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Written Answers

Volume 436: debated on Monday 28 April 1947

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday, 28th April, 1947

Ministry Of Supply

Aluminium

2.

asked the Minister of Supply, why he is taking so long to arrange a fair contract for the current year with the British Aluminium Company for virgin aluminium ingot.

Oilwell Drills

3.

asked the Minister of Supply what steps he is taking to ensure that Woolwich Arsenal adopts the latest and best methods of manufacture of equipment for the British Oilfield Equipment Company; how does he intend to insure that this British Government product is in no way inferior to competitive British or United States equipment; and if he is satisfied that Woolwich Arsenal is not learning to make equipment which is already obsolescent.

The responsibility of my Department is to meet the specification ordered, and not to design the equipment. I am satisfied that we are using the best method of manufacture and I have no reason to believe that the equipment is inferior or obsolescent.

Motorcar Export Trade

4.

asked the Minister of Supply what steps he has taken to direct the attention of British motorcar manufacturers to the desirability, of a cooperative effort to produce a larger motorcar suitable for the export market.

Both the Motor Industry Advisory Council and the manufacturers have very carefully examined this suggestion, but on account of the dislocation which would be involved, its adoption is not considered to be practicable in present circumstances.

Coal-Oil Conversion (Steel Priority)

5.

asked the Minister of Supply why priority in steel supplies is being given to domestic oil-burning equipment but no priority is being given to steel supplies for the British oil-producing industry overseas.

Priority is given to such steel requirements of the British oil-producing companies overseas as are needed for the coal-oil conversion programme.

Ordnance Factory, Wigan

10.

asked the Minister of Supply if he will look into the question of introducing alternative work into the Royal Ordnance Factory at Beach Hill, Wigan, with a view of increasing the number of workpeople employed and absorbing some of the local unemployed persons.

Rabbit Netting

asked the Minister of Supply what is the present position with regard to the manufacture of rabbit netting and what the chances are of the supply being increased in the near future.

Home production of this wire has been running at about 5,000 tons a quarter, but has been reduced in recent weeks owing to fuel difficulties. It is, however, hoped to import 2,000 tons from Belgium this quarter. As regards the future, any increase in home production will depend upon the general availability of steel supplies, particularly of wire rod. We shall continue to make efforts to expand production and to secure additional imports from Belgium.

Scottish Steel Production

asked the Minister of Supply the total of Scottish steel production since January, 1946; and if he will indicate the categories of users and the amounts of steel used by, each category over the same period.

During 1946 and the first quarter of 1947, 2,155,400 ingot tons of steel were produced in Scotland. I regret that information is not available to answer the second part of the Question.

Ministry Of Works

Publication Of Reports (Delay)

20.

asked the Minister of Works if he is aware that an average time lag of over 23 weeks took place between the signing and the publication of the following reports; Amenities in the Brick Industry, Reconditioning in the Rural Areas, The Welsh Slate Industry, and Labour Requirements in the Brick Industry; and what steps are being taken to eliminate such delays in future.

As was stated in reply to the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) on 31st March, there was no avoidable delay in publishing these reports in view of the need for considering them before publication and the heavy pressure on the printing industry.

Foreign Brick Contracts

21.

asked the Minister of Works the dates on which it is anticipated that the Government contracts for the importation of bricks from Belgium will come to an end; and whether, if the production of British bricks is now adequate to meet the demand, he will take steps to prohibit the further importation of Belgian bricks.

I expect these contracts to be completed by the end of July. No further Government contracts for foreign bricks are contemplated, but I cannot recommend the prohibition of imports.

Service Hut Foundations (Removal)

22.

asked the Minister of Works what priority is given by his Department to the work of removing hut foundations from agricultural land in cases where the actual huts, erected by the Service Departments, have been removed, but where the remaining foundations prevent the land from being cultivated, having regard to the need for increasing food production to the maximum extent possible.

Where huts have been removed for disposal the removal of the foundations is normally dealt with by the requisitioning Department as part of the reinstatement settlement. Where, for special reasons, this procedure is not followed the urgency of any necessary work is considered regionally. No general priority is given to the removal of foundations, but it is the practice to allocate available labour and plant for the removal of those works which seriously interfere with the cultivation of agricultural land.

House, Ilkley

28.

asked the Minister of Works when Hazelhill, Easby Drive, Ilkley, was last used by a Government Department; when it was decided that this house would no longer be required by a Government Department; and why his Department have consistently refused to permit the Ilkley Urban District Council to rent or requisition this property in order to help the housing position in Ilkley.

Hazelhill, Easby Drive, Ilkley, is Crown freehold and was occupied by the Ministry of Supply until July, 1946. The Ilkley Urban District Council were offered the property on sale, but declined the offer. It is now in use as a residence for the superintendent of the Royal Ordnance Factory, Leeds.

Richmond Park (Closed Gates)

30.

asked the Minister of Works why certain gates in Richmond Park have not yet been reopened to motor traffic.

All the gates giving access to Richmond Park are open to motor traffic. The hon. Member is presumably referring to the gates which divide the cultivated from the uncultivated portion of Richmond Park. These gates are kept shut to prevent damage by deer.

Lavatory Pans, Kettering

asked the Minister of Works whether he is aware of the menace to public health arising out of the breakage of numerous water-closet pans in council houses in Kettering during recent frost; that, owing to shortage of fuel, the manufacturers, Johnson Fire Clay Company, Limited, Excelsior Works, Cliff Vale, Stoke-on-Trent, are unable to promise delivery of pans in replacement within any reasonable time; and what steps are being taken to expedite the delivery of water-closet pans to Kettering Borough Council and to other local authorities with similar difficulties.

