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Written Answers

Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1947

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 18th June, 1947

Air Accident, Italy (Death Certificates)

7 and 8.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) with reference to the air accident on the Isle of Ischia on 8th March, 1947, what steps have been taken to obtain death certificates from the Italian authorities; what is the reason for the delay; and if he will take immediate action to obtain these certificates since the delay is causing hardship to the relatives;(2) whether he is aware that 13 persons were killed in an accident to an Air Ministry Dakota aircraft on the Isle of Ischia on 8th March, 1947; that no death certificates have yet been issued by the Italian authorities; that the widows are unable to obtain their pensions and that no one can proceed with the settlement of the estates; and whether, in view of these circumstances, he will authorise the British Consul in Italy to issue death certificates pending action by the Italian authorities.

A report concerning this accident was received from His Majesty's Consul General at Naples on 8th April. Of the five civilians involved four were apparently British subjects. Certain documents and other property belonging to the deceased and found in the wreckage were sent to the next-of-kin on 12th April. The Italian authorities have so far refused, owing to the lack of essential information, to issue death certificates. It is unusual to register deaths of British subjects in the Consular Register of Deaths without the production of the local death certificates. His Majesty's Consul General, however, may be authorised nevertheless to register deaths on the receipt of applications from competent people who furnish the necessary information.

Germany

Victims Of Nazism (Pensions)

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether pensions are now being drawn by elderly or sick Germans who suffered as a result of their resistance to the Nazi Government; or whether any special arrangements now exist to support their dependants.

Yes. Normal social insurance invalid and old age pensions are paid to victims of Nazism and survivors' pensions to their dependants if they were previously insured.

Vehicles Repair Workshop, Bannenburg

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will ensure that the registered Kreis workshop at Bannenburg will not be dismantled until other equally convenient facilities are made available to the North German Timber Control for the repair of their equipment and motor transport in that area.

It is not intended to dismantle this workshop. It will continue to be used for the repair of vehicles and equipment for the North German Timber Control.

Austria (Soviet Interrogations)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many Austrian employees in British military establishments in Vienna have been subjected to examination by Soviet police; how long this practice has persisted; what is its purpose; and what action is being taken by the British authorities.

During 1946 and 1947 official complaints have been made on two occasions by the British authorities to the Soviet authorities at Vienna with regard to reports of the interrogation of Austrians in British employment. In one case the employee had disappeared. Reports have been received relating to a few similar cases, but evidence is not available either to provide comprehensive figures or accurately to assess the purpose of the reported interrogation.

Food Supplies

African Groundnuts Scheme

60.

asked the Minister of Food what arrangements are being made for the social welfare of Africans in connection with the East African Groundnut Scheme.

The Government's intentions for the social welfare of Africans connected with the Groundnuts Scheme are stated in Command 7030. Many of the measures contemplated will be capable of development only when settled communities of families have been established in the new villages which will be built for the workers on each farm unit of 30,000 acres. At present only bush-clearing operations are in progress and the Africans engaged on this work are living in a camp where they have the benefit of health and medical services and a greatly improved diet.

Horseflesh

49 and 50.

asked the Minister of Food (1) since, under the Food and Drugs Act, 1938, all slaughterhouses must be licensed by the local authorities, and no part of an animal slaughtered in a knacker's yard, which requires a local authority licence, may be sold for human consumption, under whose authority licences have been issued for slaughterhouses where horses and ponies are killed for horseflesh for human consumption; and how many of such licences have been, in fact, issued by the appropriate authority;(2) how many shops have been licensed by his Department to sell horseflesh for human consumption, giving the areas where such shops are, in the most convenient manner, and indicating the approximate weight of horseflesh sold each week in each of these areas; and how is the inspection carried out so as to ensure that this horseflesh is fit for human consumption in accordance with the Food and Drugs Act, 1938.

Slaughterhouses are licensed by local authorities to deal with any animal whose flesh is intended for human consumption. I do not therefore know how many have slaughtered horses for horseflesh. Officers of local authorities have power to inspect horseflesh for human consumption at either slaughterhouses or shop and to condemn any they consider unfit for food. I cannot give the other information which the hon. Member wants, because we do not keep central records of shops licensed to sell this relatively unimportant food and there is no information about the quantity of horseflesh sold.

African Colonies

Kenya (Tribal Intermarriage)

23.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps have been taken in Kenya to implement the recommendations of the Carter Committee on the Interpenetration of Tribes.

The Carter Land Commission which reported in 1933 expressed the view that peaceful penetration between tribes, especially as a result of intermarriage, would be a useful method of distributing the population and raising the general level of attainment. The Committee made no specific recommendations for action and, as my hon. Friend is no doubt aware, there would be resistance by certain tribes to any steps calculated to this end.

