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Commons Chamber

Volume 437: debated on Thursday 22 May 1947

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House Of Commons

Thursday, 22nd May, 1947

The House met at Half-past Two o'Clock

The Clerk, at the Table, informed the House of the unavoidable absence of Mr. SPEAKER from this day's Sitting.

Whereupon Major MILNER, The CHAIRMAN of WAYS AND MEANS, proceeded to the Table and, after Prayers, took the Chair, as DEPUTY-SPEAKER, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Turkish Parliamentary Delegation

I have to inform the House that Mr. Speaker has received the following telegram from the Turkish Parliamentary Delegation:

"Speaker of the House of Commons, S.W.I.
As we are leaving Britain I want to express our gratitude for the warmth of the welcome accorded to us. We believe that this visit has proved very fruitful in the strengthening of friendly relations between the two countries. We are happy to express our thanks and greetings to the British Parliament.
YELCIN."

Private Business

Luton Corporation Bill

Read the Third time, and passed.

NOTTINGHAM CORPORATION BILL

( King's Consent signified)

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

Oral Answers To Questions

Education

Curriculum (Additional Year)

1.

asked the Minister of Education what steps he has taken to inform local education authorities of the curriculum he has prescribed to be followed during the additional year at school.

I do not prescribe the school curriculum, I will, however, be issuing very shortly a pamphlet which will deal with the planning of the whole secondary course from eleven to fifteen or sixteen rather than with a particular part of it in isolation.

I fully appreciate that the Minister of Education does not prescribe the school curriculum, but surely on an occasion such as this, when the school-leaving age is being raised, should not some advice have been given by the Minister of Education? Is it not a fact that education authorities all over the country are very anxious and worried because they have had no indication from the Ministry on this important matter?

I am not aware that they are in that state. As a matter of fact, they have had advice and are receiving, as I said, a further pamphlet dealing with these matters.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the teaching profession would resent any attempt by His Majesty's Government to prescribe for them the terms of the curriculum, and that they regard that special privilege as one of the most cherished of the profession?

Lindsey

2.

asked the Minister of Education how many school canteens have been installed in Lindsey; and how many schools are yet without canteens.

There are 182 school canteens in Lindsey, serving 213 school departments, out of a total of 321.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether those figures refer also to school dining rooms?

3.

asked the Minister of Education how much extra school accommodation is required in Lindsey owing to the raising of the school-leaving age; how much of this accommodation has already been found; and whether he is satisfied that accommodation will be found for all those requiring it.

Twenty-nine classrooms and 22 practical rooms are needed under the scheme of hutments to be erected by the Ministry of Works and a new light construction school to accommodate about 500 pupils is required at Scunthorpe. None of this accommodation has yet been completed, but the Ministry of Works hope that it will all be ready in time, except perhaps for some fittings and equipment for part of the first instalment.

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that as much progress is being made as is possible?

Yes, Sir, I think the Ministry of Works have done and are doing their best.

Children's Bicycles (Safety)

4.

asked the Minister of Education whether he is aware that at three schools in Cambridgeshire on examination of children's bicycles to see if they were roadworthy, 154 out of 181 were found to be in need of attention; and whether he is making any arrangements for similar examinations to take place in other schools in the country so as to avoid the possibility of numerous accidents arising from the use of faulty bicycles.

The periodical examination of children's bicycles at school has been encouraged for many years and the attention of local education authorities has been drawn to the matter on several occasions. I do not consider that any further reminder is required at the present time.

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that in view of the very large proportion of bicycles at these schools which were faulty—and which must needs mean that road accidents are bound to increase, particularly on children arriving at schools—some direction should be given to the education authority? Does not the Minister realise that those figures themselves indicate that the inspections are not sufficiently frequent?

Yes, but the figures indicate that an inspection did take place, and the local authority's attention has been called to the necessity of inspections time and again. Maybe this Question and answer will further emphasise the necessity for them.

Does not the Minister think it would be advisable to ask this authority how it was that so large a proportion of the children's bicycles were in that condition, and whether it was due to the fact that inspection had not taken place in this area?

I should want a little more definition of "out of order" with respect to a bicycle before I was prepared to accept that 154 out of 181 were unrideable.

Will my right hon. Friend tell us if the inspection was carried out by a competent authority?

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the bicycle repair people have facilities to make the necessary repairs to prevent accidents?

Village Schools, Ripon

5.

asked the Minister of Education whether he has considered the proposal of the West Riding County Council to concentrate six village schools in the district -North-West of Ripon into two central schools, one result of which will be that young children from three of these schools are to be transported away from their home environment to Ripon; and whether he will oppose this wholesale elimination of village schools as contrary to the spirit of the Education Act, 1944.

Proposals to discontinue certain schools in the Ripon district are included in an instalment of the local education authority's development plan recently received in the Ministry, and will receive my careful consideration.

Does the Minister of Education realise the perturbation in the minds of the parents in these villages at the suggestion? Can he say whether this moving of young children of five to 11 from villages to central schools is the policy of his Department?

Universities (Entry)

7.

asked the Minister of Education whether he has con- sidered the copy sent to him of the suggestion recently put forward by the high master of Manchester Grammar School for the equivalent of a Barlow Report on Secondary Education in order to secure an adequate entry of students to the universities; and what action he proposes to take.

I have taken note of the high master's suggestion and, though I do not think that an inquiry would be appropriate at present, I will certainly bear it in mind.

The right hon. Gentleman will realise that the whole Barlow Report rested on the assumption that there were thousands of potential scientists being lost, and no examination has taken place in the schools?

Free Meals And Milk

8.

asked the Minister of Education the number of free meals and quantity of free milk taken by schoolchildren in an average week.

