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Written Answers

Volume 416: debated on Thursday 12 April 1945

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Written Answers To Questions

Coal Industry

Miners (Re-Employment)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that certain men who worked in the mines prior to the war have made efforts to be re-employed in the industry, but have been refused; and whether he will see that such persons are given every opportunity to enter again into the mines.

No, Sir. If my hon. Friend will give me particulars of the men he has in mind I will have inquiries made.

Ouston E Pit

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what are his intentions with regard to the reopening of Ouston E pit, which in 1939 employed 900 men daily obtaining a daily output of some 800 tons, and which has been closed since 1939.

Proposals for the re-opening of this pit have been received and are being investigated. I will communicate the result to my hon. and gallant Friend.

Export Coal (Quality)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many complaints he has received from foreign customers that the coal being exported from this country at present is rubbish and/or unsatisfactory as being mostly made up of colliery washery settlings and opencast slack.

The number of actual complaints is not large, because intending purchasers are forewarned of the low quality. I am aware of the general dissatisfaction at the low quality of the coal at present being exported from this country, but it is all that can be spared for the time being. Owing to the present shortage, many consumers in this country are receiving coal of a lower quality than they require.

Advisory Committees

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will give the names of the committee which advises him on coal problems, indicating which are members of the National Union of Mineworkers, of the T.U.C. and of the Labour Party, respectively; and whether this committee meets regularly.

I have a number of committees advising me on various coal problems, but no committee of the kind suggested in the Question.

American Mission (Report)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will now consider publishing the report of the American mission that visited the British coalfields last year.

Whatever may have been the merits of the reasons given on many occasions in the past against publication of this report, conditions have changed so much since 1944 that I am convinced that to publish copies now would not be warranted.

Colliery Tips (Picking-Over)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that in colliery dirt rucks there are substantial quantities of coal which could be sorted and which would help to alleviate the coal shortage; and if he will look into the case of the dirtruck at the Brackley pit of the Manchester colliery, where 100 tons of coal per week could be obtained if permission were once again granted for the ruck to be sorted.

While I sympathise with my hon. Friend's objective, I would point out that the grant of permission for picking over colliery tips is entirely a matter within the discretion of individual colliery companies. As regards Brackley Pit, I understand that so long as they are satisfied that the privilege is not being abused, the company concerned do not object to a limited number of persons picking over the tip. As regards my hon. Friend's suggestion that colliery tips generally could be picked over for usable fuel, I am not satisfied that the quantity of coal likely to be recovered, and the risks involved, would justify the diversion of manpower for this purpose.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will arrange for local fuel overseers to purchase coal extracted from pit rucks at a fixed price, to help alleviate the shortage which now exists.

No, Sir. It would be wasteful of manpower to organise the extraction of this coal and there are already ample powers in the Coal Distribution and Retail Prices Orders to regulate its disposal and price where that is necessary.

Pit Ponies

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what extent pit ponies are being obliged to work two shifts in 24 hours at the present time.

A special investigation made in the summer of this year showed that the great majority of ponies work only one shift a day. At certain mines in the Northern coalfield a proportion of the ponies, ranging from 5 percent. to 25 percent. and in one exceptional case 40 percent. were found to be working extra shifts, not daily but in turn. Elsewhere there were isolated instances of a few ponies working extra shifts in turn, or occasionally. In some cases the ponies working extra shifts were specially examined by the Ministry's consulting veterinary surgeons, who found them to be well cared for and in fit condition; but nevertheless steps are taken to reduce any working hours which are considered by the Inspector to be unduly long.

Voluntary Absenteeism

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the percentage figures of voluntary absenteeism, face workers and all workers, from the beginning of 1945 until the latest date for which figures are available.

The voluntary absenteeism percentages for the first three quarters of 1945 were 7.4, 7.8 and 9.4 respectively for face workers and 6.3, 6.5 and 7.7 for all workers. The corresponding figures for October were 9.5 and 7.7 percent. respectively.

Wages And Costs

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the percentage increases in average earnings per shift and in wages cost per ton of coal between 1939 and the latest date for which figures are available.

Average earnings per shift and wages cost per ton in the second quarter of 1945 show increases of 103 and 136 percent. respectively when compared with the position in the corresponding quarter of 1939. After allowance has been made for payments made to miners for shifts not worked at the time of the VE-holidays, the percentage increases are seen to be 96 and 128 respectively.

Fuel And Power

Sub-Tenants (Registration)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if, in view of the house shortage and as many people in Swindon are willing to let rooms to persons who run their own households therein, he will authorise the sale of coal to such tenants for use in the grates of the rented rooms for cooking and other purposes.

Each case is dealt with on its merits on application to the local fuel overseer, who can authorise such supplies as he considers essential, but the present shortage of coal makes it impossible to grant to every sub-tenant a separate registration permitting the maximum household supply.

Coal Distribution, London

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that deliveries of coal to some small consumers in London entitled to one hundredweight per week are already several weeks behind; and whether he is taking steps to ensure that adequate coal, transport and labour are available to deal with this situation.

No consumer is entitled to a fixed quantity of coal per week but 1 am not aware of any serious delay in deliveries to small consumers in London. As regards the second part of the Question I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply I gave on 15th November to my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Southwark (Mr. Naylor).

Shopwindow Lighting

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power on whose instructions one of his inspectors went from shop to shop in Kidderminster ordering the shopkeepers to put out all lights in their windows and keep them out under threat of prosecution; and will he take steps to withdraw this regulation at once.

I am informed that about a fortnight ago an inspector belonging to the staff of the local fuel overseer for Kidderminster, having received complaints about the use of lighting in shop-windows, visited a number of shops in the course of his duties. The inspections were carried out in a reasonable manner, and the instructions that were given for the discontinuance of lighting were in accordance with the Regulations and the policy laid down by my Ministry. I am further informed that in none of the cases visited was prosecution threatened. I regret that the fuel situation does not at present justify relaxation of the restrictions on shopwindow lighting.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will relax the restrictions on the lighting of shop windows between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on the seven days before Christmas in order to give some air of festivity to the first peacetime Christmas.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if, in order to encourage the Christmas spirit, he will permit some relaxation of restrictions on shopwindow lighting for a short period prior to Christmas.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will allow shopkeepers to have more shop-window lighting for the Christmas shopping week and lift the restriction for this week during the hours of 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if, with a view to restoring a measure of traditional Christmas cheer, he will allow for one week only, the week before Christmas, a limited amount of shop window lighting between the hour of 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

I regret that the present fuel situation does not justify any relaxation of the restrictions on shop window lighting.

Petrol Rationing

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what extent the basic ration for petrol is higher in Eire than in the United Kingdom; and why.

The basic ration for petrol is slightly higher in Eire than in the United Kingdom. On the other hand, supplementary allowances are much more restricted.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware of the grievance of officers and men who are prevented from hiring motor cars to drive beyond a radius of 150 miles when on leave by the provisions of the Control of Motor Fuel Order; and as this results in unfair discrimination against those who either have no motor cars of their own or cannot afford to bring them out of storage and refit them, he will, in view of the prospect of continued fuel rationing, arrange for the amendment of the Order in this respect at an early date.

