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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 437: debated on Thursday 8 May 1947

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Proxy Marriages

2.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the recent decision of Lord Merriman in Apt, otherwise Magnus versus Apt, he will introduce legislation to make it clear in what conditions proxy marriages are to be recognised as valid.

I am not aware that any further elucidation of the law on this subject is needed. The effect of the decision is, I am advised, that the matter is regulated by the law of the place where the ceremony is performed.

Will my right hon. Friend make it clear that it is not his policy to encourage proxy marriages?

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the effect of this decision will be that a girl in this country can get married in the Argentine without ever leaving London?

Police

Salford (Deputy Chief Constable)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware of the indignation created by refusing to confirm the appointment of the deputy chief constable of Salford to be chief constable as recommended by the Watch Committee; that this officer joined the Salford police force as a probationer constable, has passed through every phase of police work in the force and has been deputy chief constable nine years and acting chief for the last six months; and what are the reasons for disqualifying him for this post.

I have, on two occasions, discussed this matter at length with representatives of the local police authority, and have, in addition, given a personal interview to the candidate himself. I have no reason to doubt that, in the course of these interviews, all the material facts were brought to my notice. I greatly regret that I could not approve the watch committee's choice, but, after the most careful consideration, I could reach no other conclusion than that the candidate whose name they submitted was unfit for the post of chief constable.

In view of the fact that the Minister has not given the reason why this man has been disqualified, will he explain why he was refused confirmation by the Home Office before any interview had been arranged, and also whether he is aware that the Home Office approved the short list of six prior to the appointment being made?

The Home Office does not approve or disapprove the appointment. The Home Secretary does that, and I take the full responsibility in this matter. I pursued a course in this case which, I am told, is without precedent. I twice interviewed the watch committee in London, although they did not pay me the compliment of sending the chairman of the watch committee as one of their delegation to meet me. I also interviewed the candidate, and, as one who has given 40 years of his life to interviewing candidates for local government appointments, I say that if this man had appeared in front of me, and had been the best candidate, I should have readvertised the appointment.

In view of the fact that this man had 27 years' service and was condemned in an interview lasting 30 minutes, is the Minister aware that the Salford Watch Committee are receiving support from all parts of the country, including his own constituency, who have stated that they have appointed two chief constables neither of whom had served in any other police force?

If my constituency have said that, the people who stated it have misinformed Salford. Many queer things have been done in South Shields for which I am not responsible. I am responsible for this appointment. Never before has a Home Secretary granted an interview to a candidate whose application he was, considering. I gave the man not half an hour, but three-quarters of an hour, and I venture to say that is a longer time than the Salford Watch Committee gave to any of the other candidates they interviewed.

Would the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether, in his opinion, this deputy chief constable of Salford is in any way inefficient for the job?

Is my right hon. Friend convinced that he is more capable of judging the capabilities of an officer than those who have been controlling the officer for some years past?

The difficulty is that the law places a certain responsibility upon me. I have to discharge that responsibility in accordance with my own conscience. I make no reflection on the good faith of the Salford Watch Committee. They have discharged their responsibility. I have discharged mine. I regret that our views do not coincide.

In view of the unsatisfactory reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this question on the Adjournment.

Metropolitan Police (Strength)

4.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the reduced physical standards that have been laid down for recruits for the Metropolitan Police; whether, in spite of this, the necessary numbers have been passed; what is the present strength; and what is the total authorised establishment.

The only alteration in physical standards was the reduction, in June, 1946, of the minimum height for recruits from 5 ft. 9 in. to 5 ft. 8 in. Since 1st January, 1946, 2,658 men have joined the Metropolitan Police Force, including 233 under 5 ft. 9 in. The total male strength is 14,850, and the authorised establishment is 19,741.

Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to take any other steps to bring the force up to its establishment, and thus relieve the pressure on the existing constables?

I am doing all I can to increase the strength of the force, and since April, 1946, there has been a net increase in the strength of the force of 1,117. I hope that suitable men will apply for enrolment in this force.

Shot Civilian's Dependants (Aid)

6.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what official means exist of providing for the dependants in necessitous circumstances of citizens who may have been gravely injured or lost their lives in going to the assistance of the law by endeavouring to detain criminals in the act of committing, or immediately after the commission of, a crime.

8.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what compensation will be paid to the widow of Mr. de Antiquis who was killed whilst assisting the police, and out of what Department fund.

13.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements exist for granting compensation to members of the public injured when assisting the course of justice or to their dependants if fatal injuries are sustained.

14.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether any provision exists for compensating out of public funds the widow and children of Mr. Alec de Antiquis, who was killed while carrying out his duties as a citizen in an exemplary manner, and, if not, whether he will make special provision for them.

18.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is considering making some recognition to the widow and dependants of Mr. Alec de Antiquis, who was killed while attempting to prevent the escape of three gunmen in the West End of London on 28th April, if necessary, by asking this House to award a special grant to the widow and six children of this gallant citizen

I am sure the House would desire me to express their sympathy with the wife and orphans of this man, who lost his life voluntarily discharging the duties of a good citizen. The question of making an appropriate grant from the Metropolitan Police Fund is receiving my sympathetic consideration.

