Trade And Commerce
British Industries Fair
1 and 2.
asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) how many foreign buyers attended the British Industries Fair; and how the number compares with 1948;(2) if he will make a statement on the results of the British Industries Fair; and how the number of orders taken compares with that of those taken in the previous year.
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will inform the House on the general results of the British Industries Fair in the promotion of British export trade; the number of foreign buyers attending the Fair; and on the efficiency of the arrangements for the Fair both in London and Birmingham.
asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of visitors to the 1949 British Industries Fair.
As I indicated in my reply to the hon. Member for Royton (Mr. Sutcliffe) on Tuesday last, the character of a trade fair prevents a precise assessment of business concluded, but I am assured that the great majority of exhibitors are well satisfied with the Fair and a high proportion have reported that they are very pleased with the export orders they have taken and the nature and number of inquiries received. Undoubtedly import restrictions in many countries have frustrated the full transaction of business and prices are a vitally important factor. I am satisfied that the business which will follow this year's Fair will be above expectations and that taking into account factors beyond our control, the Fair has been the most successful for many years. The attendance of overseas trade buyers was 17,061 as compared with 14,333 in 1948 and the most satisfactory in the history of the Fair.
Is it not most misleading to describe every overseas visitor to the B.I.F. as a buyer; and is the hon. Gentleman aware that a large proportion of these people are seeking agencies? Would he take some steps in the future to have separate lists prepared of those who are genuine buyers and those who are here for other purposes? Could he also institute a system whereby his Department approached those people who are exihibiting to find out exactly what the exhibitors' reactions are to the exhibition?
In regard to the latter part of the question, that is done through the various trade associations, who are able to report on the progress made at the Fair. We can go further if it proves necessary. In connection with the overseas buyers, the numbers of these people may include some agents, but I am assured that the majority are overseas buyers.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the catering arrangements at Castle Bromwich were much better than those at Earls Court? The food was better, the prices were more reasonable and the service was excellent.
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that catering facilities at the British Industries Fair, Earls Court, were inadequate; the food generally unsatisfactory and expensive; and if he will take steps to see that catering arrangements at future exhibitions are more in keeping with the needs of overseas buyers.
As I indicated in my reply to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) on Tuesday last, the catering arrangements at the British Industries Fair are the responsibility of the landlords of the building used. At Earls Court, arrangements are directly controlled by Earls Court Limited. I have taken note of the complaint of my hon. Friend, and will have it investigated with a view to improving the arrangements for future fairs. I must emphasise, however, that the Board of Trade, in common with other exhibition organisers holding short-term leases, has no direct control over the catering at Earls Court.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the previous reply concerned catering in the Overseas Club, and that the prices in the ordinary restaurants in the exhibition were just as high and that the food was just as bad? In view of the fact that the Board of Trade have overall responsibility for the exhibition, is it not their duty to see that the arrangements even by private enterprise, are such as will give satisfaction to exhibitors and the public.
The Board of Trade did make representations beforehand about the high prices to be charged. In regard to the other comments made, I have already indicated that they will be taken into account in future negotiations.
Will the Minister represent to Earls Court Limited that important national interests are affected by any unsatisfactory arrangements that they make? Will he bear that in mind when there are future exhibitions or fairs held there?
There can be no doubt about it, in view of the Question asked by the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson).
Caustic Soda And Soda Ash
asked the President of the Board of Trade to what extent there is a shortage of caustic soda and soda ash; what is the world demand for the two products; and what steps have been taken during the past 20 years to increase production.
All demands for soda ash and caustic soda are being met in the home market. This is also true of export demands for soda ash, though some increase in exports of caustic soda might be possible if supplies were available. The alkali industry has been expanding steadily since 1929, apart from the war years when expansion schemes were stopped. Schemes are now in progress to meet the anticipated gradual increase in demand from home and overseas.
asked the President of the Board of Trade why the chemical industry is not included in the list of industries that are to be investigated by the Monopoly Commission; and if he will make a statement on the restrictive practices operated by the chemical industry during the past 20 years.
The Monopolies Commission is a permanent statutory body and the list of six cases already referred to it will be added to from time to time. I do not think any useful purpose would be served by the publication, before investigations by the Commission, of the information at present available about restrictive practices in particular industries.
In view of the fact that we won the war and that German industry was knocked out, why has there not been any more increase in output in the chemical industry in Britain?
I indicated that there are all kinds of restrictions, particularly on labour and materials, and there are other factors which have limited output.
Trade Marks (Registration)
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the registrar of trade marks is taking eight to 10 months to investigate and report on applications for registration of trade marks; and what steps he proposes to take to speed up the process.
