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Written Answers

Volume 436: debated on Tuesday 15 April 1947

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 15th April, 1947

Scotland

Herring Fishing (Research)

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the complete failure of the winter fishing season in the Firth of Forth; and whether in view of the disappointing record of recent years, he will undertake a scientific inquiry to discover, if possible, the reasons for the failure.

Yes, Sir. I am aware of the very poor results obtained from the herring fishing in the Firth of Forth this year and I am endeavouring to get the necessary qualified staff to make it possible to carry out research in this area. To enable me to do this work I am also having the newly acquired herring research vessel refitted for this purpose.

Housing

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many houses now under construction in Scotland will remain uncompleted by the end of 1947 under the Government's recent restrictive order.

The aim is not to restrict but, by the concentration of resources, to increase the number of completed houses in 1947. The number of houses now under construction is 35,239, and it is estimated that it may be possible to complete 24,000 by the end of the year.

Utility Clothing Subsidies

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what is the subsidy on a standard utility shirt, a pair of men's utility socks, a pair of men's utility boots and shoes, men's utility woollen vests and men's utility suits, respectively.

I have been asked to reply. I regret that it is not possible to express the subsidies on utility cloth and the subsidy element in leather prices in the manner suggested in the Question, since there are no "standard" articles of apparel and footwear to which to refer, but it is calculated that the subsidy on utility cotton cloth amounts to about 1s. 2d. on a 10s. shirt and the subsidy on utility wool cloth to about 7s. 6d. on a £5 suit. Owing to the manner in which the subsidy on ides is operated and to the variety of types of leather used for each specification of boot or shoe, it is not possible to give a reliable estimate of the amount of subsidy in boots or shoes of any particular category. There is no subsidy on knitted vests and socks.

Architectural Students

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will arrange for the premature release of conscripted architectural students in order to place them on a par with students going up to universities.

Some architectural students who are taking full-time courses of theoretical study will benefit by the arrangements already announced, and I regret I cannot extend these arrangements.

Railways

Freight Traffic Restrictions

asked the Minister of Transport whether the L.N.E.R. have banned the movement of goods from the West Riding of Yorkshire to Norfolk; why bales of utility cloth required at Gorleston-on-sea have still not been collected from Messrs Arnold. Senior and Company, Limited, Bottoms Mills, Birkenshaw, near Bradford, in spite of daily requests, since 24th February, to the Birkenshaw L.N.E.R. station; and when the required facilities will be provided.

The overriding priority accorded to coal and the transport difficulties caused by the snow and floods made it necessary for the railway company to impose severe restrictions upon the forwarding of freight traffic. The restriction affecting this consignment was withdrawn on 1st April

Steel Wagons

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that production of 16-ton all-steel coal wagons at Derby L.M.S. works is curtailed because of a shortage of steel; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure that sufficient steel is allocated to the C. and W. works, Derby, to ensure that full production in this important matter of coal wagons can be proceeded with.

Yes, Sir, and steps have been taken to ensure, as far as practicable, that steel will be available for the programme of construction of coal and mineral wagons.

Surplus Service Aircraft

asked the Minister of Supply in what manner surplus aircraft and aircraft spares are disposed of.

Surplus aircraft suitable for commercial or private flying and spares for them are usually sold as follows:

  • (a) aircraft intended for export are offered to the design companies for export by them after reconditioning and conversion to civil standard; and
  • (b) other aircraft as they lie by competitive tender.
  • The majority of surplus Service aircraft are, of course unsuitable for civil use and if not wanted for other Governmental purposes are normally broken down for the recovery of materials.

    Motor-Car Lights (Dazzle)

    asked the Minister of Transport if he will introduce regulations controlling the power and height of headlights, and making dipping obligatory on all motor vehicles.

    The question of revising the existing Regulations in respect of the lighting of road vehicles will be given careful consideration in the light of any conclusions which may be reached by the Vehicles Committee of the Road Research Board as a result of their investigation of the headlight dazzle problem, to which I referred in my Answer to a Question by the hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. Shepherd) on 31st March. I will bear my hon. Friend's suggestions in mind for consideration with the conclusions of the Vehicles Committee in due course.

    Royal Air Force

    Release Clothing

    asked the Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that Dennis Lamert arrived from India at Liverpool, on 13th February, and was demobilised from rot P.D.C. at Warton, Lancashire, on 16th February; that, although the date was in the depth of the winter weather, he had to surrender, his greatcoat and was not provided with a civilian greatcoat because there were none available; that, on arrival home in Gravesend, he found R.A.F. greatcoats offered for sale in a civilian shop at £1 5s. each; and whether he will explain this.

