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Written Answers

Volume 415: debated on Tuesday 30 October 1945

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Written Answers To Questions

Fuel And Power

Petrol Restrictions

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether the present ration of 24 gallons of petrol per month per car for driving schools will be increased to enable a greater number of pupils to be trained in the rules of the road and so reduce the number of accidents.

The maximum allowances for cars used by motor-driving schools have recently been increased by about one-third. In addition, an owner of a school of motoring may now be granted allowances for the full number of cars which he was using immediately before the war.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he has made any calculation of the additional fuel which has to be used by the railways, in order to carry passengers and goods which would otherwise have been transported by road; and whether he has taken this fact into account in continuing to refuse to release a larger supply of petrol for general use.

:It is my constant end eavour to release petrol so far as supplies permit. My right hon. Friend the Minister of War Transport has already, with my concurrence, taken steps to secure that goods traffic is diverted to road transport as necessary to relieve the railways, and I can assure the hon. Member that the necessary use of goods and public passenger vehicles is not now restricted by lack of fuel. It is unlikely that an increased use of private vehicles could lead to any considerable saving of railway fuel.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that serving men on leave are unable to obtain the extra petrol coupons to which they are entitled when motor-cars are registered in the name of a brother or sister; and will he amend existing regulations to include such registrations.

The leave petrol allowance was granted to members of the Forces on leave from overseas or afloat, for use in cars registered in their own names or in the names of their wives or husbands. Last June, after full consultation with the Service Departments, a concession was made to the extent of providing for use in cars registered in the names of parents. This concession has greatly increased petrol consumption and difficulties of administration; and in present circumstances I am not prepared to invite the Service Departments to consider any further concession.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that the cancellation of petrol allowances for privately owned motor-boats is regarded as unfair, in view of the restoration of basic allowance for private motor-cars and, in view of the fact that most motor-boat owners, particularly in coastal areas, use their craft for fishing, will be consider restoring their basic petrol allowance.

There has been no cancellation. Allowances for private motor-boating without restriction of purpose have throughout been confined to the summer months, and when they were restored last June the same rule applied. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has local arrangements for granting an allowance at all times to any motor-boat owner who can show that such an allowance is likely to result in his catching marketable quantities of fish.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what petrol allowance is authorised for the use of disabled ex-Servicemen for recreational purposes; and whether any differentiation is made for this purpose between ex-Servicemen disabled in different wars.

:Regional Petroleum Officers have discretion to grant a small petrol allowance, varying in amount according to circumstances, for the recreational motoring of persons medically certified to be seriously disabled. The allowance is not affected by the cause of the disablement, whether due to accident or disease, or arising in the course of civilian life or of military service in one war or another.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware of the hardship caused to owners of small businesses who use a small horse-power car and trailer in their legitimate business as the petrol allowance is considerably below that which could be obtained for a lorry capable of doing the same amount of work; and whether, in the case of Mr. W. P. Shucksmith, a builder, of Partney Mill, Spilsby, Lincolnshire, details of whose case have been sent him, he will grant a petrol allowance capable of enabling him to carry out the essential building now in progress in Lincolnshire.

:I am not aware of any general difficulty of the kind mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member. In the particular case to which he refers, the builder's allowance was increased by about 70 per cent., and I offered to consider a compassionate addition on production of a medical certificate. I cannot trace any further communication from the hon. and gallant Member on this case.

Coal Industry

Production (Statistics)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many tons of coal were produced in each month from 1st May to 30th September last.

The following are the figures:

Average Weekly Output of Saleable Mined Coal May to September, 1945.
'000 tons.
May3,010
June*3,599
July3,222
August2,363
September*3,467
* Average of five weeks.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will publish monthly figures of coal production in future.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will now give the House the figures on which his Ministry informed the Press on 5th October that coal output was higher than at any time since June; and any later figures.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to my reply to-day in answer to the hon. Member for Basing-stoke (Squadron-Leader Donner).

Scientific And Technological Staff

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of the importance of scientific and technological staff to the efficient production of coal, he will give an assurance that in his scheme for the reorganisation of the mines he will not apply the principles of Cmd. 6679, namely, that the salary scales for scientific and technological staff in the Civil Service are to be inferior to those of the administrative staff.

I do not propose that those employed in the mining industry should be Civil Servants.

Colliery Employees

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will give the gross natural wastage at coalmines during the three quarters of 1945; the normal juvenile recruitment and other recruitment, including soldiers returned from the Forces, in the same period; and the total number of persons employed in coalmines at 22nd September, 1945.

:The figures of wastage and recruitment for the first quarter of 1945 were published in the Statistical Digest for 1944 and appear in table 24. Corresponding figures for the second quarter were published on 18th August in the Board of Trade Journal. Final figures for the third quarter of 1945 are not yet available, but will be published shortly in the Board of Trade Journal. The number of wage-earners on colliery books at 22nd September, 1945, was 701,300.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what economic and social improvements he is making for miners to secure the necessary number required for the amount of coal that is likely to be demanded during the coming winter.

:A number of steps to improve conditions are being or will shortly be taken, but I am afraid that an increase in the number of recruits to the industry is unlikely to result in any appreciable improvement in output this winter, for which I must rely on the experienced miners already in the industry.

Mardy Collieries

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what representations he has had concerning the possible reopening of the Mardy collieries; if he has considered the matter; and with what result.

:Representations concerning the possible reopening of the Mardy Colliery have been received from the Ferndale and District Chamber of Trade. This colliery has been kept on a care and maintenance basis sinceit was closed in October, 1940, when the face machinery was transferred to other collieries. As regards the labour position, neighbouring collieries are already under-manned, and there may be certain difficulties in transferring labour. I am, however, making further inquiries and will communicate with my hon. Friend.

Absenteeism

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how, in view of the fact that there are no separate figures available for absenteeism amongst those conscripted to the mines, he is able to keep a check on the movements of these young men; and how many are estimated at present to be doing a full week's work in the mines.

It is an offence under the Essential Work (Coalmining Industry) Order, 1943, for a man employed at a scheduled undertaking to leave his employment without permission. Men who are reported for such an offence are dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the Order, which is administered by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service. In reply to the last part of the Question, a number of special inquiries have been made from time to time, and in reply to a Question on 13th February last it was stated that the overall rate of absenteeism among Bevin Boys was then estimated to be approximately half as much again as among other workers in the industry.

Kiln Coal

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware of the situation arising in the brick and tile industry, especially in works now being re-opened, owing to the increasing shortage of kiln coal; and will he take steps to provide a larger supply.

Arrangements have been made with the Production Department to ensure the best distribution of coal among industrial consumers: If the hon. Member knows of any brick or tile works which is unable to re-open because it is unable to obtain supplies of kiln coal I shall be pleased to make inquiries.

