Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 436: debated on Thursday 24 April 1947

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 24th April, 1947

Trade And Commerce

Clothing Coupons


asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the estimated cost of printing the new half-clothing coupons in connection with clothing rationing; and why this cost was not saved by the existing brown and lilac single coupons in current ration books being converted into half-coupon values instead of converting existing brown coupons into single values.

I assume that the hon. Member refers to the decision to print quarter coupon vouchers to provide retailers with small change; the cost is expected to be about £500. The hon. Member's suggestion would not have dealt with the situation so satisfactorily, since quarters were needed as well as halves and since unnecessary confusion would have been caused to retailers if the value of the individual coupon had been reduced.

Weekly Newspapers (Paper Cut)


asked the President of the Board of Trade why some of the larger weekly newspapers have not been allowed to resume the size permitted before the fuel crisis in the same way as has been permitted to the daily papers; and when this discrimination is likely to be adjusted.


asked the President of the Board of Trade when it is proposed to relax the restriction in the number of pages imposed on 2d. and 3d. weekly newspapers during the fuel crisis and permit the publication of alternate issues of eight and 10 pages.

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply given to the hon. and gallant Member for Penrith and Cockermouth (Lieut.-Colonel Dower) on 1st April.

Timber Supplies (Distribution)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that Messrs. Rippers, of Sible Hedingham, find difficulty in maintaining full employment owing to the shortage of timber supplies; if he is satisfied that timber is being equitably distributed; and what have been the results of his efforts to secure further supplies.

Yes, Sir. This matter has been brought to the notice of the Timber Control, who have been able to help Messrs. Rippers to overcome their immediate difficulties. I am satisfied that every effort is being made to distribute the available quantities of timber equitably. With regard to the last part of the Question, it is hoped that a statement will be made very shortly.

Furniture Dockets


asked the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements exist whereby those removed by the local authorities from overcrowded houses to new houses can obtain furniture dockets.

The Board of Trade are prepared in such cases to consider sympathetically applications for the purchase of essential articles of furniture.

Imported Raw Materials


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will consider allowing firms which increase their exports to hard-currency areas to obtain a certain percentage of the value of such increase for the purchase of further raw materials from hard-currency areas.

The import of raw materials from hard currency areas for processing or manufacture into products for export to those areas is not subject to restriction, provided that no alternative source of those materials is available, and the supply position permits after the essential needs of home consumption have been met. Any arrangement on the lines suggested would not, therefore, appear to be necessary.

Vacuum Flasks (Permits)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will now discontinue the system of issuing permits for vacuum flasks or give his reasons for not doing so.

The Thermos permit scheme ensures that those in urgent need of a vacuum flask can be sure of getting one. The supply is not yet nearly equal to the demand and until such time as it is I cannot agree to drop the scheme.

Coal Industry

Apprenticeship (Departmental Report)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power when he will publish the Report of the Departmental Committee on Apprenticeship for Coal-Face Workers.

Five-Day Week


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what increase in the cost of coal he anticipates will arise as a result of the five-day week.

So far the National Coal Board have made no proposals for increasing prices in consequence of the five-day week. However, if all the coal which is at present produced on a Saturday morning were lost, costs would go up. Everything depends on how soon and how much the output per man-year improves.

Domestic Cooking And Heating (Methods)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of the conflicting claims of electricity, gas, and solid fuel in the economical use of coal for cooking and heating, inquiry will be instituted to determine the respective merits of gas and electricity, modern grates and heat storage stoves, in order to ensure the best use of our limited coal supplies.

Inquiries of this kind are already in progress in a number of research laboratories. It cannot be expected, however, that these investigations will make it possible to reach general conclusions regarding the relative merits of gas, electricity and solid fuel for domestic cooking and heating in view of the great differences in the services provided by these forms of fuel and of the wide variations in the requirements of different households.

Grouping Of Collieries


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what extent the grouping of collieries has resulted in decrease in operating personnel.

I am informed by the National Coal Board that the grouping of collieries into compact units of management is not yet complete and I have no information about the economies in staff which have been or may be achieved in this way.

Tonnage Allocations, North Wales


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware of the failure to deliver to members of the North Wales Coal Merchants' Federation the actual tonnage allocated to them under his Department's distribution scheme; and if he is satisfied that the system of cushion tonnage is, in fact, preferable to a system whereby weekly allocations are guaranteed of delivery.

