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Written Answers

Volume 437: debated on Tuesday 6 May 1947

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 6th May, 1947

National Service (University Students)

7.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider extending the categories for release of men from the Forces under Class B to take up courses at the universities, so as to cover men who will have completed three years' service in the Armed Forces and reached the age of 21 years at the beginning of the academic year in October.

The effect of the present arrangement is that men in age and Service group 62 will broadly have done three years' service by the end of August, when releases for the academic year starting early in October will begin. We are not able to extend the arrangements beyond group 62.

Employment

Two-Shift System, London

13.

asked the Minister of Labour how many firms in the Greater London area were working a two-shift system at the beginning of 1947; and what has been the increase to date.

Production Of Chlorine (Statistics)

asked the Minister of Labour how many workers are employed on the production of chlorine, specifying the numbers employed in each industrial centre.

I regret that statistics showing the numbers employed on the production of chlorine are not available.

Pre-Apprenticeship Schools, Scotland (Teachers' Salaries)

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has yet reached a decision on the request of the teachers in the Aberdeen Pre-apprenticeship School for increases in salary and improvements in conditions and prospects; what increases and improvements will be granted; and when they will begin to take effect.

I have decided to amend the salaries regulations so that education authorities can, if they think fit, increase the salaries of whole-time teachers of technical subjects in pre-apprenticeship schools and other continuation classes; the amount of increase sill be for each authority to determine.

British Army

Compassionate Leave

33.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will so amend that section of K.Rs. dealing with compassionate leave as to admit of such leave being granted at the commanding officer's discretion in cases where leave is eminently desirable but is not at present provided for within the scope of the regulations.

Commanding officers in the United Kingdom already have wide discretionary powers to authorise compassionate leave. Such leave may also be granted from Commands overseas within the discretion of the military authorities on the spot. The existing regulations governing the grant of compassionate leave are sufficiently widely drawn to cover all cases of urgent need, and I do not, therefore, consider that it is necessary to amend them.

Obelisk, Plymouth Hoe (Screen Walls)

41.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether, as chairman of the Imperial War Graves Commission, he will consult the local authority and Servicemen's associations before concurring with the proposal to erect quadrant screen walls round the existing obelisk on Plymouth Hoe.

The Imperial War Graves Commission will as a matter of ordinary procedure consult the local authority about this proposal. Ex-Service associations are among the strongest supporters of the Commission and my hon. Friend can be assured that their views will be given due weight.

Personal Cases

43.

asked the Secretary of State for War when the hon. Member for North Hammersmith may expect to receive an answer to his letters of 10th and 29th March, 1947, relating to the revision of a court-martial sentence.

I hope to write to the hon. and learned Member shortly about this case.

92.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is yet able to announce if the soldier of the 2nd Battalion, D.L.I., now stationed in the S.E.A.C., whose mother is suffering from cancer in an advanced stage and regarding which case full details were sent by the hon. Member for Newcastle, Central on 16th April, has now been granted immediate compassionate home posting; whether he is further aware that this soldier was granted compassionate leave for one month in the United Kingdom early this year but was then returned to S.E.A.C., his application for extension of leave being unsuccessful in spite of the fact that the Army authorities were aware of the medical facts; and if he will make a statement on this case.

I regret that there is little I can add to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State to a previous question about this case on 2nd April. The soldier did not apply for an extension of the five weeks compassionate leave which was granted to him earlier this year. In view of the fact that there are three other members of the family available, and as, unfortunately, there is no medical evidence to suggest that the soldier's presence could materially affect his mother's condition, I am sorry that there do not appear to be grounds for making any further recommendation to the overseas command.

95.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the charge against 7021616 Rifleman R. Smith has been summarily disposed of; and when he is to be discharged in accordance with the assurance given to the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick, on 6th March.

