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Written Answers

Volume 413: debated on Friday 24 August 1945

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Written Answers To Questions

Local Elections (Candidates Abroad)

asked the Prime Minister if, in view of the passing of the Local Elections (Service Abroad) Bill, he will be prepared to instruct the Service Departments that candidates will not only be allowed to stand for election, but if elected be given leave to take their seats in the body to which they have been elected.

As was promised by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, this matter has been carefully considered, but I am not satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for taking action in the sense desired by the hon. Member.

Fighting Forces (Overseas Service)

asked the Prime Minister if he will give an undertaking that no man over 45, now serving in the Forces, will be sent to India or S.E.A.C. against his will, whatever his release group may be.

I understand the hon. and gallant Member is referring to men over 35 years of age. In these circumstances, the answer is "No, Sir."

British Prisoners Of War, Far East

asked the Minister of Information on what date the strict censorship on letters from Britain to prisoners of war in Japanese hands will be ended; why this censorship is still being maintained; if he is aware that letters are being returned to sender because of alleged non-compliance with the requirements of the Japanese authorities, and with the intimation that no reference must be made to such return; and that consequently, prisoners of war are being deprived of the news of Japan's surrender and their pending release; and on what security grounds such methods are continued at the present time.

British Civilian Internees (Resettlement)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that British civilian internees desirous of resettling abroad are much hampered as they have no official documents to prove their internment by the enemy; and if, to assist them in their rehabilitation, he will issue on application suitable certificates to those entitled to them.

I have not heard that any British subjects are encountering difficulty on this score, but His Majesty's consular officers would be in a position, in appro- priate cases, to issue documents to British subjects, as proposed, to facilitate their resettlement abroad.

Flooding (Essex)

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that parts of the villages of Salcott and Virley in Essex have been flooded by the sea during part of the winter for several years past; and whether he will order an examination of the area in order that such flooding may be avoided in the future.

I am aware that flooding has occurred in Salcott and Virley as the result of the sea wall being overtopped by exceptionally high tides. The authority responsible for flood prevention in that area is the Essex Rivers Catchment Board, who are carrying out, with the aid of a grant of 60 per cent. from the funds at my disposal, a comprehensive scheme for the reconstruction of the sea defences within the catchment area at a pre-war estimated cost of about £1,000,000. In 1939 the Board prepared a scheme of improvement works for the Salcott-Virley sea wall but had to defer it owing to the war. The Board are responsible for 283 miles of sea and tidal walls and cannot yet see their way to undertake the scheme, as their available resources are fully employed on other works of greater urgency. They have, however, agreed to do so as soon as conditions permit. In the circumstances I do not think that an inspection of the area would serve any useful purpose.

Northern Ireland

Air Transport

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if he is aware that there are thousands of people who wish to travel from Northern Ireland to Great Britain; and if he will make use of the hundreds of aeroplanes and seaplanes, which are now idle, and could be converted easily to carry passengers on this short journey.

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir." As to the second part of the Question, I am fully alive to the position, and special steps have recently been taken to improve the service. The possibility of using a converted type of Service aircraft to supplement the air services operating on this route is under active consideration.

Steamer Embarkation Arrangements

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, now peace has come, he will make arrangements whereby the position for travellers between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will again become normal by granting free facilities for embarkation and disembarkation and thus end the queueing system.

Passengers normally resident in the United Kingdom are allowed to travel freely between Great Britain and Northern Ireland on production of the travel permit cards identifying them. I regret that the need for controlling the entry of aliens and workers from Eire still makes it necessary for all passengers to pass the control point, but every endeavour is made by the immigration staff to minimise delay and inconvenience to travellers, and I am glad to say that it has recently become possible considerably to accelerate the movement of passengers. Queueing, however, is rendered inevitable by the very large numbers of persons travelling and the restricted accommodation both on ship and on shore; and the remedy lies in the restoration of less congested conditions of travel.

Taxi-Cabs (Restrictions)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, as peace has now come, he will relax the wartime restrictions on taxi-cab owners in Northern Ireland which circumscribed the area they should cover; and whether, in the interests both of the owners and users of taxi-cabs, he will arrange at an early date for a reversion to pre-war conditions.

