House Of Commons
Wednesday, 6th August, 1947
The House met at Half past Two o'clock
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
London County Council (Improvements) Bill
So much of the Lords Message [5th August] as relates thereto to be considered forthwith.—[ The Chairman of Ways and Means.]
So much of Lords Message considered accordingly.
"That the Promoters of the London County Council (Improvements) Bill shall have leave to suspend any further proceeding thereon in order to proceed with the same Bill in the next Session of Parliament provided that notice of their intention to do so be given in the Private Bill Office not later than Five o'clock on the day prior to the close of the present Session and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that period be paid."
"That not later than Five o'clock on the third day on which the House shall sit after the next meeting of Parliament the Bill shall be deposited in the Private Bill Office with a Declaration signed by the Agent annexed thereto stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceeding in this House in the present Session."
"That as soon thereafter as conveniently may be the Bill shall be presented by being laid by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office upon the Table of the House."
"That the Bill so laid upon the Table shall be deemed to have been read the first, second and third time and passed, and shall be recorded in the Votes as having been so read and passed."
"That no new Fees be charged in respect of any stage of the Bill upon which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session."
"That the said Orders be Standing Orders of the House."—[The Chairman of Ways and Means.]
Message to the Lords to acquaint them therewith.
Oral Answers To Questions
British Guiana (Finance)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the reason for the heavy drop in the revenue and expenditure of British Guiana from 1941 onwards when compared with previous years as shown in appendix 6 of the Blue Book on the Colonial Empire 1939–47, Cmd. 7167.
I am obliged to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I regret that incorrect figures of revenue and expenditure for the years 1941 to 1946 in British Guiana and also in British Honduras were shown in Appendix 6 to the Command Paper. A correction slip has been published, and I have arranged for a copy to be sent to the hon. and gallant Member.
Medical Research Committee (Joint Secretaryship)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the sum of £15,000 provided under Item 131 in the Colonial Research Reports for 1946–47, for the appointment of a joint secretary of the Colonial Medical Research Committee, is to be expended in salary alone, or whether it covers any other expenses.
The figure of £15,000 has been provided to cover the salary of the officer in question for three years, and to enable him to travel extensively during that time in the Colonial Empire. Such travel will be a very important part of his functions and £6,000 has been included to cover this. The figure also includes provision for the salaries of a senior temporary assistant and of a shorthand typist, and for contingencies.
Cadets, University Courses
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why no tutors were provided, except for Colonial History, during the recent two half-terms course held for colonial students at Oxford; how many students came from the Colonies; what proportion from Africa; and were there other subjects taught.
I assume that the hon. Member refers to the two-and-a-half term general section of the 15 months' pre-Service course, designed, not for students from the Colonies, but for cadets entering the Colonial Administrative Service. The course recommenced in October, 1946, in parallel at Oxford and Cambridge and is being continued at London. Considerable facilities already existed in Oxford for the teaching of all the subjects; and the faculties concerned were strengthened by additional appointments in Colonial History, Colonial Geography, Modern Islam, Anthropology and Colonial Economics. Further appointments, in Colonial Native Agriculture and Co-operation, are proposed for the next academic year. With the co-operation of the University and College authorities, as much as possible was done to provide the tutorial assistance required, partly through the normal machinery of college tutorials, partly by the holders of the new appointments, and partly by arrangement with other persons of Colonial experience within the University. There was no special appointment of a tutor in Colonial History. Of the 59 cadets who took the general section at Oxford seven came from the Colonies, including four from an African territory.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that although this was meant for cadets in actual fact there were Chinese students from Hong Kong and others from Fiji and other parts of the Empire; and does he not think that they should have been allowed to spend more time studying the subjects that interest their country instead of African anthropology, especially since no Africans were present at all?
I would ask the hon. Gentleman to study the Devonshire Report which sets out the range of subjects at which the cadets and others are asked to work during these courses.
Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that students from Fiji and China, and Hong Kong and so on have to study African anthropology?
In this course of studies there were optional subjects and, as I understand it, African anthropology is not a compulsory subject for a person from Fiji.
Sarawak (Mr Anthony Brooke)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is yet in a position to state when Mr. Anthony Brooke will be allowed to land in Sarawak.
No, Sir. The Government of Sarawak have recently stated that the entry of Mr. Anthony Brooke into Sarawak is still prohibited.
Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that in the December Debate on the subject he said that six months was the period which they would wait and that if things were then going well in Sarawak there would be no reason why Mr. Brooke should not enter the country; and are we to understand either that things are not satisfactory in Sarawak or that Mr. Brooke has been doing something which we should disapprove? Is he not, after all, a perfectly ordinary British subject who should have the right of entry?
I am not aware that I gave any such promise of a six months' period, but if Mr. Anthony Brooke wishes to go to Sarawak, surely, he should make application to the Government there?
Is it not true that the right hon. Gentleman has said that the Government have stated that he would not be allowed to go?
I said that the Government of Sarawak had recently stated that Mr. Brooke was still prohibited from entering the country. Surely, it is still open for him to make application?
Since it is true that Mrs. Anthony Brooke has recently made application and has in fact been allowed to enter Sarawak does it not seem extraordinary that her husband cannot accompany her?
But surely the wife is not the husband?
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the present position and future prospects of the pyrethrum crop in Kenya and Tanganyika.
The present position is that the Board of Trade's wartime contract with pyrethrum producers in East Africa expires at the end of this year. Thereafter the producers (who are already organised in a statutory marketing board) will be free to dispose of their crop on the open market.
In view of the importance of this matter to the economy of these two Colonies would the right hon. Gentleman see to it that when this contract is filed they will be given a certain amount of protection?
As I understand the position the industry is very well organised and there is a statutory marketing board for them.
