Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 437: debated on Monday 12 May 1947

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answers To Questions

Monday 12th may 1947

Troops, Bombay (Drink Restrictions)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for India what restrictions are imposed on the sale of alcoholic liquor to troops stationed in the Province of Bombay.

I have asked the Government of India for a report, and will communicate further with the hon. Member on its receipt.

Burma Teak Exports


asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma what quantity of teak was exported from Burma in 1938 and 1946, respectively; and, in the case of 1946 exports, to which countries the teak was sent.

During the financial year ending 31st March, 1939, exports of teak from Burma amounted to 203,596 tons. Exports which have only recently started again since the war amounted to 4,824 tons up to the end of December, 1946. Over half the recent exports went to the United Kingdom and most of the remainder to India.

Italian Liner "Rex"


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government was party to the agreement by which the Italian liner "Rex" was transferred to Yugoslavia.

There has been no agreement on this subject, which is a matter for decision by the Allies jointly.


Non-Monetary Gold


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the value of the goods which can be classified as non-monetary gold, found in the British zones of Germany and Austria; and how much has already been transferred to the Inter-Governmental Committee for Refugees in accordance with the final act of the Paris Conference on Reparations.

The relevant section of the Final Act of the Paris Conference on Reparations refers only to Germany and not to Austria. The value of the non-monetary gold found in Germany has not yet been assessed and no payments have been made to the inter-governmental Committee on Refugees.

Refugees (Resettlement Fund)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what funds have already been made available to the Inter-Governmental Committee for Refugees on account of the 25.000,000 dollars from German reparations as provided in Article 8 of the Final Act of the Paris Conference on Reparations.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what contributions have already been received from the Governments of Switzerland and Sweden towards the 25.000,000 dollars provided by the Paris Conference on Reparations for the rehabilitation and settlement of unrepatriable victims of Nazi persecution; and what steps he proposes to take to expedite payment, in view of the urgent need to help these people.

None, Sir. The provision of the equivalent of 25 million dollars made by the 18 countries parties to the Paris Conference on Reparations is charged upon their receipts from German assets which they have claimed or are claiming from countries which were neutral. In furtherance of this plan, 50 million kroner will be contributed by Sweden and it is hoped that the balance will be fully available from receipts from other neutral countries. The total sum is to be applied to rehabilitation and resettlement. These problems, involving consultation with many governments, are being studied. The necessary funds, it is hoped, will be available when the projects come to be applied. No contribution has been made by the Government of Switzerland.

Braille Correspondence


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement as to the transmission of Braille literature and Braille letters for the blind between Britain and Germany.

Quadripartite agreement has now been secured so that from 15th May Braille may be included in the international mail services to and from Germany. The maximum weight for Braille correspondence will be 1 lb. and for Braille books and other literature 11 lbs.

Purchasing Power

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he contemplates taking to restore faith in the present currency in the British zone of Germany and to check the widespread black market resulting from doubt as to the ultimate value of money now in circulation.

This subject, which affects the whole of Germany, is still under discussion by the four occupying powers. Meanwhile increased taxation and reduced public expenditure has enabled us to reduce the note circulation. In the combined British and American zones the steps being taken to increase German production for home consumption as well as for export, should go some way to relate more closely the quantity of goods in the home market with the purchasing power available to the Germans.

Spain (Prisoner's Treatment)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he has yet received a report from the Chargé d'Affaires at Madrid on the ill-treatment of one of the nine young Spaniards now under arrest; and if he will state for how long these Spaniards have been held in prison without trial.

I presume my hon. Friend is referring to the case of Isabel Torralba Larrinzar who is alleged to have gone mad under torture. His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires in Madrid has been assured by the Spanish authorities that this woman, who is detained in an ordinary women's prison in Madrid, has not been ill-treated and is not insane. I am hoping, however, that a member of His Majesty's Government's staff in Madrid will soon be permitted to visit this prisoner. It is understood that the prisoners were arrested early in December, 1946.

Food Supplies

Oysters (Imports)


asked the Minister of Food what quantities of oysters have been imported since the beginning of 1947, from which countries and to what value.

From 1st January to 30th April, 947,000 oysters, valued at £15,165, were imported from Holland; and 182,000 oysters, valued at £3,754, from France. From 1st January to 31st March, 11 tens of canned oysters, valued at £6,900, were imported from the United States

Allocations, South Wales


asked the Minister of Food what increases in the allocation of sugar, fats and meat have recently been made to each of the areas in South Wales; whether this increase is now sufficient to raise them to the normal standard that has been in operation all over the rest of the country; and what are the approximate total amounts per week that such increases involve.

