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Written Answers

Volume 437: debated on Thursday 8 May 1947

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 8th May 1947

British Wives Of Foreign Nationals


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now make a statement regarding the conference of experts which opened in London on 3rd February in connection with the nationality of married women and other nationality matters of general interest to the members of the British Commonwealth.

I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given on 6th March to the hon. Member for South Aberdeen (Lady Grant). The conference examined the whole field of nationality law on which there was a very valuable exchange of information, and a report was prepared for submission to the Governments represented at the Conference. It will be necessary to await the views of these Governments before any pronouncement of policy on future legislation is made.




asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider issuing firearms to the police to enable them better to protect themselves from the armed criminals who are becoming an increasing menace to the general community and the police.

Firearms are available for use by police officers who are competent to use them and who wish to have the opportunity of carrying them for purposes of self-defence when engaged on specially dangerous duty. In my view the disadvantages of the general arming of the police would heavily outweigh any possible advantage.

Convicted Policemen


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has recently considered the cases of the two Portsmouth policemen who were, on 8th December, 1940, sentenced to 10 years' penal servitude on account of theft; and whether their sentences and others similar to them will now be reviewed.

The two cases to which my non. Friend refers were reviewed and the men were released on licence in April, 1944. All other similar cases have been reviewed, and earlier release on licence has been authorised in those cases in which that course appeared to be justified.

Outdoor Relief (Family Allowances)


asked the Minister of Health wether he will make a statement regarding the payment of family allowances under the Family Allowances Act, 1945, to persons in receipt of outdoor relief.

The position is fully explained in my Circular of 29th November last to local authorities, a copy of which I am sending to the hon. Member.




asked the Minister of Health what he is prepared to do about an acute housing case, particulars of which have been communicated to him and which were the subject of a Parliamentary Question to his predecessor in May, 1945.

I have ascertained that the circumstances of the case are within the knowledge of the housing authority with whom rests the letting of their houses and who have to decide between the claims of individual applicants.

Reigate, Dorking And Horley


asked the Minister of Health the number of permanent houses allocated in the present -year to the borough of Reigate, the urban district of Dorking and the rural district of Dorking and Horley; and by what extent building applications in these areas have been reduced.

I would refer the hon. Member to Appendix B to the Housing Return for the month of March.

Airey Houses


asked the Minister of Health whether Airey houses are now available to local authorities; and whether such houses, if supplied, will be included in the local authorities' quota of houses for 1947.

Local authorities can have additional Airey houses where production permits and sites are available.

Public Health

Day Nurseries


asked the Minister of Health how many day nurseries were closed down during 1946; how many still remain in being; what was the number of children accommodated: and if, in view of the need for the return of women to industry, he will take steps to stimulate local authorities to make further provision.

The closures during 1946 numbered 167. Eight hundred and ninety-seven with 44,000 places remain open. Local authorities were urged at the end of 1945 to make adequate provision, and I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the relevant Circular.


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the Harrow Urban District Council recently served notice upon the parents of children attending its day nurseries raising the charges from 5s. a week to 6s. a day and that, following protests, the application of the new scale has been postponed pending consideration of cases of individual hardship; and if he will inquire into the cost of maintaining these nurseries in view of the fact that the council is in receipt of a 50 per cent. Government grant towards this.

I have received representations from parents and local organisations about the Council's proposal, and I am in communication with the Council on the subject.

Nurses, Tuberculosis Institutions


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the shortage of nurses for tuberculosis hospitals and institutions in East Anglia and the East Midlands; and what steps are being taken to attract staff for such institutions.

Yes, Sir. Tuberculosis institutions generally are still short of staff, though much relief has been given by the employment of displaced persons. Conditions of service are being improved and special efforts made to recruit part-time nurses.

Government Poster


asked the Prime Minister on whose authority the recent Government poster "We Work or We Want" was issued.

I have been asked to reply. The poster, of which the complete text is "We're Up Against It. We Work or Want. A Challenge to British Grit," was issued on the authority of the Government.


European Volunteer Workers


asked the Minister of Labour the number of displaced persons now living in camps in Leicestershire and the number that have been placed in employment, with details of the nature of the employment.

