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Written Answers

Volume 409: debated on Wednesday 11 April 1945

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Written Answers To Questions


Building Trade Workers

asked the Prime Minister if special arrangements have been made to release from His Majesty's Forces as soon as possible men who are able to render useful service in the building industry.

I have been asked to reply. Yes, Sir. After the defeat of Germany men will be released from the Forces out of the normal age and service order under the class B procedure to augment the labour force for building houses.

Women Teachers

asked the. Minister of Labour if, at the cessation of hostilities in Europe, any priority of release from the Services will be granted to women who had already begun their training as teachers prior to joining the Forces.

The application of the provision for the release on an individual basis of a limited number of men and women from the Forces in advance of their normal age and service order is under active consideration, but I am not at present in a position to make a statement about the particular class of women referred to.

Emigration (Government Policy)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs when a comprehensive statement will be made on emigration; and whether a White Paper will be issued.

As the House is aware, this matter is under active consideration and consultations are still in progress. It will not, therefore, be possible to make a statement until these consultations have been concluded. My Noble Friend is not yet able to judge whether such a statement could most conveniently take the form of a White Paper.

British Army

Colonial Personnel

asked the Secretary of State for War the approximate number of natives recruited for service in Colonial regiments and serving in non-Colonial regiments; and whether he has yet conferred either with the War Office or the Governors and Councils of any of the Colonies respecting the abolition or reduction of penalties of whipping for offences against military discipline.

In answer to the first part of the Question I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend to my hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. R. J. Taylor) on 17th November, and in answer to the second the position is as stated by my right hon. Friend in his answer to my hon. Friend on 24th October.

Discharged Soldiers (Paid Leave)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to announce what decisions have been reached with regard to the granting of paid leave to soldiers discharged under King's Regulations, paragraph 390 (XVIII) (g).

British Prisoners Of War

asked the Secretary of State for War how many British prisoners of war have been liberated by the Allied advance on the Western Front; and of the names of how many of these men the relations have been notified.

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply I gave a number of hon. Members yesterday.

Bulgaria (Allied Control Commission)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why restrictions in the free movement of British members of the Allied Control Commission in Bulgaria have been imposed; and whether he will have them removed.

The Soviet Government informed us some time ago that inasmuch as Bulgaria then constituted the rear of the Red Army the Soviet Command was obliged to place certain restrictions of movement in Bulgarian territory and to lay down the necessary rules to this effect. Representations to secure the removal of these restrictions in so far as British members of the Allied Control Commission are concerned are at present being made to the Soviet Government.

War Criminals

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether action has been concerted among the United Nations to ensure the custody and punishment of the leading Nazi personalities, such as Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Himmler and Ribbentrop, after their capture, and to warn neutral countries that the granting of asylum to any or all of these criminals will be treated as an unfriendly act.

The Declaration on German Atrocities made at Moscow on 1st November, 1943, by the Prime Minister, President Roosevelt and Marshal Stalin laid down that the major enemy criminals whose offences had no particular geographical localisation would be punished by a joint decision of the Governments of the Allies. I cannot at this stage disclose the form which that decision will take. As regards the second part of the Question, neutral Governments have been warned that we should regard the grant of shelter or assistance to war criminals as a violation of the principles for which the United Nations are fighting. I have no doubt that neutral Governments are fully aware of the serious view which the Allies would take if war criminals were given asylum in neutral territory.

Spain (Relations With Japan)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make it clear to the Spanish Government that a declaration of war at this stage against Japan to enable Spain to gain favour with the United Nations would not be acceptable to His Majesty's Government.

Whether or not to declare war against Japan is a matter entirely for the Spanish Government. His Majesty's Government have no intention of attempting to influence their decision, nor is their attitude towards General Franco's Government likely to be affected by this decision.

Cyprus (Work Schemes, Wages)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Government of Cyprus has refused to permit the municipality of Limassol to employ workers at municipal rates on work schemes started as a result of a Government grant and insists on Government rates being paid instead; and whether, in view of the fact that the municipal rates are no more than sufficient for maintenance, he will procure that the Government permits them to be paid.

The position is as stated in the first part of the Question. It would not be appropriate to pay wages for works financed by Government grants at rates in excess of those applicable to Govern- ment works, nor can the latter rates be regarded as inadequate. As my right hon. Friend explained in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers) on 4th October last, the wage rates payable by Government were the subject of a special inquiry last year, as the result of which a number of improvements were effected.

Uganda (Cotton Fund)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the amount of the Cotton Fund in Uganda; what decision has been reached as to the disposal of this fund; and whether he is prepared to ensure that a major portion thereof is devoted to further economic development of that territory.

At the end of 1944 the fund amounted to approximately 3,000,000. No decision has yet been taken as to the disposal of the fund, but it can be taken that a substantial portion is likely to be devoted to economic development.

British African Territories (Co-Operation)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in consonance with the repeated wishes of non-officials, leaders and bodies in the territories concerned, he will take the opportunity of the arrival in this country of the Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa to consult with him on the possibility of convening, at an early date, somewhere in Africa, a conference of British African States, including the Seychelles and Mauritius, and official and non-official representatives to discuss political, social, economic and scientific problems common to all.

His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are anxious to secure the closest co-operation between the various African countries on matters of common interest. So far as they are concerned, they consider that this, under present circumstances, can best be achieved by conferences on specific subjects, such as the recent most successful Civil Aviation Conference at Cape Town, which was attended by unofficials from the East and Central African Territories as well as by Governors.

