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Written Answers

Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 30 March 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 30th March, 1949

Colonial Empire

Livestock Production


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he anticipates obtaining additional supplies of meat from the Colonies for United Kingdom consumption in the coming 12 months.

Measures are being taken to develop livestock production in the Colonies with a view to meeting the steadily rising local demand for meat and to providing a surplus for export. Livestock development schemes, however, necessarily take a considerable time to mature and it would be overoptimistic to expect that any appreciable quantities of meat from the Colonies will become available for the United Kingdom within the period suggested.

Leprosy (Africa)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the approximate number of lepers in all the African Colonies; what proportion of these are receiving treatment of any kind; whether the incidence of the disease has increased over the last 10 years; what percentage of the population has been or is afflicted with leprosy; and to what extent financial support is granted to the British Empire Leprosy Relief Association.

I am asking the Governors for up-to-date figures and will write to my hon. Friend when I have received them.


Venereal Disease And Tuberculosis


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the estimated percentage of the people of Nigeria who are suffering or have suffered from venereal disease and tuberculosis, respectively; what facilities exist for the treatment of these diseases; and whether the incidence of these diseases show an increase over the last 10 years.

I have asked the Governor for the latest information on these points and will communicate with my hon. Friend when that has been received.

Officials (Local Leave)


asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why local leave in Nigeria is in future to be restricted to expatriate officials of the Senior Service, whereas previously all senior officials were entitled to such leave; and what is the reason for this discrimination.

Rules for local leave are primarily a matter for the Nigerian Government, but I will inquire about the point raised and write to my hon. Friend.

Malaya (Financial Aid)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to the High Commissioner's recent statement in the Federation Legislative Council that he had represented to the Secretary of State the necessity for a substantial contribution from the British Government towards the cost of security and defence requirements in Malaya; and whether he is in a position to make a statement on the subject.

Yes. I make the following statement in amplification of the reply on this subject given today to the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Gammans).His Majesty's Government are fully aware of the heavy financial burden placed on the Federation of Malaya as a direct result of the present disturbances. I have informed the High Commissioner that it is proposed to seek Parliamentary authority at the first opportunity for the provision of £6 million of which £5 million will be to cover that part of the direct expenditure of the Federation Government on internal security in 1949 which it is unable to meet from its own resources. The balance of £1 million is an estimate of the extra expenditure likely to be incurred on the Imperial Forces in Malaya in 1948 and 1949 and which in the special circumstances of the territory His Majesty's Government has agreed to meet. The amount of His Majesty's Government's assistance has been decided after full consultation with the High Commissioner on the budgetary programme and fiscal policy of the Federation.His Majesty's Government recognise that further assistance may be necessary in 1950 but should there be a material change in the position which cannot be left for adjustment in 1950 the matter will be considered again this year in the light of the position as it emerges.

Royal Navy

Eglinton Air Station


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what improvements and additions have been made to the recreational amenities at the Royal Naval Air Station. Eglinton.

During the last two years the recreational amenities have been increased by the construction of two hard tennis courts built from station funds, making eight in all. A gliding club has also been organised and two additional craft obtained for the sailing club. The total recreational facilities include a rugby ground, three soccer grounds, and two hockey grounds which are used for cricket in the summer.

Pilots And Observers


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what is the number of qualified pilots and observers at present engaged on full flying duties in the Fleet Air Arm.

It would not be in the public interest to give the information asked for by the hon. Member.

Civilian Drivers, Lee-On-Solent


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty how many civilian drivers are employed at Royal Naval Barracks and Air Station, Lee-on-Solent; what is their average pay including overtime; and what is the pay of a rating performing the same duties.

Sixty-six full-time civilian drivers are employed at these establishments. Their weekly gross pay for the last few months has averaged £7 1s. The pay of a rating would vary according to his rank, seniority and whether or not he was married.

Prize Money (Distribution)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is now in a position to state when distribution will be made of naval prize money.

Stoker Mechanics (Promotion)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what qualifications are required of stokers promoted to rank of probationary acting sub-lieutenant (E); whether they receive any practical and technical training prior to promotion; and whether they have to pass an examination comparable to that normally required of candidates for the rank of acting sub-lieutenant (E).

