Skip to main content

Commons Chamber

Volume 415: debated on Monday 29 October 1945

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

House Of Commons

Monday, 29th October, 1945

The House met at a Quarter past Two o'Clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Oral Answers To Questions

Ministry Of Supply

Waste Materials (Salvage)


asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production whether he is aware that there has been a considerable falling off in the collection of waste paper salvage and that printing, bookbinding and other paper industries are seriously affected as a result; and whether he will, in the interests of saving imports and shipping space, as well as providing full employment for those employed in the paper and kindred industries, stimulate waste paper salvage by some public announcement.


asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if, when the present Thanksgiving Savings Campaign is completed, he will take steps to organise an equally widespread and vigorously conducted appeal to promote salvage of waste materials on even more effective lines than those adopted during the war period.

:I have recently broadcast an appeal to the public to increase the supplies of waste paper, kitchen waste, bones and rags, and encouragement is being given to the local authorities to intensify their salvage collections within the limits of the labour and transport available.

:Is it not a fact that if these waste products are not collected many men in the Forces will not be able to find employment on their return to their various trades?

:I am well aware of that, and I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for drawing public attention again to this fact.

:Is my right hon. Friend aware that no useful purpose will be served by continuing the campaign in connection with scrap rubber, because the results are of little use for industry, or for export purposes?

Surplus Government Tools (Disposal)


asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production whether in the disposal of tools, the property of His Majesty's Government, issued on loan or otherwise to members of the Services, such members will have an opportunity of acquiring them at a reasonable price.

I cannot say at the moment whether there will be any surplus kits of tools, but if in due course such surpluses should arise, I shall be happy to discuss with the Service Departments whether it would be practicable to devise a scheme whereby members of the Services should have an opportunity of acquiring them at a reasonable price.

Guide Books (Paper Restrictions)


asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if, in view of the undesirability of using the paper control as a form of indirect censorship or for discrimination between one class of publication and another, he will withdraw the ban on the printing or publication of county and other local guide books.

Careful consideration is being given to relaxing this and other similar war-time restrictions.

Government-Held Company Shares



the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production whether he will retain in the possession of the Government all company shares now in its possession and, in order to achieve that end, whether he will discontinue negotiations for the sale of any such shares.

:The action to be taken as regards the retention or disposal of company shares acquired for purposes of war production must depend upon the circumstances of each case.

Air Speed Tests (Safety)


asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if he is aware that there are grave risks to the lives of the pilots of the Meteor jet-propelled aircraft in making the proposed attempt on the world's record air-speed under obsolete height conditions designed for aircraft of much less speed; and does he propose to take measures to safeguard the pilots.

I myself had the same misgivings as the hon. Member and early last week I gave instructions that the flight was not to be made until I had had a discussion with the pilots and with my technical advisers. This I have now done. The pilots have themselves assured me that there is no greater risk in flying at the height required by the international regulations than at higher altitudes, and that for various reasons they would, in fact, prefer to fly under the international rules. I have, therefore, accepted this advice.

Does my right hon. Friend realise that at these speeds and altitude a hair's breadth of error means disaster, and that quite a number of experienced people take a different view—for instance, the Association connected with aircraft, the exact name of which I just forget?

:I have gone into this matter very thoroughly with the best technical advice available, including the pilots themselves, who say that they would prefer, on safety grounds, to fly at this altitude for greater accuracy of observation and other reasons, and I think I did right in accepting their advice.

Trade And Commerce

Utility Furniture


asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if he has yet approved any models for either take-to-piece or package furniture of utility types.

:I have been asked to reply. The answer is in the negative.

:Would the Minister look into this matter again? Is it not very desirable that people living in prefabricated houses should be able to move their furniture with considerable ease and speed, which they cannot do readily with normal furniture?

:This matter has been looked into by my advisory committee, and they are against its use at the present time.

:Is the Minister informed as to what is being done in the United States on this matter, where it has been found to be very satisfactory indeed?

I am fully informed as to what is being done, both in the United States and Sweden.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is able to make a statement on the supply position of utility furniture


:The production of utility furniture continues to increase. Taking an index figure for production in June, of 100, production in September, was 298, the highest figure yet attained. Any further substantial in creases must depend on the availability of timber.

:Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that although these figures show a marked improvement, people entitled to utility furniture are suffering months of delay before they are able to get their furniture?

:I am quite aware of the delay that is taking place, and we are doing our utmost to deal with it. The present bottleneck is timber.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that in addition to the shortage of timber a great many former furniture manufacturers are unable to get back their requisitioned premises, which have been used for storage while no joinery work was being done?

I am quite aware of that fact as well. We are doing our best to clear all those factories, but the present position is that there is plenty of factory space and labour if we can get the material.

:Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that there is a great deal of plywood which might be available to supplement the supply of timber?

:We are quite aware of the various possible sources of plywood, and we have tapped them to the maximum amount at the present time.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend satisfied that all the timber being released for furniture is finding its way into utility furniture?

:So far as we can control it no furniture except utility is being manufactured out of such timber at the present time.

War Damage Compensation


asked the President of the Board of Trade, whether, in view of the continued shortage of goods, he is satisfied that no injustice will be done by basing compensation for the loss of chattels under the War Damage Act on values at the time of the loss and not on values at the time when it will be possible to replace articles; or if he will reconsider the position.

:I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given on 23rd August to the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers).

Board Of Trade (Staff)


asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of staff employed in his Department at the last convenient date and the corresponding figure six months previously.

:The number of staff employed both at the centre and in the regions on 1st October, 1945, was 7,362 as compared with 6,423 on 1st April, 1945, It is hoped that a further increase in staff may be attained before the end of the year so as to enable the work of the Board to be carried out expeditiously and efficiently without subjecting the staff to the excessively long hours that they have worked during and since the war.

:In view of the fact that these increases in staff have in no way improved the efficiency of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Department, would he consider setting up a working party to see what improvements can be made?

