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Written Answers

Volume 414: debated on Monday 15 October 1945

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Written Answers To Questions

Agriculture

Smallholdings

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware of the desire of many county councils to acquire additional land for smallholdings and reduce the lists of approved applicants; and what advice and assistance he proposes to give to county councils.

I am aware that many county councils desire to acquire additional land for smallholdings, but I do not consider that such an extension is practicable in the immediate future by reason of the great shortage of building labour and materials, available supplies of which he must be concentrated on such urgent national needs as housing (including rural housing) and farm buildings. Nor do I consider that the provision of additional smallholdings for men returning from the Services is a matter of urgency. In the Government's view it is desirable that men coming out of the Forces who wish to take up agriculture as a career should take full advantage of the Government's Agricultural Training Scheme, even where they have had some previous experience of agriculture, so that they can obtain the necessary knowledge of up-to-date farming, methods before taking on smallholdings of their own. In the meantime, I am giving careful consideration to the question of future policy in regard to smallholdings.

Spring Traps

asked the Minister of Agriculture when he proposes to withdraw permission from war agricultural executive committees to use steel traps.

The authority given to county war agricultural executive committees to permit the setting of spring traps in the open is already limited to cases where this method offers the only effective means of destroying rabbits. The question is therefore one of balancing the disadvantages on humanitarian grounds of the open setting of traps (a matter on which I have considerable personal sympathy) against the urgent need for maximum food production and for the ridding of a pest which takes heavy toll of growing crops. I am seeking the views of committees on the effect which a withdrawal of permission for open trapping would have on their rabbit-destruction campaign, and I will consider the matter again in the light of these views.

Home Food Production (Government Policy)

asked the Minister of Agriculture when he anticipates that he will be able to announce the Government's long-term policy on agriculture.

The Government's general intentions with regard to home food production were clearly stated in the Gracious Speech. The specific measures necessary to give effect to those intentions will be introduced as and when required, and I hope it will not be long before I am able to give the House a forecast of some, at least, of those measures.

National Advisory Service

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he has anything to report upon the progress, or the plan for setting up the National Advisory Service.

I hope to make an announcement very shortly regarding the organisation of the National Agricultural Advisory Service, and salaries and other conditions of employment.

Horticulture (Department)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he has in view any scheme for the setting up of a separate branch in his Ministry for dealing with horticulture.

Ex-Servicemen (Training)

asked the Minister of Agriculture what progress is being made in the organisation of training for ex-Service-men on the land, in agriculture and horticulture.

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many applications have been received for agricultural training under his scheme from disabled and non-disabled persons released from war service; and how many have been approved and placed.

Arrangements for farm training have been completed in all counties. Proposals are in train for the establishment of centres for institutional training in 14 counties. Three hundred and fourty-four applications for training had been received up to 30th September. Two hundred and fifteen applicants had been approved and placed in training, and a further 29 approved applicants were awaiting placing.

Workers And Wages

asked the Minister of Agriculture if his attention has been called to the drop in the number of regular skilled farm workers; and what steps he is taking to secure the payment of a wage that will not only attract men but will make it worth their while to stay on the land.

My hon. Friend will have seen from the revised figures which have now been published that there has been practically no change in the numbers of regular workers employed on farms. The question of wages is one for the Agricultural Wages Board, which has the sole responsibility of determining the minimum rates.

Feeding Stuffs

asked the Minister of Agriculture how much feeding stuffs have been exported from this country to Denmark since VE-Day; and whether he will release more feeding stuffs to farmers in this country soon in order to encourage the revival of the pig and poultry industries.

No feeding stuffs have been exported from this country to Denmark. All supplies available are allocated to the various classes of stock rationed in accordance with the Rationing Scheme. Substantial progressive increases in the basic rations for pigs and poultry were announced last April and have not yet come into full effect. Prospective supplies do not permit of any further improvement at present.

Farms (National Survey)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is prepared to publish the information collected by the county war agricultural committees on the extent and ownership of farms and land in this country.

I am arranging for the publication of the principal statistical results of the National Farm Survey, which will provide considerable data on the occupancy and owner-occupancy of farms. The information on ownership obtained under the Survey amounts to little more than lists of owners' names of individual agricultural holdings, and does not lend itself to the provision of an estimate of the number of estates and their sizes. I am considering whether our agricultural statistics can be extended in this way.

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many farms in England and Wales are in Class C category; what is the area of such farms; and what steps he proposes to take to improve their state of cultivation.

The Farm Survey carried out over the period 1941–1943 showed that 14,500 holdings of five acres or more in England and Wales, covering an area of 1,210,000 acres, were then classed as "C." It is one of the duties of County War Agricultural Executive Committees to give advice and assistance to occupiers of "C" farms, coupled, where necessary, with detailed directions and supervision. As a last resort a Committee may take possession of a "C" farm.

Prisoner Of War Labour

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can give any indication of the length of time prisoners of war will be available for agricultural purposes; and what steps he is taking to prepare for the replacement of such labour.

As has already been announced, it has been decided that repatriation of Italian prisoners in this country shall begin when the harvest is completed, but I hope that it will be possible to replace those employed in agriculture by Germans. I cannot at present indicate how long German prisoners will be available for agricultural purposes or what steps will be taken to replace them if and when it becomes necessary.

Dispossessed Farmers (Appeals)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if, with the advent of peace time conditions, he will agree to an independent appeal against decisions by war agricultural committees deemed unfair.

Except in the case of proposals to terminate farm tenancies or to take possession of a farm, I do not propose to set up any appeal machinery against decisions by war agricultural executive committees.

Foot-And-Mouth Disease

asked the Minister of Agriculture, in view of the warning given by the chief veterinary officer on 4th May, 1945, of the danger of outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease occurring on the premises of butchers distributing South American meat, what action he proposes to take to prevent the continuance of this danger.

The only practicable way in which the danger mentioned in the hon. and gallant Member's Question can be reduced is by observance and enforcement of the existing regulations. Every effort to secure stricter enforcement has been and is being made, and with some apparent success. There have been only two outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease so far this year on butchers' premises, and three others that may in some way be associated with butchers.

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many cattle were destroyed because of foot-and-mouth disease in the last three years; and what proportion were dairy cattle.

Since 1st October, 1942, 16,197 cattle have been slaughtered in Great Britain because of outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease. It is estimated that about 50 per cent. of these were dairy cattle.

Wheat Acreage

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in order to stimulate the production of wheat, he will maintain the acreage payment at £4 per acre.

No, Sir. I am anxious that all suitable land coming in turn for wheat should be so planted, and I should like to see the 1945 acreage maintained. But the growing of wheat on unsuitable land—to compensate for which the system of acreage payments was introduced—would no longer be justifiable.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the fact that the wheat acreage for England and Wales fell by nearly 900,000 acres between June, 1944, and June, 1945, and in view of the serious food shortage and the fact that wheat stocks are below probable requirements, he proposes to take any steps to secure substantial increases in the wheat acreage for the 1946 harvest.

The food shortage applies less to wheat than to other foodstuffs. Now that exchange considerations are of more importance than the saving of shipping space, it is essential that we should use our varying types of land for the crops and livestock for which they are particularly suited. I have already announced that I want to see all suitable land that comes into turn for wheat sown this autumn, and I hope that there will be a wheat acreage in 1946 at least as big as that just harvested.

Tractors

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware of the difficulty of obtaining spare parts for agricultural tractors; and what steps he is taking to rectify this.

Certain difficulties in obtaining spare parts for imported tractors have been reported from time to time, and all possible steps have been taken to expedite the shipment of the required parts from the U.S.A. I fully appreciate the need for spare parts for farm tractors already imported into this country, and we shall do our best to maintain an adequate supply.

Fishing Gear (Underwater Obstructions)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware of the damage being caused to fishermen's equipment by the many underwater obstructions that are now in the English Channel; if he will arrange for compensation to be paid to the fishermen for loss of equipment; and whether he will have inquiries made with a view to removing as many of these obstructions as possible.

I am aware that there have been cases of damage to fishing gear due to underwater obstructions, although comparatively few complaints have reached me. I shall be pleased to investigate any particular case of which the hon. Member may have particulars in order to ascertain whether it would be possible to remove the obstruction. I am afraid that no liability can be accepted by the State for compensating fishermen for losses due to this cause.

Danish Subjects (British Visas)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are being taken to speed up the granting of the necessary passport facilities for Danish subjects desiring to visit this country on business, in view of the delay of several weeks now taking place.