Stoker mechanics who are candidates for promotion to commissioned rank have first to pass for the rating of acting leading stoker mechanic in which they must serve for one year at sea, after which they undergo the course of training for mechanician, lasting two years. They have then to serve as mechanician for 18 months, and to pass the same qualifying examination for acting sub-lieutenant (E) as that taken by engine room artificer candidates for promotion.

Post Office

Services, Kuwait


asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that the postal services in Kuwait are inefficient and in need of immediate re-organisation and in particular that the recent accommodation is inadequate; and if he will make a statement.

These services, which were taken over by the British Post Office in April, 1948, are in process of re-organisation and search for more suitable Post Office accommodation is proceeding.

Telephone Application, Headington


asked the Postmaster-General what is the position with regard to the application for a telephone by Messrs. F. G. & E. Evans at Shotover Brickworks, Old Road, Headington, Oxfordshire.

Malaya (Mails)

asked the Postmaster-General if he is aware of the continued delays in mails from Malaya coming by sea; and what steps he is taking to remedy these.

The arrangements for the despatch of mails from Malaya are the responsibility of the Malayan Postal Administration; I have no reason for thinking that there is any failure on the part of that administration to make the most advantageous use of the shipping outlets available for the conveyance of the mails to this country.

Food Supplies

Australian Fruit Cake (Price)


asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that retailers are unable to make any profit on the sale of Australian fruit cake, which has a controlled selling price of 2s. 6d. a pound, as there is no controlled wholesale price; and whether he will either increase the controlled retail selling price or remove the price control altogether.

This suggestion would have to be considered in relation to the prices of other cakes and flour confectionery. I will look into the matter and let the hon. Member know the result.


asked the Minister of Food why he does not allow farmers and agricultural workers to keep one pig only without a licence and without restrictions as to how the pork and bacon produced is disposed of; and if he will now do so.

Ane one can keep a pig, subject to local by-laws, but no one can have a pig killed for home consumption without a licence. I know of no convenient means other than the licensing system to keep a check on private slaughter. Self-suppliers may use the pork or bacon from their pigs in their own households or give it away. I could not allow sale or barter of the produce of any pig killed under licence while meat and bacon still have to be rationed.

asked the Minister of Food what proportion of the pork or bacon ration is found by pigs raised in the United Kingdom; and whether it is intended to increase the prices per score to home producers of pigs, and raise the weight scale to qualify for maximum payments per score.

At present about one half the bacon ration and an insignificant part of the meat ration is provided by pigs raised in the United Kingdom. Increased prices for home produced pigs, and a flat rate price per pig for those over 11 score dead weight were announced on 17th March.

Local Offices

asked the Minister of Food how many local food offices operate under control of his Department; and what is the approximate number of staff employed.

At 1st March, 1949, my Department had 1,615 local food offices, including sub-offices, at which 25,993 staff were employed.

Royal Air Force (Discharges And Resignations)


asked the Secretary of State for Air how many men and women, commissioned and other ranks, in the various commands of the Royal Air Force, applied last year for permission to purchase their release or to resign their commission; and whether he has any statement to make.

Two thousand, six hundred and forty-one airmen applied last year to purchase their discharge from the R.A.F. I regret that it is impracticable to analyse these applications into the various Commands but 2.321 came from airmen at home units and 320 from airmen serving overseas. The scheme for discharge by purchase does not apply to officers but so far as can be ascertained 190 officers last year applied to resign their commissions, to retire or to be transferred prematurely to the Reserve. The commands in which they were serving were:

Technical Training40
Flying Training24
90 Group2
No women applied to purchase their discharge last year as the scheme applied to airwomen only from 1st February, 1949, when the Women's Royal Air Force was constituted as a regular force. The answer to the last part of the question is "No."

York Aircraft (Disposal)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation how many York aircraft have been disposed of by his Department; how much these aircraft cost each; and at what price they were resold.

