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Commons Chamber

Volume 436: debated on Wednesday 30 April 1947

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 30th April, 1947

The House met at Half past Two o'Clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Transport Bill (Petition)

I beg to ask leave to present a Petition, signed by 55,000 persons engaged in or using road transport, asking that the proposals for nationalisation of this industry may be rejected. The Petitioners say they fear that under a system of road haulage owned and controlled by the Government many road haulage contractors and their employees will lose their means of livelihood, and that they believe the service will be less efficient and more expensive and harmful to the trade of this country. The Petition concludes with the following Prayer:

"We, your Petitioners, humbly pray your honourable House to reject any proposals, which may hereafter be submitted to Parliament for approval or for legislation, with the object of replacing private enterprise in the provision of road transport, by a nationalised or Government-controlled system of transport. Your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray."
To lie upon the Table.

Oral Answers To Questions


Criminal Charges (Control Officials)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on whose responsibility four officials of the Control Commission for Germany, whose names have been given to him, who were charged on 17th March, 1947, with conspiracy, are still at work and exercising authority over subordinate officials who may have to give evidence against them; and whether he is satisfied that this is consistent with good discipline and efficient administration.

These officials have been suspended from duty following the preliminary hearing of their cases and committal for trial.

They were suspended immediately after the inquiry by the magistrate, and, within my recollection, they were suspended on 21st April

Will the right hon. Gentleman look into this further, because I have evidence of eye-witnesses that they were working in the Control Office, and were drawing their salaries until a week ago?

I think that the hon. and learned Member would agree that it would be unfair to suspend them until they had been committed for trial. However, I am very willing to consider any evidence which the hon. and learned Member has.

Can it be explained to the House how eye-witnesses could know that these persons were drawing their salaries?

is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is a typical instance of the behaviour of some members of the Control Commission, who, by their behaviour, have lost the respect and confidence of the German people?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the skilled engineer who was put to sort letters in the Control Commission for Germany, in February last, for two to four weeks only is still engaged on the work and only sorting about eight letters daily; how long he is to continue this work; and whether steps will be taken to clear up the position, since this engineer was sent to this work by an officer against whom he may have to give evidence on a criminal charge made against the officer.

This officer was taken from his duties in the statistical and information rooms at Hanover last month, so that he could give evidence in Dusseldorf. He was released from attendance at court towards the end of March, and has since been on leave in -this country. I am assured that he was not sent to Hanover by an officer against whom he may have had to give evidence, but by the head of his branch.

Would the right hon. Gentleman say how much longer he intends to cost the country £1,000 a year in allowing this man to sort eight letters a day, when he is a skilled engineer?

I have already pointed out that he is not at present engaged on that task.

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept it from me that he is not on leave in this country, but went back a few days ago to sort his eight letters a day?

I should be delighted to consider any evidence which the hon. and learned Gentleman has to offer, but I am surprised that he has immediate information about what this engineer is doing.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this man was sent there by the head of his branch, who is one of the officers against whom the man preferred charges?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether this engineer is working a five-day week?

Friedrich Berg (Charges)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what firearms and other prohibited or restricted goods were found on the premises of Fritz Berg, Altena, when they were recently searched; with what offences he has since been charged and why he is still in possession of two motor cars and in control of his factories.

Friedrich Berg was found to be in possession of three sporting rifles, a Mauser automatic pistol, and quantities of ammunition. A large amount of rationed food, both Allied and German, and Allied spirits and cigarettes were also found. He has been charged with conspiracy to commit an offence in connection with purchase of cutlery; possession of excess quantities of rationed foods; unauthorised possession of property belonging to the Allied forces; unauthorised possession of fire-arms and ammunition; corruption of a person acting under authority of Allied forces; and two offences under the Military Government Notice of Control and Allocation of Consumer Goods dated 7th April, 1946. The two motorcars said to be in his possession are his private property. He is no longer in control of his factories, as he was removed from office on 3rd March, 1947, under the denazification regulations.

Is it really satisfactory that he and his wife should be driving about in these two motorcars, including periodically attending hearings before this trial?

The hon. and learned Member will note that my information is that he is in possession of motorcars, but I have caused most immediate inquiries to be made whether he is entitled to use them. If there is any reason why he should not use them, I will take care to see that he does not.

Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire particularly into the fact that every time he comes up for another hearing he drives away in one car and his wife in another?

Am I right in thinking that the possession of firearms is a capital offence in Germany, and can investigations be made into how a person charged with a capital offence was allowed bail?

Coal Production


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what effect the new coal agreement will have upon German industrial output.

In reaching this agreement the needs of German industry were fully considered. The agreement is designed to secure an equitable distribution of increased production in Germany, and in those European countries dependent on German coal, and it ensures that increases in German coal production will be shared equitably between these internal and external needs.

Denazification Questionnaire


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why, in the latest questionnaire for denazification purposes, Germans in the British zone are asked how they voted in 1932.

