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Written Answers

Volume 414: debated on Monday 22 October 1945

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Written Answers To Questions



asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can give any information about the manufacture or supply of crawler-type tractors.

The importation of further crawler tractors for agricultural use is tinder consideration in the light of the termination of Lend-Lease, but in any event supplies from this source are likely to be small. As an offset I am hopeful that some crawler tractors will be made in this country during 1946, but I am unable to give any details at present.

Feeding Stuffs (Export)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if it remains his intention to forbid the export of animal feeding-stuffs to Denmark, having regard to the shortage of feeding-stuffs for pig-breeders in this country.

It is not the intention to export animal feeding stuffs during the present stringency.

Acreage Payments

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will give instructions that all grants due to farmers for ploughing up grassland should be paid in full without any deduction immediately upon certification to his Department by the county war agricultural executive committee that the work has been satisfactorily carried out.

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to my hon. Friend's reply to his Question on 17th October.

Hill Sheep Farming

asked the Minister of Agriculture when he proposes to implement the De la Warr Report on drainage, fencing and other improvements on hill-farming areas.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on 16th October by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland to the hon. Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Snadden).

Potatoes And Sugar Beet (Transport)

asked the Minister of Agriculture what steps he is prepared to take so that the potato and sugar beet crops of Shropshire are not jeopardised due to lack of transport.

I have no reason to suppose that transport difficulties will be such as to jeopardise the potato and sugar beet crops in Shropshire. Everything possible will be done to move the crops to destination as and when required.

National Advisory Service

asked the Minister of Agriculture on what date he proposes that the National Agricultural Advisory Service shall operate and thus remove the present uncertainties in the minds of the staffs of war agricultural executive committees.

I hope to be in a position to make a statement shortly about salary scales and conditions in the new Agricultural Advisory Service. Owing to the length of time which will inevitably be entailed in the selection of candidates for a service of this size and importance, it will not be possible for me to establish the National Agricultural Advisory Service until 1st October, 1946.

River Boards (Legislation)

asked the Minister of Agriculture what is the present position of the proposed River Boards Bill; and when he expects to be in a position to introduce it.

Discussions with representatives of the various interests concerned on proposals to give effect to the recommendations contained in the Third Report of the Central Advisory Water Committee are now proceeding. The prospect of introducing legislation this Session depends upon the progress made in these discussions and the availability of Parliamentary time.

Royal Air Force


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether, since the rate of demobilisation in the R.A.F. is slower than in the other two Services, he will take all possible steps to ensure that at least 80 per cent. of the new intakes are drafted into the R.A.F. in order that releases for that Service can be increased.

I have been asked to reply. I would assure my hon. Friend that, subject to the satisfaction of equally urgent requirements of the Navy and Army, the proportion of the new intakes to be allocated to the R.A.F. will be at the maximum.

Telegraphists (Military Training)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that the majority of wireless operators in the R.A.F. being remustered to the telegraphist course are in Groups 26 to 28, and that this course includes training in the use of hand-grenade and rifle; and will he omit this military training in the case of men in these Groups.

No, Sir. These men are liable for service with the British Air Forces of Occupation. They must, therefore, have sufficient training to be able to use their weapons in emergency.

Requisitioned Properties

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the number of houses in Greater London, the West of England and Scotland, respectively, still held on requisition by his Ministry; and the number in each area which, although requisitioned, have been empty for the last six months.

My Department at present holds 113 houses on requisition in Greater London, 67 in the West of England, and 117 in Scotland. None of the houses has been empty for the last six months, except for 15 on Royal Air Force stations; two of these are on an armament range and the other 13, formerly kept empty for special security reasons, are now to be released.

Woolfox Lodge, Rutland (Facilities)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware of the complaints as to the unsatisfactory sanitary arrangements and drainage and the lack of facilities for washing at the R.A.F. station, Woolfox Lodge, near Oakham, Rutland; and whether he will cause inquiry to be made into these complaints, with a view to necessary action being taken.

I have made inquiries but I cannot confirm that facilities at Woolfox Lodge are unsatisfactory for a dispersed station built in war-time. I will, of course, give further consideration to any particulars which the hon. and gallant Member cares to send to me.

Food Supplies


asked the Minister of Food what are our estimated requirements for the year 1946 of imports of food; and to what extent can these be obtained, respectively, from the British Commonwealth and Empire and from the sterling area.

Milk (Directed Distribution)

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that milk is often directed to creameries which are unnecessarily remote; and whether he will take steps to revise the directions by the Milk Distributive Board, so that producers may be able to dispose of their milk at the creameries nearest to them.