The deficiency on allocation in North Wales has been higher this winter than in other parts of the country, due mainly to shortages in supplies from the North Staffordshire coalfield. With regard to the second part of the Question, all supplies of house coal estimated to be available are programmed direct to merchants with the exception of a small cushion tonnage, less than two of the allocation, which is reserved to adjust the more serious disparities between districts arising from the general coal shortage. The retention of this small cushion tonnage is essential.

Street Lighting (Coal Consumption)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what was the estimated saving in coal in the month of March effected by the restrictions on street lighting.

It is impossible to give any exact figure, but as a very rough estimate coal consumption on street lighting in March was 30,000 tons less than the average monthly rate in 1946.

Supplies Of Equipment


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware of the delays which are occurring in the provision of new equipment for the coalmines which are arising through the intention of the National Coal Board to set up a centralised purchasing department; and if he will instruct the Board to postpone the formation of this department and permit colliery undertakings to place their own orders.

No, Sir. The Board are taking all possible steps to increase the flow of supplies of equipment to the mines, with the help and support of the Government. As a large organisation operating commercially, they will adopt central buying or local buying whichever is more advantageous.

Monthly Magazine


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why he is starting the new monthly magazine "Coal," in view of the restrictions imposed on the promotion of new publications and the continued cut in newsprint allocations to existing publications; and what is the annual allocation of newsprint.

This magazine will be published by the National Coal Board and I understand that it will replace a number of house journals formerly issued by individual companies. No allocation of newsprint has been made for it, but the Stationery Office will supply the necessary paper, and the National Coal Board will defray the cost.

Oil Conversion Schemes


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what coal savings have already been achieved by conversion from coal to oil; and what additional savings are envisaged.

The conversions that have been effected to mid-March represent an annual consumption of one million tons of oil, equivalent to about 1½ million tons of coal. The additional amount of oil actually used in the coal year 1946–47 will be about 700,000 tons, representing a saving of one million tons of coal. This is in accordance with the forecast I gave in October last. By the middle of /948 the annual rate of oil consumption represented by schemes of conversion already approved will have been increased to five million tons per annum, equivalent to an annual saving of coal of eight million tons per annum. The practicability and desirability of going further is under consideration. As regards practicability, we have to look at the availability of oil, and the possibility of finding the additional tankers and providing the additional handling facilities. As regards desirability, switching beyond a certain point from an indigenous fuel to one that has to be imported is obviously a matter for the most careful consideration.

Pithead Price Structure (Review)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will instruct the National Coal Board to examine the wartime flat rate price increases in coal, in view of the fact that an increasing amount of coal is of varying and inferior quality.

The duties with which the National Coal Board is charged under the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act. 1946, include:

"making supplies of coal available, of such qualities and sizes, in such quantites and at such prices, as may seem to them best calculated to further the public interest in all respects, including the avoidance of any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage."
These duties involve a review of the present pithead price structure which has already been embarked upon by the Board.

Electricity Supplies

German Power Station Plant (Importation)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, whether consideration has been given to the importation of electrical power station equipment from Germany; and what decision has been arrived at.

Yes, Sir. An interim report of the special mission which recently visited Germany to inspect power station plant has now been received and is being examined.

Menai Straits Water Power Scheme


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether it is his intention now, or at some future date, to put into operation the scheme prepared and submitted by Mr. F. O. Harber, borough electrical engineer at Bangor, for the production of electrical power by means of harnessing the waters of the Menai Straits, details of which have been made available to him.

The merits of the scheme cannot be determined without a detailed survey and the construction of a tidal model. Capacity for the construction of such models is limited and is being reserved for the tidal model for the Severn Barrage Scheme. For the present, therefore, I regret that we cannot proceed with the tests required.

Paraffin Supplies, Scotland (Poultry Breeders)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware of the complaints from poultry breeders regarding the poor quality of the paraffin now available for incubator and brooder purposes; and what steps he is taking to ensure that more suitable oil is provided.

I understand that poultry breeders in some parts of Scotland have recently complained to the Petroleum Board about the quality of burning oil now being Supplied to them for incubator and brooder purposes. Representatives of the Petroleum Board have gone to Scotland to investigate the reasons for the complaints.

Central Heating Ban


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that the placing of the ban on the use of central heating on the same date throughout England is causing hardship in the northern counties of England, where the weather is less warm and dry than in the south of England; and if he will lift the ban in the north until 8th May, the day when it comes into force in Scotland.

