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Written Answers

Volume 415: debated on Thursday 1 November 1945

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Written Answers To Questions

Post Office

Telephone Kiosks, Glasgow (Damage)

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the number of telephone kiosks that have been damaged by violent methods in the Glasgow area during the war years; the cost of repairs; the number of money-boxes smashed; and the amount stolen for each year.

Following are the particulars asked for:

Year (1st Oct. to 30th Sept.).No. of kiosks damaged.No. of coin boxes damaged.Cost of repairs.Amount of cash stolen.
££
1939–403817332125
1940–413973826818
1941–425476233517
1942–435617143227
1943–445644948423
1944–455258260429
Total2,975375£2,444£139
* From 1st September, 1939.
†; These figures form part of the number of kiosks damaged (Col. 2) and are not in addition thereto.

Sub-Post Offices

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he is aware of the hardship caused by the closing of sub-Post Offices in rural districts and what steps he is taking to reopen them at an early date.

I regret the hardship caused in some rural districts by the closing of sub-post offices and I can assure the hon. Member that every possible effort is made locally to overcome the difficulty. If he has any particular cases in mind I shall be happy to look into them.

Amateur Radio Transmission Sets

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he is now able to return the radio transmitters taken from amateur operators at the beginning of the war for security reasons.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General when he proposes to issue licences for amateur radio transmission; and when, and under what conditions, he proposes to return transmission sets and instruments to the 60,000 owners who surrendered them in 1939.

It is intended to begin returning amateur wireless transmitting equipment in about a fortnight's time; this will, however, involve a considerable amount of work and may take some weeks. The military authorities hope to be able to release within the next two or three weeks a limited number of frequencies for amateur working; the conditions under which these sets may be operated is under consideration and licences will be issued as soon as possible after frequencies have been released.

Air Mails

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the reason why air mail letters to the Gold Coast Colony from the United Kingdom cost 1s. 3d. and air mail letters from the U.S. to the Gold Coast cost only 7½d.

As regards the charge of 1s. 3d. from the United Kingdom, I would refer the hon. Member to the answers which I gave to the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. C. Shawcross) on 18th October and to the hon. Member for Baling East (Sir F. Sanderson) on 25thOctober. According to the latest information in my possession the air postage from the U.S.A. to the Gold Coast is 50c. per half ounce, which is equivalent to about 2s. 6d.

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he is aware that to send the "Middlesex Times and Gazette" containing their home news to serving men in Burma by air mail costs 1s. 6d. per week; that the only alternative is by ordinary post which takes nearly three months; and whether he will consider reducing the cost and so help men serving under difficult conditions to have up-to-date news of their home towns.

Newspapers can be sent by air to the Forces in Burma at the rates applicable to the air conveyance of letters, namely, 1½d. up to one ounce and, for heavier letters, 6d. for the first one-and-a-half ounces and 6d. for each succeeding half ounce. The transmission time of newspapers sent at the alternative surface rate of ½d. per two ounces is five to six weeks to the base, and additional time would be occupied in distribution from the base. The introduction of a specially reduced air mail rate for newspapers would necessitate a large increase in the aircraft capacity at present allocated to mails, and I am advised that any such increase would be impracticable in existing circumstances.

Telephone Exchange, Oxford

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General for how many years his Department has been negotiating for a site for a new telephone exchange at Oxford; whether one has now been obtained and its position; how long it will be before the building can be started and when it is anticipated it will be completed; whether he will compare the capacity of the present exchange with the proposed completed new building; and whether this will enable sufficient lines for the Cowley and Iffley districts and an efficient trunk service at Oxford.

Search for a site for a new telephone exchange at Oxford was begun in 1937. Compulsory powers to purchase a site in St. Aldates, near Folly Bridge, were obtained in the Post Office Sites Act, 1938. Difficulties arose with regard to town planning requirements, but it has now been agreed with the Corporation that the erection of the new telephone exchange should proceed on the St. Aldates site. It is hoped that it will be practicable to start building in about twelve months' time, and to equip and bring the new exchange into service about three years later.The new building will have initial capacity for 7,100 lines. The capacity of the existing building is 4,900 lines, and there are 3,400 lines working at present. The Cowley and Iffley districts are served by a separate exchange at Cowley (although Oxford numbers are used) on which there is an adequate margin of spare capacity. The delay in connecting additional lines to this exchange arises from shortage of underground plant.An improvement in the trunk service at Oxford is in no way dependent on the provision of the new exchange; the present trouble is due entirely to shortage of staff. Special steps have been taken to obtain recruits but there has been little response until recently, though the prospects are now improving.

Hospital Patients' Mail, Far East

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he will look into the complaints that mail from this country to ex-prisoners of war now in hospital in the Far East is not reaching the addressees except with undue delay; and what steps he will take to ensure that this delay will be eliminated.

Ex-prisoners admitted to hospital in the Far East normally notify the hospital address to their relatives unless it is anticipated that they will remain for a brief period only in the Far East. Letters written to these hospital addresses are forwarded by air under the same conditions as to the troops in S.E.A.C. In addition the military authorities in the Far East have been instructed to forward by telegraph nominal rolls of ex-prisoners admitted to hospital. These rolls are checked on receipt against the letters held in this country to await a forwarding address, and any on hand are sent on by air.

Telephone Kiosks (Lights)

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General if he is aware that in country districts telephone kiosks have lights burning from dusk till dawn; and whether, in view of the urgent need to economise fuel, he will cause fresh instructions to be issued.

Most kiosks are lighted by means of mechanical devices and with the present shortage of manpower and equipment I am sorry to say that the only practical alternative to the present method would be to omit lighting altogether. I feel that this drastic step could hardly be justified. The consumption of current is very small.

Postal Service, Iceland

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether he is prepared to improve the postal arrangements to Service personnel in Iceland by providing two postal deliveries per week instead of the existing one delivery.

Mails for Service personnel in Iceland are forwarded by all available air outlets, and while there is only one regular scheduled service each week, there are numerous additional services. Mails were, I understand, forwarded on 13 different occasions during September and on six occasions during the first three weeks in October.

Wireless Operators (Certificates)

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General whether, in view of the fact that many of those with special certificates as wireless operators are unable to qualify by sea service for second-class certificates owing to the absence of suitable vacancies, he will relax the conditions as to sea service or, alternatively, give some compensating advantage to holders of such certificates; and whether it is proposed to grant any more such certificates.

