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Written Answers

Volume 415: debated on Wednesday 31 October 1945

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Written Answers To Questions

Civil Aviation

Services, Orkney And Shetland

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if he has considered the requests of the county councils of Orkney and Shetland, and the town councils of Kirkwall and Aberdeen, that Scottish Airways, Limited, should be allowed to resume the air services formerly carried on by them between Aberdeen and Orkney and Shetland; and what action he proposes to take.

An announcement of Government policy for the organisation of our civil air services will be made tomorrow. In the formulation of that policy the requests made by the County Councils of Orkney and Shetland and the town councils of Kirkwall and Aberdeen have been taken fully into consideration.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if he will have the records of air traffic control at Dyce and Inverness compared, with a view to determining which of the two air lines serving Orkney and Shetland has rendered the better service during the war years.

No, Sir. The comparison suggested by the hon. Member would be misleading, as conditions differ frequently at different airports and would not in any case enable conclusions of the kind indicated in the Question to be drawn.

Private Pilots' Licences

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what arrangements are being made for the issue of private flying licences; and whether it is intended to adopt the same regulations that were in force prior to the war.

The requirements for the issue of private pilot's licences are the same as before the war, and licences are at present issued to applicants whofulfil these requirements. The issue of revised regulations to give effect to requirements which have recently been the subject of international discussion is under consideration.

Heath Row Airport (Houses, Demolition)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether he will state the number of houses that will be evacuated in Cranford and Harlington as a result of constructing the Heath Row airport, and what provision is being made to rehouse the people evacuated.

I am not yet in a position to give details of the property to be acquired for purposes of the Heath Row scheme. As few houses as possible will be demolished and adequate provision for the persons affected will be made.

Aircraft (Export)

asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production whether there are now any obstacles, inter-allied or otherwise, preventing the export for sale of British civil aircraft.

In accordance with the Export of Goods (Control) (No. 7) Order, 1945, the export of civil aircraft is subject to the issue of an export licence by the Board of Trade. Licences are now freely granted for the export for sale of British civil aircraft to all countries except ex-enemy countries and Spain which is subject to special consideration.

Royal Air Force

Transport Command (Accidents)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air how many persons have been killed and injured, respectively, whilst flying as passengers or crew of aircraft of the R.A.F. Transport Command during the four weeks ended Sunday 26th October; what types of machines have been involved; and what have been the findings of the courts of inquiry in each case of accident.

During the four weeks ending 26th October, reports have been received of accidents to aircraft operating in Transport Command which caused the death of 46 passengers and 26 crew; three passengers and seven crew are missing; 11 passengers and 15 crew were injured. The types of aircraft involved in these accidents were as follows: Anson, Baltimore, Canso, Dakota, Liberator, Stirling, Wellington. I am afraid that I cannot give the information asked for in the last part of the Question as it would be contrary to the public interest to disclose the findings of courts of inquiry, which are privileged. The foreknowledge that they might be published would impose a restraint upon both court and witnesses, whereas it is essential that all concerned should speak freely, and if need be criticise fearlessly, without regard to rank or person.


asked the Under-secretary of State for Air whether Regular officers and men of the R.A.F. come under the demobilisation scheme for the purpose of release from the Service; or what are the conditions of release during the present emergency.

The demobilisation scheme does not apply to officers holding permanent commissions, to officers holding short service commissions, or to airmen of the regular Air Force whose fixed periods of engagements have not expired. Officers holding permanent commissions are retired in accordance with King's Regulations and Air Council Instructions. Applications from them to retire or resign are considered on their merits. Officers holding short service commissions and airmen of the regular Air Force become subject to the demobilisation scheme when their fixed periods of engagement expire; their age plus length of service groups are then determined in accordance with their full-time paid service since September, 1939.

asked the Under Secretary of State for Air in view of the slow rate of release of technical signals, accountants and equipment officers in comparison with most other branches of the R.A.F., what is the average age of officers in these classes; what steps are being taken to accelerate their rate of release; and whether these steps will result in bringing their release up to the average age, plus service-group level, by the end of the year or by June 1946.

The average age of accountant and equipment officers is 38. For the technical branch as a whole the average age is 34, but separate records are not kept for signals officers. Every effort is being made to accelerate release in these branches by training fresh officers, but I am afraid that I cannot yet give a firm date for bringing them up to the average rate of release.

asked the Under Secretary of State for Air to what extent Class B block releases are being offered to personnel in trades whose release under Class A is being retarded.

We do not usually offer Class B block release in trades where Class A is retarded. If, however, some releases under Class B are essential in these trades the number is so closely restricted that further delays in Class A are avoided.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he has investigated the circumstances under which groups 23 and under were sent to the Far East recently, did a tour of approximately two months and then returned home, to the waste of shipping space.

Victory over Japan was necessarily followed by changes both in the plans for drafting members of the Air Force overseas and in the general rate of demobilisation. As the result, a number of airmen returned to the United Kingdom after a relatively short period of overseas service. The release groups excluded from posting to distant Commands are, of course, continually under review and are progressively amended as conditions change.

Leave (Travel Facilities)

asked the Under Secretary of State for Air why men in the R.A.F. going home on leave from South France are flown to Naples and then sent by boat to England via Algiers; and if he will arrange for men going home on leave to be flown direct to England, thereby saving shipping transport.

