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Written Answers

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 14 May 1947

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 14th May, 1947

Hms "Leander" (Ratings' Release)

2.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many ratings in H.M.S. "Leander" will have to have their release delayed owing to the extension of the ship's cruise.

On present information there is no reason to suppose that any ratings serving in H.M.S. "Leander" will have their release delayed owing to the extension of the ship's service abroad

Broadcasting

Television Service (Radio Links)

12.

asked the Postmaster-General if he will make a full statement on steps taken by the B.B.C., or proposals which they are now contemplating, regarding the provision of radio links for extending the television services throughout the country.

The Post Office and not the B.B.C. will be responsible for providing links from London to additional B.B.C. television transmitting stations in the provinces. Both radio and cable links are being provided between London and Birmingham. A tender for the provision of the radio link has just been accepted. The Post Office Engineering Department has also been conducting experiments in the relaying of television signals in various places but it has not yet undertaken or planned any relay link for the purpose of carrying programmes for broadcasting to the public other than that to Birmingham.

"Village Opinion" (Technical Facilities)

17.

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that his Department is refusing to extend the necessary technical facilities for broadcasting the programme entitled "Village Opinion" from a large number of villages in Wales; and whether he will grant the necessary facilities.

I am looking into the particular cases about which my hon. Friend has written to me. The Post Office is, of course, very willing to provide technical facilities for broadcasting but in present circumstances it may not be possible to do so where an appreciable amount of construction work is required

Post Office

Trunk Telephone Service (Government Departments)

11.

asked the Postmaster- General the number of trunk telephone circuits at present allotted exclusively to Service departments and the number allotted to all other Government Departments, together with the number new available for the general public.

At the end of April the Service Departments had 2,260 telephone circuits over 25 miles in length, other Government Departments and he British Broadcasting Corporation had 770, and the public service 13,400.

Savings Bank (Fraudulent Withdrawals)

14.

asked the Post master-General if he is aware that public opinion has been shaken by recent disclosures of fraudulent withdrawal, from the Post Office Savings Bank; if he will state the amount of such fraudulent withdrawals for the last five years, individually; and if he will consult the Trustee Savings Banks as to the methods which they employ to prevent such frauds.

I am aware of public comment in the courts and elsewhere on the disturbing increase in fraudulent withdrawals from Post Office Savings Bank accounts. I should perhaps make it clear that a claim by an innocent depositor to replacement of sums fraudulently withdrawn from his account is always met. The totals of fraudulent withdrawals in the last five years are approximately:

£
194241,700
194331,000
194427,600
194535,300
194672,300

The great bulk of these frauds are by demand withdrawals. A depositor can, of course, withdraw on production of his book at any one of 18,500 Post Offices. The ledger accounts are necessarily centralised and cannot be referred to at the time of withdrawal. Close co-operation exists between the Post Office and the Trustee Savings Bank but, in regard to fraud the Trustee Banks, because of their localised conditions, are not, I think, faced with the same problems as the Post Office.

Revised Postal Services, Darwen

asked the Postmaster-General why three Darwen postmen are to be stood off at the end of May; and what alteration in the times of delivery is to be effected.

The postal services in towns throughout the country are being revised in order to save manpower and to release staff for production. In Darwen the postal deliveries will shortly begin at 7.0 a.m. and 11.20 a.m. instead of at 7.o a.m. and 3.15 p.m. These alterations reduce the call on manpower by two, not three, and the services of one temporary part-time postman and one full-time postman employed on a casual basis will he terminated.

Pay

asked the Postmaster-General if, in view of the deterioration in the postal service and of the delays continually experienced by telephone subscribers dialling TOL, he will arrange for improved pay for personnel, especially in view of the surplus disclosed in the financial statement, in order that a greater number of people may be attracted to enter the service

The pay of postal and telephone staff was revised less than a year ago in agreement with the staff associations. A further claim for increased pay for the rank and file grades is under consideration.