As from 1st January, 1946, holders of special certificates as wireless operators may take the examination for second class certificates without having had any previous sea service; additionally,

No. of claims paid.Amount of Compensation.Total Postings.Claims paid expressed as per cent. of total traffic.
£
1943/44 Registered5,23110,84733,566,000·0156
Unregistered41,54954,474181,099,000·0229
1944/45 Registered6,26515,13744,078,000·0142
Unregistered36,53150,895194,480,000·0188

National Finance

Co-Operative Societies (Taxation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that in recent years the Co-operative Wholesale Society have been acquiring in different parts of the country hotels, restaurants, cinemas and chemist shops; and to what extent he estimates that the revenue will suffer so far as Income Tax on profits is concerned by this change of ownership.

Co-operative societies are taxed on the whole of their profits in the same way as other trading concerns.

Motor Vehicles (Taxation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will constantly keep the Purchase Tax on motor-cars under review, with a view to removing it when factory output for export exceeds demand, to prevent unemployment in the industry and to encourage maximum volume of output in order to lower prices for export. holders of special certificates obtained up to the end of 1945 may continue to serve on all British merchant ships until 31st December, 1946. The issue of special certificates is a normal peace time arrangement which is being continued.

Parcels Post (Thefts)

asked the Assistant Postmaster-General what are the latest available figures for losses through theft in the parcel post and the compensation paid; and how they compare with the immediately preceding figures.

Statistics relating to claims for loss (including theft) paid in the years 1943–44 and 1944–45 are as follows. I regret that separate figures for losses through theft are not available.

I cannot add anything to what I said on this subject in my Budget Speech.

War Gratuities

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what sum it is estimated will be paid out by the end of the financial year in gratuities to demobilised members of the Forces.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the decision not to make money grants to war service chiefs, he will now consider a common level of gratuities to both sexes of all ranks of all Services.

No, Sir. I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply of 23rd August last to my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. Collins).

Overseas Investments (Conservation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the disposal of so many of our overseas investments essential for the conduct of the war, he will see that every remaining in- vestment is conserved so far as practicable to increase the yield of income in sterling to swell our invisible exports.

Income Tax (Pay-As-You-Earn)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he will provide a table indicating the refunds per week under Pay-as-you-earn for persons normally earning £5, £6 and £7 per week, respectively, when for a period their return for Income Tax purposes is reported as nil.

It is not possible to state the amount of tax which would be repayable under Pay-as-you-earn for any week in which there are no earnings, as the repayment depends on the cumulative pay to date, the allowances and reliefs to which the taxpayer is entitled and whether he has other income.

Postwar Credits

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the number of taxpayers who are entitled to a postwar credit for the year 1944–45;and the aggregate amount of the tax credits for that year.

About 13,000,000 taxpayers. The postwar credit for the year 1944–45 amounts to about £225,000,000.

Film Projectors (Taxation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the film strip projector is classified as a luxury article and as such bears a tax of 100 per cent., and in view of the fact that this type of projector cannot be used for any other purpose than of an educational nature and the demand for these projectors by preservice units, youth organisations and schools, will he consider the removal or the substantial reduction of the 100 per cent. purchase tax.

Projectors of this type cannot be effectively distinguished for tax purposes from other chargeable projectors. I cannot, therefore, give any relief at present.

National Debt (Holdings)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportions of the National Debt are in holdings of up to £100, from £100 to £5,000, from £5,000 to £100,000, from £100,000 to £1,000,000, from £1,000,000 to £10,000,000, and over £10,000,000, respectively.

Pensions And Grants

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will issue an instruction that when an application for pension is lodged or an appeal is made against a pension award, the medical history of the case shall be taken into account only from the date of medical examination prior to the applicant joining the Forces and that the medical category on enlistment shall be the determining factor.

In determining whether war service played a part in the onset or development of a disability, full weight is given to a man's medical category on enlistment. Account must, however, also be taken, amongst other matters, of any relevant pre-service medical history in determining whether there is a casual connection between the disability and war service.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether any time limit is applied to making application for a pension on the ground of breakdown in health following discharge from the Forces; and whether he is satisfied that the interests of men who may suffer such a breakdown in middle life are adequately safeguarded.

Whilst under the Royal Warrant claims must be submitted within seven years of a member's discharge from the Forces, applications can be made to my Department where this period has elapsed. I am still receiving occasional new claims relating to the 1914–18 war.

asked the Minister of Pensions if he will consider amending the pensions scheme so as to provide pensions for dependent parents and wives, equal to the allowance received before the death of their sons or husbands.

I am unable at the moment to add to the reply which I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Lonsdale (Sir. I. Fraser) on 18th October.

asked the Minister of Pensions the number of Service men and women totally blinded during the war 1939–45 and in receipt of 100 per cent. disability.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will in future make the findings of his Ministry's medical boards available to appellants against the decisions of his Ministry.

Medical information disclosed by a Ministry medical board is not refused to a member of the medical profession if needed for treatment purposes. Where there is an appeal to the Pensions Appeal Tribunals, an appellant is supplied with a statement of the relevant facts of his case, including his medical history as known to my Department.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will consider introducing legislation to enable next-of-kin, other than wives of deceased Servicemen, to draw pensions on exactly the same terms as a wife.

No, Sir, for the reason that a man's responsibility for his wife is in a special category and differs materially from any responsibility he may have for any other relative.

asked the Minister of Pensions for what reason, in pensions, claims by T124X personnel, the burden of proof rests on the applicant, whereas in all other cases the burden of proof rests upon the Government to disprove attributability.

The hon. and gallant Member is under a misapprehension. Article 2 (2) of the War Pensions (Naval Auxiliary Personnel) Scheme specifically provides that there shall not be an onus on any claimant to prove that disablement or death is directly attributable to a qualifying injury or to detention.

Pensions Appeal Tribunals

asked the Minister of Pensions the number of appeals and the number of appeals upheld since the setting up of the appeals court.

I would refer the hon. Member to the comprehensive reply given to the hon. Member for Gravesend (Mr. Garry Allighan) on 9th October.

asked the Attorney-General if he will take steps to expedite the work of the pensions appeal tribunals, as the delay in hearing appeals is causing hardship to many applicants.

My Noble Friend the Lord Chancellor is already taking action in this matter and is hoping to increase the number of Pensions Appeal Tribunals from the present total of 15 to 17 at the end of this month and to 20 early in the New Year. The delay complained of is largely due to wartime difficulties generally, but as these are overcome, and with the proposed increase in the number of Tribunals, the hearing of appeals should be expedited.

Scotland

North Of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will take steps to make available to all Scottish Members of Parliament full and up-to-date written information regarding works and schemes proceeding and to be undertaken in the near future by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave on 30thOctober to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir B. Neven-Spence) and of which I am sending him a copy.

