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Written Answers

Volume 443: debated on Thursday 30 October 1947

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 30th October, 1947

Housing

Requisitioned Flats (Coal Bunkers)

2.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that difficulty is being experienced by the residents of requisitioned flats in obtaining facilities for storing their summer allocation of coal; and what decision he has reached on the proposals submitted to him by some local authorities for the provision of bunkers to enable the summer allocation of coal to be bought and stored by the tenants concerned.

I have approved proposals by various local authorities to provide coal bunkers in converted requisitioned premises. If the hon. Member has any particular case in mind, I shall be glad to make inquiries.

Unfit Houses (Rents)

3.

asked the Minister of Health whether he will introduce legislation to provide that no rents shall be pay able in respect of working-class dwellings which owing to disrepair, are in a state unfit for human habitation.

Legislation on these lines is not in contemplation. The preferable course, in my view, is to secure, as soon as circumstances allow, the repair of the houses.

Rural Houses (Reconditioning)

4.

asked the Minister of Health whether, in order to lessen the housing shortage in rural areas, he will take action to reinstate the grant for the reconditioning of farm cottages.

I would refer the hon. Member to the statement I made on this subject on 31st July in reply to a question by the hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Digby), of which I am sending him a copy.

Ex-Service Men (Priority)

12.

asked the Minister of Health whether it is proposed to give priority to ex-Service men in obtaining new council houses of either a permanent or temporary, nature.

The selection of tenants for their estates is a matter for the local authorities but guidance on the subject, with special reference to the claims of ex-Service men, was given in Circulars 109/45 and 176/45, of which I am sending copies to the hon. and gallant Member.

Hereford

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the urgent need of houses in the City of Hereford, he will reconsider his decision to withdraw the 33 permanent aluminium houses which his Department had already allocated to this city.

The 33 bungalows in question were part of a provisional allocation of 75 and were subject to review when the total demand had been ascertained. It is not possible to let Hereford have more than 42 without reducing the numbers required for coal miners elsewhere.

Cracked Pottery

10.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the risks to health from the use of cracked cups; and what steps he is taking to publicise this fact and to urge the larger provision of new cups on the home market.

I am advised that there are risks, but that they can be exaggerated. The need for all-round cleanliness in eating houses has been stressed in bulletins to medical officers of health and in the catering trade journals.

Compensation Water

26.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the serious position of many upland water supply authorities brought about by unusually high water demands during the present drought; that a complete revision of the quantities of compensation water now delivered by those authorities is the only means of the immediate alleviation of the position; and if he will consider reviewing the whole problem of compensation water.

I am aware that the water in storage in several areas is becoming very low and I shall be ready to consider any applications that may be made to me for temporary removal of restrictions on the quantities of water that can be put into supply. I am, however, precluded by the Water Act, 1945, from making orders for the permanent revision of compensation water provisions.

Employment

Margate And Ramsgate

59.

asked the Minister of Labour how many unemployed persons were registered at the Ramsgate and Margate employment exchanges respectively, at the latest convenient date.

At 15th October, 1947, there were 591 insured persons registered as unemployed at the Margate employment exchange and 688 at the Ramsgate employment exchange.

Polish Engineer, Norwich

asked the Minister of Labour why the Norwich employment exchange refused permission for a Polish skilled engineer to take employment with a local firm who are anxious to secure his services.

I wrote to the hon. member on 28th August explaining that this occurred at a time when discussions on the employment of Poles were in progress with the employers' organisations and the trade unions in the engineering industry, and the placing of Poles in that industry was at the request of both sides temporarily suspended. The vacancy has since been filled by a British worker.

Manpower Distribution

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the changed circumstances since the publication of the Economic Survey for 1947, he will issue a revised version of the table on page 29, giving the distribution of manpower necessary to achieve the Government's objectives; and what expansion of the numbers employed in the coal-mining, agricultural and textile industries is possible and desirable in the first six months of 1948.

The estimates desired by my hon. Friend could only be made as part of a revision of the Economic Survey for 1947 and of an Economic Survey for 1948. The Government have decided not to attempt to revise the Economic Survey for 1947; the preparation of an Economic Survey for 1948 is under consideration.

India And Pakistan

Arrested Constabulary Officers

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will inquire on what charges Mr. Ashley Jones, Commandant of the special armed constabulary of Jubbulpore, Mr. F. Powell, his adjutant, Major Hooper and Major Hawkins were arrested on the orders of the Government of the Central Provinces in India; and what is the present position of these men.

The United Kingdom High Commissioner at New Delhi has made inquiries of the Government of India and is now waiting for their reply. When I receive his report I will write to the hon. Gentleman.

British Cemeteries

38.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he can give an assurance that British civilian cemeteries in India are being adequately maintained; who is now responsible for their upkeep; and what annual sum is set aside for this purpose.

The Governments of India and. Pakistan will provide the funds required for the maintenance of Christian cemeteries up to the end of March, 1948. After that date, it is proposed that the United Kingdom High Commissioners in the two Dominions, in co-operation with the Christian Churches and unofficial bodies who may be interested, should supervise the maintenance of the cemeteries. The nature of the organisation to be set up, and the arrangements for furnishing it with funds, are under consideration.

National Service

Cricketer (Leave Of Absence)

60

asked the Minister of Labour if he will assure the release from the mining industry of Mr. Gerald Smith-son, the Yorkshire cricketer, so that he may take part in the M.C.C. tour in the West Indies this winter.

In view of the paramount importance of coal production and the fact that the release of Mr. Smithson would not be fair to other men who are fulfilling their National Service obligations in coalmining, the National Coal Board feel that they would be failing in their duty if they recommended Mr. Smithson's release from his National Ser-vice obligations in the coalmining industry on the ground suggested. The Board, however, are prepared to give Mr. Smith-son leave of absence to enable him to go to the West Indies on condition that he completes his National Service obligation immediately on his return to this country. I understand that Mr. Smithson has applied for release on medical grounds, and a medical examination is being arranged. That, however, is a separate matter. Contrary to statements that have appeared in the Press, Mr. Smithson is not due for release until some time after the end of the year.

asked the Minister of Labour on what grounds the release from the mines of Gerald Smithson, member of the British cricket team visiting the West Indies, has been refused.

I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply today to a similar Question by the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. M. Astor).

Postponement Application, Oldham

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that the application of Mr. Keith Brian Dawson, whose father was gravely disabled in the last war, whose mother died after a long period of total blindness, whose brother was killed at Singapore and who has no other brothers or sisters, for deferment on the grounds of hardship and on other grounds, was refused by the Oldham Hardship Tribunal; and whether, in view of the grave circumstances disclosed, he will re-consider this case.

