Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 439: debated on Monday 30 June 1947

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answers To Questions

Monday, 30th June, 1947

Ministry Of Works

Building Materials, Isle Of Wight


asked the Minister of Works whether he is aware that there is a shortage of cement and other building materials in the Isle of Wight which is holding up housing schemes; and whether, in view of the shortage of houses in the Isle of Wight, he will take steps to bring about an increased supply of these materials.

The cement shortage has affected a number of areas, but I am not aware of any serious shortage of other materials in the Isle of Wight. My regional officers will be ready to assist any builder who has difficulty in obtaining materials for the construction of houses in the Island.

Temporary Houses, Ryde


asked the Minister of Works when the 50 temporary bungalows being erected in Arundel Road and Great Preston Road, Ryde, Isle of Wight, which have been under construction since June, 1946, will be completed; and what will be the total cost of these bungalows.

Forty-seven houses have already been handed over to the local authority. The last three houses should be completed about the end of next week. The total cost is estimated to be £62,000.

Government Receptions (Fair Wages Clause)


asked the Minister of Works why it has not been considered necessary or appropriate to apply the general conditions of Government contracts, fair wage and condition clause to the services which are provided by hotels and restaurants in connection with Government receptions, etc.; and if he will take steps to include this clause in all future contracts.

The arrangements are usually made at very short notice and by telephone, and no formal contract is entered into. Also the services rendered are not comparable with those of a contractor engaged in work for a contracting Department. I will, however, consider further whether the Fair Wage Clause could be applied.

Building Industry (Committee Of Review)


asked the Minister of Works how many times the Committee of Review, set up under the Working Rule Agreement for Building Trade Operatives in the London District, which was signed on 27th February, 1947, have met; and if their views on the increase or otherwise of output in the building trade will be published.

The Committee of Review of the building industry is a committee composed of representatives of both sides of the industry with some independent members. My Department is not represented on it and I am not in a position to give detailed information about its activities. The question of publication of any report will be a matter for the committee.

Firewatchers' Equipment (Disposal)


asked the Minister of Works for what purposes, and to whom, he proposes to re-issue the equipment provided for the use of fire-watchers in the Palace of Westminster.

The only firewatchers' equipment remaining under my control is bedding and first-aid materials. These are issued to Departments for peacetime use as required.

Brick Production


asked the Minister of Works what is the present rate of output per week of the brickyards in Northumberland, Durham, North and East Ridings of Yorkshire; the number of men employed; and how many of these brickyards are not yet fully in production.

The weekly output of bricks in these areas averaged 6,593,000 during May. The number of men employed is 2,466. Nine works have not yet resumed production of bricks, but three of them are manufacturing other clay products.

Electrical Equipment, Aberdeen


asked the Minister of Supply if he is aware of the shortage of electrical equipment and materials in Aberdeen; that this shortage results in deterioration of installations and danger to life and limb and extensive unemployment; and when he will arrange to increase supplies.

I have been asked to reply. The supply of certain types of electrical equipment is not yet adequate to meet all demands, but I have not had my attention drawn to any particular difficulties in Aberdeen. If my hon. and learned Friend will supply me with particulars I shall be glad to look into the matter.

Cement Shortage, Herne Bay

asked the Minister of Works if his attention has been called to the acute shortage of cement in the Herne Bay area; whether he is aware that this shortage is likely to bring the local authority's housing programme to a standstill within the course of a few days; that such a situation might result in a dispersal of the labour force; and whether he will take urgent action to make a supply of cement available to the local authority.

Building Licence (Clapham)

asked the Minister of Works on whose authority the licence was issued for the building of the ornamental brick wall now being built outside 62, King's Avenue, Clapham, S.W.4; and whether such action has received his approval.

No licence has been issued for the building of any ornamental brick wall at this address. The matter is being investigated.

"India And Burma News Summary"


asked the Under-Secretary of State for India what is the present circulation of the India and Burma News Summary issued by his Department; what that publication has cost up to date; and whether it is proposed to discontinue it, or if it is to be transferred to one of the new Indian Govern- ments, to which, and who will bear the cost.

The circulation of the "India and Burma News Summary" is about 3,000 copies a week. From October, 1941, to June, 1942, this publication was produced as part of the routine departmental work in the India Office and no estimate of the cost is possible as no extra staff were engaged on this account. From July, 1942, to May, 1947, the Summary was duplicated and distributed by H.M.S.O. on behalf of the India Office at a total cost of £6,904. From the issue of 5th June the production of the Summary (less the Burma section) has been taken over by the Office of the High Commisioner for India on behalf of the Government of India who bear the cost.

Indian Armed Forces (British Personnel)


asked the Under-Secretary of State for India how many British officers and British other ranks, respectively, are at present serving on the establishment of, or attached to, each of the Royal Indian Navy, the Indian Army and the Royal Indian Air Force.

The numbers for 1st June, 1947, are as follow:—Royal Indian Navy, 241 officers, I rating; Indian Army, 10,184 officers, 12,282 B.O.R. s; Royal Indian Air Force, 44 officers, 957 B.O.R.'s.


Control Commission Staff (Communications To Mps)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what instructions have been issued by the head of the Economic Sub-Commission of the Control Commission for Germany forbidding members of that branch of the staff to communicate with Members of Parliament on any subject.

The officer in question has recently reminded his staff of the normal practice of public Departments whereby official information on a matter for which the Department has responsibility should be given to Members of Parliament only by a Minister. These instructions do not of course preclude the oral communication of information to Members visiting Germany. They affect only the subject matter of the official duties of the staff.

