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Written Answers

Volume 436: debated on Wednesday 23 April 1947

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 23rd April, 1947


Generals And Admirals (Screening)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many German generals and admirals who were prisoners of war have been screened since VE-Day.

So far two Field Marshals and 83 Generals have been screened in this country.

Art Treasures, Berchtesgaden


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the value of the valuable works of art collected by Hitler and other treasures found by the Allies at Berchtesgaden; whether they have been sold; and to what purpose have the proceeds been devoted.

No precise estimate of the value of these treasures can be given. They have not been sold but are being restored, under the agreed restitution procedure, to the Governments of those countries from which they were removed.

Former Political Prisoners (Polish Association)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why a prohibition has been placed on the activities of the Polish Association of Former Political Prisoners in Concentration Camps and Prisons.

I regret that I am not yet in a position to reply. Inquiries are being made in Germany, and as soon as these are completed I will circulate the information in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Hong Kong (Income Tax Assessment)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if, in view of the objections to the imposition of Income Tax in Hong Kong on the ground that certain persons do not keep accounts on which accurate declarations of income can be based, he will consider introducing the system in use elsewhere, by which the authorities assess without any declaration of income to guide them, allowing the taxpayer to prove that the assessment is excessive.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his suggestion. Provision has in fact been made for the adoption of the system in question in the Bill which has now been published in Hong Kong.

Colonial Empire

Export Duties


asked the Secretary of state for the Colonies if he will issue a statement showing, in respect of goods imported into Britain, what export duties are levied on such goods in various Colonies; and what subventions are given by Britain directly or indirectly, by preferences or otherwise, to the prices of such goods at the expense of British consumers.

As export duties are normal means of raising revenue in the Colonies there is a very large number of such duties levied by Colonial Governments on goods exported to this country as well as other destinations. I am arranging for a copy of an up-to-date list of such duties to be placed in the Library of the House. As regards the second part of the Question, Colonial exports do not at present receive any benefit from any subventions or price concessions in the United Kingdom market except in so far as those prices are increased as a result of preferential rates of import duty. Details of these preferences will be found in the United Kingdom Customs Tariff, but my hon. Friend should bear in mind that the preferences are today not having their normal effect on prices because in a number of cases the prices which this country is paying for the Colonial commodities concerned instead of being, as in normal times, higher than the world market prices because of the preference, are actually lower than the prices being paid currently for similar commodities sold by foreign producers to consumers outside the United Kingdom. It is, indeed, generally true that prices of Colonial commodities imported into this country are below the levels prevailing elsewhere.

Research Projects


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what research projects recommended or approved by

Research ProjectName of Person or Body by whom being carried out.
Ethnographic survey of AfricaInternational African Institute
Social survey of ZanzibarProfessor Batson.
Sociological survey of peasant community in JamaicaMiss Edith Clarke, under super vision of the London School of Economics.
Study of the economic and cultural status of women in the British Cameroons.Miss P. Kaberry, under supervision of the International African Institute.
Study of the economic and social aspects of Colonial Policy during the war period.Mr. F. J. Fisher.
Preparation of Handbook of African LanguagesInternational African Institute.
Legal research into land tenure in the Gold Coast based on investigation of native court records.Mrs. I. C. Matson.
Study of French administration in North AfricaMiss S. Eyre Crowe, under the supervision of the University of Oxford.
Field studies in connection with land and settlement problems in Kenya.Government of Kenya.
Investigation of the grammatical structure of Kikuyu Rev. Lyndon Harries.
Survey of mental illness and Juvenile delinquency in West Africa.Dr. G. Tooth.
Ethnographic study of the Mende, Sierra LeoneDr. K. Little.
Survey of factors affecting the efficiency of African labour in Kenya.Dr. C. H. Northcott.
Investigation of secondary school science teaching in West Africa.Mr. F. Smithies.
Anthropological research among Tonga, Ngoni, and YaoRhodes Livingstone Institute.
Linguistic study of IboMiss M. M. Green.
Linguistic study of GandaDr. A. N. Tucker.
Colonial Research Fellowships.
Method of measurement of national income of Colonial territories. Computation of national income, production and expenditure of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.Miss P. M. Deane.
Survey, based on field studies of earnings and family budgets, of the occupational structure of representative communities in the Gold Coast as influenced by war-time Government expenditure.Miss P. Ady.
Study of the political organisation of typical communities in the Gambia.Mr. D. P. Gamble.
Study of relations between the content of education and the after-school occupational life of girls and women in the Gold Coast.Miss C. Fletcher.
Linguistic and cultural study of Nadrami ArabiaDr. R. B. Serjeant.
Psychological study of the adaptation of the individual to life in a social community, and of different native social communities to contact with Western society, in Northern Rhodesia.Mr. M. G. Marwick.

