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Written Answers

Volume 437: debated on Tuesday 20 May 1947

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 10th May, 1947

British Army

Military Tattoo, Berlin (Special Trains)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the proposed provision of special trains between Hanover and Berlin for spectators of the Grand Military Tattoo in August; and if he will give an estimate of the amount of coal required for the purpose.

Since my right hon. Friend wrote to my hon. Friend about this matter on 14th May he has had the proposed provision of special trains reexamined and it is now intended to run three trains daily in each direction, making a total of 36 trains, with a maximum coal consumption of 360 tons.

Leave Ration Cards


asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is in accordance with the instructions of his Department that no ration cards are now issued to men of R.E.M.E. going on week-end leave from Greenhill Camp, near Corsham.

The rules regarding the issue of leave ration cards are being carried out by this unit. Ration cards are normally issuable for all periods of leave of two days and more. Exceptionally, soldiers who regularly spend their weekly rest-day in the same private household are given a 72-hours food ration card once every three weeks in advance.


asked the Secretary of State for War what steps he takes to notify the Ministry of Food when large numbers of troops are being sent on leave in a particular district.

By arrangement with the Ministry of Food troops going on leave are provided with temporary or leave food ration cards, which are negotiable with any civilian retailers. It is not practicable to inform the Ministry how many troops are likely to be on leave in a particular area at any one time. So far as I am aware, however, no serious difficulty has been caused by purchases of food against temporary or leave ration cards.

Special Campaign Pensions (Cancellations)


asked the Secretary of State for War the number of special campaign pensions that have been terminated, in view of the increased old age pension, and the total saving there-from.

So far 1,568 special campaign pensions have been cancelled on account of the pensioner being in receipt of the increased rate of old age pension; in 198 of these cases a small Service pension, which had been in abeyance so long as the special campaign pension was more beneficial, has been resumed. The approximate total saving to Army Funds on the cases so far reviewed is £38,000 a year.

Alternative Site, Langdale Fell


asked the Secretary of State for War where is the site which is being investigated as an alternative to Martindale and Glenridding.

Married Quarters, Colchester Garrison

33 and 34.

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) how many married quarters in the Colchester garrison area have been repaired and rendered fit for occupation by families of Servicemen in the last six months or similar convenient period; and at what rate it is planned to prepare for occupation the 139 married quarters which are at present awaiting repair;(2) how many of the 73 married quarters in the Colchester garrison area which are at present not being used for the accommodation of families are being put to a use other than the accommodation of A.T.S.; and what the uses are.

Since I answered a Question by my hon. Friend on this subject last week I have received more up to date figures. Only 39 married quarters in the Colchester Garrison area are now being used for purposes other than the accommodation of Army families, none of which are accommodating A.T.S. Their use includes the accommodation of hospital staff, female N.A.A.F.I. staff, officers' messes, offices and a horticultural course. Seven of them are allotted to entitled civilians in War Department employment (War Department Constabulary) and 13 are irregularly occupied by civilians. I hope that these last will shortly be returned to their proper use. Sixty-four married quarters in the Colchester Garrison area have been repaired and rendered fit for occupation by entitled families since 1st January, 1947. I hope that all those at present awaiting repairs will be ready for occupation by the end of October next, provided sufficient labour and materials are available.

Commissions (Candidates' Training)


asked the Secretary of State for War what is the average waiting time between completing preliminary training and proceeding to an O.C.T.U. undergone by candidates training for a commission in the Army.

Marriage (German Women)


asked the Secretary of State for War how many British soldiers have applied for permission to marry German girls; and to how many permission has been granted.

Up to 10th May, 1947, 3,633 applications had been made. Necessary formalities had been completed in 1,254 cases and these applications will be authorised on completion of the waiting period. Permission to marry had been granted in 404 cases and 114 authorised marriages had taken place.

Stanford Battle Training Area


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will allow the Wretham Hall Estate Company to complete the cultivations and croppings of Fowlmere Farm in the Stanford battle training area, in view of the fact that 80 acres have already been ploughed and sufficient linseed obtained to crop 160 acres.

