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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 440: debated on Thursday 24 July 1947

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Trade And Commerce

Czechoslovakia (British Goods)

1.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if vigorous effort is being made by the British Commercial Secretariat, Prague, to secure as full opportunity as possible for the supply of British goods to meet the sellers market in Czechoslovakia.

2.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if any arrangements are in process to facilitate visits of representatives of British industry to the forthcoming Prague Autumn Fair; and if his Department will prepare a report on recent progress in Czechoslovakia in the engineering and technical research results achieved since the close of the war.

I am informed that adequate facilities are being arranged to enable British representatives to visit the Prague Autumn Fair. In accordance with standing instructions reports are obtained by my Department on developments likely to be of interest to United Kingdom industry.

Is the President of tie Board of Trade giving due attention to the importance of developing our commercial relations with Yugoslavia in view of the fact that Yugoslavia played a very important part in leading developments in Central Europe in the past, and w ill he take steps to bring these countries into as close contact as possible?

Australian Wool (Price)

3.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is tae average price paid for wool imported into this country from Australia.

The average price paid for wool imported into this country from Australia during the first six months of this year was about 20¾d. per lb. f.o.b.

Children's Leather Footwear (Coupons)

4.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will take off all coupons from children's leather footwear, since adequate stocks are in distributors' hands and exceed the coupon-controlled demand.

No, Sir. My information is that stocks of children's footwear are not unduly large, and they form part of the general supply of clothing needed to meet the ration.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that there is a surplus of the cheaper type of children's footwear and a dearth of the better qualities, and could he see that better leather is sent to the children's footwear manufacturers to satisfy the demand for better quality?

We are getting as good leather as is available. I hope that the leather situation is easing and that we shall be able to get more of better quality.

Cannot the right hon. and learned Gentleman show a slight bias in favour of children's footwear, because when one has a large number of children the position is very difficult?

Atomic Energy Plant, West Cumberland

8.

asked the President of the Board of Trade, if he will give an assurance that factory development at Sella-field, West Cumberland, will not be jeopardised by the proposed introduction of an atomic energy plant in West Cumberland.

I have nothing to add to the statement which my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Supply, made after Questions yesterday.

In view of the statement of the Minister of Supply yesterday, can my right hon. and learned Friend say what really has been the deciding factor in this change of policy? First, was it a conflict of labour requirements; second, was it pressure from the crank organisation, "Friends of the Lake District;" third, what other provisions are to be made for Drigg; and, finally, is he aware that there is still a large number of unemployed in West Cumberland and also people on temporary work who may well have satisfied both the needs of Drigg and of Sellafield?

Trade Marks (Registration)

9.

asked the President of the Board of Trade, what is the average period of delay now experienced by applicants to the Registrar of the Patent Office for decisions in respect of trade marks; and whether he is able to announce any steps to reduce such delays.

I regret to say that, owing to staffing difficulties and the larger number of applications, the period between the filing of applications for the registration of trade marks and the communication to the applicant of the official report on the application is now about twelve months. Every effort is being made to provide and train the additional staff necessary to reduce the delay.

In view of the tremendous importance of this matter, will my right hon. and learned Friend take all possible steps to reduce the period of time?

Men's Rubber Boots

11.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of local shortages of men's rubber Wellington boots, he will inform the House what will be the position with regard to their supply during the next six months.

The production of men's Wellington boots during the first five months of 1947 was 75 per cent. above that in the corresponding period of 1946. This production is supplemented by disposals of Government surplus boots. Supplies in the shops should show considerable improvement in the course of the next six months.

Does the President of the Board of Trade recognise how serious the position will be in rural areas, particularly among the agricultural population, if gumboots are not obtainable over the coming months?

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind the question of the longer type of boots?

Grantham Productions, Limited

18.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in view of the wide publicity given to Grantham Productions, Limited, he will consider holding a full inquiry into the affairs of the company since the original allocation was made.

The company is in voluntary liquidation, and I am advised that the Board of Trade have no power under the existing Companies Act to appoint an inspector to investigate its affairs.

In view of the fact that certain hon. Members of this House have put down a Motion asking for the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate the affairs of Grantham Productions, Limited, and that Questions have already drawn widespread attention to the firm, would the President of the Board of Trade agree to make an investigation into the possibilities of this company, and have a full investigation?

I have just said that the Board of Trade has no power to order such an investigation when a company is in voluntary liquidation.

Will the President of the Board of Trade accept the Motion standing in my name and the names of some of my hon. Friends?

[ That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the allocation of the Grantham Factories in 1945 to Grantham Productions, Limited, now in liquidation, and their re-allocation in 1947 to a financial syndicate headed by Mr. F. S. Cotton; and to report the result of their inquiries to the House.]

Although this firm is in liquidation, now that this contract is broken, would it not be possible to get the original firm to start work again with the experience which they have gained?

Even if, as the President says, he has no statutory power, surely there is nothing to prevent the Government appointing a Select Committee?

That would be a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply, who is in charge of that side of production.

Industrial Clothing Coupons (Qualifying Period)

19.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is now prepared to reduce the qualifying period for the Industrial Ten clothing coupons below 22 hours a week.

Yes, Sir. I have decided that, as from the date of the next issue, the qualifying period will be 20 hours a week.