Prominent Nazis' Wives


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the wives of prominent members of the Nazi Party are being put on trial.

Postal Services


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that parcels of food and clothing sent to Germany still take from six to 10 weeks before delivery; that correspondence is also subject to long delay; and whether anything will now be done to expedite delivery both of parcels and of letters.

No. The average time taken for a letter to reach its destination in Germany by post is 13 days and for a parcel four weeks. Efforts are now being made to speed up postal services in Germany.

Unmarried Mothers' Children (Welfare)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in respect of the children of unmarried German mothers by British fathers, arrangements will be made to allow philanthropic agencies in this country to collect suitable necessities in bulk for dispatch to individuals or suitable agencies in the British zone of Germany; what joint consultation on the problem of these children and their mothers has taken place between the British, U.S., French and Soviet authorities; and how the U.S. efforts in this matter compare with our own.

Certain relief organisations are already authorised to send welfare supplies in bulk from this country to approved welfare organisations in the British zone. There has been no consultation with the other occupying Powers on the general problem of unmarried mothers and their children, and I have no information on the activities of the United States authorities.

Police Staff Officers


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many public safety officers attached to the Control Commission for Germany have become redundant and have returned to their police forces during the past 12 months; how many new appointments have been made to the public safety branch during that period; and what is the number in each grade, respectively.

Following is the reply:

Grade.New appointments July-November, 1946Number declared redundant April-June, 1947.
Deputy Assistant Inspector General.Nil2
Police Staff Officer, Grade I.Nil10
Police Staff Officer, Grade II.250
Police Staff Officer, Grade III.3578
Police Staff Officer, Grade IV.10831

Greece (British Forces)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether all British Armed Forces have now been withdrawn from Greece.

European Reconstruction


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what representations he has received from the Secretary-General of the United Nations regarding the importance of making use of United Nations facilities and organs in conneclion with Mr. Marshall's proposals for U.S. aid to Europe; and what reply he has returned.

My right hon. Friend received an inquiry on behalf of the Secretary-General about the views of His Majesty's Government on the action to be taken in the light of Mr. Marshall's speech. Mr. Lie was informed that His Majesty's Government were anxious to use the machinery of the United Nations to the greatest extent possible, but that the urgency of the task made it necessary to take the initiative in advance of the meeting of the Economic Commission for Europe on 5th July. My right hon. Friend undertook to keep Mr. Lie informed of developments.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether any representations have been made from Belgium, Holland or Denmark, to be included in the Marshall Plan discussions.

No. It should, of course, be understood that the discussions now proceeding in Paris are of a preliminary character. It is hoped that they will be followed at a very early stage by a general approach to European Governments, including those mentioned by the hon. Member.

Prisoners Of War (Political Screening)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement concerning the future of the scheme for allotting political gradings to German prisoners of war held in this country and the Middle East.

Yes. The system of political screening, which has now covered all German prisoners of war in this country, has played an important part in our re-education programme. It has enabled us to identify those prisoners who were ready and able to take an active part in organising re-education schemes among their fellows, to measure the progress of re-education and also to segregate those prisoners who, because they were strongly imbued with Nazi ideology, were actively obstructive. It has also made it possible to give priority to the repatriation of politically active democrats whose presence was required in Germany for reconstruction purposes.With the general progress of the reeducation of prisoners and the transformation of the conditions under which they live in this country, and with the progress which has already been made in repatriation to Germany, the political screening system has now fulfilled its purpose. My right hon. Friend has therefore decided to discontinue it in this country immediately and to bring it to an end in the Middle East shortly afterwards. Any prisoners in this country or in the Middle East who have been graded as "A's," or who may be given the grading of "A" as a result of the hearing of appeals which have already been lodged, will remain eligible for priority repatriation. The small number of prisoners who are categorised as C+, that is, potentially dangerous to security on repatriation to Germany, will be dealt with as a special class in conjunction with the Control authorities in Germany.

Spain (Protestant Religion)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is satisfied with the reply received from the Spanish Government respecting the two bomb outrages committed against the chapel and house of the British Protestant minister at Infesta; whether representations have been made in respect of the opening of Protestant schools under British auspices; and what publications sent, to Spain from this country, have been censored and not permitted to be delivered.

No reply has yet been received to the protests made on 28th May by His Majesty's Chargé d'Affairs at Madrid against the bomb outrages at Infesta. The question is being pursued. I am not aware of any project for the opening of British Protestant schools in Spain. Should a request be made for official support for such a scheme it will be considered on its merits. No recent cases of the seizure or censoring of publications sent from this country to Spain have been brought to my notice.



asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what action he has taken with regard to the oppressive actions of the Government of Rumania, which was formed as the result of recent elections, against some of their non-Communist citizens; and, in particular, if he will withhold ratification of the treaty.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the oral reply I gave today to the hon. Members for Queen's University of Belfast (Professor Savory) and South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke).

British Oil Companies (Operations)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he proposes to try to secure for British oil companies in Rumania a fair price there for their products, and the right to export their oil, thereby enabling them to pay by their exports for the equipment needed from abroad, especially as the Russo-Rumanian oil company, Sovrompetrol, in which the U.S.S.R. has the major interests and holds the key posts, has secured valuable privileges denied to British and U.S. oil companies, including the right to export oil.