My hon. Friend will by now have received a letter on this matter. After full consultation with the Norfolk County Agricultural Executive Committee arrangements have been made which I hope will meet, as far as possible, the needs both of agriculture and military training.

Polish Troops, Stafford And Cannock, Welfare


asked the Secretary of State for War how many Polish troops are now stationed in the rural districts of Stafford and Cannock; what canteen and welfare facilities are provided for than; and how many have been granted leave in the past six months.

There are 3,666 Polish all ranks stationed in the rural districts of Stafford and Cannock. Welfare facilities are available to them on the same basis as those available for British troops. There are eight canteens, one all ranks' club and one hostel in the area. Leave is granted on the same scale as for British troops, that is to say, 10 days every four months, but due to the movement of units into and out of the area the exact number who have been granted leave is not known.

Statutory Instruments Act, 1946 (Operation)


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he will now say when it is proposed to introduce the Order in Council necessary to bring the Statutory Instruments Act, 1946, into operation.

In time to enable the Act to commence at the beginning of next Session.

Prisoners Of War

Clothing (Modification)


asked the Secretary of State for War to what extent German prisoners of war in this country have now been reclothed without patches or lettering.

No statistics on this matter are available, but the process of modifying the clothing of prisoners of war is in progress. It will take some time to complete owing to the shortage of cloth.

Official War History (Persia Command)

asked the Secretary of State for War when publication will be effected of the official history of the Persia Command in the last war.

The two despatches relating to the Persia Command have already been published as Supplements to the "London Gazette." They are;

  • (a) Despatch on Operations in Iraq, East Syria and Iran from 10th April, 1941, to 12th January, 1942, by General Sir Archibald Wavell (now Field-Marshal Earl Wavell) published on 14th August, 1946.
  • (b) Despatch on the Persia and Iraq Command covering the period 21st August, 1942, to 17th February, 1943, by General Sir Henry Maitland-Wilson (now Field-Marshal Lord Wilson) published on 28th August, 1946.
  • The Official History of the War which will cover Persia as well as all other overseas theatres, cannot, of course, be published for some considerable time.

    Overseas Personnel (Family Allowances)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when details will be published of the scheme whereby certain persons, including members of the Control Commission for Germany, will be entitled to receive family allowances from their employing Department in lieu of the allowances that would be payable if they remained in Great Britain.

    Trade And Commerce

    Supplementary Clothing Coupons


    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will grant supplementary clothing coupons to ice-cream manufacturers on retail premises.

    I will consider my hon. Friend's suggestion but I am afraid that the difficulties of administration would be very great.

    Camera Films


    asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will consider making camera films available in reasonable quantities this summer in order to meet the desires of large numbers of holiday-makers.

    Everything possible is being done to increase supplies of films and other sensitised materials, but I am afraid we cannot promise that the amateur photographer will get all that he wants this summer. Increased demands for industrial and medical purposes and the urgent need to increase our exports necessarily restrict the amount of film available.

    Footwear (Retail Margins)


    asked the President of the Board of Trade the result of the inquiry into the footwear retail margins, which it has been proposed should be reduced by 5 per cent. from present levels.

    The inquiry into retail margins for footwear which was begun some months ago was suspended until some estimates could be made of the effects of the fuel crisis on turnover during 1947. No specific reductions in the margins were proposed. The discussions will shortly be resumed.

    Tanned Kips


    asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the unsuitable nature of the low-grade E. I Kips for dressing into smooth leather; and what is the mason for buying the low-grade hides in such large proportion compared to the better quality suitable for smooth leather dressing.

    Yes. Discussions are in progress with a view to adjusting the buying prices in order to improve the selection of tanned kips.

    British Industries Fair (Empire Exhibits)


    asked the President of the Board of Trade under what conditions exhibits from the Empire were allowed into this country for display purposes on the stands at the British Industries Fair.