:I have had a party working on that, and from the many letters of thanks which have been received by the Department I am quite sure that they are giving satisfaction.

Clothing Coupons (Women Land Workers)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the heavy wear and tear upon clothing of women and girls engaged in agriculture; and whether he will make additional clothing coupons available to them.

:No, Sir. Women and girls engaged in agriculture already receive the ro-coupon supplement issued to a wide range of manual workers. In addition, they may obtain oilskins, milking smocks, rubber boots and agricultural gloves coupon-free. On matters relating to special "industrial" issues I seek the advice of the Trades Union Congress. They have not reported to me that the supplements for agricultural workers are inadequate.

Is the Minister aware that the Trades Union Congress do not receive the communications that Members of Parliament receive; and does he really think that the coupon allowance which is suitable for women working out of doors in all weathers, should be the same as that for girls working indoors, and requiring only light protective overalls?

:This does not apply only to light protective overalls, but to trades where clothing is likely to be damaged.

Boot And Shoe Industry


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the need for footwear, both for home and export, boot and shoe factories will be derequisitioned in order to allow of the necessary expansion of output of such footwear.

Yes, Sir. Over 100 factories have already been restored to footwear production and I intend to continue to press for the derequisitioning of premises wherever I am satisfied that the material and labour can be made available for their operation.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the working party for the boot and shoe industry has met; and whether he is satisfied that he is receiving the co-operation of the manufacturers in the matter.

:Yes, Sir; the first meeting of the working party for the boot and shoe industry was held in Kettering on Tuesday, 23rd October, and I am satisfied that all parties are co-operating wholeheartedly in the work that has to be done.

Paper Allocation (Political Publications)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what quantity of paper was released for the publication of "Tory M.P." and how this compares with the amount used for "Imperial Commonwealth."

No paper has been re-released from my special reserve for either of these books. Both have, no doubt, been published from the regular quotas that publishers receive and which they are free to devote to whatever books they choose.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that this raises a serious problem, and that in a question I put last week concerning a similar production, I got an answer that no paper was released? Are we to assume from the previous answer and this one, that Mr. Gollancz is getting his paper from the black market?

The hon. and gallant Member can assume that Mr. Gollancz gets his paper from the publishers' quota, like all other publishers.

In that case, may I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether we may assume that now that the purpose of "Tory M.P." has been achieved the paper so saved will be devoted to books of a cultural character?

:On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Is it proper for an hon. and gallant Member of this House to misuse his position by making a highly-defamatory statement about a very respectable firm of publishers?

:The position with regard to Questions on the Order Paper and that governing supplementary questions also, is that they should not include unworthy insinuations.



asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps are being taken to re-establish British trade with China.

:Apart from such general measures as I outlined in my reply to the hon. Member for Evesham (Mr. De la Bère) on 15th October, I may mention the following steps special to China. His Majesty's Consulate-General in Shanghai was re-opened some weeks ago and preparations are being made for the early re-opening of Consulates-General in other liberated cities. The Commercial Counsellor has recently opened an office in Shanghai. Various representatives of British firms have arrived in Shanghai from Chungking and arrangements are being made for a number of British business men to proceed to China from this country. I was glad to welcome to this country in August a party of 12 delegates from the Chinese National Resources Commission, who were able to see for themselves various aspects of our industrial life. I hope that other visits of this kind may be exchanged between China and this country. British official and unofficial representatives are working in close touch with the Chinese authorities on measures for the safeguarding and restoration of British properties, rights and interests in Shanghai and other places in the liberated areas. The question of arranging more satisfactory financial machinery for payments is under urgent consideration. It is hoped to open at an early date negotiations with the Chinese Government for a commercial treaty, as provided for by the Extra-territoriality Treaty of January, 1943.

:While thanking the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his reply, may I ask him to bear in mind that, before the war, the British Empire had a bigger share of Chinese external trade than any other country?

:Does the Minister not consider that a quota of 20 businessmen, so far, permitted to enter the country by the Chinese Government, is totally insufficient?

I think that when transport arrangements become easier, we shall be able to send more people there.

Toys (Price)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what action he proposes to take to ensure that children's Christmas toys are made available to the public at reasonable prices by the time the Christmas shopping season commences; and to ensure that the actions of manufacturers, wholesalers or retailers, who endeavour to take advantage of a scarcity market by selling worthless toys at high prices are brought within the scope of the criminal law.

The prices of toys are controlled by the Toys and Indoor Games (Maximum Prices and Records) Order, 1943, under which a number of prosecutions have been instituted. I have asked local price regulation committees to pay special attention to these goods during the Christmas season. If the hon. and gallant Member will send me particulars of any cases of alleged overcharging brought to his attention, I will gladly have them investigated.

:Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman completely satisfied with the administrative machinery at his disposal, at present, to deal with this question, during the coming winter?

I am never satisfied that there is complete perfection of any administrative machinery, but this is as good as we can make it.

Women's Shoes


asked the President of the Board of Trade what action he proposes to take to ensure that the available supplies of women's shoes are sold with less inconvenience to women shoppers than at present.

:I regret any inconvenience experienced by women shoppers in search of shoes. The main cause is shortage of supplies, which I am taking all possible steps to remedy. I do not think that any further measuresof control would achieve the object which my hon. Friend has in view.

:While I recognise that there is a very great shortage of shoes, may I ask the Minister if he is aware that, usually, although there are shoes in the shops, the shop-doors are shut early in the mornings?

:I am not aware of the precise shutting hours of different shops, but I understand that all the shoes available are being easily disposed of at the present time.

Is the Minister aware that, if you want women's shoes of a high grade, you have to start queueing at 5 o'clock in the morning; and that people working long hours, or in the country, have no chance at all of getting these shoes?

I fully realise the great inconvenience of the acute shortage of shoes, but I am afraid that nothing, at the moment, can be done to remedy this, beyond trying to get more people back into the industry.