Mombasa (Labour Dispute)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to an announcement made by the Kenya Information

the Colonial Social Science Research Council are now in hand.

The research projects recommended by the Colonial Social Science Research Council which have been approved by me or my predecessor and are still in hand are as follow:Office on 22nd January, that the A.D.C. to the Governor had participated in strikebreaking activities during the recent strike in Mombasa; if he will make a statement of the facts; and what views he has expressed on the incident.

I have seen the announcement by the Kenya Information Office which reads as follows:

"A number of volunteers arrived from Nairobi this morning (22nd January) for work in the Port. Amongst them is the A.D.C. to His Excellency the Governor."
It was clearly necessary that essential services should be maintained and members of all sections of the community and all races volunteered to keep the Port open. I understand that the A.D.C. was among those who assisted in the unloading of ships.

Gibraltar (Daily Newspaper)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent the "Gibraltar Chronicle," the only English paper published on the Rock, is under Government control; how is that control exercised; and what was the profit or loss on this paper during the last accounting year.

The ''Gibraltar Chronicle" has been owned since its foundation in 1801 by a Committee of the Garrison Library, which is composed of representatives of the Combatant and Colonial Services. It is in no way under the control of the Government of Gibraltar whose policy it has in fact frequently criticised. With regard to the last part of the Question, the profit during the last accounting year was £973, which was used for the maintenance of the Library and for a staff bonus. The "Gibraltar Chronicle" is the only daily paper in Gibraltar published wholly in English, but both a daily and a weekly paper are published in Spanish which contain occasional articles in English.


Bbc Programmes (Restrictions)


asked the Postmaster-General when it is intended to resume the broadcasting of the educational and the Forces programme of the B.B.C.

The present restrictions on B.B.C. programmes are related to the fuel emergency, and will be modified as soon as the fuel situation permits.

Budget Broadcasts


asked the Prime Minister whether it was the normal practice before the war for an Opposition speaker to broacast on the night following that on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer broadcast about the Budget.

Post Office (Trades Union Representations)


asked the Postmaster-General when he expects to be in a position to reply to representations made by the Civil Service Clerical Association, on 16th September, 1946, regarding the question of official recognition in his Department.

Terrace Houses, Regent's Park (Report)

asked the Prime Minister if he will publish as a White Paper, or make available in the Library of the House, the evidence given by persons and organisations before the Committee on the Regent's Park terraces.

The evidence received by the Committee is quite adequately summarised in the report and its appendices, and I do not think that further publication is necessary.

Food Supplies

Infestation Control Working Party


asked the Minister of Food what European countries were represented at the recently held meeting of the Infestation Control Working Party; and what results have ensued from that conference.

The countries represented at the recent meeting of the Infestation Control Working Party were Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The F.A.O. (European Office) and U.N.R.R.A. were also represented. The case of the European countries generally for more control over the condition of imports of primary foodstuffs from tropical and subtropical countries was developed, as the basis for wider international discussions under the responsibility of the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Foreign Turkeys


asked the Minister of Food if he will state, by countries, the number of turkeys he has actually bought, to the latest available date, and the price paid for them delivered in Britain.

Since Christmas, 1946, we have received 900 tons from Hungary, 576 tons from South America, 128 tons from Yugoslavia, three tons from Poland and two tons from Australia. No other purchases have been completed. As usual, it would be undesirable to publish prices.


asked the Minister of Food if he will make a further statement in regard to the proposed purchase of turkeys from the U.S.A.

Manufacturing Meat Licences


asked the Minister of Food why a retail butcher's shop having a cooked meat department is only eligible to receive a manufacturing meat licence if there is a separate access door from the street to the cooked meat section.

There need not be a separate door from the street, but the butcher must be able to prove that before control was introduced the cooked meats section of his shop was an entirely separate business, with separate accounts.

Meat Allocations


asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that butchers are being compelled to draw on forward allocations of meat to an ever increasing extent to meet current ration requirements; that this process may eventually lead to the closing of butcher's shops for a week with consequent hardship to consumers; and if he will take steps to increase the supply of meat to retail butchers.