British oil companies in Rumania receive the same prices for products as everyone else, but although there was a substantial increase in these prices as recently as April, they still do not cover the cost of production. It is true that the Soviet-Rumanian company, Sovrompetrol, has obtained certain privileges which have been denied to other companies and it is believed that these include the authority to export 70,000 tons of oil against free currency. The attention of the Rumanian Government has been drawn to these cases of discrimination. British companies will be entitled to "most-favoured-nation" treatment under the Peace Treaty, which also sets up machinery for settling disputes in connection with the specific point of the prices to be paid by the Rumanian Government for all goods, including oil, which are to be delivered by it on account of reparations. I can assure my hon. Friend that His Majesty's Government continue to press for an amelioration of the position of British oil companies operating in Rumania.


Production Programme (Announcement)


asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will make a statement giving minimum requirements of produc- tion of all main crops to cover the next five years.

Having regard to the uncertainty about future world supplies it would be premature to make such a statement at present. In accordance with the procedure introduced last March I intend to announce a production programme and prices for crops to be harvested in the following year after each February review.

Dredging And Draining Equipment


asked the Minister of Agriculture what arrangements have been made for hiring, loaning or otherwise securing dredging and drain-digging equipment for the Ouse Catchment Board, Fen Drainage Commissioners and Fen farmers to hasten the clearance of drains before the coming winter.

Excavators suitable for clearing blocked drains and farmers' ditches are in the hands of war agricultural executive committees and they will be loaned when necessary to drainage boards. The demands of the River Great Ouse Catchment Board and other boards for additional medium sized excavators will be met from a number on loan from the Army in Germany which are being brought to this country for flood rehabilitation work. The Ministry of Works is arranging to supply other forms of earth-moving equipment.

Gang Work (Recruitment)

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many men have been recruited for gang work for the A.E.Cs. of Brecon, Radnor, Cardigan Carmarthen, Monmouth, Glamorgan and Pembroke, from South Wales and how many for English counties.

Following are the numbers of unemployed men from South Wales who have been recruited during the past two years for agricultural work with the county war agricultural executive committees to which the Question relates:

Total above counties750
English counties298

Executive Committee, Bucks (Vehicles)

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many commercial vans and lorries of every type are now in use by the Buckinghamshire A.E.C.; for what purpose they are employed; and why some hundred ex-Army lorries were purchased for carrying prisoners of war to their work when this was adequately done by contractors, as the lorries and their drivers are idle for the best part of a six-day week while the prisoners are at work.

One hundred and fifty-five lorries and 115 light vans. These are used for the conveyance of prisoners of war and other gang labour, including members of the Women's Land Army, and for carrying agricultural machinery and material required for the committee's operations. The use of these vehicles costs much less than hiring, and has, therefore, meant a saving to public funds. It has also freed the vehicles previously hired for ordinary commercial use. The committee's drivers who take out prisoners of war or other gang labour either work with the gang as foremen or return to their depot to do other transport work, vehicle maintenance or similar duties.

Polish Workers

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many Poles have been allocated for each of the South Wales counties for work in agriculture; and what is the number of hostels which will be required to house these workers in each county.

No specific county allocations of Poles for agricultural work have been made, but members of the Polish Resettlement Corps are being placed in vacancies on farms and with C.W.A.E.C.'s where suitable British workers are not available. Up to 15th June, one hostel in each of the counties Radnor, Cardigan and Carmarthen, accommodating 25, 28 and 25 Polish agricultural workers respectively, had been opened. It is expected that further Polish hostels will be opened in South Wales in the ensuing months according to need and to the availability of suitable Poles.

Sherrington Nurseries, Newport Pagnell

asked the Minister of Agriculture what steps have been taken to recover outgoings in respect of the interference with the installations of Sherrington Nurseries, Newport Pagnell, from which Mr. C. C. Peach was evicted by the Buckinghamshire A.E.C. and which has now been voluntarily evacuated by the tenants installed by the A.E.C. after his Department's recent investigations; and whether he will see that such dilapidations will be made good and adequate compensation for waste and reinstallation will be promptly afforded to Mr. C. C. Peach and that he will be reinstated, particulars of the damage having been supplied to the solicitor to the A.E.C.

Dilapidations on the holding have been agreed with the out-goers. Negotiations will shortly be opened with Mr. Peach's solicitors as to the terms of relinquishing possession by the county war agricultural executive committee, when the particulars of damage alleged will be discussed.

Orders And Regulations

asked the Minister of Agriculture, in view of the severe penalties incurred by failure to obey the order of his Department, how many regulations have been issued by his Department in each year since 1939; how many amendments to the original orders were issued in each of the same years; in what form such orders are brought to the notice of farmers, landowners, tenants and horticulturists; and whether the full text of any regulations is communicated to any individual farmers affected before action is taken.

It is not possible, without an unjustifiable expense of labour, to give the total number of orders or regulations of my Department made since 1939. With orders made under the Disease of Animals Acts it is obligatory on local authorities to bring them to the notice of all concerned. Particulars of other orders and regulations are circulated by the Ministery to the daily and weekly papers and to the agricultural and technical Press, with advice as to where copies can be obtained. When, in pursuance of an order, a direction is served on an individual to carry out any opera- tion, the purport of the order is communicated to him.

Food Supplies



asked the Minister of Food whether he has investigated the complaints of housewives in the borough of Widnes that more food is available in the adjoining industrial borough of St. Helens and also in the non-industrial borough of Southport; and if he will take steps to provide a more even distribution as between these and other areas in Lancashire.