West African Frontier Force

30.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many native troops of the West African Frontier Force were wounded during the war; how many were invalided from the service due to wounds and/or ill health; of such number how many were granted pensions; and of those granted pensions how many have since had their pensions terminated.

The information is not immediately available in London, but I am obtaining it and will send it to the hon. Member.

Corporal Punishment (West Africa)

66.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the distinction between the punishments of flogging and whipping in West African Colonies; whether he now has figures respecting corporal punishment in 1946; for what reason four punishments by flogging were given in the Gold Coast in 1945; for what offences the courts imposed whipping in 2,153 cases in Nigeria in 1945; and if the native authority has complete responsibility for awarding punishments by whipping, or whether it is subject to guidance and ratification by the Colonial administration.

As to the distinction, I understand that flogging is punishment inflicted with a cat-o'-nine tails while whipping is inflicted with cane or whip. I have not yet received figures for 1946. I will inquire from the Gold Coast Government for what offences the four punishments by flogging were given in 1945 and will inform my hon. Friend. The majority of the cases of whipping in Nigeria in 1945 were imposed for the following offences:—Wounding, assault, stealing, smuggling, and offences against morality. The imposition of corporal punishment by native courts in Nigeria is subject to the general guidance of the Nigerian Government. My hon. Friend is aware that my Advisory Committee on the treatment of offenders have given some consideration to this method of punishment and I addressed a Circular to the Colonal Government on the subject some months ago.

Colonial Empire

Government Lotteries

65.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what Colonial Governments have instituted Government lotteries or Government loans to which a prize system is attached; whether any general instructions have been issued to Colonial Governments on this subject; and whether he favours this means of raising money for public purposes.

A Government lottery has been in operation in Malta for a good many years and one is to be introduced in Gibraltar. Premium bonds have been issued by the Governments of Palestine and Cyprus. No general instructions have been issued to Colonial Governments on this subject. I do not myself favour Government lotteries as an expedient of general application and where Colonial Governments can raise money on reasonable terms by straight loan I prefer that to premium loans. But I think each case should be considered on its merits in the light of local circumstances, including particularly, local opinion.

Cotton Growing

69.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the views expressed by the Raw Cotton Advisory Committee on the need for giving additional encouragement to cotton growing in the Empire and particularly in the African Colonies; and whether any large-scale plans for such development during 1947 are in contemplation.

Yes. I have the views of the Raw Cotton Advisory Committee. I fully realise how important it is in present circumstances to increase cotton production in the Colonial Empire and my officers have given much attention to the matter. While a proper balance must be kept in Colonial economics in respect of food production, every effort is being made to open up new possibilities particularly in East and West Africa. The hon. Member will know, for instance, that the Colonial Office Mission now in West Africa will study the possibility of group cultivation of cotton by mechanical means, perhaps in rotation with other crops.

Ceylon Constitution Order (Proposed Amendment)

67.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he has now received a report of the debate on the motion in the Ceylon State Council on 14th May, carried by 21 to 16 votes, proposing an amendment of the Ceylon Constitution Order, 1946.

I have seen the report of the debate, but I have received no recommendation that any consequential action should be taken.

Mauritius

Government Employees (Trade Union Machinery)

70.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what machinery exists in Mauritius for consultation between trade union representatives and heads of Government Departments.

The Governor is considering the establishment of a Central Whitley Council for Government employees and of Departmental Advisory Committees for each Government Department on the lines recommended by the former Trade Union Adviser to the Mauritius Government. I have asked for a report on the present position and will communicate with my hon. Friend when it is received.

Co-Operative Societies

71.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many co-operative societies, producers', distributive and credit, exist in Mauritius; whether he is satisfied with the terms of the co-operative ordinance of 1945; and when it is intended to appoint a cooperative adviser.

According to the latest official figures there were in June, 1946, 77 co-operative credit societies in Mauritius and 14 in Rodrigues. There are, as yet, no producers or distributive societies but it is hoped that some will be started soon. I regard as satisfactory the terms of the Co-operative Ordinance of 1945 as amended by Ordinance No. 66 of 1946. It is not intended to appoint an adviser, but a full time registrar has recently been appointed.

Royal Navy

Lossiemouth Air Station (Hangar Cleaning)

79.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is aware that, on or about 30th May, apparently in preparation for an inspection by a senior officer, a large quantity of petrol was used for cleaning the floors of hangars at the Royal Naval air station, Lossiemouth; why this use of petrol was ordered and by whom; and if he will take steps to prevent a recurrence of such waste.

I am having immediate inquiries made into the allegation contained in my hon. Friend's Question and will inform him as soon as they are complete.

Aircraft (Gunnery And Radar Exercises)

80.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will state the number of hours, for each of the first five months of 1947, during which Naval aircraft have flown exercises for the gunnery and radar establishments at Portsmouth; and the approximate time of day at which such exercise flights have normally taken place.