According to the return made for a normal school day in October, 1946, the number of pupils receiving free school meals in maintained schools on grounds of financial hardship was 338,450. The number of pupils in maintained schools receiving one-third of a pint of milk, which was free of charge for all pupils, was, on the same clay, 4,369,000.

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that the system of providing and distributing milk is the best that can be devised to save waste?

It is the best we have found up to now, but I would hesitate to say that it is the best that can be devised.

I would not like to say. I have not any idea what happens to it, except that it is not taken home.

Emergency Training

11.

asked the Minister of Education what is the approximate proportion of those accepted over 12 months ago for training under the Emergency Training of Teachers Scheme whose training has not yet commenced; whether he is aware that Mr. G. Smith, College Road, Gildersome, near Leeds, was accepted for training in January, 1946, prior to his demobilisation in May, 1946, and has now been informed that a further substantial period of waiting is inevitable; and whether he will now give the approximate date when this training will commence.

A candidate's name is placed on the waiting list for emergency training colleges by reference to the date of his Class A release, and not the date of his acceptance, if he applied while he was still serving in the Forces. For others it depends on the date of application. Of those candidates whose names have been entered on the lists in this way up to the end of April, 1946, slightly over one-sixth had not begun their training by the beginning of May, 1947. My Department replied to Mr. Smith a fortnight ago, giving him the best possible information as to the date when he may expect to begin his training.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his Department replied to my constituent to say that a substantial period of waiting was still required? Can he say when the end of this waiting will be, and why my constituent is being singled out and placed in this one-sixth minority whose training has not commenced?

There are any number of reasons why he may be among that one-sixth minority, but the principal reason is that the number of applicants far exceeds the number of places available, and it will take time to admit them all. The success of the scheme has made it all the more necessary for the waiting period to be longer. But the date of acceptance of the individual on his Class A release has been kept stable from the beginning in order to prevent people going ahead of the queue.

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that this young man's training will commence not later than September this year?

I cannot possibly give that assurance because I may be doing an injustice to someone else in another category if I do so.

Independent Schools (Primary Scholars)

12.

asked the Minister of Education whether he has circularised local education authorities giving them a figure of the number of vacancies open at independent schools for children at primary schools; what has been the response; on what basis the selection is made; and what is the average total cost to the taxpayers and ratepayers.

Particulars of the places put by independent secondary schools at the disposal of the Committee on Boarding Education were circulated to all local education authorities. Sixty-five have so far been allocated. In addition, some local education authorities have made similar arrangements direct with the schools. The selection of the pupils is a matter for the individual local education authorities, to whom guidance has been given in Administrative Memorandum No. 225. The information asked for in the last part of the Question is not available.

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that the grammar schools are not further weakened at the expense of the independent schools, because they remain the only avenue by which a poor boy can get to a university?

Will the right hon. Gentleman say if independent schools can make application direct to local education authorities indicating how many places they can offer to children from primary schools?

Grammar Schools (Staffing)

13.

asked the Minister of Education whether his attention has been called to the number of grammar school masters who have recently left the profession; and what action he proposes to take to prevent this loss in the future.

I have seen reports in the Press, but I have no direct evidence of abnormal wastage, and, while I am concerned to secure the suitable staffing of all types of schools, I am not satisfied that special action in respect of grammar schools is called for.

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the figures, which show that 1,300 such teachers have left in the last few years? I admit that some have gone to inspectorates and so forth, but will he use all his influence to get a revision of the graduate scale, which has the support of the whole of the teachers of this country?

I am not satisfied that the revision of the graduate scale is necessary, nor that the figures are accurate. I should like to check them. They have appeared in the Press, but I have had no opportunity of checking them. I do not think it is a question of the graduate scale determining the influx of teachers or otherwise.

Educational Standard

14.

asked the Minister of Education whether he has considered the resolution, of which a copy has been sent to him, passed by the Southwold Town Council at its last meeting, deploring the poor standard of educational attainment of children attending the local schools; and what reports his inspectors have made on the schools in this area.

I am looking into the matter, and will communicate with my hon. Friend.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a general resolution of this character has caused a great deal of anxiety to parents and teachers, and also that the accusations about bad spelling have been levelled at school children for centuries past, and always will be?

I am conscious of that, but I think I ought to inquire into the special circumstances here before coming to a decision.

Will my right hon. Friend, when considering this and similar cases, also investigate the conditions under which education is carried on in the classes?

Speech Therapists

15.

asked the Minister of Education the number of local education authorities now employing speech therapists; the number who have no speech therapists in their employ; and whether he will circularise the latter recommending them to appoint such officers.

Ninety local education authorities are now employing speech therapists and 56 authorities have no speech therapists on their staff. Local education authorities generally are fully alive to the importance of employing such officers, but unfortunately, the supply of speech therapists falls short of the demand.

Pensions Appeals (High Court Judgment)

16.

asked the Attorney-General if his attention has been called to the judgment delivered by Mr. Justice Denning on 5th May, to the effect that a decision by a pensions appeal tribunal to reject an appeal must be unanimous; how many such rejections have been unanimous and how many by a majority only; and if he will make arrangements for the rehearing of all rejected appeals which were not rejected unanimously or take action forthwith, without further hearing, to give the benefit of the doubt to all appellants in such cases.

I am aware of the decision referred to. The decisions of pensions appeal tribunals as announced in court and communicated to the parties do not normally indicate whether the members were unanimous, nor does this fact usually appear in cases stated on appeal to the judge. It can in general only be ascertained by drawing an inference from the private notes of the individual members of the tribunals where such notes exist. I am unable therefore to state the number of cases corresponding to that tried by Mr. justice Denning and it would be impossible to ascertain it without examining the notes of the members of the tribunals in nearly 40,000 cases. Although the procedure adopted by the tribunals has not been in every case in conformity with the principle laid down in the judgment referred to, there is no evidence that any injustice has been done, and my noble Friend is not prepared to adopt either of the courses suggested by the hon. Member.

