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Commons Chamber

Volume 446: debated on Wednesday 28 January 1948

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, 28th January, 1948

The House met at Half past Two o'Clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business

London County Council (Improvements) Bill

Lords Amendments considered, and agreed to.

Oral Answers To Questions

Germany

Married Quarters (Rents)

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the charge made for an officer's flat in Germany at the rank of Major; and what is the charge made to the equivalent rank in the C.C.G.

The rental charge for a major in Germany occupying a married quarter of a size appropriate to his rank is £135 12s. 0d. per annum, including fuel and light. The rent charged a Control Commission officer, whatever his grade, occupying a quarter of similar size, is approximately the same.

Refugees

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will, in the present conditions of uncertainty in Europe, make it clear that unless there is to be a complete breakdown in the economy of the Western zones of Germany, it is impossible for the British zone to receive any new influx of refugees; and whether he will take farther steps to secure that people do not irrationally leave their homes in the false hope that they may find new shelter and work in this area.

Economic conditions and overcrowding in the United Kingdom and United States zones of Germany make it impossible to accommodate in the British zone, in a civilised and humane manner, any further refugees beyond those whose transfer has already been agreed. My Noble Friend will do all that he can to discourage further influxes of refugees, and I take this opportunity of repeating that no accommodation facilities exist in the British zone.

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that those people who fly to our zone are not forcibly sent back?

I am not quite sure that I know what my hon. Friend means. In the answer which I have given, I am not reflecting upon our previous undertaking in relation to political asylum, but I cannot modify what I have said.

Has the transportation of refugees from other zones in trains organised by the Poles and Russians now ceased?

Exports (Value)

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the export figure in dollars or pounds sterling from the bizonal area of Germany for the latest convenient period; how this compares with the corresponding figure for 1946; and what is its relation to the target figure set for the whole of 1947.

The value of exports from the Bizonal Area for the year ending 31st December, 1947, amounted to approximately £55.6 million. The value of exports from the British and United States Zones for 1946 was £39.1 million. Exports in 1947 have thus risen by approximately £16,500,000. The target figure of £87.5 million mentioned during the discussions which preceded the signing of the Bizonal Fusion Agreement in Washington at the end of 1946 was a rough calculation intended only to indicate the task facing the British and American authorities. Exports for the whole of 1947, however, amounted to about 63 per cent. of this rough estimate.

In view of the large potential export trade of Germany, and in view of the new circumstances, will my right hon. Friend review the policy of dismantling, prohibiting and restricting the various industries which can contribute to the export trade, with a view to saving costs to British and American taxpayers?

It would be foolish for me to attempt to lecture my hon. Friend on this subject, but he does know that there is no dismantling taking place that really conflicts with the export trade, but only that within the prescribed limits.

I should think that the answer to that would be either bilateral or ambiguous.

Newspaper Editor (Reprimand)

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the editor of the "Hannoversche Presse" was reprimanded for a report in his paper on 6th December referring to a statement made by the hon. Member for Ipswich regarding the 17,000,000 human beings in Russian slave camps; and whether this reprimand was made with his authority.

The editor, I understand, was reprimanded not for the report referred to, but for a headline which was an extract from the speech of my hon. Friend, but which was not shown as a quotation.

Will my right hon. Friend make the Control Commission catch up with history, and issue instructions that now freedom of expression is properly to be allowed, and that the German Press can comment on what goes on inside Pussia?

I did not comment whether it is good or bad history, but I do not think this is very good control, and I mean to examine it further.

Yugoslav Detainees

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when Yugoslavs detained in Munster Lager who number approximately 100 are to be released and sent back to their displaced persons camp.

As my hon. Friend is aware, the Yugoslavs detained in Munster Lager are those accused by the Yugoslav Government of collaboration with the Axis Powers during the war. Their cases are still sub judice, and it would therefore, not be proper for me to forecast how many men will be released and how many handed over.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that these men have been detained in what is tantamount to penal conditions for very nearly a year now? Can he please given an assurance that he will hurry a decision?

I could not agree that they have been detained in penal conditions. It is true that they have been detained longer than any of us would have liked, but this was an effort to see that just machinery was used. I have every hope there will be a rapid decision.

What machinery is there for investigating the cases of these men before the men are sent back to Yugoslavia?

It is exhaustive, meticulous, and in accord with the best British practices in the courts.

Is there any real difference between the charges made against these men and the charges made against Mr. Joyce and his friends in this country?

The case is sub judice, and no one more than my hon. Friend can appreciate why I cannot comment.

My right hon. Friend will observe, will he not, that I was not asking for any expression of opinion as to guilt or innocence, but whether the nature of the charges was the same?

I think these supplementaries are somewhat beyond the scope of the original Question.

Poles, Westphalia

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why British occupation authorities have refused permission to Poles living in Westphalia to return to Poland.

My hon. Friend is presumably referring to people in the British zone of Polish descent whose ancestors emigrated from Poland in the last century. They are German citizens of the third and fourth generation, and it is, therefore, a question not of repatriation but of emigration, as to which they have no more legal right than any other German citizens. Nevertheless, the British occupation authorities are allowing individual German citizens of Polish origin to go to Poland now, provided they are not engaged in essential employment, a phrase which is interpreted liberally.

Whilst I am sure my right hon. Friend's reply will be very welcome, may I urge upon him, in view of the very overcrowded state of Westphalia and the British zone generally, to be as liberal as possible in the interpretation of his reply?

We are attempting to be liberal and compassionate, but my hon. Friend must remember that other factors than overcrowding operate here. For example, as the hon. Lady knows, the distribution of people returned to us has plainly not been even, and there is a scarcity of able-bodied people fit for work.

Imports (Fusion Agreement)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the recent agreement with the United States Government, by which the U.S.A. takes more than 80 per cent. of the costs of imports into Germany; and to what extent this agreement gives full control of economic policy in the bizone to the U.S.A.

The text of the revised Fusion Agreement was laid before Parliament on 17th December, 1947, and there is no statement that I could usefully make upon it at present. As regards the second part of the Question, the agreement does not disturb the existing administrative arrangements within Germany for the bipartite control of economic affairs, except that it has been agreed that the Government of the United States should be given a larger measure of authority in the operations of the Joint Export-Import Agency.