The British passport control officer in Copenhagen, as in other countries, has for some months now been authorised to grant, without reference to London, visas to foreign business men wishing to visit this country, if they can satisfy the Commercial Counsellor at the British Embassy that their proposed business is substantial and of definite value to the trade or industry of the United Kingdom. If the hon. Member will send me any specific instances of unreasonable delay in granting a visa, I will have inquiries made. The hon. Member will, however, appreciate that the immediate grant of a visa, which is of limited validity, serves no useful purpose if no facilities for transport are available.

British Metalliferous Resources (Inquiry)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power (1) if he will now publish the Report of the Technical Committee set up to inquire into the possibilities of mineral development in the Carn Brea area of Cornwall; and if he will state the policy of the Government on the matter;(2) if he will make a statement on the development of non-ferrous metal deposits in Britain.

After considering the report of the Committee of technical experts appointed by my predecessor to examine the special problem of the Cam Brea area, I have come to the conclusion that the changed circumstances and economic conditions resulting from the war call for a comprehensive inquiry into our metalliferous resources in this country and the best way of developing them in the national interest. I, therefore, pro- pose in the near future to appoint a committee with wide terms of reference to review this question as a whole. The scope of this Committee's investigations would, of course, extend to the Cornish tin mining industry and the report of the Technical Committee to which the hon. and gallant Member refers would be made available to them. I hope to be in a position to make a further statement very shortly.

Occupied Enemy Territory (Land Expropriation)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on what principle or provision of international law any Government or Governments of the United Nations purport to recast social or economic arrangements on enemy territory under military occupation, for instance, by expropriating land, with or without compensation.

My right hon. Friend is unaware that any Government of a United Nation is recasting social or economic arrangements in enemy territory under military occupation, by expropriating land. Apart from the expropriation of land, I do not understand what action by United Nation Governments the hon. Member has in mind; if he has other specific matters upon which he wishes answers, perhaps he would give notice of them.

Yugoslavia (Dr Subasic)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's ambassador has recently seen Dr. Subasic; and whether he is still acting as Prime Minister.

Dr. Subasic ceased to be Prime Minister of the Royal Yugoslav Government in March, 1945, when he became Minister of Foreign Affairs in Marshal Tito's Government. On 10th October, His Majesty's Chargé ďAffaires called on Dr. Subasic, who informed him that he had resigned from the Government as from 8th October.

Aircraft Production

Damaged Aircraft (Scrap Metal)

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if he is aware that the hull and wings of damaged Sunderland aircraft are now being towed out to sea off a Scottish port and sunk; that these parts are estimated to contain up to eight tons of recoverable secondary aluminium; why this waste of valuable material is permitted; and what steps he is taking to stop it.

It is certainly our general policy to retain aluminium scrap from unserviceable and surplus aircraft for re-melting into secondary ingot. The tonnage of such scrap at present awaiting treatment is sufficient to keep the recovery depots working for a considerable time. A small number of Sunderland aircraft beyond economical repair have, however, after the removal of special equipment, been disposed of in the manner stated by the hon. Member. Owing to the distance of the aircraft from the Recovery Depots, the cost of recovery would not have been justified.

Factories, Scotland

Hughes asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production what steps he proposes to take to stop the discharge of workers from the M.A.P. factory at Tullos, Aberdeen, which is causing unnecessary unemployment and unrest in Aberdeen and district, by the fact that this factory employed several thousand workers during the war, and that owing to recent discharges only about 300 workers are employed there now.

The factory to which the hon. Member refers was erected to provide additional capacity for the manufacture of aero-engine accessories, and only commenced production early this year. As a result of the curtailment of the aircraft programme at the end of the war, this factory has been declared surplus to our requirements and has been notified to the Board of Trade as available for allocation for peace-time production from the end of this year. The maximum number of workpeople employed at this factory was 562 in July, and the number now employed is approximately 400.

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if he will state his intentions with regard to the future of the factory presently operated by R.E.M.E. at Linwood, Renfrewshire.

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production whether he will make a statement with regard to the future of Linwood Road Factory, Renfrewshire.

I am considering the matter in consultation with my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement on the future of the Rolls-Royce factory at Hillington, Renfrewshire; how far it is intended to use surplus portions of this factory for other products in the near future and for what products; and if he will give an estimate of the maximum number of workers who may ultimately expect to be employed in this factory.

My Department have recently been informed by the Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production that about half of this factory will not be required by Messrs. Rolls Royce and is therefore available for allocation to other users. This portion of the factory will revert to Scottish Industrial Estates who are taking steps, in association with the Regional Controller of the Board of Trade, to interest suitable firms. It is too early, therefore, to state what products will be produced or how many workers are likely to be employed.

Civil Aircraft

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if he will state the total number of new type civil aircraft now under construction by the aircraft industry as a result of orders placed by the Government.

Ministry Of Supply

Unrra Supplies (Air Transport)

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production why, in view of the need to transport supplies to U.N.R.R.A. for European rehabilitation, it has been decided to close down the A.T.A.

I understand that it is preferable to employ surface transport for the large consignments of supplies which are needed in Europe, because it is more economical both as regards costs and manpower. Where small stores, such as medical supplies, are urgently required, air transport has been, and can continue to be, provided under existing arrangements, and there is no need to keep, the A.T.A. in being for this purpose.

Surplus Motor Vehicles

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if he is aware that there are in this country dumps containing large numbers of military lorries now surplus to military requirements; and if he will take steps to secure the release of these vehicles in order that they can be used for essential civilian transport purposes, both in this country and in the recently occupied countries.

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if he is now in a position to make a statement regarding the release of motor-vehicles from the Service Departments for the use and benefit of commerce and industry.

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production what steps are being taken to make surplus vehicles, belonging to the Services, available for purchase by the general public.

There are in these country three types of park containing transport vehicles—

  • (a) War Office Vehicle Reception Depots which contain the Army's reserve vehicles as well as Lease-Lend vehicles the disposal of which is now the subject of discussion with the United States Government.
  • (b) Ministry of Supply Parks which contain vehicles declared surplus by the Services and due to be disposed of by the Ministry of Supply.>
  • (c) Ministry of Supply Parks which contain vehicles not suitable for reconditioning and which await breaking down for produce.
  • 2. As and when the Army declare vehicles surplus they are handed over to the Ministry of Supply and are classified as either—

  • (a) fit for further use after servicing;
  • (b) fit for further use after reconditioning;
  • (c) unfit for further use and to be broken down.
  • 3. Priority of allocation of the fit and reconditionable vehicles is given to Government Departments, who place their demands through the Ministry of War Transport, to U.N.R.R.A. and to certain Allied Governments. Against these priority demands 27,000 fit and reconditioned vehicles have already been supplied to Government Departments in this country, and approximately 11,000 for use in liberated Europe. 5,500 further vehicles have been allocated to U.N.R.R.A. and only await the shipping to carry them.

    4. After the satisfaction of these priority demands the balance of surplus vehicles of suitable types is handed over to the manufacturers for re-distribution through trade channels. These vehicles are reconditioned either by the manufacturers or by their agents and are sold only to purchasers who hold permits to acquire obtained from the Ministry of War Trans port.

    5. The capacity available for reconditioning vehicles is a limiting factor. This capacity consists in the main of the manufacturers agents all over the country, who are also concerned with the repair of private vehicles. At the present moment, under the Ministry of Supply, some 1,000 vehicles a week are being repaired for return to the Services, and a further 900 a week for Government Departments, U.N.R.R.A. and the Allies. In addition, between 300 and 400 a week are being handled under the control of the manufacturers themselves. It is hoped substantially to increase this latter figure in the near future.

    6. There are at present in Ministry of Supply Parks some 50,000 vehicles. It is probable that about half of these are unsuitable for civil use due either to their age and mechanical condition or to the fact that they are of specialised military types. Further surpluses are at the moment being declared by the Services at a rate of some 800 to 1,000 per week.

    7. My right hon. Friend the Minister of War Transport and I are fully conscious of the need to get all suitable surplus vehicles quickly to work on behalf of liberated Europe and of the transport needs of this country, and we are using to the full all available capacity to this end. We are, however, determined to avoid filling the roads of this country with unsafe vehicles.

