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Written Answers

Volume 416: debated on Tuesday 20 November 1945

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Written Answers To Questions

Scotland

Labour (Rural Areas)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the shortage of labour and particularly of building labour, in the rural districts of Scotland; and what steps he is taking to remedy this position.

Yes, Sir. I am concerned about the labour scarcity in rural areas and the possible effect it may have on housing progress. Although the position is improving slowly with the return of men from the Forces and war industries, I propose to keep it under close review and to encourage the use of alternative methods of construction which will reduce the demands for ordinary building labour.

Fishery Protection (Shetland)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland, if he will arrange for a fishery protection cruiser to be stationed in Shetland at an early date, for the protection of the inshore fisheries.

The Fishery Protection cruisers which have been released from Naval Service are in process of being refitted for their normal duties. I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that in arranging the patrols as the cruisers become available the requirements of the Shetland waters will be borne in mind.

Sheep (Losses)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the highest percentage of loss sustained during the twelve months ended 15th May 1945 by any flock of sheep placed on deer forests or similar land by the Department of Agriculture for Scotland.

The highest percentage of loss during the twelve months ended 15th May, 1945, in a sheep stock placed on a deer forest or similar subject by the Secretary of State was 21.3 per cent. This loss occurred with an unacclimatised stock on a forest which suffered a severe and prolonged snowstorm during the winter 1944–1945.

Pre-Apprenticeship Courses

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of trade schools for pre-vocational training in Scotland at present; where they are situated and if it is his intention to extend this facility to cover every part of the country.

There are ten centres in Scotland with full-time pre-apprenticeship courses for the building industry and six with pre-apprenticeship courses for engineering. The courses for building are provided in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ayr, Kilmarnock, Coatbridge, Paisley, Falkirk and Inverness; and those for engineering at Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kirkcaldy and Coat-bridge. Most centres serve the needs not only of the area in which they are situated but also of neighbouring areas. I hope to see the extension of pre-apprenticeship training to other appropriate industries and, as may be necessary, to other parts of the country.

Terra-Cotta Clay (Investigations)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that there is a large area of terra-cotta clay situated on the southern shores of Loch Creran, near Shian Ferry; and if he will refer the matter to the Scottish Council on Industry to make inquiries into the possibility of developing the use of this material for building purposes.

The Building Materials Committee of the Scottish Council on Industry is at present engaged, in co-operation with the Geological Survey, on a comprehensive investigation of brick clay deposits in Scotland with a view to the expansion of the brickmaking industry. In the course of their investigations the Committee will be examining the material to which the hon. Member refers.

Tuberculosis

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many patients suffering from active and infectious tuberculosis have had to be sent home from sanitoria in Scotland as a result of the shortage of nurses.

I presume that the hon. Member has in mind a recent occasion when a ward was closed and seven patients sent home from a sanatorium in his own constituency. Wards in other sanatoria have had to be closed and admissions of new cases temporarily reduced or suspended on account of shortages of staff, but normally it is possible to avoid sending home patients already admitted who still require active treatment. I deplore the necessity either of delaying admissions or sending patients home earlier than is desirable but until adequate nursing and other staffs can be got for the tuberculosis hospitals, the situation cannot be made better.

Requisitioned Schools

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether all the schools in Scotland requisitioned for war purposes have now been derequisitioned.

No, Sir. Of the schools in Scotland which were wholly or partly occupied for war purposes, 46 were released between VE-Day and the end of October, and nine others are in process of being released. The position of the remaining 21 schools is under constant review, and I can assure my hon. Friend that the urgency of obtaining their release is fully appreciated.

Hospitals (Domestic Staffs)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the improved conditions announced for nurses, he will state what steps are being taken for improving the conditions of those engaged in domestic employment in hospitals, including a scheme of superannuation.

The paper entitled "The Staffing of Hospitals," recently published by the Government, announced a detailed code of working conditions which it is our aim, in agreement with the interests concerned, to see provided for domestic workers in hospitals as well as a code for nurses. I am sending the hon. Member a copy. With regard to the rates of pay and conditions of service of such workers, discussions are at present going on between the local authorities and the voluntary hospitals with a view to establishing negotiating machinery which will cover all hospitals in Scotland. Negotiations are well advanced, and I hope that one of the things that will be considered will be the question of superannuation for domestic workers in hospitals.

Rent Restrictions Acts (Information)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will consider the pre- paration of suitable publicity matter concerning tenants' rights under the various Rent Acts for distribution to local authorities, with instructions that such matter be enclosed with rate demand notes, gas and electricity bills, &c.

I am sending to the hon. Member a copy of a booklet explaining the main provisions of the Rent Restrictions Acts, prepared by the Department of Health for Scotland, which was issued to all local authorities and citizens' advice bureaux in Scotland last year. I am consulting the local authorities' associations about the suggestion in the last part of the Question, and shall write to the hon. Member thereafter.

Children (Boarding Out)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the number of charitable organisations in Scotland whose activities include the boarding out of children

So far as I am aware, the extent to which charitable organisations in Scotland arrange for the boarding out of children and young persons is inconsiderable; and I know of no organisation of which such boarding out is a main activity. There are one or two cases in which the managers of a voluntary home arrange for the boarding out of a child or young person in special circumstances, but this course is exceptional.

British Army

Officers' Wives (Messing Charges)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether any decision has yet been come to regarding the scale of messing charges payable by officers in respect of their families while travelling on board ship.

Yes, Sir. Messing charges have now been reduced in the case of families of captains and subalterns to 2s. 0d. a day for an adult and children over 12 years of age and 1s. 0d. a day for children of 1 and over but under 12 years of age.

Demobilisation

asked the Secretary of State for War how many men of all ranks who are eligible for release under Class B have been refused release on grounds of military necessity.

In 63 cases it has been necessary to refuse requests for individual release in Class B. These men will in due course be released in Class A. In addition there is always a small but fluctuating number of men who cannot be released until the arrival of replacements. No accurate figure can be given as the individuals are constantly changing.

asked the Secretary of State for War in cases where the release of building workers in any group for any reason is delayed, whether he will take steps to form them into building companies so that pending their release their services can usefully be employed to reduce the housing shortage.

The release of builders has not been delayed in any group, except in a very few individual cases on grounds of military necessity. The second part of the Question does not therefore arise.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that officers in those release groups which have been held up who are granted compassionate release from this further period of service beyond their due release date, forfeit their entitlement to the normal 56 days of paid leave; and whether he will take steps to remedy the hardship to officers of this pecuniary loss.

An officer cannot qualify for Class A release benefits before the opening date for the release of his group. In cases where that date is deferred he becomes liable, with all others, to serve on until the new date, and if he is permitted to leave prematurely he must, in fairness to others, be dealt with under the normal rules relating to premature release.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the release of all British other ranks, who are in Group 23 and later groups and who are serving in 81 West African Divisional Signals, India Command, has been postponed indefinitely; and whether he will make a statement on this subject.

asked the Secretary of State for War why all release, repatriation, L.I.L.O.P. and L.I.A.P. schemes have been stopped for British troops serving with West African units in India and S.E.A.C.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement to the House about the rate of repatriation of West African Forces now stationed in S.E.A.C.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the order issued by the Divisional Commander, 81 (West African) Divisional Signals, India Command, announcing that he has found it necessary to cancel the release of all age and service groups above Group 22, and to cancel all future repatriation and all forms of leave to countries outside India; and whether arrangements have been made for replacements to be sent which will enable the divisional commander to rescind the above order immediately.