    In accordance with past practice, a very small allocation of space was made at the British Industries Fair in 1947 to Dominion and Colonial Governments to display the products of their countries, but the primary purpose and the major proportion of available space was devoted to United Kingdom goods for export. Such Empire exhibits as it was necessary to bring specially to this country for exhibition at the British Industries Fair in 1947 were allowed entry on an undertaking that the goods were for exhibition only and not for sale in the United Kingdom

    Hotel Accommodation (Foreign Visitors)


    asked the President of the Board of Trade what has been the result of his discussions with regard to the present difficulty of obtaining hotel accommodation in the London area and in other main centres of the country; and what steps are to be taken during the current year to increase the accommodation available in order to meet the demands of the large number of foreign visitors who are being encouraged to come to this country, in addition to the thousands who will be attending the Olympic Games.

    I am in close touch with the British Tourist and Holidays Board, who are having discussions with the interests concerned. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Works, has made substantial progress with the de-requisitioning and rehabilitation of hotels in all parts of the country and this, together with the help with equipment given to some 5.000 establishments under the scheme announced on 5th December, 1946, in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Lady Noel-Buxton) will assist in providing accommodation during the current year. The date fixed for the holding of the Olympic Games here is August, 1948. I am not yet able to make a statement about the arrangements for the accommodation of visitors.

    Timber Supplies (European Countries)


    asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the prospects of increased timber supplies for this country arising from the recent Inter- national Timber Conference in Czechoslovakia; and whether he will make a statement on the world timber position as revealed at this conference.

    I must apologise for the length of this answer, This Conference examined both the short term and the longer term situation of the countries of the European area. It confirmed the very substantial gap between the import requirements of these countries and the supplies which are available for them whether from within Europe or from overseas, and that a deficiency is likely in present conditions to continue over a number of years. With particular regard to the short term, the Conference made recommendations designed to strengthen the hands of the Economic Commission for Europe in securing the increase of supplies and their satisfactory distribution. In particular it recommended that countries which are able should increase their production of sawn softwood by 10 per cent. during the next two years, recognising that outside assistance might be necessary to enable this to be achieved in some cases. Measures were also examined for restoring and improving the forest resources of Europe after the devastation of the war period. I trust that as a result of the Conference the supplies of timber available to Europe will be increased and this country will, of course, share in the improvement.

    Wool Stocks

    asked the President of the Board of Trade what stocks of wool existed in this country on 1st January. 1939, 1945 and 1947, respectively.

    Stocks of wool in the United Kingdom on 1st January,1945, and 1st January, 1947, were 728 m Ilion lb. and 649 million lb., greasy weight, respectively. Stocks at 1st January, 939, are not known, but at the outbreak of war they were about 550 million lb

    Cots And Perambulators

    asked the President of the Board of Trade, (1) how many cots were produced in 1938 and 1946 respectively; what is the anticipated production for 1947; and what is the estimated number required for the home market this year;

    (2) how many perambulators were produced in 1938 and 1946 respectively; what is the anticipated production for 1947; and what is the estimated number required for the home market this year.

    572,000 prams and bed folders were produced in this country in 1938 but no information is available about the number of cots produced in that year. Production in 1946 was 563,000 prams and bed folders and 224,000 Utility cots, plus a small number of non-Utility cots. It is not possible to estimate 'the production of cots in 1947 until we can see more clearly what raw materials will be available. As regards prams, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer given to similar Questions on this subject on 6th May last. It is a fair assumption that there will be about a million live births in 1947 compared with 952,000 in 1946. Not every child, however, will require a new pram or cot.

    New Towns (Consultations)


    asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he will, before exercising his powers for the creation of new towns, consult all local planning authorities and give them full opportunities of expressing their views.

    I am required by the provisions of the New Towns Act to consult any local authorities who appear to me to be concerned before I make any Order designating an area as the site of a proposed new town.


    Manufacturing Industries (Employees)


    asked the Minister of Labour if, of the total employees in industry, he will state the percentage employed as operatives and the percentage as administrative, clerical and technical workers at the latest available date.

    Eighty-four per cent, and 16 per cent, respectively at 31st March. These figures relate to manufacturing industries only. v Corresponding figures are not available for other industries.