I am not aware that members of the Air Force in the South of France are returning home for leave by this route. They normally travel by train, but if my hon. Friend will let me have details of any particular case I will look into it.

Closed Roads, Norfolk

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he has considered the request of the Erpingham Rural District Council to derequisition that part of the Cromer-Norwich road covered by St. Faith's aerodrome and the North Walsham-Norwich road in the vicinity of Scottow aerodrome; and whether he will be able to accede to their request at an early date in view of the inconvenience caused by the blocking of these roads.

The airfields at Horsham St. Faith and Coltishall, near Scottow, are still required for flying. I regret that the roads to which my hon. Friend refers cannot at present be reopened.

Billeting, Blackpool

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he will take steps to remove or reduce the hardship caused by his billeting officers to many householders in Blackpool that occurs both when men of the R.A.F. are billeted without warning as to time or numbers, and when, after service of billeting notices and the consequent removal of civilian guests, the promised airmen fail to arrive.

Yes, Sir. We have taken special steps to deal with the very real difficulties that have recently caused changes to be made at short notice in the billeting programme at Blackpool.

Clothing Allowances

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that officers whose resignation from the R.A.F. was requested on account of age before the ending of the war have not received a clothing allowance; and whether he will take steps to grant these men a clothing allowance.

Non-regular officers who left the Air Force on or after 16th October, 1944, will benefit by the concessions announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War on 16th October in reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Finchley (Captain Crowder).

Auxiliary Air Force

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the terms of service for officers and other ranks in the Auxiliary Air Force, in view of the fact that the Auxiliary Air Force squadrons are to be re-formed; and if he is aware that a number of Auxiliary Air Force personnel are anxious to offer their services when being demobilised and that, if the delay continues, their voluntary services to the State may be lost.

Yes, Sir. I appreciate that a number of Auxiliary Air Force personnel are anxious to offer their services. The terms of service for officers and other ranks in the Auxiliary Air Force are now under consideration.

Compassionate Release

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether, in view of the small number of Class C releases from the R.A.F. as opposed to the Army, he will reconsider the basis on which releases from the R.A.F. are granted in this class.

The basis on which compassionate release is granted is the same in the Royal Air Force as in the Army. The number of applications for release under Class C which had been approved up to 26th October was 1,948.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if engineers now being called up from industry and joining the R.A.F. can be employed in a trade appropriate to their skill.

Skilled engineers who have completed their apprenticeship are not at present being called into the Air Force. Others are employed wherever possible in appropriate trades.

Special Duties Clerks

asked the Under-secretary of State for Air what is the nature of the duties now being performed by the personnel in the clerks, special duties, trade group; what is the rate of demobilisation of this group, as compared with the rest of the Service; and what is the reason for the delay in their demobilisation.

Some special duties clerks are employed, as they were in wartime, on work connected with the routeing and plotting of aircraft. Of course, the volume of this work has greatly declined (although there is still a large and growing volume of such work in Transport Command). It has been thought fair, therefore, to use the surplus of special duty clerks for other clerical work, where there are shortages. This helps to even out the release rate for clerks as a whole, including the accounting trades. The release rate of special duties clerks is kept in line with that of general duties clerks. For November they will be two groups behind the average. At the present rate of release, this means about one to two months' delay for them.

Shobdon Airfield, Herefordshire

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air when it is proposed to close Shobdon, Herefordshire, aerodrome; and at what date the land will be derequisitioned.

This airfield will be required by the Royal Air Force for some time, and I regret that I cannot at present say when it will be derequisitioned.

Time Promotion

asked the Under-secretary of State for Air whether he will take steps to secure that R.A.F. personnel are not deprived of time promotion when the date on which it would be granted them falls within the leave period immediate to their release.

No, Sir. Except for changes relating to family allowances, adjustments in rank, pay and allowances cannot be made after release leave has started.

Evt Instructors

asked the Under-secretary of State for Air what is the number of trained E.V.T. instructors in the R.A.F.; and how many of them have been appointed to that duty.

There are approximately 9,000 trained E.V.T. instructors in the Royal Air Force. By 1st November our establishment will allow for 9,000 appointments. These appointments are arranged locally and the latest information I have is that 2,700 had been made by the end of September. A great deal of instruction is also being given in advance of formal appointments.

Man-Power Reduction (Civilian Investigations)

asked the Under-secretary of State for Air whether, in view of complaints of misemployment, time-wasting and redundancy in the R.A.F., he will invite a small group of Members of Parliament to tour stations in this country without official guidance or pre-arrangement, in order to examine the man-power situation and report the results.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave an 17th October to my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy).

Wireless Mechanics, Chipping Warden

asked the Under-secretary of State for Air whether he is aware of the misemployment of wireless mechanics on the R.A.F. station at Chipping Warden, three of them as full-time E.V.T. instructors, two as telephonists on the camp exchange, one as a clerk in the main stores, and two as pay accounts clerks; and whether he will state the reason for deferring the normal release of airmen because they are wireless mechanics in view of such misemployment.

These wireless mechanics have been sent temporarily to Chipping Warden from other units which are closing down and they will be re-posted in their own trade. Meanwhile I can assure my hon. Friend that their temporary duties will retard neither the release of the men concerned nor that of their trade as a whole, where the overall deficiencies will be made up as quickly as possible. I should add that full-time E.V.T. instructors are volunteers.