There has been no change in the questionnaire used for denazification; the question to which my hon. Friend refers is designed to discover whether the German concerned had Nazi sympathies at a time when it was still possible in Germany to indicate one's political preferences under conditions of relative freedom and secrecy.

Does my right hon. Friend think it is a good guarantee to the Germans that they should support a democratic system when they have no guarantee that in a few year's' time they may not be asked how they voted in 1946?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what effective check he has to prove whether the replies to this question are correct or not?

Movement From Poland


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the reason for refusing the entry of Germans recently from Poland to the British zone of Germany; and whether the Polish authorities have given any indication of the number of Germans they still wish to leave their western territories.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the Polish Government has given notice to deport a further 400,000 Germans from Polish territory; and what is His Majesty's Government's policy in regard to accepting any of these deportees in the British zone of Germany.

The organised movement into the British zone of Germany of Germans to be expelled under the Potsdam Agreement from the territories now administered by Poland was suspended by the Control Commission on 23rd December last because of the severe weather. The question of resuming the operation has been deferred, as it was proposed to review the whole question of population transfers during the Moscow conference. Unfortunately, no agreement was reached.

The Polish authorities, at the Council of Foreign Ministers' Deputies in January, indicated that 550,000 Germans still remain in their western territories whom they wish removed to the western zones. They have recently asked that the movement to the British zone should be resumed but no official figures have been given. Our commitment is to receive million of these Germans into the British zone. This figure has probably been reached already, and before we can agree to accept any more it is necessary to assess the total number already received either by transfer or by infiltration so that we can calculate what balance, if any. remains.

Has my right hon. Friend made it plain to the Polish Government that further expulsions from their zone into our zone will make economic conditions there more and more difficult?

Yes, Sir, but it is not only a question of numbers, but who should be expelled. If we are to have merely refugees and unemployable people, and no corresponding productive people, the situation will become very difficult.

Can my right hon. Friend say what proportion of those expelled have been men or employable women?

Food Supplies


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for how long he expects it will be necessary to maintain the reduction of the bread ration from 5 lb. to 3 lb. weekly in the British zone of Germany; and whether the hardship thus inflicted can be offset by stepping up supplies of other food. stuffs.

The reduction which was adopted on the recommendation of the German Executive Committee as a prudent measure during a period of low stocks, and which applies to both the British and the United States zones, has at present been authorised only for the first week of the ration period. It is hoped that the full issue will be made up later in May. In the past potatoes have been used when necessary to supplement shortages of grain, but these are also in short supply.

While there are these shortages, will my right hon. Friend take all steps to make clear to the German people the reason for them?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether ha is aware that supplies of milk to civilians in the British zone are almost nil; and that meat, fats and potatoes are in such short supply that the normal ration cannot be honoured; and if he will make a statement.

Milk has been in short supply in the British zone but it has been possible to meet the needs of priority consumers with a fair degree of success. The position should improve with the start of the new grazing season. Difficulties in providing full rations of meat, fats and potatoes have been largely due to the failure of the local German authorities to collect and distribute these foodstuffs equitably throughout the British and American zones. The matter is under consideration in conjunction with the American authorities.

British Propaganda, Europe


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what directions have been issued to Press officers and other officials representative of His Majesty's Government in France, Italy and Greece, to counteract subversive talk and the antagonistic attitude adopted towards the Government by British nationals now in those countries.

No special directive has been issued, but Press officers and representatives are kept fully supplied with current and background information

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been called to an article by Alan Moorhead, which appeared in the "Observer" on Sunday, 20th April, regarding damaging talk by his officials abroad, and which appeared to include officials of his Department? Will he have this serious matter investigated?

I have seen the article, and I have taken some personal steps in the matter.

Is it suggested that it is illegal for British nationals abroad, in their private capacity, to hold views critical of His Majesty's Government in this country?

No one suggested that it was an offence to hold views critical or otherwise of this Government, but, clearly, it may be an irregularity if an officer commissioned by His Majesty gives expression to such views.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Question refers to subversive talk and the antagonistic attitude adopted towards the Government by British nationals? It does not say anything about officers.

The hon. Member will have noted that I was answering a supplementary which was put to me by my hon. Friend the Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Cooper), who asked me whether my attention had been called to a certain newspaper article.

I thought the right hon. Gentleman was answering the main Question, rather than the supplementary.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what steps are being taken to counteract the subversive talk and the antagonistic attitude adopted towards the Government by Socialist Members of Parliament when they travel abroad?

Camp, El Arish


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many Yugoslays are still accommodated in the camp at El Arish; and what is the plan for their future.

Korea (Joint Commission)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how international affairs have developed in Korea since the Moscow Agreement of 1945 was made by which Korea was to be placed under Four Power Trusteeship for five years and under a provisional Government in which Koreans were to share, prior to the country becoming an independent State.

Under the terms of the Moscow Agreement a joint United States —Soviet Commission was duly convened in Korea in March, 1946. A deadlock was reached over the question of consultation with Korean democratic organisations and the Commission was adjourned sine die on 8th May, 1946, when the Soviet delegate was recalled on the orders of the Soviet Command in Northern Korea. Mr. Marshall has proposed to Mr. Molotov that the Commission should be reconvened, and the latter has replied agreeing that it should meet again on 28th May.