May I express satisfaction with that decision, and assure my right hon. Friend that it will be very welcome to part-time workers?

Newsprint (Weekly Papers)

20.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the recent cut in newsprint will cause weekly newspapers to be of a smaller size than at any time previously; and if he will arrange for a more equable distribution of newsprint to see that weekly newspapers can adequately present news.

The distribution of the cut was agreed upon by a body including the representatives of all classes of newspapers, London and provincial, and I see no grounds for regarding it as inequitable. In fact, the weekly papers w 11 generally suffer a reduction of one page in eight, and the national dailies one page in five, or an equivalent amount in circulation.

May I ask the President of the Board of Trade if he now says that the newspapers have willingly agreed to this cut, and, secondly, if he does not realise the great part which weekly newspapers play in the life of the community, and if he will not be a little more sympathetic?

I certainly realise that, and I am very sympathetic, but what I said was that the distribution of the cut was agreed upon, not that they agreed on the cut itself.

Overseas Tourists (Petrol Allowance)

21.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the new allowance of petrol to tourists from overseas to cover the return journey from the port of landing to the furthest destination is, though additional to the basic ration, quite inadequate for the tours suggested in the tourist propaganda widely circulated abroad and compares unfavourably with the allowance obtainable in France; and whether he will increase the allowance order to attract more dollars to this country.

Due weight was given to the considerations mentioned by the, hon. Member before the decision was made to make additional petrol available to overseas tourists. I regret that it is not possible to arrange for any increase in the allowance this season.

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether this very small allowance was fixed on the advice of the Travel Association or against its advice?

I cannot recollect what advice it gave, but everybody's opinion was canvassed on this matter, including the Automobile Association and others.

22.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether any allowance of petrol is made to tourists from overseas who themselves drive hired motor cars.

No allowance of petrol is made to overseas tourists for this purpose. Allowances are, however, granted to firms who hire out self-drive cars, and overseas visitors can of course take advantage of this service.

Does that really deal with the point that tourists from overseas ought to have petrol in order to attract more dollars to this country?

That is a matter which has been dealt with in a reply to a previous Question.

Coal Industry

Knowes Colliery, Fauldhouse

23.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what are the prospects of having production recommenced at the Knowes Colliery, Fauldhouse, thus employing men resident in the vicinity who are compelled to travel considerable distances to work in other pits.

I am informed by the National Coal Board that they do not intend to reopen the Knowes Colliery, Fauldhouse. The reserves of coal at this colliery can be more easily worked from neighbouring collieries.

Does my right hon. Friend recollect that it was he who closed this colliery, and that it is the only one dealt with in that punishing way because of an unofficial strike, and is it not his intention to see that the punishment is brought to an end sometime?

No; the men formerly employed in this colliery have been absorbed in neighbouring collieries and that has led to increased production. It is true that we have handed over the mining assets to the National Coal Board, and they must take whatever action is proper.

As I consider that this matter requires further elucidation, I beg to give notice that I will raise it on the Motion for the Adjournment.

Disused Mine Shafts

25.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps will be taken to compel owners of abandoned mines to remove the danger caused by disused mine shafts.

The Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act, 1872, and the Coal Mines Act, 1911, require the owner or other persons interested in the minerals of an abandoned mine to keep the shaft surrounded by a structure of a permanent character sufficient to prevent accidents. The enforcement of these provisions is a matter for the local authority.

Miners' Halls (Political Meetings)

26.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if it is the policy of the National Coal Board to make miners' halls available for public political meetings.

I am informed by the National Coal Board that premises owned by them are not ordinarily available for political purposes. An exception is made where a hall belonging to the National Coal Board is the only one available in the locality. In these cases permission may be given for the use of the hall provided there is no discrimination between one political party and another.

Will the Minister use his considerable influence with the National Coal Board to see that these halls, particularly in a small community, are made available to all?

Coke Supplies, London (Quality)

30.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power, whether his attention has been drawn to the deterioration in the quality of coke supplied to blocks of flats in London; whether he is aware that in some instances, at least, this is so serious as to threaten the supply of hot water; and what remedial measures he proposes to take.

I am not aware of any general deterioration in the quality of coke supplied to blocks of flats or other consumers in London, though it may be that some consumers are using coke breeze for which their appliances were not specificially designed, to supplement their normal supplies. If the hon. and gallant Member has any particular cases in mind and will let me have particulars, I shall be glad to have them investigated.

Coal Board Employees (Territorial Army)

32.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the policy of the National Coal Board towards their employees joining the Territorial Army.

I am informed by the National Coal Board that they have this matter under very active consideration in the light of the statement made by my right hon, Friend the Secretary of State for War on 21st July.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to draw the attention of the National Coal Board to the urgency of this problem, because, in some districts, the Board is the largest employer of labour, and, a few months ago, Territorial Army units were asked to start recruiting, but some men are not unnaturally hanging back because of the slowness of the National Coal Board to declare its policy and set an example to other employers.

Does that answer mean that the Minister now admits that he has some control over the National Coal Board?

Of course I have the power of direction on matters of general policy. That is embodied in the Act of Parliament covering the activities of the Board, but my answer does not denote that I interfere in the everyday administration. If I am asked to obtain from them information which is relevant, of course I do so.

Will the Minister say what is the attitude of the National Coal Board towards holidays for the training of men joining the Territorial Army?

