House Of Commons
Tuesday, 4th December, 1945
The House met at a Quarter past Two o'Clock
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
Oral Answers To Questions
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if his attention has been drawn to the achievement of Professor Vladimir Zobolofsky, President of the Ukrainian Academy of Architecture, in the manufacture of china building bricks whereby 96,000 houses had been built in one year; and if he will consider similar plans to secure the same achievement for Scotland.
On the information presently before me I am satisfied that this method of building is not one which could be adopted in Scotland, but perhaps the hon. Member would let me have any further details in his possession.
Is the Under-Secrctary of State aware that in an official document from the Russian Embassy delivered to me at this House particulars were given of this great Soviet achievement?
So far as we have examined it, we are not satisfied that this method is suitable for Scotland, but if the hon. Member has any further information I will be pleased to examine it.
Will the Minister assure us that he will take full cognisance of all the political associations of the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling)?
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many houses have been completed in Glasgow since 1st June, 1945; and how many have been started.
Since 1st June, 1945, 239 permanent and 67 temporary houses have been completed. The numbers now under construction are 647 permanent and 164 temporary. Those started since 1st June, including some houses which have been completed, number 351 permanent and 212 temporary.
May I ask the Minister whether the houses he designates as completed are in fact occupied?
"Completed" means that so far as temporary houses are concerned we have completed our work and handed them over to the local authority. With regard to permanent houses, I anticipate that they will all be occupied.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of houses in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright reconditioned under the Rural Housing Acts.
At 30th June, 1945, the latest date for which figures are available, 1,025 houses had been reconditioned under these Acts in the Stewartry.
Is the Minister not now impressed by the fact that the deleterious effect of the Government of which he is a distinguished Member is bound to have effect in discontinuing rural housing in the Stewartry?
It all depends upon the angle from which you look at this; for instance, if you found out that 119 were reconditioned by owner-occupiers, the total grant being £10,430, and 906 by the landlords, who were getting £84,000, that might alter the hon. Member's view.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the number of serviced sites for temporary houses in the Burgh of Motherwell and Wishaw; the number of temporary houses supplied to date; and the estimated rate of future delivery.
There are serviced sites for 206 temporary houses in the Burgh; 56 temporary houses are under construction and 43 additional houses have been delivered to the site. For the sites already serviced, it is estimated that deliveries will be made at the rate of 20 houses per week.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that the employment of large numbers of workmen on the sub-dividing of large private houses is preventing the corporation of Edinburgh from completing the work on municipal housing schemes; if he is satisfied with the way in which licences are granted in Edinburgh for private building; and if he will make a statement.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that licences continue to be freely given in Edinburgh for houses for sale and for garages, whilst labour is unavailable for the purpose of building houses to let; and will he take steps to remedy this position.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that large derequisitioned houses in Edinburgh are being sold and sub-divided into flats for sale at speculative prices; that plenty of labour is available for this work whilst labour cannot be obtained to erect corporation houses; and will he take steps to ensure that the Government's policy for houses to let is implemented.
I am informed that licences for the sub-division of 53 large houses and for the provision of five garages in Edinburgh have been granted by the corporation and that work has not yet been begun on about 400 new-houses for which tenders have been approved. I have accordingly at once asked the corporation to consider the suspension or reduction of the licensing of works of sub-division until better progress has been achieved with their own housing schemes.
Is the Minister aware that there are 146 houses at present under construction which are being held up because of the lack of plasterers?
:As the hon. Member has heard from my answer, I have asked Edinburgh to reconsider this matter with a view to seeing if some of the labour cannot get on with the housing scheme.
Is the Minister aware that sub-divided houses are being made to sell at prices between £2,000 and £3,000, and that this seems to be directly against the aim of the Government, which is to obtain houses at a cost of £1,200 and produce houses for less?
Will the Minister take steps to implement the last part of my Question; will he take steps to remedy this?
The position is that Edinburgh Corporation, which is the licensing authority at the present time, has been written to asking it to reconsider the matter. We had better await Edinburgh's reply before we can consider what further action we can take.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, in the winter season particularly, in Scotland he will get more housing accommodation made available by the sub-division of existing houses than the erection of new houses, and will the Minister further that policy?
I will only say that. I think that good progress has been made in Scotland, in certain parts, particularly in permanent housing, and I hope that Edinburgh will not lag in that particular matter.
In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter again.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the latest available figures of the total number of dwelling houses made available by requisitioning in Edinburgh and Glasgow, respectively.
Up to 30th November, 34 houses had been requisitioned in Edinburgh for conversion into 55 separate dwellings. The corresponding figures for Glasgow are 198 and 575 respectively.
Will my hon. Friend examine the situation as revealed by these figures, and take all possible steps to ensure that the Edinburgh Corporation uses its vast powers of requisitioning to provide houses for the people instead of providing them for speculative builders?
My hon. Friend can take it that as far as we at the Scottish Office are concerned, every encouragement is being given to Edinburgh to requisition for the purpose of private dwelling houses.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on how -many permanent houses has building construction actually been commenced in Renfrewshire, Ayrshire and Dumbartonshire, respectively, since 1st August last.