For the reasons given in my reply to the, hon. and gallant Member for Altrincham (Colonel Erroll) on 15th October, I am unable to modify or withdraw the limitations imposed on the movement of hire cars.

Electricity Supplies, Merioneth (Water Power)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the total amount of units of electricity produced per annum by water power in the county of Merioneth; and how much of such electricity is consumed in the county.

The number of units generated by authorised undertakers by water power in the county of Merioneth in the year 1944 was 34.5 million. Of this about eight million units were sold in the county of Merioneth, the remainder being sent to other parts of North Wales. No figures are available of units generated or sold by non-statutory undertakers.

Petrol Price (Northern Ireland)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the increased cost that citizens of Northern Ireland have to pay for petrol compared with that for the rest of the United Kingdom; and, in view of the fact that Northern Ireland is nearer to the sources of supply than many parts of Great Britain, why is there not a uniform price for the United Kingdom as a whole.

The price of petrol in Northern Ireland is ½ d. per gallon more than in England, Wales and South Scotland, due to the low density of consumption, and the higher costs of distribution thereby incurred. This factor precludes a uniform price in the United Kingdom as a whole and necessitates a higher price in Northern Ireland, North Scotland and outlying districts than in the main consuming areas.

Wood (Birmingham)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why the five firewood dumps promised by the end of October in the city of Birmingham have now been cut down to one; and what he intends to do to see that the people in that city will not suffer during this winter as a result of this reduction.

The termination of the arrangements to stock 5,000 tons of wood fuel in Birmingham this winter is due entirely to shortage of labour. This does not affect supplies of wood fuel through normal trade channels and the amount of logs so being supplied to Birmingham is high compared to other parts of the country. Though I regret the absence of Government reserves of wood fuel in Birmingham, I can assure my hon. Friend that this will have no material affect on the fuel situation, since the stocks of house coal in Government dumps and merchants' depots are considerable.

Fuel Efficiency Bulletins

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how much is being spent by his Department in sending out bulletins on the efficient use of fuel, and the cost of the calaries of inspector-engineers, whose function it is to help coal users to obtain steam from a mixture of material in which coal is the least proportion.

The cost to this Ministry of the preparation of Fuel Efficiency bulletins is approximately £500 per annum. The cost of the salaries, including war bonus, of the 8I fuel engineers directly employed by this Ministry is £44,500 per annum.

Employment

Railway Works (Conditions)

asked the Minister of Labour if he has considered the complaints respecting bad working conditions at Temple Mills railway works and elsewhere, details of which have been sent to him; and what action is being taken to make those conditions more amenable.

Conditions in these workshops have been receiving the attention of His Majesty's Inspector of Factories. A number of improvements are to be made, including the repair of damage due to enemy action, but progress has been hampered by shortage of both labour and materials.

Dockworkers' Wages

asked the Minister of Labour if he is now able to report the result of negotiations in respect of the dockers' demands.

Since my statement of Tuesday last the National Dock Delegate Conference of the unions concerned has decided to recommend for acceptance the pieceworkers' formula and the other arrangements tentatively agreed on the negotiating committee of the National Joint Council for the Port Transport Industry. The committee of investigation has also now been appointed and is sitting at this moment. I would therefore ask to be excused from making any fuller statement today.

Unemployment Statistics

asked the Minister of Labour the number of unemployed in the development area of South Wales and in Newport, divided into the most convenient detailed arrangement, on 1st July, 1st August, 1st September, 1st October, 1st November and 1st December.

The most recent dates for which unemployment figures can be given are 16th July and 15th October. The numbers of insured persons registered as unemployed at Employment Exchanges serving the South Wales and Monmouthshire Development area and at Newport, at those dates, were as shown below:

South Wales and Monmouthshire Development Area
16th July15th October
Men aged 18 and under 6510,26821,806
Boys aged 14 to 17492967
Women aged 18 and under 606,18423,872
Girls aged 14 to 176511,106
Total17,59517,751
Newport
16thJuly15thOctober
Men aged 18 and under 6594484
Boys aged 14 to 171943
Women aged 18 and under 6066957
Girls aged 14 to 173051
Total 2091,535
The figures given above exclude persons classified as unsuitable for ordinary employment. The number so excluded were as follows:

Development Area—2,630 men and 19 women in July, and 2,538 men and II women in October.

Newport—45 men in July and 4G men in October.

asked the Minister of Labour what the latest available figures are for unemployment in the city of Glasgow; what proportion of the insurable population these represent; and how many of them are not ordinarily employable.

At 15th October, 1945, the number of insured persons registered as unemployed at employment exchanges in Glasgow was 12,937 or 3 percent. of the number of unemployment books exchanged at the same offices. The number of men and women on the registers who had been classified as unsuitable for ordinary employment was 1,396. These are not included in the total of 12,937.

Labour Control (Radio Industry)

asked the Minister of Labour if the radio industry still comes under the Essential Work Order.

As part of the engineering industry, the radio industry is still within the field of the Essential Work Orders.

Disabled Persons

asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the classes of articles, for Government and public use, which are to be set aside for production in the sheltered workshops for the disabled; and whether contracts or subcontracts will be made available to voluntary undertakings operating non-profit making sheltered workshops.

I should deprecate any attempt to delimit the classes of articles for Government and public use to be produced in special workshops for the disabled. It will be for the Disabled Persons Corporation to decide what articles in demand for the public service can best be produced in their various workshops and when these are ready to start production arrangements will be made for orders to be placed. Similar arrangements will apply to other organisations operating such workshops on a non-profit basis.

asked the Minister of Labour the estimated number of disabled persons eligible for registration under the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act and the number of such persons who have applied for registration to date; and whether he intends to give wider publicity to the Act and benefits accruing through registration and afford special facilities for registration at employment exchanges.

It is not possible to give an estimate of the total number of persona eligible for registration under the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act. The number in fact registered in the first eight weeks up to 19th November last was 96,796. Further publicity is being given to the scheme and all possible facilities will be provided for registration at employment exchanges.

asked the Minister of Labour whether arrangements are in hand for a return by employers showing the numbers of disabled employees; if he will state the date on which quotas are to be imposed; whether he is in a position to announce the occupations which are to be designated and reserved exclusively for disabled persons; and whether the Disabled Persons Employment Corporation has secured sites or premises for the establishment of sheltered workshops and in what regions.

The Act gives me no power to call for such returns and they are unnecessary as the numbers of registered disabled persons in employment are otherwise available. I propose very shortly to announce the date of the introduction of the Quota Scheme and to introduce the Designated Employments Scheme after the Quota Scheme has been launched. In reply to the third part of the Question, the Disabled Persons Employment Corporation are in process of securing sites or premises for the establishment of workshops in various parts of the country.

Brickworks, Almondsbury (Canteen)

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that the Cattybrook Brick Company, Limited, Almondsbury, Gloucestershire, refuses to provide a canteen for its 98 workers, comprising men, youths, women and girls, many of whom have to travel considerable distances to their work; and if he will take steps to cause this company to provide a canteen.

I understand that there are already messrooms for men and women and that a question has been raised of arrangements for the supply of tea. One of my factory canteen advisers is visiting the works to explain what can be done under Ministry of Food regulations and I hope to hear that the matter is being satisfactorily settled.