That is not the Question on the Order Paper, but if the question is put down I will try to obtain an answer.

Can the Minister assure the House that he will be able to frustrate any attempt by the National Union of Mineworkers to screen duals who might desire to join the Territorial Army?

I think that is quite an improper allegation to make against the National Union of Mineworkers, and I would like to remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the mineworkers of this country are as patriotic as anybody.

Will the Minister bear in mind that, in his capacity as tie first Minister to be in charge of a totally nationalised Ministry, his responsibility is very great, and that the example he sets may be the guide for future industries?

That may well be. Personally, I can assure hon. Members that I shall put nothing in the way of men joining the Territorial Army.

May I point out that the National Union of Mineworkers have never adopted the policy of screening their members in connection with their patriotic duty?

Recruitment (Mobile Cinema Vans)

33.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power on how many occasions loudspeaker vans belonging to the National Coal Board have been used at Labour Party meetings.

One, Sir. A National Coal Board mobile cinema van was on a recruitment tour of the Cannock Chase area at the time when the Labour Party Rally was held on 6th July, and the opportunity was taken of showing mining films to the large crowds present. I am informed by the Board that they are prepared to send these vans to any large gathering of people purely for recruitment purposes, irrespective of what political party, if any, has organised the meeting.

Does not the Minister consider that it would be better if these National Coal Board vans stayed away from such meetings, and is he aware that not only were films shown but that the Minister's own speech was broadcast and that the Coal Board's beauty queen was alongside the Minister? May I seriously suggest that, in future, it would be far better for the National Coal Board not to broadcast the "Shinwell Ragtime Band."

If one of the means of broadcasting the need for recruiting persons to the mines is for the mobile cinema vans to avail themselves of the large and enthusiastic meetings which I address, they ought to be allowed to do so.

Could the Minister tell us how many recruits were obtained at that meeting?

No, Sir, I cannot, but what I can say is that, as a result of the activities of these vans and the recruitment campaign generally, we have recruited over 50,000 men and boys into the mining industry.

Does not my right hon. Friend think that it is rather futile to allow these vans to go to all political party meetings, because it is absolutely hopeless to get recruits to the mining industry, or any hard work, from the party opposite?

No, Sir, I cannot accept that view. What I have said denotes my extreme impartiality.

In the interest of political fairness, will the Minister see that the Conservative Party is not given undue advantage by the mass reproduction of his own speeches?

I should imagine that it members of the Conservative Party could appreciate the substance and force of my observations, it would do them a lot of good.

National Coal Board Accounts

35.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the financial result of the first six months trading of the National Coal Board.

I would remind the hon. Member that Section 31 of the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act, 1946, requires the National Coal Board to prepare an annual statement of accounts, which it will be my duty to lay before the House.

Does the Minister deny the reliable reports which are going about that, in the first six months, a loss has been made, and, further, will he use his influence with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply to see that no further nationalisation of steel takes place until these figures have been given?

The only reliable reports on the subject are those made by myself to this House.

Fuel And Power

Domestic Restrictions

29.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is satisfied that domestic users are carrying out the restrictions imposed on the use of fuel during the present summer months; and if he will state his estimate of the amount of fuel saved to date.

It is not possible to state whether in fact the summer restrictions on the use of gas and electricity are being fully observed by all consumers. Domestic consumers have been asked to economise in the use of gas and electricity this summer so as to enable the gas and electricity undertakings to use 2½ million tons less coal than they estimated they would consume during this period. So far, consumption of coal by these undertakings has been about 900,000 tons less than was estimated. The statistics available do not, however, enable me to say how much' of this saving has been due to the domestic consumer.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, in view of the falling off in domestic fuel saving, there is again the necessity to remind consumers of their obligations in this matter, and to keep on repeating these reminders?

The Fuel Economy Campaign will soon be in full swing, and we have enlisted the co-operation of a large number of womens' organisations and of the local authorities. There are, so far, very few refusals to co-operate, and I imagine that the activities of these bodies will be of great value.

Flats, London (Allocations)

31.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that last year's fuel allocation to many blocks of flats in London has been reduced by 20 per cent. while other previously unrationed and useful fuels have now been rationed; arid what steps he proposes to take to ensure that the heating and hot water services in such flats ran be maintained throughout the year.

I am glad to be able to say that as a result of action taken to ease the coke supply position the 20 per cent. cut in allocations to programmed consumers, including blocks of flats, has now been reduced to 10 per cent. The position will be reviewed again before the winter, but with due care and economy I do not feel that a reduction of 10 per cent. should affect the heating and hot water services of blocks of flats. The inclusion of previously unrationed fuels in the restriction is necessary to ensure fairer distribution while the present acute shortage of domestic fuel persists.

Has the right hon. Gentleman taken into consideration the fact that many proprietors have warned tenants that they will suffer unprecedented hardships and discomfort this winter unless more fuel is allocated to them?

Principal Priority Officer

36.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the name and salary of the Director of Priority recently appointed to his Department.

The Principal Priority Officer is Mr. B. J. Ellis, whose present salary is £1,750 per annum. Mr. Ellis is a temporary civil servant who has been serving, first in the Mines Department, and then in the Ministry, since 1939.

Can the Minister say why it is necessary to appoint another bureaucrat to interfere in the free trade of the country, which is so vital at the present moment?

