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Written Answers

Volume 446: debated on Friday 23 January 1948

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Written Answers To Questions

Friday, 23rd January, 1948

Production (Wages And Hours)

asked the Prime Minister what steps the Government propose to take to prevent increase in wages or reduction in working hours where there is no compensating increase in production; and which Ministers are responsible for averting the spiral of inflation against which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has issued a warning.

It is the Government's policy to entrust to organised industry the responsibility for determining terms and conditions of employment, but the Government have taken all steps to inform the two sides and the country generally of the full facts of our economic position and of the overriding need for maximum production, and for avoiding any action which would increase costs. I would emphasize the appeal which I have already made to workers in all industries and employments not to press at this time for increases of wages or changes in conditions which would have a similar effect. As regards the second part of the Question, this is a responsibility shared by all Ministers.

National Finance

Snow Boots (Customs Confiscation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why a pair of snow boots declared at Newry Customs house on 10th October at 6.10 p.m. has been confiscated, although the owner declared these boots to the Customs Officials and offered to pay the full duty.

These goods were imported into Northern Ireland after 5 p.m., contrary to the Customs (Land Boundary) Regulations, and are forfeited on that ground. The restriction of hours has been in force since 1923 and special publicity was given to it last September. The hours could not be extended without an inordinate increase in staff, economy in which is particularly necessary at the present time.

Note Issue

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether in view of the damage to our credit involved in the question of a new note issue, he will make a statement on the future policy of the Bank of England in this matter.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. William Paling).

Jamaica (Tourists)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make representations to the authorities in Jamaica with a view to visitors from the United Kingdom to Jamaica being allowed the same privileges as United States citizens, who are required to fill up only a simple tourist landing card, whereas United Kingdom residents have to fill in both an embarkation card and an immigration card giving much more detailed information.

I have consulted the Governor of Jamaica on this subject, and will communicate with the hon. Member as soon as I have received his reply.

Food Supplies

Milk Distribution (Report)

asked the Minister of Food when the report on milk distribution will be published.

I have received the report this week and will consider publication as soon as I have read it.

Subsidies And Prices

asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the food agreement with Canada at an increased price, he will be considering an increase in the food subsidy or an increase in the price of the commodities affected.

As announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his financial statement on 12th November, 1947, £392 million is being provided during the current year for food subsidies. It may be necessary, it buying prices overseas continue to move against us, to increase selling prices in order to keep within that ceiling. It does not, however, follow that increased selling prices in this country will necessarily be related to increased buying prices for particular commodities paid to particular countries.

Royal Dental Hospital (Repairs)

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the facts submitted to him, he will authorise the immediate issue of a supplementary licence for a grant to the Royal Dental Hospital of London for urgent war damage repairs necessary for the protection of patients and staff and maintenance of efficient working of the hospital.

I have recommended to the Ministry of Works a licence, which I am informed has now been issued, for work amounting to £3,000 with priority for materials and an immediate starting date.

Public Health

Infantile Paralysis

asked the Minister of Health the total number of cases of infantile paralysis which have occurred to date in the Navy, Army and R.A.F. since the outbreak of the present epidemic; the total number of cases amongst school children and school staff; and the total amongst the remainder of the civil population.

I am informed that the number of cases in the United Kingdom reported to the Services Departments in 1947 up to the latest dates in October or November for which figures are available was 242. On the last two parts of the Question present information is as follows. During 1947 the number of primary notifications in England and Wales, including non-civilian, was 9,199, but corrections due to revised diagnosis may be expected to reduce this number by about one-fifth. Analysis by age-groups is not yet available, but probably about 35 per cent. of the cases were children of school age. I am unable to say how many cases there were among school staff.

St Leonard's Hospital Shoreditch

asked the Minister of Health if he is now in a position to announce his decision regarding the London County Council's appeal against the proposal that St. Leonard's Hospital, Shoreditch, should cease to be a training place for probationer nurses.

Matrimonial Causes (Poor Persons)

asked the Attorney-General if he will give the cost of the services provided by the State in the last financial year in facilitating the divorce proceedings of those who cannot afford the full fees and expenses involved.

The grant-in-aid to the Law Society for poor persons' litigation covers a small proportion of proceedings other than proceedings in matrimonial causes. In the year ending 31st March, 1947, the proportion of this grant which is estimated to have been expended on poor persons' matrimonial causes was £209,670. It is not possible to estimate what proportion of the total cost of the administration of justice (including the salaries of Judges and Commissioners and kindred services) in the period in question ought to be attributed to the disposal of these causes.