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War Dead (Memorial Scroll)

Volume 440: debated on Thursday 24 July 1947

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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.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that a party of members of the Polish Socialist Party, invited to this country by the Fabian Society, were detained by the immigration officers at Folkestone until after the departure of the last train at night, on the ground that they were Communists and the Fabian Society was a Communist organisation; and what steps he has taken to ensure that such events do not occur in the future.

From the inquiries I have made I have been unable to discover any grounds for these allegations. My information is that none of the party was detained, that the ship berthed at 7£55 p.m., and that they had all passed through the Immigration Control before 8.20. As regards the allegation that the immigration officer suggested that the members of the party were Communists, or that the Fabian Society was a Communist organisation, it is not the practice of immigration officers to make inquiries about the political affiliations of visitors, and I cannot understand what has prompted the allegation. I am having further inquiries made with a view to trying to discover whether anything was said by an immigration officer which might possibly have given rise to some misunderstanding. If my hon. Friend has any information which would assist me in my investigations I should be obliged if he would let me have it.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the reason why these allegations were made was because this was the report which these Polish Socialists gave; can he give us any explanation why they should have missed the train if they were cleared by this time; and if I bring forward evidence from a Member of another place and from other people connected with the Fabian Society, will my right hon. Friend pay serious attention to this, and not accept the excuses of reactionary officials?

I have asked my hon. Friend if he will let me have any information which will assist me in investigating this case. I cannot say why anybody misses a train. I have done it too often myself. If I can get reliable information I will have the matter investigated. My investigations up to the moment have been hindered by the fact that the official who, I think, interviewed these people is at the moment on holiday on the Continent.

Evicted Tenants, Canterbury

77.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware that, on the orders of his Department, a number of elderly persons are about to be evicted from houses at St. Martin's Terrace, Canterbury; that some of the families have not been able to find alternative accommodation; and if he will, in such cases, cause the notices of eviction to be suspended until such time as those concerned can find some other place in which to live.

There has been no failure to show consideration to the tenants of these houses. Of the nine tenants to whom notices were given in September last, all but one have vacated the premises. A court order was made on 10th June requiring this tenant to vacate by 9th July. In view of the time which has elapsed since September last and the necessity of making these houses, which belong to the Prison Commission, available for the prison staff, I regret that I should not feel justified in interfering with the process of law.

Does the Home Secretary agree that this is just another aspect of the tied house problem?