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Written Answers

Volume 441: debated on Tuesday 29 July 1947

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 29th July, 1947

Employment

Catering Trade (Fee-Charging Agencies)

4.

asked the Minister of Labour when the Report of the Catering Commission's inquiry into private fee-charging agencies will be made available.

I understand that the Commission hope to submit their report before the end of next week.

Women Workers (Local Appeals)

5.

asked the Minister of Labour what instructions have been given to employment exchanges in view of the recent appeal for women in industry, especially with regard to part-time work.

My local officers have been told that:

"Our duty to the worker is to put her in touch with the most suitable job which can be found for her as quickly as possible. The placing officer should feel a personal responsibility and interest in using all his local knowledge and contacts, imagination and resource, plus all the resources of the Department to ensure that each individual worker both part-time and full-time is fixed up satisfactorily in employment."
In addition, district committees set up to organise the local appeals, have been asked to encourage employers to plan for the employment of part-time workers.

Hunting (Paid Employees)

8.

asked the Minister of Labour how many able-bodied men and women are at present occupied as paid employees in the pastime of hunting.

Tyre Manufacturing Industry (Short Time)

10 and 11.

asked the Minister of Labour (1) how many employees in the tyre manufacturing industry have left the industry for other employment, due to short-time working since May, 1947, resulting from the shortage of essential raw materials;

(2) how many employees in the tyre manufacturing industry have been on short time since 1st May, 1947, due to the shortage of essential raw materials; and what are the total number of hours which have been lost.

European Volunteer Workers

asked the Minister of Labour how many European volunteer workers have been allocated to work in households on hardship grounds; what kinds of hardship are given consideration; and what is the organisation at his Department for selecting the hardship cases.

Up to 21st July, 130 European Volunteer Workers had been placed ill hardship households, mainly farmers' households in which there have been 115 placings. Other vacancies filled are in households where there is sickness, old age, or a large number of young children. It is for my regional officers to decide which cases call for immediate consideration.

Electricity Economy (Adjustment Of Working Hours)

asked the Minister of Labour whether firms who have installed plant for generating electricity in emergency will be allowed to use such plant during peak-load periods and work the normal working hours.

My statement of Tuesday last, 22nd July, referred only to electricity supplied by electricity supply undertakings and was not related to the use of privately owned plant. As regards working hours, I cannot anticipate the schemes which may be agreed by the regional boards and their district or local committees.

Disorderly Behaviour, Glasgow

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if his attention has been drawn to the prosecution of Mr. John Smith and Mr. George Lyons at Glasgow for hoisting an anti-English banner when the Royal Family were leaving Central Station, Glasgow, on Monday, 21st July; and if he will take steps to cancel this fine.

Two men named John Smith and George Lyons pled guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court on 22nd July to charges of behaving in a disorderly manner and committing a breach of the peace on the date referred to. Each was fined £3 with the alternative of 20 days' imprisonment, 14 days being allowed in which to pay the fine. I regret that I can find no sufficient grounds to justify me in recommending any interference with the sentence passed by the court.

British Army

Ammunition, North Bucks (Removal)

23.

asked the Secretary of State for War, how much ammunition has been removed from North Bucks since the end of the war; and when he expects the remainder to be disposed of.

Approximately 6,800 tons. I regret that I cannot yet forecast when the process will be complete.

Canal Zone, Egypt (Protection)

25.

asked the Secretary of State for War, what is the value of military stores stolen by native marauders in the Canal zone of Egypt during the last year; how many cases of assault against troops have been reported; and what action he has taken in order to protect both Forces and stores in this area.

The information asked for in the first part of the Question is not yet available. Nineteen cases of assault against British troops in the Canal zone were reported during the twelve months ended 31st March. Every unit and detachment has proper guard orders and a system of sentries and patrols on their camps or barracks. All major installations are provided with a system of defences, comprising obstacles, and, in some cases, searchlights, in addition to vehicle and foot patrols round the perimeter.

Malaya (Reinforcements)

38.

asked the Secretary of State for War, whether he will make a statement on the present reinforcement of British troops in Malaya by units from this country.

I regret that it would not be in the public interest to give information of this kind.

