House Of Commons
Thursday, 18th October, 1945
The House met at a Quarter past Two o'Clock
Oral Answers To Questions
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will introduce legislation to bring the civil police within the scope of the Reinstatement Act; and, meanwhile, in view of the case of Police Constable Raymond Mansell, of the Oxfordshire county police, who joined up on1st December, 1939, and was discharged on 27th August, 1945, wounded in the leg, with pension of 78s. 4d. and who has been refused re-employment, although if temporarily given an inside job he would later be able to take over a beat when his leg becomes fitter, whether he will impress on all police authorities the desirability of re-employing ex-Servicemen wherever possible.
No, Sir. The attention of all police authorities and chief officers of police has been drawn to the provisions of the Reinstatement in Civil Employment Act, 1944, and the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act, 1944, and I have no reason to think that they are in any way failing to act in accordance with the spirit of these Acts. As regards the particular case to which the hon. Member draws attention, my information is that no final decision has yet been reached regarding Mr. Mansell's reinstatement in the Oxfordshire County Police Force, and that pending a further medical examination he is being paid an allowance from police funds to bring the pension he is receiving from the Ministry of Pensions up to his police pay.
Crime Prevention Measures
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of the numerous burglaries now taking place in London and surrounding areas, what steps are being taken to improve police protection of homes and property and the tracing of stolen goods, to secure the arrest and increase the punishment of culprits and to stamp out the black market which forms the principal inducement for stealing.
The police are already utilising their available resources to the best advantage in the prevention and detection of crime. As regards black market offences, the police are in constant touch with the enforcement officers of the various Ministries controlling rationed articles, and their joint efforts have met with a good deal of success. As regards the punishment of culprits, it is for the courts to determine what is the appropriate penalty in any particular case, and I have no reason to think that their powers in this respect are in any way inadequate.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer particularly the first part of my Question, namely, what steps are being taken to improve police protection of homes; and, secondly, with regard to punishment, in view of the increase of those crimes, will he give consideration to more extreme penalties?
With regard to the first part of the Question, as police are being demobilised from the Forces the strength of the police forces is being added to, and we are hoping to get some recruits into the police forces now. With regard to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I think the existing penalties are adequate, and it would be highly improper for me to interfere with the courts in the exercise of the discretion which this House has allowed them.
Would the right hon. Gentleman tell us if there is, in the whole record of history, any testimony to the effect that severity of punishment is a deterrent to crime?
That is a matter of opinion.
Metropolitan Police Provident Association
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he can make a statement about the financial position of the Metropolitan Police Provident Association.
The Metropolitan Police Provident Association, like all similar associations, has to have periodical actuarial valuations to determine the state of its finances. The present association was formed in 1935, and the first of these valuations, which has been delayed by the war, is now in progress. The result of the valuation will not be known for some months, and, while there is no cause for alarm, there can be little doubt that it will prove to reflect war-time conditions by way of increased mortality and high rate of Income Tax. In the meantime, the question whether the association should be afforded the advantages to be gained by bringing it under the Friendly Societies Acts is being explored in consultation with representatives of the Metropolitan Branch Boards of the Police Federation. No action which may be taken will affect the benefits guaranteed to the older men who belonged to the association when it was reorganised in 1935.
Police Forces, London (Unification)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that the dual control of police in London hinders the prompt execution of police duties where the perpetrators of financial malpractices are concerned; and whether he will consider the unification of the City and Metropolitan police forces.
The answer to both parts of this Question is "No, Sir."
If I give my right hon. Friend detailed particulars of a recent case in the City of London in which dual control did, in fact, impede the police, will he look into it?
May we take it that the right hon. Gentleman's answer in no way precludes the discussion promised by the Home Secretary in the last Parliament in which the whole question of the future of the police forces resulting from the amalgamations during the war would be considered?
Certainly not; I am presenting at the end of Questions to-day a Bill dealing with the future organisation of the police forces of the country.
Northern Ireland (Service Register)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Service voters were on the Service register for Northern Ireland and how many cast their votes at the General Election.
There were approximately 25,000 electors on the May Service Register in Northern Ireland. As regards the second part of the Question, I would ask my hon. Friend to await the information as to the proportion of the Service electorate who voted by post or by proxy which, as I informed my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) last week, I hope shortly to lay before Parliament.
May I ask whether this small proportion of the total population serving in the Forces—1,250,000—explains the return of 11 Tory Members in Northern Ireland?
Concentration Camp Survivors (Admission To Great Britain)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications have been received by his Department since the end of the German war on behalf of persons liberated from concentration camps whose relatives in this country desire to receive them into their homes and maintain them; how many of these applications have been granted; how many refused; and how many still await decision; and, in view of the humane considerations involved, will he make a declaration of policy in this matter and expedite decisions on the applications still pending.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications in the last six months have been received in his Department to permit survivors of Nazi horror camps to join their relatives in this country; in how many such applications the relatives in this country are their only relatives left alive; and how many such applications have been granted.
