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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 10 May 1949

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Lodging And Travelling Allowances


asked the Minister of Labour in what industries he is paying subsistence and travelling allowances to workers living away from home; why he is not doing so in the case of the building and civil engineering industry; and whether he will reconsider this position in relation to municipal housing contracts in areas where there is a severe shortage of labour and where the cost of these allowances is at present borne by the local authority.

Grants and allowances are payable by the Ministry of Labour to workers who transfer to industries such as coalmining and cotton, or to very important branches of other industries, such as the manufacture of heavy electrical plant, where there is a special demand for labour. In the building industry, movement from job to job is normal practice and industrial agreements make provision for lodging allowances, where appropriate, to be payable by the employer. There is, therefore, no ground for special provision to be made by the Ministry.

Is it not an anomalous position that private industry is assisted and charges for subsistence allowance are met by taxpayers, whereas in the case of an increase in municipal housing contracts, where large blocks of workers are transferred from, say, South Wales to Staffordshire, costs have to be met by the municipal tenants or the ratepayers?

That anomaly would not be cured by providing another one, which would be the anomaly between private building and public authority building. This arrangement has been made within the industry, and the Ministry cannot interfere.

Disputes (Settlement Methods)


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will appoint a committee of inquiry into the machinery for dealing with disputes and grievances, in view of repeated unofficial strikes that have occurred; and if he will arrange for the committee to have powers to investigate methods of conciliation to deal with recurrent troubles or disputes on minor points.

I am satisfied that the present methods for the settlement of disputes, including conciliation, are most effective, and in the circumstances no useful purpose would be served by the appointment of a committee of inquiry as suggested by my hon. Friend.

Ministry's Offices (Teleprinters)


asked the Minister of Labour how many teleprinters are installed in Ministry of Labour regional offices; what was the capital cost of providing them; what is the annual cost of maintaining them; and what is the approximate number of messages sent by the teleprinters per week.

There are 77 teleprinter machines in use in Ministry of Labour offices, of which 16 are installed in regional offices. The weekly average number of messages sent by all teleprinter machines is about 2,000. As regards the second and third parts of the Question, the machines are provided and maintained by my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General.

Is it not true that the number of messages sent between the regional offices does not justify the high expense of installing these machines?

I am afraid the hon. and gallant Member is under a misapprehension. The vast majority of the messages are sent out from London, from the headquarters, and I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman will appreciate the necessity of having quick means of communication so that we can supply the greatest possible information in answer to Questions in this House.

Calico Printing Industry


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that shortage of workers in certain sections of the calico printing industry is causing serious delay to export for important markets; and what action he proposes to take to remedy this situation.

No, Sir. If my hon. Friend has any particular instance in mind, I should be grateful if he would let me have particulars.

Would my right hon. Friend have another look at this matter, because my information is that large quantities of printing cloth lie for a very considerable time after they have been manufactured and that that is very largely due to lack of labour in the printing works?

I only want to say that we have no vacancies notified to the Ministry of Labour for this kind of work.

Disabled Persons, West Cumberland


asked the Minister of Labour if he will consider the erecting of a factory for disabled persons in the district of Workington and Maryport, West Cumberland.

The Disabled Persons Employment Corporation has for some time been endeavouring to find premises or a site suitable for a factory to cover the needs of Workington, Maryport and Whitehaven, but has not so far been successful.

European Volunteer Workers


asked the Minister of Labour how many female German workers have been placed in employment in the hosiery industry; and how many more are likely to be available monthly.

One hundred and seventy-seven German women have been placed in the hosiery industry. The number available in the future depends on the numbers who will prove willing to volunteer for transfer to Great Britain, and it is not as yet possible to estimate this.

Will the Minister appreciate that this industry is 30,000 short of its pre-war female labour force and do his best to get more of these workers?

Yes, Sir. I would say, however, that the greatest help we could have in the matter would be from letters to Germany indicating the satisfaction of these German girls with their employment in this industry.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the question of hostel accommodation is a very important factor in solving this very difficult problem?

Our difficulty is not with hostels at the moment, but in getting girls.

8 and 9.

asked the Minister of Labour (1) how many European volunteer workers from Full Sutton camp have been detailed by his Department to take up certain employment; and how many have refused;

(2) how many European volunteer workers from Full Sutton camp have been placed in employment and have since returned to this camp.

From May, 1947, to the end of April, 1949, approximately 25,000 European volunteer workers were offered approved employment, and of these 153 have been reported for refusal to take it. From May, 1947, to 30th April, 1949, about 25,000 European volunteer workers from Full Sutton holding hostel were placed in employment for the first time. About 4,600 of these people returned to the hostel for further placing, and most of them have since been placed in other employment.

Cannot arrangements be made to place these voluntary workers in gainful employment more quickly so that idle time is not left on their hands? When they have been offered employment and have refused, are they deprived of their meat ration?