I am aware that Mr. Dawson's application for postponement of call-up was refused by the Oldham Hardship Committee. I have carefully considered the matter but, as I have already explained to my hon. Friend, there are no grounds on which to contest their decision.

Call-Up

asked the Minister of Labour the number of youths called up for military service from the iron, steel and tin-plate industries since the withdrawal of the right of deferment; and if he is satisfied that it is in the national interest for youths of military age to be taken for the Armed Forces from such essential industries.

The figures asked for in the first part of the Question are not available. As regards the second part, the arguments in favour of suspending the call-up of young men in the iron and steel and tinplate industry apply with equal force to many other industries. Although special treatment in this respect has been granted in the basic industries of coalmining and agriculture, no further exceptions can be justified.

National Finance

Gold Reserves

63.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether regular weekly statements will be issued on the state of the country's gold reserves.

No, but as has already been announced, a monthly statement will be made about the gross sales of gold which have taken place during the previous month.

Postwar Credits

68.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the fact that elderly people have already received their Postwar credits, he will consider putting on an interest-bearing basis similar to National Savings Certificates all outstanding Postwar credits with a view to preventing one section of the community being penalised against another.

Imports (Hard Currency Areas)

69.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what foodstuffs and raw materials at present required by the United Kingdom are available only from countries which demand either in whole or in part dollars or gold by way of payment.

There are no foodstuffs or raw materials of any importance which are wholly imported from hard currency areas.

Central Office Of Information

70.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how much has been spent on films by the Central Office of Information during the past year; and what percentage is this of the total amount spent by that Office.

The total expenditure on the production and distribution of films by the Central Office of Information from 1st October, 1946, to 30th September, 1947, including staff, was about £923,000. This was about 25 per cent. of the gross expenditure of the Central Office. This includes all the costs of non-theatrical showings in this country.

Excess Profits Tax (Refunds)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total amount of Excess Profits Tax that has been refunded to business firms.

Balance Of Payments

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the size of our adverse balance on current account for the period January-August, 1947; what was the magnitude of our national drawings on the American and Canadian Loans; and if he will give details of the capital transfers in categories, of unrequited exports, payments in respect of the deficit on current account of the sterling area as a whole, other than the United Kingdom, and straightforward net conversion of pounds into dollars.

The United Kingdom adverse balance on current account with the rest of the world is provisionally estimated at £350 million in the first six months of 1947. The corresponding figure for the third quarter is not yet available. In the period January-August, 1947, drawings on the U.S. Loan were £682 million, and on the Canadian Loan £65 million. In reply to the rest of the Question, I am collecting such figures as are available and will circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT

Civil Service (Scientific Officers)

67.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why scientific officers on production duties in the Ministry of Supply and in the Admiralty are not classified and paid as scientists, seeing that they must be fully trained, qualified, and experienced, and that many of them possess research degrees and have had wide research experience.

Scales for the Scientific Officer Class are intended for staff engaged on research and development; those employed on production work receive pay and conditions appropriate to that work. (These matters are, or will be, discussed with the staff representatives in the Departments concerned.)

Baltic Republics (London Assets)

71.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what assets the Baltic Republics, now under Russian control, had in London; and what is happening to the funds accumulating from these sources.

Assets, amounting to under £10 million. They are controlled by the Custodian of Enemy Property, who receives all income arising from them.

Government Departments (Motor Vehicles)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury the number and value of new motor vehicles delivered to Government Departments in the period 1st August, 1945, to 1st August, 1947, and the number of vehicles and the value thereof ordered but not delivered on 1st September, 1947.

From 1st August, 1945, to 31st July, 1947, 40,063 vehicles, costing about £22,928,000 (of which 26,340 were for the Defence Departments and 7,580 for the Post Office), were delivered to Government Departments. There were on order at 31st August, 1947, 7,699 vehicles, costing about £3,368,000, of which 64 were for the Defence Departments and 5,656 for the Post Office.

Trade And Commerce

Business Travellers (Priority)

43.

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many passages on ships leaving this country for East Africa have been given priority in respect of export trade promotion during the past six months; and why such personnel cannot be routed by air so as to expedite trade development and to relieve the pressure on the limited space available in the passenger ships.

During this period the Board of Trade have had occasion to support no requests by business men for priority in air passage to East Africa and only eight for priority in sea transport. The hon. Member will realise, however, that I cannot prescribe which method of travel people shall adopt.

Film Studios (Closing)

72.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether steps will be taken to prevent the temporary closing down of film studios at Hammersmith, Twickenham and Southall of the. Alliance and Cromwell Film Company which are so urgently required to contribute to the production programme of British films.

These studios are being temporarily closed because they need an overhaul and certain structural improvements. The work is not expected to last for more than about eight weeks at each studio, and the management hope by this means to increase the subsequent output of films.

Export Trade Research Organisation

74.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what financial commitments the Government have incurred in respect of the activities of the British Export Trade Research Organisation; what financial support this body is receiving from manufacturers, and export merchants, respectively; and whether in so far as its market research activities are concerned he is satisfied that it provides an essential service meriting assistance from public funds.

An undertaking has been given subject to the grant of the necessary approval by Parliament, to provide an annual contribution for the next five years within a maximum of £150,000 in all up to half of the deficiency between annual expenditure and the revenue from commissions executed, subject to an equivalent contribution from other sources, mainly industry. The revenue derived from members, including manufacturers, merchants and other interests concerned with export trade is expected to meet this charge. The answer to the third part of the question is "Yes."

Anglo-Russian Trade Negotiations

73.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in the recent abortive negotiations for a trade agreement with the U.S.S.R. any request was made by the Soviet representatives for payment either in whole or in part, by way of dollars or gold; or what was the proposed basis of payment.

Our trade negotiations with the U.S.S.R. last summer were conducted on the basis of payment in sterling which was at that time fully expendable

Tilley Mantles

75.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the extreme shortage of Tilley Mantles in rural districts; and whether additional supplies will be available shortly.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) on Tuesday last.

Furniture

76.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give an assurance that the amount of timber which is at present being allocated to the furniture-making industry is the utmost that can be spared from existing stocks; and if he is satisfied that existing stocks of furniture are adequate to meet current demand.

The answer to the first part of the Question is, "Yes." As regards the second part, stocks and current production of Utility furniture are adequate to meet the unit demand though the time taken to fulfil individual orders necessarily varies from case to case.

Newsprint

77.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will give an assurance that there is no intention of making a further cut in news print before Christmas.