A camp was opened last week at Market Harborough in which there are at present 434 European volunteer workers. Eighty-four have been placed in employment with the National Service Hostels Corporation, 25 are being sent today to Lancashire for employment in the cotton industry.

asked the Minister of Labour how many displaced persons have now arrived in this country; what arrangements have been made for their accommodation; in what branche of industry and commerce they will work; and what procedure should be followed by members of the public who have employment to offer them.

By 7th May, 2,700, European volunteer workers had arrived in this country. After passing quickly through transit camps near the ports of arrival, they are accommodated in holding camps where detailed placing in employment is carried out by my officers They will then move to camps, hostels and lodgings near their places of work. European volunteer workers are being specifically recruited to fill vacancies in the essential undermanned industries An agreement has been reached to their employment in the cotton industry and with sections of the woollen industry, in nursing and on domestic work in hospitals, with the National Service Hostels Corporation, and in households specially selected on hardship grounds. Discussions with other essential undermanned industries are proceeding. Applications for the employment of European volunteer workers should be made to the local office of the Ministry of Labour and National Service who will endeavour to supply such a foreign worker if no British labour is available

Private Limited Companies (Trading Profits)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will give an assurance that in the case of private limited companies to which the provisions of Section 21 of the Finance Act, 1922, as amended by later Acts, apply, the same attitude towards restraint in the distribution of profits will be taken as he is taking in the case of public companies.

Under the Section to which the right hon. Member refers the Special Commissioners are required to have regard to the provision necessary for maintenance and development, and he may, therefore, rest assured that full regard will be had to the importance, at the present time, of ploughing back trading profits.


Playingfield, Shalford (Grant)


asked the Minister of Education if he is aware that his Department apologised to the hon. Member for Maldon, on 22nd November, 1946, for delay in deciding to approve a grant towards the cost of laying out the village playingfield at Shalford, near Braintree. Essex, an application for which was submitted on 12th June, 1946, but that this matter is still unsettled despite repeated reminders and representations, most of which have not been acknowledged; what is the cause of this long delay which will deprive the people of Shalford of the full use of their playingfield this summer; and if he will take action at once.

A provisional otter of grant was made on 10th December last, subject to certain requirements affecting plans and estimates of costs. The offer of grant was confirmed on the 26th April. I regret the delay which has occurred in this case and have taken steps to see that it does not recur.

Youth Service


asked the Minister of Education the extent of financial aid granted to pre-Service youth organisations in Wales during the year 1946–47 and the financial aid which is proposed to be granted to such organisations in 1947–48.

The only grant offered by the Ministry of Education to pre-Service Units in Wales during 1946–47 was £70 to one unit. No grants have so far been offered in 1947–48 but applications from two units are under consideration.


asked the Minister of Education if he will publish, at an early date, an account of the present position of the youth service, including an assessment of the work done among young people during and since the war by pre-Service organisations and by youth organisations, respectively, set up and directly controlled by local education authorities and also by voluntary youth organisations recognised for grant purposes by his Department.

No, Sir; I should not be justified in present circumstances in placing on local education authorities and voluntary organisations, as well as on my own Department, the task of collecting all the necessary statistical and other material for such a report. If, however, my hon. Friend cares to communicate further with me, I will consider whether anything can be done to meet his suggestions.

Qualified Teachers (University Degree Course)


asked the Minister of Education how many qualified teachers, who served in His Majesty's Forces during the war, are now being assisted to take an honours degree in our universities under the Further Education Grant Scheme; whether the scheme applies to those who, while at college, volunteered for service; when did the scheme end for those who had to fulfil Class B. obligations by teaching for six months; and if he will direct that replies to inquiries regarding such matters be dated and signed by the sender.

I could not give the information asked for in the first part of the Question without disproportionate expense of time and labour. An award for a degree course is ordinarily given to a qualified teacher where he shows that he was definitely prevented by war service from taking a full-time course at a university. Volunteers are normally within the scope of the scheme. Students who were taking a three years' course and were released from the Forces to teach may apply for awards to complete their full course when they have fulfilled the conditions of their release in Class B. In view of the great amount of correspondence I am afraid that the use of unsigned memoranda in place of signed communications is often at present unavoidable.