Yes, Sir. The difficulties at Kettering have been reported to my regional officer who is making arrangements for further supplies.

Requisitioned Flats, Westminster

asked the Minister of Works whether he is now able to derequisition three blocks of flats in Ashley Gardens recently evacuated by the War Office; what is the total area of floor space in these flats; how much of that area consists of bathrooms, kitchens, corridors, etc.; and how many families could be accommodated in these flats with suitable adaptation.

I regret that I am unable to derequisition these flats at present. Their total area is approximately 90,000 square feet of which about 27,000 square feet consists of bathrooms, kitchens, corridors, etc. I understand that the Westminster City Council estimate that not more than 84 families could be housed in these flats, after suitable adaptations.

Prefabricated Houses, St Austell

asked the Minister of Works if he is satisfied with the way in which the prefabricated bungalows on the Thorn-park Estate, St. Austell, have been completed.

Agriculture

Condemned Food Sale

46.

asked the Minister of Agriculture who were the four farmers who were allocated between them 1¾ tons of Kellogg's All Bran from Birkett Loose Boxes, Clifton Hampden; on what basis was the choice made by the local A.E.C.; and why were a larger number not entitled to participate, each with a smaller amount.

The foul farmers referred to were Messrs. A. Betts, Newhaven Manor Poultry Farm, Wallingford; M. Harris, Little Milton Manor, Oxford; B. L. Townsend, Ovary Farm, Dorchester-on-Thames; and C. Tredwell, Bacons House, Finmore, Bucks. These four farmers were selected from a list supplied by the Oxfordshire W.A.E.C. to the Ministry of Food as being likely to purchase and make good use of this particular consignment of condemned food for immediate feeding to their own livestock; the quantity available was not sufficient for a wider distribution since it would not have been worth while for farmers to send transport for small quantities.

Tractor Tyres

70.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what average period elapses between the ordering by a farmer of tyres for a tractor, size 11.25 x 24, and their delivery.

I regret that no precise information is available. Production of tractor tyres generally is limited at present by materials and labour difficulties which have been accentuated by the fuel crisis. In the case of size 11.25 x 24, shortage of mould capacity is also a limiting factor.

Food Dropping By Aeroplane

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many aeroplane sorties were. made during the recent bad weather to carry food or forage to isolated farms; what was the tonnage carried; and what was the cost of such emergency transport.

Seventy-seven sorties were flown in England and Wales to carry forage, of which 24 were abortive. Forty-nine tons of forage was successfully dropped on farms. In addition, five sorties were made to carry approximately two tons of human food. As regards the last part of the Question, the operations were carried out as part of the training of R.A.F. Transport Command. The additional expense incurred in depreciation of aircraft and for spares, petrol and oil is estimated to have been £12 10s. per hour for 157 actual flying hours.

Artificial Insemination

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether consideration has been given to the use of artificial insemination as a means of assisting the agricultural industry in connection with the heavy losses of stock caused by abnormal weather conditions; and what is the opinion of his advisers as to the efficacy of such a method of assistance for farmers concerned.

While I have great hopes that artificial insemination will be a most valuable and growing factor in the improvement and maintenance of the quality of our livestock, and particularly of our dairy stock, this system of breeding does not, unfortunately, offer the same advantages in the field of numerical increase, which is the main requirement to replace losses sustained last winter. A high percentage of such losses occurred among flocks of hill sheep for the breeding of which artificial insemination cannot readily be used.

Harvest Workers

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many members of the W.L.A., foreign labour, including prisoners of war, volunteers, school-children and the services, will be available to help collecting the crops in 1947.

It is not possible to say with any precision what numbers of workers in the categories mentioned by the hon. Member will be available for the 1947 harvest. In some cases, that will depend on the extent of the need. But I can say that the total force will be very considerable and will, I hope, in combination with the regular workers in the industry, be sufficient for the task.

Hill-Farming Transport Grant

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will allow the special grant on the transport of hay and straw in hill-farming districts to be ante-dated from 1st November, 1946, to 1st September, 1946.

Affiliation Orders (Dominions)

71.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs what progress is being made with regard to the reciprocal enforcement of affiliation orders as between this country and the Dominion countries.

As was explained by my predecessor in the Debate on the Adjournment on 19th December, 1945, very considerable difficulty is seen in the way of extending to affiliation orders the procedure provided in the Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement) Act, 1920, and corresponding legislation in Dominions. In view of these difficulties it has not been possible so far to make progress in the matter.

Germany

Civil Internees

73.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many persons in arrestable categories are still held without trial in concentration camps in the British zone in Germany.

There are about 26,900 persons at present held in civil internment camps in the British zone.

Jews, Us Zone

74.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will state the outline of the recently discovered plan for the illegal emigration of about 125,000 Jews from the U.S. zone of Germany to Palestine and say what steps have been taken, and will be taken, in conjunction with the U.S. authorities, to stop this plan being put into effect.

My right hon. Friend is not aware that any plan of this nature has recently been discovered.

Arrested Man (Death)

75.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why Oberst Hesselman was imprisoned at Minden without charge by the British authorities in February, 1947; why he was kept in solitary confinement for many days although seriously ill; and why the British authorities allowed his subsequent transportation to the French zone in an open truck on a two-day journey, as a result of which he died on 22nd March, still with no charge having been preferred against him.

