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Commons Chamber

Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1947

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 18th June, 1947

The House met at Half past Two o'Clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Oral Answers To Questions

Soviet Delegation's Visit (Film)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is now satisfied with the result of the film covering the visit of the Supreme Soviet Delegation to this country.

This film has now been re-examined, and it has been decided to reshape it so that the most interesting items may be incorporated individually in newsreels.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Government lost a good opportunity of showing the Russian people what can be done in this country? If the Government's propaganda department are not capable of dealing with these matters, why not hand them over to a private company, which would make a good job of them?

I think there is some confusion in the hon. and gallant Gentleman's thinking. However excellent the technical production may have been—and I do not pretend that it was—our ability to display the film would have been dependent primarily on the facilities for exhibition.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what financial loss was incurred on this film?

Prisoners Of War



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many Ukrainian personnel of the former S.S. Division, Galizien, are being brought to this country; whether they have been screened to ensure that there are no war criminals among them; whether any demands for the extradition of these men have been made by Allied Governments; and what the status of these men will be in Britain.

Some 8,000 Ukrainians have been brought to this country from Italy. They were members of the 1st Ukrainian Division of the Wehrmacht. A cross-section of this Division was screened by a Soviet mission in August, 1945, and a further cross-section was screened by the Refugee Screening Commission in February of this year. No war criminals were discovered as a result of these processes. The Soviet Government have requested that the members of this Division be sent to the U.S.S.R., but since the overwhelming majority of the men concerned come from territory incorporated into the Soviet Union after 1st September, 1939, His Majesty's Government have not seen their way to comply with this request. Their status while in this country is the same as that of other prisoners of war.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether these men will be employed in this country?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that members of this Division were exceptionally brutal, that they murdered hundreds of people in cold blood? Will he take all the steps necessary to see that none of those who come to this country took part in any of these sadistic and vicious incidents?

Is it not a fact that the Ukrainians loath the Muscovites and hate the Germans, and that what they really want is to be independent of both?

I can assure my hon. Friend that we have taken the most extensive precautions to see that anyone guilty of crime is so treated, and I have no doubt that there will be further screening processes associated with these men.

Camps (German Civilians' Visits)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will encourage further visits to Wilton Park and other prisoner of war establishments by groups of German civilians representative of various trades and professions; if he will ensure that, during such visits, full opportunity is offered to the visitors to acquaint themselves at first hand with conditions in the trades and professions which they represent; and if he will endeavour to arrange that some women are included in each of such parties.

Plans have already been made for further such visits to take place and a number of women will be included in future parties to Wilton Park. The programmes of these German civilians are specially designed to enable them to study at first hand the trades and professions of interest to them and include also visits to other prisoner of war camps.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will circulate a statement in HANSARD or publish a White Paper summarising the results of the experiment in the reeducation of German prisoners at Wilton Park, Radwinter Youth Camp and elsewhere, and indicating the lines on which the experiment may be extended, both among those prisoners who are to remain here during 1947 and 1948 and, where possible, among those who have been repatriated, among Germans detained in civilian internment camps and among the civil population in Western Germany; and if, in the operation of such a scheme in Germany, he will make use of the services of suitable repatriated ex-prisoners.

I am indebted to my hon. Friend for his suggestion and for his help and interest in this subject. I fear, however, that it is not yet possible to assess the results of this experiment, although material is now being collected for a comprehensive study. When this has been completed I will certainly consider whether a suitable public report could be made. Meanwhile we shall continue with educational activities in the prisoner of war camps, including Wilton Park and Radwinter, and wherever possible shall extend to other camps at least some of the features of the latter. Particular attention will be devoted to young prisoners. The Control Commission is studying the possibility of extending re-educational activities in Germany, and of securing help from repatriated prisoners of war in this task.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that as repatriation proceeds, the main emphasis of this re-educational work will naturally move from this country to Germany?

That is plain, and that is why we have already started studies as to how the incidence of the process may be shifted to Germany.


Timber Control (Equipment)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the work of the North German Timber Control in obtaining timber for building in this country has been allowed to be held up owing to poor equipment and the delay in obtaining spare parts.

Supplies of equipment to the North German Timber Control have been limited by a world shortage of the equipment required and the competing claims of other users, including the United Kingdom.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make further inquiries? Will he see that the equipment already completely worn out, through working in Scotland during the war, is replaced with modern equipment, and that equipment is not kept out of action through lack of spare parts?

Much equipment is out of use because of lack of spare parts, and for some equipment no spare parts are available. Some cannibalising processes have been put into operation, and we are trying to build up a decent supply of units which can be easily maintained.

Control Staff (Uniform)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why members of the Control Commission for Germany and displaced persons in the British zone are both, on occasions, expected to wear blue battledress, so that the two classes are frequently indistinguishable.

Members of the Control Commission for Germany, with the exception of car drivers and British civil police, are not required to wear uniform, although they are permitted to wear blue battledress if they so desire. Those who wear uniforms when on duty wear distinctive flashes to make them easily distinguishable from those Germans and displaced persons who have been authorised to wear blue battledress.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think the dress regulations are absolutely ridiculous? If members of the Control Commission are expected, or allowed, to wear uniform it should at least be different from that of their D.P. drivers.

I am sure that if there was nothing else at stake that is an excellent conclusion, but if displaced persons or officials have to be clothed at the expense of the British community I would think that that conclusion was wrong. We must use what material is available.

Is this arrangement supposed to be an aid to democratisation?

Food Transport


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs who will pay for the transport of food into Germany, having regard to the fact that merchant shipbuilding in Germany is forbidden under the Potsdam Declaration; and whether, in this matter, he will consider revising it.

The cost of transport of food for the joint zone of Germany is added to the cost of the food itself and under the fusion agreement is shared equally by the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom. These costs are recoverable from the proceeds of future German exports. My right hon. Friend does not consider that a departure from the agreed inter-Allied policy forbidding merchant shipbuilding in Germany would be justified.