The numbers of permanent houses begun since 1st August in the. Landward and Burghal areas of Renfrewshire, Ayrshire and Dumbartonshire are 158, 148 and 79 respectively.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in view of the raising of the school-leaving age to 15 years, he is prepared to give partly-built schools equal priority for completion with the first large-scale housing schemes; to ensure that any prefabricated huts required to accommodate the additional school population shall be specially designed for educational purposes; and to replace these huts within a stated period of time by permanent buildings.
Until the provision of houses more closely approximates to the demand I cannot see my way to give equal priority to the completion of school buildings, but I shall do my best to facilitate their completion as far as the supply of labour and materials permits. It is impossible to provide the accommodation required for the raising of the school leaving age on 1st April, 1947, without using prefabricated huts now available, as specially designed huts could not be planned and constructed in the time. It is intended to replace the prefabricated huts as soon as labour and materials are available for permanent building, but I am unable at present to say when this will be.
So far as sites, structure, layout and furnishings of these temporary buildings are concerned, will they conform to the very best trends in modern educational requirements?
Local Authorities (Block Grants)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the amount of the extra supplementation of grant payable to the Burgh of Motherwell and Wishaw under the new formula; the amount which would have been payable under the formula used in calculating the block grant; the amount payable to the city of Edinburgh under the new formula; and the amount which would have been payable under the old formula.
As the answer involves a number of figures, I propose, with my hon. Friend's permission, to circulate it in the Official Report.
Following is the answer:
The amount of the new money proposed to be paid under the Bill to Edinburgh and to Motherwell and Wishaw is:
|Motherwell and Wishaw.||15,427||16,970||18,512|
If the whole of the new money were distributed on the basis of the weighted population used for the distribution of the present block grant, the figures would be:
|Motherwell and Wishaw.||22,928||25,221||27,514|
The weighted population used for the distribution of part of the existing grant was calculated by reference to the circumstances of the year 1935–36; and, as it is heavily weighted for unemployment, it is now somewhat out of date in respect of industrial areas. The basis of distribution of the new money is generally in accordance with the views of the Associations of Local Authorities concerned.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the pre-war offer by the Department of Agriculture to the Ross-shire County Council of a 75 per cent. grant towards construction of the proposed pier at Portnaguran, Isle of Lewis, is now available, or will be renewed at the earliest date, in view of the importance of this project to the restoration of the island's fishing industry.
The prewar offer was for a grant of 75 per cent of the cost of the construction of a harbour at Portnaguran subject to a maximum of £10,500. As a similar harbour now would cost: a very much larger sum a renewal of the former offer would not meet. the case. The possibility of revising the plan with a view to reducing costs is being examined.
Do I understand from the Under-Secretary that the offer of the previous Tory Government is far more generous than that of the present Government?
I said that it will be understood that a 75 percent. grant of the former cost will not now meet the case.
Because it was too much?
No, not enough.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the hardship endured by crofters in the Outer Hebrides and by their wives because of the increasingly long distances over which they have to carry their peat fuel on their backs, because of the exhaustion of the nearer peat banks; and if the Department of Agriculture will take steps to have the peat roads extended and widened for the motor transport of peat.
I appreciate that as nearer peat banks become exhausted it is more arduous for crofters to transport their peat supply. So far as estates owned by the State are concerned, assistance has been given towards the construction of peat roads in a number of cases, and any further applications for this purpose will have sympathetic consideration. My right hon. Friend has now power, however, to assist in extending and widening peat roads on private estates.
In view of the fact that no particular authority seems to have any funds at its disposal for this purpose, will the Under-Secretary undertake to consult the Ministries to see whether any powers can be acquired?
I will undertake to inquire of the other Ministries, but some of these roads are on private estates, and I am not so sure we have power to intervene there.
Is it not very simple for the Minister to requisition private estates?
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether special consultations on specifically Hebridean questions have taken place between him and the Minister of War Transport in recent weeks; and if they have developed a co-ordinated scheme of road construction work embracing roads serving Department of Agriculture estates, as well as county highways, in view of the need of improved transport for all island developments.
My right hon. Friend has had no special consultations with the Minister of War Transport on specifically Hebridean questions in recent weeks, but the two Departments are in frequent touch on these matters. The planning and construction of public roads other than trunk roads, however, is a matter for the county councils.
In view of the complete failure of the Tory county councils in Inverness-shire in the past to undertake their obligations, will some action be taken by the Department acting jointly with the other Departments?
It may be that some action will be taken by the electors in this particular area today.
Education Authorities (Statistics)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in view of the fact that many of the statistical demands of his department on the education authorities relating, particularly, to the schools, were modified during the war, he will see that no return is made to the pre-war practice, but will ensure that the statistical requirements of his department are kept at a minimum, so far as schools are concerned.
My right hon. Friend has always sought to avoid asking for any statistical returns not essential for purposes of administration. The important educational developments which will take place in the coming years make it more than ever necessary to have full and accurate information on matters relating to the schools. I fear, therefore, that it is not possible to give an undertaking that none of the statistical returns with which it has been possible to dispense under war conditions will be reintroduced. I will see, however, that the point made by my hon. Friend with which I am in complete sympathy, is borne in mind.
Fishing Industry, Aberdeen
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many fishing vessels were, during the last three months, diverted from the port of Aberdeen and with what tonnage of fish; why these diversions occurred; and what steps he is taking to prevent loss of this kind the city of Aberdeen in future.
