House Of Commons
Wednesday, 13th June, 1945
The House met at a Quarter past Two o'Clock
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
WARRINGTON CORPORATION BILL [ by Order]
Lords Amendments considered, and agreed to.
SOUTH SHIELDS CORPORATION BILL [ Lords]
As amended, considered; Standing Order 205 suspended; Bill to be read the Third time forthwith [ The Chairman of Ways and Means.]
Bill read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.
EAST GRINSTEAD GAS AND WATER BILL
As amended, considered; Standing Order 205 suspended; Bill to be read the Third time forthwith.—[ The Chairman of Ways and Means.]
Bill read the Third time, and passed.
Parliamentary Constituencies (Electors) (England And Wales)
Address for Return,
"showing, with regard to each Parliamentary Constituency in England and Wales, the total number of electors on the register now in force."—[Sir D. Somervell.]
Oral Answers To Questions
Rumania (General Radescu)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the present situation of General Radescu in Bucharest.
I have been asked to reply. General Radescu left the residence of the British Political Representative in Bucharest on 7th May, after assurances had been given by the Rumanian Government that proper steps would be taken for his protection.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any further information about the setting up in Poland of a Government representative of the various parties in Polish life.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, with a view to implementing the decision of the Yalta Conference, he will invite the Government of the U.S.S.R. to put forward names of persons living both inside and outside Poland, who, in their opinion, might be suitable candidates for membership of an enlarged Polish Government.
Hon. Members will no doubt have seen the announcement issued this morning. Following upon the recent conversations between Marshal Stalin and Mr. Hopkins the Moscow Commission on Poland established by the Crimea Conference has resumed its work and has issued invitations to an agreed list of Polish leaders from within Poland and from abroad to consult under the auspices of the Commission on the composition of a Polish Provisional Government of National Unity in accordance with the Crimea decisions. These consultations will only be the first step towards the fulfilment of those decisions but it is the hope of His Majesty's Government that they may lead to the formation of a Government acceptable to all parties in Poland such as will command the recognition of all the great Powers.
Should these conversations prove successful, as we all hope, will the Foreign Secretary reconsider the whole status of the Polish Government in London?
Up till now we have been governed in this matter by the declaration on Poland of the Crimea Conference. Perhaps I ought to read to the House the relevant part:
that is, the Agreement—"When a Polish Provisional Government of national unity has been properly formed in conformity with the above"—
That still governs our attitude."the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which now maintains diplomatic relations with the present Provisional Government of Poland, and the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the United States will establish diplomatic relations with the new Polish Provisional Government of national unity and will exchange ambassadors, by whose reports the respective Governments will be kept informed about the situation in Poland."
Is the Polish Government in London a party to these new moves and in agreement with them?
I think the hon. Member will have seen in the Press to-day the list of representatives who are going, and they do seem to us to be as fully representative of Polish feeling as we can hope to have at the present time. I do not think there are members of the London Polish Government.
Will my right hon. Friend state whether these delegates will have their safey guaranteed by the British Government?
I have no reason to suppose that their safety is in any jeopardy.
Pending the conversations, in order to improve relations, will some of the Polish agencies in London be invited to refrain from publishing anti-Soviet propaganda at our expense?
Can my right hon. Friend say whether the President of Poland has been consulted as being the only person entitled to appoint a Polish Government?
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any further information has been received from the Soviet Government on the Polish leaders under arrest in Russia.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affars whether in view of the increasing suspicion over the intention of the U.S.S.R. in Poland and Eastern Europe arising in part from the arrest of the 16 Poles, he will invite the Government of the U.S.S.R. to state in greater detail than hitherto whether all the 16 persons are charged with offences; and if not, who are so charged and the nature of the indictments against them.
The Soviet Government are well aware of the desire of His Majesty's Government for full information on this subject. The early release of these men would, I am sure, contribute to the success of the important consultations which will shortly begin in Moscow.
In view of the satisfaction which we all feel at the answer to the previous Question, could the right hon. Gentleman represent to the Soviet Government the great importance to Anglo-Soviet relations and the future organisation of world security of releasing these people?
I am sure the Soviet Government are fully aware of our anxiety in this matter, but I will certainly see that what the hon. Member has said is brought to their attention.
Can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that the Polish Government in London will themselves refrain from abusing the special powers that we have conferred upon them in relation to their army by arresting political opponents?
That is another question.
Medical Supplies, Warsaw
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will take up with the Soviet Government the question of admitting representatives of the International Red Cross into Poland by the Government responsible, in order that medical aid and supplies for countering an outbreak of bubonic plague, typhus and typhoid, may be brought to Warsaw.
His Majesty's Government are always ready to consider any suggestions as to how they might be of service in such matters. But they have not in the present case received any request from the International Red Cross Committee for assistance of the nature indicated by my hon. Friend.
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there is an almost complete dearth of medical supplies in Warsaw and throughout Poland?
I will certainly bear in mind the point that my hon. Friend makes, but he must remember that we have at present no first hand opportunities of informing ourselves of conditions in Poland at all.
In view of the absence of accurate information on the subject, could the right hon. Gentleman do anything to suppress these Tory attacks on Soviet Russia?
I cannot see that there is any attack on Soviet Russia.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that three Greek Resistance leaders, Movedas, Bourdis and Archis have been sentenced to death, whilst Premier Rallis has been sentenced to life imprisonment; and whether he will make an appeal for clemency to the Greek Government.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has considered a conference resolution from the general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering Union urging him to take steps to secure a reprieve for certain Greek prisoners condemned to death; the terms of his reply; and whether he intends that action will be taken in conformity with the request made to him.