Supplementary Teachers


asked the Minister of Education if he will extend to supplementary teachers training facilities to enable them to become qualified infant teachers.

Supplementary teachers who were engaged in teaching during the war as their form of national service are eligible to apply for admission to the Emergency Training Scheme, to enable them to become qualified teachers.

Trade And Commerce

Anglo-Polish Trade (Provisional Arrangements)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement on the progress of the negotiations for a trade agreement with Poland.

The following is an agreed statement regarding the trade discussions, which have resulted in provisional understandings on a number of matters:

Anglo-Polish Trade Talks

1. Agreement in principle was reached with the Polish Delegation, which recently visited this country, on a number of questions relating to the long-term development of Anglo-Polish trade. Both countries desire to rest are the prewar pattern of trade. Poland used to export to the United Kingdom principally foodstuffs (bacon, butter, eggs) and timber, end the import of these commodities would gladly be resumed. Poland wishes to purchase again from United Kingdom traders the machinery and raw materials so urgently required in the reconstruction of the Polish economy.

2. The arrangements provisionally agreed are as follow. Poland plans to place orders with United Kingdom traders over the next three years (chosen as the period of the Polish Three-Year Plan) for raw materials (e.g., wool, rubber, tin, graphite) and other goods, up to a value of £20 million, and for machinery and other capital goods up to a value of £15 million. During this period, Poland proposes to export to the United Kingdom goods to a total value of £23 million (£5, £8 and £10 million, respectively, in each year). It is designed that exports should consist largely of goods essential to the United Kingdom economy and that foodstuffs should occupy an important place. In the first year the Polish offers include eggs and poultry; in the later years bacon and butter exports would be resumed. China, glassware, textiles and furniture, of types to suit United Kingdom requirements, are among the manufactured goods which Poland is able to offer in the first year.

3. There is a gap of £12 million between the Polish programme of purchases and the prospective earnings from Polish exports to the United Kingdom. Both sides are contributing to filling this gap. The Polish Governor cot have offered to supply £0.8 million of coal (about 250,000 tons) for delivery in the first year, when it is important to build up United Kingdom stocks. They also intend to use, for purchases in the United Kingdom, million of the Polish gold which will be due to be released under the Financial Agreement whet it is ratified. In addition, the Polish Government expect to have available about £1½ million from the realisation of various assets in the United Kingdom which will be released when the Anglo-Polish Property Agreement, at present under discussion, is concluded.

4. As the United Kingdom contribution, the Polish Government will be allowed to use £1.5 million of a former gift of surplus stores for the purchase of raw wool, included in the Polish import programme for raw materials. Further, Export Credits Guarantee Department are prepared to give guarantees to British manufacturers for contracts for machinery and other capital goods on terms providing for payment of 60 per cent. of the order by the time of shipment, leaving 40 per cent. on which credit would be extended for a reasonable period. These terms will facilitate the placing. of orders up to a value of £15 million for machinery and other capital goods.

5. The above understandings are at present provisional only. Polish experts will shortly visit the United Kingdom to investigate the possibilities of purchasing United Kingdom goods and to conclude contracts for the sale of Polish goods. (An egg contract has already been made). A further meeting of the two official delegations will take place when these investigations have been completed (in about a month's time) in order to confirm the provisional understandings already reached.

Dollar-Earning Industries (Fuel Allocation)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in determining the recent fuel allocations to industry, priority was granted to those industries with dollar earning capacity.

I assume my hon. Friend is referring to the scheme announced last week. Dollar earning industries will receive the same treatment as last summer.

Perambulator Industry (Materials)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the increasing demand for perambulators, he can give an assurance of the early restoration of the cuts in steel supplies, plywood, cotton and other materials required for their manufacture.

No, Sir; the only assurance that I can give is that in the allocation of materials the perambulator industry will continue to receive favourable treatment.

Export Trades (Employees)


asked the President of the Board of Trade how many persons were employed in the export industry in April, 1946, and April, 1947, respectively; and what was the gross export tonnage in each of these months.