Oberst Hesselman was arrested by the military authorities at the request of the French as a war criminal wanted in connection with the murder of a French General. At the time of his arrest he was engaged in agricultural work and no suggestion was made that his health was bad. Three or four days later he complained in prison of sickness. He was immediately examined by a German doctor who advised that the prisoner should, if not moved very soon, be transferred to hospital. He considered that there was no immediate urgency and no danger to life. This information was passed on to the French, who moved Hesselman on 25th February in a private civilian car.

Coal Export

76.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what percentage of coal it is proposed to allocate to export from the British zone of Germany before the level of production reaches the point at which the U.S.-British-French agreement comes into force.

Until the new agreement comes into force the export allocations will continue to be assessed on a tonnage basis and not as a percentage of total production. The basic figure for May and June is 712,000 torts for each month, excluding deliveries to Austria.

Greece (Arrests)

77.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a further statement in connection with the mass arrests of Left Wing sup porters in Greece; and, in particular, with regard to the review of the charges against the arrested persons that was made by regular magistrates following the representations of His Majesty's ambassador.

After some delay and after further representations by His Majesty's ambassador, four magistrates have arrived at Ikaria for the purpose of reviewing the charges against the arrested persons. His Majesty's ambassador is continuing to press the Greek Government to expedite the judicial review of these cases.

Iraq (British Military Mission)

79.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the total strength of the British Military Mission now operating in Iraq; the date of its origin and its function; the number of R.A.F. personnel included; and the likely duration of the Mission.

The total strength of the British Advisory Military Mission now in Iraq is 18 officers and 10 other ranks; these figures include two officers and nine other ranks of the Royal Air Force. The present Military Mission dates from 1930, when the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of Alliance was concluded. Its function is to advise the Iraqi authorities on the organisation and training of the Iraqi armed forces. It is not possible to foresee the duration of the Mission.

United Nations (Anthem)

80.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will consider recommending the adoption by the United Nations of a United Nations Anthem for use in all countries as a rallying point of international loyalty and of dedication to international ideals.

Food Supplies

Condemned Food, Clifton Hampden

81.

asked the Minister of Food why public money was wasted in storing, in Birkott Loose Boxes, Clifton Hampden, 1¾ tons of Kellogg's All Bran handed over by the U.S. Army in a deteriorated condition; and why this was not immediately disposed of instead of waiting to be condemned by the health authorities as unfit for human consumption.

The small quantity of Kellogg's All Bran was included in a mixed parcel of some 25 tons of foodstuffs taken over from the U.S. Army and removed to the Ministry's depot at Clifton Hampden for sorting and disposal. The storage involved no direct charge on public funds, since a reserve of storage space including this particular depot has to be maintained against the arrival of shipments of foodstuffs.

Imported Fruit

82.

asked the Minister of Food what imported fruits on arrival have to go to a pool and are subject to controlled prices; and what remains at the disposal of the importer to use at his own discretion and to sell at unrestricted prices.

All fruit imported by my Department is allocated and price controlled. Of fruits imported on private account, only tomatoes must be pooled while pears, soft fruits and tomatoes are subject to maximum price control in the same way as home grown supplies. Other fruits are not controlled in any way.

Cassava Starch

85.

asked the Minister of Food the amount of the postwar importation of cassava starch; the amount of prewar importation; the chief sources of supply in each case; and what is being done to develop cassava starch in the British Colonies.

1936.1937.1938.1939.
cwts.cwts.cwts.cwts.
British Colonies2,1612,9843,948
Germany3,65438,460
Netherlands5,06978,62724,8282,537
Java143,4882.062,1641,756,2061 739,799
Brazil37,2233,73925,3781,967
Other Foreign Countries13,70150,99731,5623,788
Total205,2962,236,9711,841,922748,091
Postwar imports of cassava (or tapioca) in the form of flour or starch, other than the foodstuff tapioca, are as follow:
1945.1946.1947.
cwts.cwts.cwts.
British Colonies
Madagascar115,680
Brazil6,000
Other Foreign Countries
Total.115,6806,000

Dried Bananas

84

asked the Minister of Food in view of the shortage of poultry food, if he will encourage the manufacture of dried green bananas for use as a poultry food.

No, Sir. I am not aware of any supplies of green bananas available for this purpose and dried bananas being almost entirely carbohydrate would not be a substitute for protein food which is mainly required.

99.

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that bananas can be dehydrated; that there is a shortage of bananas in Great Britain and especially in Scotland; and if, in view of the shipping shortage, he will encourage

Every encouragement is being given to the development of Cassava starch production in the British Colonies and it is hoped that those which had prewar exportable surpluses and other Colonies which are anxious to develop the Cassava starch industry will soon be in a position to offer starch of the quality required by the United Kingdom and at competitive prices.

Following is the information:

The prewar imports of cassava (or tapioca) in form of flour or starch, other than foodstuffs tapioca, were as follow:

the manufacture of dehydrated ripe bananas.

Yes, Sir. But as my right hon. Friend said last Wednesday, I think people prefer their bananas fresh. I can assure my hon. Friend that ample shipping is available for the transport to this country of all the fresh bananas we can obtain, and that Scotland is receiving its full share.

Farm Workers

88.

asked the Minister of Food whether it can be arranged that agricultural workers shall draw their supplementary rations direct.

100.

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that the system by which permits for additional rations to farm workers can only be drawn through their employers is causing much inconvenience both to the farmers and the workers; and if he will consider issuing the permits direct to the workers.

My right hon. Friend regrets that he cannot allow workers themselves to draw the additional allowances as they are not a differential ration for the individual but a substitute for meals in a canteen. He has made arrangements for authorised representatives of the workers to draw the rations and has recently simplified the procedure as he explained in his answer to the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Hurd) on 23rd April.

