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Commons Chamber

Volume 439: debated on Wednesday 9 July 1947

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 9th July,1947

The House met at Half past Two o'Clock


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business

Dundee Corporation Order Confirmation Bill

"to confirm a Provisional Order under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1936, relating to Dundee Corporation," presented by Mr. Westwood; and ordered (under Section 7 of the Act) to be considered Tomorrow, and to be printed. [Bill 97.]

Inverness Burgh Order Confirmation Bill

"to confirm a Provisional Order under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1936, relating to Inverness Burgh," presented by Mr. Westwood; and ordered (under Section 9 of the Act) to be read a Second time upon Thursday, 17th July, and to be printed. [Bill 98.]

Proxy Voting (Petition)

I beg to ask leave to present a Petition on behalf of 71 British women, known as "B.A.O.R. Wives, Daughters and Sisters, aged 21 and Over." The Petition showeth that after two months' residence overseas, the Petitioners are not eligible for inclusion in the next Register of Electors, which comes into force on 13th October, 1947, and, therefore, lose their right to vote in general, borough and municipal elections at home. Wherefore, the Petitioners pray that they be granted the privilege accorded to their men-folk, and to enfranchised women in the Services overseas; that is to say, the same power to nominate a suitable person in Great Britain and Northern Ireland who will record their votes by proxy. The Petition concludes with the appropriate Prayer.

Petition to lie upon the Table.

Oral Answers To Questions

Post Office

Registered Envelopes (Shortage)


asked the Postmaster-General if he will make a statement about the shortage of registered envelopes.

It has for some time been difficult to meet the demand for registered letter envelopes, which is about double what it was before the war, and the fuel crisis resulted in a serious fall in output which is only now being overtaken. Everything practicable is being done by my Department and the contractors to overcome the present shortage, and I am hopeful that the position will be satisfactory within the next few weeks.

Is the Minister aware that the position has improved since I put down this Question?

Delayed Delivery, Hillington


asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that a package posted by the Hillington works of Mirrless Engineers, Limited, on Thursday, 26th June, just after 5 p.m., was delivered at their Scotland Street works, three miles away, on the morning of 30th June; and if he can give any reason for this delay.

I am sorry for the delay in this case. I am not satisfied with the treatment of this packet. I am making inquiry and will write to my hon. Friend.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware there is a feeling that the position has been aggravated by the dismissal of temporary postmen?

Air Mail Stamps


asked the Postmaster-General for what reasons he is unwilling to sanction an issue of air mail stamps.

Special air mail stamps do not offer any advantage in the treatment of air mail correspondence which would balance the additional work and expense of producing, stocking and issuing them.

Has the right hon. Gentleman any means of assessing the loss in dollars to this country arising out of his decision?

Bbc (Third Programme)


asked the Postmaster-General why reception of the B.B.C. Third Programme is so difficult in many foreign countries and British territories overseas; and what steps he proposes to improve it.

The Third Programme of the British Broadcasting Corporation is intended for listeners in this country and the transmitting arrangements are designed to that end and not for reception overseas. Items from the Third Programme are, however, included as opportunity offers in the programmes broadcast by the Corporation for reception overseas.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a very widespread demand existing abroad for the Third Programme, and that its better diffusion would help enormously to assist the good work now being carried out by the British Council?

Telephone Installations (Midwives)


asked the Postmaster-General, if he will include, in the category of those entitled to priority in the installation of telephones, certified mid-wives whose houses are registered as nursing homes.

Certified midwives are given priority whether or not their houses are registered as nursing homes.

If I bring to my right hon. Friend's notice a particular case where this has not been done will he look into it?

Royal Air Force

Allowances, Greece


asked the Secretary of State for Air if he has consulted with the War Office and the Admiralty on the hardships caused to air personnel due to inadequate allowances because of the present rate of exchange between drachma and sterling; and with what result.

The allowances given to members of the Armed Forces stationed in Greece were last reviewed in December, 1946; since then, the Air Ministry have received no representations on the matter. The Service Departments are now awaiting a report from the Commanders-in-Chief in the Middle East, and the rates will be reviewed again when it has been received.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that immediately these representations are received they will be quickly reviewed, so that further delay and hardship will not occur?

I will certainly give that assurance, and I hope that the hon. Member will help me to dispel the misapprehension in Greece that there has been a long delay and injustice as between the Services, the Embassy, and the Economic Mission. There has been no such thing.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a feeling that there has been long delay, that misapprehension exists in Greece, and that the best way to remove it is to deal with this matter quickly?

Yes, Sir, and I am asking the hon. Gentleman to help me to remove that misapprehension. There has been no discrimination in favour of the Embassy and the Economic Mission, and there has not been a long delay.

Aerodromes, Blackbushe And Lasham


asked the Secretary of State for Air what is the position as regards the retention or otherwise of Blackbushe and Lasham aerodromes; whether Blackbushe aerodrome is now to be released; and if there is any necessity to retain Lasham which is situated on good agricultural land and from which very little flying is now done.

The aerodrome at Lasham is required by the R.A.F., and must, therefore, be retained. The aerodrome at Blackbushe is equipped with F.I.D.O., and will be used by civil aircraft for at least some years to come.

Civil Aviation

Brabazon Committee (Reports)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what steps he proposes to take to publish the reports of the Brabazon Committee since it was set up on 23rd December, 1942.

It is not proposed to publish the reports of the Brabazon Committee, the outcome of whose recommendations has been made known from time to time in Parliament.

Since the Brabazon Committee is an official Committee and has, presumably, involved a certain amount of public expense, and in view of the serious position in regard to the development and construction of new civil aircraft designs, is it not appropriate that we should have the details of the matters with, which this Committee has dealt?

The reports are confidential and publication of some of the information would not be to the national advantage. But such information as is available is made known to the House from time to time by the Department.