Whenever possible milk is directed to the nearest creamery, but in certain cases it is necessary in order to arrange for the equitable distribution of the available supplies or to provide for the requirements of the manufacturing programme to send milk to more distant creameries.


Allied Council, Vienna

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can give any information regarding the work of the Allied Council in Vienna.

The Allied Council set up on 11th September is a quadripartite body formed as a result of discussions by the European Advisory Commission and in agreement between the British, American, French and Soviet Governments, and is composed of the Commanders-in-Chief of the four Allied forces of occupation. It is charged with the task of settling, on a quadripartite basis, any questions which concern Austria as a whole. It has thus been engaged in discussion on such matters as the extension to the whole of Austria of the authority of the Provisional Government, the situation as regards food and fuel supplies in Austria, and other questions whether of a military, political or economic nature. The Council normally meets in Vienna every ten days and the chairmanship is held in monthly rotation by each of the Commanders-in-Chief.

Refugees In Britain (Return)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has had under review the return of Austrian refugees from this country to Austria; if the appeal, submitted on behalf of the Free Austrian Movement in Great Britain, of 100 Austrian anti-Nazis having special qualifications to assist in social and economic reconstruction, has received further consideration; and when the systematic return of Austrian refugees to their own country will start.

Yes, Sir. I have had this question under review and have considered the particular appeal to which the hon. Member refers. Owing to the acute shortage of transport, food and shelter in Austria, it has been impossible so far to permit the return of refugees, but the matter is under active consideration and I think refugees may be able to begin to return to Austria on a small scale before long.


Foreign Office Archives

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in the course of the conquest of Germany, the archives of the German Foreign Office or any part of them have come into the possession of British Forces; and, in particular, whether the reports, dispatches and correspondence of Von Ribbentrop during his period as ambassador to this country are in British hands.

The necessary information is being sought from Germany. I will write to my hon. and gallant Friend as soon as it is available.

Armed Forces And Civilians (Casualties)

asked the Prime Minister if he will give the estimated Ger- man casualties in killed, wounded and missing for the Armed Forces and the civilian population, respectively.

Casualties to the German Armed Forces are estimated at about 3,000,000 killed and 3,400,000 "permanently wounded." No estimate is available of the number missing. According to German sources of information, about 250,000 German civilians were killed or missing in air raids between October, 1940, and the end of January, 1945. A further 100,000 are believed to have been killed between 1st February and 8th May, 1945.The number of German civilians injured in air raids between October, 1940, and the end of January, 1945, is tentatively estimated at about 430,000.

Europe (Displaced Persons)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that, according to a recent report by the International Red Cross, protests against unorganised deportations of Germans by the Poles and Czechs have failed to have effect, and refugees are still streaming into Berlin, where thousands die in the streets; and what measures are being taken to remedy this situation.

I am not aware of the report to which reference is made. With regard to the moves of German refugees from Poland and Czechoslovakia, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the statement made in the House on 10th October by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Numbers of German refugees continue to arrive in Berlin, but the statement that they are dying by thousands in the streets has no relation to the facts. For information as to the measures taken to remedy the present situation, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply I gave on 10th October, to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Deritend (Mr. Longden).

War Decorations And Medals

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will consider the advisability of allowing members of the Territorial Army to wear the letter T on their 1939–45 Star or other medal ribbons to which they are entitled.

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) on 23rd August, 1945.

British Army

Officers (Recruitment)

asked the Prime Minister if he has any proposals to make in regard to the recruiting of officers for the Military Forces; and if he will be prepared to consider making it compulsory that there must be a qualifying period of one year's service in the ranks before attaining to officer's rank.

I have been asked to reply. The recruitment of Regular Army officers is at present restricted to candidates already holding commissioned rank. By reason of the system of call-up during the war, such candidates will, in the majority of cases, have served for a period in the ranks. The future method of recruitment is now under consideration as part of the general planning for the post-war Army, but I can assure my hon. Friend that the point he has in mind has not been overlooked, and is being considered.

Speeches And Press Communications (Restraints)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will introduce legislation to allow members of the Armed Forces to address political meetings in uniform and to write uncensored letters and articles for the Press.

The restraints placed upon members of the Armed Forces in the matter of addressing political meetings, and on writing letters and articles for the Press on certain subjects without special authority, are imposed by Regulations, and not by legislation. The restraints on writing to the Press do not extend to all subjects, but only to those subjects which are forbidden by the Regulations of the Service to which an individual belongs. These restraints are in general common to members of the Armed Forces and civilian Crown servants. The need for their retention has been frequently discussed in the past in the course of Debate on the Army Annual Bill, and I am averse from any alteration of the existing Regulations.