The hon. Member will realise that it is extremely difficult, for the purposes of a Statutory Order, to draw any dividing line which may not be open to objection in view of the endless variations of climatic conditions year by year. In view of the extremely serious fuel situation I cannot see my way to relax the provisions of the Order unless and until the weather conditions really justify it.


Not Gainfully Employed


asked the Minister of Labour the total number of able-bodied men and women not gainfully employed at the last available date, excluding those in receipt of unemployment benefit.

I regret that I have no means of estimating the number of able-bodied men and women among those not gainfully employed.

Students (Maintenance Grants)


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will revise the present scale of maintenance grants to students under the further education and training scheme, which result in certain cases in students receiving smaller grants than those received by students maintained by the Ministry of Education, even when they are doing the same work at the same institutions and living in the same place.

No, Sir. The grants paid by the Ministry of Education are calculated in relation to University costs, which do not affect the courses for which I am responsible. They also include the cost of books, for which payment is made separately by my Department. Any adjustments to meet the occasional anomalies which arise would only produce further anomalies.

Basic Wage Rates

asked the Minister of Labour the basic wage rates in the mining industry and in industry generally in 1938 and at the present time; and the percentage increase in the net wage rate in each case after allowing for the reduction in the purchasing power of money.

Basic wage rates vary considerably in different industries and occupations and in different localities and it is not practicable to calculate an average. It is estimated, however, that the average percentage increase in weekly rates of wages since June, 1938, has been about 66 or 67 per cent. both in coalmining and in industry generally. The official cost-of-living index for the same period shows a rise of 32 per cent., but as stated in the Interim Report of the Cost-of-Living Advisory Committee (Cmd. 7077), the alterations in consumption habits since 1914 have made this index out of date. Accordingly, I do not think it would be profitable to attempt to estimate the percentage increase in the net wage rate.

Increased Tobacco Prices


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the public do not understand why the recent increase in the price of cigarettes and tobacco applies to Empire brands as well as to tobacco imported from the U.S.A.; and if he will issue an explanation of this.

Type of Duty.Numbers of personnel employed on
1st April. 1946.1st April, 1947
Note.* Includes all personnel engaged on duties associated with the actual movement of stores and supplies, the maintenance of vehicles and premises, etc.

Taxicabs ("For Hire" Sign)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that there is no obligation upon a taxicab driver to cover his meter flag when he is not seeking fares provided that he does not stop to parley -or bargain with potential hirers; and whether, in view of the unnecessary inconvenience and irritation caused to members of the public who are ignorant of this fact, he will take steps to ensure that all taxicab drivers shall, in future, when not seeking fares, obliterate their meter flags.

The answer to the first part of the Question is, "Yes, Sir." The answer to the second part is that a new "For Hire" sign has been introduced which will be illuminated and visible both by day and night when the cab is for hire. This sign is now a compulsory fitting for new

The explanation is that I am bound, in this matter, by the 1938 Anglo-American Trade Agreement.

Nfs (No 1 Region Staff)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the number of male and female administrative staff still retained on administration in No. 1 Region N.F.S. as compared with the number of those for fire-fighting duties; and how these figures compare with those at 1st April, 1946.

The figures are as follow:cabs and will ultimately be made compulsory on all cabs and should materially reduce the present difficulties. The Commissioner of Police is considering whether, in the meantime, it is practicable in any other way to meet the point which the hon. Member has raised.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that the existing type of taxicab meter is very difficult for intending passengers to see either from the front, the rear or the off side of the vehicle; and if he will take steps to ensure the adoption, as early as is practicable, of an improved type of meter which both as to design and position, will show more readily whether the taxicab is free or engaged.

The answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. As regards the remainder I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave today to a Question by the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. E. P. Smith).

Standon Approved School


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many boys were resident in the approved school at Standon, Staffordshire, on 1st January, 1947; how many have absconded in the past 12 months and in the preceding four years; and the total of escapes from the school in each year during the past five years.

The answer to the first part of the Question is 64. The number of boys who absconded from the' school on one or more occasions was 30 in 1946, 10 in 1945, 11 in 1944, 11 in 1943, and 9 in 1942. Some boys ran away several times, and if each occasion is counted separately the number of abscondings in these years was 71, 20, 25, 15 and 18, respectively.




asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what conditions relating to work and training for work are imposed, respectively, on aliens resident in Scotland and England; on such aliens who have applications for naturalisation pending; on exaliens in Scotland and England whose applications for naturalisation have been granted; what conditions in relation to work and training for work govern the transition from the second to the third of these three classes of persons; and what is being done to absorb into industry as quickly as possible the third of these classes.