As the list of areas is rather long, I will with permission send it to the hon. Member. The increases do bring South Wales up to the standard of the country as a whole. They amount to about eight tons of sugar for making cakes, 14 tons of fat for cakes and for fish frying weekly, and two tons a week of manufacturing meat.

Rice Prices (Malaya)


asked the Minister of Food the controlled price of rice in Kuala Lumpur and in Singapore, respectively; and the black-market price of rice on the Malaya-Siam border and in Singapore, respectively.

The controlled retail price of rice in Singapore and the Malayan Union is 5¼d. per pound. The black market price of rice in Singapore is said to be Is. 4d. per pound and on the Kedah- Siam and Kelantan-Siam borders 6¼d. a pound and 8¾d a pound respectively.

Ice-Cream Ingredients (Allocations)


asked the Minister of Food on what grounds he turned down the application from the National War Disabled Association at Blackpool for an allocation of rationed ingredients for the making of ice-cream, in view of the fact that such applications from individuals are often received favourably; and whether he will reconsider this application in view of the employment offered to war-disabled men both in manufacture and sales.

This, and similar applications? have been refused because we already make allocations direct to suitable disabled ex-Servicemen. These ingredients are in extremely short supply and the Ministry must retain control of individual allocations.

Flour Consumption


asked the Minister of Food how the consumption of flour by the civilian population in the first quarter of 1947 compares with civilian consumption in the first quarter of 1946, allowing for changes in the numbers of the civilian population.

Complete information is not yet available, but it is estimated provisionally that civilian consumption of flour for all purposes averaged 4.25 lb. per head per week in the first quarter of 1947 compared with 4.42 lb. per head per week in the first quarter of 1946.


asked the Minister of Food the latest estimate of the amount of flour saved since the introduction of bread-rationing coupons; whether this saving of flour is sufficient to render unnecessary the 5 per cent. cut in flour supplies to bakers; and when this cut is likely to be restored.

Over the period of bread rationing, from 21st July, 1946, to 26th April, 1947, deliveries of flour to all users have averaged 9,200 tons a week less than during the corresponding period of 19451946. As already announced the 5 per cent. reduction in flour deliveries to bakers has been imposed for six weeks only.

Canned Fish And Chewing Gum (Dollar Purchases)


asked the Minister of Food the total dollar expenditure authorised this year to date for the purchase of tinned silver hake, oysters, anchovies, dressed crab, prawns and chewing gum base.

These kinds of canned fish have been coming in under open general licence; about £37,000 was spent on dollar imports up to 31st March. £90,000 has been authorised for chewing gum base so far this year.

United States Asparagus


asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that United States asparagus has been on sale in the shops during the past fortnight when abundant supplies will shortly be available from France and this country; and if he will take the necessary steps to prevent the import of such unnecessary luxuries which are using up our rapidly diminishing United States Loan.

I am aware of this, but the quantity imported from the United States is extremely small—it amounts to under £200 worth up to 19th April which is the latest date I have. As the home supplies and those from the Continent increase I doubt whether it will pay to bring any asparagus across the Atlantic. Where import restrictions are concerned, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer told the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Baker White) on 6th May, we must respect Article 9 of the Anglo-American loan agreement.

Visitors' Ration Books


asked the Minister of Food why temporary visitors to this country are not supplied with their ration cards at their port of disembarkation, as is done in most continental countries.

Consumption Statistics


asked the Minister of Food the value in calories of the food energy per capita per day of all nutrients available for civilian consumption in the United Kingdom during 1946, and itemise the per capita supplies of the following foodstuffs moving into civilian consumption in 1946 as compared with the average per capita supplies for 1934–38; milk, milk products, excluding cheese and butter, poultry and game, eggs, shell, dried and liquid, in fresh egg equivalent weight, flour and grain products, all vegetables, tea, cocoa and coffee, fats and oils, excluding butter, tomatoes and fruits of all sorts including nuts and pulses, sugar and potatoes.