Tsetse-Infested Areas, East Africa
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies to what extent work in reclamation of tsetse-infested areas in East Africa will be affected by clearing of bush under the groundnut scheme and whether, as a result of that scheme, the provision under Item 126 in Colonial Research Reports 1946–7 can be reduced.
The tsetse-infested areas which the Tanganyika Government has in view for purposes of reclamation are not, so far as I am aware, affected by reclamation under the groundnut scheme and such reclamation measures are, in any case, financed from territorial resources. The provision under Item 126 in Colonial Research Reports 1946–7 is for tsetse and trypanoecmiasis research and experimental reclamation and the answer to the second part of the Question is, therefore, in the negative.
Suitable Literature (Distribution)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what measures he proposes to take, following the introduction of the technique of mass education in Africa, to provide religious and other suitable literature to the new literates in adequate quantities; and what measures are contemplated to safeguard the new literates, as well as Africans generally, from the influence of immoral and seditious journals and news-sheets.
As the answer is long and factual, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the reply
Arrangements to secure adequate supplies of suitable literature for Africans are well in train, and the subject has the continuous attention of the Mass Education Sub-Committee of my Advisory Committee on Education. Under the Nigerian Development Plan a public corporation called the Gaskiya Corporation has been established in Northern Nigeria with the objects, among other things, of increasing the supply of general vernacular literature for post-school reading, particularly in connection with the spread of mass literacy, and of establishing a vernacular newspaper for the Northern Province. The Corporation is producing the paper "Gaskiya," the circulation of which is 22,000 fortnightly. In Sierra Leone for the past three years mission authorities, with assistance from public funds, have been carrying on a campaign for the extension of literacy within one of the language areas of the Protectorate, and this scheme provides for the printing and publication of suitable literature. The British Council has established libraries in West Africa and attention is being given to their further development.
As regards East and Central Africa, a scheme has just been received from the East African Governments recommending the setting up of a Literature Bureau, financed from colonial development and welfare funds, with headquarters in Nairobi, for the purpose of stimulating the production of books and other publications for Africans. A literature adviser for Africans in East Africa has already been appointed and has begun to work out plans for the Bureau. The Northern Rhodesia Development Plan provides for the establishment of a Publications Bureau and the scheme is being put in hand immediately. Similar measures are proposed for Nyasaland, and the establishment of a Joint Publications Bureau for the two Territories is under consideration. Northern Rhodesia already has a Government published African newspaper, "Mutende." This paper was first published in 1935 and has been published weekly for several years now.
Much attention is being devoted at the present time to the problem of encouraging the improvement of the standard of the newspapers produced by the colonial peoples themselves. An experimental scholarship scheme, under which training will be given to three colonial journalists, has been provided under British Council auspices. Consultation with organisations representing both proprietors of newspapers and journalists in this country show that there is sympathy with the ends in view, and it is hoped that further facilities will be arranged. It is also hoped to be able to arrange for the visits to this country from time to time of parties of colonial journalists. Colonial public relations officers give what assistance they can to newspaper editors and provide not only "hand-outs" about Government activities, but also, in certain instances, photographic and block-making facilities. In addition there is supplied from London, through the Public Relations Office, services of news commentaries, feature articles, photographs and blocks. The control of seditious and other literature is governed by laws which are much the same as those in the United Kingdom. The aim is to avoid restrictive controls and to do all that is possible by positive action to develop better quality alternatives.
Building Research Station, West Africa
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the objective of the Building Research Station in West Africa, to be set up under Item 133 of Colonial Research Reports, 1946–47; and whether the results of this research station will be available to governments outside West Africa.
The objective is to set up a Building Research Station which will enable co-operation to be achieved between the four West African Governments in such matters as the durability and other technical characteristics and the most efficient use of building materials (especially local materials) under prevailing climatic conditions. The answer to the second part of the Question is, "Yes."
Gold Coast (Book Prohibition)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in what circumstances, and for what reasons, 200 copies of the book "How Russia transformed her Colonial Empire" were seized in the Gold Coast under the Customs ordinance; whether he is aware that this book is in circulation in Nigeria; and whether he will take steps to allow it free circulation in the Gold Coast.
I am making inquiries into this matter and will write to my hon. Friend as soon as full information is available.
Will the Secretary of State arrange that a more complete answer as to the reason for the prohibition is given to the persons who wish to import the book, since the actual prohibition notice merely quotes Chapter 132 of the Customs Order.?
I am myself very much in the dark at the moment about this.
Can the Minister inform the House of what the Russian Colonial Empire consists? May I have an answer?
Since this book was written by a distinguished British coloured subject of great authority and knowledge who, curiously enough, is certainly by no means pro-Russian, and in view of the fact that I myself communicated with the right hon. Gentleman about it a fortnight ago, would he see that the answer is printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT?
I am not in possession of the full facts, otherwise I would have attempted to answer today, but if there is any way of communicating the reply to Members of the House I certainly will.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Commander Stalin when speaking to students at Sverdlov University in 1924, asked, "Where does one strike at Imperialism?" and answered the question by saying, "Where the chain is weakest," and would he do his best to encourage hon. Members on his own side of the House to strengthen the chain rather than to weaken it?
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is satisfied that the provision under Items 117, 122 and 146 of Colonial Research Reports, 1946–47, for linguistic research are beneficial, in view of the increasing tendency to teach English in African schools.
Yes, Sir. My aim is to enable Africans to become proficient in their own languages as well as learning English and the study of the languages for which the grants in question have been made will materially assist this object. I am also anxious that British officials employed in African territories should be given every facility for studying the languages of the peoples amongst whom they work.
Does the Minister consider that in view of the serious economic state of this country that kind of expense, which was over £3,000 is justified?
This is really economic expenditure, and in any case it has been authorised by the House.
Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that in so far as his Department is concerned the School of Oriental and African Studies will have support?
Most emphatically. It is doing a most useful work.