Operational Statistics (Publication)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, when he anticipates being able to publish, with complete detail, full statistics of operations for the three civil aviation corporations and charter airlines, similar to those which are published monthly by the Civil Aeronautics Administration in the U.S.A.

The necessary preparatory work is proceeding for the monthly publication of detailed civil air transport statistics, but I regret that I am not at present in a position to give a definite date when publication will commence.

Will my hon. Friend see that when the details are published they will give the fullest information, not only about the operations of the civil airways corporations, but the operations of the charter companies, to ensure that they do not exceed the sphere of their activities, as limited by the Civil Aviation Act?

My hon. Friend will know that P.I.C.A.O. is dealing with the general question of fares and statistics. I can assure him that we shall honour P.I.C.A.O. recommendations to the full, but charter statistics are not so easy to obtain.

Is the hon. Gentleman getting all the information he wants from the charter companies? Are they being co-operative?

They are being most co-operative but, naturally, they do not want to disclose to competitors figures which might be likely to embarrass them in their trading undertakings.

Prestwick Airport


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation how many Atlantic arrivals and departures, to and from Prestwick, took place during the month of June by British and foreign airlines.

In the month of June, there were 58 arrivals and 60 departures to and from Prestwick Airport on Transatlantic services by British airlines; there were 54 arrivals and 56 departures by foreign airlines.

Can the hon. Gentleman say the number of passengers carried in each plane?

I cannot at the moment. Perhaps the hon. Member will put a Question on the Paper.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, when work on the third runway for Prestwick may be expected to start.

No target date for starting work on a third runway additional to the two provided by the Government during the war, and now in use for Trans-Atlantic and other services, can be given at present. Various alternative schemes have been examined from a technical and engineering standpoint, but additional information on a number of points is still awaited. Any practicable scheme seems likely to be costly, both in labour and expense. This factor must affect the timing of the work, although my noble Friend is concerned to ensure that its execution shall be in phase with the probable needs for such a development of the aerodrome.

Will the hon. Gentleman press this matter, as local authorities' housing schemes and many other desirable improvements are being held up by indecision on this important question?

Yes, Sir. The matter is now being discussed by the Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Can the hon. Gentleman say when Scottish-built aeroplanes will use these runways?

Departmental Committees (Membership)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in connection with the various committees on civil aviation set up in the Ministry, on what grounds is a distinction made between a Departmental or inter-Departmental committee, the names of the members of which he declines to publish, and an advisory or co-ordinating or technical committee whose members' names he does customarily publish.

The 'reason for this distinction is the well recognised usage of preserving the anonymity of individual civil servants as far as possible

Could my hon. Friend say whether, in the case of the Self Committee, there are members who are not civil servants, and whether it will be possible to publish their names?

Yes, Sir, but in a Committee such as the Self Committee, in which there is joint representation, it would still be undesirable. Ministers are responsible for policy, and it is preferable that controversy should range round the Minister rather than civil servants, who are advisers of the Minister

Maintenance Services (Spare Parts)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what steps are being taken to ensure that an adequate service of spare parts is readily available for the maintenance of civil aircraft so that unnecessary delays of several days, such as that caused to B.E.A.C. aircraft scheduled to leave Athens on Saturday, 10th May, but delayed until Friday, 16th May, and the consequent inconvenience caused to passengers, will in future be avoided.

The maintenance of their aircraft is a matter for the management of the three statutory British Airways Corporations and they, like other operators, place their orders for spares direct with the manufacturers.

Is it not the responsibility of the Minister to see that the service of spare parts to this Corporation is satisfactory? Is he aware that it took nearly a week for the small spare part to reach Athens from England? Is not that disgraceful?

When we are appealed to by either the Corporation, or the charter companies, we give every assistance. This case concerned a Dakota aircraft, for which spares are often secured only by "cannibalisation." The general position in regard to spares for Dakota aircraft is very difficult.

Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the spare part in this case was available in Britain, and that it took nearly a week to get to Athens, when aircraft were flying there every day?

Will the hon. Gentleman consult the Ministry of Supply, and review the whole question of spares for aeroplanes and tool kits? Is he aware that new British aircraft are not supplied with tool kits when going abroad?

That matter is being discussed by the Minister and the Ministry of Supply.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the arbitrary limit, in terms of dollars, for spare parts for Dakotas still exists?

The limit still exists, but the trouble is the actual availability of spares for an obsolete type of aircraft.

Director Of Amenities


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what are the duties and salary of the Director of Amenities; and what staff assist him in his work.

The Director of Amenities is responsible at the Ministry of Civil Aviation for the development and improvement of existing amenities and for the introduction of further revenue producing concessions and facilities at State-owned aerodromes in the United Kingdom. His salary is £1,320 a year. His staff will not be settled pending completion of his initial survey of the problem. It will, in any event, be small.

Airfields (State Acquisition)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether he is now in a position to state what airfields in the United Kingdom are to be acquired by the State for civil aviation.

A preliminary list of these airfields has now been prepared and I will, with permission, circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say for how long this country is to be without an international marine airport conforming to modern standards?

When the report is circulated will it be possible for the Parliamentary Secretary to indicate what the development is likely to be, and whether these airports to be taken over will become derelict by reason of non-activity, which seems to be forecast in official circles?

No, Sir. No actual date can be given. Much depends on the availability of labour and materials, but no airport will be allowed to become dere- lict pending the bringing into operation of fuel services.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary in his report show which aerodromes have been paid for by the Government when they acquire them?

This is an intention to acquire. Some have already been acquired; others come under an intention to acquire.

Following is the statement:

In the White Paper on British Air Ser vices published in December, 1945, it was announced that the State would own and operate the aerodromes used by regular air transport services. The selection of suitable sites for these aerodromes is and will continue to be a long and difficult task. It has been and is being undertaken in close consultation with British European Airways with the object of providing for the country a planned network of air services designed to serve the nation's needs.