The grant of naturalisation is not dependent on any conditions relating to work or training, and consequently the issues raised by the four latter parts of the Question do not arise. As regards the first part, foreigners admitted to this country for employment are usually subjected to a condition that they take such employment only as is approved by the Ministry of Labour and National Service. In the administration of the Aliens Order there is no differentiation between England and Scotland.



asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for naturalisation from persons resident in Scotland and England, respectively, were made to his Department since July, 1945; how many of these were granted; and how many now remain to be dealt with.

Separate figures for England and Scotland are not available. The following are the figures for the whole of Great Britain:

Applications for naturalization outstanding on 31st July, 1945, owing to suspension of naturalisation during the war15,700
Applications received since, to 19th April, 194721,982
Certificates of naturalisation issued since 31st July, 1945.
Between 31st July and 31st December, 1945178
During 19464,431
Between 1st January and 19th April, 19474,613
Applications otherwise disposed of (refusal, deaths, etc.)964

Licensed Houses (Summer Time)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the fact that double summer time had not been decided upon at the time of the annual general licensing meetings in February last, he will introduce legislation authorising benches of magistrates to grant permission for licensed houses to remain open during double summer time from 10 to 10.30 p.m. on each day.

The decision was announced in time for the question of later hours to be raised at the adjourned meeting in most licensing districts, and I am advised that the licensing justices could use their existing power to substitute 10.30 p.m. for 10 p.m. in any district where double summer time gives rise to special needs for later closing. On present information I see no need for legislation.

Mid-Week Sport (Brighton)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Brighton and Hove Stadium being in a holiday seaside resort area can now hold mid-week dog-racing meetings; and if he will make a statement.

I have received an application from the Brighton and Hove Stadium. I have completed arrangements for obtaining advice on these applications from the Regional Boards for Industry, which were set up to advise Ministers upon industrial conditions within their regions and upon steps which may be necessary to bring their resources in capacity or labour into fuller use. I hope to be able to announce a decision shortly.

Air-Raid Shelters


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what powers he has to compel householders to retain Anderson shelters which they do not want; what action he is taking to hasten the collection of such shelters; and by what date he estimates that this will be completed.

Under Section 28 of the Civil Defence Act, 1939, it is an offence to remove shelter materials provided free of charge from the premises for which they were provided without the consent in writing of the local authority. Local authorities have recently been reminded of the urgency of the need to collect shelters which householders have not exercised their option to purchase, but as Progress depends upon the availability of labour and transport I am unable to estimate when the collection will be completed

Women's Voluntary Services


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the future of the W.V.S.

There is still much valuable work being done by this service, and there will, I think, be general agreement as to the desirability of keeping alive the spirit and efficiency of a service which has proved so successful in mobilising voluntary help for numerous forms of public work. Now, however, that almost all the wartime work of this service has come to an end, consideration must be given to the question of how the service can best be fitted into the general pattern of social service throughout the country, and how any financial assistance given by the Exchequer can best be used to promote those forms of voluntary work which are of special assistance to Government Departments and local authorities.As a first step towards the exploration of this question, arrangements have been made for consultations to take place between the Women's Voluntary Services and the National Council of Social Service, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is in communication with the Women's Voluntary Services and the Council of Social Service in Scotland. Meanwhile, it is proposed that the existing arrangements for meeting from voted money the approved administrative expenses of the Women's Voluntary Services shall be continued. Whatever the future holds, the need will continue for voluntary helpers to supplement public services both on occasions of emergency and at other times.


Costs, London


asked the Minister of Health the percentage increase in the costs of building three-bedroomed houses for local authorities in the London area.

Sufficient information as to the cost of completed houses is not yet available to enable comparisons to be made.



asked the Minister of Health what basis was used by the North-west Region Building Committee in deciding to reduce the number of houses the county borough of Wallasey would be licensed to build in 1947.

I would refer the hon. Member to paragraphs 22 and 23 of the White Paper on the Housing Programme for 1947 and to the Circular on the subject issued to local authorities, of which I am sending him a copy.