Wives (Ceylon)

asked the Secretary of State for War why Ceylon is excepted from the concession announced for Service and other wives so far as concerns the Army and the Navy.

Ceylon was excluded from this concession for operational reasons. As stated in the Instructions, fresh areas may be added from time to time, in the light of prevailing circumstances and with the agreement of the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief concerned. On the move of H.Q., S.E.A.C. to Singapore, the inclusion of Ceylon can be reconsidered, if then recommended by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief.


Political Prisoners And Detenus

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether, when considering the release of political prisoners in India, he will also bear in mind the question of clemency for persons convicted for offences arising out of the disturbances in 1942.

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply which I made on 15th October to questions on the subject of political prisoners in India.

Army Officers (Pay And Allowances)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India what is the reason for Section (ii) of A.I.I. 139/42, as amended, excluding officers taken prisoner of war prior to 1st April, 1942, from the category of those receiving pay and allowances under Indian regulations; whether he is aware that this exception is resented by officers taken prisoner on the fall of Singapore; and will he annul the exception.

The Army Instruction to which my hon. Friend refers does not exclude from pay and allowances under India Regulations those officers who were otherwise entitled thereto and who were taken prisoner at Singaopre. If my hon. Friend has any individual case in mind, I shall be very glad to investigate it if he will send me the particulars.

Bombay (Communal Disturbances)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India if he will give the House any information respecting the disturbances in Bombay.

:Communal disturbances broke out suddenly in Bombay City on the night of 26th September with a clash between bodies of Mohammedans and Hindus. The cause is still obscure. Stone-throwing, looting of shops and isolated instances of stabbing persisted for a few days. Indian and British troops were called in to assist in the restoration of order, but it was found possible to withdraw them on 8th October. The disturbances resulted in the death of 39 persons and a total of 177 injured.

Food Supplies And Rationing, Bengal

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India if he is satisfied with the general food position in Bengal, in view of the partial failure of the harvest; and what steps are being taken to introduce a proper system of rationing and price fixing.

In reply to the first part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the statement which I circulated in reply to Questions Nos. 155 and 157 last Monday. In regard to the last part of the question, rationing of the population of over 4,000,000 in Greater Calcutta has been functioning smoothly and efficiently for some time past and rationing has recently been extended to one or two other large towns in Bengal. Its extension to further areas is under consideration. A system of price control by the fixation of maximum prices has been in force throughout the province since August 1943.

Wives (Priority Passages)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that wives who have been separated from their husbands in India for several years and were granted priority for outward passages have had their departure deferred in favour of the wives of recently appointed technicians; and for what reason preference has been given to the latter.

I understand that there have been no cases in which families on the Government of India's Hardship List have had their departure deferred in favour of wives of recently appointed technicians If, however, the hon. Member has information to that effect I shall be glad to investigate it if he will let me have particulars.

Burma (Police Pay)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma, what are the rates of pay, under the restored Civil Government, in the Burma police force; how they compare with the rates paid before the war and during the recent administration of C.A.S.(B.); and if he will take steps to assure to policemen in Burma a standard of living appropriate to their responsible profession.

I am awaiting information from the Government of Burma, and will communicate with the hon. Member as soon as it is received.

United Nations Charter (Ratification)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the conditions of ratification of the Charter of the United Nations by the requisite number of signatory States have been fulfilled; and whether the Charter is now in force.

Under Article 110the Charter enters into force upon the deposit with the United States Government of ratifications by the United Kingdom, the United States, the U.S.S.R., China and France (that is, the five Permanent Members of the Security Council), and by a majority of the other signatories. I understand that 39 States have so far ratified the Charter, but there have not yet been deposited at Washington the requisite number of instruments of ratification enabling it to come into force. The United Kingdom instrument of ratification was deposited on 20th October.


Political Prisoners (Amnesty)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, following his recent successful intervention to prevent the execution of two political prisoners in Spain, he will consider diplomatic measures to assist in securing a general amnesty for political prisoners in Spain.

For a considerable time past His Majesty's Representatives in Madrid have taken every suitable opportunity of impressing on the Spanish authorities the highly unfortunate effect on opinion in this country caused by the detention in prison for long periods of persons whose only offence had apparently been of a political nature. His Majesty's Representatives have frequently urged that this practice should be terminated. His Majesty's Ambassador in Madrid was recently informed by the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs that executions for political reasons had now ceased, and that no prisoners condemned for purely political offences remained in gaol. Furthermore, in the Spanish Government's official statement published on 12th October it was stated inter alia that

"it is considered advisable to grant a general pardon of the main offences for offenders guilty of rebellion or disturbances of the peace committed before April 1st, 1939, and prisoners or those in exile who are not the authors of crimes connected with the common law, which are repugnant to every honest conscience."
His Majesty's Government trust that this statement, which they have read with satisfaction, means that a general amnesty is to be extended to political prisoners in Spain. They will, however, continue to follow the matter, and should it transpire that their hopes are not fulfilled, will not hesitate to renew their representations to the Spanish Government.