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his answer, which I am sure will be appreciated, may I ask him whether he will agree that it would be very undesirable if the sole means of compensating the dependants of loyal and law abiding citizens were to be private benevolence?

Yes, Sir. I hoped the final sentence of my answer would indicate that I intend to give practical recognition of my views on that point, and I hope I shall have the general support of the House.

In a case of this description, is not such a man assisting to combat the enemy as much as a man in the field of battle, and will it not be more dignified to see that in these circumstances consideration is given to the granting of a pension?

I must have regard to what my statutory powers in the matter may be. I hope that when the House hears what I propose, they will feel that I have given adequate recognition to what this man has done. If I may be allowed to say so, I hope I shall be able to put the widow and children in a position which is no worse than that in which they would have been had the man survived. The House will appreciate that the machinery for doing these very desirable things is sometimes very difficult, in view of statutory limitations, but I will ask the House to empower me to do the right thing if, in fact, the Statutes at the moment prevent me.

While endorsing entirely what the right hon. Gentleman has said and the act which he proposes, may I ask him to be good enough to inform the House when he has come to a conclusion as to what action he can take?

In view of the fact that we have had a case of a similar nature in the City of Glasgow, would any action recommended by my right hon. Friend in the present case be directed to the attention of the Secretary of State for Scotland?

If my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State communicates with me, I will see that he and I walk in step in this matter.

Armed Criminals

9.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that the public is concerned at the alarming increase in cases of robbery or attempted robbery with violence by armed men in the Metropolis; how many such cases have been reported since 1st January, 1947; and in how many instances the culprits have been convicted.

During the first four months of this year, 25 robberies occurred in the Metropolitan Police district where a firearm was known to have been used. Eight of these cases have been cleared up, involving the arrest of 14 persons, 13 of whom have been convicted and one of whom is awaiting trial. The Commissioner of Police is giving every attention to dealing with this series of crimes.

Is it not really astonishing that so many crimes of this nature should escape solution, and can nothing be done to tighten up public security in this regard?

I imagine that criminals of this type are pretty astute, and that they take steps to assure themselves that the coast is reasonably clear before they commit their crimes. I think the number of detections that I have been able to announce is not unsatisfactory, having regard to the number of desperate men there are about at this time, but the Commissioner of Police and myself are fully seized of the importance of putting down this form of lawlessness, and I am quite sure that we shall have the support of all law-abiding citizens in the efforts we make to achieve our object.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in the main, the illegal possession of firearms is punished in the lightest possible way by the magistrates, who are not using the maximum powers they possess? Would my right hon. Friend consider issuing a recommendation to the magistrates for the imposition of maximum sentences for illegal possession of firearms, or coming to the House for further powers to increase those punishments?

It is my endeavour to issue as few recommendations as possible to magistrates because, having been a magistrate myself, I know the resentment with which the Home Secretary's circulars are sometimes received, but I have no doubt that the question put by my hon. Friend will draw the attention of magistrates to this matter, and I hope they can feel that the House is behind them in seeing that the law is enforced.

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is in consultation with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power with a view to the immediate termination of blackout conditions in the streets, which give these thugs an excellent opportunity of making their escape?

Is it the case, as I have been told, that the police are sometimes very badly handicapped in that they have not sufficient power, and that in cases where they know they could make the necessary arrest they are thereby handi- capped? If this is the case, will not my right hon. Friend ask the House for further powers?

No, Sir. One has to be very careful how one arms the police with additional powers. I am quite sure of this. The police themselves are very keen to bring this form of crime to an end, for, after all, they quite frequently are the persons most in danger from the use of these illegal weapons.

Housing

10.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that, owing to the impossibility of obtaining dwelling accommodation, many county constabularies are unable to provide sufficient police officers in districts which have grown up since 1939 and, in consequence, the burden on existing police officers is becoming severe; and whether he will arrange to acquire from the Ministry of Health a uniform prefabricated type of house on priority terms that can be erected for the use of police officers in rural and semi-urban areas.

All the temporary prefabricated houses provided under the Housing (Temporary Accommodation) Act, 1944, have been allocated in accordance with the terms of that Act to housing authorities, and the demands are such that the share available for police officers is small. The question whether the provision of houses for the police can be accelerated by the use of any other type of prefabricated house is being studied as such houses become available.

Could the right hon. Gentleman pay particular attention to county constabularies in certain districts where large populations have recently sprung up, and where it is impossible to place constables owing to the inadequacy of housing at the present time?

I have those areas particularly in mind. As I have moved about the country I have been in consultation with chief constables, standing joint committees and county district housing authorities.

Flogging

11.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in how many cases of robbery with violence since 1st January, 1947, punishment by flogging has been ordered.

But does not criminal history show that the ruffians who engage in this form of lawlessness are extremely tender about their own skins; and will the right hon. Gentleman do whatever may lie in his power to popularise this simple but salutary deterrent?

