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Written Answers

Volume 411: debated on Wednesday 6 June 1945

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Written Answers To Questions

Greek Detainees

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware of the arrest of Nicos Karayiannis, Secretary of the Middle East section of the Greek Maritime Union and of his transfer to an internment camp in the Sudan; and whether he can make a statement on the charge to be made against him.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the end of the German war and the release of Fascists detained under the Defence Regulations, it is now intended to release the 35 Greek subjects in the Middle East and the three in East Africa detained under these Regulations; on what charges the secretary of the Middle East Branch of the Federation of Greek Maritime Unions, Karayannis, and the secretary of the Greek Liberation League, Zerbinis, arrested in Alexandria in April, 1944, are detained; if they are included in the 38; and if they are still in Sudanese camps.

Of the 38 Greek subjects detained under Defence Regulations in the Middle East and East Africa a few will be released almost immediately. No decision has yet been taken about the release of the remainder, who are held on such charges as espionage. All these men are detained by the British authorities. Karayiannis and Zerbinis are not amongst the 38. The former is detained in the Sudan and the latter in Eritrea. Both of them are held by the Greek authorities as principal instigators of the mutiny which took place in the Greek Forces in April, 1944, but no legal charges have been preferred against them. Karayiannis will be repatriated to Greece with the other Greek subjects who are still held as a result of the 1944 mutinies. The date of repatriation will depend on the speed with which other classes of Greek subjects in the Middle East can return to Greece. Zerbinis is normally resident in Egypt and will be released locally when the others are repatriated.

Russia (Arrested Polish Representatives)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in view of Marshal Stalin's statement that the 16 arrested Poles were not invited to Russia for negotiations, what steps he proposes taking, in the interests of our alliance with Soviet Russia, to correct the public impression that these Poles had been lured to the U.S.S.R. for subsequent arrest.

As my right hon. Friend stated in reply to Questions on 30th May, he has not yet received the full explanation of this episode for which he asked M. Molotov at San Francisco. In the absence of full information His Majesty's Government are scarcely in a position to correct any misapprehensions that may exist in the public mind.

Post Office

Military Telephone Numbers

asked the Postmaster-General if he can now see his way to publish military telephone numbers in the telephone directories on a wider scale than at present.

I am pleased to state that my right hon. and gallant Friend has now been able to arrange with the Secretary of State for War for a relaxation of the restrictions on the publication of military telephone numbers which will go a long way to restore pre-war practice in this respect. Pending reprint of the telephone directories, telephone operators will disclose to callers, on request, the telephone numbers of any military establishment on which the restriction has been lifted.

Savings Bank Accounts (Forgeries)

asked the Postmaster-General in respect of Post Office Savings Bank accounts, how many prosecutions have taken place in the last 12 months for forgery; whether such offences are on the increase; and what losses have been sustained by the depositors.

The number of prosecutions during the 12months ended 31st December, 1944, for forgery in respect of Post Office Savings Bank accounts was 951. Compared with the previous year there was a decrease of approximately one-third in the number of offences of this nature. In every case where a prosecution occurs the money fraudulently withdrawn by a person other than the depositor is replaced in the account and the depositor suffers no loss.

Election Matter (Forces Overseas)

asked the Postmaster-General whether there is a uniform date throughout the country for the delivery to the Post Office of election matter for transmission to the Forces; and, if so, what that date is.

Election matter for transmission to Forces overseas is not to be handed by candidates to the Post Office but to the Returning Officer, whose duty it is to forward it direct with the ballot paper to the man or woman concerned. I understand that Returning Officers have been instructed themselves to complete these postings within three days of Nomination Day, i.e., 28th June.

Ministry Of Information

"News Digest"

asked the Minister of Information whether he will reconsider the decision to discontinue publication of "News Digest."

The "News Digest" was produced to assist the work of those engaged in propaganda to enemy-occupied, countries. Its continuance as a Government activity for the benefit of British and foreign journalists, to whom it was made available, could hardly be justified.

Home Activities

asked the Minister of Information by what date the home activities of his Department will cease; and what reductions have already taken place.

The home activities of the Ministry will have to continue until the end of the war with Japan. Reductions in the regional establishment have already begun and as the result of a further review the present complement will be cut by about one-fifth.

Broadcasts From Russia

asked the Minister of Information how many broadcasts a week are sent in the English language from Russia to Britain; and how many in the Russian language from Britain to Russia.

There are 53 broadcasts a. week in English from the Soviet Union. There are no B.B.C. broadcasts in Russian to the Soviet Union.

Port Mulberry (Publicity)

asked the Minister of Information if he is aware that the British achievement of Port Mulberry is quite unknown in the U.S.A.; and what steps he is taking to make more widely known this great contribution to the success of the invasion of the Continent.