This is merely the appointment of a civil servant to another post. That is all it is.

Alderney (Restoration Work)

38.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assistance it is intended to pay to individuals and commercial undertakings in Alderney in respect of losses suffered as the result of the German occupation during the late war.

It is estimated that the cost to His Majesty's Government incurred up to 30th June, 1947, of assisting Alderney to recover from the losses caused by the German occupation is about £174,000. This money has been expended on the provision of stores and goods, and on repairs and reclamation work performed, in the first instance, by military and prisoner-of-war labour, and latterly by a civilian organisation.

Can the Minister say why Alderney is treated much less generously than Jersey or Guernsey, and, also, whether he is aware that not a penny of this money which he has mentioned has reached the staple industry of the island on which employment in the island depends?

The circumstances of Alderney were entirely different from those of Jersey and Guernsey. A very considerable part of this sum has, of course, been spent on individuals who are engaged in various industries on the island.

Can the Minister say whether the money to be spent on the rehabilitation of the Channel Islands come; under the jurisdiction of his Department?

39.

asked the Secretary or State for the Home Department what sums of money have been spent on encouraging and subsidising communal farming in Alderney since the liberation and what is the reason for the failure of this experiment.

The communal farm was established on the reoccupation of the island, not as an experiment in communal farming, but as the only means of rehabilitating the land, which, as a result of the island having been converted into a fortress, had become unfit for cultivation. The work of rehabilitation is nearly completed, and, at the request of the islanders themselves, the communal farm is now being broken up with a view to the resumption of private farming. The net expenditure up to 4th July is £26,800.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the sum of £26,000 is a charge against the National Exchequer, and, also, would he lay a report of this rather extraordinary farming operation in the Library of the House, so that hon. Members can judge for themselves?

This money was a contribution from the British Exchequer to help these people to get the island back into cultivation after it had been practically covered with concrete by the Germans. I have been to the island twice since I have been in office, and before the islanders returned, I met them in London and discussed the problem of their resettlement with them. In the main, the arrangements carried out secured their approval.

Will the Minister make it clear whether the experiment of communal farming was conducted at the request of the farmers of Alderney?

I met the farming community of Alderney within a very few weeks, if not days, of taking office, and discussed with them the way in which the farming on the island was to be got going again, in view of the deplorable state of the island. They agreed, at that time, that the only way of restarting was by communal farming.

Would the Home Secretary be willing to receive a deputation of representatives from the Channel Islands some time before the end of the year to discuss the many difficulties which have arisen there?

Identity Cards (Production)

40.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has considered the case of John Bunyan, Wildwood Rise, Golders Green, who was, on 21st May, fined 10s at Bow Street for failing to produce his identity card to a policeman who had reported him for a motor car obstruction in Great Queen Street; and, in view of the fact that Mr. Bunyan did produce his licence and insurance papers, if he will remit the fine in this case and instruct the Metropolitan Police that they are not to demand identity cards in future where other satisfactory proof of identity is tendered.

Mr. Bunyan committed an offence by failing to produce his identity card when asked to do so by a police officer in uniform, or within 48 hours at a police station, and it was only after he had made it clear at a subsequent interview with the police that his refusal was quite deliberate that proceedings were taken. I can find no grounds for recommending any remission of the penalty which the court thought it right to impose upon him for this offence.

Does that answer mean that two years after the war it is implicit upon all citizens at all times to carry identity cards, or to be prepared to produce them within 48 hours at a police station?

Would my right hon. Friend consider making a statement on the circumstances in which law abiding citizens must carry and produce their identity cards so long after the war?

Would my right hon. Friend reply to the last part of the Question more deliberately than he has done?

No, Sir, I am not prepared to instruct the Metropolitan Police to do other than obey the law themselves.

Green Plover (Protection)

42.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of the decrease in the number of green plover, he will introduce a Measure to protect these birds in the United Kingdom until they have had a chance of increasing.

No, Sir, but as I have indicated to the hon. Member previously, I would consider sympathetically applications for an Order giving all-the-year protection to this bird from the councils of the limited number of counties and county boroughs where it is not already so protected.

Is the Home Secretary aware that if these birds are protected in one area but not in an adjoining area, they will find their way into the market?

Yes, Sir. As a result of representations which have been made to me by the hon. Member, I am sending a circular to all counties and county boroughs who do not protect these birds, asking them to consider submission of an amended form of bylaw extending protection to these birds.

Can the Home Secretary say in what districts this year these birds have not been and are not being protected?

No, Sir, not without notice. If my hon. Friend will put down a question for written answer, I will give him the information.

Will the circular be followed up by the right hon. Gentleman's Department? He must realise that so long as people in one county can shoot these birds and put them on the market, there is no point in extending protection to them in other counties, and the whole scheme will be vitiated.

I know how anxious the House is about this matter, and I will endeavour to bring those authorities which do not protect these birds into line with the more intelligent areas.

Young Workers (Welfare)

43.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he proposes taking to prevent the employment of young persons in trades and occupations having an adverse effect on their welfare.

The matter is within the scope of the inquiry now being made by the Gowers Committee, as respects employments not covered by the Factories or Mines and Quarries Acts, and I shall give full weight to any recommendations they may make on this point.