Local Authorities' Loans

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the total amount of the outstanding indebtedness of local authorities in Scotland carrying the following rates of interest, respectively, up to 2 per cent., from 2 per cent. to 3 per cent., from 3 per cent. to 4 per cent., from 4 per cent. to 5 per cent., from 5 per cent. to 6 per cent. and over 6 per cent.

Local authorities in Scotland had outstanding loans amounting to approximately £187,000,000 at 15th May, 1945. I regret that the remaining information desired is not available.

Spirits (Production And Stocks)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will now issue Table 8 of the Customs and Excise Annual Reports which were withheld for security reason for the years 1941 to 1945,

HOME MADE SPIRITS: STOCK, PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION IN THE FINANCIAL YEARS 1940/41 TO 1944/45.
Stock and Production.
1940/41.1941/42.I942/43.1943/44.1944/45.
Proof gallons.Proof gallons.Proof gallons.Proof gallons.Proof gallons.
In warehouse at commencement of financial year.*154,224,300138,423,205124,915,532113,972,658103,591,211
Re-warehoused on re-importation, etc.71,80842,04918,80819,45421,739
Produced in the financial year.69,680,07573,542,30151,542,06147,920,20383,585,326
223,976,183212,007,555176,476,401161,912,315187,198,276
Distribution.
1940/41.1941/42.1942/43.1943/44.1944/45.
Proof gallons.Proof gallons.Proof gallons.Proof gallons.Proof gallons.
Spirits retained for consumption.7,662,4566,998,8547,732,6847,938,1166,763,781
Exported10,922,4149,215,5996,581,5445,593,0614,718,730
Exported as medical preparations.431,984208,42392,62067,38263,562
Used for ships' stores, fortifying wines, etc.435,642339,889427,825246,635324,367
Used under Finance Act, 1902.43,948,20151,910,11533,419,81132,650,76360,383,565
Methylated15,724,45312,722,63211,735,7659,686,61414,506,057
Deficiencies allowed, etc.6,427,8285,696,5112,513,4942,138,5333,584,199
85,552,97887,092,02362,503,74358,321,10490,344,261
Balance in warehouse at end of financial year.*138,423,205124,915,532113,972,658103,591,21196,854,015
223,976,183212,007,555176,476,401161,912,315187,198,276
* Subject to deficiencies allowable on withdrawal.
HOME-MADE SPIRITS: Stock in Bonded Warehouses.*
On 31st March.England and Wales.Scotland.Northern Ireland.Total.
Proof gallons.Proof gallons.Proof gallons.Proof gallons.
19416,785,987129,643,4441,993,774138,423,205
19429,468,891113,989,3791,457,262124,915,532
19438,975,007103,681,2781,316,373113, 972,658
194410,388,08492,044,9101,158,217103,591,211
194510,946,06584,794,7231,113,22796,854,015
* Subject to deficiencies allowable on withdrawal.

inclusive; and whether he will sub-divide the tables, so as to show how much pot still and patent still spirit was produced in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland; and what stock was held at the end of such years in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.

ETHYL ALCOHOL DISTILLERIES: QUANTITIES OF SPIRITS PRODUCED.
Year (ended 30th September).Distilleries using Malt only.Distilleries using Malt and other materials.Distilleries using Molasses only.Total Production.
Proof gallons.Proof gallons.Proof gallons.Proof gallons.
19413,243,8274,751,02453,791,39461,786,245
19421,847,87626,57044,145,25646,019,702
19431,387,82616,841,49118,229,317
194445,914,39845,914,398
NOTE.—The above table relates only to ethyl alcohol distilleries using the fermentation—distillation process. Production figures are now compiled on the basis of the materials used and no longer specifically distinguish between pot still and patent still production. The figures are compiled on the basis of distilling seasons ending 30th September of each year. Figures for the year ended 30th September, 1945, are not yet available.
Separate figures cannot be published for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland without disclosing the business of particular firms.

Shop Hours

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the committee promised to deal with the closing hours of shops and cognate matters is in process of formation.

Yes, Sir. I hope to be in a position to announce both the composition of this Committee and its terms of reference very shortly.

Hampstead (Aliens)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many aliens of German or Austrian origin are registered with the police in Hampstead; and how many dwelling-places they occupy.

Approved Schools

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when it is proposed to pass to the Ministry of Education the care of children in Home Office approved schools.

This question is bound up with the larger question of the central Government responsibility for supervising the provision made for the several classes of children who, for various reasons, are deprived of normal home life, and it would be premature to make a statement on Approved Schools until the present Government have had an opportunity of examining this larger question.

Liquor Licences

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will give particulars of the number of liquor licences in force in the years 1939–44, inclusive; the number granted and refused annually; and the number of proceedings each year against licensed persons and for drunkenness.

National Fire Service

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now state the progressive reductions he intends to make in the strength of the N.F.S.; and if he will announce a definite scheme of release for men who are anxious to return to their normal employment.

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply of 11th October to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) and the hon. and gallant Member for Wallasey (Captain Marples), to which I am unable to add at present.

Flying Police

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the increased smuggling by air of dutiable goods, contraband and currency, he will consider the formation of flying police attached to the C.I.D.

Counter measures against smuggling must be taken on the ground, and as at present advised, I do not think that there would be any justification for such an innovation as that suggested by the hon. Member.

Ensa Director (Fireguard Duties)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why the N.A.A.F.I. director of National Service Entertainment was granted exemption from national fireguard duty at E.N.S.A. headquarters; and upon whose recommendation this exemption was granted.

I take it that the hon. Member is referring to Mr. Basil Dean. I am informed by the organiser of the fireguard arrangements at E.N.S.A. Headquarters that Mr. Dean was a member of the Home Guard and as such was exempt from any obligation to perform fireguard duties.

Aliens (British Domicile)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if permission has now been granted to Mr. L. Singer, of 23, Montague Street, W.C., to bring his two sons, aged 16 and 14 years, respectively, to this country from the institute in Switzerland in which they are now staying after the death of their mother and their escape from Nazi concentration camps.

Mr. Singer, who is a Czech citizen, was admitted to this country on a temporary basis and has already been informed that he cannot remain indefinitely. I know of no reason why he should not now bring his stay here to an end and arrange for his children to rejoin him in his own country.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if His Majesty's Government is now prepared without further delay to authorise the admission to this country of those survivors of Nazi terror liberated from concentration camps whose relatives in this country are ready to receive them and help their rehabilitation before the onset of winter.

:As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State informed the hon. Member for Down (Dr. Little) on 24th October, I hope to be in a position to make a statement at an early date.