Instructions have recently been issued for Rifleman Smith's discharge to be carried out and the balance of his sentence is being remitted with effect from date of discharge. No action will be taken in respect of the outstanding charge of absence from 10th December, 1946, to 8th January, 1947.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is yet able to announce his decision in the case of 14635167 Sapper R. Stores, 3 D.B.R.E., application for whose compassionate release was presented, with full details, by the hon. Member for Newcastle, Central, on 16th April, 1947.

This soldier was under suspended sentence and was not, therefore, eligible for release. The sentence was remitted on 28th April, 1947, and instructions have now been issued for his release.

Requisitioned Land (Ammunition Shelters)

44.

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps he proposes to take to release the 540 acres of land now occupied by 30,000 ammunition shelters.

The land will be released as soon as the ammunition is cleared. This is proceeding as fast as essential safety precautions and the Army's limited manpower resources allow.

Sentries, Palestine

87.

asked the Secretary of State for War what regulations are in force regarding the arming 'of sentries found by British troops in Palestine

There is nothing abnormal regarding regulations for arming of sentries found by British troops in Palestine. All sentries are armed with a personal weapon.

Last Known Addresses

88.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is prepared to alter the practice whereby the wives of ex-officers and ex-soldiers and of serving officers and soldiers are not, on request being made, given the last known addresses of their husbands; and whether he will issue instructions to the military authorities concerned to give such information on request being made by the wives.

No, Sir, but a letter will always be forwarded to the husband's last known address

Rasc, West Africa (Replacements)

89.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many men in the R.A.S.C., at present serving in West Africa, are overdue for reversion to the home establishment; how long they will have to wait for replacements to arrive; what arrangements are in operation for men stationed in West Africa to have local leave; and how these arrangements compare with those operating in other stations outside the United Kingdom.

Provision has been made for all replacements of R.A.S.C. personnel requested by the Command. Restricted shipping facilities available to this theatre may, however, have caused replacements to arrive late, so delaying the return of men to the United Kingdom. No figures are, however, available in the War Office as to the number of men, if any, so affected. Personnel serving in West Africa may be granted up to 28 days' local leave annually to be taken at any suitable place within a radius of 100 miles, or further if there is no suitable resort within 100 miles. The conditions under which local leave is granted are the same in all overseas commands outside Europe. The tour of duty in West Africa is, however, Only 18 months as compared with three years elsewhere overseas.

Civilian Employees

90.

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the number of civilian personel now employed by his Department; and the ceiling fixed for such employment.

The total number of civilians now employed by my Department in Great Britain and Northern Ireland is 105,196. The present ceiling for non-industrial employees is the actual strength at 1st January, which was 47,835. The ceiling for industrial employees is fixed by reference to the financial provision made in Army Estimates.

Primary Training

91.

asked the Secretary of State for War the period of normal training for each of the main arms of the Service at corps training units in 1943, and at the present time.

As I explained in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) on 3rd April, the time spent on corps training varies greatly not only by arms but also by trades. In a short statement, therefore, it is possible only to give minimum and maximum periods for each arm The figures are as follow:

1943Present Time.
Royal Armoured Corps.26 weeks (excluding 4 weeks tactical training).9–15 weeks
Royal Artillery8–33 weeks8–19 weeks.
Royal Engineers12 weeks followed by 4 weeks in a Reserve Division.8–12 weeks.
Royal Signals8–29 weeks approximately.6–29 weeks.
Infantry10 weeks.10 weeks

Jewish Camps, Cyprus (Guard Duties)

93.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many British troops are employed in guard and camp duties in connection with the illegal Jewish immigrants detained in Cyprus.

Re-Enlistment (Rasc)

94.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that men, medically fit, with previous experience in the corps, are being refused in their applications to re-enlist in the R.A.S.C. and if he will state the reasons which deny to these men their desire to volunteer for further service.

An applicant with previous experience in a trade or employment required by the R.A.S.C. who presents himself for re-enlistment on a Regular Army engagement would not be refused provided he conformed to prescribed conditions, including age limit, medical category, satisfactory character and general eligibility consistent with previous service. The number of applicants who can be accepted for re-enlistment under the short service engagement scheme is limited by a quota fixed according to the needs of the service in particular ranks, trades and employments.