Thirty-seven York aircraft have been disposed of by my Department. The average cost of these aircraft was approximately £50,000 each. Twenty-five of these aircraft were sold to B.O.A.C. under the terms of the global settlement for equipment they had received without charge during the war period when their services were operated to the directions of the Secretary of State for Air. Under this settlement the Yorks were valued at £17,400, being the annual value for the two years for which they were expected to be of further commercial use. The remaining 12 aircraft were sold to B.S.A.A. at £17,500 each.

Embassies (Privileges)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will take steps to reduce the privileges and activities of foreign embassies in Britain to the same level as those enjoyed by British embassies in respective foreign countries.

His Majesty's Government have this matter under consideration. A number of legal and other difficulties arise and I am not in a position to make a more explicit statement at present.

Dace Trial (Expenditure)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what public funds have been spent on the Dace case; and to whom they were paid.

Special expenditure amounting to some £120 has been incurred in connection with this case. The main items are the travel and subsistence expenses of witnesses at the trial, the collection of evidence including certain testimony taken on affidavit in the United States of America and the cost of special journeys made by officials in connection with the case.

North Atlantic Pact


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will issue a memorandum in connection with the Atlantic Pact, giving assurances that British trade with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics will not conflict with the obligations for mutual defence aid.

No. I can assure the hon. Member, however, that care will be taken to ensure that our economic policy will not conflict with our other obligations.

Pastors, Bulgaria (Trial)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when he will be in a position to issue a statement in the form of a White Paper on the trial, proceedings and sentences of the 15 pastors in Bulgaria.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs when he is proposing to issue a White Paper in connection with the trial of the 15 Protestant pastors in Bulgaria.

Owing to the lack of reliable information about the treatment of the pastors during the period between their arrest and their appearance in court, my right hon. Friend has decided that it will not be possible to issue a satisfactory White Paper on the trial. This period is important as it was during that time that the defendants were brought to confess to acts which they could not possibly have committed.

German Prisoners (Uk-Ussr Notes)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the text of the Notes recently exchanged between the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union on the subject of the repatriation of German prisoners-of-war.

Translation of Soviet Government's Note to His Majesty's Government, dated 24th January, 1949

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R. presents its compliments to the Embassy of Great Britain and, in connection with their note of 3rd January, 1949, concerning the repatriation of German prisoners of war, has the honour to forward herewith a memorandum of the Soviet Government on this question.

In view of the facts set forth in the attached memorandum the Soviet Government does not see the necessity of entering into discussion of the question which was raised in the note of the Embassy of Great Britain dated 3rd January, 1949.

Moscow. 24th January, 1949.

To: The Embassy of Great Britain, Moscow.


The notes of the Governments of the United States of America, Great Britain and France of 3rd January, 1949, concerning the repatriation of German prisoners of war have been received by the Soviet Government. In these notes the state of affairs in connection with the repatriation of German prisoners of war is shown in distorted form. The true state of affairs is seen from what follows.

At the Moscow session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the U.S.S.R., the United States of America, Great Britain and France in April, 1947, the proposal of the Soviet delegation about the repatriation of German prisoners of war, who were in the territory of the allied powers and in other territories, was considered. In this proposal, with which the delegations of the United States of America, Great Britain and France agreed, it was stated that "the repatriation of German prisoners of war will be carried out in accordance with the plan which will be worked out by the Control Council."

It is known that such a plan was not worked out by the Control Council through the fault of the Governments of Great Britain, France and the United States of America, in so much as the Governments mentioned, in the persons of their representatives on the Control Council in Berlin, refused to include in the repatriation plan a considerable number of German prisoners of war under the pretext that these prisoners of war were being used by them in the capacity of hired workers.

During the time when the question of drawing up a plan for repatriating German prisoners of war was being discussed in the Control Council, negotiations were being conducted and agreements were concluded between the Governments of the United States of America, Great Britain and France for leaving German prisoners of war in the territories controlled by them under the guise of hired workers. This is confirmed by a series of facts. Thus, for example, the French representative, General Dromar, stated at a session of the Military Directorate on 19th September, 1947.