Doctors (Form Filling)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he is aware, that for a R.A.F. medical doctor to invalid personnel out of the Service suffering from tuberculosis into a civilian sanatorium necessitates the filling in and signing by the doctor of some 80 separate forms, according to the regulations; and what steps he proposes to take to abolish this system and reduce the need for doctors doing clerical work.

Service procedure is constantly under review to ensure that Air Force doctors are not troubled with unnecessary clerical work. In the circumstances described by the hon. Member, the number of forms which the Service doctors have to complete is not 80 but at the maximum eight.

Municipal Elections (Service Candidates)

asked the Under-secretary of State for Air if he is aware that airmen adopted as municipal candidates and given leave to take part in the election are having such time deducted from their normal leave; and if he will undertake to give instructions for this practice to cease.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Everton (Mr. Kirby) on 9th October, of which I am sending him a copy.

Heath Row Aerodrome

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air on what date the Government purchased the land for Heath Row aerodrome; who were the vendors; what was the price paid per acre; on what date the land previously changed ownership; and at what price per acre.

The land upon which the present Heath Row aerodrome is constructed is divided between 35 ownerships. Negotiations for purchase are in progress and have, in a small number of cases, been completed. It would not, therefore, be in the public interest, pending completion of the negotiations, to state what prices are being paid for the land. I regret also that I cannot yet say when the land previously changed ownership or the prices paid per acre.

134 Maintenance Unit (Notice)

asked the Under-secretary of State for Air what disciplinary action he is taking in respect of a notice exhibited on the board of 134 Maintenance Unit, in which the Officer Commanding published critical comments on the present Government, and of which details have been supplied to him.

:I am making inquiries into this matter and will communicate with my hon. Friend.

Establishment, Rhodesia

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the number of officers and men of the R.A.F. who are still stationed in Rhodesia; why the majority of these men have not been sent back to this country, having regard to the fact that less than 100 pilots, mostly Greek personnel, are being trained in the Rhodesia Air Training Group, whilst many of the officers and men of the R.A.F. stationed there have completed well over four years' service in the Colony.

It would be contrary to present policy to give the numbers of Air Force officers and men stationed in particular places, but I can assure the hon. Member that the Royal Air Force establishment in Rhodesia is being rapidly reduced. A small proportion of the present pupils are Greeks who are being trained in accordance with the obligations we have undertaken. There has been some unavoidable delay in transferring men from Rhodesia, but all those who are tour expired will shortly have been relieved.

Ludford Magna Airfield

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he will grant to the village of Ludford the services of water, sanitation, light and power, from the Ludford aerodrome to the houses which are in the immediate vicinity, especially as the water is already being provided to some of the parishioners, the sewer is in many cases almost on the doorsteps and the cables are under the village footpath; and will he allow R.A.F. labour to be used to provide these amenities for the village.

The future of Ludford Magna airfield has not yet been decided, but I should be glad to consider with the local authority the possibility of their acquiring these services should they become available.

Repatriated Airmen (Greece)

asked the Under-secretary of State for Air whether an airman who, having been called up in November, 1943, was taken prisoner in Greece in 1944, released and repatriated for 28 days' leave, starts his present tour of overseas duty from December, 1943, when he was first sent abroad, or from the date on which he was sent abroad a second time.

Airmen repatriated from Greece early this year who had completed a substantial part of their overseas tour were posted to the home establishment. Except for North-West Europe, where more regular home leave can be given, these men would not normally go overseas again in less than 12 months, and they would then begin a new tour. For the remainder, who returned overseas shortly after their repatriation leave, the time for returning to home duty will be reckoned from the date when their tour first began. Perhaps thehon. and gallant Member will send me particulars if he wishes to have further information for any particular case.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air the number of pilots and aircrew, indicating the number convicted, who have been found smuggling dutiable goods or currency, differentiating between B.O.A.C., Transport Command and A.T.A. pilots, respectively; and what types of police have powers to check the offenders of these groups, respectively, at airports.

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

Tripolitania (Air Mail Services)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that aeroplanes arriving at frequent intervals from this country in Libya often carry no mail; and whether, in view of the fact that Service personnel in the Middle East are disturbed by the resulting irregularity of letter deliveries he will endeavour to arrange for an improved service.

I know that there have been some irregularities in the arrival of mail in Tripolitania. These were due to mechanical trouble that we have been meeting with some aircraft. The arrangements have been changed now, and these deliveries should be no less satisfactory than those for the Services elsewhere in the Middle East.

Food Supplies


asked the Minister of Food what are our estimated requirements, in sterling value of imports of foodstuffs for the year 1946; and, so far as convenient, what are the main heads and sources of supply.

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to a similar Question asked on 22nd October by the hon. Member for South Nottingham (Mr. N. Smith).


asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that owing to the small allowances for losses in the cutting and boning of bacon, many retailers are unable to provide rations for all their registered customers; and if he is prepared to make more generous allowances.

No, Sir. I am satisfied thatthe allowances, which have been agreed with the trade, are adequate to provide bacon rations for all registered customers.


asked the Minister of Food what are the causes of the present shortage of salt, particularly in the West Ham area; and what are the prospects of improvement of supplies.