The answer is contained in the statistics given below. They show that the number of calories available to civilian consumers per head per day in 1946 was 2,890, not, as has been erroneously stated, 2,100. The consumption of some individual foods in 1946 expressed as a percentage of their prewar consumption was as follows: Liquid milk, 144; eggs, shell, dried and liquid, 87; flour and grain products, 115; all vegetables, 110: tea, 96; oils and fats excluding butter, 105; butter, 44; bacon, 55; all other meats, 93; fish, 120; sugar, 72; potatoes, 161.

TABLE 1—Estimated average supplies moving into civilian consumption in the United Kingdom in 1946
Nutrients per head per day
Protein—animal44·1 gm
—vegetable46·0 gm
—total90·1 gm
Fat112·0 gm
Carbohydrate381·1 gm
Calcium1,043 mgm.
Iron17·2 mgm.
Vitamin A3,738 I.U.
Ascorbic acid107.5 mgm.
Thiamin1·88 mgm.
Riboflavin2·00 mgm.
Niacin17·3 mgm.
TABLE.—Estimated average supplies of certain foods moving into civilian consumption in the United Kingdom in 1946 compared with the corresponding averages for 1934–1938.
Lb. per head per year.1946 as percentage of 1934–1938
Milk, liquid216·9313·1144
Milk, condensed (product weight)12·36·754
Milk, dried (product weight)1 62·2138
Total milk liquid, condensed and dried (as milk solids)32·042·9134
Poultry and game (including rabbits) (edible weight)6·13·354
Eggs, shell, dried and liquid (fresh egg equivalent)24·521·287
Flour and Grain Products209?8240·8115
All vegetables107·4118·6110
Cocoa (raw beans)4·75·6119
All other meats93
Coffee (raw beans).0·71·5214
Oils and fats excluding butter (fat content)24·625·8105
Tomatoes and all fruits (fresh equivalent)141·5102·172
Pulses and nuts (product weight)9·66·971
Sugar including sugar in all home-produced manufactured foods.103·9 74·672

The nutrient intake for 1946, compared with prewar, shows about 4 per cent. less calories;12½ per cent more total protein, but 3 per cent. less animal protein; 14 per cent. less fat; and about the same carbohydrate. This not very dissimilar quantity of food was in 1946 far more equitably distributed amongst the population than it used to be before the war. But this does not mean that the position is satisfactory The quantity and quality of food wh ch could be bought by large sections of our people before the war were far too low. We shall need to raise them substantially and as soon as possible in order to achieve a really satisfactory national diet.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will issue a table showing the present increase or decrease of the weekly average consumption of each of the principal items of foods compared with the figures for 1914–20 and 1938.

, pursuant to her reply [OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th May, 1947, Vol. 437, c. 2], supplied the following information:

Wheat and diluents as flour4·284·234·80
Tapioca, etc0·080·070·07
Maize meal0·050·040·07
Beef and veal including unenumerated1·181·190·89
Mutton and ham0·560·500·28
Bacon and ham0·340·340·46
Meat offals0·060·050·03
Poultry, Eggs, etc
Poultry and game0·050·040·04
Other fish (fresh)0·600·530·25
Shell fish0·010·010·01
Canned and Salted fish0·030·060·07
Dairy Produce and Fats
Milk (fresh)4·284·323·15
Condensed milk (unsweetened)0·010·010·04
Condensed milk (sweetened)0·070·070·12
Lard including imitation lard0·110·110·15
Sugar, Tea, etc
It should be noted that the exact basis of these figures is unknown. For this reason and also because of changes in food habits between then and 1938 no comparisons could logically be made between these figures and those for 1938.

Figures for the years 1919 and 1920 and averages for 1914–20 are not available. In any event the averages for 1914–20 would be misleading as the food shortage in the 1914–18 war did not become acute until 1917. The following are averages for certain commodities for the years 1909–13 and corresponding figures for the years 1914 and 1918.

For the position before the second world war the year 1938 is not regarded as representative; a much better base is the average for 1934–38. Quoted below are the averages for certain foods in this period compared with the corresponding figures for the year 1946–47.


1934–1938 AND 1946–1947.