Parties of children from concentration camps totalling over 300 have been brought here under a scheme organised by the Central Office for Refugees with my predecessor's approval. It has, however, proved impracticable to keep separate statistics of the large number of individual applications of this type, and I regret, therefore, that the figures asked for are not available. Owing to transport difficulties there is of course no guarantee that a person who is promised a visa will in fact be able to travel to this country. I hope to be in a position to make a statement of policy at an early date.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of these unhappy people are the sole survivors, except for their relatives in this country, of large families, the others having died in concentration camps, and that their relatives have been waiting for a long time to be re-united with their spouses, parents, children or whoever they may be? In view of the cruel anxiety they are undergoing, would the right hon. Gentleman not do more about it, as the numbers involved are not very great?
I could not accept the last sentence which the hon. Lady uttered. Every one's heart must be affected by the kind of stories that I receive. I can assure her that I have tried to carry out the policy that was initiated by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council of giving as much sympathetic consideration to these cases as possible, but even when consent is given, the problem of transport seems to be almost insuperable.
Does my right hon. Friend realise that his original answer has not very much relevance to the Question? Is it not the case that the children who were received here, and to whom he has referred, have nothing to do with the case which was put to him of that small number of individuals who have surviving relatives living in comfort in this country and anxious to take them into their homes? Is my right hon. Friend not aware that no such applications have been granted, although the Lord President of the Council when he was Home Secretary promised that sympathetic consideration would be given to every one of them, and that no rule against the admission of aliens would be allowed to operate against applications of that kind?
My hon. Friend is not accurate. There havė been a few, and I regret that the number is few. The transport difficulty is very great indeed, but I am giving this matter my very closest attention. I hope to be able to make a statement of policy which will be rather more reassuring to the House than anything I am able to say to-day.
While appreciating that my right hon. Friend has the utmost sympathy with these people, may I ask him whether it is not the fact that I have brought a number of cases to his notice, that I have been promised for six weeks that the matter will be given immediate attention, and that once, in answer to a question put by an hon. Lady Member he gave the same kind of answer? Could we not have some more urgency in this most urgent matter?
With reference to the transport problem, is it not the case that when military operations were under consideration, large numbers of men and munitions were transferred to Germany in a week? How was the transport difficulty solved so easily then if it is now insuperable when it applies to only a few children and civilians?
When my right hon. Friend is answering that question, will he at the same time answer this further question: If the difficulty is transport, why is it that the letters of refusal over his signature which we are all getting, make no reference to transport, and say that the reason these people are not admitted is because, as there are so many heart-breaking cases, it is impossible to discriminate among them, and therefore we keep them all out?
I do not think that is a fair paraphrase of the letters which my hon. Friend and others have received. After all, one has to face the fact that the general transport system in Germany and in some other countries between here and Germany, has broken down very considerably. I do want to assure the House that I am giving this matter my most earnest consideration, and I hope to be able to make a statement of policy at a very early date.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will grant permission to enter this country to those. children and aged persons, released from German concentration camps, whose only surviving relatives are in this country and where the latter are prepared to accommodate them and provide for them at no expense to the State.
I hope to be in a position to make a general statement at an early date on the whole question of the admission of distressed relatives, but I can assure my hon. Friend that I view the cases of the very young and the very old with especial sympathy.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in view of the mental and physical strain upon these people, he will deal with this matter speedily?
I am well aware of the strain to which the hon. Gentleman alludes and I will do my very utmost to end it as soon as possible.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has considered the need for altering the present practice of granting British nationality to British-born women married to enemy aliens, unless personally unsuitable, while refusing a similar privilege to British-born women married to aliens of allied or other nationalities; and whether he is aware of the resentment caused by this discrimination.
The Act passed by Parliament in 1918 provides for the readmission to British nationality of women married to aliens who are the subjects of a State at war with His Majesty; and if this statutory provision causes resentment to women who are married to aliens of other nationalities, I do not think this is a reason for refraining from giving effect to the law and exercising the discretion vested in the Home Secretary.
Cannot the right hon. Gentleman consider the introduction of a short Bill, which would pass without opposition, to right this injustice, particularly as three or four other countries have now done so, including Russia?
The difficulty is that the status of British citizens has to be determined not only by this country but by the Dominions. There have been negotiations in the past which have indicated where there was controversy, and we might have difficulty in getting some of the Dominions into line on this matter.
While my right hon. Friend is waiting for those arrangements to be made, can he see to it that these unfortunate British-born women married to aliens, and now living in France and other countries, are enabled to receive Red Cross parcels?
I do not think that that matter arises out of this Question.
Is the Minister not aware what this matter means to a large number of Scottish girls who married Poles? May it not affect the attitude of a number of Poles on the question of going back to their own country?
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can state the future policy regarding naturalisation of aliens, especially whether hope of naturalisation will be given to those who cannot safely or happily repatriate themselves, who have served creditably in the British or allied forces or done useful work in establishing refugee firms or as workers for these or for British firms, as nurses, domestic workers, teachers, doctors or other learned professions, or have acquired British wives and children, or on whatever other grounds of utility or humanity which make such a claim reasonable.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is prepared to offer immediate naturalisation to aliens of good character who served in His Majesty's forces during the recent war.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now give favourable consideration to applications for naturalisation from aliens who have served during the war in His Majesty's forces.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the policy of His Majesty's Government with regard to the granting of British citizenship to present and future applicants.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the present policy of the Government with regard to nationalisation and settlement of alien refugees in this country, and whether it is intended to modify this policy in any way in the near future.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if sympathetic consideration can now be given to the applications for naturalisation of refugee aliens who have served loyally in the British Armed Forces, or who have performed useful service to this country in civilian occupations.