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Horncastle (Commander Maitland) on Tuesday last.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether Army officers who are accepted for service in the Army Education Corps will have their release under Scheme B delayed thereby.

As regards officers of the Corps I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Northern Dorset (Lieut.-Col. Byers) on 30th October. Officers who accept service with or transfer to the Army Educational Corps are treated similarly for this purpose.

asked the Secretary of State for War why men in Groups 19 and 20 who were due for release between 22nd October and 11th November still remain in Norway; why the undertaking given that they would be brought home for discharge has not been kept; and when they will be brought to this country.

The vessel allocated to this duty developed engine trouble. Emergency measures were applied at once, and some 450 men have already returned. The remainder in Groups 19 and 20 were due to be picked up in diverted ships yesterday, and all arrears will have been made up within a day or two.

asked the Secretary of State for War if it will be possible to arrange that all soldiers who are at present serving overseas and due for release in Group 24 shall arrive in this country in time for Christmas leave.

No, Sir. The closing date for the release of this group, as recently announced, is 9th January, 1946, and transport has been arranged on that basis.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many officers and men serving in the India Command have been granted Class B releases in the months of August, September and October, respectively.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave on 6th November, to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Pudsey and Otley (Colonel Stoddart-Scott) in which I stated that no separate figures were available for Class B releases from each command.

asked the Secretary of State for War why men in the Forces, in many cases, are not receiving their disembarkation leave before being released under Class A; and where this occurs, are such men entitled to additional payment as recompense for the loss of disembarkation leave.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 16th October to the hon. Members for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke), and Walsall (Major Wells).

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that at the demobilisation and repatriation centre in Delhi some men have been informed that the instructions are that men in Groups 24 and 25 have not to go on repatriation; and if he will make a statement on this matter, in view of the fact that men who embarked at the same time as others in Group 24 are not getting disembarkation leave but the men in the higher groups are now on their way home from Delhi.

I am not aware of the instructions referred to in the first part of the Question; on the contrary, instructions were recently issued that men were to be sent home when due for repatriation even if not immediately due for Class A release. But, owing to the num- bers now returning for the various types of release and for repatriation, some delay may be unavoidable on occasion owing to insufficient shipping. As regards disembarkation leave I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer to his other question on that point today.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that men brought back from the B.A.O.R. for release in Class C are retained in the holding company in this country for more than a month before release; and whether he will see that delay is reduced to the minimum.

Men reverted to the home establishment on compassionate grounds are not necessarily released in Class C. Compassionate leave and posting in the United Kingdom may meet the case. The question of release is decided after arrival, in most cases while the man is on disembarkation leave.

asked the Secretary of State for War why men being de mobilised during the winter months are issued with a thin raincoat, which involves finding the money and coupons with which to secure an overcoat on return to civilian life.

Men are at present provided with a very good outfit for general use. Variation of the outfit at different times of the year would be impracticable in present circumstances.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether a N.C.O. who signed a six years engagement in 1941 can make himself eligible for a Class A demobilisation.

asked the Secretary of State for War why, whereas he authorises compassionate release in the case of the son of a man who is carrying on a small business as is now certified as unable to carry it on properly owing to his illness he does not authorise compassionate release of a son-in-law in the same circumstances now reported to him as ill, even though two sons of the same man have given their lives during the war, and the elder of them, had he lived, would by now have been released in Class A.

One of the conditions of release in the case of one-man businesses is that the applicant must be personally and financially interested in the business and that his presence is essential to save the business. If these and the other relevant conditions are fulfilled a son-in-law would be eligible for consideration for release. If the hon. and gallant Member has a particular case in mind I will consider it on receipt of details.

Diphtheria (Germany)

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps are being taken to immunise our Forces in Germany against diphtheria.

After careful consideration by the Army Pathology Advisory Committee on behalf of all three Services, it has been decided not to immunise the Forces generally, although all medical and attached personnel in medical units are being immunised where necessary after Schick-testing. In the event of outbreaks, immediate steps will be taken to immunise all those at risk, or all who react positively on being tested, according to the nature of the outbreak.

Personal Cases

asked the Secretary of State for War whether there were special conditions attached to the discharge, on 16th October, 1941, of Gunner J. T. Edwards, 3652429, R.A., now of Southward Road, Haydock, Lancashire; and why this man received £2 2s.10½d. but no civilian outfit of any kind.

There were no special conditions. Under the regulations then in force, discharged soldiers were given the option of receiving a suit, cap, collar and tie or a cash grant of £2 2s. 10½d.

asked the Secretary of State for War why 5674773 Sergeant B. Goldstein, No. 22 Technical Training Group, is not allowed to be employed as a clerk in his Department, as he has served in the Army for six years, took part in the Arnhem lift in September, 1944, was captured and kept as a prisoner of war until May, 1945, his health being seriously affected thereby, and his parents having come to this country over 40 years ago.

The reasons were explained to the hon. and learned Member in a letter dated 31st October.

asked the Secretary of State for War, for how long a captain, who is due for release and whose name and number have been supplied, has been kept under open arrest without summary of evidence and without a formal charge; and what is the explanation of the delay.

This case is at present under investigation, following representations by the hon. Member, who will be informed of the result as soon as possible.

asked the Secretary of State for War how 14385263 Private A. Pullinger, with 22 years' experience in the building trade, was employed at 47th Division battle school; and whether he has now been released to resume building.

As No. 47 Infantry Battle School closed down in October and the staff have been dispersed it would be difficult to answer the first part of the Question; but I understand that Private Pullinger was released from the Army on 17th November.

asked the Secretary of State for War when the application for compassionate release of No. 89012 Captain J. J. Neesham, of 462 H.A.A. Battery, R.A., forwarded to him by the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle Central on 3rd October, 1945, will be dealt with; and, in view of the urgency of this and other cases, what steps he is taking to ensure a more speedy review of all applications for compassionate release.

There was some delay, outside the control of the War Office, in obtaining the necessary reports on this case. Indefinite release has now been approved and instructions issued. I am satisfied that the present organisation deals with compassionate releases as promptly as is possible in the present abnormal circumstances.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether No. 14304863, Sapper S. Patterson, No. 1 Section, 32nd Fortress Company, R.E., granted compassionate release by War Office letter, dated 25th September, 1945, has been released from service with his unit at Gibraltar; and whether he will consider an inquiry as to how such delay has arisen in this case, so that disciplinary action may be taken against those responsible.