My information is that widespread publicity was given in the Amercian Press, newsreels and radio to the Mulberry Harbour as a British achievement. An exhibition prepared by us and sponsored by the U.S. Treasury is at present touring the principal cities of the United States. An illustrated booklet entitled "Miracle Harbour" is being distributed in connection with the exhibition; and the M.O.I, film "A Harbour Goes to France" has been released for showing in cinemas throughout the United States.

Japanese War (News)

asked the Minister of Information whether, in view of the large number of people whose relations are fighting in the Far East or are prisoners of war in the hands of the Japanese, he will ensure that the fullest possible accounts of the progress of the Japanese war are given to the B.B.C. and to the Press.

The Ministry of Information does not, of course, control the source of information about the war in the Far East. But I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that they are doing everything in their power to ensure that the best possible supply of news is available to the B.B.C. and to the Press.

asked the Minister of Information whether he is aware that the relegation of the Japanese war to second and third place in the B.B.C. news broadcasts is causing the public to minimise the importance of the Far Eastern conflict; and will be take steps to remedy this.

The order in which items of news are given in B.B.C. news bulletins is, of course, a matter for the discretion of the editors. The B.B.C. cannot themselves control the flow of news from the Far East; but I think it is fair to them to say that they have for a long time been alive to the importance of giving every attention to the Far Eastern war and have worked hard to do their share.

University Of London Libraries (Access)

asked the Minister of Information if he will take steps, as soon as possible, to provide facilities of access to the libraries of the University of London, of which students have been deprived since the outbreak of war, thus suffering a handicap in preparing for their degree courses.

Arrangements were made to grant certain facilities for access to the University libraries in 1940 and at the beginning of this year the Ministry intimated that it was ready to arrange for general access for undergraduates. If the University authorities will explain what further facilities they require, every effort will be made to meet them so far as it can be done without detriment to the work of the Ministry.

Censorship Staff, Jamaica

asked the Minister of Information when it is proposed to disband the censorship staff in Jamaica.

The censorship staff in Jamaica cannot yet be disbanded, but it is being reduced to the lowest level consistent with the maintenance of security requirements in the prosecution of the war against Japan.

British Army

Parliamentary Candidates

asked the Secretary of State for War whether Service candidates for Parliament have now been given leave to contest the election.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams) by the Prime Minister on 1st May. As far as I am aware the instructions are being properly carried out.

West African Soldiers (Demobilisation)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the demobilisation scheme for West African soldiers is similar to the age and length of service scheme applicable to British soldiers; and whether it is intended to operate it at approximately the same rate.

No, Sir. After consultation with the West African Governments a system of demobilisation by units has been adopted. Subject to over-riding military requirements, those units with longest service overseas will be the first to be sent home for release as military considerations permit successive reductions in the number of West African troops employed.

Combat Films

asked the Secretary of State for War whether combat films, hitherto unseen by the actual members of. the three Services who took part in particular episodes which have been filmed, can now be made available for display to the Forces during the period of occupation of Europe in order that the Services shall have a chance of viewing the pictorial records of their achievements which by the time they are demobilised will have long since ceased to be shown in this country.

A number of films of specific operations have been made and they have all been very widely shown to the troops. I will certainly consider whether any should be shown again for the benefit of those who have missed them hitherto. Further such films are now being made.

Harringay (Army Depot)

asked the Secretary of State for War why permission was given for the rebuilding of the Harringay sports arena; if he is aware that many bomb-damaged houses in the borough have not yet been rendered habitable; and if, in view of the shortage of housing accommodation, he will transfer the labour from the Harringay arena to more important work.

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the value of the licence granted for work on the Harringay Stadium; how many men are employed; and if he is aware of the feeling in Hornsey and neighbouring badly-bombed boroughs at the use of man-power on this type of work.

This stadium is being used as an Army depot and it is necessary for its proper functioning to make good air-raid damage there. Work estimated to cost £7,500 is being carried out and 14 men are at present being employed there.

Pioneer Corps (Title)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will recommend that the Pioneer Corps may be granted the prefix Royal, in view of the long and gallant service it has rendered in all theatres of war.

The claims of the Pioneer Corps cannot be considered apart from similar claims for other corps. They will all be carefully examined but I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will agree with me that there are more urgent tasks on hand for the time being.

Leave And Demobilisation

asked the Secretary of State for War if he has considered the letters, sent to him by the hon. Member for West Fife, dealing with soldiers' objections to certain phases of leave and demobilisation proposals; and what steps does he propose to take.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave a number of hon. Members on this subject yesterday.