1934–1938 average.Year to June, 1947.Increase or decrease in June as per cent. of 1938–1938 average.
Flour3·744·21+ 12
Oatmeal0·100·16+ 58
Carcase meat and offal (carcase weight)1·911·55- 19
Total meat including canned (carcase weight) 2·012·04+ 2
Bacon and ham0·520·25- 52
Fish fresh, frozen and cured0·420·54+ 28
Shell eggs0·420·23- 44
Total eggs (fresh egg equivalent)0·470·40- 15
Liquid milk4·176·02+ 44
Total milk liquid condensed and dried (as milk solids)0·630·84+ 34
Cheese0·170·18+ 4
Butter0·480·21- 56
Margarine0·170·29+ 71
Lard and compound lard0·180·14- 23
Total fats (fat content)0·870·64- 26
Potatoes3·385·54+ 64
Sugar including sugar in all home produced Manufactured food2·001·54- 23
Tea0·180·17- 4
Coffee0·010·03+ 122
Cocoa0·090·11+ 22

Farm Canteens


asked the Minister of Food how many farmers have set up canteens; and if he will make a statement on this matter, in view of the approaching long week.

A farm canteen may be licensed and may obtain foods in the same way as any other canteen; short of asking each food office, we could not find out how many there are. But the number is no doubt small. When canteens are not provided certain allowances are available instead, for tittles of special activity. In addition agricultural workers get, of course, six times the normal cheese ration and six extra B.Us.

Greyhound Racing Restrictions


asked the Prime Minister whether he has considered the points raised in the letter sent to him on 10th March last, by the West of England Greyhound Owners' Association, alleging discrimination between greyhound racing and other sports and recreations; and what reply he sent.

Full consideration was given to this and other similar representations, and in consequence the order. of the Minister of Fuel and Power prohibiting the use of fuel on dog racecourses, to which this letter refers, was modified on 12th March so as to allow the use of fuel on greyhound tracks on Saturdays and Bank Holidays. The position was fully explained in a statement made by the Home Secretary on 13th March, which received wide publicity, and it was not thought necessary to answer the individual letters.


Fowl Pest


asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will make fowl pest a notifiable disease under the Diseases of Animals Acts.

Fowl pest is a notifiable disease under the Diseases of Animals Acts. The requirements about notification are being revised so that, in future poultry owners who suspect the existence of the disease amongst their birds will give notice to the police instead of to my Department's veterinary laboratory at Weybridge.

Livestock Slaughtering (Workers)


asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of agricultural workers who keep cattle and sheep, respectively; the number who kill one calf every three months and two pigs a year; and how many coupons have to be given up for this.

I regret that I have no information about either the numbers of agricultural workers keeping cattle and sheep or the numbers of cows and pigs slaughtered by agricultural workers. An agricultural worker who is granted a licence to slaughter a calf or pig must surrender coupons in accordance with the arrangements applicable to self-suppliers generally That means that no coupons would be surrendered if a calf is slaughtered; for a pig 52 coupons must be surrendered if the whole carcass is kept. but none if half the carcass is sold to the Ministry of Food.

Soap (Schools)


asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the shortage of soap in schools; and whether he will authorise an increased allocation.

I am not aware that soap is in shorter supply in schools than elsewhere. If my hon. Friend will let me have details of any case he may have in mind, I will gladly investigate it.

Railway Coal Wagons

69 and 70.

asked the Minister of Transport (1) what are the types of the 50,000 16-ton steel railway wagons which have recently been ordered by his Depatment;(2) whether, in all future orders of railway wagons for the transportation of coal, he will abandon the old-fashioned hand-unloading flat-bottomed wagons and replace them with bottom discharge self-trimming hopper-shaped wagons as used in the U.S.A. so as to minimise labour costs and speed delivery.

The 50,000 wagons ordered by my Department are of the open mineral type, rectangular and flat-bottomed, with one end, two side, and two bottom doors. The specification admits of welded or of riveted construction, or a combination of both, to suit the capacity of individual manufacturers. It is not practicable to provide for all coal-carrying wagons to be of the hopper type. Much coal in this country is unloaded in station yards by private merchants direct to road vehicles, and so long as this continues it will be necessary to retain the present standard type of wagon.


Unused Cargo Space (Strikes)


asked the Minister of Transport how much cargo space has left Britain unused because of strikes in 1947, and what is the loss thereby incurred by the nation.

As in the normal course many ships sail from the United Kingdom without cargo I am unable to estimate the loss caused by strikes on this account.

Merchant Seamen's Mail


asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of complaints by merchant seamen that their mail is not forwarded to them in foreign ports but is retained until their ships reach this country; and if he will institute conversations with the owners to see if better means can be devised.