During the past three months 29,300 tons of fish were landed at Aberdeen as compared with 21,950 tons in the corresponding period in 1938. No diversion of fishing vessels from Aberdeen to other landing ports has been instructed. I am informed that during the past three months not more than 12 vessels, with a total catch of 633 tons, representing about 2 per cent of the total landings, proceeded to other British ports to land their catches because the persons in charge of the vessels considered that they could be unloaded sooner at these other ports. The Regional Port Director for Scotland has recently inquired into the facilities for handling catches at Aberdeen, and his report, in which recommendations are made with regard to labour and other facilities, has been accepted by the industry.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what delays have occurred during the last month in discharging fish arriving in the port of Aberdeen; how many vessels and what quantity of fish were involved; how much fish was thereby wasted; and what were the causes of these delays and wastages, respectively.
I am informed that on eight days in November, when very heavy catches were brought in, out of I70 vessels with an aggregate catch of 4,500 tons, a total of 28 vessels, with an aggregate catch of 8I6 tons, were unable owing to the high level of landings to discharge for the first sale after arrival. I understand that all these vessels were discharged in time for the following day's sale, and that no waste of fish was involved.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what average quantity of fish was, during the last month, landed daily at Aberdeen Harbour; and whether he is satisfied that adequate gear and other facilities are avail able there to discharge promptly all the fish as it arrives in harbour.
The average quantity of fish landed at Aberdeen daily during November was 350 tons, as compared with 240 tons in November, 1938. As I have already stated, recommendations made by the Regional Port Director for Scotland with regard to the facilities available have recently been accepted by the industry.
Would the Under-Secretary answer the part of the Question dealing with gear, and state whether he is satisfied that adequate gear and other facilities are available to discharge fish as it arrives in harbour?
I think that point is covered in the report to which I have just referred.
Sutherland (County Clerk)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the discontent in the North-East of Scotland over the unusual method of appointment to the office of county clerk adopted by the Sutherland County Council; and will he take steps to ensure that future appointments are made on merits after open competition.
The appointment of a county clerk is under statute a matter for the county council, and my right hon. Friend has no jurisdiction in regard to it. I understand, however, that the appointment referred to was made by the county council in the normal way at a meeting held after the vacancy had been publicly advertised and applications invited for the post.
Is my hon. Friend aware that in the advertisement to which he referred there was no mention whatever of any previous qualification for so important and specialised an appointment, and that the person appointed was entirely devoid of any previous experience? Can he suggest no remedy to this sort of thing?
I am afraid that is a matter for the local authority and, of course, the matter is in the hands of the local electors.
Youth Advisory Committee (Report)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the national importance of the matters dealt with and the valuable suggestions contained in the Report of the Scottish Youth Advisory Committee on the News of Youth in these Times, published by his predecessor on 11th May, 1945, at Is. 6d., he will consider, in consultation with the Minister of Education, jointly publishing copies of such Report either free or at a lower price, and their circulation free of charge to all statutory and voluntary bodies interested.
Copies of this report have already been issued free of charge to all education authorities and national youth organisations in Scotland. The question whether a similar free issue should be made in England and Wales, is primarily a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education. The report has already been put on sale by the Stationery Office in England and Wales as well as in Scotland.
Will the Under-Secretary take steps to make this valuable publication into a Parliamentary Paper?
I will have that suggestion looked into.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of his circular letter dated 27th October, 1945, to local authorities intimating postponement until 31st March, 1946, of the date for receiving applications for grants under the Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Act, 1944, he will consider and approve or disapprove each scheme as soon as possible after it is submitted and will give an undertaking that all schemes so approved will receive a grant under the Act.
My right hon. Friend is prepared to consider water schemes as they come in from the local authorities, but until he can see the complete picture as reflected in the proposals of local authorities as a whole he is, I am afraid, not in a position to determine the rate of grant for each approved scheme.
:Does the hon. Gentleman realise that this will seriously postpone putting into effect a number of schemes unless local authorities have some idea of the extent to which the Treasury will contribute?
We take the view that we cannot make a grant in respect of one scheme and give different treatment in the case of another one which may come along a month later. We take the view that we should treat the matter as a whole, and local authorities will not be unduly hampered because they will all be equitably treated.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress has been made by his Department with school feeding arrangements in North-east Scotland.
In the area comprising Aberdeen, Dundee, Aberdeen County, Angus, Banff, Kincardine, Moray and Nairn, the percentage of children receiving dinners was 6.7 in May, 1942, 12.9 in June, 1943, and 18.8 in June, 1945. So far, schemes have been approved for the construction of facilities which will enable dinners to be provided for 55 per cent. of the children on the roll in this area.
Will the Under-Secretary of State tell us when it will be possible greatly to increase the numbers at present receiving school dinners?
I cannot say when, but education authorities in Scotland have been urged to make provision for school meals up to 75 per cent. of their school population as soon as possible.
asked the Secretary for Scotland how many radiography units there are in Scotland; to what extent they are used; and if more of these units are to be installed in the near future.
Two units, belonging to Glasgow Corporation and Lanark County Council respectively, are now in operation in Scotland. A third unit will, it is hoped, begin to operate shortly in Edinburgh. 40,610 persons have so far been examined by the Glasgow and Lanark County units. When more apparatus can be manufactured and when more medical and other personnel are available the allocation of units to other local authorities will be considered.
