Skip to main content

Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 27 April 1949

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Royal Air Force

Married Quarters

1.

Rank and appropriate quarterStandard charge per annumAbated Charge per annum
Group III QuarterJunior Officer's QuarterSub Standard Quarter
Air Vice-Marshal and above Group I or special design£175*£160£135£75
Air Commodore: Group 11£160£160£135£75
Group Captain: Group II£135£135£135£75
Wing Commander: Group III£135£135£135£75
Squadron Leader and below: Junior Officer's Quarters£100£100£100£75

* Applies also when occupying a Group II Quarter.

Operations, Malaya

Mr.

asked the Secretary of State for Air what steps are taken by the Royal Air Force in Malaya to prevent injury to the unarmed civilian population during raids on bandit areas.

No bandit-infested area is attacked from the air unless the civil authorities are satisfied that there is no risk to the civilian population. The Royal Air Force take every precaution to ensure accuracy in the attacks.

Could the Minister tell us how it is possible to bomb any area without endangering the population; and paid for married quarters by Royal Air Force officers whose rank is senior to those for whom their accommodation was primarily intended.

As the answer contains a number of figures I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

is the right hon. and learned Gentleman still satisfied that the allocation of these quarters to officers who start their service as officers is satisfactory?

Yes, Sir. In relation to the position in civilian life the treatment of these officers and the rents they are asked to pay are, from their point of view, very satisfactory.

Following is the answer

does he not think that this is more likely to create anti-British feeling in Malaya than anything else?

I think my hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. These bombing attacks take place not on urban areas, towns or villages, but on the bandit camps and hide-outs.

Is it not the fact that nearly all these bombs are dropped actually on the jungle, on the bandit columns when they are there, without endangering any population other than animal life?

Is it not also the case that in some places the bandits are rather dependent upon those who live around them, and would it not be wise for those people to keep away from the bandits?

Germany

Working Week

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make a statement about the proposal to introduce a seven-day week in Germany, in the light of the practice of trade unionism; and, in view of the interference with Sunday observance, which would be caused.

Working arrangements of this nature are a matter for determination by employers and trade unions, subject to any restrictions imposed by German law. No proposal has been made to introduce a seven-day week generally in German industry. The possibility has been examined of introducing seven-day operation in selected plants in the iron and steel industry with the object of obtaining increased and more balanced production but it has been decided that the time is not opportune for such a measure.

Occupation Costs

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what sum the population of Western Germany are expected to contribute towards the Army of Occupation in 1949.

This information is not yet available. The estimates for Occupation costs and other requirements of the Forces of Occupation in Western Germany for the financial year which began on 1st April, 1949, are still under consideration by the Military Governors.

Spain, British Protestant Chapels

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many British Protestant churches have been ordered to be closed in Spain since 1st January, 1947; how many are now closed; and what action he is taking in the matter.

Seven British Protestant chapels in Spain have been closed by order of the Spanish authorities since 1st January, 1947, and are still closed. His Majesty's Embassy in Madrid drew the attention of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to this matter on 21st January, 1948. In the meantime, repeated petitions were made by the pastors of the British chapels for permission to reopen, but these had no effect. The Embassy accordingly addressed a further note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 31st, December, 1948, referring to the assurance given by the Spanish Ambassador in London on behalf of General Franco in 1937 that full religious liberty would be granted to all classes and creeds in Spain; and demanding that the properties should be restored without delay and that those chapels which had fulfilled all requirements of the law should be allowed to reopen. A reply was received to the effect that the matter would be investigated. On 24th March, 1949, His Majesty's Embassy addressed a third note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which they reminded them that they were still awaiting a final reply to their previous representations. The hon. Member may be assured that I shall continue to pursue this matter.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us if it is a fact that the majority of these chapels have been closed down by the local authorities rather than by the central Government and can he press on the central Government to exercise greater control over the activities of the local authorities?

From my point of view the central Government are responsible. I do not believe anyone can do anything in Spain without the authority of the central Government.

Has my right hon. Friend taken the opportunity of reminding the British delegation to the United Nations of the continuance of religious persecution and other objectionable features of the present Spanish Government?

The right hon. Gentleman has spoken specifically of chapels; does he mean that any Anglican churches are left uninterfered with and does he know what denominations the chapels represent?