Letters for merchant seamen in ships overseas should, since the 1st April, 1947, be addressed care of the agents at an overseas port, unless owners arrange otherwise, but I am assured that mail for ships overseas, addressed care-of-owners, is not retained if there is a reasonable chance of getting it to the ship. There have been some difficulties due to the change over from the war to the peacetime procedure, and if my hon. Friend will furnish details of any specific complaint, I will have inquiries made into it.

London Pilots (By-Laws)

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that Defence Regulations are still made applicable to London river pilots although they have been lifted from the pilots operating in all other parts of the country; what is the reason; and whether he is now in a position to make this relaxation general.

An Order was made in September, 1939, by the Admiralty under Defence Regulation 43, applicable to Trinity House Pilotage Districts. Proposals to amend the prewar by-laws, including proposals made by the Compulsory River Thames Pilots Committee, are under consideration by Trinity House and pending the completion of the negotiations the current arrangements are being maintained in effect under the Defence Regulation.

Dominion Passages (Doctors)


asked the Minister of Transport how many registered medical practitioners have applied for or obtained passages from this country to the Dominions during the years 1938–39 and 1945–46 respectively.

I am unable to supply this information as the records of persons proceeding from this country to the Dominions do not distinguish between the different professions.

By-Pass Roads, Wharfedale


asked the Minister of Transport if he has yet decided the exact route of the trunk road through Wharfedale; if he will state the course the road will take from Harewood to Addingham; where it differs from the road described in the Trunk Roads Act, 1938; and how many, and which, playing fields between the two villages will be disturbed.

The road from Addingham to Otley is part of the Liverpool—Preston—Leeds trunk road. The road from Otley to Harewood is not a trunk road and there is no proposal to make it one. Orders were made under the Trunk Roads Act, 1936, for improving the trunk road by means of four by-passes, one at Otley, one at Burley-in-Wharfedale, one at Ilkley and one at Addingham. There is no intention of departing from the lines of route laid down under those Orders.Careful consideration was given to the effect of these proposals on amenities and property in the area before the Orders were made but it was found impossible to select a satisfactory line for these bypasses which would avoid interference with a number of playing fields.

The following grounds will be affected:

Otley By-pass: Otley Tennis Club, Sports Grounds for Messrs. Dowson, Payne and Elliott, Limited, and Messrs. William Ackroyd and Co. Limited.

Burley-in-Wharfedale By-pass: Recreation Ground.

Ilkley By-pass: Ilkley Rugby Union Football Club, Olicanian Cricket Club, Ilkley Lawn Tennis Club, Ben Rhydding Sports Club, Ilkley Cricket Club, Ilkley British Legion Club, and Ilkley Bathing Pool.

Addingham By-pass: Addingham Village Football Club.

Of these grounds it is hoped that the interference with the four Ilkley clubs and bathing pool will be of a minor nature only

Ministry Of Supply

Surplus Military Aircraft (Foreign Sales)


asked the Minister of Supply on what date the sale of 500 fighter aeroplanes to Turkey was authorised; what other markets were available to us; and to which of them other surplus aircraft have been sold.

Authority for the sale of 400 aircraft of all types, including training aircraft, was given last July. There was then no other applicant for the aircraft sold to Turkey, but sales of surplus military aircraft have also been made to the following countries: Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Eire, France, Greece, Holland, Norway, Persia, Portugal and Sweden.

Atomic Bomb (British Contribution)


asked the Minister of Supply why the documents dealing with the development of atomic energy and bombs placed in the Kensington Science Museum by his Department, are only to be seen by a limited number of selected people; and if he will have suitable extracts published in pamphlet form showing the great contribution made in the development of atomic energy by British scientists, engineers and others, and giving the history and names of the men responsible for the years of work in this development.

These documents are available in the Science Museum Library for serious readers in accordance with the usual Museum rules. They are highly technical and do not command a wide general interest. Copies are available for loan to responsible scientific workers. With regard to the last part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the Government publication of August, 1945, "Statements relating to the Atomic Bomb," which sets out the history of this development, together with the names of those principally responsible.

Hostel, Featherstone


asked the Minister of Supply why notices to quit have been issued to residents of his Department's hostel at Brinsford Lodge, Featherstone, Staffordshire; whether he will take action to provide alternative accommodation, especially in the case of married couples; and to what Department he expects to hand over the hostel.

This hostel was originally used to house employees of a Ministry of Supply agency factory at Featherstone and the running of the hostel by the Ministry is no longer justified by the needs of its employees. Of the small number for which the Ministry of Supply is responsible, accommodation is being retained for 10 married couples and the remainder of the hostel, when empty, will be handed over to the Ministry of Works for re-allocation according to claims of priority. Government Departments concerned are taking all possible steps to assist the other residents to find alternative accommodation.