These three men were all tried and sentenced by military courts under martial law, but since the Varkiza Agreement they have been re-tried by civil courts. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdare, who was then Under-Secretary of State, explained on 1st May in reply to a question that Monedas was convicted of murder by the Athens Criminal Court. Bourdis was convicted of three murders between 3rd December and 6th January. Only two witnesses were produced for the defence, neither of whom gave any evidence rebutting the charges on which Bourdis was convicted. Avcheris was suspected of being concerned in the murder of 93 hostages, but not all these charges were pressed. He was, however, convicted of a number of murders, including those of a woman and of a man over 70. In all three cases there has been ample evidence to show that the victims were not killed because they were traitors and collaborationists, and in the case of Avcheris this was admitted even by some of the witnesses for the defence. In these circumstances, His Majesty's Government would not feel justified in intervening with the Greek Government to prevent the execution of the death sentence.
Is the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has now read the answer sent to the Engineers' Conference in London, the resolution having been addressed to the Prime Minister?
I am not sure whether an answer has been sent, but no doubt it will be on those lines.
Why are the Government so ready to accept the opinion of the Greek Government on this matter when they are so reluctant to accept the opinion of the Soviet Government on another matter?
It is not a question of accepting an opinion, but of accepting facts.
Is it not a fact that the man over 70 was a British subject?
I am not certain of that.
How is it possible for the right hon. Gentleman to speak about facts? All that he has in his possession is a statement made by the Greek Government. Has he made a thorough investigation into this matter in all its aspects?
Yes, Sir. We have seen the record of the trial and the evidence given.
Is it not the case that there are some independent newspaper men in Greece and none in Soviet Russia?
Trade Union Elections
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the trade election returns for 128 Greek unions in Athens and Piræus up to 1st June, 1945, give a total of 25,066 votes cast for Ergas and 8,083 for Hadjidemetriou and all other groups; whether he will publish the report of the British Trades Union Congress delegation which was sent to Greece to supervise these elections; and whether he will make representations to the Greek Government to allow the unions all the normal freedoms allowed in a democracy.
I understand that the newspaper of the Greek Communist Party in Athens has quoted figures similar to those given by the hon. Member. I do not know on what these figures are based, and I am certainly not prepared to vouch for their accuracy. I believe that any figures given for the results of the Trades Union elections in Greece must for the present be somewhat speculative, but those quoted by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 30th May were compiled from the official lists in the workers centres, and I think they are the best available at present. As regards the second part of the Question, I am not aware that the T.U.C. Delegation have written a report on the elections. A decision as regards publication would in any case, rest with the T.U.C. and not with His Majesty's Government, since the Delegation is not an official Government mission. As regards the last part of the Question, I have no reason to suppose that the Greek Government will attempt to limit the freedom of the Greek trades unions. I have seen no suggestion that they have tried to intervene or to tamper with the conduct of the elections.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Hadjidemetriou has resigned his post owing to lack of support in the election?
I do not think that that affects the answer that I have given. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the figures the hon. Member gives in his Question, and I think any figures at present must be highly speculative.
Would the right hon. Gentleman regard them as speculative if they had been the other way round?
I do not see what the hon. Member means by "if they had been the other way round." I should not be at all surprised if they were the other way round.
Is not Greece an independent State, and is it not the established policy of the Government never to interfere in the internal affairs of an independent State?
Is the system of voting in Greece individual or block voting, as in Great Britain, where one political boss votes for 100,000 people?
Maintenance Of Order (British Forces)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that protests have been made in the last three weeks to the Greek Premier by the Liberal, Progressive, Socialist, Agrarian and E.A.M. parties against terrorisation by armed bands of Monarchists assisted by detachments of the National Guard; and whether he will take action to see that the British forces in Greece maintain order.
I am aware that there have been a number of complaints about the activities of some sections of the National Guard and of Right Wing groups. I have no doubt that some of these complaints are justified, for, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary stated on 30th May, excesses are still being committed by extremists both of the Right and of the Left. The Greek Government are taking energetic steps to remedy abuses and to ensure that order is maintained with justice and impartiality. Full use is being made of British troops to assist in maintaining order and their presence is exerting a decisive influence on the situation.
Russian - Occupied Countries (British Press Representatives)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to public anxiety at the complete black-out of news from Russian-occupied Eastern and Central Europe; and if he will impress upon the Russian Government, in the interest of maintaining good relations between the United Nations, the advisability of admitting an adequate number of British Press representatives to all the countries concerned.
I think the Soviet Government knows the view of His Majesty's Government, which is that it will certainly help to maintain good relations between the United Nations if there are an adequate number of British Press representatives in all the countries concerned with proper facilities for free and objective reporting.
Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that he will continue to impress on the Soviet Government that the present situation is intolerable and without precedent as between Allied Powers?
Evacuated British Children, United States
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many children of British nationality sent to the U.S.A. for the period of the war, either privately or under the Government's evacuation scheme, are still in that country; whether any obstacles have been placed in the way of their return; and how soon it is expected that all who wish to do so will return to this country.
No children were sent to the United States under the Government evacuation scheme. Of those privately evacuated to that country, about 1,500 remain. No obstacles have been placed in the way of their return and over 2,000 of them have come back here. More could have returned had they been willing to leave. If the shipping situation does not deteriorate, they could all come back within about three months from the date of their application for passage.
Syria And Lebanon
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any statement to make concerning General Oliva Roget's allegations that Colonel Stirling and Wing-Commander Marsack were British agents who fomented disturbances in Syria.