I hope to make a statement on future policy at an early date.
Is the Minister able to make a statement of policy that these men, upon demobilisation, shall not be required to submit to the humiliation of having to register as enemy aliens and of being subject to restrictions?
I do not think I can give that pledge, but I hope to make this statement at a very early date. I have it very urgently before me.
Will my right hon. Friend be careful not to make these important statements in answer to Questions which may not be reached orally?
Of course I can give no pledge of that kind, because everything depends upon the numbers of the Questions. I would not like to hold up the answer to a Question merely because my numbers happened to be very high ones that week, and I might, if circumstances warranted, ask for the permission of Mr. Speaker that the Question be asked although it was not reached. I have no desire to avoid making a statement to the House in a form which will enable supplementaries to be put.
Before making the statement, will the right hon. Gentleman take into his confidence other Governments in the English-speaking world so that the burden shall not be confined to this already overcrowded island, but shall be spread over a larger area?
That is one of the points which are constantly before me when I am considering this matter.
Will my right hon. Friend remember that, if these islands were not overcrowded at the time when we accepted these people, they would be considerably less overcrowded now?
I want to give notice, in view of the importance of this matter and the widespread interest taken in it, that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment unless the Home Secretary's statement is made in a form which admits of debate. That applies to all my three Questions.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many aliens have been granted British citizenship since 3rd September, 1939; and on what grounds.
Naturalisation was suspended except for certain special categories of applicants in 1940. Since that date there have been 4,030 cases of re-admission to British nationality, mostly cases of British-born women, and 676 other cases, which include some minors, who, though British by upbringing and association, were not British subjects in law, French nationals dealt with under the special provisions in Section 4 of the Act of 1943 and 70 cases where there were special reasons in the national interest for the immediate conferment of British nationality despite the general policy of suspension.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many aliens were on the waiting list for British citizenship when naturalisation was discontinued; and how many have applied since.
When it was announced that naturalisation had been suspended there were 6,428 applications outstanding. Since suspension 7,158 further applications have been received. There are in addition many prospective applicants who considerately refrained from troubling the Department with applications, after the announcement of the general suspension of naturalisation was made in November, 1940.
Would it not be a good idea to start naturalisation again? Is there any particular reason against it?
The staff in the Nationality department of my office is totally inadequate at the moment to deal with the tremendous rush of business that would occur if naturalisation were re-opened generally now.
The longer you wait the more there will be, according to the right hon. Gentleman's own statement.
Allied Forces (British Wives)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what principles govern requests from Allied soldiers who have married British girls to enter or remain in the United Kingdom.
Each such request is dealt with on the facts of the individual case in the light of the general policy in regard to immigration of foreigners from abroad. It is necessary, for the time being, to limit immigration to cases where the foreigners' presence would be advantageous to the national economy or where there are strong compassionate grounds for his admission. The fact that an Allied soldier has married a British girl is not, in itself, a sufficient reason for allowing him to settle in this country and compete with our own people for the limited accommodation available and in business or the labour market.
Dr Blanco Jelic (Deportation)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it is intended now to deport to Yugoslavia, Doctor Blanco Jelic, who has been interned in this country during the war.
A deportation order has been made against Dr. Jelic. The question of his disposal is under consideration.
Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that this man will not be sent back to Yugoslavia where, on arrival, he expects to be murdered?
There is some doubt as to the exact nationality of this man. Before I direct that he be taken to any particular place, I shall consult the Foreign Office about the possible results of sending him there.
On a point of Order. Is it in Order, Mr. Speaker, for an hon. Member to make a serious reflection upon a foreign State, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) has just done?
I did not hear any such reflection.
Has Dr. Jelic committed any offence against this nation?
Dr. Jelic is not a national of this country. I think the hon. and gallant Member knows the circumstances in which he was brought here.
While appreciating the point in the Minister's answer about how Dr. Jelic was brought here, I have no knowledge of what the—
That is not a supplementary question.
While my right hon. Friend is considering this matter will he bear in mind that if there is any suggestion that this man is a political refugee of any kind, then the constitutional practice of this country is to afford asylum?
No, there is no suggestion that this man is a political refugee.
German Social Democrats (Executive Committee)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, where is the headquarters of the Social Democratic Party of Germany; what are the names and nationalities of the members of the executive committee; how many of them were interned in this country during, the war; how many have been released and on what conditions; and whether there is any reason why these people should not now return to Germany.
The headquarters of The London Executive Committee of the Social Democratic Party of Germany is at 33, Fernside Avenue, Mill Hill, N.W.7. The members of this Committee are understood to be Erich Ollenhauer, Friedrich Heine and Wilhelm Sander, all of German nationality. Of these three, the only one who was in this country at the time of general internment was exempted from internment in view of his long history of opposition to the Nazi system and friendliness towards the cause of the United Nations. There is no reason why all three should not return to Germany in due course, if they so desire but I know of no reason why they should be required to return immediately.
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that these people will serve a more useful purpose by putting anti-Nazi, democratic theories into practice inside Germany, than by writing "high falutin" articles in the "Left News"?
That again is a matter of opinion.
German Refugees Great Britain (Repatriation)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many anti-Fascist German refugees are in this country; how many have been repatriated; and what steps are being taken to enable those still in this country to return to Germany or any other country chosen by them.