A preliminary list of aerodromes outside the London area, which area needs to be considered separately and to which this note does not therefore refer, has now been prepared as set out below, together with the names of the main towns which each aerodrome is intended to serve. Many of the aerodromes will be used on a joint basis with the Service Departments and aircraft manufacturers. Much work has to be done to many of these aerodromes before they can be ready for the operation of regular air services and, in addition, it will, of course, be necessary, where this has not already been done, to extend to them the network of radio and air traffic control services.

The object is to provide safe and regular services and not to rush aerodromes and aircraft into ill-prepared use. Services, when they are introduced, must be dependable and, generally speaking, those which fill a social or commercial need that other forms of transport do not satisfy, must be introduced first. Bearing these facts in mind, together with the shortages of manpower and materials, particularly for building purposes, it would be unwise to attempt to indicate a date by which the whole of these aerodromes will have been brought into use, but the work will be pressed ahead on a properly integrated plan.

AberdeenDyceAlready in use by regular services.
AngleseyValleyDiversionary airport.
BelfastNutts CornerAlready in use by regular services.
BenbeculaBenbeculaAlready in use by regular services.
BlackpoolSquires GateAlready in use by regular services.
Brighton, Hove and Worthing.Shoreham
BristolLulsgate BottomWhitchurch will continue to be available at any rate for a time.
Cardiff(1) Pengam MoorsPengam Moors will continue to be used tor the ferry services across the Bristol Channel.
(2) Llandow
CampbeltownMachrihanishAlready in use by regular services.
CarlisleGreat OrtonCrosby is being used temporarily by regular services.
EdinburghTurnhouseAlready in use by regular services
Glasgow and ClydesideRenfrewAlready in use by regular services.
InvernessDalcrossLongman aerodrome is being used at present by regular services but transfer to Dalcross will be made as soon as practicable.
Isle of WightRyde
IslayPort EllenAlready in use by regular services.
KirkwallHatstonAlready in use by regular services.
Leeds and BradfordYeadonSubject to further technical investigation showing that the aerodrome can be improved to the necessary standard.
LiverpoolSpekeAlready in use by regular services.
ManchesterRingwayAlready in use by regular services.
Newcastle and North- East England.New siteCroft is intended for temporary use pending the development of a new site. The site provisionally selected is at Boldon south of the projected Tyne Tunnel. It lies however on coal-bearing land and further technical investigation is necessary before the selection of the site can be confirmed
North UistSollas
OrkneysSee below.
PenzanceCuldroseSt. Just aerodrome is now in use by regular services and will continue to be so used until a transfer to Culdrose is possible.
PlymouthHarrowbeerThe permanent use of the aerodrome is subject to Parliamentary approval in view of Commoner'" rights.
PrestwickPrestwickAlready in use lor regular services.
Scilly IslesSt. Mary'sAlready in use for regular services.
Sheffield and DoncasterDoncaster
ShetlandsSumburghAlready in use for regular services.
SouthamptonEastleighAlready in use for regular services.
StornowayStornowayAlready in use for regular services.
SwanseaFairwood Common
TireeTireeAlready in use for regular services.
Weston-super-MareWestonAlready in use for regular services.
WickWickAlready in use for regular services.

The provision of air services to additional places, as, for example, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, including the Orkneys inter-island services, is contemplated, but detailed surveys of the sites provisionally selected are necessary before their suitability can be determined. Some of the landing grounds used before the war are much too small for medium-type aircraft, which will provide a faster and more efficient service, and the best means of serving these places requires further examination.

The introduction of air services direct from certain aerodromes in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to the Continent is intended as aircraft become available and the aerodromes can be suitably improved and equipped. Additional sites will be announced from time to time as their acquisition becomes necessary for further expansion of air services.

North-West England


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation when he expects that a regular air service between London and Carlisle, or some other centre in North-West England, will be established.

A review is now being made by the British European Airways Corporation for air services to be put into operation after the financial year 1947–48, and until this is complete it is not possible to make a statement.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that while there is an elaborate service running between London and Scotland there is no service between London and the North-West of England? Could he arrange for one of the Scottish aircraft to stop at Carlisle or some other convenient place between now and the time when he may be able to effect an improvement?

Is it the intention of the Government to use the airport at Crosby for future air services, and what do they intend to do with the aerodrome at Great Orton, and Kingstown Aerodrome, which belongs to the Carlisle Corporation?

Is the Parliamentary Secretary now aware that there is still no service to the West of England and Cornwall?

Is my hon. Friend aware that an advertisement of B.E.A.C., published in the last few days, contained a map purporting to show present services, and that these included a stop at Carlisle?

Hungary (Political Situation)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received any further communication regarding recent events in Hungary, either from the Government of the U.S.S.R. or from the Hungarian Government.

No, Sir. I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave on 25th June to the Question by my hon. Friend the Member for King's Norton (Mr. Blackburn).

Since the publication of the Hungarian White Paper, which I have now had an opportunity of reading, contains various allegations in regard to British organisations and persons, will the Foreign Secretary consider submitting the whole matter to an international body, or at least issuing some detailed statement in regard to these imputations?

Italy (Passport Visas)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that, at the Italian Consulate-General in London, British applicants are required to complete an elaborate form in quintuplicate, supply four photographs and pay £15s. for each visa for a short visit to Italy; that usually they have to queue standing for two hours; and if he will make an immediate protest.

As stated in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Aberdeen and Kincardine (Mr. Spence) on 27th February last, His Majesty's Government do not feel able to make official representations to the Italian Government regarding the elaborate formalities for obtaining Italian visas. Representations have recently been made, but without success, to the Italian Government about the fee of 25s. payable for Italian visas, and in accordance with the usual practice in such circumstances the fee payable by Italian nationals for British visas has been correspondingly raised to 25s.