The latest figures for the number of persons employed on orders for export in the manufacturing industries relate to January, when the number so employed was estimated to be 1,477,000 compared with 975,000 a year earlier. It is not possible to state the gross tonnage of our exports in April, 1946, and 1947, since a number of the items are recorded by value only. The volume of exports of United Kingdom goods, which is calculated by revaluing all exports at average values of the year 1938, is estimated at 101 per cent. of that year in the first quarter of this year, compared with 84 per cent. in the first quarter of last year.

Boat Building (Timber Supplies)


asked the President of the Board of Trade what percentage of the timber used for all purposes was used by the boat building industry in the years 1935–39 inclusive, what percentage is allocated to this industry at the present time; if he is aware that there is a risk of considerable unemployment in this industry in the near future owing to the inadequate supply of timber and that, if such unemployment is prolonged, many skilled workers will be lost to the industry for ever; and if he will take steps to increase the supply of those kinds of timber which are more suitable for boatbuilding than for other purposes and devise, in consultation with the Admiralty, a scheme of priority in the allocation of timber for the building and repair of food barges, fishing smacks, boats needed by the Admiralty and other craft.

I regret that the detailed figures asked for the first two parts of the Question are not available. I am aware that, as a result of the limited quantities of timber available, there is some danger of unemployment and loss of skilled workmen in the boat buiding industry. All practicable steps are, however, already being taken to increase timber supplies. A scheme of allocation of the amount of timber available to them has already been devised by the Admiralty for the construction and repair of small craft but it is not possible to grant licences for the construction, except for export, of boats to be used for purposes of pleasure.

Used Lubricating Oil (Re-Refining)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what extent the saving or salvaging of used lubricating oil is being carried out in Britain; and what publicity is being given to this re-refining of used lubricating oil.

No information is available as to the quantity of used lubricating oil that is re-refined in this country but, considerable publicity has been given to the need for re-refining, and if my hon. Friend knows of any firm which desires to dispose of appreciable quantities of such oil, I shall be glad to furnish him with a list of firms undertaking re-refining.

Coal Industry

Domestic Supplies


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if, in view of his decision not to increase the present fuel allocation to householders in Norfolk, he is taking steps to guarantee the full allocation during the coming winter.

As I have repeatedly announced, the maximum quantities of coal allowed under the restrictions are not "rations" to which consumers are entitled but are maximum quantities to be delivered if supplies are available from the collieries. I shall continue to do everything I can to maintain domestic supplies at the highest possible level during the coming year but I cannot guarantee the quantities which merchants will be able to deliver in any area.

Opencast Coal (Selling Price)


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why the loss on opencast coal per ton produced in 1944–45 was 16s. 9d. and in 1945–46 17s. 8d.; and how it is proposed to cut the loss to 7s. 6d. per ton over the three years 1947, 1948 and 1949.

In answer to the first part of the Question I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for the Spen Valley (Mr. Sharp) on 17th April, 1947 In regard to the second part of the Question, opencast working was at the outset regarded as having a short life and costs included heavy allowances for amortisation of plant and other capital expenditure. But now that a more extended period is contemplated provision for amortisation can be substantially reduced with a consequent reduction in these costs

Employees, Ayrshire


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the number of persons employed in the Ayrshire coalfields in April, 1947, 1946 and 1938, respectively.

The average number of wage-earners on colliery books in Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire in April, 1938, was 12,200; in April, 1946, it was 12,700; and in April, 1947, 12,900.



asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware of the difficulties experienced by the Blackpool laundry of the North-East Lancashire Co-operative Laundries Association, Limited, on account of the fact that its reduced coal quota has not been received in spite of repeated applications to the North-West Area Emergency Committee; that the laundry may have to close down for a limited period unless supplies are received; and whether, in the public interest, he will take steps to secure that coal quotas in an industry of this nature are honoured.

During February, deliveries were unavoidably affected- by weather and transport conditions. In the last two months, however, though deliveries have varied to some extent, week by week, the total amount allocated to this laundry has been delivered.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what approximate tonnages of coal will be allocated from May to September to the railways, electric power stations, shipping, other industrial consumers and the domestic consumer, respectively.