Woollen Textile Industry


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is going to set up a working party to investigate the woollen textile industry; and if so, will he consider, in view of the widely differing nature of the two industries in England and Scotland, establishing separate working parties for each country.

:As I have already announced, it is my intention, as soon as circumstances permit, to extend to a number of other industries the policy of inquiring into industrial efficiency by the method of tripartite working parties. I hope to discuss this matter with the whole wool textile industry in a few weeks' time. I cannot, of course, anticipate the result of that discussion.

Curtain Materials


asked the President of the Board of Trade why highly-priced curtain materials can be obtained at retail shops without the surrender of coupons, while in return for the majority of the cheaper materials priority dockets and coupons have to be surrendered.

:The manufacture of non-utility furnishing fabric has been prohibited since 1942. The highly priced material referred to by my hon. Friend consists either of remnants of stocks of heavy furnishing fabrics unsuitable for wearing apparel or of fabrics woven under licence from stocks of yarn technically unsuitable for more essential purposes. By reason of their weight, weave or printed pattern these cloths are priced higher than those within the utility range. Priority dockets are issued to persons setting up house for the first time on marriage or after losing their former homes through enemy action. These dockets entitle the holder to 15 square yards of utility furnishing fabric without the surrender of coupons. It is necessary to demand the surrender of coupons for any other curtain material since it can also be used for the manufacture of wearing apparel.

Rubber Boots


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will cause stocks of Wellington rubber boots, held in reserve for police and CD. purposes, to be released for farmers and agricultural workers, in view of the difficulty in obtaining rubber boots through trade channels.

:Yes, Sir; arrangements have already been made for these boots to be inspected, reconditioned where necessary, and released at controlled prices through ordinary trade channels. The first boots should reach the shops within the next fortnight.

Cotton Industry

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he is now satisfied with the rate of intake of persons into the cotton industry;

(2) whether he is satisfied that the quantity of cotton yarn now at the disposal of the cotton industry in sufficient to ensure full employment.

The rate of intake of operatives into the spinning section of the cotton industry has shown a marked improvement recently, but is still much below the level which I could regard as satisfactory. I will circulate the figures in the Official Report. The intake of operatives into other sections of the cotton industry is on the whole adequate at present, having in mind the shortage of yarn. I can give no assurance about the expansion of employment in the yarn-using industries so long as the expansion in yarn supplies is uncertain.

Can the Minister say what is being done to induce ex-cotton operatives, who are redundant since the end of the war, to return to the industry?

:The Ever shed Commission, which has recently been sitting, has just finished its report to the Minister of Labour, as regards wage conditions in the industry. Four reports have been made, under the agisof the Chief Inspector of Factories, as regards conditions in the industry, which have to be implemented, and the Cotton Working Board which is now at work on other matters.

Is the Minister satisfied that the training schemes for young workers in the cotton industry are adequate?

:The Cotton Board is taking every step which it can to see that these are made as adequate as possible. That is one of the matters which the working party will take into consideration.

:Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say how many of those returning to the industry have come out of the Army under Class A and Class B releases?

1. Number of workers placed in cotton spinning:
Fortnight ended.Experienced Workers.Inexperienced Workers.Total.
15th September574164748 including 20 part-time
29th September751 (17 part-time)249 (2 part-time)1,000 workers each counting as half
17th October983 (18 part-time)463 (4 part-time)1,446

2. Number of workpeople employed in cotton spinning:
Spinners (000's).
On Books.At work.
1st September79·4565·00
8th September79·5869·17
15th September79·8570·55
22nd September80·0770·93
29th September80·4071·53
6th October80·8772·17
13th October81·1872·87

3. Output of cotton yarn from the beginning of September, to date:
Week ending 1945.Million of lbs.Equivalent in 1,000's of Tons.
1st September11·485·125
8th September12·725·679
15th September13·095·844
22nd September13·255·915
29th September13·446·001
6th October13·986·241
13th October14·316·388


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that development of the export trade in cotton goods is being delayed by most important matters concerning the cotton industry? When does he anticipate that the working party will be in a position to state what wages will be paid to certain of these groups in the cotton industry, who have been so badly under-paid in the past, and who, for this reason, are not prepared to return to the mills?

:The working party will not deal with wages or conditions of employment. That is being dealt with, as regards the spinning industry, by the Evershed Commission, the report of which has just been completed.

Following are the figures referred to:

the large requirements of the Services; if he will give figures showing the quantity of textile goods now on order and in course of preparation for each of the three Fighting Services; and also indicate to what extent it has been possible recently to reduce these requirements.

:I have been asked to reply. For the quarter ending 31st December, 1945, cotton allocations for textiles for the three Services amount to 5,150 tons. This figure shows a reduction of nearly two-thirds on the allocations for the quarter ended 31st March, 1945. In addition, there is an allocation of 2,500 tons for demobilised Servicemen's clothing.

Will the Minister give an assurance that the reduction will continue to keep pace with the speed of demobilisation so that, at the end, there will be no large stocks in reserve?

Anti-Gas Clothing


asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the shortage of waterproofs for pedestrians and motor-cyclists, what steps are being taken to make available to the public anti-gas clothing held by CD. services


Anti-gas clothing, including that held by CD. services, is being distributed through the ordinary trade channels for secondhand clothing and should be available in retail shops very shortly.

Sanitary Towels


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the continued shortage of sanitary towels throughout the country and especially in Chelmsford; and whether he will take all possible steps to remedy the shortage


:Yes, Sir, and I very much regret the grave inconvenience that is caused thereby. All possible steps are being taken to alleviate the present shortage. I will make a further statement on this matter in the course of the next few days.

:Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is only becoming modesty that has prevented more questions on this subject being put?

:I am aware of the very acute shortage. It has been drawn to my attention from many quarters, and I am doing my utmost to try to solve it.

Household Goods


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether heis aware of the present shortage of household textile goods, and whether he will be able to make arrangements in the near future for a reasonable supply of such articles for the home market.