Royal Air Force

Maintenance Unit, Goring Heath

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Air how many omnibuses are used each day to bring employees to the site of 70 M.U., Goring Heath; what is the cost; and how many employees were carried in April.

Eleven omnibuses are used to bring employees to No. 70 Maintenance Unit. Eight of the eleven are Service vehicles. The cost is about £12 a day, of which approximately four-fifths is paid by the employees themselves. During April, the number of people using these omnibuses was about 320 a day.

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Air why vast dumps of material lie at the sides of the road at 70 M.U., Goring Heath.

No. 70 Maintenance Unit, Goring Heath, is a ground equipment depot. Unfortunately, there is not enough covered space for all the stores which the Unit has to hold; those which are least liable to deteriorate, therefore, are kept in the open. Where it is necessary tarpaulins are used.

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what is the number of civilian employees at 70 M.U., Goring Heath; the number of these housed in Government houses and the number occupying civilian residences; and whether recommendations have been made to the Henley Rural District Council to increase the allotment of council houses at Whitchurch.

Four hundred and eighty-four civilians are employed at No. 70 Maintenance Unit at Goring Heath. None of them live in Government-owned houses. My Department has not asked the Henley Rural District Council to allot more council houses at Whitchurch to people in Air Ministry employ.

asked the Secretary of State for Air the annual cost of 70 M.U., Goring Heath, indicating rent, maintenance and wages; and what was the capital cost of erecting the tin shanties.

The annual cost of No. 70 Maintenance Unit is as follows: Compensation rental, £100; maintenance, £5,000; salaries and wages, £125,000; total, £130,100. The cost of building the storage sheds was £200,000.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what is the number of R.A.F. police and Air Ministry wardens, respectively, allocated to 70 M.U. Goring Heath; the number of R.A.F. officers, other ranks and civilians employed there; and the estimated value of the goods stored.

The numbers at present employed at No. 70 Maintenance Unit are as follow; R.A.F. police, nil; Air Ministry constabulary, 27; R.A.F. officers, 10; airmen, 3; civilians, 484 (including 23 part-time). The value of the goods stored at this depot is about £2,000,000.

Harvest Work (Special Leave)

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what help is to be given by men serving in the R.A.F. to assist agriculture during the 1947 harvest.

I am glad to be able to assure the House that we shall do everything we can to help the farmers during the harvest months. Members of the R.A.F. in the United Kingdom or Germany who are farm workers, or experienced market gardeners, can apply for 28 days' agricultural leave. This special leave can be taken in each half of the year and can be extended to 56 days if farming is seriously hampered by bad weather. As many airmen as we can spare will be made available to farmers, and all ranks will be encouraged to help outside their working hours.

Siren, Padgate

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware of the many complaints by residents of Padgate, Lancashire, at the use of a loud electric siren at the R.A.F. station there which disturbs the sleep of aged people and night workers; and, if the siren is not absolutely necessary, if he will direct that less sonorous time signals be used for R.A.F. purposes at Padgate.

Yes, Sir. I have given instructions that the siren at the R.A.F. station at Padgate shall not be used as a time signal. In future, it will serve only as an alarm signal in case of fire or other emergency. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for calling attention to the matter.

Heston Airport (Closure)

34.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation why, in view of the scarcity of suitable airfields within easy distance of London, the closing down of Heston airport is now being considered.

Heston is within miles of the London Airport and lies within the flying circuit of the latter. It will rot, therefore, be practicable, with safety, to use Heston for regular flying in the future. My noble Friend proposes, therefore, to make Heston and the State-owned land adjoining it available for other purposes. This will, to some extent, off-set the acquisition of land for the development of the London Airport.

Military Supplies, Middle East Countries

46.

asked the Minister of Defence the numbers of aircraft, tanks and armoured fighting vehicles which have been supplied to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Transjordan since May, 1945, or the total value of Army and Air Force material and equipment so supplied.