Parliamentary Proceedings (Publicity)

45.

asked the Prime Minister if he will move o appoint a Select Committee to inquire what steps can be taken to ensure that, in spite of the cut in newsprint allocation, the public are kept fully informed of the proceedings of Parliament.

I have been asked lo reply. No, Sir.

Arising out of that very comprehensive answer, does the right hon. Gentleman realise that a great number of people in this country think that this action on the part of the Government, the purpose of which is supposed to be to save an enormous number of dollars, is really designed to prevent the people from knowing what the Government are doing?

War Dead (Memorial Scroll)

46.

asked the Prime Minister what progress has been made with the preparations for the issue to next-of-kin of those who were killed on active Service during the war, of some memorial document of a permanent character.

Arrangements for the issue of a document more permanent in character than the Royal Message of Condolence are now complete, and the King has given Commands for the issue of a memorial scroll to the next-of-kin of members of His Majesty's Forces who died as a result of service in the World War, 1939–1945, to the next-of-kin of members of the Merchant Navy whose death would qualify their dependants for benefits under the Merchant Navy War Pensions Schemes, and to the next-of-kin of members of the Civil Defence, Police and Fire Services whose death was due to in jury by enemy action when on duty His Majesty has given the whole matter special attention. The design and inscription were recommended by the Committee on the grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals who took into consultation the Poet Laureate and Sir Francis Meynell. The Royal Arms have been especially redrawn by Mr. Reynolds Stone.

I am having a note of the text of the scroll and of the method of issue circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Copies of the Scroll have also been placed in the Library. Printing of the Scrolls is now in progress, and I expect that issues may begin about the end of September.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the personal attention of His Majesty and of the Prime Minister is greatly appreciated by the relatives of those who lost their lives in the war, and may I ask whether the issue of this Scroll will be made automatically, or whether application must be made by those entitled to receive it?

I think it is by application. Where the next of kin of a deceased member of any of the Services is in receipt of a pension from the Ministry of Pensions, no application is necessary, but where the next of kin of those who died in those circumstances are not in receipt of a pension, they may apply for the Scroll to the Ministry of Pensions, Norcross, Blackpool, Lancashire.

Why is there this distinction? If the Scroll is to be issued at all, should it not be given to next of kin, regardless of whether a pension is received or not?

Following are the details:

"Gvi Ri"

(Royal Arms)

This scroll commemorates

held in honour as one who served King and Country in the world war of 1939–1945 and gave his life to save mankind from tyranny. May his sacrifice help to bring the peace and freedom for which he died.

Arrangements for issue

The distribution of the memorial scrolls in the United Kingdom is to be undertaken by the Ministry of Pensions. Where the next-of-kin of a deceased member of the Forces, Merchant Navy or Civil Defence, Fire or Auxiliary Police Services is in receipt of a pension from the Ministry of Pensions, no application for the scroll will be necessary Where the next-of-kin of those who died in the circumstances described in the reply above are not in receipt of a pension from the Ministry of Pensions, they may apply for the scroll to the Ministry of Pensions, Norcross, Blackpool, Lancashire. Where members of the Police Service lied as a result of injury through enemy action on duty and the next-of-kin are in receipt of a Police pension, the scroll will be issued to the next-of-kin without application. One or two years must elapse before the consideration of applications and the issue of the memorial scrolls can be completed.

Coal Production (Appeal To Miners)

47.

asked the Prune Minister whether he is aware that, at present rates of production, less than 195,000,000 tons of coal will be produced this year; whether he will make a persona] statement to the. miners and to the country of the consequences which will follow to all sections of the community next winter from this low rate of production; and whether he will give personal support, at the earliest opportunity, to the recent appeal to the miners made by the Foreign Secretary.

It is too early yet to say what the total production during 1947 will be. I should like to take this opportunity of endorsing the recent appeal made by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I am considering my hon. Friend's suggestion that I should myself make a further statement.

While thanking the Prime Minister for his answer, may I beg of him to give details to the country at the earliest moment showing that the present rate of coal production means that the families of Britain will endure serious food cuts in the near future, and Will he make an appeal making it clear that the miners are the "fighter pilots" in the 1947 Battle of Britain?

Is it not fairly obvious that the figure of 190 million tons may be a possibility, that 195 millions tons is doubtful, but that, as for 200 million tons, it is pretty certain we shall not get it? Will the Government now make some positive attack to establish ways and means of achieving that further 10 million tons to make up the 200 million tons? The attack can only be made if the Government will take risks.

That attack is being made but, as I have said, I cannot estimate what the amount will be. However, I can assure the House that every effort is being made to obtain the amount required.

Before the Prime Minister makes that appeal, will he remember that the miners can be led but not driven?

In view of the fact that, according to the President of the Board of Trade, Britain's independent economic survival as a great Power is at stake, will the Prime Minister bear in mind that the Economic Survey said that the production of 200 million tons is an indispensible minimum?

Fluorine Commission (Report)

48.

asked the Lord President of the Council when the Report of the Fluorine Commission that visited Port William aluminium works in 1945 is to be published.

The report of the Committee set up by the Medical Research Council at the request of the Department of Health for Scotland, is ready for Press, and is expected to be published during the autumn.

Employment

Poles (Coal Mining)

49.

asked the Minister of Labour in how many cases has objection been raised to the employment of Poles in the coalmines; how many days work by these Poles has been lost as the result of these objections; and whether any Poles are at present being prevented from working in the pits as a result of such objections.