Armed Forces Abroad (Repatriation)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what arrangements have been made for members of the Polish Armed Forces under British command to volunteer to return to Poland and to be repatriated as soon as possible.

Arrangements have been made by the British military authorities in this country and in the other areas where Polish forces are serving under British command, whereby members of the Polish Armed Forces who have expressed their wish to return home are collected in transit camps specially established under British control pending their repatriation. This arrangement is entirely voluntary, and no Pole is being called upon to decide finally now whether or not he wishes to return to Poland. Already 23,000 out of 60,000 members of the Polish Armed Forces in this country have volunteered under this scheme for immediate repatriation. In Italy some 13,000 and in Germany a few hundreds of members of the Polish Armed Forces have also volunteered for return. Every possible preparation, including the provision of 14 days' rations, has been made by the British authorities for the repatriation of the Poles ready to go home from Italy: the movement cannot, however, start until the Polish Provisional Government obtain the agreement of the Soviet and Czechoslovak authorities for the transit of the repatriates through the Soviet zone in Austria and through Czechoslovakia.

The necessary preliminary arrangements for repatriation of those members of the Polish Armed Forces ready to go home from this country have been completed by His Majesty's Government, who now await the agreement of the Polish Provisional Government to the further arrangements necessary for their reception in Poland. The Polish Provisional Government were informed on 15th September of His Majesty's Government's willingness to receive here at once a Military Mission to take charge of those Poles who volunteer to return to Poland to discuss the ways and means of repatriating these men. The Mission arrived in this country on 15th October and discussions with it have already been opened. As many members of the Polish Armed Forces wish to be reassured as to their treatment if they return to Poland, it is hoped that the Military Mission will be able to make a satisfactory statement on the subject.

British Press Correspondents

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what British Press correspondents have been permitted to enter Poland; and whether their dispatches are free from censorship in Poland.

As far as I am aware, three British Press correspondents, representing "The Times" and Exchange Telegraph Company, the "Daily Herald" and the "Daily Mail," are at present in Poland. I understand that several other British newspapers intend to send out representatives to Poland as soon as they can, and I certainly very much hope that they will do so. The representatives of the Polish Provisional Government assured the British Delegation at the Potsdam Conference that Press correspondents who came to Poland would be able to observe and report freely on

Service.Class A.Class B.Other Releases and Discharges.Total.
Air Force60,0015,66214,57380,236
Air Force27,575186,57934,172
Air Force87,5765,68021,152114,408
Service.Class A.Class B.Other Releases and Discharges.Total.
Air Force27,3842,2072,58632,177
Air Force9,69371,09210,792
Air Force37,0072,2143,67842,969

the situation there. I have had no cause for complaint as regards censorship.

Armed Forces (Releases And Discharges)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is now in a position to give figures showing the release from the Forces at the end of September.

Government Departments

Alien Employees

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he will state, by nationalities, how many aliens are now being employed in the Foreign Office, War Office and other Government Departments, respectively; and why these posts are not being filled by British subjects.

No central record is kept of aliens temporarily employed in Government service, but specific Treasury

Department.German and Stateless.Austrian.Hungarian.Japanese.Roumanian.Total.
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.11
Air Ministry314
Ministry of Aircraft Production.22
British Museum44
Colonial Office11
Economic Advisory Branch (F.O. & M.E.W.).91111
Ministry of Economic Warfare.33
Enemy Branch (F.O. & M.E.W.).33
Ministry of Food4116
Foreign Office6219
Ministry of Fuel and Power33
General Post Office3126
Home Office11
Ministry of Information72110
Inland Revenue33
Ministry of Labour7411
Lord Chancellor's Branch, Cambridge.11
National Savings Committee11
Natural History Museum11
Ministry of Pensions11
Postal and Telegraph Censorship.11
Public Trustee Office11
Dept. of Scientific and Industrial Research.516
Ministry of Supply95115
Ministry of Town and Country Planning.11
Board of Trade112
War Damage Commission11
War Office 74112
Ministry of War Transport11
Ministry of Works11
Department of Agriculture, Scotland.11
Scottish Office, Edinburgh11
Welsh Board of Health11
TOTAL 10438715155

Employees (Remuneration)

consent for such employment is required in the case of enemy, neutral or stateless aliens, and that consent has been given in 155 cases. The Departments concerned, with the number of enemy aliens and stateless persons employed, are shown below. In some of these cases employment has been terminated. Aliens are only employed exceptionally in this way if they possess special qualifications and if there are no suitably qualified British subjects readily available for employment in the post concerned.

ment is prepared, at an early date, to implement the policy of equal pay as between men and women, the rate for the job, or if they propose to await the findings of the Royal Commission set up by its predecessors.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer which my right hon. Friend gave to the Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) on 16th October. [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 414, c. 945.]