This case was not referred to Gibraltar until 7th November, as it was not ascertained earlier that the soldier was now serving overseas. The authority for release was given on the assumption that he was still in the United Kingdom. The delay, which is much regretted, was due to that fact. The overseas command has again been asked by telegram to report, and I will write to my hon. and gallant Friend as early as possible.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that a R.A.O.C. officer, whose name has been communicated to him, who has held a temporary captaincy for two and a half years continuously and who, when due for release, volunteered for further service and has been posted to India Command, has been compelled to revert to his substantive rank of lieutenant with corresponding loss of pay; and, in view of the existing shortage of officers of this man's experience and ability, will he take steps to ensure that this demotior is rectified.

It has been necessary to refer to India in this case. On receipt of a report I will write to my hon. Friend.

Soldiers' Families (Germany)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to state when wives of personnel now serving in Europe will be able to join their husbands.

The living conditions in Germany make it impossible at present to allow families to proceed to that country. I hope that a number of families will be able to join their husbands in Austria and Italy before the end of the year. The present arrangements for sending families overseas provide only limited facilities, as indicated by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 9th October, in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg).

Repatriated Men (Reposting)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that men who have served for 3½ years in the Far East are being posted to the continent of Europe only six weeks after their repatriation; and if he will re-establish a minimum of three months' home service in such cases, especially in view of the severity of the winter climate in Europe.

I regret I cannot increase the minimum period, which was reduced from three months for the reasons given in my reply on 13th November to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Stafford (Captain Swingler).

Troops' Petition (Baor)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered the letter dated 7th October, signed by 813 other ranks at a R.H.U. in the B.A.O.R.; and what action, after consultation with the other Ministers affected, he has taken as to the three matters relating to demobilisation, gratuities and train travel raised therein.

The letter in question cannot be traced as having been received. If the hon. and learned Member will furnish a copy I will look into the matter.

Postings

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that men who fought at El Alamein, Tunisia, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany are now being posted again to the Middle East; and if he will consider keeping these men at home or in the B.A.O.R.

If the men in question have served continuously overseas since October, 1942, as suggested, they would not in normal circumstances be reposted to the Middle East. If my hon. Friend will send details of any such individual case I will investigate it.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a unit, of which particulars have been sent to him, including a number of men whose release group is 26, is under orders to join the M.E.F.; and whether it is proposed that men in this release group should be sent with this unit.

The unit in question was not under orders for the Middle. East, but C.M.F., to which it has now proceeded. Under existing rules men in groups 26 or later may be posted in the ordinary way to the B.A.O.R. or C.M.F.

Education

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give particulars of the educational and vocational training now available to men awaiting release; how it is related to the needs of the new Britain; for how many units of the Forces is such training now available; and how many men and women avail themselves of it.

Full particulars of the Army Education Scheme during the release period are contained in a pamphlet issued in June last, a copy of which I am sending to my hon. Friend. In units in which the Scheme is fully operative not less than six hours a week is allotted to education from normal training or working hours. Without the expenditure of much time and labour it would not be possible to say how many units, throughout the whole Army, are operating the Scheme but, in general, and excluding certain special units like hospitals, training units and detention barracks, which are exempt from the Scheme and catered for separately, it is being operated, wholly or partially, by all units outside India and S.E.A.C. whose operational and other commitments allow them to take advantage of it, and their numbers are steadily increasing.Recent reports show that the majority of units are now operating the Scheme wholly or partially. India and the Far East were unable to make as early a start. But since the end of the war with Japan every effort has been made to provide educational material and instructors, and the Scheme is expected to start in Ceylon and Burma before the end of the year in other parts of S.E.A.C. early in the spring of 1946. An interim scheme has been started in India.

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps he is taking to obtain the reprinting of text books required for those correspondence courses which are held up for lack of these books.

Representations are made to the publishers, through His Majesty's Stationery Office, who offer an allocation of paper for reprinting. All the publishers have co-operated as fully as possible. Where some delay is unavoidable, a suitable available book is substituted, or the particular course re-written so that it can be used without the non-available textbook.

Mail Delays

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction of our forces in the Far East at the continued delay of the receipt of their mail from this country, sometimes as long as four months; and what steps are being taken to expedite it.

I am not aware of any general dissatisfaction but if my hon. Friend has details of any recent delay relating to a particular unit, I will investigate on receipt of particulars. Letters are sent to base post offices daily by air but owing to the distances after arrival in the command and the recent moves of troops in the Far East delay in getting mails to individuals has sometimes been unavoidable. Parcels are despatched by sea.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered the evidence submitted to him of the irregularity and delays in the delivery of air mail to the Army in the Middle East; and if such air mail is now being delivered punctually.

Yes, Sir. I find no irregularity or delay up to the time mails reach the Middle East as mails leave daily by air. I am having further inquiries made regarding distribution after arrival in the Middle East.

Home Command

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will guarantee that the further amalgamation of districts and sub-districts in the Home Command will take place as scheduled on 1st January, 1946.

The reductions which have been scheduled are naturally subject to the run-down of the Army on which they were planned but I have no reason at present to suppose that they will not be achieved.

Gratuities

asked the Secretary of State for War when it is proposed to pay war gratuities to officers and other ranks who were released from service prior to the first demobilisation date.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my light hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 15th October to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for New Forest and Christ- church (Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre). Application forms can be obtained at Post Offices.

Ats

asked the Secretary of State for War why certain members of the A.T.S., now at Hampstead Special W.T. and Research Wing, who enlisted to do intelligence work, and were assured that they would not be required to take up any other service, have now been directed to general duties.

I am informed that all these auxiliaries signed a general service agreement, and it is not established that any such assurance was given by or on behalf of the War Office. I have, however, called for a full report on the matter, and I will write to the hon. and gallant Member when I have had an opportunity of examining the facts.

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

The strength of the A.T.S. on 31st October was approximately 148,800 as compared with a strength of approximately 195,200 at the end of April, 1945.

Nursing Sisters

asked the Secretary of State for War whether those nursing sisters who have been accepted for service in Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve and who have grey uniforms, which are in good and serviceable condition, will be permitted to retain and wear them and not be called upon to obtain new khaki outfits, in view of the fact that they may not remain in the service for an indefinite period and of the clothing shortage.

Yes, Sir; I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 13th November last to the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett).

Road Accidents (Baor)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give the number of Army personnel killed and injured in road accidents in Northwest Europe since VE-Day.

No separate figures are maintained but a sample examination of hospital admissions suggests that between 800 and 900 military personnel were seriously or fatally injured in road accidents in B.A.O.R. during the period in question.

Stakehill Detention Barracks (Inquiry)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will include a psychiatrist among the officers forming the court of inquiry into conditions at Stakehill military detention barracks; and if the relatives of Private Hanlon will be permitted to attend and to be represented at the court.

The answer to the first part of the Question is, "Yes, Sir." As regards the second part, the relatives of Private Hanlon will only be called if it is considered by the court that they could give evidence relevant to the inquiry. Courts of inquiry are not open to members of the public.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give an assurance that Servicemen giving evidence before the court of inquiry into conditions at Stakehill military detention barracks will be guaranteed absolute immunity from victimisation for so doing.