National Service (Releases)

asked the Minister of Labour how many of the 1,263,000 persons who were released in the three months from the end of June to the end of September were released from the Forces, CD. and munitions, respectively; and how many of the anticipated total of2,460,000 to be released in the three months to the end of the year will, it is anticipated, be released from the forces, CD. and munitions, respectively.

The net decrease of 1,263,000 between the end of June and the end of September was made up as follows:

Armed Forces and Auxiliary Services284,000*
National Fire Service 14,000
Equipment and Supplies for the Forces965,000
Total1,263,000
The anticipated further net reduction of 2,460,000 in the three months October to December is made up as follows:

Armed Forces and Auxiliary Services967,000*
National Fire Service 13,000
Equipment and Supplies for the Forces1,480,000
Total2,460,000
* After allowing for intake, the net decrease of 1,251,1000 in the half -year is consistent with the current programme of 1,510,000 releases and discharges between 18th June and 31st December, 1945.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many men have been released under Class C from the Army, the R.N. and the R.A.F., respectively.

The numbers of releases in Class C for indefinite period, granted between 18th June, 1945, when the general release scheme began and 20th November, 1945, are:—

Royal Navy409
Army11,100
Royal Air Force2,593

Demobilisation

Paper Operatives

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the scarcity of paper, millboard, etc., he will consider releasing in Class B former operatives in the paper industry.

The extent and scope of Class B releases are under consideration, but I have nothing at present to add to the reply I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Banbury (Colonel Dodds-Parker) on 18th October, a copy of which I am sending to my hon. Friend.

Teachers

asked the Minister of Labour from which groups by age plus length of service Class B releases are now being granted to officers and men who are qualified teachers; how many of the I0,000 teachers due for release in the progamme for Class B, dated 2nd October, I945, have been so released; and whether he is satisfied that these releases are being granted impartially as between officers and other ranks.

With regard to the first part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for South end (Mr. Channon) on 9th October, a copy of which I am sending him. The number of teachers released in Class B by 15th November, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 3,974, of whom 891 were released in the first fortnight in November. The answer to the last part of the question is in the affirmative.

Agricultural Workers

asked the Minister of Labour what new instructions have been issued to county W.A.E.C.s in regard to men under the Class B scheme for release.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is now able to announce the revised policy for the granting of Class B release for work in agriculture. Brigadier Peto asked the Minister of Labour whether he is now able to state the Government's policy with regard to the release of agricultural workers from the Services under Class B.

Arrangements are being made for the release of up to 10,000 agricultural workers from the Forces under the scheme for block releases in Class B. I am in touch with my right hon. Friends the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of State for Scotland about the issue of appropriate instructions to war agricultural executive committees.

asked the Minister of Labour whether the average number of Class B industrial releases is greater or less than the figure for the agricultural industry, namely, 6.64 per cent. of the applications.

I assume the hon. and gallant Member is referring to the releases of individual specialists. I regret that this information is not readily available.

Wallpaper Industry (Key Men)

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if he is prepared to recommend for release in Scheme B key men in the manufacture of wallpaper, so that there may be greater production of this commodity so necessary for working class homes.

Releases of individual specialists have been secured in Class B. The flow of labour into the industry is satisfactory, but my hon. Friend will appreciate that the rate of production of wallpaper is limited by the quantity of base paper which can be made available. Responsibility for the industry is shortly to be transferred from my Department to the Board of Trade.

Military Service (Choice)

asked the Minister of Labour if he will issue directions that as far as possible A.T.C. cadets who are called up for national service will be given preferential treatment should they wish to join either the F.A.A. or the R.A.F.

Arrangements already exist for A.T.C. cadets who have expressed a preference for the Royal Navy (Fleet Air Arm) or the R.A.F. and are of the requisite medical standard to be considered first for such Service.

Ministry Of Labour ("S" Class Clerks)

asked the Minister of Labour how many S class clerks with service of I0 years or more are employed in the Ministry; what arrangements are being made to transfer such clerks to permanent E.C. grade; and whether, in respect of such transfer, such clerks will have preference over clerks of three years' service who are about to be examined for transfer to permanent E.C. grade.

There are 998 "S" class clerks with ten years or more Government service employed in the departmental class of the Ministry of Labour. These officers are permanent established staff and are eligible for promotion to the employment clerk grade when such promotions are being considered. Numerous reviews for this purpose have taken place in the last ten years. As regards the last part of the question, the White Paper on the recruitment to established posts in the Civil Service during the reconstruction period (Cmd. 6587) sets out the arrangements for the establishment as employment clerks of a small number of temporary clerks with over two years' service.

British Army

Censorship

asked the Secretary of State for War the purpose of the present test censorship applied to letters from personnel in oversea commands to civilians in this country; and how many military personnel are employed on censorship duties.

The object is to prevent the evasion of the local civil censorship through the Army Postal Service by local civilians. The number of men employed is directly related to the number of troops in each particular area, but I regret that details are not readily available.

Leave Train (Dover-North Wales)

asked the Secretary of State for War why B.A.O.R. personnel returning to North Wales on leave do not leave Calais until the second daily leave boat from that port; that this results in their arrival in North Wales trains in the early hours of the morning when no local traffic to their homes outside towns is available; and if he will ensure that men with long distances to travel from Dover on arrival there will be given priority in the first daily boat leaving Calais.

This has been done. Up to about two weeks ago the men in question had a special train from Dover which could not leave until after the arrival of the second boat, but the train has now been cancelled.

Indonesia (Troops)

asked the Secretary of State for War how many Indian soldiers are refusing to fight the Indonesian troops; and if he will take steps to ensure that the conscientious scruples of these soldiers will be recognised and protected.

I have received no reports of Indian soldiers failing to carry out their orders in the fighting against the Indonesians. Indeed, all on the spot have spoken most highly of the gallant behaviour of the troops.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will name the British and Indian units stationed in Indonesia.

While operations are in progress it would be undesirable to divulge the complete order of battle. I can, however, say that the 5th, 23rd and 26th Indian Infantry Divisions are now in Indonesia.

Territorial Army

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will now state what the future of the Territorial Army is to be.

I cannot at present add anything to the reply I gave on 16th October to Questions by the hon. and gallant Members for Barnstaple (Brigadier Peto) and Salisbury (Major J. Morrison).

Postwar Service

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will now announce the terms and conditions of service of the postwar Army.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 27th November to a similar question by the hon. and gallant Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low).

Cairnryan Port

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will make a statement with regard to future plans for the new harbour at Cairnryan, Wigtownshire.

For at least another I2 months this port will be fully required for Service purposes. When no longer needed the method of disposal will be considered.

Tank Training Ground (Kirkcudbright)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will make a statement with regard to future plans for the tank training ground at Kirkcudbright.

The majority of land forming the tank training ground at Kirkcudbright is War Department property and will be required for postwar use.

Personal Cases

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will now state the result of the latest periodical review of the case of 14568413 Private Board-man, York and Lancaster Regiment, sentenced to four years' detention for a first offence, namely, being 24 hours absent from duty on the Italian front in 1944.