Sunday Entertainments

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he proposes to introduce legislation to amend the Sunday Entertainments Act, 1932, in order to make it possible for properly conducted variety entertainments, the proceeds of which are devoted to charitable objects, to be held on Sundays.

Whatever may be the arguments for some amendment of the law this is not a subject on which I can hold out hope of legislation at the present time.

Police

Metropolitan Police Force (Promotions)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many members of the Metropolitan police force have passed the promotion examination during the past 10 years; how many have received their promotion; and how many still remain in the promotion zone.

Metropolitan Police Force

Constable ( Uniform and C.I.D.)

Number who have passed the ordinary promotion examination during the past 10 years—3,395.+

Number promoted to Sergeant during the past 10 years—1,757.

Number still in the Zone of Selection—1,094.

Sergeant ( Uniform and 2 nd Class, C.I.D.)

Numbers who have passed the ordinary promotion examination during the past 10 years—1,130.+

Number promoted to Station or 1st Class C.I.D. Sergeant during the past 10 years—813.

Number still in the Zone of Selection—351.

These figures do not include men who passed special technical examinations for whom the figures are not available.

Station Sergeant and 1st Class, C.I.D. Sergeant

No examination.

Number promoted to Inspector or 2nd Class C.I.D. Inspector during the past 10 years—507.

Number still in the Zone of Selection—337.

Inspector and 2 nd Class, C.I.D. Inspector

No examination.

Number promoted to Sub-Divisional or 1st Class C.I.D. Inspector during the past 10 years—301.

Number still in the Zone of Selection—419.

Sub-Divisional Inspector and 1st Class, C.I.D). Inspector

No examination.

Number promoted to Chief Inspector during the past 10 years—151.

Number still in the Zone of Selection—60.

Chief Inspector ( Uniform and C.I.D.)

No examination.

Number promoted to Superintendent during the past 10 years—63.

In the Zone of Selection—87.

Age Limits

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will take steps to waive the age limit of 30 years for entry into the regular police force in the case of ex-Servicemen who passed the necessary qualifying examinations before being called up into the Services and who were below the age of 30 at the time of their call up.

No, Sir. The Police Regulations already provide that a candidate may be admitted over the age of 30 in special circumstances approved by the Secretary of State, but I do not think it would be in the interests of police efficiency to make a general relaxation. Before the war it was the practice in most forces not to accept men of more than 25 or 26, but I have advised police authorities and chief officers of the police that in the immediate post-war years it would be desirable to accept men up to the age of 30.

Channel Islands (Visits)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now relax the restrictions on travel by business and other visitors to the Channel Islands.

Yes, Sir. The operation of transporting home the evacuated population to the Islands is nearly complete; and some of the limited shipping available can now be used for visitors. There is still, however, very little spare accommodation in the Islands and the Insular authorities are anxious that their difficulties should not be increased by the arrival of travellers who have nowhere to sleep. Accordingly, exit permits from Great Britain will be granted for the present only to intending visitors who produce certificates issued in the Islands that lodgings are available for them. In addition, those people who have left the Islands since their liberation will now be able to obtain facilities from the Insular authorities to return.There will be no scrutiny of the reason for any visitor's journey, but I should emphasize that the Islands do not yet wish to receive holiday makers and sightseers. The repair and refitting of houses and hotels is being pressed forward and it is hoped that by the spring the Islands will again be ready to welcome holiday makers, and the control of travel between the Islands and Great Britain can then be abolished entirely, though it is still doubtful what shipping will be available for this service.

Police And Firemen (Statutory Orders)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is prepared to amend the Police and Fireman's Employment Orders, 1939 and 1944, and the Police (Employment and Offences) Orders, to allow officers who have completed their term of service to retire.

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the Police and Firemen (Employment) Order, 1940, and the Police (Employment and Offences) Order, 1942. The first of these Orders has been revoked, and the retention of both regular and auxiliary police officers is now governed by the Police (Employment and Offences) Order, 1942. I am at present considering when this Order should be revoked, and I hope to make a statement shortly.

Civil Defence Services (Retained Uniforms)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will reconsider his previous decision and allow part-time voluntary members of the N.F.S. and C.D. to retain the whole of their uniform, including tunic and Wellingtons, as some mark of appreciation for the unpaid services they have rendered to the nation.

The question what items of uniform part-time members of the National Fire and Civil Defence Services should be allowed to retain on leaving the Service was determined so long ago as the autumn of 1944. Practically all the personnel concerned have left the Services some time ago, and I regret that I am unable to reopen the question.

Island Of Bornholm (Inspection)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will approach the Danish Government with a view to inviting a scientific and Parliamentary commission to visit the island of Bornholm, with a view to inspecting German scientific equipment on the island.

No, Sir. My information is that there is no German scientific equipment on Bornholm of sufficient importance to justify such an approach to the Danish Government.

Trade And Commerce

Sanitary Towels

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is now in a position to state the steps he has taken to overcome the shortage of sanitary towels throughout the country, and, in particular, north-west London.

Insolvency under the Bankruptcy Acts.
Year.Number of Receiving Orders and Administration Orders.Liabilities as estimated by Debtors.Assets as estimated by Debtors.
£s.d.£s.d.
19392,6386,444,399001,235,14800
19401,5963,945,824001,365,43700
19416111,538,78700523,20600
1942355909,34000239,03100
1943244777,34100193,29400
1944226497,67800215,93400
Insolvency under the Deeds of Arrangement Act.
Year.Number of Deeds.Liabilities as estimated by Debtors.Assets as estimated by Debtors.
£s.d.£s.d.
19391,4142,631,807001,284,92200
19409351,620,02400969,23100
1941185412,35100232,37000
194264105,7170055,68100
194344165,5980082,66500
19442042,7370023,05600

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which was given to the hon. and gallant Member for Chelmsford (Wing-Commander Millington) on Monday last. It is hoped that a statement will be made next week.

Eyeless Needles

asked the Minister of Health if he will consult with the appropriate Minister in order to remove the difficulties of manufacturers in supplying eyeless needles to meet hospital requirements, particulars of which have been supplied to him.

Insolvencies And Company Registrations

asked the President of the Board of Trade the latest known figures of insolvency in England and Wales as previously recorded under Bankruptcy and Deeds of Arrangements Acts; the total number of new companies; and the number of companies dissolved or struck off the register, as previously given in the report of Companies Department.