Aa Units

asked the Secretary of State for War how many officers and how many men are at present in all types of A.A. units in this country; and what function they are performing.

On 31st October there were 1,784 officers and 49,425 men in all types of A.A. units, namely, operative, training and holding units, including those in process of disbandment.

Christmas Fare

asked the Secretary of State for War what arrangements have been made in the way of food and liquid refreshment to ensure that all troops serving abroad enjoy a better Christmas than they have experienced during the last few years; and whether he will make sufficient transport available to carry such supplies beyond base areas.

The troops will receive their meat ration in pork and a cash grant which can be spent at N.A.A.F.I. or any local supplier. N.A.A.F.I. have arranged for considerable supplies of canned or frozen turkey, Christmas pudding, mincemeat, confectionery and beer, with oranges and other fresh fruit where possible. There is no reason why all the troops should not receive Christmas fare on equal terms, with the possible exception of parts of S.E.A.C. where active operations are in progress or distribution facilities cannot be fully restored in time.

54 Area, Cmf (Hq Staff)

asked the Secretary of State for War the number employed on the H.Q. staff of 54 Area C.M.F. on 1st May, 1945, and the latest date available; together with the number of troops under command on the same two dates.

The strength on 1st May, 1945, was 32 officers and 142 other ranks, and on 3rd November, 1945, was 18 officers and 100 other ranks. The troops in the area numbered 56,126 on the earlier date and 32,792 on the later date.

Rangoon (Matches And Soap)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the shortage of matches and soap in Service canteens in Rangoon; and if he will take steps to improve supplies.

Military Commitments (Europe)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he can yet state the precise nature and extent of our military commitments in Europe; and give any estimate of the number of troops required to fulfil these commitments for the next twelve months.

Our military commitments in Europe may be summarised as follow:

  • (a) Maintenance of law and order in ex-enemy countries.
  • (b) Assistance to the Government of Greece.
  • (c) The disbandment of the Wehrmacht. Although considerable progress has, been made there are still large numbers on our hands.
  • (d) The disarmament of Germany. Search for, collection and disposal of arms and ammunition. Demolition of fortifications, special structures and underground factories.
  • (e) The guarding and patrolling of the frontiers of our zones in Germany and Austria, to prevent the passage of unauthorised persons and goods.
  • (f) The control and repatriation of displaced persons. There are at present one million in the British zones.
  • (g) Tasks of reconstruction such as the reorganisation of railway systems, rebuilding of road and rail bridges, repairing of houses, and the distribution of food and coal.
  • It is very difficult to forecast what reduction can be made in our Forces while fulfilling these commitments during the next 12 months. Much will depend on how the situation in the various countries concerned develops.

    Casualties, Far East (Records)

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a number of N.C.O.s and men, while prisoners of war in the Far East, compiled and maintained, at personal risk to themselves, full records of their comrades with whom they were in touch; whether he has taken all possible steps to collect these records and what authority he proposes to give to the evidence contained in them; and whether he will see that the services of these men in keeping these records do not go without some permanent recognition.

    The majority of the lists referred to have been in possession of the War Office for some time, and are one of the main sources from which casualty information in the Far East has been obtained. Much of the information has already been promulgated to next-of-kind. Returned prisoners of war are urged to hand over to the War Office any information they may have regarding casualties. They are addressed in this sense on the ship bringing them home, and are asked to complete a pro-forma giving details of their information.It is known that the Japanese did their utmost and took strong disciplinary measures to prevent prisoners from keeping records, and the action of those individual prisoners who maintained such records was highly commendable. Consideration will be given to these as well as to other praiseworthy acts of our prisoners during their long period of captivity.

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that a large number of relatives of prisoners taken in Burma are still unaware, to their distress, whether those prisoners are alive or dead, and that, in order to help them to obtain news, a prominent Scottish paper, the "Sunday Post," has set up an exchange of information column which is used weekly by hundreds of anxious Scottish relatives; and will he take steps to collate such information through his Department.

    I am aware of the activities of the Scottish paper referred to in the first part of the Question. I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer I gave on 30th October last to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) about the missing in the Far East, and to the answer given by me today in reply to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low). As I said on 30th October my Department welcomes any information from the relatives, whether it is received through the medium of the Press or otherwise.

    Railway Travel (Paiforce)

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is satisfied that the conditions of third class railway travel in Paiforce Command are suitable for British troops proceeding on or returning from leave; and whether he will consider using only first or second-class accommodation.

    All available higher class stock is used for British troops but there is not enough to meet all requirements and many men must travel in third class stock. In that event the coaches are filled to half normal capacity and civilians and non-European troops are entrained in separate coaches. Most of the third class coaches are Indian stock which is more suitable than the local third class stock.

    Officer—Other Ranks Ratio

    asked the Secretary of State for War what is the present proportion of officers to other ranks; and what was the proportion of officers to other ranks in June, 1940.

    On 30th June, 1940, the overall ratio was one officer to 21 other ranks; on 30th September, 1945, it was one to 14. No true comparison can be made, however, without taking into account the changes in the Army's com- mitments. For example, there were more than 11 times as many British officers with the Indian Army and Colonial Forces in September, 1945, as there were in June, 1940; further the present occupational tasks involve a high proportion of civil affairs officers.

    Raoc, Italy (Food)

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the food complaints being made by Army personnel in Italy, whose address is 9th Vehicle Park, Transit Section, 38 Vehicle Company, R.A.O.C, C.M.F.; and whether he will take steps to raise the standard of feeding at this camp to that providing satisfaction in similar establishments elsewhere.

    No complaint has been received from the personnel concerned. If my hon. and gallant Friend will let me know to what period he refers and in what respect the feeding was unsatisfactory I will make further inquiries.

    Lodging Allowance

    asked the Secretary of State for War if he is prepared to reassess the lodging allowances of single officers and other ranks, in order that they may not be out of pocket.

    These allowances are being reviewed in connection with the preparations of the post-war pay and allowances code. In the meantime I do not think it can be assumed that the allowances are inadequate at present. This may be the case in particular instances and in particular places, but generally I have no evidence that supports inadequacy.

    Requisitioned Premises

    asked the Secretary of State for War when the honourable Member for Louth is likely to get an answer to his letter of 26th October with regard to the derequisitioning of Clyde House, Marshchapel, Lincolnshire, which is being used as an officers' mess, when there is adequate alternative accommodation in the village inn; and will he see that the owner, who has served with distinction with the R.A.F., is now enabled to get into his own house without further delay.

    The hon. Member will by now have received the reply which was sent to him on 15th November.

    asked the Secretary of State for War why steps are not being taken to derequisition Moreton Court, Hereford, and return this agricultural land amounting to 300 acres for food production; when it is proposed to compensate the owners for damage done to woodlands and other grounds requisitioned in 1942; why was the lodge requisitioned in November, 1943, when it had just been renovated by the owner for his own use, since it has been vacant from that date; and why is the mansion of 60 rooms still of military necessity since it has only been used by the Army authorities twice during three years and that for holding two dances by American officers.