I cannot overcome queueing where visas are concerned. My policy is to abolish these visas altogether. When the Treaty is ratified and one can deal with it, I shall certainly be very pleased to abolish visas in the case of Italy.

Would the right hon. Gentleman request the Italian Government at least to provide accommodation, so that these people can sit down instead of having to stand up for two hours?

I do not think that anything I can do with regard to these visas would do away with the waiting and formalities which have to be overcome. The only way to get over the problem is to abolish them. In this country, I have abolished visas for a number of countries. The system I introduced of getting passports at the Ministry of Labour offices has reduced all the trouble so far as Great Britain is concerned.


English Books (Translations)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Arabic and Hebrew translations of books by English authors have been published in Palestine during the past five years; what assistance was given by the Palestine Government or the British Council; and what further steps are contemplated to spread a knowlege of English literature in Palestine.

Five Arabic and ninety. Hebrew translations of books by English authors were published in Palestine during the past five years. Financial assistance by the Government and the British Council has been confined to books of specific educational value. Instruction in English is included in the curricula of the Arab and Jewish schools and in general both Arabs and Jews who receive a higher education read English books in the originals. There is no shortage of English books in the shops and libraries. The British Council is active in promoting increased study of English through its Institutes and libraries and lessons in the English langage are broadcast by the Palestine Broadcasting Service.

I did not quite hear the right hon. Gentleman. Was I right in thinking that the figures were five and 90 and, if so, can he explain this apparent discrepancy, and will he place in the library a list of English books of educational value which have been translated?

I am unable to explain these circumstances, except to say that these books are published by private publishers, but if it is possible to obtain the list required, I will do so and put it in the Library.

Major Farran (Arrest)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why Major R. A. Farran, of the Palestine police, was recently arrested.

The circumstances of Major Farran's arrest were given in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) on 2nd July, to which I have nothing to add.

Could my right hon. Friend ask the authorities concerned to make up their minds as quickly as possible about the charge on which this officer is to be tried, and that the trial, when it does take place, should be held in public?

These factors are being inquired into by the Palestinian authorities.

Underground Water Supplies


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what opposition to the draft Palestine Water Ordinance was expressed when it was first published in 1942; what steps have been taken to meet such objections in the law in this regard promulgated recently; and what was the urgency that required the promulgation of that law at the present time when the problem of Palestine and the future of that country is under inquiry by U.N.O.

the Irrigation (Underground Water) Bill which was published in Palestine on 19th June, is based upon similar legislation in other countries. In drafting it consideration has been given to the objections raised by the Jewish Agency and the General Agricultural Council of Palestine to a Bill prepared in 1942. But the objection to the principle of public control of underground water resources cannot be accepted. The absence of such control was in fact criticised by the Anglo- American Committee of Inquiry. The urgent need of powers to control distribution and exploitation of underground water supplies, and to collect information on which to base planned development of water resources as a whole, has been again emphasised by the recent abnormal drought and by the inauguration of certain schemes for the supply of water to new areas. Public control of water is essential and the administration cannot wait longer before tackling this urgent problem.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this matter has been on the tapis for a long number of years and that this is an inopportune moment when the United Nations Committee of Inquiry is sitting to crystallise this point? Is he further aware that this is one of two suggestions contained in the Anglo-American Committee's Report which are being put into effect, although my right hon. Friend said that none would be put into effect without the others?

The action does not, of course, depend on the Report of the Anglo-American Commission, but I think it will be appreciated that with the increasing population in Palestine and also the effects of the recent drought, some action has become imperative, and it is therefore inevitable that the Government should act now in regard to bringing the water resources of Palestine under some degree of public control.

Can my right hon. Friend say why this matter has been delayed so long seeing that many years ago the Palestine Government got an expert irrigation engineer from India to submit a system for the control of the water supply of the whole of Palestine?

I can only imagine it was because a Labour Government was not in office.

Has the Labour Government only come into Office this week? And what happened during the two years it has already been here?

Will my right hon. Friend allay the fears that are held in consequence of the fact that this Bill has suddenly been published, the fears of the Jewish population that their plans and arrangements for water supply will be interfered with?

This has not been suddenly brought into force. Discussion in regard to these projects were going on for quite a long time, but the situation is so rapidly deteriorating that action must be taken.

In view of my right hon. Friend's last answer but one, can he tell us on what date the Labour Government decided to change the policy of previous Governments, and whether this applies to anything else in Palestine besides underground water?

Will the Minister assure the House that all proper steps in this matter will now be finalised?

Jewish Immigrants, Cyprus (Camps)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how it is proposed in future to meet the cost of camps in Cyprus for illegal Jewish immigrants, which already exceeds £1,000,000.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 17th June to the hon. Member for Bermondsey, West (Mr. Sargood), to which I have nothing to add.

British Guiana (Development)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if there is any likelihood of initiating a scheme of State development of part of the hinterland of British Guiana on the lines of the East African groundnut undertaking.

The question of the development of the interior of British Guiana will receive careful consideration by the Commission of Inquiry which is shortly to visit the Colony. On the information at present available, it does not seem probable that anything on the lines of the East African groundnut undertaking would be practicable, but I shall await the report of the Commission.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that all previous attempts to settle the Rupununi hinterland, even with Syrians some 30 years ago, have always failed because of very bad health conditions and bad transport?

We are very well aware of that, but we must await the report of the Commission.

Hong Kong (Chinese Nationals)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will offer sanctuary in Hong Kong to those Chinese professors, lecturers and students from the National Wuhan University, Wuchang, recently raided by Kuomintang police, who desire to enter the University of Hong Kong.

There is no restriction upon the entry of Chinese nationals into Hong Kong. So far as the Hong Kong Government is concerned, therefore, the persons to whom my hon. Friend refer: are at liberty to proceed to the Colony at any time they please.

In view of the very serious effect this particular incident had upon the students and professors of the University, would the right hon. Gentleman offer sanctuary in the University itself to those students who desire to pursue their studies further?