International Relief Organisation


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether I.R.O. will be ready to take over its responsibilities in June when the work of U.N.R.R.A. closes down.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on 28th April to my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. T. Reid) to which I have nothing to add.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether it is true that the International Relief Organisation cannot come into operation until 15 nations have ratified it, and that, so far, only two have ratified it? Can he also say whether it is true that it cannot come into operation until 75 per cent. of its budget is guaranteed, and that, so far, none of its budget has been guaranteed?

I am sorry that my hon. Friend is a little inaccurate, because he is usually most accurate. My recollection is that the number of countries is 12, not 15, but the facts as he stated them are essentially correct.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what prospect he holds out from a meeting which, I believe, is to be held next Friday?

Perhaps we had better let the meeting take care of itself. The attitude of H.M. Government is well known, and we have taken every appropriate course to try to ensure that this organisation will have a legal standing.

In view of the fact that the I.R.O. is not ready to take over, can my right hon. Friend say what provisions will be made for displaced persons and refugees in the interim?

My hon. Friend may be assured that this worry is not one of which the Government have been unaware, and that months ago we made alternative arrangements which, however, I hope we shall not have to call upon.

International Children's Fund


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what share this country will take in the work of the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund.

His Majesty's Goverment have promised their support to the Inter- national Children's Emergency Fund. The administration of the Fund is at present discussing with voluntary and other organisations in this country and with His Majesty's Government the question of assistance to the Fund, including an appeal for voluntary contributions

Heligoland (Demolitions)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how much iron and steel and other manufactured material was destroyed with the blowing up of Heligoland.

Apart from explosives, about 1,200 tons of iron, steel and manufactured material, of which 85 per cent. consisted of guns and emplacements, were destroyed in the recent demolitions of fortifications and warlike stores.

Egypt (British Military Mission)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what intimation he has received from the Government of Egypt regarding the future of the British Military Mission in Egypt.

The Egyptian Prime Minister wrote to His Majesty's Ambassador on 2nd March intimating that the Egyptian Government intended to dispense with the services of the Mission in two stage "in the course of this year."

Polish Government (British Relations)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in view of the fact that the announced policy of His Majesty's Government was that Britain's future attitude would be determined by the performance of the new Polish Government, what the attitude of His Majesty's Government now is.

His Majesty's Government are continuing to judge by results and are discussing outstanding questions with the Polish Government with a desire to reach solutions in the interests of the people of both countries.

Is -the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have received first-hand information that these elections were very unfair, and that some of the Polish subjects who are anti-Soviet have been victimised; and will he do all that he can, as we realise he has done lately, to maintain the announced policy of His Majesty's Government?

I shall do my best. I would remind the hon Gentleman and the House that when we have had a great trouble as we have had in Europe, it is very difficult to settle all these problems at once. The Polish population has fallen from 35 million to 22 million of whom over eight million are dead.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that part of the performance of the new Polish Government has been a very agreeable trade treaty with this country, which brings some hundreds of thousands of tons of coal here?

I do not know about the amount of coal. But we are discussing all these things in a friendly spirit in the hope that we can bring relationships back to a proper basis.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the recent amnesty in Poland is an indication that the new Polish Government desire to proceed towards a more liberal and democratic regime?

I think that the best service which can be rendered to Poland now is that every Pole, whether a displaced person or in this country, should immediately make up his mind to go home and take part in the reconstruction of Poland.

Greece (Financial Assistance)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether on the cessation of British financial aid to Greece, His Majesty's Government advised the Greek Government to make any application for further financial assistance to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

His Majesty's Government have certainly encouraged the Greek Government to consider applying to the International Bank for a loan in connection with their reconstruction programme. I understand that the Greek Government have in fact already informed the Bank of their intention to submit a formal loan application when their plans for reconstruction projects have been completed.

Moscow Conference


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when he hopes to be in a position to make a statement on the results of the Council of Foreign Ministers just held in Moscow.

I am hoping to be able to give an account of the Moscow Conference if a debate can be arranged at a convenient date through the usual channels.

Austria (German Assets)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will draw the attention of the Control Commission for Austria to the fact that 200 factories have now been taken over and are being operated by the U.S.S.R.; that the Soviet confiscations made under the head of German assets now amount to 25 per cent. of the whole national economy; and whether instructions will be given to our representative on the Allied Control Commission to take action in order to prevent the financial ruin of Austria

The hon. Member will be aware that the question of German assets in Austria was discussed at the recent meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers. Although no agreement could be reached, it was decided to set up a Commission of representatives of the four Powers to deal with all outstanding questions of the Austrian Treaty, and a committee of experts to examine the particular question of German assets under Article 35 and the related question of United Nations nationals' property under Article 42 on a basis of concrete facts. The hon. Member will appreciate that in these circumstances the issue of new instructions to the British Element of the Allied Commission is unnecessary.