Forty military aircraft, 38 scout cars, and 298 carriers have been supplied to Egypt since May, 1945. No tanks have been supplied. No equipment of this character has been supplied to Saudi Arabia or Transjordan. I regret that it would not be possible without undue labour to assess the total value of military equipment supplied to these countries.

Food Supplies

Tea

53.

asked the Minister of Food the additional annual cost to the consumer of the recent rise in the price of tea; whether he proposes to make a reduction in other commodities to balance; what those commodities are; and what is the amount of the proposed reduction.

The recently announced increase in the price of tea to the domestic consumer will amount to £6 millions in a full year; for the rest I would refer the hon. Member to my answer on 12th May to the hon. Member for Mile End.

65.

asked the Minister of Food on what grounds the offer of the 1946–47 tea crop of Ceylon to this country at 1s. 9d. per lb., made during the negotiations in the last 12 months with the Government of Ceylon, was refused.

Meat (Monthly Saving)

54.

asked the Minister of Food what estimated monthly saving in meat will be effected by the recent cut in allocations for manufacturing purposes.

Consumption Figures

55.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will consider publishing or making available an up-to-date issue of the report on Food Consumption Levels either through H.M.S.O. or from U.S sources.

The figures for food consumption in the United Kingdom prewar and annually for the period 1940–46 have now been prepared in my Department and publication will take place as soon as possible.

Imported Cheeses (Points Values)

58.

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware that, even before he lowered the points value of Danish blue vein cheese, total supplies were inadequate to meet the daily demand of the public; that, as a result of the lowering of points, some retailers and many members of the public believe that there are large surplus stocks of such cheese and are therefore indignant with their wholesalers and retailers for not being able to supply their demands; and if he will give an assurance that, in future, before lowering the points value of a commodity careful inquiry will be made into the stock position.

The points values of imported cheeses were reduced to prevent any risk of wastage during the warmer weather.

59.

asked the Minister of Food how many apples were imported into this country in 1946; and how many he anticipates will be imported in 1947.

We imported 91,984 tons in 1946 and so far this year 47,000 tons have arrived. The programme for the second half of this year has not yet been determined.

Slaughterhouses (Inspectors' Visits)

60.

asked the Minister of Food why an inspector of the R.S.P.C.A. was refused admission to the slaughterhouse at High Street, Watford, without making a previous appointment; whether such conditions are in operation at other slaughterhouses; and whether he will give instructions that any qualified inspectors of the R.S.P.C.A. shall have admission at all times when animals are being slaughtered.

All the slaughterhouse managers employed by the Ministry have instructions that R.S.P.C.A. Inspectors wishing to enter a slaughterhouse should be given every facility. It is not necessary for them to make a previous appointment. I think that my hon. Friend has been misinformed with regard to the incident at Watford to which he refers. My information is that the inspector entered the slaughterhouse and completed his investigations, but that he omitted to contact the slaughterhouse manager on entry.

Biscuits (Public Houses)

62.

asked the Minister of Food why supplies of biscuits are made available to public houses for resale to the public without points having to be surrendered; and whether he is aware that these supplies are frequently misused for the purpose of illegitimate trade in biscuits.

Public houses licensed as catering establishments can get biscuits, but only for consumption as a meal or part of a meal. If my hon. Friend will give me details of any misuse of these biscuits I will look into the matter.

Imported Onions (Profit Margins)

64.

asked the Minister of Food approximately what proportion of the onions entering the United Kingdom from 1st November to the latest convenient date was imported by wholesaler-importers entitled to receive three profit margins as importers, first-hand salesmen and wholesalers; and what proportion was imported by pure importers eligible for one profit margin only.

Licences are not required at present to import onions and I cannot, therefore, supply the information wanted by my hon. Friend. I should, however, point out that, under the Onions Order no wholesaler who imports his own onions is entitled to three profit margins.

Jam And Marmalade

67.

asked the Minister of Food to what extent stocks of jam have increased in recent months; and whether he will arrange for an additional distribution to be made before this season's new jam is available.

Between September last and the end of March, British manufacturers' stocks of jam and marmalade rose by about half a week's supply. There is certainly not enough to allow an additional distribution of jam and marmalade.