Electrical Power Plant (Exports)


asked the Minister of Supply the total capacity in kilowatts of electrical generating plant presently being manufactured in this country for export; and whether it is the intention of the Government that the manufacture of this plant should not be proceeded with until such time as the United Kingdom's requirements have been met.

On 1st March—the latest date for which figures are available—1,609,000 kW of steam plant of 10,000 kW and over, and 917,000 h.p. (approx. 650,000 kW) of hydro plant were being constructed for export. It would not be practicable to divert this equipment for home use. Arrangements have, however, been made to ensure that future export orders do not interfere with home requirements.

Atomic Research


asked the Minister of Supply if he will consider giving a report on the progress of the scientific research being carried out on atomic power; how many are engaged in the research; and what is the cost up to date.

I do not think that it would be in the public interest to give the information for which my hon. Friend asks.

Timber (Motor Vehicle Bodies)


asked the Minister of Supply if he will release timber for the building of bodies on ex-Government surplus commercial vehicles and cattle trucks.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Buckrose (Mr. Wadsworth) on 29th April.

Canadian Aluminium (Imports)


asked the Minister of Supply what quantity of aluminium his Department has contracted to import from Canada over the next 18 months.

A contract has been placed for 215,000 tons, of which delivery began last year and will be completed within the next 18 months.

Ministry Of Works

Exhibitions (Timber Allocations)


asked the Minister of Works how many standards of timber are being used for exhibitions now open or under construction.

Three hundred and ninety-eight standards of timber were allocated for the British Industries Fair in London and Birmingham. This is substantially the only allocation of timber for the purpose of exhibitions.

Building Industry (Payment By Results)


asked the Minister of Works what recommendations have been made by the Incentives Committee of the National Joint Production Council on the question of payment by results in the building industry.

I understand that the Incentive Committee's recommendation to the National Joint Production Council is that they consider it should be possible to devise a practicable system of payment by results.

White Horse Hill Project


asked the Minister of Works whether he will schedule White Horse Hill on the Berkshire Downs under the Ancient Monuments Act in order to prevent its threatened desecration by the proposed erection of a television relay station.

The ancient monuments on White Horse Hill are already scheduled under the Ancient Monuments Acts and are also' in my Department's guardianship. My hon. Friend will be aware that the proposal to erect a television relay station on the hill has been dropped.

Building Material Depots


asked the Minister of Works how many dumps of building materials there are in the North Western area, the North Midlands area and throughout the country respectively; and why firms are permitted to buy reinforcing rods at five shillings per 25-yard roll, and after a little work on them to sell at £5 18s. a roll.

My Department has three building material depots in the Manchester area, four in the area Nottingham, York and Newcastle and 10 in the remainder of the country including Scotland. The Ministry of Supply is the Department responsible for the disposal of surplus reinforcing rods.


asked the Minister of Works if he will give the quantities and delivery time that is being asked for materials in the dumps in the North Western area, and, in particular, for the U.S. strong wire netting and bars suitable for reinforced concrete, four-inch and six-inch pipes fitted with steel collars; the amount of timber in different grades and its possible uses; steel ladders, electric cables, pumps, water tanks, rolled steel joists, angle iron, galvanised tanks, steel tubes, flat steel bars, expanding metal, reinforcing fabrics; the number of galvanised corrugated iron and asbestos sheets suitable for roofing; and how many small generating sets there are and their horse power.

I regret that the information requested by my hon. Friend is not readily available. I will communicate with him as soon as possible.

asked the Minister of Works if he will give a list of the principal building-trade materials in the dumps of building materials at Woolton, Hale Wood, Ditton, Widnes and Liverpool, showing the quantities and the delivery dates that are being asked by suppliers of the materials to building contractors.

My Department has no dumps or stores of surplus building materials at any of the places mentioned. I am therefore, unable to give a list of the materials available but building materials are released for disposal if surplus to the requirements of Government Departments.

Wrest Park, Silsoe (Conversion)


asked the Minister of Works what is the estimated cost and the number of men to be employed on the work of converting Wrest Park, Silsoe, into a research centre.

The estimated cost of converting Wrest Park and erecting additional buildings for the use of the National Institute of Agricultural Engineering is £143,300. At the period of greatest activity 160 men will be employed on this work.

