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Volume 415: debated on Monday 5 November 1945

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Reconditioned Motor Cars (Doctors)


asked the Minister of War Transport whether he will consider granting permits for reconditioned motor cars to doctors demobilised from the Services in view of the fact that many of these doctors find that the price of new motor cars is beyond their means.

The present limited supply of these vehicles falls far short of the number of very deserving applications from disabled ex-Servicemen, nurses and mid-wives, for whom they are being reserved, and I regret therefore that I cannot adopt this suggestion.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consult the Secretary of State for War to see whether there are any spare motor cars?

Transport Services


asked the Minister of War Transport whether he will facilitate an in crease in transport services in the county of Durham, especially in the Sedgefield and Bellingham areas, and thereby obviate the present queues where people are kept waiting for sometimes over an hour and often longer.

Most of the services in Sedgefield and Billingham have now been restored to pre-war strength. I have no recent information indicating special difficulties in these areas, but if my hon. Friend has any particular case in mind I will inquire into it.

Would it be possible to put on extra buses during the period, because I have the experience every weekend I am there of having to wait a considerable period before I can get from one station to another?

:Of course, I would like to improve services, but as my hon. Friend knows, it depends very largely on the increase of labour; and his own area has not done so very badly compared with the average throughout the country.


asked the Minister of War Transport if he will indicate when he will strengthen transport services in rural areas, particularly the Lonsdale division of Lancaster.

Services in rural areas are being strengthened progressively as the necessary crews and vehicles become available. There have been steady improvements in the services of the Ribble company in the Lonsdale division.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the rural areas deserve better transport, before he increases the number of charabancs?

I am very well aware of the necessity of improving rural transport services, but I would emphasise to the hon. and gallant Member that we cannot look for regular and uniform improvement of these services, and I think the policy that I am adopting, of improving them wherever it is possible, will show the best dividend.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it is advisable to make a frank statement on this question to many of the small bus companies, because the wages they pay are not good enough, and they are not able to attract the labour for the crews?

When he speaks of motor transport in that part of Lancashire, does not the right hon. Gentleman know that all transport in North-East Lancashire is even more atrocious today than it was when I first came to this House, ten years ago?


asked the Minister of War Transport what steps he is taking to remedy the inadequate omnibus service of the village of Slawston, Leicestershire, where the only omnibus serving the village is between Hallaston and Market Harborough on Tuesdays and one return journey to Leicester on Wednesdays, as the omnibus company have omnibuses standing idle in their gagages but not the manpower to cover the services needed..

The operator concerned intends to restore a Saturday service between Slawston and Leicester and beween Slawston and Market Harborough as soon as the necessary crews can be obtained.

:Is the Minister aware that the buses are in the garages awaiting the crews which the Ministry of Labour has been unable to supply for them?

I am afraid we are all somewhat aware of that position, and we are doing our best to remedy it.

Haulage Licences


asked the Minister of War Transport whether he will state in what circumstances his representatives have the right to cancel existing A licences or to downgrade them from A to B.

:Under the Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933, where a vehicle specified in a licence ceases to be used as prescribed under the licence, it may be removed from the licence. Permits in lieu of licences may be terminated simi- larly. If the hon. and gallant Member has any particular case in mind, perhaps he will let me know.

Dock Strikes (Effect On Shipping)


asked the Minister of War Transport the extent to which ships engaged upon or earmarked for the repatriation of British prisoners of war and of members of the forces returning to this country, have been delayed by the dockers' strike..

Some delay has arisen in the supply of materials requiring shipment to certain vessels fitting as troopships in Northern Ireland and on the Continent which will retard the dates of completion of these vessels. The extent of such delay cannot, however, yet be stated.

:Does that mean that the dock strike had no effect on the repatriation of men from the Far East and the Middle East?

:With the exception of what I have indicated here, certainly no substantial effect has been caused because special military attention was given to the problem.

Services Personnel, Far East (Shipping Allocation)


asked the Minister of War Transport for how many men and women in the Services at present stationed in India, Burma or elsewhere in the Far East, he has allotted shipping space in each of the months of December, January, February and March in the coming winter..

:Whilst I am responsible for the provision of the shipping to meet the world-wide requirements of the Services for the movement of the personnel, the detailed allocation of this shipping between the various requirements is a matter for the Service Ministries. I am informed that detailed allocation of shipping for the months in question is still under consideration.

:Does that mean that the right hon. Gentleman has not the faintest idea how many men will be brought to this country in December?