Up to the end of June objections had been raised to the employment of Poles by 301 branches of the National Union of Mineworkers. Up to 18th July it is estimated that 8,738 days work had been lost. Six hundred and sixty-eight Poles were then awaiting placing The National Coal Board officers with area officials of the National Union of Mineworkers are jointly working to remove local misunderstandings in this matter, and I am informed that the position is improving.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider giving full publicity to individual cases, so that the healthy effect of public opinion may be brought to bear on those who interfere with the employment of these aliens?

This is a matter of considerable delicacy. I agree there must be a complete understanding of all the facts and of the need for these men to come into the industry to help us to produce the coal, but I think I must leave the negotiations to the representatives of the, Coal Board and of the National Union of Mineworkers, and I should not be doing my duty unless I acknowledged the very great help we are having from Mr. James Bowman, the Vice-President of the Mineworkers' Federation. who is helping us very considerably.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the meantime, in this delay, every week there is a further short fall of the target which the Economic Survey said was the minimum amount required to see us through?

Can the Minister assure the House that he will tolerate no obstruction in this matter of any kind?

We are bringing this matter to a head—[HON. MEMBERS "Oh!"] This is a matter which is being discussed by the Coal Board and the National Union of Mineworkers. We are bringing all the pressure we can to get the largest possible number of Pole into the industry at the earliest moment.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say on what grounds these objections are against the Poles?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is the seventh Question from this side of the House on this matter, and that this is the first time he has in any way admitted that there were any efforts whatever on the part of the miners' union to screen or obstruct the Poles entering the industry?

There is no screening at all. This is an objection to Poles of any kind coming into particular pits by the men engaged in those pits. There are reasons, but they are not political at all.

There are questions of the physical capacity of men still unemployed, the question of the re-establishment of nystagmus men—all these things are involved, and I would not put this down to political pressure.

Newspaper Industry

54.

asked the Minister of Labour how many newspaper employees will have to seek alternative employment consequent upon the reduction of the allocation of newsprint to the Press.

Have the right hon. Gentleman's Department any records? Or do they propose to take steps to find out the deplorable unemployment caused by the cut?

If there will be any unemployment, those men who are unemployed will register this week. I shall know in the next two or three weeks. We shall have the information.

The right hon. Gentleman says "If there is any unemployment." Surely, he must know that if papers are reduced in size there is bound to be unemployment. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the replies to Questions Nos. 20, 45 and 54 I shall raise the matter as soon as possible on the Adjournment.

Schools (Vocational Guidance)

56.

asked the Minister of Labour to what extent guidance as to future careers is given to schoolchildren leaving school at 15 years of age; and with what success.

The Juvenile Employment Service provides vocational guidance by means of talks in schools and personal interviews to boys and girls at the school leaving stage. With the co-operation of education authorities and schools the Service is now being widely used with, I believe, increasingly satisfactory results.

National Service (Call-Up)

52.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of men called up for national service during the first six months of 1947.

57.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of persons liable for military service who have failed to answer any summons to present themselves for such service; and whether any proceedings have been, or will be taken against such persons who have not obeyed such summons.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence is having inquiries made and will write the hon. Member.

Armed Forces (Release Programme)

53.

asked the Minister of Labour, when he expects to be in a position to announce the programme of releases from the Forces in the last quarter of 1947.

With my hon. Friend's permission, I will circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I am glad to say that it has been found possible to improve upon the forecast which my right hon. Friend made on 18th March last with regard to the age and service groups which it was then expected would be released by the end of the year. The total number of men and women to be released and discharged during the last quarter of 1947 will be 145,920, bringing the cumulative total since 18th June, 1945, up to 4,881,760. This programme fulfils the Government's stated aim to release in the present year all men called up before the 1st January, 1944, although as in the past, the compulsory deferment of release of individuals will continue, and there will also continue to be some inequality in the rate of release for some Branches, categories and grades in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

I must add a warning that the heavy shipping commitments which will be incurred in the coming months through the evacuation of British troops and their families from India, as recently announced in the House, may affect the complete fulfilment of the detailed pro-

RELEASES AND DISCHARGES FROM THE FORCES

Provisional Programme-October to December, 1947

MEN.WOMEN
PERIOD.EstimatedEstimated
Age and Service Groups (Class A releases).Number of Releases and Discharges.Age and Service Groups (Class A releases).Number of Releases and Discharges.
NAVY
(Average)(Average)
1947.Officers.Men.
OctoberPart 6565 and Part 664,500Part 68150
November66Part 66 and 675,000Part 69150
DecemberPart 6768 and Part 695,000Part 69200
Total: October-December, 1947.Part 65-Part 6765-Part 6914,500Part 68-Part 69500
ARMY.
1947.(Actual)(Actual)
October59 and Part 6037,760Part 65 and Part 662,110
NovemberPart 60-Part 6237,230Part 66 and Part 672,030
DecemberPart 62 and Part 6325,910Part 671.970
Total: October-December, 1947.50-Part 63100,900Part 65-676,110
R.A.F.
1947.(General Level)(General Level)
OctoberPart 595,110Part 611,610
November60-Part 617,310621,260
DecemberPart 61-627.30063-671,160
Total: October-December, 1947.Part 59-6219,720Part 61-674,030

gramme, though it is hoped and expected that the programme will be generally realised. As my right hon. Friend, the Minister without Portfolio, stated in answer to the hon. Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) on 16th July, the Government ate considering the strength at which the Armed Forces must stand by the end of the present financial year, and pending a decision on this it is not possible to indicate any further programme of release at this stage.