Paper Allocation

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the difficulty of purchasing the works of Shakespeare; and if he will take steps to release enough paper so that adequate supplies of his works are available.

It is open to any publisher to apply for an allocation of paper from the Board of Trade special reserve. Such an allocation was, in fact, made last December to the Oxford University Press for an edition of Shakespeare's complete works.

Housing (Liverpool)

asked the Minister of Health (1) if he is aware that Liverpool Housing Committee wish in place of Government's narrow frontage plan to use labour and material to complete 939 flats commenced in 1939; and if he is prepared to give this sanction;(2) if he is prepared to sanction the completion of all houses and flats upon which work has been commenced in Liverpool.

My right hon. Friend is ready to consider proposals made to him by local authorities for the completion of houses and flats. He has under urgent consideration the particular application to which my hon. Friend refers in his first Question.

Probate Registries (Good Friday Work)

asked the Attorney-General how many members of the public visited the principal Probate Registry and its subordinate offices on Good Friday.

Sixty-three members of the public visited the various District Probate Registries (26) on Good Friday. In London, there is no record of the exact number of persons who visited the Personal Applications Department of the Principal Probate Registry, but there were 13 new applications and 27 second attendances which, I am advised, would involve the appearance of approximately 80 people, I would point out that the number of persons who visit these Registries is no indication of the work done. Most of the Registries reported that Good Friday had been a busy day and that the mail had been heavy. In one District Registry, where no applicants appeared in person, 20 new applications were received by post.

Post Office

France (Mail Service)

asked the Postmaster-General why letters between Paris and London frequently take over a fortnight whereas newspapers to Paris for sale there only take one day.

The time of transmission of mails between Paris and London is normally less than one day. The interval between posting and delivery may be extended by adverse transport conditions in France and by the operations of Censorship, neither of which apply in the same degree to newspapers sent in bulk.

Members Of Parliament (Correspondence)

asked the Postmaster-General if he will state in detail which classes of correspondence to and from Members of Parliament do not require stamping; and for which classes they should pay.

Letters from Ministers and their Departments on the official business of those Departments, and letters to Ministers and Departments enclosed in envelopes bearing the "Official Paid" medallion do not require stamps. All other letters to and from Members should be pre-paid.

British West Indies

Shipping Services

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is satisfied that plans have been made for adequate and regular passenger and freight services with refrigerated space to be provided by British shipping lines between the United Kingdom and the West Indies and British Guiana as soon as practicable after the cessation of hostilities.

I recognise the importance of providing the services such as those to which my hon. Friend refers, and I am satisfied that the shipping lines concerned are fully alive to the desirability of proceeding with services such as those to which he refers so soon as the circumstances permit.

Ottawa Agreement

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware of the anxiety in the British West Indian Colonies, British Guiana and British Honduras, that an abrogation or modification of the Ottawa Agreement may be made without consultation with the Colonial Governments; and will he give an assurance that no such action will be taken without consultation with the Colonial Governments.

I have had no recent indication of anxiety on this subject from the Colonies mentioned, but I will as in the past continue to consult Colonial Governments as fully as possible whenever their interests may be affected by commercial treaties.

Rumania (General Radescu)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the present position with regard to General Radescu in Bucharest.

General Radescu is in the residence of the British Political Representative. His Majesty's Government are discussing his disposal with the Soviet and Rumanian Governments.

Irish Medical Practitioners (Entry Visa)

asked the Minister of Health if he will investigate a case, details of which have been submitted to him, in which an overworked doctor in Cornwall had engaged as an assistant an Irish medical practitioner invalided out of the R.A.F. medical service, who is now prevented from coming to England to take up his appointment.

I am informed that the grant of an entry visa has now been authorised, to enable the Irish practitioner to take up the appointment referred to by my hon. Friend.

Income Tax Bill

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is intended to apply Part II of the Income Tax Bill to new expenditure on equipment and fixtures, such as canteen equipment, wash basins, or ventilating or lighting plant, installed to promote the welfare of industrial workers.

Yes, Sir. Such equipment and fixtures raas plant, and ex- penditure not admitted as a revenue outgoing which is incurred after 5th April, 1944, on the provision of such equipment and fixtures will accordingly qualify for the initial allowance of 20 per cent. under Clause 12 of the Bill. The balance of such capital expenditure will qualify for writing-off by annual wear and tear allowances at a suitable rate.

Uncertificated Teachers (Salary Scales)

asked the Minister of Education whether he is aware that the promise of benefit from the Burnham scales to uncertificated teachers with more than 20 years service who now become classified as certificated teachers is belied as, in an example submitted to him of an uncertificated teacher with 22 years experience now earning £270 but due to retire under age-limit in seven years and whose increment of £12 for every three years of service over 20 years would in effect make a very small addition to the income she will receive before her retirement is due.

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave on this point to the hon. Member for Newton (Sir R. Young) on 29th March, a copy of which I am sending him.

Flour Confectionery (Prices)

asked the Minister of Food if he will amplify paragraph 3 of the Explanatory Note to the Emergency Powers (Defence) Food (Flour Confectionery) Order (S.R. & O., No. 268, of 1945), which makes it no longer an offence to buy, though still an offence to sell, flour confectionery at above the maximum price; and what steps he proposes to take to restrain agents provocateurs who may induce sellers to commit an offence.

The maximum price of certain classes of flour confectionery is calculated by reference to the costs of the ingredients, which the purchaser could not know. The Order was therefore amended so as to protect the purchaser from breaking the law by an inadvertent over-payment. I am not clear what my hon. Friend intends by the last part of his Question.