About 29,000 of the Germans registered with the police are in this country on a temporary basis, but I cannot say without examination of individual files how many are anti-Fascist refugees. The answer to the second part of the Question is that no German refugee has been compulsorily repatriated. As regards the third part, no obstacle will be placed by me in the way of any refugee returning to Germany or to any country which will admit him, but there are of course transport difficulties and I am unable to assist refugees to obtain permission to enter other countries.
How many of these refugees applied to be repatriated anywhere else?
I cannot answer without notice.
Italian Internees (Release)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will release from internment Italians whose business and families are located in this country and who have played no active part in Fascist organisation.
No, Sir. The Italians still interned are those who have not applied for release in order to assist the war effort of the United Nations, or have failed to satisfy me that their sympathies were pro-Allied. Arrangements are being made for their repatriation as soon as transport to Italy is available.
Is it proposed to-repatriate Italians who have married British women and whose children have, in some cases, fought in our Forces in the war? Is there to be no sort of elasticity, or are they all to be sent back?
In any case like that, I have no doubt that individual representations will be made and each case will be considered on its merits.
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what he means when he says they did not help the war effort? The war is now over. Are they to be given no opportunity to help the peace effort?
National Fire Service (Release)
20 and 21.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what release systems are at present in operation in the N.F.S.; why different systems are in operation in the different CD. regions; who decides what system shall be adopted; what provision is made for release on compassionate grounds; and who decides whether any application for release on compassionate grounds shall be granted;(2) whether he is aware that in the case of Leading Fireman Hopson, of which he has been given particulars, the chief regional fire officer refused to consider an application for compassionate release because he had decided that releases should only be made in accordance with a points system; whether he will ensure that this release system shall be reviewed to include release on compassionate grounds with a right for the applicant to refer his application to a suitable authority outside the N.F.S. within his region; and whether he will give immediate consideration to Leading Fireman Hopson's application on its merits.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there is any machinery whereby members of the N.F.S. can obtain release on compassionate grounds.
The general direction which has hitherto governed the procedure for the release of firemen from the National Fire Service provided that after men in categories like the building trades, priority should be given so far as possible to those with the longest service. This general direction is now under review. In some regions, after discussion with the representatives of the men, modifications of the general direction have been introduced and I am informed have given satisfaction. Apart from releases under this general direction it is within the discretion of the Fire Force Commander or the Chief Regional Fire Officer, according to the rank of the individual concerned, to discharge a man at any time on compassionate grounds whether or not he is due for release under the general arrangements, and I have no reason to think that there is any failure to exercise this discretion properly. I do not feel disposed to introduce any system of appeals to an outside body for which I see no need. With regard to Leading Fireman Hopson, I am informed that he has now received notice of discharge in the ordinary course.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the importance of giving the men some basis on which they can calculate when they are likely to be discharged?
I think that there is a general understanding on the order in which they will come out. The exact dates on which the discharges will run now depend on recruitment.
Is it the right hon. Gentleman's intention to give any priority to men who are proprietors of one-man businesses?
That has been considered in certain cases where it has been made good on compassionate grounds.
Is there a direction to the Chief Regional Fire Officer that he must consider applications on compassionate grounds?
There is an instruction to him to consider them, but of course the discretion as to whether they are granted is left to him.
In view of the fact that some stations that were full-time stations are being turned into part-time stations, and the men are hanging about, are they allowed to carry on civil occupations pending a final decision?
I do not think I can make a statement as general as that.
Eire Resident (Permitted Stay)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why the Immigration Office has ordered a woman, particulars of whom have been sent to him, domiciled in Northern Ireland, to leave the United Kingdom immediately, where she has four sons and a daughter resident and in which her husband has been authorised to accept employment.
The hon. and gallant Member appears to have been misinformed as to this lady's domicile, which is Eire and not Northern Ireland. She was allowed to come here for a limited period for employment, which she has now given up, and seeks to settle here with members of her family. I have carefully considered the circumstances of the case, and have come to the conclusion that as the permitted stay of this lady has now expired, she must comply with the conditions on which she was allowed to come here, and must return to her husband and four young children in Eire.
Aliens Branch, Home Office (Correspondence)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the hon. Member for Holland with Boston may expect a reply to his letter dated 16th August.
I regret that the reply, which I am sending to the hon. Member to-day, has been delayed owing to the tremendous pressure of work falling on the Aliens Branch of my Department.
Holloway Prison (Conditions)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on conditions in Holloway Prison; and whether he will set up a committee of inquiry into the state of the prisons generally.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that, although there is a serious shortage of officers at Holloway prison, the prisoners are conducting themselves well and that the prison is orderly and disciplined.
