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Written Answers

Volume 441: debated on Wednesday 6 August 1947

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 6th August, 1947

Kenya (Native Land Units)

1.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in what circumstances a clan of the Kikuyu people were removed from their land in Tigoni, Kenya, in 1938; whether he is aware that they are not prepared to accept alternative land at Nyamweru or the compensation offered; and whether it is the intention of the Kenya Government to either return the land of which they were dispossessed or offer alternative acceptable land with compensation.

The Kikuyu referred to were among 700 occupying a small isolated area of unalienated Crown Land, known as Tigoni, whose rights were extinguished under the Native Lands Trust Ordinance of 1938, in accordance with the recommendations of the Carter Land Commission of 1933 that native land units should be consolidated. The majority of the Tigoni right-holders accepted both the land at Nyamweru, which was offered in exchange, and the financial compensation for improvements they had effected at Tigoni, but some refused either to go to Nyamweru, on the grounds that the land was under a curse, or to accept the financial compensation offered, which they regarded as inadequate.Both these complaints have been investigated by the Kenya Government. It is now clearly in the interests of these people that they should rejoin their fellow Africans at Nyamweru in the Kikuyu land unit where land is still available for them. The Government's offer of compensation, which is based on an assessment made in 1939, was acceptable to the majority of the right-holders and is still available for the remainder if they will accept it.

African Colonies

Rinderpest, Tanganyika

20.

asked the Secretary of Slate for the Colonies what steps are being taken in East Africa to prevent the spreading of rinderpest to cattle by wild game; what steps are being taken to control game that is driven from the groundnut areas in Tanganyika territory; and what consideration has been given in East Africa to the methods used in Southern Rhodesia to protect farming areas from damage and disease carried by game; and with what result.

I will ask the Colonial Governments concerned for a report on these matters and will write to my hon. Friend when it is received.

Income Tax

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many Africans in the East and Central African group and the West African group of Colonies pay Income Tax.

The figures which the hon. Member seeks are not readily available. Their compilation would require considerable research on the part of the Governments concerned and in the circumstances I regret that I do not feel justified, in view of the depleted Income Tax staffs, in asking them to provide the figures.

Uganda (Hydro-Electric Development)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the proposed plan for hydro-electric development for Uganda; and whether it is proposed that the Government of Uganda shall acquire the interests of the East Africa Power and Lighting Company in that Protectorate.

The Government of Uganda proposes to construct a hydroelectric power station at the Owen Falls, on the Victoria Nile. It is not expected that this station will be completed before 1952 and as an interim measure, pending the completion of the first stage of the development of the power station, it is proposed to erect two temporary thermal power stations, one at Kampala, the other at Jinja. The answer to the second part of the question is in the affirmative.

Cyprus (Illegal Immigrants' Camps)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the total accommodation in the refugee camps which have been constructed in Cyprus; and how many refugees are actually accommodated there at present.

Accommodation is at the moment in excess of the numbers of illegal immigrants now in the camps. There were 15,651 persons in the camps on 2nd August.

Zanzibar (Clove Research)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies for what special purpose provision is made under Item 134 in Colonial Research Reports 1946–47 for the appointment of a Director of Clove Research; and to what extent research has already been made into the "Sudden Death" disease of cloves in Zanzibar.

The provision made under Colonial Development and Welfare Research Scheme No. R.134 was to enable a suitably qualified officer to be appointed on a full-time basis as Director of Clove Research to undertake an exhaustive investigation of the "Sudden Death" disease. At present 60,000 trees are estimated to be dying in the course of a year, representing between 1 per cent. and 2 per cent. of the total clove tree population in the island. A director has been appointed: and after preliminary investigations in Zanzibar he has prepared a scheme for a team of workers to begin work under his direction in the autumn of this year. The scheme has been approved by my Colonial Agricultural Research Committee, and the director is at the present time consulting further with experts on virus diseases in this country and in the United States of America.To enable this research to proceed, I have made a further scheme under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act to assist the cost of the investigation for a period of four years. The Zanzibar Government is defraying the capital cost of the purchase and conversion of buildings required, and the Zanzibar Clove Growers' Association is making a contribution of £17,000.Much effort has been expended and research undertaken to ascertain the cause of the disease and to arrive at the remedies. The cause is not yet known. Efforts in the past have been made by single scientists for relatively short periods, and the Department of Agriculture has conducted numerous experiments on manurial and moisture requirements. In collaboration with scientists in this country the mineral deficiency aspect has been investigated. At no time has there been continuous work by a team of scientists, and I am advised that the present proposals offer the best prospects of an early solution of the problem.