The number of cases in which we have had a refusal is so small that it has not been necessary to take special measures. An indication of the smallness of the number is the figure of those who have had to be deported back to Germany, and that number is just under 200. That indicates that, on the whole, the European volunteer workers have reacted very well to the scheme and have played the game.


asked the Minister of Labour whether, as the result of his inquiries into the damage caused by European volunteer workers at the Full Sutton camp in Yorkshire, he will now state what disciplinary action he proposes to take to ensure that the damage to neighbouring farms is not repeated.

As my right hon. Friend has already explained in correspondence with the hon. Member, the management of the camp are already doing all they can to prevent trespassing on surrounding property.

Is there any point in the right hon. Gentleman's giving assurances to the farmers that he will protect them in this matter if he is not prepared to take any disciplinary action?

I have not indicated that there is no disciplinary action taken in this matter. Disciplinary action has been taken.

National Service (Emigration)


asked the Minister of Labour if his regulations permit young men, who because of physical disability are exempt from military service, to emigrate.

Can the Minister say whether any obstacles are placed in the way of young men in these circumstances? Does the young man in question have to obtain permission from the right hon. Gentleman's Ministry before he can emigrate?

I am not certain whether he has to obtain permission, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that, if that is the case, permission is granted very readily.


Building Workers


asked the Minister of Labour what was the shortage of building workers in Scotland on 31st March; and what steps are now being taken to build up the labour force necessary to increase the rate of house building in Scotland.

The total number of outstanding building and civil engineering vacancies on 31st March, 1949, was 2,642, including 1,164 for housing contracts. Every effort is being made to divert available labour to those housing contracts which are seriously short of labour, and housing vacancies are now being filled at the rate of 680 a week.

Can the Minister tell us whether the labour situation is really getting better or getting worse?

The fact that we are able to fill all the vacancies in Scotland is an indication that the position is very much easier.

What is the cause of this shortage? Is it due to a drift of workers South, or is it due to their going into other trades? Does the Minister realise that it is having very serious results?

It is due to the fact that we are starting very large contracts in Scotland and that it takes time to get a balance in the contracts as well as in the building industry.

As the Secretary of State for Scotland is presently proposing to place new responsibilities on the building industry in Scotland, will the Parliamentary Secretary make every effort to increase the available supplies of labour?

I am going to Scotland next week to examine the position on the spot.


asked the Minister of Works what percentage of building tradesmen in Scotland were engaged on the erection of permanent houses on 31st December, 1948, and 31st March, 1949.

The percentages of building operatives employed on construction of permanent houses and preparation of housing sites on the two dates mentioned were 30.2 and 28.2 respectively. Both figures include direct labour employed by local authorities.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us where the rest of the building labour was employed, in view of the fact that such a small percentage was on house building?

This is house building. A very large part of the labour was engaged on house repair and maintenance, as well as on industrial and other building.

Pig And Poultry Feedingstuffs


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will now restore the allocation of feedingstuffs for pigs to those breeders of both pigs and poultry who lost their allocation for pigs last October when the new scheme for improvement of poultry stocks was introduced.

No, Sir. Until the feeding-stuffs supply position is more assured, I am afraid no further improvement in ration issues is possible.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that a great deal of hardship is caused to many small people who have always been accustomed to keeping two or three pigs and who could continue to do so if an amount of feedingstuffs, small in comparison to the total, were made available to them? Is it good enough to remedy one hardship only to create another?

Of course, as the hon. Gentleman is probably aware, part of the idea of the scheme was that the local small farmers should do something from their own resources in keeping pigs. We are very anxious to increase the pig population, and are continually examining the position with a view to helping as early as possible in this situation.

Agricultural Wages


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the minimum rates of wages for agricul- tural workers fixed by the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board from 23rd May; and how they compare with the rates prevailing in Scotland in 1938.

In the case of male general workers of 20 years and over the minimum agricultural wage will be 94s. per week as compared with 32s. to 36s. 6d. in 1938.

Could the Secretary of State confirm that skilled shepherds are now to get 104s. per week? Is not this the most remarkable piece of progress ever made in agriculture in Scotland?

Yes, Sir. I have not given the details of all the grades. This is a minimum wage. In Scotland skilled people are paid more than that. I will circulate detailed information in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this shows the wisdom and foresight of Tory misrule, which set up these wages boards?

is the right hon. Gentleman aware that 36s. in 1938 could buy a great deal more than 104s. today?

What was the purchasing power of the pound sterling at the two dates?

I am sure that all these things will not influence the farm workers, who know they are much better off than ever they were.

Following is the detailed information:

The minimum agricultural wage rates to come into effect in Scotland on 23rd May for male workers of 20 years of age and over are 94s. per week for general workers; 104s. 3d. for shepherds; and 102s. 3d. for other specialists. For women workers of 18 and under 21 years the new rate will be 63s. 6d., and for specialists 71s.; with 70s. '6d. and 78s. 9d. respectively for women of 21 years and over.