Is my hon. Friend taking steps to see that this is speeded up at the earliest possible moment?
We are now making every effort to see if we can increase this apparatus for other well deserving authorities.
In view of the manifest prejudice on the part of the School of Radiology at Edinburgh University against medical graduates of Glasgow University, will the Under-Secretary seek to establish a school of radiology and radiography in Glasgow?
I am sorry, but that question does not arise, and it is much too difficult for me to answer on the spur of the moment.
Will my hon. Friend assure us that when he gets the staff, particularly the radiographers, he will give them salaries and conditions such as obtain in England so that Scotland will not lose these girls to English authorities?
My hon. Friend can take it that if it is a question of taking up the matter of salaries and emoluments in Scotland, I will not be lacking.
National Fire Service
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the number of N.F.S. personnel still engaged in duties in Scotland.
At 30th November, 1945, there were 3,153 men and 580 women employed whole-time in the National Fire Service in Scotland.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the grievance is not that they arc engaged in duties, but the vast majority of the N.F.S. are grousing because they have nothing on earth to do, and they cannot get out?
Schools (Physical Training Kits)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will circularise education committees in Scotland, reminding them of the powers they possess under Subsection (3) of Section 3 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1945, whereby they are permitted to make provision for physical training kits, including football outfits; and urge them to take advantage of this provision in the Act.
Education authorities have already been reminded of this power to provide articles of clothing suitable for physical exercise. The present supply position would make it difficult to meet any extensive demand from education authorities, but I hope that when it im- proves they will take the fullest advantage of this new power.
Will the Joint Undersecretary of State take into account that a great deal of what is described as juvenile delinquency is due to the fact that recreational facilities do not exist and that, consequently, to provide recreational facilities would reduce this so-called juvenile delinquency?
I accept entirely the observations of my hon. Friend.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he proposes to take any steps to prevent the loss to Scotland of the technique of flax growing and processing acquired during the war.
I have been in close consultation on this matter with the Ministers concerned and with the Scottish Council on Industry. The responsibility for flax production rests with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, who informs me that the production of flax is being concentrated in areas where it can be most economically produced. Unfortunately, costs of flax produced in Scotland have been higher than the average for Great Britain, and despite intensive efforts no tenant has been found willing to take over on lease any of the three Scottish factories.
Is it not regrettable that three flax-fibre producing factories in Scotland are to be closed down? Is not the Minister aware that there is no mystery about growing flax and that the vagaries of the weather are of no greater account in Scotland in regard to flax growing than they are in any other country?
I am afraid, whether it is because of the vagaries of the weather or not, flax production in Scotland has not been so successful as flax production in England.
Or in Northern Ireland.
Sergeant Testers (Pay)
asked the Secretary of State for War why sergeant testers serving at 25 W.O.S.B., R.T.C., do not receive specialist pay.
Their responsibilities are recognised instead by the grant of suitable paid rank, the minimum rank being sergeant.
Does that quite meet the point? Does my right hon Friend recall that on a previous occasion he emphasised that these men were specialists, doing a special kind of skilled work?
Yes, Sir, and for that reason they were given the rank of sergeant, and the pay.
Oversea Tours (Home Leave)
asked the Secretary of State for War what period of home leave is now granted to men drafted from one overseas Command to another.
:None, Sir, as a general rule. Embarkation leave is granted before departure from the United Kingdom for an overseas tour, during which the men are liable to be moved from one Command to another to meet changing requirements. Arrangements have been made, where time and movement facilities permit, to send men via the United Kingdom and to give them leave when they are moved, but this cannot always be done.
Will my right hon. Friend say whether it is not now possible, the war being over, to allow this home leave in the vast majority of cases, at any rate from Western Europe, when a man is posted, say, to the Far East?
The hon. Member knows that men going from the B.A.O.R. to the Far East are at present given leave, and when they are going from the C.M.F. to the Middle East it sometimes happens that their leave is advanced. They are given leave, but in view of the urgent circumstances, this cannot always be guaranteed.
Mediterranean (Officers' Guests)
asked the Secretary of State for War whether in the C.M.F. area there are any restaurants, hotels, clubs or cafes to which officers may take A.T.S., other ranks, as their guests.
Yes, Sir. Officers may take A.T.S. other ranks as guests to any restaurants, hotels, etc. which are not reserved for officers only, or for other ranks only.
Is not my right hon. Friend aware that in certain parts of Italy the A.T.S. have to borrow a civilian suit or attire to be accompanied by an officer, and that an officer in some cases has to borrow a private's greatcoat to take an A.T.S. into a club? Will my right hon. Friend have another look at these rules?
I have stated what the rule is. If that rule is not being kept and I get evidence, I will look into the matter.
Have another look at it.
Officer's Accounts, India (Transfer)
asked the Secretary of State for War if he will state the number of British officers overpaid while serving in India or Burma owing to the failure of the Indian authorities to notify, and the British authorities to ascertain, their arrival; the number from whom repayment is being demanded after their return to Great Britain; and the number who are required to make repayment after their release, respectively.
The details asked for could not be obtained without considerable investigation and interference with current work but, as I informed the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir J. Mellor) on 22nd November, I am investigating the reasons for the delay in the transfer of officers' accounts from India, with a view to the prevention of such over-issues.