Resettlement Advice Offices (Staff)

asked the Minister of Labour what system is adopted to select staff for the Ministry of Labour Resettlement Bureaux; and if there is any scheme of training that personnel filling these posts have to undergo.

The bulk of the staff in Resettlement Advice Offices were selected from permanent and temporary staff in my Department. The selected officers are experienced in public interviewing, welfare and similar work. Some appointments were also made from outside the Department and consisted of ex-Service men and women and others with a background of social work or social administration. All officers allocated to Resettlement Advice Offices have been given an intensive course of training, and further training is being arranged.

Ministry Of Works (Electrical Employees)

asked the Minister of Works whether assistant electrical wiremen employed by his Ministry are given any facilities to qualify for employment as full craftsmen.

There are no facilities in the Ministry for assistant electrical wiremen to qualify for employment as full craftsmen. The question of providing such facilities was considered by the Ministry's Departmental Joint Industrial Council in 1938–1940, but no satisfactory scheme could be formulated.

Japanese Government

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government consider the present Japanese Government to be composed of those elements most likely to bring Japan back to a democratic and peaceable way of life.

The present Japanese Government assumed office only a short time ago and can only be judged by its performance.

Tithe (Agricultural Holdings)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, having regard to the difference in the type of farmhouse erected on tithed land and their subsequent variation in value for Schedule A purposes, on what grounds it has been decided to bring into the tithe calculation the Schedule A value of the farmhouse, in view of the fact that tithe was originally assessed on farm produce obtained from the land, and since, in arriving at Schedule B assessments, farm cottages, buildings, etc., are eliminated.

The annual value of an agricultural holding for the purpose of the Tithe Act, 1936, is calculated in the manner prescribed by Section 14 and the Fourth Schedule of that Act (which need to be read in conjunction with Section 47 of the Act). This value is determined on a different basis from the assessment of income for tax purposes under Schedule B.

National Finance

Taxation Proposals

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider, when framing his next Budget, abolishing the 16⅔ per cent. Purchase Tax on all drugs used for the treatment of disease.

I will certainly consider the suggestion made by the hon. and gallant Member.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider, when framing his next Budget, abolishing the 33⅓ per cent. Purchase Tax on toothpaste and other preparations used in the prevention of disease.

I will certainly consider the suggestion made by the hon. and gallant Member.

Duty Free Gift Parcels (West Africa)

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that hardship is being suffered by men serving in the Forces in West Africa who are now unable to receive duty-free cigarettes; and if, since the reasons for withdrawing this privilege in Europe do not apply in West Africa, he will restore this privilege.

No, Sir. Men serving in West Africa have the same privileges as those serving in Europe. They can buy cigarettes through N.A.A.F.I. canteens as well as draw their ration. It is not, therefore, appropriate to restore the duty-free gift parcel privilege for that area.

Trade And Commerce

Raw Cotton Market (Futures)

asked the President of the Board of Trade if it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to abolish dealings in cotton futures.

:I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Wallasey (Captain Marples) on Monday last.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now implement the recommendations contained in the First Interim Report of the Departmental Committee on the Patents and Designs Acts, dated 12th March, 1945, as to the procedure to be adopted in connection with an extension of the term of patents where the patentee has suffered loss through the war; and when he proposes to introduce the necessary legislation.

I am fully aware of the importance of the matter and am now considering whether it will be possible to introduce early legislation to deal with it. I hope to be in a position to give a more definite answer in the course of the next week or two.

Turkish Tobacco Purchases

asked the President of the Board of Trade how much Turkish tobacco was purchased during the war by Great Britain; how much of it has been used in cigarettes manufactured in this country; and how has the balance been disposed of.

The amount purchased is 24,200,000 lb. With the exception of 800,000 lb., which arrived damaged, all the tobacco that has reached this country has been or will be used here in cigarette and pipe tobacco manufacture.

Woollen And Worsted (Export)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, for the benefit of the woollen and worsted industry, he will publish forthwith full details of the export allocations for each overseas market.