Requisitioned Shop, Northampton

asked the Minister of Works when he proposes to take steps to make a shop, 3, Abington Street, Northampton, available to the tenant, Mr. F. Bloomfield, 8, Castilian Terrace, Northampton.

This shop provides the only access to offices which extend over several adjoining shops. My Department is examining the possibility of making separate access to the offices so as to release part of the shop from requisition. I am not aware of Mr. Bloomfield's interest in the property.

Window Boxes, Government Offices

asked the Minister of Works if he will take steps to improve the condition of the window boxes of Government offices in Whitehall and its vicinity, so as to restore the amenity these provided when they were in a tidy state.

Yes, Sir. The tulips originally planted suffered from frosts and high winds and will be replaced by other flowers as soon as the season permits. Meanwhile, the boxes have been tidied up and repainted.

Trade And Commerce

Glycerine Exports


asked the President of the Board of Trade why the tonnage of glycerine exported in 1946 was higher than that exported in 1938, despite the fact that many important industries in this country have had their activities curtailed through lack of glycerine supplies.

The increase in 1946 arose from the fulfilment in the early part of the year of a commitment to the U.S.A. entered into in 1945 when stocks were substantial and there was no reason to anticipate the shortage which developed subsequently. Other exports were considerably below those of 1938.

Mending Wool


asked the President of the Board of Trade why the supply of mending wool has decreased in Southern England; and what steps he is taking to facilitate the repair of woollen garments.

Supplies of mending wool have decreased because of the loss of production during the fuel crisis, but I have no information to suggest that the shortage is worse in Southern England than elsewhere. The worsted spinners, who produce this wool, have been given preference in fuel supply, and I hope that deliveries will improve in the coming months.

British Interests (Japan)


asked the President of the Board of Trade if British business men will have to pay dollars into the Japanese Headquarters Trade Fund for the one-way-trade arrangements that have been made.

Private trading transactions between this country and Japan are not at present permitted, so that no question arises of payment by British business men either to the Occupying Authorities or to the Japanese.


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will instruct our representative on the Far Eastern Commission dealing with Japan to furnish him with a full report on the United States of America Commercial Corporation in regard to Japan and then make this information available to Members of this House.

According to my information the United States Commercial Company have been acting for the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers as the selling agent in the U.S.A. for Japanese products made available to that country. Perhaps my hon. Friend would indicate what activities of the company he has in mind to enable me to decide whether or not to ask for the report he suggests.

Anglo-Soviet Trade Talks


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is in a position to make a statement about the recent visit of the Secretary for Overseas Trade to the U.S.S.R. to discuss the development of trade between the U.S.S.R. and the United Kingdom.

The trade discussions which began in Moscow three weeks ago had three main objectives, namely, to see what each country could do in the immediate future towards meeting the other's most pressing shortages, to explore the possibilities of developing trade in the longer term on a mutually advantageous basis and to find solutions for certain procedural problems which are at present impeding trade between the two countries.The Russian Government informed me that, while their timber industry had suffered great devastation as a result of the war and their own needs for timber for internal reconstruction were very great, they planned, subject to obtaining certain machinery and transport equipment, to have available for export in 1947 moderate quantities of timber and timber products with the expectation of steadily increasing supplies in subsequent years. They also planned for a very considerable disposable surplus of foodstuffs, particularly wheat and coarse grains, starting from next year. In order to prepare and move the timber to the ports, the Russian Government said that certain equipment would be required for the mechanisation of their timber industry. I was able to inform them about the prospects of supplies from the United Kingdom and I undertook to examine further on my return the Russian list of requirements with a view to making the maximum contribution towards meeting their needs.As regards the development of Anglo-Soviet trade in the longer term, useful information was obtained about the sort of goods which Russia wishes to buy from the United Kingdom during the next few years. We also had discussions about certain other commodities which the United Kingdom is in a position to export and which we thought would provide the basis for an expanding trade between the two countries. We emphasised the importance for the development of trade relations between the two countries of Russia accepting the general terms and conditions of contract on which our firms are accustomed to do business with the rest of the world.The Russian Government expressed the view that a healthy development of Anglo-Soviet trade would not be possible unless some further adjustment of the terms of the credits advanced under the Civil Supplies Agreement of 1941 were made and that any general agreement about the development of trade between the two countries should be linked with an agreement on the credit question. As this matter was outside the range of questions that it had been arranged to discuss in Moscow, we informed them that it should, if they desired, be taken up through diplomatic channels and to this procedure they agreed.I should add that the conversations, which took place in an atmosphere of great friendliness and frankness on both sides, ranged over a wide field and were most useful in clarifying the respective points of view of the two Governments. Both sides expressed their very keen desire for a substantial expansion of the volume of trade between the two countries. It was arranged that the discussions should be continued in London with a view to finding a basis on which a definitive agreement could be prepared.