Proportional increases have been made in the hourly and overtime rates and also in the rates for juvenile workers.

The comparable minimum rates for 1938 were: male general workers, 32s. to 36s. 6d.; shepherds, 35s. 6d. to 44s.; other specialists, 34s. 6d. to 45s.; women of 18 years and over, 21s. 6d. to 24s., with 26s. to 27s. for specialists.

Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what increase there has been in the number of persons employed in the Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen, since 5th July, 1948; and in which departments.

There has been a net increase of 64. With permission, I shall circulate details in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Can the right hon. Gentleman indicate whether this increase is on the administrative side, and, if so, whether he is satisfied that the extra people employed are, in fact, fully occupied and necessary?

There are only about six of them on administrative work. Over half of them are nurses, and the rest are in various sections of the medical staff.

Following is the information:

Department of HospitalStaff at 30th June, 1948Staff at 30th April, 1949
Technical (X-ray, laboratory, physiotherapy, etc.2837

* Excluding vacancies.

† Honorary and consultant staffs in June, 1948, now regional appointments based on the hospital.

Hearing Aids

19, 20 and 21.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) the number of applications for hearing aids under the National Health Service in Scotland and the number for whom the only type of hearing aid has been proved to be unsuitable;

(2) if he will make other types of hearing aids available to applicants under the National Health Service when the Medresco hearing aid is unsuitable;

(3) if he will make all types of hearing aids available to applicants under the National Health Service on condition of payment of additional cost.

The number of applications for Medresco hearing aids under the National Health Service in Scotland is 6,486. So far 1,278 have been issued. Complete figures of persons for whom the aid is unsuitable are not available, but the proportion is estimated at less than 10 per cent. The Medresco aid was based on research carried out by the Medical Research Council, and I am advised that it is suitable in its present form for the great majority of patients. Further experimental work is being carried on to develop an additional type to meet the needs of the remainder. It is intended also that research and development work will continue. In view of the arrangements which I have mentioned, I cannot undertake to provide commercial hearing aids.

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that there are at the moment other types of hearing aid that would be suitable, and that there is a large proportion of applicants, 10 per cent. of the total, who could be assisted if he would make that type of aid available? Is it thought likely that the Medresco type of hearing aid will be made suitable for them?

All we can hope is that the new device we are expecting to be developed will be as successful in relation to other patients as the Medresco hearing aid has been in relation to the majority of patients.

Three-Apartment Houses


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the reasons which have led to a relaxation in his policy concerning the building of three-apartment houses in Scotland.

Since the cessation of the temporary house scheme, several local authorities have reported difficulties in providing suitable accommodation for small families, and where it is shown that a real need exists, a limited proportion of three-apartment permanent houses is being allowed for this purpose.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the fact that three-apartment houses already form a high percentage of our housing accommodation, and that a large proportion of these houses are grossly overcrowded; and will he take steps to prevent a perpetuation of this overcrowding?

Yes, Sir. These three-apartment houses are being provided for a different purpose. Where an authority is developing a new estate, it is obvious that three-apartment houses in some other part of the town would not fit in with the general housing development, and these houses, are being provided with a view to getting balanced development in each housing site.

Is the Minister aware that a great deal of overcrowding is due to the fact that there are several small families in one house who need separate houses, and will he persevere with the building of three-apartment houses?

Will the Secretary of State give an assurance that he will not use the same argument to allow two-apartment houses?

Yes. Sir; although there are cases where local authorities may want to build two-apartment houses for old age pensioners living alone, and in those exceptional circumstances that may be allowed.

Key Workers (Houses)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what special steps are being taken to meet those housing shortages which, according to Command Paper No. 7676, Industry and Employment in Scotland, 1948, are holding up the development of forestry, mining and new industries, and the transfer of the unemployed to areas where there are unfilled vacancies.

I would refer the hon. Member to what is said on this subject in paragraphs 76, 97 and 246 of the Report. Later information shows that the Forestry Commission have completed 149 houses out of a programme of 605 so far approved, that 8,772 houses have been let to miners since the war, and that 1,022 houses have been approved or made available for key workers.

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the steps which he proposes to take will not simply result in a diversion of houses, but in an increase in the size of the programme?

Some of these houses are being arranged in such a way as to provide a livelihood for people who go to live in the houses. When the key workers are housed, this will provide a livelihood for a great number of workers once the industry is established.

Is it not a fact that houses provided for the development of forestry are service houses?

Industry And Employment


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether it is intended to publish a popular edition of Command Paper No. 7676, Industry and Employment in Scotland, 1948.

No, Sir. The White Paper on Industry and Employment in Scotland is a plain factual review of trends and developments during 1948 and I do not think that it calls for a popular edition each year.