As the hon. Member is aware the question of the University in Hong Kong is now under consideration, but it is quite possible for students to proceed to Hong Kong.

Malaya And Singapore

Banned Broadcast (Mr Anthony Brooke)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the Department of Broadcasting of the Malayan Union and Singapore refused to allow Mr. Anthony Brooke to broadcast on the situation in Sarawak without first examining the script.

The Director of Broadcasting is under no obligation to afford facilities to anyone who wishes to broadcast. But the reason, as given to Mr. Anthony Brooke by the Director, was that the Government were not prepared to allow their broadcasting system to be used for a broadcast which was likely to be definitely critical of Government policy in neighbouring territories, and which was also designed to promote a change in the Government of Sarawak and to undermine His Majesty's rule there.

How do the Government know that this was likely to be critical if they did not take the trouble to see what the broadcast was?

First of all, in his application to the Director, Mr. Anthony Brooke stated that he wished to broadcast all the facts relating to the cession of Sarawak, and the position that had arisen as a result thereof. Mr. Brooke has not subsequently challenged the basis of the decision taken by the Director.

Official Emoluments


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the total expenditure on the personal emoluments and other annual recurrent charges of the Governor-General of Malaya, the Governor of the Malayan Union and the Governor of Singapore; and what were the corresponding figures for 1938 for the Governor of the Straits Settlements and High Commissioner, Malay States.

The amounts provided in the 1947 Estimates for the personal emoluments of the Governor-General, Malaya, the Governor of the Malayan Union and the Governor of Singapore are £9,500, £7,500 and £6,500, respectively. For other annual charges exclusive of office expenses, the amounts provided are £8,633, £3,684, and £2,018, respectively. In 1938 the personal emoluments of the Governor of the Straits Settlements and the High Commissioner for the Malay States amounted to £8,000 and £2,969 was provided for other annually recurrent charges.

In view of the increase of this expenditure, does the right hon. Gentleman propose to review the whole of this arrangement, the cost of which is falling today on the Malayan people?

Obviously, when the Constitution of Malaya has been concluded and certain other developments have taken place in that part of the world, the whole of the set-up of this problem can come up for further consideration.

Internment Pay (Widow's Claim)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that Mrs. Meredith, the widow of the late Registrar of Vehicles under the Singapore Municipality who was interned by the Japanese, has been unable to obtain any satisfaction for her claim for the balance of her husband's salary during internment; and, in view of the fact that in official correspondence the Colonial Office has promised full pay during internment to municipal employees, when this claim will be settled.

This is a matter for the Singapore Municipal Commissioners. The President states that Mrs. Meredith has been paid the total of her husband's Provident Fund Account to 31st January, 1942, and she has also received an advance of £1,870 on account of internment pay, leaving a balance of approximately £2,200. The resealed Grant of Probate was received by the Commissioners on 17th May, 1947; they are now prepared to make a further payment of £2,200, on request, pending the finalising of the account, and I understand that Mrs. Meredith is being so informed.

Is the Minister aware that application for the payment was made to the municipal authorities two months and more ago, and that no reply has been received? Does the Minister repudiate the last paragraph of my question that the Colonial Office guaranteed payment to the municipal employees during their internment by the Japanese?

This is really a matter for the municipal authorities. I think in regard to this particular case a settlement will now be finalised with the payment of the £2,200.

Natural Rubber (Usa Restrictions)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement indicating the extent to which unemployment and hardship are being caused in Malaya through the embargo which the U.S. have placed on the import of rubber; and what steps are being taken by him to deal with this situation.

Regarding the alleged embargo, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to him by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on 7th July. Generally speaking, the standard of living of the small holders and employees on rubber estates has fallen below the prewar level; this is due principally to the high cost of imported foods and other supplies, and has not, till now, been seriously accentuated by the recent drop in the price of rubber. Nor has there yet been any large increase in unemployment. The matter is one which is receiving careful attention, and I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade to my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. T, Reid) on 3rd July.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is considerable fear that there is in fact an embargo which is having this serious effect and that the people think that an embargo is in force, though whether in specific terms or in consequence of the effect of some other regulation they do not know?

There is really no embargo but there is the fact that rubber goods manufactured in the United States-must contain a percentage of synthetic rubber.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Crawford Act insists on 50 per cent. being incorporated in manufactured goods and is, in fact, an embargo? Is he further aware that the resulting fall in the price of rubber loses 100 million dollars a year to this country, and is having the effect implied in this Question of unemployment and distress, which will eventually lead to political unrest in Malaya?

His Majesty's Government are fully aware of the problem in regard to rubber and they are giving it immediate and effective attention.

Have the Government made it clear to the United States that the whole system of unilateral trading, by which they set such store, will break down unless they buy sterling commodities of this description, which is the only way we can pay our debts to the United States.

We are fully alive to the problem, but the question obviously should be addressed to the Board of Trade.

Surely, this is a matter of tremendous importance. I should like to know what steps the right hon. Gentleman has taken to bring home to the United States the disastrous effect of the policy they are pursuing?

I can only answer that appropriate steps have been taken by the Government in this matter as a result of the representations of my office.

The right hon. Gentleman has told us that appropriate steps have been taken. Will he tell us what the appropriate steps were?

I have said that the Colonial Office in consultation with other Departments concerned are fully alive to the importance of this matter, and particularly its importance to Malaya—

—and consequently have taken appropriate steps—[HON. MEMBERS: "What steps?"]. I will repeat that—the Government have taken appropriate steps both in regard to international conferences meeting just now and in regard to the Government of the United States.

Has the Minister seen a statement of the chairman of the Rubber Company that America has forced down the price of rubber to one-third of its prewar value, and can he do anything in regard to that?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the rubber planters in Ceylon are contemplating cutting out all rubber and turning over their estates to something else, because of the fall of the price of rubber below the cost of production caused by the action of the United States?