Has the right hon. Gentleman had time to read a statement by the American Secretary of State to the effect that if these exactions continue it will be impossible for Austria to maintain her independent existence?

I think that I have made the position clear in Moscow. The difficulty about this matter is trying to settle it on the basis of a formula. I have tried to settle it on the basis of the actual facts.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the terms of reference of the committee of experts include the power to investigate the changes of ownership in individual property and the conditions under which ownership will change?

Yes, they can go in and have presented to them all the relevant facts. One principle I set out for is that I do not think that other United Nations nationals ought to suffer as a result of the depredations of Hitler.

Can the right hon Gentleman say what is the earliest date that the Foreign Ministers are likely to be able to receive the reports of these committees and come to some decision about Austria?

The decision was to do it without delay. Sometimes, when we fix a date, we are like the man who used to prophesy the end of the world; if it (lid not happen he altered the date.

Rumania (Arrests)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the signature of the treaty with Rumania, his attention has been called to the wholesale arrests of members of the opposition parties which have been taking place since the middle of March; whether he is aware that prisoners are held in the closest detention although no evidence has been brought against them; and whether he will give instructions to His Majesty's Minister at Bucharest to protest against, this violation of Article Three of the Treaty, which has been already signed, although not yet ratified.

I am aware that arrests of members of the Rumanian Opposition parties have been taking place recently. His Majesty's Government are watching the situation carefully, and should it appear that there has been a breach of Article 3 of the Peace Treaty appropriate action will be taken.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that for many months past the Rumanian Government have flouted the Agreements of Potsdam and Yalta, and cannot something be done now to prevent her from setting at naught a Treaty which she so recently signed?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the continued imprisonment of political opponents without trial is entirely justified if the declaration of the Northern Ireland Government is accepted, and would it, therefore, be possible for my right hon. Friend to send a copy of the Northern Ireland Regulations for the internment of political opponents, together with their justification, to these various Governments so that if they desire to imprison their political opponents they can do so in accordance with democratic precedent?

With regard to Rumania, this is a great human problem causing much suffering; is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is great sympathy in this country with. Rumania and her sufferings, and attempts are being made to raise a fund to help the starving children of Rumania? Will he convey to the Rumanian Government that these attempts will be prejudiced if there is persecution in Rumania?

I think that all Governments should try to put an end to this war disease and postwar disease as quickly as they can.

Is it in Order, Mr. Speaker, for an hon. Member, under the guise of asking a question on foreign affairs, to try to throw mud at parts of the United Kingdom?

I hoped that I had made it clear when I rose to interrupt the hon. Member that his question had not my approval.

Spain (Trial)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reply he has received to his inquiries about the imprisonment and sentencing to death by General Franco's Government of a number of young Spanish anti-Fascists, some of whom are i6 years of age; and what further action he will take.

On 7th April, His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires at Madrid reported that these Spaniards had not yet been tried but were charged with having placed bombs in front of food shops last November, as a result of which four persons were injured, one seriously. In the light of this information His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires was instructed to arrange for a representative of the Embassy to be present at the trial and also to investigate a report that one of the prisoners had been ill-treated.

His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires has now reported that an official statement was issued yesterday by the Spanish Government which confirmed the fact that these Spaniards had not yet been tried and that the report that they had been sentenced to death was therefore inaccurate. According to the statement only two of the nine individuals were under i8 at the time of their arrest. The statement went on to say that in the case of delinquents who were only 17, their age would be regarded as an extenuating circumstance under Spanish Law and that this principle would be applied in the present case. The statement added that the trial of these prisoners by court martial was expected to take place within the next few weeks.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for his full reply and for the action which he has taken, with the obviously beneficial results that have followed therefrom, might I ask him if he will keep his eye on this trial?

Yes, I certainly will, but I think it proves the wisdom of my action in resisting the withdrawal of our representatives from Madrid.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that nobody suggested withdrawing diplomatic representatives from Madrid without at the same time taking economic action, such as oil sanctions, which would have brought Franco down by now?

African Colonies

Oil Seeds Commission Report


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies on what date the Report of the Oil Seeds Commission to West Africa will be published; and, in view of the importance of the subject at the present time, if he will ensure that publication is pressed forward rapidly.

The report is published today, and copies are available at the Vote Office.

Teachers' Salaries, Nigeria


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will take the appropriate action to see that satisfactory scales of salaries to non-Government teachers comparable to those of civil servants and Government teachers are paid in Nigeria.

The salary scales of non-Government teachers in Nigeria are of course a matter primarily for settlement locally between the parties concerned. I understand that negotiations are at present proceeding in Nigeria.

Is there any likelihood of the salaries paid to the Commission's teachers being made approximately the same as those of Government teachers?

I think the magnitude of this problem must be appreciated, and that it is likely to involve the Nigerian Government in an additional expenditure of £4 million.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that non-Government parties are not represented on the committee which is considering this matter, and will he secure representation for them on this committee?

There was a meeting, I think, about 10 days ago at which the representatives of all sections were present.