Essential Industrial Areas


asked the Minister of Health if he will give preference in house building to areas where there is a shortage of labour in essential industry.

I shall be ready to approve proposals for building houses to meet these needs within the limits of the building labour available in the area.

Selling-Price Increase


asked the Minister of Health if he will explain his reasons for permitting an increase on working-class houses of £100 per house; what were the items of increased costs that he considered; and if he will state the respective values assessed on each, in order to arrive at the total cost of £100 above referred to.

The reasons for authorising an increase in the maximum selling prices of houses to be built under licence are set out in the Circular to local authorities of which I am sending my hon. Friend a copy.

Local Authority Staffs


asked the Minister of Health how many local authorities are building houses for their staffs so that these are put in an advantageous position over the rest of the community; and what is the limit of value put on the construction of these houses for the use of administrative staff and manual workers, respectively.

Loans have been sanctioned for the erection of 91 houses by nine county councils acting in pursuance of their powers under Section 97 of the Housing Act, 1936. There is no subsidy involved.

Local Programmes


asked the Minister of Health whether he will present a report of the response by the local authorities to the targets set in his 1947 housing programme; and what steps he is taking to ensure the availability of labour to local authorities to execute their respective targets.

I propose to publish the programme of each local authority with the Housing Return for March. On the second part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to paragraph 8 of the White Paper on the Housing Programme for 1947.

Council Tenants (Furniture)

asked the Minister of Health how many applications he has received from local authorities for powers to act as retailers of furniture and, when such permission is granted, under what authority he acts.

Local authorities are empowered by Section 72 (2) of the Housing Act, 1936, to supply furniture to their tenants. My approval is not required and I cannot say how many authorities have exercised these powers.

Public Health



asked the Minister of Health if he will make a statement regarding the clinical trials in the use of streptomycin organised by the Medical Research Council; and how soon he anticipates increased supplies of this drug will be available.

The trials are in progress and it is not yet possible to anticipate the outcome. As regards the second part of the Question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Hanley (Dr. Stross) on 20th March.

Diphtheria Immunisation


asked the Minister of Health the percentage of children immunised against diphtheria in each of the Metropolitan boroughs of London at December, 1945, and at December, 1946.

Medical Vacancies


asked the Minister of Health how many local authorities make it a condition when advertising medical vacancies, that applicants should be members of their appropriate associations; and as such advertisements are refused by medical journals, if he will take steps, if necessary by legislation, to see that such local authorities are enabled to fill their vacancies with properly-skilled persons.

I do not know how many local authorities have sought to impose this condition but I have sent my hon. Friend a copy of a circular which I have issued to all authorities on this subject.

Health Service (Nurses)

asked the Minister of Health how many nurses he estimates will be required to implement the National Health Service Act, 1946.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) on 11th February.

Portwey Hospital

asked the Minister of Health if he will now announce the result of his inquiry into the administration of the Portwey hospital.

I have been informed by the county council of the difficulties of administering this hospital, which are mainly due to the shortage of nurses and the closure of wards. The proper remedy is for the council to continue its efforts to recruit nurses so as to make more beds available to meet the urgent demands in the district, and thereby to reduce the cost of treatment per patient.

Identity Cards


asked the Minister of Health what purpose the identity card now serves; and if he will now consider abolishing it in the near future.

The card is an essential part of the National Registration system. The Register renders valuable services in food and clothes rationing and in connection with the National Service Acts and is the present basis for the electoral registers. Considerable use is also made of the National Register for the new scheme of children's allowances and in various other ways of benefit to the public.


Text Books


asked the Minister of Education whether he is aware of the shortage of text books for elementary and secondary schools in Newport; and what steps are being taken to meet this demand.

There is a general shortage of school text books but I am not aware that there is any exceptional shortage in the Newport schools. I am at present considering with my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade what can be done to increase the supply of this type of book.


asked the Minister of Education if he is now in a position to state what steps are to be taken to improve the supply of text books for educational purposes.

No, Sir. The discussions between my Department, the Board of Trade and the publishers are not yet complete.

Land Transfer, Salford


asked the Minister of Education when the Housing Committee of the Salford Corporation can expect a reply to their proposal to transfer 350 square yards of land to complete the development of Fairhope Estate for housing purposes.

A draft Order approving the transfer of this land was sent to the Town Clerk on 16th of this month.