"At the present time negotiations are being conducted between the American and French Governments about the recruitment of German working strength for France. The plan for repatriating German prisoners of war and, in particular, the speed of this repatriation depend on the negotiations which are at present taking place."

At a session of the Political Directorate of the Control Council on 29th October, 1947, the American representative, Chase, stated that "an agreement exists between the United States of America and Belgium which transfers to the disposal of the latter German prisoners of war captured by the American armies."

An agreement about handing over German prisoners of war for use under the guise of hired workers was likewise concluded between Great Britain and Belgium, and this is confirmed by the letter of the Belgian military mission in Berlin which was considered in the Political Directorate on 1st October, 1947.

The Western powers refused to inform the Control Council about the negotiations proceeding between them about leaving German prisoners of war [unrepatriated] in the capacity of hired workmen, and on 20th January, 1948, General Clay made a proposal wholly to remove from the agenda of the Control Council the question of working out a plan for repatriating German prisoners of war and this, indeed, was done. In this way the working out of a plan for repatriating German prisoners of war was brought to nothing by the powers indicated.

According to information in possession of the Soviet Government, a large number of German prisoners of war, as hired workers, is still retained in territories controlled by Great Britain, France and the United States of America.

It is apparent from the statement of Isaacs, Minister of Labour of Great Britain, which was made in the House of Commons on 21st September, 1948, and from other statements of official persons of Great Britain that German prisoners of war, used by the War Ministry of Great Britain on works connected with the destruction of bombs, will be retained in England till the end of 1949.

According to the data of the paper "Manchester Guardian" of 5th January, 1949, 15,000 German prisoners of war are at present engaged in the agriculture alone of England. Besides this, German prisoners of war are used on construction works for the British armies in the Middle East.

According to the data of the Central Administrative Department for the affairs of prisoners of war, attached to the French Ministry of National Defence, which were published by the paper "Monde" on 6th January, 1949, 137,000 German prisoners of war are at present retained in France under the guise of hired workers.

As regards the repatriation of German prisoners of war from the Soviet Union, the Soviet Government has already repatriated the overwhelming majority of the German prisoners of war, and is carrying out, according to the plan it has adopted, the repatriation of the remaining prisoners of war which will be completed in the course of 1949.

From what has been set out above it follows that the statement, contained in the aforementioned notes, to the effect that German prisoners of war are being detained in the Soviet Union contrary to an obligation given in the name of the Soviet Government, distorts the true position.

No doubt is left that statements of this sort are directed to purposes which have nothing to do with the interests of hastening solution of the question of repatriating German prisoners of war. Attempts are made to distract the attention of public opinion by such statements from the numerous facts showing the retention of a large number of German prisoners of war under the guise of hired workers in territories controlled by British and French authorities, and also from the intolerable fact that over 250,000 Soviet citizens, driven into Germany by the Hitlerites during the war, are still being retained by every sort of method in camps in the American, English and French occupation zones of Germany and Austria.

24th January, 1949.

Text of United Kingdom Note to Soviet Government dated 3rd January, 1949.

His Majesty's Embassy presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has the honour, under instructions from His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, to address to them the following communication:

It was agreed at the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Moscow in April, 1947, that all German prisoners of war in the hands of the four occupying powers should be repatriated to Germany by the 31st December, 1948. His Majesty's Government wish to draw the attention of the Soviet Government to the fact that they no longer hold in the territory under their control any undischarged German prisoners of war.

