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Written Answers

Volume 446: debated on Tuesday 27 January 1948

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 27th January, 1948

Employment

Working Population (Analysis)

8.

asked the Minister of Labour if he will give an analysis of the actual additions to the civilian working population during the calendar year 1947, by comparison with the estimates made in the Economic Survey for 1947.

Figures for the full year 1947 will not be available until mid-February. Changes during the first II months of the year are analysed in detail in an article in the January issue of the "Ministry of Labour Gazette," a copy of which will be placed in the Library.

Prisoners Of War

11.

asked the Minister of Labour why in view of the shortage of nurses, the work for which German prisoners of war are allowed to remain, is not extended to those who are, or have reasonable prospects of becoming, trained hospital nurses.

There are no arrangements for German prisoners of war to be allowed to remain indefinitely for employment in agriculture, but only for a limited period to meet the special needs of the coming months. In selecting foreign workers for employment as trained hospital nurses it is clearly better to select those who will not soon have to be repatriated.

12.

asked the Minister of Labour why the employment of German prisoners of war, who are being allowed to remain as civilians, is limited to agricultural work.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeffington-Lodge) on 30th October, 1947, of which I am sending him a copy.

Registration

14.

asked the Minister of Labour, how many persons of each category have registered under the Registration for Employment Order; and how many according to his computation were liable to register.

The number of persons registered as street traders under the Registration for Employment Order, 1947, in the towns covered by the registration notices, during the week ending 10th January, 1948, was 13,174. No estimate of the number liable to register is available. The numbers registered in the other categories referred to will be announced as soon as they are available.

asked the Minister of Labour if he will issue a tabular statement showing the number of male and female persons who have registered under the Registration for Employment Order 1947, in the following categories: persons not gainfully employed, street traders, and persons registered by their employers, giving separate figures for England, Scotland and Wales.

The number of persons registered as street traders under the Registration for Employment Order, 1947, in the towns covered by the registration notices, during the week ending 10th January, 1948, was as follows:—

England12,517
Wales131
Scotland526
Total Great Britain13,174
The total for Great Britain includes 250 women. The numbers registered in the other categories referred to are not yet available.

Road Maintenance Workers

19.

asked the Minister of Labour how many of the 20,000 men who are to be taken off road maintenance work have so far been taken on as agricultural labourers.

This information is not available. It would be quite impracticable to maintain records showing for each individual leaving a particular industry, whether he has gone into agriculture or on to something else, particularly as men are free to take agricultural employment without reference to the employment exchanges.

Appointments Branch (Staff)

asked the Minister of Labour what is the total number of officials of all grades in the Appointments Branch; and the total annual cost of maintaining this service.

At 1st January, 1948, the following staff were in post:—

Regional Appointments Offices1,526
Nursing Appointments Offices217
Headquarters297
2,040
Up to date figures for the cost of the Appointments Department are at present being worked out and I will write to my hon. Friend when they are available.

National Service

Releases And Discharges

9.

asked the Minister of Labour when he expects to be in a position to announce the programme of releases and discharges from His Majesty's Forces during the first six months of 1948.

The programme of releases and discharges from the Forces during the first six months of 1948 has already been announced. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the statement I issued to the Press on 9th January.

Conscientious Objectors (Appeals)

10.

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that a conscientious objector who appeals against the rejection of his application for military exemption and yet is willing to accept alternative work of national importance, may serve the major portion of a six months' sentence of imprisonment because of the infrequent meeting of the Appellate Tribunal; and whether appellate tribunals will meet less infrequently.

My hon. Friend has written about an individual case, which is not typical, and I have explained the circumstances in full. All possible steps will be taken to ensure that appeals in this kind of case are disposed of as quickly as practicable.

British Army

War Graves, North-West Europe (Visits)

39.

asked the Secretary of State for War what progress he is making in his plans for next of kin to visit war graves in North-West Europe.

Arrangements have been made by which visits may be paid to war graves in all countries in North-West Europe other than Germany. Persons visiting war graves may pay their return fares in sterling to a travel agency in this country without formality. Those who are visiting the graves of a close relative are allowed foreign exchange to cover their expenses on the journey on application to the Bank of England through any bank in the United Kingdom. The amount of foreign exchange allowed is limited to £10 for destinations in Europe. As my right hon. Friend said in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) last week, there are difficulties of transport and accommodation in the way of allowing visits to war graves in Germany. He is, however, having the possibility of allowing relatives to visit some cemeteries further investigated.