Far East Forces (Health Precautions)

asked the Secretary of State for War if men drafted to the Far East are first instructed in the precautions necessary for the preservation of health and hygiene; and if such instruction is given by officers only or also by warrant officers and non-commissioned officers with experience of conditions in Eastern countries.

Instruction in the precautions necessary for the preservation of health is included in the general training programme and special periods are devoted to measures to combat malaria for the formations from which drafts are obtained for the Far East. This instruction is given by medical officers, combatant officers and warrant officers many of whom have had experience in the Far East. In addition instruction in hygiene and the preservation of health in the tropics is given on board troopships by means of lectures and films.

Norway (Situation)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he can make any statement in regard to the position in Norway; and how the situation of our troops there compares with the German garrison still remaining.

The principal aims of Allied policy in Norway have been to restore the legal Norwegian Government, and to control, disarm and evacuate the German forces from Norway. The Norwegian Government has returned and the King is due to arrive in Norway on 7th June. The control and disarmament of German forces in Norway by Allied forces under General Eisenhower's command has proceeded smoothly and has been assisted by the Norwegian Resistance Army. Allied policy has been to collect the German troops into "reservations" and then to disarm them. By 2nd June it was reported that 97 per cent. of the total German forces in Norway had been concentrated into reservations. No Germans, other than certain naval personnel, have yet been evacuated.

British Prisoners Of War, Far East

asked the Secretary of State for War if he has any further information to give regarding the position of British prisoners of war in the hands of the Japanese, particularly in respect to their treatment, by their captors, and the receipt of mails and food parcels from home.

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Sir G. Shakespeare) on 30th May.

Railways

Losses And Thefts

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport the total financial loss through theft sustained by each of the four main line railways during the year 1944.

For the year 1944 the amount of the claims paid by the four main line railway companies in respect of loss and theft of goods was as follows:

£
G.W.R.313,000
L.N.E.R.705,250
L.M.S.R.1,211,000
S.R.152,000
Separate figures in respect of thefts are not available. The aggregate number of claims was over 666,000.

Cheap Fares

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport when he anticipates that cheap mid-day fares will again be available.

The cheap midday fares which were in operation before the war on certain road services of the London Passenger Transport Board are still available. I am unable to say when conditions will permit of the restoration of cheap day return fares on the main line and Board's railways.

Wagons (Requisitioning)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport why it was decided to requisition all privately-owned railway wagons, other than special wagons, which have been completed since 13th June, 1944.

On the outbreak of war in 1939 privately-owned wagons, except those of certain specially exempted types, were requisitioned so that they should be operated in a pool with railway-owned wagons. This has enabled substantial operating economies to be effected and has greatly helped the railways in dealing with the increased traffic. New requisitioning Orders have to be made from time to time to cover wagons built since the date of the original Order.

Royal Navy

Hms "Glorious" (Inquiry)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will now make available to the public the report on the inquiry held into the loss of H.M.S. "Glorious."

No, Sir. The reports of Boards of Inquiry are confidential and are never published.

Requisitioned Fishing Vessels (Release And Manning)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will now release a number of drifters and drifter trawlers suitable for the East Anglian ports with a view to the autumn fishing.

28 steam drifters requisitioned from East Anglian ports are about to be reconverted for fishing. The remaining East Anglian fishing vessels will be released as soon as operational requirements permit.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what steps he is taking, in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour, to see that adequate crews are available for all trawlers released from the Admiralty service and refitted for fishing duties.

Arrangements have been made to release sufficient men from the Navy to complete the crews of all the trawlers which have so far been returned to fishing. Arrangements for manning the further trawlers now becoming available are being made in conjunction with the other Ministers concerned.

Surrendered Enemy Ships

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if surrendered enemy warships are now regarded as His Majesty's ships; and if it is proposed to employ such units as the heavy cruisers "Prinz Eugen" and "Nurnberg," in the war against Japan.

No, Sir. A number of the surrendered German ships are, however, wearing the White Ensign, indicating that they are now in the custody of the Royal Navy. No decision has yet been taken as to the disposal or employment of the ships named by my hon. and gallant Friend.

Naval Base (Clyde)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is yet in a position to announce the setting up of a naval base upon the Clyde.

Protected Areas (Orkney And Shetland)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will cancel the regulation under which Orkney and Shetland are scheduled as protected areas.

The Shetlands are being freed immediately; a final decision has not been reached in the case of the Orkneys, but even if the Order cannot be revoked entirely, the area at present covered will be substantially reduced in the very near future.

Parliamentary Candidates

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether Service candidates for Parliament have now been given leave to contest the election.

Yes, Sir. All applications for leave by adopted Service candidates have been granted.