Independent Churches (Book)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what benefit is likely to result, and to what parties, from Item 141 in Colonial Research Reports, 1946–47, which is the grant to assist in the completion of the manuscript of a book on African separatist churches.
This book is likely to be of assistance to Colonial administrative officers and others in appreciating the political and religious problems arising out of the large number of independent African sects and churches, which are inadequately covered by existing literature.
Cameroons Development Corporation (Appointment)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will consider appointing an African to the Cameroons Development Corporation.
Under Nigerian legislation creating the Corporation, the power to appoint members to it resides not in me but in the Governor of Nigeria. As indicated to my hon. Friend the Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard) on 23rd of April, the Governor has already appointed an African to the Corporation. He is Mr. Manga Williams, who is the member of the Legislative Council for the Cameroons.
Malaya And Singapore
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will appoint an officer from the United Kingdom, with experience of industrial conciliation, to the Labour Department in Singapore.
Steps are being taken for the selection of a suitable candidate from the United Kingdom with trade union experience and experience of industrial conciliation to fill a vacancy which has recently arisen in Singapore.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make arrangements for suitable trade union officials in the Malayan Federation and Singapore to visit the United Kingdom, in order to study trade union and conciliation machinery.
I hope that such a visit will prove possible and discussion regarding arrangements is taking place.
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many working days have been lost in the Malayan Federation and Singapore, respectively, owing to industrial disputes since the resumption of civil government; and whether he will appoint a committee to inquire into this matter.
As the reply to the first part of the Question contains a number of figures and is rather long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, cir- culate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The figures record a considerable improvement in both territories during recent months. As regards the second part of the Question, I do not consider that the circumstances call for a committee of inquiry. I am, however, in communication with the two Governors with a view to arranging for two or three experienced trade unionists from this country to visit Malaya to study local labour conditions.
Following is the reply:
Working time lost in consequence of industrial disputes.
The term "man-days lost," rather than "working days lost," is used because of variations in the incidence of rest days. The figures quoted are based upon a seven day week and are accordingly inflated to an approximate extent of one-seventh. Well over 40 per cent. of the man-days lost were due to strikes on two large rubber estates in Kedah during August, 1946, the Malayan colliery strike early in 1947 and the Perak Hydro Electric Company strike in April of the same year. It is regretted that no figures are available for the period prior to August, 1946.
Working days lost.
|April to December, 1946||…||852,000|
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how Malaya's daily rice ration compares with other countries in Asia; and whether the International Emergency Food Council will be asked to review its allocation to rice-eating populations.
The present basic rice ration of 4½ oz. daily in Malaya is the same as in Ceylon and in North Borneo but slightly less than the present ration in Hong Kong. I regret that I have not got the material for a comparison with present ration scales in other countries in Asia. I understand that the International Emergency Food Council will be meeting next month to consider the rice allocations for 1948.
Mauritius (Milk Supplies)
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that milk supplied to the public in Mauritius is expensive and frequently adulterated; what steps are being taken by the local government to establish effective control over milk offered for sale; and what plans are there for the reorganisation of the distribution of milk, so that the public may be assured of adequate supplies at reasonable prices.
I have received a report from the Governor of Mauritius. As it is rather long I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
As there is only one part-time food inspector dealing with all the 400 sellers of milk will the Secretary of State represent to the Government of Mauritius the urgency of establishing pasteurisation depots?
Yes, Sir, the matter has been receiving very close attention from the local Government, a report has been received with a number of recommendations and definite steps are being taken.
Following is the reply:
It is true that milk supplied to the public is expensive, mostly of inferior quality and frequently adulterated. The present production is totally inadequate. This position has been aggravated by unsound animal husbandry methods and by illegal slaughter of milch cows during the war. The control which was previously established over the retail price could not be enforced owing to the unwillingness of consumers to report offending milk-sellers and has recently had to be lifted. Tests of the quality of milk offered for sale are regularly made and offenders are prosecuted, but it is realised that such measures are only pallatives.
The problem has been under close study for some time and plans have now been prepared to put the industry on a sound basis and to increase production by concerted attack on the following lines:
Much preliminary work has already been done, but the nature of the problem is such that improvement will inevitably be slow. It is expected, however, that when the Animal Husbandry Officer, for whom provision has been made, assumes duty, better progress will be made.
Surplus Foodstuffs, Singapore (Sale)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what quantity and kind of Royal Navy surplus foodstuffs are being offered for sale to civilians in Singapore since 1st July.
Approximately 163 tons of miscellaneous foodstuffs, surplus to Naval requirements, were on offer for sale to civilians in Singapore on 1st July. They were offered for sale locally on the advice of the Ministry of Food. The items comprised tinned milk, dried and tinned fruits, tinned salmon, tinned meat and vegetables, pulses, cereals, pickles and fruit juice.
Armaments Supply Department (Scientific Staff)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if, in view of the shortage of scientific staff in Government service, he will consider permitting members of the scientific staff of the Armament Supply Department of the Admiralty, established or not, who are qualified for inclusion in the Scientific Civil Service, to transfer to other scientific departments should they so desire.
In considering applications by employees to transfer to other departments, it is necessary to have regard to the requirements of the duties on which they are engaged at the time. A number of employees of the Armament Supply Department have already been released for employment in Scientific services elsewhere, and the point has been reached where further releases may be detrimental to the efficiency of the department. While, therefore, no unqualified undertaking to release further applicants can be given, any application for release by an officer whose services would be useful in a scientific capacity to another department will, none the less, receive full consideration in the light of the relevant circumstances.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he is yet able to say when the promised decision will be announced regarding the revised salary scales of scientific officers on production duties in the Armament Supply branch of his Department.
I regret that I am at the moment unable to add to the answer given to the hon. and gallant Member on this subject on 23rd April. Consideration is proceeding with every desire to reach an early conclusion but this is a complicated and difficult matter.