I would refer the noble Lord to the statements made by my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade on 10th March, as regards allocations generally and on 1st May, as regard the revised basis for industrial allocations, to which there is nothing I can add at present.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of the severity of the normal winter in the coastal regions of East Suffolk, he is making adequate arrangements to ensure that the winter allocation of fuel will be met in full.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave today to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Squadron-Leader Kinghorn).

Boiler Fuel, Orpington


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will increase the allocation of boiler fuels in the Orpington area.

There is a general shortage of boiler fuel but I am advised that the position in Orpington is no worse than elsewhere in the region. I regret that I can give no guarantee of any immediate increase in supplies.

Coal And Rent Allowance


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that the National Coal Board have terminated the coal and rent allowance, paid by the Sheepbridge Coal and Iron Company, to Mr. H. B. Crofts, a former employee who was seriously wounded at Arnhem; and if he will take steps to see that compassionate allowances in such cases are continued.

No, Sir. I am not aware of this. I have asked the National Coal Board to look into the matter and no doubt they will communicate with the hon Member.

Bunker Fuel Oil


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that following his request of 8th April, 1946, certain fishing-trawler owners have converted, and others are considering converting, their vessels from coal to oil; that such conversions have led to better conditions of labour for deep-sea fishermen, but certain ports do not have main ocean installations and, in consequence, the cost of oil fuel is greatly increased; if he is aware that the Ministry of Supply have surplus storage tanks that could be used; and if he will consider making uniform at all recognised fishing ports the price of fuel oil.

The answer to the first two parts of the Question is, "Yes, Sir." The question of the selling price of bunker fuel oil at fishing ports other than those with main oil installations is now under consideration and the provision of additional storage facilities and the desirability of introducing a uniform price for all fishing ports are among the matters that are being examined.

Heating Ban


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the considerations leading to the raising of the ban on the use of electricity and gas for space heating in certain counties in England and in the whole of Scotland.

The decision to raise the ban on heating in Scotland and certain counties of the North of England was based on advice received from the Meteorological Office.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will exempt works nurseries from the ban on heating which is to operate from 5th May.

Provision has already been announced to meet the case of children under three years of age in residential premises, and this will be extended also to non-residential premises.

Motor Spirit Imports

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power (1) for what reason is motor spirit being imported from the U.S.A. in much larger quantities than in 1938; and if he will take steps to reduce the amount, at least to the 1938 rate, in order to decrease dollar expenditure;(2) what reason has the monthly rate of motor spirit imports from Iran been reduced from about 47,000,000 gallons to nothing; and if he will take steps to secure that imports of motor spirit from Iran are increased to their former rate.

The motor spirit requirements of the sterling area have to be considered as a whole and as the British controlled production of motor spirit is considerably short of the sterling areas requirements we have got to provide dollars for the purchase of considerable quantities from American sources. It makes no difference, therefore, whether this short fall is met by bringing sterling oil to the U.K. and by sending the American oil to other parts of the sterling area or vice versa. The objective must be to see that -oil is physically transported as short a distance as possible since this minimises the need for tankers, which again represent marginally a dollar expenditure. Sales by British companies to American companies in the East coupled with purchases by British companies from American companies in the West can also contribute to the overall economy in tankers and, therefore, dollars. It will be appreciated that the pattern of oil movements is accordingly always changing. As a result of these various factors for the first three months of 1947 no motor spirit was imported by the U.K. from Iran and imports of motor spirit from the U.S.A. were higher than for the corresponding period of 1938. On balance our dollar account has benefited by this arrangement of supplies.


Private Hire Cars (Charges)


asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that private hire companies are asking £20 a week for the hire of eight horse-power motor cars, exclusive of petrol and oil; and whether he intends to take powers to deal with this situation.

My right hon. Friend has no information as to the general trend of charges for private hire cars. He has no present intention of seeking powers to control them.

Maintenance Grants

asked the Minister of Transport the formula applied in determining the amount of estimated expenditure ranking for grant for 1947–48 by each highway authority upon maintenance of classified roads.