Does not that reply mean that the Government of the, United States in the bi-zonal area have the say in economic affairs, in view of their larger proportion of delegateship; and that the British Government will have to take orders from the United States Government? Does the Minister aver that? Does he say this House is responsible for taking such orders?

Of course, the hon. Gentleman will make such inferences as he pleases. The facts are that except in respect of the export-import agency the United States administration has no superior position.

Is there any chance of getting the Americans to take on a bit more, if possible?

De-Nazification

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware of the fact that the Government of Lower Saxony refused to make a declaration of the successful completion of de-Nazification in their region; that the declaration was made instead by the Regional Commissioner of the Military Government; and whether, in view of these circumstances, he is satisfied that the formal ending of de-Nazification in the British zone is justified.

Yes, Sir. I am satisfied that the declaration in the British zone is justified and that, in the face of the refusal of the Government of Lower Saxony to make it, the Regional Commissioner had no alternative but to do so.

Why was it not possible for the representative of the British Government himself to make the statement and not to leave it to the Regional Commissioner?

The machinery is quite plain. Since the local authority felt unable to do the job, the Regional Commissioner had no option but to take this decision and make the announcement.

Captured State Documents (Publication)

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if the Government are in possession of copies of the captured documents dealing with relations between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia which have recently been published by the American State Department; and if it is his intention to make these available to the British public.

These documents are in the possession of His Majesty's Government, and certain of them have already appeared in the British Press. Our policy in regard to captured German archives was explained by my hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary, on 22nd January, 1947. His Majesty's Government are considering whether any useful purpose would be served by issuing these documents separately at an early date.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that these documents are of great interest to the British public, and that their publication would be useful in influencing public opinion?

I am not necessarily disagreeing with my hon. Friend, but our policy on this subject has been to try to employ impartial historians of repute, so that when publication takes place, it will carry even more weight than haphazard selections, which may be thought to have some partiality attaching to them.

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that if publication takes place, it will not be for propaganda purposes?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have been pressing for the publication of secret documents from our own archives, especially those relating to the proposed attacks on Russian oilfields in March, 1940? Will he consider publishing these documents?

I cannot accept the imputation. The question does not, of course, arise, because we are speaking here of the disposal of captured archives.

Rations (Calorie Deficit)

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent there has been failure to meet the rations in Germany in the past three months.

The daily ration of 1,550 calories for the normal consumer in the British zone was not met to the extent of 145 calories in October, 203 calories in November, and 260 calories in December, 1947. During the current ration period, which ends on 1st February, the deficit is likely to be the same as in December last. It is expected that the differential ration system to be operated in the February ration period will help distressed urban areas.

Is the right hon. Gentleman able to give an assurance that the rations will be honoured in the next few months?

Mainly because of the differential rationing scale, to which the German authorities have agreed, we believe that the worst defects in the rationing system will be avoided in the areas in which we expect greatest hardship, and that is in the urban areas.

Is regard being paid to the immediate effects on health as a result of this terribly low standard of diet?

In view of these deficiencies, can my right hon. Friend say whether he is still satisfied that the administration of Herr Schlange-Schoeningen is the most efficient possible?

Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that his answer reveals a most deplorable state of affairs, and in view of the fact that we are increasing our fat ration in this country, what steps are being taken to bring about an improvement in Germany, where there is no fat ration at all? May I have an answer to my question?

You allowed me to pose it, Mr. Speaker, but have not given my right hon. Friend an opportunity to answer it.

Englishwoman (Re-Entry Permit)

41.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that an Englishwoman who visited her German husband in Germany in 1946, but returned to England last summer because of ill-health, was then informed by the Control Commission that in no circumstances would she be allowed again to return to Germany, and has now been informed that she will only be allowed to return if she deposits the cost of a possible further visit to this country; and on what grounds he justifies the imposing of such conditions for the re-union of an English wife with her husband.

My noble Friend is making further inquiries, and will write to the hon. Member when these are concluded.

Marshall Plan (Administration)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps he has taken, in conjunction with the European nations affected by the Marshall Plan, to set up a suitable organisation to, administer the scheme in Europe.

The hon. Member will have seen the statement issued on 16th January by His Majesty's Government and the French Government on the progress made in the field of European economic co-operation since the publication of the Report of the Paris Conference. The two Governments announced that the time had come to consult with the other participating countries so that stock could be taken of the results achieved, both individually and collectively, and that, in the course of these consultations, consideration could usefully be given to the means of setting up at the appropriate time the Continuing Organisation of the participating countries contemplated in the Paris Report. These consultations are now in progress.

As, apparently, the United States Government have no organisation dealing with the plan, may I assume that His Majesty's Government will take the lead in assuring that this organisation is created before the plan or scheme has actually to be operated?

I think it would be rash to make conclusions about the intentions of the United States until the Bill has become law, but I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that, together with the other countries concerned, we are actively pursuing this subject.

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will consider putting forward the proposal that that part of the Marshall Plan providing for self-help among European countries be put into effect through the Economic Commission for Europe.

The proposal to which my hon. Friend refers is dealt with in Paragraph Ito of the General Report of the Committee of European Economic Cooperation, which takes into account the different factors bearing on this question. His Majesty's Government has, of course, already accepted the statement of policy in this paragraph.

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Economic Commission for Europe are now doing any useful work, or just sitting twiddling their thumbs?

They are certainly doing much more than twiddling their thumbs. Whether their work is being applied to the maximum usefulness is a subject or discussion.

Corfu Channel Case (Hearing)

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at what stage the enquiry into the blowing-up of British ships in the Corfu Channel now stands.

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs the present position with regard to the dispute with Albania over the Corfu Channel incident.

I would refer my hon. Friends to the statement made by the Prime Minister in the debate on Foreign Affairs on Friday, 23rd January. The preliminary objection by the Albanian Government that the International Court has no jurisdiction in the case is to be heard on 26th February.

Whatever the decision of the International Court, will the Security Council still remain seized of this case, and will it consider it again after the International Court has given its judgment?

Is the right hon. Gentleman considering the situation that will arise if the International Court has not jurisdiction?

It is very hypocritical. We have, of course, been informally considering the matter, but I should not like to anticipate the judgment of the court.