    Harvest Work (Servicemen)


    asked the Minister of Labour whether, in connection with help which is to be given by men serving in the Army to assist agriculture during the 1947 harvest, he will arrange for instructions to farmers and others requiring assistance to be broadcast by the B.B.C., as many farmers do not know what steps to take to obtain this assistance.

    When civilian labour is not available farmers requiring help on harvest work from men serving in the Forces may apply direct to the local military authorities. These arrangements have been in operation for the last seven or eight years and are well known to farmers who are kept in close touch with the position by the county war agricultural executive committees. A special B.B.C. announcement, therefore, does not seem to me necessary.

    Disabled Persons, Oldham

    asked the Minister of Labour how many persons registered on the Disabled Persons' Register were recorded as unemployed in the borough of Oldham at the last convenient date.

    The number of such persons at 21st April was 613, of whom 97 were regarded as not suitable for ordinary employment.

    Increased Wage Rates (Men)

    asked the Minister of Labour what is the estimated percentage increase since September, 1939, in the weekly rates of wages of male adults in the principal industries and services.

    The increase between September, 1939, and the end of April, 1947, is estimated to have been about 64 per cent.

    Appointments Offices (Placings)


    asked the Minister of Labour the number of applications made and number of vacancies filled by his Appointments offices in 1946 and in the first quarter of 1947, divided into categories above and below £500 per annum.

    During 1946 Appointments offices dealt with 110,427 new registrations and filled 17,253 vacancies. The corresponding figures for the first quarter of 1947 are 18,862 registrations and 3,656 vacancies filled. The vacancies cannot be divided as my hon. Friend wishes, because the normal statistics do not record placings by salary groups. A special analysis was, however, made of 1,197 persons placed between 14th January and 10th February which showed that 473 (40 per cent.) were in posts carrying £400 a year and over, and 724 (60 per cent.) in posts carrying less than £400.

    Milk Roundsmen (London Co-Operative Society)

    asked the Minister of Labour what is the present position of the strike of the Eastern section of the London Co-operative Society's milk roundsmen; and, in view of the inconvenience caused to the public, what steps he has taken or is taking to bring it to an end.


    asked the Minister of Labour what was the number of registered unemployed in Eastleigh, Hampshire, and the number of vacancies on the books, with classifications in trade categories, at the latest available date.

    The total number of insured persons registered as unemployed at the Eastleigh Employment Exchange at 14th April were 16 men and five women. The highest figure for any industry was five in the building industry. The total numbers of vacancies notified to the Eastleigh Employment Exchange and remaining unfilled at 16th April were 398 for men and 48 for women. The figures for men for the principal industries were as follow: railway carriage, wagon, etc., construction and repair, 140; railway service, 120; building and civil engineering, 76; general engineering, 42. Thirty of the vacancies for women were in the electric cable making industry.

    East And West Ridings

    asked the Minister of Labour if he will give a schedule show- ing the number of unemployed in the main industries of the East and West Ridings of Yorkshire, showing separately unemployment due to fuel shortage and comparative figures for March and April.

    The following table shows the numbers of insured persons registered as unemployed in the East and West Ridings Region at 10th March and 14th April. Separate figures of unemployment due to the fuel shortage are not available.

    Industry10th March.14th April.
    Steel Melting and Iron Puddling, etc.2,9541,445
    Engineering, etc3,4192,378
    Construction and Repair of Motor Vehicles, Cycles and Aircraft.14951203
    Shipbuilding and Ship-repairing.389516
    Railway Service710531
    Woolen and Worsted25,2689,704
    Textile Bleaching, Printing, etc.4,0492,334
    Civil Engineering Construction.1,469602
    Distributive Trades2,6902,202
    Hotel, Boarding House, Catering, etc., Service.975830
    National Government Service.1,6551,242
    Local Government Service1,129917
    All other industries and Services.22,22012,090
    TOTAL, all industries and services.82,67039,777
    At 10th March some of the workpeople who were stood off from employment owing to the fuel crisis were receiving wages under guaranteed week and other arrangements and consequently did not register as unemployed. The estimated number in the East and West Ridings was approximately 10,000.