The number of hours flown by Naval aircraft for exercises for the Gunnery and Radar Establishments at Portsmouth in each of the first five months of this year was: January, 62 hours; February, 36 hours; March, 62 hours; April, 64 hours; May, 129 hours. These flights normally took place between 9.30 and 12 o'clock in the morning and between 1.15 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon on Monday to Friday inclusive.

Foreign Service Allowances, Malta

81.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty why his Department has not yet given a decision on an application made on 21st January last by the Civil Service Clerical Association that a dispute regarding foreign service allowances payable to Maltese staffs should be referred to the Civil Service Arbitration Tribunal; whether he is aware that this protracted delay constitutes a violation of the arbitration agreement reached between the official and staff sides of the Civil Service National Whitley Council; and what steps he proposes to take to avoid any further delay in this matter.

Wizen this claim was mentioned in discussion with representatives of the C.S.C.A. towards the end of April they indicated that they would be prepared to consider a compromise settlement without pressing their request for arbitration. I hope that it will shortly be possible to tell the Association whether or not such an offer can be made and if so to put proposals before them.

Broadcasting (Relays And Rediffusion)

82.

asked the Postmaster-General what proposals he has in view with regard to broadcasting relays and rediffusion.

The Government's intentions are as stated in Appendix 3 of the White Paper on Broadcasting Policy published in July last year (Cmd. 6852).

Telephone Service

Newport

83.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that an application for a telephone was made by the Royal Gwent Hospital, Workmen's Fund, Newport, in 1942; that the agreement was forwarded in January, 1947, and was duly signed and returned at once; that the telephone has not yet been installed; and, in view of the urgent need, when it will be provided.

I have been unable to trace any application for telephone service from the Royal Gwent Hospital Workmen's Fund. I understand, however, that an application was made in 1942 by a business man who was appointed secretary to the fund in March, 1947. The work of providing this line was originally held up by lack of spare wires, and more recently by delay in obtaining special cable for crossing power wires. These difficulties have now been overcome, and I hope that the installation will be completed within the next few weeks.

86.

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that there is often a delay of over 10 minutes before callers at Newport are able to secure connection with telephone numbers in Cardiff which is only 10 miles away; and if he will take steps to secure greater promptitude for such calls.

I regret that, owing to shortage of equipment, there is occasionally some delay in answering calls from Newport to Cardiff in periods of heavy traffic. Measures are in hand to provide additional equipment, which I hope will remedy the situation.

Leicester Area

88.

asked the Postmaster-General how many applications which have been made for telephones in the Leicester, Oadby, Thurnby and Kirby Muxloe areas, respectively, are still outstanding; what are the dates of the earliest of these applications in each of these districts; and whether he will take immediate steps to satisfy the needs of the residents in this respect.

The numbers of outstanding applications for telephones in the Leicester, Oadby, Thurnby and Kirby Muxloe areas are 2,901, 119, 288 and 39. The earliest dates of application in each area are June, 1940, June, 1945, June 1940 and January, 1946. Provision of the necessary additional exchange equipment and subscribers' cables in these areas is being pressed forward as rapidly as the difficult supply situation permits.

Postal Services

84.

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that there is no delivery of letters in Sutton Coldfield until after most of the residents have left home for business; that letters posted in England often take over 36 hours to reach their destination in Sutton Goldfield; and what steps he has taken to provide a remedy.

Following a rearrangement of the postal services at Sutton Coldfield in order to save manpower, the first delivery in that town finishes later than hitherto. The aim is to complete the delivery by 9.15 a.m. and this should be achieved within the next two or three weeks as the postmen become accustomed to their new duties and delivery rounds. Meanwhile, I am sorry for the inconvenience occasioned. With regard to the second part of the Question, I regret that the re-arrangements have resulted in some delay; but I hope that with the changes already made such delays will be reduced to a minimum.

89.

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that the late delivery of the English mail is causing much inconvenience to the business community in Edinburgh; and whether he will consider making some adjustment in the postal service to meet, this point.

I am aware that, owing to late running, the English mail often fails to connect with the first delivery in Edinburgh, but everything possible is being done in close collaboration with the railway company to bring about an improvement. The only practicable adjustment would be to make the first delivery later, but I fear that the disadvantages of this change would outweigh the advantages.

90.

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware of the disruption of business contacts between Edinburgh and the South consequent upon the cancellation of the late afternoon collection of letters; and whether, in the interests of efficiency, he will consider the replacement of this service in the central area of the city.

I assume that the hon. and gallant Member is referring to the 8.0–8.30 p.m. (restricted) collection. Its withdrawal is part of the scheme to save manpower in the Post Office and to release staff for production and it could not be restored without additional calls on manpower. This collection was confined to selected posting boxes in Edinburgh and was supplementary to the general night mail collection at 5.45–6.30 p.m. (7.30 p.m. at the Head Office box). Urgent letters for the South can still be posted at the Edinburgh Head Post Office up to 9.0 p.m.