Will my right hon. Friend think again? Is it not absurd to prevent a population of 60 odd million persons who are dependent for at least 50 per cent. of their food supplies from outside from having a merchant navy; and is it not a fact that they are now precluded from getting the food they used to get from the Eastern zone, and does not this give my right hon. Friend justification for reconsidering the whole position?

It is not His Majesty's Government policy to depart from the Potsdam Agreement. My hon. Friend may be assured that my right hon. Friend is constantly concerned with this matter.

Control Commission (Fines)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware of the anomalies in the British zone of Germany as a result of which fines imposed on Control Commission for Germany officials and their families by Control Commission courts are being paid by British taxpayers; and if he will make a statement.

I am not aware of any such anomalies. Fines imposed by Control Commission courts on members of the Control Commission staff or their families are payable by the defendant in British Armed Forces Special Vouchers in Germany or by a sterling cheque or draft on a personal bank account in the United Kingdom and are credited to the Department's Vote.

Compensation Payments


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why compensation is to be paid out of German funds in cases where Control Commission panels determine that responsibility for damage to the person or property of Germans attaches to a member or employee of the occupying authorities.

These compensation payments are part of the internal cost of occupation and are, therefore, properly to be borne by the Germans.

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that where a member of the Control Commission has, through neglect or wrong-doing, committed some act, it can hardly be called a part of the normal cost of occupation? Does it not appear an odd conception of justice that such exceptional costs should have to be charged against the people who have suffered from those acts?

The question of negligence seems to me to be a separate one, and it is being examined by my office, but it is a most complex legal question. I repeat that the presence of an occupying force there is, however, unpalatable, a consequence that the Germans must accept, and these items will therefore find their proper place in the accounts eventually presented to them.


German Assets


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what agreement exists between the Allies by which the U.S.S.R. may take German assets in Hungary as reparations; and whether any satisfactory definition of German assets has been reached.

It was agreed between the Allies at Potsdam that the Soviet Union might take German assets in Hungary as reparations. This agreement has now been incorporated in Article 28 of the Treaty of Peace with Hungary, whereby Hungary also recognises this obligation. No satisfactory definition of German assets has yet been reached.

Is it not unwise to incorporate in this Treaty a phrase which no one is able to define?

There will be no difficulty in defining 'the phrase. The difficulty has been in defining the assets.

Political Situation


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet received any evidence from the Soviet authorities in Hungary as to the alleged plot of M. Nagy to overthrow his own Government; and whether he proposes to take any further action in the matter.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet received further information about the recent political changes in Hungary; and what steps he proposes to take to indicate the principles of the United Nations Charter which have been violated there.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is in a position to state the reply received by the British Ambassador from the Russian People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs with regard to his demand for information relating to the situation in Hungary.

As I informed the House on 12th June, we are continuing to press the Soviet Government for full information on developments in Hungary, and we are awaiting a report on further representations which are being made by His Majesty's Ambassador in Moscow. The House will, therefore, appreciate that we are not meantime in a position to add to the statement made on 12th June.

In view of the fact that M. Molotov has now added insult to injury by his treatment of our Ambassador, will the Minister indicate to the Soviet Union that a continuance of this policy on their part will lead us to collaborate with America and other peace-loving nations in order to halt the advance of the police State across Europe?

His Majesty's Government have repeatedly made it plain that with or without collaboration we will oppose political police forces in Europe or elsewhere.

Is it not unusual, and contrary to diplomatic practice to publish a private conversation between a Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and a Foreign Minister, especially when these published conversations reflect upon the Minister by accusing him of underground methods?

In view of the categorical terms of the Yalta Agreement, whereby all such documents should be made clearly available between the Powers, will not the Minister agree that it is quite impossible for us to reach any measure of international understanding if any of the Powers refuse to adhere to the terms of that Agreement?

We have already made it plain that we are anxious that there should be international collaboration, particularly when such collaboration has been precisely and specifically defined and provided for.

Is it not the case that M. Molotov did not insult the British Ambassador, but informed him that all the facts he wanted would be available at the open and public trial that is to take place in Hungary, and is it not the case that the British Ambassador or any other representative can attend that trial and get all the facts?

I believe that is so, but His Majesty's Ambassador was not sent to discuss that matter with M. Molotov. He was sent to ask why documents which should have been made available according to an agreement bearing the signatures of Britain, America and the Soviet Government have not been made available under the terms of those signatures.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the very salutory effect which reference to U.N.O. would have at this stage, particularly in view of the varied kind of supplementary questions we are getting?

His Majesty's Government have been and will continue to be the foremost supporters of the United Nations, but it is not plain that that would be the most appropriate action; indeed, everything is obscure until we have the facts.

This matter will be debated tomorrow, and we had better leave it until then.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, if he will consider sending a fact-finding mission, representative of all political parties, to Hungary and South-East Europe to investigate the present position there.

My right hon. Friend has considered such a suggestion but does not think it feasible.

Is it not desirable that, while all the facts are not known about Hungary and South-East Europe, and while there is still a considerable amount of somewhat reckless speculation, the right hon. Gentleman should attempt to establish the facts by whatever means are possible, particularly along the lines suggested and would this not have the effect of improving relations between this country and South-East Europe?

His Majesty's Government are, as I have said, well served by their representatives in this area. However, I do not pretend that we are in possession of all the facts, but if this House is to concern itself with that job, I do not think it will have time to meet as a House.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether instructions will be given to the British representative in Hungary to request that no elections should take place except under international control and after the withdrawal of the Russian troops in order that Article II of the Treaty may be carried out.

Is it not very essential that we should take steps to see that if an election is held it should be carried out fairly, and that there should be no previous elimination of members of parties which are hostile to the Government, and further, why should there be an election at all considering that they had one two years ago which was free, unfettered and fair?

The second question seems to me to be one for the Hungarian Government, and it is precisely because I think so that I am not anxious to try and superimpose control upon a Government which should be free.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House what part, if any, the British element in the Control Commission will have in the arrangements for this election—will it be equal to that of all other members of the Control Commission, and not more or less?