    Flax

    asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if he is aware that the recent altera- tion in grading prices for flax will cause substantial losses to flax growers in Scotland; that on the farm of the largest grower in Scotland the loss is estimated a £10 per acre; that as a result many growers may be compelled to discontinue flax production; and what action he is taking in the matter.

    During the war it was necessary to secure the greatest possible production of flax in the United Kingdom and very high prices were therefore paid for it. But now, with the availability of cheaper flaxes from abroad and the need for flax for the very important export trade in linen manufactures, it has been necessary to reduce the prices paid for home grown flax and to concentrate production in those areas where the most satisfactory results can be obtained. This will involve in 1946 a reduction in the acreage grown and in the number of factories in Great Britain, but the prices to be offered are such that farmers in the neighbourhood of factories should make a reasonable profit. Directions to grow flax will not be issued and it is not anticipated that there will be any difficulty in securing the acreage desired.

    Municipal Elections (Paper Supplies)

    asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production whether facilities will be granted to candidates in the forthcoming municipal elections to obtain the necessary supplies of paper for their election printing.

    Yes, Sir. Paper will be allowed for each candidate to the extent of one hundredweight for every 2,500 electors (or part thereof), with an extra 25 per cent, for non-party candidates. In the case of London Metropolitan Boroughs, if a party runs candidates on a list, one hundredweight is allowed for every 2,500 electors (or part thereof) to the list as a whole. An allowance of paper has also been made to national parties to be applied under the control of party headquarters for use by themselves or local parties working in conjunction with them. Candidates not sponsored by such parties are entitled to paper on the non-party scale. In all cases the candidates and parties are entitled to obtain their paper on presentation of a certificate in the prescribed form to their normal paper suppliers.

    Medical Supplies

    asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if he is aware that the residents of Silvertown, West Ham, have difficulty in obtaining surgical dressings and liquid paraffin; and will he take steps to ensure that reasonable supplies will be available at the earliest opportunity.

    :I am not aware of any particular difficulties in Silvertown in the supply of either surgical dressings or liquid paraffin. The production of surgical dressings is now sufficient to meet demand. During the summer there were local shortages, due mainly to large movements of population, but steps have since been taken to remedy this position. Supplies of liquid paraffin are ample for medicinal use.

    Waste Paper (Salvage)

    asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production what quantities of paper have been salvaged for reprocessing during each of the war years; and what steps are being taken in country districts to encourage local authorities to collect waste paper, thereby saving unnecessary imports and loss of foreign exchange.

    asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if he will take steps to draw the attention of the public, by wireless broadcast or otherwise, to the still urgent need to salvage waste paper.

    asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production what steps he is taking to ensure the efficient collection of waste paper, to enable the paper industry, and allied industries, to continue at a reasonable output and increase their export trade.

    The need for paper salvage is as great as ever for wallboards for houses and packaging for export and other essential purposes. I will broadcast on this subject in the near future, and have already addressed a personal message to every local authority asking for their continued co-operation in collecting waste paper. A cash bonus on collections has been offered to local authorities to assist them in stepping up their collections. The rural district councils, which cover the country areas, often have to rely on voluntary assistance for this important work, and I would take this opportunity of thanking the voluntary helpers and of appealing to them to continue to co operate with their local authorities.

    Total Collection of Waste Paper
    194019411942194319441945 (1st six months)
    Tons.Tons.Tons.Tons.Tons.Tons.
    806,941759.183874,118700,353659,500299,173
    of which by local authorities
    248,851299,840433,403319,944273,173115,045

    Blast Furnaces

    asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if he can give an assurance that the steel industry plans to erect 18 new blast furnaces have been referred to the Blastfurnace- men's Association for their comments and co-operation in determining their location.

    The Iron and Steel Federation's long term plans for development have not yet been submitted to the Government, but it is my intention that the views of organised labour in the industry shall be taken into account before they are approved.

    Steel Industry (Reorganisation)

    asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if any proposal has been made to the steel industry on the lines of the proposals made to the cotton industry for reorganisation.

    No, Sir. I do not consider this particular method would be suitable for application to the industry in question.

    Population (Armed Forces And Civil Service)

    asked the Prime Minister what percentage of the adult population is in the employment of the Armed Forces of the Crown and the Civil Service, respectively.

    The proportion of the male population aged 14–64 in the Armed Forces at the end of September was about 28 per cent. It is estimated that two per cent. of the total population of males 14–64 and females 14–59 were employed in the Civil Service at the same

    Following are the figures of salvage collections asked for:

    date. This figure of two per cent, relates only to non-industrial staff in the Civil Service.

    Dispatch-Rider Letter Services

    asked the Prime Minister how many men and vehicles are now employed in the dispatch-rider letter service in Britain and at what cost; what is the average weekly mileage; and, as their purpose could now be equally well served by the postal and telegraph system, when this service will be discontinued.

    The dispatch-rider letter service is more speedy than the present postal system. It is used in conjunction with the telegraph system for particularly urgent correspondence. The future of the Royal Navy services, which is a very small proportion of the whole, is now under consideration. Reduction of the Army services is taking place progressively, and it is estimated that all will have been discontinued by May, 1946, except for a minimum retained for driver training. The Royal Air Force service is being disbanded on 15th October. About 1,360 personnel and 1,000 vehicles (including motor-cycles) have been employed by the three Services. The total cost, at a very rough estimate, has been between £450,000 and £500,000 a year, including cost of personnel. The weekly mileage covered has been some 280,000.

    Bbc Programmes (Reception)

    asked the Assistant Postmaster General whether, in view of the deterioration that has taken place since the recent change of wavelengths, early steps can be taken to effect an improvement in the reception of B.B.C. programmes in the London area.

    I have been asked to reply. According to the B.B.C.'s information, the recent wavelength changes have resulted in a general improvement, not a deterioration of reception, though they are aware that difficulties have arisen in a relatively small number of cases owing to defects in receiving sets. The transmitting arrangements for the London area have been restored to the same high level as before the war.

    Magna Gharta (Lincoln Copy)

    asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether any decision has been reached as to what is to become of the copy of Magna Charta that was sent to the New York World Fair in 1938, and afterwards lodged for safe custody with the Library of Congress at Washington.

    In accordance with the undertaking given by my Department to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln Cathedral, to whose generosity is due the loan of this historic document for exhibition in the pavilion of the Government of the United Kingdom at the New York World's Fair 1939–1940, arrangements are being made, with the concurrence of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, for the return of the Lincoln copy of Magna Charta to its owners. I am glad to take this opportunity of voicing our deep appreciation of the kindness of the Librarian of Congress in undertaking the safe custody of the document since 1940; and in giving citizens of the United States an opportunity, when conditions permitted, of seeing it displayed in the Library of Congress. Equally, I am sure that the House would wish me to express its thanks to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln for their public spirited action in sanctioning the loan in 1938.

    Fuel And Power

    Petrol Rationing

    asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will give instructions that petrol coupons may in necessary cases be granted to house hunters in rural areas.

    Petrol allowances are granted for this purpose in cases where the applicant is dependant upon a car owing to physical disability or ill-health. In view of the present supply difficulties I cannot see my way to authorise the grant of such allowances in other cases.

    Pit Ponies

    asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the number of horses and ponies in each division at 30th June, 1945; the percentage of total used in Durham and Northumberland; and the number of horses used in the anthracite district of South Wales.

    I am sending my hon. Friend the figures for which he has asked by districts.

    Coalmines (Mechanical Conveyors)

    asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the proportion of the output of each division now carried by mechanical conveyors; the proportion of the total output thus carried; and the number of power-loaders in use and the output dealt with by them.

    The latest information is contained in Table 56 (pages 64 and 65) of the 1944 Statistical Digest of the Ministry of Fuel and Power (Cmd. 6639).

    Police Forces (Vacancies)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is in a position to make A statement about recruitment to the police.