Voluntary Recruitment

39.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is now in a position to state the monthly rate of voluntary recruitment to the Army in June, 1947.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement which was placed in the Vote Office by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence on 24th July.

Strength

40.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is now in a position to state the strength of the Regular Army oh 30th June, 1947.

Fourteen thousand, eight hundred and ninety-four male officers on permanent Regular commissions and 108,813 male other ranks on normal Regular engagements were serving in the Army on 30th June.

Surplus Equipment (Disposal)

41.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether youth clubs and organisations will be given an option on the purchase of any surplus equipment or material that otherwise would be transferred to the Ministry of Supply.

No. My hon. Friend will appreciate that this would involve duplication of the existing disposals organisation.

Issued Stores (Allied Governments)

asked the Secretary of State for War what claims have now been submitted to Allied Governments in respect of Army stores issued since the cessation of mutual-aid agreements; what amounts have been debited to each Government concerned; why it has been thought advisable to prepare individual vouchers showing detailed issues to individual units when this breakdown, if required, was the responsibility of the Allied Army concerned; what number of staff, in addition to the 76 employed in June, 1947, at central ordnance depots, have been employed on this work at other ordnance depots and elsewhere; and whether the manpower committee investigating processes and methods in ordnance depots have reported favourably on this procedure and have recommended that it be continued.

Nearly a thousand separate claims in respect of Army stores issued since the cessation of mutual aid agreements have already been submitted to Allied Governments, at various times and through various channels. A laborious investigation, involving the diversion of staff from more useful work, would, therefore, be necessary before figures could be given of the separate amounts debited to each Government concerned, but the total value of these claims is approximately £50,000,000.The majority of the stores concerned were issued direct to individual Allied units, either on their formation or subsequently when they were serving in the field. The preparation of vouchers recording issues to particular units was, therefore, necessary in order to ensure the availability of detailed documentary evidence of issue in case the Governments concerned should question the validity of the relevant claims when presented. As the onus of proof of issue rests upon the party claiming payment, the production of these details could not have been left to the Allied armies concerned without jeopardising our prospects of recovering the very large sums of money involved.No staff is employed on this work at other ordnance depots; 74 members of the War Office staff were employed in connection with it a year ago, and 45 are so employed now. The committee to which I presume my hon. Friend is referring has made no recommendation on this matter in its report.

Donington Park (Future)

asked the Secretary of State for War when he plans to derequisition Donington Park in order that it may again be used as a motor car racing track.

I regret that I am not yet able to make a statement about the future of Donington Park.

Service Land Requirements

44.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning what is the acreage of land at present held by Service Departments within each of the 12 national parks proposed by the Hobhouse Committee; and whether paragraphs 151 to 154 of this report and the recommendations based thereon have been brought to the attention of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Service Land Requirements.

On the basis of the latest available information, the approximate acreages held by the Service Departments for training and other purposes are as follow:

Acres
Roman WallNil
Lake District700
Yorkshire Dales9,800
North York27,500
Peak DistrictNil
North Wales9,500
Pembrokeshire coast26,000
Brecon Beacons47,500
Exmoor1,000
Dartmoor41,600
South DownsNil
Norfolk BroadsNil
The position is constantly changing.

87.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning why he gave notice of the recent public inquiry into the proposed Dartmoor training areas by an advertisement published only in "The Times" and in the "Western Morning News," Plymouth, and published on 27th June only, with only two clear weeks for giving written notices of objection why he made no publication in the weekly local papers which are so much read by farmers and those holding common rights; why no effort was made to notify some 1,100 commoners, holding rights on Dartmoor, of the degree to which such rights might be endangered; why the plan deposited for public inspection revealed certain only of the Services' claims, others being brought up after the inquiry had opened; and whether the procedure preliminary to this inquiry forms the precedent on which he will conduct other public inquiries into training areas.