Is it not a fact that the existing edition is a very popular edition and that no second edition is required?

Pensions (Personal Case)


asked the Minister of Pensions if he is aware that Robert Kimm Jeffrey, c/o Adams, 21, Granville Street, Glasgow, C.3, who had his disability pension withdrawn in May, 1944, but had a decision of the special review tribunal in his favour in November, 1948, is still waiting for payment of the pension arrears due; and when payment may be expected.

The payment of pension in respect of Mr. Jeffrey's disability was resumed on 7th January. Arrears for the period May, 1944, to January, 1949, have now been paid.

British Army

Officers (Travel Warrants)


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will review the regulations by which officers below the rank of major are now issued with third-class travel warrants for journeys by train; and what is the reason for these regulations.

The regulation, which dates from 1935, provides that officers below the rank of substantive major travelling by train at public expense will journey third class unless necessarily travelling in uniform, when they will travel first class. In this respect when not in uniform their entitlement is similar to that of other corresponding grades in the Government Service. The post-war regulations for travelling generally are in course of preparation.

In reviewing these regulations, will the Minister bear in mind that, owing to the very high cost of civilian clothing and the fact that more than half of those receiving commissions in these days have no private income of their own, the whole situation has altered since before the war? Will he give careful thought to that point?

Will my right hon. Friend also keep before him the fact that one of his declared purposes is to democratise the British Army?

Is not the Minister aware that it is most inadvisable for officers to travel with ratings, whether they are in uniform or whether they are in civilian clothes?

Married Quarters, Sandhurst


asked the Secretary of State for War how many married quarters are provided for officers instructing at the Royal Military Academy; and how many married officers are on the strength of the Academy.

Twenty-two married quarters are occupied by military officers at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. There are 88 married officers on the strength of the Academy.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that it is a disgraceful state of affairs if only one-quarter of those on the strength of the Academy are enabled 'to live in married quarters, and is he further aware of the very high cost of obtaining other accommodation?

I am aware of all the difficulties, but we have plans in preparation in order to remedy the defects. This is not a new problem; it is a problem which has accumulated over a long period of years.

Is the Minister aware that this problem is much more serious now than it was before the war, and that what these officers and other ranks want are not plans but houses; and will he try to cease showing such masterly inactivity in this matter?

The problem has only become more serious because of our anxiety to solve it.

Can my right hon. Friend say how many married officers were provided with quarters when the Royal Academy was at Woolwich?

In fact, the position was exceedingly bad before this Government came into office.

King's Regulations


asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is intended to consolidate King's Regulations and remove the present difficulty of ascertaining what Regulations are subject to amendment; and when the last revised edition was issued.

The last complete revision of King's Regulations was published in 1940. A reprint of this edition, incorporating amendments to February, 1945, was issued in 1945. A fresh revision will be undertaken as soon as practicable, but I regret that this cannot be at an early date, in view of the pressure of work.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the state of King's Regulations and the difficulties with which officers are confronted in keeping them up to date when they have so many duties in other directions, and will he hasten the issue of an up-to-date edition?

We are very anxious to comply with the hon. Gentleman's request. A great many modifications have taken place since the end of the war, and the Army has not yet resumed its normal state. It requires to reach a condition of normality before we can do what is required.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the suggestion that the amendments of King's Regulations should be of two kinds—the urgent ones to be issued immediately, and the less urgent to await eventual reprint?

Ammunition Dumps


asked the Secretary of State for War how many troops in the United Kingdom are detailed for the protection and demolition of dumps of ammunition left over as surplus to requirements.

It is not the policy to give any analysis of the strength of the Army other than that shown in Army Estimates.

Surely the right hon. Gentleman is aware that if a lot of troops are engaged in these duties that does not add to the efficiency of the Army?

We have a very large number of troops engaged in these important duties, but that is no reason why we should give the precise categories.

Territorial Army Recruits (Personal Information)


asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that men joining the Territorial Army are required to reply to a number of personal questions concerning Christian names and surnames of parents, mother's maiden name, address of birth, etc.; why a simple statement of the name and address of next-of-kin is not sufficient; and if, in view of the embarrassment caused to those who were born out of wedlock, he will consider reducing such questions to a minimum

In the normal case the information asked for as to parentage is limited to the nationality at birth of father and mother, and it is not found in practice that the answering of these questions involves embarrassment. The same questions are put to Regular recruits and National Service men and similar information is asked for from applicants for civilian employment in the Government service. In certain cases where there is an alien connection or the applicant was born in a foreign country, further details are asked for, but they are kept to the minimum consistent with the requirements of security. All information obtained is, of course, treated as confidential.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the cases to which I am referring are not those of aliens or of men with alien connections, and that real embarrassment can be caused, especially in the Territorial Army, when a man may be asked for particulars about his family in front of a lot of other people from the same neighbourhood; and is he sure that the practice is uniform in all parts of the country?