Constitutional Negotiations


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the latest developments in the constitutional negotiations in British Malaya; and, in particular, whether Singapore is to be a member, on the same terms as Penang, of the Malayan Federation.

I hope to make a statement before the end of the Session. With regard to Singapore, I am unable to add to my reply to the hon. Member for Bury (Mr. W. Fletcher) on 18th June.

In view of the anxiety that is being felt in Malaya that a settlement should be arrived at, could my right hon. Friend make a statement as soon as possible?

The statement will be made very soon indeed, but the delay is not unduly long because obviously a number of problems have to be resolved before a statement can be made.

Is the delay due to the fact that there are so many different Governments and so much over administration in Malaya?


British Caribbean Airways


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the British Caribbean Airways, Limited, a British company registered in Jamaica, has been refused Jamaican designation as a scheduled carrier between Jamaica and the U.S.A.

I am still in correspondence with the Governor of Jamaica on this matter and am not aware that any final decision on the application of British Caribbean Airways has yet been taken.

Is the Secretary of State aware that while he has been in correspondence with the Governor other nations are, in fact, lifting the trade?

Public Meetings (Proclamation)


asked the Secretary f State for the Colonies whether the Proclamation recently issued by the Governor f Jamaica prohibiting public demonstrations has now been withdrawn.

In accordance with the terms of the Jamaica Public Meetings Law of 1939, the Proclamation ceased to have effect after one month. No new Proclamation has since been issued.

Commodity Prices (Subsidies)


asked the Secretary of state for the Colonies what action is being taken by the Government of Jamaica to subsidise the prices of essential commodities; what is the level of the cost-of-living index as compared with the level in 1945; and what changes have taken place in wage levels in the same period.

The Government of Jamaica has provided £100,000 in the current year's estimates for subsidising imported foodstuffs and £14,300 for purchasing local foodstuffs at guaranteed minimum prices. The cost of living stands at present at 190 as compared with 160 in June, 1945. Wage levels have increased by an average of about 20 per cent. in the same period. In the case of the workers employed by the sugar industry, however, the increase in rates has been over 25 per cent.

Regional Hospital Boards (Appointments)


asked the Prime Minister, if, in view of the fact that in the appointment of regional hospital boards, hon. Members of this House from one party only have been appointed, although hon. Members from other parties have similar qualifications of hospital work administration and management, he will set up a Select Committee to consider the effect of such political appointments on the hospital services of this country.

I repudiate the suggestion that these appointments are political; examination of the boards' membership will prove that persons with suitable experience have been chosen without any shadow of political exclusiveness. The last part of the Question, therefore, does not arise.

Is the Prime Minister aware that six members of this House, all Member of the right hon. Gentleman's Party, and four Members of another place, none of whom is Conservative, have been chosen to sit upon these boards; and is he further aware that such political appointments will mean an inevitable change in these hospital boards after the next General Election and will be to the detriment of the hospital service?

I do not think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has his facts correct. I believe there are five Members from this side of the House on these boards and from another place there is Lord Cunliffe, the Earl of Cran-brook, and Lord Henley, who are certainly not members of this party, and Lord Eustace Percy, a very eminent Conservative. I really do think that it is unjustifiable to complain just because now, after many years, some Labour people are appointed to these various boards.

Is the Prime Minister aware that some of the names on these boards, particularly in North Wales, have been received with perplexity, and may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman can tell the House why people who have given their lives to hospital service and whose names are well known are omitted?

I cannot tell the hon. Gentleman that. Perhaps they are too old.

Professional And Technical Training (Co-Ordination)


asked the Prime Minister whether he is satisfied with the present arrangements within the Ministry of Labour, the University Grants Committee, the Ministry of Education and other departments for ensuring an adequate supply of trained men and women for the professions and for higher posts in the field of technology; and whether, in any future White Paper on economic conditions, he will include a statement on this matter for the guidance of industry, the professions, university appointment boards and students entering on their careers.

I am satisfied that as rapid progress is being made with the expansion of facilities at schools, colleges and universities as is practicable under present conditions and that present arrangements for co-ordinating the work of the various departments concerned in this work are satisfactory. In order to estimate the needs of the various professions and industries, enquiries are being made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service, and the resulting information will be communicated to the universities and the Government Departments concerned. Careers pamphlets are available to the public. I am not prepared to say at present whether material on this subject could appropriately be included in a White Paper.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, apart from letters which have appeared in "The Times" and the "Manchester Guardian" this week on the subject, there is an immediate situation since the colleges of London are placarded with details of posts in science, teaching and industry, but these men are to be called up on 1st September? This is the urgency of the question, and could the Prime Minister look into it again?

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will let me know the exact point he wishes to raise and I will look into it. It does not arise on this Question.

Armed Forces

Medical Services (Merging)


asked the Minister of Defence what progress has been made towards merging the three Service medical branches.

This question is still under examination. I ought, however, to make it clear that it has not yet been established that the complete merger of the three medical services is to be preferred to the alternative of the maximum degree of co-ordination between those services.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the enormous overlapping has resulted in great lack of accommodation and personnel overseas?

Does the Minister realise that the merger of these services will result in great economy in military manpower, and when he is considering it will he consider at the same time the merger of the three nursing services?

I have been looking into the question of economy of manpower that might be effected by the merger. Not only I, but other Departments which have examined the matter so far have not been convinced of the actual economy to be effected. As I say, however, the matter is still under consideration.

Call-Up (Choice Of Service)


asked the Minister of Defence what opportunities are given to conscripts to choose in which arm they wish to do their national service.

Every man is invited, when registering for national service, to say whether he would prefer to serve in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army, or Royal Air Force, and so far as possible he is subsequently called up to the Service of his choice. After call-up a man is allowed to express a preference for a particular arm or branch of the Service to which he has been allocated. If he is found to be suitable, and there are vacancies, he would normally be allowed to enter it.