Yes, Sir. I am well aware of the shortage. The fundamental difficulty is shortage of labour in the spinning sections, but measures are being taken to attract workers to these industries. I am supplementing new production wherever possible by utilising suitable surplus Government material for this purpose.


asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he proposes to take to prevent the delays, sometimes running into several months, between the issue of dockets for furniture and household linen and the supply of the goods in question; and whether, when goods are in short supply, he will undertake to see that families with young children, and expectant mothers, are given priority.

In reply to the first part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Southend-on-Sea (Mr. Channon) on 15th October. Priority is already given in certain special circumstances to families with young children and expectant mothers who need additional bedding, and this is the most that can be done to help at present.

May I bring to my right hon. and learned Friend's notice certain cases in my own constituency where such priority has not been recognised?

Shoes (Shop Displays)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the shortage of shoes of all types, he will instruct shoe shops to withdraw all shoes from their display windows and make them available for immediate sale.

No, Sir. It is best to leave this matter to the good sense of the shopkeepers concerned. The number of shoes thus temporarily withdrawn from sale would be negligible.

Is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the continued presence of these shoes in shop windows is a source of irritation to the shopping public?

:I was not aware of that, but the number is so infinitesimal compared with the actual sales that it should not worry them.

:Is it not a pity that any shoes should be wasted in this way, even although they are very few in number?

Are not all the shoes shown in shop windows much too small to wear?

Clothing (Ex-Service Personnel)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to ensure a sufficient supply of clothing in the shops to meet the demand created by the supplementary clothing books at present being issued to all Service men and women on demobilisation.

:The extra demand created by the issue of coupons to the Forces on demobilisation was taken into account when the level of the clothing ration for the current period was decided. Owing, however, to the large demand for certain items for demobilised men, particularly suits, there will for a time be unavoidable shortages of these goods in the shops. This, however, should not prevent the demobilised men from getting other articles of clothing.

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman give an assurance that the shop shortages will not increase to an extent which will make it necessary to reduce the civilian clothing ration?

On our present calculations there should be sufficient to honour the coupons that are out..

Timber Purchase Permit


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that owing to the failure of his Department over a period of two weeks to grant a certificate for the purchase of timber to Messrs. William Evans and Co., Ditton Road, Widnes, and to the lack of co-ordination between his Department, the Ministry of Supply and the Ministry of Labour over a longer period in relation to the post-war production of this firm, this firm is obliged to give notice terminating the employment of approximately 300 workpeople who could be engaged in manufacturing furniture and other articles of domestic use in short supply; and if he will take steps to see that the necessary permits are issued without further delay and that in future there is co-ordination in similar cases between the Departments concerned.

:Messrs. William Evans and Co., who were not furniture manufacturers before the war, made separate applications in respect of woodware and furniture production. The certificates for the timber required for woodware were granted in full on 23rd October. I am sorry that I cannot also designate them for production of furniture at present, because there is no plywood available for the purpose.

:Is not this case just another example of the delays, inefficiency and red tape arising out of Government interference with industry?.

:It provides a very good example of the protection of those who are already in the industry, and making utility furniture under difficult circumstances..

Aluminium Kettles



the President of the Board of Trade whether now that there is a supply of aluminium saucepans being allocated to the shops, he will consider supplying aluminium kettles of a similar good quality as the tin kettles which are at present available wear out very speedily.

:Nearly half a million aluminium kettles have already been supplied this year, and production is increasing rapidly every month.

Overseas Trade Policy


asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department, if he will state the post-war policy of his Department; and what steps he is taking to carry it out.

The Department of Overseas Trade is working in line with the general policy explained by my right hon. Friend on Monday, 15th October, in reply to the hon. Member for Evesham (Mr. De la Bère). I would also draw the attention of the hon. and gallant Member to the answerwhich I gave on Tuesday, 16th inst., to my hon. Friend, the Member for the Hallam Division of Sheffield (Mr. Jennings)..

:Will the Minister indicate when the Department is likely to make a statement on the matter outlined in the speech to which he has referred?

:We are working as hard as we can, and as soon as more goods are available we expect to work harder still.

Aircraft Factory, Hillington


asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production the cost of the foundry at the Hillington aircraft factory; the price at which the foundry was sold; and when the sale of the foundry took place


:I regret it has not been possible to obtain the necessary particulars in the short interval since the Question appeared on the Order Paper on Saturday morning. With the hon. Member's permission I will communicate with him as soon as the information is available.

May not the rest of the House have these very important details?

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production (1) whether in view of the feeling in Scotland about the Hillington aircraft factory, he will, in consultation with the Secretary of State for Scotland, take steps to retain this factory as a Government factory for the production of accessories for housing and other light engineering products necessary for a plan of social reconstruction (2) what steps he proposes to take to utilise the aircraft factory at Hillington to provide employment for the 20,000 people who have been made redundant in recent months.;

:I have been asked to reply and, although portions of this factory will soon be available for re-allocation to other uses, it is not yet possible to say exactly how much of it will be retained for the present uses or when the remainder will be freed. It has been decided to turn this factory into the trading estate and not to retain it for Government use. My Department are in touch with a number of firms who have applied for production space, and allocations will be made as soon as possible.

:Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware of the very strong feeling in Scotland about the way this factory is being disposed of, and will he reconsider the whole question with a view to having a Government factory there to meet the needs of housing equipment, and other light engineering products?

:It is because of the needs of a variety of industries that it has been decided that it is better that it should be allocated to the number of applicants who have already come forward.

:Can the Minister give us any assurance, which we may pass on to the constituents who are worrying us, that when this reorganisation or reconstruction takes place, the applicants are likely to require approximately an equivalent number of employees to those now being discharged?

:It is not possible at present, until we are more certain which of the applicants will be accepted, to say precisely how many people will be employed.

:Does the Minister mean that the motor engines produced at this factory during the war will not now be required?