Yes, Sir. I shall be glad to arrange for this to be done, subject to consultation with the Export Group on the form of publication which they would consider most helpful in the interests of the export trade.

Russia (Trade Negotiations)

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will consider sending a trade delegation to the Soviet Union, particularly in view of our urgent requirements of timber for housing.

I am in close and constant touch with the Soviet Trade Delegation in London and do not feel that there would be any advantage in sending a trade mission to Russia for the moment. The Soviet authorities fully understand our urgent requirements of timber.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will initiate conversations with the Soviet Trade Delegation in order to make a large-scale barter agreement providing for the import of Russian raw materials, such as timber, and the export of British manufactured goods, such as machine-tools and motor engines.

The Soviet authorities are aware of our requirements from Russia, of which timber is the most important, and they will no doubt wish to obtain some of their requirements from this country. But I see no advantage in linking the two together in a barter transaction.

Regional Boards For Industry

asked the President of the Board of Trade the salaries to be paid to each of the members of regional boards for industry; and how part-time employment is to be denned.

Members of the Regional Boards are unpaid but will receive travelling and subsistence allowances on the usual scale while engaged on official business. The Chairmen of the Boards will be entitled to a fee of 350 guineas per annum. Travelling expenses will also be paid. Chairmen and Members of Regional Boards will devote whatever time is necessary to the business of the Boards. The expression part-time is used to signify that the Chairmen will not be required to give up their ordinary occupation,

Deaf-Aid Equipment

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the excess profits being made on deaf-aid equipment, he will bring these instruments within the field of price-regulated goods, and thus enable sufferers from deafness to obtain aids at reduced prices.

Though deaf-aid equipment has in fact been included in the field of price-regulated goods since June, 1940, there has been no maximum price Order. The Medical Research Council is examining problems connected with the design and use of deaf-aids, and, on receipt of their report, the Central Price Regulation Committee will consider whether a maximum price Order can be effectively applied.

Annual Balance Of Trade

asked the President of the Board of Trade the annual balance of trade of Great Britain for the years 1913, 1938 and the latest available date, respectively.

In 1913, the estimated excess of credits over debits in the balance of payments of the United Kingdom was £194,000,000. In 1938 there was a debit balance of £55,000,000. No estimate on a similar basis has been made for any later year.

Artists' Materials

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can, at an early date, release on the home market a larger quantity of materials of one kind and another used by British artists in pursuing their profession.

I will certainly see that more materials are made available as soon as I can, but it may not be possible to get much improvement in supplies until the shortage of skilled operatives required to produce them has been made good.

Iron And Steel Industry (Nationalisation)

asked the Prime Minister if he will give an undertaking to the House that the Government will not attempt to nationalise the steel industry until the Government's policy in relation to the coal industry has had time to show results.

It has already been announced that the nationalisation of the iron and steel industry is not on the Government's programme of legislation for the present Session. I can certainly give no other undertaking on the subject.

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production whether he is aware of the anxiety in various branches of the iron and steel industry such as the pressed steel industry as to whether they are to be brought within the prospective nationalisation scheme; and whether, in view of the importance of reviving the motor-car industry and other industries dependent on iron and steel, he can make a statement forthwith to prevent further uncertainty.

As stated in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Hallam (Mr. Jennings) on 17th October, no legislation for the nationalisation of the steel industry will be introduced this Session. I am in close touch with the industry and am not aware that anxiety as to the future is impeding its efforts to improve its efficiency and meet the demands of its customers.

Tourist Trade

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether he is aware that 80,000 Americans are waiting to visit Great Britain; and whether schemes are under consideration to expedite plans by which the tourist trade of this country can be revived as soon as possible.

Without necessarily accepting the figure mentioned I wish to make it clear that it is the policy of the Government to encourage visitors to this country whether for business or for pleasure purposes as soon as conditions permit. Before, however, any full flow of visitors will be possible there are clearly problems arising directly out of the war requiring solution. Among these are lack of adequate transport facilities, re-requisitioning and the shortage of manpower wherewith to rehabilitate our hotels and the catering industry. These problems are now receiving consideration by the Government.

Books And Catalogues (Export)

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department whether publishers anxious to export British books to Singapore are allowed to do so.

No, Sir. I am informed that the urgent military demands upon transport, handling and port facilities are so great that space for books cannot be made available at the present juncture. I am, however, exploring the possibility of an early resumption of such exports in consultation with the Departments concerned.

asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department what steps he is taking to secure that the quantity of paper allocated to his Department for the purpose of enabling export firms to issue catalogues for export purposes is sufficient fully to meet the needs of exporters.