    Airmen who are released are normally given a lined raincoat, not a greatcoat, and I have confirmed that Mr. Lamert received one. During a temporary shortage of raincoats, civilian overcoats were issued but no more are being produced and an airman can only have one if his size is still available. Provided he is fitted with a raincoat an airman must surrender his service greatcoat, which is normally returned to stock. Only greatcoats that are beyond repair are disposed of outside the R.A.F.

    Married Quarters, Egypt

    asked the Secretary of State for Air the number of married quarters under construction in the Suez Canal zone; how many of these will be occupied by families evacuated from Egypt; and how many further applications for married quarters have been accepted.

    There are already 104 married quarters in the Canal zone and 265 more are being built. 279 will be needed for families already in Egypt. At present there are 663 families waiting in the United Kingdom for married quarters in Egypt to become available.

    Visas (Personal Case)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when a decision will be made in the case of Mr. G. M. Strauss, who is seeking a visa for three months' stay in this country on his way from Palestine to the U.S.A., about which the hon. Member for Hornsey has been corresponding with him for some time.

    The hon. Member should by now have received my letter of l0th April about this application.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will inquire into a case, details of which have been submitted to him, of a British-born woman, now, of Polish nationality owing to marriage, whose husband wished to obtain British naturalisation but could not do so until demobilised from the Polish forces and able to obtain employment with a British firm, who sent him to Brazil, but because he was not at the time in this country was refused naturalisation, and the wife has been refused renaturalisation as a British subject and so she cannot obtain a visa for herself and her British-born child to join her husband in Brazil; and if he will rectify this position.

    Naturalisation is not possible in this case because one of the Statutory requirements is that an applicant must intend to reside in His Majesty's Dominions. The grant of a visa is a matter for the Brazilian authorities, but my Department will be ready to furnish the wife with. a certificate of identity to facilitate her journey.

    Armed Forces

    Compassionate Releases

    asked the Minister of Defence the total number of compassionate releases from all three Services during the year 1946.

    Nearly 19,000 officers and men and members of the women's and nursing Services were granted compassionate releases for indefinite periods in 1946. Many thousands more were released for stated periods, but a large proportion of these were subsequently extended indefinitely and are included in the 19,000. The number not so extended cannot readily be separated.

    Education Personnel

    asked the Minister of Defence the total number of officers and men employed full-time on educational duties in all three Services at the latest date for which figures are available.

    Post Office Revenue

    asked the Assistant Postmaster-General the gross revenue of his Department for the financial year ended 31st March, 1947; and the expenses incurred during the same period.

    The Post Office revenue paid into the Exchequer in the year ended 31st March, 1947, was £131 million, and the issues from the Exchequer to meet Post Office expenditure were £133,820,000. The commercial results will not be known for some months, but it is expected that, including the value of services rendered or received without payment, revenue will be approximately £171 million and expenditure approximately £146 million.

    Flooding (Land Drainage Schemes)

    asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will investigate allegations that the land drainage and ditching schemes, carried out with Government aid during the past seven years, seriously aggravated the flooding of the Trent, the Ouse and other main rivers; and if he will make a statement.

    Full evidence is being collected from all catchment areas so that the lessons to be learnt from the floods can be comprehensively studied. Opinions differ regarding the effects on the flow of water of the clearance of ditches and upland watercourses, which was, of course, fully justified by the needs of wartime food production; but the frozen and waterlogged condition of the land when the recent thaw occurred, coupled with the volume of water to be discharged, would have caused an exceptional run-off irrespective of the condition of the upland watercourses.

    India (Excluded Areas)

    asked the Under-Secretary of State for India if he is aware of the anxiety felt among the Christians of Lushai lest they be subject to persecution by neighbouring tribes after the withdrawal of British power; and if he will take all possible steps to ensure the safety of the Lushai within an independent India.

    I have seen the representation to which I assume my hon. Friend refers. The Lushai Hills District of Assam is at present an excluded area under Sections 91–2 of the Government of India Act, 1935. Provision for the future of such areas was made by the Cabinet Mission in paragraph 20 of their Statement of 16th May (Cmd. 6821). This paragraph recommended that the Advisory Committee of the Constituent Assembly, which should contain due representation of the interests affected, should inter alia prepare a scheme for the administration of the excluded areas for submission to the Union Constituent Assembly. The Advisory Committee has now been appointed and has entrusted this task to a sub-committee. I understand that the sub-committee is visiting the Lushai Hills during the current month This procedure is in accordance with the policy of leaving to Indians themselves the responsibility for settling the constitution for all parts of India.