Is it not particularly unfortunate to presuppose that an election will be held?

Trial, Budapest


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether a British representative will be present as observer at the trial of Mr. Misteth, formerly Hungarian Minister of Reconstruction, and the remaining 43 accused members of the Smallholders and other parties.

Since the trial is likely to be long, it will not be practicable for a member of the British Political Mission in Budapest to attend throughout the proceedings. They will, however, be most carefully followed and reported to His Majesty's Government. The trial is open, and British newspapers and news agencies represented in Budapest will doubtless report the proceedings to the British public.

Is not the presence of an experienced observer, a man who is able to tell whether the witnesses have been drugged or not, essential?

Is it not a fact that in the People's Court where this trial will take place the presiding judge is a professional jurist, and that he is supported by representatives of all the political parties? Is it not also a fact that the whole Hungarian population regards this Court as fair and just?

Before my right hon. Friend answers that may I ask is it not highly undesirable that a judge should be supported by representatives of political parties?

Foreign Service (New Entrants)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the total number of students from Scottish universities who presented themselves for the reconstruction competition up to the end of May, 1947; and the number of those who were successful in the written part of the examination.

With regard to the first part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given on 4th pine by my right hon. Friend to my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. Haire) when full particulars about successful candidates in the Reconstruction Examinations for the Foreign Service were given. It was then explained that no detailed analysis of the educational background of unsuccessful candidates was available. With regard to, the second part of the Question, 51 candidates who had at some stage attended a Scottish university were successful in the written part of the examination and in the oral language test between August, 1945, and November, 1946. The results of the April, 1947, examination have not yet been analysed.

May I take it that my right hon. Friend's answer means that out of 51 candidates who passed the written examination only one passed the oral examination, and is he aware that there is a considerable feeling in Scotland that the candidates who passed in the written and failed in the oral failed because they lacked the proper "accent," both vocal and educational?

My hon. Friend is not quite accurate in saying that only one passed. There were some candidates who had been at Scottish and English institutions, and the number is, therefore, slightly better than it would seem. My attention has been drawn to an article in a Scottish newspaper by a candidate, and my hon. Friend may be assured that I am taking steps to make certain that no candidate is penalised by employing the warm, distinctive and robust accent which I always employ myself.


Balfour Declaration (Letter)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will publish the complete letter from Lord Balfour to Mr. Rothschild embodying the Balfour Declaration.

The letter to which my hon. Friend refers received wide publicity shortly after i' was issued and is given in full in a number of standard works of reference on the Palestine question.

Can my right hon. Friend give the date of the letter? Is he aware that his reply will cause a great deal of satisfaction among those people who believe that the whole of this thing was bogus and formed part of a much more comprehensive letter from Mr. Balfour?

If the right hon. Gentleman is thinking of republishing the letter, will he also publish the correspondence, some of it confidential, between various high officials and the late King Hussein in order that the public may have an opportunity of understanding the unwisdom of the Government of the' time in giving two contradictory statements?

It is not the usual custom, of this House to print documents which are easily available, and interested people, I am certain, can find the letter in a number of publications. The one in which I saw it was the "Encyclopædia Britannica."

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that when this letter was published it stated clearly that it was a declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations, submitted to and approved by the Cabinet, and will he be good enough to tell us, so that there may be no doubt in future, what were these documents and submissions?

While I cannot be drawn into a controversy by way of saying "Yes" or "No," the letter went on to discuss certain other interests which must be safeguarded.

Jewish Agency


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the declared intentions of the Jews to use force in imposing illegal immigration into Palestine, he will now take steps to close down the Jewish Agency.

My hon. Friend is no doubt referring to a resolution passed by the Elected Assembly of the Jewish Community in Palestine on 22nd May, declaring that the Jewish Community is prepared to use force for the protection of immigration, land settlement, and its own security. I regret the terms of this resolution, particularly in present circumstances. I do not consider that the occasion calls for such action as my hon. Friend suggests against the Jewish Agency.

Does not my right hon. Friend recollect that many of the responsible members of the Jewish Agency were directly involved in the King David Hotel incident, as illustrated in the White Paper; and how does he tie that up with the present threat to the Arabs which he gave in this House last week not to give any incitement to violence or strong measures would be taken? Why not take equally strong measures against the Jews?

I think it must be obvious to everyone that law and order must be preserved in Palestine and terrorism must be repressed, but in view of the special commitments of the Jewish Agency under the Mandate there is no action at present which can in any way be taken for suppressing the Agency.

I know, but does my right hon. Friend realise that the Arabs do not recognise the Mandate for a moment?

While I accept the Minister's answer, will he indicate that if any individuals in this country advocate violence in Palestine, as has been recently done in America, they will be prosecuted with the full rigour of the law?

Army General Service Medal


asked the Prime Minister if the Army General Service Medal will be issued to troops now serving in Palestine.

In view of the fact that we may have to keep considerable numbers of troops in Palestine for many months to come, will the Prime Minister bear in mind that some recognition now would be much appreciated in view of the very arduous duties which our troops have to perform?

We are looking into it but I am sure the hon. and gallant Member knows how difficult are the marginal questions in connection with this matter of medals.

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider the issue of a General Service medal for postwar services?

In respect of any areas where there is fighting and in which troops risk their lives.

I think it is better to treat each of these areas on its merits.

Italy (Displaced Persons)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware of the increased nervousness among Displaced Persons in Italy that after the ratification of the Italian Treaty they risk forcible repatriation to their own countries; and whether he is now in a position to give details of the arrangements that have been made, in conjunction with other members of the International Refugee Organisation, to provide for the future security of all Displaced Persons now in Italy.

I hope that any nervousness will now have been alleviated as a result of the signature by the Italian Government and the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees of an agreement providing for mutual consultations on the questions affecting all refugees remaining in Italy. The decision by the Preparatory Commission of the International Refugee Organisation to continue the work of U.N.R.R.A. and the Intergovernmental Committee should also reassure them.