The following statements give the desired information for the years subsequent to 1938, the last year for which particulars were published by the Board of Trade:

COMPANIES
1939.1940.1941.1942.
England.Scotland.England.Scotland.England.Scotland.England.Scotland.
New companies entered on the the Register during the year.10,5785136,0843386,9693296,468319
Companies dissolved or struck off the Register during the year.8,7943933,8632392,3211904,086170
Net increase during each year and in total.1,7841202,221994,6481392,382149

1943.1944.Total for the six years 1939–44.
England.Scotland.England.Scotland.England.Scotland.
New companies entered on the Register during the year.6,5673737,50743944,1732,311
Companies dissolved or struck off the Register during the year.3,3521042,14811824,5641,214
Net increase during each year and in total.3,2152695,35932119,6091,097

Bevan's Docks, Gravesend

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that at Bevan's Docks, Gravesend, dockers have been suspended for three days, due to go-slow tactics; whether he will make an investigation of all the conditions there before the trouble comes to a head; and, in so far as the amount of work there is so little that men can be suspended, he will have them made redundant and their labour transferred to other docks, where work is plentiful and conditions better.

I am aware that as a disciplinary measure the employers suspended, and subsequently discharged on the ground of serious misconduct, a number of men who, they allege, were guilty of "go slow" tactics. Many of the men have already responded to an offer of re-employment by the company and are back at work, whilst others are no doubt considering the offer. I am not proposing to make an investigation as suggested in the second part of the Question, as the proper course is for the man to raise the matter with his trade union. As regards the third part, the men concerned are not dock workers; they are weekly paid employees of a waterside manufacturing company and are outside the scope of the dock labour scheme.

Dominions'gift Parcels (Weight)

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the desire on the part of the people of New Zealand to send food parcels to the United Kingdom of a weight greater than the 5 lbs. including packing now permitted; and if he will consider allowing food parcels of such greater weight to be sent by post.

His Majesty's Government are aware that in New Zealand, as well as in other parts of the Common- wealth, there is evidence of a generous desire to send to the United Kingdom larger gift parcels than the regulations in force here at present allow. The question whether the limit of weight should be increased is being urgently considered.

Dock Workers (Unions)

asked the Minister of Labour what is the present registered strength of the Amalgamated Stevedores' Union as compared with the dockers' section of the Transport and General Workers' Union.

The annual return of the Amalgamated Stevedores' Union to the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies for 1943, which is the latest received, gives a membership of 5,991. The annual return of the Transport and General Workers' Union does not give a separate figure for the dockers' section.

Military Service (Students)

asked the Minister of Labour if he will inquire into the case with a view to release, details of which have been submitted, of an external undergraduate of London University who has studied for ordination in the Church of England since 1937, has achieved intermediate arts examination, was provisionally accepted as an ordinand in the Diocese of Southwark, is awaiting confirmation from the Central Advisory Council of Training for the Ministry, but is now warned that he is liable to be called up and so could not take the final examination for an arts degree next year.

asked the Minister of Education, why the opportunities for the deferment of National Service by degree students of engineering and science are now worse than they were during the war; whether she is aware that in one case the Joint Recruiting Board has indicated that in consequence of the Memorandum of Guidance issued jointly by the Ministries of Education and Labour in May 1945, at least 75 per cent. of the applications received will have to be rejected; and whether she will take steps to rescind or amend these instructions.

I have been asked to reply. It was decided not to increase the total number of first deferments of University students this year, in view of the urgent need of young men for the Forces if demobilisation is not to be slowed down, and it was thought right to reduce the number of engineering and science deferments so as to permit deferment of some Arts students. I am not aware of the particular case referred to, and it is not proposed to amend the existing Memorandum of Guidance.

Demobilisation

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that at present the time spent by men in the Army on assisting with the repair of bombed houses for the Ministry of Works in 1940 does not count towards their release group, and whether he will consider issuing instructions that this should be so counted, in view of the service done by these men for the community at the request of the Government, often under trying conditions and away from their homes.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) on 9th October, a copy of which I am sending him.

asked the Minister of Labour if he can now give the release group numbers above Group 49, which will be eligible for Class B release, to continue their university studies in the year beginning October, 1946.

No, Sir. It is too early yet to come to any decision whether such arrangements will be required for the next academic year.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will make a statement on the position of men released from the Army to W (T) Reserve for industrial work, in regard to their liability to recall to the Army; whether they may change their employment; and whether they may voluntarily return to the Army, respectively.

As I have already announced, I will make a statement on this matter as soon as possible.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is considering further release schemes from the Forces for fixed periods so that serving personnel can be doing useful civilian work instead of being idle in the Services.

No, Sir. I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) on 9th October.

asked the Minister of Labour when it was decided that training with the O.T.C. should not count as whole time service and should not be taken into account when deciding the group for demobilisation purposes; and if he will state the reasons for the decision.

Men training in the Senior Training Corps (to which it is assumed my hon. Friend is referring) had either not yet joined the Forces or were released to the reserve. In neither case was this period in the Senior Training Corps whole time service in the Armed Forces which counted for Service pay, and it is not, therefore, taken into account for release purposes.

asked the Minister of Labour whether training college students whose training has been interrupted by military service are included among the 10,000 students being released from the Forces under Class B.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is satisfied that the present rate of demobilisation is sufficient to enable industry to take full advantage of the opportunities offered in the export markets of the world.

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the manpower shortage in certain essential industries, it is intended to apply a scheme similar to Class B releases from the Armed Forces to conscientious objectors conditionally registered under the National Service Acts, 1939 to 1942.

Equal Pay (Royal Commission's Report)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to receive the Report of the Royal Commission on Equal Pay.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge by the Prime Minister on 31st October. [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 415, c. 416.]

Royal Air Force

Airfield Construction Squads

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what was the number of architects, draughtsmen and operatives in the airfield construction squadrons of the R.A.F. on VE-Day; what was the corresponding number on the latest convenient date; and what steps are being taken for the use of these men with a view to maximum progress with the housing programme.

On 1st May the total figures for the airfield construction trades in the Air Force were 433 officers and 16,685 airmen; on 1st October they were 430 and 15,662. Of course the majority are building tradesmen, and I will send the hon. and gallant Member the details he has requested as soon as they are available. Our requirements which are almost all overseas are constantly under review. I am also examining the possibility of those few men who are at home helping with other work of national importance.

Personnel, Burma (Parcels)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he has considered complaints of the non-receipt of papers, magazines and books by R.A.F. units in Burma; and whether he has any statement to make.

Essential Work Orders

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that a business firm in Halifax, which has given public notice of its intention to leave the town in two years, is using powers under the Emer- gency Regulations to prevent such of its present employees as have the opportunity from taking permanent employment elsewhere; and what steps he proposes to take to stop this practice.