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will postpone the demolition of the Hailing bridge over the Medway, built at the cost of the taxpayer and extensively used by the 9,000 population of the district, until the local authorities can replace it with another structure.
I have now authorised a further postponement of demolition until 1st January, 1946, but unless the local authority concerned is prepared to take over the maintenance from that date it will be necessary to dismantle it.
37 and 38.
asked the Secretary of State for War (I) what provision he proposes to make for Mrs. Ellerby, wife or widow of D. G. Ellerby, 1799225, who disappeared in February, since when Mrs. Ellerby has received no allowance;(2) if he will make financial provision for the wives of soldiers who have deserted or been sent to prison.
I fully sympathise with the families in these cases, but I have no power to undertake responsibility for their maintenance. The family allowance continues for seven days in the case of absence without leave, and is issuable again when the soldier returns to the Colours. The allowance continues throughout periods of imprisonment or detention, unless the soldier is committed to penal servitude and sent to a civil prison, in which case he is transferred to the Reserve at the end of two months and the allowance automatically ceases for that reason.There is nothing I can do in the case of Private Ellerby. The soldier absented himself without leave in this country in February last, and, following a court of inquiry, was declared a deserter.
Is the Minister aware that Private Ellerby was killed in an air raid in London a year ago? Could the Minister not devise some different method of punishment by which hardship is not borne by the second generation?
I am sorry if the man's wife may be suffering under an error in this matter, but I am bound to tell the hon. Gentleman that this man absented himself without leave on three occasions within the six months previous to this occasion.
Is not the Minister aware that there are genuine cases where people have disappeared? Why do the War Office always take the worst possible view of it?
I was asked a question about a particular case.
Commissions (Nomination Of Candidates)
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of an A.C.I. which forbids visits by colonels of regiments to O.C.T.U.s with a view to getting personal touch with candidates for commissions in their regiments; what is the reason for this Order; and whether he will cause it to be cancelled as soon as possible.
I am aware of the instruction referred to. The selection and posting to regiments of officer cadets is the responsibility of the War Office in the light of Army requirements as a whole, and cannot depend entirely on personal preferences for particular regiments, or on personal recommendations.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the existence of War Office Letter 26 General /5183, issued to all colonels of regiments, in which the responsibilities of colonels of regiments are laid down, and that the first of those responsibilities is
Will the right hon. Gentleman say how those instructions are to be carried out, in view of the recent arrangements to which he has made reference?"nominating suitable candidates for commissions in the regiment''?
I am much obliged to the hon. and gallant Gentleman for directing my attention to this rule. I must say that it is no desire of mine that these candidates should be segregated from visitors, but I must make it clear that the War Office have a responsibility in this matter which it cannot delegate to anyone, officers or anybody else.
Will the Secretary of State for War say whether this letter, to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has referred, will be cancelled or withdrawn, or what will be done about it?
Has not the War Office always had this responsibility?
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that many A.T.S. officers engaged in signals duties in B.A.O.R. are redundant; that nevertheless their release has been postponed; and whether he will issue instructions for an immediate review of the relevant war establishments.
The release of these officers is governed by the rules recently announced concerning all A.T.S. officers. But I am calling for a report on the matter.
Compulsory Church Parades
asked the Secretary of State for War under which provision of King's Regulations has a commanding officer the power to compel men detailed for church parade to attend divine service.
Will my right hon. Friend consider revising this order, and is he aware that the great party which he represents has always been against this enforced religious observance?
That would be a matter for consideration later on, but as the law is I cannot interfere.
Are we to take it from this Question and answer that, contrary to the situation in the earthly sphere, the supply of celestial transport is greater than the demand?
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind, in reconsidering this matter, that the mingling of patriotism, discipline and church is resented by many people with extremely sincere religious convictions?
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that, although manufacturers of sports goods in this country are supplying N.A.A.F.I. with a good deal of equipment, men in the Services continue to complain that they are unable to obtain anything at all in the way of sports equipment from N.A.A.F.I.; and whether he will take appropriate action designed to prevent the hoarding of supplies in warehouses by this organisation.
:The only function of N.A.A.F.I. is to act as the central buying agency and to carry out distribution according to the instructions of the Army Sport Control Board. Owing to world wide shortage purchases have to be made by units, not individual men, to ensure an even distribution. I am satisfied that this system is the fairest method of supply.
Does my right hon. Friend now refute the idea that he is the distributor of profits, in the shape of pleasure and joy, which are made by N.A.A.F.I. out of buns and beer?
I suggested that this is the best possible method of supply at present.
Why does not the Minister see to fairer distribution?
Sandown Park (Rent)
asked the Secretary of State for War what rent is being paid for Sandown Park; and for what purpose it is being used.
£10,000 a year, fixed by the General Claims Tribunal. It is used to accommodate a training unit.
How soon does the right hon. Gentleman expect that Sandown Park will be free for its usual peacetime purposes?
I cannot say, but the amount is fixed by the General Claims Tribunal, which is an independent body appointed for the purpose. I cannot say how soon it will be released.
West African Units
asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that British other ranks serving with West African units in India received no special trainng before joining the R.W.A.F.F.; that they receive no specialist-pay for their duties; that most West African troops speak English and all orders are given in English; that West African troops were originally conducted to India by British troops with no previous experience with Africans; and whether he will revoke his decision to suspend repatriation and leave for British troops serving with West African formations and replace them by other British troops in India of higher age groups who are unemployed.