A butcher, if for any reason he finds he cannot meet the ration, should tell his deputy meat agent, a practical butcher, who can make arrangements to tide him over his difficulties. Present allocations cannot be increased until supplies improve. Any consumer who cannot obtain her ration from her butcher should apply to the local food office to change her registration.

asked the Minister of Food whether his attention has been drawn to the declaration by Glasgow and District Retail Fleshers' Defence Association that their members are unable to meet the ration from the amount of meat now allocated to them; and if he will make a statement on the position.

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that the Glasgow and District Retail Fleshers are unable to honour the meat ration from the allocation at present made to them; and what steps he proposes to take to meet this situation.

I have received a copy of a resolution passed by a meeting of the Glasgow and District Retail Fleshers' Defence Association. The allocations to the Glasgow butchers are on the same basis as to butchers in other areas, and I am satisfied are sufficient to enable the trade to cut the full ration and still to make some sausages. It is, of course, my intention to increase allocations as soon as the supply position permits.



asked the Minister of Food if, in view of the shortage of dried fruits, he will encourage the manufacture of dried ripe bananas.

Unfit Carcases


asked the Minister of Food to what extent the large number of cattle which died due to exposure in the recent cold weather were fit for human consumption; and how many of the carcases were sent to market to be sold in the usual way.

Unfortunately, only slaughtered animals are fit for human consumption, and none of those which died of exposure could be used in this way.

Fish Arrivals, Billingsgate


asked the Minister of Food what progress has been made by the committee set up to deal with the speedier arrivals of fish at Billingsgate, especially that from Aberdeen.

An increase in handling staff at King's Cross has brought about some improvement. The market authorities, the railway companies, the trade and trade unions concerned are trying to work out arrangements for a further speed-up.

New Ration Books


asked the Minister of Food whether, in compiling the new food rationing books, he has included single bread rationing coupons only, in order to facilitate the purchase of this food.

No, Sir, they would take up too much room, and comparatively few single bread unit coupons are needed for ordinary shopping. But we are doing away with the 6-unit coupon in the new books by using four pages instead of three for bread.

Soft Fruit Crops (Transport)


asked the Minister of Food whether transport and labour in sufficient quantity will be made available this year for the collection and distribution of soft fruit from the countryside, so that the public can purchase such fruit at reasonable prices and without queueing and with a view to eliminating waste.

Unless the season proves to be very abnormal, I have no reason to expect any special transport and labour difficulties this year and if there are any which have come to my hon. Friend's notice and he will let me know what they are, I will gladly look into them

Salt (Pig Curing)

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that bar salt, which is required for the home-curing of pigs, is virtually unobtainable in the Crediton and Okehampton areas; and what action he has taken to make salt available and so prevent the loss of valuable food.

There has been a general decline in the production of bar salt because it requires considerably more fuel per ton of output than does vacuum salt which is equally satisfactory for pig curing. The amount of salt available at present is adequate to meet all reasonable needs, but if any cases of shortage in particular areas are brought to my notice I will take steps to see that they are remedied.

Soap Prices


asked the Minister of Food what alterations he is making as from 30th March, 1947, in the prices of oils and fats used for soap making, and in the wholesale and retail prices of hard, soft and other soaps; and whether any differentiation is being made between soap used for domestic and industrial purposes.

The prices of oils and fats used in soap making were advanced by an average of 54 per ton on 30th March. Corresponding increases have been permitted in the prices of all soaps except hard soap. Sales of this for domestic use, and certain non-domestic uses, will continue to be subsidised in accordance with the Government's stabilisation policy. Hard soap used by commercial laundries and for industrial processing operations will not be subsidised.

Royal Air Force

Meteorological Branch (Training Courses)


asked the Secretary of State for Air how many recruits have been trained for the Meteorological Branch of the R.A.F. in the last 12 months.

During the last 12 months, 30 officers finished their training for the Meteorological Branch of the R.A.F. They had all begun their training before 1st April, 1946. Since that date, only civilians who have joined the Meteorological Office have been admitted to our training courses.

Civilian Manpower


asked the Secretary of State for Air if he is aware that there appears to be waste of civilian manpower at certain R.A.F. stations; and what steps are taken to keep under review the manpower position on these stations, with a view to ensuring the utmost economy consistent with efficient administration.

A.O.Cs. and Station Commanders are responsible for ensuring that no manpower is wasted on their stations. Station establishments are constantly reviewed by a special Committee of my Ministry; the members of this Committee make frequent inspections on the spot. The section officer on each station has the initial responsibility for the works employees; it is the duty of the local superintending engineer to keep their numbers under constant review. If the hon. Member will let me know on what stations he thinks that manpower is being wastefully used, I will cause inquiries to be made.


asked the Secretary of State for Air how many civilians are employed on or about St. Faiths R.A.F. Station, Norfolk, including those employed by contractors and those employed direct by his Department.