The present shortage of salt has been caused by increased usage for all food purposes and heavy demands from the Services. So far as West Ham is concerned the great increase in the population of the area during recent months has aggravated the situation. Services' demands have now decreased considerably, while steps have been taken recently which have resulted in an improvement in the London area. There is good reason to hope that supplies will be more freely available shortly.

Flour (Designations)

asked the Minister of Food if, as the description of wholemeal has become meaningless, he will devise and enforce an official designation for flour of 100 per cent. extraction to replace this term.

During the course of years the terms "whole wheatmeal," "wholemeal" and "wheatmeal" have acquired different meanings in various parts of the country. The need for some regulation of the use of these terms was recognised by my Department, and in July last instructions were issued to all flour millers that the term "whole wheatmeal" should only be applied to meal of 100 per cent. extraction, the term "wholemeal" to meal of 95 per cent. extraction and over, and the term "wheatmeal" to meal of over 85 per cent. extraction. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the instruction which was issued.

Hong Kong (British Subjects, Compensation)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make astatement as to the position of British subjects resident in Hong Kong whose property was seized by the Japanese and suffered damage; whether they may expect to receive compensation or reinstatement; to whom they should apply; and whether he will, in anyway, clarify the general position.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he has any statement to make about measures of relief for British subjects in Hong Kong; and about a scheme of compensation to them for assault and loss at the hands of the enemy.

British subjects coming to this country after release from captivity in Hong Kong will be eligible for the normal financial assistance which is available in the United Kingdom for those in need; and also for assistance from the Far Eastern Relief Fund in cases of particular needs. If their original residence was in the United Kingdom and they come to this country, they are also eligible for awards under the Civil Injuries Scheme of the United Kingdom if they have received injuries as a result of the enemy occupation of Hong Kong. I would refer to the answer given to the hon. and gallant Member for South Portsmouth (Sir J. Lucas) on 30th October, regarding those British subjects repatriated from captivity in the Far Eastwho are eligible for grants for the purchase of furniture and household goods. Claims in respect of losses of, or damage to, property in Hong Kong as a result of the Japanese occupation, should be sent to the Trading with the Enemy Department, 25, Kingsway, London, W.C.2, for registration until such time as a Claims Registration Office can be set up in Hong Kong.I regret that I am not yet in a position to state the extent to which it may prove to be possible to award compensation in respect of such losses, and accordingly registration must not be considered as committing the Hong Kong Civil Government, when re-established to payment of compensation.

Drug "Khat"

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the increasing use of the drug khat in the Protectorate of Aden, Somaliland and East Africa; whether he intends to take any measures in the immediate future; and will he make a statement.

I understand that this matter is at present being discussed by the Governments concerned. I will call for a report and communicate with the hon. and gallant Member when I have more information.

Eritrea (Jewish Detainees)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Jews arrested in Palestine under the Defence Regulations without trial are now detained in the Sudan; how long have they been there; and whether there is any plan for their release.

Some 250 persons in this category have been detained in the Sudan since October, 1944. They were moved a few weeks ago to Eritrea. Their cases are periodically reviewed by a Committee whose duty it is to advise as to their release or further detention. Under this arrangement 48 detainees have in fact been released, and, having regard to the present internal security conditions in Palestine, I do not think it would be desirable to go further at present.

Kenya And Tanganyika (Sisal Industry)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps have been taken recently to improve the wages and conditions of the workpeople employed in the sisal industry in Kenya and Tanganyika.

In Kenya sisal workers, in common with all other African labour drawing less than 100s. per month, are protected in regard to recruitment, housing, feeding, water, sickness, payment of wages, tasks, etc., by the relevant sections of the Employment of Servants Ordinance. These provisions are enforced by the Labour Department.In Tanganyika there havebeen no recent changes in the basic wage rates, but a system whereby workers earn bonuses for regular turn out and piece work operates generally throughout the industry. There has been some improvement in the feeding as a result of regulations made in 1944. Housing and sanitation are being improved generally as a result of continuing pressure brought to bear upon employers. The Labour Department medical specialist has personally inspected every sisal estate in Tanga Province, the largest producing area, and most of those in the Eastern and Northern Provinces. His recommendations are being actively followed by most of the estates and a few of the larger estates have begun to provide improved permanent housing for workers.

Far Eastern Relief Fund

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is satisfied that the contribution to the Far Eastern Relief Fund is adequate to deal with the needs of the civilian internees whom it is desired to benefit.


Situation (Inquiry)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the discontent in Cyprus, expressed in various incidents, he will agree to send a small delegation of Members of Parliament to investigate on the spot the facts of the present position of the administration of the island.

No, Sir, I do not think there is any occasion to arrange for a special delegation at the present time. I am discussing the affairs of the island with the Governor, who is at present on leave in this country.

Famagusta Transit Camp

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is satisfied with the Report of the Committee of Investigation on the incidents at Famagusta Transit Camp, Cyprus, on 8th October, when a Cypriot sergeant was killed and five privates wounded; and whether, in view of the public repudiation of the Committee's findings in the island, he will agree to the appointment of a public inquiry.

I see no reason to question the findings of the Report of the Court of Investigation on the incidents at Famagusta Camp on 8th October, nor for the appointment of a further investigating body. The court, which was a military body, consisted of a Canadian Lieut.-Colonel, commanding an Indian unit, which was not, however, the unit concerned in the incident, a Cypriot Major and a United Kingdom Captain. Its findings, which have been published, are to the effect that the casualties among Cypriot soldiers were caused by soft-nosed pistol bullets fired by persons in the crowd. They could not have been caused by Indian troops, who were not armed with pistols nor with ammunition of that type. According to my information, the inquiry was conducted strictly in accordance with the King's Regulations, and its findings have been repudiated only by that section of the local Press which prejudged the issue although fully aware that the incidents were the subject of military inquiry.