Does not the Civil Lord think 10 months a long time to give consideration to this question? Does he not realise how disappointed people are in this Department at the long delay in getting what they feel is their due?
As I told the hon. and gallant Gentleman on a previous occasion when he asked a question, it is my desire to get the matter speeded up at the earliest opportunity, but the matter concerns more than one Department. I am trying to do what I can. It may please the hon. and gallant Member to know that whatever decision is reached will be made retrospective.
Regular Engagements (Transfers)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will make a statement about the opportunities provided for release from the Royal Navy for those men who signed on for a Regular engagement in the early stages of the war because recruiting on a hostilities only engagement in the branch of their choice was not open in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.
Yes, Sir. My noble Friend is now prepared to give very sympathetic consideration to applications for transfer from a continuous service engagement of 12 years to a special service engagement of seven years with the Fleet and five years in the Reserve, or its equivalent in the Royal Marines, in cases where the following conditions are satisfied. The man entered between 1st September, 1939, and the date on which recruiting on hostilities only engagements was opened for his branch and is serving on a 12 years' continuous service engagement because he was unable to enter the Navy by any other method; he has served at least seven years; is willing to enrol in the Royal Fleet Reserve to complete 12 years' man's service and there are compassionate circumstances. Men entered as seaman boys or communication boys, artificer apprentices, band boys and boy buglers, are excluded. The hon. and gallant Member will recognise that the necessary formalities to establish that an application satisfies these conditions will take some time and it is unlikely that the earliest releases under the scheme can be expected much before the end of the year.
Could the Minister say whether there are any other arrangements for the boys who, he said, were excluded?
Not at present.
Will not the men who take advantage of this transfer suffer some disadvantage at the present time?
No, Sir, they will be in exactly the same position as men who took advantage of this transfer early in 1946.
Dockyard, Chatham And Sheerness (Bricklayers)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many bricklayers are employed in His Majesty's dockyards at Chatham and Sheerness, respectively.
The numbers of bricklayers employed at Chatham and Sheerness are 76 and 18, respectively.
What is the rate of bricklaying per hour?
The Question on the Paper asks how many bricklayers, and not the rate of bricklaying.
Commissions (Lower Deck)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many commissions from the lower deck have been granted in the various sections of the Royal Navy during the six months ended 30th June; and how this figure compares with the same period in 1939.
The following direct commissions from the lower deck were granted during the six months ended 30th Tune, 1947:
|Supply and Secretariat Branch||3|
In the executive branch an upper yardmen's course was begun in the autumn of 1938 and 24 ratings were promoted on the 1st September, 1939, or an average of 12 during the six-monthly period. In the engineering branch six ratings were promoted to commissioned rank during the first six months of 1939. Promotions from the lower deck to commissioned rank in the Air and Supply and Secretariat Branches did not begin until 1941 and 1942 respectively.
Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied with this rate of progress backwards under the Socialist Government?
We are naturally not satisfied that there should be so few who have succeeded in passing this examina- tion. I hope that the number will be increased. It may interest the hon. and gallant Gentleman to know that 47 sat. I hope that we shall have a better result in future. We must keep the standard up.
How many have been promoted to commissioned rank from warrant rank in the period in question?
That is another question.
Current Affairs (Instruction)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will make a statement on instruction in current affairs in the Royal Navy.
Yes, Sir. The present orders provide that, so far as possible, one hour a week during working hours shall be devoted to training in current affairs in His Majesty's ships and establishments but this aim has seldom been achieved. While it is impossible owing to pressure of work to alter these orders so far as ships at sea are concerned, my noble Friend has decided to make a change in all shore establishments and ships of the Reserve Fleet. In future, in these establishments and ships, one hour each week will be set aside within working hours for education in current affairs. This education will take the form of lectures and discussions and will, it is hoped, be of value both to the individual sailor and to the Royal Navy as a whole.
Could the Minister say whether he has yet read No. 24 Map Review? It was only too apparent last week that he had not.
Certainly, I have read it before most carefully and I am prepared to discuss it at any time that I have permission from Mr. Speaker to do so.
Is not the best instruction in current affairs afforded to the Royal Navy, as to the rest of us, by the abject failure of the Government's economic policy?
Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to protect his colleagues on the Front Bench from the experience of one of them in the last war who, when attending to lecture to sailors on the subject of current affairs, was himself thrown into the sea?
Release Dates (Notice)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what notice is given of the actual date of their release to men due for demobilisation.
Forecasts of probable dispersal dates for specified age and service groups are given to the Fleet about three months before the dispersal period for these groups begins. This period extends over approximately two months. The forecasts are confirmed about ten days before the dispersal begins. The actual date upon which a man in the groups due" for release is dispersed depends upon the drafting situation and upon local conditions.
Can the Minister give an assurance that every possible attempt is made to warn a man of his release?
Yes, Sir, most certainly.
Exchange, Romford (Delays)
asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware of the long delays at present being experienced by Romford subscribers in securing response from the Romford telephone exchange; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy this unsatisfactory position.
I regret that the quality of service at the Romford telephone exchange is not as good as I should like. This is due to shortage of trained operating staff and to the need for additional equipment. Vigorous steps are being taken to overcome both these difficulties and I hope that the service will shortly begin to show a steady improvement.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the number of subscribers have taken a note of the time it takes to answer the bell, and have found that it is five minutes or more? Does he not agree that that is unfair to the subscribers and results not only in waste of time, but in some cases in serious loss? Will he press the exchange to give a better service?
I shall be glad if the hon. Member will let me have the facts.
Charges (Automatic Register)
asked the Postmaster-General whether he will arrange for an automatic register of charges to be attached to telephones, where desired, as is already in operation in Switzerland.
The use of a device of this kind is being considered in connection with the problem of extending subscribers' dialling beyond the present range of local calls.
Will the Minister consider installing a few experimental ones in this country before he makes a decision on the matter?
I say that we are considering the matter.