If what my right hon. and learned Friend says is the case—and I see his difficulty—is there not manifestly a most unfair disparity between the appellants who were fortunate on 5th May and the great majority of the appellants whose appeals have been rejected?

No, Sir. I cannot accept that view. It occasionally happens that a higher tribunal reverses a view of the law which has hitherto been acted upon by the courts for a long period, but that does not result in the earlier cases, which were decided on what was then conceived to be the law, being reopened. It may happen in the course of years to come, that a judge who hears pension appeals will arrive at the view that some practice hitherto followed and accepted was not correct. If that were to enable the parties who did not contest the practice as applied to their own cases at the time to reopen those cases we should never reach finality in any of these matters.

Does not my right hon. and learned Friend agree that there ought to be a very clear distinction drawn between what is the law as between litigants and what is the law affecting the claim by a disabled ex-Service man against the State for his pension, and since this decision now makes it perfectly clear that a large number of people who ought to have had a pension were deprived of it how can the State with any conscience deprive them of it?

I am quite unable to accept the assumption that the conclusion is to be drawn at all from the decision of the learned judge that there is any justification for saying that anyone who ought to have received a pension is being deprived of one. Parliament has decided that these claims are to be decided by a form of judicial procedure which has been laid down, involving a hearing before tribunals, with a possibility of appeal to a judge. The whole basis of judicial procedure in this country is that a particular decision which is not challenged within the time limit for an appeal, should stand as between the parties to it, whatever view may be taken subsequently, in another case, as to the law which was applied in the previous decision.

In the particular and unusual circumstances arising out of Mr. Justice Denning's judgment, would it not be right, where the respective numbers contributing to any division of opinion among the members of a tribunal are not known, and there is therefore a reasonable doubt as to whether, in the light of the doctrine laid down by Mr. Justice Denning, any particular application should or should not succeed, that the appellant should be given the benefit of that doubt?

Where a tribunal consisting of several members announces its decision without a dissentient voice, that decision has to be taken as the decision of the tribunal as a whole, a decision in which all the members acquiesce. We could only ascertain whether that was, in fact, the case by examining the private notes of the members of tribunals in something like 40,000 cases. That would be quite an impracticable course to pursue, even if it were a course which was desirable in the interests of justice. My noble Friend and I do not think that it is a course which is desirable in the interests of justice.

Is it not obvious that this may mean injustice in something like 40,000 cases?

In order to ventilate this important matter further, I beg to give notice that I shall raise it on the Adjournment.

Trade And Commerce

Carbon Black Production

19, 20 and 2I.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) on how many occasions the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Production of Carbon Black has met since it was set up; and who has been appointed as chairman of that committee since the resignation of Sir Charles Bruce Gardner;

(2) when the Interim Report on the production of carbon black referred to in a letter by the Parliamentary Secretary to the hon. Member for Bolton, on 23rd January, 1947, will be available;

(3) if he will make a full statement on the discussions which have taken place between the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and his Department regarding the erection of plant in Persia for the manufacture of carbon black suitable for tyre production.

The Inter-Departmental Committee on Carbon Black has held 17 formal meetings. Sir Charles Bruce-Gardner has kindly consented to continue as ohairman. The committee has presented an interim report which shows that it has assembled much valuable information, that a great deal of exploratory work has been done and that plans for the production of carbon black in this country are being explored. I have received confidential information from the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company which I am not at liberty to disclose.

In view of the fact that this committee was set up as long ago as April, 1946, for the purpose of developing other sources of supply of carbon black, both at home and in the sterling area, will my right hon. and learned Friend justify its existence? Will he also say how it is that he pays lip service to the necessity for conserving our dollar resources, when we spent last year 5,250,000 of our precious dollars on this commodity in the U.S.A., while at the same time millions of cubic feet of natural gas are being blown into the air every day in the Middle East which could be burned to produce the carbon black we require?

It is not necessary for me to justify the proceedings of this committee, which has done a very useful service in inquiring into what is a very complicated matter.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend think that that is good enough? Would he say why we are spending our reserve of valuable dollars on the purchase of carbon black, when it is not necessary to do so?

On a point of Order. I propose to raise this matter further on the Adjournment.

Perambulators

23.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the shortage of various raw materials used in the manufacture of perambulators will involve a substantial decrease in the production of perambulators; and what steps he proposes to take to prevent this unsatisfactory development.

The main bottleneck at present in the output of perambulators is the shortage of steel, and I am hopeful that we may be able to obtain more steel for this purpose.

Is the President of the Board of Trade aware that there are also other materials which have been cut, notably plywood and cotton? Can he hold out similar hopes in respect of these, and can he hold out hopes of the speedier meeting of the allocations than in fact is made even when they are reduced?

For the moment I understand that steel is the main bottleneck. When that is solved we will try to solve the others

Will the President of the Board of Trade say what the deficiency of perambulators is over the whole of the rest of this year? Is the figure of 150,000, which has been given in the Press, correct?

It is quite impossible for anyone to estimate the deficiency of perambulators.

Electricity Generator Exports

25.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the total value of electricity-generating equipment exported during each month January, February, March and April, 1947; and when the export of this equipment is likely to cease until home requirements are met.

The value of electrical generators of more than 200 K.W. capacity exported during January, February, March and April, 1947, totalled respectively £402,212, £437,241, £166,524 and £692,239. It would not be practicable to divert current export orders to home use but arrangements have been made to give preference to orders for home power plants.

Why is it necessary to export what are really raw materials without which we cannot produce goods for export at competitive prices?

These particular articles are not suitable for the home market. They have been made for export orders.

Is the export of these amounts of equipment holding up the erection of any plant in this country?

No, Sir, they are in fact expediting it, because they are clearing factories of export orders to make them available for others.