:I would remind my hon. Friend that under the Essential Work Orders permission to leave employment is granted or refused, not by the firm but by a National Service Officer, and that either party, if aggrieved, has the right to appeal to an independent appeal board against that decision. I am not aware of any individual case where refusal of permission to leave the firm has caused exceptional hardship.

Unemployment, Glasgow

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will state the number of men and women, respectively, unemployed and registered at Bridgeton and Park head employment exchanges, Glasgow, during the months of July, August and September, 1945.

:A count of the unemployed was made on 15th October, and I will send the figures to the hon. Member as soon as they are available.

Government Departments

Staffs

asked the Secretary to the Treasury if he will state the number of persons now employed in the Public Relations and Press Departments in every Government Department, with the total cost of this provision.

, pursuant to his reply [OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd October, 1945; Vol. 414, c. 1874] supplied the following statement:The following table gives for all Departments, other than the Ministry of Information, the particulars to which I referred in my reply to the hon. Member on the 23rd October. The totals given are in respect of whole time staff, including Regional as well as Headquarters staff, as at 1st October, 1945. The figures for the Service Departments include Home but not Overseas Commands. Most of the totals of annual cost are approximate.

Department.Staff Engaged on Public Relations and Press Work.Annual Cost.
£
Admiralty8244,945
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.63(a)22,000
Air Ministry142(b)77,687
Ministry of Aircraft Production and Supply.66(c)28,638
Ministry of Civil Aviation.31,485
Colonial Office147,413
Dominions Office31,430
Ministry of Education52,473
Ministry of Food7025,183
Foreign Office118,743
Ministry of Fuel and Power.154,829
Ministry of Health198,368
Home Office and Ministry of Home Security.85,018
India Office156,888
Inland Revenue21,995
Ministry of Labour and National Service.2412,248
National Savings Committee.8134,375
Department of Overseas Trade.63,360
Ministry of Pensions31,503
Post Office139,023
Ministry of Town and Country Planning.74,750
Board of Trade (including Ministry of Production).4017,471
Treasury11,090
War Damage Commission.21,318
War Office22585,000
Ministry of War Transport.136,293
Ministry of Works114,976
Scottish Home Department.95,000
954£434,780

  • (a) This figure includes a staff of 51 costing £17,300 per annum engaged upon informing and advising the farmers and domestic food producers through all available media as to the best and most efficient methods of food production.
  • (b) Excluding the staff of the photographic Dark Room (numbering 23) and of the R.A.F Film Production units (290 at home) who are partly engaged on work of a public relations nature.
  • (c) Includes 18 staff (cost £7,642) employed in the Publicity and Campaign Branch of the Directorate of Salvage and Recovery.
  • Ministry Of Pensions (Evacuated Staff)

    s asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury when it is proposed to implement the promise given to the evacuated staff of the Ministry of Pensions to return them to London for employment on a portion of the Ministry's work to be transferred there.

    The statements made from time to time to the evacuated staff of the Ministry of Pensions have not gone as far as is suggested by the hon. Member, and I regret that I am not at the present time in a position to forecast when it will be possible to bring any of them back.

    Requisitioned Houses

    asked the Minister of Works how many private dwelling houses are still requisitioned by Government Departments; how many are now unoccupied or only partly occupied; how much living accommodation this still requisitioned property represents; and whether he will provide such figures once a month in future showing how the total of such dwelling houses is divided among the various Departments.

    At the end of September last Government Departments (excluding the Health Departments who hold property primarily for residential purposes) held on requisition about 14,000 dwelling houses of up to 12 rooms and 8,000 larger dwelling houses. On the preceding 1st January the figures were 30,000 and 10,000 respectively. I have forwarded to the hon. Member a statement showing how the totals of such dwelling houses are divided among the various Departments. A similar statement could be provided monthly if the hon. Member so desired. It would not be possible, without an undue expenditure of labour, to say how many of the houses were unoccupied or only partly occupied, particularly as the occupation by Service personnel constantly changes. I am assured that no houses are retained except those required for definite commitments.

    London Passenger Transport Board (Ex-Servicemen, Employment)

    asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that although ex-Servicemen are being sent by their labour exchange to Chiswick for employment by the L.P.T.B. as drivers and conductors, and although such employment is available and they are fitted for it, they are being refused such employment without any inquiry as to their ability to carry out the work and are being offered work as labourers for which they have no particular qualification; and if he will have inquiries made with a view to stopping this forthwith.

    No, Sir. I have received no complaints, but I will look into any cases my hon. Friend sends to me.

    National Insurance

    Welsh Administration

    asked the Minister of National Insurance if he is considering the establishment of a Welsh office for the administration of social insurance schemes; and what measure of autonomy will be vested in that office.

    asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he will give an assurance that Wales will retain its autonomy in the administration of the proposed social insurance services, National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Bill and the Family Allowances Act, 1945.

    As stated by the Prime Minister in reply to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Cardigan (Captain Bowen) on 29th October, it will be necessary for reasons of efficiency to concentrate certain items of work under the new Insurance Scheme at one Centre. For example, the Ministry's Claims and Record Office for purposes of the Family Allowances Act will be situated in Newcastle. But in general a large measure of decentralisation of the schemes falling within my administration will be both possible and desirable, and I certainly contemplate the establishment of a central Welsh Office with supporting local offices in various parts of the Principality.

    Old Age Pensioners

    asked the Minister of National Insurance whether, having regard to the appeal that householders wherever possible should place some of their accommodation at the disposal of homeless persons, he will also arrange that in the case of old age pensioners they shall not suffer a reduction in the amount of their supplementary pensions by responding to his plea.

    I am in communication with my right hon. Friends the Minister of Health and Secretary of State for Scotland on this point.

    asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he will consider the introduction, at an early date, of a Measure to increase old age pensions to 30s. per week with no means test, so as to provide for suitable maintenance for the old folks during the winter and succeeding months.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Warbey) on 11th October. Since that date I have been considering by what means it might be possible to expedite even further the programme which the Government has in mind, and I hope to be able to introduce in the near future the comprehensive Bill referred to in that reply.

    Insurance Companies' Employees

    asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he has any statement to make on how the Government propose to find employment for or otherwise compensate the employees of mutual insurance companies who will be deprived of their jobs as the result of the operation of the Industrial Injuries Bill.

    I cannot at present go beyond the statement made by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary on the Second Reading of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Bill on 10th October last as regards employment in my Ministry for certain of the officers concerned. Other aspects of the matter are receiving my careful consideration.

    Strikers (Relief)

    asked the Minister of National Insurance what are the terms and conditions on which his regulations permit relief to be granted to the families of men on strike; whether these terms can be varied by local assistance committees; and whether a total can be given of the amount of such relief which has been granted by way of loans over the past ten years and the amount repaid over the same period.