As I stated yesterday in reply to a similar Question, I must defer considering the possibility of relaxing the present petrol rationing restrictions on taxi-cabs and private hire cars until I have reviewed our arrangements for future petrol supplies when Lend-Lease supplies cease.

Food Supplies

Potato Marketing Board

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the fact that the Potato Marketing Board have employed, on administration at Oxford and other places throughout the country, a staff of upwards of 2,000, he will give an assurance that steps will be taken substantially to reduce the numbers before the end of this year.

Orange Juice

asked the Minister of Food whether has attention has been called to the fact that in recent weeks it has been impossible to obtain the full ration of orange juice for young children in Lytham St. Annes and other places in the north-western area; and whether, in view of the importance of orange juice for the health of children, he will make early arrangements to remove existing impediments in the way of rapid and effective distribution.

During recent weeks the off take of orange juice has risen sharply to an unexpectedly high level and this has caused shortages in many parts of the country. Every effort is being made to increase production so that depleted stocks can be replenished.

Soap (Sales)

asked the Minister of Food whether retailers may refuse to sell soap except to customers registered for sugar; and whether persons registered for sugar with a retailer who does not sell soap may re-register with another retailer.

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir," but he must not impose a condition of sale. The answer to the second part of the Question is that the fact that a retailer does not sell soap would not be regarded by itself as sufficient reason for allowing a transfer of registration for sugar. Soap may, of course, be obtained from retailers other than grocers.

Road Collision, Sutton Coldfield (Inquest)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the in- quest upon the death of L.A.C. Alfred Geary, resulting from collision with a U.S. army vehicle in College Road, Sutton Coldfield; and whether he will explain by what authority the evidence of the driver of the vehicle was withheld.

I understand that the coroner was informed in this case that the driver of the United States vehicle was under arrest awaiting count martial by the the American military authorities on a charge alleging responsibility for the dearth of the deceased person. In these circumstances he thought it right to dispense with the evidence of it he driver. The law provides that in such circumstances the inquest shall be adjourned sine die. Had this course been followed no evidence would have been taken.

House Of Commons Post Office (Staffing)

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he is aware of the considerable additional duties now imposed upon the Members' Post Office in the House of Commons; and if he is satisfied that adequate staff and accommodation are available to ensure prompt service to hon. Members.

Yes, Sir. Owing to the limited accommodation available in the present temporary Post Office in the House of Commons it is not practicable to employ there all the additional staff necessary to cope with the work, but other arrangements are being made which will, I hope, ensure a satisfactory service.

Demobilisation

Medical And Dental Students

asked the Minister of Labour if he will investigate the case, details of which have been submitted to him, of a student admitted to the dental school of Guy's Hospital, London University, who is prevented from entering the school by regulations made by his Department which do not seem applicable to this case.

The man to whom the hon. Member refers is serving in the R.A.F. Medical and dental students are being released under the normal conditions of age and length of service, and after full consideration of the relevant circumstances, I see no grounds for making an exception in this case.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will investigate with the view to release from service the case, details of which have been submitted to him, of a former undergraduate of King's College, London University, now performing clerical duties with the Army in India who gave up his studies to enlist three years ago and has been provisionally accepted as a medical student by Guy's Hospital if and when he can secure demobilisation.

I regret that I have been unable to trace the receipt of the details to which the hon. Member refers. If he will be good enough to furnish the regimental particulars of the soldier in question I will have inquiries made and inform him of the result.

Group Transfers

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the reluctance of many men to be released for vital work under category B owing to the fact that they receive only three weeks on full pay instead of eight; and if he will consider an improvement in their position.

I am aware that some of the men who have been offered release in Class B have preferred to await their turn for release in Class A and in this connection I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Nutting) on Tuesday, 21st August, 1945. As stated in the White Paper it is essential to the release scheme that there should be a clearly marked difference in the treatment of the men released in Class B and those released in Class A. The former are released out of their normal turn to go to definite employment whilst the latter must be given time for resettlement and to secure suitable employment if necessary. I am not, therefore, prepared to consider altering the existing position.

Harvest Workers

asked the Minister of Labour in view of the shortage of labour in agriculture, if he will speed up the release of farm workers to ensure the gathering in of the corn, sugar-beet and potato crops.