African Colonies

Cattle Industry


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps are being taken to develop the cattle-rearing industry in South Africa, Rhodesia and other parts of East Africa which may be suitable, with a view to making this country less dependent on the Argentine and other sources of supply outside the Empire.

In regard to South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, the hon. Member knows that Questions relating to these territories are not answered by the Colonial Secretary. In regard to East Africa and Northern Rhodesia, increasing quantities of meat and animal products have become available in recent years, both, for local consumption and for export. But increased production depends on many factors, including greater control over diseases, improvement of pastures, etc., and these are being tackled. The provision of additional facilities for marketing and for processing or refrigeration are also receiving consideration but I would add that in some areas much depends on the willingness of African owners to co-operate with the technical advisers of the local government or to sell their stock for food. The whole question continues to be actively pursued.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the enormous benefit we should receive in this country if we were not so dependent on supplies from outside the Colonial Empire; and is he further aware that increased production would prevent prices being raised against us, as is at present happening?

We are doing all we can to increase the export of meat from East Africa.

Maize-Growing Areas


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps are being taken to develop the maize-growing areas in South Africa, Rhodesia, East Africa and Kenya, with a view to making this country less dependent on supplies from the Argentine and other sources.

It is not within my province to deal with matters affecting South Africa or Southern Rhodesia. As regards East Africa, the whole maize production is likely to be required for local consumption. Production was maintained at a high level during the war at the risk of soil erosion and loss of soil fertility, and these dangers limit the possibility of increased production now. Production will, however, be kept at as high a level as possible.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that in the case of Northern Rhodesia there is a great deal of opportunity for further maize-growing, and all that is required, which I understand the Government have provided, is a guaranteed price over a number of years?

Yes, there is a guaranteed price, and the whole problem of maize production and the production of other food crops is now receiving the closest attention.

Nigeria (Ordinance)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether his attention has been drawn to the Criminal Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 1947, by the Nigerian Government which makes strike action by persons employed in public utility undertakings a criminal offence; if he is aware that the Nigerian Trade Union Congress has criticised it as an attempt to bind the workers concerned to their jobs without binding the employers to give fair treatment; and if he will call the attention of the Nigerian Government to the desirability of a reconsideration of the Ordinance.

I am aware of the Ordinance in question, which relates no breeches of contract by persons employed in certain services, and of the criticism which it has evoked from the Nigeria Trades Union Congress. As regards to the third part of the Question, I would invite attention to my reply to the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) on 3rd of April. For the reasons then stated, I do not consider that there is any necessity for the action which my hon. Friend now suggests.

Agricultural Development Fund, Tanganyika


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when the Agricultural Development Fund was started in Tanganyika; to what sum it now amounts, how it is derived, and on what purposes it is to be spent.

The Fund in question was started in October, 1943. The total amounts credited to the Fund up to 3rst of May is approximately £885,000. The Fund is derived from profits accruing from the purchase and resale by Government of African-grown cotton and coffee. The Fund is expended on the development and betterment of African agriculture.

German Nationals, Tanganyika


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many German missionaries have been allowed to resume missionary work in Tanganyika; what conditions are attached to their residence; and what precautions have been taken to ensure that they will not carry on political propaganda.


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what public announcement was made by the Tanganyika Government for the information of African ex-Servicemen setting out the reasons why certain Germans are being permitted to return to the territory and the conditions under which they will settle.

I have not the information available to reply to the first part of the Question but will inform the hon. Member when the information is received.

As far as I am aware, no conditions were attached to the permission given to certain Germans to return to Tanganyika. Only 47 families (comprising 102 Germans) have been allowed to return there from Southern Rhodesia and these people either were refugees from the Nazi regime or have been cleared of any suspicion of having held Nazi or hostile sympathies.

Is the Minister aware that if these Germans are returned to Tanganyika—and I do not wish it to be thought that I am against the return of non-Fascist Germans—the natives, especially the African ex-Servicemen, should be given clearly to understand how it is that these men are allowed to return?

The Governor has given special instructions to his Commissioners in regard to that point.

Arising out of the Minister's first reply, would he guarantee that British people who have been allowed to lease estates previously owned by Germans will not now be ejected without compensation if they have spent some capital in improving the properties?

I would like notice of that Question because, as the hon. and gallant Member is aware, it is a point full of difficulty.


Decorations And Awards


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what rewards or decorations have been, presented to those Asiatics in British Malaya and Sarawak who helped our prisoners and internees during the Japanese occupation at the risk of their lives or where such persons were discovered and murdered by the Japanese, what rewards or decorations have been presented to their next-of-kin.

The decorations comprise r C.M.G., 5 O.B.E.' s, 15 M.B.E.' s and 46 British Empire Medals. In addition, many civilians who rendered valuable assistance to Allied Servicemen in Malaya and Borneo have received special recognition by way of awards, certificates of commendation, either by the military or civil authorities, mention in despatches and grants and other forms of assistance.

While thanking the Colonial Secretary for his reply and for what he has done in regard to the decorations, may I ask if he is aware that there is not complete satisfaction that everyone has been covered, and would he look into the matter further?

Yes, Sir. There is still a large number of awards for certain parts under consideration.

Mining Machinery (Imports)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the refusal to permit the export of mining machinery for the Malayan collieries is handicapping the output of tin from that Colony; and whether, in view of the importance of increasing our dollar income from tin exports at the earliest opportunity, he will arrange to permit the Malayan Government to import the necessary machinery from the U.S.A. during the continuance of the ban on the export of coal-mining machinery from Great Britain.

My hon. Friend is misinformed. Permission has been given for the export of mining machinery from this country for the Malayan collieries, and the execution of the orders has been approved. The second part of the Question does not, therefore, arise.

Can the Minister say when this permission was given, because in a letter dated 10th May I was told that an order for between £300,000 and £400,000 worth of machinery had not been sanctioned by the administration here?

We have co-operated with other Departments concerned in this matter, and I believe that it was probably a month ago that the National Coal Board were able to give an assurance that all objections had been withdrawn.