Special Campaign Pensions

96.

asked the Secretary of State for War the number of ex-Servicemen in receipt of special Campaign Pensions at 30th September, 1946, and at present and their annual cost.

In September, 1946, approximately 9,000 ex-Regular soldiers were in receipt of special Campaign Pensions at an annual cost of some £220,000. At the present time, the corresponding figures are 7,000 pensioner's at an annual cost of £160,000.

Prisoners Of War (Film Exhibitions)

42.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the film entitled "Gold," which is being shown in prisoner-of-war camps, is pro-Nazi, anti-British and antidemocratic in character; whether he will immediately withdraw this particular film; and what measures are taken to ensure that films shown to prisoners of war are suitable.

This film was passed by my Department some considerable time ago for showing to prisoners of war provided certain cuts were made in it. In view of the suggestions contained in the Question, I am having immediate steps taken to check that no uncut copies are being shown to prisoners of war. The arrangements at present in force are that no films are shown to prisoners of war unless they are found suitable by the German Section of the Foreign Office.

Court-Martial Inquiry (Recommendations)

86.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the Lewis Committee of Inquiry into the Court Martial System intends to submit an interim report.

I understand that the Committee do not intend to submit an interim report on the main issues remitted to them. They have, however, recently communicated to me and to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air certain recommendations on points of detail, which we are considering.

Equal Pay (Report)

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is now prepared to make a statement arising from the Report of the Royal Commission on Equal Pay; and whether the opportunity will be provided at an early date for the House to debate the matter.

I have been asked to reply. I hope to make a statement shortly. The second part of the Question is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.

National Finance

Claims Against Japan

48.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the improving economic position in Japan, he will reconsider the case of the Japanese sterling bondholders and take steps to protect their interests in the framing of the eventual Peace Treaty.

The proceeds of exports from Japan are not yet sufficient to meet the cost of essential imports, and of the occupation. These charges must be met before any exports are available either for reparation or for prewar private claims. All these matters will be borne in mind when the Peace Treaty is drafted.

Income Tax (Scientific Research)

55.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will give an approximate estimate of the current expenditure by firms in this country on scientific research which will be eligible to count as an expense for Income Tax purposes under the Income Tax Act, 1945.

Bank Of England (Balance Sheet)

57.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the fact that the Bank of England has just issued its first Annual Report since it was nationalised, if he will amplify the details in the balance sheet and give the Bank's profit and loss account and a statement of the inner reserves.

University Grants Committee

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will name the present members of the University Grants Committee and the universities with which they are, or have been, connected; and the members of the Medical Advisory Committee which the University Grants Committee consults in dealing with grants specifically made for medical education in the universities.

The members of the University Grants Committee, and the Universities, if any, with which they are, or have been, connected as teachers, are:

  • Chairman—Sir Walter Moberly, K.C.B., D.S.O., Litt.D., Birmingham and Manchester.
  • Deputy-Chairman—Dr. A. E. Trueman, F.R.S., F.G.S., Wales, Glasgow and Bristol.
  • Professor W. E. Collinson, Ph.D., Liverpool.
  • Sir Charles Darwin, K.B.E., M.C., F.R.S., D.Sc., Manchester, Edinburgh and Cambridge.
  • Miss D. Dymond, M.A.
  • H. L. Elvin, Esq., Cambridge and Oxford.
  • Miss Margery Fry, LL.D., J.P., Oxford.
  • Sir Peter Innes, C.B.E., D.Sc., Edinburgh.
  • H. S. Magnay, Esq, M.A.
  • Professor E. S. Noble, M.A., Liverpool, Leeds, Cambridge and Aberdeen.
  • Professor G. W. Pickering, M.B., F.R.C.P., London, Stanford and California.
  • Professor Andrew Robertson, F.R.S., D.Sc., Manchester and Bristol.
  • Professor E. K. Rideal, M.B.E., F.R.S., London and Cambridge.
  • Sir Edward Salisbury, C.B.E., F.R.S., F.L.S., D.Sc., London.
  • Professor J. C. Spence, M.C., M.D., F.R.C.P., Durham.
  • Professor R. H. Tawney, Litt.D., Glasgow, Oxford and London.
The members of the Advisory Committee on Medical Education are:

  • Sir Walter Moberly, K.C.B., D.5.O., Litt.D. (Chairman).
  • Dr. A. E. Trueman, F.R.S., F.G.S.
  • Professor G. W. Pickering, M.B., F.R.C.P.
  • Professor J. C. Spence, M.C., M.D., F.R.C.P.
  • Sir Edward Salisbury, C.B.E., F.R.S., F.L.S., D.Sc.
  • L Farrer Brown, Esq.
  • W. Kelsey Fry, Esq., M.C., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., L.D.S.
  • G. F. Gibberd, Esq., M.S., F.R.C.S., F.R.C.O.G.
  • H. F. Humphreys, Esq., O.B.E., M.C., T.D.. M.D., Ch.B., M.D.S.
  • Professor Dorothy Russell, M.D., Sc.D., M.R.C.P.
  • Sir John Stopford, M.B.E., F.R.S., M.D., F.R.C.P.

At present there is one vacancy on this committee for an expert on surgery; it is hoped to fill this at an early date.

Information Services

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what sums of money per head of the population of the United Kingdom between the ages of 20 and 60 years were expended on information divisions of Government Departments in this country, including the Central Office of Information, in 1946; and how this sum compares with expenditure per head of the population between the ages of 20 and 60 years on similar Government publicity in 1938.

pursuant to his reply [OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th April, 1947; Vol. 436, c. 1732], supplied the following information: The expenditure on Information Divisions of Government Departments in this country (including the Central Office of Information) per head of the population aged between 20 and 60 years was approximately 9.8d. in 1946 0.9d. in 1938.

Trade And Commerce

Shoe Repairs (Leather Quota)

67.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware fiat shoemakers in Southern England have recently experienced great difficulty in obtaining leather suitable for shoe repairing; and if there is likely to be any improvement in the supply in the near future.

All shoe repairers receive a fixed quota of leather, and if the noble Lord will give me details of any repairer who is unable to get his authorised quota, I will have the matter looked into at once. I must add, however, that leather is too scarce to allow repairers enough for all their work, and rubber soles and heels must, therefore, be used on a large percentage of repairs.

Japan

68.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what facilities and assistance he will give to British business men now that the allied headquarters in Japan have decided to invite 400 allied business men to Japan for the furtherance of private or semi-private trade.

After consultation with the interests concerned, the Board of Trade are at present compiling a list of 40 representatives of British business interests to proceed in due course to Japan. This is being done in the hope of an early reopening of private foreign trade in that country preceded by the entry of limited numbers of Allied business men. The legislative and administrative steps required to authorise private trading transactions between the United Kingdom and Japan are also being taken. I have had no confirmation of the decision attributed to Allied Headquarters in the report to which the hon. Member refers and I am not yet able to say when or under what conditions private foreign trade with Japan will be re-opened. These matters are still under discussion with the American and other Allied authorities in Washington, but an early decision can be expected.

Imported Bedroom Suites

69.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many bedroom suites have been imported into this country since January, 1946.

70.

asked the President of the Board of Trade why he permits imported bedroom suites to be sold unit free while British-made utility suites are subject to purchase with units only and restricted to those people in the eligible categories.

The only imported bedroom suites sold unit-free are those brought in from Holland to help the hotels. The hotels have not taken up all of them and the market for the remainder has, therefore, been widened. As these suites are not utility articles, and are, therefore, subject to Purchase Tax, it would not have been practicable to bring them within the Utility furniture scheme.