Eighty-five civilians are at present employed by my Department at the R.A.F. Station at Horsham St. Faiths. Thirty-three others are employed on the station by contractors.

Manpower Economy Committee (Terms Of Reference)


asked the Secretary of State for Air what are the terms of reference and what is the scope of the R.A.F. Manpower Economy Committee; and in what form hon. Members should submit any evidence which they may care to put forward.

The terms of reference of the R.A.F. Manpower Economy Committee are as follow:

"To review the methods of manning and use of manpower in the Royal Air Force in peacetime, and to recommend measures for securing that fighting efficiency is maintained with the greatest possible economy in manpower."
The Committee are considering how the total manpower required for an Air Force of a given strength can be reduced; how the proportion of unskilled or semi skilled men can be increased what is the best distribution of the available men between flying and maintenance of aircraft, on the one hand, and administration and domestic duties, on the other and other similar problems.The Committee are authorised to visit all units of the R.A.F. and all departments of the Air Ministry and to obtain the views of all ranks. They arc also visiting industrial and other establishments in this country and abroad The Committee will be glad to receive any evidence or proposals which may be submitted by hon. Members of this House. I will circulate the address of the Secretary in the OFFICIAL REPORT, together with other information about the Committee.

Following is the statement:

The R.A.F. Manpower Economy Committee has as its Chairman Air Chief Marshal Sir Norman Bottomley, Inspector General of the R.A.F. Under him the Committee includes three senior R.A.F. officers, a civilian scientific expert of the Air Ministry with experience in problems of organisation and manning, a representative of the Ministry of Labour, and two civilian members of standing in the industrial world—one experienced in -industrial management and the other nominated by the Trades Union Congress. The object of the Committee is to undertake a comprehensive review of the whole basis of manning and manpower use in the Royal Air Force, in an attempt to secure economies of a kind which are not likely to result from the normal reviews of establishments and organisation.

Any views or proposals that are submitted to the Committee should be in the form of a written memorandum and should be addressed to:

The Secretary,

Royal Air Force Manpower Economy Committee,

Office of the Inspector General,

Royal Air Force,

136, Richmond Hill, Surrey.

Mail Service, Middle East


asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will take steps to improve the postal service available to members of the Forces serving in Aden who wish to communicate with relatives and friends in the United Kingdom.

I have asked the R.A.F. authorities in the Middle East to report on the present arrangements for the despatch of mail from Aden to the. United Kingdom. If these arrangements are unsatisfactory in any way, I will see if they can be improved. In the meantime, I should be grateful if the hon. and learned Member would give me particulars of any complaints of which he is aware.

Trade And Commerce

Raw Materials (Price Changes)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will publish a list of all the raw materials and commodities controlled by him together with the individual price changes which he has authorised during the last 12 months.

The information asked for in the first part of the Question has been published in the "Raw Materials Guide," of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy. As regards the second part, I am arranging to place in the Library of the House a list of the Statutory Orders made by the Board of Trade during the past 12 months relating to the prices of these materials, together with a list of the raw materials of which the Board is the sole purchaser and seller, the price of which has been changed during that period.

Generator Parts (Exports)

asked the President of the Board of Trade why the export of generator parts rose from L7,000 in January, 1947, to £237,000 in February, 1947; what percentage of the latter figure represented parts unsuitable for use in Great Britain; what percentage represented fulfilment of wartime contracts; and whether an approach has been made to the South African Government by His Majesty's Government to waive the 83 per cent. which was exported to that Dominion in February, 1947.

Exports of generator parts vary widely from month to month for a variety of reasons including shipping availabilities. The information requested in the second and third parts of the Question is not available; the reply to the last part is in the negative. I am not aware that there has been any hold-up in the supply of generator parts for power stations in this country on account of exports.

Hand-Loom Weaving

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many of the 60 persons to whom licences for hand-loom weaving were granted in 1947 were disabled ex-Servicemen.

Of the 60 cases mentioned in the reply which I gave to a Question from the hon. Member on 3rd April, seven were from disabled ex-Servicemen and three from firms who train and employ disabled ex-Servicemen exclusively.

Tobacco Trading Services

asked the President of the Board of Trade why it is estimated that the sales of Tobacco Trading Services during 1947–48 will be less than half the cost of purchases, etc.; whether an inflated price is paid for the tobacco or an uneconomic price charged for it; and who benefits from the proposed £11,325,000 subsidy.