Surplus Vehicles, Germany

42.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many of the 77,000 vehicles parked in Germany, of which some 6,000 have been handed over to the disposal authorities, and the 11,263 taken into workshops for repair have now been transferred to local authorities for their use; and how many have been taken in for repair since the 17th November, 1947, or near date.

Transfer of surplus Army vehicles to German local authorities is not carried out by the War Department, but by the Control Commission for Germany, who have, I understand, recently made available approximately 4,700 vehicles to local authorities. Some 4,300 vehicles have been taken into workshops for repair since 17th November.

Compassionate Leave

95.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will again review the policy now prevailing of refusal to grant compassionate leave to unmarried soldiers willing to marry the mothers of their babies, in order to legitimise them before birth.

I have already reviewed the policy and am of opinion that the present arrangement whereby each case brought to notice is judged on its merits is the most satisfactory. I am, however, keeping the matter under review, and should any modification be desirable I will carry it out.

Withdrawn Forces, Palestine (Postings)

101.

asked the Secretary of State for War if, in view of the difficult and dangerous conditions of service in Palestine, he will arrange immediate home postings or home leave for the troops now to be withdrawn thence, or at least endeavour to shorten their overseas tour substantially.

It is not possible, owing to shortage of shipping, to grant United Kingdom leave except on compassionate grounds, to soldiers serving in overseas Commands other than in Europe. The majority of troops now in Palestine will, owing to the rapid rundown of the Army, be required in other overseas theatres. It would not be possible to post them home except at the expense of lengthening the overseas tour of other soldiers. Although I am fully alive to the valuable service being rendered by British troops in Palestine I do not consider that this discrimination would be justified.

107.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will indicate the immediate and eventual destination of the troops being evacuated from Palestine, having regard to the importance of this information to their families, especially those which are in Palestine.

It is not possible to answer this Question in general terms. Units now in Palestine will go to various destinations. The importance to soldiers and their families of early information is fully appreciated. The hon. Member will understand, however, that the ultimate destination of individuals will be governed by the length of their remaining service and how long they have been overseas, as well as by moves of units.

Recruits (Physical Development)

102.

asked the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been drawn to the statement by the C.I.G.S. that recruits to the Army gain 4 lbs. in weight during their first six weeks' service; and to what circumstances is this fact attributed.

Yes, the curriculum of the recruit's first six weeks' training in the Army is particularly designed to develop his physique. The complete change of environment to which recruits are subjected, and more particularly regular meals, graduated exercise and comparative open air life, stimulate the young recruit so that he makes full use of the energy provided by his rations and any additional food available from N.A.A.F.I. and other sources. The initial result of training is a reduction in weight owing to loss of fat. This is followed by a gain in weight due to the improved mechanical efficiency of the body with a consequent saving in energy expenditure, and the diversion of the energy value of the diet to the building up of the heavier muscle tissues instead of fat. The end result in six weeks on the average is a gain in weight of four pounds.

Sapper's Death, Austria (Inquiry)

103.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will hold an inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Sapper R. Jones Newton, of the Royal Engineers, on Goerlitzen Mountain, Austria, on 25th October, 1947; and whether he is prepared to withdraw certain phrases in the letter of his Parliamentary Private Secretary to the hon. Member for Hereford of 9th December, 1947, which have caused distress to the family of the deceased.

An inquiry into the circumstances of this soldier's death has been held, but the results have not yet been received from the military authorities in Austria. When I have received a report on the matter I will write to the hon. Member. In the meantime I should like to express my sympathy to Sapper Jones Newton's family and my regret for any distress unintentionally caused to them by any phrases in the letter referred to in the Question.

Dangerous Missiles, Penmaenmawr

104.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he can give dates for the intended commencement and anticipated completion of the work of clearing dangerous missiles from lands still under requisition by his Department for training purposes in the area of Penmaenmawr.

Yes. The lands referred to have been searched, and all dangerous missiles have been assembled at one place awaiting destruction. The missiles will be inspected early this week, and disposal may be expected to be completed within 10 days.

Canteen Vouchers, Europe

105.

asked the Secretary of State for War why the British Armed Forces special vouchers, originally issued to British troops in Europe, have been withdrawn.

Contrary to instructions the vouchers had been passing from the troops to the civil population, particularly in Austria, thus giving unauthorised persons a call on canteen supplies intended for the troops. To check this the original issue of vouchers held by authorised persons in Europe were exchanged for a new issue which then became the only vouchers acceptable in canteens, etc. The original vouchers held by unauthorised persons were thus made worthless.

Illiteracy

106.

asked the Secretary of State for War what percentage of Army recruits can neither read nor write; and what standards are employed to permit 10 per cent. of Army recruits to be classed as illiterate.