Colliery Managers


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the shortage of expert colliery managers in Malaya and that such a shortage is seriously handicapping the output of coal in that Colony; and what steps are being taken to facilitate the necessary experts to be encouraged in this country.

Yes, Sir. Malayan Collieries are trying hard to recruit expert staff, and the United Kingdom Government are doing all they can to help them.

If I send my right hon. Friend particulars of applications made by Malayan Collieries Limited will he look into the matter once more?

Yes, Sir, but as these are private companies it is not our job to staff them. We are, however, doing all we can to help them find the staff they want.



asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps he is taking to obtain an increased allocation of rice in Malaya in view of the large stocks of surplus rice in Siam which have not yet been mobilised for world use.

The allocation of rice to Malaya, in common with all other rice-eating countries, is made by the International Emergency Food Council out of world availabilities. His Majesty's Government is a member of this Council and Colonial interests are carefully watched. My information is different from that of the hon. Member that there are large stocks of surplus rice in Siam. Unfortunately, the surplus stocks are not there and the Siam Government can barely find the exports that it requires to satisfy its engagements.

In view of the fact that His Majesty's Government were party to a contract for one and a half million tons of rice from Siam, based no doubt on finding out the facts, is it not curious that there should be a short fall of 600,000 tons today on that contract? What has happened?

I cannot tell what has happened to it, but from the point of view of exportable surplus it just is not there.

Is it not a fact that during the period of the Japanese occupation a lot of rice fields in Siam were put out of production and the Siamese Government based their original estimate on a full yield which they were quite unable to carry out?

In view of the fact that two hon. Members of this House, the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) and the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) visited Siam in February of this year and were both informed on good authority in Bangkok that there was a large amount of rice available for export will the Colonial Secretary have this matter looked into further because it seems certain that there is a great deal of rice?

I have supplied the House with the information which is in my possession. I will certainly make further inquiries, but I must say that all the information I have is quite contrary to the prevalent notion that the rice is there.

In view of the fact that the Controller of Rice from the Ministry of Food has just returned from Siam will the House be given a full report from him?


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what reduction has been made in the official rice ration in Malaya in the last three months; and what price is being paid in the unofficial market in rice in Northern Malaya.

The rice ration in Malaya was reduced from 6 oz. per head per day to 4½ oz. from 18th May. When the rice ration was reduced the flour ration was increased by the same amount, namely, 1½ oz. The whole cereal ration remained at 8½ oz. per head per day. The unofficial market price for rice in Northern Malaya is, I understand, about 3¾d. per lb.

Is the Minister aware that the flour ration is not a substitute for the rice ration in a large number of cases, and will he press the urgency for a complete revision of the whole question of rice in Siam?

Federation (Singapore)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the inclusion of Singapore in the Malayan Federation is contemplated; and what steps are being taken by the Governor of Singapore, in view of the recommendation is of the Cheeseman Report, to apply for membership of the federation on behalf of Singapore thereby allaying the considerable political unrest of Chinese and other Asiatic residents on being excluded from the federation.

In Command Paper No. 6724 of January, 1946, it was stated that the close ties between Singapore and the mainland were recognised, and that it was no part of the policy of His Majesty's Government to preclude or prejudice in any way their fusion at a later date should such a course be considered desirable. This remains the view of His Majesty's Government, but I do not feel able to make any further statement at the present stage, when discussions regarding the constitutional arrangements in Malaya are not concluded.

Will the Minister realise that unless he grasps now the nettle of the inclusion of Singapore with the rest of Malaya its sting will be very much worse later?

I fully appreciate the difficulty of this problem but the present conversations about the constitution of Malaya must be concluded first.

West Indies

Medical Officer, Grenada (Dismissal)

27, 28 and 29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) for what reason, Dr. Walter Hughes, a native of Grenada, British West Indies, now residing at Ebro, Ontario, Canada, until recently holding by appointment a medical post as District Medical Officer in Grenada. has been dismissed from the Colonial Medical Service; whether there was a local inquiry into his conduct before his dismissal; whether he had and exercised any right of appeal to the Secretary of State; and if, in view of the importance of this case in the Colonial Medical Service, he will make a statement on the case;

(2) whether he is aware that Dr. Walter Hughes, of Ebro, Ontario, Canada, who was recently dismissed from the Colonial Medical Service in Grenada, is not listed as a registered qualified general practitioner in the latest Legal Register, 1947, compiled by the General Medical Council of Great Britain; whether he was employed in the Colonial Medical Service only on his Canadian qualification and registration; if this is the present usual procedure; and whether this doctor, a native of Grenada, had been granted a scholarship out of the revenues of this Colony to enable him to qualify in medicine.

(3) whether reports submitted by Dr. Walter Hughes, formerly a district medical officer in Grenada, British West Indies, during his employment on the health services of this Colony, and of his particular medical district in the island received careful consideration from the local government and its medical advisers, and especially at any local medical inquiry; and whether the report of the whole proceedings in connection with this medical officer's appointment and retirement will be placed in the Library of this House.

In view of the allegations made by this man in a British newspaper I have prepared a full statement on the case in answer to these Questions, and, with my hon. Friend's permission, will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Will my right hon. Friend make it clear in the interests of the Colonial Medical Service in the West Indies, that this poor medical graduate with his malignant idiosyncrasies has unfairly and untruthfully attacked the medical personnel in this island, and that the publicity given to his mendacious report was most unjustified and malicious?

I accept most of what my hon. Friend has said and I hope the reply I have given him will receive wide notice.

Following is the reply:

Dr. Hughes was never a member of the Colonial Medical Service. He was engaged as a district medical officer by the Government of Grenada on an agreement on one year's probation, in October, 1946. Early this year the Citizens' Association of the district in which he worked made complaints about him, and elected Members of the Legislative Council made representations expressing dissatisfaction with his behaviour towards the public. There was no formal inquiry, but investigations were made by the Acting Head of the Medical Department.