The receipts and payments shown under Tobacco Trading Services in the estimates for 1947–48 do not relate to the same goods. Receipts are partly in respect of tobacco purchased in earlier years and payments are for tobacco not all of which is expected to be realised during the current year. In these circumstances my hon. Friend will appreciate that neither of the alternatives in the second part of his Question necessarily arises and that it would not be correct to refer to the excess payments as a subsidy. If my hon. Friend will look at the Vote of Credit Appropriation Accounts for prior years he will see that they show a considerable excess of receipts over payments. The figures given in the estimate for 1947–48 relate to tobacco from three sources, Greece, Turkey and the United States. I am sending my hon. Friend a statement giving details of these transactions from which he will see that since the estimate was prepared the incidence of payments and the expectation of receipts have materially changed, with the result that the excess expenditure in the year is likely to be very considerably less than £1,325.000.

Coal Industry

Weekly Output (Statistics)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the weekly coal production for each week from 1st May to 1st November, 1946.

The figures of weekly output for each week from the beginning of May to the end of October, 1946, are as follow:

1946, Week endedDeepmined.Opencast.Total
Thousand TonsThousand TonsThousand Tons
4th May3,664·9215·83,880·7
11th May3,706·5219·43,925·9
18th May3,720·0223·63,943·6
25th May3,718·5211·33,929·8
1St June3,736·7202·13,938·8
8th June3,225'8204·93,430·7
15th June2,716·9134·72,851·6
22nd June3,704·4196·43,900·8
29th June3,587·7223·23,810·9
6th July3,388·6220·23,608·8
13th July3,226·4224·13,450·5
20th July3,139·0217·03,356·0
27th July3,336·1213·73,549·8
3rd August2,510·6204·12,714·7
10th August2,164·4139·32,303·7
17th August3,414·1139·63,553·7
24th August3,484·6205·53,690·1
31st August3,603·4201·73,805·1
7th September3,622·6162·23,784·8
14th September3,440·0190·93,630·9
21st September3,585·1201·53,786·6
28th September3,631·2156·93,788·1
5th October3,657·5206·33,863·8
12th October3,694·2199·53,893·7
19th October3,700·5213·53,914·0
26th October3,695·7198·23,893·9

Note: The figures of deep-mined output may be subject to slight adjustment when the final saleable output for the year 1946 is available from the statutory annual return.

Miners' Allowances

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the amount of coal allowed to miners for domestic use; the extent to which this exceeds the allowance to other persons; and the total quantity of extra coal involved.

The average weekly quantity of free or cheap coal delivered to colliery employees in March, 1947, was 113,000 tons. With regard to the latter part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 6th March to the hon. and gallant Member for Henley (Sir G. Fox).

Domestic Supplies (Allocation)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will instruct local fuel overseers to present to the local government authorities concerned a monthly report of the proceedings of the Fuel Control Advisory Committee; and if he will give instructions to overseers to review annually the registration for domestic coal, with a view to ensuring that adjustments are made in the district allocation of coal arising from the increase or decrease in registration.

Bearing in mind that the local fuel overseers are officials of the local authorities, I do not think that the reports suggested by my hon. Friend are needed. With regard to the second part of the Question, half-yearly returns of the numbers of registrations in each district are already obtained from local fuel overseers as a basis for the allocation of supplies of domestic coal.

British Books (Export Transactions)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury why, in view of the fact that the Central Office of Information do not sell books abroad below cost price, the estimated cost of purchase of these books during 1947–48 is £190,000 and the appropriations in aid from their sale are only estimated at £50,000.

The figure of £50,000 represents that proportion of the receipts which may reasonably be expected to become convertible into sterling in the current financial year.

Royal Navy (Dental Officers, Release)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty why no demobilisation programme has been announced for Group 53 and below of dental officers, in view of the fact that Group 52 was demobilised last month.

Dental officers in Groups 53 and 54 will be released on 1st May, 1947, and 28th May, 1947, respectively. The officers concerned were forewarned of this possibility on 1st April, 1947.

Mental Defectives, Worcestershire (Scheme)

asked the Minister of Health when approval will be given to the scheme proposed by the Worcester County Council, in co-operation with other local authorities, for the provision of accommodation for mental defectives; and whether he is aware that the huts which it is proposed to adapt have been empty for the past three months and that their adaptation can only be completed by next winte3r if an early decision is reached by the several Departments concerned.

I have approved the scheme in principle and have asked the Ministry of Works to undertake the work.