Yes, Sir, Private Board-man's case has now been reviewed by the Commander-in-Chief, Central Mediterranean Force, in the light of the more lenient policy now in force, but in view of his unsatisfactory conduct the Commander-in-Chief ordered the sentence to remain in execution. The Commander-in-Chief states that arrangements have been made for Private Boardman to be transferred, immediately, to No. 34 Special Training Barracks where soldiers are given a special course of training and rehabilitation with a view to suspension. I am, however, cabling for further particulars.

asked the Secretary of State for War why J. E. Yately, 6214131,with five years' service, mostly overseas and now on home service, is down for posting to India.

As this soldier is in Group 34 he was eligible for posting to India under the usual rules. He embarked on 24th November.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he has considered the case of J. E. Yateley, No. 6214131, of 3rd Reserve Regiment, R.A., particulars of which have been forwarded to him; how the large debt in question was incurred by this man; why a detention sentence of four months resulted in a deduction of four years of service; why after prolonged foreign service he is still on the lowest rate of pay; and why the hon. Member for Wallsend has as yet had no answer to his letter of 30th August, 1945, in this matter, other than an acknowledgment from the Department.

I have considered this case. The debt occurred through excessive cash payments, due mainly to the fact that it was overlooked by his unit that the soldier had. been reverted to a lower rate of pay. His former service was forfeited for pay purposes because he was convicted for desertion; this is a normal rule, although in certain circumstances the service can be restored. He is no longer in receipt of the lowest rate of pay, having received increases on 15th May and 15th November. A more detailed explanation of the case was sent to my hon. Friend by letter on 30th November. I much regret the delay in dealing with my hon. Friend's letter, which required investigation by a number of Departments.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that the next of kin of 14574465 Private Dennis James Miller, R.A.S.C., who was accidentally killed at Saigon on 10th November, only received official information of his death on 22nd November after having read Press reports of the death published on 13th November; and whether he will take further steps to ensure that there will be no repetition of unnecessary shocks and pain to next of kin first reading of Service deaths in the Press.

The unfortunate death of this soldier was the subject of a report through the normal channels which reached this country on 19th November and was notified to the next of kin on 20th. On the face of it there was no avoidable delay in making the report. It is a matter for regret that the soldier's next of kin should have learned of the casualty first through the Press, but I cannot prevent the Press from reporting occurrences of which they become aware, even where casualties are involved, though I am happy to say that in the great bulk of cases they refrain from naming casualties. Every endeavour is and will be made to expedite the official notification of casualties.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the application of 13082406, C.Q.M.S. Smart, L. F. S., Reception Wing, No. 12 Pioneer Corps Holding and Training Unit, Prestatyn, for compassionate release, made on 2nd October, 1945, can be hastened.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is now in a position to give the result of the representations made on behalf of 2930368, Gunner O'Neil, A., on 6th August, 1945.

No, Sir. The decision rests with G.H.Q., India. I have cabled for a report of the position and will inform my hon. Friend of the result.

asked the Secretary of State for War when the hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest may expect an answer to his letter, dated 29th August, 1945, about 195612 Sergeant Curtis, L. T., addressed to the Financial Secretary of his Department; whether his further letters on the same subject, dated 29th October and 9th November, have been received; and why no acknowledgment of their receipt was given.

A reply was sent yesterday. The delay and failure to acknowledge the reminders, which were received, is much regretted. Authority for release, subject to operational availability, was sent on 26th November, shortly after the receipt of the final report.

asked the Secretary of State for War why the reply, referring to steps taken on 4th August, to the letter of 17th September from the hon. and senior Member for Sunderland, was not given until 21st November.

The facts of the case were not known to the War Office and had to be ascertained from the overseas command, after the whereabouts of the soldier had been verified. Some further delay occurred in sending the answer for the reasons more fully explained in my reply on 16th October last to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for South Cardiff (Mr. Callaghan).

Miners

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will state the number of miners still in the Army; whether he has ascertained the number of experienced miners who were not working in the mines when called up and, consequently, were not put down as miners; and if he will consider releasing these men who offer to work in the mines although they were not sighed on as miners.

At mid-November there were about 21,000, nearly 10,600 having been then released. I am unable to say how many ex-miners are classified under their later occupations. This point is not material, however, as the selection of names for release is made under the auspices of the Ministry of Fuel and Power and release in Class B is offered to all men whose names are notified, regardless of the occupation shown in the Army records.

Overseas Postings

asked the Secretary of State for War how soon it is proposed that the posting overseas of men in release Group 28 shall cease.

Under plans recently made and announced men in earlier Groups than Group 30 will not be placed under orders for overseas after 1st December, 1945, apart from special cases, such as key men and specialists. Those already under orders at that date will, of course, proceed, but in the case of Group 28 such posting would be restoricted to B.A.O.R. or C.M.F. subject to the exceptions already mentioned.

Python Tour

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give an estimate of the period by which it would be possible to reduce the time of service in the Far East towards the target of three years four months if L.I.A.P. were now abolished; and how soon he expects that every man who has served for three years four months in the Far East will be repatriated.

:It is doubhtful whether the abolition of L.I.A.P. would affect the length of the Python tour to any material extent, as the numbers are comparatively small. But I am pleased to say that our plans for reducing the length of the tour are bearing fruit. It is now hoped that, in general, all those with three years and four months or more Python service at 31st December, 1945, will be either home or en route by that date.

Re-Engagement (Medical Standard)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that No. 4267943, Private D. Williams, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers attached East Yorks Regiment, after 15 years' service in the Army, has been refused permission to sign on for a further period of army service owing to being medically graded category C and is thus thrown on the labour market without a trade and without having served sufficient time to qualify for a pension; and whether he will review this case and issue instructions that when a serving soldier, although of low medical category, is fit for garrison duties and non-operational service he will be permitted to sign on for a further period of peacetime service.

This soldier's regular engagement expired in January, 1943, and he was held to serve on during the war. He applied later for permission to reengage for pension, but he was below the medical standard for re-engagement, and ho was in due course released. Although in wartime it has been necessary to keep men of low category to relieve fit men for more active duty, this could not be done with the restricted manpower normally available to the Army, and I am advised that any relaxation of present standards would have an adverse effect on the efficiency of the Regular Army. I cannot therefore agree to the long-term re-engagement of men below the accepted standard.

West African Units

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the period now contemplated for deferring British Army personnel in charge of West African native troops in India, beyond their normal dates of release and repatriation.

For the reasons given by me on 13th November, in reply to a Question by the hon and gallant Mem- ber for Horncastle (Commander Maitland), it is not possible at present to say how long this deferment must continue, but every effort is being made to limit it to the shortest possible time.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is now able to state the number of officers and men involved in the deferment of release of certain European personnel of the 81st West African, Division; and the length of time he intends to defer their release.

I have asked for a further report on these points from India and will write to the hon. and gallant Member. As I have previously explained, the period of deferment will be kept to the minimum but it is a question of obtaining suitable replacements and the period may vary. I may say that the repatriation of the West African troops is now taking place.

Detention Barracks (Mps' Visits)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will appoint a small committee of Members of Parliament to inspect military detention barracks and civil prisons in which soldiers are detained; and if he will provide facilities for hon. Members to do so.