As will be seen from my reply on 13th November to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Horn-castle (Commander Maitland), it has been found in practice that care must be exercised in the selection of suitable officers and non-commissioned officers for these units. This is particularly necessary in present circumstances, when the units themselves are awaiting repatriation, and I can only say that all practical steps are already being taken to reduce to a minimum the period of deferment of the British personnel.
As the duty for which these men are being retained is mainly draft-conducting, is my right hon. Friend aware that this duty, involving as it does a sea voyage, would be a most healthy occupation for those surplus Army personnel now taking root in G.H.Q., New Delhi?
I understand that the reason these officers and; N.C.O's are being deferred is that they were the leaders of these men in war, and consequently they are trusted by them. The deferment is largely due to the lack of shipping for the repatriation of these men.
May I ask my right hon. Friend whether European men compulsorily transferred from the R.W.A.F.F. to the Indian Army are outside the provisions of Regulations for release from the Army, and, if so, will he take steps to have these men treated on the same basis as British troops in other Commands?
I should have to see that Question on the Order Paper.
asked the Secretary of State for War how many sanatoria under military control have been set up for the treatment of tuberculosis amongst the Forces.
None, Sir. This treatment is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health, but, as I stated on 16th October, in reply to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke), the possibility of special arrangements for Service personnel is now under examination. Meanwhile, to avoid delay in treatment, a number of Service patients are being retained under military care.
Dental Corps (Regular Officers)
asked the Secretary of State for War, whether he is aware of the unsatisfactory conditions of service and the lack of opportunities for promotion for Regular officers of the A.D.C.; and if he is satisfied that under present terms of service the required number of dental officers will become available to ensure an adequate dental service for the post-war Army.
I am aware that the number of candidates coming forward for regular commissions in the Army Dental Corps at present is inadequate, and I am considering certain measures designed to remedy this. But it must be borne in mind that there is at present an overall shortage of dentists in this country.
asked the Secretary of State for War the number of commissions granted from the ranks, together with the number of direct commissions during the war.
From 1st September, 1939, to 31st October, 1945, 208,017 commissions were granted, including 151,310 from the ranks, of which 26,198 were direct commissions, the remainder being through 0.C.T.Us. These figures do not include A.T.S.
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that their duties are preventing the attendance of members of military police units in the B.A.O.R. at study centres, provided under the Army education scheme; and whether he will inquire, in particular, into the position at Antwerp, where men in the CM.P., who wish to improve their peacetime prospects, find themselves unable to use the facilities available.
The decision whether a unit can implement the Army Education Scheme, having regard to its military commitments, rests with the local commander, but I am looking into this particular case.
asked the Secretary of State for War the number of men already granted a Group B release who are at present at Boyce Barracks, Crookham, Hants; how many of these men have been there for a period exceeding 14 days; and the reason for their remaining at these barracks.
On 28th November, there were 127, of whom I08 had been there 14 days or more, but all these should by now have been released. The delay was due to a misunderstanding on the part of the unit and the officer responsible for authorising Class B release, and steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence. The normal period of retention is not more than three or four days.
asked the Secretary of State for War if officers in Groups 22 and 23, who on compassionate grounds do not have their release delayed beyond the appropriate time for their group, can be given the release leave and pay which would be their right if discharged under Class. A.
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 20th November to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo).
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these men have certainly done over five years and that. they are not in receipt of release leave and pay?
Tripoli (Anti-Jewish Outbreaks)
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has now received a report from the military commander at Tripoli on the anti-Jewish outbreaks in Tripoli which began on 4th November; how it was that in an area under British military occupation these riots continued unabated for over two days, resulting in the killing of 100 Jews, including women and children; and why no curfew was imposed to check the rioting until the third day.
I would refer my hon. Friend to the full statement I made on this matter on 27th November in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton).
Mef (Passages For Wives)
asked the Secretary of State for War what arrangements have been made to enable the wives of men serving in the M.E.F. to join their husbands.
I would refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 9th October in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg). Full details have been issued to all concerned.
asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that other ranks serving with the Regular Army in the Middle East are reluctant to allow their wives to join them under the new scheme, as they consider the proposed accommodation inadequate and do not think it right that their wives should be housed in tents; and whether he will take steps either to provide better accommodation or, alternatively, to increase leave to the United Kingdom.
I should like to make it clear that the initiative in these cases rests with the soldier, but that his application for a passage for his family cannot be considered unless the command is satisfied that proper accommodation is available. This must necessarily be accommodation which already exists. If the accommodation is not satisfactory the families cannot be allowed to proceed. Leave from overseas is already maintained at the highest practical level and is constantly under review.
Would it be possible to make that information more widely known, as many of them do not know?
I will consider that point, because I do desire that all possible details should be known about this matter.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many applications have, in fact been granted under this scheme up to date?
No, I am sorry but I cannot.
asked the Secretary of State for War why 69520 T/Major A. F. Dunn, R.A.M.C, who was in release Group 7, was not released till 30thOctober; and if further delays such as this in the release of doctors are likely.