    No such relief can be granted under any Acts or Regulations administered by my Department.

    Housing

    Billeted Persons (Wear And Tear Compensation)

    asked the Minister of Health whether he will further consider the position of householders in different parts of the country who, at the height of the emergency, were induced to accommodate evacuated persons whose billeting allowances have now ceased, with the result that householders have many inconveniences to put up with including wear and tear of their homes without compensation and take steps to assist such cases.

    The great majority of persons who were officially evacuated have now returned home. Billeting allowances are not withdrawn from householders accommodating the homeless except where a mutual arrangement is made under which the person formerly billeted becomes a private boarder or tenant. Such private arrangements normally take account of the element of wear and tear. Perhaps my hon. Friend will send me particulars of any individual case he may have in mind.

    Condemned Dwellings, Wales

    asked the Minister of Health the number of dwelling-houses in Wales which have been condemned as unfit for human habitation but are still occupied, owing to the shortage of housing accommodation.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Acton on the 25th October, of which I am sending him a copy.

    Requisitioned Houses, Birmingham

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why, in view of the housing shortage in Birmingham, houses requisitioned by his Department during the war and now standing unoccupied, which have been applied for by the Ministry of Health in April of this year, have not yet been transferred.

    I assume that the houses to which my hon. Friend refers are certain houses situated in Alcester Road and Featherstone Road. Their release by my Department was delayed for some months by unusually difficult negotiations for the disposal of additional buildings which had been erected on the site, but the property was transferred to the Ministry of Health with effect from 1st October.

    Repairs

    asked the Minister of Health if he will inquire why the St. Pancras Borough Council is withholding the issue of licences to repair war damage and minor deteriorations in certain dwelling houses urgently needed for London University purposes; and whether he will take action to remedy this position.

    I am informed that the St. Pancras Borough Council have now issued licences for the repair of the property in question.

    Rent Control (Ridley Committee)

    asked the Minister of Health if it is proposed to bring in a Bill embodying the recommendations of the Ridley Report on the Rent Restriction Acts.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given today to the hon. Members for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) and Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), of which I am sending him a copy.

    Housing (Rural Workers) Acts (Grants)

    asked the Minister of Health whether grants payable on building work approved under the Rural Workers Housing Acts will be met even if the work, owing to unavoidable delay, is not under way or completed by the time that these Acts are discontinued.

    In order that assistance may be given under the Housing (Rural Workers) Acts, applications for assistance must have been received by the local authorities before 30th September, 1945. The Acts do not specify a date for completion of the works, and the question whether assistance should be given where the work is unavoidably delayed depends on the terms of the local authority's scheme as approved. The scheme is required by the Acts to specify the period within which works must be completed but it is open to a local authority to con- sent to a reasonable extension of this period. Local authorities were advised at the inception of the scheme in 1927, that in fixing the period for each individual case they should have regard to the availability of suitable labour and materials in the area and the extent of the work to be done, and were informed that for the purposes of approval it would be sufficient to prescribe that the period allowed would not exceed (say) six months from the date of approvel by the local authority of the proposal, unless the special consent of the local authority to an extension of this period was obtained in view of the character of the works or conditions arising during their execution.

    Local Authority Houses (Sale)

    asked the Minister of Health whether his regulations permit a house owned by a local authority to be purchased by the occupying tenant if he so desires; and under what terms and conditions.

    Section 79 of the Housing Act, 1936, empowers a local authority with the Minister's consent to sell a house erected by them, subject to such covenants and conditions as they may see fit to impose. The sale price must be the best that can reasonably be obtained. Section 86 enables the Minister to impose special conditions where he consents to the sale of a house on which Exchequer subsidy is payable.

    Local Authorities' Loans

    asked the Minister of Health the total amount of the outstanding indebtedness of local authorities in England and Wales carrying the following rates of interest, respectively, up to 2 per cent., from 2 per cent. to 3 per cent., from 3 per cent. to 4 per cent., from 4 per cent. to 5 per cent., from 5 per cent. to 6 per cent. and over 6 per cent.

    Burma (Army Demobilisation)

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for India what is the scheme for the demobilisation of the Burma section of the Indian Army.

    I assume that the hon. and gallant Member has in mind the personnel of the Burma Army, including officers of the Army in Burma Reserve of Officers and the Burma Auxiliary Force who since the evacuation of Burma have been serving alongside the Indian Army. The Government of Burma have recently indicated that the release regulations for the Burma Army are about to be published and that they follow closely on the lines of those already published for the Indian Army. The release of officers and British other ranks of the latter is linked with that of members of the British Services in the same Age-and-Service group, the only difference being that at present there is a time lag caused by the voyage.

    War Decorations And Medals

    asked the Prime Minister if he will give consideration to the award of an Overseas Service ribbon to personnel who have served long periods overseas but have not qualified for any of the campaign medals.

    The Defence Medal is to be granted for non-operational service, during the war, in the Forces, overseas from, or outside, the country of residence. The time qualification for this type of service is one year.

    asked the Prime Minister whether he will reconsider the question of Defence medals for A.T.A. pilots, in view of the fact that during the war 155 pilots out of 500 have been killed and only 22 medals have been awarded, mostly to ground personnel, and that this fine body of men and women pilots feel they are not being fairly treated in having no medals or ribbons to show for their war service.

    Air crew of Air Transport Auxiliary will be eligible for the award of the Defence Medal, provided they have rendered three years' service as such in the United Kingdom between 3rd September, 1939, and 8th May, 1945.

    Grain Sacks

    asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware of the shortage of grain sacks in the Lindsey Division of Lincolnshire which is causing dislocation of threshing operations; and what steps does he propose to take to help the farming community with this difficulty.

    I am aware of seasonal difficulties with regard to the. supply of grain sacks in some parts of the country, but no representations have been received by me or by the County War Agricultural Executive Committee from farmers in the Lindsey area to the effect that a shortage of sacks is dislocating their threshing operations. I am, however, making inquiries with a view to dealing with any special shortage of sacks that may be found to exist in that district.

    Road Accidents

    asked the Minister of War Transport whether, having regard to the increasing use of the roads by vehicular traffic, he has any plan which will limit the number of road deaths which may otherwise be anticipated.

    Yes, Sir. In present circumstances the line which is likely to have the most immediate and fruitful results is an intensive propaganda campaign of an educative character. Such a campaign is being launched in a few days.

    Food Rations (Overseas Visitors)

    asked the Minister of Food if he will allow one week's rations to visitors to this country and ensure that this ration is provided at the air or sea port of entry, thereby avoiding all delay.