I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to a statement recently attributed to the C.I.G.S. If so, I understand that what Field-Marshal Montgomery actually said was that one in ten of the last National Service intake at a particular Primary Training Centre which he had visited was illiterate. The proportion of illiterates in this particular intake was much greater than the general average of all such recruits joining at Primary Training Centres. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence indicated in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Bucklow (Mr. Shepherd) on 26th November, about 2 per cent. of current intakes into the Army have to be sent to special elementary education courses as being either illiterate or of extremely low literacy.

Manpower Economy Committee (Recommendations)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has now considered the first interim report of the Manpower Economy Committee; in what ways the Committee have already rendered a useful service; what detailed economies he anticipates achieving as a result of their recent recommendations; and when does he expect to receive the next report.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Swingler) on Tuesday last, of which I am sending him a copy.

Private Motor Cars (Duty Journeys)

asked the Secretary of State for War on what basis he has calculated the travelling allowance of 3d. per mile payable to all ranks of the T.A. when using private motor vehicles on duty; and how much of such 3d. is considered to cover petrol and oil, repairs, licence and insurance, and depreciation, respectively.

The rates payable to members of the Territorial Army (and to members of the Regular Army) who use their private cars on duty are the same as those payable to other Crown servants in similar circumstances. They are as under:(1) For "regular users" (that is, those judged likely to use their cars on duty for more than 2,000 miles a year):£9 a quarter (payable in advance) plus 3d. a mile for approved mileage.(2) For "casual users" (that is, those judged likely to use their cars for less than 2,000 miles a year):Sixpence a mile for approved mileage up to 2,880 miles in a year and 3d. a mile thereafter.An extra ½d. a mile is payable for each official passenger carried.

The above rates are intended to cover, in whole or in due proportion according to the amount of use, the total expenses of upkeep and running, since use of a private car for a duty journey saves provision of a Government car. Their makeup is not a matter for my Department, but broadly 3d. a mile is taken to cover actual running expenses, for example, in petrol, lubricants, wear of tyres, extra depreciation and maintenance, while the standing expenses of licence, insurance, depreciation by age, etc., are covered by the balance of the allowance.

The rate payable to members of the Territorial Army who use their cars for travelling between residence and place of duty in the absence of other means of transport, which the hon. Member may have in mind, is 3d. a mile, that is, the "marginal user" rate which does not take standing maintenance expenses into account, it being assumed that the car is maintained in the first place for private reasons.

Those members of the Territorial Army who, since the abolition of the basic petrol ration, use their cars only for duty journeys and attendance at drills, are now covered by the "G" licence scheme, which exempts them from the expenses of normal licence and insurance.

Prisoners Of War

Pay Accounts

96.

asked the Secretary of State for War in view of the hardship caused to prisoners of war who cannot earn or receive cash payments when they are unable to work through no fault of their own, whether he will arrange that payments are made otherwise than precarious and inadequate small grants from the camp welfare fund.

Prisoners who are unable to work are not necessarily without means to make canteen purchases as they may well have credits available in their pay accounts. Those who have no such credits may be provided with articles which are essential to the maintenance of health and hygiene, the cost being recovered when their accounts are again in credit. I am considering whether some extension of this arrangement is practicable.

Short Leave

99.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will allow commandants of prisoner of war camps discretionary powers to allow prisoners periods of 48 hours leave to visit British homes within a radius of 50 miles of camp.

No. I regret that I am not prepared to agree to the concession suggested by my hon. Friend.

Numbers

asked the Secretary of State for War the numbers of German prisoners of war at present in British hands, and the countries in which they are detained.

At 31st December approximately 155,700 German prisoners of war were held in the United Kingdom and 58,900 in the Middle East (mainly Egypt).

Civilian Work (Middle East)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether the same facilities to stay on as alien civilian workers after their repatriation falls due are being afforded to prisoners of war in the Middle East as are being granted to those in this country.

The possibility of introducing a scheme of the kind suggested by my hon. Friend is under consideration.

Civilian Workers

114.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make arrangements for the wives of ex-German prisoners of war now of ordinary civilian status, who remain in the employment of Scottish farmers, to rejoin their husbands and to bring their children, if any.

German prisoners of war who have been discharged here to civilian status to take agricultural employment are here on a temporary footing under a limited contract; and my right hon. Friend regrets that it is not practicable, at any rate at the present stage, for their families to be allowed to join them here.

Lorry Journeys, Deptford

asked the Minister of Transport if he has considered details which have been sent to him of a 5-ton lorry which daily takes prisoners of war from Shortlands, Kent, to Deptford and back; and if he will take steps to stop this waste of petrol.