Increased facilities have been granted for farm workers serving in the Forces to obtain leave or temporary release in order to assist in gathering the crops. In addition, men in the Forces, not necessarily ex-farm workers, are being made available to help with the harvest in their locality. It is not, however, proposed to release farm workers in Class B for the purpose of increasing the labour force available for dealing with the harvest.

Local Government Officials

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the difficulties under which local authorities are working at present owing to shortage of staff; and, having regard to the amount of work which will fall on local authorities as a result of legislation arising out of the King's Speech and as a result of the municipal elections in November, whether he will take all possible steps to expedite the release of local government officials from the Armed Forces.

Yes, Sir. I am doing everything I can to expedite the release of local government staff heeded for essential reconstruction work, within the limits set by the White Paper on the Re-allocation of Man-power which has been approved by the House of Commons and will, as the Government has already announced, be followed in principle in any expedited system of release which can now be adopted.

Building Operatives

asked the Secretary of State for War how many building operatives have been released by his Department from the Army under Release Scheme B up to the last convenient date.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service yesterday.

Doctors

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the shortage of doctors in civilian life, he can hold out any prospects of a speedier release of doctors from the Army.

Yes, Sir. The release of doctors is being accelerated in accordance with the quicker release of the Army as a whole. Some delay in the release of certain categories of medical specialists will occur owing to the existing shortage and difficulty in finding replacements in these special categories.

Docks (Industrial Disputes)

asked the Minister of Labour if he can give figures to show the number of man-hours lost at the docks owing to strikes and go-slow methods; and what is the loss expressed in terms of money.

On the basis of such information as is available in my Department, the aggregate number of man-days lost from the beginning of this year up to the end of July (the last date for which figures are yet available) in stoppages of work arising from industrial disputes at docks in Great Britain is estimated to be about 170,000. This total relates only to stoppages of work and takes no account of the time lost in "go slow" working, as to which statistics are not collected. Information is not available on which, any estimate can be made of the loss resulting either from stoppages of work or "go slow" working expressed in terms of money.

Unemployment (Newport)

asked the Minister of Labour the number of unemployed in the Borough of Newport.

At 16th July the number of unemployed persons on the registers of Employment Exchanges at Newport (Mon.) was 217, including 95 men aged 18 years and over, 20 boys under 18 years, 69 women aged 18 years and over, and 33 girls under 18 years. These figures exclude 50 men who had been classified as unsuitable for ordinary industrial employment.

Victory Celebrations (Compensatory Leave)

asked the Minister of Labour whether it is his intention to authorise adequate holidays for those who were prevented from enjoying them on V-Days, such as key workers and those in transport and catering trades.

The question of compensatory leave to workers required to carry on during the V-Days is a matter for settlement through the normal machinery of negotiation. So far as Government employees are concerned, full compensatory arrangements have been agreed, and I have no doubt that employers generally will wish to follow the Government lead in this matter so far as is practicable.

Industrial And Military Conscription

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement to the House regarding industrial and military conscription.

I have been: asked to reply. In answer to the first part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement I made in the House yesterday. As regards military conscription, a statement will be made in due course.

Domestic Employment (Foreign Workers)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider allowing carefully chosen and suitable women from Germany and the European liberated countries to come under proper supervision to this country and undertake domestic duties so as to relieve the acute problems facing wives and mothers resulting from the present shortage of mothers' helps and other much needed female domestic labour.

The general question of the employment of foreign labour in this country is under consideration.

Engineering Apprentices (Military Service)

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that there is a wholesale calling up of engineering apprentices on the Clyde; and, in view of the shortage of these boys in that industry, and the inducements offered to bring them into it, if he will reconsider this decision and allow these boys to finish their time of apprenticeship which many of them will never do if they are now taken away from industry.

I am looking into this matter and will write to my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

Royal Air Force

Demobilisation (Notices)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air (1) when he hopes to be in a position to announce the result of the review by his Department of the possibility of speeding up demobilisation now that all belligerency is at an end; and if he is aware that all R.A.F. personnel are anxious to hear something definite as to the probable date of their release, there being at present more than two-thirds of those serving entirely without information of this kind;(2) when he proposes to make public the programme of releases from the R.A.F. beyond that already announced up to and including 30th September; and if he will bear in mind, in this connection, the desirability of giving personnel as long notice as possible of the probable date of release of their group.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement made yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service. We appreciate the importance of giving early information about demobilisation, and it will be the aim to give all members of the Air Force not less than three months' notice of their release date.