Sausages (Meat Content)

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the recent cut in manufacturing meat and the serious effect this will have on sausages, which are already in short supply, he will reduce immediately the meat content of sausages from 50 per cent. to 40 per cent. and thus enable a greater output to be maintained, with the resultant benefit to a large number of consumers.

No, Sir. I do not think the public would like the quality of sausages to be lowered in order to provide larger supplies.

Soap Ration

Medicated Soaps

61.

asked the Minister of Food why medicated soap can now only be obtained in exchange for coupons; and if he will reconsider this ruling having regard to the stringency of the existing soap ration and the importance of medicinal soap in the treatment of many diseases.

No change has been made in the practice of permitting certain medicated soaps to be supplied against medical prescriptions ration free.

Allocations

63.

asked the Minister of Food what was the allocation of soap to private individuals and laundries, respectively, for any convenient period recently; and how does this compare with the amount used during a similar period before the war.

The level of current domestic consumption of soap is about 63 per cent. of prewar, and the present allocation to laundries is approximately 86 per cent of prewar

Blacksmiths And Stokers

66.

asked the Minister of Food whether he will arrange for additional soap to be allowed to blacksmiths and stokers in forges; and whether he will have such soap issued to them personally to enable them to use it for the washing of their working clothes in the home.

Allowances of soap are already made for these workers where washing facilities are provided on the job. I am afraid supplies do not permit the grant of extra soap for use at home.

Germany

Food Demonstrations, Hamburg

68.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, what portion of calories out of the prevailing authorised rations in Hamburg have been available in recent weeks; and if he will make a further statement in respect of the recent demonstrations and strike against inadequate food supplies.

In the last four weeks normal consumers in Hamburg, entitled to a ration scale of 1550 calories a day, received 1400, 1430, 950 and 800 calories a day, respectively. For the current week the ration is expected to rise again. On 8th May 2,000 workers at Howaldt Shipyard staged a sit-down strike as a protest against the food shortage. They returned to work on 9th May but joined the demonstration which had been called by the trade union councils at 12 noon that day. On 9th May public transport was stopped for a short time and workers marched from all parts of the city to the trade union headquarters, where a crowd of 100,000 people gathered. The meeting was orderly and well conducted and dispersed quietly after being told to report back to work.

Control Commission (Official's Return)

70.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the reasons for the resignation of Mr. Julian Simpson from the British Control Commission in Germany.

Mr. J. H. C. Simpson was appointed Chief of the Internal Affairs and Communications Division on 1st May, 1946, for a period of one year. In view of the prospective devolution of functions to the German authorities he last autumn proposed a scheme of reorganisation which involved splitting the Division into a number of separate elements working directly under the Deputy Military Governor, with the consequential abolition of the post of Chief of this Division. A reorganisation on these lines was approved and has now taken place, and Mr. Simpson has returned to this country, following the completion of his agreed period of service.

Greece (Amnesty Measures)

69.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will instruct the British representative on the U.N.O. Balkans Commission to support the proposal for a broad amnesty to Greek guerillas and political internees to be operated under international supervision.

His Majesty's Government have always favoured the widest possible measure of amnesty in Greece consistent with the maintenance and improvement of public security and they hope that the Greek Government will feel able to extend the measures already taken. They have, however, grave doubts whether it falls properly within the terms of the United Nations Balkan Commission to make a recommendation on this subject. Meanwhile, the Greek Government have already extended a wide measure of amnesty to guerillas and political internees. As a result there have, I understand, been considerable releases of political internees and a number of guerillas have also surrendered and returned to their homes.

Colonial Empire

Timber Resources (Review)

72.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has made a survey of timber resources in the Colonies with a view to easing the timber supply position in the United Kingdom; and with what results.

A review of the exportable timber resources of the Colonial Empire has recently been completed and I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of it. In general any marked increase in exports will depend on the readiness of the United Kingdom to accept hitherto unused timbers and on logging and transport equipment being available.