Newsprint Supplies


asked the President of the Board of Trade what proportion of the stock of paper suitable for newsprint has been allocated during he past 12 months to Government purposes, including booklets, administrative publications, forms, posters, etc., and newspapers, periodicals, and boots, respectively.

The following are the percentages of newsprint supplies which have been licensed for different purposes during the 12 months to the end of October, 1946, which is the most convenient period for which these figures can be provided:

Per cent.
H.M. Stationery Office0.1
There has not been any material charge in the pattern of distribution subsequently.

Parcels (Displaced Persons, Germany)


asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that a large number of parcels of food and clothing sent by post from Northern Ireland to displaced persons in the British zone, in Germany have not been delivered; and if he will take steps to ensure prompt delivery of such parcels.

In strictness parcels may not at present be sent to displaced persons in the British zone in Germany, although I hope to announce the commencement of a parcel service within the next few days. If the hon. Member will let me have particulars of the parcels he has in mind, which would seem to have been accepted under a misapprehension, I will have inquiries made.

National Finance

Income Tax (Age Allowance)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an estimate of the cost of increasing, in the age allowance at the proposed new rate of one-sixth of such income, the existing ceiling limit of £500 to a new limit of £750.

Dutiable Kerosene (Agriculture)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will give an estimate of the percentage of dutiable kerosene which is used by agriculture in Great Britain.

British Army

Naafi, Germany (Food Purchases)


asked the Secretary of State for War the total value of food bought by N.A.A.F.I. in Germany for the years 1944–45 and for 1945–46, respectively.

I understand that this information is not readily available. Stringent control was, however exercised over such purchases.

Personal Case

asked the Secretary of State for War when Major C. W. S. Dexter was placed under arrest; how long he was under arrest; and when the case will be disposed of.

Major Dexter was placed in open arrest on 15th January and was released without prejudice to re-arrest on 6th March. The trial is due to take place on 20th May. The officer has been given every consideration and much liberty.

Territorial Army (Disabled Ex-Servicemen)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether disabled ex-Servicemen and those unfit for military duties are eligible for appointment as civilian clerks to newly-formed T.A. regiments; and why Mr. Fred Hepworth, a former Regular soldier who, subject to medical examination, was appointed civilian clerk to 259, S.P., Field Regiment, R.A., T.A., at Fenton Street Drill Hall, Leeds, is not now regarded as medically fit to hold this position

Employment in these posts is conditional on enlistment into the Territorial Army. Normally enlistments into Royal Artillery units of the Territorial Army are confined to men of medical categories Ai and A2. Mr. Hepworth was, unfortunately, found unfit to be placed in either of those categories and was, therefore, not medically fit for service in the Territorial Army.

Coal Supplies, Kent

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that coal merchants in Horsmonden and other Kentish villages in that area have been unable for some weeks to supply cottagers with coal or coke, despite the fact that such cottages have no alternative means of cooking or heating water; and whether distribution in this area will be improved.

I am not aware of any special difficulty about supplies in Horsmonden and other Kentish villages but if the hon. Member knows of any individual consumer who is unable to get supplies and will let me have particulars I will gladly have the matter investigated. I am communicating with the hon. Member on the general supply position at the Horsmonden Depot.

Electricity Distribution (Bankside Site)

asked the Minister of Fuel a id Power what is the objection to the Bankside distribution district being supplied with electrical energy from other points on the river if suitable sites exist.

Disability Pensions (Fibrositis)

asked the Minister of Pensions how many ex-Servicemen from the second world war have been awarded disability pensions on account of fibrositis; and how many have been granted a pension for other rheumatic diseases.

I regret that the records are not in such a form as to enable exact figures to be given, but up to the end of March about 6,000 ex-Servicemen of the second world war had been granted disablement awards for fibrositis and all ed complaints, 21,000 for diseases of the joints, many of which are of rheumatic origin, and 6,000 for rheumatic diseases of the heart.