Utility Cloth (Export Licence)

71.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that utility cloth manufactured for domestic purposes is finding its way into the export market and is being sold at higher prices; and if he will take steps to prevent this.

Utility cloth may not be exported except under licence, and no such licences for woven cloth are normally granted. If my hon. Friend has any evidence of recent exports and will let me have particulars I shall be glad to look into the matter.

Whisky (Exports To Usa)

72.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the price paid by the U.S.A., f.o.b., in any convenient unit for whisky exported from Britain.

The average value of whisky exported to the United States during the first quarter of 1947 was £2 0s. 7d. per proof gallon; no information about prices per liquid gallon or per bottle is available.

Baby Linen

78.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the shortage of baby linen in the shops at Beccles, Suffolk; and if he will arrange for the supply to be increased.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Newport (Mr. Peter Freeman) on 22nd April.

Indian Coir Mats

80.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that coir mats and matting made in India are to be displayed at the London section of the B.I.F., and that they are made outside the United Kingdom at wages, and under conditions, incomparably lower than those in this country; and if he will take steps to prevent the exhibition of goods which will have an adverse effect on the employment of blind workers in the coir mat industry

I am aware that these mats are being displayed on the stand organised by the Indian Government in the Empire Section of the British Industries Fair, but no restrictions on the type of goods displayed by Empire Governments are imposed.

Imported Straw-Boards (Allocations)

81.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the allocation of imported straw-boards is confined to 1937–39 importers; to whom, in the case of 1937–39 importers not claiming their quota, the unallocated tonnage has so far been allocated; and if he will consider allocating such unclaimed quotas to importers who have started business since 1939 and especially to such importers as having been employed prior to 1939 by businesses importing straw-boards, have, after a period of military or Government service, started business on their own account.

Yes, Sir. The imported tonnage available is divided among importers in proportion to their prewar imports. The percentage allowed depends upon the supplies available and the number of importing firms, but the quantity is still appreciably below the prewar figure. While supplies are so restricted, quotas are not established for new entrants even if they were employed by importing firms before the war.

Night Work, South Coast

82.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what industries of national importance are at present working after 7.30 p.m. each evening in Brighton, Hove, Portslade, Shoreham and Worthing; and how many men and women they employ.

Paper And Newsprint (Consumption)

84.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the total consumption of paper and newsprint in 1946 as com- pared with 1938 and the amounts consumed separately by the main consuming interests.

No figures of consumption are available for 1938. It is estimated, however, that the consumption of newsprint in the twelve months ended 31st August, 1939, was 1,200,000 tons as compared with 375,000 tons for 1946; and of other description's of paper (including paperboard) 2,605,000 tons and 1,714,000 tons for the same periods. The following is an approximate analysis of these figures by the main consuming interests:

Prewar.1946.
Tons.Tons.
Newspapers1,100,000327,000
Periodicals300,00088,000
Books63,00054,000
Commercial and general printing.382,000255,000
Wrappings (including food wrapping)1,405,000905,000
Building Trade92,000129,000
Other industrial uses306,000199,000
H.M.S.O. and other Government departments.40,00071,000
Export of Paper and Board.117,00061,000

Tractor Tyres

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is satisfied that there is now a sufficiency of rubber tyres for agricultural tractors; and what steps he is taking to improve the supply.

Tyre manufacturers have greatly increased their production of tractor tyres and the output continues to expand as moulds and skilled labour become available. The present shortage is due to the increase in the use of pneumatic tyred vehicles on the land and to a large scale development of tractor production in this country. My Department is in touch with the tyre manufacturers on this matter.

Town And Country Planning

Members' Office Accommodation (Abingdon Street)

97.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he is aware that there is a proposal to build an office block on the sites of the houses which lay between Old Palace Yard and the wall leading up to the Jewel Tower; and whether, as this action would spoil the view of Westminster Abbey from that side, he will forbid the proposition.