Forces (Demobilisation)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the incidents at Famagusta Transit Camp on 8th October, he will give full details of the demobilisation arrangements for Cypriot troops since there is widespread discontent over the apparent abandonment of the original demobilisation plan of releasing 2,000 men a month.

Plans for the demobilisation of Cyprus forces are in accordance with the age and service group system adopted for the British Army as a whole. These plans have now been advanced to permit of release of groups up to and including group 26 by 20th January, 1946, and group 30 by 21st March, 1946. The demobilisation plans of the Cyprus authorities have not been based on a release rate of 2,000 men a month. This figure represents the maximum with which the dispersal centre can deal, but it has been made clear to Cyprus Forces serving overseas that difficulties of shipping and irregularities in the arrival of parties for discharge make it unlikely that this figure will be attained.

Youth Organisation Aon

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that in May last the Cyprus police seized a large number of documents of the central and district committees of theyouth organisation AON and refuse to return them; and whether he will direct the immediate return of these documents for the detention of which there is no justification.

I have no information, but I have asked the Officer Administering the Government for a report and will communicate with the hon. and learned Member as soon as this is received.


Unemployment Insurance

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how long a committee has been sitting in Trinidad to consider the introduction of unemployment insurance there; and if it is proposed to take any action.

The Committee was appointed in September, 1943, and I understand that they found it necessary to collect certain data and statistics before they could proceed with their work. I am inquiring from the Governor what the present position is, and I will let my hon. Friend know as soon as I receive the reply.

Unemployed Seamen

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what action is to be taken to meet the grievances of unemployed seamen of Trinidad; if he has considered the allegations of discrimination by Royal Mail steamships against coloured seamen; and whether these men have received any gratuity for their wartime services.

I am aware of the unemployment among seamen in Trinidad and have been in correspondence with the Governor in the matter. Efforts have been made here to obtain employment for these and other West Indian seamen on British, Canadian or United States ships but have unfortunately been unsuccessful, and the question of providing them with employment is being dealt with by the local Government, which is doing all in its power to provide employment as and when opportunities occur. I am awaiting a report from the Governor on the allegation of discrimination and will communicate further with my hon. Friend when it is received. As regards the last part of the Question, seamen are not eligible for war gratuities since, throughout the war, they have been engaged on industrial rates of pay as distinct from Service rates.

Ceylon (Constitution)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when the decision to extend the life of the Ceylon Legislature till March 1947, by which date it would be about 12 years old, was made; and if he intends to secure this legislature's views on the proposals of the Soulbury Commission for the system of governance of post-war Ceylon.

The decision was made by the Ceylon (State Council—Extension of Duration) Order-in-Council, 1944, dated September 28th, 1944. As regards the second part of the Question I made a statement of His Majesty's Government's decisions on the proposals of the Soulbury Commission after Question time this afternoon.

Central African Council

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if a statement will be issued on the working of the new Central African Council; when it was constituted; how often it has met; and what progress is being made.

The Council held its first meeting on 24th to 26th April, 1945, and inter alia considered its draft Constitution, which was agreed and subsequently accepted by the three Governments concerned. A copy is being placed in the Library of the House. As provided in the Constitution, standing committees have been set up on civil aviation, public health (including medical research and the prevention of disease), public relations, African housing and economic and industrial problems. No doubt the appointment of others is being considered. A Council Secretariat has been established and a Chief Secretary appointed. The second meeting of the Council was held from 23rd to 25th October. At both meetings the Council discussed a wide range of subjects, including migrant labour, industrial problems, research, trade, finance and currency, the after care of African soldiers and other problems of common interest to the three territories. Excellent progress has been made.

Sierra Leone (Sedition Ordinance)

asked the Secretary of State fox the Colonies whether the Sierra Leone Sedition Ordinance of 1940 is still in operation; how many prosecutions took place under it; what were the circumstances of the cases; whether there was differentiation between the treatment of political and other prisoners; and whether he will give particulars of cases under the Deportation Ordinance and the Undesirable Literature Ordinance.

The Sierra Leone Sedition Ordinance of 1939 is still in force. This Ordinance merely re-stated in a concise and simple form the existing law scattered over a number of different Ordinances. I am asking the Governor to provide the detailed information for which my hon. Friend has asked, and will communicate with him as soon as it is received.

West Indies

Steamship Services

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will consult with the Minister of War Transport with a view to ensuring frequent and regular steamship services between the United Kingdom and the British West Indies.

I am already in consultation with the Minister of War Transport on the subject. At present most of the available shipping is required for Service needs, i.e. repatriation, movements for demobilisation and reinforcements, etc., and some considerable time must elapse before any shipping is available to run regular and frequent services between this country and the West Indies.

Sugar Prices

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, if he will make a statement on the discussions which have been proceeding with representative sugar growers from the West Indies on the subject of a long-term minimum price guarantee; and whether early opportunity will be taken to consult with, colonial primary producers generally on this matter, in view of its vital importance to national economies.