    The land is now covered by a large storage depot containing several hundred thousand feet of covered storage. It is essential as a depot at present and I can give no forecast for derequisitioning. Compensation for damage done to woodlands, etc., is not payable until the land is derequisitioned. The lodge was originally requisitioned on security grounds at the request of the U.S. Army. Derequisitioning action has been initiated in regard to the mansion.

    asked the Secretary of State for War on what dates he expects to derequisition the 76 premises in Chelsea at present held by his Department, many of which are flats and houses.

    Apart from four houses which are being investigated for early release, I can make no forecast at present. Nearly all these properties house units which are necessarily accommodated in London. War Department accommodation in London is, unfortunately, inadequate to meet present essential commitments.

    asked the Secretary of State for War for what purpose Arundel, West Cliff Road, Ramsgate, is being used by his Department; and whether he will give an approximate date when he considers it likely that this house will no longer be required by his Department.

    This property is in process of derequisitioning under the normal procedure.

    asked the Secretary of State for War how many houses, including flats, are occupied or retained by his Department in the City of Manchester, and when will they be derequisitioned.

    Thirty, of which 21 are planned for derequisitioning by March, 1946. I can give no estimate of dates for the remaining nine.

    asked the Secretary of State for War the number of requisitioned properties held by his Department in the borough of Wandsworth, on 1st May, 1945, and on the latest date available; and whether he will give a date for the final release of all these properties which are urgently required for rehousing homeless families.

    The numbers of houses and flats held on 1st May and 13th November were 99 and 58 respectively. I anticipate that of the 58 still held, 28 will be released by the end of the year, and a further 24 by March, 1946. I am not at present in a position to say when the remaining six can be given up.

    Detainees

    asked the Secretary of State for War how many men are serving sentences in detention camps abroad: and will he consider transferring them to camps in this country.

    I could not say without first cabling all overseas commands, involving much time, labour and communication. The numbers change constantly and some men are committed for short sentences only. Under normal rules a soldier is transferred home as soon as possible if his sentence exceeds 12 months, unless the Court or confirming authority orders otherwise, in which case he may serve up to two years overseas. Such an order is made when there appears to be a prospect of suspending the sentence within a reasonable time. In the circumstances I do not propose to transfer these men to this country in advance of their comrades who are still awaiting repatriation or leave.

    Home Guard

    asked the Secretary of State for War when the Army forms to be used by members of the H.G. for the purpose of claiming the Defence Medal will be made available to them; and how is it proposed to inform such claimants of the procedure they should adopt in making their claims,

    Claims for the Defence Medal by members of the Home Guard will be made on Army Form B 2068. Supplies of this form are being despatched to Post Offices throughout the United Kingdom. As soon as the distribution to Post Offices has been completed and the supply of ribbon is sufficient to meet the demands of all Services affected, an official announcement will be made as to the procedure for claiming the medal.

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the invaluable and long service rendered by volunteer members of the H.G. and the recent announcement that the period of their liability to recall is extended for two years, he will now consider the possibility of rewarding them by some form of monetary award.

    Cadets (Greatcoats)

    asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that many Army cadets have not had greatcoats issued to them; and will he take steps to provide them before the winter from those handed in by men on demobilisation and other sources.

    Greatcoats have been issued for the equipment of cadets attending instructional courses, up to 2½ percent. of the strength of the Army Cadet Force. I am at present looking into the possibility of a wider issue, in relation to other commitments and liabilities.

    Meritorious Service Medal

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the increase in numbers of candidates for the Meritorious Service Medal with annuity, he will consider an increase in the size of the total grant in order that a greater percentage of those recommended can be rewarded.

    This point was considered a few months ago, and it was decided that there were no grounds on which to justify an increase in the number of annuities (750) now payable. I regret that I can see no reason to depart from that decision.

    Civilian Employees (Northern Ireland)

    asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give instructions that local ex-Servicemen with priority should be employed in the Holywood, County Down, Ordnance Depot and that the services of civilians from Eire be now dispensed with.

    As I said on 15th November, in answer to a Question by the hon. Member for Down (Dr. Little), civilian employees resident outside Northern Ireland are normally the first to go in the event of redundancy. I am not sure that anything more than this is necessary or could be justified, but I am looking into the matter and will write to the hon. and gallant Member.

    Python Drafts

    asked the Secretary of State for War how long men who are included in the next three Python drafts from C.M.F. will have served overseas before they reach home.

    Efficiency Medal

    asked the Secretary of State for War why personnel in supplementary Reserve category C are not equally entitled, with categories A and B, to the Efficiency Medal.

    The regulations for the award of the Efficiency Medal provide that the qualifying service required for the medal shall be "Service in an authorised auxiliary, naval, military or air force of the Empire in which training in peacetime is a prescribed condition of service." Category C of the Supplementary Reserve consisted entirely of personnel not required to undergo training in peace and they are, therefore, not eligible for the Efficiency Medal.

    Salvage (Disposal)

    asked the Secretary of State for War what general instructions have been issued by his Department regarding material and stores that may be scrapped or destroyed; and what precautions are taken to see that these instructions are strictly carried out.

    Such material and stores are reported direct by the War Office or by the Army Salvage organisation to the Ministry of Supply and Aircraft Production, for disposal or destruction. Actual destruction is sometimes carried out by the Army on behalf of the Ministry. This arrangement, which has been in operation for several years, is fully known to all concerned and I have no reason to suppose that it is not being properly observed.

    Naafi

    asked the Secretary of State for War why N.A.A.F.I. persists in charging bulk sales to units abroad in English currency, thereby imposing additional expense upon the individual soldier through having to pay in local currency; and will he instruct them to charge their sales in the local currency and to bear such difference in prices out of profits.

    The bulk of the supplies are obtained by N.A.A.F.I. for other than local currency. Further, it is desirable that the bulk charges to units should be on a uniform basis. Payment may be made to N.A.A.F.I. either by sterling cheque or by local currency at the official rate of exchange. By this method N.A.A.F.I. on the exchange make no profit and incur no loss. These bulk purchases are resold by the unit at local currency fixed by the latter based on the official rate of exchange at which the soldier is paid.

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will consult with other Service Ministries with a view to running N.A.A.F.I. on co-operative lines with representation on national and local committees on a basis proportionate to ranks.

    N.A.A.F.I. surpluses are already applied to the benefit of serving men, and men who have served, and I see no reason to change the system. As regards the second part of the question, there is already provision for committees, representative of all ranks, in units and higher formations, whose meetings are attended by the managers of institutes and more senior representatives of N.A.A.F.I. I do not consider that, in present circumstances, direct participation of all ranks in the conduct of this trading organisation is desirable or practicable, but through the medium of these committees the organisation is made constantly aware of the views and requirements of its clients.

    Dutch East Indies

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is satisfied that official protection is immediately available for the internment camp areas in Java in which 100,000 Dutch women and children are presently held.