Mining Machinery Factories

26.

asked the President of the Board of Trade in which development areas have factories been approved for the production of milling machinery; and what progress has been made in their erection.

Factory building projects for the production of mining machinery have been approved in the North-Eastern, West Cumberland, South Lancashire and Scottish Development Areas. The project in the North-Eastern area comprises three extensions to an existing factory, two of which have been completed. The projects in the West Cumberland and Scottish areas are at present under construction. Work has not yet started on the project in the South Lancashire area.

27.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress has been made with the projects for the manufacture of opencast mining equipment in South Wales; where these projects are to be located; and how many men they are expected to employ when they are in production.

Projects for the manufacture or repair of opencast mining equipment are located at Cardiff and Aberdare. They consist of two extensions to an existing factory and a new factory at Cardiff and the allocation of a section of a Government-owned factory at Aberdare. Preliminary work on a small scale has started in the section of the Government factory. Construction of the new factory and the two extensions has not yet commenced. When in full production these schemes may be expected to give additional employment to about 450 men.

28.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what Government factory in South Wales has been allocated for the production of mining machinery; is the size of this factory; and when it is expected to be in production.

A factory at Rhymney has been made available for the production of mining machinery. The factory has an area of 40,000 square feet. The factory is in production and at the end of March, 1947, was employing 157 men. When in full production, it should employ about 300 men.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend regard the projects referred to in this and my two previous Questions as matters of special urgency, partly to provide machinery for the collieries and partly to provide employment for people who are unemployed in the development areas?

They will certainly be considered as matters of urgency so far as available supplies of building materials allow.

Salvage Collection

29.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he has now received the report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Collection of Salvage; if he intends to publish the report; and when he expects to put its recommendations into force.

Yes, Sir. I have received an interim report from the committee containing a number of recommendations which are being put into effect as rapidly as possible. It is not intended to publish the report.

Will the President of the Board of Trade take urgent action to encourage salvage, particularly of paper and glass containers, and urge the local authorities to collect them and bring them in?

Cellophane

30 and 31.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether he will state the amount of Cellophane exported from this country during the years 1946 and 1947, respectively; and

(2) whether he is aware that Cellophane is practically unobtainable in this country; that it is urgently needed as a wrapper for certain horticultural products; and what steps he proposes to take to improve the position.

Cellulose film production has been substantially increased since the end of the war in order to develop our export trade, and the quantity exported in 1946 was 4,900 tons and, in the first quarter of 1947, 1,500 tons. Up to 40 per cent. of the total production is available for home requirements but, in view of the need to encourage this valuable export, I should not be prepared to increase this. If the hon. Member will give me details of the materials to which he refers for which cellulose film is an essential wrapping, I will make inquiries to see if supplies can be made available out of the quantity at present provided for home requirement.

Is the Minister aware that the large and increasing quantities of Cellophane which are going abroad, as he said, go very largely to horticultural producers in other countries who send back their produce to this country in our own material, and that we cannot compete because we have not got the proper containers?

If the hon. and learned Gentleman will let me have the information he has in mind, I will see what can be done.

Children's Underwear

32.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make an allocation of children's summer underwear available in the Faversham Division of Kent.

Underwear is distributed through the normal trade channels and is not controlled by Board of Trade allocations. I have no reason to suppose that the Faversham Division of Kent is not receiving its proper share of children's summer underwear in relation to available supplies, but if my hon. Friend has evidence to the contrary, I will gladly examine it.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that these garments were absolutely unobtainable at the date when this Question was put down?

Clothing Coupons (Service Men)

33.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will cause civilian clothing coupons to be issued to men who have served for two years or more in His Majesty's Forces.

I cannot see my way to extend the concession already announced, under which civilian coupons are to be given to members of the Forces serving on a Regular engagement, to allow them to buy some civilian clothing during service in the Forces. Non-regular personnel who have now served for two years or more and who are released in due course under the present release scheme, will be entitled on release to receive, in addition to the civilian clothing outfit, 90 coupons as well as the current clothing book.

Is the Minister aware that many young men when they are called up are not fully developed, and that after a year or two in the Forces the civilian clothes which they had earlier simply do not cover them? Could he not reconsider this?

I am afraid we cannot reconsider it, because there is no more material available.

36.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a statement on the grant of additional allowances of coupons to purchase civilian clothing to members of the Regular Forces who have served continuously from 3rd September, 1939, and who are still serving.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Mr. G. Jeger), on 13th March.

I am aware of that reply, but may I ask the President of the Board of Trade to contact the Secretary of State for War to make that reply widely known to men in the Forces, because they do not know of this information?

Book Production

37.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that large printing plants suitable for book production are standing idle in Germany; and if he will take steps to enable these to be utilised to ease the book production difficulties in this country.

Owing to scarcity of fuel, paper, and other necessary supplies, printing and binding plant in the British zone of Germany may well be idle at present. Import licences will be given to firms in this country willing and able to buy such machinery if it is suitable for use here. It is also open to firms to find out whether the plant could be used in Germany for printing, or for binding printed matter sent there for the purpose. They would, of course, have to assure themselves that the necessary supplies of paper, binding cloth, etc., were available.

38.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the obstacles which prevent the purchase from Canada of a substantial quantity of paper, suitable for book production, at under £40 a ton.

I am not aware of any substantial quantity of paper which would be available at the price stated without detriment to our current supplies, but if my hon. Friend will let me have further details I will investigate the matter.

Light Industries, Midlothian

39.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps the Government has taken to put into practice its plans for the location of light industries in the development area of the county of Midlothian.

I would refer the noble Lord to the answer I gave to his Question on 13th February. The employment needs of the district to which he refers are being met by industrial developments approved for Bathgate, Broxburn and Linlithgow. In addition, the district supplies a substantial volume of labour to Edinburgh which is within fairly easy daily travelling distance.