I received a delegation representing the West India Committee and the British West Indies Sugar Association on 13th September, and discussed fully with them the question of giving some security as regards future prices. I was not able to make any promise of a long-term guarantee of prices, but I informed the delegation that the importance of stability of prices from the point of view of the long-term planning of the industry was very fully appreciated by His Majesty's Government.

Africa (Crime)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will produce figures showing the number of cases of crime reported in 1944 and 1945 to date in each of the territories in Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika, Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia.

I am asking the Governors for this information, and will communicate with the hon. and gallant Member as soon as it is received.

Malaya (British Internees)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the number of European British civilians who were interned in Singapore and Malaya by the Japanese, and the total casualties suffered by them.

According to present information, 3,044 British civilians from the U.K., Eire, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa captured in all parts of Malaya were interned in the only known civilian camp at Singapore. Of these, 183 died in the course of internment.

Saudi Arabia (Oil Concessions)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if the Government of Saudi Arabia is willing to grant suitable facilities for securing the oil needed by countries of the British Commonwealth and Empire; if he can state, approximately, the quantity of oil estimated to be in Saudi Arabia; and if a pipe line to transport the oil from Saudi Arabia via Palestine to the Mediterranean is to be constructed and by whom.

The only concession for the production of oil in Saudi Arabia is held by an American company. Dollar expenditure is involved in purchases of oil from this source, but, to the extent that dollar purchases of oil are approved, there is no reason to suppose that supplies from Saudi Arabia will not be available for countries of the British Commonwealth and Empire. I have no information as to the quantity of oil estimated to be available, but I understand that the potentiality of the oil fields already discovered is considerable. As regards the last part of the Question, certain negotiations have been taking place but I have no statement to make regarding them.

Coal Industry (Pit Accidents, Boys)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if there has been a reduction in the number of reportable injuries to boys under 16 years of age and youths under 18 years of age employed in mines in 1944; and, in view of the respective average rates of 341 and 299 per 1,000 injured and disabled for more than three days in the three years ended in 1943, a rate not conducive to juvenile recruitment to the mines, what steps he proposes to bring down the number and incidence of these injuries.

The figures for 1944 are not yet available. The main effort in the direction of preventing accidents to boys and youths lies in ensuring that they receive proper training and supervision before they go underground and during the early years of their employment, and I have recently made the Coal Mines (Training) General Regulations to develop the training arrangements for new entrants which have been built up during the war.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if the accidents to boys under 16 and 18 years of age take place more frequently on pony-haulage roads and when driving ponies than at the coalface, when such boys are in charge of older and skilled men; to what extent the tracks on haulage roads are to blame for derailments and injuries; and whether more care will be taken in laying tracks, especially on the undulating underground roadways in Durham and Northumberland coalfields.

The accident rate among boys and youths employed underground in South Wales, where they are predominantly employed in work at or near the face, is slightly lower than that in other coalfields, where the majority of the boys and youths are employed on the haulage roads. Though statistics are not available deficiencies in haulage tracks are known to be an important contributory cause of haulage accidents. The necessity of good track laying is constantly being stressed by His Majesty's Inspectors.

Electricity (North-Eastern Area)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what arrangements the North-Eastern Electric Supply Company, in conjunction with the Central Electricity Board, are making for the provision of additional generating plant; and whether these arrangements are estimated to be sufficient to meet the needs of the Durham area.

Arrangements are being made for the extension of the Dunston Power Station of the North-Eastern Electric Supply Company by the installation of two 50,000 k.w. turbo-alternators, with corresponding boilers and auxiliary plant. Arrangements are also under discussion for the extension of the North Tees Power Station of the same Company by the installation of two 60,000 k.w. turbo-alternators with the corresponding boilers and auxiliary plant.When these arrangements for extending these two power stations, both of which are in the county of Durham, have been completed, additional capacity for the generation of electricity will have been provided comparable with what would have been provided at the proposed Kepier Station, and there should therefore be sufficient capacity to meet the needs of the north-eastern area for the next few years. I can assure my hon. Friend that requirements of that area for electricity supplies will be most carefully watched and if, as is anticipated, the demands for electricity should continue to grow, arrangements will be made for the further provision of generating plant.

Road Vehicles (Licences)

asked the Minister of War Transport how the total number of road vehicles of all types now taxed in this country compares with the average number paying tax in 1938, respectively.

Complete figures are not yet available, but from the latest returns submitted it is estimated that at 31st August, 1945, the total number of road vehicles of all types for which licence duty had been paid and licences were then current (excluding trade licences) was approximately 2,225,000. The corresponding figure at 31st August, 1938, was 2,949,795 and the average for 1938 was 2,766,931.

Stornoway-Kyle Of Lochalsh Steamer Service

asked the Minister of War Transport if he will state, approximately, when the new vessel about to be built for Messrs. MacBrayne's Company, for the Stornoway-Kyle of Lochalsh mail and passenger service will take up service on this route; and what is her maximum and her normal running speed.

A permit to contract with the shipbuilders for the construction of the vessel to which my hon. Friend refers was issued to Messrs. MacBrayne by my Ministry on 18th September. The completion date, speed and specification of the vessel will depend on the arrangements which Messrs. MacBrayne conclude with the shipbuilders.