I cannot give the denominations at the moment, but I think they are mainly Baptist chapels.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us on what pretext these chapels were closed down; whether they did not comply with some local law, or whether it was some religious intolerance?

Northern Rhodesia (Development Plan)

9.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the results of the policy adopted in 1947 of overhauling the 10-year development plan in Northern Rhodesia and making the country self-supporting in foodstuffs.

As the answer is necessarily long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

In view of the fact that the population of this territory has doubled in the last 36 years, is there any hope that they will be able to carry on without outside aid?

Following is the answer

The revision of this plan with the object of helping to secure increased food production in Northern Rhodesia was approved by the Legislative Council last June and it is too early yet to make any detailed statement on the results of the policy thus adopted. The following is a list of the measures so far taken to stimulate food production:

  • (1) A guaranteed price for maize grown by European farmers is declared at the beginning of the season.
  • (2) In 1948 a bonus of 5s. a bag was paid for crops produced above the average of the previous five years. (This bonus is not being repeated in 1949.)
  • (3) Payment of a uniform price for maize is guaranteed to African farmers within the Maize Control Board area, whether on or off the line of rail. This is intended to encourage the development of suitable but more distant maize land.
  • (4) The Government has introduced the grant of a bonus to African farmers, certified as farming on approved lines. Previously this was paid per bag delivered but now it is assessed on the basis of the acreage under maize and its rotational crops. This is proving a material encouragement to the African farmer to improve his methods of husbandry in the maize belt.
  • (5) Efforts to assist farmers in obtaining tractors, heavy earth-moving and stumping machinery are now beginning to be successful and the necessary machinery is arriving.
  • (6) Legislation was passed in 1948 to prevent the sale of immature and breeding stock, and a bounty on weaned beef cattle was introduced to encourage breeding and better methods of husbandry.
  • (7) The Government has introduced a scheme of financial loans to new settlers of up to £1,500 on a pound for pound basis, as an incentive to settlement and the bringing into cultivation of more land.
  • (8) A school is being opened for the training of African Agricultural Instructors and the Agricultural Department has been expanded so that their advice may be more widely available.
  • Aden

    Town Plan

    10.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the town plan for Aden has still not been implemented, in view of his announcement on 9th July, 1947, that steps had been taken to speed up the matter; and whether he is aware of the lack of waterborne drainage and the insanitary conditions of much of the town.

    In accordance with the provisional town plans, development on a considerable scale is proceeding both in residential areas and also in light industrial zones. I cannot agree that much of the town of Aden is in an insanitary condition. The general health of the population is good.

    Has my hon. Friend any knowledge about conditions in the tuberculosis hospital where, according to my last information, 40 men were lying on the floor?

    Overcrowding

    11.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that Jews are arriving into Aden from the Yemen at the rate of 100 a month; and, in view of the overcrowding, what steps he proposes to take to relieve pressure on accommodation in the town of Aden.

    The answer to the first part of the Question is in the negative; as to the second part, overcrowding in the town of Aden has been considerably relieved by emigration to Palestine.

    Labour Department

    12.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will consider establishing a labour department in Aden, in view of the fact that the coolie lines are overcrowded and insanitary.

    Nigeria (Producers' Profits)

    14.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what are the accumulated profits held at present by the Nigerian Government on behalf of Nigerian producers of groundnuts, benniseed, palm oil and palm kernels; and when this sum will be distributed to Nigerian producers.

    I would refer the hon. Member to my speech on Supplementary Estimates on 24th February last.

    Malaya And Singapore

    Shooting (Police Warnings)

    15.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what fresh instructions he has now given to the police in Malaya with regard to the shooting of women.

    The regulations authorising the use of firearms in effecting arrests or preventing escapes already require clear warnings to be given before fire is opened. It is not practicable to discriminate in this matter between men and women. To do so might facilitate the escape of women who are themselves bandits, or are suspected of assisting the bandits in their murderous activities. One of the women killed on 23rd February was in uniform and armed. On 20th April the hands of another woman were blown off by a grenade which she was in the act of throwing at a police patrol.

    In view of the previous statement that these two women were unarmed, will my hon. Friend consider giving an instruction that unarmed people should not be shot?

    I do not remember that a statement was made to the effect that the women were unarmed. One of the women was armed and it is quite impossible to know whether a person is armed or not before fire is opened.

    Is it not well established that both in the case of the bandits and of the squatters who helped them there have been many cases of women who were armed attacking members of His Majesty's Forces?