    Prisoners Of War

    Personal Case

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will make a statement on the circumstances in which a German Socialist prisoner of war, No. 168874 Ernst Eggerath, who was sentenced to six years' imprisonment by the Nazis for high treason and afterwards conscripted into the Punishment Battalion, No. 999, was beaten up by S.S. men in camp 380 in the Middle East; and what action has been taken as a result of his information.

    Ernst Eggerath was a member of an anti-Nazi cage in Camp 380 He was beaten up during the night of 15th February, 1946, by other prisoners, none of whom however, had belonged to the S.S. For this outrage one man was sentenced to three years' penal servitude, and three others to periods of detention varying from two years to nine months. Ernst Eggerath has since been repatriated to Germany.

    Camp Commandants (Allowances)

    asked the Secretary of State for War why the qualification for command allowance for lieutenant-colonels is based on the number of troops under command, thus excluding lieutenant colonel commandants of prisoner-of-war camps, when the allowance is intended to meet the expenses of entertaining which a commanding officer normally has to incur in virtue of his position; and whether he is aware that the commandant of a prisoner-of-war camp has at least as many official visitors as a battalion commander or equivalent.

    The allowance is designed to cover entertainment expenses arising from command of officers and men. No such liability arises in respect of prisoners of war. It is not intended to cover the entertainment of official visitors, separate provision for which is made in Army Order 170 of 1944.

    Rations

    asked the Secretary of State for War if he will state, in detail, the food rations which are now being issued to German prisoners of war who are living in camps and are employed in agriculture.

    The present daily ration scale for German prisoners of war living in camps and employed in agriculture is as follows:

    Ounces
    Meat (bone in)2
    Margarine6/7
    Cooking Fat1/7
    Bacon3/7
    Bread18
    Flour1 2/7
    Oatmeal1 6/7
    Offal or Sausage1 3/7
    Cheese4/7
    Preserves4/7
    Dried Fruit4/7
    Tea2/7
    Sugar1 1/7
    Milk powder, skimmed1
    Potatoes (old)20
    Vegetables, fresh8
    Vegetables, dried1 1/7
    Salt
    Fresh fish (when available)5
    Ration Cash Allowance2d.
    6/7 ounce of coffee may be issued instead of tea on not more than three days a week.

    Postwar Credits

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the depreciation in the value of the he will consider making a percentage increase in postwar credits, when these are paid, as has been done in assessing war-damage payments.

    Army Headquarters

    asked the Secretary of State for War the total strength of all officers and men posted to the establishment, and attached to the establishment, of the following Headquarter formations as at September, 1944: S.H.A.E.F., H.Q. 21 Army Group, H.Q. r Corps, H.Q. 3 British Infantry Division, H.Q. 185 Infantry Brigade.

    Embassy Official's Interview

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the interview with Mr. Philip Jordan, First Secretary to the British Embassy in Washington, published in the "New Orleans Times-Picayune" on 28th February, 1947, was given with his approval; and if he will instruct the Ambassador in Washington to discourage his officials from the publicising of party propaganda.

    Mr. Philip Jordan was sent on a month's speaking tour with the full authority of His Majesty's Ambassador. It is part of the duty of officials in the Information Office of the Embassy to give information, and even to express opinions if such are called for, in the course of those interviews, which the custom of the country demands they shall give when arriving in cities they do not normally visit.

    Coal Supplies, Bedford

    asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of the continued irregularity and inadequacy of domestic coal supplied to Bedford, he will arrange for the early delivery to the town of a tonnage which will enable local merchants to honour the quantities allocated to users by his local fuel over seer.

    with reference to his reply [OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th March, 1947; Vol. 434, c. 1487], made the following corrections: During the four weeks ended 8th March domestic coal supplies to Bedford were 157 tons below allocation, and not 243 tons in excess as originally stated, and the special consignment of coalite sent into Bedford during that period amounted to 315 tons, not 350 tons

    Polish Government (Recognition)

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government has accorded, or intends to accord, de jure as well as de facto recognition of the Polish Provisional Government, notwithstanding the failure of that Government to fulfil the conditions upon which provisional recognition had been accorded by His Majesty's Government.

    His Majesty's Government recognised the Government of Poland de jure on 6th July, 1945.