Waaf (Overseas Postings)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is satisfied that the general conditions in India are suitable for members of the W.A.A.F.; and, if not, will he prevent any further drafts proceeding and return home those already there.

Members of the W.A.A.F. volunteering for service in India or the Far East are posted only to areas where the general conditions, accommodation and amenities are satisfactory. The second part of the Question does not therefore arise.

Air Crew Training

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if, he is prepared to state the policy with regard to the numbers of young men accepted for air crew duties, who have been waiting many months to be called into training.

Now that the war is over it will not be possible to provide air crew training for more than a few of these men. Most of them will be required to undertake other forms of national service and will shortly be notified of the alternatives open to them.

Low Flying (North-East Scotland)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that low flying to the danger of the public is still prevalent in the North-East of Scotland; and whether he will take steps to prevent a continuance of this practice.

Low flying is contrary to regulations and is subject to heavy penalties, except when specially authorised for training purposes over sparsely populated districts. Special steps have been taken to impress upon the Service the importance of complying with the regulations. I have no information that unauthorised low flying is prevalent in North-East Scotland, but if the hon. Member will let me know of cases that come to his notice, I will gladly look into them.

Leave

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the present priorities for leave to the United Kingdom for married and single R.A.F. personnel serving with C.M.F.

No one from the R.A.F., C.M.F., is granted leave to this country who is due to complete his tour of overseas duty within the next six months; but with this limitation, priority is in general granted both to married and single airmen who are nearest to the end of their overseas tour.

National Finance

Gift Parcels (Taxation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that Customs Duties of approximately 100 per cent. are being charged on small gifts sent through usual postal channels by men serving in Norway to their relatives at home; and if he will take steps to alter this.

Members of the Forces abroad are allowed to send home free of import duty and Purchase Tax a limited number of gift parcels of a total value not exceeding £12 in a year. One of the conditions of the concession is that each parcel must bear a special label—Army Form W. 5192—which the sender can obtain from his unit. Details of the concession have been circulated to all overseas Commands. No complaints have reached me as regards parcels sent by members of the Forces serving in Norway, but if my hon. and gallant Friend will let me have particulars of any cases in which duty has been charged on parcels bearing the label and coming within the terms of the concession, I shall be happy to have inquiries made.

War Damage (Payments)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether, in view of the end of the war, he can state exactly when and in what manner it is proposed to make war damage payments; and whether in view of the fact that house owners are continually being pressed to make repairs without any certainty that they will be included in such war damage payments, he will issue some clear guidance forthwith to all concerned.

As regards the time of making value payments, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer which I gave on 21st August to the hon. and gallant Member for Penrith and Cockermouth (Lieut.-Colonel Dower). A cost of works payment is the payment or repayment to the claimant of the reasonable cost incurred by him in carrying out the works, made necessary by war damage, to reinstate the property in the form in which it existed before the damage occurred, and is payable when the works are executed. Detailed guidance on the subject of cost of works payments is contained in the War Damage Commission's explanatory pamphlet ROD. I, of which I am sending the hon. and gallant Member a copy. In nearly all cases claimants already know which kind of payment the War Damage Commission considers to be appropriate in their case, but it is open to any claimant who is in doubt to ask for the information from the Commission's Regional Office.

Canada (Financial Contributions)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the amount received to date since the war began by way of free gifts and of Lend-Lease from the Dominion of Canada.

To the end of June of this year, the total in question amounted to some $Can. 2,660,000,000. Of this $Can. 1,000,000,000 was by way of gift for the purchase of Canadian supplies in 1942, the balance is mutual aid.

War Gratuities

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if gratuities are to be paid to ex-Servicemen in accordance with the scheme proposed by the late Government, or at a flat-rate based on length of service alone and on a more generous scale.

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Collins) yesterday.

War Savings Campaign

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total of small savings made by citizens of Britain since the war began.