Transplanted Rice

74.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if, in view of the world shortage of rice, he will state in which Colonies which are large producers of rice, the system of transplanting rice, which gives a harvest many times greater than the easier system of broadcasting the seed, is generally adopted.

The transplantation system is suitable for use in swamp or irrigated lands and it is extensively so used in Ceylon, Malaya, Sierra Leone and British Guiana; but the large use of labour which it involves makes it uneconomical if the local conditions require the growing of short-term rices, and it is, therefore, not a universal practice in those countries

Palestine

Terrorist Threats

71.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the threat of the Irgun Zvai Leumi to hang any British civilian they capture in future has been brought to his notice; and what views he has transmitted to the Palestine administration.

Yes, Sir. It was not necessary as a consequence of this threat for me to make any special communication to the authorities in Palestine with whom I am in constant touch on the security situation. Certain dispositions already made there, including the evacuation of non-essential British civilians, have the purpose of countering as far as possible any attempts by terrorist organisations on the lives of British subjects.

Telephone Installation (Communist Newspaper)

84.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the Public Information Officer in Palestine has rejected, on political grounds, the request by the Communist newspaper Kol Haam for the installation of a telephone; and whether he will take steps to rectify this act of political discrimination.

There is no truth in the allegation that a request by this newspaper for the installation of a telephone has been rejected on political grounds. Owing to the acute shortage of connections to the exchanges in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, applications for installations are dealt with in rotation and special priority is accorded only in cases considered essential in the public interest.

African Colonies

Dehydration Factory, Kenya

73.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the Kenya Government decided to dismantle the dehydration factory built during the war at Karatina at a cost of £250,000.

The factory, the capital cost of which was £121,000, was built on native land to meet war needs and the Africans concerned were promised that at the end of the war it would not be carried on without their consent. This undertaking was considered necessary at the time as otherwise they would not have consented to the use of the land. Last year they asked that the factory should be handed over to them on payment, but, in view of the very doubtful future prospects of marketing dried vegetables and the almost certain loss of native capital involved, the Governor did not feel able to agree to this request. Proposals for the sale of the factory, either to outside interests or to a group consisting of a combination of European and African interests and the Kenya Government, were categorically rejected by the Africans concerned after every effort had been made by the Chief Native Commissioner to persuade them to agree. These negotiations made it quite clear that the only course acceptable would be complete dismemberment of the factory and in view of the undertaking given the Governor saw no alternative to proceeding accordingly. I can assure the hon. Member that the Kenya Government did everything possible to keep the factory going.

Management Of Cattle, Nyasaland

82.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether it is proposed to approve a recommendation of the Land Commission Report in Nyasaland that the systematic reduction of cattle in over-grazed areas should be secured, if necessary, by compulsion.

The Land Commission Report is under consideration by the Nyasaland Government I have no doubt that the recommendation mentioned will be carefully noted by that Government. They are fully aware, in connection with their postwar plans for the introduction of a comprehensive policy of land usage, of the desirability of limiting the numbers and controlling the management of cattle.

Interim Wage Award, Mombasa

86.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what minimum wage has been recommended by the tribunal appointed after the Mombasa strike; how this compares with existing wages and with the minimum wage recommended in the Phillips Report; and what action is being taken.

This tribunal ma de an interim award on 10th March to employees on Mombasa Island in receipt of a wage, including existing allowances, of less than Sh.54/50 a month, of an additional allowance in respect of the difference between such wage and Sh. 54/50. subject to a maximum allowance of Sh.6/75. The tribunal also awarded to employees in receipt of an existing allowance in lieu of housing an additional allowance to cover the difference between the existing allowance and Sh.8/25 a month, subject to a maximum allowance of Sh.3/25. These figures represent the existing wages in the Port area but the tribunal has recently had a further meeting in order to make a final award. I am sending my hon. Friend an explanation of the interim award as published by the Kenya Information Office, which shows the effect of the increases on the Sh.40 a month minimum wage introduced on 1st February.