:So far as military prisons and detention barracks are concerned, hon. Members are welcome to visit them at any convenient time either individually or in small parties. I understand from my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary that similar facilities will be given for visits to the civil prisons concerned. Many such visits have been made in the past. I see no reason, however, for a formal committee of inspection.

Military Offences (Review)

asked the Secretary of State for War how often the cases of men in civil prisons for military offences are reviewed by him; how many sentences have been remitted or reduced; and the date of the last review of such cases.

Soldiers under sentence as the result of convictions by courts-martial have their cases reviewed auotmatically, by the appropriate reviewing authority, at intervals not exceeding six months, whether in civil or in military custody, and whatever the nature of their offence. In addition such cases are reviewed as a result of petitions, and when representations are received which appear to warrant further consideration of the case by the reviewing authority.

As I recently informed the House, a special review is now being carried out of the cases of all soldiers under sentence for purely military offences. This special review has already resulted in the release of over 50 per cent. of the men who were serving sentence in civil or military custody in this country on VJ-Day. It is not possible to give the date of the last review of such cases, as the date differs in each individual case.

Courts-Martial (Review)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will consider the setting up of a committee of inquiry into the functioning of courts martial in this country.

I am not quite sure what my hon. Friend has in mind. I do not think the functioning of courts-martial is the subject of public anxieties which call for a committee of inquiry. The whole code of military law and procedure, including the functioning of courts-martial, will however require to be reviewed in the light of war experience, and it may well be desirable to appoint a committee for this purpose a little later on, when the Judge Advocate General and other staffs intimately concerned are less heavily pressed with current business.

Home Guard (Clothing)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, having regard to the ruling that until the Home Guard is disbanded items of clothing remain his Department's property and cannot be disposed of or dyed or used for private purposes and that the member is responsible for keeping them in good order, he will now take steps to enable such clothing to become the property of the member and alleviate to some extent the present shortage in regard to clothing.

No, Sir. Settlement of this point must await a decision regarding the disbandment of the Home Guard.

Transport Conditions

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the state of the trains used to convey British Service personnel across Europe to and from Udine; and whether he will take steps to have windows repaired and heating systems put in order before the full rigours of winter begin.

The stock used between the Channel Ports and Milan is in good condition. Between Milan and Udine poorer stock must sometimes be used if the numbers travelling are to be maintained. Every effort is made to improve conditions and an alternative route is scheduled to open next month which will ease the situation.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the bad conditions of transport for men of the C.M.F. coming on leave from and returning to Italy, as exemplified by the unsatisfactory conditions of transit camps, such as those at Tibenham, Norfolk, where troops are kept up to 14 days and the overcrowding on the troopship "Johann de Witt" at Southampton; and if he will take steps to improve transport conditions.

I dealt with the incidents mentioned in my reply yesterday to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for North Kensington (Mr. Rogers). I cannot agree that conditions in general are bad. In order to provide for as many men as possible we make the fullest use of the limited transport facilities we have, by air, land and sea. There is necessarily a certain amount of overcrowding at times but the majority of those who travel prefer this to a reduction in the amount of leave or repatriation, which is the only alternative. We are constantly working to improve the general standard.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether an alternative method of transportation to the United Kingdom will be arranged for approximately 1,000 Army personnel due for repatriation from East Africa Command or or about 15th December next under Python, who have now been informed that the earliest boat available will not be before 8th January, 1946, due to the cancellation of berthing accommodation originally available to them in the "Ie de France," due in East Africa on, approximately, 17th December,1945.

The hon. and gallant Member appears to have been misinformed. There has been no cancellation of the arrangements made for the repatriation of these troops.

Training Grounds

asked the Secretary of State for War which areas in Wales it has been decided to devote to purposes of military exercise and training; which areas in Wales are under consideration for such purposes; and the approximate acreage involved in each case.

As I have previously explained to hon. Members, the requirements of land for the postwar period are now under consideration generally, and I cannot say as to any particular area until I have surveyed the whole position, not only in Wales, in the light of more definite information about our total needs. In the meantime, land is not being retained unnecessarily. When it ceases to be needed for current use it is released.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the losses and inconvenience caused to agriculture in the Penmaenmawr-Capel Curig-Bangor area of Snowdonia, Caernarvonshire, through the continued training activities of the O.C.T.U. stationed in the area; and if he will order the immediate discontinuance of these activities.

The area is used under conditions which do not displace the occupiers and machinery exists for dealing with losses due to military use. The difficulties caused to agriculture have been fully discussed with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and I believe they are being satisfactorily dealt with. O.C.T.Us, must have facilities for field firing if training is to be carried out properly, but the amount of land used will be reduced as soon as current needs become less. I hope that some of it will be released in the near future.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he 12 now in a position to give a date for the closing down of his Department's schools operating in Caernarvonshire as was requested in a letter to him, dated 20th November last, from a number of farmers of this county whose farming activities are limited by the continuance of such battle schools.

No, Sir, I am not yet in a position to give exact dates as to when the Battle Schools will move from Caernarvonshire. But I shall release as much land as I can in that area as soon as possible.

Malta (Parcels Despatch)

asked the Secretary of State for War what regulations exist in regard to parcels sent from Malta by military personnel stationed there to their dependants in this country.

Service personnel in Malta may send parcels under similar conditions to those in force in other overseas commands. In all cases the contents of parcels are subject to the Malta Government's export regulations which are published periodically in local command and routine orders.

Leave

asked the Secretary of State for War how many of the troops who refused to sail in the troopship "Johan de Witt" were within a month of their due date for demobilisation.

I could not say definitely without considerable research into personal records whether there were any such men, but as the men were returning from United Kingdom leave under the L.I.A.P. scheme none of them should have been due for such early release. Under the existing L.I.A.P. rules men are not to be sent home on leave when they have only a few months to serve overseas before home posting or release.

Jewish Brigade (Fast)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has received a report on the behaviour of the Jewish Brigade of the B.A.O.R., which was instituted as a protest against the Government's declaration on Palestine.

I understand that following the recent statement on the Palestine situation, personnel of the Brigade held a 24 hour fast, on 19th/20th November, to demonstrate their sympathies with the Jews in Europe. There was no collective indiscipline and duties were carried out in a perfectly normal manner.

Compassionate Leave

asked the Secretary of State for War if, in view of the delay occurring regarding applications for compassionate leave, commanding officers will be authorised to grant longer periods of leave without reference to higher authority.

No, Sir Adequate arrangements already exist for extending leave where necessary.

Searchlight Sites

asked the Secretary of State for War how many searchlight sites are still under requisition in the counties of Hereford and Worcester; and whether compensation rent is still being paid for them.

Forty-eight; in one case no claim for compensation rental has been received, but payment is being made on all the remainder.

Requisitioned Property

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that since June, 1940, the parish church hall at North Somercoates, Lincolnshire, has been used by the Army as a N.A.A.F.I.; and will he give instructions for its derequisition by the end of 1945, in order that the parochial church council may restart their social and religious work in the village.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give instructions for the immediate derequisitioning of the Great Carlton, Lincolnshire, church institute, since the area quartering commandant has no authority to do so; and, as there have been no troops in the village for over 12 months, will he see that military necessities no longer hold up civilian amenities.