Are we to understand that the Security Council are inhibited from considering this question during the time the International Court is dealing with the matter?

My recollection is, that although the Security Council have not this under consideration, it might be argued that it has not yet been disposed of, but I am sure that the answer to my hon. and gallant Friend is that the Security Council will not in the meantime intervene in this subject.

In the case that the International Court has jurisdiction, can Albania procrastinate indefinitely in making her pleadings?

The ability of the law to move slowly is well known, but the regulations of the law are equally well known.

Trieste (Political Freedom)

14.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, what facilities have been allowed to political parties, of all shades of opinion, to hold meetings and to express their views in the Free Territory of Trieste.

As the answer is necessarily long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Would my right hon. Friend give us some information? Is he aware of the fact that whilst freedom of expression is allowed in the Anglo-American zone quite the contrary situation exists in the U.S.S.R. zone?

I regret that that is the substantial conclusion. For example, during the period I examined in preparing a response to the Question, we permitted 191 meetings by Communists and Communist sympathisers in our joint zone, but no meetings were permitted to opponents of Communism in the Yugoslav zone.

Following is the answer:

In the Anglo-United States zone of the Free Territory Allied Military Government have, while keeping a proper control over activities aimed at disturbing the peace, permitted the inhabitants full rights of association, of free speech, and of the Press. During the period between 15th September last, when Italian sovereignty ceased, and 10th January the following meetings of all kinds were authorised:

Communist and pro-Slav groups191
Independent parties16
Italian parties141

Applications for meetings which were refused during the same period were:

Communist and pro-Slav groups12
Independent parties1
Italian parties 5

By contrast, during the sane period no single meeting of a party opposed to Communism was permitted in the Yugoslav zone of the Free Territory.

In the Anglo-American zone there have been no prosecutions against newspapers since 15th September, although the Communist Press has conducted a campaign of vilification and abuse of Allied Military Government, British and American forces and the Civil Police. In October last the circulation in the zone of a newspaper published in Fiume was prohibited on account of an article calculated to incite violence and disorder.

In the Yugoslav zone no journal not subservient to the wishes of the administration may be put into circulation.

An officer of the Yugoslav Military Administration stated in December at a Press conference that the reason why two journals were not permitted to appear in the Yugoslav zone was because they attacked the Yugoslav army and made propaganda for another war.

Roumania (Trials)

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has now received the full reports of the trials of Dr. Maniu and his associates; if he will make a statement thereon; and whether the processes of the trials are a matter covered by Article 3 of the Peace Treaty for Roumania.

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has now completed his study of the documents relating to the case of M. Maniu; and whether he now proposes to take action to implement Article 3 of the Treaty with Roumania, guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms of expression, of publication, of political opinion and of public meeting.

Since I am anxious fully to report upon this subject, I will, with permission, circulate the reply in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Are His Majesty's Government considering the advisability of issuing a White Paper covering the processes and circumstances of all the major political trials in Eastern Europe, in view of the fact that all of them have shown a cynical disregard of justice, and those in ex-enemy countries have shown disregard of the human rights clauses in the Peace Treaties with ex-enemy countries?

I could not promise that we are considering such a comprehensive work. I should, perhaps, say that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will see from the reply, that I am placing in the Library a translation of as full a record as we can obtain of the proceedings, and making reference to the human rights clauses in the appropriate Treaties.

Following is the reply:

We have now received full reports of this trial. I propose to place in the Library a translation of the report of proceedings which was published by the Roumanian Government in French. I must warn hon. Members that this report is by no means complete. Members of the British Legation attended the trial and they have reported that the stenographic records were censored before publication.

It is clear from the evidence now available that most of the so-called crimes of which Dr. Maniu and his associates were accused would not be considered crimes in a democratic State; while the charges on certain points such as trying to leave the country without permission, arose out of the actions of the Roumanian authorities themselves in denying normal facilities to the Opposition. Furthermore, even if it were admitted that any of the accusations made against Dr. Maniu could properly have been regarded as offences if proved, it remains the fact that many of them were quite unproven by any standards which would be recognised in an English Court of Law.

There were charges that Dr. Maniu had been in communication with the United States and British Missions. It is not, in any normal country an offence in itself for members of opposition parties to be on terms of ordinary intercourse with foreign Missions. But quite apart from this, since Roumania was at the time under an Armistice régime, under which the British and American Governments were represented on the Allied Control Commission; since we had, with the Soviet Union, taken a hand in reorganising the Roumanian Government, it was our right to keep in touch with representative Roumanian political leaders, and their duty to keep the representatives of the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union informed about political developments in Roumania.

As regards the last part of the Question of the hon. Member for Belfast University (Professor Savory), although Article 3 of the Peace Treaty for Roumania does not specifically deal with the processes of trials, we should certainly take the view that the right to a fair trial was a basic human right.

It is the Roumanian Government who are pledged to implement Article 3 by their signature and ratification of the Peace Treaty. His Majesty's Government reminded them of their obligations in this respect in their Note of 25th June. As I informed the hon. Member on 21st January, we are considering what further action can now usefully be taken.

Argentina (Disabled Poles, Repatriation)

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the result of his representations to the Argentine Government on behalf of a number of disabled Polish soldiers, formerly domiciled in the Argentine, who have been awaiting repatriation for a considerable time at the Polish Military Convalescent Depot, Hermitage, Newbury; whether, in view of the assurances given by the Minister of Pensions, the Argentine Government have now waived their objections to the readmission of these men to the Argentine, such objection being based on the apprehension that the men, being disabled, might become a charge on the State; and how much longer he expects that these men, who volunteered to fight in the Allied cause, will be prevented from rejoining their families in the Argentine.

The facts have been fully explained to the Argentine authorities, but it is now clear that their decision is not affected by the award or refusal of pensions. The House, I know, will be unanimous in hoping that, on humanitarian grounds, these men will not be much longer prevented from rejoining their families.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that one of the hardest parts of this case is, that the men were shipped all the way to Argentina—demobilised and shipped back there—over a year ago, and then shipped back to this country because the Argentines would not admit them? Is not this separation from their families just as cruel, in its way, as the case of the Russian wives, about which hon. Members have expressed concern?