No, Sir. I should imagine there is no more controversial matter connected with the administration of my Department than the efficacy of flogging.

Is the Home Secretary aware that a large number of these forms of violence with arms are committed by men who have deserted from the Forces; and would not the most practical thing be for the Government to consider granting an amnesty to these men, in order to get them away from these evil conditions?

No, Sir. I am not convinced myself that that would be the most efficacious way of dealing with the matter.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the figure of To in his original answer. What was the total number of convictions of which the figure of 10 was a proportion?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Select Committee on Corporal Punishment, after examining a mass of evidence on this subject, came to the conclusion that flogging was futile as a deterrent to these crimes; and in his forthcoming Criminal Justice Bill will he take steps to abolish this barbarous punishment?

The statement of my hon. Friend with regard to the report of that committee is accurate I must ask the House to await the Bill.

Racecourse Betting Control Board (Report)

5.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the annual report of the Racecourse Betting Control Board will be published; and for what reason the publication has been delayed.

I expect to lay the report before Parliament this month, which will be no later than is usual.

Northern Ireland (Residence Permits)

15.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that natives of Northern Ireland, who had been absent from that area prior to January, 1940, have since their return been granted residence permits for the duration of the Order, thus entitling them to their United Kingdom franchise rights, while other natives of Northern Ireland, since their return, are granted residence permits renewable periodically, thus depriving them of similar franchise rights; what is the reason for this differentiation; and if he will take steps, pending the withdrawal of the Residence Permits (Transitional) Order, 1942, to secure their franchise rights for all natives of Northern Ireland.

No, Sir. I am informed that it is the regular practice of the Northern Ireland authorities to issue a permit, valid for the duration of the Order, to all natives of Northern Ireland who fall within the ambit of the Residence in Northern Ireland (Restriction) Order, 1942, so that the second and third parts of the Question do not arise.

Will my right hon. Friend give advice that in regard to the natives of Northern Ireland who are on temporary residence permits the matter should be reconsidered?

I am perfectly willing to consider and to take up with the authorities of Northern Ireland any cases my hon. Friend cares to submit to me.

Will my right hon. Friend bring this Residence Permits Order to an end and stop the inconvenience caused to employers in Northern Ireland, and thus prevent the restriction of movement of Irish people from one part of the country to another?

That is too large a matter to deal with in answer to a supplementary question.

Shop Hours (Proposed Legislation)

16 and 17.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (I1) whether he will publish the evidence given before the Gowers Committee on Shop Hours and make it available to Members of this House;

(2) if he is yet able to announce his intentions with respect to the report of the Gowers Committee on Shop Hours.

It is the intention of the Government to introduce, when opportunity offers, legislation on the lines proposed by the committee. The general effect of the evidence—which was voluminous—is carefully and impartially set out in the report, and in present circumstances I do not think the printing of the evidence could be justified.

Does my right hon. Friend not think that it is very essential for this House to have before it the evidence on which this report was based, because the report is certainly contrary to the views of those who have an intimate knowledge of shop life?

The report, which I have read, seems to me to set out impartially the evidence that was submitted on both sides. Many people claim to have a knowledge of shop life, but they do not all agree as to what it is like.

In view of the recommendations of the committee—while, of course, the public convenience must be considered above all else—will the right hon. Gentleman also take into consideration the circumstances of the shop assistants and the effect upon them?

In framing any legislation I may have to submit to the House I will bear in mind not merely the recommendations in the report, but the effect of this form of employment and activity on all sections of the community.

Borstal Institutions (Dietary Punishment)

19.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now make a statement with regard to dietary punishment in Borstal institutions.

As my hon. Friend will be aware, the difficulty in this matter is to provide a satisfactory alternative to dietary punishment for enforcing discipline on recalcitrant and refractory lads. I am anxious to find an alternative, and I have certain proposals in view for this purpose, but before they can be finally settled consultation with various authorities is necessary and this has not yet been completed. For this reason, I am not yet in a position to make an announcement about these proposals, but I will do so as soon as possible.

While I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer and have no desire to embarrass him, may I ask if he is aware that I first raised this matter nearly a year ago in an Adjournment Debate, and asked a Question again six months ago; and can he give any indication how far his inquiries have reached?

I think I can say that I am approaching the position where I shall be able to announce a decision.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House how dietary punishment affects the people in Jarrow, who have returned a Labour candidate?

Capital Sentence (Medical Inquiries)

20.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when, and by whom, application was made for an examination of the mental condition of Thomas John Ley, recently under sentence of death.

Consideration of the question whether a medical inquiry shall be held into the mental condition of a prisoner under sentence of death does not depend on the receipt of an application. It is my duty in every capital case to consider whether any question arises as to the prisoner's state of mind, and to order a medical examination whenever I have reason to think further inquiry desirable.

But does my right hon. Friend not realise that the defence of insanity was never raised at the trial, and was never raised in the Court of Criminal Appeal; and in view of the general disquiet about this case, will he assure the House that this is not a trial by doctors to supersede a trial by jury?