Yes. The work at Deptford for which these particular journeys were made ceased on 13th January. There was no waste of petrol as a 5-ton lorry was used only when it had to make the journey in any case.

National Finance

Stamp Duty Assessments

62.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware of the grave dissatisfaction generally obtaining in regard to extended delay in the assessments of duty on documents submitted for adjudication to the Office of the Controller of Stamps, and as the position is primarly due to under-staffing in that office what are his proposals to remedy the position.

I am aware of the delay in dealing with these documents throughout the past year, due primarily to shortage of staff. As a result of special steps recently taken the delay has been reduced to about two weeks, and every effort will be made to reduce it still further.

Light Hydrocarbon Oils (Duty)

63.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware of the dissatisfaction existing amongst many industries at the increasing cost of light hydrocarbon oils used for industrial purposes; and will he consider reducing or eliminating the duty on the above mentioned oils.

The hon. Member may rest assured that in preparing my Budget I shall try to bear all relevant considerations in mind.

Purchase Tax

64.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the hardship caused to poor people suffering from serious and prolonged illnesses by the recent increase in Purchase Tax to 33⅓ per cent. on drugs and medicine when such medicine is ordered to be taken on medical advice; and whether he will consider reducing or abolishing a tax which has the effect of a tax on sickness and suffering.

As a result of the consideration referred to in my reply to the hon. Member for London University (Sir E. Graham-Little) on 1st December, particulars of a further Treasury Order exempting certain drugs will shortly be announced. I shall also be considering the question of medicines further in the review of the Purchase Tax which I have undertaken to make in connection with the forthcoming Budget.

65.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the high rate of Purchase Tax on literature and materials used for social and religious activities in connection with youth organisations, Sunday schools and young people's clubs is a serious handicap to their work; and whether he will consider its abolition in such cases.

It is unavoidable that liability for Purchase Tax should depend on the character of the article, and I regret that it is impracticable to provide exemption according to the uses to which articles of a chargeable kind are put.

71.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury why he is refusing to make refunds of the additional Purchase Tax paid in respect of high tension batteries purchased after the last Budget and before the proposal for the increase of tax was abandoned.

Because tax at the increased rate was legally chargeable during that period.

Income Tax (War Damage Interest)

66.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why, for Income Tax purposes, interest on war damage payments is assessed in one sum in the year in which it is paid instead of several sums in the years in which it arose; whether he is aware that this practice is causing grave hardship particularly to poorer people; and if he will correct the method of assessment.

This interest, which only becomes payable when the war damage payment is discharged, ranks under Income Tax law as income of the year in which it is paid, and tax is deductible at the standard rate in force for the year of payment. I cannot see my way to adopt the hon. Member's suggestion for an alteration in the law.

American Films (Taxation)

67.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the present position with regard to his negotiations with the American film interests about the 75 per cent. tax on American films.

Discussions have taken place but so far without result. His Majesty's Government have made it clear that they are not prepared to abandon the tax, or to substitute for it any system depending on blocked sterling being held by American film interests. No progress can be made until this situation is fully recognised.

Basic Petrol Ban

69.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how, much it is estimated that the inflationary pressure in this country has been increased by the abolition of the basic petrol ration.

No such estimate has been made since it would be dependent upon the use made of the money saved.

British Ski Team, Switzerland (Exchange Allowance)

74.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he will raise the allowances granted to members of the British ski team training at Wengen, Switzerland, for the Olympic Games, as the 5 francs allowed daily are insufficient to meet incidental expenses.

The arrangements are in the hands of the Ski Club of Great Britain, whose exchange requests hitherto have been met.

Silver Coinage

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the shortage of silver coins and the great inconvenience and hardship caused, he will consider the issue of a Treasury note of the denomination of six shillings and thereby considerably lessen the inconvenience.

No. The proper remedies for the shortage of coin are, first, to encourage the circulation of existing supplies and, second, to keep the Mint in full production of new coin. Both remedies are being energetically applied. In my reply of 20th January to the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies), I indicated that generally the situation had slightly improved, and I have received evidence of further improvement since that date.

Government Departments

Disabled Persons

72.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is yet in a position to implement the promise made by His Majesty's Government during the Third Reading of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Bill, that a statement would be presented to Parliament each year, showing the number of registered disabled persons in the Government's employ, and the percentage of this number to the total number of Government employees.

Yes. I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to the statement, published today and obtainable at the Vote Office.

Industrial Employees (Representations)

73.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury when the St. Neots branch of the Electrical Trades Union may expect a reply to the representations they have put forward concerning sick pay and 12 days' annual leave for employees of the Ministry of Works and Air Ministry Works Department.