I am naturally not anxious to make comparisons, but I agree with my hon. Friend that this is a gross and unusual piece of red tape conflicting with plain humanitarian practice.

Can representations be made in the Argentine as to the situation that is arising every day by detaining these people in England and preventing them corresponding very easily with their families?

I was not aware of the second point, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we have been pressing the matter with all the means and all the arguments at our disposal.

What excuse have the Argentine Government made for procrastination and inhuman treatment of this kind?

On a point of Order. In order that hon. Members may have an opportunity to reinforce the efforts that I know my right hon. Friend has made, I beg to give notice that I shall endeavour to raise this matter again on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.

Burma (British Firms, Compensation)

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will now make a statement regarding compensation to British firms in Burma who, as result of carrying out the Government's scorched-earth policy, have suffered financial loss.

I understand that the British interests involved are now taking legal action in Burma. I hope, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman will agree that it is consequently undesirable that I should meantime make any statement.

Am I to take it that His Majesty's Government will no longer accept responsibility for the scorched-earth policy which was carried out on instructions from them?

I should not make any inferences. I should hope that hon. Members will confine themselves to the fact. There are legal appeals pending after endless discussion, and I suggest we should see what course those appeals take.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people of our own country had their whole lives scorched during the war without any compensation?

Could the Minister say whether the action is against the British Government or the Burmese Government?

European Countries (British And Usa Aid)

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what European countries have received aid from the U.S.A. and Britain as a free gift since the end of the war; and what was the approximate value of the aid given to each.

As the answer is long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

The following European countries have received aid under U.N.R.R.A. and other relief projects.

  • Albania.
  • Austria.
  • Czechoslovakia.
  • Finland.
  • France.
  • Greece (including Dodecanese).
  • Hungary.
  • Italy.
  • Poland.
  • Roumania.
  • San Marino.
  • Trieste.
  • Byelo-Russia.
  • Ukraine.
  • Yugoslavia.

The total shipments of supplies sent by U.N.R.R.A. to these countries up to 31st October, 1947, have been

Value in millions of pounds

Albania6.5
Austria33.8
Czechoslovakia65.4
Finland.6
Greece86.9
Dodecanese1.0
Hungary1.1
Italy 106.4
Poland118.3
San Marino.007
Byelo-Russia15.2
Ukraine47.1
Yugoslavia102.4
£584.707

Since The United Kingdom contribution has consisted of money and supplies, and has been placed in the general pool of U.N.R.R.A. resources, it is not possible to state exactly how the United Kingdom contribution has been apportioned among the individual recipient countries in Europe and elsewhere. However, of the overall total of U.N.R.R.A.'s resources His Majesty's Government contributed £155 million, or approximately 15.5 per cent. In addition, His Majesty's Government have given assistance in money and supplies to European countries to the value of £110 million made up as follows:

Value in millions of pounds

Austria (supplies to British Zone before U.N.R.R.A. undertook supply responsibility in April, 1946)

10.
(estimated non-recoverable portion of £8½ million post-U.N.R.R.A. assistance)6.
(surplus machine tools)0.1

Greece (maintenance and initial equipment of armed forces)

29.
(surpluses)2.5

Hungary (surplus machine tools)

0.2

Italy (estimated value of surpluses after allowing for payments from Italy in respect of United Kingdom claims under the Financial Agreements of 17th April, 1947)

55.

Poland (estimated value of trade for which United Kingdom waived payment as a contribution to Polish recovery under the Anglo-Polish Trade Agreement of June, 1947, together with a gift of free wool)

7.7

Roumania (medical supplies and surplus Army food stuffs)

0.02

This total does not include supplies to the value of £38 million distributed free under combined military arrangements. The bulk of these supplies were distributed before the end of the war. I have not complete figures for the considerable contributions of all the private relief organisations, but the following figures have been made available by the Council of British Societies for Relief Abroad:

Total supplies to European countries: £890,000. Of this total the greater part was sent to the following countries:

£
Austria170,000
Germany300,000
Poland150,000

Considerable amounts of supplies also went to Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Yugoslavia: and smaller amounts to Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Holland, Norway and Roumania.

Comparable figures are not available for the United States of America and any attempt to give incomplete figures would not give an adequate picture of the great scope of the free aid which the U.S.A. has rendered to Europe under various forms. It should be noted however that Congress approved the following appropriations:—

(a) $2,700 million for U.N.R.R.A. or 67.5 per cent. of the total of U.N.R.R.A. resources;
(b) $332 million for Austria, Greece, Italy and Trieste under the United States Foreign Relief programme of 30th July, 1947:
(c) $522 million for Austria, France and Italy under the Interim Aid Act of December, 1947.

Large contributions have also been made by the U.S.A. under combined military arrangements; through the disposal of surpluses; and in other ways.

British Troops Abroad

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will state the European countries other than Germany and Austria, in which British troops are stationed; the number in each such country; and the purpose of their presence.

There are about 5,000 troops stationed in Trieste. These are there in accordance with Annex 7 of the Peace Treaty with Italy. There are a similar number in Greece retained at the request of each Greek Government since the liberation of Greece.

Persia (Economic Reconstruction)

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what representations have come from the new Persian Government asking for assistance in plans for the economic reconstruction of the country; and if he will make a statement.

None, Sir. But His Majesty's Government have already been able to give Persia some technical assistance in accordance with her wishes and my right hon. Friend is anxious to help the Persian Government in any way they may desire in their efforts to develop the country and raise the standard of life of the Persian people.

Would the right hon. Gentleman give particular priority to the completion of the water supply to the city of Teheran, which is now a matter of vital urgency?

I am sure my hon. Friend is not asking me to suggest other than that this is a matter for the Government concerned.

United Nations Children's Emergency Fund

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will now agree to a grant to the International Children's Emergency Fund to provide supplementary food and medical aid to nursing mothers and children of 12 countries in Europe and of China, since for a million pounds provided by His Majesty's Government the fund would benefit by an additional six million dollars, which will not be so if the help from this country is provided from private sources only.

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether sympathetic reconsideration will be given to the need of contributing to the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund in view of the contributions given by 17 other Nations; that some further contributions are indirectly dependent on a contribution forthcoming from His Majesty's Government, particularly in view of the fact that such a contribution could be spent within the sterling area; and that the U.S.S.R. is co-operating in this humane purpose.