Groundnuts Scheme (Railway Needs)

35 and 37.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) what action, having regard to the continued inadequacy of rolling stock on the Central Line in Tanganyika to carry present commitments of goods traffic, it is proposed to take to serve the large scale requirements of the groundnut scheme;

(2) whether he is aware of the concern among commercial users of the Tanganyika Central Line about the situation likely to arise when they have to compete for wagon space with the Governmentsponsored scheme; and what provision will be made for their goods traffic.

I am fully satisfied with the liaison between the Tanganyika Government and the managing agents for the groundnuts scheme on questions of railway equipment. Forty-seven box wagons have been on order to meet the ordinary goods traffic from the Central Line and orders for a further 90 have been placed to cover the extra requirements of the groundnuts scheme. About 250 wagons of miscellaneous types are also now being obtained from surplus stocks in the Middle East for the Central Line.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that local interests will not be entirely prejudiced by the Government's action over the groundnuts scheme, which after all is finally for the benefit of this country?

Yes, Sir. The producers are already there who are engaged in the production of the vital needs both for their own and for this country, and their railway requirements are very much in our minds and will not be prejudiced.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will give an assurance that plans for harbour and wharfage development in Dar-es-Salaam will keep pace with the large-scale demands of the groundnut scheme and also serve the growing needs of existing commercial undertakings.

The number of cranes at Dar-es-Salaam has recently been increased by two and a further three will shortly be added. Extensions to transit sheds are being planned. It is considered that all traffic during the next few years can be handled over the existing quay, although its capacity will be taxed. Extensions to the quay can be undertaken only after progress has been made with other more urgent work.


Terrorist Damage, Haifa


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what was the cost of the damage resulting from the oil installation fire at Haifa caused by terrorist activity; and what steps he is taking to raise the money in Palestine.

No accurate estimate of the cost is available, but the Shell Oil Company, whose installations were those damaged in this terrorist outrage, has through its representatives in Palestine expressed the opinion that the ultimate cost of restoration, including the value of the oil stocks destroyed, will be not less than £400,000. No financial liability for damage done by terrorists is accepted by the Palestine Government. The question of possible steps to recover the cost of this damage is still under consideration.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the best means of restraining terrorists is by means of a communal fine and insistence on its being paid?

Illegal Immigrants (Cost)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the total number of Jews now accommodated in the camps at Cyprus; what is the cost of these camps to date; how much does it cost a month to administer them; for what number of persons were these camps originally designed; what steps it is proposed to take this year to accommodate the increasing flow of Jews to Palestine; and whether the executive and legislative councils have made any representations to His Majesty's Government on these matters.

The total number of illegal Jewish immigrants now accommodated in the camps in Cyprus is 14,434. The estimate of £1,900,000 given in my reply to the hon. Member on 17th December as the cost of the camps up to 31st March, 1947, has proved to be excessive, but I am not yet in a position to give an exact figure of expenditure up to that date. The cost of administration for the numbers now in the camp is approximately £45,000 a month. In addition £50,758 has been spent up to date on local purchases for welfare purposes. The camps were originally designed to accommodate 10,000 persons, but have since been extended. His Majesty's Government have under constant review the provision of accommodation to meet the number of arrivals expected. No representations on these matters have been made by the Executive Council to His Majesty's Government.

Would the right hon. Gentleman say how much of this expenditure falls on the taxpayer here?

In view of the fact that this figure of 14,000 is very much below the figure of 100,000 which every investigating authority has fixed as the figure which can be permitted to enter Palestine without affecting the political and economic balance, would it not be cheaper for Palestine and this country to allow these 14,000 people into Palestine now?

That raises the whole problem of illegal immigration which is a different question from that on the Order Paper.

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether this cost includes the cost for the British soldiers who have to guard and administer these camps?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Palestinian Jewish settlers themselves are prepared and anxious to help these people to regain their moral and mental status and are prepared to pay in order to see that these people shall be restored in this way? Will he take steps to give them the opportunity of doing that?

I am fully aware of the point. As I have said, the supplementary questions now put to me relate to the whole problem of illegal immigration which is apart altogether from the problem of the camps in Cyprus.

Are illegal immigrants given a priority for legal admission into Palestine over the women, orphans and children still remaining in camps in Europe?

There are admissions of 750 a month which form part of the quota for Palestine.

Administration Costs


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the present revenue and expenditure of Palestine; to what extent is the cost of administration, including expenses, arising from maintaining large military, naval and air services in that country, borne by taxpayers in Palestine and this country, respectively; and what are the sums involved.

The estimated revenue and expenditure of Palestine for 1946–47 are £25½ million and £22 million respectively, but this estimate does not take into account several major items of expenditure such as the cost of the Cyprus camps, possibly amounting in all to £3 million, which will fall to be met from Palestine funds. The cost of civil administration, including the police, is borne by Palestine. The cost of military, naval and air forces is borne by Imperial funds with the exception of a contribution of £42,797 by Palestine in respect of the Trans-Jordan Frontier Force. Questions regarding the cost of military, naval and air services should be addressed to the Ministers concerned, but I would draw the hon. Member's attention to the answer given on 6th March to the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Zilliacus) by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Will the Minister say if either of the first two figures he has given includes the cost of the administration of the Palestine railways?