Outcrop Coal

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how much public money has been spent up to September, 1945, on the extraction of outcrop coal on the Rigg, Cairn and Drambuie estates, respectively, at Kirkconnel, Dumfriesshire; how much outcrop coal has been extracted on each of these estates; and how much it is estimated will be extracted.

I am making inquiries and will communicate the results to the hon. and gallant Member.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what further acreage has been requisitioned for opencast coal working since VJ-Day; and whether this method of production is to continue indefinitely.

The answer to the first part of the Question is 1,450 acres, and to the second part, "No."

Conscripted Workers (Release)

asked the Minister of Labour whatmachinery is in existence to assess the release group numbers of boys conscripted into the mining industry.

These young men are to be released from coalmining on the basis of age and length of service under a scheme similar to that applicable to young men serving in the Army. Details of the scheme are now in course of preparation.

Government Departments

Ministry Of Fuel And Power (Petroleum Branch)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the number of persons now employed in the petroleum branch of his Ministry; and what is the annual cost to the taxpayers of these employees' salaries.

The total number of persons now employed in the Petroleum Division, including representatives abroad, is 2,069, of whom 1,860 are employed in petrol rationing and 80 in the British Petroleum Mission in the United States. Total salaries amount to £566,000.

Ministry Of Information (Staff)

asked the Minister of Information the numbers of the staff of his Ministry on 1st January and on 30th September, 1945, distinguishing between the censorship division and the rest of the Ministry.

The total number of staff employed in the United Kingdom on 1st January, 1945, was 2,918 and on 30th September, 2,310. Of these, there were employed in the Press Censorship Division on the 1st January, 344½ (a part-time employee being reckoned as ½) and on 30th September, 154. The staff in the Press Censorship Division had been declared redundant before the 30th September and the engagements of all but three of them have now been terminated.

Fog (Dispersal)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether any arrangements have been considered to make use of the equipment used during thewar for the dispersal of fog for civilian purposes, particularly at railway stations in London and elsewhere.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of War Transport is bringing this matter to the notice of the railway companies, in order that they may consider whether it would be practicable for them to provide for fog dispersal in this way. In present circumstances, however, the petrol supply position imposes a serious restriction on any developments.

Demobilisation

Miners

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why, in view of the continued loss of man-power in the mining industry and the gravity of the coal-supply situation, so many difficulties are raised in securing the release of ex-miners from the Forces who are desirous of returning to the industry; and what steps he is taking to make the process easier.

:Apart from the inevitable delay in bringing home ex-miners serving abroad and at sea, I am not aware of any other difficulties in securing the release of ex-miners from the Forces who are desirous of returning to the industry.

Students

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the fact that the release concession to students of scholarship standard up to Group 49 was made before the end of the Japanese war, arrangements can now be made to extend the concession to higher groups.

:No, Sir. The special arrangement was made to enable the Universities to resume their Arts courses, for which purpose the release of 3,000 men with approximately three years' military service was authorised. This number can be obtained without going beyond group 49.

Forces, Akyab (Memorandum)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has considered a memorandum from the Forces at Akyab on the matter of demobilisation and releases from the Forces generally; and what answers he has given to the several points raised in the memorandum.

I have considered the memorandum in question and will let my hon. Friend have a copy of the reply, which it is hoped to send in the next few days.

Electrical Accessories Workers

asked the Minister of Labour if he will extend Class B releases, to include draughtsmen and other specialist artisans and professional men, where essential to the development of peace-time production in the electrical accessory industry, in order to encourage the export trade and provide necessary accessories for house-building.

Arrangements have already been made for the release in Class B of a number of draughtsmen and other skilled men to assist in the provision of electrical accessories.

Law Students

asked the Minister of Labour if he will agree to the demobilisation, under Class B, of articled clerks and law students whose studies were interrupted by the war.

:Law students are eligible for release under Class B to continue their University studies if they fulfil the conditions laid down for University Arts students generally. I am not at present able to recommend any extension of these arrangements.

Transferred Personnel (Release Groups)

asked the Minister of Labour if men who were directed to service in essential industries and put on Class W reserve, can count this period for demobilisation in line with a similar concession which has been made to R.A.F. personnel.

:No, Sir. I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Air to the hon. and gallant Member for Waterloo (Captain Bullock) on 10th October, a copy of which I am sending him.

Resettlement Advice

asked the Minister of Labour what consideration he is giving in resettlement schemes for members of the Forces who are over the age of 45 and may not have re-employment rights.

:The resettlement schemes are not restricted to persons under any particular age. Men and women of any age, whether or not they have statutory rights to reinstatement, may seek advice at any Resettlement Advice Office or other local office of my Department, where they will be given guidance with regard to employment, or any resettlement benefits for which they may be eligible.

Brick And Tile Makers

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that skilled tile-moulders have been refused release from the Armed Forces as key men; and that the brick industry cannot usefully employ semi-skilled workers and trainees unless these tile-moulders are released; and will he secure their release.

Arrangements have already been made for the release from the Forces under Class B of skilled workers in the brick industry. These men do not come within the category of individual specialists; they are, however, being selected according to their occupations as shown in their Service records or on nomination by the Government Department concerned.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that brick and tile makers who were temporarily released from the Services in 1041 under Army Reserve W to build ordnance factories, lose group status for demobilisation amounting in some cases to 12 months; and whether he will reinstate them both because they are now so urgently needed in industry and because their earlier release was necessary to deal with a national emergency.

:I am aware that periods spent in civilian employment are not taken into account in determining the relative order of release from the Forces, and I should not be justified in making an exception in the case of brick and tile makers. Arrangements have, however, been made for the release of brick and tile makers in Class B under which those selected are released as soon as possible without regard to their age and service grouping.

Building And Civil Engineering Specialists

asked the Minister of Works if he will provide a list indicating the number of releases under Class B of men in the building trade which he has recommended up to date; whether he will subdivide this number according to the counties in which they operate; and, in particular, will he give the number of releases recommended for Oxfordshire.

:Most Class B men come under the arrangements for block release and are identified by the Service Departments themselves by reference to their Central Records on which the men's pre-enlistment civilian occupations are recorded. My Department is, however, authorised to nominate a limited number of individual specialists with special qualifications which make them personally indispensable for filling key posts. Nominations by my Department of individual specialists for the building and civil engineering industries up to 22nd October, 1945, numbered 985. Nominations are not made on a county basis, and it would, therefore, serve no useful purpose to give an analysis of the total by counties.

Ministry Of Information

Film "Burma Victory"

asked the Minister of Information if he will arrange a special showing of the film "Burma Victory" for Members of Parliament.