Notice of this inquiry was published not only in the papers mentioned but in three other local papers on 27th June. Publication in one day's issue accords with recent statutory require- ments. Copies of the notice were sent on 26th June to the Town Clerks of Plymouth and Exeter, to the Clerks to the Plympton St. Mary, Tavistock and the Okehampton R.D.C.s and in addition to the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society. Notices were also sent by the Devon C.C. to the Clerks to the Parish Councils in the part of Dartmoor affected, with the request that they should be placed in prominent positions on the boards on which such notices are usually exhibited. I was not considered necessary to serve individual notices of the inquiry on persons having rights of common or other rights in the area affected by the War Department proposals in view of the fact that the object of the inquiry was to hear representations as to the effect of the proposals on the public interest and not their effect on individuals. The plan deposited for public inspection showed the proposals to which this particular inquiry was limited, but, as then explained, full opportunity will be given for representations to be made on other requirements of the Service Departments. The procedure with regard to other public local inquiries for training areas will be reviewed in the light of the experience in this case and, in particular, longer notice of the inquiry will be given and an endeavour will be made to give still wider publicity.

National Finance

Credit Facilities (Farmers)

47.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the dollar shortage, he will make arrangements through the recognised banks and their branches, which in the past have given overdraft facilities to farmers, to provide £50,000,000 at 2½ per cent. interest, both principal and interest to be guaranteed by His Majesty's Treasury, the purpose of the loan being to provide for new tractors and general farming machinery in order to increase output on the land.

Currency Offences (Imprisonment)

50.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the number of persons sen tenced to imprisonment for currency offences.

Old Age Pensions (Claims)

58.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he will increase the amount to be ignored when calculating the profits derived from lodgers in assessing the means of claimants for old age pensions, so as to give due regard to the present-day high cost of living.

The amount taken into account is a matter for the local pension committee.

"Tax Cases" (Publication)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether as the most recent issue of "Tax Cases" by His Majesty's Stationery Office appears to be Volume XXVI, Part 10, dealing with cases up to July, 1945, he will take steps to have these publications brought up to date.

These publications are being brought up to date as quickly as possible. Parts 1 and 2 of Vol. XXVII are now on sale to the public.

Trade And Commerce

New Industries, North Wales

61.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress is being made' in arranging for the establishment of new industries in the unemployment areas of North Wales, particularly the Nantlle Valley area, Caernarvon.

Representatives of the North Wales Development Council and other bodies in North Wales met the Development Commissioners in June to discuss plans for the introduction of new industries, falling within the terms of the Development and Road Improvement Act of 1909, to this part of Wales. It was decided that the North Wales Development Council should co-ordinate the separate schemes which were to be prepared locally for submission to the Development Commissioners. Various proposals are now in the course of preparation and the Board of Trade and the development Commissioners are giving any advice that may be required.

Scaffold Boards (Importation)

62.

asked the President of the Board of Trade why no reply has yet been sent to a letter, dated 5th July, from Messrs. J. H. Sankey and Son, Limited, asking for an import licence for 73,000 scaffold boards.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. and learned Friend to his question on 17th July. A reply has been sent to Messrs. J. H. Sankey accordingly.

Salvage Collection (Special Appeal)

63.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is satisfied that local authorities are co-operating to the full in the collection of salvage, particularly waste paper.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Accrington (Mr. Scott-Elliot) on 10th July. I am hopeful that the personal appeal of which I am sending my hon. Friend a copy will have the effect of securing the local authorities' fullest possible co-operation up to the limit of their labour and transport resources.

Wool (Children's Garments)

64.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the continuing scarcity of white knitting wool for making babies' garments and also of woollen underclothes for children; and what action he is taking to help mothers to keep their babies warmly clothed during the coming winter.

Supplies of baby wool and of children's wool underwear are still short, but output has now fully recovered from the fuel difficulties early this year and is being further increased. The supply of these goods in the shops should soon show a material improvement.

Mackintoshes (Coupons)

65.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the factors which still make it necessary to require coupons for mackintoshes made only of rubber; and whether he anticipates that rationing of these articles can cease in advance of general clothes rationing.

Coupons are required for mackintoshes made entirely of rubber because they contribute to the general supply of clothing for meeting the ration. The answer to the second part of the Question is in the negative.

Carbon Black

66.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that U.S. producers of carbon black are amending their processes for the production of furnace black for the United Kingdom, in view of the insistence by His Majesty's Customs of an all-gas certificate in order that carbon black imported may qualify for the lower rate of duty which has resulted in their discontinuing the addition of liquid hydrocarbons which increase the yield of black per unit of gas; and if he will eliminate the distinction in import duties which now exists between all-gas and mixed types.