His Majesty's Government understand that the United States Government and the Government of France have also fulfilled their undertaking in this respect and would therefore be grateful for a statement from the Soviet Government regarding the undertaking given by Mr. Molotov to repatriate the 890,532 German prisoners of war stated by him to be held in the Soviet Union on the 31st March, 1947, In the absence of any reports from the Soviet Government since the Control Council machinery ceased to function in Berlin, His Majesty's Government have had to rely for their information on the figures of prisoners of war who are known to have been repatriated up to the 1st March, 1948, and on the total of those that have returned to the three Western Zones of Germany since that date. Up to the 1st March, 1948, according to the records of the Quadripartite Combined Repatriation Executive at Berlin, 252,395 prisoners of war had returned from the Soviet Union to the four zones of Germany; and up to the 1st December, 1948, the three Western zones have received a further 194,972. Only 447,367 prisoners of war are therefore known to have reached Germany from the Soviet Union. At the present rate of repatriation it is estimated that a further 20,000 have been repatriated to the Western zones in the course of December. On the assumption that the rate of repatriation to the Soviet zone of Germany has not diminished since the 1st March, 1948 (although His Majesty's Government have no information to this effect) it is estimated that about 211,000 more have been repatriated to that zone by the 31st December. In the absence of any indication from the Soviet Government as to the accuracy of this estimate His Majesty's Government are forced to the conclusion that there remained in Soviet hands at the 31st December at the very least 200,000 German prisoners of war. His Majesty's Government would emphasise that this calculation is based on the figure given in March, 1947, by Mr. Molotov, a figure which His Majesty's Government have never been able to reconcile with the figures given by the Soviet authorities during the war of German prisoners captured by the Red Army. In view of the importance that His Majesty's Government, no less than the whole German people, attach to the fulfilment of this pledge by all four occupying powers, they feel compelled to ask for what purpose this large number of prisoners of war have been retained in the Soviet Union contrary to the undertaking given on behalf of the Soviet Government and further to ask whether it is intended to continue the repatriation of prisoners of war to Germany.

His Majesty's Government would further draw the attention of the Soviet Government to the fact that His Majesty's Embassy's note No. 197 of the 9th March, 1948, regarding the notification of the deaths of prisoners of war as laid down by international agreement has not yet been answered, although two subsequent enquiries have been addressed by His Majesty's Embassy, and they would be grateful for an early reply.

British Embassy,


3rd January, 1949.

Text of United Kingdom Note to Soviet Government dated 15th March, 1949

His Majesty's Government have considered the account of the discussion in the Control Council and in its subordinate bodies, regarding the repatriation of German prisoners of war, as contained in the memorandum enclosed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' note of the 24th January, and find themselves unable to accept this Soviet version. A careful study of the relevant official minutes recording the statements by the Soviet representatives on the subject shows beyond all doubt that the Soviet Government considered itself bound by the agreement reached at the Moscow session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in March, 1947, when it was decided that all German prisoners of war should be repatriated to Germany by the 31st December, 1948. Indeed, on at least six occasions the Soviet representatives in the Quadripartite Committees gave assurances that the Soviet Government would honour the undertaking given on its behalf by Mr. Molotov. These occasions were:

  • (I) on the 5th July, 1947, by Lieut.-General Dratvin in the Co-ordinating Committee when he referred to the Soviet repatriation plan which had been submitted to the Allied Secretariat.
  • (II) on the 31st August, 1947, by Major General Barinov in the Combined Services Directorate.
  • (III) on the 19th September, 1947, by Major General Sokolov in the Combined Services Directorate.
  • (IV) on the 13th November, 1947, by Major Barinov in the Combined Services Directorate.
  • (V) on the 8th and 9th December, 1947, by Lieut.-General Dratvin in the Co-ordinating Committee.
  • (VI) on the 20th January, 1948, by Marshal Sokolovsky in the Control Council.
  • 2. His Majesty's Government note that in their reply the Soviet Government have failed to furnish the information for which His Majesty's Government asked regarding the purpose for which a number of prisoners, totalling at the very least 200,000, have been retained in the Soviet Union. His Majesty's Government would once more draw the attention of the Soviet Government to the importance which they attach to this question and to which they have felt bound to refer in the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

    3. His Majesty's Government note also that by admitting that an unspecified number of prisoners of war still remain in the Soviet Union, the Soviet Government have confirmed their failure to fulfil the agreement of March, 1947. Although the Soviet Government have promised to complete repatriation during 1949 under a plan, of which no details whatsoever are given, His Majesty's Government are disturbed by reports which have reached them from the British Military Governor at Berlin that the numbers of prisoners of war repatriated in December, 1948, to the three western zones fell to a figure of 10,217, little more than half the monthly average over the previous nine months. In the month of January, 1949, there was a further significant decrease and only 2,015 prisoners of war reached the three western zones from the Soviet Union.