Grants from the Road Fund for the maintenance of classified roads in 1947–48 have not been made in accordance with any rigid formula. Account was taken of the estimates of expenditure by the respective county councils, of local conditions, including the damage done to the roads by frosts, snow and floods, and of the special needs of the development areas.

Pedestrian-Controlled Motors

asked the Minister of Transport if he will consider exempting pedestrian-controlled electric vehicles from the requirement that a driving test must be passed by drivers of such vehicles, in view of the fact that the maximum speed is only 4 m.p.h., and having regard to the brief period of tuition which is necessary.

Food Supplies

Statutory Orders (Consolidation)


asked the Minister of Food why S.R. & O., 1947, No. 755, being the ninth Order amending the Preserves Order, 1944, has not consolidated this series of Orders.

A consolidating Order which will take into account tie new season's fruit prices is already under consideration but the present amendment, made necessary by the recent increase in the price of manufacturing sugar, could not await the completion of the consolidating Order without causing loss to the traders concerned.


asked the Minister of Food why S.R. & O., 1947, No. 756, being the tenth Order amending the Food (Points Rationing) Order, 1946, has not consolidated this series of Orders.

The ninth amendment made on 27th March last gave a complete new schedule of points rationed foods and thus was, in effect, a consolidation of tie previous amendments. A consolidating Order for the new rationing year will, in accordance with the usual practice, be made in July.

Animal Feedingstuffs


asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the misunderstanding which exists as to the ability or otherwise of this country to obtain a greater share of the world production of animal feeding-stuffs, he will appoint an independent committee, comprising representatives of the farming community in this country, to investigate and report on the present position.

No, Sir. I am satisfied this country is already obtaining as large a share as possible of the various types of animal feedingstuffs entering into international trade.

Wholesaler's Licence, Brentford

asked the Minister of Food whether his inquiries are now completed in the case of Mr. E. A. Hewett, 62, Ealing Road, Brentford; when he will grant him a wholesale food and vegetable licence; and when he will reply to the letter of the honourable Member for Brentford and Chiswick of 2nd April, reference 0995/5.E. on this subject.

A secondary wholesaler's licence has now been granted to Mr. Hewett and the licence was actually issued a few days ago.

Soap Ration

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that it is impossible to obtain toilet soap suitable for young babies in the Hadleigh district of Essex; and if he will ensure that supplies are sent to this area.

The production of soap was retarded by the fuel shortage and, unfortunately, a certain amount of inconvenience has resulted from consequent delays in delivery to retailers. In the circumstances it may not be possible to find a particular brand of soap in stock at a particular shop, but I am assured that there are reasonable supplies of soap, including toilet soaps suitable for babies, available in the Hadleigh area.

African Colonies

Disc Hoes, Gold Coast


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the economic crisis impending in the Northern territories of the Gold Coast owing to the shortage of disc hoes, without which farming is impossible; and whether he is arranging for sheet steel to be supplied to manufacturers of these hoes.

I have received no such report from the Governor of the Gold Coast, but I am making an inquiry into the matter.

Fibre Growing, Uganda

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the world shortage of jute, any action has been taken to relieve the shortage by growing in Uganda jute or a kindred fibre such as Hibiscus cannabinus.

The possibility of introducing jute in Uganda has received, and is continuing to receive, the attention of the Uganda Government. I am informed that Hibiscus cannabinus is already used in Uganda as a source of fibre. The question of developing alternative fibres to jute in the Empire is at present being comprehensively examined and I propose to await the results of that investigation before considering whether production of Hibiscus cannabinus or other fibres should be encouraged to meet export demands.

Jamaica (Tobacco Industry)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the desirability of economising in dollar purchases of tobacco, encouragement will be given to the tobacco growing and cigar manufacturing industry in Jamaica.

The tobacco growing and cigar manufacturing industry in Jamaica has been, and is being substantially assisted by the ban on the import of Cuban cigars necessitated by exchange considerations, and imports of Jamaica tobacco in the form of cigars into this country rose from 30,000 pounds in 1939 to approximately 400,000 pounds in 1946. I am in consultation with my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade as to any further steps which may be necessary to encourage the industry.