During the war aircraft engines were produced there, and they will not be required in anything like the quantities sufficient to occupy that space.

Census Of Production Committee (Report)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what action he proposes to take on the Report of the Census of Production Committee.

:I agree with the recommendations of this Report, and, in view of the composition of the Committee, I have no doubt they will be acceptable to industry generally. The necessary legislation cannot be undertaken this Session, but it will be introduced as soon as practicable. It is hoped that a full census of production on the new basis will be able to be taken for 1947. In the meantime arrangements will be made to take a partial census for 1946 covering a limited number of industries. If necessary, existing temporary powers can be used to introduce for this purpose the reforms recommended by the Committee. I would like to take this opportunity of expressing the gratitude of the Government to the members of the Committee for their excellent Report and for the promptitude with which it was made.

:In view of the vital importance of this work to British production will my right hon. and learned Friend see that there is no unnecessary delay in bringing forward the legislation?

Hostilities (Date Of Cessation)


asked the Prime Minister when it is proposed to proclaim that hostilities have ended.

:If the hon. and gallant Member is referring to the end of hostilities with Germany and Japan, I would refer him to the announcements made in this House by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Wood-ford (Mr. Churchill) on 8th May of this year, regarding the cessation of hostilities with Germany, and to my statement on 15th August, announcing the end of hostilities with Japan. I would remind the hon. and gallant Member that the end of hostilities does not imply the end of a state of war or emergency in all its technical aspects.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Ministry of Labour entered into certain gentlemen's agreements with certain individuals who could have expected deferment, but who consented to be directed on the distinct understanding that immediately hostilities ended they would be released to their former occupation and that now the Ministry of Labour say they refuse to admit that hostilities have ended until there is a Royal Proclamation to that effect?

That seems to be a question which should be put on the Order Paper addressed to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour. I should like to be quite clear whether the hon. and gallant Member is referring, in the case of these particular gentlemen's agreements, to the end of hostilities or the official termination of the war, because gentlemen's agreements, not being drafted, are sometimes loosely worded.

:The hon. and gallant Member has already asked a very long supplementary question.

Austria (Occupation Forces)


asked the Prime Minister what is the present size of the occupation forces maintained in Austria by each of the four occupying Powers; and what steps are being taken, or are contemplated by His Majesty's Government, towards the progressive demilitarisation of Allied control over Austria.

:As regards the first part of the Question, I am not in a position to give information regarding the strength of the forces of the occupying Powers. As regards the second part of the Question, the future structure of Allied Control in Austria is at present under consideration and I am unable to make any statement at the moment.

While appreciating the difficulty of obtaining exact figures of the size of the occupation forces, may I ask does not my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister agree that the forces at present maintained in Austria are grossly out of proportion to what is required to maintain order and to prevent the recurrence of any danger of Nazi oppression, and will he make it clear that British policy aims at a speedy ending of military control over Austria?

:That supplementary question seems to go rather further than the Question on the Order Paper. I do not quite know how, when my hon. Friend is asking for information as to how many there are there, he can then draw the conclusion that there are too many.

Access To Mountains Act


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will take steps to amend the Access to Mountains Act which deprives ramblers and mountaineers of the old-established right of walking over uncultivated private property.

:I am in touch, with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Town and Country Planning about this matter, though there is no prospect in the immediate future of time being available for the introduction of amending legislation.

Shall we be able to get these facilities restored before we completely nationalise the land?

Australia (Book Imports)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs if he will state the sterling value of the import of books, both bound and in sheets, into Australia from the United Kingdom and the U.S.A., respectively, for 1938 and the current year.

According to official statistics prepared by the authorities of the Commonwealth of Australia, the sterling value of imports into Australia of printed books, including music, periodicals and newspapers, and also printed matter not included under other items in the Customs Tariff Schedule, was, in the financial year July, 1938, to June, 1939, from the United Kingdom £888,419, and from the United States of America £150,891. The corresponding figures for the financial year 1944–45 are, United Kingdom £1,143,827 and United States of America £231,183.

Southern Rhodesia (Racial Discrimination)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs what responsibility this country still re- tains for the safeguarding of the African population of Southern Rhodesia against racial discrimination; and is he aware of the discriminatory agreement which has been entered into by the building industry of that country to the prejudice of African workers.

The Southern Rhodesia Constitution Letters Patent provide for the reservation for His Majesty's Assent of any law, save in respect of the supply of arms, ammunition or liquor to natives, whereby natives may be subjected or made liable to any conditions, disabilities or restrictions to which persons of European descent are not also subjected or made liable. Individual agreements made under the provisions of the Southern Rhodesia Industrial Conciliation Act do not require the approval of the Secretary of State.

:Is the Minister aware that the protest over this building agreement has been led by the Bishop of Southern Rhodesia and is there any means whatever of His Majesty's Government making representations on the matter to the Government of Southern Rhodesia?

:The new changes in the Act do not in any way differentiate against natives, compared with the previous laws in operation.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware that the Southern Rhodesia Land Apportionment Act of 1941 has now been amended to make it impossible for any native to lease or occupy land in the European area; that resentment has been caused among Africans by this discriminatory legislation; and if he will prevent further discriminatory legislation against Africans in Southern Rhodesia.

The provision to which my hon. Friend refers has been in operation since the land apportionment legislation was first passed in 1930, and the recent amending Act does not alter the position in this respect. There is, of course, a corresponding provision in the law restricting the right of any person other than an indigenousnative to acquire, lease or occupy land in the native area.

India (Defence Ordinances)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for India if he will state the total number of Ordinances which the Governor-General issued under the Defence of India Rules since the out break of war in 1939; and if any of these Ordinances have been rescinded since the end of hostilities in the East


No Ordinances are issued under the Defence of India Act or Rules. The total number of Ordinances promulgated by the Governor-General under Section 72 of the Ninth Schedule of the Government of India Act, 1935, since the 3rd September, 1939, is 241. A number of these has been repealed from time to time although none has actually been rescinded since the end of hostilities. The whole subject of the adjustment of wartime emergency legislation to peacetime conditions is, however, under active consideration at the moment.