I understand that one U.S. producer has taken this course, but I doubt whether the difference of duty has any appreciable effect on supplies to this country.

68.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that carbon black has been in short supply in the U.S.A. and that it was not possible for them to meet the full increased demand for this material; and if he will make a statement on the future prospects of obtaining supplies for the tyre manufacturing industry in this country.

Yes. Arrangements have now been made, however, for supplies to come forward at such a rate as should meet our full requirements and allow some building of stocks.

73.

asked the President of the Board of Trade why it is that 165,000,000 cubic feet of natural gas available every day at the oilfields owned by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in the Middle East, sufficient to produce four-fifths of our national requirements of channel black, has not been utilised for this purpose.

The Company has no plant for producing carbon black in the Middle East.

75.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what representations have been made by his Department direct, or by his Raw Materials Mission in Washington, to the appropriate U.S. Government Departments regarding the shortage of channel black for the tyre manufacturing industry in this country, specifying the dates upon which these representations were made and the replies thereto.

No formal representations have been made to the United States Government regarding supplies of channel black.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what stocks of channel black suitable for tyre manufacture, as distinct from all grades of carbon black, were held in this country on 1st July, 1947; and how long it is estimated these stocks will last if the industry operates at full time.

The stocks at the 27th June were 1,200 tons, equivalent to two and a half weeks' requirements at the maximum postwar consumption rate.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what raw materials are available in this country for the production of channel black or any other grade of black acceptable by the tyre manufacturing industry for tyre production, specifying the quantities in which these materials are available and the quantity of carbon black which it is estimated could be produced therefrom.

I cannot answer this Question without disclosing information of a confidential nature regarding processes which are being considered for the production of carbon black in this country.

Tyres

67.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the average period which elapses between the placing with retailers of orders for tyres and delivery.

I am not in possession of this information. There are, of course, many types of tyres and many sizes within the types. Some can be supplied promptly and others, such as semi-obsolete or unusual sizes, may be subject to many months' delay.

74.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of tyres of all grades which have been produced in the tyre manufacturing industry since May, 1947; and the number which it is estimated would have been produced had there been no shortage of raw materials and the industry had been working full time.

The number of new covers produced during June, 1947, was motor car 438,940, commercial vehicle 176,722, tractor and dumper 29,611, motor cycle 44,107, bicycle 1,152,136 and other 65,259. These figures show a marked increase over the figures for recent months, but I am not in a position to say what they might have been in the circumstances indicated.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will arrange that commercial travellers holding S petrol coupons will in future be able to obtain motor car tyres without a permit.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many tyres of all types were on order on 1st July, 1947, in the essential category, which have not yet been delivered.

70.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the present monthly production of motor cycle tyres of sizes 4 × 19 and 3.5 × 19; whether this production is allocated to licensed dealers; and whether the price to the public is controlled.

Figures of production of individual sizes of motor cycle tyres are not available. There is no system of licensing for the distribution of motor cycle tyres and no statutory control over prices or distribution.

Usa Magazines (Imports)

69.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how much money has been spent during 1946 in importing U.S. magazines.

The c.i.f. value of newspapers, periodicals and books imported from the United States in 1946 was £477,000. No separate particulars are available for magazines.

New Factory Projects And Extensions

71.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of cases for new industrial projects and extensions agreed by the Regional Distribution of Industry Panels in the Greater London area in 1945, 1946 and to the nearest convenient date in 1947, showing the additional labour and floor space involved.

During 1945 approval was given to seven new factory projects and 23 extensions to existing factories (5,000 square feet and over), which will, it is estimated, provide additional employment for about 120 and 2,460 persons respectively when in full production. These projects will provide additional factory space of approximately 93,700 and 536,000 square feet respectively. During 1946 approval was given to 56 new factory projects and 130 extensions to existing factories which will, it is estimated, provide additional employment for about 2,280 and 8,500 persons respectively when in full production. These projects will provide additional factory space of approximately 1,086,000 and 2,425,000 square feet respectively. During the period 1st January, 1947–30th June, 1947, approval was given to 23 new factory projects and 33 extensions to existing factories which will, it is estimated, provide additional employment for about 1,790 and 1,230 persons respectively when in full production. These projects will provide additional factory space of approximately 930,000 and 407,000 square feet respectively.