    Yes, Sir. There has been no recruitment to the regular police since 1939. During the war, the strength of the police service has been maintained by the retention of men due to retire and by the enrolment of auxiliaries, but the time is approaching when these men must be permitted to retire or be released to return to their peacetime occupations, and the regular strength will then be seriously depleted, even taking into account the policemen in the Armed Forces who are returning, or will return, to the police. The Service Departments have been most helpful in releasing the regular policemen who have been serving with the Forces.It is clearly essential, having regard to the paramount necessity of maintaining law and order, that the strength of police forces should be maintained at an efficient level, and the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have made the following arrangements, in consultation with my right hon. Friends the Minister of Labour and National Service and the Service Ministers, with a view to filling the 16,000 or so vacancies which are likely to occur. Men serving in the Armed Forces will be enabled to apply for appointment as regular policemen, and a limited number of men who are accepted—not exceeding 5,000 by the end of June next—will be released from the Services under Class B terms, subject in each case to the exigencies of the service. Instructions are being issued by the three Service Departments to all theatres setting out the conditions of service and method of application; and a special recruiting Mission will be sent to interview candidates at present serving in the Far East who appear to be suitable. Releases under this scheme are likely to begin in January.The majority of recruits to the regular police will be drawn from men who have been in the Services, and are released either under Class B in accordance with the arrangements to which I have referred, or in their age and service groups under Class A. In addition, however, a small number of recruits are being taken, by agreement with the Ministry of Labour and National Service, from among the men under 30 who have not servedin the Armed Forces and are liable to be called up under the National Service Acts. It is hoped to obtain up to 1,000 recruits from this source this year.The police have had to carry a heavy burden during the war and are likely to be faced with new and difficult problems in the years of reconstruction. It will be necessary to maintain a high standard in the selection of recruits; but the Secretary of State for Scotland and I hope that under these arrangements it will be possible to obtain enough recruits of the right kind to enable the difficulties ahead to be successfully overcome.

    Trade And Commerce

    Grey Flannel Trousers

    asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he proposes to take to remedy the present shortage of grey flannel trousers.

    The production of grey flannel trousers is being maintained at the highest level which supplies of cloth will permit. Special priority is being given to the return of labour to the textile industries, but, in view of the large and urgent programme of clothing for the Forces on demobilisation, no substantial improvement in supplies of flannel trousers for the civilian population can be expected immediately.

    Industrial Employment, Wales

    asked the President of the Board of Trade what facilities and opportunities are being provided in Wales to re-absorb the number of young women and girls conscripted from Wales during the war and sent to other parts of the British Isles and overseas; and whether he is satisfied that these arrangements will provide opportunities for all who wish to return to the Principality of Wales to do so.

    Substantial progress has been made in increasing the number and range of opportunities of industrial employment for both men and women. In addition to the conversion of surplus Government factories to civilian production, which will give peace-time employment to about 20,000 people, approval has already been given to 53 industrial building schemes in South Wales. It is estimated that these schemes should in due time give additional employment to nearly 16,000 workers, of whom just over half will be women. Further schemes are under consideration and it is hoped that when the labour is available sufficient factories will be built to provide opportunities for all who want employment.

    Children's Footwear

    asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to alleviate the present shortage of children's shoes.

    I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. York) on 22nd August.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the continuing shortages of children's shoes and of the poor quality of those available; and if he will take immediate steps to bring about an improvement in both these respects.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the shortage of all types of children's foot wear; and when does he anticipate that this will be alleviated.

    I would refer the hon. Member and the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given on 10th October to my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. John R. Thomas) to which I have nothing to add.

    Hosiery

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now allow men's socks to be made the normal length.

    I am keeping constantly under review the possibility of removing this and other austerity restrictions. I cannot, however, remove the existing restrictions until I am satisfied that yarn supplies are sufficient for the purpose.

    Utility Furniture

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the long delays involved in connection with the supply of utility furniture ordered by the public after production of the necessary units; and whether he can make a statement indicating the present position in this respect; and what improvements may be expected during the course of this present year.

    One hundred new firms have been designated since VJ Day to make utility furniture. This should lead to a gradually increasing production in the coming months. I hope this may result in better deliveries of many articles, but much will depend on the volume of demand as well as upon the availability of materials.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is now in a position to increase the number of units supplied to newly-married people for acquiring utility furniture.

    No, Sir, not at present. The demand for utility furniture has grown very greatly over recent months, while production, although increasing, is still not adequate to meet it. All possible steps are being taken further to increase production, but the supplies of timber available and in sight make any further material increase unlikely for the present.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will issue instructions which will ensure the speeding up of the issue of authority for the purchase of utility furniture or, in view of the high price of second-hand furniture, permit the restarting of the manufacture of furniture.

    For some time past my Department has been making special efforts to strengthen the staff of the Utility Furniture Department and so to speed up the issue of utility furniture permits; the time spent in dealing with them has been materially reduced in spite of the number of applications having doubled in the last six months. Prices of second-hand furniture in common use are controlled. If we are to make the best use of our limited resources, we cannot at present afford to encourage the production of domestic furniture outside the utility range.

    Brass Trades (Apprentices, Call-Up)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that a considerable number of Birmingham manufacturers producing brass and other goods for priority and other important industries, find it impossible to train the essential number and quality of craftsmen because the War Office continues to call to the Forces such youths as are serving their seven years of apprenticeship; and if he will consult with the Minister of Labour with a view to causing concessions to be granted to such manufacturers.

    It is the Government's policy to call up as many young men as possible in order to relieve men who have done a long tour of duty in the war. But it is open to manufacturers on essential work to seek temporary deferment for any highly skilled workers in key posts. If my hon. Friend has particular individuals in mind my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Labour, will be glad to have inquiries made.

    Industrial Clothing Coupons

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will issue additional clothing coupons to men engaged in the slate-quarrying industry, in view of the exceptional wear and tear on clothing caused by the working conditions in that industry.

    Men engaged in the slate-quarrying industry already receive the 10-coupon supplement issued to a wide range of manual workers. A pool of coupons is also made available to the Joint Works Committee in each quarry to meet cases of exceptional hardship, and safety boots are also available to quarry workers at six coupons a pair instead of nine. I am ready to arrange for one of my Industrial Clothing Officers to visit any particular slate quarry where it is felt that these provisions are insufficient and to report to me on the conditions.

    Trade Returns (Publication)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade when it is proposed to resume publication of the Monthly Trade and Navigation Returns.

    As was announced in the "Board of Trade Journal" for 29th September, publication of the detailed monthly Trade and Navigation Accounts will be resumed in the normal form next year. For the remainder of this year, detailed Accounts will be published quarterly, and these will be supplemented by summary figures for the intermediate months.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade when it is intended to resume publication of the Statistical Abstract for the United Kingdom and the Statistical Abstract for the British Empire.

    Both these Abstracts will be published as soon as circumstances permit, but, owing to the shortage of staff, this is not likely to be possible for a considerable time.

    Factories

    asked the President of the Board of Trade the amount of factory space for which building licences have been granted to employers in each of development areas since 1st January, 1945; and similar figures for Great Britain by regions.

    I regret that records are not kept precisely in the form asked for. I am, however, sending my hon. and gallant Friend details of the information that is available.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade how many shadow and other factories, financed by the Government for war purposes, have been reconverted or are in process of reconver- sion for peace production; and if he can give an assurance that he will expedite the post-war reconstruction of all such factories so as to maintain a high level of employment.

    114 factories owned by the Government have so far been allocated for conversion to peace-time production. The answer to the second part of the Question is "Yes, Sir."

    asked the President of the Board of Trade why a Government factory built to attract and encourage new industries in Middlesbrough has been let for storage purposes, whilst manufacturers are eager to obtain factory space on a rental basis.

    My hon. Friend has been misinformed. The factory referred to is occupied temporarily for the production of prefabricated houses. Its use will be reviewed in a year's time.

    Industries (De-Concentration)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state his present policy with regard to de-concentration of those industries which have been concentrated.

    Administrative arrangements have been made to speed up the procedure for dealing with applications to "de-concentrate." There is only a small number of important industries in which, for the present, owing to special circumstances such as acute shortage of raw material, or the danger of unduly uneconomic operation, re-opening cannot be permitted except after fuller scrutiny of proposals and on a selective basis.

    Publishing Industry (Paper Supplies)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the exceptional allotment of paper for administration to Government Departments and the Ministry of Information, he will now make a more generous allocation to the publishing industry to enable that industry to supply more adequately the universal demand for British books, with special regard to the demand from overseas for British authors and British books.

    I am glad to say that, as a result of an improvement in paper supplies and a reduction in Government requirements, I have been able to arrange for an increase in publishers' quotas from 50 per cent. to 65 per cent. of pre-war usage as from the end of this month. I have asked the Publishers' Association to urge their members to use as much of this increase as possible for expanding their exports.

    Foreign Firms (British Directors)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that every British firm in Switzerland must have a Swiss director; and whether he proposes to introduce a similar regulation in this country.

    I understand that under Swiss law every company must in general have a majority of Swiss directors. The answer to the second part of the Question is in the negative.