I am glad to have an opportunity of trying to put this matter in proper perspective. The number of prisoners in Holloway Prison is now over 600 or nearly twice as many as before the war, but the number of officers (including temporary and less experienced officers) is only a little higher than the pre-war figure. Every effort has been made to find additional recruits, but until recently the dearth of suitable women available for this work has been such that recruitment has done little more than replace wastage. Moreover the staff is weakened by the comparative inexperience of many of the recruits. Excluding the nursing staff of 24 sisters and the V.A.D.s, there are at present employed at Holloway over 80 officers of whom 47 are permanent. Certain adjustments of duty have been made to relieve the staff, but the strain on the staff, particularly on the permanent and more experienced officers, has been heavy; and some impairment of the pre-war standards of administration has been inevitable. In these circumstances I consider the staff have achieved a remarkable and praiseworthy degree of success in maintaining order and discipline. In recent weeks recruiting prospects have substantially improved. About 20 new recruits have been selected for appointment and many more applicants are now being examined. I shall be very sorry if exaggerated statements about the conditions of the prison deter potential candidates from entering a public service where much good work can be done. There is no case for a committee of inquiry either as regards Holloway Prison or prisons generally. Shortage of staff has caused difficulties in many public services. In the prison service the difficulty has been specially acute because of the increase of the prison population but with every month it is now to be expected that the recruiting position will improve.
Is the Home Secretary aware that his remark about "some impairment of pre-war standards at Holloway" can only be described as a triumph of understatement, and does he require further evidence before he can make up his mind that it is time to inquire further into the state of affairs, not only at Holloway but in prisons throughout the entire country?
I accept the compliment paid to me in the first part of the supplementary question, although I think it was completely undeserved. It is, therefore, the more acceptable. With regard to the second part, I can assure the hon. Member that I have this matter constantly before me, that I am convinced that with the inflow of recruits, substantial improvements will be made, and that I think the proper time to have an inquiry will be when we can regard the circumstances as having returned to something reasonably normal.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that recent references to Holloway Prison as "Bedlam" have caused resentment amongst those prisoners who have been co-operating with the officers in trying to meet the situation created by the shortage of staff, with particular reference to those who have been attending the honour class in handicrafts, in which prisoners are put upon their honour and are doing a reasonable job, and which is now conducted by a prisoner in a very satisfactory and orderly manner?
I am convinced that if I understated the case certain other people have been very much overstating it in their public references to this matter.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, on the admission of the Home Office itself, less than 10 per cent. of women officer recruits stay for a period of over three months, and is there not something wrong with the situation when 90 per cent, of the recruits walk out in three months? Does he say that all is well there?
Nothing I have said this afternoon indicates that I think that all is well anywhere. I am aware of the great difficulties that have confronted the staff and which continue to confront them, and I intend to give them my full support and do all I can, by encouraging and assisting recruitment of the right type of person and allowing persons who are unsuitable to go, to ensure that their task shall be lightened.
Channel Islands (Conditions)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware of the unsatisfactory economic conditions in Guernsey as a result of enemy occupation, and whether he will indicate what financial help the Government propose to give.
Yes, Sir. The general financial situation of Guernsey, and of Jersey is receiving the careful consideration of His Majesty's Government in consultation with the Island authorities, but I am not yet in a position to make any statement.
Can my right hon. Friend say when he hopes to make the statement, and can he give an assurance that the happy precedent set in the case of Abyssinia will be followed?
The position is that elections are due to take place in those Islands within a very few weeks. Almost as soon as I took office I invited representatives of the States of those Islands to meet me in London. I have been in consultation with them and with the recently appointed Lieutenant Governors since, and I am hopeful that after the authorities there have renewed their strength by these elections it will be possible to resume the negotiations and bring them to a speedy and satisfactory conclusion.
Scottish Alimony Orders (Payment)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is yet in a position to make a statement about improving the procedure for enforcing Scottish orders for the payment of alimony in England and vice versa.
This matter has been very carefully examined, and the conclusion reached is that the only way of remedying the existing unsatisfactory situation is by legislation. The necessary legislative provisions are under consideration, but in view of the complexity of the subject and the many other demands on the Government legislative programme, I am not yet in a position to say when it will be possible to introduce a Bill.
asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has any statement to make as to raising the flat-rate disability pension.
The scheme of war pensions generally is under review, as I stated in reply to a Question on Thursday of last week. I am not at present able to make a statement on any of the matters included in the review.
Will my right hon. Friend appreciate that it is something of a shock for the Government to introduce better rates and conditions for industrially disabled people without having given full thought to the position of men injured in the war; and will he also appreciate that this House and the country can hardly view with satisfaction any arrangement unfair to the men who have saved the country, and incidentally the trades unions themselves, from destruction?
asked the Minister of Health whether he will now state the Government's intention regarding the continued retention and issue of identity cards throughout the country.
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. and gallant Member for Altrincham and Sale (Colonel Erroll) on the 11th October, of which I am sending him a copy.
Is the Minister aware of one central and vital fact—that we want to lead our own lives in our own way in our own country, without being continually regulated?
I share the hon. Member's repugnance to these various Regulations, but this particular Regulation serves a very useful purpose still, so long as rationing continues.
Property Sales (Prices)
asked the Minister of Health what is the price to be paid by the Eastbourne Council for land on the Chatsworth Estate at the junction of Churchdale Road and Northbourne Road, the compulsory purchase of which his Ministry has sanctioned.
Agreement on price has not yet been reachel and negotiations are continuing.
Can my right hon. Friend say what is the area of land involved?
No, Sir, I cannot.
Have not the negotiations been going on for a very long time?
I do not know.
asked the Minister of Health what is the price payable by the Worthing Town Council for five acres of derated agricultural land at Barrington Road, the purchase of which his Ministry has sanctioned.
The Worthing Town Council are not proceeding with the acquisition of this site.