Can steps be taken so that young men who are in the Cadet Forces can be allocated to the branch of the Services to which they belong?

I cannot at this stage add to what I said to the House the other day. I have taken careful note of the expression of the views of the House and, particularly, of the point made by the right hon. Gentleman the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and we are bringing these views to the notice of all those who are concerned with people coming from the cadets. We do our best to meet the wishes of the House, but I do not wish to give a promise which would lead every cadet to feel that he had the definite undertaking of the Government, since the ultimate requirements of the Services have to be considered.

Is the Minister aware that owing to this uncertainty, the Air Cadets are falling off very much in numbers?

Can the Minister say whether we may now take it that the term "conscript" is the legitimate one to use for those called up for national service?

Will the Minister make provision so that those associated with the sea are given a chance of doing their service with the Royal Navy as they desire to do, and as the Minister of Labour undertook that they would be able to do in a reply to a Question of mine some time ago—an undertaking which it has been impossible to put into effect?

We will do our best within the scope of the answers I have already given on the subject. I think it is an excellent thing to have those from a seafaring industry brought into the sea services.

Food Supplies

Grocery Licence, Louth


asked the Minister of Food why a greengrocery licence has been refused to Mr. Lloyd Abbott, 23, Newbridge Hill, Louth, who gave up his greengrocery business at Tetney on volunteering for service in 1939, and after serving four years abroad in the Royal Tank Regiment, purchased other premises that were previously used as grocers and general dealers.

Mr. Lloyd Ablott has not applied for a licence to sell greengroceries. His application for a licence to sell groceries and for a catering licence was refused by the local Food Control Committee because they do not consider them necessary to meet consumer need, and because Mr. Ablott is not in the priority class. It is open to him to appeal to the divisional food officer against this decision if he wishes to do so.

Is the hon. Lady aware that this man is now drawing unemployment pay for the first time in his life because of the decision of her Department, and does she think that that is a fair reward for a man who has served for six years?

I find that difficult to understand because on 25th November, 1946, we granted this man a licence to sell chocolate and sugar confectionery.

But is it not a fact that the number of coupons the hon. Lady's Department gave the man was 1,800, which would produce him a profit of exactly 29s. a week, on which he is expected to keep a wife and child?

Royal Agricultural Show, Lincoln (Allocations)


asked the Minister of Food if he is aware of the complaints made by the Mayor of Lincoln about the inadequacy of food supplies for the Royal Agricultural Show; and whether it was a local or a London office decision not to accede to the requests of the mayor for better supplies, prior to the opening of the show.

My right hon. Friend has been advised that in spite of the very large attendance food was available for all those at the show. As my right hon. Friend informed the hon. Member on 18th June, he was satisfied with the arrange- ments made beforehand for supplying food at the show itself and in the shops and that catering establishments were also provided for.

Italian Tomatoes (Prices)


asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that Italian tomatoes are being imported into this country at 2d. per pound and retailed at the maximum price of 1s. 4d. per pound; and what steps he is taking to prevent this profiteering.

Tomatoes imported into this country from Italy, are brought in on private account and I have no precise information about the price paid by the importer. I understand, however, that the price is about 3d. per lb. packed, f.o.r. The first-hand selling price at Covent Garden is 8d. per lb. for sound fruit, out of which about 2—d. per lb. has to be paid for the cost of transport from Italy. There is also an import duty of 2d. per lb., leaving a balance of 3½d. per lb. to cover the cost of the fruit and all other incidental expenses such as packing, packing materials, selling agency charges and the cost of the container. Whilst the maximum retail selling price is at present 1s. 4d. per lb., I am informed that some retailers are selling at is. per lb. and others at as low as 9d. per lb. The margin has, of course, to cover any wastage of over-ripe fruit, which is high in some cases.

May I ask the hon. Lady whether she is aware that the tomatoes were being brought here at the end of last week at between 2d. to 4d. a lb.? Whatever one may think of maximum prices when there is scarcity, it is not generally agreed that when there is a glut or a comparative glut is the time to take maximum prices off, because they at once become minimum prices?

I agree with my hon. Friend. I have explained to the House that that has been our policy in the past. These prices will be reduced on 14th July, but we must bear in mind that "maximum prices" does not mean "minimum prices."

Do I understand the hon. Lady to say that maximum prices are to be reduced?

Will the Minister explain why there is an import duty on these tomatoes?

May I ask the hon. Lady whether she can review the whole of this question of tomatoes? There are far too many speculators in a business where there are many reputable people. A review would be good for the trade and would sort it out.

If the hon. Gentleman will give me the names I will look into the matter.

Colonies (Civil Aviation Routes)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what replies have been received from Colonial Governments to his inquiry whether they would wish, under the terms of Article 5 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation concluded at Chicago in 1944, to prescribe routes to be followed by civil aircraft over their territories; and what action he proposes to take in this matter.

I regret that my reply to the hon. Member on 7th May was likely to be misleading. So far, I have consulted Colonial Governments only in regard to the routes to be followed by scheduled international air services and not in regard to the action to be taken under Article 5 of the Chicago Convention. I am advised that it is desirable that where routes are prescribed they should fit into the air traffic control pattern to be established in the areas concerned. I am in communication with my noble Friend the Minister of Civil Aviation, with regard to the air traffic control pattern to be established in the Colonial areas concerned, and I propose to defer further communication with Colonial Governments on the subject until decisions are reached on the question of air traffic control.

African Colonies

Ex-Service Men (Employment)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent have West and East African ex-Service men been placed in jobs where they can usefully employ the training and experience they gained during their military service; and whether agencies or departments exist in all African Colonies whose function it is to make the best possible use of the qualifications of these ex-Service men.