The activities of all British representatives in Syria are under the control either of His Majesty's Minister at Damascus or, in the case of serving officers, of the Commander-in-Chief, Middle East. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear in his statement of 5th June, British influence has been used throughout not to foment disturbances, but on the contrary to prevent them. I am confident that none of our representatives have acted contrary to the directives of His Majesty's Government, as alleged. So far as I am aware, no evidence whatever has been produced in support of these allegations.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that General Roget, who makes these allegations, served against us in the Syrian campaign of 1941 under General Dentz, who has since been condemned to death?
If that is so, it does not make the allegations any more true.
That is exactly my point.
Will the right hon. Gentleman make clear to the French, Government that it is French activities which have been causing all the trouble?
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has any official figures of the total French and Arab casualties, respectively, between 19th May and 1st June in Syria and the Lebanon.
No accurate statistics of casualties in Syria as a whole are yet available. My hon. and gallant Friend will remember that the Prime Minister gave some figures for Damascus in the statement which he made on 5th June.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has made any inquiries with regard to the allegations of looting by French and Senegalese and shooting of hostages during the recent disturbances in Damascus and with what results.
According to information reaching me from both official and other sources, there was some looting toy French troops on 1st June. The fact that the French troops appeared to be out of control was one of the reasons why the Commander in Chief, Middle East, ordered that they should be confined to barracks. I have no confirmation of stories that any hostages were shot.
Is disciplinary action being taken against the French troops guilty of these scandalous activities?
That will be a matter for the French military authorities.
Nazi War Criminals
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the precise action to be taken by His Majesty's Government when war criminals or prominent Nazis seek asylum in neutral countries.
I have nothing to add to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary gave to the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) on 28th March. My hon. and gallant Friend will recall that this was to the effect that the Allied Governments would take joint action appropriate to the circumstances of each case.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the whereabouts of Ribbentrop has been ascertained; whether he is in custody; and what is the next step proposed to bring Goering to justice.
The answer to the first part of my hon. and gallant Friend's Question is "No, Sir." As regards the latter part the discussions which, as the Prime Minister stated in his reply to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brighton (Lieut.-Colonel Marlowe) on 29th May, are taking place to decide the best procedure for dealing with the major war criminals have not yet been concluded.
Is it quite clear that we share a joint responsibility with other countries in bringing to justice all these individuals, whatever their whereabouts, who have caused so much suffering to humanity?
I think that responsibility has always been accepted.
Is it possibly true that Herr Hitler was married?
Foreign Service (Women)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he now has any further statement to make on the admission of women to the Foreign Service.
Yes, Sir. It has been decided that a Committee should be appointed as soon as possible to consider the question of admitting women into the Foreign Service.
In view of the fact that applications for entry into the Foreign Service have to be in by 1st December next, will my right hon. Friend make every effort to speed up the proceedings of the Committee?
Yes. I shall do nothing to delay them.
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind always, that this is an entirely unsuitable occupation for women?
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can make a statement on the decisions taken at San Francisco with regard to communications in the post-war world.
No decisions as to post-war communications have been taken at the San Francisco Conference, which is confined to drafting the Charter of the new Security Organisation.
Czechoslovakia (Transfer Of Germans)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the expulsion of the Sudeten Deutsch population from Czechoslovakia is a unilateral action on the part of the Czechoslovak Government; and whether it has the endorsement of the major Allied Governments.
His Majesty's Government have no detailed information as to the extent to which such, expulsion is taking place. They consider that the transfer, to whatever extent may be agreed on, of Germans from Czechoslovakia to Germany should be carried out in an orderly fashion as an integral part of the plans of the controlling Powers for the post-war settlement of Germany. They have made this view known to the other controlling Powers and to the Czechoslovak Government.
Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to take any steps in the matter, because, according to official information coming from Czechoslovakia, there is wholesale forcible transference of the Sudeten Deutsch population from Czechoslovakia? Is not such unilateral action dangerous, and should not action of this sort be taken by the Peace Conference?
I have made the attitude of the Government clear in my answer. With regard to wholesale evacuation of population to which the hon. Member refers, as far as I know, no such evacuation has taken place in the part of Czechoslovakia where United States troops are. As to the part where Soviet troops are, I have no confirmation of the reports.
Will it not be a great embarrassment to the Allied Powers in control of Germany if large numbers of Sudetenlanders are suddenly driven into Germany, possibly without even being allowed to bring their movable possessions with them; how in that case are their necessities to be provided for?
The point which the hon. Lady has raised is probably one of the reasons why we have adopted the attitude which I described in my original answer.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is not a unique transfer of population and that it has been done by the forcible removal of Bessarabians from Rumania into Soviet Russia?
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the distinction between those Sudetens who loyally supported the Czech Government against Hitler, and who were never Germans but were previously Austrian subjects, and those Germans who came into Bohemia from Germany?
It is not for me to bear it in mind, but I have no doubt that the Czechoslovak Government will do so.
Will the right hon. Gentleman keep in close touch with Sudeten Germans in this country, to ascertain what is really going on?
Arising out of the original answer, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any transfers have already been agreed upon, and, if so, by whom?
The phrase I used was not "transfers that had been agreed upon," but "transfer to whatever extent may be agreed on." That gives the hon. Member the answer.
Have there been any transfers agreed upon now?
Not that I am aware of.
Royal Air Force
Runways And Hangars (Use)
asked the Secretary of State for Air if before pulling up concrete runways, he will make sure that the runways cannot be used for other purposes and that the cost is not prohibitive or unnecessary; and will he also leave hangars standing where they are of use for parking places for vehicles or agricultural implements.