Exchange, Wainfleet (Extension)
asked the Postmaster-General by what date the arrangements to extend the telephone exchange at Wainfleet, Lincolnshire, will be completed.
Equipment for the extension of Wainfleet exchange is now available and installation should be completed in about three months' time. I much regret the unforeseen delay.
New Cable, Birstall
asked the Postmaster-General whether he will hasten the laying of the new cable required to give a telephone service to the many residents of Birstall, near Leeds, who have been waiting for years for the installation of telephones; and when he estimates that this service will be provided.
Provision of this cable is being pressed forward as rapidly as possible, but, in view of the serious shortage of materials and of the many similar jobs to be undertaken in other areas in and near Leeds, I regret that I cannot quote a date for completion of the work.
Operator's Duties, Tiree
asked the Postmaster-General if he has approved the arrangement whereby the manager of the local branch of the S.C.W.S. on the Island of Tiree takes turns of duty with his wife who is the official exchange operator at the island telephone exchange; and if he is satisfied with an arrangement whereby the local manager for this organisation has access to the telephone conversations of his business competitors.
It is not uncommon in rural districts for the telephone exchange to be operated by a local tradesman, and after fully considering the facts as regards the exchange on the Island of Tiree, I see no grounds for changing the present arrangements.
In view of the general dissatisfaction with the telephone service, may I ask whether there is any truth in the report that it is to be handed over to the Co-operative Society?
Radio Reception (Electrical Interference)
asked the Postmaster-General if he will now give further information with regard to proposed legislative action to provide for the compulsory suppression of electrical interference with radio reception in accordance with the recommendations of the Council of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.
I regret I am not in a position to add to the information given by the Assistant Postmaster-General when replying to my hon. Friend on 19th March.
asked the Postmaster-General what was the numerical deficiency in the Post Office establishment on 30th June; and what is the effect of such deficiency in the general postal services.
I assume that the hon. and gallant Member has in mind the postal establishment. There is no general shortage of staff on the postal side of the Post Office. At a few places postal delivery and collection services have been adversely affected by difficulties of recruitment, and there are some staffing problems on the counter side in London. We are doing our best to overcome these difficulties.
What is the cause of the dislike towards service with the General Post Office? Is it that conditions of labour and wages are too poor, or what?
I am afraid that is an answer I cannot give. It is too long.
asked the Postmaster-General how many persons without previous post-office experience have been engaged for work in Glasgow during this year; and how many of these are wholly or partly engaged on work of a type formerly performed by temporary postmen who have been dismissed.
The answer to the first part of the Question is 330 men on the postal side, of whom 40 subsequently resigned; and, to the second part, all the remaining 290.
Does that not show that the last answer given by the Minister, namely, that these dismissed postmen were redundant, was wrong, and that the Minister's first answer on 2nd July was right, that they were dismissed in order to drive them into other employment? As the men are now unemployed, will the Minister reconsider the whole matter?
That is not so. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has got it wrong. This recruitment applies from 1st January, and the redundancy did not arise until 1st May.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many of these men or women have been engaged since the beginning of May?
I think the answer is round about 30.
To that extent is not my complaint justified?
These men have been set on as postmen according to the rules and regulations, and one of those rules and regulations laid down by this House is that 50 per cent. of the people set on must come from ex-Servicemen.
In view of the unsatisfactory and confused nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter again on the first possible occasion.
asked the Postmaster-General how many hours overtime have been worked by Post Office servants in Glasgow during June and July.
As the answer contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Following is the answer:
GLASGOW POST OFFICE.—Number of hours overtime worked during June and July, 1947.
(The statement covers only the main postal and telegraph grades.)
|Grade.||Number on Grade.||Total Hours of Overtime||Average Hours of Overtime per head per week.|
|Postal and Telegraph Officers.||613||1,991||0·4|
|Postmen, Higher Grade.||572||15,896||3·2|
Cable, Scarp Island
asked the Postmaster-General if he will now state when it is intended to begin the work of laying the cable and providing Scarp Island with telephone and telegraph services.
It is hoped to lay the cable to Scarp this month, and to provide telephone and telegraph service on the island by the end of September.
Is the Minister aware that everybody in that area, including the S.C.W.S. manager, will be very gratified?
Curtailed Deliveries (Manpower)
asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware that there is much dissatisfaction at the curtailment of postal deliveries and with the increasing delay with deliveries, both internally and from abroad; to what extent this is due to a shorter working week; and if he will publish his correspondence with the trade unions on the subject.
I am aware that curtailment of postal deliveries has given rise to some dissatisfaction; and that the revised services have not yet regained their prewar standard of efficiency. There has been no alteration in the length of the working week of the postal staff. The modifications in services were dictated solely by the need to conserve manpower.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the curtailment of the afternoon deliveries is felt by the business community all over the country to be holding up business, and could he not have it restored?
If there is one section of the community which is less prone to grumble about this than any other, it is probably the business section.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that today the Post Office is giving the poorest service to the community in the living memory of man?
Raf (Service, Mauritius)
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether Trans port Command are still running a service to Mauritius; and whether non-official civilians are permitted to use the service.
The R.A.F. withdrew from Mauritius in July, 1946, and since then have had no service to the Island.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation which airports will be used between London and Cornwall when the air service is started.
A service between London and Cornwall is not planned for the current year 1947–48, and the airports to be used when the service is introduced have not yet been decided.
May I ask the Minister when he is going to start this service?
That depends upon the availability of aircraft and other factors.
Will the hon. Gentleman explain why it was possible before nationalisation to have a regular service between London and Cornwall? If the Government cannot do it now officially, why do they not give it on charter to private operators to run?
With great respect, that statement is inaccurate. There was no regular service between London and Cornwall prewar.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what is the average flying time from Croydon to Le Bourget; what are the respective times for the transport of passengers from London to Croydon and from Le Bourget to Paris; and what steps he proposes to take to reduce the time of road transport from London to Croydon.