Resettlement machinery, usually working through the established employment exchanges or bureaux, has been set up in all African Colonies, and every effort is made to place ex-Service men seeking employment in jobs where they will make the best use of any special qualifications which they acquired during their military service. There are also supplementary postwar training schemes in operation. As regards the numbers placed in employment, I am obtaining the latest information from the Governments concerned which I will send to my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

Could my right hon. Friend say in general terms the proportion of ex-Service men? Is it very large, such as 50 per cent.?

It 1s impossible to give the figure. In any case, the proportion varies from territory to territory.

Flood Damage Relief Fund


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the undesirability of this country receiving financial assistance from Colonies whose peoples are far poorer than the people of this country and whose social services cannot expand as they should because of financal stringency, why the Nigerian and Gold Coast Governments were not informed that, while the motive of their gift of £25,000 to aid British flood victims was greatly appreciated, it is preferable that this sum should be used to meet West African needs, including damage from flood in West Africa.

In each case the resolution proposing the gift was moved and seconded by African unofficial members of Legislative Councils. It would have been ungracious to have rejected this generous token of sympathy and contrary to the spirit of the relations existing between this country and the Colonies.

Is it not the case that we are making grants to these Colonies, who are intrinsically very poor and cannot afford gifts of this kind? Could not my right hon. Friend, while appreciating the motives, have acted more wisely in the matter?

These grants were made to the Lord Mayor's Fund. It would have been most ungracious not to accept them.

Royal Navy (Manpower Committee)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what are the terms of reference of the Manpower Economy Committee under the chairmanship of His Honour Tom Eastham, K.C.; and whether its report will be published.

The terms of reference of this Committee are:

"To review the methods of manning and use of manpower in the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines during peace and to recommend measures for securing that fighting efficiency is maintained with the greatest possible economy in manpower."
I should add that the Committee's inquiries will be directed mainly to broad issues rather than to the detailed examination of complements. The committee's report will, in accordance with normal practice, be a confidential document submitted to my noble Friend for his consideration.

May I ask my hon. Friend why, in view of the importance of the engineering and technical branches of the Navy, those branches are not represented?

We cannot have representatives from every branch. We have people with general qualifications who will be able to regard the Navy as a whole.

There is one representative for the executive branch and one for the supply branch, while all the other branches have no representation at all.

As the inquiry is to be on rather broad lines, would it not be possible for the report to be made available?

That is never done in cases such as this. Naturally, I will ask my noble Friend whether it can be done. but I think it is not the usual practice.

Because people are very much more willing to give evidence in cases where they know that the reports are not to be made public.

Ju52 Aircraft (Conversion)


asked the Minister of Supply what is the cost of converting a J.U.52 into a Jupiter passenger aircraft.

The average is about £12,500.

Is the hon. Member aware that the conversion of the Dakota aircraft to 21 seaters compared with Jupiters to 12 to 14 seaters can be done at approximately the same price by private enterprise?

I am afraid that the point does not arise out of the Question. Other considerations come into the matter because of the uses of Dakotas which do not arise in the case of Jupiters.

Does the figure of £12,500 include maintenance unit costs? If it does not, what would be the cost of conversion if those factors were included?

I do not quite follow that question. The £12,500 is the cost of the conversion of these planes and handing them over to the Ministry of Civil Aviation

University Students (Statistics)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what is the proportion of ex-Service students to those coming direct from school in the universities, giving separate figures for each university and university college.

I am collecting this information and will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Business Of The House


"That the Finance Bill, as amended, may be considered immediately after the re-committal of the Bill and report thereof, notwithstanding the practice of the House as to the interval between the various stages of such a Bill."—[Mr. Herbert Morrison.]

Orders Of The Day

Finance Bill

Order for consideration, as amended, read.

Bill re-committed to a Committee of the Whole House in respect of the Amendments to Clause 6, page 6, lines 33 and 45; of the first Amendment to Clause 8, page 7, line 14; of the Amendments to Clause 8, page 7, lines 15 and 18; of the new Clauses ( Rate of excise duty on motor cars (other than electrically propelled)and ( Imported films;)of the Amendment to Schedule 3, page 61, line 37 and of the second Amendment to Schedule 4, page 63, line 33, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.—( Mr. Dalton.)

Bill immediately considered in Committee.

[Major MILNER in the Chair]

Clause 6—(Intermediate Rate Of Purchase Tax On Certain Goods)

3.31 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 6, line 33, after second "in," to insert "Part I of."

This is a drafting Amendment. Presently we shall ask for the insertion of a new Part to the Schedule, and this is a paving Amendment which will enable that to be done.

On a point of Order, Major Milner. May I ask for your guidance on this? This Amendment is a lead-in to an extremely important Amendment which imposes double Purchase Tax on certain goods. We are opposed to that proposal. We desire not only to discuss it but to have an opportunity of voting on it. Can we be assured that the insertion of these words at this stage will not prejudice our chance when it comes to a discussion on the main proposal and, it not, on which the lead-in Amendments is it proposed to take the main discussion?

We, of course, apprehend that there will be a desire for discussion. We welcome a discussion on the proposal, and if the right hon. Gentleman wishes to divide, that would be a very natural reaction, unless he shall have been converted by what may be said in the Debate. I think discussion naturally arises on the first Amendment to Clause 8 which provides for a 66⅔ per cent. tax. We have no desire to evade Debate. I suggest we might have the main Debate at that point.

This is a matter of procedure, but the difficulty is that that involves passing other Amendments beforehand. If an Amendment is passed then to delete the actual provision for doubling the Purchase Tax it would leave those words without meaning and it might, therefore, be held out of Order for that decision to be challenged.

I will give the right hon. Gentleman an assurance that such a proposal will not be ruled out of Order in such circumstances. We can come to a decision when the time arrives as to whether an alteration will be required thereafter.

Might I suggest that supposing the Governments subsequent Amendment were withdrawn, the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Financial Secretary could give an undertaking that on the Report stage the words now inserted would be taken out?