Could my right hor. Friend say what number will be left is the Forces by 31st December, 1947?

Following is the statement:

NURSING SERVICES
NAVYARMYAIR FORCE
Age and Service Groups (Class A Releases)Estimated Number of Releases and Discharges.Age and Service Groups (Class A Releases)Estimated Number of Releases and Discharges.Age and Service Groups (Class A Releases)Estimated Number of Releases and Discharges.
Nursing Sisters and V.A.D. OfficersV.A.D.sNursing Officers and V.A.D.s.
1947.(Average)(General level)
OctoberPart 59Part 6425Estimate not yet completed.5623
NovemberPart 59Part 6425It will be issued by the War Office as soon as possible.5721
DecemberPart 60Part 64505813
Total:
October—December, 1947.59 and 60Part 6410056–5857

First Offenders (Probation)

69.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied that the binding over of first offenders, particularly with reference to juveniles, as laid down in the Probation of First Offenders Act recommendations. is being satisfactorily adhered to

I have no grounds for thinking there is any general failure to make full use of the Probation of Offenders Act, particularly as regards juvenile offenders. In 1946 there were 28,700 boys under 14 found guilty of offences by magistrates' courts. Of these, 12 were ordered to be birched, 8,800 were placed under the supervision of probation officers, and 11,800 were dealt with under the other provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act.

In view of the fact that many courts have adopted the recommendations, will not my right hon. Friend now circulate the recommendations to all courts to emphasise this mattes again?

A court has to deal with the case before it, and there may be certain cases in which it is undesirable that a binding over should take place. I cannot recommend magistrates to adopt any hard and fast rule, but I advise them to listen to the evidence, to have regard to the standard of conduct generally observed in courts, and to act accordingly

National Finance

European Central Inland Transport Organisation

58.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what contributions have been paid by the United Kingdom and the other contributories to the European Central Inland Transport Organisation and whose contributions in any period still remain unpaid.

With the hon. and gallant Member's permission, I will circulate this information in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

While I realise that the information may be of a lengthy character would the Financial Secretary give this assurance? In view of the long continued and all too successful efforts to sabotage this most invaluable international organisation by the deliberate repudiation of their obligations by Soviet Russia and some of her satellites, would the right hon. Gentleman ensure that, in order to safeguard the future of this organisation, which has had to dismiss many hundreds of invaluable employees and is almost made bankrupt, at the next meeting, on 29th July, a public session is held, so that those who have subscribed to this great international organisation may know the reason for its collapse?

The financial position of this organisation is one of the main items put down on the agenda for the special meeting of the organisation to

CONTRIBUTIONS BY MEMBER GOVERNMENTS TO THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL INLAND TRANSPORT
ORGANISATION. (Position as at 30th June, 1947).
Estimated Annual Budget £320,000.
Member.Annual Contribution.Percentage of Total.In Arrears 1945–46.Outstanding 1946–47.
£££
Belgium11,5203·60NilNil
Czecho-Slovakia13,9844·37NilNil
Denmark1,728·54NilNil
France62,49619·53NilNil
Greece576·18NilNil
Luxembourg384·12NilNil
Netherlands11,3283·54NilNil
Norway1,152·36NilNil
Poland23,0087·19Nil12,947
U.S.S.R62,49619·5320,49662,496
United Kingdom62,49619·53NilNil
U.S.A62,49619·53NilNil
Yugoslavia6,3361·98Nil3,536
320,000100·0020,49678,979
The percentages and amounts are the same for the two financial years 1945-46 and 1946-47. The Organisation's budgetary year runs to 30th September.

Securities (Government-Holdings)

59.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was invested from the Post Office Savings Fund in 2½ per cent. Treasury Stock at par last year and, since it is now quoted at 91¾ per cent., if any loss will fall upon the Exchequer.

I must refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Sevenoaks (Colonel Ponsonby) last Thursday.

Surely, we are not expected to carry in our minds what was said a week ago? That answer was not satisfactory to me. Can I have an answer to my Question? May I point out that the price today is 91¼ per cent.?

which the hon. and gallant Gentleman referred. I have no doubt that what he has said will be read by those in charge.

Following is the information:

cause neither profit nor loss unless the securities are realised.

Would not the right hon. Gentleman regard this as a temporary loss, and does he think that, over the course of time, that loss will be converted into a profit?

Unless securities are sold when the price goes down and the person selling has paid out a higher price, loss occurs.

On a point of Order. Should I be in Order now in giving notice that I wish to raise the question of the Transport Organisation, because I am dissatisfied with the reply?

Is it not a fact that directors who gamble in their own companies' stocks find themselves in the dock at the Old Bailey?

Ussr (Debts To Great Britain)

60.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the sum owing by the U.S.S.R. to Great Britain, including the assessment of services rendered during the war; and how much of any money owing by the U.S.S.R. has been written off.