The average flying time from Croydon to Le Bourget is about 90 minutes, but there are no regular scheduled services now operating from Croydon. I have no detailed information about the transportation of the passengers to Croydon and from Le Bourget to Paris for which each operator is responsible.
Will my hon. Friend look into the question of a helicopter service between the airports and the cities in order to improve the overall time, which is out of all ratio to the flying time?
The general question of the transportation of passengers from a city centre to an airport is receiving constant attention.
Does not the hon. Gentleman think that what the hon. Member is probably trying to get at is to hurry up the period of non-flying time? Would it not be far better to hurry up the time taken up through the Customs, the inspection of visas and so on? That sort of thing takes about an hour.
In so far as the latter part is concerned, everything possible is being done, but I am certain that this House would require that the Customs, health and immigration officials should, do their work thoroughly for the protection of the general public.
Is my hon. Friend aware that I do not require any assistance from the other side in regard to my questions.
International Air Radio, Ltd (Board)
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation who are the members of the Board of International Air Radio, Limited; to whom it is answerable; and to what extent does he take steps to ensure that it is organised in such a way as to ensure its most rapid development and successful operation.
The members of the Board of International Aeradio, Ltd. are as follow:
- Sir Victor Tait, K.B.E., C.B —Chairman,
- Major J. R. McCrindle, O.B.E., M.C.,
- Mr. Whitney Straight, C.B.E. M.C., D.F.C.,
- Group-Captain Patrick Saward, O.B.E.,
- Commander Vladimir Wolfson,
- Group-Captain Patrick de Laszlo,
- Captain Gordon Store,
- nominated by the British South American Airways Corporation, and
- Air-Commodore C. S. Cadell,
Is my hon. Friend satisfied with the progress which has been made by this Board since it was set up, since the reports coming to me indicate that the progress to date is far from satisfactory?
No, Sir. In the first instance, the Secretary to the Board was a serving officer of the Royal Air Force. We had some difficulty in securing his release. Since his release, and the general establishment of the organisation, satisfactory progress has been made, but as this Corporation has to undertake negotiations with Dominion and foreign Governments, then, of course, matters are protracted.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether B.O.A.C. or any of its associated companies have yet established a service between the African mainland and Mauritius; what is the nature and frequency of the service; and when he expects a British service will be established.
Neither the British Overseas Airways Corporation nor any of their associated companies is operating a service between the African mainland and Mauritius. As to the last part of the Question, the possibility of the introduction of a service to Mauritius by the East African Airways Corporation is under examination.
Will the hon. Gentleman urge the African associates to give the most favourable consideration to the linking of this most important outpost of Empire by British airlines to the main arterial system?
Yes, but one of the considerations which has to be taken into account is that of traffic potential and that, in conjunction with other matters, is under discussion through the Colonial Office.
asked the Minister of Defence whether, in view of the decision to accelerate releases from the Army during the first quarter of 1948, he will now give his estimate of the numbers of men and women who will be serving in the forces on 31st March, 1948.
I would ask my hon. Friend to await the statement to be made this afternoon by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in the Debate on the state of the nation.
In view of the fact that confidence in similar replies to other Questions has often proved to be misplaced, can my right hon. Friend give a guarantee that the information asked for in the Question will be given by the Prime Minister?
The hon. Gentleman had better await the speech.
British Forces, India
asked the Minister of Defence what will be the role of the British Forces who remain in India after 15th August during the next few months before they are finally withdrawn.
After 15th August, the Governments of India and Pakistan will be responsible for the maintenance of law and order in their respective territories. British troops will not be available to intervene in case of internal disorder, and will in fact have no operational responsibility.
Free Travel Warrants
asked the Minister of Defence if he will now make a statement on the issue of free travel warrants to Service men.
This matter is still under consideration.
How soon does my right hon. Friend expect it will be possible to make a statement?
I could not say today, but I will let my hon. Friend know as soon as possible.
asked the Minister of Food if he will make a statement about the future of the bread-rationing scheme.
Not until after the harvest.
Can my right hon. Friend say at what date the harvest will be over?
No longer being connected with the meteorological service, I cannot satisfy my hon. Friend.
Fish Sales (Levy)
asked the Minister of Food what was the total sum collected by the levy on the first sale of fish, excluding herring, in the United Kingdom during 1946; and, what was the total sum expended in transport of fish in the United Kingdom, excluding herring, during 1946.
I am sorry that I cannot give the hon. Member the exact information for which he asks, but for the financial year 1st April, 1946, to 31st March, 1947, the levy collected on fish, excluding herring, amounted to £4,881,000 and the cost of transport to £4,331,000.
Milk Foods (Infant Welfare Centres)
asked the Minister of Food why he has found it necessary to cut down the quota of tinned milk foods supplied to infant welfare centres; and at what date he expects to be able to restore the previous allowance.
My Department does not control the distribution of proprietary brands of milk-based baby foods. Owing to the reduced production of milk in the first four months of the year—because of the great frost—there was a reduction in the output of milk powder and as a result manufacturers have had to restrict their sales of these proprietary foods. I cannot say when it will be possible fully to restore the old rate of sales.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have here a letter saying that a restriction was imposed by the Ministry of Food? It is signed by one of the managers of a firm distributing tinned milk food.
I take it that the writer of the letter, for which I am not of course responsible, is referring to the restrictions on the production of milk powder which had to be imposed for the reasons I have just given.
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the main cause of the restriction on production was not the frost but the Government's failure to acquire adequate feedingstuffs.
asked the Minister of Food what was the total weight and value of all principal foods consumed in this country in 1946; and the corresponding details for foods sup- plied to restaurants and canteens, separately.