Increased allocations of paper have been granted to enable export firms to prepare their catalogues for distribution overseas. The quantities made available are now proving sufficient to meet all requests submitted to my Department. I am assured that should the demand increase, my request for further supplies will receive full consideration. I am anxious that exporting firms should proceed to inform their oversea clients of the goods which they can offer.

Utility Furniture (Applications)

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many applications a day for furniture dockets are received by his office; and whether he will consider some measure of decentralisation.

The utility furniture office at Southport receives on an average 11,000 applications a day for permits for utility furniture and furnishings. Decentralisation of this work would involve more staff and office space than would be justified, and it is doubtful how far it would expedite matters.

Compulsory Military Service

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give consideration to the limitation of the conscription period to one year, so that studies and apprenticeships may not be unduly interrupted.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Edinburgh West (Lieut.-Commander Hutchison) and the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) on 18th October. Before any final decision on this subject is reached, the claims of students and apprentices will be taken into consideration.

Military Dispatches (Editing)

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an assurance that the dispatches relating to the fall of Singapore and the first campaign in Greece now being prepared for publication will be printed in full as sent in by the responsible generals.

The editing of dispatches to make them suitable for publication is carried out in consultation with the authors, and few, if any, of those to be published will be printed exactly as originally rendered.

Old Age Pensioners, Glasgow

asked the Minister of National Insurance how many old age pensioners are in the city of Glasgow; how many of them have their pensions supplemented from the Assistance Boards and the average amount of that supplementary allowance including rent.

I regret that it is not possible to give all the information asked for. Records of contributory pensions are not kept by districts but on a national basis, and those of non-contributory and supplementary pensions can only be given in respect of districts which do not necessarily correspond to local administrative areas. No estimate is possible of the number of contributory pensioners, but at the end of June, 1945, there were approximately 4,400 non-contributory pensions payable from Customs and Excise stations covering Glasgow and certain surrounding territory, and at the end of September, 1945, there were current in the Assistance Board's Glasgow I District, which includes Glasgow and certain surrounding territory, approximately 34,000 supplementary pensions covering the needs of approximately 38,000 old age pensioners and widow pensioners over 60 years of age. The areas covered by the two sets of figures are not co-terminous. The average payment of supplementary pensions, including rent, was approximately 16s. a week.

British South American Airways

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation how many R.A.F. or civil aircraft or aircrews have been, or are intended to be, released for service with British South American Airways; what is the type of aircraft involved; and what is the date from which is it proposed aircrews or aircraft will be available.

The statement of Government policy which my Noble Friend will make on 1st November will deal with the arrangements under which British air services will be operated. On the clear understanding that the action is without prejudice to future Government policy, arrangements have been made with the Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production for six Lancaster aircraft surplus to R.A.F. requirements to be lent to British South American Airways. These aircraft are now ready. As regards aircrews, I refer my hon. and gallant Friend to a reply which the Under-Secretary of State for Air is making to-day.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what facilities have been granted to any R.A.F. personnel to be interviewed by British South American Airways with a view to engagement by that concern; how many air and ground crews are involved; if he will say how many contracts have been offered for engagement; from what date it is intended they should become effective; and will any such personnel obtain release to take up appointments accordingly.

:Applications have been invited from R.A.F. air crew personnel to volunteer for secondment to British Air Transport. Candidates are interviewed by a selection board comprising Service and Civil Aviation representatives, and a representative of British South American Airways has been invited to the selection board whenever candidates have been interviewed with a view to employment with that organisation. Fifteen R.A.F. air crew personnel have been selected for secondment for employment with British South American Airways. No ground personnel have been seconded. The secondment of R.A.F. air crew personnel is a temporary arrangement, and the individuals seconded are liable to return to R.A.F. duty if required, pending eventual release.

Surplus Barges

Captain Gammans

anticipates that the barges moored in the Thames, near Westminster Bridge, will remain there; and if the barges have ever been used.

Since these barges were declared surplus to military needs they have been offered to Allied Governments, port authorities in the United Kingdom and private interests. In most cases replies are still awaited. The barges have not been used.

Ex-Service Vehicles (Permits)

asked the Minister of War Transport what conditions an applicant has to fulfil in order to obtain a permit to acquire a surplus Service vehicle.

Regional Transport Commissioners issue permits to acquire ex-Service goods vehicles up to the numbers available to applicants who satisfy them that they need a vehicle and that it is in the national interest that one should be allocated to them. Permits for reconditioned cars, issued from the Ministry headquarters in London, are at present available only to nurses, midwives and badly disabled ex-Servicemen.