The War Savings Campaign opened on 22nd November, 1939. The total of small savings raised between that date and 14th August, 1945, was £3,651,869,779, made up as follows:

£
National Savings Certificates1,420,336,196
Defence Bonds835,284,642
Increase in balances due to depositors in Post Office Savings Bank and Trustee Savings Banks1,396,248,941

Hospital Staffs (Trade Union Membership)

asked the Minister of Health, whether he is aware that one of the reasons for the present shortage of nursing and domestic staff in many institutions is the disinclination or refusal of institutional and other employers to allow their nursing recruits or employees freely to join the trade union of their own individual choice without any pressure or warning advice; that the nursing staff in such institutions are thus deprived of the opportunity of being represented by a trade union official in any personal difficulty; and whether, as a condition of the receipt of any Government grants to E.M.S. hospitals, he will now insist on the right of free association and trade union membership being granted to the nursing and domestic staffs in such institutions.

I should be sorry to hear that any hospital denies to its staff the free right of trade union membership and I have no evidence of any such case. The point raised by my hon. Friend is, however, primarily one for hospital management committees, and would not be an appropriate subject for a condition attached to grants which are paid as reimbursements of the actual cost incurred in arranging for the treatment of E.M.S. patients.

Tuberculosis (Ex-Service Patients)

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that ex-Service personnel when suffering from tuberculosis are treated in sanatoria or hospitals nearest their homes, thus precluding the best treatment which varies in efficiency throughout the country; and can an assurance be given that in future the Fighting Service concerned will accept full responsibility for the treatment of Service patients.

I am advised that the advantage to the patient of receiving institutional treatment for tuberculosis near his home far outweighs such disadvantage as may arise from variations of treatment in different parts of the country, particularly as regards patients whose war service may already have long separated them from their families. The Service Departments do not maintain sanatoria or the specialist medical service required for the treatment of tuberculosis.

Governor Of Algeciras (British Guard Of Honour)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that the Spanish Fascist Governor of Algeciras paid a ceremonial visit to Gibraltar on 11th August, at the invitation of the Governor and Commander-in-Chief, and that British troops were obliged to show him the respect customarily accorded to honoured guests; and if he will instruct the military authorities concerned that the offering of such courtesies to any representative of General Franco's regime is undesirable.

I have no information. The provision of guards of honour for foreign generals and for distinguished personages is governed by King's Regulations, paragraph 961.

German Prisoners Of War (Repatriation)

asked the Secretary of State for War the policy of His Majesty's Government with regard to the repatriation of German prisoners of war in this country; how many have already been repatriated; and what steps are being taken to ensure that prisoners with Nazi sympathies are not released with these repatriates.

The general repatriation of German prisoners of war has not yet been considered. A small number of non-Nazi specialists have been returned to Germany for release at the request of the Control Commission to assist with the rehabilitation of Germany, and it is anticipated that this number will be increased. Apart from these a number of sick and wounded, from whom members of the S.S. have been excluded, have been returned to Germany for further treatment; these men will not, however, be released unless considered suitable by the Control Commission.

British Army

Compassionate Leave

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the case of Corporal F. G. Lawrence, No. 1582783, of which he has been informed, he will see that in future when his Department informs relatives, or societies acting on behalf of relatives, that application will be made to serving men's commanding officers for compassionate leave, these applications will, in fact be forwarded to the appropriate unit.

I much regret the delay which occurred in the case of Corporal Lawrence, which was due to the very large number of applications in hand at the time. The present procedure aims at bringing home as quickly as possible those men with the greatest claims on compassionate grounds, but, as stated in reply to the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) on 21st August, I have this matter under consideration.

Requisitioned Properties

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the widespread demand by the local authorities and people of holiday resorts for the derequisition of hotels, halls and other public buildings now occupied by troops; and what is the Government's policy in this matter.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Evesham (Mr. Dc la Bère) on Wednesday.

Messing Charges (Officers' Families)

asked the Secretary of State for War what allowances can be drawn by an officer in respect of his family when they are travelling on board ship in the course of repatriation or other passage at the public expense; what charges are made against him for his family's messing in such circumstances; and what is the net total of pay and family lodging allowance received by a lieutenant of the 14s. 6d. a day class, whose wife and four children, over 12 years of age, accompanied him overseas while he was serving in the ranks before the war, for each day of their return journey.