Civil Aircraft (Production)


asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if he will give figures showing the monthly production, by types, of civil aircraft in the United Kingdom since 1st January, 1945..

Fifty-six civil aircraft of eight different types have been produced from 1st January to 31st October, 1945. With the hon. and gallant Member's permission, I will cir-

Lancastrian 112325233223

Motor Vehicles (Spare Parts)


asked the Minister of Supply and of Aircraft Production if he is aware that the shortage of spare parts and accessories has become even more acute during the past three months; what steps he is taking to remove this handicap on general trade; and whether he will endeavour to acquire stocks of accessories now in the hands of manufacturers which were purchased by the U.S.A. but which, apparently, are no longer required..

The shortage of spare parts and accessories for motor vehicles has been aggravated by the re-introduction of the basic petrol ration, by the removal of restriction on the export of spares and accessories, and by the age of the vehicles now in use. Every effort is being made to encourage both vehicle and component manufacturers to meet the increased demand, and vehicle manufacturers can draw on surplus Service spares to meet their civilian requirements when such a course is practicable. I am not aware of the stocks of accessories purchased by the U.S.A. to which my hon. Friend refers and I shall be glad if he will send me particulars culate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement showing the types and monthly deliveries..

Will the right hon. Gentleman say how we are going to lead the world in civil aviation with ten months' production of 56 machines?

Following is the statement:

Released Vehicles (Disposal)


asked the Minister of Supply and Aircraft Production how many of the 51,600 vehicles which have been passed to industry for disposal to the public through trade channels have, in fact, come into the hands of members of the public through those channels.

The 51,600 vehicles referred to have been passed to industry over a period of more than four years, and I have not the figures of disposals by the trade for which the hon. Member asks.

Is the Minister satisfied with the number of vehicles of this class now in the hands of the public, and is he taking any steps to increase the number?

The number is being rapidly increased, and we are doing everything we can to urge it forward.

Fuel And Power

Electricity Supplies, Kent


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that the Kent Electric Power Company, Ltd., before agreeing to bring a supply to the owner of Basing Farm, Cowden, Kent, who is an attested milk producer, require a payment of £500 towards the cost and a guaranteed revenue of £150 per annum for five years; and, as such terms are unlikely to encourage farmers to bring their farms up to date or to encourage milk production, will he take steps to see that such demands are considerably modified or waived.

I understand that some revision of these terms may be possible if another farm on the road of the proposed mains is prepared to take a supply of electricity. The matter is not one in which, under my present powers, I am able to intervene. As regards the general question of rural electricity supplies, I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville) on 9th October.

May I ask whether the Minister will take powers to interfere in these matters, because these charges are preposterous, having regard to the facilities given by the electric supply companies?

Is the Minister aware that I am asking him to do this during the course of the week?

Liquid Paraffin (Stocks)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the present position of stocks of liquid paraffin in this country; what is the reason for the shortage of supplies in many districts including the Alderley Edge district of Cheshire; and what steps are being taken to remedy the position.

Stocks of liquid paraffin in this country at present represent six to seven weeks' normal supply. Distributors are receiving supplies at the same rate as during the last three years, namely 100 per cent. of their 1938 trade. The shortage of supplies for medicinal purposes, appears to be due to the use of large quantities for culinary purposes. The Departments concerned are actively considering what steps can be taken to ensure supplies for medicinal purposes, and I hope that the publicity given to the matter will help.

Would it not be possible to discourage the improper use of this liquid by mixing a little peppermint with it?

Royal Navy (Dsm Awards)


asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that naval ratings awarded the D.S.M. in the 1939–45 war received an increase of 6d. per day in pension rates, whilst those who were awarded the D.S.M. in the 1914–18 war received no such increase; and whether he proposes to take any action with regard to this anomaly.

No, Sir. As stated by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the previous Government on 10th April last, in reply to a similar Question by the former Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery), this concession applies only to members of the Forces awarded the medal for service since 3rd September, 1939.

Empire Casualties, Singapore


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will publish a statement showing the total casualties suffered by men of the Imperial Forces, taken prisoner at Singapore, during their captivity; and if he will give an estimate of the number of Indian labourers who died as a result of being taken to Siam to work on the railway.

I regret I am not yet in a position to furnish the figures asked for.

When will the right hon. Gentleman feel that he can make public a statement, considering the ghastly casualties suffered by our men who were taken prisoner at Singapore? Is he not yet in a position to make a statement on the number who died?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman knows very well the difficulty of getting information about this particular incident, and also, of course, the difficulty of making contact with people who were on the scene at that particular time.