Gravesend-Tilbury Ferry Service

asked the Minister of War Transport whether he is aware that the ferry service between Gravesend and Tilbury, operated by the L.M.S. Rail- way Company, employs boats which run overcrowded and in other ways are both inadequate and dangerous; and whether he will cause a public inquiry to be held.

No, Sir. The ferry boats all hold passenger certificates issued by my Department after survey by my surveyors, and I have no reason to believe that the boats are either inadequate or dangerous or that the numbers of passengers allowed by their certificates, which amount to 850 in one case and over 600 in two other cases, are exceeded. I should be glad if my hon. Friend would send to me the evidence in his possession substantiating the allegations contained in the Question.

Dutch East Indies (British Policy)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether there is any more recent information he can give regarding the character of the Nationalist movement in Java.

I can add nothing at preesnt to the reply given by the Prime Minister on 17th October to my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South (Mr. Callaghan) and the hon. and gallant Member for Wallasey (Captain Marples).

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a detailed statement regarding the attitude of the Dutch Government towards self-government in its Colonies.

:I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the statement made by the Prime Minister on 17th October in reply to Questions by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South (Mr. Callaghan) and the hon. and gallant Member for Wallasey (Captain Marples).

Poland (British Delegates, Detention)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the detention of five British co-operative delegates in Poland; whether any action has been taken on their behalf by his Department; and whether he is in a position to make a full statement on the subject.

The five co-operative delegates, who were proceeding to Poland at the invitation of the Polish Provisional Government and of the Polish Co-operative Movement, have now arrived safely in Warsaw. The plane in which these delegates were travelling was carrying petrol for two Spitfires which were grounded at Poznan and accordingly came down there. Due to a misunderstanding, permission for the plane to take off was withheld until protests had been made by His Majesty's Ambassador at Warsaw and the Polish Co-operative Movement. Comfortable provision was also made overnight for the delegates at a nearby hotel.

War Decorations And Medals

asked the Prime Minister if men and women who have worked full time for three years or over in the United Kingdom for the joint war organisation of the Red Cross and St. John will receive the Defence Medal.

The Joint War Organisation of the British Red Cross Society and Order of St. John has a wider scope than Civil Defence, and, so far as civilians are concerned, the Defence Medal is granted in the United Kingdom primarily for Civil Defence service. Personnel of the Joint War Organisation who were enrolled in and functioned as part of theCivil Defence organisation will qualify for the Defence Medal, subject to the authorised rules. Those who served as nurses in hospitals for which Government Departments or local authorities are responsible, or in the recognised voluntary hospitals, will also be eligible.

Royal Navy

Belfast (Low Flying Aircraft)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware of the inconvenience caused to the citizens of Belfast by the frequency of aircraft based on Sydenham, Belfast, flying at low altitudes over the city; and if he will take steps to abate the danger and nuisance by using instead one of the more remotely situated aerodromes in Northern Ireland.

This airfield is so close to Belfast that aircraft landing and taking off must inevitably fly low over parts of the city, but I can assure my hon. Friend that the volume of flying is expected to decrease considerably during the coming months. I regret I cannot use another aerodrome, since none offers the same facilities.

Requisitioned Ships

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty how many vessels normally employed in the cross-Channel and coastwise passenger service around the British Isles are still requisitioned by his Department; what number of hospital ships and hospital carrier ships are in regular service; and how soon is it proposed to hand these ships back to their owners.

12 ships normally employed on cross-Channel or coastal passenger service are still on Naval service; three of these are foreign owned. 10 hospital ships are in regular service, only four of which are British merchant ships under requisition. The necessity for the retention of requisitioned ships is kept under constant review, and the position of hospital ships is under special examination. I hope to be able to release some of them at an early date. The subsequent disposal of derequisitioned ships would be a matter for the Ministry of War Transport. There are, in addition, a number of hospital ships and hospital carriers under Army control.

American Naturalisation Law

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that an American citizen, the wife of a British subject, loses her American nationality if she votes at any British Parliamentary Election; and whether representations will be made to the U.S. Government to warn their nationals of their position.

It is the responsibility of an American citizen who wishes to marry a British subject to make herself aware of her position under United States law, which I am informed is perfectly clear on this point. Consequently I see no reason for making representations to the United States Government.

Rules Publication Act

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether, in view of the fact that the regulations made under the Rules Publication Act, 1893, are now out of print and unobtainable, he will arrange for them to be printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT

No, Sir. My hon. Friend will be glad to hear that a reprint of the regulations is in hand by the Stationery Office and copies will be available within a few days. The regulations of 1894 are in a volume of Statutory Rules and Orders which is available in the Library of the House.

Sumatra (Prisoners Of War And Internees)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will inform the House what is the situation as regard Allied civilian prisoners of war, European and Asiatic, at present in Sumatra; and when they are going to be released and returned to their homes.

I have ascertained that rather more than 3,500 Allied prisoners of war and internees were recovered in Sumatra: all except 131 Chinese have been evacuated. This does not include local Dutch inhabitants of the island. I regret I have no information about these.

Bibles And Prayer Books (Publication)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what are the present arrangements with the King's Printer for the printing and publishing of Acts of Parliament and other State publications, including Bibles and Prayer Books; whether such contracts are subject to tender or estimates of any kind; and whether the arrangements with the King's Printer preclude H.M.S.O. from undertaking these contracts.