Palestine (Press Messages)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will authorise, the Palestine Government to withdraw facilities from the Palestine correspondents of U.S. newspapers who continue to print incitements to terrorise in Palestine.

There is no censorship of any kind in Palestine over Press mesages sent to destinations overseas, and I feel that it would not be in the public interest to attempt to place restrictions either on such messages or on particular categories of correspondents.

Royal Navy

Boom Defences, Seaview

22.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what steps he is taking to remove portions of the boom defence at Seaview, Isle of Wight, which is causing serious obstruction to sailing and fishing in the Solent.

As has been explained to the hon. Member in correspondence, work has already begun on the removal of the first 400 feet of the boom defences at Seaview, Isle of Wight. This will absorb all the labour available for the work up to mid-September this year. The removal of a further portion of the boom, as discussed by the local naval authorities with representatives of Seaview Yacht Club and the Ryde Town Council at. a meeting on 19th June, is now approved and will follow immediately after the completion of the present work.

Bermuda Dockyard (Foreign Service Allowance)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction felt by the Bermuda Dockyard Agreement Men's Association with the revised rates of foreign service allowance which are regarded as inadequate and complicated; and whether, as the rates of pay compare unfavourably with those in operation outside the dockyard and the increase in the mess subscription results in a loss of 5s. per week for a single mail living in messes, he will cause an inquiry to be made into these grievances with a view to remedying them.

Yes. Immediate consideration is being given to these representations.

Malta Dockyard (Ex-Employees)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty why employees of the Maltese Dockyard who left their employment on election to the Maltese Par-Lament are refused re-employment in the dockyard after losing their Parliamentary seats.

There is no regulation debarring the re-entry into employment at Malta Dockyard of any former employee who has ceased to be a member of Malta Legislature; but equally there can be no guarantee of re-employment in such circumstances.

Civil Aviation

Cancelled Bookings (Government Departments)

44.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what has been the result of his reconsideration of the suggestion that, as an inducement to Government Departments to cancel as early as possible their bookings of seats not required, they should be subject to the regulations of the three air Corporations and pay the same cancellation fees as the general public.

I am glad to say that, after consultation with my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, I have been able to inform the three Corporations that as from 1st April, 1947, they should treat Government Departments in the same way as private passengers as regards cancellation of definite bookings in the names of individual civil servants or other persons whose travelling expenses are charged to public funds.

Carriage By Air Act, 1932

63.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation when he intends to apply the Carriage by Air Act, 1932, to internal carriage in the United Kingdom, and between the United Kingdom and other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire.

The whole position under the Act, including its application to internal carriage and the carriage between the United Kingdom and other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, is under consideration.

Food Supplies

Dried Potatoes (Price)

61.

asked the Minister of Food the price paid for imported dried potatoes, the tonnage imported and the price at which these are being sold to manufacturers of animal feedingstuffs.

As I have stated on previous occasions, I am not preparted to disclose the prices at which purchases are made on Government account. 5,937 tons of dried potatoes were imported and were sold to the feedingstuffs manufacturers at £12 5s. per ton, the price provided in the Feeding Stuffs (Maximum Prices) Order.

Milk Foods (Infant Welfare Centres)

asked the Minister of Food what are the reasons for the decision to reduce supplies of patent baby foods to welfare centres by one-quarter; and whether he will reconsider the matter, having regard especially to the hardship which will be caused to mothers in rural areas.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Brigadier Peto) today.

Tea Imports (Freight Space)

asked the Minister of Food how it came about that the P. and O. ship "Ranchi," under requisition to the Ministry of Transport, on her last voyage from Singapore when calling at Colombo was refused permission to bring home a cargo of tea awaiting shipment, in consequence of which she arrived at her home port in ballast early in July; and whether stocks of tea in this country are so large that no further consignments can be accepted.

I am informed that this vessel arrived in Colombo during the early stages of the recent strike at that port when the harbour was congested and the only dock work permitted by the strikers was the unloading of imports essential to the maintenance of life in the Island. The "Ranchi" remained at Colombo for several days, was eventually ordered by the port controller to leave, and returned to this country without any commercial cargo. Because of the shortage of tea in this country and to speed arrivals, I have asked all shipping lines to make freight space for tea available at Calcutta and Colombo whenever it is possible to do so.