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement on the proposed action of His Majesty's Government in relation to the Children's Emergency Fund; whether it is intended to make a contribution along with the 14 other Governments who have already subscribed, or whether other forms of assistance are contemplated.

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply given to the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) on 3rd November, to which I have nothing to add.

Is the Minister aware that that reply was quite contrary to British traditions and to the generous instincts of the British people; and will he look at the matter still further in view of the fact that France, Czechoslovakia and Poland, countries with economic difficulties, have already made contributions?

May I press my right hon. Friend to reconsider this matter, in view of the fact that Norway, Peru, Iceland, Luxembourg and Denmark have already contributed; and does he realise that at Lake Success this did not reflect happily on the British Government, when we were one of the main Governments to stand out against giving a set contribution which would attract another sum from the United States?

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that in this particular case the Soviet Union has also collaborated, and that that in itself might be a very useful means of preserving some kind of contact with that country?

Does the Minister realise how very widespread the feeling in the country is that the Government should take this course; that the question of British prestige as well as British generosity is involved; and if it is the case that the Foreign Office is resisting the earnest desire of the Treasury to find this money, will he change its mind?

Will the Minister take into account that the contribution from the British Government would not involve the loss of foreign currency, and could be utilised in the form of shipping services, medical supplies and other things available in this country?

Is the Minister aware that the reply given by the Under-Secretary did not make any sense; and that the contributions to be given by voluntary organisations in this country are no substitute for a contribution from the British Government?

I could not accept the imputation that my hon. Friend's reply did not make sense. Wherever the contributions come from, they come from the same national dividend. However, it is quite plain that there is a great deal of feeling in this matter and I will gladly agree to reconsider it. I do not want to be dishonest. The decision was taken, not in answer to our inclinations but in respect of Treasury facts upon this and allied subjects.

British Newspapers (Overseas Distribution)

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has considered taking advantage of the decline in passenger air traffic to spread a knowledge of the workings of British democracy and public opinion, by arranging for the despatch of newspapers in bulk by air to countries not already so supplied in which their sale is permitted.

It is the established policy of His Majesty's Government to encourage in every possible way the distribution of British newspapers abroad, and in November last a total of nearly 42,000 newspapers was sent daily by air to 14 European countries. In the remaining countries in Europe, circumstances have made ordinary commercial sale impossible.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider publishing in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of the countries in which airborne British newspapers are on sale?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that only two of our newspapers have airmail editions, and that therefore the British newspapers which go abroad give a very one-sided idea of what is going on in this country?

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the needs of the Far East in this connection? Is he aware that from Suez onwards to Japan and Korea there is practically no efficient news service, and that the interests of our country are suffering a great deal as a result? I am casting no reflection upon our information officers in these areas, who are doing their best under difficult conditions.

We have always been aware of the difficulties of Far-Eastern distribution. They are of a technical kind, and are very difficult to overcome. As my hon. Friend knows, we have an efficient information service in the Far East, which does work out of all proportion to its budget.

In addition to publishing the list of countries, as he undertook to do, will my right hon. Friend also be good enough to publish the list of newspapers, and the approximate quantities involved?

I do not know whether I am entitled to give the quantities, but I can see no objection to giving the newspapers.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that some British Colonies are the worst served in this respect, particularly Cyprus, where no British papers can be bought?

Belgium (British Property, War Damage)

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what has been the reply of the Belgian Government to his request that the benefit of Belgian legislation relative to indemnification for war damage to property should be extended to British subjects owning property in Belgium.

No reply has yet been received, but I am assured that one can be expected shortly.

Korea (United Nations Commission)

38.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now state the grounds for the refusal by the Soviet Union to allow the Commission established by the General Assembly of the United Nations to enter the zone occupied by the Russians; and whether he proposes to take any action to support the efforts of the Commission to enter the zone in order to assist in the setting-up of Korea as an independent state.

The Soviet representative at the United Nations Assembly made it clear that his Government did not intend to co-operate in any way with the work of the Commission on Korea. The refusal of the Soviet Government to permit the entry to the Northern zone of the Commission is in line with the attitude they have adopted since the inception of the Commission. With regard to the second part of the Question, when official reports from the Commission have been received, it will be for the members of the United Nations concerned, including His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to consider the next step.

In the meantime, will the right hon. Gentleman make it absolutely clear that it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to restore Korea as an independent unified State?

It has already been made plain that it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to carry out the decision of the United Nations.

Is this not another example of a complete breach of their obligations by Soviet Russia?

Poland (British Embassy Employee, Sentence)

40.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when the appeal of Mme. Marie Marynowska against her sentence to twelve years' imprisonment will be heard, and if, in view of the fact that she was employed as interpreter in the British Embassy in Warsaw from 1945 till the time of her arrest, he will arrange that she be given legal assistance, and that an observer from the British Embassy will be present at the trial.

The date of the appeal is not yet fixed. During her trial, Mrs. Marynowska was allowed the aid of a legal representative, and a member of the staff of His Majesty's Embassy was present throughout the proceedings. I presume similar arrangements will be permitted at the appeal.

Sierra Leone

Fourah Bay College Funds (Collection)

42.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why senior civil servants were dissuaded from collecting funds for Fourah Bay College; why the Chiefs were not allowed to collect money for this purpose; and, in view of the strong popular desire for the retention and development of Fourah Bay College, whether all direct or indirect opposition will now be withdrawn.

One senior officer of the education department was advised against acting as a collector for the Fourah Bay Appeal Fund, because it was felt that such action by such an officer would suggest that the fund was officially sponsored or supported. Collections by Chiefs could not be approved, because any collections sponsored by them would be regarded by the people as a compulsory levy. It has been made clear to the organisers of the appeal that the Government will in no way interfere with any person wishing to contribute to the fund in his personal, as opposed to his official, capacity.

There has been no opposition, either directly or indirectly, by the Sierra Leone Government.

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that he intends to safeguard the future of this institution?

It is not a Government foundation. We have already made an offer to the governors of the body in regard to the transitional period immediately ahead.

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that he prefers the principle of contracting in to contracting out?