Is the President of the Board of Trade aware that he has given me precisely the same answer as he gave before, and the answer he has given concerns, as it did before, West Lothian and has nothing whatever to do with Midlothian? Is he further aware that many thousands of men and women in Midlothian are very disappointed about the Government delays in the past on this matter, and are facing the future with a considerable amount of anxiety?

The present position is that there are 95 men and 21 women unemployed. I understand, which is not bigh

But the answer covers West Lothian and not Midlothian. The right hon. and learned Gentleman seems to know nothing about it.

Coal Industry

Northern Ireland

43.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will publish the communication which he sent to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in regard to the withdrawal of coal supplies in the event of the Northern Ireland Parliament not adopting double summer time.

No such communication has been sent to the Prime Minister or any other Minister of Northern Ireland. I recently saw the Northern Ireland Minister of Commerce and assured him that everything possible will be done to meet Northern Ireland's essential coal requirements.

Is the right hon Gentleman aware that when the Double Summer Time Bill came before the Northern Ireland Parliament, hon. Members of that Parliament were opposed to the Bill on the ground that the area is largely agricultural, and that the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, to secure the passage of the Bill, left the House under the impression, in a statement, that coal supplies would not be available from this country if the Bill was not passed?

I was able to assure the Minister of Commerce about the matter. I am aware that Sir Roland Nugent. the Minister of Commerce, did say in the Northern Ireland Parliament that there was no threat to deprive Northern Ireland of coal.

Domestic Supplies

44.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, what instructions have been issued by his department to fuel controllers that cause them to intimate to the public in response to requests for permits that they are not permitted to issue stocking licences during the summer months unless the premises are difficult to reach in the winter; why the previous policy of utilising the summer months for stocking domestic cellars with the total quantity to which individuals are entitled has been rescinded and why no coal may be supplied until after 1st November.

Local fuel overseers have been instructed that licences for additional supplies for stocking should be granted only for those premises difficult of access in winter. Any consumer may, however, acquire between May and October, subject to supplies being available, the quantities permitted for that period under the restrictions, and this allows, as last year, for well distributed stocking of all the house coal available after providing for essential consumption and the necessary reserves at merchants' depots.

Can the right hon. Gentleman let the House know why 1st November was fixed as the date on and after which coal could be supplied?

Coal can be supplied between May and October up to a permitted quantity. Thereafter, more can be supplied according to availability.

But in this case my constituent was told he could not be supplied until after 1st November. What is the purpose of preventing people from stocking up before the winter comes?

I understand the hon. Member wrote to my Department about a particular case. I think it had reference to boiler fuel and not to domestic coal in general. 1f that is the case, then clearly the person concerned would not obtain the full quantity between May and October, but would have to wait until 1st November to see what additional quantities could be supplied.

Allowances (Ex-Employees)

62.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what extent the National Coal Board is continuing the practice of many colliery companies of making coal and rent allowances to former employees who were severely disabled while on military service.

I am not aware that there was any general practice among colliery companies of the kind suggested, or whether there are cases where the Board have discontinued the practice of their predecessors, but if the hon. Member has a particular case in mind and will send me details, I will invite the National Coal Board to look into it and communicate with him.

Is it not true that a national organisation like the Coal Board has less soul, discretion and humanity than a private employer, and may I take advantage of the right hon. Gentleman's offer to send him particulars of a case where a disabled ex-Service man was continued in his house with his free coal allowance, but where the Coal Board has cut it off?

On the contrary, judging by what the National Coal Board have done in recent months, they have displayed much more humanity than their predecessors. I think that the hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension. I have made inquiries, and I cannot find that these practices were in operation when the pits were privately owned. However, if the hon. Gentleman has a specific case in mind of which I am not aware, I shall be glad to have particulars of it.

Output Comparison

63.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, if he is aware that some of the statistics on output and absenteeism issued by the public relations officers of his Department since the five-day week began have been based on comparisons with the output of previous weeks and others with the output in the same week of the previous year; and if he will see that the comparisons are on a uniform basis.

No, Sir. I personally have given statements on output in the weeks ended 10th May and 17th May which included comparative figures, both for the preceding weeks and for the corresponding weeks of last year. I also gave certain details of absenteeism in the week ended 10th May with comparative figures for the preceding week, for last year and for certain earlier years. It is the general practice of my Department to give comparisons both with preceding periods and the corresponding periods in previous years.

Is it not a fact that the public relations officers in the right hon. Gentleman's Department are not in every case comparing like with like, and is it not further the fact that it is very undesirable to have so much propaganda at public expense?

I think that we have given a great deal of information and many statistics on this matter.

Wages Agreement

64.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what were the provisions as to duration and date of expiry of the agreement on wages between employers and employed in the coal industry in force at the date of the vesting of the coal industry in public ownership.

The National Wages Agreement of 1944 provided that not less than six month's notice of termination should be given by either party, and that such notice should be given before the beginning of 1948.

Coal Board (Salaries)

65.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, whether he will provide a table setting out the precise amount of the present salaries of members of the National Coal Board, together with a note indicating what is permitted in addition by way of expenses in kind and in cash; and whether he can give a comparison between these figures and the salaries of officers conducting nationalised coalminers in other countries.

When the Coal Industry Nationalisation Bill was under consideration, I informed the House on 12th March, 1946, that the salary of each member of the Board would be £5,000 per annum, and of the chairman £8,500. No special salary has been fixed for the vice-chairman, and he is receiving the salary of a member, i.e. £5,000 per annum. On 5th November, 1946, I informed the House that, with the approval of the Treasury, I had authorised the Board to provide a global sum of £10,000 for the expenses of the Board, and that the application of this sum should be settled by the chairman of the Board. I have no details of the allocation of the expenses allowance between the members of the Board, nor have I any information about the remuneration of officers conducting nationalised coalmines in other countries where the circumstances differ so widely that comparison would not serve any useful purpose.