When will the Minister be in a position to give the House a report on the progress made to rescind the Orders?


Cost-Of-Living Index


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma if he is aware that the Research and Statistics Sub-Committee of the All-Burma Trade Union Congress is now engaged in preparing a revised cost-of-living index for Burma; and if he will ensure that any official co operation that may be needed for this work is made available.

I have no information about this and have ascertained that no approach has yet been made by the All-Burma Trade Union Congress to the Burma Government on this matter.

If such an approach is made, could my hon. and learned Friend say that it will be sympathetically considered?



sked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma how soon it is proposed that a general election shall be held in Burma; if this election is to be held on a basis of universal adult suffrage; how soon he intends to introduce such legislation as may be necessary to amend the appropriate schedules of the Government of Burma Act, 1935; and by what date he anticipates that Burma will have achieved the status of a self-governing Dominion


His Majesty's Government are anxious that a general election should be held in Burma at the earliest date that conditions permit. It will be necessary, however, first to arrange for the complete revision of the electoral rolls, the restoration of communications and the re-establishment of those stable conditions in which the requirements of a democratic system of government can be met. This must inevitably, in view of the disorganisation caused by the war, mean some little delay.

No decision has yet been taken as to the basis of the franchise. This is a matter which is now engaging the urgent attention of the Governor and his advisers. No time will be lost, once the Governor's recommendations have been received and considered, by His Majesty's Government in introducing any necessary legislation to amend the appropriate schedules of the Government of Burma Act of 1935.

As regards the last part of the Question, it is the policy and the wish of His Majesty's Government that Burma should attain full self-government within the British Commonwealth at the earliest moment that practical considerations make possible. My hon. Friend will appreciate the difficulty of fixing a precise date for the conclusion of those stages. But he may rest assured that His Majesty's Government are determined that there shall be no avoidable delay in implementing the undertakings that they have given.

While appreciating the difficulties to which my hon. and learned Friend has referred, may I ask him to consider the tremendous psychological effect, not only in Burma but throughout South-East Asia, that the fixing of such a date would have, as reinforcing our promises and our guarantees; and will he constantly bear it in mind?

Yes, Sir, but we must also bear in mind the practical difficulties that I have mentioned.

War Damage Compensation Claims


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma what arrangements he is making for the registration and consideration of claims to compensation for damage in Burma resulting from the war against Japan.

The Government of Burma are keeping a register of all claims for compensation on account of war damage. These claims will have to be investigated and it is hoped shortly to make the necessary arrangements for this to be done. I am not yet in a position to state the extent to which it may be possible to award compensation in respect of verified claims and accordingly registration must not be taken as committing the Government of Burma to the payment of compensation.

:Does the Burma Office agree that if industry and trade in Burma are to be encouraged to get going again, a quick settlement of these claims is essential?

:The Government of Burma fully realise the need for a quick settlement, but they are not waiting for that before giving financial assistance in order to rehabilitate economic conditions in Burma.

Mandated Territories (Enemy Properties)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any decision has yet been reached for dealing with enemy properties in those areas under mandate control of Allied Powers.

:When this matter comes up for consideration will my hon. Friend ask his right hon. Friend to be particular that we do not do any injury to British charitable organisations, particularly in Palestine, where there are a number of German properties which, if not handled with understanding, will create an undesirable effect upon long-established and helpful institutions which were created and continued by people of Great Britain?

As my hon. Friend knows, this subject is most complex, but I assure him that my right hon. Friend is keenly aware of the intricate nature of the subject and he will keep in mind the point my hon. Friend has made.


Calcium Cyanide

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he is aware of the shortage of calcium cyanide for preventing eel-worm in potatoes; and if sufficient quantities are not available from Norway or elsewhere, will he consider the desirability of providing facilities for a factory to produce this fertiliser in Newport;

(2) whether he is aware that allotment holders in Newport are being caused serious loss by the prevalence of eel-worm in potato crops; and if he will arrange to have supplies of calcium cynanide or other suitable cure available to remedy such menace.

:I am aware that potato root eel-worm is a serious pest in many allotment areas where potatoes are grown year after year on the same land. No chemical treatment that is effective and economic is at present known for the control of this pest. The only satisfactory procedure on infested land is to adopt a rotation in which potatoes are grown not more than once in three or four years.

Workers (Release From Forces)


asked the Minister of Agriculture how many recommendations for release under Class B he has received from the counties of Brecon and Radnor; and how many have actually been allowed


Since June, 1945, my Department has received from the agricultural executive committees for the counties of Brecon and Radnor three and eight recommendations respectively for the release under the Class B arrangements of former agriculturists, or of workers in industries ancillary to agriculture. Two of the Brecon cases were supported and release has been approved; the remaining nine cases could not be supported by my Department as they did not comply with the conditions governing the release of individual specialists.


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that war agricultural executive committees are refusing endorsements to applications for compassionate release from the Services except in exceptional circumstances; and whether he will consult with the Service Ministers with a view to securing more lenient administration of Class C releases.

:Compassionate release is a matter entirely within the discretion of the Service Departments concerned. Committees are prepared, if so requested, by the appropriate military authority, to supply them with a factual statement of the position on the holding.

Is the Minister aware that a farmer has to be quite seriously ill before the farmer's son is allowed to return from the Service to the farm? Can he hot consult with the Service Ministries to see whether some more lenient administration cannot be adopted in these matters?

It is a matter entirely for the Service Departments themselves. I understand that they make a local inquiry when any case on compassionate grounds is brought to their notice. The war executive committees would, in cases where the Service Departments invite them to do so, send a purely factual statement of conditions.