    Is it not the case that one of the two women shot was described in the official statement as running away and being chased for half a mile before she was shot? Was she armed?

    One of the women was armed and one was not. I must point out to my hon. Friend that the country is very enclosed, the ground is rough and it is largely jungle. Half a mile in Malaya under those conditions is not like half a mile along Parliament Street. As to the other question, it is quite impossible to give orders to the police that they are not to fire unless they first search the people to find whether they are armed. That would destroy the whole point of the regulations.

    Is not this a case in which the principle of "equal pay for equal work" should apply between the sexes?

    Advisory Committees

    16.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many advisory committees there are in Malaya and Singapore; how many persons are on each committee; and what are their qualifications.

    I am obtaining the information required and will write to the hon. Member when it is received.

    Detained Persons

    17.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the authorities have evidence of illegal acts against the 3,964 persons under detention in Malaya and Singapore who have made objections to the advisory committees, but have not been released; and whether it is the intention of the authorities to charge them with alleged offences.

    It is not in the public interest to indicate on what grounds these persons were detained. No charge need be brought against them and the second part of the Question, therefore, does not arise.

    Is it not clear that if only 100 have been released out of 4,000 people who objected to being detained, the other 3,900 are entitled to be tried or released, and that if the authorities have definite charges against them, they should subject them to the usual court procedure? Will the hon. Gentleman look into the matter?

    We have looked into the matter very carefully, but, in the conditions in Malaya, one may be suspicious of persons against whom it is quite impossible to bring a charge. Either there is not sufficient evidence, or the witnesses are liable to be murdered while the case is proceeding. In those circumstances, it is necessary to have the measures we have taken. Every person who is detained has the right of going before a committee of review, which investigates the case and sees if there is evidence of some suspicious activity.

    Malta (Periodical)

    18.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why the weekly periodical, "World News and Views," has been confiscated on being posted to a British citizen in Malta.

    Responsible government was restored to Malta under the Constitution of 1947, and it would not, therefore, be proper to answer this Question, which relates to a matter falling within the competence of Maltese Ministers.

    Could the Minister discuss this matter privately with the authorities in Malta, in view of the fact that they are preventing a periodical entering the country which has quite a wide salt' in this country and therefore ought to be welcomed there?

    I could not undertake to interfere with the way in which Maltese Ministers carry out responsibilities imposed on them by Parliament.

    On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. How is it that a Question is allowed to be put to a Minister and he is able to say that he is not responsible for it? It seems an important point, because other Questions have been refused. If the Question has been allowed, surely the Minister has a responsibility and should answer?

    This is not a self-governing Dominion. It is a Colony and the Minister is responsible for the Colonies.

    If the Minister is responsible for the Colonies—which, of course, is the reason why the Table accepted the Question—surely he has some responsibility, however indirectly, for looking into the matter?

    The Minister's answer was that he had no power. If he refused to answer, I should accept that, but I submit that he has responsibility, although he said he had no power.

    If it is a matter concerning a court of law and is sub judice, of course the Minister has no power.

    Since Parliament gave self-government for internal affairs to Malta, is it not true that the Minister has no responsibility for internal affairs in Malta?

    May I ask the Minister what progress is being made in reviewing Press ordinances in the Island of Malta arising out of the suppression of newspaper bulletins?

    Overseas Broadcasts

    20.

    asked the Postmaster-General if, before sending out broadcasts to foreign countries, Dominions or British dependencies, the British Broadcasting Corporation arrange in each case to have the broadcast relayed where it is possible to do so in these territories so that persons without long distance receiving sets can hear them; and if, in the case of dependencies, the broadcasts are relayed by loud speakers in public places so as to reach the majority of people who have not receiving sets.

    The B.B.C. has no control over broadcasting organisations overseas, but the Corporation arranges whenever possible for its programmes to be rebroadcast by stations overseas, and also supplies them with recorded programmes through the Transcription Service. I understand that listening to public address systems or community wireless receivers takes place in many dependencies and is being extended.

    Does my right hon. Friend think that British taxpayers should be called upon to pay for an unessential service, particularly in Dominions and dependencies which already have their own broadcasting service, and will he say why this duplication is necessary?

    Will the Postmaster-General take every step he can to ensure that broadcasting to foreign nationals is of a character less Left-wing than it is at present?