Surrendered German Merchant Ships

asked the Minister of War Transport if he will publish a list with tonnages of the ships which were taken over from Germany after the Armistice; and state to which Allied countries they have been allotted.

(1) As the hon. Member will be aware, it was decided at Potsdam that the British, American and Russian Governments should appoint experts to work out together detailed plans as regards the use and disposal of the surrendered German merchant ships. (2) A Commission of three Powers is at present at work in Berlin, and is preparing the necessary lists. No information as to the allocation of ships has yet been received. Meanwhile a number of German ships are being used by Allied countries without prejudice to their ultimate disposal.

Victory Stamp

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he will arrange for a special issue of postage stamps to be made to commemorate the termination of the war or declaration of peace.

It was not possible owing to other overriding war claims on machinery, man-power and supplies to produce a special Victory stamp in celebration of the victorious end of the war, but the Post Office introduced a stamp-cancelling die of special design to mark the Victory in Europe and the Far East. My Noble Friend does not propose to do anything further in that regard.


Private Building

asked the Minister of Health whether building firms can obtain supplies of labour and materials to enable them to undertake the building of houses for individual purchasers for their own occupation.

Where the local authority license the building of a house by a private builder, the builder is authorised to obtain labour and materials as necessary, and within the limits of what is possible at the present time.

Housing Programmes

asked the Minister of Health whether in view of the end of the war against Japan, he anticipates an increase in the late Government's target figure of 300,000 permanent houses by the end of the second year after the end of the war in Europe.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the statement I made on 17th October when I said that I would not tie myself to any programme figures.

British Aircraft Industry

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production how many people are still employed in the aircraft industry; what is the volume of orders outstanding; and how these figures compare with those of a year ago.

The number of workers employed in the aircraft industry at the end of August, 1945, the latest available figure, was approximately 993,000, as compared with 1,700,000 at the end of August, 1944. As regards the second part of the Question, the volume of orders outstanding for all types of aircraft at 31st August, 1945, was approximately 10,300, as compared with 43,300 at the end of August, 1944.

Scotland (Tree Felling)

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production, if he is aware of the continuous and widespread felling of woodlands in Scotland, marring the beauties of the countryside; and whether, now that the war is over and timber supplies from Europe are available, he will stop these fellings.

I am hoping that it will soon be possible to obtain timber from Germany and that it will then no longer be necessary to continue felling British trees at the present rate.

Polish Immigrant

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will inquire into the case, details of which have been submitted to him, of a Polish lady, the wife of a Polish pilot officer serving in the R.A.F., who has been notified by the Immigration Office in the town where she now lives that she must leave the United Kingdom within the next six months without any reason being assigned for this measure and why letters to the Immigration Office, sent by a British citizen interested in the case, have not been acknowledged.

This lady was originally allowed to enter the country on a temporary basis on her representation that she was going to serve in the Polish Forces. It was recently found that she had done no such service, but had set up a business and taken part-time employment without due authority. The conditions on which she was given leave to land were accordingly varied in order to put her in the same position as other foreign civilians who are in this country on a temporary basis. It will be open to her to apply in due course for an extension of the period for which she is at present permitted to stay here. As regards the last part of the Question, it has been necessary, as one of the measures for economising in clerical labour and in paper, to restrict closely the sending of acknowledgments, but I hope that as conditions become easier it may become practicable to send acknowledgments more freely.

Shell Filling Factory

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production what is the strength of the staff at the High Post filling factory near Salisbury; what is the weekly salary bill; and on v/hat date shell filling stopped in that factory.

As from the description given I have been unable to identify the factory referred to, my hon. Friend has agreed to let me have fuller particulars.

Disabled Ex-Servicemen (Medical Treatment)

asked the Minister of Pensions what arrangements are made to secure that men discharged from the Forces and placed on pension as a result of war disabilities shall be able to obtain further necessary hospital or medical treatment required, free of charge.

Every war disablement pensioner is supplied with a leaflet for his guidance which tells him among other things that if he requires treatment for his pensionable disablement lie should apply to the Local Chief Regional Officer of the Ministry. I am sending the hon. Member a copy of this leaflet.

Commissioners Of Public Works In Ireland (Transfer)

asked the Minister of Works what body is now performing the duties formerly performed by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, consequent upon the Ministry of Works(Transfer and Powers) (No. 2A) Order, 1945 (S.R. & O., 1945, No. 1277).

By virtue of the Ministry of Works (Transfer of Powers) (No. 2) Order, 1945, the duties formerly performed by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland were transferred to the Minister of Works with effect from the 15th August, 1945.