Australian Tinned Vegetables

89.

asked the Minister of Food why Britain has recently declined to take 300,000 cases of tinned vegetables from Australia; and what is the present position.

The tinned vegetables which my hon. Friend has in mind are, I think, part of some supplies, consisting largely of canned potatoes, which were originally ordered for Services purposes, but were later found to be surplus to requirements. Had it been possible to have had them here after the disastrous weather in February and March had reduced fresh vegetables supplies, they would have been very useful but, of course, they would now arrive too late. Moreover, the Services have since made further demands against which it is intended to use them.

Condemned Vegetables, London

90.

asked the Minister of Food what were the amounts of cauliflowers or other green vegetables declared unfit for sale and consigned by the authorities in the various London wholesale markets to the waste food depots for pig and animal food during February and March, 1947; and what were the causes of this loss of human food.

The best information I can obtain is that about eight tons of green and salad vegetables, but no cauliflowers, were condemned as unfit for human food at the London wholesale markets during February and March. This loss of food was due to delays in transit during the severe weather in those months.

Coalmining Areas

91.

asked the Minister of Food whether the townships of Doncaster and Askern are included in the scheme to provide extra supplies of fats and other food to shopkeepers in mining areas and certain industrial districts, or why they have not been so included.

Certain coalmining areas around Doncaster are included, but Doncaster and Askern are not included in the first, provisional, list. A review is now being made of the whole country in order to correct any inequalities which may remain, and the case of Doncaster and Askern will be considered under this.

asked the Minister of Food the calorie value of the food rations allowed to miners at home and in mining area canteens as compared with what is allowed to other heavy industry workers and to the general public.

The calorie value of the ordinary domestic (including points and personal points, but of course excluding all unrationed foods) is about 1,700 calories per day. Underground miners receive for consumption at home an extra is. worth of meat and 12 bread units per week. Other heavy industrial workers receive six extra bread units per week. The calorie value of their consumption of rationed foods at home is thus increased to 2,700 calories per day for underground miners and to 2,100 calories for-other heavy workers. Category A industrial canteens are available for use by miners and other heavy industrial workers. If they take one main meal a day they can obtain a further 800 calories per day, making 3,500 calories a day of rationed food for miners and 2,900 for other heavy workers. The average calorie intake from all foods for the nation as a whole is 2,900 calories per day. This includes the whole range of the varying types of consumer from the infant on the one hand to the heavy industrial worker already mentioned.

Ceylon Tea

93.

asked the Minister of Food what has been the average selling price of Ceylon tea recently at the open tea auctions in Colombo; and to what extent the price exceeded the price at which Ceylon tea was sold in Ceylon in 1946.

On 31st March, the latest date for which complete figures are available, the average price of tea at the Colombo auctions was 172 cents per lb. ex sale, which with the addition of export duty and other costs represents about 3s. 3½d. per lb. F.O.B. This is Is. 4¼d. more than the average F.O.B. price paid last year when the whole of the Ceylon crop was bought by the Ministry of Food under I.E.F.C. arrangements.

Ministry Staff, Scotland

94.

asked the Minister of Food the total number of employees in his Department in Scotland; and what proportion does that number bear to the total number of persons employed in retail food distribution in Scotland.

Three thousand, seven hundred and seventy-five people were employed in my Department in Scotland on 1st April, 1947. No figures are available of the numbers employed is retail food distribution.

Supplementary Allocations, Blackpool

97.

asked the Minister of Food how many applications for supplementary food allocations were made in Blackpool in the two food weeks containing the Easter holiday; and how many supplementary food allocations were granted.

During the two weeks containing the Easter holiday, 2,164 applications for permits to obtain supplementary food allocations were made by catering establishments, and 2,119 were granted, while 181 applications by retailers were all granted.

Sweet Rationing

101.

asked the Minister of Food when he expects to be in a position to announce the end of sweet rationing.

Catering Advisers, Blackpool

102.

asked the Minister of Food how many men and women, respectively, he has appointed as catering advisers in Blackpool; what are their duties; and how much are they paid per annum.

Three men and seven women were recently appointed or detached to assist, advise and inspect catering establishments in Blackpool. Some of this work was performed previously by enforcement inspectors, who have returned to their normal duties. The need to retain these officers will be reviewed at the end of the holiday season. They at present receive approximately £45 a week in wages.

Weather And Flood Losses

103.

asked the Minister of Food what percentage of the total annual consumption of rationed meat the recent losses of sheep, lambs and cattle through snow and flood represent.

104.

asked the Minister of Food what percentage of the total annual consumption of potatoes and of wheat the recent losses through snow and flood represent.

With permission I will answer this Question and No. 104 together.The effects of the recent losses of sheep, lambs and cattle, will be spread over a period of about three years. The direct loss in 1947–48, that is the loss of stock coming forward for slaughter as distinct from losses resulting from reductions in breeding stocks, is estimated at about 3 per cent. of our annual consumption of rationed meat.The loss of potato stocks was equivalent to some II per cent. of our annual potato consumption. The loss of wheat acreage directly attributable to frost and flood would have produced, on the basis of average yields, a quantity of millable wheat equivalent to about 1½per cent. of our annual consumption of millable wheat. I would add that a far more serious loss—about 4½per cent.—resulted from the wet autumn and the consequent inability of farmers to sow the desired acreage of winter wheat.

Price Reductions (Cost)

105.

asked the Minister of Food what will be the cost to the Exchequer annually of the recent cuts of 3d. per 1b. on cheese, 2d. per lb. on butter and 3d. per dozen on eggs in the retail prices.