If the practice is not uniform and does not bear out what I have said in reply to my hon. Friend's Question, I should like to make inquiries, and perhaps he will give me further particulars.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when information of this personal kind is asked for in the Territorial Army, it is not asked for, as the hon. Gentleman suggests, in front of a number of people, but confidentially in a small office?



asked the Secretary of State for War if, in order to encourage recruiting, he will consider starting the tattoos at Aldershot and at Tidworth again.

The matter has been under consideration recently, but it is not considered practicable to hold large-scale tattoos during this year or next. Local tattoos will, however, be held, where the general officer commanding-in-chief is satisfied that desirable objects can be achieved without undue interference with training.

Bands (Civil Engagements)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the attempt of the Musicians' Union to prevent military bands from playing at civil entertainments; and whether he will give an assurance that no interference with the bands of His Majesty's Forces will be tolerated in future.

Subject to the exigencies of the Service, Army bands are permitted to accept civil engagements of a nonpolitical character, under certain conditions, one of which is that the terms shall not be lower than those which would in the same circumstances be accepted by a civilian band of the same size in the same locality. I am not prepared to recommend the withdrawal of the longstanding permission given to Service bands to enter into engagements of this kind in accordance with the approved regulations.

Is the Secretary of State aware that in the case which gave rise to this Question there was no undercutting by the Band of the Grenadier Guards, and that the demand of the Musicians' Union that the promoters of the ball should either cancel the show or send the band of the Grenadier Guards away was therefore nothing short of blackmail?

If there was any blackmail it is for the aggrieved parties to take proceedings.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that after their original refusal to allow the military band to play, the union representatives offered, apparently as an afterthought, kindly to allow the band to play so long as they did not do so in uniform; and would that meet with his approval?

Well, I cannot help what happened on that occasion, but I have stated the quite definite principle by which I intend to stand.

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the appearance of military bands in uniform is always a popular feature at civilian functions, and calculated to assist recruiting?

Entirely apart from the recruiting objective, I do not imagine that the public would take kindly to any proposal to prevent Army bands from appearing in public.

Will the Secretary of State consider allowing the members of these military bands to join the Musicians' Union?

They have already got a very close corporation and I see no reason for any other.

Soldier's Death (Notification)


asked the Secretary of State for War what medical examination was given Private George F. Carroll, 17th Platoon, "B" Company, Royal Army Pay Corps, T/c., prior to his enrolment as Grade I; and why his parents were not notified of his removal to hospital, where he was for over two weeks, until the day before his death and too late for them to see him.

This soldier was given the usual medical examination by the Ministry of Labour before he joined the Army. Official notification of admission to hospital is sent to the next-of-kin only when a patient is unable to write or is placed on the seriously or dangerously ill list. In this case the soldier was not unable to write on admission to hospital. He was placed on the dangerously ill list on 2nd April, when a telegram was immediately sent to his parents, who I understand were unfortunately not able to reach the military hospital at Aldershot from Glasgow until within a few minutes of the death of their son. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing my sympathy with them.

Is the Secretary of State aware that this soldier had four examinations, two of them by specialists, and an X-ray, and that the authorities were well aware of the health of the soldier in his civilian life; and in view of 'the fact that this regrettable state of affairs has arisen in this case, will he take steps to see that the civilian health histories of, soldiers, especially when doubts such as existed in this case have been adequately displayed, are considered in future?

I cannot see that anything wrong was done in this particular case. I am advised that the cause of death was rheumatic fever and bronchial pneumonia, and I would imagine from that that it must he attributable to his service.

Is the Secretary of State aware that a Glasgow boy dropped dead in Egypt; and in cases which are now being passed from the Ministry of Labour, where there are doubts about the heart condition of the individual, should not the benefit of the doubt be given to the man so that these tragedies do not occur?

Many allegations are made and I should like to have confirmation by having the exact particulars.

Does the machinery for dealing with this not allow the Secretary of State and his people to have knowledge of the civilian health of a soldier; and does not the fact that four specific examinations were required to eliminate doubt indicate that there must have been such a doubt as should have been exercised in favour of the soldier so that he was not graded A.1?

I do not see that that has anything to do with the case. This is simply a question whether we should have informed the next-of-kin. As it happens, on admission to hospital the soldier himself was able to write to his relatives; and secondly, in the opinion of the medical authorities of the hospital, he was not then dangerously ill.

Town And Country Planning

Development Charge


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning the aggregate amount so far collected in development charges under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947.


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning the actual amount of development charges collected by the Central Land Board up to the last convenient date.


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning the total amount so far received by the Central Land Board in respect of development charge.

Up to the end of April approximately £715,000 had been paid in respect of development charge. A further £731,000 had been determined and set off against claims on the £300 million.

Is this collection up to my right hon. Friend's expectations at this date?