In March, 1947, the Governor of the Windward Islands, acting upon the advice of the Executive Council, terminated Dr. Hughes' appointment, granting him a passage back to Canada and the leave to which his service entitled him. I confirmed the Governor's action, which in my view was justified since Dr. Hughes had shown himself to be temperamentally unsuited for the Service. Dr. Hughes made no appeal to me against the decision.

Dr. Hughes is not registered as a qualified general practitioner by the General Medical Council of Great Britain. He is a Doctor of Medicine of the University of Western Ontario and Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada. He was registered locally in accordance with a special decision of the Executive Council under Section 6 ( c) of the Grenada Medical and Dentists Registration Ordinance. The qualification would not normally be registrable in Grenada. Appointments to the permanent and pensionable establishment are made only in the case' of practitioners who hold medical qualifications registrable in the United Kingdom.

I understand that before his engagement Dr. Hughes, although born in Grenada, had resided for some 20 years in Canada; he has never received a scholarship from the Government of Greneda for medical training.

I have received no information to the effect that Dr. Hughes submitted any reports to the Government of Grenada. Certain local conditions of which he complained at the time when he was employed as a district medical officer received careful consideration from the local Government, and Dr. Hughes was afforded a personal interview with the Administrator.

I am expecting a further communication from the Acting Governor, and on its receipt will communicate further with my hon. Friend.

As regards medical conditions in Grenada it has unfortunately been the case that there have been shortages of drugs and equipment due to the world-wide wartime difficulties of obtaining supplies, but the allegations made regarding the inefficiency of the administration are either false or exaggerated misrepresentations. The facilities available are generally similar to those of other small Colonies, and it is the constant endeavour of the local administration to improve them.

Relief And Resettlement, Jamaica


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in what ways the Government of Jamaica has revised and extended its plans for relief and resettlement, in view of the present grave discontent amongst unemployed and ex-Service men.

As the answer is long and contains figures, I propose, with my hon. Friend's permission, to circulate the information which he seeks in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the information:

(a) Relief of unemployment. Unemployment is most serious in the Corporate Area of Kingston and St. Andrew. Two programmes of special works prepared by the Corporation and costing altogether £285,312, of which the Government is contributing half, were approved last year. £37,231 still remain to be spent on works included in the first programme, and £56,374 on works included in the second programme. The Corporation has submitted a third programme, proposing that the cost should also be met partly by Government grant. This third programme has now been revised in consultation between representatives of the Government and of the Corporation, and it is expected that part of the programme, covering work on roads and gullies at a cost of approximately £158,000, will shortly be put into effect.
With regard to unemployment outside the Corporate Area, a programme of special works costing £75,000 for the relief of unemployment was approved in November of last year. The estimate for this year includes a number of new works providing employment which are to be put in hand in the near future.
(b) Resettlement of ex-Service men. Schemes estimated to cost at least £500,000 have already been approved and a number of changes have been made to the advantage of ex-Service men since the schemes were first announced at the beginning of 1946. These advantages particularly affect assistance to ex-Service men in land settlement and housing. There was some administrative delay in putting certain of these schemes into effect but at the beginning of 1947 the hon. Major A. G. Curphey, M.B.E., M.C., an officer with long experience of welfare work for ex-Service men, agreed to offer his services as Director of the Re-Absorption Department. He has been able to make improvements in the administration of schemes of assistance. In particular, he has made new arrangements for co-operation between his department and the other departments concerned to reduce delay in the execution of the schemes.

Prohibited Demonstrations Jamaica (Proclamation)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, what were the reasons for the prohibition of demonstrations by the Governor of Jamaica; under what powers his proclamation was issued; and when it is proposed to restore freedom of assembly.

This action was taken solely in order to prevent breaches of the peace. The Governor issued his proclamation in the exercise of powers conferred upon him by the Jamaica Public Meetings Law No. 27 of 1939, as amended by No. 31 of 1940. The proclamation will be revoked as soon as it may safely be considered that the dangers against which it provides no longer exist.

Is it not unfortunate that the powers of this Act were only imposed when the demonstrations were against the party in power in the House of Representatives and not when there was such a demonstration in favour of this party which actually penetrated into the House of Representatives itself?

There has been notice of a further demonstration, and in the steps taken by the Governor he had the unanimous support of the Executive Council.

Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to agree that this is a typical example of a police state?

Trinidad (Murder Of Oilfield Official)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether his attention has been drawn to the shooting, in Trinidad, of Mr. Deryk Ashmead-Bartlett, who died on 25th April from revolver-shot wounds; whether his murderers have yet been arrested; and if he will make a full statement.

I would invite the hon. Member's attention to my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Seven-oaks (Colonel Ponsonby) on 21st of May. I regret to say that the murderers have not yet been identified or arrested, but inquiries are continuing.

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that within the limits of their power the police are doing everything they can to arrest those responsible?

That is so, and I believe that a much larger sum has now been offered in order to assist the effort to find the murderers.

Colonial Development (Agricultural Products)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, whether, since the loan from the U.S.A. to this country has been more than half spent, and there is an acute shortage of dollars, he will give an assurance that money from the Colonial Development Fund will be put at the disposal of any Colony endeavouring to increase its output of such agricultural products as tobacco, maize and cattle, so as to relieve the strain of dollars required to purchase these commodities from the U.S.A. and the Argentine.

Colonial Governments have been encouraged to give full place to agricultural and veterinary projects in their development plans and substantial grants have been made under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act for this purpose. I will certainly consider very sympathetically any proposals for assistance towards the particular objects mentioned in the Question which fall within the scope of the Act.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that never in the whole history of this country have we wanted help from the Colonial Empire as much as we do today and that they in turn want help from us? Can we have an assurance that they will not be handicapped in any development by lack of finance in any shape or form?

I think the Government are doing all they possibly can in this direction. For the information of the hon. Member in the ten-year planning programme for Nigeria no less than £300,000 is being put on one side for veterinary developments; £670,000 for Jamaica for agricultural development and £781,000 for Nigeria for agricultural development.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that it is not thousands of pounds we want but millions?