Palestine (Government Policy)
asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the unrest and tension in Palestine, His Majesty's Government have yet formulated their policy in regard to the Holy Land; and whether he will now make a statement terminating the present period of uncertainty.
I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to the hon. and gallant Member on 9th October.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is eight weeks since I first asked this Question? How long are His Majesty's Government going to take before they make up their mind?
I hope a statement will be made in the near future.
What are the reasons for this very long delay in making a statement? Is it not the case that every day there is delay means that the protagonists in the struggle, the Arab League and the Zionists, improve their organisations in every way and therefore make an eventual solution far harder than would be the case if the Government took their courage in both hands and announced a policy?
It is not a question of taking courage; it is a question of taking thought.
Occupation Forces, Germany (Marriage Ban)
asked the Prime Minister whether the ban on marriages between members of the Occupation Forces and German nationals is still in force; and whether he will give an undertaking that it will not be lifted until this House has first been given an opportunity to debate the matter.
Yes, Sir, the ban is still in force. As regards an opportunity for Debate in the House, I cannot give an undertaking at the present moment.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that a premature lifting of the ban will cause great resentment in the country?
Compulsory Military Service
asked the Prime Minister if he can make a statement outlining the Government's long-term policy in regard to compulsory military service.
asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement concerning the future of conscription in Great Britain.
This is a matter which can only be settled as part of His Majesty's Government's long-term defence policy as a whole. No decision can be taken until further progress has been made with the settlement of the worldwide problems arising from the war.
Prisoners Of War (Spanish Nationals)
asked the Prime Minister whether the continued detention in the North of England of 225 Spanish anti-Fascists is within the responsibility of the Foreign Office, the War Office or the Home Office; and how soon these men are to be set free.
As stated by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War on 9th October, 1945, these Spanish nationals were captured as serving members of an enemy para-military organisation, and are correctly held by the War Office as prisoners of war. The normal rules for the repatriation and release of prisoners of war are not applicable in their case, and the question of their liberation is under urgent consideration by the three Departments mentioned, in consultation.
Are the background and record of these men being investigated?
Perhaps my hon. Friend will put any detailed questions to the Secretary of State for War, who has the matter in hand.
War Causes (German Evidence)
asked the Prime Minister whether he will make arrangements for the publication of evidence about events leading up to the war, supplied to Allied officers by such German generals as Halder and Keitel.
No, Sir; not at present. There is an immense amount of evidence of this kind which has been obtained from senior officers of the former German armed forces, or volunteered by them sometimes perhaps from suspect motives. It will take some time to sort and evaluate all this material and not all of it can be disposed of at our discretion without agreement with our Allies. Mean while, I consider that it would give a false picture if individual pieces of evidence were picked on for publication, before they can be judged in relation to the whole.
Royal Navy And Royal Air Force Officers
asked the Prime Minister if it is proposed to defer the release of officers of the R.N. and R.A.F. after the group dates already announced.
It is not the intention to depart from the schedules of release already promulgated for the Royal Navy, but it may be necessary to defer under the military necessity clause of the White Paper, the release of a few individuals in the Royal Air Force, particularly in order to ensure the safety and efficiency of the air transport arrangements for the return of men from overseas.
Can the Prime Minister give any estimate of the number involved?
Not without notice.
British Oversea Volunteers
asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider introducing some special concession in respect of release from the Services as it applies to men who, British subjects residing overseas, volunteered for the British Armed Forces in which they have served.
No, Sir. Volunteers from overseas serving in the Armed Forces will be released, like other members of the Forces, on the basis of age and length of service.
Paper Trade Employees
asked the Minister of Labour whether he can now include in Class B former employees in the paper trade, so as to put them on the same footing as printers and stimulate the production of paper and printed matter for export.
Neither the printing trade nor the paper trade are covered by schemes for block release from the Forces in Class B. It is open to the appropriate Government Department to sponsor an application for the release from the Forces in Class B of a former employee in the paper trade if he is an individual key specialist urgently required for reconstruction work.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether that will apply to binders in view of the enormous and unprecedented demand for British books in Europe?
It applies generally to any industry which can show that an individual key specialist is required to get on with the work.
asked the Minister of Labour whether he will reconsider the scheme for the release from the Services of University students and extend it as soon as possible to cover men who were reading natural science before being called up.
I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Hallam (Mr. Jennings) on 9th October, a copy of which I am sending him.
Does my right hon. Friend realise how urgent this matter is in the engineering industry?
Honours (Political And Public Services)
asked the Prime Minister if he will discontinue the practice of making recommendations for honours to be given for political and other public services.
Will not my right hon. Friend seriously consider the first part of the Question—to discontinue the practice of making recommendations for honours?
That is the whole Question.
Opticians (Skilled Labour)
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that as a result of the shortage of skilled labour it takes from six weeks to three months at the present time to obtain repairs to spectacles; what priority is at present given to assist ophthalmic opticians in this connection; and whether any steps will be taken to improve the position in the near future.
A general priority for the supply of skilled labour to ophthalmic opticians has not been justifiable in recent years because of the necessity for employing these workers on even more essential work. There have, however, been methods of assisting firms in cases of especial difficulty. I have every hope that the position will improve with demobilisation and releases from munition production and as men and women become free to choose their employment.
In view of the fact that the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's statement no longer applies, will he give consideration to the needs of the community as a whole in respect of this very important commodity?