Major Dunn was employed as the senior medical officer on a troop-ship which for some time has been plying between East Africa, India and South Africa and there seems little doubt that it was not possible to contact and relieve this officer at the time when other officers in his group, serving with land formations, were assembled by India and repatriated to the United Kingdom. I cannot say that the special circumstances in this officer's case will not occur again, but the number of doctors, apart from certain specialists, whose release will be delayed is likely to be very small.
Requisitioned Property (Malaya)
asked the Secretary of State for War why the Victoria Institute at Kuala Lumpur has been requisitioned by the military authorities; and whether he is aware that this is the only university in the Malayan Peninsula.
I am inquiring as to the first part of the Question and will write to my hon. and gallant Friend. As to the second part, I am informed that it is not a university, but one of a number of secondary English schools.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that A.L.F.S.E.A. and S.E.A.C. have commandeered a large number of buildings for clubs, and, at Singapore and in the Malayan Peninsula, for officers, causing annoyance to local residents, particularly as the buildings requisitioned are often colleges and institutes?
I have said that I will write to the hon. and gallant Member, and I will take note of the point he has mentioned.
asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an assurance that he will make no further recommendations for hereditary titles conferred either for political reasons or in recognition of public services.
No, Sir. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has nothing to add to the reply which he gave to my hon. Friend the Member for the Tradeston division of Glasgow (Mr. Rankin) on 18th October last.
Does not my right hon. Friend agree that these hereditary titles are quite indefensible in present circumstances, and will he bear in mind that they have always been strongly resisted by the Labour Party?
I am not quite sure about "always," but in any case the essential constitutional point is that there is another place which is part of the Legislature, and it really is essential that the Government, as well as other people, should be represented in it.
Has the right hon. Gentleman sufficiently considered the affirmation in a well-known hymn:
"There is room for fresh creations In that upper home of bliss"?
Will not that other place be found very useful when the first Government reshuffle comes?
German War Materials
asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many underground factories and dumps of war material have been discovered in Germany; and whether an active search is being made for others.
I have been asked to reply. My hon. Friend has no information as to the number of factories and war dumps discovered in Germany. In reply to the second part of the Question, active steps continue to be taken by the Commander-in-Chief of the Rhine Army to uncover such factories and dumps as have not already been discovered in the British zone. If the hon. Member would like to know what tonnage of armaments has already been destroyed, my hon. Friend will endeavour to provide the figures. It is the policy of His Majesty's Government to destroy or remove the whole of the German armament industry and this is being carried out.
asked the Secretary of State for War how many German captured vehicles, scheduled as unserviceable by his Department, are now held in British dumps in and around Athens; how long they have been there; and whether, in view of the shortage of transport in Greece and the inadequacy of military repair facilities, he will arrange to release these vehicles for sale at controlled prices on the local civilian market.
1,074, sent mainly from Crete during the last six months. As I have informed my hon. and gallant Friend by letter, any surplus captured vehicles are handed over for civilian use at once or after repair. Action is being taken to hand over unserviceable vehicles as well.
Hospitals (Petrol Price)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the position in which certain hospitals, charitable and other organisations are placed, who have previously been exempt from motor licence taxation and will now be called upon to pay an additional 4d. per gallon for petrol; and what steps he proposes to take to omit these hospitals.
No, Sir; there will be no additional 4d. a gallon on petrol.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many vacancies in the basic executive and clerical grades of the Civil Service have been filled since the end of the war by persons aged 30 to 55 years; what proportion of the total postwar permanent Civil Service intake this represents; and whether he will give an assurance that a temporary clerk aged 38 years with five years' service who has matriculated will have an opportunity either of being nominated for the permanent service or of entering the competitive examination therefor.
The answer is detailed, and I will, with permission, circulate it.
Following is the information:
No such vacancies have yet been filled, but arrangements are in progress for the filling of 350 vacancies in the basic executive grade of the Civil Service, and 2,000 vacancies in the basic clerical grade, by the establishment of temporary civil servants between the ages of 30 and 55. A further 400 clerical vacancies will be filled in this way towards the end 0I the reconstruction period. These figures represent 15 per cent. of the accrued vacancies in the grades in question. Any temporary clerk aged 38 who has had two years or more of continuous service is eligible for consideration for establishment in this way.
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether the new salary scales for the Scientific Civil Service will be so applied that existing staff shall not be at a disadvantage in comparison with new entrants.
Existing scientific staff will, on being brought into the new organisation, be given sufficient credit for previous service to put them broadly on equal terms with new entrants of the same age and quality. Details are being worked out.
While expressing satisfaction with the answer, is it ungracious to inquire whether it would not have been possible to make the earlier announcement clear enough for scientists to know that this is to be the broad effect aimed at?
I think the earlier announcement did make it clear. If the hon. Gentleman still has doubts, I should be happy to meet him and go through the paper with him.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether a day has yet been appointed for the purposes of Section 45 of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1945.
No, Sir, not yet.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that a date will have to be appointed before the end of February, and does he intend to leave it to the last moment?
I 'do not think there is any purpose in rushing it. The most important thing is to derequisition, and I do not want to start refixing the rents of premises which are soon to be derequisitioned. I therefore think we had better let derequisitioning run on for a little before bringing this question in.
War Damage Payments
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is in a position to make a statement on, or give any date by which value payments will be made for, business and property destroyed by enemy action; and is it his intention to adhere to 1939 values.