No, Sir. I am not bound in my consideration of the case by what has been submitted either to the lower court or to the Court of Criminal Appeal. I have to examine all the documents—and they are many and various—which come into my possession with regard to each individual case. If I have any doubt as to the mental stability of the person who has been sentenced to death it is my duty to order a medical inquiry. If that medical inquiry takes a certain course, the matter is then taken completely out of my hands.

Housing

Rent Tribunal Applicants (Protection)

21.

Shepherd asked the Minister of Health if he has given consideration to the statement made by Mr. Michael Marcus, chairman of the East London Rent Tribunal, that applicants to that tribunal suffered serious physical injury at the hands of landlords or their hirelings; and what action is proposed to protect applicants.

My attention has been called to this statement. Applicants suffering or fearing such assaults should report the matter to the police who will do all they can to assist.

It is not competent for me at the moment to make any comment upon whether it is accurate or inaccurate. All I can say is, that these persons are protected by law if they appeal to the law.

Surely, if the Minister appoints these chairmen it is his duty to see that they do not issue statements which alarm the public?

In view of the serious nature of the statement made by the chairman of the tribunal, has the Minister asked him on what evidence he based that statement?

It is not necessary for me to do so. If citizens fear assault, or if they have been assaulted, they can make use of appeal to the law. I am not going to interfere with these tribunals unnecessarily.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether, since this statement, there have, in fact, been any such appeals from persons who claim that this statement is true?

1947 Programme

22.

asked the Minister of Health if he has now considered the housing programme for 1947 in the light of the industrial dislocation caused by the fuel crisis; and what effect this is likely to have on the number of houses to be built.

I have considered the housing programme for 1947 in the light of the conditions which have prevailed during the winter. The effect of these conditions both on building and even more on the production of building materials has been serious. It will reduce substantially the rates at which houses already under construction can be completed and, consequently, at which further houses can be started this year. I am including a full statement in the published monthly return which will be available in the Vote Office this afternoon.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House, or give us some idea, what will be the total number of completions this year?

I think that probably it will be as well for hon. Members to look at this statement in the monthly return. I was in this difficulty; that if I were to try to make a statement to the House after Questions on this very important matter it would be unduly long; but that if, on the other hand, I were to try to give a short answer it would be inadequate. I thought it was much better to make an addendum to the monthly return.

Does the right hon. Gentleman now realise how wise he was when he published the original programme to provide himself with alibis?

In view of the results of the industrial dislocation, will the right hon. Gentleman consider alter- ing the targets at the zonal conferences which took place to fix the time, as the targets appear to have been fixed on a mathematical basis?

They were, in fact, not targets at all, as the hon. and gallant Member knows. They were merely attempts to bring the allocations in a zonal area in reasonable relationship to the physical capacity of the building industry in that area. The allocations are not going to be affected.

Prefabricated Houses (Export)

25.

asked the Minister of Health how many prefabricated houses were exported to Holland during 1946; and what was the cost per house.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on 3rd April to a Question from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Col. Lipton), of which I am sending him a copy. am informed that there is no record of the export of any other structures of this nature.

Review Of Contributions

28.

asked the Minister of Health if he has yet considered whether it is expedient that an order be made under Section 16 of the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1946; and whether he intends to lay before the Commons House of Parliament a report in conformity with the provisions of the said section.

I hope to be in a position to make a statement on this matter in the near future.

Does not the Minister realise that the Act in question places an obligation on him to take this matter into consideration immediately after the beginning of December, 1946, and if, on consideration, he is not going to make such an Order, to report thereon to the House? Does he not his agree that he is taking as long to make up his mind on this matter as he is in getting the houses?

I am perfectly aware of my statutory obligations in this matter and, of course, I shall conform with them. But as the housing authorities have handed over to the building industry about 100,000 more houses than the building industry can start, there is, obviously, no question at all of this delaying building.

Has the right hon. Gentleman carried out the consultations he must have under Subsection (6) of this Section? Will he give a report on that?

Building Licences

29.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that licences granted to private builders for building new houses are often issued to cover several houses each; that in a number of cases where such a licence was issued to a builder outside the London area before 25th February, one or more of the houses included in the licence had been begun before that date while others in the same licence had not been started; that the consequent effect of the Order permitting an increase of ££100 in the maximum price of houses licensed before 25th February is to make such concessions inapplicable to these houses not yet started, without any power for the local authority to vary the conditions in the licence; and whether he will modify the terms of the Order to rectify this anomaly.

It is open to a private builder to ask the local authority to revoke a licence in so far as it applies to houses on which work has not been started, and to apply for a new licence in respect of these houses under the revised conditions.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his own Ministry refused a request of the Cheltenham authority to take action in this matter?

I am not aware of the particulars. If the hon. Member will send them to me, I shall have them inquired into. But I cannot, at the moment, accept the construction he has placed upon this.