Canadian Newsprint Contract

72.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered the proposal, to which his attention has been drawn, under which the Canadian newsprint contract would be honoured and the cuts in newsprint supplies to British newspapers would be imposed, but the resulting surplus newsprint would be resold to South America for dollars; and if he will now make a statement on the proposal.

76.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he has considered the proposal submitted to him that we should take delivery of Canadian newsprint to the extent to which we have contracted and sell the next six months' entitlement to hard currency areas; and if he will make a statement.

I should be quite ready to consider any practicable proposal, on these lines.

Furskins

77.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what was the proportion of the volume and value of the imports of undressed furs that were exported in the form of made-up garments in 1944, 1945 and 1946.

Both native and imported furskins are used in the manufacture of fur clothing and it is not possible to state the quantity or value of imported skins used in making the exports.

Anglo-Soviet Trade Talks, Moscow

78.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement regarding the progress of the Anglo-Soviet negotiations for a trade agreement.

I would refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. and learned Friend after Questions yesterday.

Home-Grown Timber (Prices)

79.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the proposal of the Central Wages Board that agricultural and forestry wages should be increased; and whether he will initiate an immediate review of the prices of homegrown timber.

I am aware of the proposal that agricultural and forestry wages should be increased. Standing timber prices were increased by 25 per cent. in January of this year. The increase was designed to provide, among other things, for increased costs of maintenance and replanting and was calculated on sufficiently broad lines to take care of an increase in forestry wages such as at present proposed.

Proposed Factory Extension, East Hornden

80.

asked the President of the Board of Trade when he expects to reach a decision regarding the proposed factory extension of Rotary Hoes, Limited, East Hornden, in view of the fact that the continued delay is hampering the 1948 export programme of this company.

This proposal is under consideration by the Departments concerned. I will write to the hon. Member as soon as a decision is reached, which I hope will be within the next week.

Exports

81.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the total value of our exports to the countries of the dollar area, and the total value exported to the countries of the sterling area, for the year ended 30th June or the nearest completed year for which statistics are available.

In the year ended June, total exports (including re-exports) to the dollar area were valued at £112.6 million and to the sterling area at £525.5 million.

Japan (Private Trade Arrangements)

82.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements he is making for the selection of firms to be represented by the 64 business men allowed into Japan; and what facilities are being afforded to these firms for the despatch of their representatives, their heavy baggage and office furniture.

Apart from banking, insurance and shipping interests, entry into Japan is permitted by the occupying authorities for the following purposes at the outset:

  • (1) To purchase goods available for export, or to make arrangements for future purchases of potential exports, or to sell raw materials which Japan requires.
  • (2) To inspect commercial investment interests. Applications for this purpose will be given consideration only after other needs are filled.
  • Applications from United Kingdom firms exceed the number of places available and applicants are now being selected in accordance with these purposes, and in the light of the information available as to the goods which Japan has for export. Firms with prewar interests in Japan are, of course, given priority. The Colonial Office and Burma Office have asked their respective Governments to forward applications of Colonial and Burmese firms as soon as possible. These will be centralised in the Board of Trade as the Department operating the quota of 64 for ourselves, the Colonies and Burma. Until it is known how many places are required by the Colonies and Burma, a complete selection of United Kingdom firms cannot be made, but all firms who have applied will know very shortly, if they do not already, whether a place can be offered to them on the first party.Travel arrangements for business men are being made through the Export Promotion Department. Unless a particular request for sea passage is made, travel will be by air, either from this country via Hong Kong to Tokyo, or for those already in the Far East direct from Hong Kong to Tokyo. Advice on how to send baggage over 66 lb. which must go by sea freight, is also given by my Department. This applies also to office equipment. Since office accommodation, as well as living accommodation, is being provided by the Japanese, and permits are granted in the first place for 21 days, I could not advise firms to take office furniture with them.

    Supplementary Clothing Coupons

    83.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements are made for individuals proceeding to tropical dependencies to obtain supplies of clothing.

    Supplementary clothing coupons are normally allowed to people proceeding to tropical climates either permanently or for business or official purposes. Issues are on a prescribed scale according to the length of the journey, and the climate and availability of supplies in the countries concerned.