Airlines (Special Allowance)

asked the Minister of Food if he is aware of the inferior and costly price of food being served on B.E.A.C. liners -operating between Brussels and London; and, in order that it may compare favourably with Belgian Airlines, if he will now extend the special allowances of food already given to the long-distance airlines to the remaining British airlines.

I am unaware that the quality of the meals served on British European Airways Corporation liners operating between London and the Continent is inferior, that the price for them is unduly high or that the quality and price compare unfavourably with that obtainable on Belgian airlines. The special allowances of food already given to long-distance airlines were recently extended to British European Airways Corporation when operating between this country and the Continent. I am also willing to consider, in consultation with my noble Friend the Minister of Civil Aviation, the extension of these allowances to other British airlines when similarly engaged for short periods.

New Zealand Gift Parcels

asked the Minister of Food whether it is with the agreement of his Department that the Postmaster-General of New Zealand has announced that this country does not want any increase in New Zealand food parcels because of delivery and shipping difficulties.

No. The statement to which the hon. Member refers was based on a misunderstanding, and has since been corrected.

Cattle Purchases (Eire)

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that British cattle buyers are being squeezed out of the market for Irish cattle by continental agents; and whether it is his intention to permit a higher price to be paid in order to ensure a share of these for this country.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeffington-Lodge) today.

Foods And Beer (Permitted Exports)

asked the Minister of Food if he will take steps to ensure that, in order to prevent misunderstanding, the reasons for the export of beer, biscuits, chocolate, etc., are conveyed to consumers in foreign countries, possibly by means of explanatory printed labels on each packet, tin or bottle.

Yes. We have already sent very clear explanations to our representatives abroad, and shall send further explanations. I should think the proceedings of this House today and tomorrow will also provide very cogent explanations. My hon. Friend's suggestion of explanatory labels is an alternative one, but I fear, very difficult to apply.

Yugoslavs, Germany (Screening)

69.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if the screening of Yugoslav nationals at the camp near Münster has been completed; in how many cases was sufficient evidence available to justify inclusion on the black list; and how many have been moved from the camp and to where.

I am making inquiries into the questions raised by my hon. Friend and will communicate with him as soon as possible

British Council (Welsh Advisory Panel)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Monmouthshire is attached to Wales for the purpose of the Welsh Advisory Panel of the British Council; whether he is aware that this county has no representation on it; and whether he will make additional appointments accordingly.

I understand that Monmouthshire is regarded by the British Council as being attached to Wales for the purposes of the Welsh Advisory Panel, but this Panel was not selected on a territorial basis. The members were in fact chosen, after consultation with many distinguished Welshmen, as representing different aspects of Welsh life and thought as a whole, and I see no reason why the Council should be asked to make any further appointments.

Ukrainian Prisoners Of War

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any further statement to make about Ukrainians brought to this country as prisoners of war.

No, but my hon. Friend may have in mind the report which appeared in the Soviet Monitor of 26th June, 1947, and which is misleading on two counts. Firstly, the Ukrainians who have been brought to this country as prisoners of war were members of the 1st Ukrainian Division of the Wehrmacht, which is not the same as the so-called "Galizien Division" which in fact ceased to exist after suffering heavy losses at the Battle of Brody in July, 1944. In the second place, so far from Soviet representatives being refused access to these men, a Soviet Mission commanded at various times by Colonel Jakovlev and General Basilov was actively engaged in interrogating them from 13th August until the end of September, 1945. I should like to add that, although there is not the least evidence that any of the Ukrainians in this country have been implicated in any brutalities, they will nevertheless be subjected to further screening here so as to make assurance doubly sure.

Ex-Internee (Entry Permit)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reason was Pierre Frank refused a permit to land here when he reached Folkestone from France on 1st August, 1947.

It was necessary during the war to intern this foreigner, and I know of no sufficient grounds for re-admitting him to this country.

Railways

Wagon Repairs, South Wales

asked the Minister of Transport if he is satisfied that full use is being made of the existing facilities for wagon repairing in South Wales; and if he will consider extending these facilities, in view of the availability of labour in that area.

Apart from some shortage of skilled labour at certain points the existing facilities for wagon repairs in South Wales are being used to the full. The possibility of extending wagon repairing to other premises where labour is available is under investigation.

Locomotives (Repair)

asked the Minister of Supply how many of the 237 heavy freight locomotives, built for Government use during the war and awaiting repair on 16th December, 1946, are now in use; and how many are being used by the main line railway companies.

202 of the 237 locomotives have so far been repaired and all of them are being used by the main line railway companies.