The Minister of Works replied on 22nd January to these representations, which he had received from the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Tiffany).

Trade And Commerce

Educational Books (Paper Allocation)

77.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is now prepared to grant a quota for educational books apart from the quota granted to books for export.

I do not think it would be practicable to establish separate quotas for educational books, for books for exports and for other books. A special allocation of paper may, however, be made for any educational and other essential books which could not otherwise be produced from a publisher's quota so that no essential book may be held up for lack of paper. A somewhat similar arrangement is in operation for books to be exported.

Cotton Spinning

79.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if the report on the redeployment of labour in the card room processes of cotton spinning at the Musgrave Mill (Bolton) under the auspices of the Cotton Board, is available for publication.

I understand from the Cotton Board that they have in course of preparation a report on the experiments on labour deployment carried out at Musgrave Mill and that they hope to publish this shortly.

81.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it is intended to meet the request for increased margins for yarns made by cotton spinners and doublers; and to what extent it is estimated this would result in an increased cost of cloths.

Yes. In reply to the second part of the Question, it is estimated that the increased margins for spinning and doubling will increase the cost of cloth by rather more than one per cent.

Small Cinemas

78.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give the exact number or an official estimate of the number of cinemas whose average net box office receipts do not exceed £100 per week.

There are no data readily available on which a reliable figure of cinemas whose average net box office receipts do not exceed £100 per week can be based. I am, however, making inquiries to see whether a figure can be obtained.

Cotton Industry (Development Council)

80.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if the names of employers and operatives to serve on the Cotton Board, 1948, can now be announced.

No. In accordance with an undertaking given to the House by the then President of the Board of Trade during the passage of the Industrial Organisation and Development Bill, the proposals for a Development Council for the cotton industry were published early this month as a non-Parliamentary publication and trade interests and others concerned have been given until 31st January to put forward suggestions for amending them. The draft Order cannot be finalised until after that date. The Board of Trade will then consult representative organisations in the industry, as required by the Industrial Organisation and Development Act, 1947, in regard to appointments to the proposed Council.

Footwear Repairs

82.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if it is the intention of the Minister to adjust the regulation charge for the repair of boot and shoes to approximate to the increased price of leather, since the discontinuance of the subsidy and the normal trade increases of price that have taken place, and so ensure a fair return to the repairers for their work.

92.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that, since the withdrawal of the subsidy on leather, a 60 per cent. to 75 per cent. increase has occurred in the price charged leather merchants for leather supplied to the small boot repairer; and what action he proposes taking in the matter.

An order came into force on 12th January permitting an increase on all pre-war charges for footwear repairs, to meet the higher cost of leather following the discontinuance of the subsidy. It has been explained to the trade association concerned that the other cost increases can only be considered in relation to a general investigation of costs and profits, and such an investigation is now being undertaken by the Central Price Regulation Committee.

United Kingdom And Russia

83.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he contemplates during the forthcoming trade talks with the Soviet Union negotiating for the importation into this country of Soviet oil.

Some quantities of oil are already being imported on commercial account from Black Sea ports. I can assure my hon. Friend that the possibility of securing imports of Soviet oil will be borne in mind.

84.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the approximate value of orders placed by Russia with British manufacturers since the date of the trade agreement.

No orders have yet been placed so far as I am aware for the goods specified in the schedules to the agreement, to which I presume that my hon. Friend refers.

Census Of Production

85.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that a demand for returns, under the Census of Production, was delivered to Messrs. Neate Bros., of Estcourt Street, Devizes; whether he is aware that this firm went out of existence in the year 1916; and whether measures can be taken to see that such demands are only made upon firms that actually exist.

Forms were sent to firms whose names appear in the register of factories and workshops. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service is inquiring why, in that register, the name of this particular occupier had not been deleted in respect of these premises.

Pottery Supplies, Braintree

86.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will indicate the basis of the assessment by his Department's consumer needs service which showed that supplies of inexpensive pottery to the shops of Braintree, Essex, were, comparatively, adequate; and if he will take further steps to ensure that such supplies are distributed more fairly to small towns and villages remote from the places of manufacture.

In regard to the first part of the Question, the assessment was based on the relatively greater supplies available to the local population through the Braintree shops over the last six months as compared with total supplies to the home market. As to the second part of the Question, every effort is already being made, with the help of the potters, to provide fairly for outlying districts.

Household Linen (Coupons)

87.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will grant clothing coupons, instead of coupon equivalent certificates, to replace household linen lost through unavoidable causes.