Yes, Sir. I am arranging for the showing of this film in the Grand Committee Room on Thursday, 8th November, at 5 p.m.

News Reels, Documentaries And Feature Films

asked the Minister of Information whether he can supply the House with particulars of the distribution of films inforeign countries provided by the films division of his Ministry and the British Council, with their cost and income and the number of times exhibited during the past 12 months.

During the twelve months ended 30th September, 1945, the Ministry of Information distributed in 71 foreign countries about 34,200 prints of news reels and documentary and feature films. The relative costs to the Ministry of compiling, dubbing, printing and distributing the films amounted to approximately £600,000. The estimated valuation of the revenue received, in various foreign currencies, for Ministry account is approximately £500,000. It is not possible to compute how many times the films were displayed; but the showings in cinemas and elsewhere have been commensurate with the 34,200 prints issued. In regard to the British Council, my hon. Friend will perhaps address an inquiry to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

British Broadcasting Corporation

Eastern Regional Station

asked the Minister of Information whether he will consider with the B.B.C. the opening of an eastern regional station in order that the poor reception of wireless transmission now existing in most parts of East Anglia can be remedied.

:The B.B.C. does not consider that the opening of a regional station in East Anglia is practicable, partly owing to the shortage of available frequencies, but they are considering methods of improving the medium wave regional service for those parts of Norfolk and Suffolk where reception is poor after dark. The reception of the Light or National programme on long wave should be just as satisfactory over East Anglia as it was before the war.

Russian Broadcasts (Publication)

asked the Minister of Information whether he will make available in the Library of the House the monitorings, in English, of Russian broadcasts to other countries.

All important Russian broadcasts audible in this country are monitored by the B.B.C. monitoring service, and reported or summarised in the B.B.C. Monitoring Digest. Copies of this Digest are available in the library of the House.

Accounts (Publication)

asked the Minister of Information whether he will arrange for the resumption of publication and presentation to this House of the annual accounts of the British Broadcasting Corporation, as the need for their suspension is now past.

Arrangements for the resumption of presentation and publication have already been made in consultation with my right hon. and noble Friend the Postmaster General. The accounts for the year to 31st March, 1945, wall be presented shortly.

Overseas Services

asked the Minister of Informationthe total transmission time of all broadcasting services of the B.B.C, other than for listeners at home, on 1st May, 1st August and 1st October, 1945, and the total establishment of these services on these dates.

The B.B.C. Overseas services, including the European service, broadcast for a total of 119 hours 52 minutes a day on 1st May, 1945; 98 hours 16 minutes on 1st August; and 99 hours 1 minute on 1st October. The total establishment for these services was 1,432 persons on 1st May,1945; 1,398 persons on 1st August; and 1,403 persons on 1st October.

asked the Minister of Information the total transmission time of B.B.C. broadcasts to European countries on 1st May, 1st August and 1st October, 1945; and the number of staff employed by these services.

:The B.B.C. European Service broadcasts covered a total of 33 hours 2 minutes on 1st May, 1945; 27 hours 1 minute on 1st August; and 27 hours 46 minutes on 1st October. The total establishment for this service was 798 persons on 1st May, 1945; 766 persons on 1st August; and 732 persons on 1st October. In addition, certain technical and administrative work for the European Service was performed by staff on other establishments.

Government Film Activities

asked the Minister of Information whether any decision has yet been made as to the use in the future of the fleet of mobile cinematograph outfits employed on the exhibition of non-theatrical propaganda films during the period of the war; whether it is proposed continuing in being the Central Film Library and the Crown Film Unit and studios; and, if so, what functions will be assigned to them.

No, Sir. The future scope of the Government's film activities will depend upon the decision about the Government publicity services as a whole. As the Prime Minister informed my hon. Friend last week, this question is under immediate consideration.

Recreative Physical Training

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will make any statement on the effect of the health of workers as a result of physical recreation, training and education; and whether it is his intention to extend such activities.

Subject to suitable medical safeguards, the provision of recreative physical training, to which I assume my hon. Friend refers, is a useful contribution to the maintenance of the health of workers, but without prolonged investigation it is impossible to estimate the extent of this contribution. The question of extending such provision is a matter falling to my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Education, and to the local Education authorities under the provisions of the Education Act of 1944.

Farm Exhibitions

asked the Minister of Labour the number of men employed in erecting and dismantling the recent farm exhibitions at Newcastle-on-Tyne and Manchester.

At Newcastle 33 men, and at Manchester 41 men, were employed at the peak of the work.

Royal Air Force (Intake)

asked the Minister of Labour to what extent inequalities in release between the R.A.F. and other Services are being minimised by transfers from the other Services and by the allocation of a larger intake to the R.A.F.

I would refer the hon. and learned Member to the reply given on 23rd October to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy), a copy of which I am sending him.

German War Criminals (Indictment)

asked the Attorney-General whether he will cause to be published as a White Paper the full text of the indictment served upon the defendants who are to appear shortly before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.

Postal Service, Far East

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that civilian ex-internees in Sumatra awaiting repatriation, had not received on 2nd October, any mail of any sort from Britain since their liberation, while men whose wives and relatives are in Australia have received cables, letters and even radio messages; and whether he is taking steps to remedy this.

I have been asked to reply. I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply which I gave on 16th October to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Cambridge (Major Symonds) and of which I am sending him a copy.The arrangements described in that reply were applicable to Sumatra in the same way as to the South East Asia theatre generally. Although I have no definite information concerning Sumatra, it would appear probable that the military authorities in South East Asia Command have been unable, owing no doubt to the special features of the military situation, to effect delivery there as early as elsewhere. Meanwhile special arrangements are being made to enable civilian ex-internees who will remain in Sumatra to receive mail during the period before normal civilian postal services are open.

Women's Auxiliary Services

asked the Secretary of State for War if it is intended to retain the A.T.S. as part of the permanent military establishment of the country.

:I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 9th October, to a question by the Noble Member for Hemel Hempstead (Viscountess Davidson).

British Army

Overseas Service Tours

asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is now possible to reduce the period of overseas service to three years.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low) on 9th October last.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will consider instituting a rule that men over the age of 40 will not be posted further afield than the B.A.O.R.

The possibility of introducing such a rule has recently been re-examined, but I have come to the conclusion that it would not be practicable to impose a rigid upper age limit. As I have previously explained to hon. Members, the present system of restricting overseas posting to men who are in the later age and service groups tends, in general, towards the exclusion of the older men. But I realise there may be individual cases of hardship, and where representations to that effect are made, as much leniency as possiblewill be shown when considering them on their merits on compassionate grounds. The fact that the applicant is over 40 years of age will be regarded of itself as a factor in his favour.

asked the Secretary of State for War what delay there is in the repatriation of men qualified for return home under Python scheme in the various theatres.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low) on 9th October last.