Seditious Article, Uganda (Convictions)

83.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, if his attention has been drawn to the publication of seditious articles in local vernacular newspapers in Uganda; and what legal action he proposes to take to punish the offenders.

One such article has come to my notice. In this case, the principal owner of the newspaper concerned together with the editor and the writer of the article were charged and convicted under the Criminal Code

Commission Of Inquiry, Gold Coast

87.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what action it is proposed to take on the Report of the Martindale Commission of Inquiry into irregularities in connection with dollar exchange and import licences in the Gold Coast.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies which I gave on 19th March and 2nd April to my hon. Friend, the Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. King). Disciplinary action under Colonial Regulations is being taken against one of the two officers of the Colonial Service principally concerned and the pension of the other officer, who has retired, is being withheld under the Pensions Legislation of the Gold Coast. Both these officers have made representations in their own defence which are at present under consideration. Both the Customs and Supply Departments are now in charge of officers in whom the Governor has every confidence.

British Honduras

Forest Area (Mahogany)

76.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give an estimate of the total stock of marketable mahogany left in British Honduras; and what schemes of afforestation are now being carried out.

The area of forest in British Honduras is estimated at rather over 8,000 square miles of which exploitable hardwoods cover some 6,000 square miles. I cannot give accurate figures of the value of mahogany standing in this area but there is no doubt that the annual cut in past years considerably exceeded the increment. Future policy will be concentrated on the regeneration of mahogany and the finding of markets for useful secondary timbers. The Government has since 1945 had power to control the rate of felling on private estates and will also in future require more systematic working of existing concessions.

Proposed Road To Sea (Negotiations)

77.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps have been taken to come to an agreement with Guatemala to provide a road from Flores through British Honduras to the sea; and how long this issue has been a dispute between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Guatemala.

The possibility of constructing a road from Guatemala to the sea was first mentioned in a Convention concluded between His Majesty's Government and the Government of Guatemala in 1859. The question is again under examination between the two Governments.

Mauritius

Sugar Industry (Commission Of Inquiry)

79.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will give details of the extent of indebtedness against small sugar planters in Mauritius; and if steps are to be taken for the rehabilitation of this industry.

Complete and detailed information as to the indebtedness of small sugar planters in Mauritius is not available as much of the credit obtained by them is from private sources. It is estimated, however, that some 26½ million rupees is owed by the small planters in respect of loans by the Government, the Co-operative Credit Society and the banks. Considerable funds have been provided for the immediate needs of the sugar industry and I invite reference to the reply to the Member for Leyton, West (Mr. Sorensen) on 19th December, 1945. I am now endeavouring to arrange for a Commission of Inquiry into the Mauritius sugar industry to visit the Colony. Any measures for the further rehabilitation of the industry would depend upon this Commission's recommendations.

Electricity

80.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Government of Mauritius has any plans for establishing public control over electricity in the Colony.

The Government of Mauritius already controls electricity in the colony by virtue of legislation enacted in 1939.

Immigrants

81.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the average annual number of immigrants into Mauritius; and whether these immigrants have proved able to establish themselves economically.

The average annual number of immigrants into Mauritius for the three years 1944–46 was 42. The number of immigrants for 1939 was 262; and for 1947 to date is 233. This includes 209 Chinese and results from the renewal of normal travelling facilities after the war. The immigrants are mainly of the shopkeeping class and are almost all brought in to assist in businesses that are already established.

Jamaica (Retail Profit Margins)

85.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will take up with the Government of Jamaica the question of making a full review of recent adjustments to retail profit margins, made under Price Control Orders, with special reference to their effect on small retailers and consulting representatives of the retail trade, before alterations in profit margins are made.

Singapore (Legislative Council, Constitution)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the establishment of a legislative council for the Colony of Singapore.