I assume that my hon. Friend refers to a site in Abingdon Street upon which it is proposed to erect offices for the use of Members and officials of the two Houses of Parliament to supplement the inadequate accommodation within the precincts of the Palace of Westminster. I am aware of the proposal and am satisfied that the erection of a suitably designed building on this site for the purpose intended would be in the public interest.

Thames South Bank (Layout Proposals)

98.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning if he will now make available in the Library the present layout proposals for the South Bank of the River Thames, including the section where the new Government offices are to be sited.

I understand that lay out proposals for the stretch of the South Bank between County Hall and Waterloo Bridge are at present in course of preparation by the L.C.C., and I shall be glad to make them available in the Library as soon as they are far enough advanced to be informative. I am told that no work has been done since the publication of the County of London Plan on the layout proposals for the South Bank East of Waterloo Bridge, and I do not therefore, expect that it will be possible to give the House any definite information on this for some time to come.

National Insurance

Appointed Day

99.

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether an appointed day has yet been fixed for the operation of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, 1946.

Old Age Pensions

100.

asked the Minister of National Insurance how many increased old age pensions now due in the county borough of Stockport have not yet been paid.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. King) on 2nd May. I have no reason to suppose that the cases outstanding in the hon. Member's constituency are not in the main of the same kind as those referred to in that reply.

101.

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he is aware that Mrs. J. Cooper was entitled to an old age pension on 29th August, 1946, and entitled to 16s. a week on 3rd October, 1946, was not paid any pension until 13th March, 1947, but has received no arrears of the 10s. and 16s. rates due on the stated dates although her letter was acknowledged on 6th November, 1946, reference No. 29498097; and whether payment of arrears will be made at an early date.

A postal draft in settlement of the arrears of pension, has been sent to the local area officer of the Assistance Board for delivery to Mrs. Cooper.

102.

asked the Minister of National Insurance if he is aware that no payment of old age pensions has yet been made to Mr. and Mrs. J. Mayell, reference Nos. 40518854 and 40518557, Nutfield, Surrey, although applications for such pensions were made in September, 1946, and since then numerous letters have been written to the Ministry; and if he will state the reasons for the delay in dealing with this matter and authorise the immediate payment of these pensions.

Inquiries are being made into this case and I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

Road Maintenance (Reduced Grants)

103.

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the increased repairs which are necessary owing to the adverse winter conditions and the increase in traffic on the roads, he will reconsider his request for a reduction in the estimates for road maintenance in Lancashire during the current financial year.

I regret that my right hon. Friend can hold out no hope of increasing the grants available for road maintenance.

104.

asked the Minister of Transport if he will so fortify the Road Fund that it will suffice to enable grants to be made to local highway authorities, calculated upon the full amount of their essential expenditure in 1947–48 in overtaking arrears of maintenance so far as the requisite labour and materials are available.

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend gave yesterday to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for West Leicester (Mr. Janner).

India

Indian Army (Pensions)

105.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India when the complete terms of pension or gratuity will be published for those British officers of the present Indian army who do not elect to transfer to British service when the new Indian constitution is formed or for whom there are no vacancies in the British service.

I would refer the hon. Member to the terms of Compensation laid down in the recent White Paper (Cmd. 7116). Pensions for British officers of the Indian Army who are now covered by the new British pension code are already settled. But as regards other categories, certain points require and are receiving further consideration; and it is hoped that it will be possible to make an announcement in the near future.

106.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether, in the case of those British officers of the Indian army who transfer to British service, the Indian element of pension already earned will count towards increase in pension under British service rates of pension.

Previous, service in the Indian Army will reckon towards ultimate retired pay under the British code. It is the intention that, in addition to any such retired pay, these officers should receive the benefit of the Indian element of pension earned by the time of transfer.

British Personnel (Compensation Scales)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India what is the cost to the British taxpayer of the compensation scales announced in Command Paper No. 7116 for British personnel in India.