Will the information for which I have asked ever be given in detail, or will salaries and expenses be grouped together in a total sum when the accounts are presented? Will the public ever know how much these people are getting?

Will the right hon. Gentleman please answer my question? Will those items be shown in detail?

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is true that the difference between the Transport Board and the Coal Board is that the Coal Board is carrying more passengers?

Victoria Cross Annuity

46.

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the annuities at present payable to holders of the Victoria Cross are now inadequate having regard to the increased cost of living; and whether he will consider the grant of such increases in those annuities as will save their recipients from actual want.

The normal annuity is £10 per annum given concurrently with the decoration, and 6d. a day addition to pension. These awards may be increased under the terms of the pensions increase scheme. There is also provision for the increase of the annuity, together with any other pension from public funds, to £75 a year in all cases of need due to age or infirmity. It is not considered that these payments are inadequate for the Purpose for which they are intended. The monetary award can scarcely be commensurate with the value of the services rendered, which are marked by the grant of the decoration itself.

Will the Prime Minister explain, with reference to his statement that it is not considered that the payments are inadequate for the purpose for which they are intended, what that purpose is? Is it not to save old and infirm holders of the V.C. from want, and, if that is so, is £75 a year considered to be sufficient having regard to the present value of money?

I do not think it was originally planned on that basis at all. I refer my hon. and gallant Friend to what was said by the present Leader of the Opposition when he pronounced on this subject in 1943. He said:

"If we are to compute these matters by money values, I should be strongly in favour of much larger sums; but I think that would alter the character of these awards."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21St July, 1943: Vol. 391, c. 890.]
I think that these awards were never intended as pensions for subsistence.

Communist Activities

47.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of references on pages 32, 640 and 641 of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Spy Trials in Canada, issued on 27th June, 1946, to Communist activities in London and elsewhere in Britain, he will set up immediately a similar Royal Commission

do not think that the appointment of a Royal Commission is necessary for the purposes which I presume the hon. Member has in mind.

Does the Prime Minister realise that the root cause of the troubles in Britain today is the infiltration of the Communist Party, as evidenced by today's lightning strike at Smithfield Market?

I would like to ask the Prime Minister if he is aware that if the Communists did not exist the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) would be struck by vocal paralysis?

On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. May I ask whether it is consistent with the position of the Prime Minister for a flippant reply to be made to an hon. Member?

If the hon. Gentleman will forgive my saying so, he has rather invited such a reply.

Indian Army (Future)

48.

asked the Prime Minister if he will give an assurance that no decisions affecting the future control, composition and organisation of the Indian Army will be taken before a Debate has taken place in this House.

As the House is aware, the Viceroy is now in London for discussions with His Majesty's Government on policy with regard to the transfer of power in India. The question of the future control, composition and organisation of the Indian Army is, of course, closely linked to the wider problem of the transfer of power, and I am not in a position to make any statement at present. The House will have an opportunity of debating the matter in due course, but I regret that I am unable to give such an assurance as is asked for by the hon. and gallant Member.

Rationing And Points System

49.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will appoint an interdepartmental committee to review the rationing schemes now in force and to recommend what changes can be made to apply the points system more generally throughout the rationing structure and to introduce flexibility as between one rationed commodity and another.

No, Sir. I think that such a system would be undesirable and impracticable.

Does the Prime Minister realise that the black market of this country is growing, that it tends to· bring a whole range of law into contempt, and that the only way to overcome the black market, apart from the totalitarian way, is to modify the rationing structure to render legal what is now illegal?

The hon. Member's proposal, as I understand it, is that the points system should apply to everything—petrol, clothing and every form of food—but that is quite an impossible proposition.

Employment

Music Directors (Appointment Of Aliens)

50.

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that the Bournemouth Town Council has agreed to the appointment of Mr. Rudolph Schwarz, an Austrian, to be Director of Music to the corporation; that several British musicians of the highest qualifications were among the applicants for the post; and whether, in view of the desirability of encouraging native talent, particularly as few opportunities occur for permanent appointments as conductors in this country, he will ask the Bournemouth authorities to reconsider the appointment.

I am aware of the proposed appointment. The position is that an application for permission for Mr. Rudolf Schwarz to stay in this country in order to take up the appointment has just been received and is now under consideration. No decision has yet been reached.

Is the Minister aware of the very grave anxiety among musicians of all classes at this appointment of a foreign musician when there were 72 British applicants for this post, some with the highest musical qualifications and recommended by some of the greatest composers in this country? Is he also aware that in the case of the Scottish Orchestra, Covent Garden, and the B.B.C. Theatre Orchestra, permanent appointments have recently been given to foreigners, to the detriment of British conductors? How on earth are we to train conductors to fill responsible positions when these permanent positions are given to foreigners?

Is it not time we took a broader view? Will the right hon. Gentleman congratulate the Bournemouth Town Council on appointing this man, especially if he happens to be the best man? Is he aware that I know of two British conductors who have recently been appointed to very high positions in this country?

Would it not be best for the Minister to leave this alone and to leave the whole thing to the good sense and taste of the British musical world?

Is the Minister aware that, according to a statement made by the chairman of the committee which made this appointment, one reason why they appointed a foreigner was that no British applicant applied?

Can we have an assurance that the Minister of Labour and his colleagues do not favour the application of a closed shop against Mendelssohn, Bach and Beethoven?

Transport Workers' Hostels

51.

asked the Minister of Labour what is the total number of his Department's hostels; how many of these have recently been transferred from the Ministry of Supply and how many further hostels still under the Ministry of Supply are intended to be transferred; how many of them show an annual surplus over their operating costs; and what is the cost to the public over a period of 12 months, up to the last convenient date, representing the total deficit on operation of all these hostels for which he is responsible.