My hon. and gallant Friend's suggestions will be borne in mind.
Will the hon. Gentleman make sure that the First Lord of the Admiralty knows what he is doing in this matter, so as to prevent an unwarrantable waste of public money in making Admiralty aerodromes where suitable ones exist next door?
Butlin's Camp, Filey (Repair Work)
asked the Secretary of State for Air how much R.A.F. labour has been employed in repair to Butlin's camp at Filey; and why similar facilities have not been made available for the re pair to hotels in Scarborough derequisitioned by his Ministry.
No Royal Air Force personnel have been employed at this camp under official arrangements. I understand that during May some 20 airmen worked at the camp in their spare time. This casual employment was accepted without authority and has now been stopped.
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he proposes announcing any scheme for the release of education officers, as only those serving at home are enabled to resign since they are civilians and as R.A.F. education officers abroad, having no knowledge when they will be released, feel that the Ministry of Education are filling all the best jobs with men who have not gone abroad.
Yes, Sir. It is proposed to promulgate a scheme shortly. With regard to the second part of the Question, education officers serving with the R.A.F. at home enjoy no advantages in respect of release or resignation compared with those serving overseas.
Will the hon. Gentleman apply to these men the arrangements recently circulated by the Minister of Education in his memorandum with regard to Class B releases?
Class B releases are not primarily a question far my Department.
Temporary Personnel (Release)
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he can give an assurance that the rate of release of temporary members of the R.A.F. will not be allowed to fall substantially behind the rate of release in the other Services.
As stated in the White Paper on Re-allocation of Manpower, release will necessarily proceed at different rates in the three Services owing to military considerations. It is impossible at this stage to estimate the extent of the variations between the three Services but every effort will be made, consistent with operational requirements, to keep them to a minimum.
Am I to understand from the reply, that the main factor in the speed of these releases is not transport facilities, as we were recently informed?
I think that the main obstacle to these releases is the existence of the Japanese war.
Will men in the R.A.F. who were voluntarily seconded from the R.A.F. to Ministry of Aircraft Production factories, have whatever time they spent in the factories taken into account in their release group?
The hon. Gentleman should refer to the Debate in the House on 18th April, when the matter was fully discussed.
When will the public know the rate at which these men are to come out, for all they and the R.A.F. know at the moment is that the rate of flow will be much slower than for the Army?
The hon. Member may have seen in the newspapers two or three days ago the absolute maximum which it was possible to state at the moment.
What was disclosed in the Debate of 18th April in answer to my Question?
Waaf Parachutists (Gratuities)
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he can now make a statement on the payment of gratuities to the W.A.A.F. who were parachuted into France before D-Day.
Yes, Sir. Gratuity will be payable.
Am I right in assuming that all girls who have undertaken that type of work will receive gratuities from their various Departments?
I do not think the hon. Lady will be justified in making any assumptions except those which are covered by her Question and my answer.
Release, Repatriation And Leave
asked the Secretary of State for Air if, in view of the concern felt in the R.A.F. about the retention of clerks and other tradesmen beyond the time at which they would normally be released in their age and length of service groups, he will now make a comprehensive statement on the differences between R.A.F. and Army practice in such matters as release, repatriation and 28 days' home leave for men serving in the B.L.A. and the C.M.F. before they are posted to the Far East.
As the reply is necessarily rather long, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate a statement in the Official Report.
Can the hon. Member say—in view of the apprehension that has been caused in the Air Force by the speech of the Secretary of State for War last Friday, which was in the main satisfactory as regards the Army—whether the last point in my Question will be dealt with in that long answer?
I think that it will be dealt with.
Following is the statement:
In order that the Royal Air Force may carry out its tasks and fulfil its commitments, release must proceed at a rate different from that of the Army. Further, in view of the high degree of specialisation in the Air Force, it will be necessary to deal separately with the different branches, categories and trades; whereas, in the Army, age and service groups will normally be released without regard to trades, etc.
The normal tour of overseas duty in the Royal Air Force is three years for married personnel unaccompanied by their families and four years for single personnel and married personnel accompanied by their families. As announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War on 8th June, the tour for Army personnel is to be reduced to three years and four months in the Far East and to four years elsewhere as shipping and other means of transport offer.
Leave before Posting to the Far East.
A minimum of fourteen days' leave is granted to Royal Air Force personnel before posting to the Far East. Subject, however, to operational exigencies and the phasing of drafts every effort will be made to increase this leave to correspond with that granted to Army personnel, which as stated by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War on 8th June, is now 28 days.
Aircraft Parts (Charges)
asked the Minister of Aircraft Production if he is yet in a position to state the result of the inquiries into the allegations against Whatton and Sons, Limited, Wolverhampton, of excessive charges for aircraft parts; and, if not, will he give the approximate date when the inquiries will be completed.
The examination into the prices charged by this company is being pressed forward with all speed, but I am at present unable to say how soon it will be completed.
Will it be announced by the Spring?
I hope before the Autumn.
Will it be months or years or only weeks?
The hon. Member is asking for a guess, and I should say about the end of August.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give any guarantee that it will be done before he leaves office?
Royal Naval College
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will expedite the return of the Royal Naval College to its home and thus enable the officers and teaching staff to carry on the training of the cadets with greater efficiency than can be done in improvised premises.
Yes, Sir. But the work of reconditioning the college must take its appropriate place in the list of building priorities.
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will indicate the general policy with regard to employment and work at the Royal Dockyards during the remainder of the war.