Subsidy

32.

asked the Minister of Health what revision is contemplated in the basis of Annual Exchequer contributions as laid down in Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1946, in the light of the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Bill.

In considering the review of housing subsidy, all factors affecting the estimated cost of house building during the period for which subsidy is to be fixed are taken into consideration.

Is the Minister aware that if local authorities lose more by the reduction of subsidies than they gain by a reduction in the cost of sites this loss must be passed on in the form of increased rent, which is rather undesirable? Can he look very closely at this matter, as anomalies are very likely to arise?

I do not think local authorities are dissatisfied with the housing subsidy.

Is it not a fact that the cost of sites is a very small element in the cost of houses as a whole?

The Minister has misunderstood my question. My question referred to the position under the Town and Country Planning Bill, under which there will be a reduction in the cost of sites which, in turn, will affect scales of subsidies.

It is extremely difficult to say in advance what is going to be the effect of the operation of an Act of Parliament which is still a Bill. It will be soon enough to consider what the effect of that will be when we see it in operation.

Site Costs

34.

asked the Minister of Health if site costs are included as part of the ceiling prices imposed on new houses, both in London and in the provinces.

Public Health

Nurses (Shortage)

23.

asked the Minister of Health if he contemplates further improvement in the pay and conditions of service of the nursing profession, with increased scales of pensions and a general advance in the status of hospital nurses, as an essential constituent part of national health service.

The whole status and position of nurses will have to be reviewed in the light of the report of the Working Party on Recruitment and Training. Pending this review I cannot express an opinion on the Questions raised by the hon. Member.

Does the Minister realise that a serious situation is created owing to the shortage of nurses? Is he taking any definite steps to intensify the recruitment to the nursing profession?

As the hon. Member knows, I am very much alive to this matter, arid there is an intense recruiting campaign going on all the time. Indeed, I believe that there is an exhibition in Birmingham at the moment in connection with it. I am very anxious to get this report. Immediately I have it I shall be able to consider what to do.

Will the right hon, Gentleman take great care to preserve the interests of those nurses who have served for many years, but who do not happen to have passed certain examinations, and do not happen to hold certain certificates, and who, therefore, are in danger of being pushed out because of the change in the basis of entry into the profession? If they were to go it would be a great loss to the hospitals, for they are very valuable nurses.

When is the House likely to be able to read the report to which the right hon. Gentleman referred?

24.

asked the Minister of Health if he has had under consideration the embarrassing situation which has arisen in hospital administration in Birmingham owing to shortage of nurses; and if he proposes to intensify the campaign for recruitment of nurses in consultation with the health departments of local authorities.

Yes, Sir. The hon. Member will be aware of the extensive Nursing Exhibition held in Birmingham from 29th April to 3rd May to encourage recruitment to the nursing profession.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give any indication of when he contemplates an improvement in the conditions of service and the remuneration of nurses?

It would be extremely discourteous of me to appoint a working party to make a report and then to anticipate them by a public statement.

Women Doctors (Training)

30.

asked the Minister of Health, in view of the shortage of women doctors, what additional facilities are being provided for training medical students.

All provincial medical schools admit women students up to between 20 per cent. and 30 per cent. of the annual intake, and the London schools have now all agreed to take a proportion of women as soon as accommodation can be provided. This should be ready for the 1947–48 session.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many applicants are still waiting, and whether the facilities provided will absorb all those applicants? There are not sufficient women doctors to meet the demands.

Aural Aids

31.

asked the Minister of Health what progress he has made with regard to the manufacture and distribution of aural aid outfits at reasonable prices.

My bright hon. Friend the Minister of Supply has already placed contracts for the manufacture of these aids. He hopes that enough will be available to make a start with distribution when the National Health Service begins. They will then be available without charge to patients for whom they are prescribed.

Ambulances (Local Authorities)

37.

asked the Minister of Health what arrangements have been made centrally with those in control of the St. John Ambulance Brigade and the British Red Cross Society for the taking over or use of their ambulances by local health authorities under the National Health Service Acts.

The statutory duty rests on local health authorities, who may make arrangements for the use of voluntary bodies' vehicles and staff. No arrangements are, therefore, being made centrally.

Have any instructions been sent from the central authorities to the local branches?

Yes, the local authorities are being made aware of their statutory rights in this matter, but there have been no central directions.

I was referring to the St. John Ambulance Brigade and the British Red Cross Society, and I want to know whether instructions have been given. by those organisations to their local branches.

I do not know; and, of course, I have no responsibility for them, for they are voluntary organisations.

City Of London (Employees' Strike)

40.

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that the dead are lying unburied, streets remain uncleaned and public conveniences are closed in the City of London through unofficial strikes; and what action His Majesty's Government have taken in the matter in the interests of health and humanity and to prevent a recurrence of such a state of affairs.

I am aware that the Corporation of London are unable to arrange for burials in their own cemetery, and that they have had to suspend street cleansing and to close public conveniences. While I much regret the inconvenience which is caused to the public, I do not consider that any immediate danger to public health is threatened, but I am keeping the situation under review.