Housing

Bricks (Winchburgh, West Lothian)

asked the Minister of Works why it has been stipulated that bricks for county council houses at Winchburgh, West Lothian, must be supplied from Edinburgh when there are locally manufactured bricks available.

It has not been possible to find any trace of such a stipulation being made. Apart from the express provisions of a contract, bricks may be purchase from any source within 35 miles of a building site. If the hon. Member can give me more information I will, of course, have the matter further investigated.

Two-Stage Building Method

asked the Minister of Works whether it is proposed to provide facilities for the use of the two-stage method in the building of permanent houses.

The Ministry are prepared to grant facilities for any experiments in the two-stage method of building permanent houses which appear to be of sufficient technical merit, and promise to provide a substantial number of houses at a reasonable cost. As at present advised, however, the adoption of the two-stage method will involve considerable additional cost and has no advantages over the Duplex system.

Prefabricated Permanent Houses

asked the Minister of Works whether it is proposed to give bulk orders to the producers of factory-made permanent houses; and whether the manufacturers are to be given the necessary priority in the supply of labour, material and factory space to enable them to start large-scale production.

Yes, Sir, and I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. C. Taylor) on 17th May last, of which I am sending him a copy. Priority will, of course, be given in the supply of labour, material and factory space for all orders that are placed.

Large Houses (Conversions)

asked the Minister of Health which London boroughs are undertaking the temporary division of large houses into dwellings; the number of properties concerned in each case and the anticipated resulting number of dwellings; what proportion of the dwellings will not be self-contained, will not be furnished with a separate w.c. and will not include the use of a bathroom, or only the use of a bathroom in common with two or three other dwellings, respectively; and whether this plan devised last year when persons were being rendered homeless by V-weapon damage, can now be reviewed and put on a better footing.

With the exception of the City of London, Battersea, Bermondsey. and Poplar, all the Metropolitan boroughs are at present engaged on a programme of adapting houses for occupation by more than one family. The total number of properties now being adapted is 1,341 and it is anticipated that 4,219 dwellings will be produced as a result of this work. About 95 per cent. of the resulting dwellings are not self-contained. In general, over the Metropolitan area: Some 50 per cent. are without separate w.c.'s.Some 15 per cent. are without bathrooms.Some 80 per cent. have shared bathrooms.The following table shows the number of properties being adapted in the various Metropolitan Boroughs:

Local authority.Number of houses being adapted.Resulting number of dwellings.
West and North West
Chelsea106417
Fulham136462
Hammersmith38130
Hampstead100331
Kensington55212
Paddington50170
St. Marylebone66174
St. Pancras40136
Westminster116335
East
Bethnal Green48
City of London
Finsbury1022
Hackney2050
Holborn210
Islington100236
Poplar
Shoreditch1545
Stepney51106
Stoke Newington1331
South East
Bermondsey
Deptford1623
Greenwich55181
Lewisham2571
Woolwich411
South West
Battersea
Camberwell49107
Lambeth2343
Southwark100350
Wandsworth147558
1,3414,219
The three Metropolitan Boroughs not now engaged on a programme have done such work in the past. All local authori- ties will do more where there are suitable properties and when labour becomes available. The aim is to provide the greatest amount of accommodation in the shortest time and to this end the adaptations are, in the majority of cases, being carried out as the first stage toward conversion into self-contained dwellings.

Phœnix Houses

asked the Minister of Works for how many Phoenix houses orders have been placed; how many of these houses have been delivered; and for how many more orders are going to be placed.

Orders have been placed for 2,430 Phoenix houses and 650 are now in course of erection. No decision has been taken on the question of further orders.

Houses To Let (Priorities)

asked the Minister of Health if houses for the people are to be given priority in building; when it is anticipated that large-scale building will commence; and at what rents will the houses be let.

Generally the highest priority will be given to the building of small houses and the rebuilding of war-destroyed houses. Building to the fullest capacity of the labour available will begin this summer. So far as concerns local authority houses, it will be for the local authorities themselves to fix the rents to be charged.

Birmingham (Bomb Damage)

asked the Minister of Works how much damage has been done in Birmingham to houses and property by German bombing; and whether he will consider employing German prisoners and German building material for reconstruction.

About 90,000 houses were affected, of which 5,000 were destroyed. About 2,000 other properties have been so badly damaged as to have been put out of use. With regard to the use of German prisoners and building materials, I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies given by my right hon. Friend to the hon. Member for Hornsey (Captain Gammans) on 9th May and to the hon. Member for South-West Norfolk (Mr. De Chair) on 25th April, of which I am sending him copies.

Bricklaying (Costs)

asked the Minister of Works whether he will give a comparable approximate estimate of the cost of bricklaying in respect of a straight internal wall in 1938 and the present time.

