom they have let houses on their holdings, from benefit of the Increase of Rent Acts by claiming that the lettings they made are made void by Section 30 of the Irish Land Act, 1925; and will he take steps to have this Section so amended as to prevent large numbers from being ejected from their residences without any default on their part?

This matter has already been receiving the attention of the Northern Ireland authorities, with whom I am in consultation on the question of what is the most appropriate and effective method of amending the law.

Refugees (Visas)

asked the Home Secretary whether the three new categories of refugees announced on 19th May to be eligible for special consideration for visas were officially made known to the diplomatic and consular representatives of His Majesty's Government abroad; and whether he will call the attention of these representatives to these categories, seeing that they have so far resulted in the issue of only 52 visas, and there is reason to believe that some of these representatives abroad are not aware of, or ignoring them?

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. As regards the rest, I have no information substantiating the statement made by my hon. Friend, and if he is aware of any case showing that His Majesty's representatives abroad are not aware of, or are ignoring, the new categories, I shall be very ready to inquire into the matter, in consultation with my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Applications for visas under the first and third of the new categories would normally be made not abroad but in this country by, or on behalf of, the children who are here and whose parents desire to join them.

Corporal Punishment Sentences

asked the Home Secretary whether he can present a Report to the House as to the number of magistrates courts which have ordered the birching of children during the past year; and will he present a list of those courts to the House?

The orders made by magistrates' courts when dealing with young offenders, including orders for birching, were in peace-time classified by police districts in the annual volume of criminal statistics, but the publication of these statistics has been suspended during the war. I will inquire whether the information asked for by my hon. Friend can be given for the year 1942.

asked the Home Secretary whether he is contemplating the early abolition of the birching of children either by an Order in Council or by legislation?

The abolition of the power of magistrates courts to order boys to be birched would require legislation. A provision to this effect was included in the Children and Young Persons Bill, 1932, and though it was passed in this House without a Division it proved unacceptable in another place. In 1938 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 boys charged before juvenile courts, and my information is that it is not used by the more experienced juvenile courts. Whether legislation to abolish the power would be practicable at present is not a matter on which I am in a position to make a statement, and all I can say is that I have noted my hon. Friend's suggestion.

asked the Home Secretary the number of sentences of corporal punishment imposed on adults for the year 1942 and-for the first six months of 1943?

Forty-one persons were sentenced in 1942 by courts of assize or quarter sessions to receive corporal punishment. The figures for the first six months of 1943 are not yet complete, but such returns as are available show that 16 persons were sentenced by courts of assize and quarter sessions to receive corporal punishment during this period.

Prisoners (Outside Employment)

asked the Home Secretary what is the daily average number of men and women prisoners, respectively, who, during the last 12 months for which statistics are conveniently available, have been employed on farms or in timber-yards or with other outside employers; what proportion of officers to prisoners is used for guarding prisoners so employed; in what prisons or institutions such prisoners were resident; whether any such prisoners and, if so, how many have absconded; and whether he will take active steps to develop this successful experiment as one means of dealing with staff shortage?

I regret that statistics in the form asked for are not available and in view of the seasonal variations in outside work they would present a misleading picture. On a recent date 914 prisoners and Borstal inmates were so employed. Of these, 197 Borstal inmates working at neighbouring farms were not supervised by Borstal officers. The remaining 717, including three parties of Borstal inmates, worked in supervised parties containing approximately 20 prisoners to each officer. Prisoners have been so employed at 21 prisons and six Borstal institutions, representing three-quarters of the establishments for male prisoners. It has not been possible to arrange for women prisoners to be so employed. Ten prisoners have escaped while working in these parties; figures are not immediately available of the number of Borstal inmates who have absconded while employed on outside work. The experiment has been most successful and every effort is being made to extend it in the interests of the prisoners. It has not been found in practice to be of any material assistance in dealing with the problem of the shortage of prison staffs.

Police Powers And Duties

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to a case heard at the North London police court on 16th November when a registered medical practitioner was accused by the police of false certification and it was proved, in evidence, that the police had used agents provocateurs in supporting their charge which was dismissed with costs against the police by the magistrate; and whether he will take steps to prevent any repetition of this procedure?

Percentage of Shifts lost by Wage-earners at the Coal Face.Percentage of Shifts lost by all Wage-earners.
Period 1st January to 31st October, 19436.038.8014.834.827.2812.10

Widow's Pensions And Allowances

asked the Minister of Health why Mrs. F. A. Fountain and her children have not received any pensions for months past following the death of her husband while serving in His Majesty's Forces; and whether he will direct some payment to be made forthwith?

I am glad to be able to inform my hon. Friend that the documents necessary to enable Mrs. Fountain to obtain payment of her pension and allowances, including arrears, have now been issued.

Coal Industry


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is now in a position to give for the period 1st January to 31st October the percentage of shifts lost by coalface wage-earners and by all wage-earners, respectively, giving separate figures for voluntary and involuntary absence?

Information regarding the number of shifts worked each week by wage-earners employed at the coalface was not collected prior to the establishment of my Ministry and is consequently not available in respect of the years 1940, 1941 and 1942. The figures for the first three-quarters of the year 1943 and for the four weeks ended 30th October, 1943, are as follow:

Average number of shifts worked per wage-earner per week employed at the coal face.
District.Jan.-March, 1943.April-June, 1943.July-Sept., 1943.Jan.-Sept., 1943.4 weeks ended 30th October, 1943.
S. Wales and Mon.4.954.714.494.724.89
N. Derbyshire4.834.604.454.634.82
S. Derbyshire5.365.
Cannock Chase4.954.694.734.794.97
Lanes, and Cheshire5.224.894.684.935.17
North Staffs.4.564.294.044.304.33
North Wales5.004.834.524.794.87
South Staffs.4.644.404.454.504.63
Forest of Dean4.784.564.314.554.81


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the output of saleable coal per manshift worked for the three months ended 30th September, 1943, and also for the month of October, 1943?

The average output of saleable coal per manshift worked during the three months ended 30th September, 1943, was 1.02 tons and during the four weeks ended 30th October, 1943, it was 1.04 tons.

Royal Navy (Vaccinations)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in the event of vaccination of the personnel of the Royal Navy being unsuccessful, the fact is recorded; and how many such unsuccessful vaccinations have been recorded since the outbreak of the war?

The results of all vaccinations whether successful or otherwise are recorded in the medical history sheets of the personnel vaccinated. Owing to shortage of staff and other difficulties, however, I regret that analysed figures are not available for periods subsequent to the outbreak of war.