Those factors are being taken into consideration.
Ex-Service Personnel (Training)
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is satisfied with the working of the Government Training Scheme for ex-Service men and women; what is the maximum capacity of each of the Government Training Centres; how many men and women are at present under training in each centre, and in what trades; how many of these men and women are ex-Service or ex-Merchant Navy; and whether it is proposed to expand the scheme.
In reply to the first part of the Question I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Moseley (Sir P. Hannon) on 9th October, a copy of which I am sending him. As the other parts of the Question involve statistical information, I will with permission circulate a detailed statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the general public want to know what is going on in this connection, and will he assure the House that wider publicity will be given to this in future?
Yes, Sir, and I hope the statement I am circulating will give the information required.
Following is the statement:
|CAPACITY AND STRENGTH OF EXISTING CENTRES.|
|Centre.||Estimated Maximum Capacity.||No. in Training.||No. of ex-Service, or ex-Merchant Navy, men and women (included in Cols. (3)-(4))|
* Adaptation work now in hand must be completed before the maximum number of places will be available
Training Courses in Operation in Existing Centres.
Training is now available in existing Centres in the following trades:
Artificial Limb Making
Building Trades (Bricklayers, Carpenters, Painters, Plasterers, Plumbers and Wood Machinists)
Building and Civil Engineering Fitting
Watch and Clock Repairing
and arrangements are being made to extend training to other trades.
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the difficulties of the University-hostel in Bangor in obtaining domestic assistance; and whether, in view of the importance of such services to education, he will arrange to expedite his plans for providing an adequate supply of domestic servants, particularly in North Wales.
I am aware that difficulty is being experienced in filling seven vacancies for domestic workers in the University hostel in Bangor. As the hon. Member will be aware, there is an acute shortage of domestic workers and heavy demands for hospitals and similar institutions which have a first call on available labour. I am, however, prepared to give a priority to vacancies in educational institutions when appropriate wages and conditions are offered. In order to meet this particular need I propose, if the University authorities agree, to arrange for them to send a representative to selected Local Offices in Wales to try to stimulate interest in this type of employment.
Will the Minister consider employing female domestic workers from the Continent brought here under proper conditions and supervision?
That is rather another question, but that is being tried out in one London hospital.
asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consult with the Departments concerned, with a view to bringing over to this country, German and Austrian women on a voluntary basis, to alleviate the shortage of domestic workers both in private homes and public institutions.
No, Sir; I do not think that in present circumstances it would be to the public interest or beneficial to public order to bring German or Austrian women over here for domestic employment.
Will the right hon. Gentleman perhaps reconsider the matter when the conditions he suggested are perhaps more favourable?
I think it will be a long time before the women in the constituency that I represent will feel willing to work with Austrian or German women.
Is the Minister aware that that is not the experience of women who are in close touch with German and Austrian refugee women in this country and that these have been remarkable in getting on with their British fellow workers in industry?
I am not speaking of refugees. I was only anticipating that the experience of other Members in their constituencies might be the same as is mine.
Is not the sentiment expressed in the answer to the first supplementary dangerously near that of National Socialism?
Has not the right hon. Gentleman considered in his answer to this Question the implications of the published declaration in relation to Austrian women?
No, Sir, I did not have that before me when I drafted the answer.
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is now in a position to state the Government's decisions on the subject of the Markham-Hancock Report on Domestic Service.
I am in consultation with my colleagues on the issues involved in the recommendations of this report and hope to be in a position to announce to the House at an early date the Government's proposals for dealing with private domestic service.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this report has been in the hands of the Government for a very long time, that it was published in June and is of great interest to all sections of opinion in this country?
Yes, Sir, I have had the advantage of reading the report and I think that its recommendations are of considerable value, and negotiations are proceeding on that line.
Can the Minister say what he is doing to make the masters or mistresses worthy of the domestic servants whom they employ?
asked the Minister of Labour if he will state the conditions under which foreign nationals temporarily resident in this country may take employment.
asked the Minister of Labour what are the conditions under which foreign nationals are entitled to take up employment in this country.
Foreign nationals temporarily resident in this country normally have a condition on their entry visa and police Certificate of Registration under which they require the permission of my Department before taking up or changing any employment. They may not be placed in or granted permission to accept employment where this would be to the detriment of suitable unemployed British labour, nor where the conditions and wages are less favourable than those which would be offered to a British subject.
In the case of Allied airmen who served in the Royal Air Force and who have been wounded and discharged, are the same difficulties put in their way if they cannot return to their own country for political reasons?
I cannot answer that question without having further information.
Will the right hon. Gentleman look into the matter if I give him further information about their difficulty in getting employment?
If the hon. and gallant Member will send me particulars, I will gladly look into them.
Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that he is getting as good results in his efforts to secure labour for various occupations which are crying out for labour as his predecessor was in getting the necessary labour for the prosecution of the war? Is my right hon. Friend trying the same methods?
I hope it will not be necessary to have a war to induce people to go back to work.
House Refuse (Collection)
asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the difficulties being experienced by many local authorities in the regular collection of house refuse owing to the lack of labour; and, in view of the importance to public health, whether he will instruct his local officers to regard this work as of urgent priority and to give local authorities all the assistance possible in providing the necessary labour.