Compulsory Purchase Orders


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning why compulsory powers of purchase were not used in favour of Mr. Gould, 70A, Tudor Road, Cardiff, who applied for the assistance of the Central Land Board over a year ago.

The decision whether to make a compulsory purchase order under Section 43 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, has been entrusted by Parliament to the Central Land Board and I cannot undertake to answer questions about individual cases. I am concerned only when an order has been made by the Board and submitted to me for confirmation.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is much confusion about the workings of the Central Land Board; and will he give some indication of the general principles upon which they decide whether compulsory powers shall be exercised?

I have asked my right hon. Friend the question, and I should be very glad to have his reply.

Stevenage And Hemel Hempstead


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning the number of full-time administrative staff employed on each of the new towns of Stevenage and Hemel Hempstead on 31st March, 1949; and the total cost up to that date of administrative salaries and any other unremunerative expenses or commitments not directly connected with the housing of persons moved from London.

I assume that the noble Lady has in mind the whole of the office staff in both cases; in that event the answer to the first part of the Question is Stevenage 80, and Hemel Hempstead 106. As to the second part, I am not clear precisely what the noble Lady has in mind. Under the New Towns Act accounts have to be prepared by corporations and laid before Parliament. The accounts for the year ended 31st March last have not yet been received but when they are published she will, I hope, be able to extract the information she desires.


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning the number of houses in the new towns of Stevenage and Hemel Hempstead which had been started for persons moved from London by 31st March, 1949; and the number actually occupied by that date.

Work has now begun at Hemel Hempstead on 100 houses, a large proportion of which will be available for persons from London. The small number of houses so far built at Stevenage have not been primarily for persons from London. It is hoped that before long each corporation will be starting work on further instalments.

Single House Plots


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the difficult position of certain single plot holders who bought land after 1st July, 1948, with assignment of any compensation rights possessed by the former owners in respect of Part VI of the Town and Country Planning Act, but who are excluded from the benefits of the scheme described in the Central Land Board pamphlet, "House 2"; and whether, with a view to obviating hardship, he will extend the provisions of this pamphlet to those who bought land for the erection of a house for their own occupation during the first few months after the Act came into force.

Ample warning was given beforehand of the effects of the 1947 Act, and the fact that these purchasers took an assignment of the vendor's Part VI claim indicates that they were not unaware of its provisions. They stand in a different position from those who bought before the Act came into full operation. It is regretted, therefore, that it is impossible to adopt the course suggested.

Will my right hon. Friend amplify what he means by saying that they stand in a different position from those who bought the land before the Act came into full operation, since there are people who did buy land before 5th July, 1948?

National Finance

Sterling (Value)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if it is his policy to devalue the £ sterling.

Will the hon. Gentleman ask his right hon. and learned Friend to make up his mind soon whether he intends to devalue in one, two or three months, and so end the uncertainty?

My right hon. and learned Friend has already made up his mind that any such step as this is neither necessary nor desirable.

Income Tax Acts (Codification)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, when the general revision of the Income Tax Acts is under consideration, attention will be paid to the method of appointment of general commissioners and to the property qualification; and how soon he anticipates that it will be possible to revise these provisions.

Yes, Sir. This question will be dealt with when the Income Tax Acts are codified but I cannot say when that will be.

Post-War Credits


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now consider making payment of post-war credits to anyone who is medically assured is incapable of living more than a limited time, and will thus be unable to receive their credits at the age of 60 or 65.

No, Sir. The difficulties of extending special treatment in cases of hardship have frequently been explained in Debate.

Is not this a particularly heartless reply when the right hon. Gentleman is asked to consider the suggestion that these people should have a little more money before they die in order that they can have the opportunity of enjoying the few luxuries to which they are entitled?

Is the Financial Secretary aware of the very great concern widely felt at the very unsympathetic attitude of the Treasury towards cases of hardship, as evidenced by the fact that the Treasury are not prepared to find out what it would cost to make the concession?

Is it any good asking the Treasury to reconsider this question, because, although the right hon. Gentleman is right in saying that the difficulties of the position have been explained, they have not convinced us on this side of the House or the people who think they are suffering a grievance?

I cannot help that. We have discussed this many times and the prime difficulty is one of definition.

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that he will not take the same steps to burke the discussion of this matter on the Finance Bill as his right hon. and learned Friend has done with the Purchase Tax?

I did not know that it was my right hon. and learned Friend. It was the House which agreed to the Resolution to which the right hon. Gentleman refers—

—and if he is criticising the House, that is another matter. I have not the slightest doubt that this question will be raised during the Debates on the Finance Bill, and if that is so an answer will be given.

Does my right hon. Friend realise what a dangerous thing it is for any doctor to say to his patient that he can only live a limited length of time?

Can my right hon. Friend give the House an estimate of what this concession might cost if it were conceded?