I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply given to the hon. and gallant Member for Penrith and Cockermouth (Lieut.-Colonel Dower) on 22nd November, and, as regards the last part of the Question, to Section II of the War Damage Act, 1943.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when it is proposed to make payment in settlement of claims for loss of chattels caused by enemy action.
This date cannot yet be fixed. It will depend not only on financial considerations but on the availability of supplies, particularly of furniture and clothing.
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that considerable hardship is being caused by the delay?
I think more hardship might be caused if we took precipitate action in the matter while supplies were not ready to meet the claims coming forward.
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury why the £200 which is owed by the War Damage Commission to Sapper Frank Edwards, discharged from the Army with a 30 percent. disability pension, has not been paid, with the result that Sapper Edwards is now subsisting on charity.
On the information given it is not possible to identify the case to which the hon. and gallant Member refers. I have, however, written to him asking for further details and if he will supply them, I will have inquiries made.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the man's name and address were given in my letter, and is he also aware that correspondence between the man and the War Damage Commission has been proceeding for some months?
That may be, but the letter we have—I have seen the letter—does not give the address of the property in question, and that being so, we could not do anything.
Does not an honest debtor seek out his creditor?
Schedule A (Repairs Allowance)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that owing to the considerable increase in the cost of building repairs, the repairs allowance for property under Schedule A is now generally inadequate for the purpose; and whether he will review this matter at an early stage and arrange for the adjustment of the allowance so as to conform with present costs.
I regret that I cannot see my way to increase this allowance at present.
Bearer Securities (Prohibition)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will repeal or modify Regulation 3B of the Defence (Finance) Regulations which prohibits the issue of bearer securities.
Purchase Tax (Furs)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether in view of the fact that imported rabbit skins for the making of utility furs are not liable to purchase tax, he will give the same exemption to British rabbit skins so that a greatly extended home and export in dustry can be stimulated.
There is no distinction for Purchase Tax purposes between imported and British rabbit skins. If made up into utility fur garments, both pay only 16⅔ percent. If exported, both are exempt from Purchase Tax.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the British rabbit skins known as "Rex" fur arc of a much better grade than the ordinary skins and therefore more expensive, are not used in utility furs, and are subject to 100 per cent. Purchase Tax, and that this is discouraging production of the furs and is discouraging ex-Servicemen from taking up this kind of enterprise? Will he go into the possibilities of this trade?
With great pleasure, but having regard to the over-all shortage of clothing, I do not believe that there will be much difficulty in disposing of these very valuable fur garments.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that fur fabrics and Jacquard materials, bought by the yard, carry 100 per cent. Purchase Tax, whereas garments made of these materials carry only 16⅔ percent. Purchase Tax; and what steps he proposes to take to end this discrimination.
I will bear this in mind when considering the possibility of further Purchase Tax reductions next year.
58 and 60.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (I) whether he will take steps to discriminate between imperial and foreign sterling balances acquired during the war and those acquired since the war in favour of holders of the latter, so as to secure them a prior claim on our limited supplies of goods available for export; and(2) whether he is aware that payment for the large orders of goods placed in this country by Egyptian firms, will be paid for out of sterling balances accumulated by Egypt during the war; and, in view of the necessity for securing foreign exchange through our exports, he will take steps to prevent such use of wartime blocked balances.
Any action on these lines would be a matter for negotiations with the Governments concerned.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what amounts the sterling balances held by countries of the British Empire, other countries within the sterling area and countries outside the sterling area, have increased since the cessation of hostilities with Japan; and how much of these balances have been used to pay for exports from this country.
The figures are only available at quarterly intervals. The total net increase between 30th June and 30th September, 1945, was about £100 millions. It is not possible to say how much was paid out during the quarter for exports from the United Kingdom.
Dollar Expenditure (Periodicals)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the practice whereby British magazines obtain most of their light fiction by buying second rights from American magazines, at a heavy expenditure of dollars; and whether he proposes to restrain or discourage this practice.
No, Sir. No large expenditure of dollars is involved and I am reluctant to interfere in a matter on which tastes differ.
I beg to give notice that I intend to raise this matter on the Adjournment.
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if it is intended to increase either the numbers, or the salaries, of Parliamentary Counsel; and to what extent.
Yes, Sir. Improved scales of salary will be announced shortly.
In view of the fact that the small number of Parliamentary Counsel constitutes a bottleneck in Parliamentary legislation, would it not be better to increase the number rather than the salaries?
We contemplate both. I said "Yes, Sir," to the Question, which covers both points.
Would not the most satisfactory solution be to decrease the legislation?
Members Of Parliament
Letters To Ministers
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he will give the average number of letters received by Ministers from Members of the House weekly; and whether adequate staffs are at the disposal of the Ministers to deal promptly and satisfactorily with Members' correspondence.
I regret that no figures are available, but the number is very substantial. My hon. Friend is no doubt aware of present staffing difficulties, but I am sure that in all Departments every effort is made to reply promptly.
Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the object of the Question is a desire, which is shared by all hon. Members, to assist the Departments concerned, and that the precise information asked for in the Question would do a great deal to help the Government and hon. Members?
Will the Minister ask some of his colleagues whether they can give us something better than the very scrappy acknowledgment they send?
I do not know what I can do about it. I have no doubt that other Ministers read Hansard, or that som