    European Volunteer Workers (Welfare)

    asked the Minister of Labour what provision is being made for the welfare of displaced persons brought into the country for employment here.

    The general welfare of European volunteer workers coming to this country is the responsibility of my Department, who make the necessary arrangements in conjunction with the other Government Departments concerned and with the National Service Hostels Corporation, and who also have the valuable co-operation of the Churches and of voluntary organisations.The arrangements include the following:

    Transit and Reception

    The parties are escorted by members of the W.V.S. or by ex-U.N.R.R.A. officers, themselves displaced persons, who have been appointed for the purpose. They are met on arrival at the ports on this side by welfare officers of my Department and conducted to reception camps in the vicinity and later to holding camps. On arrival at the holding camps they are issued with ration books, clothing coupons, etc., and, where necessary, with certain items of reconditioned clothing.


    An allowance of 5s. is paid on board the ship and a further 15s. on arrival at the camp.
    Pocket money of 5s. a week is paid while the worker is at the holding camp and on being placed in employment he will receive the facilities of the schemes for assisting transferred workers in this country.
    The workers normally remain in the reception camps for 24 hours and then are transferred to holding camps which are being established in various parts of the country and which, like the reception camps, are under the management of the National Service Hostels Corporation and will be largely staffed from the European volunteer workers themselves. They will later be found accommodation near their work if the employment is nonresidential and is outside daily travelling distance of the holding camp.

    Religious Ministrations

    Representative organisations of the Churches have offered their co-operation and are taking steps for workers at the holding camps to be informed of the arrangements which can be made for pastoral visits and other religious administrations.

    Medical, etc., Arrangements

    Doctors are being appointed by the National Service Hostels Corporation at each of the holding camps to supervise general camp hygiene and medical arrangements. Until such time as the worker becomes eligible for benefit under the ordinary National Health and Unemployment Insurance Schemes, provision will be made for him to be cared for and maintained during sickness or unemployment.

    Educational and Recreational Facilities

    English classes, discussion groups, etc., are being arranged with the assistance of the local education authorities and of various voluntary organisations.
    Recreational facilities at the camps include arrangements for indoor games, concerts, etc.


    The National Council of Social Service and the leading voluntary bodies affiliated to it are, through their headquarters and local organisations, co-operating with my welfare staff in the arrangements for helping the workers to settle down happily in their new environment.
    I am keeping my Factory and Welfare Advisory Board informed of the arrangements and will look to them for general guidance as in the case of the welfare of British workers

    National Service (University Students)

    asked the Minister of Labour how many men now serving in the Forces of age and service Groups 63, 64 and 65 had won university scholarships before enlistment.


    Care Of Old People (Circular)


    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is prepared to issue to local authorities in Scotland a circular similar to 49/47 issued by the Minister of Health but adapted to Scottish needs.

    A circular on the care of old people was issued to Scottish local authorities on 2nd April last and I am sending my hon. Friend a copy.

    Herring Industry Board


    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he proposes to take in strengthening the authority of the Herring Industry Board in order that it can perform its functions effectively.

    I will consider whether any extension of the powers of the Herring Industry Board is desirable. Any substantial extension of this kind would, however, require legislation, of which there is no immediate prospect.



    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the serious menace to agriculture in Wigtownshire and the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright resulting from the increase of foxes on the lands owned by the Forestry Commission; and it he will take steps to see that the numbers are reduced.

    I am aware of the necessity to protect agricultural interests from foxes. The Forestry Commission make every effort to keep down the number of foxes in their properties and the measures taken include payment of bonus to their staff, organisation of fox drives, cooperation with neighbours and contribution to local fox clubs. In Kirkcudbrightshire the number of foxes and cubs killed by the Commission in 1946 was 289, and 16 fox drives have been organised there by the Commission since the beginning of January, 1947. The Commission have only one small property in Wigtownshire.