No allowances are paid to an officer in respect of his family travelling on board ship at the public expense. The officer is required to pay for his family's messing at the following daily rates: for adults and children over 12 years of age, 3s. 3d., for children of 1 but under 12 years of age, half the above rate. The total charge in respect of a family is subject to a maximum daily payment as follows: Second Lieutenant, 8s. 6d., Lieutenant, 10s., Captain 12s. 6d., Major 17s. 6d. A Lieutenant in receipt of pay at the rate of 14s. 6d. a day with a wife and four children over 12 years of age, receives no family lodg- ing allowance while his family are travelling on board ship at the public expense, and he is required to pay 10s. a day for the messing of his family. The fact that his family accompanied him overseas while he was serving in the ranks before the war does not affect the case. The scale of messing charges is at present under review.

Category C 2 (Duties)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether soldiers stationed in this country whose medical category is CX 2 are compelled to do all parades, guards and piquets, particularly those who have previously been excused such duties on account of their state of health.

There is no medical category CX 2 in the Army, and I have assumed that my hon. Friend is referring to category C 2. Soldiers of this category are employed at home only, and on duties within their medical and physical capabilities. Their physical disabilities vary considerably; but they are not expected to do all parades, and their liability to perform duties as guards and piquets is determined by their individual ability to carry out such duties from a medical point of view.

Auxiliary Territorial Service

asked the Secretary of State for War whether members of the A.T.S. may be allowed to volunteer for service in Burma and other Eastern theatres now that hostilities have ceased.

Yes, Sir. The employment of A.T.S. would help materially to ease the manpower situation in these theatres, particularly during the release period, and while no compulsory transfers will be made I shall welcome volunteers. They will be posted to areas where the general conditions, accommodation and amenities are satisfactory.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether A.T.S. may be permitted to volunteer for service in Burma and other Far Eastern theatres, in view of the fact that the Japanese war is concluded; and if he will give an assurance that no form of compulsion will be used.

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn) to-day.

Repatriation

asked the Secretary of State for War whether men returning from S.E.A.C. on demobilisation are entitled to repatriation leave in addition to demobilisation leave; and whether these men, with special reference to Groups 9 and 10, have by some error been denied their repatriation leave.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. Collins) on Wednesday.

Middle East Forces

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps are being taken to ensure that the strength in British officers and N.C.O.s of the British military administration of occupied Italian territories in the Middle East is being maintained up to full establishment, without compelling personnel to remain overseas, against their will, beyond the normal periods of service in the Middle East.

The only personnel who are compulsorily retained in the Middle East beyond the normal period of service are those whose retention is considered by the Commander-in-Chief to be absolutely essential, or for whom it is essential to await specialised replacements. Ordinarily, men are returned as and when they become qualified, subject to transport facilities, without awaiting replacements. Incidentally, the replacement drafts for Python personnel are supplied as a matter of very high priority.

Smallpox

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps other than vaccination are taken to prevent the spread of smallpox amongst troops serving abroad.

The steps, other than vaccination, taken to prevent the spread of smallpox amongst troops serving abroad include:—Isolation of cases as they occur. Surveillance by medical officers of the contacts of cases. Disinfection of accommodation and personal clothing and bedding where a case of smallpox has occurred, as laid down in Army Council Instructions.

In areas where civilian outbreaks occur, steps may be taken to limit the extent of contact of troops with civilians, for example, by placing an area out of bounds. The routine health inspections may detect early cases of disease.

The Port Sanitary Regulations, 1933, and the Public Health (Aircraft) Regulations, 1938, are designed to prevent the introduction of smallpox (and certain other infectious diseases) into each country. Close co-operation is maintained with the civilian health authorities, wherever possible, in order to lessen the risk of civilian outbreaks spreading to troops. It should perhaps be emphasised that vaccination is the greatest single measure of protection against smallpox, and that without vaccination the above measures would be of doubtful efficacy.

Germany (Administrative Posts)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his Ministry advertised situations in the work of governing Germany; whether these posts were open to Service officers; how many of them were successful in their applications, how many were given to civilians and what were their qualifications.