Wife Maintenance

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the number of men committed to prison by the High Court and the number committed by magistrates in each year since 1914 for failing to pay alimony or maintenance to their wives.

Divorce And Judicial Separation

asked the Attorney-General the number of divorce petitions filed for each year since 1914; and the number of judicial separation orders made by the High Court in each year since 1914.

The information for which my hon. Friend asks is contained in the following table:

Divorce Petitions Filed.Decrees for Judicial Separation.
41708 194639
(1) The figures given relate to petitions for divorce only; they do not include petitions for nullity of marriage.
(2) The figures for these years are of the cases actually set down for trial.

Air Service, Uk—Singapore

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether he is aware that B.O.A.C. now have only one service a week from Singapore to the United Kingdom, with seats for four passengers; and whether Lancastrians, Sunderlands or other converted war aircraft will be immediately made available so that passengers may not, as now, be compelled to book four months in advance.

The answer to the first part of the Question is, Yes, Sir The question whether the allotment of seats on the British Overseas Airways Corporation flying boat service from Singapore to the United Kingdom can be increased, is, however, under consultation between the London and Singapore Priority Boards. In addition to the British Overseas Airways Corporation service, Royal Air Force Transport Command operates a passenger service five times a week from Singapore to the United Kingdom, which although primarily for service passengers, is also available for priority civilian passengers when they cannot be accommodated on the British Overseas Airways Corporation service. With regard to the second part of the Question, it is not intended to supplement this service by the use of converted war aircraft at present.

War Service Grants

asked the Minister of Defence whether he is aware that a former Regular soldier, whose particulars have been communicated to him, rejoined the Army on a voluntary short-service engagement without being given any warning that on such engagements no War Service Grants are payable; that this man's sick wife and children have, in consequence, not enough to live on; and whether, in view of the shortage of men in the Forces, he will take steps to amend the regulations to permit of grants being made in proper cases.

Men who enlist on normal Regular engagements are not entitled to war service grants, as was mace clear in paragraph 29 of the White Paper on the Post-War Pay Code (Cmd. 6715). The man in question was informed of e conditions on which he could rejoin e Forces The emoluments under the new code must be considered as a whole and it is not proposed to alter the regulations in the manner suggested.

Ministry Of Works

Brick Production

asked the Minister of Works what action he has taken, or is taking, to implement the recommendations of the First Report of the Technical Committee of the National Brick Advisory Council; how long it will take to implement the recommendations to a substantial degree; and to what extent he plans to exceed the 1946 brick production figures by 1948.

The technical staff of my Ministry, in conjunction with the staff of the Building Research Station and the British Refractories Research Association, are assisting brickmakers to implement the Committee's recommendations and I am doing my best to accelerate the provision of mechanical plant. The answer to the second part of the Question depends upon a number of factors including the availability of plant and the efforts of the brickmakers themselves, and I am unable to make any definite statement. Subject to the supply of fuel and the recruitment of adequate labour I hope that we shall reach this summer an average monthly production at least equal to that of October, 1946, when the highest postwar rate of output was reached.

Government Offices (Floor Space)

asked the Minister of Works the floor space area occupied by the Ministry of Health; and what number of staff are accommodated.

The floor space occupied by Ministry of Health headquarters staff in London on 1st May, 1947, was approxi- mately 200,000 square feet, accommodating a staff of 2,318.

asked the Minister of Works what is the floor space area occupied by the Admiralty; and what number of staff are accommodated.

The floor space occupied by Admiralty Headquarters staff in London on the 1st March, 1947, was 642,370 sq. ft. The staff in occupation numbered 7,291 exclusive of 602 who were working in 30,600 sq. ft. of protected accommodation below ground.

Agricultural Output

asked the Minister of Agriculture on what date he anticipates it will be possible to give an estimate of the present value of agricultural output in this country per head of the agricultural labour force and to provide at the same time an adequate comparison between the value of such output and the value of the other principal industries of the country.

I regret that I am not able to give a date. There are many difficult statistical problems involved, which may or may not yield to further research and in any case will take considerable time with the limited staff available.