    Food Samples

    asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will raise the limit of weight permitted on samples of British manufactured foodstuffs and release manufacturers from the necessity of obtaining export licences for such raw material, so enabling their agents to obtain orders at this time.

    I have been asked to reply. There is no fixed limit of weight either of raw materials issued to food manufacturers to produce samples or on the quantity permitted to be exported. The amount in each case depends upon the purpose to be served by the export of samples and upon the degree to which scarcity exists in supplies of the raw materials concerned. While the present scarcity of food supplies in this country continues my right hon. Friend is bound to exercise a strict control in conjunction with the Board of Trade both of the issue of raw materials for the manufacture of samples and of the export of those samples.

    Raw Cotton Market (Futures)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he proposes to continue the war-time practice of bulk purchase, control and distribution of raw cotton in view of the fact that this will result in the extinction of the Liverpool Cotton Market, which employs some 7,000 persons, and enjoys a unique and highly-specialised goodwill and prestige in the world of cotton commerce.

    Dealings in cotton futures in this country have been suspended since the end of March, 1941, when the Government took over the importation of raw cotton. The importation of cotton on Government account must continue for a considerable period, but final decisions on the long-term policy have not yet been taken. I am receiving a deputation from the Liverpool Cotton Association on the matter shortly.

    Trading Companies (Government Interests)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether those firms, companies, factories, etc., which were purchased by the Government during the war are to continue to be owned by the Government.

    The Government acquired an interest during the war in a small number of companies to ensure efficient maintenance of war production, and in some of those cases where public notice was given last November of the intention to sell the shares the shares have already been disposed of, while negotiations are proceeding about others. The future of the remainder is under consideration.

    Furs (Real And Imitation)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade the countries from which furs and skins, dressed and undressed, are imported into this country; the number and value of such imports in the years 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1944; the number and value imported since war-time restrictions have been lifted; and the number and value of furs and skins, dressed and undressed, exported during the same periods.

    The principal countries from which fur skins are imported are: Canada, Union of South Africa, India, Newfoundland, Russia, Sweden, Norway, France, Persia, Afghanistan, the United States and Argentina. No information is available about the number and value of fur skins imported since import restrictions were lifted on 8th September. The number of skins imported and exported is not recorded; the declared value is given in the following table:

    1938.1939.1940.1941.1942.1943.1944.
    Imports—£'000£'000£'000£'000£'000£'000£'000
    Undressed fur skins (other than rabbit skins).11,3507,9213725370588194152
    Dressed fur skins (other than rabbit skins and clothing).1,6451,1943692431
    Exports—
    Undressed fur skins (other than rabbit skins).50708130116150
    Dressed fur skins (other than rabbit skins and clothing).1,8571,21766621817424425
    Re-exports—
    Undressed fur skins (other than rabbit skins).8,1166,9123,018241509651
    Dressed fur skins (other than rabbit skins and clothing).827424104183812

    asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of coats and other garments made of wool and fibre in imitation of fur coats and garments exported during the years of war; the countries to which they were exported; and the total value of such exports in each year.

    I regret that the desired information is not available, as no separate record is kept of such exports.

    Imports And Exports Values (Basis)

    asked the President of the Board or Trade whether the value shown in the financial statistics regarding the import and export trade of the United Kingdom are in all cases c.i.f. values, or on what basis they have been computed; and whether he will arrange in future issues of these statistics that they will be calculated on this basis so that all concerned know how to use the figures.

    The value of imports is the open market value as defined by Section 10 of the Finance Act, 1935. This corresponds to the c.i.f. value, with the addition of landing charges. For exports, values are f.o.b. If exports were to be valued c.i.f. it would lead both to inaccuracy and delay in the preparation of the statistics.

    Shop Windows (Reglazing)

    asked the Minister of Works whether, in order to save electric light consumed during business hours because of boarded-up windows, and to facilitate the display of their goods, he will promise an early increase in the supply of plate glass to retail traders who wish to repair their war-damaged shop-fronts.

    I appreciate fully the need to restrict the use of electric current to a minimum, and licences for there glazing of shop windows are issued so far as the supply of plate glass permits. I hope that these supplies will increase in the near future.

    Export Trade (Government Plans)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now in a position to announce a constructive programme of world trade development before this country, to facilitate manufacturers in making the necessary arrangements and adjustments to recover our trade lost during the years of war.

    The discussions now taking place in Washington will, I hope, be extended before long into a wider international conference on overseas trade. At the present stage of the discussions I am, therefore, unable to make a detailed statement on the broader aspects of trade policy affecting Governments. Whatever the results of these discussions, it is vital that our own export trade should be revived and expanded. To this end, our plans are going forward: At present our manufacturers and merchants have a very welcome volume of orders on their books. The Government is taking every possible step to speed up the reconversion of industry so that these orders may be fulfilled with the least delay. But we must prepare now for the time when the seller's market may no longer exist, and our immediate arrangements should be devised, so far as possible, in such a way as to assure us of a continuing market after the exceptionally favourable conditions of the present have disappeared.May I mention a few of the more important steps we are taking? I have already authorised the removal of export licensing requirements affecting a long list of commodities. Invitations have also gone out to a number of Export Groups and representative bodies in industry to meetings at which their export problems will be reviewed and other invitations to similar meetings will follow. I am also asking Working Parties to make recommendations to me for the expansion of the export trade of those industries for which such Committees have been, or will be, appointed. Visits by our exporters to overseas markets are being facilitated. The staffs of our Embassies and Legations and at the offices of His Majesty's Trade Commissioners overseas are being strengthened so that they may give a fuller service to our exporters.The Government appeals particularly to all manufacturers who have had little or no first-hand experience of our export trade to prepare to play their part in its expansion. I would ask them to do this either directly by arranging with United Kingdom export merchant firms to market their goods abroad or by directly appointing selling agents overseas or by making joint selling arrangements with other manufacturers. The Department of Overseas Trade will welcome inquiries. The Regional Controllers of the Board of Trade and the Export Credits Guarantee Department will readily render assistance. The Trade Associations and Export Groups (including the National General Merchants Export Group) will help intending exporters to prepare their plans.

    Company Law Amendment (Legislation)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade what action it is proposed to take on the Report of the Committee on Company Law Amendment, presided over by Mr. Justice Cohen.

    The Government is much indebted to Mr. Justice Cohen and he colleagues for their valuable report, and has decided to accept their recommendations in full. A Bill to give effect to then will be prepared and introduced as soon as the heavy programme of legislation will permit. Meanwhile, I hope that companies wherever possible will bring their practice into line with the Committee's recommendations in advance of legislation.

    Royal Ordnance Factories (Dismissals)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is now in a position to state the reply sent to the clerk to a conference held at Newport, Monmouthshire, on 2nd August regarding the dismissal of persons at the Royal Ordnance and other war factories.

    I am sending to my hon. Friend a copy of the reply which was given to the clerk to the conference.

    Title Deeds (Loss)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the loss of deeds by enemy action is a heavy financial burden on small house owners, which some can ill afford; and if he will reconsider the question of allowing compensation for loss by enemy action of such documents.

    Representations have from time to time been made on this matter, and it has received the most careful consideration. Title deeds and similar documents were expressly excluded from the definition of goods which could be insured under the War Damage Act, and consequently any alteration of the position would need legislation. I cannot hold out any hope of its being possible to propose legislation on the subject.

    Requisitioned Bedding (Storage, Blackpool)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade what he intends to do with the large quantity of beds, bedding and shelter parts stored in premises requisitioned for him in Blackpool; and, in particular, when he intends to remove them from Blackpool.

    I presume that the hon. and gallant Member has in mind Imperial Garages, Blackpool. I have asked my Regional Controller to inquire into the matter and will communicate with the hon. and gallant Member as soon as possible.

    Consumers (Research Council)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will set up a consumers' research council.

    I fully appreciate the need for studying the interests of consumers, and I am considering whether any new body is required for this purpose.

    Battle Dress (Dyeing Ban)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will consult with the Secretary of State for War with a view to withdrawing the ban upon the dyeing of battle dress, the property of discharged or released members of the Army.

    United Kingdom And Eire (Consultations)

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs if proposals are being made by either side to establish closer political and economic relations between this country and Eire.

    His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are of the opinion that it is right to participate in such discussions on economic or other matters as will facilitate improved trade and relations generally between Eire and the United Kingdom. Informal consultations have already been held with the Eire Minister for Industry and Commerce on various matters of mutual concern.