Coupon equivalent certificates are given to meet the need for household linen and not for clothing but my Department is prepared to issue ordinary coupons when the claimant has already replaced the lost article out of his ration.

Linen Collars

90.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the extreme difficulty of obtaining linen butterfly collars, size 17½ where such collars can be obtained; and if he will endeavour to increase the supplies.

I am aware that, with the present shortage of supplies of cloth for the home market, there may be difficulty in obtaining particular styles of collars, and I am unable to suggest where the particular style of collar my hon. Friend desires may be obtained. Collar manufacturers are free to make the limited amount of cloth available into any style or size of collar they please.

Export Promotion Department (Correspondence)

91.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will arrange for an increase in secretarial facilities for the Export Promotion Department of the Board of Trade, in view of the fact that much of their correspondence has to be sent out of London for typing, which results in unnecessary delay, sometimes amounting to weeks, in dealing with British exporters' inquiries.

No correspondence from the Export Promotion Department is now being sent out of London for typing. Delays in typing have already been reduced to three days, and steps have been taken to reduce them still further.

Outsize Men's Suits

93.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that outsize men are experiencing difficulty in placing orders for suits; that in one case 25 firms of tailors have refused an order; and if he will take steps to have O.S. provision made such as is already made by drapers and tailors for women.

I am afraid it is not only outsize men who are experiencing difficulty in placing orders for suits—because their tailors are unfortunately finding it necessary through shortage of cloth to restrict the numbers of orders they accept. Arrangements for coupon reimbursement for losses on out sizes exist for men's as well as for women's garments. If my hon. Friend will give me particulars of the case to which he refers, I will endeavour to help.

British Forces, Japan

109.

asked the Minister of Defence whether, in view of the small numbers of the British Forces now remaining in Japan, he will consider the possibility of British Forces using the same currency as U.S. Forces; and the amalgamation of P.X. Stores and British stores.

These forces are integrated with the Australian contingent of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force and could not be dealt with separately for this purpose. The Australian Government is also responsible for the canteen service for the whole of the Force. The hon. Member's suggestion is not one which I should wish to put to the Australian Government, in view of the dollar exchange which would be involved.

Food Supplies

Russian Feedingstuffs (Cost)

111.

asked the Minister of Food what is the total value of the 750,000 tons of grain which it is proposed to import from Russia under the recent trade agreement; and what are the prices which have been agreed for barley, maize and oats, respectively.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. and gallant Member for Ludlow (Lieut.-Colonel Corbett) on 21st January.

Canned Food Imports

asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that, with supplies of tinplate strictly limited, it is essential that canners in the Dominions called upon to supply foodstuffs for the United Kingdom, know in good time' whether a particular product will be admitted to the United Kingdom; that, failing such indication, the tinplate is allocated for other purposes, with the result that a last-minute decision by his Department to purchase is likely to find the packers' shelves bare; and what steps he is taking to ensure that adequate notice is given.

Our programme of imports of canned foods is normally planned well in advance. Generally, therefore, the difficulty to which the hon. Member refers does not arise. Where, however, changes in circumstances permit the introduction of new lines of imports into the programme, it is not always possible to give advance notice of such changes.

Dog Biscuits

asked the Minister of Food how much unmillable wheat has been diverted for manufacture of dog biscuits.

From 1st June to 31st December, 1947, 5,539 tons of unmillable wheat was used for the production of flour for the manufacture of dog biscuits.

Steel Files (Distribution)

112.

asked the Minister of Supply why the manufacture and allocation of steel files for use in agricultural areas has been reduced; and when the United Manufacturing Co. (Bury), Limited, who have only received 538 dozen in the past 28 months, as against an annual allocation of 500 dozen during the war, may expect to be allowed to make good the deficit.

The demand for these tools at present exceeds the quantities available. Home supplies have been augmented by importation and we have authorised further imports for this year. Everything possible is done to ensure that supplies are distributed to agricultural and other areas where they are most needed, but I cannot promise that the requirements of individual distributors will be fully met.

Civil Aviation

Dyce-London Service

113.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether full consideration has been given to the possibility of stimulating air traffic by a reduction in the fares on the direct service from Dyce to London before the decision was taken to discontinue this service.

Yes. I am informed however, that it is intended to reintroduce this service in mid-April as part of the British European Airways Corporation's summer schedule.

Boldon Aerodrome Site

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what progress has been made regarding the question of coal workings and the proposed airfield site at White Mare Pool, Boldon.

A scheme for the development of the Boldon aerodrome site has been submitted to the National Coal Board and the report of their investigations into the effect of the development on coal workings in the area is not yet available.