    Anglo-Belgian Exhibition, Brussels

    84.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of his refusal to be represented at the publicity conference in London preceding the Anglo-Belgian Exhibition in Brussels, he will state the attitude of the Government to the Exhibition, which is being promoted by the British Chamber of Commerce in Brussels.

    I am afraid that the hon. Member is misinformed as to the promoters of this Exhibition. Where there is evidence that a reasonably representative display of United Kingdom industry has been arranged in any particular exhibition, the Government are always prepared to give such assistance as is within their power. Limited assistance has in fact been given in this case, as has been acknowledged by the promoters,

    Utility Clothing

    asked the President of the Board of Trade why, in view of the good value which the public receives in purchasing utility clothing, it is his policy to increase the amount of non-utility clothing at the expense of utility clothing.

    The proportion of utility goods in the total production of clothing for the home market is being maintained at a high level. Recent increases in the proportion of non-utility goods are designed to take advantage of production in certain sections of the cloth and clothing industries which are not well fitted to produce utility. Moreover, some people still prefer with their coupons to buy non-utility, which does not share in the subsidies paid by the taxpayer on most utility goods and is also liable to Purchase Tax.

    Shipping

    Falmouth Dockyard

    88.

    asked the Minister of Transport, how many men in Falmouth Dockyard have recently been put out of work on account of ships being diverted from Falmouth Harbour through oil shortage.

    My right hon. Friend is informed that there has been no unemployment at Falmouth on this account.

    Pier, Lamlash (Repair)

    89.

    asked the Minister of Transport, what representations have been made to him by the local people concerning the action of the owner of the pier at Lamlash; what offers they have made for repairing the pier; and, in view of the local and tourist traffic rendering the pier so necessary to the people of Lamlash, if he will make a statement.

    The only representations which my right hon. Friend has received have been made by the Secretary of the Parliamentary Committee of the Co-operative Congress. My right hon. Friend has received no offers for the repair of the pier, which is a matter for the trustees responsible for the undertaking.

    Polish Military Welfare Funds

    asked the Secretary of State for War whether a decision has yet been reached in connection with the disposal of the Polish military welfare funds; what is the amount of the funds; and have any sums been allocated to those Poles who have returned to Poland.

    This matter is very complicated; legal, administrative, exchange and other difficulties are involved. A certain amount of progress has been made but I am not yet in a position to make any announcement.

    Royal Air Force (Parachuting Exercises, Palestine)

    90.

    asked the Secretary of State for Air, how many men have lost their lives in Palestine through the failure of the parachute to open when engaged on exercises; and if he is satisfied that sabotage is not taking place in connection with the packing of the parachutes.

    One officer and three men have lost their lives in Palestine during parachuting exercises. These accidents, which I very much regret, were carefully investigated and the possibility of sabotage was ruled out: I am sending my hon. Friend particulars. The last of the accidents was in October of last year; since then, several thousand jumps have been made without any parachute failures.

    Food Supplies

    Whale Meat, Cornwall

    92.

    asked the Minister of Food how much whale meat has been made available for consumption to the people of Cornwall.

    We have no information about the quantities sent to particular areas by the private traders who are developing the sale of whalemeat.

    Bread (Delivery Charges)

    asked the Minister of Food whether he is yet in a position to state his policy with regard to delivery charges for bread; and what action will be taken.

    I have gone into this very carefully, as I promised, and have come to the conclusion that it would not be in the national interest to allow bakers or other retailers to charge for delivering bread. A clause to prevent their doing so will be included in a new Order which is to be issued soon. I realise that daily deliveries are desirable in the long run, but in our present economic situation I feel sure that people can manage with deliveries on alternate days. So the bread subsidy paid to bakers will continue to allow for the cost of delivering bread three times a week. There will, however, be nothing to prevent retailers from delivering daily if they are prepared to meet the extra cost themselves, so that no extra expense falls either on the public or on the Exchequer.

    Ministry Of Works

    Cement (Exports And Imports)

    93.

    asked the Minister of Works why, in view of the shortage of houses, he allowed 412,811 tons of cement to be exported during the six months ended June, 1947, and imported 772 tons at approximately double the export price.