Does not the Minister agree that the last answer provides an admirable illustration for His Majesty's Government that while it is always more honourable for any Government to keep its promises it is also sometimes cheaper as well?

Is not the basis of taxation per head in Palestine a good deal lighter than in this country, and how large is the bill for Armed Forces compared with the entire revenue of Palestine?

I should require notice concerning the amount of expenditure on the Services. Questions regarding the Armed Forces should be addressed to my Service colleagues.

Could not the Minister answer the first part of my question with regard to the rate of taxation?

I think that Palestine is heavily taxed at the moment, but how this compares with taxation here I cannot say.

Could not immense economy he effected and greater justice achieved if the Government reverted to their pre-governmental policy in this matter?

Who will bear the cost of compensating the dependants of British soldiers murdered in the course of their duties?

Railways (Protection)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what measures are being taken in Palestine to safeguard the permanent way and protect express railway trains against sabotage by terrorists.

The measures at present in force to protect the permanent way and trains of the Palestine Railways. against terrorist outrages include patrols, guards, frequent examination of the lines, and the restriction of traffic to the hours of daylight. In addition, a curfew prohibiting all movement outside built-up areas is imposed as the situation demands.

Would the Secretary of State consider sending out scientific experts to assist the local authorities to deal with these mines?

I think it will be appreciated that this kind of sabotage is exceedingly difficult to detect, but the local authorities are taking all precautions and all possible steps to deal with it.

Colonial Defence Forces


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what Colonies maintain or do not maintain local defence forces.

Full time local forces are at present maintained in East and West Africa, Aden, Ceylon, Malayan Union, Gibraltar, Malta, Palestine, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and the Leeward Islands. In addition certain pioneer and transport companies raised in Cyprus, Mauritius and the Seychelles are serving in the Middle East. The local forces in British Honduras and British Guiana are in process of demobilisation.

Can the Minister give an assurance that the importance of these forces will be continually kept in mind?

Gibraltar State Lottery


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what opportunities will be given to people in Great Britain to purchase tickets in the Gibraltar State lottery which he has approved

Would the right hon. Gentleman say if tickets could be obtained through the Colonial Office as Gibraltar is in the sterling area?

Armed Forces

Overseas Maintenance


asked the Minister of Defence what proportion of the £1,653,000,000 spent during 1946–47 on the supply services was spent for the maintenance of Forces abroad; whether he will state in detail the spheres where such money was spent; what proportion of this amount spent abroad had to be paid for in dollars; and whether the proportion of the £899,000,000 to be spent on the supply services during 1947–48 which will have to be spent in dollars will be approximately equal to the proportion spent in 1946–47.

The figure quoted by the hon. Member is the total of the Exchequer issues made during last financial year against Navy, Army, Air and Ministry of Supply Votes. It includes not only expenditure of all kinds for the Forces, but also expenditure by the Ministry of Supply for civil purposes. It would be quite impossible to say how much of this figure can properly be regarded as having been spent on main-tenance of Forces overseas. I regret, therefore, that I am unable to provide the information for which the hon. Member asks.

Cannot the Minister provide the information under the third section relating to particulars of expenditure of dollars, and would not that be very useful for this House to know and a valuable hint for the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

I think it is quite impossible to divide up every part of this expenditure so as to show exactly where stores, allowances and so on are finally expended.

Deserters (Surrender)


asked the Minister of Defence whether he can now give final figures of the number of deserters who surrendered in response to his recent appeal; how many still await trial; and in how many cases family allowance has not yet been issued to their dependants.

The number of deserters who surrendered between 22nd January and 31st March is:

Royal Navy378
Royal Air Force299
Of these 13, 612 and 119 respectively are still awaiting trial, primarily because of the large number who surrendered in the last few days of March. I regret that no figures are available to answer the last part of the Question, but I have no reason to suppose that there has been any delay.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in many cases the dependants of those who have responded to the appeal are kept waiting for two months and more for the issue of family allowance?

I have not heard of a single case, but I am sure that my Service Minister colleagues will go into any case which is brought to my hon. and gallant Friend's attention if he would notify them.

Can my right hon. Friend say how many of these men are still at large, and in view of the present disturbing growth of violent crime, will he take all possible steps to round them up?

Some 700 to 800 others have in fact been apprehended during the period covered by my answer and, of course, when the total figure was given to the House some time ago it was pointed out that it was impossible to say with regard to some of them who or where they are. Some may have died in the meantime.

Food Supplies



asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the difficulty which many butchers throughout the country are experiencing in providing the meat ration, he will now state if the Government have been able to make arrangements for an adequate supply of meat to be available for the remaining months of 1947.

I am satisfied that the trade have sufficient meat from which to cut the ration and also to make some sausages. We shall import as much meat as possible but it remains to be seen whether we can get enough to fill the gap made in home production by the great frost.