No such complaint has reached us. The impression that some other town is receiving more food than one's home town is not by any means uncommon, though usually unfounded.

Women's Organisations (Advice)


asked the Minister of Food what women's organisations act in an advisory capacity to his Department.

My Department is in close touch with the Women's Group on Public Welfare which represents some fifty of the more important women's organisations in the country.

Eggs (Children's Priority)


asked the Minister of Food what are the present arrangements for supplying eggs to children up to two years of age; and how many eggs were supplied per child for the months of October, November and December, 1946.

Children between the ages of six months and two years receive a priority supply of eggs at the rate of three a week and all other children receive one egg at each ordinary allocation. During the last three months of 1946, each child in the priority class received approximately 39 eggs and other children received approximately eight eggs each.

Offals (Distribution)


asked the Minister of Food what are the present arrangements for the supply of liver and other off als to normal registered consumers and to hotels, restaurants and catering establishments, respectively.

Offals are distributed to butchers in proportion to the quantity of ration meat. They, in turn, are expected to supply their registered customers, including catering establishments, in similar proportions.

Imported Cherries


asked the Minister of Food if he will state the tonnage of imported cherries landed in Britain in the weeks ending 14th and 21st June.

Official statistics for June are not yet available and, in any case, do not disclose weekly imports. So far as we can ascertain about 2,700 tons of cherries were imported from 1st to 19th June.



asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that, despite a good gooseberry crop it is impossible to buy the fruit in the shops since price control came into force; and if he will make a statement.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. Janner) on 16th June. Although the gooseberry crop is good this year it is still below the prewar average and the quantity available for sale in fresh form after jam manufacturers have drawn their supplies is comparatively small.

Fruit (Storage And Preserving)


asked the Minister of Food what arrangements he has made for the temporary cold storage of the 1947 home fruit crop.

The quantities of soft fruits, plums and pears likely to be available this year will be too small to make exceptional measures necessary to have them kept commercially for sale as fresh fruit during the winter months. However, the indications are that the apple crop will be a heavy one. Facilities for storing apples by gas and cold already exist and we have invited growers and distributors to make full use of the cold storage space at the Ministry's disposal so as to prolong the period of marketing of the winter varieties.

asked the Minister of Food what arrangements are being made to supply home-grown fruit, fresh, bottled or canned, during the winter of 1947–48; and what he estimates will be the supplies available.

So far as fresh fruit is concerned, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given today to the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Baker White). Arrangements have also been made to can and bottle as much homegrown fruit as possible, and if necessary we hope to get more jam made; but it is too early yet to estimate the quantity which it will be possible to preserve in these forms. I expect, however, that it will be substantially more than was packed during the last four years.

Meat Ration (Reduction)


asked the Minister of Food if he is yet able to make a statement about the future level of the meat ration.

It will, unfortunately, be necessary to reduce the canned corn meat ration from 4d. to 2d., thus returning to a 1s. 2d. total meat ration from 13th July. The House may remember that when the meat ration was raised to is. 4d. last July, my right hon. Friend said he hoped that it could be kept at that level throughout 1946 and possibly into the early months of 1947. We have, in fact, maintained the 1s. 4d. ration fox 6½, months of this year. The reasons that it has now to be reduced are, primarily, the fall in home production caused by this year's severe weather and heavy slaughtering last autumn, and a temporary factor, the abnormal growth of feed in recent weeks which has led farmers to delay the sale of fatstock until later in the year. If home supplies had been normal we should have been able to raise the carcase meat ration by 2d. when we reduced the canned corn meat ration—which we always knew that we should have to some time this year. It is impossible to say at present how long the ration will have to remain at is. 2d. nor how much of it will have to be issued as canned corned meat; the position is bound to be difficult for several months. The House may be assured, however, that we shall make the most determined efforts to restore it to 1s. 4d.


Passenger Services


asked the Minister of Transport why, as from 16th June, 1947, the 2.50 p.m. train from Euston to Manchester only runs on Fridays and Saturdays.

The withdrawal of this train from Monday to Thursday is part of the 10 per cent. reduction in scheduled passenger train mileage this summer.


asked the Minister of Transport if he will give an estimate of the percentage of the fuel previously used for the whole service which would be consumed if the first two and last two daily passenger trains on the L.M.S. Stonehouse—Stroud—Nailsworth branch line were restored and driven by the engine normally kept in steam for the goods services on this line.

The engine used for the goods services is not available to haul these trains. Their restoration would reduce the coal saving by 44 per cent.


asked the Minister of Transport how many passengers travelled on the last train to run on the L.M.S. Stonehouse—Stroud—Nailsworth branch line before the service was suspended; how many passengers got off at Stone-house from the main line up train on 7th June and how many of these proceeded by the 7.52 p.m. branch train to Stroud and Nailsworth; what was the average number of passengers travelling on the first two trains from Nailsworth and the last two from Stonehouse over the most recent month; and how many passengers travelled on the last excursion train to be run on this branch.