The cost to the Exchequer for the year 1947–48 is estimated at £800,000

Jam Jars (Salvage)

107.

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that many shops refuse to take jam jars when offered; that most households have plenty of jam jars which they are quite willing to hand over to those who require them; and whether he will arrange with local authorities for their collection.

The Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides have just completed a one month campaign of house-to-house collection of jam jars and preliminary reports suggest that housewives have responded well and that substantial quantities of jars have been returned to jam manufacturers. In addition, I am glad to be able to tell my hon. Friend, many local authorities are also salvaging glass food containers on a substantial scale.

Rationing Changes (Instructions)

asked the Minister of Food whether it is the duty of divisional food offices to notify local executive offices of any alterations or variation in rationing schemes immediately they are known, or whether his Department or the divisional food offices will notify local offices immediately of any alteration, since in many cases these offices have to rely on Press reports with resultant confusion for all concerned.

Appropriate instructions are normally issued by my Department to divisional and local food offices before any official announcement is made about rationing or other changes affecting, local food control. Where this is not possible because of urgency or for some other reason, instructions are issued at the same time or as soon as practicable after the announcement. The hon. Member will realise that if instructions are to be held pending an announcement in the House they may not reach remote food offices until a day or two after the Press reports have appeared. If the hon. Member knows of any cases where difficulty has arisen because of delay in the receipt of instructions by any par- ticular food office and will let me have details, I will gladly look into the matter.

Citrus Food Imports

asked the Minister of Food whether he is satisfied that the provision of shipping and boxes is adequate to ensure the delivery to this country in good condition of the citrus fruit purchased from Palestine.

There was sufficient shipping, but, unfortunately part of the supplies of boxwood for containers which had to be sent to Palestine from other countries and for which arrangements were made a year ago, were unavoidably delayed and arrived too late, with the result that we have received 5,630,000 cases of citrus fruit out of the 6,600,000 we hoped to get.

Beer Shortage

92.

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that there is a shortage of beer in the Castleford-Kippax - Garforth - Micklefield-Swillington area; what is the reason for the shortage; and what steps it is proposed to take to enable brewery companies to provide these towns and other mining communities in the district with as much beer as is received in other areas.

Yes, Sir. shortage of beer has been due to restricted coal allocations. The recent raising of the fuel allocation to the industry should ensure better supplies of beer to the areas in question.

Soap Supplies

98.

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that there is a shortage of washing soap in Eastleigh, Hampshire; and whether he will cause supplies to be sent there.

I am told that there is no general shortage of washing soap in Eastleigh, Hampshire, at present, but that it may be necessary to try more than one shop to obtain supplies.

106.

asked the Minister of Food if he will ensure adequate supplies of soap are made available to retailers in Kingsbury and North Wembley, where a serious shortage persists.

I am informed that there is no general shortage of soap in Kingsbury or North Wembley at the present time, although a shop may not stock every type of soap.

Roads

Trailers (Lighting)

108.

asked the Minister of Transport if there has been an increase in the number of accidents in which motor lorries drawing trailers have been involved; and if he will consider the need for the more adequate lighting of trailers to make them obvious to pedestrians as well as other traffic on the roads.

I regret that the information asked for in the first part of the Question is not available. If the hon. Member has any evidence that the present requirements for the lighting of trailers are inadequate my right hon. Friend will be glad to consider it.

Driving Tests

111

asked the Minister of Transport if he will give the number of people who have undergone his Department's driving test since its reinauguration on 1st November last; and the percentage of people who have passed the test at the first attempt.

Between 1st November, 1946, and 19th April, 1947, my Department's Driving Examiners conducted 36,469 tests, at which 64·3 per cent. of the candidates were successful. The number of candidates who passed the test at the first attempt is not separately recorded.

Reconditioned Ex-Service Cars

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that Mr. A. E. Newton, an ex-Service 100 per cent. disability pensioner, 71, Grange Road, Orpington, Kent, is unable to obtain a permit to buy a motor car under the scheme for disabled ex-Servicemen; and if he will give an estimate of the number of secondhand motor cars at present in the various Government dumps all over the country.

As I have informed the hon. Member in correspondence, this applicant is one of many on the waiting list for reconditioned ex-Service cars. He will be offered a car in his turn but cannot, in fairness, be given preference over earlier applicants. I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply that approximately 450 secondhand motor cars are at present in dumps throughout the country. These are either of types for which spare parts are unobtainable or are not suitable for economical reconditioning under the scheme for allocation to disabled ex-Servicemen.

Selby Toll Bridge

116.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is now able to make a statement with regard to his negotiations for the purchase of Selby toll bridge.

I regret that I am not yet in a position to make any statement. Negotiations are in hand but in such cases they are bound to be somewhat protracted.

London Passenger Transport Board

Tramcars (Replacement)

109.

asked the Minister of Transport when the recommendation of the L.P.T.B., that omnibuses should replace tramcars, will he put into effect; and whether, in city areas which are not likely to be affected by town and country planning, he will provide trolleybuses in place of tramcars.

The substitution proposed by the London Passenger Transport Board must depend on the availability of vehicles and adaptation of premises and I am not in a position to say when it will start. On the second part of the Question I do not think that it would be wise to lay down any hard and fast rule and the form of transport to be used must be primarily for the consideration of the authorities in the light of local circumstances.

112.

asked the Minister of Transport if, in view of the carrying capacity of the existing London tramcars and the need for heavy motor vehicles in other directions, he will consider with the L.P.T.B. deferring for as long as possible the abolition of the London tramcars and their replacement by petrol or trolley buses.