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that there were exceptionally heavy killings of livestock at home in the autumn? Is he further aware that our cold storage position is very bad in this country, and does he intend to allow us to drift into a meat crisis without giving any warning?

No, Sir. I have given warning of the difficulties caused by the gap in home production on many occasions, and I am doing so again this afternoon.

But does the right hon. Gentleman intend to do something constructive to help?


asked the Minister of Food the average monthly weight of beef consigned from Aberdeenshire to other distributing centres during the last six months, and the average monthly weight retained for local consumption.


asked the Minister of Food when he will restore the cut which general butchers were called upon to make by relinquishing their total manufacturing meat allocation, in order to enable the meat ration to be maintained at 1s 4d.

As soon as supplies permit, but I cannot accept the hon. Member's implication that butchers have lost the whole of their manufacturing allowance.

Is the Minister aware that in actual fact the general butchers have no manufacturing meat left and often have to issue unsuitable meat for the ration, and as the present shortage may continue, would the Minister consider allocating a small proportion of the domestic meat ration for processing in the interests of feeding people better and also so that the housewives may have something to buy in the middle of the week?

Some meat is, of course, used for manufacturing purposes. It is not entirely used for the ration. Apart from any meat which the butchers can spare for manufacturing, other meat goes direct to the manufacturers, but I do not think that anything would be gained by adding to that proportion.

Is the Minister aware that the test for cutting a carcase proved that the butcher could not get the number of rations out of the carcase which the Minister has told him to do?

No, Sir. I am quite satisfied that that statement is without foundation.

Herring Industry (Control)


asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that the present system of partial and divided control over the herring fishing industry between his Department, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Scottish Office and the Herring Industry Board is leading to increasingly unsatisfactory results; and whether he will take immediate steps to give the Herring Board the powers necessary to exercise an effective control over the industry.

The Herring Industry Board is responsible to the Fisheries Ministers, not to me. Any important change in the present arrangements will involve legislation—and there is, I am afraid, no chance of that this Session.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that while arguments may be advanced in favour of Socialism or of free enterprise there is very little to be said for controlling an industry by four separate authorities no two of whom agree on any single subject?

Conditional Sales


asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that attempts are being made to evade the provisions of the Food (Conditional Sales) Order by some greengrocers selling to customers only a very small quantity of fruit or vegetables which are in short supply and only increasing that quantity in proportion to the amount purchased by the customer of other commodities not in short supply; and, in view of this practice, if he will lay down minimum or maximum quantities of fruit and vegetables in short supply which may be sold to any one purchaser.

Any such form of conditional sales is illegal. I am always ready to take action against anyone who contravenes the Order and if my hon. Friend and others can help me by supplying particulars I will gladly have them investigated.

Is the Minister aware that the kind of thing that is happening is that if a customer wants apples he is offered 4 oz., which amounts to one apple, but that if he buys other goods he is allowed two or three lb. of apples, which are in short supply? Does not the Minister agree that this is imposing a condition of sale and is illegal?

I agree entirely, and I should be very grateful for any help which would lead to successful prosecution in these cases.

Will my right hon. Friend watch particularly the activities of the British Housewives League in this connection?

Milk Surpluses


asked the Minister of Food what is the daily difference in quantity between the liquid milk supplied to retailers and the liquid milk supplied to consumers; and for what purposes the difference is used.

I am unable to give figures of the average difference. Retailers receiving more milk than they need to meet the authorised requirements of their registered customers must declare their surplus to the regional milk supply officer, who arranges for it to be transferred whenever practicable to other retailers wh3 are short of supplies. If this is not practicable the retailer is permitted to dispose of the surplus as equitably as possible amongst his registered customers.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the latter half if that alternative provision is either not communicated to the retailers or is not practised by them because, generally speaking, any such surplus milk is poured away because it has gone had before the retailer is authorised to deal with it?

No, Sir. This has been a long-standing arrangement made by my predecessors long before my time, but I reiterate it here today in case any hon. Member doubts it.

Domestic And Catering Allocations


asked the Minister of Food what quantities of meat bacon, sugar, butter, margarine and cooking fats were, respectively, allocated to domestic consumers and to catering establishments in March, 1946, and March 1947.

As the answer involves number of figures I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the allocations for the domestic consumers are greater or less than they were a year ago?

They vary in different cases. In meat they are slightly larger, in bacon slightly smaller and in sugar slightly larger and so on, but the hon. Member had better look at the list.

Following is the answer:

The quantities of meat, bacon, sugar, butter, margarine and cooking fats allocations to domestic consumers and to catering establishments during the four-week periods ended 30th March, 1946, and 29th March, 1947, were approximately:

Domestic Consumers.Catering Establishments.
Cooking Fats:

Catering establishments include schools, works canteens, hotels, boarding houses, cafes, restaurants and all other establishments holding catering licences.