Bulls (Licensing)


asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that the present bull licensing regulations preclude the issue of a dairy bull licence in respect of a bull whose immediate female ancestors, although of outstanding merit and with milk records recognised in other countries, were not recorded for milk production in England and Wales; and if he will amend the Regulations to overcome this anomalous position.

I am aware that the present Regulations debar some bulls of merit, whose dams, or sires' dams, have been recorded under Scottish or overseas milk recording schemes and not under an official scheme operating in England and Wales, from being made the subject of a dairy bull licence. I am considering what steps might be taken to enable reliable and properly authenticated milk records, other than those prescribed in the Regulations, to be accepted for bull licensing purposes.

Cropping Programme


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is now in a position to announce the cropping programme for the next two years.

:The cropping programme for the 1946 harvest was announced on 20th July last. The uncertainties of the future world situation preclude a decision at the present time about the production of crops in this country for the harvest of 1947. The position will be reviewed early next year, and I contemplate that cropping arrangements for 1947 will be announced well before the commencement of the sowing season.

Potato Growing


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he intends to issue directions for the growing of potatoes next year.

:It was announced on 20th July last that, owing to the difficult world food situation, it would be essential to obtain in 1946 approximately the present year's acreage of potatoes, and that, where necessary, this acreage would have to be secured by the service and enforcement of directions.

:Yes, but is the Minister aware that many farmers think that the growing of potatoes has been spread over too many different types of land, and that we had better in future concentrate on land that is really suitable?

:I think the hon. Member will agree that we recognised that situation a few years since, but the urgent need for food of this kind over that period, and at the present time, compels us to grow potatoes on land which otherwise would, perhaps, be utilised for other purposes.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether what he has said applies also to sugar beet?

Yes, Sir. I think the instructions have already been issued that we shall expect the same acreage for 1946 as we had in 1945.

:Will the Minister say that those who grow potatoes in Northern Ireland for the English market will be under no disadvantage, compared with those who grow potatoes in England for the same market?

:I do not quite see how they will suffer any disadvantage, as they will get the same price for their potatoes.

United Nations Food And Agriculture Organisation


asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will consider the desirability of including amongst the delegations to future conferences of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations practical British farmers and farm workers.

:Two Advisers, representing respectively the organised farmers and farm workers of the United Kingdom, accompanied the United Kingdom Delegation to the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations which opened at Quebec on 16th October. I am glad to be able to inform the House that the Adviser representing farm workers is my hon. Friend the Member for Northern Norfolk (Mr. Gooch). Arrangements for future conferences will be considered when the time comes, in the light of their particular purpose and scope.

Vegetables (Marketing)


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has taken notice of the unsatisfactory conditions under which vegetables are marketed, and the loss sustained to producers thereby; if he proposes to initiate schemes for the better marketing of home-grown vegetables under the Agricultural Marketing Act or by any other means; and for the orderly importation of such vegetables as we cannot grow in sufficient quantities at home.

:I am aware that marketing conditions in the vegetable industry are capable of improvement, and discussions on this subject have already started between my Department and the National Farmers' Union. Insecticides


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is satisfied that the indiscriminate use for agricultural purposes of D.D.T. and gam-mexane will have no deleterious effects; and whether his scientific advisers were fully consulted before control of production was removed.

I would refer the hon. Memberto the reply which I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Ludlow (Lieut.-Colonel Corbett) on 22nd October.

:Is it not a fact that after the wholesale spraying of D.D.T. to kill mosquitos, only wind-pollinated plants survive, and that after a strip of orchard in Britain had been sprayed with gam-mexane no fruit was available at all? Therefore, is it not very important in the interests of this country's food production that this stuff should not be available until further inquiries have been carried out?

:My information is that there is no direct evidence that gam-mexane and products containing D.D.T. are likely to have harmful effects in this country. However, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that further research is being carried out and it is hoped to remove any danger which may now exist.

:The right hon. Gentleman says there is no direct evidence that it is harmful, but surely, before this stuff is made available, there should be direct evidence that it is not harmful?

Resettlement Schemes (Assistance)


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, arising out of the Resettlement Grants Scheme and the pledges which have been made by the Government, he will now make a pronouncement as regards assistance for resettlement on the land of those who were working holdings on their own account before joining the Forces.

As explained to the House on 16th October, it is proposed at an early date to introduce a scheme of financial assistance, similar to the Resettlement Grants Scheme covering other trades and occupations and administered by the Ministry of Labour to help towards the resettlement on the land of persons who, before taking up military service and certain other forms of war service, were working holdings on their own account.

:Will such a scheme enable the small man to return to his land with financial assistance?

The scheme will make provision for those who were occupied on holdings of their own before the war, to return to such holdings.

Women's Land Army (Travel Facilities)


asked the Minister of Agriculture if consideration will be given to the provision of free travel facilities to members of the W.L.A. for their paid holidays.

It has recently been decided to allow members of the Women's Land Army two additional free travel warrants each year, and those members who are entitled to the paid holiday under the arrangements recently announced will be able to use one of their warrants for this purpose.

Bornholm (German Research Scientists)


asked the Prime Minister whether there has been any contact with the scientists concerned in work on the island of Bornholm, which was the centre of German research into the atomic bomb; and, if not, whether their present whereabouts are known.

His Majesty's Government are fully informed about German research into the atomic bomb.

Malayan Operations (Inquiry)


asked the Prime Minister whether in addition to the inquiry to be made into the conduct of Major-General Gordon Bennett, in connection with the fall of Malaya, he will institute a similar inquiry into the conduct of such officers and officials as may be thought responsible for the fall of Penang and the capture by the enemy of large quantities of shipping, plant and commodities of great value to them; and whether he will ensure that all such inquiries are held in public to safeguard both the public interests and the reputation of the officers concerned.

The inquiry referred to by the hon. Member is one instituted by the Australian military authorities to report upon circumstances affecting an individual officer of the Australian Army. I would prefer to await the receipt of the despatches of the Commander-in-Chief concerned before reaching a judgment as to the desirability or otherwise of an inquiry of the nature proposed.