Will the Minister, in view of this very unsatisfactory state of affairs, promise every possible assistance to the local authority should they need it, and if they are unable or unwilling to take action themselves will he take it for them?

I regard the stoppage of the workers who are responsible for burying and for scavenging, and other services of a vital health nature, as fundamentally irresponsible. If this strike does not end very quickly, I shall take action.

As the irresponsibility may be on the part of those who impose conditions that make such a strike possible, will the right hon. Gentleman take up with the local authorities the question of the working conditions of the men?

There is no body of workers in Great Britain who have made available to them better conciliation machinery than the employees of local authorities. I consider that suspension of scavenging and burying is an act of utter irresponsibility.

Education

Young Children (Teachers)

41.

asked the Minister of Education what steps are being taken to improve recruitment for work in infant and nursery schools.

The first essential step is to extend facilities for training and this is being (lone so far as possible. The women's training colleges, both emergency and permanent, are being expanded and more attention is being given to the training of teachers for work with young children. I am discussing with the Interim Committee for Teachers what further steps can be taken to secure that more students are admitted for this form of work and what other measures can be taken to make this branch of the teaching service more attractive.

In view of the very grave shortage that exists for teachers for young children, will my right hon. Friend take steps to visit secondary schools to see, whether girls can be recruited?

It is no use recruiting at this stage unless we have somewhere to put the recruits. It is not that we are short of applicants but rather that we are short of training places for them.

If I could direct the attention of my right hon. Friend to houses which would be suitable would he have a look at them?

We are already taking houses at a very rapid rate with a view to turning them into emergency colleges. This question is being looked at with that in mind.

Emergency Training (Completed Courses)

42.

asked the Minister of Education how many students have completed a course of training in the teachers emergency training colleges since their inception; how many satisfied the examiners; and how many successful trainees have been absorbed into teaching posts.

Up to the 24th April, 1947, 2,514 students completed a course of training under the Emergency Training Scheme. Of these students only 12 were not adjudged to have completed the course satisfactorily, but a considerably larger number were withdrawn from the courses before they were completed. I am satisfied that practically all the teachers who were qualified through the emergency scheme have found teaching posts. The latest returns which I have received covering four of the colleges, show that out of 681 students only three were known not to have obtained posts two months after the end of the course.

Can my right hon. Friend give any idea of the proportion of these emergency trainees who have gone into senior schools?

School Records

43.

asked the Minister of Education what special information is to be collected by teachers concerning their pupils; if he will ensure that the information is kept secret and up to what age it is to be taken; and, if the information covers more than the health records of each child, if he will give instructions that no references to the political views of parents will be recorded.

For the purposes of the school medical records of children, the only particulars which teachers are asked to supply are the name, age and address of the child, the name of the school he attends and records of his school attendance and educational progress. I do not prescribe forms of school record for other purposes, but I am proposing shortly to give some guidance to local education authorities and teachers about the scope and content of school records. There can be no question of teachers being asked to refer to the political views of parents.

When further action is taken in reference to the homes of parents, will my right hon. Friend ensure that that information is not given without the knowledge of the parents?

Technical College Teachers (Salaries)

44.

asked the Minister of Education if he is aware that a teacher in a London technical college, promoted to the new senior assistant scale on 1st April, 1945, was awarded a correct position ££73 lower than he could reasonably have attained if not promoted, lower also than the position held previously on the graduate scale; and, as this violates the spirit of Clause 13 (b) (I) of the Burnham Technical Report, if he will take steps to remedy this injustice.

I assume that the particular case the hon. Member has in mind is that about which she has previously written to me. On the facts available, the salary for this teacher has been correctly assessed and could be altered only after amendment of the relevant Burnham Report. It rests with the Burnham Committee to make any recommendations for amendment of their reports.

56.

asked the Minister of Education what action he proposes to remedy the grievances of teachers in technical colleges who were on the maximum of the assistant scale with ££100 for special responsibility and who were promoted to the senior assistant scale on 1st April, 1946, but were awarded no increment on promotion, although under Clause 13 (b) (I) they should have been appointed at the next higher point on the senior assistant scale, namely ££650.

I should be glad if my hon. Friend would furnish me with details of any cases of the type to which she refers, since I am not aware that salaries are being assessed by local education authorities on the basis described.

Would the Minister look into the case I have sent to him, because there the man is receiving less under this new scale than he had previously?

Yes, but that is just an individual case and it is an anomaly which arises from a decision having been made between two decisions of the Burnham Committee. I am going into it at the moment.

Out-Of-School Activities

57.

asked the Minister of Education whether a local education authority when advertising for assistant teachers is acting in accordance with the policy of his Department in insisting on out-of-school activities.

Under paragraph 4 (3) of the Second Schedule to the Primary and Secondary Schools (Grant Conditions) Regulations a teacher may not be required to perform any duties except such as are connected with the work of the school.

Is the Minister aware that the teaching profession have never quibbled about doing outside work, but they resent having it as a stipulation? If I bring a case to his notice, will he inform the authority concerned that this should not be done?