So far as can be foreseen all the Royal Dockyards will be fully employed in making alterations and additions to His Majesty's Ships for the prosecution of the war against Japan and in carrying out repairs.
In view of the great increase in the size of the Royal Navy and in its fighting power, will my right hon. Friend give an undertaking that there will be no large scale reduction of employment in the Royal Dockyards after the Japanese war?
That is a question of Government policy. Perhaps when the Election is over my hon. Friend will put a Question down.
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, now that this country is no longer subject to enemy attack, he will at an early date give publicity to the achievements of the Royal Dockyards at Chatham and elsewhere during the war against Germany, indicating the number of men employed, what has been produced and repaired there, and what they have suffered from air raids.
Yes, Sir. It is hoped to issue a statement shortly.
Will ray right hon. Friend in due course give full recognition to the magnificent contribution made by the Chatham Dockyards workers to the war effort?
Yes, Sir. In due course proper recognition will be paid to the part played by the Chatham Dockyards.
Can we be assured that the right hon. Gentleman does not detect in any of these Questions any propaganda?
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will set up a committee at an early date to consider the most efficient way of operating the Royal Dockyards after the war and providing adequate inducements to highly qualified engineers and other technicians to remain in these Royal Dockyards rather than go to private firms; and whether, in this connection, he will consult the Admiralty Industrial Civil Servants' Federation and other appropriate bodies, representing employees in these establishments.
The efficiency of the dock, yard management, and the appropriateness of the rates of pay and conditions of service authorised for dockyard employees, are matters which the Admiralty constantly watch. As my hon. and gallant Friend is aware, machinery exists for regular consultation between representatives of the employees and Departmental officials both at the dockyards and at headquarters. This is intended to secure the greatest measure of co-operation in the pursuit of efficiency and of the well-being of the employees. I see no early need to set up a special committee to supplement these arrangements.
Could the First Lord suggest some better method than appointing this committee to see that these highly qualified engineers and technicians will receive wages in keeping with those prevailing in private yards?
I am very pleased to see this excellent Tory doctrine so fully explained in a supplementary question, but I have no intention of appointing another committee to deal with work which is being thoroughly well done at the present time.
Revised Form S272
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the revised form S.272 has now been distributed to all H.M. ships and naval shore establishments; if he is aware that this poster was still displayed in its unrevised form at the Royal Naval Barracks, Portsmouth, on Monday, 28th May; and what steps he proposes to take to implement the undertaking on this matter given by his Department two months ago.
The distribution of the revised form S.272 has been delayed by printing difficulties. It is now being distributed and copies are displayed at the Royal Naval Barracks, Portsmouth. Instructions to ensure that the undertaking to which my hon. Friend refers was carried out, were issued shortly after the Debate on the 29th March.
Does it really take two months to get these posters printed, and is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the position was still as described in the Question at this very important establishment only a few days ago?
I am afraid that apparently it has taken a long time to get these papers printed, but the work has been done now. I am sorry about this hold-up but apparently it has been inevitable.
A calculated bottleneck?
Foreign Service (Home Leave)
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will state the amount of leave to which Navy personnel are entitled after two years' service abroad before being posted to the Far East.
On return from two years foreign service a rating would be granted the foreign service leave dut to him. This would amount to 28 days on the basis of seven days leave for each six months of service abroad. When the man's turn came for drafting abroad, he would be given a further period of drafting leave which for a man detailed for the Far East would be 14 days. Depending upon the time the man had spent in home waters in the interval, and on his employment, he might well have had a further period of leave under normal home service rules.
Will my right hon. Friend look into cases of men who have not received the minimum period of leave if I send particulars to him?
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can give an assurance that the rate of release of reservists in the Royal Navy will not be permitted to fall substantially behind the rate of release in the other Services.
No, Sir. The Fleet has been reminded that, as stated in the White Paper on the Re-Allocation Plan (Command 6548), it will not be possible to keep the rate of release in the three Services in step. Apart from the heavy obligations of mine clearance and of redeployment against Japan, the large number of officers and men in the Royal Navy over the age of 50 will from the start cause the rate of release of the under-50's to fall behind that of the other Services.
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the dissatisfaction that is felt in the Royal Navy at this inequality following so soon after the transfer of large numbers of men into the ranks of His Majesty's Army?
I believe this arrangement has been settled after a great deal of consultation over the past year, and I certainly am not prepared to interfere with a decision which was taken long before I came to the Admiralty.
If the R.N.V.R. are not going to get released on the same conditions as in other Services, will the right hon. Gentleman see that they get the same opportunities for promotion into higher ranks as do the Reservists in the Army?
|Mr. P. H. Westermann||Trade Commissioner for the Netherlands Indies in London.|
|Monsieur Th. Heyse||Civil Servant.|
|Monsieur Mikolajczak||Director, Société Générale des Minerals, Brussels.|
|Senor Don A. Patino, R||Patino Mines.|
|Senor Don J. Ortiz-Linares||Patino Mines.|
|Senor Don Juan Penarands||Civil Servant.|
|Mr. E. V. Pearce (Technical Adviser)||Consolidated Tin Smelters, Limited.|
|Sir Gerard Clauson||Civil Servant.|
|Mr. V. A. Lowinger||Civil Servant (retired).|
|Mr. W. J. Wilcoxson||Director, Straits Trading Co., Director, British Tin Smelting Co., Ltd.|
|Mr. J. H. Rich (Technical Adviser)||Director, Trino Mines.|
|Mr. P. H. Westermann||(See above).|
|Mr. J. B. Peyrot||Billiton Company.|
|Sir Gerard Clauson||(See above).|
|Mr. Dermot J. Mooney||Director of various tin mining companies|
|Mr. J. Ivan Spens?||Director, London Tin Corporation, Limited.|
|Mr. E. H. Lever||Chairman, Richard Thomas & Co., Ltd.|
United States Government representative.