Bury Camp, Wiltshire

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is prepared to give further consideration to the request of the Warminster and Westbury Rural District Council that the Bury camp, Codford, Wiltshire, or part of it, should be made available for temporary housing accommodation.

:No, Sir. This is a well fitted workshop camp, and I regret I am unable at the present time to make it available for the purpose proposed. It is in use by a unit which has already moved out of premises with a high priority for derequisitioning. As and when military commitments allow the matter will be re-examined.

Demobilisation

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that officers and other ranks who served in the T.A. receive no credit in calculating their release group for pre-war service, which was a heavy charge on their time before the war; and whether he will arrange that none of these men are retained after the bulk of their group and therefore after men of their own age whodid not join the Army until after the outbreak of war or, alternatively, that adequate compensation is given.

I am aware that pre-war Territorials cannot count service before the war for the purpose of release and, as I stated on 9th October, in reply to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Major Boyd-Carpenter), I am unable to see any adequate ground for an alteration to the present rules in that connection. I am afraid that it would be impracticable to adoptthe suggestion in the second part of the Question. It may be necessary, and it is permissible, to retain any individual soldier for essential military purposes, and there could be no justification for the exceptional treatment of Territorials.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many individuals have left S.E.A.C. under Group B demobilisation.

Leave

asked the Secretary of State for War whether hewill ensure that all soldiers in the B.A.O.R. are granted a second period of home leave before any soldier is granted a third period.

The leave vacancies are necessarily allotted to formations and units, and it would be impracticable to attempt to ensure that all the leave rosters operated identically in that particular respect. Within the units themselves soldiers will not normally be sent home for their third leave before the second leaves have been cleared, though there are occasions where individuals are delayed.

asked the Secretary of State for War why the 21st Army Group instruction of a weekly day off, and 72 hours'short leave has been cancelled for personnel at 114 Rail-feeding Point, B.A.O.R.

The weekly day off was suspended in October because of an effort to clear off overdue privilege leave. About 20 per cent, of the unit are now on privilege leave. It is hoped to restore the day off in November. The 72-hour short leave has not been cancelled. The vacancies allotted during October are reasonable for a unit of that size.

Ats

asked the Secretary of State for War the present strength of the A.T.S.; and how this compares with the figure of the month immediately preceding the termination of hostilities in Europe.

:I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to-day by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in answer to a Private Notice Motion by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wood-ford (Mr. Churchill).

Hutted Camps

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the total living accommodation in hutted camps under his control; and what proportion of this total accommodation is at present being used for service purposes.

The total hutted living accommodation now held should provide for about 1,200,000 men at the emergency scale of 30 feet per man. But in practice the available accommodation is much less. Some of the hutting was built as extensions to requisitioned premises now being released, andsome for special purposes in isolated places. Often these types can no longer be usefully occupied by the Army and are being released. Certain camps are used by prisoners of war working for other Ministries. Many huts of war-time construction are now nearing the end of their useful life and lack of labour and materials makes their maintenance increasingly difficult. Finally, the austerity scale of 30 square feet per man imposed by war conditions may have to be increased this winter as the first stage towards a return to the peace-time scales. I can assure the hon. Member that all hutting accommodation which is habitable and practical is being fully utilised.

Welfare Amenities, London

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that larger numbers of British and Dominion Forces are on leave in London than at any time since the declaration of war; and whether he will give an undertaking that there will be no substantial withdrawal of welfare amenities either for officers or other ranks until the number of men and women visiting London on leave is such that they are no longer required.

Yes, Sir. It is my aim to maintain the present standard of welfare for those on leave in London and elsewhere on a scale necessary to deal with all those who require it. This depends a great deal on our securing adequate accommodation, and on this I am in constant touch with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works.

Spanish Republican (Hospital Transfer)

asked the Secretary of State for War for what reasons Ceferino Medero, a Spanish Republican, was removed from Hall o' th' Hill Camp, Chorley, on or about 10th December.

This Spaniard was evacuated to Talgarth Mental Hospital on 6th October, 1945, on account of his mental condition. His fellow Spaniards had previously requested his removal, but at that time his mental state was not considered such as to necessitate transfer to a mental hospital.

Food Parcels (Ban)

asked the Secretary of Statefor War if, for a limited period before Christmas, he will lift the ban on the sending of foodstuffs, in parcels, to men in the B.A.O.R., etc., to enable relatives to send edible Christmas comforts.

This is not the responsibility of my Department, but I am referring the point to the Civil Minister concerned.

Compassionate Leave

asked the Secretary of State for War why B.A.O.R. men on compassionate leave whose release from the Army has been approved, are obliged to returnto Germany to secure their papers; and whether he will arrange for these men to be attached to a Home unit pending discharge.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many applications for compassionate release and compassionate posting, respectively, have been made during the last convenient month; and how many of these were granted.

These figures are compiled on a quarterly basis. During the quarter ended 30th September, 20,357 applications were received for compassionate release, of which 14,677 were approved; 4,460 applications were received for compassionate posting, of which 2,303 were approved. In addition, 1,061 soldiers were retained in the United Kingdom on compassionate grounds during that period, out of 1,621 applications. In all, therefore, 18,041 applications were approved out of a total of 26,438.

Commissions

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in order to avoid the hardship imposed upon officers by the postponement of their release from the Army, he will take steps to arrange for a quicker system of promotion of N.C.O.s and warrant officers who are of higher release groups and are suitable for immediate commissioning into specialist posts.

:The system already in force allows any individual of whatever rank, if recommended by his commanding officer and by a War Office Selection Board, to be granted an immediate emergency commission, with only a short period of special training carried out after commissioning has been effected. In certain cases this special training can be omitted. The importance of recommending any likely candidates for commissions has frequently been brought to the notice of allcommanding officers. Between 1st September, 1939, and the end of September, 1945, 25,857 immediate commissions were granted from the ranks.

asked the Secretary of State for War the number of officers in the Army who have applied for permanent commissions; the number given to date; and how many will be available in the reorganised Army.

So far, 6,896 officers have applied for Regular commissions; of these, 2,206 have been approved and already gazetted or await gazette action. I cannot yet say what vacancies will be available in the post-war Army, but more Regular officers are still needed and recruitment continues.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, because of the shortage of officers and inorder to prevent a further delay in demobilisation, he is prepared to consider giving immediate commissions from the ranks.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given to-day to the hon. and gallant Member for South Blackpool (Wing Commander R. Robinson).

Air Trooping (Python Scheme)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is satisfied with the working of air trooping under the Python scheme.