When does the right hon. Gentleman propose to make a statement to the House giving information of the vast new plans for agricultural development which the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced last week during the discussion of the Finance Bill?

There will be an opportunity on a Supply Day for a full statement to be made, but I hope that before then a statement can be made to the House.

North Borneo (Financial Position)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the financial position of North Borneo; and, particularly, how the estimated revenue and expenditure for the current year compares with that for the last year in which the North Borneo Company were in effective control.

The Colony is at present in receipt of financial assistance from His Majesty's Government to enable it to meet its liabilities. I understand that in 1941, the territory's revenue was approximately £500,000 and expenditure £250,000. In 1947, the revenue of the Colony, which now includes the island of Labuan, is estimated at £590,000 and the expenditure at £1,070,000. The latter includes £500,000 extraordinary and special expenditure arising out of the war.

Mauritius (Civil Commissioner)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what duties attach to the post of Civil Commissioner in Mauritius; and what steps have been taken to reorganise the administration as a result of the recommendations of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the riots of 1944.

The Commission of Inquiry into the disturbances of 1943 recommended, inter alia, that contact between the Administration and the people in the outlying parts of the island should be improved. Two posts of Civil Commissioner were accordingly created in 1946 and I have recently approved the creation of a third post. Besides the normal administrative duties in the field the Civil Commissioners are responsible for maintaining close liaison between the people and the Government and vice versa, and also for encouraging the growth of local government institutions.

Industrial Production (Figures)


asked the Lord President of the Council what are the specific industrial production figures which must be reached in the current six vital weeks; and if he will give these results immediately they are available and make a statement on the actual response to his appeal.

In appealing for a supreme production effort during June and the first half of July at my Press Conference on 4th June, I pointed out that if we did not do extremely well in that period all hope of achieving our targets would be lost. The targets for 1947 have already been made public in the Economic Survey and the progress made in fulfilling them is published as soon as it becomes available by the Departments concerned and in the monthly Statistical Digest prepared by the Central Statistical Office.

May I ask the Leader of the House what specific production figures he had in mind when he made this statement to his Press Conference, and does he not think that the House and the country should have those figures in mind so that they can judge the results immediately they are available?

It was not a question of the particular figures one had in mind but of a fact in relation to the economic situation following upon the crisis as to fuel, etc., in the early part of the year.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how he reconciles what he has just said about the publication of figures as soon as they become available, with the recently announced decision of the Ministry of Fuel and Power to cease publication of the weekly output of coal?

If the right hon. Gentleman wants to have a dig at the Ministry of Fuel and Power he had better put down a Question to them.

Did the right hon. Gentleman like the production in Lower Regent Street yesterday?

Does the Leader of the House think that there are any real hopes of a better result from this appeal than from those which have failed in the past?

We shall do much better if the hon. Gentleman will cease using the time of the House for spreading alarm and despondency.

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, may I have your protection? My questions were perfectly fair and straightforward, and has the Minister the right to answer me in that way?

I cannot direct the right hon. Gentleman as to the way in which he should answer. That is up to him.

Armed Forces

Northern Ireland (Eireann Workers)


asked the Minister of Defence whether any non-ex-Service Eireann citizens are still employed in a civilian capacity by the Armed Forces in Northern Ireland.

Is the employment of these people at the expense of unemployed ex-Service personnel to be a permanent feature of the Labour Government's policy?

No, Sir, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows from answers given previously.

Is the Minister aware that to put into operation any prejudice against Eireann citizens would be most wrong in view of the great help they rendered us on a voluntary basis during the war?

Services' Lists (Publication)


asked the Minister of Defence when it is proposed to issue the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force lists on an unrestricted basis.

We shall certainly make these lists available to the public as soon as possible but I am afraid I cannot promise a definite date. Copies are, of course, available to hon. Members in the Library.

is the Minister's decision dictated by security reasons or by the fact that his right hon. Friend will not give him enough paper?

It is not entirely because of security reasons, and I hope that the date for making a more general circulation will be expedited, although I cannot give a definite date.

Food Supplies

Royal Agricultural Show, Lincoln (Allocations)


asked the Minister of Food what extra food allocations he proposes to make in Lincoln for the Royal Agricultural Show commencing 1st July, to which over 100,000 visitors are expected; and if he will make a statement and allay the fears of a local food shortage.

I have had inquiries made and am satisfied that adequate arrangements have been made locally for supplying food at the show itself, and that there will be enough in the shops to meet ration documents. Catering establishments will be given supplementary permits where necessary.

Poultry Imports


asked the Minister of Food if he will give comparative figures showing the money and nutritive value of poultry imported during the past 18 months, as against the money and nutritive value of egg production estimated to be lost during the next 18 months through the slaughter of fowls owing to fowl pest.

Imports of poultry in the 18 months to the end of April, 1947, were valued at £7,558,450 (c.i.f.) and were equivalent to 1.2 calories and 0.16 grams of protein per head of the civilian population per day. The estimated loss of egg production over the next 18 months resulting from the slaughter of fowls owing to fowl pest, is about £47,000, valued at existing packing station prices for first quality eggs. In nutritive terms this is equivalent to 0.01 of a calorie and 0.001 of a gram of protein per head of the civilian population per day.

None the less is it not obvious from those figures that it would be very much better to import the feedingstuffs than to import the poultry?

Can the Minister say what is the difference between a first-class and a second-class egg?

Dutch Strawberries And Spinach


asked the Minister of Food why he purchased the total strawberry crop in Holland; and why he refused to import spinach from Holland, which food has since been burned, as it was grown for the English market.

The hon. Member has, I am afraid, been misinformed. No strawberries have been purchased from Holland by my Department, nor have I placed any embargo on the import of spinach from Holland; but the Importation of Plants Order, made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture as a safeguard against Colorado Beetle, has stopped imports of spinach from Holland since 1st May, when it came into effect.

Imports From Australia


asked the Minister of Food why His Majesty's Government have refused to buy certain breakfast foods, macaroni, wheatmeal, plum puddings, semolina, tomato sauce. fruit cake, custard powder and ice-cream powder from Australia; and what amounts of each were offered for sale to add to the quantity and variety of our food supplies.