United States industry representative
I shall bear that suggestion in mind and will do everything I can to facilitate it.
International Tin Committee
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will state the names of the International Tin Committee; and also the connection of any of them with the tin trade.
As the answer is rather long I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Might I ask whether any Member of Parliament is on this Committee?
No Member of our Parliament. I am not sure whether some of the foreign representatives are members of their Parliaments.
Might I ask whether the right hon. and gallant Gentleman expects reinforcements from the Treasury Bench to this Committee when the present Government lose office?
I would not speculate on such a remote future.
Following is the answer:
The membership of the International Tin Committee is as follows:
West Indian Nurses (Training Scheme)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now in a position to announce particulars of a scheme under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act for the nursing training of West Indian nursing recruits for four years in a composite nursing course in Britain; to what extent and by whom this training scheme has already been put into operation; and whether he has approached the voluntary hospitals with teaching schools attached with a view to their assisting the scheme.
As the particulars requested are long, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate in the Official Report a reply to the first two parts of the Question. I should like, however, to take this opportunity of expressing my gratitude to the hon. Member for the part which he has played in the successful institution of this scheme. As regards the last part of the Question, any such extension should, I consider, await the report, which will reach me within a few days, of the Committee which, under Lord Rushcliffe's Chairmanship, has been examining the training of nurses for work in Colonial territories generally.
Whilst thanking the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for his very generous reference, might I ask whether that report will deal specifically with the question of securing for Colonial nursing aspirants training in the voluntary hospitals with medical schools attached?
I have not yet seen the report, but it will cover the whole question of training nurses, and will undoubtedly cover that particular point.
Following is the statement:
Scheme for the Training of Eighteen West Indian Nurses Annually in the London County Council's Hospitals.
The London County Council in 1943 offered to accept, annually, for a period of four years, eighteen West Indian girls for a four-year course of general nursing training in the Council's hospitals. After consultation with the Comptroller for Development and Welfare and the West Indian Governments concerned, I gratefully accepted this offer.
Under the scheme, girls from Barbados, British Guiana, British Honduras, Jamaica, the Leeward Islands, Trinidad and the Windward Islands, are eligible for selection, provided that they satisfy the conditions laid down as to educational qualifications and medical fitness. Selection is made by boards set up in each Colony. The composition of these boards varies in the different Colonies, but it was agreed that in all cases the board should include the Director of Medical Services, or an officer holding an equivalent post, and the Resident Surgeon and the Matron of the chief hospital. I have suggested that the Governments concerned should consider the inclusion in each board of two non-official members.
Selections are submitted, before being sent forward to the London County Council, to the Medical Adviser to the Comptroller, who, if there are more candidates than vacancies, will be in a position to make recommendations for the allocation of the vacancies.
While it is proposed that, so far as possible, the most suitable candidates should be selected irrespective of the Colony from which they come, the requirements of the smaller Colonies will be kept in mind in the final selection of candidates. Under the scheme, no candidates will be eligible for selection from Colonies whose nursing standards may in future be accorded recognition, in the form of reciprocal registration, by the General Nursing Council in this country.
Selected candidates are required to sign a bond requiring them to serve, after satisfactory completion of training, for a period of five years in any West Indian Colony in which posts of appropriate status are available.
The London County Council house and feed the nurses in training and pay them at the usual rates. The Colonial Office is responsible for welfare arrangements and for passages from and to the West Indies. To meet the expenditure thus involved to provide outfit allowances and incidental expenses, and to supplement each nurse's earnings by an amount sufficient to enable her to meet reasonable personal expenses in this country, a free grant of £26,250 has been made under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act.
The first batch of seven student nurses began their training in London in December, 1944, and another batch is expected to arrive shortly.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is satisfied with the present arrangements associated with the West Indian Nursing Training Scheme in Britain for the impartial selection and approval of West Indian applicants for inclusion in this scheme by means of insular selection boards; and whether, within a definite period of time, he will consider establishing a West Indian Federal Nursing Board carefully chosen mainly of non-official elements.
I consider that the present arrangements are reasonably satisfactory. The question of appointing a Federal Nursing Board will be considered, with other possible modifications of the existing scheme, in the light of experience of the working of the present arrangements, which became effective only six months ago.
When the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is reviewing this scheme will he have regard to the desirability for securing uniformity and basing his views on some further consideration of a Federal Board dealing with the whole question?
I will certainly consider that. It is obviously important to get uniformity. At the present time, as the hon. Gentleman knows, we are trying to get it through the Comptroller's organisations.
Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman think that such a scheme as this is at all appropriate for West Africa?
I think we had better wait and see the general report on training as a whole.
Uganda (Interned Aliens)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many aliens are still interned in Uganda; whether he can give particulars of their nationality; and whether any of them are segregated from others on account of their political views or on other grounds.
The total number of aliens interned in Uganda is 1,145. This total is made up of 967 Italians, 51 Germans, 101 other enemy aliens, 13 non-enemy aliens and 13 stateless persons. All these aliens are housed in one camp, but 940 of the Italians, who were evacuated from Ethiopia and are all males, are confined in a separate section of the camp. There is no other segregation.
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that some further segregation is desirable, in view of the very great difference between these categories?