I will certainly look at it, but the phrase "out-of-school activities" is a wide one, and there may be some discussion as to what are out-of-school activities and what are not.

May I ask d the ban on demanding a certain amount of out-of-school activity applies also to getting a teacher to take part in a youth service, which is necessarily a part of a local education authority's activities?

That depends upon the interpretation of the term "out-of-school activities," and whether the youth service is associated definitely with the school.

School Allowances, Cardiff

58.

asked the Minister of Education the rate of grant per child allotted by the Cardiff authority for children over the age of II years in unreorganised schools; and what is the comparative rate of grant for Cardiff secondary schools.

I understand that the allowance made by the Cardiff authority in respect of books, stationery and equipment for children over II years of age in unreorganised schools is at the rate of 10s. per child. The corresponding allowances for secondary schools which are all grammar schools are at the rate of 14s. per child for text-books and 28s. per child for other books, stationery and office expenses.

Is the Minister aware that the children who are over the age of II in these schools which the authority fail to reorganise, are allowed 10s. a head, and the total for the children in secondary grammar schools is £2 10s. a head, and does he think this is satisfactory?

No, and I think that with the raising of the school-leaving age, a demand for the higher figure will be made by those below it.

School Reorganisation, Cardiff

59.

asked the Minister of Education whether, in order to give the schoolchildren of Cardiff the benefits of free secondary education under the 1944 Act, he will consult with the Cardiff authority with a view, as a temporary measure, to reorganising their schools within the existing accommodation.

Until new secondary schools can be built under the development plan, I should be happy to consider suitable proposals for temporary reorganisation within existing accommodation, and I am informing the authority accordingly.

Languages

60.

asked the Minister of Education what percentage of 12-year old boys educated under the national system will, during the current term, be learning French. German and Latin, respectively.

The content of the curriculum is primarily a matter for the school authorities and no statistics are available showing the numbers and ages of pupils taking particular subjects.

Dartmouth College (Standard)

61.

asked the Minister of Education what percentage of 12-year-old boys educated under the national system will, during the current term, be educated on a curriculum which will enable them to succeed in the examination held at the age of 13 years in order to select candidates for the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.

On the basis on which entry to the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, is at present determined, the field of potential candidates from schools within the national system is limited to pupils receiving a grammar school type of education who are taking the particular subjects required in the examination. The number of the latter is not known but the percentage of boys in the 12 year age group who are in grammar schools is approximately 28.7.

Is not that further evidence of the wisdom of the announcement made yesterday?

Teachers (Intake)

62.

asked the Minister of Education what was the intake of teachers into the schools under his control during January, February and March, respectively.

Separate figures for each month are not available. The figures for the quarter ending 31st March last are at present being analysed and I will send them to the hon. Member as soon as they are ready.

Size Of Classes

63.

asked the Minister of Education the present average size of, the classes in the schools under his control and the estimated increase as a result of the raising of the school age.

The average size or classes in primary and secondary schools as a whole was 33.5 in January, 1946, the last date for which figures are yet available. Since my plans for increasing the number of teachers provide for more than sufficient teachers for the extra age group, this figure will be progressively reduced in the next few years.

I asked in the second part of my Question what is the increase that the right hon. Gentleman thinks will take place.

I could not give it without further notice, except to the extent which I -have already indicated.

British Teachers, United States (Allowance)

64.

asked the Minister of Education what extra allowances he is granting to British teachers now in the U.S.A., under an exchange arrangement, in view of the rapidly rising cost of living in the U.S.A.

A grant of £75 has been paid to each teacher in respect of the current academic year. No grant has been given in previous years, and I am not prepared to give an additional grant to the teachers who are at present in the United States.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this grant does not catch up with rising prices in the United States, and is it not undesirable that these teachers, who are unofficial ambassadors of this country, should be reduced to the position of poor relations owing to the insane abandonment of price controls by the Washington administration?

There has been a readjustment since the teachers went, and a grant was made. The grant for next year is being considered. I think it would be impossible to change grants every time there was a change in the cost of living.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a teacher who went from my constituency under this scheme not only has found it quite impossible to travel in the. United States, and thereby cannot get the best benefit from her tour, but is also having to do work in the evenings in order to maintain herself?

I am receiving reports on what is taking place, but I would point out that they have not gone on a joy ride.

Employment

Illegal Strikes

47.

asked the Minister of Labour what steps are taken to inquire into the causes of all illegal strikes.

It is the normal responsibility of my Department to inquire into the causes and circumstances of any dispute, whether illegal or otherwise.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in Russia if a man participates in an illegal strike his ration card is withdrawn?

Ex-Service Personnel

48.

asked the Minister of Labour how many ex-officers and other ranks were registered as unemployed at the latest convenient date.

The numbers of ex-Service men and women registered as unemployed at 14th April were 70,024 and 4,600 respectively, of whom 6,816 and 213 were exofficers registered with the Appointments Department. Separate figures for officers registered at employment exchanges are not available.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider making special arrangements so that these men can be given the opportunity to go back into the fighting Services if they should so desire? I am sure that many of them would do that if arrangements were made.