Hostels to house transferred industrial workers are administered on my behalf by the National Service Hostels Corporation, local authorities and voluntary agencies. At the end of March, 1947, the total number of such hostels was 106, of which 63 were under the control of the corporation. Fifteen were recently transferred from the Ministry of Supply and one other is to be transferred in a few months. None of these shows an annual surplus over operating costs. Grants totalling £1,371,000 were made to the corporation during the year ended 31st March, 1947, to meet the deficits on the costs, including capital charges and maintenance services, of the hostels under their control. In addition, grants totalling about £15,000 were made during 1945–47 to the various local authorities and voluntary agencies to meet the deficits on the running costs of small hostels managed by them on my behalf. Expenditure on premises and equipment of these latter hostels is normally borne by the Ministry of Works: separate figures of such costs are not available.

Can the Minister say of the hostels recently transferred which have doubled and trebled their administrative staffs, what facilities are granted to the administrative staff to know whether they are operating successfully or not, and what incentives are given to the management to increase the efficiency of the hostels under their control?

I think that is very wide of the original Question. If the hon. Gentleman will give me particulars of these hostels which have doubled and trebled their administrative staffs, I will look into it.

In view of the fact that there is a loss of something like £1 million, does the Minister think that this is a very satisfactory augury for State management in other Departments?

—but these people would be in a far worse situation where there were no houses for them if these hostels on which they relied did not exist. This is to meet the present situation.

Would the Minister point out that the National Hostels Corporation is expected to run at a loss as a deliberate policy and that it is not a case of unskilled administration as has been suggested?

That is correct. It gives me the opportunity which I welcome of saying how much I appreciate the voluntary services of the members of this corporation who are placing their great skill and knowledge at our disposal.

Ministry Staff (Redundancy)

52.

asked the Minister of Labour why his Department is dismissing employees owing to redundancy and failure to pass a written examination after 20 years' satisfactory service.

Staff are naturally not retained in my Department in excess of the requirements of the work, and the appointments of temporary officers who become redundant are terminated in accordance with the provisions of an agreement on order of discharge made by the Departmental Whitley Council. The agreement provides in general for the retention of officers with long service in preference to those with shorter service.

Is it not a fact that one of these officers who served for more than 20 years was dismissed because more civil servants were being recruited to the so-called permanent grades, and will the Minister give an assurance that officers with this length of service will not continue to be displaced because of new recruitments?

I am afraid that the hon. Member has been misinformed as to the facts—

The hon. Gentleman has had a letter about this case. This man left our employment and then came back, and when a man comes back his service dates from the time when he returned and not from the time when he was previously with us.

Tubercular Persons

53.

asked the Minister of Labour to what extent persons suffering from tuberculosis are being debarred from benefiting from the provisions of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act, 1944, on account of the nature of their disability and the necessity of undergoing a medical examination as a condition of participating in superannuation schemes of the industries concerned.

Sufferers from tuberculosis are not debarred from benefiting from the provisions of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a not unnatural reluctance on the part of employers to admit people suffering from T.B. to jobs that are reserved for disabled persons, and can he look into this to see that T.B. sufferers are given the same treatment as is accorded to other disabled persons?

They are, in fact, given that treatment. Obviously there are some kinds of occupation in enclosed premises or where the workers work in close proximity to each other where it is not wise to have this class of person, but there are many other occupations where they can be, and are, so employed. I have no real complaint against employers for making an unreasonable distinction.

Trade Dispute, Acton

54.

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the action of Messrs. Adrema, Limited, East Acton, in dismissing five employees for distributing leaflets adjacent to the exhibition of the firm's goods at the British Industries Fair, drawing attention to the existence of a trade dispute at the firm's factory; and whether he has yet been asked to intervene in the strike which has consequently arisen.

I am aware of this incident. There is adequate negotiating machinery in the engineering industry to deal with such matters.

Is the Minister aware that this dispute originated with the interference of the Engineering and Allied Employers' Federation, which appears to have insisted that three men should not be reinstated at the end of the fuel and power crisis, and in view of the strike-fomenting activities of this association, is there anything that can be done to avoid incidents of this character arising as a consequence?

My hon. Friend refers to interference by some outside organisation. I would like to impress on the House very sincerely that interference by Members of Parliament against the action of trade unions encourages unofficial strikes and does not help to stop them.

Is the Minister bearing in mind that the underlying cause of this strike is apparently the design of the firm to victimise certain employees—using the fuel crisis as a basis—by refusing to reemploy them?

Should that be so, then those men have a proper line of approach, and should take the matter before their trade union. Ignoring and side-stepping their unions and getting the matter raised on the Floor of the House does not help, but injures their case.

National Finance

Postwar Credits (Payment)

55.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the date when postwar Income Tax credits will be paid: the number of men and women, respectively, concerned; and the method by which application for payment should be made.

As my right hon. Friend indicated in his Budget Statement, the final repayments of postwar credits to old people will begin in the autumn, and should be completed by Christmas. I cannot yet give a definite date, but, as soon as arrangements are completed, an announcement will be made as to the procedure to be followed. The numbers concerned are 1,250,000 men and 500,000 women.

In view of the anxiety of these old people to know in advance when they will receive payment, could the right hon. Gentleman give an indication when he will be able to make a statement about the further details?

I cannot give any closer estimate than that given by my right hon. Friend in his Budget Statement. We hope that the autumn will be the date, and as soon as we can issue the actual details we will.

Capital Issues (Control Orders)

57.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement about the bringing into operation of Section 1 of the Borrowing (Control and Guarantees) Act.