    Visitors can obtain appropriate food ration documents at any Food Office without delay. To provide facilities for these documents to be obtained at the point of arrival would involve the use of extra manpower, which is not available, and would inevitably cause delay and congestion at that point.

    Royal Navy (Doctors)

    asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware of the number of doctors in the Royal Navy who are now redundant and are anxious to take up civilian practice; and whether, in view of the shortage of doctors in the country, he will secure their early release.

    I am aware that a number of doctors in the Royal Navy are anxious to take up civilian practice, but my right hon. Friend cannot accept the suggestion that there are doctors in the Navy who are redundant. Doctors will be released as rapidly as possible; Age and Service Group 20 should be reached by the end of this year, and up to Group 30 by the end of June, 1946.

    Christian Science Nurses

    asked the Minister of Health whether he has now succeeded in fixing an alternative name than that of nurses for Christian Science attendants.

    No, Sir. The matter is still under consideration. I have discussed it with the interested parties, and am now awaiting any representations they may wish to make to me after further talks which it was agreed they should have amongst themselves.

    Norfolk County Isolation Hospital (Nurses)

    asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the shortage of nurses at the county isolation hospital, Norfolk, necessitating the closing of the greater part of this hospital; and, as from further losses of staff the Norfolk County Council may have to close the whole hospital at the end of this year, what steps he proposes to take to remedy the situation.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given today to a similar question asked by the hon. and gallant Member for Eastern Norfolk (Brigadier Medlicott).

    Ministry Of Works

    Roofing Materials

    asked the Minister of Works whether he is aware that various permits are required before slates can be used as a roofing material, whilst there is no such permit required in the case of tiles; for what reason this discrimination is made; and whether permits for the use of slates can now be abolished so that this material may enjoy free competition with other roofing materials.

    The demand for slates, particularly for war damage repair, is greatly in excess of the supply and control of distribution is therefore necessary. Areas are rationed on the basis of essential needs. There is no shortage of tiles and accordingly no control is exercised over their distribution.

    Works (Public Utility Companies)

    asked the Minister of Works why, in view of the shortage of houses and homes, a statutory company is empowered to execute works without reference to the local authority; and will he take steps to withdraw these powers.

    Defence Regulation 56A provides that work carried out by a Public Utility Company must be authorised by the responsible Government Department before it is started. The control afforded is satisfactory, and it is not considered necessary or desirable to make any alteration in the procedure at present.

    British Army

    Camp Hovingham, Yorkshire

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is satisfied with the conditions, details of which have been forwarded to him, in the camp at Helmsley, Yorkshire.

    I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the camp at Hovingham, and not to the main camp at Helmsley. In general, the conditions are satisfactory. There were some difficulties on the day of arrival of the party in question which may have led to the complaints. I am writing the hon. Member on the points of detail mentioned in his letter.

    Christmas Leave

    asked the Secretary of State for War if he will consider increasing to 33⅓the percentage of Servicemen in Great Britain allowed Christmas leave, in order that commanding officers may ensure that prisoners of war and others who have not spent Christmas at home for some years, have the opportunity this year.

    No, Sir. The travel facilities impose a limit to the numbers who can proceed on leave at any one time. As regards the particular cases mentioned I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply I gave on 23rd October to a similar Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Shurmer).

    War Department Constabulary (War Gratuities)

    asked the Secretary of State for War if he will agree to the payment of war gratuities to the police auxiliaries, as this payment is already made to police war reserves.

    If, as I assume, my hon. Friend is referring to the War Department Constabulary I would refer him to the answer I gave on 16th October in reply to a similar Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Southall (Mr. Ayles).

    Demobilisation Debate (Publicity)

    asked the Secretary of State for war what steps he has taken to make available to men and women serving in the Forces at home and overseas, copies of HANSARD of Tuesday, 23rd October, containing the report of the Debate on demobilisation.

    Some copies of HANSARD are made available to Commands, but I cannot supply copies to all men and women of the Services. As stated by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Information on 10th October, in reply to another question on this subject, meticulous care is taken to ensure that all official news regarding release reaches the forces overseas. Those in this country, and in Germany, have access to the daily Press.

    Letters To Members Of Parliament

    asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that hon. Members are being put to inconvenience and increased correspondence, because it is not generally known that any persons in the Services should first make application to his or her commanding officer before writing to their Member of Parliament; and will he have this matter brought to the notice of all persons in the Services.

    I am quite aware of the inconvenience and extra correspondence referred to, but the procedure for redressing grievances through the proper Service channels is clearly laid down in the Regulations, and these are frequently brought to the notice of all ranks. I do not think there is any general ignorance of the correct procedure. I am, however, glad of this opportunity to emphasise that it is in the interests of all concerned that Service personnel should represent their cases in the manner laid down in the Regulations, thereby ensuring fair and prompt investigation by the authority having the power to take action. I should welcome any assistance from hon. Members in encouraging such action by their Service correspondents.

    Enlisted Aliens

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is proposed to return to French North Africa for demobilisation sixty Austrians of 362 Company Pioneer Corps, now in camp near Carlisle.

    This question has not yet been decided. The release of aliens enlisted overseas but now in this country involves a number of difficult questions which are now under discussion with other Departments concerned.

    Baor (Mails)

    asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that mail from B.A.O.R. is taking 10–12 days in a number of cases to reach this country; and if he will have inquiries made with a view to speeding up this mail.

    Letter mail is carried by air daily and should be delivered in this country within three or four days of posting. Parcel mail is carried by rail and sea and naturally takes longer. No general complaint has come to my notice, but I am willing to look into any specific case which my hon. Friend has in mind.

    Japanese War Criminals (Trials)

    asked the Secretary of State for War what steps have been taken to apprehend Japanese military and civilian officers who were responsible for the commission of atrocities in Singapore and Malaya; and where and under what conditions they will be brought to trial.

    As regards the first part of the Question I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 24th October to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for West Edinburgh (Lieut.-Commander Hutchison). In the case of war crimes committed in Singapore, Malaya, or elsewhere in South-East Asia Command the place of trial will be determined by the British military authorities in South-East Asia in consultation with any Dominion and Allied military authorities concerned, and the trials will be held in British military courts.

    Italian Prisoners Of War (Repatriation)

    asked the Secretary of State for War how long it is proposed to house and feed Italian prisoners of war in this country beyond the time when the value of their labour is less than their keep.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 9th October in answer to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Stockport (Wing-Commander Hulbert). Subject to the conditions then stated, Italian prisoners of war will not be retained in this country