Following is the answer: The number of passengers who travelled by the 7.52 p.m. train from Stonehouse to Stroud and Nailsworth on the last day it ran is not known, but during a test week in November last the average peak loading was 14 passengers, the highest was 20, and the lowest was 5. Subsequent observation suggests that loadings remained at about this average. This train connects at Stonehouse with the 6.25 p.m. Bristol to Worcester and the 6.25 p.m. Worcester to Bristol. On 5th, 6th and 7th June, 6,8 and 32 passengers respectively joined it from these main line trains. During the week ended 2nd November, 1946, the average peak loadings of the first two trains from Nails-worth, the 6.18 a.m. and the 7.25 a.m. via Stroud, were 8 and 18 respectively. During the same week the average peak loadings of the last two evening trains from Stonehouse, the 6.30 p.m. and the 7.52 p.m., were 18 and 14 respectively. No excursion train has been run from the branch since before the war, but on 12th September last, through day excursion bookings from the branch line to Weston-super-Mare were given. No excursion bookings have been given since that day; loading figures are not available.


asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of the inconvenience caused to people living in East Dorset, especially business men, by the cancellation of the 6.30 p.m. train from Waterloo; and if he will arrange for it to be reinstated.

No; the withdrawal of this train, which was the least heavily loaded of the morning and evening group of trains from Waterloo to Bournemouth and Weymouth, was a part of the 10 per cent. reduction in passenger services to save coal during the summer.


asked the Minister of Transport why the 10 p.m. train from Waverley to King's Cross, and the 10.15 p.m. train from King's Cross to Waverley, do not now stop at Dunbar and Drew, respectively; and if he will reinstitute the long-established practice of these trains stopping at Dunbar and Draw, as formerly.

A recent census showed that the number of passengers using these stops is small, and the railway company considers that the increase in journey time caused to these important and heavily loaded expresses by the stops can no longer be justified.

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that there has been a 100 per cent. suspension of passenger services on the Stonehouse-Stroud-Nailsworth L.M.S. branch line, where 36 trains a week from Stroud and 42 from Nailsworth gave direct connections to Bristol; that this causes great hardship to travellers from these valleys to Bristol and Birmingham, as alternative omnibus services are inadequate, ill-arranged and involve long walks with luggage; and whether he will restore the first two and last two trains each day.

I am advised that the alternative services are adequate, and I cannot agree to a restoration of passenger train services on this branch. I will, however, inquire into any particular difficulties on the 'bus services which my hon. Friend cares to bring to my notice.

Signalmen, Birmingham (Promotions)


asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the feeling of disquiet existing amongst the signalmen staff of the G.W.R. in the Birmingham district at the action of the company in promoting to higher-rated posts men junior in the service and deliberately passing over suitable senior men; and whether, in view of the danger of an unofficial stoppage, he will inquire into the circumstances surrounding the promotion of relief signalmen in this district, with particular reference to a case of which the hon. Member for The Hartle-pools is sending him particulars.

This is a responsibility of management and I am not disposed to intervene. The arrangements governing such promotion are the subject of agreement between the railway company and the men's representatives at the appropriate sectional council. The case to which my hon. Friend refers has, I understand, been discussed both at that council and with the union.

Season Tickets (Young Persons, London)

asked the Minister of Transport the date when the two-thirds season tickets on London transport will be available for those aged 16 to 18 years

Yes. Revised arrangements for the issue, to passengers between 16 and 18 years of age, of season tickets for residential purposes will be brought into operation on the main line railways and the railways of the London Passenger Transport Board as from 1st August, 1947. Under these arrangements, not only will the rate be reduced to two-thirds where full rate is now charged, but also half rate will continue to be charged subject to the existing qualifications.


Unclassified Road, Salcombe (Repair)


asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the necessity of the appropriate highway authority to spend £5,000 on the repair of the cliff road at Salcombe in South Devon following a recent landslide in that road attributable to the detonation of mines in the harbour; what amount of assistance can be given towards this expenditure by his Department; and whether any steps will be taken in the special circumstances to make more money available for the purpose.

I have no power to make any grant towards the repair of this unclassified road.

Reconditioned Cars (Ex-Service Men)


asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that large numbers of disabled ex-Service men, whose applications for used motor cars were approved, are unaware that they are now excluded from consideration; and whether he intends to take any action in the matter.

So far as I am aware, all applicants for reconditioned ex-Service cars, whose applications could not be considered, have been so informed. But I shall be pleased to look into any particular case to which my hon. Friend may wish to draw my attention.


asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the recent decision that surplus service motor cars suitable for disabled ex-Service men will be made available to them, application for these reconditioned motor cars from 100 per cent. disabled pensioners will now be accepted.

No. The statement made on 23rd June by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply did not indicate that there would be any considerable increase in the supply of surplus ex-Service cars suitable for economical reconditioning and disposal to seriously disabled ex-Service men. I regret, therefore, that for the reasons given in my answer to the hon. Member on 21st April, I am still unable to accept further applications for addition to the already long waiting list.

Railway Crossings And Bridges


asked the Minister of Transport the number of level-crossings on public roads for whose working and upkeep the railway companies are responsible.

I am making inquiries and will arrange for a statement to be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT as soon as possible.


asked the Minister of Transport the number of bridges on public roads conveying traffic over railways for whose upkeep the four main line railway companies are responsible.

I am making inquiries and will arrange for a statement to be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT as soon as possible.

Shard Bridge

106 and 107.

asked the Minister of Transport (1) whether he has now received proposals from the Lancashire County Council for the construction of a new road bridge over the River Wyre downstream from the Shard toll bridge; and when it is proposed to proceed with the construction of this important road and bridge linking Blackpool to Lancaster and the north and north-east;(2) whether he has any proposals for the freeing from toll of Shard Bridge, Hambledon, which is on one of the main traffic arteries from Blackpool to Lancaster and the north and north-east.