    Sub-Postmasters (Territorial Camps)

    21.

    asked the Postmaster-General what arrangements have been made to contribute to the cost of the sub-postmasters providing a substitute during the period they attend Territorial Army camps.

    This matter is still under consideration. I will write to the hon. Member as soon as it is settled.

    Telephone Service, Bridgend

    22.

    asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that there is a grave shortage of telephones in Bridgend, Glamorganshire; and for what reason Mr. Jack Powell, bookmaker, of 12, Dunraven Place, Bridgend, was recently granted three new lines.

    I regret that it is not possible at present to provide telephones for all applicants in Bridgend; some are held up through lack of line plant and others owing to the heavy pressure of essential work now on hand. No lines have been provided for Mr. Powell, but I understand that he has arranged with certain subscribers to use their lines.

    Is there an official list of priorities arranged in occupations which applies equally to all exchanges?

    There is a list of priorities which goes to all exchanges throughout the Kingdom.

    Armed Forces

    Court Martial Sentences, Palestine

    24.

    asked the Minister of Defence if he will consider granting an amnesty in all cases arising out of operations in Palestine.

    I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to men sentenced by courts-martial. If so, the answer is "No, Sir."

    Does not the Minister of Defence think that in view of all the circumstances this would be an appropriate time for a generous gesture, and that it would receive great support from the party which is supporting him?

    In most of the cases in connection with Palestine the sentences have already run out. If we were to adopt this principle in respect of the remaining cases the same question would surely be raised in regard to other theatres as well as Palestine, and there would be no end to it.

    Can my right hon. Friend say how many persons now remain in detention and in what proportion of these cases the offences for which the persons were sentenced were offences against regulations involving no act of violence of any kind and regulations outside the ordinary realm of law?

    I answer only about cases which are tried by court martial. I could give figures if my hon. Friend put down a Question.

    Requisitioned Goods, Malaya (Compensation)

    25.

    asked the Minister of Defence why Service Departments in Malaya are refusing to pay compensation for certain goods requisitioned in 1941–42, on the ground that they were requisitioned for purposes of denial; what right of appeal there is against such decisions; and whether he will make a statement.

    The Service Departments do not accept liability for the payment of compensation in respect of goods requisitioned for denial from the enemy which are regarded as falling within the category of ordinary war damage losses. Claims in respect of such cases would be dealt with by the civil Government, and in this connection I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies on 23rd March last. Any decision of a Service Department, if regarded as unacceptable, can be tested in the courts.

    Food Supplies

    Distribution

    26.

    asked the Minister of Food why there are better supplies of food in the North, especially of butter, bacon, eggs and cheese, in accordance with the particulars which have been sent to him; and what steps is he taking to ensure a better distribution of the food available.

    No preference is shown to any particular area in the distribution of rationed foods. Butter, bacon, eggs and cheese are distributed to retailers throughout the country on a basis of the number of customers registered with them. Inquiries which have been made in the area about which the hon. Member has sent me particulars, have revealed no evidence of preferential distribution.

    Will the right hon. Lady ask her right hon. Friend when he will realise that there is no food shortage, and that the shortages and queues are due to bulk purchasing and maldistribution owing to State control? The right hon. Lady cannot answer that one.

    Fats And Sugar (Farm Workers)

    27.

    asked the Minister of Food whether he will grant an increase of the fats and sugar ration to farm workers in the period 1st May to 30th September to offset in some part the effects of the cut in the meat ration in the period when they will be doing heavy work over long hours.

    No, Sir. I think that the reduction must be borne by all sections of the community.

    Does the right hon. Lady appreciate that the cut in the meat ration will fall most heavily on the very people who have to produce the meat?

    The hon. Member must also realise that if we gave extra fats and sugar to agricultural workers the same concession would be demanded by workers in the heavy industries.

    Would the right hon. Lady consider adopting towards agricultural workers the same system which applies to coal miners—that they should be permitted to retain a certain proportion of the food they produce?

    Is the right hon. Lady aware that there is growing feeling on this matter, and that the farm-workers themselves feel that as they produce so high a proportion of the nation's food, they should have some further preference to enable them to do their work to their own and the nation's satisfaction?

    The hon. and gallant Member must remember that farm workers get extra allowances during certain seasonal operations which other workers do not get.