Yes, Sir. The air-trooping scheme was institutedfor purposes other than the operation of the Python scheme, but a number of men are brought home in aircraft used for air trooping on their outward journey. The assistance so afforded has been extremely valuable.

News Dissemination (Austria)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will consider improving the present inadequate supply of British newspapers and domestic news to British troops in Austria until it equals the standard at present attained in B.A.O.R.

I regret that severe limitations of air and land transport at present prevent the troops in Austria from receiving similar facilities to those existing in B.A.O.R. The matter is kept closely under review and improvements will be effected whenever possible.

Soldiers (Civilian Employment)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has fully explored the possibility of employing on civil work soldiers awaiting demobilisation; and with what result.

This possibility has been fully investigated. Soldiers awaiting release not required for military employment are made available for assistance to agriculture and industry in connection with work of national importance. Arrangements are made locally with Ministry of Labour and National Service officials and County War Agricultural Executive Committees, or direct with farmers. Everything is being done to encourage the fullest use of these men on civilian tasks.

Army Tradesmen

asked the Secretary of State for War if engineers now being called up from industry and joining the Army can be employed in a trade appropriate to their skill.

:Under Army personnel selection procedure all men called up from industry with qualifications for Army trades are earmarked for and allocated to such trades. This procedure applies to engineers as well as to all other civilian tradesmen.

Ex-Prisoners Of War (Training)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give orders that ex-prisoners of war who have been passed fit for duty should not be put through a course of modern battle training.

:The men concerned are medically examined and if this shows them to be physically fit, I see no reason why they should not have a useful course of training to bring them up to date with all aspects of military life.

Desertion And Over-Stayed Leave

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will state approximately the number of charges for desertion and over-staying their leave among troops in this country during 1944.

:The figures asked for are not available, but information is available as to the number of actual convictions under Courts-Martial for absence and desertion in the United Kingdom from February to August, 1944; these amounted to approximately one per thousand of the total strength.

British Troops, Far East (Repatriation)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that many men in the 25th Indian, 2nd and 36th Divisions, serving in India, are now overdue for repatriationunder scheme Python; and what steps he intends to take to ensure their repatriation to the United Kingdom with the least possible further delay.

A short delay is general at the moment. I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the explanation I gave on 23rd October in reply to Questions by the hon. Members for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) and Maldon (Mr. Driberg).

Civilian Outfits

asked the Secretary of State for War whether men who were discharged from the Armed Forces on account of wounds or ill-health before the end of hostilities are entitled to receive the same civilian outfit as men discharged in Categories A and B.

The present type of civilian type of outfit was introduced on 16th October, 1944, and has been granted toall soldiers invalided on or after that date. As regards soldiers who were invalided before that date, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given on 16th October to the hon. Member for Southend-on-Sea (Mr. Channon).

War Department Constabulary (War Gratuities)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will now make a statement regarding the granting of post-war credit and gratuity for members of the War Department Constabulary.

As explained to my hon. Friend the Member for Southall (Mr. Ayles) in reply to a question on 16th October, I regret that I can see no reason to depart from the decision already given on this question.

Cadet Force (Clothing)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that officers and cadets of the Army Cadet Force are not issued with greatcoats, boots or belts and receive no outfit allowance or supplementary clothing coupons; and whether, in view of the surplus stocks of such equipment now held, he will take steps to remedy the situation.

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir."As regards the second part I cannot say at present what surpluses are likely to exist. I am investigating the possibility of supplying clothing coupons to permit the purchase by Army Cadet Force officers of officer items not provided in this country from Army sources.

Khaki Overcoats (Purchase)

asked the Secretary of State for War under what conditions troops leaving the Forces are allowed to purchase their khaki overcoats; and whether he will consider allowing a soldier who has paid for a garment to use it as he pleases.

Soldiers are not permitted to purchase their khaki overcoats on leaving the Forces.

Teachers (Release)

asked the Secretary of State for War up to what age and service group have offers of Class B releases been made to teachers serving in the B.A.O.R.; and whether such offers are made on the same basis as to age and service group, if the teacher is, or is not, in the Army Education Corps.

:In general, offers of release in Class B have been made to male teachers up to and including Group 24 for officers and 40 for other ranks. These offers are made irrespective of where the individual may be serving. In view of the importance to the nation of the Army Education Scheme and the consequent need for a sufficient number of Army Educational Corps personnel at home and abroad, the War Office do not at present normally offer release under Class B bulk releases to members of the Army Educational Corps.

Inoculation

asked the Secretary of State for War under what circumstances a soldier on overseas service is entitled to refuse inoculation; and if he does so refuse, by what authority does his officer refuse to grant him leave home.

:A soldier can refuse vaccination or inoculation on conscientious grounds. This does not interfere with his entitlement to proceed on leave, but it may cause delay in the case of soldiers serving overseas, owing to restrictions imposed by various countries on the transport or landing of unvaccinated persons.

Soldiers' Letters (Censorship)

asked the Secretary of State for War what censorship is applied to letters from members of the B.A.O.R. to civilians resident in this country.

Unit censorship by which soldiers'letters were censored by their own officers has been suspended since VE Day, but it is still necessary to maintain a test censorship at the Base.

Requisitioned Properties

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that there is a considerable number of hotels and other dwelling-houses still requisitioned in North-West Devon and in Ilfracombe in particular; that this is causing hardship to the rightful owners of these properties; and how many hotels and dwelling-houses in Ilfracombe will be released before the New Year.

In Ilfracombe my Department holds 17 hotels and two dwelling-houses. These are all in use by three PayOffices which are a vital link in the Release Scheme. I cannot offer any hope that these premises will be released before the New Year. Apart from Ilfracombe, the Department holds very few hotels and houses in North-West Devon. I expect to release four hotels and 12 houses by the New Year. These are the majority of the properties held.

Overseas Soldiers (Duty-Free Cigarettes)

asked the President of the Board of Trade if for a limited period before Christmas he will restore the privilege of sending duty-free cigarettes to men in the B.A.O.R., etc., so that soldiers overseas can have an adequate supply of cigarettes for Christmas.

No, Sir. I am afraid that even a temporary restoration of the privilege is impracticable, and couldnot be now undertaken by the manufacturers.

Occupational Troops (Civilian Clothing)

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will arrange for a small issue of clothing coupons to other ranks, to enable occupational troops to purchase such articles as pyjamas and shoes for wearing off duty and on leave.

:We are already considering a proposal on similar lines made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. The proposal has our sympathy, but the present shortage of supplies will, I fear, make it difficult to give any concession on the lines suggested in the immediate future.

War Graves

asked the Secretary of State for War why permission is refused in cases where parents seek to obtain burial in this country of sons who die while on service with B.A.O.R.