I will certainly consider that, but what I am anxious to see more than segregation is the return of these people.
Is it the Government's purpose to send many of these Italians back to Italy and not back to Nyasaland, Rhodesia and other places where they were picked up?
I do not think these Italians were picked up there. I think most of them came from Abyssinia.
asked the Prime Minister if he will appoint a commission to inquire into the better use of coal and the advisability of prohibiting the export of raw coal and the burning of raw coal in domestic grates, so as to retain the by-products to manufacture here.
I have been asked to reply. The domestic use of all kinds of coal is at present being examined by the Fuel and Power Advisory Council, under the chairmanship of Sir Ernest Simon. It is not considered that prohibition of the export of coal in the raw state would be in the national interest, but the point which my hon. Friend has raised will be taken into account in connection with our coal export policy.
asked the Prime Minister whether he has considered proposals made to him for the creation of machinery designed to secure a broad measure of co-operation and agreement between the main political parties, now and in the future, on matters affecting British foreign policy; and whether he favours such proposals.
My right hon. Friend agrees that it is in the country's best interests that there should he the widest possible measure of agreement on foreign policy between the main political parties. He considers, however, that the methods for securing such agreement would need to be adapted to the circumstances of the time, and in a matter of this kind there would be every advantage in allowing the machinery to develop in the light of experience and inclination.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, does the Prime Minister contemplate, in this matter, using the functions of the Committee of Imperial Defence?
I think the terms of the answer I have given cover all the aspects of the question. I will not add to them to-day.
asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that the Government's scheme for war gratuities is not giving satisfaction to the Services; and will he give further consideration to it.
The answer to the first part of the Question is in the negative, and the second part, therefore, does not arise from it in any direct manner.
I am rather sorry the right hon. Gentleman has had to reply because I wanted to get at the Prime Minister. This matter has been before the Prime Minister several times, and it is unfair that the Minister of Labour should now have to reply. Is he aware that there is great dissatisfaction among Service men about gratuities? I would like to know whether he has made inquiries on the subject.
I have given the information which is in my right hon. Friend's possession, and if my hon. Friend has any further information, I am sure my right hon. Friend will be pleased to have it.
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why, to-day, he is answering Questions for the Prime Minister whereas, the other day, the First Lord of the Admiralty, who is sitting be- side him, answered Questions for the Prime Minister? [Hon. Members: "No.".] What is the reason for this change? The Chancellor of the Exchequer also answered Questions for the Prime Minister. What is the reason for this? Why this demotion?
May I ask whether the matter referred to by the hon. Member comes within the functions of the Opposition?
Can I have an answer to my question, Mr. Speaker? On a point of Order—
I am saying something. The hon. Member must not rise when I am on my feet. This Question deals with war gratuities.
With great respect, Sir, I did not observe that you were speaking at the time. I have no desire to be disrespectful, but we are entitled to ask why, when Questions are addressed to the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister, for quite good reasons, is not available, other right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench should take turns about to reply.
It has nothing to do with me.
On that point of Order. Cannot we have an explanation, and in particular, could we be told whether the astonishing demotion of the First Lord has the approval of Lord Beaverbrook?
I would like to inform the Minister that hon. Members are continually receiving letters from serving soldiers and discharged soldiers on this question of gratuities, and to ask him whether he will consult the Secretary of State for War and have some of the correspondence sent to him on this matter. Will he look into it?
I have, of course, been in touch with the Secretary of State for War, and I am also aware that the system agreed to by the last Government appears to be the best possible.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the volume of opinion in the country to the effect that equal danger shared by all ranks should warrant equal grants?
Scientific Instruments (Manufacture)
asked the Prime Minister whether arrangements can be made for the well being of the scientific instrument making industry to become the responsibility solely of his own department; and whether he can make an early announcement as to how this industry is to be protected in the post-war period and enabled in particular to benefit from the closing down or control of the scientific instrument making industry of Germany.
This is all very important, but my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is of the opinion that it would be better to get the General Election over before arriving at final decisions.
Wheat Surplus, Scotland
asked the Minister of Food what steps he is taking to remedy the difficulties of fanners in the South of Scotland who are finding it impossible to market wheat owing to the conditions of surplus which have arisen.
This surplus is now being purchased and stored by my Department.
Is my right hon. and gallant Friend not aware that the moment chosen for unloading this stock of wheat on to the Scottish market was a singularly unfortunate one, because it was at precisely the moment when Scottish farmers had an increased amount of wheat for sale, and will he see that it does not occur again?
I understand that we had an abnormal number of threshings by farmers which put additional wheat on the market, and because the millers themselves could not take it, my Department stepped in and stored it.
Co-Operative Society Tea Party, Hitchin
asked the Minister of Food if any additional allocation of food was given to the Letchworth, Hitchin and District Co-operative Society for a special tea party given at Hitchin town hall on 9th June; and, if not, whether he will have inquiries made as to where the food was obtained.
The answer to the first part of the Question is "No, Sir." The normal supplies of food available to a catering establishment were used on the occasion to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers.
Has my right hon. and gallant Friend had any protest from the local traders on this subject.
It is the ordinary practice that catering establishments provide teas if they are allowed to do so. That is why they are catering establishments.
Does this Question not demonstrate that if you want more food you should join the local co-operative society?
I do not think it demonstrates that at all. What it demonstrates is that this co-operative society was working completely within the rules, but it does not mean that other caterers could not have provided this tea.