    India

    Students (Passages To Britain)

    asked the Undersecretary of State for India why, in view of the official announcement that one of the causes of the slow rate of Service releases is lack of transport, the Government of India has arranged for a large number of Indian students to be transported to this country by troopship this month.

    In order to make space available for the returning troops it has been necessary to make drastic cuts in urgent transport of civilians to and from India. But the training abroad of numbers of Indian students is an essential part of India's plans for the post-war period. Places had been arranged at Universities and Training Institutions in this country for the academic year now beginning, and the whole programme would have been delayed for twelve months if the students could not have been brought to this country. Cancellation or postponement of such passages would have rightly been regarded as serious breach of faith. It is not unusual in war-time for civilians to travel in troopships and this form of accommodation was provided in order to get the students here in time for the academic year.

    Proposed High Commissioner

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he will consider the appointment of a High Commissioner in India to look after British interests so that the Viceroy may be freed from having to protect British commercial interests as well as performing his other functions.

    Yes, Sir. The matter is under the active consideration of His Majesty's Government.

    Soldiers' Votes

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether arrangements are being made to provide facilities for Indian soldiers to record their votes in the forthcoming elections.

    Only a relatively small number of personnel serving in the Indian Armed Forces will be qualified to vote during the forthcoming elections. The possibility of establishing a scheme which would enable such Service men who will not be able to vote in person to vote through the post or otherwise has been carefully considered. The practical difficulties are, however, such that it is not possible to overcome them in the time available.

    Rice And Wheat Supplies, Bengal

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for India if he is aware that the partial failure of the monsoon over wide tracts of Bengal's richest rice land portends a heavy deficit in the winter crop of the staple diet of 65,000,000 people; and what is his policy to meet the developing; situation

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for India if he can make any statement with regard to the present position and future prospect of food in Bengal.

    The question of the rice position in Bengal has been the subject of careful consideration on the part of the Provincial Government and the Government of India as well as by His Majesty's Government. Towards the end of August it was considered by the Bengal Government to be desirable to make a public statement regarding crop prospects which had caused some anxiety in Bengal following abnormal rainfall conditions. This statement explained that in South-West Bengal the rainfall was inadequate until about the first week of August. This adversely affected the yield of the aus crop in that area, but there was a bumper aus harvest in those other parts of the Province where aus is grown extensively, and taking all factors into consideration the total outturn of aus over the whole Province was estimated tobe73 per cent, of normal. This estimate has since been revised to 70 per cent., but it must be remembered that the aus crop in Bengal represents only about one-fifth of the total actual paddy harvest of the Province; the bulk of the rice being obtained from the a man crop, which produces approximately 75 per cent. of the whole. A man sowings were delayed in South-West Bengal by the late rains, but the Government of India and the Government of Bengal now consider that the a man crop should amount to 80 per cent. of normal, provided that the October rains are adequate. Taking all relevant factors into account, such as the carry-over by the producer as well as by the Provincial Government, the extension of rationing, and improved storage and transport facilities, any shortage which is likely to arise in Bengal as a result of damage to the crops is not likely to be one which cannot be met by an equitable distribution of resources in India if reinforced by adequate imports from Burma and the Far Eastern countries. The situation is one which, as the Government of India fully recognise, requires constant vigilance on their part, but they consider that there is no reason to take an unduly pessimistic view. The Government of Bengal holds considerable stocks of rice, and, in addition, arrangements have been made with His Majejsty's Government for the immediate movement of rice from Arakan without waiting for the question of the allocation of Burma supplies as a whole to be finally settled. The Secretary of State for India is in close contact with the Minister of Food with a view to securing from the Combined Food Board in Washington the best and earliest allocation possible for India of the rice becoming available from the liberated areas of South-East Asia.The supply of wheat to India has already been arranged. This is being shipped at the rate of 100,000 tons a month.

    Indian Army

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for India how many Indian troops are being employed to maintain order in all non-British Far Eastern colonies.

    According to latest reports ten battalions of Indian troops are among those serving in non-British Far Eastern Colonies. Of these troops approximately 25 per cent. are Gurkhas.

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether officers serving with Indian troops in the Indian Army at the time of the Singapore capitulation, in 1942, will get Indian or Imperial rates of pay for the period of their imprisonment by the Japanese.

    All officers serving with Indian troops, whether they belonged to the Indian Army or were attached from the British Service, have received Indian rates of pay during their captivity by the Japanese.

    Political Prisoners And Detenus

    asked the Undersecretary of State for India the number of political prisoners now imprisoned in India; and how many are being detained without trial.

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for India, in view of the decision of His Majesty's Government that provincial elections be held in India, what steps will be taken to release political prisoners still detained without trial, to release prisoners convicted of political offences and to rescind all orders in force in India which limit the movement, free speech and the right of political association of persons who may wish to take part in the elections.

    Between 1st August and 1st October the number of political detenus in India had been reduced from 1,958 to 1,109. Those remaining in detention include persons suspected of terrorist activities during the disturbances of 1942, and almost all were detained in the four Provinces where the terrorist problem has been most serious. All persons detained in connection with the Congress Disturbances of 1942 who were not associated with methods of violence have now been released. The number of persons convicted and serving sentences in connection with the Congress disturbances of 1942, which in May, 1943, attained a maximum figure of over 23,000 had fallen at the end of August last to about 6,000.As my foregoing statement has shown, considerable progress has recently been made in the release of persons detained without trial, and the number of those serving sentences for offences committed in connection with the Congress disturbances is also falling steadily. The cases of the remaining political detenus are continuously under review, and His Majesty's Government hope that the present rapid rate of progressive release may be maintained. They are satisfied, however, that anything in the nature of a general amnesty for convicted prisoners undergoing sentences of imprisonment is not desirable, especially as it is impossible in many case to distinguish between crimes committed for political motives and those carried out for purely criminal reasons.There are no restrictions on the right of any individuals who may wish to take part in the elections; nor on the right of free speech, subject to the maintenance of good order. There will be all reasonable freedom of movement for the parties contesting the elections. The ban on Congress was lifted several weeks ago. The position of other organisations is under continuous review.

    Burma

    British Financial Aid

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma the nature and extent of the financial assistance granted to the Government of Burma; whether that Government has any call on the depots of S.E.A.C. in India or any authority to purchase directly in the Indian market; and will he make a comprehensive statement.

    His Majesty's Government have agreed to make advances to the Government of Burma for a period of two years, subject to certain safeguards which that Government have accepted. The greater part of these advances will be used to purchase capital equipment and consumer goods. Expenditure on consumer goods should be quickly repayable. Expenditure on capital equipment for restarting mills, river transport and so forth will also be recoverable as soon as the businesses concerned are in a position to pay for it. The net amount outstanding will be treated as a loan to the Government of Burma free of interest and with no fixed date of repayment. I am unable to give any reliable estimate of the amount likely to be involved since this must depend on prices and availabilities as well as the speed of economic recovery. The Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia, has offered to afford to the Civil Government as much help as he can from military resources, due regard being paid to his other commitments in the recently enlarged South East Asia theatre. The Government of Burma have authority to purchase in the Indian Market, subject to certain conditions including the agreement of the Government of India as to availability; and action is being taken with a view to such procurement.

    Channel Islands (Transport Facilities)

    asked the Minister of War Transport whether he is aware of the inadequate travel facilities between this country and the Channel Islands; and what prospect there is of an improvement in the services before the winter.

    Yes, Sir; the inadequacy has been due to lack of ships, but I am glad to say that a second vessel, which had just been reconditioned after release from war service and carries 1,000 passengers, was placed on the service on 9th October.

    Reconditioned Ex-Service Cars

    asked the Minister of War Transport whether his attention has been called to the frequent errors which arise in the administration of the system under which reconditioned ex-Service motor-cars can only be purchased under licence; and whether he will discontinue the present practice under which bad motor-cars are kept for applicants whose applications his officials wish to refuse but for which they cannot find adequate reasons.

    The answer to the first part of the Question is "No, Sir"; if the hon. Member will give me particulars of any particular instance he may have in mind, I will make inquiries into it. The implication contained in the second part of the Question is entirely without foundation.

    asked the Minister of War Transport how many reconditioned ex-Service motor cars have so far been made available under license to ex-Servicemen; and whether he will arrange that in future as far as possible these ex-Service motor cars are reserved for ex-Servicemen.