    4. His Majesty's Government categorically refute the statement contained in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' note that the object of His Majesty's Government in taking up this matter is to distract the attention of public opinion from the fact that a number of former German prisoners of war have, of their own choice, volunteered to remain in the United Kingdom and in the Middle East as free civilian workers. His Majesty's Government have made no secret of the existence of this category of volunteer worker and take this opportunity of stating that in all 16,376 former German prisoners of war have volunteered to remain in the United Kingdom and 543 in the Middle East, of whom more than 500 have elected to work in Cyrenaica, the remainder in the Suez Canal Zone. All these men have been offered the opportunity of taking a holiday in Germany free of travel cost. More than 8,000 have accepted the offer and of these the vast majority have already completed their leave the remainder being at present with their relatives and friends in Germany.

    5. Under these circumstances His Majesty's Government propose to the Soviet Government that an agreed international body should be invited freely to carry out an inspection of the conditions under which German volunteer workers are living and working in the United Kingdom and the Middle East, provided that this body shall also be allowed free access to the Soviet Union to carry out similar investigations into the conditions under which German prisoners of war are held there. His Majesty's Government will welcome from the Soviet Government a suggestion as to which body should be invited to carry out the investigations in the territories under their respective control.

    Ministry Of Pensions (Welfare Service)


    asked the Minister of Pensions why notices have been sent informing ex-naval men that a pensions' welfare service is now in being to advise war pensioners; that welfare officers have been appointed at each of the local offices of the Ministry of Pensions; that naval men are to apply to the local post office for this welfare officer's address; and whether he is aware that in Brighton the post offices have no knowledge of such a person or of any address where to apply.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which my right hon. Friend gave yesterday in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Symonds). My right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General advised all post offices of the address of the appropriate war pensioners welfare office, but in view of the lack of information in Brighton, further notices have now been sent to all post offices in that area.

    United States Citizens (Visas)


    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many American citizens have been refused visas to this country since the war on political grounds; and how many on other grounds.

    It would not be possible, without making inquiry of all consular officers in the United States and elsewhere, to ascertain how many applications made since the war by United States citizens for visas for the United Kingdom have been refused on political grounds, but the number of such refusals is undoubtedly very small. Since 12th November, 1948, when the requirement that United States citizens should obtain visas for visits to the United Kingdom was abolished, 12 holders of United States passports have been refused leave to land by the immigration officer; none of these refusals was on political grounds.

    Irish Peerages

    asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the recent constitutional changes in the Republic of Eire, he will consider introducing legislation to amend Article 4 of the Union with Ireland Act, 1800, in order to disqualify any person holding any Peerage of Ireland, other than the present holders of such Peerages, from sitting as a Member of the House of Commons.

    British Army (Palestine And Malaya)

    asked the Secretary of State for War if he will provide a list of the names and personal numbers of those officers and other ranks who have been killed in action or died from wounds in Palestine and Malaya from the beginning of 1947 up to 28th February, 1949.

    The figures which I gave in reply to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member on 22nd March were obtained from special statistical returns rendered by the theatres concerned. No list of the names of the officers and men is available centrally and such a list cannot be compiled without some difficulty and delay. I have, however, called for the information to be collected, if possible. When this has been done I will send it to the hon. and gallant Member.

    Feature Film Quota

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the imposition of 40 per cent. British film quota is causing great anxiety to cinema proprietors in Glasgow; and what action he proposes to take.

    The House will be asked today to approve the necessary affirmative resolution on the order reducing the first feature film quota from 45 to 40 per cent., and I would ask the hon. and gallant Member to await my statement on that Resolution.

    Bunker Coal And Oil (Prices)

    asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what are the London prices, respectively, of coal and oil for foreign-going bunkers; what is the discrepancy between coal and oil prices reckoned thermally; and what it is intended to do to reduce this discrepancy.