Castle Street School, Plymouth


asked the Minister of Education when the Castle Street School, Plymouth, will be derequisitioned and returned to the local education authority, in view of the authority's need of these premises in order that they may deal adequately with the raising of the school leaving age in the Treville Street area of that city.

I am informed by my right hon. Friend, the Home Secretary, that arrangements will be completed in a; few weeks to enable this school to be released for the local education authority's use.

School Journeys, Northampton


asked the Minister of Education whether, in view of the fact that 152 children attending St. James and Spencer schools, Northampton, 100 of whom are under eight years of age, have to walk a distance of 1½ miles four times per day to and from the schools, he will make arrangements for the provision of special transport for these children.

My information is that only 20 of the children attending the St. James and Spencer infants departments have 'more than a mile to walk to school and none has more than 1¼ miles to walk. I am assured that all these children could have school dinner and thus be saved the midday journey. The Authority are considering ways and means of safeguarding the children where they have to cross a main road. On the facts before me I should not feel justified in pressing the local education authority to provide special transport for these children.

Schools Reorganisation, Kent


asked the Minister of Education when the hon. Member for Faversham can expect replies to his letters of 9th February and 17th March, relative to the reorganisation of schools in Northeast Kent divisional area.

Size Of Classes

asked the Minister of Education how many classes in the primary and in the secondary national schools, respectively, now have 40 or more pupils.

The total number of classes with more than 40 pupils on the registers in January, 1946, was 40,058, of which 3,680 were in secondary schools and 36,378 in primary schools. The analysis of the figures for January, 1947, is not yet complete but there were at that time 2,807 classes consisting of pupils over the age of II with more than 40 pupils on the registers as compared with a figure of 5,101 in January, 1946.

Welsh League Of Youth (Grant)

asked the Minister of Education what is the annual grant made by his department to the Welsh League of Youth for administrative or other purposes in connection with the activities of that League.

The grant made by my Department under Grant Regulations 13 to the Welsh League of Youth was £3,500 for the financial year 1946–47. For the current financial year a grant of £4,800 has been offered.

Youth Centre, Chiswick

asked the Minister of Education what action he has taken or is taking to assist the local authorities concerned to expedite the opening of the youth centre at the Gate House in Chiswick House grounds, in view of the urgent need for facilities for young people in the borough of Brentford and Chiswick.

I have already given approval in principle to the proposal of the Middlesex Local Education Authority to spend £2,400 on adapting Gate House for use as a youth centre and have authorised the allocation of steel for fencing standards. I am now awaiting the Authority's reply to the letter of 22nd January from my Department asking for plans and priced specifications of the building work to be carried out. Until these have been received and considered I cannot give final approval to the proposal.

Emergency Training Scheme

asked the Minister of Education whether he will convert a number of teachers training colleges with a two-year duration into E.T.C. with one-year duration, in order, as an emergency, to provide more teachers for our present needs.

No, Sir; but this year's entry to the permanent training colleges for men students will be restricted almost entirely to ex-Service candidates, including men who have been selected for the Emergency Training Scheme.

asked the Minister of Education how many temporary E.T.C. student teachers are training at the moment; how many applicants are waiting to be trained; and what is the period of waiting.

On 17th April, 1947, there were 9,604 students in training at Emergency Training Colleges and places for about 1,500 students temporarily empty between successive courses. Candidates accepted but not yet allocated to colleges numbered 22,173. I am sending the hon. Member a copy of a note sent to accepted candidates which shows the estimated waiting period in various cases.

asked the Minister of Education whether he proposes to increase the number of E.T.C.; and if he will announce his plans.

Forty-six Emergency Training Colleges are now open, with accommodation for over 11,000 students. To complete the programme, 12 further colleges, with over 2,000 places, are in various stages of preparation.

Food Supplies



asked the Minister of Food what steps the Government are taking to mitigate the anticipated food shortage in this country in the next six months; and if he is yet in a position to lay before the House a White Paper giving a survey of the food position in this country for 1947.

There has, of course, been an acute world food shortage for over a year now. The hon. Member may rest assured that my right hon. Friend has done and will continue to do all he can to reduce its effect upon this country. He will issue a White Paper when he thinks it advisable.

County Court Case, East Dereham


Hogg asked the Minister of Food whether he has considered the remarks of His Honour Judge Carey Evans in the case of the Attorney-General versus Grix, heard at the East Dereham County Court, in which he said that the Government Department concerned was taking a point against a farmer which no reputable business man would take; and what steps he proposes to take in the matter.