No advertisement for the filling of military appointments in the work of governing Germany have appeared outside the Army. Army Council Instructions calling for volunteers for this form of duty in Europe and Africa have been issued to the Army. Approximately 6,100 applications have been received and of the number selected by the Selection Board some 2,484 officers are now employed in Germany.Advertisements have appeared calling for applications from civilians for certain specialised appointments in Germany, as insufficient suitably qualified officers could he found, and some 675 civilians have been appointed as the result of these advertisements. All officers who have volunteered for service in Military Government under one of the Army Council instructions and who have been selected and employed in this organisation will receive special consideration for future posts whether they apply as military officers or as civilians after their release.

Soap Prices (Germany)

asked the Secretary of State for War what prices are charged by N.A.A.F.I., in Germany, far soap sold to British troops.

The prices for toilet soap range from 50 pfennige to 1.30 Reichsmarks (3d. to 7½d.) according to quality. Generally speaking, the prices are a fraction below those for similar brands in this country.

Local Elections (Leave)

asked the Secretary of State for War what extra leave facilities will be granted to a man in His Majesty's Forces stationed in the United Kingdom in, order that he can conduct his election campaign as a candidate for a vacancy on a local council; and whether any ordinary leave due to him can be deferred or brought forward at his request so as to coincide with such election campaign.

No extra leave is admissible, but leave which is ordinarily due may be deferred or brought forward, subject to the exigencies of the Service.

Court Martial Procedure

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the normal time which elapses between court-martial and promulgation in case of troops under command of H.Q., C.M.F.; what circumstances would be held to justify the period being exceeded; and what investigations are made in case of undue delay in promulgation of sentence.

The normal time which elapses between court-martial and promulgation in the case of troops under command of H.Q., C.M.F., is 14 days in cases other than penal servitude. Fifty per cent. of penal servitude cases are promulgated in less than 28 days but the remainder of penal servitude cases may take up to six weeks. Justifiable delays may be caused when the accused has petitioned, or is in hospital or has escaped, or when the confirming authority has found it necessary to send back the proceedings for revision of finding or sentence, or for investigation as to the truth or otherwise of statements made by the accused in mitigation of punishments, or when the confirming authority has decided to refer the case to superior military authority when the proceedings appear to be illegal or involve substantial injustice to the accused. Movements of units or formations may cause justifiable delay.

In cases of penal servitude, which require confirmation by the Army Commander, delay has in the past been caused by operational pressure, or by reason of the Army Commander's absence on urgent duties. Abnormal delay is automatically the subject of comment by legal staff on review, and is thereafter investigated through staff channels unless clearly due to operational reasons.

Dock Strikes (Army Labour)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the cost to the taxpayer, since 1st January, 1945, of members of His Majesty's Forces employed at docks, and elsewhere, owing to strikes and go-slow methods.

I have been: asked to reply. The true cost to the taxpayer would be difficult or impossible to assess and a considerable amount of time and labour would be involved in collecting the material for even a rough assessment. In the circumstances I do not feel justified in complying with the hon. Member's request.

Postal Services (Great Britain And Europe)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when the postal services to Austria and other countries in Europe, where these facilities have not yet been arranged, will be restored.

I have been: asked to reply. Limited postal services are in operation between the United Kingdom and the whole of Europe, with the exception of Albania, Austria, Germany and Hungary. The service with Albania is likely to be restored in the near future. The possibility of reopening the Hungarian service is under consideration. I cannot say when civilian postal services will be extended to Austria and Germany. The matter is under review in the United Kingdom—United States Zones by the Allied Control Commissions.

War Decorations And Medals

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will reconsider the decision to exclude members of the Anti-Aircraft Command serving in Great Britain from the award of the 1939–1945 Star, as the majority of the men concerned were volunteers prior to September, 1939, were subject to military discipline, were precluded from volunteering for overseas service, took a prominent part in the Battle of Britain and were therefore in every respect a branch of the fighting services as if they had been overseas.

No, Sir. There are many other categories on behalf of which similar claims could be made and a change of the kind suggested by the hon. Member would reduce the value of the 1939–1945 Star as an award for service in operations overseas.

India (Field Service Concessions)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether India is considered to be a Concessional Area entitling serving men to a free issue of 70 cigarettes a month; and whether he is aware that the Leicestershire Regiment has not had such a free issue.