    From June to September, 146 reconditioned ex-Service cars were made available to ex-Servicemen all of whom were disabled. The answer to the second part of the question is "No, Sir." At present about two-thirds of the cars available are going to disabled ex-Service-men and the remainder to nurses and mid-wives. While the supply of these cars remains so small I should not be justified in widening the field of applicants to include ex-Servicemen who are not disabled.

    Wild Animal Imports (Shipping Space)

    asked the Minister of War Transport for what reason he sanctioned the use of shipping space from East Africa for the transport of a live elephant and a large consignment of animals for the London Zoo, in view of the great shortage of shipping for repatriation and importation of food.

    The animals in question were some of a strictly limited number licensed for importation into the United Kingdom for the re-stocking of zoos which have been sadly depleted during the war. No special facilities were granted for their shipment and they were carried on deck without encroaching in any way on the space available for passengers or cargo.

    New Motor Cars (Permits)

    asked the Minister of War Transport on what basis permits are now being granted to the public to obtain new motor cars; and whether permits can be issued to those who wore out their motor cars in their CD. activities during the war.

    The criterion governing the issue of permits is need in the national interest rather than the circumstances in which a person may find himself without a car. Persons who have used their cars for Civil Defence purposes are, of course, eligible for permits according to the merits of their case.

    Roads

    Proposed Forth Road Bridge

    asked the Minister of War Transport whether he can make any statement on the question of obtaining a grant from the Exchequer towards meeting the cost of the construction of a road bridge across the Forth estuary.

    On 26th July the Lord Provost of Edinburgh was informed that a grant of 75 per cent. would be made from the Road Fund to the approved expenditure to be incurred, up to the stage of Royal Assent, to the promotion of a Provisional Order or Bill to authorise the construction of a road bridge over the Forth at the Mackintosh Rock site. It was also agreed that the Order or Bill might be prepared on the basis that a grant of75 per cent. of the approved cost of the scheme would be made at such time as Parliament may approve the inclusion in the Road Fund Vote of the necessary financial provision.

    Island Site, Beaconsfield

    asked the Minister of War Transport for what price the Buckingham County Council has purchased the island site at the junction of Aylesbury End, Beaconsfield, covering 426 square yards; how many buildings are on the site; and what is the present rateable value of the property.

    I understand that the property at the junction of Aylesbury End, Beaconsfield, to which my hon. Friend refers, was purchased by the Buckingham County Council in October, 1944, for £3,250. There are at present six buildings on the site, certain other property having been destroyed by fire. The property is assessed under Schedule A for tax at £97 8s. 6d.

    West End Road, Ruislip

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air when that part of the West End Road, Ruislip, now closed to the public, will be reopened.

    This road was closed during the war since traffic along it would constitute an obstruction to aircraft using Northolt airfield. I am in consultation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Ministry of War Transport about the arrangements now required.

    Lorries (Contract Defence Permits)

    asked the Minister of War Transport if he is aware that Messrs. Stanley Transport, 12 Shepherds Hill, W.6, have three ten-ton lorries in perfect mechanical condition; that they have made repeated applications for a licence to use these vehicles; and if, in view of the shortage of transport in the London area, he will see that these vehicles are allowed to operate.

    This firm have recently been granted "Contract" defence permits enabling them to operate two vehicles. I am inquiring into the position of the third vehicle.

    Accidents

    asked the Minister of War Transport whether it is his intention to introduce further legislation or take other effective action to secure the safety of the roads and to minimise the number of street accidents, particularly in regard to the speed through towns, efficiency of all motor vehicles, lay out of roads and further education of the public.

    I have lately been giving a good deal of thought to the very serious road accident problem, and I hope shortly to be in a position to decide what action can immediately be taken to help reduce the toll of the roads.

    Petrol Rationing Forms

    asked the Minister of War Transport whether he is satisfied that Form 2 F.5A, used in connection with applications for petrol supplies from commercial vehicles still fulfils a useful purpose; and whether arrangements will now be made for the abolition of this form.

    I have recently given instructions that operators of goods vehicles need submit these forms only in those cases where a regular allotment of fuel cannot be justified.

    Workers' Transport Problems

    asked the Minister of War Transport whether the Report of the investigation undertaken on behalf of his Ministry by War-time Social Survey during 1943–44 on workers' travelling habits, under the title "Getting to Work," has been published; and, if not, will he make it available to Members of the House of Commons.

    Inquiries into workers' transport problems were carried out by War-time Social Survey, on behalf of the Ministry of War Transport, during two periods in 1943. These followed an inquiry on a much smaller scale in 1942. The circulation of the reports has been confined to the Departments concerned, but for the convenience of Members, I am arranging for copies to be placed in the Library of the House.

    Petrol Imports (Tanker Tonnage)

    asked the Minister of War Transport how many tankers are available under British control for bringing petrol to this country compared with 1939 and their carrying capacity.

    In 1939 there were 445 tankers of over 2,500 dead weight tons under the British flag totaling about 4,700,000 dead weight tons. The corresponding figures for September, 1945, are 400 tankers of 4,100,000 dead weight tons. The British tanker fleet and the available European tankers which can be chartered for sterling are not enough to supply all the civil and military needs of the United Kingdom, the British Commonwealth, and other areas for which we are responsible. American tankers are available, but their use involves the expenditure of dollars.

    Seamen's Training Facilities (Colour Bar)

    asked the Minister of War Transport if he will remove the colour bar which prevents the sons of British seamen, resident in this country, from entering Greenwich Merchant Navy Training School.

    I assume my hon. Friend refers to the Gravesend Sea School, which is temporarily at Sharpness, Gloucestershire. This School trains only boys for the Deck and Catering Departments of the Merchant Service. There is no actual bar against the training of boys of colour, but training must be related to opportunities for employment in ships, and the fact is that very few opportunities occur in this country for employing coloured deck and catering ratings. When an opportunity arose for the employment of coloured men as firemen, arrangements were made for their admission to the firemen's schools.

    DOWN TRAINS.
    Time.Trains.Total on berths train.Berths held by Rly. Co. for the public
    1St.3rd.1st.3rd.
    p.m.
    9.25Paddington to Neyland (Sat. only)612612
    a.m.
    12.55Paddington to Swansea (SX)61228
    p.m.
    9.50Paddington to Penzance104
    11.40Paddington to Plymouth104
    a.m.
    12.15Paddington to Newquay and Penzance (SX)3424
    p.m.
    11.45Paddington to Truro (Sat. only)3424
    7.30King s Cross to Aberdeen (SX)24561644
    7.30King s Cross to Aberdeen (Sat. only)1228416
    10.10King s Cross to Edinburgh (SX)3456436
    10.10King s Cross to Edinburgh (Sat. only)2456436
    9.15St. Pancras to Edinburgh 612612
    8.40Euston to Glasgow72563031
    9.15Euston to Glasgow (Sun. X)78844470
    9.15Euston to Glasgow (Sat. only) 56842070
    9.23Euston to Glasgow14281428
    9.20Euston to Glasgow (Sun. only)78844470
    9.30St. Pancras to Glasgow28281324
    11.0Birmingham to Glasgow 614614
    a.m..
    12.45Liverpool to Glasgow614614
    p.m.
    7.20Euston to Inverness (SX)28282022
    7.30Euston to Perth14281124
    11.15King's Cross to Newcastle (SX)1228414
    11.15King's Cross to Newcastle (Sat. only)1228814
    10.10King's Cross to Newcastle (SX)102
    4.50Euston to Stranraer (SX)1428622
    4.55Euston to Stranraer (SX)614614
    10.55Euston to Preston (Sat. and Sun X)147

    Railways

    Crieff And Balquhidder Railway, Perthshire

    asked the Minister of War Transport why it is intended to close the branch railway between Crieff and Balquhidder, Perthshire.

    No decision has been taken to close this branch line, but I understand that the L.M.S. have the matter under consideration.

    Sleeping Berths

    asked the Minister of War Transport whether, in view of the uncertainty which exists on this matter, he can make a full statement showing to what extent first and third-class sleeping accommodation has now been made available to members of the public.