    The exports of cement have been reduced in recent months to the level necessary to maintain the essential work abroad undertaken or sponsored by the Government. The reply to the second part of the Question is that there is no restriction upon the import of cement.

    Requisitioned Buildings, Scotland

    asked the Minister of Works how many buildings and parts of buildings in Aberdeen and the northern towns of Scotland have been held by his Department since 1939.

    Ninety-two buildings or parts of buildings have been requisitioned by the Ministry of Works in Aberdeen and the northern towns of Scotland since 1939 and of this number 48 have been derequisitioned. Two hundred and fifty-six buildings or parts of buildings have been hired or leased since 1939 and 107 of these have since been surrendered.

    Alarm Clocks (Production)

    91.

    asked the Minister of Supply if he is aware that alarm clocks are still in short supply; and if he will arrange for greater numbers to be produced and distributed.

    Yes. During the two years since production started in this country output has risen to over one million clocks a year. Two more factories are starting next year and we shall continue to give every encouragement to the industry.

    Armed Forces (Strengths)

    94.

    asked the Minister of Defence what will be the numbers of men and women in the Services at 31st December, 1947, on the completion of the provisional release programme to that date, given the continuation of the present rate of call-up and voluntary recruitment.

    I have been asked to reply. It is estimated that the numbers of men and women in the Services at 31st December, 1947, will amount approximately to 1,150,000 but, as my hon. Friend is aware, the general question of the strength of the Armed Forces in the remainder of the financial year is still under consideration.

    asked the Minister of Defence if he will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statistical analysis of the strength of, the three Services on 30th June, 1947, or, at the latest date for which figures are available, stating the numbers of officers and men in each Service who are on Regular engagements and the numbers of men in each Service who have enlisted

    ——R.N. and R.M.Army.R.A.F.All Services
    (1)Strength: Male all ranks180,700773,600284,5001,238,800
    (2)Women's Services7,40032,60022,50062,500
    (3)Total188,100806,200307,0001,301,300
    (4)Male Officers (normal or short service Commissions)14,57023,0309,68047,280
    (5)Male other ranks on regular engagements92,520123,40076,960292,880
    Male regular strength107,090146,43086,640340,160
    For details of recruiting in the first half of the year, I would refer my hon. Friend to the quarterly recruiting returns made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence. The return for March quarter, 1947, was given on 20th May in answer to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low) and that for June quarter, 1947, was placed in the Vote Office on 24th July.

    Coal Industry (Cleaning Plants)

    asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many coal cleaning plants, including washeries, have been installed since 1945; how many pits now have such plants; and what is the approximate percentage of the total output of saleable coal which is now cleaned before sale.

    Information is only available to the end of 1946. Between the end of 1945 and the end of 1946, 39 coal cleaning plants, including washeries, were installed. During the same period, 41 plants were dismantled. The total number of plants at the end of 1946 was 542, and during that year 47.4 per cent. of the total output of saleable deep-mined coal was cleaned before sale.

    National Insurance (Local Offices, Westmorland)

    asked the Minister of National Insurance in what places in Westmorland he intends to set up local offices in order for national service since 1st January, 1947.

    I have been asked to reply. The required analysis for 30th June, 1947 is as follows:to administer the new National Insurance Scheme.

    Subject to premises being obtained, I am proposing to start with local offices at Appleby, Kendal and Windermere. There will also be offices in the adjacent counties which will be conveniently situated for certain districts of Westmorland, namely, at Penrith, Keswick, Barnard Castle, Ulverston and Barrow. In addition, I am examining the need for special arrangements in the sparsely populated areas.

    Fuel And Power

    District Heating

    asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps he is taking to promote and encourage district heating in order to economise fuel and demolish smoke pollution; and in what areas, to what extent and with what results schemes for district heating are being promoted or have been approved or put into operation.

    In conjunction with my right hon. Friends the Ministers of Health and Works, I appointed a Committee in February, 1946, to make general recommendations on the practicability of district heating and to examine specific proposals put forward by local authorities and other bodies. Under the aegis of the Committee a Memorandum on District Heating was issued to all local authorities. This has undoubtedly encouraged them to consider the application of district heating to their building programmes. Schemes approved by the Committee are under construction at Urmston, Salisbury and Bonnyrigg. In addition, 23 other schemes scattered throughout the country have been submitted to the Committee or are known to be under consideration. None of the schemes are in a sufficiently advanced state to establish the costs of operation or what saving in fuel may be achieved.