No further reduction in the consumption of newsprint by the newspapers is contemplated at present.

New Factories, North-East Area

78.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of factories completed, under construction and approved for the North-East Development Area, giving separate figures for privately financed schemes.

Following is the information:

New Factory Buildings and Extensions of 5,000 sq. ft. and over.
Government Financed.Privately Financed.Total.
Approved211182393
Under Construction.10396199
Completed263965

Bridging Material (Gift To Poland)

79.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what tonnage of Everall bridging material has been supplied to Poland; and what price was charged for this material.

11,000 tons. The material formed part of a gift to the Polish Government out of surplus stores.

Hardwood Stocks

80.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what were the stocks of hardwood in this country at the last convenient date; and how do these stocks compare with those existing at the comparable date last year.

Stocks at the end of August were 15 million cubic feet as compared with 15½ million cubic feet a year previously. My hon. Friend will find further particulars in the Monthly Digest of Statistics published by His Majesty's Stationery Office.,

Production (Industrial Workers)

81.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what has been the percentage drop in production per industrial worker between 1944 and 1947.

It is not possible to give a single figure for production per industrial worker, but the hon. Member may care to refer to the information published in the Monthly Digest of Statistics as to the numbers employed in the principal industries and the output of various products. Some more detailed figures are published on employment in the Ministry of Labour Gazette and on output in the Board of Trade Journal.

Trade Negotiations

82.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what foodstuffs and raw materials at present required by the United Kingdom are being produced by countries with whom trade agreements have not yet been negotiated.

Trade negotiations with a large number of countries are in progress or in prospect and perhaps my hon. Friend would be good enough to specify the countries which he has particularly in mind.

Fuel And Power

Petrol Rationing

84.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will consider enabling some form of basic petrol allowance to be retained, with special reference to the exceptional hardship involved to the small garages whose livelihood is largely dependent on the maintenance of the basic petrol allowance.

87.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware of the concern widely felt at the complete abolition of the basic petrol ration and, as this is likely to impede the nation's economic recovery more than the small saving of dollar expenditure can benefit it, if he will continue a basic ration, even if the amount has to be reduced.

99.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what extent it is possible to buy petrol from non-dollar areas; and whether this will enable him to return the basic petrol allowance in whole or in part.

105 and 114.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power (1) what steps he is taking to obtain petrol from other than dollar sources;(2) If he will reconsider restoring part of the basic petrol ration as its abolition has deprived many people of some relaxation at a time when they are being asked to make a greater effort in the production drive with a consequent lowering of morale.

107.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether in view of the widespread hardship and inconvenience caused by the abolition of the basic petrol ration, he will modify this decision.

118.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will consider a partial restoration of the basic petrol ration, in order to assist those people, to whom it is their only form of relaxation.

I would refer hon. Members to the statement I made on this subject in the House last night.

85 and 86.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power (1) whether a motorist whose car is taxed and insured will be entitled to use it on borrowed petrol or coupons, to meet a sudden emergency such as serious illness, and if so used to apply for supplementary coupons to repay the loan;(2) whether he will permit car owners not granted E or S coupons, but who keep their cars licensed and insured, to obtain by issue of an appropriate number of supplementary coupons enough petrol to keep in the tanks of their car against sudden emergencies such as serious illness requiring the car's immediate use within 25 miles.

I am afraid that it would be impossible to enforce petrol rationing effectively if the exchange or transfer of coupons or petrol were permitted. For the same reason I cannot agree to issue coupons to every car owner for use in a possible emergency.

96.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what special facilities for obtaining petrol coupons he proposes to allow to people who live in remote country districts.

98.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what directives he has issued to his local petroleum officers in connection with the issue of supplementary petrol coupons, especially in the rural areas.

122.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware of the hardship which will be caused in rural areas by the abolition of the basic petrol ration; and what study was made of the conditions in country districts before the recent decision was arrived at.

Special consideration is given to applications for petrol coupons by people living in country districts, to enable them to undertake essential domestic journeys, where public transport facilities are not available, or are such that the applicant cannot reasonably avail himself of them. Essential domestic journeys are regarded as including shopping at the nearest centre (two journeys a week), taking children to school, attending divine service, attendance at hospitals, visits to doctors and dentists, and necessary journeys to railway stations.

97.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he proposes to allocate a petrol ration to ex-Service men who, owing to the present conditions of the country and housing difficulties, are obliged to work in districts at considerable distances from the houses in which their wife and children are living and who have used a motor bicycle to return to their families at week-ends.

Where owing to housing difficulties an ex-Service man or, indeed, anybody is obliged to work in a district at a considerable distance from the house in which his wife and children are living, Regional Petroleum Officers will consider sympathetically the granting of a reasonable number of supplementary coupons to assist him to return home at week-ends by his car or motor cycle where alternative means of transport are not reasonably practicable.

103.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power under what circumstances foreign motorists purchasing British motor cars with foreign currency will be allocated petrol coupons to enable them to use their motor cars during their stay in this country.

Foreign motorists purchasing British motor cars in this country for subsequent export at the end of their stay will continue to receive an allocation of petrol coupons.

106.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the numbers employed by his Department in connection with the rationing of petrol on 1st August, 1947, and on the latest date for which figures are available.

The number of staff employed on petrol rationing on 1st August, 1947, was 1,516, and on 1st October, 1947, was 1,518.

110.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware of the delay in issuing supplementary petrol coupons following the abolition of the basic petrol ration, what increase in the original Petroleum Office staffs has been necessary; and what steps he is proposing to take to accelerate the issue of these coupons in view of the damage to the economic life of the country which is caused by delay in their issue.

The large number of new applications for supplementary petrol rations led to a considerable increase in the work of the Regional Petroleum Offices. 251 additional staff, including a certain number loaned by other Government Departments and other branches of the Ministry have been temporarily attached to these offices to deal with the flood of work and the staff concerned are doing everything in their power by overtime and Sunday work to clear off the arrears.

119.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what arrangements he is making for the issue of petrol coupons where transport facilities are inadequate, and where the basic ration has been used for purposes other than pleasure.

Regional Petroleum Officers are authorised to issue petrol coupons to owners of private cars and motor cycles for business or professional purposes, and for essential domestic purposes where transport facilities are inadequate.

123.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the various classes of the community who will still be permitted to draw petrol rations; and for what purposes such permission will be granted.