Petrol Duty (Farm Tractors)

49 and 50.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) why he has not found it possible to consider favourably the scheme submitted by the National Farmers' Union and the National Farmers' Union of Scotland for the repeal of the duty on petrol used for agricultural farm tractors and machinery and horticultural equipment;

(2) if he has considered the scheme submitted by Norfolk Tractors, Limited, for the removal of petrol tax on farm tractors; and what decision he has reached.

It would be necessary to define with sufficient exactness the purposes for which petrol is to be free of taxation; and, secondly, to have means of administering the exemption effectively and with fairness to all concerned. In my right hon. and learned Friend's opinion, neither of these requirements could be met in the case the hon. Member refers to.

Could not the right hon. Gentleman make a simple rule, at any rate in the case of tractors which are driven by petrol, in order that a reduction could be made?

Development Value (Claims)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many claims for compensation for loss of development value have so far been made; and how much the total claims made to this date are.

The number of claims received up to the end of April was approximately 100,000. The amount is not known as claimants are not obliged to state the amount claimed.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the number of approximately 100,000 claims is up to the estimate which his Department originally thought would be the number of claims?

The number is quite academic. It is what the claims stand for, and as yet that is not known. I am sorry that without notice I cannot answer the question put to me by my hon. Friend.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the great strain put on professional men to get these claims in by the last day of June, which is the present tinal day, and will he consider extending the time?

The time has already been extended once and we cannot go on extending it.

War Damage Commission (Interviews)


asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury how many personal interviews have been granted in the last 12 months by the Chairman of the War Damage Commission to persons desirous of raising with him questions with reference to decisions of the Commission.

I am informed by the Chairman of the War Damage Commission that statistical records are not kept of the number of such interviews, but that it must be very large.

He cannot, however, undertake to interview claimants or their advisers personally on individual cases, if only because the number of notified claims is over 3½ million. He is always, of course, ready to see an hon. Member about cases raised by his constituents, or to arrange for applicants themselves to be seen by senior officers as appropriate.

Does the Chairman follow the salutary practice of granting an interview in cases where there is a conflict between officials of the Commission and members of the public, and in which substantial issues are raised?

The Chairman of the War Damage Commission follows the practice I have outlined?

Trade And Commerce

Household Textiles (Prices)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the substantial increase in the cost of towels, sheets, curtains and similar materials since these were taken off points; that most of the present available supplies are priced higher than utility goods; and what steps he is taking to secure a reduction in the prices charged to the consumer.

I am not aware of any increase in the price of household textiles since the removal of coupon rationing of these goods on 15th March, 1949. Since rationing was abolished the considerable demand for these articles has been principally for utility goods and the result is that until stocks are replenished there is a higher proportion of non-utility household textiles in the shops. As these bear Purchase Tax and are often made of more expensive yarns, they are dearer than utility lines. We hope to increase the volume of utility production and this will enable housewives to buy more of the cheaper utility goods.

New Factories, Wales


asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of new factories and extensions, respectively, that have been erected in Wales and Monmouthshire; also the number approved since December, 1944, up to the latest available date.

One hundred and fifty-eight new factories and 225 extensions to existing factories of 5,000 sq. ft. and over were approved in Wales and Monmouthshire during the period December, 1944, to February, 1949. Of these 83 new factories and 91 extensions have been completed.

Seed Imports


asked the President of the Board of Trade how soon the hon. Member for Maldon may expect the reply concerning imports of flower seeds promised him shortly in a letter from his Department dated 25th February.

I am sorry that I cannot yet give my hon. Friend a final reply. I am still in consultation with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture about seed imports generally, including flower seeds, and I hope to be in a position to send him a reply shortly.

Could my right hon. Friend say how he defines "shortly," since he said "shortly" on 27th February?

Italian Estates (Release)


asked the President of the Board of Trade on what grounds the £10 million, held in London for the House of Savoy, has been released for payment in sterling, when all other financial deposits owned by Italians have been made available in lire.

This estate has not been treated specially but was dealt with strictly in accordance with the arrangements agreed with the Italian Government for application to the estates of Italians who died during the war. The property was released from the control of the Custodian of Enemy Property to the Attorney-Administrators so that, upon obtaining letters of administration, they could deal with the estate in the normal course. I may add that my hon. Friend has been misinformed as to the amount of the estate which was very much less than the figure quoted by him.

Nevertheless, is the President of the Board of Trade aware that what has been done has created an extremely unfavourable impression with all Italian Republicans as well as large sections of public opinion in this country, and why should preferential treatment have been given to these people who at the time appeared to be nothing but the tools of Mussolini?

I am not so aware, and as I have stated this case has been dealt with exactly as any other case would be dealt with under the arrangements agreed to with the Italian Government.

Could the right hon. Gentleman say why some of this money has not been taken to meet the obligations of the Italian Government on Austrian bonds held in this country?