    The London prices for coal and oil for foreign bunkers are 98s. and 103s. per ton respectively. On a thermal basis, assuming four tons of coal to be equivalent to three tons of oil, the price of coal would have to be 77s. 3d. a ton to be equivalent to 103s. a ton for oil. The price of bunker coal is regarded by the Government as a matter for determination by the National Coal Board in the light of commercial considerations. London is not a major coaling station and, owing to the greater distance from the mines, the price of bunker coal is substantially higher than in other shipping areas.

    Electricity Supplies

    Mains (Gpo Lines)

    asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what steps he is taking to ensure that where the joint construction of G.P.O. lines with electricity mains is necessary the statutory obligations to consumers under the Electricity Act should be duly observed.

    Where G.P.O. lines are carried on the same poles as electricity mains it is sometimes necessary to interrupt the supply of electricity so that essential work can be done on the G.P.O. line. It is only in exceptional cases that on grounds of urgency the electricity supply has to be disconnected without prior notification to the consumers on that line. If the hon. Member is aware of any case where supplies were cut off without prior notification and serious inconvenience was caused, I shall be pleased to make inquiries if he will let me have particulars.

    Local Authority Undertakings

    asked the Minister of Fuel and Power which local authorities had been supplying electricity at a loss at the time of being taken over under the Act.

    As the full trading results of all local authority electricity undertakings for the year 1947–48 have not been compiled, I am not yet in a position to give this information.

    Trent Valley (Flood Prevention)

    asked the Minister of Agriculture what progress has been made in the construction of development works for the prevention of floods in the Trent Valley, and in particular with respect to the West Bridgford, Colwich, Beeston and Stapleford districts of Nottinghamshire.

    I understand that the Nottingham Corporation and the River Trent Catchment Board are in consultation about the Board's Nottingham flood alleviation scheme and that alternative proposals for certain parts of the scheme are being considered in order that the problem of flooding may be dealt with effectively without prejudicing the amenities of the district, particularly the war memorial at Nottingham. Until a satisfactory solution of this problem has been found the scheme as a whole cannot be prepared in detail nor can a close estimate of cost be made. The Board are proceeding with the preparatory work on that part of the scheme which will benefit the West Bridgford, Colwich, Beeston and Stapleford districts. The Long Eaton section of the Nottingham scheme has been completed recently at a cost of £27,000 and its effectiveness was proved during the high water level period following the heavy rains of January last.

    Purchase Tax (Pilfered Goods)

    asked the Economic Secretary to the Treasury whether he is prepared to allow a refund of the Purchase Tax charged to the Surplus Textile Corporation Limited on surplus textile goods imported from Malta and which were pilfered before arriving at destination, in view of the fact that the corporation is a non-profit making body set up to assist the Government.

    I find that the demand for tax was made under a misapprehension which has now been cleared up. No payment was actually made.

    Factory Inspectors

    asked the Minister of Labour whether he will indicate the percentage of their time spent during 1948 by the staff of inspectors in the factories branch at the headquarters of his Department on office work and actual inspection of factories, respectively.

    Factory inspectors attached to headquarters do not normally carry out inspections of factories in the ordinary sense. On the other hand a large proportion of their work is outside the office. It is estimated that the Chief and Deputy Chief Inspectors of Factories do not spend more than two per cent. of their time in visiting factories.

    County Councils (Grants)

    asked the Minister of Health the percentage of net expenditure met from the Exchequer equalisation grant in the case of the Dorset, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucester, Somerset and Wiltshire County Councils, respectively, for the past year.

    The estimated percentages of expenditure met by Exchequer equalisation grants under Section 2 of the Local Government Act, 1948, according to the most recent provisional calculations for the year 1948–49, are as follows: Dorset, 7.8 per cent.; Cornwall, 29.2 per cent.; Devon, 12.4 per cent.; Gloucester, 33.0 per cent.; Somerset, 19.9 per cent.; Wiltshire, 19.4 per cent. The estimated expenditure on which the grants are calculated, and on which these percentages are based, includes the expenditure of county district councils.

    National Health Service

    Medical And Dental Referees

    asked the Minister of Health what are the functions of part-time Medical and Dental Referees on the Regional staff of his Department.