Wales (Administration)


asked the Prime Minister if he is aware of the growing concern in Wales at the Government's policy of doing away with the existing forms of autonomy in relation to administrative machinery in connection with Welsh affairs, while making no provision for decentralisation in so far as Wales is concerned, when setting up new machinery, in particular in relation to the social service; and if he has any statement to make on the subject.

I am not aware of any such changes as are implied by the hon. Member's Question. As far as the existing administrative machinery is concerned no change has been made, or is contemplated, in connection with the Welsh Board of Health or the Welsh Department of Education. In establishing the organisation necessary for administering the new Insurance Scheme, careful regard will be paid to the considerations which the hon. Member mentions. It will be necessary for reasons of efficiency to concentrate certain items of work at one centre, but it is anticipated that a large degree of decentralisation will be both possible and desirable as regards the handling of individual cases.

:Is the Prime Minister not aware that the decentralisation which has existed in relation to the administration of the Health and Pensions Acts since 1912, ceased in April of this year?

:I do not think it alters the tenor of my answer. There is no suggestion that we could reduce the present amount of decentralisation.

Government Supplies (Organisation)


asked the Prime Minister whether he has any statement to make on the organisation of Government supply.

With Mr. Speaker's permission, I propose to make a statement at the end of Questions.


(1) Organisation and Government Supply.

When the present Government was formed the Ministry of Supply and the Ministry of Aircraft Production were put under the charge of one Minister. No Ministerial appointment was made to the Ministry of Production. Under the late Government the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. O. Lyttelton) held the officers of President of the Board of Trade and Minister of Production.

This statement outlines broadly:

  • (a) the organisation and responsibilities of the combined Ministries of Supply and Aircraft Production;
  • (b) the disposition of the functions of the Ministry of Production;
  • (c) the division of responsibilities between the Board of Trade and the Ministries of Supply and Aircraft Production.
  • (2) Ministries of Supply and Aircraft Production

    For the immediate future the Ministries of Supply and Aircraft Production will preserve their individual identities, but the intention is that they should be amalgamated into one new Ministry as soon as practicable. The primary duty of the combined Ministry will be the furnishing of supplies, and the carrying out of research, design and development, for the Fighting Services, to the extent that these functions are undertaken by the two Ministries at the present time. This duty will be carried out in close collaboration with the Service Departments in order to ensure that the "user" interests are given proper weight. The combined Ministry will, however, also be responsible for the supply, and, in many cases, the design, of a large range of stores used by the Government, for which concentration of purchasing arrangements seems advantageous, and will retain the functions hitherto exercised by the Ministry of Aircraft Production on behalf of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The combined Ministry will carry the primary Government responsibility in the field of engineering.

    The Board of Trade will remain responsible for general questions of industrial and commercial policy, and so far as these questions arise in connection with engineering the Ministry of Supply and of Aircraft Production will work in close co-operation with the Board of Trade.

    (3) Ministry of Production.

    The Ministry of Production has been merged in the Board of Trade organisation and has ceased to exist as a separate entity. For formal reasons it will be necessary for the immediate present to retain two Votes in Parliament.

    Certain of the Ministry's duties were of an arbitral nature—in particular—

  • (a) the allocation of materials, and
  • (b) certain priorities for the allocation of labour.
  • These functions cannot properly be performed by the Board of Trade since that Department is itself a large claimant for labour and materials, and arrangements have been made for these arbitral functions to be carried out inter-departmentally under the supervision of Ministers without departmental interest in the matter.

    Similarly, the co-ordination of military supply programmes is not appropriate to the Board of Trade, and other arrangements have been made for the discharge of these functions.

    (4) Relations between the Supply Ministry and the Board of Trade.

    The Raw Materials Department of the Ministry of Supply and the Raw Materials Controls of that Department will be trans- ferred to the Board of Trade as from to-day. Pending transfer, the Raw Materials Department and the Controls will operate under the direction of the President of the Board of Trade.

    There is, however, an important exception to this transfer of responsibility for raw materials. Since the Ministries of Supply and Aircraft Production will carry the primary Government responsibility in the held of engineering, the Iron and Steel Control, the Non-Ferrous Metals Control and the Light Metal Control will remain with the Ministry of Supply and of Aircraft Production. The Board of Trade will assume responsibility for all non-engineering industries, for example, chemicals, which during the war have been the concern of the Ministries of Supply and Aircraft Production.

    :I am sure the right hon. Gentleman realises that he has made a very important statement. Will the Government afford an opportunity of debating the matter in the near future?

    I think it is rather difficult to see at first the full extent of the statement. Perhaps when it has been considered, an application might be made through the usual channels to see whether a discussion should arise.

    On the matter of the production of civil aircraft, the Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production are apparently ordering aircraft for the Air Force and civil aviation. Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a good deal of overlapping between the Ministry of Civil Aviation with its advisers, the Ministry of Aircraft Production with its advisers, and B.O.A.C. with its advisers?

    Perhaps the hon. Member will put down a specific Question on that point.

    :Will anything in this new arrangement hold up the promised direct association between the users of civil aircraft, when we know who they are, and the manufacturers, and can we be assured that no Government Department or combination of Departments will stand in the way of that direct connection?

    There is no question of standing in the way. It is our intention all through that the users and producers shall be in close contact.

    :Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is strong feeling among the producers or would-be producers of civil aircraft that the Ministry of Aircraft Production has outlived its functions, and, as it was created entirely for war purposes, will the Government take steps to bring it to a speedy end now that the war is over and release the large staffs and officers it now has?

    :May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in view of the important new functions which he has just announced the Ministry of Supply is to undertake, particularly in connection with atomic research, he would consider making the Minister of Supply a Member of the Cabinet?

    :With regard to the distribution of Government surplus requirements and goods, can the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that such surpluses shall be distributed to firms who have a technical knowledge of, and are in the habit of dealing in, these particular goods?