Agricultural Tribunal, Sussex (Appeal)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that one of the members of the agricultural tribunal appointed by him, held on 12th and 13th December, 1946, to hear the appeal of Mr. Eric House of Great Strudgate Farm, West Hoathly, Sussex, was a member of a Sussex Agricultural Committee appointed by him, while Mr. House was appealing against dispossession by the East Sussex Agricultural Committee, appointed by him, and as it is contrary to justice that a person interested should adjudicate in a case in which, owing to his official position he has a direct or indirect interest, he will direct that the pro- ceedings be declared null and void and that Mr. House be reinstated, compensated and granted a fresh hearing.

No member of the tribunal was a member of the agricultural executive committee or any of its sub or district committees. The second part of the Question does not therefore arise.

Shipbuilding (Steel Allocation)

115.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what effect it is estimated the proposed reduction in the allocation of steel to the shipbuilding industry will have on the number of workers employed in the Wear shipyards.

There is no reduction in the allocation of steel to the shipbuilding industry. I am not in a position to state how the deliveries of steel to the Wear shipyards in 1948 will compare with the quantities which those shipyards actually received in 1947, and cannot therefore estimate what might be the effect on the numbers of workers for whom employment in the Wear shipyards will be available.

Scotland

Ordnance Survey Maps

116.

asked the Minister for Agriculture what arrangements exist in Scotland for the distribution of ordnance survey maps.

Copies of large scale ordnance survey maps may be bought from agencies in sixteen of the larger towns in Scotland. In addition ordnance survey maps may be obtained from booksellers throughout the country. Negotiations are in progress for the establishment in Edinburgh of a wholesale Ordnance Survey Maps, Sales and Issue Department. In the meantime a temporary arrangement has been made with His Majesty's Stationery Office in Edinburgh for orders for large and small scale ordnance survey maps to be taken and passed on to the Ordnance Survey Headquarters at Chessington.

International Planning And Housing Exhibition

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the International Planning and Housing Exhibition will be available to Scotland; and if he will indicate the place and the date.

The possibility of holding this exhibition in Scotland has been discussed with the International Federation of Housing and Town Planning, the Scottish Committee of the Arts Council, and other bodies. Because of accommodation and staffing difficulties, it is unlikely that the exhibition could be displayed in its entirety in the near future, but it may be possible to show selected exhibits later in the year.

Potash Supplies

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give an assurance to Scottish potato growers that adequate supplies of potash will be available for this season's crop.

I have no reason to believe that the supplies of potash arranged for will not be sufficient to meet the needs of this season's potato crop in Scotland.

Fuel And Power

Fatal Accident, Bromham

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is yet able to make a statement concerning the fatal accident to Patricia Osland, of Bromham, near Devizes, owing to an explosion of coal.

I have now received and considered fully reports from the police and also from His Majesty's Inspectors of Mines. I am satisfied, from these reports, that the explosion was not caused by any coalmining explosive inadvertently left in the coal. The safeguards, which are laid down under the Coal Mines Act, 1911, appear to have been properly observed at the colliery from which this coal came, and I am advised that these safeguards, if fully carried out, are adequate to protect the public against the possibility of receiving coal containing stray mining explosives. It seems possible, from the nature of this explosion, that it might have been caused by some form of ammunition which had accidently found its way into the fire with the coal. I am sending the hon. Member a fuller note on the matter.

Supplementary Petrol Allowances

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will give a general indication of the instructions he has issued to regional fuel officers on a supplementary ration of petrol; and whether, in the case of sick persons who have to travel from rural areas to hospital, a supplementary ration has been refused.

The general principles on which supplementary allowances are granted are set out in a leaflet of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy. He will see from the answer to question 9 of the leaflet that a visit to a hospital for medical treatment is one of the purposes for which an allowance may be granted. If the hon. Member will let me know of any cases in which allowances for this purpose are said to have been refused, I shall be glad to make inquiries.

Petrol (Black Market)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how much petrol he estimates passes through the black market.

British Information Services, Usa

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what reductions have been recently made in the British Information Services in the United States; and for what reasons.

As the result of a very careful review, the total staff employed by British Information Services in the United States has, in the course of the last 12 months, been reduced by 37. The reason is the compelling necessity for dollar economy.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the British Information Services in America have shown preference to Labour Party speakers in the distribution of speeches made in the current B.B.C. political series.

I do not agree that there has been discrimination, but if the hon. Member has any specific points in mind I will gladly look into them.

Germany

Formaldehyde (Production)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent formaldehyde is now being produced in the British zone of Germany; how this compares with pre-war production; and what quantities can be made available for export to this country.

