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Written Answers

Volume 402: debated on Wednesday 21 June 1944

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Written Answers To Questions

Flying Bomb Attacks (Evacuees, Billeting)

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the major problem of billeting in many areas is that of the mothers accompanying the children; and whether in some cases temporary separation can be suggested.

Yes, Sir. I am aware that the billeting of mothers and children, especially where the families are large, is a much more difficult matter than the billeting of unaccompanied children. In some cases separation of members of the family may be inevitable, but I am taking measures to secure as much accommodation as possible of a kind suited to the large family so that the breaking up of families may be kept to a minimum.—

Expectation Of Life (Women)

asked the Minister of Health what is the expectancy of life for a spinster at the age of 55 and for a married woman at the age of 55, respectively.

On the basis of the most recent English Life Tables, which were Compiled in connection with the 1931 census of England and Wales, the conventional "expectation of life" at the age of 55 is about 20½ years for a single woman and about one-quarter of a year less for a married woman. There has since been an improvement in the longevity of the population, but information as to the distribution of the population is not available in sufficient detail to enable corresponding figures to the foregoing to be given on the basis of current mortality.—

Income Tax (Government Employees Abroad)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that non-established Government employees working abroad are deemed not to hold public offices or employment of a public nature for profit and are thereby held not to come within the scope of British Income Tax law for payment of Income Tax; and whether he will consider putting on an equal footing all Service personnel serving abroad in His Majesty's Forces, including those who are held as prisoners of war by the Axis Powers.

I cannot agree that the taxation treatment of certain temporary employees abroad would warrant any alteration of the general Income Tax rule under which all Crown employees receiving payment out of the public funds are liable to tax irrespective of where they are serving.

Practice Gunfire (Damage, Compensation)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether structural damage to houses caused by heavy fire from large adjacent guns, has been held by the regulations of the War Damage Commission to be a fit subject for compensation.

The definition of "war damage" is contained not in Regulations made by the War Damage Commission but in the War Damage Act, 1943, itself (see Section 27). Under this definition, damage to land and buildings caused by the firing of guns in action against the enemy is war damage, in respect of which claims should be made against the War Damage Commission; but damage caused by guns fired for training or testing purposes is not war damage, and claims for such damage are considered on an exgratia basis by the War Department Claims Commission.—

Gibraltar (Air Mail Service)

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that letters from Scotland to Service men in Gibraltar are taking up to eight weeks to reach their destination; and if he can improve conditions.

The longer time taken in recent weeks for letters to reach Gibraltar was due mainly to the suspension as a security measure of the air mail service, necessitating the transmission of all the correspondence by surface route. Not only correspondence from Scotland but from the whole of the United Kingdom was affected. I am glad to say that the air mail service has now been restored and announcements to that effect were made through the Press and the B.B.C. on 14th July.—

Civil Defence Committees (Arp Controllers)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied that all local authorities concerned have now accepted his advice that the local A.R.P. controller shall not be the chairman or a member of the Civil Defence Committee.

In accordance with the circular local authorities affected are in consultation with Regional Commissioners in a number of cases of the kind to which my hon. Friend refers. Each case of difficulty is considered on its merits, and I have no reason to doubt that a reasonable degree of conformity with the terms of the circular will be achieved.

Main Road (Closing)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he can give the reason for the closing of the main road, of which he has been informed; and if he is aware that this is causing considerable inconvenience to traffic engaged on essential war work.

I have made inquiry and find that the closing of the road to which my hon. Friend refers is a temporary measure pending consideration by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air of an application for an Order under No. 16 of the Defence (General) Regulations. The needs of essential traffic will, I am assured by my right hon. Friend, be taken fully into account before any such Order is made.

Coalmines Ballotees (Alternative)

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the shortage of labour for house repairing, he will allow ballotees for coalmining the alternative of the building industry.

No, Sir, I cannot see my way to alter the existing arrangements as suggested.

Whisky Distillation

asked the Minister of Food whether he has yet come to any decision with regard to the resumption of the distillation of whisky.

Enemy Oil Supplies (Losses)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare whether he can give an estimate of the reduction in Germany's supplies of minerals and synthetic oil, respectively, resulting from British and U.S.A. air attacks on oil refineries and other oil installations in Germany, German occupied and satellite territories.

The low level attack of August, 1943, on Ploesti, apart from inflicting an immediate loss of output on the enemy, had an important long-term effect in eliminating all the spare refinery capacity then existing in Roumania, and so left no reserve which the enemy could call into operation in order to offset losses inflicted in further attacks. Hence an immediate effect on the enemy's oil supplies from Roumania was produced when the attack on Ploesti was resumed in April. The attack in strength on the Axis oil industry has since been extended in a series of co-ordinated operations against synthetic plants and refineries in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Jugoslavia, France and Northern Italy.It is estimated that as a result of these attacks, German synthetic oil production was reduced by 50 per cent. in June, and that the output of refined products from crude petroleum by Germany and her satellites declined by 40 per cent. in June. So great was the damage to refineries that the combined crude oil production of Germany, Austria, Hungary and Roumania was considerably in excess of the refinery capacity available, with the result that a substantial part of the production of the wells had to be shut down. The reduction in total Axis oil supplies from all sources is estimated to have amounted to 25 per cent. in May and to 40 per cent. in June. Moreover, the distribution of the production which remains to the enemy has been rendered increasingly difficult and precarious by attacks on his communications and especially by the sowing of mines in the Danube and by the constant harrying of his transport and dumps behind the battlefronts in Normandy and Italy.