In this case, the continuance of this college as one of the higher educational institutions in West Africa is not quite consistent with the general policy for higher educational development in that region.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that public opinion in this area is very anxious that this college should continue to receive every support?

We have offered support during the transition period. In the place of this college, we have offered to found a territorial college which, from our point of view offers far greater advantages for educational development than the continuance of this university college.

Chief Commissioner's Residence (Expenditure)

43.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the need of financial expenditure on education and social services in Sierra Leone, why it was considered necessary to devote £10,000 for a proposed residence of a Chief Commissioner at Bo; and, in view of the fact that this proposal was only endorsed by the official majority in the Legislature, whether this expenditure will be reconsidered.

A house for the Chief Commissioner is necessary because the Protectorate, administration has recently been concentrated at Bo and no suitable quarters exist there for this officer. I am asking the Acting Governor for a fuller report on the estimated provision, but my hon. Friend will understand that there is little difference in the cost of building in this country and in West Africa, and that this house is more than a private residence and must be of a type to enable the senior British representative in the Protectorate to meet his official and social responsibilities. According to my information the provision was opposed by four only of the ten unofficial members of the Legislative Council. It was supported by all the Protectorate unofficial members, and the matter was not taken to a division.

Does not the Secretary of State feel that the spending of £10,000 on this particular structure, while so much is denied to education in Sierra Leone, strikes the public as rather cynical?

Is it not a fact that this expenditure can only be justified if it leads to much wider economic development?

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that accommodation at Bo is very primitive for British officials, and an improvement is urgently necessary?

Bermuda (Workers' Association, Petition)

44.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on action taken in Bermuda following the publication of Command Paper 7093.

A joint Committee of members of the Legislative Council and of the House of Assembly has been appointed to report on the matters raised in the Petition from the Bermuda Workers' Association. It is understood that the Committee hope to submit their Report to the Legislature during the present Session. I shall certainly give the Report my early consideration as soon as I receive it with the Governor's comments.

Armed Forces

Memorial Scrolls

45.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the Service Departments are bound to have some record of the next-of-kin of members of the Forces who died as a result of service in the 1939–45 War, he will arrange for Memorial Scrolls to be issued to all next-of-kin without imposing upon them the necessity of making individual applications to the Ministry of Pensions.

I have been asked to reply. When the gallant men in whose memory these Scrolls are issued were in the Services, it fell to them to keep the authorities concerned informed of the whereabouts of their next-of-kin. There were great movements of the population during the war and there have been further changes since. At the present time, every year about five million persons in the United Kingdom change their addresses. For these reasons it is requested that those next-of-kin who do not happen to be in receipt of any regular payment from the Ministry of Pensions should furnish an accurate address.

Forces, Palestine (Functions)

46.

asked the Minister of Defence if it is still the intention of His Majesty's Government to retain our troops in Palestine until 1st August; and what instructions he has now issued as to their behaviour during the period concerned.

As has already been announced, 1st August is the date by which it is planned to complete the evacuation of our Forces from Palestine. As regards the functions of the Forces remaining in Palestine until that date, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies on 11th December, 1947. I am sure the House will agree that the troops are carrying out their difficult task in a manner deserving of the highest commendation.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, the House agrees with the right hon. Gentleman, but in view of the fact that Jewish terrorists have apparently intensified their murderous attacks on British troops, will not the Government reconsider their decision, and evacuate them sooner than 1st August?

In view of the developments in Palestine since the speech referred to, can my right hon. Friend say whether the Government propose to continue their policy in Palestine of making no distinction whatever between those who are defending the United Nations decision and those who are attacking it?

The Question merely deals with the retention of troops and nothing else.

Is the Minister aware of the statement made in today's paper that 500 cases of Scotch whisky were seized by Arabs in a train held up yesterday, and will he consider making arrangements to ban these exports?

The Question has nothing to do with Jews or Arabs, but is about our troops.

Recruiting Organisation (Review)

48 and 49.

asked the Minister of Defence (1) if he is aware that the volume of recruiting in the City of Nottingham does not require the utilisation of five separate sets of premises and staffs; and if he will take steps to liberate such premises and assist in overcoming the shortage of accommodation in the city;

(2) if he will take the necessary steps to initiate a general review of the recruiting establishments in the country, with the view of minimising the staff and the premises used for this purpose, particularly paying attention to the economy of joint Service recruiting stations.

One of the Army recruiting offices in Nottingham is to be closed, and the possibility of closing the Naval sub-office is also being considered by the Admiralty. The review of the recruiting organisations of the three Services requested by my hon. Friend was put in hand some time ago. Whatever the outcome of that review, the general shortage of suitable premises will remain a difficulty in arranging combined centres for some time to come.

Home Ration Scales (Adjustments)

51.

asked the Minister of Defence whether he will now make a statement on the results of his review of Service ration scales.

Yes, Sir. I will, with permission, make a statement at the end of Questions.

Later:

In view of the urgent need to reduce our expenditure in hard currency countries, the Government have decided to make certain important changes in the ration scales of the Forces serving at home. The general effect of these changes will be to bring Service rations broadly into line with the food available to the civilian worker.

The Services' home ration scale has been carefully reviewed, in consultation with the Ministry of Food and the Service Departments. The present Services' home ration scale includes more meat, bacon and cheese, but less sugar and fats, than are available from all sources to the corresponding civilian, and it is primarily in these items that the adjustments will be made. A new ration scale has accordingly been agreed and I am arranging for a copy of it to be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Compared with the present ration scale, the amount of meat and offal will be reduced by 12¼ oz. a week, bacon and ham by 4½ oz. a week, and cheese by 1¾ oz. a week. By way of compensation, and to make good the existing deficiencies in those items, the amount of fats will be increased by 2¾ oz. a week, and sugar by 3½ oz. a week. The net calorie reduction that would result from these adjustments will fall to be met partly by an increase of bread and partly by additional purchases of fish, vegetables and such other unrationed items as are available.

On present Services' strengths at home, and on existing food prices, these adjustments are estimated to result in savings in dollar expenditure at the rate of million dollars a year.

The small cash element of the Army ration is being increased from 2½d. to 4d. a day, because the Army ration, including meat, bacon and cheese, is mainly issued in kind, whereas the rations of the other two Services are purchased from a cash allowance.