I would draw the attention of the hon. Member to the full statement on this subject which was printed in the Official Report on 23rd October in reply to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore).

Franc Concessions, France

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the fact that the present rate of exchange operates equally against the British as against the American soldier, British troops in France are to receive similar franc concessions as those now received by American troops by arrangement with the French Government.

I have been asked to reply. This matter is at present under consideration.

War Decorations And Medals

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the fact that the First and Eighth Armies carry their numerals on their Africa Star, General Dempsey's Second Army from France, Belgium and Holland, will be allowed to carry the numeral 2 on their France and Germany Star.

:As explained by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in answer to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Major Beamish) on 23rd August, numerous suggestions have been made for the institution of further emblems which could be worn on one or other of the approved ribbons. Acceptance of such suggestions would be bound to give rise to many difficulties, and it is not proposed to recommend this addition to the series of distinctions alreadyinstituted for war service.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is prepared to award a rosette, or bar, to be worn on the D.M. by those members of the CD. force who have been particularly commended for good work carried out between 1939–45; and whether he is aware that such a proposal would be welcome to CD. members who have obtained little recognition for their work.

No, Sir. The grant of an emblem of this kind would give rise to demands for other emblems for the ribbons of the Defence Medal and the Campaign Stars which, it is clear, could not be overlooked, and it would be virtually impossible to draw a dividing line.

Ex-Prisoners Of War And Internees, Java

asked the Secretary of State for War whether all R.A.F. prisoners of war in Y Camp, Java, have now been recovered; whether they are on their way home to this country or, if not, where they are.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Wallasey (Captain Marples) on 23rd October, 1945.

Far East (Repatriated British Internees, Grants)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what grants are available to enable civilian internees, repatriated from the Far East and devoid of funds, to enable them to set up homes in this country.

:British subjects who have been repatriated to this country after release from captivity in Far Eastern territories which were occupied by the enemy, and who intend to remain permanently in the United Kingdom, will be eligible for consideration for grants for the purchase of furniture and household goods on the lines of, and within the limits of, the free cover provided in the Private Chattels Scheme of the United Kingdom.

Scotland

Legal Aid And Advice

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that the present system of legal aid to the poor in Scotland, because of the low income group to which it is confined, is of little assistance to the majority of the working-class population; and will he consider the possibilities of extending its provisions.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have had this matter under consideration for some time and he is setting up an informal Committee with the following terms of reference:

"To consider the detailed recommendations providing for the establishment of Legal Aid Centres contained in the Report of the Committee on Legal Aid and Legal Advice in England and Wales (Cmd. 6641) and to frame a corresponding scheme for Scotland with the necessary modifications; and to include a statement of the estimated cost of the scheme."
Mr. John Cameron, D.S.C., K.C., has agreed to act as Chairman of the Committee and the other members will be Mr. F. E. Balfour, S.S.C., Mr. John Henderson, Mr. Alexander Inglis, Mr. John MacBean and Mr. Peter Stephen.

Public Assistance (Income Limits)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if children's allowances will be included as family income by the Public Assistance Committee in the case of a widow with four or five children.

:Under the Scottish Poor Law Acts the local authority in dealing with an application for relief has to consider all resources available to the applicant, subject to a statutory requirement to disregard part of certain forms of income, of which income from family allowances is not one. Subject to these general considerations, the amount of relief to be given is primarily within the discretion of the local authority.

Assaults With Weapons, Glasgow

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of assaults with weapons that have taken place during each year from September, 1939, to September, 1945, in the Glasgow area; the number of deaths arising from such assaults and the number of persons who have been arrested and the respective number imprisoned, fined or put on probation during each year; and if he can name the gangs operating in each area that are known to the police.

The information is supplied in the form of a table. Many of the persons mentioned in Column 5 of the table are not members of gangs, which consist of youths under 19 years of age. I am sending my hon. Friend the names used by gangs and the police areas in whichthey are operating.

Following is the table referred to:

(1).(2).(3).(4).(5).(6).
Year ended.No. of persons assaulted with weapons.No. of deaths from such assaults.No. of persons arrested for such assaults.No. of persons convicted (including Findings of Guilt and Charge Proved) of such assaults.Disposal.
Male.Female.Male.Female.Death.Penal Servitude.Imprisonment.Borstal.Remand Home.Fine.Approved School.Committed to care of fit person, etc.Whipped.Caution with or without sureties.Admonished or otherwise disposed of.Probation Order.Dismissed.
31.8.402122132151001114815111810
31.8.412252156141321324322681112311
31.8.423102186914781394287235210
31.8.43298117261502503172218312
31.8.443652186915461596822226
31.8.45346624591945475441001173

Hospital Nursing Staffs

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the shortage of nursing staff at the county hospitals in Renfrewshire; and what steps are being taken to provide additional nursing staff.

:I am aware of the shortage of nurses in the Renfrewshire County Hospitals and indeed in many other hospitals throughout the country. The whole situation in regard to both nursing and domestic staffs in hospitals is under urgent review, and the Government hope to make a statement about it at a very early date.

Housing

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress has been made in the discussions between the Department of Health for Scotland and representatives of local authorities on the subject of housing subsidies.

At a meeting which my right hon. Friend and I had with them on 7th September, the three associations of local authorities were invited to appoint a committee to engage in discussions on this subject. This committee was appointed at the beginning of October and its first meeting with officers of my Department was held on 25th October. Further meetings will be necessary, but the hon. Member may be assured that the discussions will be pushed on with all speed.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the amount of land purchased by Glasgow Corporation for housing purposes since 1936; the name of the owners; the price paid; the price per acre in each case; and the rating valuation on the Valuation Roll.

:The total amount of land purchased by the Corporation since the beginning of 1936 is 3,805 acres, costing a total of £784,415 or £206 per acre. The remaining information asked for is not available in my Department, but I am asking the Corporation if it is practicable for them to extract it and I will write to the hon. Member when I get their reply.

Leases (Reversion Fees)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if any legislation is being considered to curb the excessive demands of some landlords on owners of property at the expiration of their lease by asking them to pay large sums of money as a reversion fee and also increasing the feu duty.

:At present I can hold out little hope of legislation on this matter, but I shall be glad to have particulars of any cases which my hon. Friend has in mind.

Hydro-Electric Schemes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he can give the details of the expenditure on the Tummel-Garry hydro-electric project.

The estimated cost of the mechanical and electrical work for the project is £1,172,000 and of the civil engineering works, including the power stations, £5,006,000.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give a list of schemes prepared, or in course of preparation, by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board; and to what extent the provision of electricity supplies in the remoter parts of the Highlands and Islands would be jeopardised if the Tummel-Garry scheme were abandoned.