    The answer to this Question is given in the form of a statistical table:

    DOWN TRAINS—cont.
    Time.Trains.Total berths on train.Berths held by Rly. Co. for the public.
    1st.3rd.1st.3rd.
    p.m.
    11.45Euston to Liverpool (SX)1428622
    11.35Euston to Liverpool (Sat. only)1428822
    a.m.
    12.20Euston to Manchester (SX)1428624
    p.m.
    11.35Euston to Liverpool (Sat. only)1428624
    7.30Euston to Oban (Fri. only)614614
    a.m.
    1.10Manchester (EX) to Glasgow (Sun. morning X)614614
    p.m.
    10.30Glasgow (Buch. St.) to Inverness (Mon. to Fri. incl.)614614
    11.15Glasgow (Cent.) to Inverness (Sun. only)614614

    UP TRAINS.
    p.m.
    10.15Edinburgh to St. Pancras612612
    9.40Edinburgh to King's Cross (SX)34561032
    9.40Edinburgh to King's Cross (Sat. only)24561434
    9.15Glasgow (St. E.) to St. Pancras28281823
    9.27Glasgow (C) to Euston …72563230
    9.30Glasgow (C) to Euston (SX)921126091
    9.30Glasgow (C) to Euston (Sat. only)701123891
    10.10Glasgow (C) to Euston (Sat. only)Glasgow (C) to Birmingham (Sat. & Sun. X)614614
    10.00Glasgow (C) to Birmingham (Sun. only)614614
    11.05Glasgow (C) to Liverpool614614
    11.05Glasgow (C) to Manchester614614
    6.30Aberdeen to King's Cross (Sat. & Sun. X)24561844
    6.30Aberdeen to King's Cross (Sat. only)1228620
    6.10Aberdeen to King's Cross (Sun. only)24561844
    4.20Inverness to Euston (Sun. X)28282223
    8.20Perth to Euston (Sun. X)14281028
    8.55Perth to Euston (Sun. only)1428922
    10.35Newcastle to King's Cross (SX)22281013
    10.35Newcastle to King's Cross (Sat.

    only)

    1228617
    10.50Preston to Euston (Sat. & Sun. X)149
    11.20Stranraer to Euston (Sun. X)642438
    10.10Stranraer to Euston (Sun. X)146
    a.m.
    12.02Liverpool to Euston…1428621
    12.05Manchester to Euston…1428623
    p.m.
    6.50Neyland.to Paddington (Sun. X)61227
    6.20Neyland.to Paddington (Sun. only)61237
    11.50Plymouth to Paddinton105
    8.00Penzance to Paddington2012
    8.00Newquay to Paddington (Sun. X)2412
    9.00Truro to Paddington (Sun. only)2412
    4.45Oban to Euston (Mon. only)614614
    11.20Inverness to Glasgow (Mon. to Fri. 1 incl.)614614

    North Wales (Post-War Development)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered a memorandum from the North Wales Post-War Development Committee drawing attention to the serious economic position of certain areas in North Wales; and what action he proposes to take.

    I have considered the memorandum from the North Wales Post-War Development Committee, and I fully appreciate the serious economic position of certain parts of North Wales. In pursuance of the Government's plan for maintaining a high and stable level of employment, encouragement is being given to the establishment of new industries in all areas likely to suffer from heavy and prolonged unemployment. I am glad to say that some progress has already been made in the development of new projects in North Wales.

    Housing

    Wall Paper

    asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will authorise the use of wallpaper in house building and reconstruction as it is now coming into production again.

    No authorisation is required to use wallpaper in new houses or for repair and maintenance work to existing houses. There is no restriction on the distribution of wallpaper supplies, nor any direction to particular users.

    House Construction Costs

    asked the Minister of Works the respective price and estimated cost per house of 900 superficial feet in 1938, and for the most recent convenient date, of each of the principal materials used in the construction of a traditional house.

    Before the War even identical materials were sold at different prices according to circumstances, locality and size of order, and to a lesser extent this also applies to present day building. The following figures must therefore be regarded as lying somewhere within a wide range of variation:

    1938.1945
    Price.Cost.Price.Cost.
    ££
    Bricks54s. per 10005680s. per 100084
    Timber—£1836£50100
    Excluding fabricationPer standardPer standard
    Cement47s. ton2068s. ton29
    Sand and Ballast6s. cu. yd.1710s. cu. yd.28
    Roofing Tiles67s. per 100015140s. per 100031
    Other Materials130200
    The figure of timber cost refers to raw material only and does not include the manufacturing cost of such items as doors, cupboards and staircase. (Ministry of Works—11th October, 1945.)

    Industrial And Commercial Finance Corporation

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the Industrial and Commercial Finance Corporation has now completed its organisation; if information is being communicated to the National Chamber of Trade and similar bodies on the conditions under which medium-sized and small businesses can secure financial aid in the rehabilitation of their commercial activities; and how many proposals for assistance have been received by the Corporation.

    The Industrial and Commercial Finance Corporation is now in operation and its organisation is being completed as rapidly as accommodation and staffing difficulties permit. As regards the second and third parts of the Question, I would suggest that the hon. Member should approach the Board of the Corporation for information; I am sure, however, that the Corporation will take every step to make their facilities known, and I understand that a substantial number of applications has in fact been received.

    War Gratuities

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether gratuities to ex-members of the Forces on discharge are being paid in accordance with the scale announced by the late Prime Minister.

    War gratuities are being paid to ex-members of the Forces on the scale announced by the former Chancellor of the Exchequer on 6th February last (Official Report, cols. 1898–1910).

    asked the Minister of War Transport, in view of the fact that war gratuities will be paid to full-time CD. workers, whether he will now favourably consider the payment of gratuities to members of the Merchant Navy.

    I understand that the Civil Defence workers, to whom my hon. and gallant Friend refers, were in receipt of remuneration related to Army rates of pay. Officers and men of the Merchant Navy, on the other hand, have throughout the war period been employed on industrial rates of pay negotiated by the National Maritime Board. In view of this fact, the Government would not be justified in granting to members of the Merchant Navy the gratuities which are payable to the Services or to full-time Civil Defence workers.

    Awards To Inventors (Royal Commission)

    asked the President of the Board of Trade if it is his intention to appoint committees to examine the claims for awards for inventions submitted to State Departments during the war; and will he make known the procedure whereby such claims can be made.

    I have been asked to reply. It is the Government's intention to put forward at an early date proposals for a Royal Commisson on Awards to Inventors.

    Telephone Deposits (Interest)

    asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what is the total amount of money now in his hands derived from deposits or payments in advance required to be made by telephone subscribers; and whether he will consider allowing depositors interest at a suitable rate on the sums so deposited by them.

    The amount of deposits by telephone subscribers held by the Post Office on 30th June, 1945, was £814,000. As regards payments in advance, the position is that the Post Office receives a quarter's rental in advance and a quarter's rental in arrear, the accounts being rendered half-yearly; and all local and trunk call fees are received in arrear. The Post Office does not pay interest on the deposits or on rentals paid to it in advance, nor does it charge interest on the considerably larger amount received in arrear for rentals and call fees. It is not proposed to alter this arrangement. In the great majority of instances where deposits are held the amount is only £1 for each subscriber, and the interest payment for each would therefore be trifling.

    Australia (British Ex-Service Settlers)

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs what decision has been reached with the Australian Government for the demobilisation in Australia of members of the British Forces who are now stationed there and who wish to immigrate into Australia.

    Provision has been made in the regulations of the three Service Departments for the release in Australia, subject to the approval in each case of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, of any member of the Forces who desires to settle in that country.

    Glasgow And Edinburgh (Housing)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of properties requisitioned for housing purposes by Glasgow Corporation and by Edinburgh Corporation; the number of houses made available thereby; and the number of temporary houses and permanent houses in each of these two towns for which sanction has been given during the past 12 months.

    Glasgow have requisitioned 318 properties, producing 654 houses; Edinburgh have requisitioned 30 properties, producing 64 houses. Authority has been given during the past 12 months for the erection in Glasgow of 2,500 temporary houses, 472 permanent houses, 300 Swedish timber houses and 1,000 Weir steel houses. The corresponding figures for Edinburgh are 4,000 temporary houses, 516 permanent houses, 100 Swedish timber houses and no Weir steel houses.

    Old Age Pensions (Increase)

    asked the Minister of National Insurance if he is aware that considerable hardship is now being experienced by old age pensioners and widows in trying to meet the recent increases in the cost of living; and will he take steps to provide for an immediate increase on the basic pension of these people.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave on this subject to questions by the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) and others on Thursday, 11th October.

    British Army

    War Office Correspondence

    Lieut.-Colonel Lindsay