No, Sir. But the substitution proposed by the London Passenger Transport Board will depend on the availability of vehicles and adaptation of premises which will take some time.

Bus Service, Sidcup-Bexley

117.

asked the Minister of Transport if plans have now been agreed for the institution of an urgently-needed omnibus service to serve Hurst Road, Sidcup, and Albany Park, Bexley, Kent.

The L.P.T.B. have this route under consideration and have been in consultation with the local Councils concerned. They are, however, unable to provide a service until the necessary rolling stock is available and certain roads have been made suitable.

Underground Breakdowns (Emergency Services)

120.

asked the Minister of Transport if he will arrange that in the event of a breakdown in London underground transport, as has occurred since the beginning of the year, he will make arrangements to provide omnibus services between the stations affected on the lines of the arrangements made during the war to save congestion and allow passengers to get to their destination in reasonable time.

The wartime arrangement for emergency services of buses to cover breakdowns in railway services is being continued, but is limited by the prevailing acute shortage of rolling stock.

Railways

Summer Services (Reduction)

110.

asked the Minister of Transport, in view of the inconvenience which will result from the announced cut in holiday train services and the fact that it will only result in a saving of a half day's production of coal, if he will reconsider his decision.

I regret the need for the reduction in summer services but it is during this period that stocks of coal must be built up by every economy that can reasonably be made.

Sleeping Berths

113.

asked the Minister of Transport what proportion of sleeping-berth accommodation on trains is still reserved for his Department; and why all the berths on the train to Oban on the night of 11th June have already been allocated by his Department.

Of the total sleeping accommodation available on all routes, 22 per cent. of the first-class berths and 6 per cent. of the third-class berths are available for Government-sponsored passengers. No berths are reserved for sponsored passengers in sleeping cars which serve Oban and the whole of the accommodation is, therefore, available for reservation by the public in the ordinary way.

Steel Wagons, Martin Mill

114.

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that a considerable number of steel wagons in new condition are standing empty in sidings at Martin Mill Station; how many wagons there are and for how long they have been standing in the sidings; and what reason there is to prevent them from being brought into active use for the carriage of seed potatoes and coal.

I am aware that there are 117 steel wagons standing at Martin Mill, awaiting side and end doors, which manufacturers have so far been unable to supply owing to shortage of steel. All possible steps are being taken to expedite the completion of the wagons.

Smoking Compartments

118.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will take steps to see that railway companies reverse the present proportion of smoking to nonsmoking compartments in order to reduce the consumption of tobacco.

Cheap Fare Facilities

119.

asked the Minister of Transport if he will extend the days on which cheap rates for parties are allowed to include Saturdays, as many people are compelled to commence their one week's annual holiday on Saturday.

All the cheap fare facilities now in force, except the monthly return ticket and the juvenile campers party ticket, are day returns and, even with the extension which my hon. Friend proposes, would not, therefore, cater for people going away for their holidays.

Shipping (Cattle Freight Rates)

115.

asked the Minister of Transport if he will state the average trans-Atlantic freight rate per head of cattle in any convenient month of 1937 and 1946, respectively.

The rate for 1937 was from 60s. to 70s. per head. There were no shipments in 1946.

Trade And Commerce

Wellington Boots

121.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that there is a shortage of rubber boots in Herefordshire; and what steps he proposes to take to make available these boots so necessary for agriculturists.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for East Norfolk (Mr. Medlicott) on 24th April, and would add that I will extend the investigation mentioned in that reply to Herefordshire.

French Rayon

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many lineal yards of broad woven rayon cloth are represented by the figure of £3,520,000 which, under a recently-concluded agreement with France, will be allowed to come into this country in 1947, for use in the home market.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to him on this matter on 17th April.

Preserving Jars

asked the President, of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the acute shortage of bottles for the bottling of fruit this year in the Dorset area; and what steps are being taken to increase the production and ensure a proper allocation.

There is a general shortage of all glass containers, although the industry's output is about 20 per cent. above prewar. Demand is, however, even higher—particularly in the case of preserving jars. We are doing all we can to help the manufacturers to step up their production, and licences are freely granted for the import of preserving jars. I am satisfied that manufacturers are trying to distribute available supplies as evenly as possible.

Household Linen

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered a resolution from the Northampton Trades Council requesting him to consider making a supplementary issue of coupons for the replacement of household linen; and what reply he proposes to make to it.

I do not appear to have received a copy of the resolution. If my hon. Friend will send me one I will communicate with him, but I can hold out no hope of a supplementary issue of the kind suggested, the present ration being already adjusted to cover the purchase of all the household linen likely to come available in the period.

Vacuum Flasks

asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the total of vacuum flasks sold on the home market in 1937 and 1938; and what is the total number of glass components for such flasks imported or scheduled for importation in 1946 and 1947, respectively.

It is estimated that before the war between four and five million vacuum flasks were sold on the home market every year. No mare exact figures are available. During 1946 we imported glass components sufficient to make 255,000 vacuum flasks; provision has been made this year for the importation of components to make approximately four times this number.

Clothing Coupons (Ex-Servicemen)

asked the President of the Board of Trade when he will issue the second issue of supplementary clothing coupons to persons demobilised from the Services after March, 1946.

I can as yet add nothing to the answer given on 3rd April to my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget).

Overseas Commercial Attaches

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is satisfied that commercial attaches in British missions overseas are able to supply the information required about representatives of British firms in the countries to which they are accredited.

Housing

Costs

122.

asked the Minister of Health the respective costs of building trade materials and building trade labour on a standard traditional house, brick built with tile or slate roof of 850 to 900 superficial feet; and what is the difference between the aggregate cost of material and labour in relation to the total cost of such standard houses, including land, sewers and main drainage, in England and Wales.