Petrol rations are granted to all owners of private cars and motor cycles who show that they need these vehicles for the purpose of their business or profession, or for essential domestic purposes. Disabled persons who are wholly dependent on a car or invalid carriage for getting about, are eligible for a small additional grant for recreational purposes. Allowances are also granted for agricultural and commercial vehicles tractors and plant; for motor boats used for commercial purposes; for vehicles operating under trade plates; for hire cars, taxi cabs, and vehicles used by schools of motoring; private aircraft used for business journeys; for charter aircraft and aircraft owned by flying clubs; and for vehicles and machines used by gliding clubs for launching and retrieving. Petrol is also allowed for miscellaneous commercial purposes such as testing vehicles and machines in factories or workshops.

125.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power when he will reply to requests for information regarding the economies to be effected by the abolition of the basic petrol ration addressed to him on behalf of their constituents by the hon. Members for North-West Camberwell (Mrs. Corbet), Heston and Isleworth (Mr. W. R. Williams), and Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. F. Noel-Baker); and whether he will now have copies of a detailed statement on this subject circulated to those hon. Members who require them,

Replies have now been sent to the hon. Members. On the second part of the Question, I would refer hon. Members to the statement that I made in the House last night.

128.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what action he has taken or is taking to reduce or eliminate the issue of petrol coupons for use in municipal elections; and what is the approximate amount issued for use in the borough elections this year.

His Majesty's Government take the view that petrol allowances must be granted for use in connection with municipal elections. The maximum amounts are agreed with the central offices of the principal political parties. It is not possible to state the amounts actually issued until after the elections

Oil Imports (Sources)

89.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the percentage of oil purchased from dollar sources, in relation to the whole of our imports for the year ended 30th June, 1947.

During the year ended 30th June, 1947, imports of crude oil and finished products from dollar sources amounted to about 49 per cent. of the total oil imports into the United Kingdom. In the case of motor spirit, as I stated last night, the proportion is 62 per cent.

90.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what percentage of the United Kingdom total requirements of oil he estimates could be purchased in Abadan, Persia, for payment in sterling; and whether he will state the reason for not effecting such purchases.

The production of oil at Abadan, together with that of other British-controlled refineries, has to be considered in relation to the needs of the whole sterling area and of our export trade, and not merely in relation to the needs of this country. If more oil from Abadan were brought to this country, this would leave a deficit in another part of the sterling area which would have to be made up with oil from dollar sources. In planning actual shipments of oil, the oil companies naturally aim at meeting the various demands for their products with the minimum over-all movement of oil.

Petrol (Fob Price)

101.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the cost of petrol per gallon f.o.b. ports of lading; and the estimated number of gallons to be saved by the abolition of the basic ration and the cuts in petrol allowances.

The f.o.b. price of petrol varies according to the loading port. At the present moment the mean f.o.b. price at U.S. Gulf ports is equivalent to about 7.4 pence per Imperial gallon. The answer to the second part of the Question is approximately 300 million gallons a year.

Petroleum Hoard (Dissolution)

104.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power when he proposes to wind up the Petrol Distribution Pool.

124.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power when the Petroleum Board is to be abolished; and what increase in staff in the industry is likely to follow the change.

As announced during the Recess arrangements are being made for the dissolution of the Petroleum Board to take place at the beginning of next year. It is not possible at this stage to state the increase in the oil industry's staff which is likely to result, but, I understand it will be quite small, and the engagement of new staff will, of course, be subject to the Control of Engagement Order.

Coke Ovens (Coal Supplies)

108.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware of the recent action of the National Coal Board in deciding that all coke ovens in Yorkshire would have to reduce their through-put of coal by 45 per cent. with the result that gas supplies had to be reduced to industrial undertakings in Yorkshire; and whether arrangements can be made during the forthcoming winter to ensure better arrangements for the allocation of coal to the gas industry and to coke ovens which supply gas so that there will be no recurrence of the dislocation caused by such action.

For a short time during the summer, when coal output in Yorkshire fell sharply because of pit stoppages, instructions had to be given by my Department to reduce the through-put of the Yorkshire coke ovens. This led inevitably to a diminution in gas supplies. The majority of coke ovens in the coalfield areas are not laid out to carry stocks in the same way as gasworks and it is therefore not possible to arrange full protection for them in the event of any severe dislocation of coal supplies. Nevertheless current deliveries were as far as possible diverted to coke ovens in this case—coking coal being brought in from Durham solely for this purpose. Within the limits set by the circumstance I have mentioned, every effort will be made to maintain supplies to the coke ovens this winter.

Logs (Retail Price)

111.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will introduce a maximum price by weight for the retail sale of logs in view of excessive prices now being charged.

I am at the moment examining the practicability of introducing some control over the retail price of logs and will make an announcement in due course.

Charter Aircraft (Fuel Allowance)

113.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the allowance of civil aviation fuel for a charter aeroplane; by how much this has been reduced recently in order to limit fuel imports; and what action he is taking to stop charter flights to race meetings and other such unnecessary journeys, so as to remove a grievance of those denied recreational facilities by the withdrawal of the basic petrol ration.

Prior to 1st October, the allowances of civil aviation fuel granted to companies operating charter or taxi flights provided for a maximum of 75 flying hours a month for each aircraft. As from that date the allowances have been cut by 10 per cent. I doubt if it would be practicable to place further restrictions on the use of charter aircraft.

Domestic Coal

115.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what percentage of the allocation of domestic coal for the period from 1st May has been received in the London area; what should have been the average amount per premises distributed; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure that consumers who have not received the average entitlement by the end of the present allocation period, 31st October, do not lose their coal.

During the period 1st May to 18th October receipts of house coal in the London Region amounted to 89.4 per cent. of the programmed allocation after making the normal allowances for colliery holidays. The maximum permitted for delivery in the South is 15 cwt. per registered household during the summer period. Up to 18th October deliveries to domestic consumers in London averaged just over 10 cwt. per registered household, which is at approximately the same rate as last summer. With regard to the last part of the Question, merchants have instructions to give preference during the winter, within the maximum of 24 cwt. prescribed for that period, to small consumers who, for lack of storage space or other reasons, have been unable to stock during the summer. Moreover, if a consumer should suffer hardship during the winter because he has received less than the average supply up to the end of October, he should seek the assistance of the local fuel overseer.

121.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what percentage of the allocation of domestic coal for the period from 1st May, 1947, has been received in the county of Norfolk; what should have been the average amount delievered per premises; and what has been the average amount delivered per premises.

During the period 1st May to 18th October, receipts of house coal in the county of Norfolk amounted to about 95 per cent. of the programmed allocation, after making the normal allowances for colliery holidays. Under the existing restrictions not more than 15 cwt. may be delivered to any registered premises between 1st May and 31st October, except under licence. Disposals to domestic consumers in the county between 1st May and 18th October averaged 15.8 cwt. per registered household, including deliveries made under licence from local fuel overseers to consumers who rely on coal for cooking or have other special needs.