    Industry And Employment (White Paper)


    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will now say when the White Paper on industry and employment in Scotland will be published.

    It will unfortunately not be possible, owing to printing difficulties, to publish this White Paper before the Whitsun Recess. Arrangements are being made to publish it on 3rd June.


    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many cases of smallpox were recorded in Scotland in 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946 and up to the present date of 1947.

    The numbers of cases of smallpox notified in Scotland in 1942 and in subsequent years are as follow; 1942, 120; 1943, 1(Service case); 1944, none; 1945, 2; 1946, 1 (Service case); 1947, (to date) none.


    Tobacco Growing


    asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will give financial and other encouragement to experiments at Government research farms or elsewhere to the breeding, culture and growing of tobacco plants which suit the British climate.

    Owing to the present shortage of scientific workers and the limited nature of the facilities available, research and experimental work on tobacco growing could only be carried out at the expense of similar work on food crops; and this would not in my view be justified.

    Seed Production And Plant Breeding


    asked the Minister of Agriculture what steps are being taken to encourage the production of seeds for agricultural crops and the breeding of new strains of plants in this country.

    The home production of seeds for agricultural crops is encouraged mainly through the work of the Seed Production Committee and by the provision of technical advice to farmers through the National Agricultural Advisory Service. Work on the production of new strains of plants is assisted by grants on a considerable scale from public funds to a number of research institutes engaged in plant breeding.

    Armed Forces

    Occupation Troops, Austria And Germany (Cost)


    asked the Minister of Defence how much the military Forces in Austria are at present costing the Treasury; and what portion of this cost falls on the Austrian authorities.

    The expenditure daring the financial year 1946–47 amounted to about £10 million. No part of this cost fell on the Austrian authorities, who were, however, required to provide in addition, over the same period, goods and services to the value of approximately 125 million schillings. These figures include all expenditure on the military personnel of the Allied Commission.


    asked the Minister of Defence how much the British military Forces in Germany are at present costing the Treasury; what portion of this sum falls on the German authorities; and how far does this figure include expenditure on the Control Commission.

    The expenditure during the financial year 1946–47 amounted to about £84 million. No part of this cost falls currently on the German authorities although the Occupying Powers will have claims for its eventual recovery. Meanwhile, the German authorities were required to provide in addition, over the same period, goods and services to the value of approximately 1,600 million Reichsmarks. These figures include all expenditure on the military personnel of the Control Commission.

    Recruited forNormal Regular Engagements (a)Bounty Scheme. (3 or 4 years).Total Normal Regular and Bounty Scheme
    January, 1947.February, 1947.March, 1947.January, 1947.February, 1947.March, 1947.January, 1947.February, 1947.March, 1947.Total.
    Royal Navy and Royal Marines.1,9151,6141,4825175524702,4322,1661,9526,550
    Royal Air Force.3,4722,3772,6912,3391,3451,1265,8113,7223,81713,350
    (a) The term "Normal Regular Engagement" comprises civilian recruits (men and boys) either with or without previous service in the Armed Forces, and men already serving who have entered into normal Regular Engagements.

    Brick And Tile Making (Fuel Allocation)

    100 and 101.

    asked the Minister of Works (I) how much fuel is to be allocated during the summer months to brick and tile manufacturers in cases where there has been no exceptional expansion since last summer; and whether he is satisfied that the distribution between the various coal regions is equitable;

    (2) whether brick and tile manufacturers are to receive the fuel allocation of approximately 85 per cent. which is to be made to the building materials industries, where there has been an exceptional expansion since last summer.

    Industry is to receive this summer the same allocation of coal as it received last summer which represents approximately 85 per cent. of estimated requirements. To cover the expansion of capacity in the building materials industries, including bricks and tiles, an additional quantity of coal has been allocated so that they should also receive approximately 85 per cent. of their expanded requirements this summer. Every effort


    asked the Minister of Defence if he will give the latest recruiting figures for each of the three Services up to 31st March, 1947.

    Figures for the quarter ended 31st March, 1947, are as follow:has been made to allocate coal fairly between the various regions.