The following schemes have been prepared or are in course of preparation by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board:

Constructional Schemes

  • Sloy, Morar and Lochalsh.
  • Tummel-Garry and Gairloch.
  • Fannich.
  • Cowal.
  • Shira.
  • Skye.
  • Findhorn-Duntelchaig.
  • Affric.
  • Transmission from Shira and Sloy to Central Scotland.
  • Transmission from Tummel-Garry to Southern Perthshire.
  • Transmission from Fannich to Inverness, Keith and Aberdeen.
  • Staff housing for Sloy.

Surveys are now being made for schemes to supply Orkney, Shetland, Kintyre, Caithness, Ullapool and Lochinver. Where, as in the case of Orkney and Shetland, water-power resources are small, it is proposed to supply distribution schemes if necessary from oil engines.

Distribution Schemes

  • Orkney.
  • Shetland.
  • Morar.
  • Lochalsh.
  • North Cowal.
  • South Cowal.
  • Bute.
  • Great Cumbrae.
  • Gairloch.
  • Ullapool.
  • Lochinver.
  • Skye.
  • The Outer Hebrides.
  • Islay.
  • Mull, Luing and Seil.
  • Arran.

If the Tummel-Garry Scheme were abandoned, provision of electricity supplies to nearly one-third of these schemes would immediately be jeopardised and the supply to all of them would be seriously retarded.

Pier And Harbour, Whalsay, Shetland

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps have been taken with regard to the proposals for a steamer pier and a fishing-boat harbour at Whalsay, Shetland.

At the request of the county council of Zetland my technical advisers recently visited Whalsay in order to examine on the site proposals for a harbour there which had been tentatively prepared by the council. The views of my advisers on these proposals have been communicated to the county council, who now have them under consideration.

Ministry Of Works

Factory Extension, Twickenham

asked the Minister of Works whether he is aware that his Department has refused an application for a licence to extend a Twickenham factory to enable demands for exports to be satisfied, in spite of the fact that labour or materials suitable for housing will not be used; and whether, in view of the vital importance of increasing exports, he will reconsider the matter.

The factory in question is in the London area, where I cannot authorise new building except of the most vital and urgent nature while so much work remains to be done to repair and reinstate war damaged premises. I am fully alive to the importance of increasing exports, but would point out that there are many industrial buildings destroyed or damaged during the war which cater for the export market and which would have a prior claim on the type of labour and materials which would be used for this work.

Football Grounds

asked the Minister of Works what representations he has received on the necessity of repairs to football grounds which suffered damage during enemy raids and at which spectators are exposed to the inclemency of the weather; and if reconstruction facilities will be permitted in such cases.

:I have received a number of applications, supported in some cases by representations from local interests for licences to carry out repairs to football grounds. In so far as work of this typecan proceed without interference with housing and other priority work, it has been and will be permitted. My general policy will be to restore facilities for the general body of spectators rather than to provide additional comfort for a limited number.

Industrial Hostels

asked the Minister of Works how many hostels for dwelling purposes have been erected in this country to house industrial workers; accommodation for how many was thus provided; what proportion of this accommodation is now empty; and whether availability of accommodation in such hostels is brought to the notice of the Ministry of Health.

The total number of industrial hostels erected is 329, of a total capacity of 120,543. The reported vacancies in October number approximately 29,000. The hostels are designed for communal feeding, etc., and are therefore normally unsuitable for housing purposes without a large expenditure of labour and material on adaptations. Where not required, however, for other Government purposes for which they are better suited, the possibility of using them for housing is always considered, in consultation with the Ministry of Health, and one hostel has already been allocated for this purpose.

Cinema, Wembley (Repairs)

asked the Minister of Works whether he is aware that building labour is being used in the rebuilding of a cinema in High Road, Wembley; and if he will take immediate steps to have this labour transferred to the essential work of housing.

Representations have been made to me from several quarters in support of the rebuilding of the cinema to which the Question refers, but I have not felt justified in licensing more work than is necessary to prevent serious deterioration of the building this winter. I am unable to accept my hon. Friend's suggestion that the work should be suspended.

Requisitioned Hotels, Blackpool

asked the Minister of Works if he will refuse permission for structural modifications to be made to requisitioned hotels in Blackpool, which he has decided to use as hostels for civil servants, until he has received the report of the inquiry which he is going to make into the whole subject of requisition in Blackpool.

It is not proposed to make any structural alterations to the hotels in question. Such work as may be carried out will be confined to minor repairs, cleaning and redecoration where essential, and will not prejudice the decision which may be taken when the report of the inquiry is received.

Brickworks (Reopening)

asked the Minister of Works how many licences have been granted for the reopening of brickworks closed down during the war; how many have been reopened and resumed production; and is he satisfied with the progress made in bringing this vital industry into full operation.

:Licences to re-open have been granted in 214 cases, and at the end of September bricks were actually in production in 20 of these works. Labour is not returning to the brickworks as quickly as I could wish, but everything that is possible is being done with the assistance of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour. Meantime the stocks of bricks in hand provide a reasonable safeguard against any general shortage for some months to come.

German Prisoner-Of-War Labour

asked the Minister of Works whether he will make German prisoner-of-war labour available to assist electricity and gas undertakings in doing preliminary unskilled work for the preparation of supply services on new housing estates.

:Yes, Sir. German prisoners-of-war are already being used on this work and will continue to be used within the numbers at my disposal, in areas where British labour is not available and where suitable accommodation can be provided.

Hotel Reservations, London

asked the Minister of Works the arrangements which he has made with the hotels in Central London, whereby they may not accept reservations for more than five nights; whether he is aware of the difficulties which these arrangements entail for business men who have travelled long distances from overseas to open up commercial relations with this country; and whether he will consult with the President of the Board of Trade with a view to ensuring that such visitors receive the same consideration and priority as officials.

I have made no such arrangements. I understand from my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service that, early in the war, arrangements were made by which the staffing difficulties of hotels catering mainly for travellers were specially recognised, but that these arrangements came to an end in 1943. Demands on hotel accommodation, especially during the next few months, are likely to be very heavy, and I hope that no onewill book accommodation in hotels in Central London unless essential and that visitors will limit their stay to as short a period as possible. My Department has been in touch with the Department of Overseas Trade on the matter.

Requisitioned Hotels, Brighton

asked the Minister of Works whether he has considered a letter from the Brighton Cor- poration informing him of the number of conferences scheduled to be held in Brighton during the coming year; whether he is aware that these conferences, essential to the borough's prosperity, cannot be held until the leading hotels have been derequisitioned; and whether he will give a reply to enable the council to decide whether such conferences can or cannot be undertaken next year.