Yes, Sir. An advance payment had been made to Mr. Grix against future deliveries of potatoes which he had contracted to sell to my Department on the implied understanding that if he gave notice of deterioration delivery instructions would be given within a fortnight or, failing this, compensation would be payable. Had it been established before the hearing that such notice had been given, proceedings would not have been brought. Mr. Grix would have been paid compensation on similar terms to those awarded by the court, in accordance with the usual practice. The form of contract was redrafted some time ago to make this quite clear.

Post Office

Correspondence Delays, Germany


asked the Postmaster-General why business letters from the British zone of Germany are taking up to one month to be delivered in this country; and whether he will take steps to see that no delay takes place in the transit of important communications addressed to business firms in this country from foreign countries, particularly the British zone of Germany.

The average time taken by letters from the British zone of Germany to be delivered in this country is about 13 days. Any exceptional delays to correspondence from abroad which come under notice are taken up with the postal authorities of the despatching or transit country, as appropriate.

Switzerland (Postage Rates)


asked the Postmaster-General why it costs less to send a letter weighing 150 grammes from England to Switzerland than it does from Switzerland to England; and what action he proposes to take to eliminate the difference.

The postage rates on foreign letters posted in this country and in Switzerland are fixed by each country within the latitude allowed by the Postal Union Convention and I see no reason to increase the United Kingdom rates.

Television Service


asked the Postmaster-General what are the present prospects of increase in the television service.

The present restrictions on the British Broadcasting Corporation television programmes are related to the fuel emergency. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power is to make a statement on the general fuel situation later this afternoon, and it would not be right for me to anticipate him in this particular.

Ministry Of Supply

Bicycle Spare Parts


asked the Minister of Supply if he is aware of the shortage of spare parts for bicycles in Norwich, particularly of bicycle chains and pedals, and if he will take steps to see that adequate supplies are provided.

No, Sir, I was not aware of this, but I have asked the manufacturers to ensure that Norwich gets its fair share of available supplies.

Cotton Wool


asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that there is a shortage of cotton wool, including 1 lb. hospital and B.P.C., in the Leominster division of Herefordshire; and what steps he proposes to take to make an adequate supply available.

No, Sir. I was not aware of a shortage of cotton wool in this Division. Production has suffered because of the recent fuel difficulties, but the improving fuel situation should do much to remedy temporary local shortages.

George V Memorial


asked the Minister of Works when No. 5 Old Palace Yard is to be demolished; when the statue of King George V will be placed in position by Westminster Abbey; and by what ceremony the unveiling of this statue will be accompanied.

No. 5, Old Palace Yard, will not be demolished until alternative accommodation can be provided for those Members who use it for office purposes. I am unable to name any date for this at present.

I understand that the King George V National Memorial Committee hope to place the statue in its final position some time this year, but that no decision has yet been reached on the details of the unveiling ceremony.

Concrete Railway Sleepers

asked the Minister of Works why it is proposed to spend £1,000,000 on pre-stressed concrete sleepers for resale to railway companies for £700,000; whether these are more expensive than wooden sleepers; and why an economic price is not charged.

Pre-stressed concrete sleepers are being ordered owing to the serious shortage of wooden sleepers. They are more expensive than wooden sleepers but their cost cannot yet be finally determined. The full cost will be charged to the railway companies, and it is anticipated that £700,000 will be recovered in 1947–48.

Flooded Areas (Employment)


asked the Minister of Agriculture what arrangements he is making to ensure employment for men formerly employed by farmers whose land is still flooded; if it is his intention to ensure that these farmers do not suffer permanent loss of their men; and if he will guarantee that sufficient labour will be made available to the catchment boards to repair the damage to banks, sluices, etc., at the earliest possible moment.

My right hon. Friend has impressed on the W.A.E.Cs. concerned the need to do all they can, in co-operation with the local offices of the Ministry of Labour and with catchment boards, to ensure that employment is maintained in the flooded areas, and that workers are not dispersed. My information is that these objects are being achieved. As regards the last part of the Question, my Department will continue to do all in its power to ensure that catchment boards have ample supplies of men, materials and equipment for the rapid reinstatement of their drainage works.

Poles (Repatriation)


asked the Secretary of State for War how many Poles in Great Britain have refused to join the Polish Resettlement Corps; how many of those who have refused have been deported to Germany; and whether he will immediately cancel any further deportations and make arrangements for all those who have been deported, and wish to return to this country, to do so.