Our balance-of-payments position does not permit us to buy these comparatively expensive foods in Australia. With the exception of 1,200 tons of pastry mix and 230 tons of fruit cake, offers have either been tentative, without specifying quantities, or have been made to private importers.

Would the Minister consider the advantages of importing more food from Australia and fewer American films from America, or does the Government contend that the British housewife prefers Clark Gable to breakfast?

No, Sir. The British housewife prefers us to import the maximum tonnage we can of dairy produce, meat and other staple products of Australia, of which we get every ounce we can.

Milk Distribution


asked the Minister of Food when he expects to be able to restore to the consumer freedom of choice of milkman.

As I have already informed the House, there is a Committee reviewing milk distribution. My hon. Friend can rest assured when I consider its report and recommendations, I shall keep this aspect of the matter in mind.

Is it a fact that the main opposition to the restoration comes from the dairymen's association?

Bottled Fruit


asked the Minister of Food under what conditions the owners of private gardens and garden orchards may be allowed to bottle fruit and sell it to the public.

At present, anyone who sells bottled fruit to the public must have a retail licence, and there is also a maximum price. But I am reconsidering the position to see whether in the case of fruit which is not subject to price control or pre-empted for jam making, we cannot dispense with the controls of bottling for sale.

Will the right hon. Gentleman see to it that some incentive is given to the owners of private gardens and orchards, as many thousands of tons of fruit are lost every year because it is not worth while bottling it?

There is a good deal in what my hon. Friend says but there is the other side of the story, that it may produce some increase in prices; but I think it may be worth while.

Cheese (Varieties)


asked the Minister of Food for what reason Cheddar, Cheshire, Derby, Lancashire, Leicester, Wensleydale and Dunlop cheese is sold on the ration at 10d. a pound, while Stilton is sold on points at 6s. a pound; and what is the present subsidy per pound for the first-named cheeses.

Varieties of cheese which are suitable for sale on the ration are subsidised in accordance with the Government's stabilisation policy. Stilton cheese is not suitable for the ration. The subsidy on British cheese is about 1s. 7¼d. per lb.

is the Minister aware that all the English cheese which could be produced could be sold at a far higher price than 10d. to people who desire a change from imported "mouse-trap," and why should Wensleydale, Cheshire, and the other English cheeses mentioned be so heavily subsidised when Stilton is not subsidised?

The difference is that they are suitable for the ration while Stilton is not.

Groundnut Scheme, Kenya


asked the Minister of Food for what reasons it has been decided not to extend the East African Groundnut Scheme to Kenya.

No such decision has been taken. But certain areas in Kenya which were originally suggested for development have been found to be less suitable than was hoped, from the point of view of rainfall and other relevant factors. As a result, it is not now proposed to clear any acreage in Kenya this year. The question whether we can develop other areas in Kenya later on will be decided after further discussion with representatives of the Kenya Government. I have myself discussed the matter with Sir Philip Mitchell, the Governor of Kenya, and we both very much hope that suitable areas in Kenya will be found.

Imported Meat (Prices)


asked the Minister of Food why 30,000 tons of beef was recently bought from North America at 2s. per pound, while purchases from the Argentine were being made at 7d. per pound.

The exportable surplus of meat available to us from the usual meat exporting countries, namely, the the Southern Dominions and the Argentine is insufficient, and the United States is the other principal source from which we can at present secure the additional supplies we need. We are buying in the U.S. from individual shippers at the best price obtainable.

Would the Minister say whether there is any substance in the allegation that this contract with the United States shippers represents an increase of 300 per cent, in the price of United States beef imports? Would he also say whether there is any substance in the allegation that, if British importing firms were allowed to compete against one another in what is clearly a sellers' market, we should be able to purchase the meat more cheaply?

As to the first part of the supplementary question, it is very true that the price of United States meat, like other United States products, has gone up a very large percentage indeed, not only to us but also to the people of the United States. As far as the second part of the supplementary question is concerned, what my hon. Friend's Question shows is that the bulk contract part of our meat purchases from the Argentine has been secured at a very much more economical price.

Will the Minister confirm that while we are paying 7d. per pound for Argentine meat, we are paying is. 10½d. per pound for North American meat, which is approximately 300 per cent. more?

No, Sir. The figures are not quite right, but there is a very large differential. As I said, if that proves anything, it proves the very great success of bulk buying.

New Ration Books (Instructions)


asked the Minister of Food what supervision he exercises over matter contained in "Food Facts," published in all newspapers on 8th June; whether he is aware that "Food Facts" gives instructions relating to, he filling up of parts A and B on page 41 of the new ration books contrary to those contained in the ration books themselves; and which set of instructions he intends the public to observe.

The "Food Facts" advertisement is correct. Instructions for printing ration books have to be given months beforehand and this year we allowed for the possibility that we might be able to allow consumers to re-register with milk retailers.

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether the holder of a ration book has to fill up parts A and B on page 41 as instructed to do on page 42 of the ration book, or whether he has to write nothing on page 41 as he is instructed to do in "Food Facts"?

It will do no harm if he fills them up, but it will do him no good either, because he will not be able to re-register this year.

If the Minister is sure, I wonder if he could make it clear to the consumer that it will do him no harm. At present a number of consumers have been baffled by the discrepancy between the book and the "Food Facts" advertisement.

Soap Ration, Newport


asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware of the shortage of soap in Newport, according to the letter giving details recently sent to him; and if he will take steps to see that the full ration is available for all citizens.

In Newport and other parts of the country retailers' soap stocks have been low, but I am satisfied that all consumers can get their ration, though with some difficulty. Manufacturers arc now making good the production lost during the coal crisis and I hope that with a steady improvement in deliveries the position in the shops will gradually be eased.

Is the Minister aware that a lady complained that she had been unable to get her soap ration for several periods and had had to wash the baby with shaving soap at an increased cost.