I am not sure whether such an arrangement is within my scope. I think the object which the hon. and gallant Member has in mind is worthy of examination, and I will take the matter up.

National Finance

Sterling Balances (Egypt)

50.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now make a statement regarding the recent visit paid to Cairo by British financial experts; and if the negotiations which took place were secret.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the communique issued on 3rd March, to which at present I have nothing to add.

Will the right hon. Gentleman now make every effort to convince the people in Egypt that the scaling down of debts is in their interest as well as ours? I ask him to bear in mind that at the moment our publicity in the Middle East is so bad that our case is not getting over.

I think the speech of my right hon. Friend a night or two ago probably will help to rectify the point Mentioned by the hon. and gallant Gentleman.

Can the Minister say, in view of the many authoritative statements that have been made in Egypt, why he is unwilling to make a statement of the policy of H.M. Government?

It is not a question of being unwilling. The answer I gave was that at the moment there was nothing to add to the statement made on 3rd March.

If the machinery for putting over the very strong statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is inadequate, will the Financial Secretary see that that machinery is improved so that the people of Egypt do realise the determination of this country not to be done down for the debt incurred in saving Egypt?

Is it not a case that previous Governments generally had the support of the British Press in putting over their case, and now the position is that most of the Press of this country is hostile to the present Government?

The Financial Secretary said that he cannot add to the official communique, but will he not say something in view of the Egyptian demands for the transfer of the Suez Canal and Anglo-Egyptian oilfield shares?

The Question dealt with a recent visit to Cairo by British financial experts and the negotiations which took place there. I have replied to that Question.

Paye Payments

51.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that under the 1947/48 system of Pay As You Earn, in which a number of codes are grouped together, the result in some cases is a sharp rise in the amount of tax deducted per week whereby those earning a 'smaller salary now pay as much per week as those earning considerably more; and if he will take steps to remedy this state of affairs.

My right hon. Friend cannot agree that the P.A.Y.E. tables have the result suggested by the hon. Member; but, if he will be good enough to furnish me with particulars of the cases he has in mind, I will look into the matter.

Civil Servants, Armed Forces (Pay)

54.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what decision has now been reached about making up the pay of young civil servants called up to the Forces.

The question of making up the pay of young civil servants called up to the Forces is at present under consideration. I hope it will be possible to make an announcement shortly.

It has been under consideration for a very long time. Some time ago I asked a similar Question and had exactly the same reply.

I think that is possible, but we hope that an announcement can be made shortly. These things take time.

Post-War Credits (Ex-Servicemen)

55.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury why ex-Servicemen are being required to sacrifice their postwar credits in order to liquidate arrears of income tax, due to wrong assessments of Service pay by the Income Tax Commissioners.

Ex-Servicemen are treated in the same way as other tax-payers in that any arrear is set off against the Postwar Credit for the year 1945–46. I am looking into the case about which my how. Friend wrote to me a day or two ago.

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether, when the mistakes are mistakes of his own Department, made when these men were out of the country and so unable to put them right at the time, it would not be more generous, as well as more just, to spread these repayments over a long period so that the men should not feel the great loss which is incurred?

That is exactly what we do. These payments are spread over a period by arrangement, and I can assure my hon. Friend that in those cases we are spreading the amount due over quite a considerable period.

Will my right hon. Friend consider giving more publicity to the fact that it is possible for people to appeal against notices of assessment within 21 days of their having been made?

Would the Financial Secretary consider in a case—one of which I have brought to his notice—where the sum is greater than the repayments, forgiving the balance, because it is hard on a man, who really did not know what was happening, if he is docked of his postwar credit? Could not that be a full settlement?

In some cases, as the hon. Gentleman knows, that does happen, but each case must be taken on its merits. One cannot lay down any general rule and forgive people simply because they happen to be in arrears.

If the facts in this question are correct, is it not the case that a real debt is being satisfied by setting against it a future benefit, so that this must be to the great advantage of the men concerned?

So far as postwar credits for 1945–46 are concerned, my right hon. Friend made an announcement during October to the effect that the Inland Revenue was to be instructed to set off what might be due against tax arrears, and the House agreed.

Does my right hon. Friend feel that it is fair to refer to future benefit as if this were a benefit which might never accrue? Is it not the fact that these men regard this as a nest egg, and think this is a method of getting out of repayment of postwar credits?

The individual concerned can pay or have it set off. I cannot see that there is anything wrong in that. He can either pay now and have the nest egg, or go without the nest egg and have it set off.

Cannot these men who owe this money make a statement to the Chancellor on the same lines as the statement the Chancellor made the other day on Egypt?

National Gallery Paintings (Cleaning)

53.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to the drastic manner in which the Velasquez paintings in the National Gallery have been cleaned; and whether he will make a statement.

This is a matter which falls within the discretion of those responsible for the management of the National Gallery.