Yes, Sir. His Majesty's Government have given careful consideration to the report of the Committee appointed by the Governor in April, 1946, to consider this question, and to the Governor's own recommendations, and the following principal decisions have now been reached. The Council will have an unofficial majority. There will be four ex officio members and five nominated, official members. On the unofficial side, there will be nine elected members; six of these will be elected by popular ballot of registered voters (British subjects over the age of 21 without property or literacy stipulations). For this purpose the island of Singapore will be divided into four electoral districts, two urban districts each returning two members and two rural districts each returning one member. The remaining three elected members will be elected by the Chambers of Commerce. In addition, the Governor will have discretion to select not more than four nominated unofficial members. The Singapore Order in Council, 1946, provides for a maximum of two such members, but since a communal basis for elections to the Council has been rejected, it is necessary to increase this maximum in the interest of any section of the community who might otherwise have been represented inadequately or not at all. These decisions have been published locally and the Council will be set up as soon as possible.

Telescopic Airscrews (Experiments)

88.

asked the Minister of Supply if he will make a statement on the recent experiments made with telescopic airscrews to achieve greater safety in aviation.

This device is at present in the development stage and so far tests of rotors intended for fitting to parachutists have been restricted to ground runs. Facilities for testing from aircraft are now being made available to the inventor by the Ministry of Supply.

Coal Board (Payments To Mineworkers)

89.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will give an assurance that ex gratia payments to mineworkers from funds of the Coal Board will be paid direct and not through the medium of any trade union or other agency.

Disablement Pensions (Mental Cases)

asked the Minister of Pensions whether, in connection with the disablement pension to ex-Servicemen, where a pension is paid to a mental case, he will consider paying the money direct to the man's family instead of to the mental institution authorities, as is now the case.

Where the married pensioner is undergoing treatment approved by the Ministry for pensionable mental disability, treatment allowances are paid to his family and the cost of treatment is borne by the Ministry. Where the pension is awarded for a condition other than the mental condition, the pension allowances for the family are paid to the wife or guardian of the children, but the local authority responsible for the cost of treatment may claim reimbursement of that cost from the patient's personal pension. Such claims are usually waived in favour of the pensioner's family if there is hardship. I shall be glad to look into any particular case which the hon. Member may have in mind.

Newly Appointed Teachers

asked the Minister of Education what proportion of the 13,000 new teachers, who have reached the national schools during the past 12 months, consists of temporary teachers, emergency teachers, two-year trainees at permanent colleges and graduate teachers, respectively; and what is the total number of pupils from the extra age group now attending the national schools

The number of teachers employed in maintained and assisted primary and secondary schools increased by about 12,000 during the calendar year 1946. There was a wastage of about 12,000 on account of retirement, etc., and an intake of about 24,000, of whom some 11,700 were men returned from war service. It is not possible to give particulars of the qualifications of the newly appointed teachers, but information will be available in due course showing the changes in the total numbers of teachers employed in the various categories. The total number of pupils from the 14–15 age group attending school additional to those already attending before the 1st April is small, being mainly confined to those whose 14th birthday has occurred since that date and who would have had to remain at school until the end of this term if the compulsory age had not been raised.

Old Age Pensions (Personal Case)

asked the Minister of National Insurance why his Department has ignored requests from Mr. F. W. Clark, 35, Duke Street, Sutton Coldfield, pension book No. 03518373, for his increased pension, now five months overdue; and when the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield will be sent a reply to his letter dated 21st April to the Parliamentary Secretary about this case.

In my absence a letter about this case was sent to the hon. Member yesterday.

Requisitioned Space, Horseferry House

asked the Minister of Works what is the total area of space under requisition by the Government at Horseferry House; and what is the total number of staff accommodated there.

The total area held by my Department on requisition in Horseferry House is 71,000 f.s. exclusive of corridors, lavatories and staircases. Of this area 48,000 f.s. are occupied by 523 staff; 19,500 f.s. are used for conference and waiting rooms, a canteen for 900 staff, records, messengers, and telephone exchange; the remaining 3,500 f.s. provide storage space. In addition my Department holds 46,000 f.s. in the building on lease.