    This is one of the reasons for the presence of British troops in Java. I am satisfied that, in the circumstances, the best possible measures have been and are being taken to ensure their protection.

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any evidence to the effect that the present disorders in Java have been started or fostered by the Japanese; how many Japanese troops and civilians remain at large in the island and how many under guard; and when it is proposed to send them back to Japan.

    There is no direct evidence that the present disturbances in Java have been started by the Japanese. There are, however, signs of clandestine support of the Indonesians by Japanese personnel. There are approximately 50,000 Japanese troops and 25,000 Japanese civilians in Java. The greater part of these are concentrated in the interior of the island until conditions enable their disarmament to be completed. It is not known how many have surrendered to the Indonesians. The repatriation of Japanese will be begun as soon as shipping becomes available.

    British Troops, Indonesia And Indo-China

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has considered a resolution passed by the Hurl-ford branch of the N.U.R., and sent to him by the hon. Member for West Fife, objecting to the use of British troops in Indo-China and Indonesia; and what reply has he made.

    I have been asked to answer this Question as the Resolution has been passed to the Foreign Office. It is one of many similar Resolutions which have reached the Foreign Office. Its receipt has been acknowledged. The Government policy regarding the use of British troops in Indonesia and Indo-China has been declared in two statements in Parliament, one by the Prime Minister on 17th October in reply to Questions by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South (Mr. Callaghan) and the other by myself in reply to the hon. and gallant Member for the Waterloo division of Lancaster (Captain Bullock) on 24th October.

    Dutch Troops, Great Britain

    asked the Secretary of State for War how many Dutch troops are being trained in this country; and for what purpose they are being trained.

    About 7,000. The training is carried out in this country under an agreement between H.M. Government and the Netherlands Government for assistance in the training of the Netherlands postwar Army.

    Czechoslovak Army Depot, Southend

    asked the Secretary of State for War how many Czech soldiers were in the Czechoslovak Army depot at Southend-on-Sea on 1st October, 1945; how many on nth November or near date; and whether he is satisfied that none of them who have expressed their disagreement with the present Government in Czechoslovakia has been forced to return against his will.

    There were 1,559 men at the depot on 1st October and 780, on 11th November. A party of 43 men who had been enemy prisoners of war, and were later accepted by the Czech authorities as Czech nationals, were sent back to Czechoslovakia on 8th November. Appeals on behalf of 11 of the men, who claimed to be Sudeten Germans, were received in the War Office. In view of the pronounced Nazi record of these men it was decided that there was no reason why they should not be returned to Czechoslovakia.

    Prisoners Of War

    Spanish Nationals

    asked the Secretary of State for War if he will now make a statement on the release and future prospects of the Spanish Republicans still held as prisoners in the North of England.

    I have nothing yet to add to the answer given on 18th October by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to my hon. Friend.

    Germany

    asked the Secretary of State for War how many German prisoners of war now in this country are not working, but would be available for direction to work, in the building industry or in agriculture.

    Austrians

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that Austrian prisoners of war in this country have not been allowed to see their relatives for over a year; that they are not allowed to see Austrian newspapers and are still kept in isolation; that no postal services are available and no repatriation from England has been started; and whether he will take steps to improve these and similar matters.

    Near relatives resident in this country, have been allowed to visit Austrian prisoners since May, 1945. Every attempt is made to provide Military Government newspapers published in Austria but owing to the shortage of paper and other difficulties the supply is very limited. As regards the latter part of the Question I would refer my hon. Friend to the answers given to the hon. Members for Stafford (Captain Swingler), Romford (Mr. T. Macpherson) and Wavertree (Mr. Raikes) on 13th November.

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether facilities will be made available for Austrian prisoners of war in Great Britain to receive Austrian anti-Nazi publications.

    If my hon. Friend will send me particulars of any publications he has in mind, I will arrange for them to be examined.

    asked the Secretary of State for War when is it proposed to repatriate Austrian prisoners of war who are proved to be anti-Nazi.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Stafford (Captain Swingler) on 13th November.

    War Decorations And Medals

    asked the Secretary of State for War if it is proposed to allow the figure 2 to be added to the medal ribbons awarded to the Second Army for then-services in France and Germany.

    I would refer my hon. and gallant Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) on 30th October.

    British Zone, Italy (Yugoslavs)

    asked the Secretary of State for War how many Yugoslav citizens have entered the British zones in Italy during the past three months; whether they have had exit permits from Yugoslavia; and what it is proposed to do with those who are political refugees.

    No information is available in London on this matter but I am making enquiries and will write to the hon. and gallant Member.

    Armed Forces (Postwar Conditions)

    asked the Secretary of State for War how soon he expects to be able to make an announcement on pay, pensions, and conditions of service in the Regular Armed Forces; and if, when the Government are preparing such an announcement, the desirability of a steadily increasing integration of the three services and their future use as part of a world defence force as well as in national defence will be borne in mind.

    As I have already informed hon. Members an announcement will be made as soon as possible. It is hoped to achieve a broad equality of treatment, based as far as possible on common principles, between the pay, pensions and terms of service for the three Services while at the same time providing for the differences required to meet their respective functions.

    Indonesia (Casualties)

    asked the Secretary of State for War if he will now publish in HANSARD the approximate total figures of persons of all nationalities killed, wounded, missing and taken prisoner, to the latest convenient date in November, in the recent disturbances following the liberation of French and Dutch territories in the Far East; and how many of these casualties have been in the British forces involved.

    The casualties of all nationalities reported to 8th November in French Indo-China, Java and Sumatra were 1,226 killed (excluding 150 Japanese murdered), 501 wounded, and 1,409 missing. The figures are not complete in the case of French, Dutch, Annamite, Indonesian and Japanese casualties owing to lack of information from the relevant headquarters. In addition, Indonesian casualties at Magelang in recent disturbances are estimated at between 200 and 300. The combined British Army and Indian casualties in the above figures are 65 killed, 178 wounded and 195 missing. I have no separate figures of British casualties.

    British Zone, Germany (Wines)

    asked the Secretary of State for War why supplies of wine and spirits have not yet been requisitioned from Germans in the British zone for consumption by British occupying Forces.

    Wines or spirits are not issued as part of the normal ration. They are requisitioned for hospital needs, when the quality is satisfactory, or to meet N.A.A.F.I. requirements, as and when necessary.

    Demobilisation

    Technical Personnel

    asked the Minister of Labour why men, technically qualified for release in B category as teachers, draughtsmen, building trade workers, police constables, etc., are retained by the War Office if rated as Class A Army tradesmen; what proportion of men who would otherwise be available in B category cannot be released because of this Army rating; and whether he will consider giving unconditional priority to men technically qualified for release under category B, regardless of their rating as tradesmen in the Army, on the ground that the needs of reconstruction should have precedence in peacetime over the plea of military necessity.

    I assume that the Question refers to the restriction which it was necessary to impose for a time on the release in Class B of certain tradesmen in the Royal Corps of Signals who could not then be spared from their military duties. I am happy to say that it has now been found possible to remove this restriction. As regards the last part of the Question, military requirements cannot be disregarded, but every effort is made by the Army authorities to release soldiers eligible under Class B, and the retention of such men is in fact quite exceptional.