I am aware of these difficulties and my Department has been doing its best to help the local authorities to overcome them; but the work of refuse collection requires able-bodied men and such labour is in particularly short supply. I am, however, considering, in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, whether anything more can be done.
Aircraft Factory, Aberdeen (Redundant Workers)
asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to find work for the large numbers of skilled and unskilled workers who have recently been discharged, and are still being discharged, from the M.A.P. factory at Tullos, Aberdeen.
During the past month 106 workers have been declared redundant at the Tullos Works, Aberdeen. Only eight of those seeking further employment remain to be placed and there are prospects of placing these shortly.
Is the Minister aware that this factory has been declared redundant by the Board of Trade, and will not the further unemployment which will thus be created by the end of the year, cause distress in Aberdeen; and can he say what steps he proposes to take to find employment for the people who have been disemployed in that way?
That is rather a different question, but I can assure my hon. and learned Friend that my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade is doing all he can to find employment for workers in factories that have been closed down, after being on Government work.
Unemployment Statistics, Glasgow
asked the Minister of Labour the number of unemployed men and women, respectively, in each exchange at Glasgow at 1st October, 1945.
A count of the unemployed was made on 15th October, and I will send the figures to my hon. Friend as soon as they are available.
Excess Profits Tax And Purchase Tax
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when it will be possible to refund to business concerns the proportion of Excess Profits Tax due to be refunded to them after the end of the war.
71 and 72.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) when he proposes to abolish Excess Profits Tax now that the war is over;(2) when he proposes to abolish the Purchase Tax.
I have been asked to reply. I would ask my hon. Friends to await my right hon. Friend's Budget Statement.
Unofficial Strikers (Ration Cards)
asked the Minister of Labour if he will arrange for ration cards to be withdrawn, after due warning, from all workers who strike without trade union authority and in defiance of Government advice.
What steps is the right hon. Gentleman taking to strengthen the hands of the trades unions in dealing with the conduct and indiscipline which we see at present, and the attempts to hold the State up to ransom?
Nobody with any intelligence would accept the last part of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's reference. Secondly, you will not help the trades unions to restore confidence if you starve the members; and thirdly if people are to be fed on the basis of the amount of return they give to the community, a lot of other people will be hungry.
Business Of The House
May I ask the Leader of the House if he will make a statement on the Business for next week?
The Business for next week will be as follows:
Monday, 22nd October—Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (No. 1) Bill. A Debate will take place on Demobilisation.
On Tuesday, 23rd October, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will open his Budget.
Wednesday and Thursday, 24th and 25th October—General Debate on the Budget Resolutions.
Friday, 26th October—Committee and remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund (No. 1) Bill. A Debate will take place on conditions in Europe.
During the week we shall ask the House to approve the Government of Burma (Temporary Provisions) Order.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government have come to any decision in regard to the setting-up of the Select Committee on National Expenditure?
Yes, Sir. It is not proposed to set up the Select Committee on National Expenditure. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has decided that next year Estimates shall be presented on pre-war lines, and that there shall be no Votes of Credit after 31st March next. In the circumstances, we propose to appoint a Select Committee on Estimates to examine the annual Estimates when they are published. We shall do our best to ensure that Estimates are presented as long as possible before the beginning of the next financial year.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will consider granting an early day for a discussion on cartels, national and international, and the Government's policy thereon?
I do not think so. The matter might be raised through the usual channels, and we might find some suitable early opportunity in the course of Business, but it would be difficult to provide a special day.
Can the Leader of the House indicate when the House is likely to have an opportunity of discussing the two White Papers which have been circulated, the one dealing with conditions on the scientific side of the Civil Service, and the other dealing with the pay of the higher posts in the Civil Service?
It was not intended by the Government when they published the White Papers that they would be debated, and on the face of it I cannot see any great need for a Debate, unless there is a widespread and general wish in the House. They, of course, can be discussed on Civil Estimates in one form or another.
May I ask the Leader of the House whether, in view of the experience we had on Tuesday night when the Scottish Supplementary Estimates were rushed through with little discussion, he will, when he is discussing through the usual channels, include a representative of the Scottish Members, as it is about time we got some consideration?
I shall be very much surprised if there is not a representative of Scotland to be found somewhere in the "usual channels."
May I ask the Leader of the House whether in regard to today's Business he is proposing to move the suspension of the Rule?
No, Sir, not to-day. I remember what the hon. Gentleman said yesterday, and I thought it was time that he had a concession.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he proposes to give facilities for discussing the Motion standing in the names of about 150 hon. Members of this House on old age pensions?
It is not proposed to give time for the discussion of that Motion.
May I ask a question on the Business to-morrow? The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will probably remember that, during the Committee stage of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Bill, he undertook to put down an Amendment to Clause 2, the terms of which he would consider in the interval. I have his speech here and I have read the Amendments which have been put down, and I cannot find an Amendment to Clause 2. As the House is to discuss this to-morrow, can the right hon. Gentleman tell us something about it?
I have considered the Clause as printed in the Bill, and I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to include any Amendment that would meet the point raised by the Opposition. But I shall be quite willing to discuss it with any Members of the Opposition to see if we can come to some arrangement whereby the general convenience might be met. I cannot say more than that at the moment.
I am bound to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he does not remember that, in his statement, he did go a little beyond that, and said that something would be put down. If nothing has been put down, our discussion is likely to be a trifle abortive.