As the reply includes a large number of figures, I shall, with permission, circulate it in, the OFFICIAL REPORT.
|QUANTITY AND VALUE OF PRINCIPAL FOODSTUFFS CONSUMED IN THE UNITED KINGDOM IN 1946.|
|TOTAL FOOD.||CATERING ESTABLISHMENTS.|
|——||Quantity. '000 tons.||Value (a) £'000.||Quantity (b) '000 tons.||Value (c) £'000.|
|Cakes and Biscuits||…||1,113||150,104||107||13,201|
|Meat and Offal (d)||…||1,814||211,347||182||21,140|
|Bacon and Ham (e)||…||306||57,255||21||3,416|
|Margarine, lard and cooking fat||…||504||39,877||58||4,292|
|Fresh milk (e)||…||6,700||207,798||989||28,799|
|Eggs in shell (e)||…||201||27,054||—||—|
|Jam and Marmalade||…||283||33,591||28||2,801|
|Chocolate and sugar confectionery||…||232||49,529||24||4,136|
|Canned and dried vegetables||…||349||25,660||—||—|
|All other foodstuffs||…||—||178,875||—||69,582|
|(a) These values are the totals of the estimated expenditure in the following five categories:|
|(i) Domestic purchases of food by households at retail prices, together with the value at farm prices of produce consumed on farms, and the value at the cost to the consumer of welfare foods provided under the National Milk, Milk-in-schools, and vitamin schemes.|
|(ii) Purchases by Category A catering establishments (restaurants, hotels and all residential establishments, together with institutions such as services hospitals, orphanages, hostels, etc., and school canteens and feeding centres, war-time nurseries, and public and private day schools) valued at the prices paid by these establishments.|
|(iii) Purchases by Category B catering establishments (voluntary service canteens, fire and police canteens, Industrial "A" and "B" canteens, Youth Service centres, workers' recreational clubs, and all other Cadet clubs, etc.) valued at the prices paid by these establishments.|
|(iv) Purchases by the Services of food for the Armed Forces in the U.K. valued at the prices paid by the Services.|
|(v) The quantities of ingredients used for the production of manufactured foods and their value at the prices paid by manufacturers are included against the ingredients where these are given separately in the above table. The value of other ingredients and the added value resulting from manufacture are shown against "All other foodstuffs."|
|(b) The quantities of unrationed foods consumed in catering establishments are unknown. An estimate of their value is included in the total.|
|(c) These values represent the totals of groups (ii) and (iii) noted in (a) above.|
|(d) Including canned corned meat and pork self-suppliers.|
|(e) Including self-suppliers.|
Can my right hon. Friend say how these figures compare with those during and before the war?
Not without notice.
Following is the statement:
Milk Distribution (Report)
asked the Minister of Food whether he has now received the Report of the Committee on Milk Distribution; when this will be made available; and what action he proposes taking to implement the recommendations.
I do not expect to receive the Report until the autumn.
Extra Sugar Ration, Oxford
asked the Minister of Food, whether his attention has been drawn to complaints by Oxford traders of the difficulties in which they have been put in honouring the extra sugar ration by the failure of his Department to secure the supply of sufficient stocks in time; and what action he is taking to meet their difficulties.
No Oxford traders have complained to my Department about sugar deliveries, but it is true that the two recent bonus issues and the increase in the ration have placed a strain on transport. My Department has dealt with such difficulties as promptly as possible, and I feel certain that housewives would rather have their extra sugar a few days late, if this is unavoidable, rather than be deprived of it.
When the right hon. Gentleman says that no Oxford traders have complained to his Department, can it be that he has not received the letter of complaint which I myself sent on to him from an Oxford trader?
I suppose the answer is intended to imply, other than the complaints on which this Question is based.
Can the Minister say whether the bonus issue is subject to a tax?
Cattle Purchases, Eire
asked the Minister of Food whether it has been brought to his notice that British cattle buyers are being forced out of the Southern Irish meat market by Continental agents making direct purchases off the land; and whether, in the light of this fact, he will investigate the position and, if necessary, revise the prices paid by this country for fat and store cattle from Eire.
I know that substantial numbers of cattle have been bought in Eire by Continental countries recently. His Majesty's Government are at present considering what can be done to increase supplies of agricultural produce, including cattle, from Eire to this country; it is hoped to open discussions shortly with the Government of Eire on this and other subjects of mutual interest.
Is not my right hon. Friend aware of the fact that this matter is extremely urgent, and that unless very rapid action is taken about it, he may find eventually that he can get no meat whatever from the South of Ireland?
Action has begun on the subject already. I agree as to its urgency.
Venison (Controlled Prices)
asked the Minister of Food whether he will so revise the shippers' and retailers' controlled prices of 9d. and Is. per lb., respectively, for venison, as to encourage its importation from Eire and other sources of supply.
The maximum prices for venison are in line with those for similar types of meat and I see no reason for increasing them.
Tomato Order (Restrictions)
asked the Minister of Food for what reasons it was decided to announce over the wireless that, owing to the large influx of Dutch tomatoes, licensed wholesalers selling in the London area were released from the obligations imposed by the Tomato Order, 1947; whether he is aware that this announcement has caused great inconvenience to the trade; and whether arrangements will be made under similar circumstances in future to deal with matters of this kind through the appropriate trade channels.
During the week which began on 20th July very heavy arrivals of Dutch tomatoes coincided with peak marketings of the home grown crop. By Friday, the 25th, the depots through which these tomatoes are distributed in the London area were overloaded and arrangements were therefore made to relax the restrictions imposed by the Tomato Order in order to avoid delay in distribution and consequent wastage. I think that far greater inconvenience would have been caused by failure to take prompt action.
Cannot the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the confusion that was also caused to the growers, and is he not aware that the growers in this country forsaw this glut coming, and why did his Department not foresee it and take earlier action than was done by the wireless broadcast?