Local Fuel Overseers

116.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many of the London boroughs have full-time fuel overseers appointed as such; and how many have other arrangements.

There are 95 local authorities in the London Metropolitan Police District responsible for appointment of local fuel overseers, of which 26 have appointed full-time local fuel overseers. In the other 69 areas an officer of the local authority acts as local fuel overseer in a part-time capacity.

117.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is satisfied that the town clerk of Wands-worth, in view of his many other duties, is in a position efficiently to discharge the important duties of fuel overseer; and whether, in view of the fact that Wands-worth is the largest London borough, he will approve the salary of a full-time fuel overseer as a charge upon his Department's vote.

The answer to the first part of the Question is "Yes." With regard to the second part there is at Wands-worth under the local fuel overseer a staff of 20 persons, including a full-time deputy local fuel overseer, whose salaries are refunded by the exchequer. I know of no reason for changing these arrangements, although I am, of course, prepared to consider any proposals the local authority may wish to make.

Coal-Oil Conversion

126.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will give an assurance that all those individual firms who have been permitted to convert their plant from coal burning to oil firing will receive adequate supplies of oil fuel during the forthcoming winter; and what steps have been taken to overcome distribution difficulties.

Arrangements have been made for adequate supplies of oil to firms that have completed their conversion from coal, but in view of the rapid increase in the rate of conversion it has been necessary for the Petroleum Board to warn certain firms whose conversion was due to take effect this winter to continue to use coal until oil supplies can be guaranteed. Oil distribution facilities are being expanded so that the period of waiting can be reduced as much as possible.

127.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether it is intended that the 10 per cent. cut in petrol avail able for commercial vehicles should apply to vehicles used by firms primarily concerned with the export trade.

The 10 per cent. cut is being applied to all goods vehicles but Regional Transport Commissioners are authorised to grant supplementary allowances wherever an operator can prove his need.

Gas Undertakings (Oil Subsidy)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he has made any decision regarding the subsidy paid by the Government to the gas industry for the use of oil in the making of gas.

Yes. The subsidy will be terminated on 31st October, which is the end of the current six monthly period. I have made an Order (Statutory Rules and Orders 1947 No. 2242) which authorises undertakings to recover from consumers such increases in the charges as they may have to make as a result of the cessation of the subsidy.

Petrol Purchases (Payment)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what extent petrol is being purchased direct from the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in which His Majesty's Government has a controlling interest; whether payment is made in sterling or dollars; why His Majesty's Government cannot purchase their own products in a soft currency; and, whether he is satisfied that purchases are made from the Iraq Petroleum Company on terms favourable to this country, or to what extent the free flow of petrol is prevented by international arrangements.

The only direct purchases of petrol made by His Majesty's Government from the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company are those made by the Services. These are paid for in sterling. No petrol is purchased from the Iraq Petroleum Company as it disposes of its production as crude oil. I know of no international arrangement which is preventing the free flow of petrol.

British Electricity Authority (Membership)

88.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will give the names of the persons he has appointed to the British Electricity Authority, their salaries, their other remuneration, and the duties allotted to them.

The names of the persons appointed to the British Electricity Authority (as announced in the Press during the Recess) are:

Lord Citrine, K.B.E. (Chairman).
Sir Henry Self, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., K.B.E. (Deputy Chairman).
Mr. J. Hacking, M.I.E.E. (Deputy Chairman).
Mr. E. W. Bussey.
and the following part-time members:

Dame Caroline Haslett, D.B.E., Comp.I.E.E.
Alderman Sir Wm. Walker, J.P., M.I.E.E.
Lt.-Col. E. H. E. Woodward, M.C., T.D., B.Sc. (Eng.), M.I.E.E.

The salary of the Chairman is £8,500, and the Deputy Chairman is £5,000; full time members £3,500 and part-time members £1,000 per annum. In addition, there are four Chairman designate of Area Boards, namely:

Mr. J. Eccles, Merseyside and North Wales.
Alderman W. Lewis, Midland.
Mr. J. S. Pickles, South West Scotland.
Mr. H. J. Randall, London.

These gentlemen cannot be appointed to the British Electricity Authority until the Area Boards have been formally constituted, and they will not receive remuneration for their services as part-time members of the British Electricity Authority.

Coal Industry

Opencast Operations, Lyme Park

91.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what consultations have taken place between his and other Ministries regarding a proposal to undertake opencast coal working at Lyme Park, Cheshire; whether he is aware that the land affected is National Trust property lying within the area of a proposed National Park; and whether he will undertake to arrange for a public inquiry whose terms of reference will include the finding, if possible, of an alternative site for the purpose in view.

102.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will make a statement with regard to the proposal for opencast coal workings at Lyme Park.

A meeting, attended by representatives of the four Government Departments concerned, and of other organisations including the National Trust, interested in Lyme Park, took place on 20th October at Lyme Hall. The occasion of the meeting was my Department's proposal to undertake prospecting operations on the moorland, within the area of the Park, with a view to determining whether the coal believed to exist there was suitable for opencast operations. No decision was taken at the meeting, but I shall be considering the report on it with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Town and Country Planning, and a statement as to future action will be made as soon as possible.

Prices

92.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the average cost per ton of coal at the pit head, and the average prices per ton on delivery to domestic and industrial consumers in London, Birmingham and North Staffordshire.

In reply to the first part of the Question, this information will be published shortly in the Quarterly Statement of Costs of Production, Proceeds and Profits. The answer to the second part of the Question is as follows:Delivered prices per ton to industrial consumers vary considerably according to quality of the coal and the cost of transport and it is not possible to give an average price. Domestic coal is scheduled under the Retail Coal Prices Order, 1941, and the average retail delivered prices per ton of representative grades of domestic coal are approximately:

sd.
Central London8310
Birmingham City762
North Staffordshire (Stoke and Burslem)7011

Clerical And Administrative Workers

94.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will give an estimate of the total number of persons engaged on clerical and administrative duties in the mining industry at 1st October, 1946, and the total number in the same categories on 1st October, 1947, and the respective salary costs.

Information on this matter has already been published in the Press by the chairman of the National Coal Board. I am sending the hon. Member a summary.

Foreign Workers

95.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how much money, in the form of wages, has been paid to Polish and other nationals who have been trained and who are ready for work in the mines but whose employment has been objected to by the trades unions concerned.