Ministry Of Works

Requisitioned Properties

107.

asked the Minister of Works the number of houses, factories and public buildings now requisitioned in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, respectively.

Four thousand, two hundred and thirty-one houses and 362 premises of local authorities and public utility undertakings were held on requisition by Government Departments in Great Britain on 31st March, 1947. I am informed by my right hon. and learned friend the President of the Board of Trade that 17,000,000 square feet of industrial space are held on requisition in Great Britain of which 13,000,000 square feet are in process of being released. Information about requisitions in Northern Ireland is not readily available.

Brick Production (Mechanical Aids)

asked the Minister of Works if he will give a schedule of the brickworks in this country, showing the extent to which mechanisation of clay-getting and clay-haulage increases as the output of bricks increases; whether increased mechanisation in the normal small brickworks increases output without increasing average costs of production; and what action he has taken, or proposes taking, to increase the supply of excavators and other mechanical aids, and encourage the small firms in the brick industry to use them.

I am sending my hon. Friend a schedule which I hope will provide him with the information he requires. As a general rule increased mechanisation in smaller brickworks tends to increase output and to reduce costs of production. Between January, 1946, and March, 1947, 45 Government surplus and new excavators of 1¼ yard capacity or over have been allocated by my Department to the brick industry. It is hoped to allocate approximately 30 new machines during 1947 and 1948 which have been purchased in the United States, and in addition negotiations are proceeding for the purchase from France of new machines suitable for small yards The technical staff of my Department in conjunction with the Building Research Station and British Refractories Research Association are encouraging the use of mechanical aids in small brickworks.

Prefabricated Houses

asked the Minister of Works if he is aware that Messrs. Maycrete Sales, Limited, have never been informed why their prefabricated houses are not suitable for erection in this country, although a thousand of them have been exported to Holland; and if he will state in what respect they are not suitable

The firm received a copy of the Building Research Station Report of 22nd July, 1946, on the Maycrete system of construction which indicated that the system was likely to be satisfactory in principle for permanent housing if the external surface were covered with a durable veneer but that there was insufficient evidence to say whether the system would be satisfactory without the veneer.

Passport And Frontier Formalities (Recommendations)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the resolution passed by the Thirty-Sixth Annual Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union at Cairo this month, of which a copy has been sent to him, recommending the free movement of all persons including tourists, between countries; what steps have already been taken by Great Britain in this connection and what plans he has for further improvement during 1947 so far as travel to and from Great Britain is concerned.

As the hon. Member will be aware, a meeting of experts on passport and frontier formalities was held at the European office of the United Nations at Geneva from 14th to 25th April, at which the United Kingdom was represented by a delegation of Government officials, including representatives from the Home Office, His Majesty's Treasury and His Majesty's Customs and Excise office. Mr. Carew Robinson, the leader of the delegation, was elected to the chair, and the United Kingdom representatives took a leading part in the discussions, which covered all problems relating to non-immigrant travel. I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the summary records of the meeting, and, in particular, to the final report which the meeting prepared for submission to the next session of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations to be held in New York next July. All these documents will shortly be available in the Library of the House of Commons. The conclusions of the meeting were attached as an appendix to the final report in the form of recommendations to Governments. These recommendations cover the whole sphere of the memorandum submitted by the British Delegation in support of the Resolution passed by tire Thirty-Sixth Annual Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, to which the hon. Member has referred. With the exception only of one item relating to currency control, the adoption of which would be inconsistent with the financial policy of His Majesty's Government, it is the intention of the United Kingdom Government to adopt in principle all the recommendations made. In framing these recommendations, the meeting of experts took into full account the memoranda submitted by the International Chamber of Commerce, the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organisation, the International Conference of National Tourist Organisations and other non-governmental bodies. Representatives of these organisations were, moreover, invited to express their views, which were then discussed in open plenary session.In regard to the last part of the hon. Gentleman's inquiry, I should like to draw his attention to the fact that the United Kingdom has, during the past months, concluded bilateral agreements for the reciprocal abolition of visas with the following countries: France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands, and that His Majesty's Government are prepared to enter into negotiations for similar agreements with other States as and when circumstances seem favourable.The issue of British passports has also recently been greatly facilitated by decentralisation of the offices authorised to accept applications. In addition to the three main Passport Offices in the United Kingdom, applications can now be received at 1,200 local Resettlement Advice Offices of the Ministry of Labour and National Service, and the signature and photographs of applicants witnessed by the official examining officer in charge.A parallel improvement from the point of view of intending visitors to the United Kingdom has also been effected by giving British passport control officers overseas increasingly wide discretion to grant visas to suitable applicants without prior reference home.Finally, it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to urge the United Nations to follow up the recent meeting of experts by an appeal to all member nations to implement the recommendations of the meeting in regard to nonimmigrant travel and to call from time to time for a statement from Governments on the steps they have taken towards this end.