    If the additional fats and sugar to farm workers would give rise to a similar demand from the miners, would not the right hon. Lady give to the farm workers a meat ration similar to that which the miners get?

    Is the hon. Member prepared to ask the agricultural workers to sacrifice their 12 oz. of cheese?

    Nigerian Oils And Oilseeds

    31.

    asked the Minister of Food what profit was made by His Majesty's Government from the sale of Nigerian oils and oilseeds in the year ended 31st January, 1947.

    No separate figures of profits or losses are maintained on imports of oils and fats from particular sources of supply. During the financial year ended 31st March, 1947, the Ministry of Food made a profit of £670,353, or just under 1 per cent. of total sales, on all its transactions in oils and fats.

    Is the Minister aware that the profits for the succeeding year amounted to £14 million, and that they have been separately calculated? Will she inquire into this bulk selling and see what were the actual profits in the previous year?

    The hon. Member must realise that when we are engaged in transactions on this large scale we cannot always break even., It is quite possible that next year there will be a loss which will offset the profits which have been earned.

    Have the profits from these transactions gone to the West African producers or are they retained by the Ministry of Food?

    Certainly they are retained by the Ministry of Food. I have just said that they amount to under 1 per cent.

    Oranges

    32.

    asked the Minister of Food what steps he is taking to increase the supply of oranges.

    The present shortage is seasonal and will, I hope, disappear as soon as the summer season begins.

    Tasmanian Apples

    33.

    asked the Minister of Food the average weight of Tasmanian apples imported into this country in the three full years 1936, 1937, 1938, and the average weight in the years 1946, 1947. 1948.

    Official import returns do not show the quantities of apples received from the individual Australian States. The average annual import of apples from Australia for the three years 1936 to 1938 was 77,057 tons and for the three years 1946 to 1948 was 26,203 tons.

    Can the right hon. Lady give an assurance that she is doing all she can to stimulate this very valuable import at the present time?

    Yes, I can assure the hon. Gentleman on that point, but our difficulty is that there is a shortage of refrigerated tonnage. The available tonnage is being used for meat.

    Carrots

    34.

    asked the Minister of Food whether, in view of the fact that production of carrots is sufficient to meet demand, he will terminate control.

    My right hon. Friend will shortly be discussing with growers and traders whether the time has now come to relax control.

    Can my right hon. Friend give us any idea of when an announcement on this subject is likely to be made?

    35.

    asked the Minister of Food the total tonnage of the 1948 crop of carrots found surplus to human requirements which is being sold by his Department for stock feeding; how many tons now remain on offer; and why these surplus carrots were not cleared in February and March when they would have been of more value to farmers than at the present time when the grass is growing.

    Sixty-four thousand tons of the 125,000 tons of carrots not needed for human consumption are still available for stockfeeding. These carrots have been on offer since 1st January, but farmers apparently preferred to buy potatoes for their animals.

    Surely, if the Minister knew of this very heavy tonnage of surplus carrots he should have pushed their disposal much earlier, at Christmas time or before, so that they could have been some use for stock feeding.

    Does not the right hon. Lady realise that one of the difficulties in this matter has been movement, and tint the Ministry have concentrated on moving potatoes and left the carrots to rot?

    Is the right hon. Lady aware that in many parts of the country it is completely unknown that carrots are still available, and that in answer to requests, merchants say that they cannot get them.

    I can only repeat that we circularised merchants in the first week in January; and we advertised in the farming papers in March.

    But we are now in April, and people have forgotten what the Ministry advertised in January.

    If these carrots cannot be used for stock feeding purposes at once, will my right hon. Friend see that they are dried and thus preserved for future use as animal feedingstuffs?

    36.

    asked the Minister of Food what is the cost involved in disposing of his Department's stocks of surplus carrots at 40s. a ton; and what is the tonnage and value of carrots imported during the 1948–49 season.

    The net cost to the Ministry of disposing of surplus carrots bought under the guarantee to growers is on average about £9 per ton. According to the Trade and Navigation Accounts 168 tons of carrots to the value of £12,373 were imported between 1st October, 1948. and 31st March, 1949.

    Does that mean that the taxpayer is to expend about half a million pounds on dealing with this surplus of carrots, while at the same time we are finding foreign exchange to buy imported carrots?