As my right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and National Service has explained on a number of occasions in this House, local trade union objections resulted in placing delays in a proportion of cases during the early stages of the campaign to recruit Polish workers to the mines. In the majority of such cases the delay involved was less than a week. The amount of wages paid in these cases in respect of the period between completion of training and placing in colliery employment could not be ascertained without a disproportionate amount of work which I do not propose to ask the National Coal Board to undertake. I am informed by the National Coal Board, however, that no Pole or other foreign national who has completed training and is ready for work in coalmining is now unemployed as a result of objection by the trade union concerned.

Future Output Estimates

109.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he can give full particulars as to the grounds on which the European Economic Conference was informed that this country expects a coal output of 214 million tons in 1948 and 249 million tons in 1951; and in particular what was the information about the numbers of miners, absenteeism, percentages, output per manshift and increased supply of mechanical mining devices which were used in arriving at this conclusion.

I am afraid it would not be possible to deal with a matter of this complexity in answer to a Parliamentary Question.

Quarterly Statistical Statement

112.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power when the quarterly statistical statement of the costs of production, proceeds and profits of the coal mining industry for the first quarter of 1947 will be presented to Parliament.

The form to be adopted for this statement is under discussion with the National Coal Board and will, I hope, be settled shortly. The statement will then be published as quickly as possible.

Bristol Coalfield (Development)

129.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps are being taken to re-open the old mines, and sink new ones in the Bristol coalfield.

I understand from the National Coal Board that a complete geological survey of this coalfield is on the point of completion. The planning of future development will be based on the information provided by this survey.

Married Women (National Status)

130.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when it is intended to grant British nationality to British-born women who married allied nationals during the war.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 27th October to a similar Question by the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T Moore).

Maintenance Allowances

131.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the greatly increased cost of living since 1920, it is proposed to revise the scale of allowances fixed under the Married Woman's (Maintenance) Act, 1930, which axe totally in adequate for present-day needs.

I regret that I cannot hold out hope of legislation on this subject at the present time.

Police

Numerical Strength

132.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will state the authorised strength of the police force in England and Wales at 30th September, 1947, or the nearest convenient date; and actual strength on the same date, and whether he will further state the number of men recruited into the police force since 1st January, 1946, and the number who have resigned since that date, distinguishing those who at the time of their resignation had less than 15 years' service from those who had more than 15 years' service.

On 30th September, 1947, the aggregate authorised male establishment of the police forces in England and Wales was 66,935 and the actual regular strength 54,324, while the female establishment and strength were respectively 1,283 and 835. Since 1st January, 1946, about 14,000 men have been recruited and about 11,400 men have resigned, of whom approximately 25 per cent. had less than 15 years' service.

Pay And Conditions

133.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he proposes to set up a committee to inquire into the pay and conditions obtaining in the police forces in England and Wales.

This Committee will be set up in 1949 to recommend for the Secretary of State's consideration scales of pay and conditions to become operative on 1st January, 1950, on the expiry of the agreement reached by the Police Council on 5th November, 1946.

137.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that the pay, conditions and pensions of the police force are adequate for the class of personnel required; and what action he proposes to take to lessen the number of resignations therefrom.

I am fully satisfied with the quality of the recruits now entering the police service, but the question whether general conditions are such as to attract and retain recruits in the numbers required depends upon a number of factors, not all of which are within my control. The present rates of pay are based upon an agreement reached on the Police Council in November last. Pension conditions are now being discussed by the Council.

Duties

139.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what new duties will be placed upon the police by the abolition of the basic petrol ration; what addition to police establishments will these require; and whether he is satisfied that the police can undertake these further responsibilities without detriment to their existing ones.

In this as in other respects the duty of the police will be to deal with breaches of the law. No additions to police establishments will be needed for this purpose and I have no reason to think that they will be unable to carry out their duties in this respect without detriment to their other responsibilities.

Alimony (Legislation)

134.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation in the present Session to improve the existing procedure for the payment of alimony in England and Scotland.

I regret that I cannot hold out any hope that it will be possible to find time for legislation on this subject in the present session.

Premises, Bermondsey (Police Search)

135.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that on nth October two men, one of whom represented himself as a police officer, entered and searched the premises at Nos. 67 and 69, Pages Walk, Bermondsey, London; whether either of the two men referred to were police officers; and what authority they had for entering and searching the premises referred to.

I am informed that one of the men was a police officer, and that he entered and searched the premises with the consent and indeed on the invitation of the occupiers. The other man, according to my information, took no active part in the search.

Bathing Accidents Tower Bridge

136.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether his attention has been called to the recent bathing fatalities at Tower Bridge; and whether he is satisfied that all possible precautions are taken to protect those bathing there.

Boundary Commission Reports

138.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has received the reports of the Boundary Commissions relating to parliamentary redistribution; and at what date will these reports be published.

I have received the reports of the Boundary Commissions for England and for Northern Ireland, but not that for Wales. The report for Northern Ireland will be published towards the end of next week. I am not yet able to give dates for the publication of the other reports.

Prisons And Borstal Institutions (Dietary)

140.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the calorific value of the daily food supplied in jails and workhouses in Great Britain in 1938 and 1947, respectively.

As regards workhouses, the question is one for my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Health. The answer as regards prisons and Borstal Institutions contains a number of figures and I will circulate the answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

In 1938 the diet for men in prisons contained from 2,994 and 4,200 calories per diem, and for women from 2,542 to 2,901 calories per diem, depending in both cases on the form of labour at which the prisoners were employed and the length of their sentence.

At Borstal institutions for boys the diet contained 3,775 calories per diem, and at Borstal institutions for girls 2,669 calories per diem.

In 1947 the diet for male prisoners contained from 2,923 to 2,955 calories per diem, and for women 2,541 to 2,605.

The diet for male young prisoners contained from 2,987 to 3,051 calories, and for female young prisoners 2,521 to 2,585 calorics per diem.

At Borstal institutions for boys the diet contained 3,261 to 3,389 calories per diem, and at Borstal institutions for girls 3,095 to 3,223 calories per diem.

Convicts (Discharge Arrangements)

141.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will reinstitute the system of sending convicts from Dartmoor Prison to a discharge prison in London for one month before discharge, instead of discharging them on the spot as at present.

The practice of transferring convicts to a London prison before discharge was discontinued in 1910. The existing arrangements have worked satisfactorily since that date and I know of no reason to change them.

Public Meetings Hackney

142.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the public announcement that Sir Oswald Mosley will speak at an early date in Ridley Road, in the Central Hackney Division; and what steps he proposes to take to prevent this.