    Ministry Of Supply



    asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware of the acute shortage of cyclopropane in this country; and whether, in view of the beneficial qualities of this anaesthetic, he will authorise the import of an increased supply from the U.S.A.

    No; I was not aware of an acute shortage of this drug and no application to import it has been refused by the Ministry of Supply.

    Motor Industry Advisory Council (Report)

    asked the Minister of Supply whether he has received the Report of the Advisory Council for the Motor Industry; and if he will now lay this before the House.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the replies given to the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. Shawcross) by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 18th February last [Vol. 433, cols. 980–1] and by myself on 21st April [Vol. 436, col. 57 (Written)].

    Inspectorate Branches (Staff)

    asked the Minister of Supply how many persons are now employed in the inspectorate branch of his Department; and how this number compares with January, 1945.

    The total number of civilian staff employed on 1st April, 1947, in the inspectorate branches of my Department was 11,632. The comparable number at 1st January, 1945, was 66,901.

    Fishing Vessel "Dove" (Loss)


    asked the Minister of Transport the circumstances in which the fishing vessel "Dove" was blown up on 7th May, 1947, while being taken by a temporary crew from Ayr to Aberdeen; and what provision is being made to compensate the survivors for their loss and suffering.

    My right hon. Friend is informed that, in a calm sea, a sharp explosion occurred, damaging the "Dove" so that she sank about five hours later. The crew of four left the ship in their boat about 1½ hours after the explosion and reached the shore 4½ hours after the ship sank. The cause of the explosion is being investigated, and entitlement to compensation will depend on the conclusions reached.

    Small-Pox Deaths, Bilston

    asked the Minister of Health what were the ages of the two fatal smallpox cases at Bilston, and their sex

    General Register Office (Birth Certificates)

    asked the Minister of Health what is the average time taken by the Registrar-General's office to answer correspondence calling for evidence about the date of birth of an individual, particu- larly in respect of claims for old age pensions and family allowances; and what action has been, and is being, taken to reduce the time required.

    I am informed by the Registrar-General that, owing mainly to heavy arrears accumulated during the period of lighting restrictions, the average time taken is about three weeks as compared with the normal three or four days Extra assistance is being recruited for this section. The special birth certificates for old age pension and family allowance purposes are not obtained from the General Register Office but from local superintendent registrars.

    East Africa (Agricultural Tractors, Imports)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many agricultural tractors have been imported into Fast Africa in the last 12 months; and what proportion are of British manufacture.

    In 1946, 309 agricultural tractors were imported of which 104 were of British manufacture. During the present year, imports to date amount to 103 tractors of which 76 are of British manufacture.

    Royal Navy (Merchant Navy Cadets)

    asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what facilities will be offered to Merchant Navy cadets to obtain commissions in His Majesty's Royal Navy.

    The hon. and gallant Member will be pleased to learn that facilities already exist for the achievement of the object he has in mind. Under these arrangements, which are of long standing, a limited number of Naval cadetships at Dartmouth are awarded yearly by examination to boys nominated by the Merchant Navy Training Ships "Worcester" and "Conway" and the Merchant Navy Training Establishment at Pangbourne. In addition, Merchant Navy cadets are welcomed as candidates for the normal Special Entry examination.

    Further Education And Training Scheme (Grants)

    asked the Minister of Education why students who have been given a grant under the Further Education and Training Scheme are required at the end of their last summer term to refund a proportion of that term's instalment of their grant, as exemplified in a case submitted on an undergraduate of London University.

    It is not the case that students holding an award under the Further Education and Training Scheme are required to refund to the Ministry in the last term of their course any part of their maintenance grant for that term. My Department has no financial authority to pay a grant for any period after the end of a student's approved course, and the grant for the last year of the course is ordinarily adjusted to cover the period to the end of the academic year only. Where, however, the student ends his course unexpectedly early the Department may find it necessary to ask a student to refund that part of the last instalment of his grant which relates to the maintenance of himself or his dependants for the period after the end of his course. This is the position in the case to which the hon. Member has drawn my attention