The responsibility for initiating proposals for freeing Shard Bridge from tolls or building a new bridge rests with the Lancashire County Council as the highway authority. I have received no proposals from them on the subject.

Speed Limit


asked the Minister of Transport on what date, and by whom, application was made to him for a change in the speed limits of light and heavy vehicles; and the nature of the changes requested.

In December, 1944, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and the National Road Transport Federation recommended that the speed limit for a "heavy motor car" should be raised from 20 m.p.h. to 30 m.p.h. whether or not it draws a trailer provided that pneumatic tyres are fitted throughout. Where soft or elastic tyres other than pneumatic are fitted, they recommended that where the limit is 12 m.p.h. it should be raised to 20 m.p.h.

Motor Vehicles (First Registrations)


asked the Minister of Transport the number of private motor cars registered for the first time in each of the six years from 1941 to 1946.

Following is a statement of the numbers of first registrations of motor vehicles taxed on horse-power. The figures unavoidably include a certain number of vehicles which are not primarily used for private purposes.The number of motor cars taxed on horse-power which were registered for the first time in each of the years 1941 to 1946 was as follows:



West Indies Route (Priority)


asked the Minister of Transport how long it is intended that all sea passages to the West Indies should be allocated by priority.

Government sponsorship of passages was terminated on the West Indies route on 19th May last, and space is now allotted by a committee of the shipping lines engaged in the trade, established in agreement with and under the general supervision of my Department. Owing to the shortage of passenger ships it will remain necessary for some time to ensure preference in allocation of passages to the West Indies to those whose travel is essential.

Canada (Polish Families)


asked the Minister of Transport how many priority shipping passages to Canada have been given by the Government to Polish families since 1st January, 1947.

Export Cars (Shipment Suspension)


asked the Minister of Transport what report he has received on the temporary suspension of certain British exports, including Austin motor cars, to Switzerland, as a result of transport difficulties.

My hon. Friend no doubt refers to a temporary suspension imposed on 19th June, of the export of motor cars via Newhaven. Early in the year the railway company fixed a quota of shipping space for export, based on the number of cars then being exported, leaving the remaining space for tourists cars. During May and June the number of cars for export by this route increased very considerably without warning. The situation was aggravated by congestion at Dieppe owing to the strike on the French railways, and by the fact that many cars arrive at the port without the relevant shipping documents. On the morning of 20th June, 108 cars were awaiting shipment at Newhaven, of which only 51 were accompanied by the necessary documents. Further bookings of tourist cars were at once stopped, but it was necessary also to impose a temporary embargo on the forwarding of cars for export until 27th June when the accumulation had been cleared. In view of the increased traffic the railway company are increasing permanently the quota for export cars from Newhaven, are endeavouring to arrange additional sailings from that port, and are exploring the possibilities of increasing capacity for the traffic through Dover or Folkestone.

Uk—Northern Ireland (School Children)

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that boys and girls attending schools in Great Britain, whose parents live in Northern Ireland, are having great difficulty in obtaining sailing tickets at the end of the summer term; and if he will put on an extra steamer from either Liverpool or Heysham to Belfast on either 28th or 29th July.

I am not aware of any such difficulty. Both the L.M.S. Railway and the Belfast Steamship Company have special arrangements for dealing with applications on behalf of school children proceeding to their homes in Ireland. The Belfast Steamship Company have no tonnage available to provide extra sailings from Liverpool. The service from Heysham will be increased by an additional 20 sailings each way between 7th July and 30th August.

London Transport (44-Hour Week)


asked the Minister of Transport how many extra men and women will be required to maintain the same service as at present when the 44-hour week comes into operation in the L.P.T.B.

About 2,000; but it has been agreed that, until they can be recruited, the necessary overtime will be worked.

Ministry Of Supply

Surplus Paint

114 and 115.

asked the Minister of Supply (1) if any attempt was ever made to operate the announced plan for disposal of Government surplus paints and varnishes; and if it is the Government's intention to put this plan fully into operation; (2), whether he is aware that a considerable amount of surplus Government paint now being sold is so poor that it should be condemned in accordance with the original arrangements made between the Government and the paint industry and if he will take steps accordingly.

I would refer him to the reply which I gave to him on 6th March. The scheme proved too slow in operation and we do not intend to return to it. For the reasons which I gave, I cannot undertake to examine all surplus paint in order to determine its condition.

Metals And Ores


asked the Minister of Supply, which metals from abroad are still being imported or bought exclusively by the Government; and which have been released from Government control.

The following metals are imported or bought exclusively by the Ministry of Supply: Chrome ore, Lead, Zinc, Copper (blister and electrolytic), Virgin aluminium, Pig iron, Steel.The metals and ores which have been released for private importation, subject to licence, are: Aluminium scrap, Antimony, Bauxite, Cryolite, Iron Powder, Manganese, Molybdenum, Silicon, Tungsten, Vanadium, Zinc concentrates.

Gun-Metal Fittings (Leicester)


asked the Minister of Supply if he is aware that there is a shortage of gun-metal fittings for the plumbing trade in Leicester; and what steps he proposes taking to improve the supply of these fittings.

I was not aware of any shortage of these fittings, but if my hon. Friend will give me particular instances I will have inquiries made.

Margam Project (Iron And Steel Board) Report


asked the Minister of Supply whether he will issue the report and state the reasons for his approval of the Steel Company of Wales proposal to establish the new hot-steel plant at Margam, and the cold reduction steel plant at Llanelly.