Something over £1,000 million, of which more than £900 million are pre-revolution debts, and about £100 million are for civil supplies and services since 1941. Nothing has been written off but military equipment supplied during the last war on mutual aid terms amounted to over £300 million.

The next time His Majesty's Government have negotiations with Mr. Stalin will they bring forward these figures with a great deal more force than the Treasury have done, on the credit side of Great Britain?

I think the U.S.S.R. are very well aware of the position, and negotiations are constantly taking place. There is, as the House knows, a mission in Moscow now. and undoubtedly the financial situation between the two countries has been discussed.

On the analogy of the right hon. Gentleman's previous answer, is he claiming that no loss has been incurred, and that we have not tried to get the money back?

Service Departments (Dollar Expenditure)

65 and 66.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what sum in dollars he has been called upon to find to meet expenditure overseas in respect of the Armed Forces in the current financial year; and what amount in dollars he expects to be called upon to provide for this purpose during the 12 months ending in the middle of 1948:

(2) what sum in dollars he estimates that he will be called upon to provide during the period mid-1947 to mid-1948, to meet the needs of the Service Departments.

Since the answer is detailed, I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

It is impossible to separate dollar expenditure by the Service Departments for the Forces overseas from their general dollar expenditure. Direct U.S. dollar requirements of the Service Departments are estimated to be about 12 million dollars during the 12 months ending in mid-1948. In addition, these Departments will require oil to a value of some £20 million a year, much of which will cost us dollars directly or indirectly. There will also be substantial supplies, including food and materials, involving some dollar expenditure which cannot be closely estimated, as between the military and civilians. There may also be expenditure indirectly involving a dollar liability now that sterling is transferable. The above does not cover the cost of Germany and Austria.

Young Offenders (Corporal Punishment)

67.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the unanimous Report of the Select Committee on Corporal Punishment that the birching of children is completely ineffective and should be abolished, he proposes to bring in legislation to this effect.

I am not in a position to make a statement about future legislation, but I am glad to note that whereas in the years 1941 and 1942 the whippings ordered by magistrates' courts for boys under 14 years of age numbered 531 and 314, the figures fell in the years 1945 and 1946 to 25 and 12.

Have recommendations in regard to a recent case been brought to the notice of my right hon. Friend; and does he intend to have an official inquiry into the case?

I have read an account of a sentence that was pronounced in a court in Manchester, but I am neither more nor less entitled to comment on it than is the hon. Member.

Is it usual in cases of this kind to allow elder brothers to witness the birching of their younger brothers?

On this occasion the father was told that he had the right to attend the infliction of the punishment. He said that he had already beaten the boy himself the night before, that on this day he was too busy to attend, and he asked that the brother of the two culprits, who was in the Army and home on leave, might be allowed to attend the whipping instead.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether this reduction in corporal punishment has had any effect on the volume of crime committed by juveniles?

No, Sir, I would not like to say there is any connection, but in view of the Question which the hon. and gallant Member asks it is, I think, advisable to point out that juvenile crime did show a reduction last year as compared with previous years.

68.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the practice in children's courts with regard to making the right of appeal against sentences of birching known.

Courts are under no obligation, nor is it their general practice, to call attention to rights of appeal against their decisions, but as I have previously informed the House, where whipping is ordered, it is in my view expedient that attention should be drawn to the right of appeal before steps are taken to carry out the punishment.

In view of the nature of that answer, will my right hon. Friend make his view known to courts in general? Because I have in my possession a telegram of protest from the parent of a child concerned, to the effect that although he protested he was not told he had a right of appeal.

I have made a very careful Inquiry into this case, and I am informed by the clerk of the court that while the parent was standing, at the desk in consultation with the magistrates the clerk said, in the hearing of the parent and the magistrates, "If there is an appeal, the birching will have to be postponed."

Emergency Enactments (Termination)

71.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why 30th June, 1947, was selected as the day on which the emergency, that was the occasion of the passing of the Special Enactments (Extension of Time) Act, 1940, came to an end.

This was considered to be the earliest convenient date, having regard to the desirability of giving adequate notice to the parties concerned that it was intended to terminate the operation of the Act.

Street Trading (Restrictions)

72.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of the fact that costermongers and hawkers clear the market of surplus supplies of vegetables, fish and fruit, if he will now remove all restrictions and enable them freely to trade.

If the hon. Member will let me know what restrictions he has in mind, I shall be glad to advise him to whom he should address his representations.

Does the Home Secretary realise that all this shortage of food and high prices are due to the fact that the gentlemen mentioned here, the hawkers and costermongers, are restricted and hampered from clearing the surplus?

In considering any evidence that is sent forward, will my right hon. Friend take into account that street trading in London is, generally speaking, a cesspool for smart "Alecs"? We ought to clean it up, not increase it.

Holloway Prison (Recreation Facilities)

75.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements are being made at Holloway Prison to provide a hall suitable for the large number of prisoners, in view of the importance attached to education and recreation.

The provision of a hall fox education and recreation would be desirable, but owing to the existing shortage of labour and building materials it is not possible to provide one at the present time, since this could only be done at the expense of other and more important work.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that they have in the yard a large hut which would be eminently suitable for recreational facilities, which at the present time is being put to only partial use; could not much better use be made of it; and will he reconsider this from that angle?

I will have the building mentioned by the hon. Member examined to see if it can be used.

Polish Visitors (Customs Formalities)

76.