    Supplementary Petrol Allowances

    asked the Minister of Fuel and Power when he expects to reach a decision as to whether a private-hire licence can be granted to Mr. A. Caine, 63. Linden Gardens, Chiswick; and whether he will inform Mr. Caine as soon as possible of the decision taken.

    In reply to his application of 4th June, Mr. Caine was informed that under the normal rule a supplementary petrol allowance could not be granted to enable him to operate a private hire car. He was advised, however, that an exception to the rule was made in the case of a disabled person on a recommendation by the Ministry of Labour that such a person was eligible for assistance under the Disabled Persons' (Employment) Act and that work, as owner driver of a hire car offered the best prospect of his satisfactory resettlement. On 16th June Mr. Caine applied for exceptional treatment as a disabled person and his case was referred to the Ministry of Labour on 23rd June. I understand that the case is under consideration by that Ministry in consultation with the Ministry of Pensions, and as soon as a report is received a decision will be taken and conveyed to Mr. Caine.

    Control Commissions (Rumania, Hungary And Bulgaria)

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will consider publishing a White Paper indicating the work carried out and the difficulties experienced by various British military missions retained in Rumania, Hungary and Yugoslavia pending the ratification of the treaty of peace with those countries; how far the work of the Allied Control Commission who supervise the execution of the terms of the armistice with these countries is effective; and what are the outstanding matters remaining unsettled to which these various missions attach particular importance.

    I do not think that the work carried out by the British Military Missions in Rumania and Hungary if of sufficient general interest to warrant the expense involved in the publication of a White Paper. There is no British Military Mission in Yugoslavia, which is an Allied country, and there is of course, no question of a treaty of peace with her. In general, I consider that the Allied Control Commissions in Rumania and Hungary, and in Bulgaria, have accomplished useful work. I regret, however, to have to say that there have been many occasions on which justifiable requests by the British representatives on these Commissions have not met with the courteous response which His Majesty's Government were entitled to expect; and that instructions have on various occasions been issued by the Control Commissions on matters which directly affected the United Kingdom without the British representative being consulted in accordance with the Commission's statutes, or even informed beforehand.As regards the last part of the Question, the British Missions attach particular importance to the fact that the articles of the armistice agreements relating to the restoration of British legal rights and interests and the return of British property have not yet been fully implemented. The Rumanian Government have still to fulfil their obligations under article 14 of the armistice agreement by surrendering to His Majesty's Government four persons accused of war crimes. The British Missions regard as extremely unsatisfactory the large number of applications for entry permits into all these territories for British subjects which are refused by the Soviet authorities. In the majority of these cases the applicants are either representatives of British firms who wish to renew commercial relations, or private individuals who have compassionate reasons for their proposed visits to these countries.

    Greece (British Forces)

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the action taken by the Greek Government in arresting, without charge, thousands of trade unionists, Socialists and Communists, he will withdraw the British Military Mission and all British military personnel

    No The policy of His Majesty's Government in this matter remains as repeatedly stated. If any change in it occurs the House will be informed

    Kenya (African Education)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the composition of the Advisory Committee which assists the Director of Education in Kenya; on what type of problem it is consulted; and whether it participates in discussion on curricula suitable for African schools.

    The African Education Advisory Council consists mainly of Africans but includes a small number of officials and missionaries. I am asking the Acting Governor for details of its composition and will communicate these to my hon Friend The Council advises an African education policy generally, including curricula for African schools.

    Hong Kong (Minister's Visit)

    asked the secretary of state for the Colonies whether he is aware of the disappointment caused in Hong Kong by the fact that neither he nor the Under-Secretary of State has found time to visit the Colony since its liberation from the Japanese; and whether he will take steps to remove this disappointment at the earliest possible moment

    I am well aware that such a visit would be appreciated and would be of considerable advantage to all concerned. I shall certainly bear the matter closely in mind, but I regret that I cannot yet say when it will be practicable for the Parliamentary Under-Secretary or myself to visit Hong Kong