No, Sir, I regret that I cannot give an approximate estimate of the cost owing to the difficulty of finding an accurate yard stick for comparison. As my right hon. Friend informed the hon. and learned Gentleman on 16th May, we shall be glad to discuss the question of the yard stick with him so that a reasonably accurate comparison may be arrived at.

asked the Minister of Works whether he is aware that in 1938 the cost of bricklaying, including an assistant, in respect of the erection of a rod of brickwork on cottage property was £7 10s. to £8 per rod or thereabouts; and whether he can state approximately what he estimates such cost would be to-day.

My hon. and learned Friend knows the importance of not drawing a general conclusion from an isolated instance, and while I do not dispute the figures he states, I cannot accept them as providing a basis for making general comparisons. I am not clear as to what the hon. Gentleman means by cottage property, but if he will have a talk with me I will see if I can give him the information he desires.

Palace Of Westminster (Arp Devices, Removal)

asked the Minister of Works when it is proposed to remove the refuge signs and sandbags from the Palace of Westminster.

A start has been made on this work and it will be carried out as quickly as labour permits.

Motor Car Makers (Foreign Trade Relations)

asked the President of the Board of Trade what action he is taking to prevent the pre-war relationships that existed between certain British, French, Italian and German motor car manufacturers.

I do not know what relationships the hon. Member has in mind, but any dealings with, or for the benefit of, persons in Germany or Italy would be illegal unless authorised under the Trading with the Enemy Act.

War Trials (Publicity)

asked the Attorney-General if he will give an assurance that at the trials of William Joyce and of oilier British subjects, who have assisted the enemy war effort, no application will be made by counsel for the Crown for such trials to be held in camera.

Until I have had an opportunity of considering in detail the evidence to be called in any particular case, I could not give an unqualified undertaking of this nature. I can, however, assure the hon. Member that no such application will be made on behalf of the Crown unless serious security considerations are involved, and that all concerned will have in mind the recent ruling of the Court of Appeal that these applications should not be made or granted save for the most solid reasons.

Government Departments

Food Executive Officer, Leiston, Suffolk

asked the Minister of Food who has been appointed food officer at Leiston, Suffolk; if it is a local official; how much travelling is entailed in this appointment; whether the town council and food committee were consulted; and how many members of the food committee have since resigned.

There has been no new appointment of Food Executive Officer at Leiston. The present officer, who has occupied the post since the beginning of the war, has recently moved his home to Southwold and travels about 34 miles daily. As I am not proposing to make any change, there has been no occasion to consult the Food Control Committee on the subject. Fourteen members of the Committee have, however, resigned, as they stipulated that the Clerk to the Council should also be the Food Executive Officer.

Architect, Ministry Of Works (Release)

asked the Minister of Works why the release of Mr. L. E. Parkinson, who has been appointed architectural assistant to the Isle of Wight County Council, has been refused by his Ministry in view of the fact that his services are urgently required by the Isle of Wight Council for work of national importance.

The release of Mr. Parkinson, who was a pre-war employee of the Ministry of Works and as such has been reserved from military service throughout the war, was refused as he is still required to perform work of national importance in the Ministry.

War Gratuities And Post-War Credits

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been called to the complaints from serving officers and men at the Government decision to pay the money due to them on demobilisation in respect of war gratuities and post-war credits by instalments instead of in one lump sum, which would often enable them to start in business; and whether, in view of the comparatively small amount of money involved, he will consider whether he can make these payments in a lump sum.

My hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. As I indicated in my statement of 6th February, those who axe released in their turn will receive their war gratuities and post-war credits in the form of deposits in the Post Office Savings Bank as soon as possible after the start of releases. There is no intention of paying these in instalments.

Awards To Inventors (Royal Commission)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is the intention of the Government to set up at an early date a commission to deal with awards to inventors, as was done after the last war; and whether he will give an assurance that the interests of the man with the first idea, or who is responsible for developing a known invention, will be properly safeguarded.

Yes, Sir; proposals for the appointment of a Royal Commission will be put forward in the near future. With regard to the last part of the Question, it will be proposed that the Commission should be given powers similar to those of the Royal Commission which heard claims of this character after the last war; these powers will enable the Commission to obtain all the evidence which they consider necessary for the proper adjudication of claims, including evidence relating to such matters as those to which the hon. Member refers.

Food Supplies

Wheat Extraction

asked the Minister of Health whether the Standing Committee on Medicinal and Nutritional Problems was asked in writing for its advice before the wheat extraction was reduced from 85 per cent. to 80 per cent.; how many members of the Committee attended the meeting to consider the question and to tender the advice, and whether the advice was given in writing to the Minister.