It is recognised that these adjustments will materially alter the character of the Services' dietary. They will therefore be made in two stages. One half of the adjustments will have effect from 14th February, and the balance three months later. The question of varying the cash messing allowance of all three Services to assist in maintaining a balanced dietary under the new conditions is under review.

These adjustments of the ration apply only to the Forces stationed at home, including Naval shore establishments. I am examining the overseas scales to see what economies in hard currency expenditure are possible, and I hope to make a further announcement on this point in the near future.

The Government much regret that it has become necessary to reduce the Forces' allowance of meat, bacon and cheese. I am sure, however, that the Services will realise that they should bear their share of the austerities which in our present difficult position are the lot of the civilian population.

When the right hon. Gentleman says that the allowances only apply at home, does that include B.A.O.R. for this purpose?

No, Sir, but that is one of the areas which are still under the examination I mentioned.

In respect of the figures the right hon. Gentleman has given, as far as I can understand it—I am comparing the table he gave last December—the reduction in meat is about one-third and the reduction in bacon and ham is nearly half, 4·5 ounces compared with 7 ounces. In view of these, he will agree, very drastic reductions, what did he mean by saying that the general effect of the changes will be to bring the Services broadly into line with the food available to civilian workers? What type of civilian worker has he in mind—a heavy manual worker, or what type of worker?

In the main the personnel covered by this revision could be regarded as broadly comparable with what might be called the intermediate worker and not the heavy worker.

Am I right in saying that the reduction is one-third of the meat ration and nearly one-half of the bacon ration?

Yes, Sir, but it remains substantially above the basic ration of the civilian population and is certainly equal to that of the intermediate worker.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that in the case of recruits coming into the Services careful attention will be paid to their weights in view of the great improvement in their physique as a result of the present scales and the importance of seeing that they are properly fed for the work they have to do?

We have had such excellent results in the last few years from the early military training given to recruits that I am sure the authorities will not want any special stimulation, but I shall certainly bring to their notice what the hon. Gentleman says.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that these reductions are, he will agree, extremely drastic for recruits called upon to take an active physical part in the training they have to do, and is he quite satisfied, after consultation with medical authorities, that it is fair to ask the recruits to do the extra physical effort on the basis of this reduced ration?

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. The Committee considering the matter, which included not only Ministry of Food and Service representatives but had medical opinion on it, has decided that this is a reasonable reduction in all the circumstances.

While the Services will not wish to have any undue preference over the civilian population, and never had, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that many of the duties which the Services are performing are equivalent to the heaviest manual labour done by civilians? May I therefore ask him whether that fact has been taken into consideration in forming these scales of rations?

It should be borne in mind that, after very careful consideration and bearing in mind the admittedly heavy reductions in the items mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, we are nevertheless making compensatory allowances in sugar and other things and also increasing, in the case of the Army, the daily cash allowance for purchasing food from other sources. The whole matter will remain under consideration. We shall watch it very carefully, but the Government feel that in the present state of rations for the civilian population and in response to much pressure of opinion in this House, it is right to bring the Services as nearly as we can to a reasonable and just comparison with the civilian population.

This is rather important. These scales of rations have existed throughout the last two years or more while the right hon. Gentleman has been responsible. I have always thought that this high scale of rations for the Services was justifiable on account of the physical work they have to do. [Interruption.] We know they have to do it. It really is so. If it is right to make this reduction at all it should have been made long ago. It is rather disturbing suddenly to be told that although these people are doing exactly the same work as they have done for the past two years, they are now to do it on two-thirds of the ration. That is the proposition we put. I do not want to make an unfair point but I say to the right hon. Gentleman that what the former Secretary of State for War has said is very much in our minds and we would like to be reassured that he is satisfied that the young men who are going to the Services and will be called upon to take part in active physical work are enabled by these rations to do the job properly.

On the last point, I repeat that the scale has been considered by an inter-Departmental Committee including medical opinion. The last point made by the right hon. Gentleman will certainly be kept in mind, and I will advise those looking after supplies in each of the Services to see that they keep a careful watch on the health of the new recruits. That is very important. On his other, earlier point, of course, the right hon. Gentleman has been in many Governments and speaks with a lot of Government experience, and he will know that it is quite impossible in changing circumstances to let everything stay exactly as it was before.

Could my right hon. Friend say what change is about to be made in the rations of the Women's Services?

They are being adjusted in proportion. If my hon. Friend will look at the detailed schedule I am publishing in the OFFICIAL REPORT, I shall be glad to answer any other Question.

In order that we may assess the extent of the cut in the rations, would the right hon. Gentleman inform us of the estimated calorific value of the proposed new rations?

Yes, certainly, I will see if we can get a note about that matter circulated. I have the statement ready to circulate, but I will see if it can be added. Broadly speaking, I should think that the net reduction of calories is not more than 30 a day.

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, since the rations will still be above the civilian scale, and since there has been a discrepancy, upon which great play has been made in the Conservative Press of this country, the mass of people will appreciate, as the Services will appreciate, that this is very necessary?

Are we to understand that the men serving afloat are not affected by these cuts? Further, is he aware that the amount of bread eaten by the Royal Navy at present is already half as much again as that eaten by the other two Services, and is he really now proposing to increase it at the expense of the protective foods like meat, bacon and cheese?

I would not like to answer the last Question without some detailed notice because, as the hon. Member knows very well, the whole basis of rationing in the Navy is different from that of the Army. The Army is practically always issued in kind and I am quite sure that the Royal Navy, with its messing allowance, used to make adequate compensation for what it lacked in the other direction. As regards men afloat, I should say that the cuts would not apply except that they are subject to the reexamination which I said I was making.

When the right hon. Gentleman was comparing this new ration with that of the civilian workers, did he take into account the fact that civilian workers can go to canteens and restaurants and get extra meat, and have the money with which they may get it? Is he doing anything, or does he think it necessary to do anything, to adjust the soldiers' pay so that they may be allowed to reinforce their meat ration?

A great deal is purchased by workers out of their own income to supplement their ration in the canteen facilities available to them. Similarly, canteen facilities are available in the great majority of Service stations and one must leave it at that, having regard to the fact that I have indicated we are increasing the Army daily cash messing allowance.