:The matter referred to in the letter from the Brighton Corporation, which I have seen, concerns a number of Departments, particularly the War Office, who hold 12, and the Air Ministry, who hold 16 of the 30 hotels under requisition. I have accordingly brought the matter to the attention of the Secretary of State for War and the Secretary of State for Air, and a considered reply will be sent to the town clerk as soon as possible.

House Of Commons (Crypt)

asked the Minister of Works whenthe Gothic candlesticks that formerly stood at the altar in the Crypt of the House of Commons, will be returned.

These candlesticks are kept in safe custody and are only placed on the altar in the Crypt when it is used. I will certainly consider whether it would be possible to revert to the original practice of leaving them in the Crypt at all times.

Town And Country Planning

National Parks

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning what is the policy of the Government regarding national parks; and whether it is proposed to set up a National Parks Commission.

A Committee, under the chairmanship of Sir Arthur Hobhouse, was appointed in August of this year with the following terms of reference:

  • (a) to consider the proposals in the Report on National Parks in England and Wales (Cmd. 6628) of May, 1945, as to the areas which should be selected as National Parks; and to make recommendations in regard to the special requirements and appropriate boundaries of those areas which, in the view of the Committee, should be first selected;
  • (b) to consider and report on the proposals made in that Report as to the measures neces- sary to secure the objects of National Parks, and on any additional measures which in the view of the Committee are necessary to secure those objects; and
  • (c) to consider and make recommendations on such other matters affecting the establishment of National Parks and the Conservation of Wild Life as may be referred by the Minister to the Committee.
  • The Committee is actively engaged on its work and it is hoped that its Report will be available within, a year from its appointment. It would be undesirable to prejudge the findings of the Committee by a statement now on the matter raised in the second part of the Question.

    Housing Sites

    asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning, when the Dorking and Horley Rural District Council is likely to receive a reply to their application, dated 13th August, for the acquisition of two sites for permanent building, one in Ifield Road, Horley, and the other on the Horley Garden Estate; and if he will state the reason for the delay in dealing with this application.

    As my hon. Friend is doubtless aware, my Department acts as agent for certain other Ministries in approving proposals by a local authority to develop land for housing purposes. Following the usual consultations, my Department informed the Council on 24th October that there were no objections to the site at Ifield Road, Charlwood (not Horley), but that building on the Horley Garden Estate could not be agreed as it would seriously interfere with the development of Gatwick Airfield. The reply had to await the results of a detailed investigation into the possible future use of the airfield for flying.

    asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning when the Dorking and Horley Rural District Council is likely to receive replies to their application, dated 16th September, for the acquisition of a building site at Betchworth and to their application dated 25th September, for the acquisition of a building site at the rear of the Dutch House, Holm-wood; and if he will state the reason for the delay in dealing with these applications.

    No application of 16th September regarding a proposed housing site at Betchworth has been received by my Department, and I understand that no such application has in fact been made. With regard to the site at the rear of the Dutch House, Holmwood, there has, I regret, been some delay in my Department owing to illness in the small staff available for dealing with such cases. Questions regarding access and agriculture are now under consideration, and I hope that a decision will be reached at a very early date.

    Outdoor Advertisements (Control)

    asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning if he contemplates any further action to restrict advertisement in the countryside.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on 16th October to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight (Sir P. Macdonald), of which I am sending him a copy.

    Temporary Civil Servants (Establishment)

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether it is now intended to permit temporary civil servants over the age of 30 to take the appropriate examination to enable them to become established.

    I am afraid I am not sure what the hon. and gallant Member has in mind. The arrangements for the establishment of temporary civil servants over the age of 30 are described in paragraphs 31–43 of the White Paper on Recruitment to Established Posts in the Civil Service during the Reconstruction Period, Cmd. 6567, and no alteration of those arrangements is contemplated.

    War Damage Insurance

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury when the Treasury intend to make the Regulations referred to in Sub-section (1) of Section 85 of the War Damage Act, 1943.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend on 23rd August to the hon. and gallant Member for Withington (Squadron-Leader Fleming).

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement with regard to the payment of claims under the War Damage Chattels Scheme.

    :I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 23rd August to the hon. and gallant Member for Withington (Squadron-Leader Fleming), of which I am sending him a copy.

    National Finance

    Pay-As-You-Earn

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the shortage of clerical staffs and the consequent difficulty experienced by small employers, he will consider modifying the present system of monthly payments under Pay-as-you-earn by substituting therefor quarterly or at least two-monthly payments.

    :I assume that my hon. Friend has in mind the dates at which employers pay over to the Revenue the tax which they have deducted from salaries and wages. I do not think that the present procedure, which requires employers to pay to the Collector within 14 days from the end of a particular month the tax which they were required to deduct during that month under the P.A.Y.E. system, causes them any material difficulties. The objection to my hon. Friend's suggestion is that it would result in a delay in the tax reaching the Exchequer.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that unofficial strikes are helped by the operation of the Pay-as-you-earn system of Income Tax collection; and whether he will consider modifying the Pay-as-you-earn system to prevent repayment of tax to unofficial strikers.

    As the law stands, tax paid up to any given date corresponds to the income up to that date. Therefore, if, for any reason, income falls or ceases some repayment of the tax already paid becomes due. It is hard to argue that a debt, that is legally due to the taxpayer, should not be paid.

    Soldiers' Allowances (Income Tax, Eire)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that the Government of Eire are charging Income Tax on ration and other tax-free allowances to citizens of Eire serving in the British Forces; and whether he will represent to the Government of Eire that such allowances are only calculated to provide a livelihood when free of tax.

    :I do not think that this matter relating to Income Tax in Eire on Eire citizens, is one which I could suitably take up with the Eire Government.

    Thanksgiving Week, Trafalgar Square

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the cost of organising the last Thanksgiving Week in Trafalgar Square.

    Armed Forces (Class B Releases, Benefits)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the small number of people willing to leave the Armed Forces under Class B, he will consider allowing them the same financial benefits as those demobilised under Class A.

    No, Sir. The Class B terms have already been substantially improved, and to abolish all distinctions between Class A and Class B would be contrary to the fundamental principles of the release scheme.

    Displaced Poles

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is satisfied that the Army Command in Europe are following the policy that displaced Poles shall not be returned to Poland except of their own free will; and whether this policy also applies to displaced persons who came originally from the area east of the Curzon Line.

    I am fully satisfied that the policy referred to is being followed by the Army Command in Europe. This policy also applies to displaced Poles who came from the territories west of the 1939 Soviet-Polish frontier but east of the Curzon line, none of whom is returned except at his own expressed wish.

    Firebricks

    asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production whether, in order to encourage economy in the use of coal for domestic purposes, he will take steps to make firebricks more freely available and less expensive to the householder.