    Students

    asked the Minister of Labour the number of Class B releases granted to university students at Oxford, Cambridge and at each of the provincial universities up to 31st October last.

    I regret that this information is not readily available. Figures showing the number of university students released in Class B are provided by the Service Departments, but no record is kept to show the universities to which the students will return.

    asked the Minister of Labour the number of students in the following categories who have been released from the Services up to 1st November: law, engineering, theology, architecture, medicine and surveying.

    I regret that this information is not available. Figures showing the number of University students released in Class B are provided by the Service Departments, but no record is kept of the subject which each student will study at his University.

    asked the Minister of Labour if he will inquire into the case, details of which have been submitted to him, of a student who has been one year in the Army and who has secured an exhition scholarship admitting him to a university and let the authorities know when this man may expect his release under Class B.

    Release of students in Class B is confined to men in Groups up to 49, that is with about three years' service, and the student referred to is therefore not eligible for release in Class B.

    Key Men

    asked the Minister of Labour whether, since men in key positions in industry were the last to be called up because they were necessary for war production and are therefore in late release groups, although their services are as urgently required now, he will take steps to release these key men immediately.

    Provision is already made in Class B for the release out of turn of the key specialists who are most urgently required in connection with reconstruction work.

    Military Service (Deferment)

    asked the Minister of Labour what is the number of applications made by employers for deferment of employees' call-up since 18th June, 1945, to the latest possible date; and the number granted.

    Statistics of the numbers of applications by employers are not available, but periods of deferment were granted in 58,000 out of the 116,000 cases in which decision regarding deferment of call-up were given by District Man Power Boards during the period 18th June to 31st October, 1945. These figures include a large number of reviews of earlier decisions as well as decisions; on new applications.

    Employment

    Service Personnel

    asked the Minister of Labour the number of Service personnel placed in employment by his Ministry's Appointments Branch since 9th May, 1945.

    During the period 1st May to 31st October inclusive, 1267 Servicemen (of whom 100 were ex-members of the Merchant Navy) were placed in employment by the Appointments Department.

    Building Industry (Essential Work Order)

    asked the Minister of Works whether he has altered, or is intending to alter, the general conditions embodied in the Essential Work Order as it affects the building industry.

    No alterations in the general conditions embodied in the Essential Work Order as it affects the building industry in particular have been made or are in contemplation.

    Unemployment Statistics

    asked the Minister of Labour the number of civil servants employed on compiling the unemployment figures of 15th October and the cause of the delay in publishing them; what steps he proposes to take to expedite the publication of monthly statistics in the future; and what will be the anticipated delay before publication.

    The compilation of the returns relating to unemployment occupy part of the time of a large number of civil servants in the regional and local offices of the Ministry and in headquarter departments. It would involve considerable cost to make an estimate of the total staff time involved. The time taken is in the preparation of statistics for eight

    Insured persons registered as unemployed in Great Britain.
    Date.Men 18–64.Boys 14–17.Women 18–59.Girls 14–17.Total.
    Wholly unemployed (including casuals) Unemployed for not more than 2 weeks Unemployed for more than 2 weeks16th July17,7273,79312,2682,98936,777
    15th Oct.31,5024,71026,3044,70067,207
    16th July45,3591,20118,0921,03665,688
    15th Oct.92,1833,02967.1582,952.165,322
    Temporarily stopped16th July388149118898
    15th Oct.413436713797
    Total16th July63,4744,99530,8514,043103,363
    15th Oct.124,0987,73493,8297,665233,326
    In addition, there were on the Register at 15th October, 12,484 uninsured persons including 5,458 boys and girls under 16 who had not yet entered industry as compared with a total of 10,438 at 16th July, including 9,153 such boys and girls.

    Ministry Of Works

    Huts (Dismantling, French Labour)

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he will give the number of Frenchmen employed on the Manham aerodrome, Norfolk, dismantling huts to go to France; the wage rates and conditions of employment; and why our own workers were not employed to do this work.

    I have been asked to reply. I am told that about 30 men are employed on this site and that their wage rates and conditions approximate to those

    age and sex groups within each industry for each region, together with analyses in relation to duration of the current spell of unemployment. Separate statistics are also compiled in respect of unemployed married women and men and women released or discharged from the Services and auxiliary Services. There is no avoidable delay in carrying out this work. The figures are normally available within four weeks after the date of the count.

    asked the Minister of Labour if he will give a comparative list of the numbers of unemployed men and women on 16th July and 15th October, respectively.

    Following is the information:of comparable British labour. The huts were badly needed by the French Government to enable essential rebuilding to take place in the Caen area, and as the British Government were unable to spare British labour the proposal of the French Government that it should send its own labour for the purpose was accepted.

    Requisitioned Premises

    asked the Minister of Works (1) if he will give a complete list of requisitioned houses and other properties in the county borough of Blackpool, naming, in each case, the Government Department concerned; whether each of these properties is occupied; and if he will give the approximate date when each of these properties will be derequisitioned;(2) if he will give a complete list of requisitioned houses and other properties in the borough of Lytham St. Annes, naming, in each case the Government Department concerned; whether each of these properties is occupied; and if he will give the approximate date when each of these properties will be derequisitioned.

    The accommodation occupied by Government Departments in Blackpool and Lytham St. Annes is under active review and I am in correspondence with the hon. and gallant Member.

    asked the Minister of Works on what dates he expects to derequisition the 108 premises in Chelsea at present held by his Department, many of which are flats and houses.

    The premises held on requisition in Chelsea by my Department consist of flats, large houses, parts of departmental stores and an hotel. Certain of the flats and the hotel will be released when vacated presently by the American Forces, and it is hoped to derequisition the remainder of the flats when alternative accommodation can be provided for staffs in occupation in about six to nine months' time. Most of the large houses are not readily convertible for use by more than one family, and these must be retained for the time being so that priority can be given to the release of other residential accommodation. It is not possible to state at present when the accommodation in departmental stores will be released.

    Central Hall, Westminster (Requisitioning)

    asked the Minister of Works whether he is aware that the requisitioning of the Central Hall, Westminster, in the absence of a public statement, has outraged the feelings of many members of the Methodist Church; and whether he will explain the circumstances in which this building, which is normally used for Divine worship, has been taken over by the Government.

    I am not aware that it has outraged public feeling that this building has been requisitioned for so important a conference as the General Assembly of the United Nations. It was essential that the first part of the First Session of the General Assembly should be held in close proximity to Church House, Westminster, at present housing the Secretariat which has been serving the Preparatory Commission and which will serve the General Assembly. The Government much regret the inconvenience caused and is greatly indebted to the Methodist Church authorities for their co-operation in making the hall available for this important purpose.

    Converted Airfields (Holiday Camps)

    asked the Minister of Works whether he will consider the conversion of British airfields which are no longer requied by the Service authorities, into summer holiday camps for children.