Yes, Sir. Appropriate orders were made yesterday to come into force on 16th June. These are being laid before the House today. I will, with permission, circulate a fuller statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Could my right hon. Friend say whether Subsection (1, d) of Section r, which provides for the control of offers for sale, is comprised in the Orders referred to, as these offers for sale still require control?

My right hon. Friend had hoped to get rid of this particular control under the Order which is being promulgated now, but, as hon. Members will see, he is keeping a limited control for a while longer under the regulations which are now to be published.

Following is the Statement:

An Order was made yesterday under Section 1 of the Borrowing (Control and Guarantees) Act, to come into force on 16th June. Simultaneously, two other Orders have been made. The first is an Order-in-Council revoking the greater part of Regulation 6 of the Defence (Finance) Regulations. The second is an Exemptions Order made under the remaining portion of Regulation 6. The Order under the Borrowing Act follows the general lines of the draft published last year, but has been amended to implement certain assurances given when the Bill was before the House last summer.

The principal effect of the other two Orders is to retain in force, for the time being, a limited control of public offers for sale of domestic securities. I originally intended to abolish this part of the control altogether, but I have for some months been keeping a close watch on this form of appeal to the public. As a result, I am not satisfied that it will be in the public interest to remove control altogether at this stage. I am, however, limiting the control to public offers of shares or stock, where the company concerned has made an issue of shares or stock within the previous two years under any of the current exemptions. Revised instructions are being issued to the Capital Issues Committee, who will be given discretion in the case of those public offers remaining under. control to recommend consent, unless the proposals seem undesirable in the general public interest.

Under the new arrangements, Northern Ireland will in future run its own control of capital issues. Regulation 6 remains in force as regards the Isle of Man, as an interim measure pending the passage of local legislation. I give clear warning that I shall not hesitate to use my powers under the Borrowing Act to amend the new Order at short notice, if experience suggests that it has been drawn too widely.

Duke Of Windsor (Currency Allowances)

58.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what allotment of dollars, over and above the basic allocation of £75, has been made to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, respectively, in 1945, 1946 and to the nearest convenient date in 1947.

I am not prepared to disclose such information regarding particular individuals, whoever they may be

On a point of Order. Is it not in Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for a Member of this House who is concerned with the saving of dollars to ask a question of this kind? Is it not important that this House should be acquainted with the fact whether dollars are being spent by certain individuals in a private capacity, and has not the Minister the duty to give this information?

The Minister has answered the hon. Gentleman's Question, and he must be satisfied

Sterling Balances

59.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in regard to the large outstanding sterling debt, whether he will give a list of the countries involved, together with the amount of their sterling balances.

Publication at this time would not be suitable, in view of the negotiations which are taking place over the next three weeks.

Will the right hon. Gentleman publish these figures as soon as the negotiations are concluded?

Most of them are already published. I think that the list of what is owed is fairly well known. Negotiations are being conducted with quite a number of these countries, and if the hon. Gentleman will wait, I think there will be something to be said later on

Civil Service (Ex-Service Men)

61.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he will inquire into the possibility of making pensionable employment available in the Civil Service to men with the necessary qualifications who have served in both the 1914–18 war and the last war; and if he will make a statement on this matter.

Ex-Service men of the 1914–18 war have always been given preference for retention in unestablished posts and opportunities for their subsequent establishment have, from time to time, been made available. Increased opportunities for the establishment of unestablished civil servants will, I hope, soon be given. Long and competent service in an unestablished capacity has been, and will continue to be, a qualification for such establishment.

In making arrangements for permanent and pensionable appointments, to which the Question refers, will the right hon. Gentleman have regard to the findings of the Tomlin Commission in 1931 which recommended that temporary employment should be limited to a very short period, and that more permanent work should be staffed by permanent and pensionable staff?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are many men who have given upwards of 12 years' exceptional service to their country—men of considerable ability—who have been rendered almost desperate by their complete inability to find employment, and is it riot within the compass of his Department to endeavour to do something to find employment for people of this kind?

Yes, Sir, but the pressure from all quarters of this House is to reduce the Civil Service and not to increase it. Unfortunately, we cannot find jobs for people just because they need them, much as we would like to do so.

My supplementary question did not imply increasing staffs, but consideration of these men when appointments are made. Is my right hon. Friend aware that men over 41 years of age are not considered suitable to give tests for driving instruction and things of that kind? Those are the things of which we complain.

Shot Civilian (Dependants' Awards)

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has come to any decision about the payment of a grant to the widow of Mr. de Antiquis.

Yes, Sir. I have decided to make ex gratia awards to Mrs. de Antiquis of £100 a year, and to each of her six children of £18 a year up to age 16 Annuities will be purchased for this purpose.

Business Of The House

May I ask the Leader of the House to tell us the Business for next week? [Laughter.] I mean, of course, when we resume after the Recess. I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for having appeared to intrude into his domestic matters.

There will be plenty of business next week.

When the House resumes on Tuesday, 3rd June, it is proposed to take the Report stage and Third Reading of the Industrial Organisation Bill.

Wednesday and Thursday, 4th and 5th June, the Report stage of the Agriculture Bill.

Friday, 6th June, Second Reading of the Companies Bill [ Lords], and the Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

During the week we hope there will be an opportunity to obtain the Committee stage of the additional Ways and Means Resolution relating to Income Tax (Armed Forces of the Crown), and the Second Reading of the Education (Exemptions) (Scotland) Bill [ Lords].

Is it possible for the right hon. Gentleman to say when a statement on India will be made?

I am advised by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that it is not possible to give an indication at the moment as to when any statement on India will be made.

In view of the extremely important decision that has been given recently in relation to the Rent Acts and the further complications which have ensued in consequence of it, are the Government likely to take any steps to introduce a fresh Rent Bill?

I understand that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health is in communication with the chairman of the appropriate rent tribunal. We have no intention at the moment of introducing rent legislation.