There was one point not referred to, the cooking of the existing rations. Would the right hon. Gentleman make particular note of that?

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, may I respectfully put it to you that questions have been asked regarding the Army and the Navy, and nothing regarding the Royal Air Force? May I submit to you, Sir, that I have a question to ask which affects the R.A.F. vitally?

If the hon. and gallant Member wishes to put a definite question about the Air Force, I think he can do so.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if, in arriving at this decision, he has taken into consideration the special diet required by air crews, particularly men who are flying at extremely high speed? This does require special food.

I think all the special facts in this connection have been taken into account by the committee of Service advisers, Ministry of Food and medical experts. As the hon. and gallant Member

THE REVISED ARMY HOME SERVICE RATION SCALE—BASIC SCALE—SHOWING THE RESULTS OF THE ADJUSTMENTS THAT WILL HAVE EFFECT ON 14TH FEBRUARY AND 15TH MAY.*
MEN.WOMEN.
Weekly Scale effective from 14th February, 1948.Weekly Scale effective from 15th May, 1948.Weekly Scale effective from 14th February, 1948.Weekly Scale effective from 15th May, 1948.
oz.oz.oz.oz.
Meat, fresh or frozen (bone in)2922¾2217
Preserved Meat1 2/51 2/5
Bacon42
Sausages (Beef)
Fish Fresh (uncleaned)12¼12¼7
Tinned Fish12⅝12⅝12⅝12⅝
Butter2⅝22
Margarine 87 7/108
Cheese4⅜3
Dried Egg2⅝2⅝
Bread73½775663
Flour17½17½12 3/512 3/5
Cake (slab)
Jam7710½10½
Sugar13151110
Milk Fresh 47¼ (fluid)47¼ (fluid)50¾ (fluid)50¾ (fluid)
Skimmed Milk Powder2⅝2⅝
Oatmeal33
Semolina, Macaroni or Barley
Dried Fruit
Potatoes (old)84847777
Fresh Vegetables363650 2/550 2/5
Dried Peas, Beans or Lentils
Tea2222
Cocoa7/97/9
Drinking Chocolate1 2/51 2/5
Salt2⅝2⅝2⅝2⅝
Ration Cash Allowance2S. 2¼d.2S. 7½d.1s. 7¼d.1s. 10¾d.

* In the R.N. and R.A.F., which are on a cash system of messing, consumption of the nationally rationed items is restricted to the quantities shown in the Army scale.

NOTE.—The small calorific reduction in the previous home ration scales due to the adjustments in meat, bacon, cheese, sugar and fats will be made good by additional bread, fresh fish and fresh vegetables. There will be no overall reduction in the calorific value of the ration, which will remain at 2,900 for men and 2,600 for women.

Food Supplies

Newspaper Advertisements

52.

asked the Minister of Food, how much was spent on "Food Facts" newspaper advertisements in 1947; and how much it is proposed to spend in 1948.

In the eleven months ended 30th November, 1947, the expenditure on Food Facts knows, there is no department of Service medicine which has been so well developed as that dealing with aviation.

Following is the new rationing scale:

newspaper advertisements was £135,096. The figures for December, 1947, are not yet available. In 1948, my right hon. Friend intends to continue newspaper advertising on the same scale unless circumstances change.

Are not these advertisements rather greedy in their demands on the reduced newspaper space at the present time, and will the Minister consider trying to compress the essential information into a smaller space?

Recently, we have changed our policy, and instead of publishing the "Food Facts" weekly, we are publishing them every fortnight.

Is the Minister aware of the great help by way of recipes which the housewife is receiving from the publication of these facts, and that many women are keeping files of these for reference?

Materials (Allocations)

55.

asked the Minister of Food if he will publish a list of manufacturing and commercial activities in connection with the preparation, processing, and distribution of food and edible products from which new entrants are excluded by reason of allocations of materials, rights to trade, or supplies being dependent upon performance at some date in the past.

So long as foods are scarce most of the activities in connection with their processing and distribution are dependent upon some form of datum allocation of past performance; but a number of modifications have been introduced to meet various special circumstances. I am afraid that the labour involved in providing a complete list of all the trades concerned could not be justified.

Does the Minister realise that her reply constitutes a testimonial to vested interests?

Ration Scales

56.

asked the Minister of Food what reductions in the scales of rations issued to the Services, apart from Units engaged in active operations, have been made during 1947; and what bulk economies in the various foods affected have resulted.

No reductions in the scale of rations issued to the Services at home or abroad have been made during 1947. The second part of the hon. and gallant Member's Question does not, therefore, arise.

What justification does the hon. Lady give for issuing different scales of rations to sedentary soldiers and to sedentary civilians?

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will have a little patience, the Minister of Defence will make a statement which, I think, will satisfy him.

Anglo-Russian Trade Agreement

57.

asked the Minister of Food if he will state the prices being paid for coarse grains under Anglo-Russian Trade Agreement.

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

Of course, I saw that answer; but why is it necessary in this particular deal to draw the cloak of secrecy over the price being paid, when the price being paid to Canadian, British and Australian farmers is already announced?

That does not apply only to this particular deal. It is our customary practice. The hon. Member must realise that we are now negotiating for coarse grains with other countries. It would be a most stupid and unbusinesslike thing to reveal these prices.

Will the hon. Lady see that the price, when it is calculated, includes the remission of interest charges, which we were told were all part and parcel of this big transaction?

Food Packs (Miners)

58.

asked the Minister of Food how many ex-army 14-day food packets have been sold to the miners; at what price; what they contained; how many food points they represent; and why they were not offered also to agricultural workers whose wages are smaller but whose work is as important as the miners.

Seven hundred and twenty-five thousand of these food packs have been distributed to collieries for sale to mineworkers. The nett price is 22s. 6d. per pack and the points value is approximately 125. The packs vary, and I am sending the hon. Member a list of the contents of the various types. I regret that there were not enough for farm workers and other heavy workers.

If there are any more of these food packs, will she remember that food is as important as coal, and will she see that the farm workers get a share?

We shall certainly consider that, but I should like the hon. Gentleman to know that the number of food packs approximated to the number of miners in the country. This decision was made during the fuel crisis when we felt that we should give our miners every encouragement.