Was there any tinge of propaganda attached to that supplementary question?
asked the Minister of Food whether he will make a statement regarding the reason for the recent cuts in rations; and the possibilities of increases in rations at a future date.
The reductions in rations upon which the late Government decided, and which I announced in May, were due to a decline in world food production and an increase in demand. The fall in production is attributable to the continuing shortage of man-power in producing countries, to lack of fertilisers and to abnormal conditions of drought in the Southern Dominions, South Africa, South America and the Caribbean area. There has also been a decline in the pig population of North America. The increase in demand is due, in part, to the increased requirements of the liberated countries of Europe. With the return of men to food production throughout the world, output will increase, and with the demobilisation of men from the Services, military requirements will decline.
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that very little attempt has been made to explain to the housewife the reason for this grievous reduction in her rations; and will he take steps to explain, in popular language, the reason for the change?
I am very sorry about that. I did my best. I gave a very long Press conference which was reported in practically every newspaper. It was also on the radio. I am doing, and will continue to do, my best.
Was it not remarkable that this cut in rations took place immediately after the change of Government?
That was not so at all. It was decided by the old Government, as any of the hon. Member's colleagues who were in that Government will inform him. It was decided by that Government and announced about a week after it had been decided, because of certain technical arrangements. It was a genuine decision. Any Government would have had to come to it, and I do hope that this really serious food question, with which the Ministry of Food has always tried to deal quite impartially, will not enter into the political arena, and that people will not make promises to consumers which, if they were fortunate enough to take my office, they know full well they could not perform.
May I assure the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that the public as a whole quite understand the position in Europe and this country, and rather resent the position being exploited?
Would my right hon. and gallant Friend take steps to satisfy himself that the explanation he has given will have adequate publicity for the benefit of our troops overseas who are anxious about the effect of these on their families at home?
I will look into that point.
Is the Minister able to say when he thinks it may be possible for him or his Department to review the food situation? Can he give us any idea how long it will take before any new factors can be brought under review?
In regard to any livestock products it is rather a long-term business, especially in meat. Chickens and things of that sort can be reared as soon as more ships can be devoted to bringing feeding stuffs for them. We hope to do that. The oils and fats position will depend largely on how soon we can get back Malaya and the Dutch East Indies from whence large supplies of copra came before the war.
Local Holiday Weeks (Food Allocation)
asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that some local authorities during Holiday Weeks at Home instituted by them in their districts, were in the past able to utilise the food from the works canteens of factories closed for those weeks; that those local authorities who have followed the recent advice given to spread these holiday weeks over a two-monthly period can no longer take advantage of this canteen food arrangement; and whether, in the special circumstances, he will make a special allocation of food to these local authorities.
The request to local authorities to extend the period of their summer entertainment programme was coupled with a request to industrial undertakings to stagger their workers' holidays. Where this is done it will be possible to utilise food from the works canteens under the arrangements to which my hon. Friend refers.
Where this arrangement has not been possible, will it be possible for the Minister to authorise local authorities to borrow small quantities of food from these canteens, which have these stocks?
I am afraid not, because the stocks are there against future demands.
Infant Welfare Foods (Cheltenham)
asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that large stocks of orange juice and cod liver oil are going bad in Cheltenham; and will he agree to the request of the local food committee that these infant welfare foods should be sold at the food office for cash instead of by the present system of postage stamps.
The answer to both parts of the hon. Member's Question is "No, Sir."
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that under the present arrangements harassed and tired mothers are expected to wait in two queues, one at the post office and one at the food office, and that if he will adopt the suggestion in the Question, more children will benefit from these infant welfare foods?
I do not know anything about the post offices, but there are not normally queues in any of these welfare food sections of the food offices. The reason for payment being made in stamps is to save a vast accounting procedure. If we had to have accounting officers in the 12,000 distribution centres it would mean a tremendous increase in staff. Moreover, as soon as dried milk came under the same system the demand, in fact, increased.
Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman have another look at this matter to see if he can find another way in which the waste of these infant welfare foods can be obviated?
There is no waste. In Cheltenham there is only five weeks' supply of orange juice and rather more of cod liver oil. Both keep as long as that.
asked the Minister of Food if he can now report on the recent glut supplies of herring; and the steps taken to avoid repetition of wasted catches.
The comparatively small quantities of herring landed so far this season cannot be regarded as glut supplies, and I am not aware of any wasted catches. We have made considerable arrangements to kipper or cure surplus herrings.
asked the Minister of Food if he is aware of the shortage of oatmeal in various parts of Scotland; and what steps he has taken to prevent supplies leaving the country and to ensure larger production in the future.
Arrangements have been made to meet any temporary shortage of oatmeal by allocating supplies from Ministry stocks of imported oat products. Supplies are not being exported other than for the use of our Forces. The capacity of the industry is sufficient to meet requirements.
Will the Minister explain this rather surprising shortage? Why did it happen?
There was a pretty bad oat crop last year. We have not been able to make as much of this oatmeal as normally because of this shortage. We took steps to get oat products from Canada to make up the required amount, and we are now putting them on the market.
When oatmeal is exported from Scotland to England, and other foreign countries, will the Minister try to make sure that proper instructions are sent with it in order to see that it is properly cooked? In view of the shortage of supplies will the Minister try to see that English people do not add sugar to their porridge?
I quite agree, in reply to the latter part of that question, that sugar does spoil it. But I do not think we had better draw a line between Scotland and England as to exporting because Scotland would come off very much the worse if that line were drawn.
Will the Minister take care that where there has been a temporary shortage of what I am told is called porridge oats, which forms a large part of infant dietary, provision is made to remedy that situation?