Approximately 9,500. Seventy have been sent to Germany. The answer to the last part of the Question is No, Sir.

Economic Situation (Publicity Campaign)

asked the Prime Minister if he will give details of the proposed campaign to be held throughout the country to arouse a greater realisation of the present economic position, with a view to securing maximum effort on the part of all.

The publicity campaign to bring home to everyone the main facts of the nation's economic position was launched by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade last week when the first posters were displayed. The display will have reached full strength by the end of the month. Nation-wide Press advertising began on Sunday, 20th April.The main details of the campaign are:

1. Publications:

The "Battle for Output" (the bookstall edition of the Economic Survey White Paper) has been available on the bookstalls since 5th March. With the title "We Live by Exports," a booklet of very simple text and diagrams explaining those parts of the Economic Survey which deal with Britain's Overseas trade will be published in May or early June.

2. Posters:

These will be displayed on 13,000 sites throughout the country, and will be sent to over 90,000 factories and places of work.

3. Press Advertising:

This started on Sunday last, 20th April, and covers the entire country. Advertisements will appear at weekly intervals at the start of the campaign and then fortnightly.

4. Factory Talks:

Over 2,000 have been booked for the period 10th April-12th July.

5. Display Sets:

These travelling sets of display cards go on 3,000–3,500 sites throughout the country. Factories account for a large part of them.

6. Wall Charts:

These are designed for use by discussion groups, in libraries, etc.

7. Films:

Some 30–35 films dealing with various aspects of the economic situation are in preparation, of which the first are nearly ready. Coal and exports will be the first subjects covered.

8. Target Material:

This consists of simple picture charts showing the national targets for exports and coal, and the nation's progress in reaching them. They are designed for reproduction.

9. Exhibitions:

A major exhibition on coal is planned to open in London in the autumn.

The aim of this publicity is not to exhort but to explain simply the national needs so that everyone will do their best to meet them. I hope that Members of all parties will find it possible to assist in this task in their speeches and in their other contacts with the public.

Japanese War Crimes (Trial)


asked the Secretary of State for War what steps have been taken to bring to trial as war criminals the Japanese who murdered Chief Engineer Joseph N. Craig, of Aberdeen, and other members of the crew of the British merchant vessel m.v. "Behar" at Batavia, March, 1944; and what the result has been.

In connection with this crime seven Japanese are to be tried as war criminals early next month in Hong Kong.

Old Age Pensions

asked the Minister of National Insurance why Mrs. Sarah Ellen Houghton, pension No. 09479001, 82, Moor Lane, Gomersal, near Leeds, who is insured in her own right and retired from work at 63 years of age, has not yet received the £1 6s. pension to which she has been entitled since the first pay week in October, 1946; why, in view of repeated inquiries, a new 10s. pension book was issued in February, 1947; and when the £1 6s. pension, together with arrears of payment, will be issued.

A pension order book at the 26s. rate was delivered to Mrs. Houghton on 21st April and payment of the arrears of increased pension due to her has also been made. Mrs. Houghton's pension was originally awarded on her husband's insurance. The inquiries necessary to establish her claim that she had an alternative title to pension on her own insurance on which the 26s. rate could be paid required some time to complete. The 10s. pension already in payment was a renewal pending completion of these inquiries.

asked the Minister of National Insurance when the appropriate pension will be paid through the St. Dennis Post Office, St. Austell, Cornwall, to Alice Trebilcock, pension No. 03478695, c/o Mr. P. P. Coon, Hendra Road, St. Dennis.

asked the Minister of National. Insurance (1) when Mrs. R. Cuthbert, 23, Tilery Road, Stockton-on-Tees, will receive her new widows' pension book in return for book No. 46901017, which was recalled for readjustment on 1st March, 1947;(2) when Mrs. S. A. Keevell, 29, Hawthorne Road, Stockton-on-Tees, pension book No. 46584900, received on 22nd November, 1946, will receive her arrears of payment.

Inquiries into these cases are in hand and I will write to my hon Friends as soon as possible.

War Shipping Losses

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty when it is intended to publish separate returns of the losses of all ships of the R.N. and British merchant and fishing vessels during the 1939–45 war, together with locations, lives lost and other relevant information in a similar manner to the returns relating to the 1914–18 war.