Newsprint Rationing


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that provincial newspapers with page sizes above 250 square inches are being penalised by the current regulations of the Newsprint Division of his Department; and whether, with a view to righting an anomaly, he will now consider rationing paper to such concerns on a. basis not of pages as such but of Demy equivalent.

The present basis of newsprint rationing which has been in force since 1940 does not distinguish between provincial and other newspapers, and I am unable to accept the suggestion in the first part of the Question. Rationing on a Demy equivalent basis would be much more difficult to administer than the present scheme, and I am not aware that there is any considerable body of opinion in the trade which would welcome the change.

Is not the President aware that during the war a large number of these smaller newspapers agreed to reduce the size of their pages and that the size of the page was then frozen by the Board of Trade? Since then increases have been made on a page basis, and surely that is very unfair?

No, Sir, it was not frozen by the Board of Trade but was dealt with by the Newsprint Rationing Committee. I agree that, whatever the size for rationing, it would have created anomalies and hardship in that particular size.

Wool Textile Industry (Development Council)


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now make a statement on the outcome of the discussions which have taken place concerning the establishment of a Development Council for the wool textile industry.

Yes, Sir. The negotiations which Sir Richard Hopkins has been carrying out in Bradford at my request with both sides of the wool textile industry have not led to agreed proposals for a central body for the industry. A compromise proposal which was suggested by Sir Richard Hopkins and which I was prepared to endorse was not accepted by one side of the industry. I am satisfied, however, after most careful consideration of Sir Richard Hopkin's report and of the separate views which have subsequently been expressed to me by each side of the industry that it is in the best interests of the industry that a Development Council should be set up. I have, therefore, decided to proceed with the arrangements for the establishment of a statutory Development Council which will have the functions of promoting exports, research and design and of advising the industry and the Government on matters reviewed in the Working Party Report. I shall publish detailed proposals on these lines with a draft Order as soon as possible and invite comments from interested parties.

Inland Water Survey


asked the Minister of Health what action he proposes to take to continue the work of the Inland Water Survey which was interrupted by the war; and to make public the facts which are vital to the future prosperity of the country.

This survey was seriously handicapped before the war by two factors. First, there was no requirement on persons abstracting water from underground to keep records of the water abstracted, and to supply the Government with those records. This has now been rectified by Regulations made under Section 6 of the Water Act, 1945. Secondly, there was a lack of information on river flows owing to the paucity of gauges on rivers. The River Boards Act, 1948, has placed a duty on river boards to instal gauges on their rivers and to keep records of the flows. As these records of underground and surface water resources become available, it is proposed from time to time to publish the information, and it is expected that the next publication will be in about 18 months.

May I ask whether the Ministry of Town and Country Planning are being kept fully informed as to the availability of water?

Rifle Clubs (Ammunition)


asked the Minister of Supply how soon he anticipates he will have enough .22 rifle ammunition to enable rifle clubs to have the parctice essential in maintaining their members' rifle-shooting proficiency.

The manufacturers have increased supplies of .22 ammunition considerably in recent weeks, and expect to be able to maintain for the rest of the year a rate of supply sufficient to meet the stated requirements of the national association, for the use, of rifle clubs.

Indian Army Ex-Service Men (Motor Cars)


asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations why it is necessary to obtain the consent of the Government of India for the supply of a motor car to a disabled British ex-Service man, whose disabilities are such as to qualify him for the supply of a free motor car under the scheme now in force.

I assume that the hon. and learned Member is referring to a British ex-Service man who had served in the Indian Armed Forces. The pensions and other benefits of disabled ex-Service men of those forces are the responsibility of the Government of India, on whom the cost would fall. It is therefore necessary to obtain the consent of that Government to the provision of motor cars for such ex-Service men.

Am I to understand that a British ex-Service man 100 per cent. disabled, whose physical condition would have entitled him to a car under the scheme, is debarred from getting it for an indefinite period if he joined, or was transferred to, the Indian Army during the war? Cannot a car be issued to such people now and the question of cost be gone into later?

There are very wide implications in this matter. The basic fact is that decisions for men who were in the Indian Forces have to be made by the Indian Government, whereas for those who are in our own Forces we can decide for ourselves. We always recognised the difficulties that might arise in questions like this. I am in communication with the Indian Government on the matter.

How many British ex-Service men are affected, and how long will they have to wait before they are issued with cars? Will the right hon. Gentleman consider making an issue now, and taking up the question of cost afterwards?

I will consider anything, but I cannot answer that question myself. I should have to consult the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not think that the number who need cars can be very large, because this is the first case I have ever heard of.

If that is so, it should be easy to provide cars for the few people affected.

I cannot establish a new principle without agreement with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Are not the Government of this country morally responsible for the emoluments that should be given to all their servants, whether employed by this Government or by the Government of India?

The main principle of the arrangements made has frequently been explained to the House and been approved by Parliament.