It the hon. Gentleman feels that a supply of tomatoes which allows distribution under the controlled price is a glut, I cannot altogether agree with him—or that it is the kind of glut which we welcome very much in this Department.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that this made practically no difference at all to the growers, that the implications in the Question are grossly inaccurate, and that if the action had not been taken, it would have resulted in far greater inconvenience to traders and a huge loss of food?
Cheese Ration (Building Workers, Maldon)
asked the Minister of Food if he will modify his definition of rural building-trade workers in order to overcome some of the anomalies which have attended his recent concession of an extra cheese ration; and, in particular, if he will authorise the issue of such a ration to employees of Messrs. S. Hardy-King, 35, Market Hill, Maldon, Essex, who are to be engaged for several months in building work at a site slightly less than two miles from the town of Maldon, but on an island.
I am afraid I cannot agree to modify the regulations to meet this case. The test must be whether the workers are regularly employed under the qualifying conditions.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that various food offices interpret his regulations in various ways, and interpret the definition of a town quite differently? Some seem to apply the word "town" to quite a small place which has no canteen or meals facilities of any kind?
We always knew that this concession would land us into difficult questions of demarcation, and that is why we were rather reluctant to make it, but we shall have to work out these qualifying conditions as carefully as possible.
African Groundnut Scheme
asked the Minister of Food how many Africans are now employed in the groundnut scheme; and in what capacities.
At the end of July about 2,500 Africans were employed in the groundnuts scheme, of these about 1,600 were engaged in relatively unskilled work as field labourers, camp attendants and hospital attendants. The rest were employed as motor drivers, tractor drivers, clerks and artisans or were being trained for these more highly skilled jobs.
Will my right hon. Friend see that, when this scheme is in full working operation, the minor specialised categories will be staffed solely by African labour?
I could not give my hon. Friend a guarantee, but the whole object of the scheme is to train Africans to the most skilled jobs possible.
Surplus Mackerel (Processing)
asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that a consider able number of mackerel have recently been dumped into the sea at Peterhead; and what steps he has taken to find a market for mackerel which are surplus to the requirements of a particular port, or, alternatively, to process them into oil.
We are seeing whether we can arrange to use mackerel for processing into oil and meal.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that he had better see to it fairly quickly, or the mackerel will have gone away?
Unfortunately, at present the factories say there are technical difficulties about using mackerel for this purpose.
Kippers (Export Licences)
asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that many kipperers have found it necessary to close down, or work short time, owing to lack of home demand; and, in view of the growing demand for kippers from foreign markets, particularly Australia and South Africa, whether he will increase the export licences to those who are willing and able to meet this demand.
I am aware that many kipperers have not been working to capacity. At the start of the season I authorised exports up to 2,000 tons, about the same quantity as the total 1938 export, and I recently increased the quota by 500 tons. But I am now considering whether we cannot dispense with this whole export licensing system at any rate during the flush herring season.
Is the Minister aware that the home market will decline further unless he does something to stop the dyeing of kippers, instead of curing them by the proper process?
I will look into that.
Will the Minister consult with the Minister of Transport with a view to transporting fish more rapidly from Aberdeen fishing ports to the inland consuming centres where the food is badly needed?
I think the transport of fish this year has been considerably better than it was, and we have provided a lot of dry ice and other refrigerating facilities for that purpose. One of the difficulties this year is that the herring have been of low quality.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has considered the report recently sent to him on the food situation in Germany and the effects of an increased supply that could be obtained locally by allowing a greater production of nitrogen fertilisers; and whether he will take effective action accordingly as a means of avoiding the present gradual starvation of the population.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for this report, which is now being studied. Every effort is being made to increase production of nitrogen fertilisers in the Combined zones, and as much as possible is imported from overseas under allocations made by the International Emergency Food Council.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what food from local production in the British zone of Germany is being taken for consumption by members of the Control Commission for Germany or Armed Forces; and whether he will confirm that none whatsoever has been, or is being, exported from Germany to England.
Members of the Control Commission for Germany, and of the British Armed Forces are strictly forbidden to take any food from local German production for their own consumption; no German foodstuff has been, or is being, exported from Germany to this country.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that rumour has been rife in Germany that food has been exported? Will he take special steps to see that this answer is widely publicised in Germany?
I will Jake steps to publicise it widely, but I must deprecate the constant attempt to make suggestions about our staff in Germany. I would ask hon. Members to give us precise details, rather than throwing innuendoes.
Control Commission (British Personnel)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now state his intention with respect to the progressive reduction of the number of British personnel employed by the Control Commission for Germany.
The strength of the British element of the Control Commission will be progressively reduced as fast as the tasks to be carried out allow.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the target for reduction of plant of the former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has not yet been achieved, although it was promised for February this year? Can he promise greater progress?
I am progressively reducing it, but at the same time I am constantly urged to take on other duties in the re- organisation of Germany, and, therefore, I have to balance the claims made on me against the reduction.
Reparations (Capital Goods)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what date has now been fixed by which capital goods for reparations from Germany must be specified, in place of 15th February, 1946, fixed at Potsdam.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Potsdam Declaration made it quite clear that goods for capital reparation should be fixed by 15th February, 1946, and now more than a year has passed and there is no definition yet? When is a decision going to be taken?
I have made it clear, and if my hon. Friend had been in his place during the Debate on Monday, he would have heard the whole of the facts in relation to this, but I am afraid I cannot give another detailed answer today.
Is it true that this taking away of capital goods for reparations is still going on? That question was not answered.
I made it perfectly clear on Monday that capital goods were being dismantled and removed from Germany by June, 1948, but, owing to the new level of industry, Categories 2, 3 and 4 were being revised.
The goods I am referring to were goods which were not being destroyed because they were war potential, but capital goods sent away for reparations?
I made it clear that there were two categories. One was war potential, and the second was reparations under Categories 2, 3 and 4, surplus to the requirements of Germany, and if the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) will read the speech in HANSARD he will see that I was perfectly clear.