I have been: asked to reply. The India Command is not, and never has been, a concessional area in the sense of an area in which all field service concessions are admissible. Certain areas were, however, classed as "semi-concessional areas"; in these areas concessions were admissible though not on the full field-service scale. Recently it was decided for reasons of administrative simplicity and because the direct Japanese threat to India had been removed, to abolish these semi-concessional areas with effect from 15th August, 1945, and to grant uniform concessional treatment to all troops in India Command. This involved the withdrawal of certain concessions formerly admissible in the semi-concessional areas, and the extension of others to the India Command as a whole. Among the latter is the free issue of 50 cigarettes, per head per week to British troops—not 70 cigarettes per month as my hon. Friend states. I have no doubt that the Leicester Regiment will by now have received the benefit of this free issue.

Smallholdings (Ex-Service Men)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if any provisions are being made through the county councils for smallholdings for ex-Servicemen returning from the war.

The whole question of the provision of smallholdings is under consideration.

Palace Of Westminster (Windows)

asked the Minister of Works if he will, so far as possible without impairing the acoustics of the present Chamber, restore clear glass to its windows during the coming Recess.

I fully share the hon. Member's, desire to see glass restored to the windows of this Chamber, but in order to avoid glare it is necessary that the glass should be tinted. Owing to the labour shortage this cannot be ready during the Recess, but it will be installed as soon as possible.

Graduate Teachers' Salaries

asked the Minister of Education what protests have been received against the Burnham Scale of salaries for graduate teachers from university committees, including the committee of vice-chancellors; what action is being taken in response to these protests; and whether she can make any statement regarding the effect of the publication of these scales upon the entry of graduate teachers to the national schools.

A communication was addressed to my predecessor in office in January of this year conveying the views of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of University Colleges on the Burnham Committee's proposals. Since then, as the hon. Member will be aware, the Burnham Scales of salaries have been approved. I am not in a position to make any statement at this date on the point raised in the last part of the Question.

Tanganyika (German Medical Missionaries)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in regard to German medical missionaries in Tanganyika territory who were at first allowed to continue their work, provided that they gave their parole, but were interned when Italy entered the war; whether they are now being permitted to return to their stations and resume their medical work; and, if not, when is it proposed to do this.

The German missionaries in Tanganyika who were interned during the war have not, I understand, been permitted to resume their activities. The question of future policy towards German missionaries is at present under consideration with the Governor, and I am not yet in a position to make a statement.

Palestine

Immigration

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will consider the advisability of permitting increased immigration into Palestine of refugees from the former enemy-occupied countries.

Water Supplies (Beersheba)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many boreholes have now been completed in the Beersheba sub-district of Palestine; and in how many of them fresh water was found.

A hydrographic survey of the area was put in hand in 1938 in order to ascertain whether sub-soil water was available. Unfortunately, this survey had to be abandoned before its completion owing to the disturbances. But the results so far as they went were extremely disappointing. Of eighteen wells sunk at sites which, as the result of prolonged geophysical and geological investigation, appeared to be exceptionally favourable, only two proved successful, and these two were situated in the coastal sand dune area, where success could reasonably be anticipated from the outset. Of the sixteen wells further in the interior, some of which were driven to a depth of a thousand feet, fourteen were complete failures, and the water in the other two was so saline that the possibility of making any use of it is doubtful.

Malayan Rubber Estate Owners Company

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the Japanese surrender, he proposes to take over, without amendment, the scheme of the Malayan Rubber Estate Owners for dealing with the transitional period; and what arrangements will be made to ensure that the interests of the estate managers and employers, British, Chinese, Malayan and others, will be protected during this period.

I am prepared to give to the Malayan Rubber Estate Owners Company the support promised by my predecessor on the same understanding, namely, that I reserve my right and the right of the Governments which will be re-established in Malaya to consider specially the cases of estate owners who may claim that, for financial or other reasons, it is impossible for them to join the Company or that it will seriously prejudice their interests to do so; and in appropriate cases, where the claim is considered to be valid, to arrange for such owners to get assistance in the obtaining of goods and services to an extent not greater and on terms not more favourable than the assistance extended to members of the Company.As regards the second part of the Question, the object of this scheme is to ensure a fair distribution among all owners of 100 acres or more of equipment and services which will be in short supply, and I am not quite clear in what respect the interests of the estate managers and employers require protection. If, however, the hon. and gallant Member would care to give me some further explanation of the cases he has in mind I should be happy to give further consideration to them.