The Controller of the Stationery Office is by Letters Patent also the King's Printer of Acts of Parliament and the holder of Crown copyright, so that the question cannot arise except as to Bibles and Prayer Books. The prerogative right of printing the authorised version of the Bible and Prayer Book is held by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and Messrs. Eyre and Spottiswoode, and such copies of the Bible and Prayer Book as the Stationery Office requires for the Public Service are a matter of arrangement between that Department and the holders of the prerogative right.

War Service Gratuities

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will amend the practice respecting the payment of war service gratuities so that anything more than half a month's service counts as one month instead of, as at present, a man losing a month's gratuity in respect of service of one month minus one day.

No, Sir. 600,000 gratuities have already been paid, or are in process of payment. The assessments have been made in at least another 300,000 cases. It would cause much confusion and delay if all this work had to be done again.

Wills (Welsh Language)

asked the Attorney-General under what direction wills made out in Welsh do not appear in Probate except in English translations; why the original wills cannot so appear; and if he will direct that this should be done in future.

The practice to which the hon. Member refers, and which applies to all wills not written in English, is one of long standing. No useful purpose would be served by using the original will for probate, because it would not be intelligible to most of the staff in the Probate Registries. (A copy of the will in Welsh can always be obtained on application.) I cannot, therefore, recommend the change in the procedure which my hon. Friends suggests.


United Nations Conference

asked the Minister of Education whether she will announce the names of the British delegation to the United Nations Education Conference to be held in London this week.

The names of the British delegation to the United Nations Conference for the Establishment of an Educational and Cultural Organisation, which were announced in the Press yesterday, are as follows:Delegate—Miss Ellen Wilkinson, Minister of Education.Alternative Delegates—Mr. Hall Thompson, Minister of Education for Northern Ireland;Mr. Tom Fraser, Under-Secretary of State for Scotland;Mr. A. Creech Jones, Under-Secretary of State for Colonies.Advisers—Dr. E. F. Armstrong, F.R.S.;Miss Theodora Bosanquet;Mr. G. G. Fitzmaurice (Foreign Office);Sir Frederick Mander;Miss Nancy Parkinson (British Council);Sir Robert Wood andMr. W. R. Richardson (Ministry of Education).Technical Assistant—Mr. F. R. Cowell (Foreign Office).Secretary—Mr. F. H. Vivian (Ministry of Education).

Schools (Registration Methods)

asked the Minister of Education whether she has considered a resolution unanimously passed by the headmasters and headmistresses of eleven high schools in Liverpool, of which a copy has been sent to her, begging for some relaxation in the requirements for registration and other records, in view of the strain imposed on the clerical staff; and what action she proposes to take to meet their difficulty.

My attention has been drawn to the resolution referred to in the Question. In reply to the second part of the Question I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the answer given on 29th October to the similar question put to me by the hon. Member for London University (Sir E. Graham-Little).

Teachers (Demobilisation)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will inquire into the case, details of which have been submitted to him, of a graduate of London University now serving with the A.T.S. and doing office work, who is urgently required to return to her post of mathematical mistress at a high school, the headmistress of which has made repeated and unsuccessful application since July last for her release; and will he ensure the early release of this woman.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will inquire into the case, details of which have been submitted to him, of an honours graduate, M.A., London University, who was engaged in teaching when he was called up for service in the R.A.F. in 1941 and was on the staff of a county borough grammar school which urgently needs his services; and will he ensure the early release of this man.

British Army (Demobilisation)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will now make a statement regarding the release of officers holding Regular commissions in His Majesty's Forces; and whether, as a temporary expedient, such officers will be allowed to opt for release under the terms of the ordinary scheme for demobilisation.

As regards Regular Army officers, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply I gave yesterday to the hon. and gallant Member for Hythe (Lieut.-Colonel Mackeson). In general, Regular officers of the three Services are no longer wholly debarred from applying to retire or resign, although the numbers who can be spared at present will be small. Each case must be considered on its merits. I regret that they cannot be allowed to opt for release under the ordinary Release Scheme.

Police Forces

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the names of the non-county boroughs which will lose their separate police forces, the respective populations thereof, and the size of the respective police forces concerned; the names of the county boroughs which have their own police forces, the respective populations thereof, and the size of the respective police forces concerned; and the names of the counties which have their own police forces, the respective populations thereof, and the size of the respective police forces concerned.

The particulars asked for are given in the tables below:

Force.Authorised Establishment (1939).Population (1931).
Chepping Wycombe4129,626
King's Lynn3023,528
St. Albans5130,726
Tunbridge Wells*6635,839
* Non-county borough police forces merged under EmergencyPowers.
Force.Authorised Establishment (1939).Population (1931).


Authorised Establishment (1939).

Population (1931).

Great Yarmouth7656,771
Merthyr Tydfil8771,108
St. Helens152107,452
South end-on-Sea247129,483
South Shields143113,185

* County borough police forces merged under Emergency Powers.



Authorised Establishment (1939).

Population (1931).

Ely, Isle of8880,864


Authorised Establishment (1939).

Population (1931).

Suffolk, East209207,408
Suffolk West131106,137
Sussex, East*299219,711
Sussex West*307222,995
Wight, Isle of*7988,454
Yorkshire, East Riding215169,287
Yorkshire North Riding405285,422
Yorkshire West Riding1,6811,504,057

* County police forces merged under Emergency Powers.