I have seen Press reports to this effect. I have no power to decide who shall or shall not be allowed to speak at a public meeting. It will be the duty of the police to preserve order and to maintain the peace.

Poor Persons Defence (Counsel's Fee)

143.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that counsel accepting Defence Certificates under the Poor Persons Defence Act, 1930, cannot receive more than ten guineas however long a case lasts; and whether he will amend the regulations so as to provide a maximum ten guineas for each week.

I recognise that the maximum tee allowed under the existing regulations to counsel under a Defence certificate may in cases of exceptional length be inadequate. As my hon. Friend will be aware, the Rushclifte Committee recommended that the basis upon which counsel and solicitor employed under the Poor Prisoners Defence Act should be remunerated should be the amount of work involved in each case. Whether it would be desirable to make new regulations under the Act at this stage is, I think, doubtful, but I am considering the whole matter.

Vivisection (Experiments)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many experiments on horses, asses and mules were performed under the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876, during the year 1946.

These are the animals for which a special certificate "F" is required. The number of experiments during 1946 was 229 (190 "A and F"—i.e., without anaesthetics, and 39 "B and F"—i.e, with anaesthetics). Our records do not show how many of the animals were horses, asses and mules respectively: generally speaking it is the horse which is used.

Probation Statistics

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the number of persons, divided according to age and sex, placed on probation under the supervision of a Probation Officer in 1946.

The figures are as follow:

Age Group.Males.Females.Total.
Under 149,0426949,736
14 and under 176,5988017,399
17 and under 213,4531,0984,551
21 and over3,2452,0965,341
Total22,3384,68927,027

Child Care

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the estimated cost to the taxpayer and how many persons, men and women, will be employed in the new scheme for caring for children who have not the benefit of home life.

I should not feel justified in giving estimates of the kind referred to in advance of the introduction of legislation designed to secure improved standards of care of children deprived of a normal home life.

Ministry Of Works

Disabled Persons' Employment Centre, Oldham

144 and 145.

asked the Minister of Works (1) what is the reason for the delay in opening Collinges' Mill, Oldham, as a disabled persons' employment centre; (2) what work has been done in connection with the adaptation of Collinges' Mill, Oldham, as a disabled persons' employment centre, between 1st October, 1946, and 1st October, 1947.

Vacant possession of this building was obtained in March, 1947, and good progress was made until the shortage of cement delayed the completion of the work. On 1st October, 1947, however, the adaptations were about 70 per cent. complete and better progress is now being made.

Building Licences

asked the Minister of Works whether he will now direct that a copy of every licence for building work stating the nature of the work and the amount of its monetary limit shall be posted prominently on the site where such work is being undertaken.

No; this suggestion has been very carefully examined on previous occasions but its adoption was not found practicable or desirable.

asked the Minister of Works whether he will now revise the system whereby licences for building work are granted in respect of bomb-damaged premises and those to which dangerous structure notices apply, so as to have regard to the purposes for which the premises are being used or intended to be used; and whether he will withhold licences except for essential industrial purposes.

The purpose of the premises is already taken, into account with the other relevant factors in giving decisions upon applications for licences for bomb damage repair. In cases where dangerous structure notices have been issued the main consideration must be the possible danger to the public or to the occupant. With regard to the last part of the Question, it is not possible to confine the issue of licences to industrial purposes.

Ministry Of Supply

Transport Pools (Petrol Consumption)

146.

asked the Minister of Supply the amount of petrol used in the year 1946 and over the first six months of the year 1947 by Ministry of Supply transport pools in the United Kingdom.

Surplus Vehicles, Cornbury Park (Sale)

asked the Minister of Supply (1) whether he will consult with the Minister of Agriculture to arrange for sale to farmers of the vehicles and trailers at present deteriorating in Cornbury Park;(2) what action he is taking to avoid damage from weather to vehicles kept in Cornbury Park, such as occurred in the winter 1946–47; and when he expects to disperse the vehicle park kept in Cornbury Park.

These vehicles, which have only just been handed over to the Ministry of Supply for disposal will be sold by auction next January. The sale will be widely advertised in the Press, including farming journals, and farmers will have an opportunity of purchasing suitable vehicles. I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War that anti-frost precautions have been taken.

Coaching Tours (Petrol Allocations)

148.

asked the Minister of Transport whether, in view of the abolition of the basic petrol ration, it is proposed to make any change in the regulations governing petrol allocations for coaching tours and the chartering of buses for pleasure trips.

Not at present. The position is carefully watched, as it is not the practice to issue fuel to operators for pleasure trips which would interfere with the maintenance of their other services.

Long Leaseholds

149.

asked the Attorney-General whether he is in a position to make any announcement of the intentions of the Government with reference to the reform of long leaseholds, and with particular reference to the hardship which is entailed at the termination of such leases in present conditions.

This matter is receiving consideration, but I am not at present in a position to make any announcement.

Germany

Petrol Allowance

150.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the basic petrol ration for private car owners in the British zone of Germany.

As I informed the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. D. Marshall) on 27th October, there is no basic petrol ration for private car owners in the British zone.

Tyres

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what quantity of tyres have been imported into Germany; what proportion is from British sources; and what steps are being taken to enable occupied Germany to be self-supporting in this direction.

About 45,000 tyres have been imported into the Combined Anglo-American zones, of which 8,000 came from the United Kingdom. Twenty-two thousand tons of rubber and appropriate quantities of textiles have been imported into the Combined zones this year for the manufacture of tyres. Arrangements are being made for further imports to raise production of lorry tyres from the present figure of about 40,000 a month to nearer capacity (80,000 tyres a month) as quickly as coal allocations and the training of skilled labour permit.

Economic Conference, Paris (Paper)

asked the Minister of Supply why about 11 tons of paper of the wrong type was sent to Paris about the end of August and had to be replaced; what was the cost to the taxpayer in transport by air and delay; and if he will take disciplinary action against those concerned.

I have been asked to reply. During the early stages of the Economic Co-operation Conference at Paris, it became evident that the local supplies of paper available to the International Secretariat were insufficient to meet a special and urgent demand. At the request of the Secretariat, the United Kingdom Delegation undertook to assist and the necessary paper was obtained from London. This paper which was of the type asked for, was sent to Paris in the freight space available on aircraft which had already been chartered to carry official passengers for the conference who could not be accommodated on the ordinary services. There was accordingly no additional cost to the taxpayer in respect of transport of this paper by air. Of the large amount of paper sent to Paris, only a small proportion, no longer required, was later returned to London; the means of transport was again the aircraft chartered for official passengers and so no extra cost to the taxpayer resulted. The question of disciplinary action does not, therefore, arise.