Release action was initiated in October. The premises were required by the Army until June and by the war agricultural committee until October.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that two houses in Armagh have been vacated by the A.T.S. and have been vacant for some time, and if he will give instructions that these houses be derequisitioned at once owing to the scarcity of houses in Armagh.

I presume the hon. and gallant Member refers to Nos. 6 and 10, Beresford Row in the town of Armagh. These houses have been derequisitioned with effect from 30th November.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that on the derequisitioning of billets by his Department in Armagh and elsewhere the articles contained therein are sent to Belfast for sale; why local residents are not given the opportunity to purchase these articles which cannot be supplied to them by the local shops; and why the local farmers are not given an opportunity to purchase the huts erected by his Department.

The contents of these buildings are not necessarily surplus and their return to store does not imply that they will be sold. Any actual disposal is carried out not by the War Office but by the appropriate disposals Department. With regard to the latter part of the Question, the huts, if not required by the War or other Government Department, are offered to the owners of the ground before being handed over to the disposals Department concerned.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will now state when he will derequisition the public elementary school at Bangor, County Down.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will release the school buildings in Northern Ireland at present in possession of the military authorities, in the near future, as education is suffering through the diversion of these schools from the purpose for which they were erected.

Orange field School, Belfast, is already in process of being derequisitioned and I hope that the elementary school at Bangor will be released by about the middle of February, 1946, so far as the War Department is concerned. No other schools in Northern Ireland are held by my Department.

Baggage Entitlement (East Africa)

asked the Secretary of State for War why repatriation baggage entitlement for officers of East Africa Command has been doubled while that of other ranks has been halved.

I am not aware of any such arrangement. There has been some standardisation of baggage entitlement to simplify work at the ports, but in most cases this has increased the allowance for other ranks. I am, however, making inquiries in East Africa Command and will write to my hon. Friend.

Irish Citizens

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give the number of soldiers, other ranks, serving outside the United Kingdom at the beginning of 1944, who were born in Northern Ireland and Eire respectively.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to my hon. Friend the Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Murray) on nth October last.

Formation College, Luton (Opening)

asked the Secretary of State for War how many civilian motorcars and Army Staff motor-cars, respectively, were used to convey official guests to the opening of No. 5 Formation College, Luton Hoo, on Monday, 19th November; how many of those vehicles came from London especially for the event; how many guests, military and civilian, remained to tea and by what means was the necessary food obtained; how many camp military police were employed on police duties; and what was the approximate cost of the whole proceeding.

As hon. Members are no doubt aware, I was present and gave the opening address on this occasion, which marked a notable step forward in the provision of Army educational facilities. The significance of the occasion was recognised by the attendance of distinguished and representative guests, both military and civilian. This naturally involved the use of transport and the provision of food, but I saw no evidence of extravagance in either case. If, however, the hon. Member is anxious to have the details, I will have them sent to him so far as they are available.

Baor (Hon Colonels' Visits)

asked the Secretary of State for War how soon honorary colonels can travel to B.A.O.R. to visit the units to which they have been appointed.

I cannot say at present. I have arranged to be informed as soon as such visits become practicable.

Economy Branch

asked the Secretary of State for War if, in view of the good work done by the Economy Branch of his Department, he will, in the national interest, reconsider the decision to disband this branch at the end of the year.

No, Sir. This branch was set up to meet a special need by ensuring the practice of the fullest economy during a period of great expansion when the staff employed in Home Commands were not always fully experienced in such matters. With the run-down of the Army the much smaller staffs will consist of fully trained and selected officers, who can be expected to ensure the practice of economy, which is a normal function and responsibility of such staffs.

Punishments

asked the Secretary of State for War, in view of the fact that punishments awarded by Service authorities are more severe than those imposed for equivalent offences by civilian courts and that the routine treatment of prisoners in detention camps is harsher than in civilian prisons, if he will set up an inquiry into these matters in general as a preliminary to more humane treatment of Service offenders and in order to allay the disquiet in the country.

By the expression "equivalent offences" I assume that my hon. Friend refers to offences which, when committed in England by civilians, are punishable by the law of this country. Under Section 41 of the Army Act the more serious offences, viz., treason, murder, manslaughter, treason-felony and rape, if committed by a person subject to military law, are triable by a civil count in all cases where the offence is committed in this country, and in cases where the offence is committed in British territory overseas if there is a competent court within reach, unless the accused is on active service at the time.In the case of the less serious offences the maximum punishment which can be awarded in any particular case by a court martial is, generally speaking, the same as that which can be awarded by a civil court for the same offence. If the suggestion is that the general run of sentences awarded by courts-martial shows greater severity than the general run of sentences awarded by civil courts, I am unable to accept this suggestion, in the absence of instances to support it. Sentences awarded by courts-martial are subject to review after confirmation, and in practice are often mitigated or commuted, if the original sentence appears to have been too severe: In general, courts-martial, in the matter of awarding sentences have to take into account the effect on the discipline of the Army, and it is laid down in the Manual of Military Law (Chapter 5, para. 78) that the proper amount of punishment to be inflicted is the least amount by which discipline can efficiently be maintained.As regards the routine treatment of soldiers under sentence in detention barracks, the rules for military detention barracks and military prisons are based upon the rules for civil prisons. The former are in no way more harsh than the latter, and in some respects they are more lenient. If the suggestion is that in the application of the rules there is greater harshness in military establishments, I must point out that the Committee of Inquiry into Detention Barracks which reported in 1943 (Cmd. 6484) were satisfied that there was not then nor had been for some time past any violence or physical ill-treatment practised upon men in detention (para. 20 of Report). Whether the forthcoming inquiry into the conduct of Stakehill Detention Barracks will justify another more general inquiry it is too early to judge, and I have nothing to add at present to what I said on this subject on 27th November.

Billeted Personnel (Travelling Expenses)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that soldiers billeted at Charlton and whose office is at Hollinwood have to pay travelling expenses amounting to 8s. per week; why this is so; and why, when detailed to attend a compulsory Armistice Day parade, these same soldiers had to pay a fare of Is. 9½d.

Soldiers who are billeted are entitled to travelling expenses for the journey between their billets and place of duty if the distance exceeds two miles. Soldiers who cannot be accommodated in public quarters or provided with billets receive allowances to enable them to obtain accommodation for themselves, in which case travelling expenses are not allowed in addition. If the soldiers stationed at Hollinwood are, in fact, billeted they may be entitled to travelling expenses under the above conditions. I am looking into the case generally and will communicate with the hon. Member when inquiries have been completed.

Demobilisation

asked the Secretary of State for War whether a soldier who is granted compassionate release is entitled to the family and children's allowances he would receive were he to be released with his normal age and service group.

No, Sir. Family allowances follow pay and the soldier granted indefinite release on compassionate grounds does not receive the 56 days' leave with pay which is granted to the soldier released in Class A.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in the case of those officers and other ranks in the Middle East or Far East who desire to make their permanent home in the British Dominions or Colonies, he will arrange for their demobilisation overseas and thus save time and transport.

The regulations already provide for release overseas. Application should be made to the commanding officer.

asked the Secre-of State for War the number of teachers who have been released under Class B, while serving as officers with the B.A.O.R., compared with those released while serving at home.