Commercial Vehicles (Speed Limit)

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has considered an application from the road transport employers for an increase in the speed limit for commercial motor vehicles from 20 miles per hour to the speed limit permitted to passenger motor coaches; and what action he proposes to take regarding the application.

Representatives of the operators and manufacturers, and of the Unions concerned, have been invited to meet the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry to discuss this matter.

India (Government Employees)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he will give consideration to the claim for proportionate pension and compensation for loss of career by ex-Service civilian clerks serving at Armed Forces headquarters in India, who were released from the British Army to their present appointments between 1921 and 1931.

The claim of the ex-Service civilian clerks has already been carefully considered by my noble Friend. I am unable to add anything to the reply which I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea (Commander Noble) on 21st July.

Post Office (Absent Addressees)

asked the Postmaster-General if he will amend the regulation, that if a parcel is not delivered after three efforts by the postman, the addressee is informed that it will be treated as un-deliverable if instructions as to direction are not given to the Post Office within three days, in view of the fact that many persons may be away from home or be out during delivery hours owing to their employment.

In practice satisfactory alternative arrangements, including delivery at a neighbour's house, are provided for addressees who are temporarily absent from their homes. Persons who are to be away from home for a period can arrange for their correspondence and parcels to be redirected by the Post Office.

Water And Sewerage Schemes, Scotland (Grants)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is now in a position to make a statement about an increase' in the amount of grant authorised by the Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Act, 1944.

The Government propose, as soon as the Parliamentary timetable permits, to introduce legislation to increase the amount of grants authorised by the Act. It may take some time before legislation can be introduced and in the meantime, after consultation with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I propose to open discussions with local authorities to see to what extent, in order to enable a beginning to be made with additional urgent schemes, it would be necessary to promise assistance in excess of the authority given by the Act, subject to Parliamentary approval of any actual disbursements.

War Pensions

asked the Minister of Pensions (1) the cost of each of the 10 grades of war-disabled pensioners for the last recorded date;(2) how many pensioners in each of the 10 grades were, on the last recorded date, receiving only a basic pension; and how many a basic pension and allowances.

I regret that this information could be obtained only by examining the records of the 760,000 cases in payment, and the necessary expenditure of time and labour would not in my view be justified.

National Insurance (Personal Case)

asked the Minister of National Insurance when Mr. C. Hetherington, 15, Carr Street, Heckmondwike, pension No. 40474907, who retired from work on 27th May at the age of 69 years and whose applications for the 26s. pension have been acknowledged on three occasions, will receive this pension together with the arrears of payment.

A pension order book at the 26s. rate together with payment of the arrears of pension due to him was sent to Mr. Etherington on 1st August. The delay in this case would have been avoided if the pensioner had followed the advice which I have given on numerous occasions in the House and elsewhere that pensioners who are in any difficulty as regards their retirement pensions should apply in the first instance to the local area officer of the Assistance Board.

Requisitioned Property, Kirkheaton

asked the Secretary of State for Air when authority will be given for the derequisition of the A.T.C. site at Bank Row Lane, Kirkheaton, near Huddersfield, which has not been used since June, 1946.

This site will be derequisitioned as soon as the huts which were built on the site by my Department have been disposed of, either to the former tenant or through the Ministry of Works.

Building Industry (Mechanisation)

asked the Minister of Works whether there is any appreciable evidence that, since 1938, the average builder engaged in the housing programme has substantially increased his use of mechanical appliances and labour-saving devices; whether any failure in this respect is due to the madequate supply of such appliances; and what action he has taken to stimulate their production.

The use of mechanical appliances and labour saving devices has increased since 1938, though not to a substantial extent. There is, however, evidence of increasing interest on the part of builders and contractors in the possibilities of further mechanisation. One of the main difficulties is the design and production of appliances which can be used on an economic basis by the small and medium sized builder, and my Department is engaged in the development and testing of new appliances and in bringing satisfactory designs to the attention of all concerned.

National Registration (Change Of Address)

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the time taken in local offices of his Department to register changes of address is now 13 minutes, whereas formerly it took three minutes and if the procedure will be simplified.

The registration of a change of address at a national registration and food office now serves the purposes of national and electoral registration and food rationing combined. The time taken to make the necessary records varies according to the circumstances of the case, but should not normally exceed six minutes.

asked the Minister of Health why notification of change of address for purposes of alteration in identity cards and ration books, necessitates the completion of a form giving full details as to age and date of birth, as well as new address; and since when this regulation has been in force.

The object of this requirement, which is for national registration purposes and has been in force since 1940, is to establish the identity of the person concerned.