German Large-Scale Industries (Organisation)

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement about the organisation of large scale industry in the British zone.

I have been asked to reply. As has already been stated it is the intention of His Majesty's Government that the coal, iron and steel, heavy engineering and chemical industries in the British zone should be placed under public ownership. As a preliminary measure the coal mines and iron and steel plants have already been taken under the control of the British Commander in Chief and steps have been taken to sever the major steel producing undertakings from the large industrial combines which owned and controlled them. The heavy engineering and chemical industries have not been placed under the Commander in Chief's control but, with other large scale privately owned industries, they are subject to the decartelisation law which aims at the destruction of undue accumulations of economic power.

Blackbushe Airfield (Operations)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation how many civil aircraft are operating from Blackbushe Airfield; and when will customs facilities at this airport be available.

Seventeen civil aircraft of four separate companies are operating from time to time from Blackbushe. As to the last part of the Question, it is hoped that Customs facilities will be made available as soon as certain necessary modifications to buildings have been completed.

Husbands Bosworth Aerodrome (Electricity Supply Poles)

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that some, but not all, of the electric-supply poles for the now disused Husbands Bosworth aerodrome have been removed; that the remaining ones and their stays are a hindrance to agriculture, and that, during the past year or more, repeated representations for their removal have been made by local farmers through the Northamptonshire A.E.C.: and when he will cause the remaining poles to be removed.

The delay in removing all the electricity supply poles at Husbands Bosworth has been due first to bad weather and later to difficulty in getting suitable labour. The rest of the work will be begun very shortly and will take about a month to complete.

Heavy-Machinery Exports (Steel Allocation)

asked the Minister of Supply whether, in view of the importance of exporting heavy machinery to hard- currency countries, he will take steps to increase the steel and iron allocations for its manufacture and thus prevent these exports from being stopped.

In authorising steel for the production of heavy machinery, the Ministry of Supply takes into account the contribution which the producers can make to exports, especially to hard-currency countries.

Colonial Service (Conditions)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that certain fully-qualified educationalists have rejected offers made by his Department and accepted similar posts, at much better conditions, made by the Sudan Government Service; and whether he is satisfied that the terms of appointment in the Colonial Service are adequate to attract the best type of educationalist.

I do not know the cases to which the hon. Member refers, or when the officers in question refused appointments in the Colonial Service. The adequacy under postwar conditions of the salaries and other conditions of service offered by a number of Colonial Governments, is at present the subject of inquiry. The recommendations of the Harragin Commission for improving conditions of service in West Africa have just in the main been accepted; other Commissions are now inquiring into the matter in East and Central Africa, and elsewhere

Postal Deliveries, Cardiff"

asked the Postmaster-General why parcels posted in Denbigh take from three to five days to be delivered in Cardiff; and if he is aware that, whilst parcels of newspapers sent by a Denbigh firm on Tuesday evening frequently do not reach a Cardiff newsagent until Friday morning, similar parcels sent by rail reach Cardiff the following day.