As I stated on 6th November, in reply to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for Pudsey and Otley (Colonel Stoddart-Scott), our records do not show the numbers of Class B releases from each command. I regret therefore that the information asked for is not available.

asked the Secretary of State for War who is responsible for deciding that a man eligible for block release under Class B shall not be so released on grounds of military necessity; and what right of appeal exists against such a decision.

No man has an individual claim for block release in Class B. The War Office decide which soldiers of the required occupation shall be offered release to make up the numbers demanded. These releases are granted solely in the public interest and not at the instance of the individual. The question of appeal does not therefore arise.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that officers and men of the Radio Security Service feel a sense of grievance at not being released in accordance with their special terms of enlistment; and since some have been released because of representations from their Members of Parliament, will he see that justice is done to all these men without further delay.

Certain members of the Radio Security Service were specially enlisted under terms entitling them to discharge when their services were no longer required. The services of a large number are still required, but the men are being released as quickly as possible, as the duties of the Service contract, and due regard is paid to age and service. I am not aware of any injustice or grounds for complaint, but I am arranging that the position shall be fully explained to the men to remove any misunderstandings. Other members of the Radio Security Service are dealt with under normal release rules.

asked the Secretary of State. for War if he will state the numbers of officers and other ranks whose groups have been released and who are being held in India and Burma in connection with pending judicial proceedings; and what steps he is taking to accelerate these proceedings.

I am afraid it will take some time to collect this information. I have called for it, and will write to the hon. and gallant Member.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will authorise all personnel returning to their homes from demobilisation centres to retain their Army greatcoats during the winter months on the understanding that the value of these coats is not credited if they are not returned within a specified time.

I regret I am unable to" agree to this proposal. These men receive good quality raincoats, and are allowed to keep their warm underclothing and pullover. The greatcoats are needed by the Army.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will review the question of Class C compassionate release in all three services, so that in clear cases of hardship full release may be granted, thus rendering unnecessary repeated applications for extension of limited periods.

Release for an indefinite period is already granted when the circumstances justify it, and the applicant is prepared to accept. I see no reason, therefore, to alter the rules.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the inequitable arrangements with regard to the demobilisation of Commandos and that in some Commando brigades those who are in the R.M. are being demobilised if they are in Groups 28 and 29, whilst those drawn from the Army have not been demobilised even up to Group 23; and whether steps will be taken at an early date to equalise these releases and to remove the grievance of those in Commando brigades who were drawn from the Army and not from the R.M.

I am aware that soldiers from the Commandos are released under normal Army arrangements and Marines under Navy arrangements. This seems to me to be equitable. It would not be equitable to treat these particular soldiers more favourably than other Army personnel, as regards release.

asked the Secretary of State for War why he issues a warning to officers returning to civilian life not to take up livestock farming.

No such warning is issued. The notice to which I presume the hon. Member refers, calls attention to a leaflet issued by the Ministry of Labour and National Service advising officers and other ranks who revert to unemployment not to take up livestock farming without first consulting the county war agricultural executive committee for the area. This is particularly necessary owing to the difficulty there may be in obtaining feeding-stuffs which are strictly rationed.

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps he has taken to acquaint men serving in the A.E.C. who are posted overseas of their precise position as regards Class B release.

Arrangements have been made by which all officers and other ranks of the Army Educational Corps who leave the Education Corps Depot for overseas are informed that the fact that an individual is serving overseas in no way affects the decision as to whether an offer of Class B release is made to him. A circular is also shortly to be issued throughout the Corps explaining the position of the A.E.C. with regard to releases.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that under present military establishments and commitments in East Africa Command at least one-half of the staffs of medical services in that command are surplus to requirements; and, in view of the shortage of civilian medical practitioners and staffs in this country, will he arrange for the early repatriation and release of those now so redundant.

The position is not as stated by the hon. and gallant Member. In addition to the British troops, there is a very large number of Colonial troops for whom medical attention has to be provided by the R.A.M.C. Certain reductions were recently ordered, and all medical officers in Group 24 or earlier are being returned for release this month, but it would be quite impossible to reduce by anything approaching 50 per cent.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the D.O.S. Instruction, No. 135, issued by H.Q., B.A.O.R., on 2nd November, 1945, which purports to direct that officers of Group 20 shall not be released until replacements are received from the United Kingdom; and whether he will have this order cancelled as unauthorised in view of the fact that the release date of Group 20 is already past and no general deferment of officers therein has been authorised.

I have been unable to verify the actual terms of the instruction in the time available. But owing to the shortage of officers in the Command, R.A.O.C. officers in Group 20 were retained pending replacements. These are now available owing to the general deferment scheme and I understand that the delayed officers will arrive in the United Kingdom by 9th December at the latest.

asked the Secretary of State for War if it is his policy to refuse the release of proprietors of one-man businesses whose businesses had to be closed down on their call-up; and why has release been refused to 14937047 Sergeant S. H. Ross, Stoner's Military Hospital, near Newton Abbot, Devon, whose business as a chemist and optician at 723, Old Kent Road, S.E.15, had to be closed down on his call-up in spite of his application made as advised by his Department, and whose stock of drugs, etc., is rapidly deteriorating.

asked the Secretary of State for War why the release of warrant officers and N.C.O.s of 794 Workshop and Park Company, R.E., C.M.F., has been deferred for three months where they are in the following categories, engineer clerks, military machinists, assistant foremen of works and other personnel on the temporary establishment for engineer services; and if he will arrange for these men to be released according to their normal age and service qualification.

Certain individuals in this unit have been deferred as operationally essential under paragraph 320, Release Regulations. They will not be retained longer than is necessary; the period of three months was an estimate, given to the men in their own interests, but I am looking into the case.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that difficulty has been experienced by soldiers in Colombo, Burma, and the Far East in obtaining the necessary application forms for special entrance facilities granted to His Majesty's Forces on demobilisation, relating to various branches of the Civil Service; and what steps are being taken to ensure that these forms are readily available to those who require them.

:I am not aware of any difficulties, but I am making inquiries and will inform my hon. and gallant Friend of the result. Bulk supplies of the forms and literature were sent to G.H.Q., India, by air on 12th May last, for distri- bution in India and S.E.A.C. Further supplies of some items have since been sent on request.

Excavator Drivers

asked the Minister of Works whether he is aware that work on the Portsmouth and Pimperne housing sites is being delayed for the lack of a skilled excavator driver; and why, in the circumstances, the application for release under Class B of Corporal Childs 1907585, No. 3 Section, 904 Stene Company, R.E., Carrlane Camp, Willerby, near Hull, has been rejected, since this man is a skilled excavator driver.

Excavator drivers are released under the block release method and not by individual nomination. I am informed that there is no demand outstanding for an excavator driver at the Portsmouth Employment Exchange and that if an application is submitted every effort will be made to supply a suitable excavator driver for this work.

Officers (Special Leave)

asked the Secretary of State for War why officers serving at home can obtain leave for interviews in connection with advertised public posts requiring specialised qualifications and officers serving in Germany cannot; and whether he will review this position.

Special leave for such interviews is not allowed but there is nothing to prevent individuals from fixing appointments during ordinary leave or on rest days. Personnel serving at home are bound to have an advantage in this respect, and those in B.A.O.R. are similarly better off than those who are further a field.