    Hospitals and Sanatoria, with the number of available beds, at which Streptomycin treatment is available for the following types of cases:—
    A.—Tuberculous Meningitis and Acute Miliary Tuberculosis.
    B.—Tracheo-Bronchial, Laryngeal and Pharyngeal Tuberculosis and Abdominal Tuberculosis.
    C.—Pulmonary Tuberculosis of certain types.
    D.—Genito-Urinary Infections—tuberculous and non-tuberculous.
    E.—Non-Tuberculous Infections resistant to penicillin and sulphonamides.
    Hospital or SanatoriumABCDE
    Leeds General Infirmary222
    York City Hospital31
    Hull City Sanatorium2692
    Hull Royal Infirmary1
    Clayton Hospital, Wakefield1
    Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield555
    Huddersfield Royal Infirmary31
    Halifax General Infirmary31
    St. Luke's Hospital, Bradford6
    Bradford Royal Infirmary2
    Middleton Sanatorium339
    Grassington Sanatorium636
    St. James's Hospital, Leeds62
    Killingbeck Sanatorium2612
    Seacroft Hospital, Leeds52
    Scotton Banks Sanatorium339
    Harrogate Hospital1

    Road Maintenance Expenditure

    asked the Minister of Transport the mileage of Class III roads with the grant allowed and estimated expenditure agreed to in respect of each

    The part-time medical referees examine insured persons on reference by the Ministry of National Insurance and advise on the question whether they are incapable of work. They also examine disabled persons referred by the Ministry of Labour and National Service in order to advise disablement resettlement officers on general questions under the Disabled Persons Acts, 1944. The part-time dental referees examine patients referred by the Dental Estimates Board, by dentists or by the local executive councils, for advice regarding treatment provided under the General Dental Services Regulations.

    Streptomycin Treatment, Leeds

    asked the Minister of Health which are the hospitals under the Leeds Regional Hospital Board where streptomycin treatment is now available.

    Following are the full particulars:of the county councils in Wales for the next financial year, and the mileage of unclassified roads with the total estimated expenditure for the same period.

    The following table shows the required mileages and the amounts provisionally expected to be spent on the maintenance and minor improvement of Class III roads and unclassified roads, together with the

    Approximate Mileage of RoadsEstimated Total ExpenditureEstimated Amount of Grant
    County CouncilClass III RoadsUnclassified RoadsClass III RoadsUnclassified RoadsClass III Roads

    asked the Minister of Transport whether grants made to highway authorities in aid of classified road expenditure for 1949–50 for maintenance purposes are to be equal to those made in 1948–49, including the cost of snow clearance; or by how much they arc to be less.

    The total grants to highway authorities in aid of classified road expenditure for maintenance purpose in 1949–50 are expected to be greater than those made in 1948–49 for maintenance, including the cost of snow clearance.

    National Insurance

    Contributions Arrears

    asked the Minister of National Insurance if he will give figures showing the arrears of payment of contributions by employers and by self-employed persons.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave him on 2nd November on this subject.

    Benefits (Laundry Workers)

    amounts of Road Fund grant appropriate to such expenditure. I am unable to give corresponding particulars for works of major improvement.

    long delay in the granting of sickness benefits to employees of the Channel Laundry, Hove, and other laundries in Sussex, particulars of which have been sent him.

    Inquiries are in hand in this matter, and I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

    Afsrican Colonies (Freight Cars)

    asked the Minister of Supply the number of freight cars and trucks, covered and open, that are in process of manufacture in the United Kingdom for the Nigerian, Gold Coast, and each of the East African Colonies, respectively, and what number have been delivered or are in transit since 1st September, 1948.

    The following freight cars and covered and open trucks are in process of manufacture in the United Kingdom: Nigeria, 807; Gold Coast, 315; Tanganyika, 239; Kenya and Uganda, 223. Since 1st September, 1948, the following have been delivered or are in transit: Nigeria, 126; Gold Coast, Nil; Tanganyika, 45; Kenya and Uganda, Nil.