Armed Forces (Petrol Consumption)

151.

asked the Minister of Defence to what extent he has cut the petrol allowance to units of the Armed Forces.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave yesterday to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea (Commander Noble).

asked the Minister of Defence what is the amount of petrol consumed by the Armed Forces of the Crown for twelve months, to the most recent convenient date for estimation.

During the year ended 30th June, 1947, the Armed Forces consumed approximately 1,065,000 tons of motor spirit.

Anti-Invasion Obstacles, Colchester Area

152.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the anxiety felt at the failure to clear anti-invasion obstructions from the Rivers Blackwater and Colne; whether he has considered correspondence from the Colchester Borough Council and the West Mersey Urban District Council forwarded to him by the hon. Member for Colchester giving evidence of loss of life due to this failure; when the Colchester Borough Council may expect to receive a reply from the Admiralty to their letter of 29th August on this subject; and what steps it is proposed to take.

The clearance of anti-invasion obstacles from this area has been referred to the Regional Committee set up by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works; whether or not clearance is in the public interest will be decided by that committee. The correspondence mentioned in the Question has now been referred to my Department, who are considering it.

British Army

Vehicle Reserve Depot, Leicestershire (Civilians)

asked the Secretary of State for War how many civilian employees are employed in connection with the War Office at Donnington Park, Leicestershire.

On the assumption that my hon. Friend is referring to the Vehicle Reserve depot at Breedon-on-the-Hill, 397.

Establishments, Leicestershire (Petrol)

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the estimated consumption of petrol during the last 12 months, to the most convenient date for estimation, at Donnington Park, Leicestershire, Church Broughton, Leicestershire, and Gopsall Park, Leicestershire, respectively.

The consumption of petrol at these establishments for the 12 months ended 30th September, 1947, was:

Gallons
Donnington Park160,000
Church Broughton71,000
Gopsall Park72,000

Infantry Training Camp, Omagh

asked the Secretary of State for War if it is intended in the near future to close the Infantry Training Camp at Lisonally, Omagh, Co. Tyrone.

Transjordan Frontier Force (Headquarters)

asked the Secretary of State for War why, in view of the clear declaration by His Majesty's Government of their intention to withdraw from Palestine, it was found necessary to transfer the headquarters of the Transjordan Frontier Force to the Jewish village of Rosh Pinal.

The Headquarters of the Transjordan Frontier Force have been moved to Rosh Pina camp for administrative reasons. They are not stationed in the Jewish village of Rosh Pina, but in a camp about one mile from the village. Units of the Middle East Command have been stationed at this camp for several years. His Majesty's Government still remain responsible for the administration of Palestine and it is a function of the Army to assist the civil government in the maintenance of law and order. The military authorities must, therefore, be free to deploy troops under their command for the fulfilment of this function.

Austria (Mail)

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the long delays in mail dispatched from Austria by British troops to this country; and what steps he is taking to ensure early deliveries of such mail.

No, I am not aware that this mail is subject to long delays. If the hon. and gallant Member will let me have details of any specific cases of delay I will have them looked into.

Fishing Industry

153.

asked the Minister of Agriculture what action has been taken or is proposed to implement the recommendation contained in paragraph 35 of the Report of the Court of Inquiry into the Stoppage of Work in the Trawler Fishing Industry (1946) which was to the effect that there should be a full inquiry into the distribution of fish and other matters connected with the industry.

The Departments concerned have very full information about the fishing industry and it is considered that no useful purpose would be served by holding a further inquiry.

National Insurance

Unemployment Fund

154.

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he will state the aggregate sums paid into and out of the Unemployment Insurance Fund for each of the two year periods to 31st August, 1939, and 31st August, 1947, respectively.

In the two years ended 31st August, 1939, the total receipts of the Unemployment Fund were about £136 million and the total payments about £107 million (excluding payments in connection with the debt which then existed). In the two years ended 31st August, 1947, the corresponding figures were £190 million and £60 million.

Old Age Pensions

asked the Minister of National Insurance what would be the approximate estimated cost of paying persons aged 70 and over, who have contributed under the National Insurance Scheme for 10 years or more, during any period or periods, from the beginning of the scheme a pension of 10s. per week.

I regret that there are no figures available which would enable a reliable estimate to be made.

Burnham Committee Recommendations

asked the Minister of Education whether he is aware that the recently published Burnham Award provides an increment in the salary of a teacher who has achieved Honours in his First Degree, but makes no such concession in the case of graduates who have taken a Higher Degree, representing, notably in the case of London University, a considerable additional period of study with corresponding expense to the graduate; and whether he will remove this inequality.

The publication, to which the hon. Member refers, was not an award but a summary of the main recommendations of the Burnham Committee issued on the Committee's responsibility. I cannot comment on particular recommendations, which have not as yet been officially submitted to me.

Tomato Distribution, Newport Pagnell

asked the Minister of Food whether he will look into the case, particulars of which are given, where officials had transferred to them the rights of a dispossessed nurseryman, Mr. Peach, including his retail food licence, and employed German prisoners of war to produce, and members of the W.L.A. to sell, tomatoes by retail at a stall adjoining the highway which was the livelihood of the dispossessed proprietor; and why his officials refused to allow the dispossessed proprietor to purchase produce from his own holding to re-sell by retail in his normal way of business.

Since the Tomato Distribution Scheme was discontinued on 5th September, Mr. Peach has been free to purchase tomatoes from any supplier able and willing to supply him. The position before that date was fully explained in reply to the hon. Member's Question on 31st July last, and in the letter sent to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food on 6th September. Any question as to the circumstances in which, in 1941, Mr. Peach was dispossessed of his property under the Defence Regulations and on the administration of the property since that date should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture.

Royal Navy (Commissioned Ships)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will give a detailed comparison between classes and numbers of His Majesty's ships in full commission on 3rd September, 1939, at the present time, and as anticipated on 31st December, 1948.

It is impossible to forecast with any degree of accuracy the numbers of His Majesty's ships in the various classes that will be in full commission in December, 1948; and, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence indicated on 23rd October, considerations of security do not at present admit of the publication of such figures for a current date. I regret, therefore, that the comparative statement requested cannot be given.

Malayan Union (Banishments)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why Mr. Fooi Hong, a member of the Malay Anti-Japanese Peoples' Army, following his acquittal in the local courts, was deported without trial.

I would refer to my reply of 29th October to my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton West (Mr. H. D. Hughes).

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what are the powers of the Governor of the Federated Malay States to banish a citizen without trial; and whether it is proposed to vary these powers.