Sufficient data are not yet available as to costs of labour and materials to enable any precise figures to be quoted.

Standard Specifications

123.

asked the Minister of Health to what extent the recommendations of the British Standards Institution are being followed by local authorities when obtaining components for the housing programme.

The use of the standard specifications covering a wide range of products is obligatory in all housing work undertaken by local authorities, and approval of schemes is conditional upon compliance with these specifications.

Health Service (Hospitals)

asked the Minister of Health whether the receipt of Ministry of Health circular 57/47, dated 31st March, by the Hostel of God for the dying, means that it has been decided to take this hospital over for the national health service, or if no such decision has been reached if he will consider making an early announcement.

This circular has been sent to all voluntary institutions which appear on my present information to be liable to transfer under the National Health Service Act, but it does not imply any final decision to take them over. It would be unjustifiable to take any such decision in individual cases until I have the views of the appropriate regional hospital board which I hope to set up very shortly.

Us Servicemen's Dependants (Aid)

124.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether any agreement has been reached with the U.S. authorities on the provision of legal aid for the deserted dependants and mothers of illegitimate children whose alleged fathers are U.S. ex-Servicemen; and whether any progress has been made by welfare agencies or other unofficial bodies in the U.S.A. in the provision of assistance for such dependants and children.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave on 20th March to the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Peter Freeman) regarding the arrangements for legal aid. With regard to the second part of the Question our representatives in the United States continue to enjoy the co-operation of American welfare agencies in rendering assistance in such cases. Ways of improving such co-operation are constantly under discussion.

Ministry Of Pensions

Personal Case

125.

asked the Minister of Pension whether he is aware that a surgical boot and knee cage were ordered by his Department for Mr. G. J. Papworth, 118, St. Andrew's Avenue, Elm Park, Romford, Essex, in June, 1946, and that they have not yet been delivered; and when delivery may be expected.

I much regret the delay that has occurred in this case. The surgical boots were made some time ago but could not be issued without the knee-cage. The contractors have on more than one occasion been pressed to hasten the supply of this appliance and my local office has just obtained delivery. Mr. Papworth has been asked to attend for fitting this week.

Statistics

asked the Minister of Pensions (1) how many men and women, respectively, receive disability pensions of less than 100 per cent., distinguishing be-

Men in receipt of pensions atWomen in receipt of pensions at
100 per cent.Less than 100 per cent.100 per cent.Less than too per cent.
War, 191422,000334,100120650
War, 193927,100354,5002,0507,650
Total49,100688,6002,1708,300
Of those in receipt of pension at the 100 per cent. rate, approximately 16,800 of the 1914 war and 18,700 of the 1939 war are receiving allowances of some kind in addition to the basic 100 per cent. pension. I regret that similar information regarding the less than 100 per cent. cases could be obtained only by examining individually nearly 700,000 awards in payment, and the expenditure of time and labour would not in my view be justified

Scottish Universities (Admissions)

126.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the number of students who applied for admission to Scottish universities during the past two sessions; how many were admitted; how many of those who were not admitted held the Higher Leaving Certificate and the Certificate of Fitness, respectively; what is the qualification for admission; and if he is aware that certain applicants have complained of political bias in the selection of prospective students.

Particulars of applications for admission to Scottish Universities for the session 1946–47 were given in a reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for North Lanark (Miss tween pensions in respect of 1914–18 and 1939–45 service; and how many of these also receive some other allowance from his Department;(2) the number of men and women, respectively, in receipt of 100 per cent. disability pensions who also have other allowances of some kind from his Department; and how many of these have pensions in respect of 1914–18 and 1939–45 service. respectively.

The numbers in receipt of pensions at 100 per cent. and less than 100 per cent. respectively, are approximately as follow:Herbison) on 26th November, 1946. I have no similar information for the session 1945–46 or as to the third part of the Question, and I should not feel justified in asking the universities to undertake the very considerable labour which the production of these statistics would involve. As regards the fourth part of the Question, all applicants have to produce an attestation of fitness issued by the Scottish Universities Entrance Board, but this is merely a minimum requirement, and the further qualifications demanded vary according to the university and faculty to which the applicant desires admission. I have received no complaints of the nature indicated in the last part of the Question.

Dominion Gifts

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will issue a statement giving a list of the monetary gifts received from the Dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa between 1st August, 1945, and 1st April, 1947, and showing the dates when such gifts were received, their value in sterling and the specific purpose to which they have been applied.

Canada.

(1) Mutual Aid. Mutual Aid from Canada to the United Kingdom continued to 1st September, 1945. The total from 1st April, 1945, to the 1st September, was 670 million dollars, equivalent to £150 million. There is no separate figure as from 1st August, 1945. The United Kingdom for the most part received munitions and military supplies, foodstuffs and farm products. (2) Writing off of liability under British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Under Article 7 of the Financial Agreement between this country and Canada of 6th March, 1946 (published in Cmd. 6904), the Canadian Government agreed to cancel an amount of 425 million dollars, equivalent to £96 million, owing by the United Kingdom in respect of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. This Article was brought into effect by a Royal Proclamation in Canada dated 16th July, 1946.

Australia.

On 5th March, 1947, the Australian Government announced a gift of £A25 million, equivalent to £20 million, as a contribution to the war costs incurred by Britain in and around the Pacific. This sum has not yet been received, but will be applied to the redemption of debt.

New Zealand.