Cooking Fats


asked the Minister of Food what does standard cooking fat consist of; whether he is aware that it has a tendency to turn blue and explode when used for cooking; and what steps he proposes to take to improve its quality.

Standard cooking fat consists of soft vegetable oil, palm kernel oil and hardened whale oil. The palm kernel oil makes it a little more liable to spit in the pan but has to be included because of the extreme shortage of soft oils. The hon. Member may rest assured that everything possible is being done to improve the supply of soft oils, for instance, by the East African Groundnut Scheme.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider this most unmannerly conduct on the part of standard cooking fat? Will he take steps to try to improve it so that it does not spit in the pan?

Is the Minister aware that the hon. Members on the other side are likely to turn blue and explode tonight?

Would the Minister say whether he can guarantee any cautionary interval between the fat turning blue and starting to spit?

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that a little palm oil is a feature of all Socialist administration?

May I ask my right hon. Friend, in the interests of good cooking, whether the vapour that comes up in the pan between the fat turning blue and spitting in the pan is a real indication of the heat of the fat, or is it a spurious vapour?

Fruit And Vegetable Order


asked the Minister of Food the number of persons engaged in administering the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (Restriction on Dealings) Order, 1945; and whether he is satisfied that its retention at the present time serves a useful purpose.

I should like to free the entry into this trade and hope to do so when supplies improve.

Flood Workers


asked the Minister of Food why his Department were so slow in making available permits for supplies of food for firemen pumping floodwate in South Lincolnshire.

The regional catering officer of the N.F.S. responsible for feeding the men has expressed his satisfaction with the help given by my Department. I shall be glad, however, to investigate any suggestion of delay the hon. Member will let me have details

Price Variations


asked the Minister of Food if he will make a statement showing all the increases in the price of food since 1st January this year.

I will send the hon. Member a detailed list of all price-controlled foods, the prices of which have varied since 1st January.

If the right hon. Gentleman's reply requires it to be sent in the form of a list and if this list appears to be so extensive, can the Minister say whether it is now the policy of the Government to increase the prices of foodstuffs?

No, Sir. The hon. Member heard my reply. I said I would send him a list of all the price-controlled foods, the prices of which have varied. They have varied in both directions.

Can the list be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT? The matter is one of great public importance.

It is a very long list, but it can be circulated if the hon. Member desires it.

Tinned Milk


asked the Minister of Food whether he will make a statement regarding the proposed increase in the charge for tinned milk: and why this is necessary.

the retail prices of condensed milk were increased on 27th April by amounts varying from 1½d. to 3d. per tin according to variety. The increases are made to bring prices into line with costs.

Unstoned Dates


asked the Minister of Food whether the unstoned dates mentioned in the notices of his Department are dates with stones in them or dates without them.

Unstoned dates are dates which have not been stoned, dates which have not, that is to say, had their stones removed.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the meaning which he gives to the term "unstoned" is the opposite to that given in all reputable dictionaries?

May I ask my right hon. Friend why Scotland has been excluded from the advantages of this scheme?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a directive has been sent to all Scottish grocers informing them that owing to the difficulties of transport—and I think that is a jolly poor excuse—the scheme cannot apply to Scotland?

The Question is whether dates are stoned or unstoned and has nothing to do with Scotland.

Basic Rations


asked the Minister of Food whether in connection with the present distribution of food and the difficulties experienced by those who have no opportunity of obtaining meals out, and are solely dependent on the basic ration, every endeavour will be made to increase the basic ration with special regard to those in the country districts who cannot obtain meals in British Restaurants and works canteens.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the basic ration is not really sufficient for many people who cannot get any additional benefits from British Restaurants or works canteens, and that it is particularly hard on many people in the rural areas who have no advantages of that sort?

Agricultural workers do, of course, enjoy appreciably higher rations in some respects.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that they enjoy no ad- vantages in regard to increased rations of meat although they are working up to 12 hours a day or more?

Evacuated Maltese (Settlement)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has assumed responsibility for the resettlement of Maltese who were evacuated from Turkey and the Balkans at the beginning of the war and are now housed in a camp at Coimbatore in South India; how many persons are concerned; where it is proposed to resettle them; what the cost is likely to be; and by whom it will be borne.

His Majesty's Government have accepted the responsibility for the return to normal life of the British subjects of Maltese descent, numbering some 700, who were evacuated to India from Turkey and the Balkans in 194I. Their resettlement presents very great difficulties, and, while the matter has received and is receiving urgent consideration, it has not yet been possible to formulate final plans. Any cost to public funds will, like the cost of maintenance to date, be borne by His Majesty's Government, but its amount cannot be determined until it is known where and how the persons concerned can be settled.

Could the right hon. Gentleman say which Department is to assume responsibility? Is he assuming it himself?

Indian Services (Compensation)

(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether he has any statement to make about the grant of compensation to members of the Indian Services on account of the decision to transfer power in India by a date not later than June, 1948.

Yes, Sir. A decision has now been reached on the compensation of members of the Indian Services whose careers will be affected by the transfer of power. This decision needs to be viewed against its historical background and I will, with the