These proposals were approved after a careful review of all the factors, technical, economic and social, involved. As explained in reply to the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Erroll) on 16th April, I think it would be inappropriate to publish the report in this case.

Motor Fishing Vessels (Spare Parts)


asked the Minister of Supply if he is aware that motor vessels sold by the Admiralty for use as, or conversion for, fishing purposes are useless unless spare parts can be obtained; and what provision is made for the supply of such spare parts to purchasers in Scotland, especially where the engine is of U.S. make.

I understand that pure chasers were warned that all available run- ning spares for the engines were included in the sale I was not aware of difficulty in obtaining spares for British engines, but my Department has given, and will continue to give, what help it can in searching for additional spares, and will support applications for import licences where it is shown that parts must be imported from U.S.A. to keep the engines running.

Government Vehicles


asked the Minister of Supply the number of motor cars supplied at home and abroad for the use of Government Departments, including service Departments, during the years 1946 and 1947, which come into the new category of vehicles due to pay 66⅓ per cent. sales tax on the basis of their selling price being £1,000 or over.

The number of such cars bought in this country was 135 in 1946 and 13 in 1947. I regret that the number of cars purchased under local powers abroad is not available centrally.

Reconditioned Motor Cars (Timing Chains)


asked the Minister of Supply if he is aware that old timing chains are having to be fitted to reconditioned motor car engines as the manufacturers of timing chains receive only sufficient steel to make them for the engines of new vehicles; and if in view of the breakdowns which will otherwise result, he will allot sufficient steel to enable new timing chains to be supplied for reconditioned engines.

No. Some new chains are being supplied to motor manufacturers as spares, and I am making the best allocation to the precision chain industry which the limited supply of steel allows.

Aluminium Scrap


asked the Minister of Supply how much aluminium scrap has been recovered at Government metal-recovery depots; and what use is being made of it.

185,000 tons of aluminium scrap have been recovered and 44,000 tons sold. The remainder has been melted down to secondary aluminium ingot. The metal was used during the war in the manufacture of aircraft and afterwards for the aluminium house.

Small Arms Factory, Enfield


asked the Minister of Supply the total production of civilian goods manufactured at the Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield, during the 12 months ended 31st March, 1947, and the nature of such production by type, quantity and value.

The principal civilian goods made during the period in question were hand tools for Government training schemes and components for excavators. There was also miscellaneous engineering work for local contractors.


asked the Minister of Supply the numbers of industrial and non-industrial staff employed at the Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield, at the latest available date.

On 21st June, 1947, the numbers were 1,230 industrial and 251 non-industrial employees.

Electrical Sheet (Distribution)


asked the Minister of Supply whether, in view of the difficulty experienced by small industrial units in obtaining a lair proportion of the available supplies of electric steel sheet used in the manufacture of telecommunication equipment for export, he will apply controls similar to those imposed on the distribution of mild steel sheet.

The arrangements for the distribution of electrical sheet, which is controlled by my Department are at present being reviewed. While the present shortage continues, priority must be given to programmes directly contributing to the expansion of fuel nd power resources, and supplies to other users must, therefore, be restricted.

Telephone Service, Brecon And Radnor

asked the Postmaster-General the number of telephone call boxes which have been installed since the end of the war in the counties of Brecon and Radnor: and how many applications for call boxes are now outstanding.

Four telephone kiosks have been installed in the counties of Brecon and Radnor since the end of the war, and the installation of eight further kiosks is in hand. Sixty-one applications for kiosks in these counties are outstanding.

asked the Postmaster-General how many telephones have been installed in the counties of Brecon and Radnor since the end of the war; how many are outstanding; and what proportion are in respect of farms.

Five hundred and nine telephones have been installed in the counties of Brecon and Radnor since the end of the war, 119 are being provided, and 213 applications are outstanding The number of telephones for farms included in these figures are 56, 9 and 33, respectively.

Post Office

Collections And Deliveries


asked the Postmaster-Genera] what is the latest time, according to schedule, for posting letters in London, Plymouth, Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh for first and second delivery, respectively, in Sutton Coldfield the following day; within what limits variations from scheduled times occur; and why letters posted within a radius of 20 miles are often not delivered in Sutton Coldfield the following day, even in midweek.

The maintenance of delivery times is dependent upon various factors, including the punctual running of trains, and it is not possible precisely to define the limits within which variations from scheduled times may occur. Generally delay will not be more than one delivery. With regard to the last part of the Question, letters for Sutton Coldfield posted in towns within a radius of 20 miles in time for the main evening despatch should be delivered on the following weekday. If the hon. Member will let me have details of any letters which seem to have suffered delay, I shall be happy to investigate. The answer to the first part of the question is; The latest scheduled times of posting at the Head Post Office in the towns named for first and second delivery respectively in Sutton Coldfield the following weekday are as follow:

Latest time of posting at.For delivery in Sutton Coldfield on following weekday by:
First DeliverySecond Delivery.
London—Head District Offices.8.0 p.m.
Sub-District Postmen's Offices.7.0 p.m.
Plymouth2.30 p.m.7.0 p.m.
Cardiff6.0 p.m.11.30 p.m.
Manchester8.15 p.m.1.0 a.m. (on day of delivery).
Newcastle-on-Tyne5.15 p.m.8.45 p.m.
Edinburgh5.30 p.m.7.30 p.m.

asked the Postmaster-General what postal services have been reduced since 1st January, 1946.