Royal Air Force

Regular Airmen (Home Service)

91.

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he is aware of the dissatisfaction in the R.A.F. that the prewar practice of arranging for Regular airmen to spend their last year of service in the United Kingdom has not been restored; and how soon the supply of trained men will be sufficient to enable this to be resumed.

I know there is some dissatisfaction, but I am afraid it will be some time before we can fully restore this prewar privilege. We have made a start by arranging with Commanders-in-Chief overseas for Regular airmen, where possible, to spend the last six months of their service at home.

Waaf Compound, Kasfareet

92.

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will arrange for a high barbed-wire fence with a proper screen inside to be erected round the W.A.A.F. compound at 107 M.U. Kasfareet, and for the employment of exclusively female local civilian labour inside the compound.

I am expecting a full report on conditions at Kasfareet and I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as I have received it. In the meantime my hon. Friend will be glad to know that the building of a new fence and screen round the W.A.A.F. compound has begun.

Civil Aviation

Beac Services

94.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether he is now in a position to announce a date on which scheduled services will begin to operate to North-East England.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Peter Freeman) on 7th May last, when I said that in accordance with the provisions of the Civil Aviation Act, 1946, my Department in association with the British European Airways Corporation is reviewing the whole general plan of air services in the Corporation's field with a view to determining the speed with which the different parts can be implemented in 1947–48. Until this review is complete, I regret I cannot make a statement about this particular service.

Croft Aerodrome

95.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if he has reached a decision concerning the use of Croft aerodrome as a civil airport to serve the North-East and North European countries.

I regret that I am unable to anticipate the general statement that my noble Friend hopes to make shortly about civil aerodromes to be used in the United Kingdom for regular air services.

Fraulein Ilse Kuhl (Visa)

97.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why a visa has not been issued to Fraulein Ilse Kuhl of Elmshorn, Deepentwiete 5, who wishes to come to England to marry her fiancé, 14301884 Signalman K. G. Beaufoy, on demobilisation leave, all papers having been completed and guarantees having been provided six weeks ago.

The Passport Control Officer in Berlin has not yet received an application by this woman for a visa, but he is prepared to grant one as soon as she submits an exit permit from Germany on which he can endorse the visa.

Railways (Fuel-Oil Conversion)

asked the Minister of Transport if he will take steps to persuade the railway companies of the advantage of utilising oil boats operating on our rivers and the adjacent storing facilities for fuel oil, particularly in the area served by the River Trent between Hull and Nottingham, and so help the progress of the conversion of coal-burning locomotives to oil that is at present being retarded by the lack of railway oil trucks and storage facilites.

The progress of conversion is not at present being retarded by lack of oil tank wagons or storage facilities, but by difficulties in obtaining delivery of essential equipment for the erection of oil fuelling installations at locomotive depots and for the conversion of locomotives.

Trade And Commerce

Gas Mantles

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will take the necessary steps to increase the supply of gas mantles to the Derby area.

Production has increased this year, hut there are still considerable arrears of demand to be met. I have no reason to suppose that the Derby area has received less than its fair share of supplies, but if my hon. Friend will let me have particulars of any large outstanding orders, I will look into the matter.

Leather And Footwear (Levy)

asked the President of the Board of Trade if the levy on manufacturers to the Leather and Footwear Export Corporation is compulsory; and under what authority the levy is made.

Yes. The levy is imposed by the Encouragement of Exports (Leather Footwear and Allied Products) Order, 1940 (S.R.O. 1940, No. 1986), under the authority of powers conferred on the Board of Trade by Regulation 3 of the Defence (Encouragement of Exports) Regulations, 1940 (S.R.O. 1940, No. 1210 as amended by S.R.O. 1940, No. 1966). The validity of these Regulations was extended until 1950 by the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945.

Building Repair Licences

asked the Minister of Works if he is aware that a luxury restaurant is shortly to be opened at 96, Piccadilly; that extensive alterations are being carried out as well as repairs of bomb damage, while the Hammersmith Borough Council have been refused a licence to spend about £640 to recondition a former club premises at 117, Goldhawk Road, for the purpose of accommodating the local Civil Defence organisation which was set up to carry out the wishes of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to administer welfare and assistance work; and if he will reconsider this application and enable this organisation to use the premises which have been purchased on their behalf.

The licence for work to make 96, Piccadilly fit for use as a restaurant was granted on the recommendation of the Ministry of Food. Only essential work is being carried out. The proposal made by the Hammersmith Borough Council for work to 117, Goldhawk Road, is, I understand, being considered by the Department concerned.