Vehicles And Craft

asked the Secretary of State for War what actual work there has been for M.E. 13, No. 2 W.T.C., C.O.X.E. and D.T.D. since VJ-Day; when the reason for each ceased; and the numbers, respectively, of brigadiers, colonels, lieut.-colonels, majors and captains who are at present employed in each.

M.E. 13 and No. 2 W.T.C. are responsible for the technique, materials and general procedure for the waterproofing of vehicles and equipments, now a general requirement in certain circumstances. The work on existing types was not completed at the end of the war and as new designs and types arise they must be dealt with. There is one lieut.-colonel and one major in each establishment.C.O.X.E. is concerned with special craft and equipment required for combined operations and has been carrying out experiments and trials with amphibians in order to provide, and improve, British types. There are one lieut.-colonel, three majors and ten captains in the establishment.D.T.D., the correct title of which is now F.V.D.D., is the department of the Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production responsible for research, design and development of all military vehicles, armoured and unarmoured, tracked and wheeled. Though the volume of work handled by the department has decreased the reason for its existence has by no means ceased. There are at present one colonel-, 6 lieut.-colonels, 28 majors and 26 captains employed in this department.

Rifle Clubs (Ammunition)

asked the Secretary of State for War the price at which small arms ammunition is sold to bona fide rifle clubs.

A price representing its cost to the State but, in view of existing surpluses, the question of a lower price for surplus ammunition, serviceable but not in 100 per cent. condition, is under consideration with the Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production. This arrangement will be restricted to the National Rifle Association and affiliated bodies.

Ats, Armagh (Incident)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a Roman Catholic priest, not a chaplain to the Forces, went to the military barracks in Armagh and had one of the A.T.S. called out from the office where she was working and asked her why she dared to wear that uniform and to go and take it off; and will he see that an order is given that this clergyman is not permitted to enter the precincts of the barracks again.

I was not aware of this incident, but I am making inquiries and will inform the hon. and gallant Member of my decision.

Service Vehicles (Speed Cheek)

asked the Secretary of State for War how many provost motor cyclists are now employed in the British Isles for checking the speed of Service vehicles along streets and country roads and the jumping of lights at cross-roads, since military urgency is no longer a justification; and how many drivers were checked and charged, respectively, during the last six months.

The information is not available in the War Office, but I am looking into the matter and will write to the hon. Member.

Hong Kong (Relief Supplies)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, since the military authorities are responsible for the provision of consumer goods of all kinds for the population of Hong Kong up to a minimum standard, he will state the nature and volume of the goods so far delivered; and whether all relief needs have now been met.

From the earliest days of liberation essential relief supplies have been sent to Hong Kong, consisting in the main of foodstuffs and coal. It should be noted, however, that whilst the relief supplies imported during the military period include a limited quantity of consumer goods, they could not be said to embrace "consumer goods of all kinds." In order to give the actual tonnages, a reference has been necessary to the Supreme Commander South East Asia, but I will write to the hon. and gallant Member when they are available.

Red Cross Parcels (Disposal)

asked the Secretary of State for War how many British Red Cross parcels intended for. prisoners of war have been released for other purposes; how many additional parcels it is still intended to release; whether care is exercised to prevent these parcels going to the black market or to German citizens who have existed during the war upon the plunder of territories under Nazi occupation; and whether any priority is given in the distribution of these parcels to anti-Nazi prisoners who are or were formerly in concentration camps.

The British Red Cross War Organisation had nearly 10,000,000 food parcels originally intended for prisoners of war from the British Commonwealth surplus at the end of hostilities. Two hundred thousand of these were sent to the Channel Islands for relief purposes following the end of the German occupation and were additional to those sent during that occupation; 384,000 were given to the Norwegian Red Cross for relief in Norway; 1,150,000 were given to British Red Cross Commissioners in North-West and Southern Europe for relief in liberated countries; and the remainder amounting to about 8,000,000 were handed over to the Allied Military authorities for the relief of released Allied prisoners of war and displaced persons. No food parcels remain at the disposal of the British Red Cross War Organisation. Without detailed inquiries, which I do not feel justified in making, I cannot say how many parcels remain undistributed with the authorities in Europe.Red Cross parcels have been issued to displaced persons in assembly centres, in the British and American zones in Germany to supplement food from local and military sources. The military authorities are fully alive to the illegal practices of the black market and to the possibility of illegal distribution of food to German nationals, and all possible steps are taken to prevent these things happening. All persons in displaced persons assembly centres are treated alike in the matter of food distribution and no individuals or groups receive any priority. The policy of the Control Commission is that ex-inmates of concentration camps outside displaced persons assembly centres should received preferential rations. There are now no concentration camps in Germany.

Prisoners Of War

Medical Examination

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give instructions that the medical examinations of prisoners of war from the Far East which are now taking place and which will be held in the future, shall be carried out with great care and thoroughness in the interests of those examined.

Comprehensive and detailed instructions have already been issued on this matter.

Spanish Nationals

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will take stops to expedite a decision regarding the Spanish Republicans at present held as prisoners of war in this country.

I cannot yet add anything to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 18th October to my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg), but I hope that the decision will not now be long delayed.

Deaths, Far East (Information)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will take steps to ensure that the relatives of British prisoners of war who died in the Far East should not merely be informed of the fact of their death but also be given any other information which is available and proper to be given to such relatives.

The hon. Member may be assured that all information proper to be conveyed to the next of kin of prisoners of war who died in the Far East will be given to the relatives as it becomes available.

Reporting Unit, Leigh-On-Sea

asked the Secretary of State for war whether he is aware that prisoners of war returning from overseas are being directed to call at the H.Q. of the 25th Infantry Holding Battalion at Leigh-on-Sea despite the fact that this unit moved from Leigh-on-Sea to Congleton, Cheshire, in early May; and whether arrangements can be made to prevent any further fruitless journeys by returned prisoners of war and others to this incorrect address.

I am aware that, owing to a failure to amend the list of locations there have been cases of men reporting to this unit at Leigh-on-Sea. I regret the inconvenience caused. Instructions which I hope will avoid any further complaints concerning this unit have been issued.

Germans, Darras Hall Camp

asked the Secretary of State for War what arrangements are being made for the repatriation of German prisoners of war now concentrated in camp at Darras Hall Camp, Northumberland.

Polish Armed Forces (Repatriation)

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the number of officers and men in the Polish Army, Navy and Air Force who have volunteered to return to Poland; and what arrangements have been made for and what are the conditions governing their return.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply I gave on 28th November to the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) which referred to all three Services.

Leave Petrol (Armed Forces)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that civilian internees in the Far East are being refused leave petrol allowances even when they have been members of local defence forces and have been prisoners for four years; and whether he will authorise allowances on a similar scale to that granted to military ex-prisoners.

Repatriates who were captured by the Japanese when serving in the Armed Volunteer Forces of Hong Kong or Malaya or who for any other reason are treated by the authorities as members of the Armed Forces of the Crown on leave from service overseas, are eligible for the petrol allowance. Bat the allowance is admissible only to members of the Forces and the Merchant Navy, and cannot be granted to civilian internees.

Gibraltar (Governor's Summer Residence)