    No, Sir. In answer to the first part of the supplementary question, I do not recall that the hon. Gentleman ever objected to this Government guarantee to the farmers. In fact, he has always accepted it willingly. If that is so, the first part of the supplementary question does not arise—

    Certainly not. Hawing given this guarantee to the farmers we must, of course, honour it, and that will cost money. So far as the second part of the supplementary question is concerned, that is something which cannot be said to compete with this particular commodity. This is the new carrot which is now retailing at something like 10d. to 1s. per lb., whereas the old carrot is retailing at a maximum price of 2d.

    Why did not the Minister offer these carrots earlier in the season when he could have got more than £2 per ton instead of charging the taxpayer for them?

    Sugar (Bulk Importation)

    37.

    asked the Minister of Food whether it is the intention of the Government in future to encourage the importation of sugar loose in bulk instead of in bags so as to secure a saving in cost by the use of mechanical grabs and an additional saving in the cost of jute bags.

    The report on the first experimental bulk shipment of sugar has not yet been completed. Until we know the results of this experiment, we are not able to assess the advantages of bulk importation.

    Do the Government fully understand the enormous saving in shipping, apart from the advantages which have been pointed out in the Question; and will they make quite sure that they are not put off by any people who are not so well informed as are the people in this House?

    Can the right hon. Lady say what is the attitude of the trade unions concerned to this form of discharging ships carrying sugar?

    No Sir, I certainly could not without consulting the trade unions. There will be a report on the question, and no doubt the workers will be asked to give any information they can on the matter.

    Stored Feedingstuffs, Kimbolton

    38.

    asked the Minister of Food what quantities of grain, cattle cake and other feedingstuffs have been stored at Kimbolton Aerodrome, Huntingdonshire, for longer than four months; and whether he will make a statement as to his policy for disposing of the commodities placed in that store.

    On 23rd April the quantities were 492 tons of maize; 554 tons of barley; 182 tons of oats, and 141 tons of cattle cake. These will be issued from store in the normal course of releases for consumption.

    Is the right hon. Lady aware that this practice of holding foodstuffs in store is a very wasteful one, that at a time when local farmers and others are badly needing them they are being consumed to some extent by rats and mice and other vermin, and will she look into this matter further with a view to avoiding such waste?

    I do not think that the hon. Gentleman should generalise in that way. If he cares to give detailed information I will look into it. He has already written about this aerodrome. He has put a Question down, and we have made inquiries and find no sign of deterioration at all.

    Will the right hon. Lady agree to a representative of her Ministry accompanying representatives of the farming industry and myself on an inspection of this and other similar premises in the area?

    Is it not necessary to retain in store sufficient feedingstuffs to meet the requirements of our rapidly increasing herds and flocks between now and harvest? Is it not a fact that the depredations of rats are far less in the stores than in the stacks on the farms?

    I agree with my hon. Friend. If we had no stocks of feedingstuffs, we should be vulnerable to attack.

    National Service (Students)

    39.

    asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the hardship caused to conscripted Service personnel who have been accepted for admission into teacher training colleges or universities in September next, but who are not due for release until a few weeks after the date due for admission; and whether he will consider release in suitable cases on the applicant undertaking to continue military training with the Territorial Army.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend on 25th January to the hon. Member for East Harrow (Mr. Skinnard) which stated that

    "intending students who were called up before the end of July, 1948, and who, but for the general slow-down in releases would have been released in time to start their studies this autumn, will be allowed early release if applied for by universities, technical colleges, or teachers' training colleges."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT. 25th January, 1949; Vol. 460, c. 112.]

    Will the Parliamentary Secretary convey that to the Ministry of Education?

    I understand that this information is very well known. It has been circulated to all the vice-chancellors, and all the university authorities are aware of it.

    Questions To Ministers

    On a point of Order. Mr. Speaker. Questions today have now occupied exactly half-an-hour. Would it not, therefore, be suitable to review the Standing Orders and bring back again the peace-time custom, so as to give a further opportunity to answer Questions that have been passed over owing to the temporary absence of the Members concerned?

    The hon. and gallant Member will realise that on the second day after the Recess very few Questions are put down. I have no doubt that tomorrow we shall have our full complement. If the House wishes to change the ordinary custom about a second round that is a matter for the House. I cannot give directives on that matter although I believe that it is not part of our Standing Order. It was accepted by the House, but, of course, if it is wished to make a change through the usual channels, I shall comply with the wishes of the House.