The present production of formaldehyde in the British zone of Germany is 2,000 tons a month compared with 3,300 tons a month before the war; as local requirements are estimated at 2,500 tons a month, none is available for export.

Diabetes Death Rate

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the death rate from diabetes in the British zone in Germany at the present time.

The latest available figures represent a probable yearly death rate for 1947 of about 1.2 per 10,000 of the population.

Pulmonary Tuberculosis

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many open or infectious cases of pulmonary tuberculosis there are in the British zone in Germany; and what percentage of these are being found accommodation in hospitals and other institutions.

A report on pulmonary tuberculosis is at present being prepared and I shall write to my hon. Friend when I have the information he requires. The number of beds for tuberculosis cases in the British zone is 37,000.

Publications (Censorship)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs which English publications have been censored and not passed for translation into German for publication in the British zone of Germany.

There is no censorship of publications in Germany before their issue to the public. Copies of all books published in the British zone are submitted to the Control Commission for Germany (British Element) after publication, and appropriate action is taken against any undesirable book. The only English publication which has been withdrawn on the instruction of the Control Commission for Germany (British Element) is "In Downcast Germany" by Miss Joan Mary Fry.

Education (Development Plans)

asked the Minister of Education by what date the development proposals under the Education Act, 1944, have to be submitted to him; whether he will give an indication of what development plans are possible under present circumstances, and of the future time table for the implementation of the plans.

Section II (1) of the Education Act, 1944, requires development plans to be submitted to me by 1st April, 1946, or within such extended period as in any particular case I may allow. Most of the plans have now been received. In so far as the implementation of the plans depends on building, the developments which are expected to be possible during 1948 and a provisional forecast for 1949 are set out in Circular 155, of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy. It is not possible in present circumstances to forecast the building prospects for later periods.

Land Acquisition, Billericay

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning how soon his Department is likely to reach a decision regarding the application of the Billericay Urban District Council for a loan for the purchase of land on the Laindon Industrial Site at Billericay, on behalf of Messrs. Dottridge Brothers, of East Road, London.

In view of the slowing down of building development due to our economic difficulties, the policy of land acquisition has had to be reconsidered, and this has led to some delay in this case, but I hope to be in a position to reach a decision very shortly.

Friendly Societies (Staff Transfers)

asked the Minister of National Insurance what procedure is being adopted to recruit additional staff for the National Insurance scheme, and whether in this connection he will consult with the Friendly Societies, to ensure that no undue difficulties will be placed in their way in consequence of the transfer of staff from such societies to the National Scheme.

Additional staff for the National Insurance scheme is being obtained from among those engaged on Approved Society work; from those who will be redundant should the National Assistance Bill become law; from the normal competitions conducted by the Civil Service Commission; and from other Government Departments. The arrangements for the release of selected candidates from employment by Friendly Societies are being made in accordance with recommendations of a Committee on which the societies were fully represented.

Roads (Expenditure)

asked the Minister of Transport what is the estimated total Government highway expenditure for 1948–49.

Subject to approval of the Parliamentary Estimate, the proposed Government highway expenditure in 1948–49, including payments in respect of trunk roads and grants to highway authorities in respect of classified roads, is £24,711,000.

National Health Service (Panel Doctors)

asked the Minister of Health what will be the position of panel practitioners on 5th July under his recent regulations when the National Health Insurance Act comes into operation who find themselves unable to take up service under it, but who intend continuing to practice.

These practitioners, like others, will be able—if they wish—to take part in the new National Health Service after 5th July. The old National Health Insurance service will be superseded by the new arrangements at that date. A doctor may also confine himself entirely to private practice.

Ministry Of Works

Shobdon Camp, Herefordshire

asked the Minister of Works when the services of 23 British workmen employed by his Department in Shobdon camp, Herefordshire, will be dispensed with.

A great deal of work has to be done on this camp which contains 185 buildings and I cannot say when the services of these men will be dispensed with. After the camp has been prepared for occupation a number of men will remain to maintain it; others will use it as a base depot from which to work on other properties in the area.

asked the Minister of Works what is the highest, lowest and average wage paid by his Department to the British workmen employed at Shobdon camp.

The highest wage paid to a British workman at Shobdon camp is 2s. 11¾d. per hour, the lowest 2s. 2d. per hour and the average 2s. 4¾d. per hour.

County High School, Brockenhurst

asked the Minister of Works whether he is satisfied with the rate and order in which materials were delivered for the provision of extra classrooms at the Brockenhurst County High School, Hampshire.

There have been various delays in the supply of particular items, owing to shortages, and this has upset the usual order of delivery. My officers have made every effort to overcome these difficulties.