The answer to the first and third parts of the Question is "Yes, Sir." With regard to the second part of the Question, this matter was considered by the Committee on three occasions, the number of members present varying from 14 to 16, which is the total membership of the Committee.

Fish (Unloading Hold-Up)

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many vessels were held over and lying in Grimsby, Hull and Fleetwood, respectively, with fish on board undischarged on Saturday, 2nd June; and what quantity of fish was involved.

Six vessels, with an aggregate catch of approximately 3,150 cwts., were held up at Grimsby on the 2nd June through shortage of labour to land the fish. Some other vessels arrived there during the day but would in any case have been too late to land on that day. All were unloaded on the following day. No vessels which arrived in time for discharge on 2nd June were held up on that day at either Hull or Fleetwood.

Oatmeal

asked the Minister of Food why he has intimated to the contractors that the Government has requisitioned the entire production of oatmeal for War Office requirements to feed the liberated peoples in Europe and why contractors are left without supplies for the population of Britain; whether he has considered a protest from the Glasgow Corporation that the institutions under its control are left with insufficient supplies; and what action he is taking to ensure necessary supplies to these and other institutions and for the needs of the civilian population.

About 100 millers were directed to supply between them over May and June 2,744 tons of oatmeal solely for the use of our own soldiers. This amounted to rather under one week's output. Arrangements have already been made to meet the requirements of the Glasgow Corporation; the civil population will be catered for by the home industry supplemented as necessary from Ministry stocks.

Civilian Welfare Work (Europe)

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that a certain number of people trained for civilian welfare work with excellent qualifications, are prevented from joining their relief teams for work on the Continent because of the new system whereby only a quota of medical personnel waiting to join their units in Europe may leave this country; and if he will alter this system.

There is a serious shortage of doctors and nurses in this country and the needs of the Services for medical personnel are still large. It is, therefore, essential to determine priorities by a quota system.

Victory Celebrations, London

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has received a report from the Commissioner of Police with regard to the behaviour of the crowds in London during the Victory celebrations.

Yes, Sir. I have received the following information from the Commission of Police of the Metropolis. As far as the Commissioner can ascertain, there was not a single ugly incident. The crowds, especially on VE-Day, were very large indeed and very happy and well behaved. When nothing particular was happening they danced or sang and there was a good deal of noise without any misbehaviour. But when His Majesty the King or the Prime Minister spoke, the cessation of all noise was remarkable, and when they appeared their reception was equally remarkable. Very large crowds congregated in the West End and certain centres were full from the early afternoon until well after midnight and at times were packed with an almost solid crowd. The main centres were—Queen's Gardens and the Mall; Whitehall and Parliament Square; Trafalgar Square and the west end of the Strand; and Piccadilly Circus, Coventry Street, Leicester Square, the west end of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road

The police estimated the crowd in Queen's Gardens and the Mall assembled to hear the King's broadcast at 9 a.m. at 60,000–70,000, and throughout the speech one could almost have heard a pin drop. The numbers in other crowded areas were more difficult to estimate, as they were for the most part on the move, but experienced police officers say that such crowds had never been seen in Whitehall before and the Piccadilly Circus area was crowded pretty well up to capacity.

All police officers agree as to the good temper and excellent behaviour of the crowds everywhere. It is the opinion of many experienced police officers that they have never seen such, huge assembles of good natured and well behaved people. The charges for drunkenness were fewer than on an ordinary Saturday night and there was a noticeable absence of bag snatching or pocket-picking. Taking the Metropolitan Police District as a whole there was no case of serious crime and the figures for crime generally were, if anything, below the average. Apart from singing and dancing, the amusements most popular with the crowds appeared to be bonfires and letting off crackers. The bonfires were more in evidence outside the central area, and in some of the poorer and more heavily blitzed areas there seems to have been one in most streets There were no serious fires and although some minor acts of wilful damage were recorded, mainly in connection with the making of bonfires, nothing of a serious nature occurred.

Many thousands of people made no attempt to catch trains or buses on the night of 8th–9th May. Some walked home in the early morning, but many spent the night in St. James's, Green and Hyde Parks and in the doorways of shops. There was no trouble of any moment at underground or tube stations. Something like 80 per cent. of the licensees asked for an extension of hours, and these applications were all granted. In the event, however, a good many public houses closed, probably owing to lack of supplies.

General Election

Scottish Workers, London (Votes)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements he is making to permit Scottish building trade workers, directed to London to deal with bomb-damage, to record their votes.

If such persons were registered in London on 31st January they will be able to vote in London. I am afraid it is impracticable at this stage to extend existing provisions for postal voting.