    It is no part of the function of the Ministry of Works to provide holiday camps for children; but if any organisation wishes to acquire surplus airfield land or buildings for such a purpose I should be happy to consider the proposal in suitable cases.

    Workers' Extension (Permit)

    asked the Minister of Works if he is aware that an established firm of contractors had to secure an order to produce components for housing purposes before possession was granted to erect additional works at their own risk; and if he will reconsider this method of granting permits.

    I am unable to identify the case to which the hon. Member refers, but if he will let me have particulars I will have inquiries made. The need for a new building or extension must of course be established before a licence is granted, particularly in areas where a great deal of urgent work is waiting to be done.

    Housing

    Temporary Houses

    asked the Minister of Works how much of the £150,000,000 voted for emergency houses has already been spent or contracted to be expended; and how many houses is the nation getting for this total expenditure.

    It is calculated that the amount spent and contracted to be expended on temporary housing is approximately £120,000,000. The £150,000,000 voted will defray the cost of about 125,000 houses.

    asked the Minister of Works why he employs a separate contractor to lay the concrete slabs and drains to accommodate prefabricated bungalows to be erected by another contractor at a later date; and why the managing contractor responsible for tile manufacture of the component parts is not given the complete job.

    The normal practice is to let one contract for site preparation, including the construction of the concrete slab foundation and house erection. Sometimes, however, labour, plant and time can be saved by adding concrete slabbing and drains to the contract for road works which are being carried out by a local authority, especially when prisoner-of-war labour is employed. It is considered essential that house erection should be undertaken by the Building Industry and that as much of this work as possible should be offered to local builders.

    Building Materials (Supplies)

    asked the Minister of Works if he will give a list of materials or equipment in short supply that are preventing the completion and occupation of both emergency and permanent homes; and will he cause such a Report to be issued monthly after the first of the year.

    Although there are local shortages of labour and materials from time to time, there is no general hold-up in the completion of temporary and permanent houses. I am sending the hon. Member a copy of a leaflet which has been published indicating the materials and components the supply of which is not-sufficient to meet all demands in full, and I would also refer him to the reply given to him yesterday.

    Uni-Seco House (Cost)

    asked the Minister of Works if he will give details of how the balance between £306, the cost of work and services supplied by Uni-Seco Structures Limited, in prefabricated houses, and the complete price of £1,020, is made up.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the replies I gave to similar Questions by the hon. Member for Maid-stone on 6th November, and by the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) on 12th November.

    House Sets

    asked the Minister of works why prefabricated bungalows are put into store before being sent to site for erection; and what is the cost of storage.

    Temporary houses are not put into store, but as the 2,000 to 3,000 parts of each house are made in a large number of factories they are sent to distribution centres for assembly into complete house sets before being issued to sites. These centres are still being set up and meantime costs cannot be accurately determined.

    House Of Commons (Lighting)

    asked the Minister of Works whether provision has been made in the plans for the rebuilding of the House of Commons for the latest type of fluorescent lighting, applied with modern skill, to replace the out-of-date system which has such a detrimental effect on the eyes of Members.

    This type of lighting will doubtless be examined with others by the outside consultant, but many factors, some of them highly technical, will have to be taken into consideration before a final decision is made.

    National Finance

    Income Tax Inspectors (Wales)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give the number of Income Tax inspectors in Wales; and how many of these are Welsh speaking.

    There are 25 tax districts in Wales, in 12 of which there is a Welsh-speaking inspector. In 12 of the other districts there is a Welsh-speaking member on the inspector's staff.

    Commodity Subsidies

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will state in tabular form the cost of the various commodities subsidised by His Majesty's Government and at the same time quote the profits on other commodities, cost and sale price, such as timber, cocoa, palm oil and other controlled commodities.

    The following table shows the cost of subsidies in 1945–46 estimated on the basis of the conditions before Lend-Lease came to an end:—

    £ million
    Bread, Flour and Oatmeal58.8
    Meat27.5
    Potatoes22.8
    Eggs and Egg Products18.5
    Sugar19.1
    Milk23.0
    Cheese4.6
    Bacon3.2
    Tea3.5
    Butter 7.8
    Net loss on other foodstuffs3.4(1)
    National Milk and Milk-in-Schools Scheme20.0
    Animal Feeding-stuffs18.5
    Fertilisers7.5
    Contribution to cost of New Zealand Government's stabilisation policy in respect of food production4.0
    Total subsidy of food production and distribution242.2
    Utility Clothing4.0
    Coal Transport2.0
    Estimated loss of Ministry of Supply on raw materials entering into domestic civilian consumption (calendar year 1945) 4.1(2)
    Total252.3
    NOTES.—(

    1 ) This figure is the balance of the profits and losses on the residual items other than those shown separately in the table. On cocoa there is an estimated profit of £500,000 and on palm oil of £1,700,000, the latter being an offset to gross losses of £2,200,000 on other oils and fats. (2 )This figure represents the subsidy on the proportion of raw materials estimated to enter into civilian consumption at home. The biggest items are £3,100,000 on wool and £445,000 on timber.

    In view of the very large number of commodities and the many different grades and types of which they are composed, it is not posible to show the cost and sale prices separately.

    Civil Service

    Local Authority Membership

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether it is the custom for civil servants who have been elected to municipal authorities to be given the necessary leave of absence, with salary, to fulfil their public duties; and, if not, whether he will give immediate consideration to this question.

    The existing rule is that service on a local council should not interfere with a civil servant's perform- ance of his Civil Service duties. I do not feel able to give a fresh general instruction on the matter, since circumstances, and particularly the amount of absence involved, vary widely. But I am willing to consider on their merits, in consultation with the employing Departments concerned, any cases in which it is thought that time off is being unreasonably refused.

    Statistics

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many established civil servants were employed in the grades of clerical officer, higher clerical officer, executive officer, higher executive officer, senior executive officer, assistant. principal, principal, assistant secretary and principal assistant secretary, respectively, prior to the outbreak of war; and what is the corresponding figure at the present time.

    Following is the information:The numbers of established civil servants employed in the various grades enumerated in the Question at the date of the last prewar Civil Service Census, i.e., 1st April, 1939, are set out in the table below. With the wartime suspension of the census and the temporary substitution of a simplified form of return it is not possible to give comparable figures for the present time in all cases; but where the figures are available the third column of the table sets out the numbers of established staff in post at 1st July, 1945 (the latest date for which detailed figures by grades are available) excluding those serving in the Armed Forces or other war service.

    Grade.1st April, 1939.1st July, 1945.
    General Clerical Officer28,47919,885
    Higher Clerical Officer3,6117,012(a)
    Junior Executive Officer (b)2,8343.375
    Higher Executive Officer (b)1,5592,747
    Senior Executive Officer (b)485Separate figures for these grades are not immediately available.
    Assistant Principal 334
    Principal531
    Assistant Secretary 231
    Principal Assistant Secretary87
    (a) Including a small number of certain other grades.
    (b) Including certain analogous grades.

    Government Departments' Staffs

    Sir R. Glyn