In towns the postal services today are materially the same as they were on the 1st January, 1946; in rural areas the services have in general been increased and improved.

Coal Industry

Ex-Gratia Payments


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, which trade unions have received subsidies or ex-gratia payments from the National Coal Board; and how much has been paid in each case.

My right hon. Friend has no information of payments of this nature to trade unions by the National Coal Board, other than that given to the hon. Member in his answer of the 9th June.

Manshift Output


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, whether he will issue a report showing the output per manshift in each of the principal coal areas, compared with pre-war figures.

District.Average during five weeks ended 31st May, 1947.May, 1938.*
North Derbyshire1·481·32
South Derbyshire1·571·15
Lancashire and Cheshire0·910·97
North Wales0·951·05
North Staffordshire1·281·18
Cannock Chase1·041·05
South Staffordshire0·991·14
South Wales and Mon.0·801·00†
Forest of Dean0·770·98
Great Britain1·081·14†

*These figures are not strictly comparable with those for 1947 (which are based on the Ministry's weekly returns) as they are from the returns furnished by the Joint Accountants to the Industry for the purpose of wages ascertainments, which do not cover all collieries, and relate to a calendar month.

Industrial Supplies

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, to what extent the economical use of fuel is recognised in the allocation of fuel to industry; and whether the industrial firm which has not used the opportunity to install fuel-saving plant and practise fuel-saving methods is penalised, and by what procedure, when fuel allocations are being made.

A direct incentive is provided by the present system of allocating coal to industry, for the provision that stocks built up in one period are not to be taken into account in framing allocations for consumption in a following period ensures that fuel economy shall have its own reward. In addition, consideration is being given to the possibility of devising means of recognising those cases where exceptional measures have been taken by industrialists to secure economy in the case of fuel.

Trade And Commerce

Esparto Grass (Imports)


asked the President of the Board of Trade why esparto grass is being imported into this country for paper making; and why surplus straw in this country is not being used for this purpose, in order to save foreign exchange and benefit British farmers.

Esparto has advantages for the production of certain papers and its use involves a smaller consumption of coal. As far as possible the choice between home produced straw and esparto from North Africa within the supplies available is left to the paper makers.

Men's Rubber Boots


asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he is taking to meet the demand for rubber boots for farm workers in North Lincolnshire; and how soon does he expect supplies to meet the urgent demands.

The production of men's Wellingtons is steadily improving and supplies are being supplemented by disposals of Government surplus boots. I am arranging for a special investigation to see that North Lincolnshire is getting its fair share.

Austrian Displaced Persons' Camps


asked the Minister of Labour upon what grounds the three Austrian displaced persons camps of Kapfenberg No. 2, St. Marein and Admont have been excluded from the United Kingdom Immigration Scheme; and whether he will reconsider his decision in the matter.

One of these camps has been closed for several weeks. Persons living in the other two camps are not excluded from participation in the scheme.

Baor Leave Centre, Dusseldorf


asked the Secretary of State for War what is the cost of the new leave centre in Dusseldorf; how many men are employed in building it; and how many of these workmen have been de- flected from essential repair work in respect of houses. schools and industrial buildings.

The estimated cost is 4,840,000 Reichsmarks and £2,000 sterling. The project has not yet been finally approved and the greater part of the labour which would be required has not yet been earmarked.

Forestry Conservation, East Africa

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the excellent results obtained in reafforestation and conversation of forests in certain limited areas of Kenya and Uganda through the actual co-operation of the native authority; and whether he will see that the co-operation of the indigenous peoples as a whole is enlisted for the betterment of East African forestry.

The answers to both parts of the question are "Yes." The Governments of the East African Territories, through their Forest Departments, are actively fostering the co-operation of the native authorities in forest conservation and improvement, and as Forest Department staffs are supplemented by new recruits the campaign will be carried further.

German Fiancee (Exit Permit)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the hon. Member for Northampton may expect an answer to his letter dated 19th May, 1947, addressed to the Passport Control Officer, British zone, Berlin, concerning an application for a visa made by Hildegard Kehrig, the fiancée of Mr. Raymond Spencer, 547, Wellingborough Road, Northampton; and when this visa will be granted.

As my hon. Friend was in formed in a letter of the 20th June, Miss Kehrig was instructed by the Passport Control Officer on 16th May to apply through the local German authorities for an exit permit, on production of which he will endorse a visa on it. The Passport Control Officer reports that he has no trace of the receipt of a letter of 19th May from my hon. Friend.

School Milk And Meals

asked the Minister of Education how many gallons of milk per month were distributed to, and how many meals per day were served in, schools in England and Wales during the first quarter of 1947, by comparison with the same quarter of 1939.

I regret that comparable quarterly figures are not available, and that the returns obtained in February, 1947, were rendered unreliable by the severe weather. For the year 1946 the monthly consumption of school milk averaged 3,544,000 gallons, including the consumption at the independent schools, which were admitted to the scheme in 1942. The average monthly consumption in the year preceding the war was approximately 2,250,000 gallons. The daily number of children having dinner at grant-aided schools in October, 1946, was 2,252,000, and the corresponding figure in 1939, before the outbreak of the war, is roughly estimated at 250,000.

Diphtheria (Immunisation)

asked the Minister of Health which ten areas show the highest amount of immunisation against diphtheria and which ten areas show the lowest during the period for which returns have been received.

Statistical information about diphtheria immunisation is not centrally compiled in a form which enables me to give the particulars desired by my hon. Friend.