Printed Matter (Postage)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the fact that the rate of postage for printed matter was a halfpenny for two ounces when the present limit of election expenses was enacted, but is now one penny; that candidates usually make two deliveries to electors, one by hand and the other by free post; that in many constituencies, owing to labour shortage, no delivery can be made by hand, that there has been an increase in the price of various other election expenses and that the present statutory limit of election expenses is too low to allow of a paid postage of one penny, he will take the necessary steps to allow a second postage to be free or at a reduced rate of one halfpenny.

This would require legislation which in present circumstances is I am afraid impracticable. I would remind my hon. Friend that the Speaker's Conference did not make a recommendation on the lines he suggests.

War Refugees (Repatriation)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of the shortage of houses and food for our own people and the necessity of making provision for our returning soldiers, sailors and airmen, he can give an assurance that he will make every effort to expedite the departure of the large number of war refugees in this country.

Civilians who found refuge here when the countries of North and North-West Europe were overrun by the Nazis will be expected to return to those countries as soon as local conditions permit. Many French and Belgians have already gone, but my hon. and gallant Friend will appreciate that many others now lack houses to which they can return and that in any case the rate of return must be limited by difficulties of transport.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he can give an estimate of the number of war refugees at present resident in the London Metropolitan area.

I regret that I am not in a position to give a reliable estimate. The statistics kept by my Department of Aliens who are subject to landing conditions do not distinguish among the wartime arrivals those who can properly be classified as refugees.

Greater London (Prostitutes)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the number of prostitutes arrested in the last 10 years in Greater London; the cost of arrest; and the number of police engaged in this duty.

The number of prostitutes arrested for soliciting or for riotous or indecent behaviour in the Metropolitan Police District during each of the past ten years was as follows:

19352,870
19363,195
19372,893
19383,062
19391,865
19401,585
19411,576
19422,050
19432,279
19441,526

The last two parts of the Question do not arise, since police officers are not specially detailed for this duty, which they do as occasion arises as part of their normal work.

Education

Uncertificated Teachers

asked the Minister of Education what proportion of the teachers in the infants and primary schools in the County of Gloucester are uncertificated; and what is the proportion of such teachers for the whole country.

During the war it has been necessary to reduce the collection of statistics to a minimum, and I regret that the figures asked for are not available.

School Transport, Thorpeness

asked the Minister of Education if he is aware that there is no transport available for the children of Thorpeness, Suffolk, to travel to Aldringham School nearly three miles away; and if he will remedy this in the near future.

I am aware that the local education authority do not provide free transport for children from Thorpeness to Aldringham school, but I understand that no requests for such transport have been made by the parents of those children under eight years of age who live more than two miles from the school. There is, therefore, at present no occasion for me to give directions in this matter in anticipation of any directions that may be shown to be necessary when the arrangements for the free transport of pupils contained in the authority's development plan come to be examined.

Royal Air Force

Transfers To Army

asked the Secretary of State for Air the number of men transferred from the R.A.F. to the Army to date; whether such transfers were limited to certain age groups and also trades and, if so, which; what difference such transfers will make to the dates of release and rates of pay of those transferred; the estimated time it is expected their Army training will take; and the extent to which the loss of these men to the R.A.F. will postpone the group-release of R.A.F. personnel beyond that announced as probable for the Army.

The number of airmen transferred to the Army is 10,317. They were non-regular airmen mustered as aircraft hands (general duties) or to certain selected trades and were in age and service release groups not earlier than 17. Age limits and medical category were also prescribed. Details are given below. For information about release and pay, I would refer the hon. Member to the comprehensive reply given to the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr.Driberg) on 16th May. The duration of Army training is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, but I understand that the normal period is 17 weeks. Apart from fresh intake the effect of these transfers upon the group release of Royal Air Force personnel as a whole will be negligible.

Following are the details:

Requirements regarding age, medical category and trade.

Transfer was limited to airmen who were not under 18½ years of age or over 35 years of age, and who were medically fit for service overseas in combatant units. The selected trades were:

  • R.A.F. Regiment.
  • Maintenance Assistant.
  • Wireless Operator.
  • Carpenter II.
  • Balloon Operator.
  • Ground Observer.
  • Electrician II.
  • Instrument Repairer II.
  • Photographer.
  • Armament Assistant.
  • Service Police.
  • M.T. Driver.
  • Fitter Groups.

Group Releases

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that in Gibraltar Servicemen of the R.A.F. in classification Groups 1 to 5 are being demobilised with the exception of cooks and one or two other trades; and how long will it be before cooks in this high category will be demobilised.

As stated in my predecessor's reply to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) on 25th April, the rate of release from the Royal Air Force will vary between the different branches, categories and trades. The restriction on the release of cooks applies throughout the Royal Air Force. Cooks in Group 1 will be released in the month commencing 18th June, and it is hoped that the date for release of cooks in Groups 2 to 5 will be promulgated shortly.