The Government of New Zealand on 5th March announced a gift of £N.Z.12½million, equivalent to £10 million, in recognition of the magnificent and unprecedented effort of the United Kingdom in maintaining freedom and making possible its expansion in the years to come, and of the enormous burden that the United Kingdom have carried and are bearing during the post-war period. This sum was paid over on 25th March, 1947, and is being applied to the redemption of debt.

South Africa.

A gift subscribed by the people of South Africa amounting to £1,180,000 was presented by Field-Marshal Smuts to the Prime Minister in October last.

The above takes no account of further contributions raised by private subscription or on private initiative, of which no comprehensive record is available.

Education

Trainees

asked the Minister of Education the present timetable for the emergency recruit to quality for appointment as qualified teacher to the schools; and what check is placed upon recruits who have gone through the training receiving the full accommodation, maintenance and other subsidies, and who upon completion decline to enter the schools in favour of more remunerative employments.

In the Emergency Framing Scheme the length of the college course is one year. On successful completion of this course the candidate is approved as a qualified teacher, subject to a two-year probation period. My Department received returns from the colleges showing the employment taken up by their students, and so far, has seen no sign of teachers trained under the scheme failing to carry out their undertaking to follow the teaching profession

Holidays

asked the Minister of Education why grammar schools are not allowed to decide, and are not consulted about, the allotment of the 10 days holiday allowed beyond the main 12 weeks, since such schools, whose staff are commonly not local, would usually prefer to use three out of the 10 days on Mondays at the beginning of each term to travel back to work; and whether he will review these arrangements.

Neither the Act nor the Primary and Secondary Schools (Grant Conditions) Regulations restrict the governors of maintained secondary schools in the allocation of the occasional holidays which may be granted in term time up to a maximum of 10 days. The matter is one for the Articles of Government, and the 1944 White Paper on the Principles of Government in Secondary Schools indicated that governors should be empowered to grant such holidays at their discretion

Northern Rhodesia (Cost-Of-Living Commission)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the cost-of-living commission which the Legislative Council of Northern Rhodesia agreed to set up at its last session has yet been appointed; who are its members; and when is it to begin its inquiries.

The Governor of Northern Rhodesia has appointed the following members of the Cost of Living Commission:Mr. R. Welensky (Elected Member of the Legislative Council).Mr. N. Cook (Nominated Unofficial Member of the Legislative Council).Mr. H. Field (Compound Manager, Mufulira Mine).Mr. P. J. Law (Acting Labour Commissioner).In addition a representative of the Northern Rhodesian Mine Workers' Union is to be appointed to the Commission. A chairman for the Commission has not yet been found, and the date for starting its inquiries has therefore not yet been fixed.

Colonial Cocoa Production

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the fast that the estimated supplies of cocoa, 500,000 tons, are 300,000 tons short of the estimated world consumption, and that swollen shoot disease of cocoa, for which there is not yet a known cure, is devastating the cocoa plantations in the Gold Coast and Nigeria, the chief sources of the supply of cocoa, and that it takes eight years to develop cocoa plantations, what is being done to develop cocoa in other British Colonies.

The future of cocoa supplies was considered by the Colonial Advisory Committee on Agriculture and Animal Health in December, 1941, and on their recommendation a despatch was addressed to the Governors of several Colonies where cocoa production appeared feasible, to draw their attention to the prospective shortage of supplies and to discover how far production could be increased. As a result of this review it appeared that there were possibilities in some of the smaller Colonies. These are being pursued. The largest area of potential new production, however, was in the Far Eastern territories. The war prevented immediate progress there but I have recently suggested to the Governments concerned that an expert investi- gation should be undertaken as soon as possible.Apart from new production, the best means of maintaining or increasing Empire production lies in the control of disease, improvements in cultural methods, a more intensive system of production and the replacement of inferior types of tree by selected high yielding strains. Grants have been made for the latter purpose in Grenada. But the programme as a whole involves continuing research. In 1945 therefore a Cocoa Research Conference was held in London which reviewed the whole field of research needed by the industry. In accordance with the conclusions of that Conference a co-ordinated programme of research in the West Indies and West Africa has been worked out and is being intensively pursued. Measures for the control of swollen-shoot disease, occupy I prominent place in the programme of West African research and in the operations of the Agricultural Departments of the Colonies concerned.

Prisoners Of War

Housing Workers (Boots)

asked the Secretary of State for War what requests he has received from contractors for rubber boots for prisoners of war working on housing sites; and if the contractors have been able to get boots

Detailed information as to how many requests have been received is not readily available. So far as I am aware, all necessary demands have been met.

Camp Cooks

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will review the status of German cooks employed in camp compounds who at present are not given the bonus paid to other prisoner of war cooks working in officers' and men's messes; and if he will remove this anomaly.

Prisoners of war employed in British officers' and men's messes are paid working pay from public funds in the same way as all other prisoners of war who replace British personnel. Prisoners of war employed as cooks in camp compounds do not fall into this category and consequently do not receive working pay from public funds, but are paid a bonus from camp welfare funds.

Nursing Officers (Release)

asked the Secretary of State for War, if he will give particulars of the probable date of demobilisation of the various groups in the Q.A.I.M.N.S./R., now serving in India, as there is considerable dissatisfaction among members of this service that this information has not been published.

The current age and service group of Nursing Officers, Q.A.I.M.N.S (R) now being released is 54. All officers of this group are due to be released between 1st April and 31st August 1947. This information was cabled to all commands abroad including India on 6th March, 1947. In the normal way it would be promulgated in unit orders, which are available for all serving personnel to see. Dates for the release of subsequent groups have not yet been decided.