Holmwood Common (Enclosure)

asked the Minister of Agriculture the date of the last occasion on which his consent was given to the enclosure of part of Holmwood Common, Surrey, for the extension of a burial ground, the area so enclosed, and the area of any land added to the common to compensate for such enclosure.

The last occasion on which consent was given to the enclosure of part of Holmwood Common, Surrey, for the extension of a burial ground, was 24th July, 1944. The area enclosed was 1 rood 4 perches of land required for the extension of the Churchyard of St. Mary Magdalene; no land was given in exchange, as none was available in the district. The Holmwood Common Protection Society regarded the enclosure as beneficial to the local community, and neither did they nor the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society, the County Council, the Dorking U.D.C., the Holmwood Parish Council, nor any of the commoners concerned, raise any objection to it.

Europe (British And American Correspondents)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many British or American newspaper correspondents, or representatives of Press agencies, are at present in each of the following countries: Finland, Esthonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Russian-occupied parts of Germany and Austria, Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

As regards British Press correspondents and news agency representatives the position is, so far as I can ascertain, that there are none in any of the countries named except Rumania and possibly Czechoslovakia. In Rumania there are, according to my latest information, three British and two Palestinian correspondents. In Czechoslovakia some British newspapers appear to have had correspondents in Prague, though I am not sure whether they are still there. I cannot speak for American correspondents, but I gather that their position is broadly the same as that of British correspondents. It appear that two American correspondents have recently been able to visit Vienna.

Airfields (Joint User)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether a definite decision has been taken to use St. Athan R.A.F. station as a civil air port along with its continued use as a R.A.F. station.

No decision has yet been taken to use St. Athan R.A.F. station as a civil airport as well as for R.A.F. purpurposes. The possibility of joint user of airfields, where this would be economical and practicable, and how the total requirements for airfields can most conveniently be combined and dovetailed together, is included in the comprehensive review which, as my Noble Friend the Minister of Civil Aviation stated on 13th March, the Prime Minister has directed to be held under the direct authority of the Cabinet.

Germany (Quadripartite Control Council)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will ascertain and indicate to the House what steps are being taken by the Allied Control Commission to co-ordinate educational policy and radio, Press and film propaganda as between the various Allied zones of occupation in Germany.

The first step towards the establishment of the quadripartite control Council was taken in Berlin yesterday. I have, therefore, nothing at present to add to the reply given to the hon. Mem- ber on 29th May by my Noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

Italy And Yugoslavia (Relief Supplies)

asked the Secretary of State for War what were the total amounts of relief supplies for the use of the civilian population delivered from Allied military sources to Italy and Yugoslavia, respectively, during the 12 months ended 31st March, 1945; what additional supplies were in either case delivered through U.N.R.R.A.; on what scale further deliveries are contemplated; and whether everything possible will be done to help the civilian population of Yugoslavia, which has suffered acutely and served the anti-Fascist cause well.

The total quantities of civil supplies shipped to Italy and Yugoslavia by the combined military authorities and by U.N.R.R.A. for the 12 months ended 31st March, 1945, are as follows:

Military.U.N.R.R.A.
Italy903,395tons5,000 tons{ Since December 1944 only.
Yugoslavia38,538 tonsNil
(plus 614 vehicles)

Note.—(i) These figures exclude coal which is imported for both military and civil needs.

(ii) U.N.R.R.A. supplies to Italy are for expectant and nursing mothers, children and displaced persons only.

(iii) The introduction of relief supplies into Yugoslavia did not become effectively possible until the early months of this year.

For the future it has been planned that relief supplies will be imported to meet the needs of these countries, but the quantities imported will depend on various factors, including the improvement of means of transportation, port capacity, shipping and the like. As regards Yugoslavia, shipment of supplies through military channels ends at 30th June, when U.N.R.R.A. assume responsibility. Since April shipments through military channels have been on U.N.R.R.A.'s account.

Release And Resettlement (Women)

asked the Minister of Labour if it is proposed now to direct young women into employment without regard to their pre-war occupation; or whether it is intended to allow them to return to the work, particularly any specialised work, in which they were engaged before the war.

While I can give no undertaking that young women becoming available for employment can always be allowed to return to the work on which they were engaged before the war, it is my aim to meet the wishes of workers generally as to their employment and to use their specialised skill wherever this can be done without detriment to the claims of more urgent work. Where, however, urgent work, in particular if it be connected with the prosecution of the war against Japan, would otherwise remain undone, it is right during the period when young men are still being called up to the Forces, that we should look to young women to take these jobs.