The average period between the filing of an application for the registration of a trade mark and the official report is now about six months. The period is being steadily reduced as the result of the recruitment and training of new staff, and is now four months less than it was a year ago.
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that having to wait six months for the registration of a trade mark is most frustrating? Surely it is a very simple matter, and would he take some steps to shorten this period very considerably?
I am told that in the period covering the whole of last year and also in pre-war years, the total number of applications considerably increased and there has always been a time-lag. That is why we are training and recruiting more personnel to speed up this matter.
Textile Finishing Industry
asked the President of the Board of Trade what proposals he has for dealing with the surplus capacity in the textile finishing industry.
The printing, dyeing and bleaching sections of the cotton and rayon finishing industry are considering certain voluntary schemes for eliminating surplus machine capacity. Preliminary discussions have taken place with the Board of Trade, but no formal application has yet been made for the certification of these schemes under Section 25 of the Finance Act, 1935.
Is my hon. Friend aware that a good many of these undertakings are only working from 60 to 75 per cent. of their capacity, and that that is going to affect our costs and therefore our export prices? Will he do what he can to expedite the putting forward of such schemes, in the interest of the export trade?
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, while encouraging the introduction of new plant into the pottery industry, he has drawn the attention of those concerned to the importance of maintaining a high standard of quality.
I am sure that the pottery industry is in no doubt about the importance, while using to the full modern developments in machinery and technique, of maintaining the standards of quality and craftsmanship for which it is famous and on which its export trade, particularly to North America, so largely depends. I am, however, grateful to my hon. Friend for giving me this opportunity of stressing once more the importance of maintaining high standards of quality.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the reason why I put down this Question is because I have heard that in the United States it is rather difficult to control quality in these highly mechanised plants?
Is my hon. Friend also aware that those of us who live in the area where pottery is made are satisfied that the standard now is far higher than it has been in the last 20 years?
asked the President of the Board of Trade why cheap cotton fabrics such as gingham rarely appear in the shops, whereas last year, when on coupons, these fabrics were in plentiful supply.
It is not the case that these cotton fabrics were in plentiful supply last year. Only by an increase in total production can there be an increase in home supplies as well as satisfaction of the strong and important export demand. All practicable steps to increased production are being taken.
Kitchen Waste (Price)
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the recent rise in the price of "Tottenham Pudding" from £7 to £9 per 20 bags bears heavily on pig keepers; and if he will state the reason for such increase.
The maximum price of concentrated kitchen waste was increased from £4 10s. to £6 a ton under the Kitchen Waste Order, 1949, which came into force on 2nd May. The order permits the addition of actual transport charges, plus specified charges for the supply of bags. The maximum price was increased on the withdrawal of Government subsidies, and the new prices, which are based on the average costs of production, bring this feedingstuff into line with the prices of other feedingstuffs which have also been increased recently.
asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the intentions of His Majesty's Government with regard to the continuation of the present arrangements concerning most-favoured-nation advantages for Japan in international trade agreements; what consultations he has had on this subject with the Governments of the other nations of the British Commonwealth; and what views they have expressed to him.
Japan is not at present entitled to most-favoured-nation treatment from this country, and any question of giving her general most-favoured-nation rights must await the eventual negotiations for a peace treaty. The question of according such rights to Japanese goods during the period of occupation has been raised by the United States Government, and His Majesty's Government have been in consultation on this subject with the Governments of the Commonwealth countries. His Majesty's Government do not at present contemplate entering into any such arrangements.
Can the hon. Gentleman give the House any more detailed information as to what members of the British Commonwealth, and particularly Canada, feel about this matter?
No, Sir, I cannot answer for Commonwealth Governments.
Is any attempt being being made to work out a general plan in regard to Japan's place in industry in the future?
Yes, Sir, and we are in consultation with Commonwealth Governments.
asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the intentions of His Majesty's Government with regard to the renewal of a trade agreement with Japan after the expiration of the present agreement; and when negotiations or discussions in regard to this matter will commence.
It is hoped to begin discussions in Tokyo in mid-July between representatives of the sterling area participants in the present trade arrangement, on the one hand, and of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, on the other hand, with a view to reaching a similar arrangement for trade with Japan in 1949–50.
Can the hon. Gentleman give the House any information how far the new valuation of the yen will affect these negotiations or any plans about it?
We are in consultation about the matter. I understand the reasons for the Question.
Are the Government relying upon the trade agreement or upon any other means to prevent Japanese textiles and other cheaply-produced goods from flooding the markets of the world and driving us out altogether? By what means are the Government going to do it?
The best plan is possibly to expand trade in the best way by equal delivery of goods.
Who is to represent the United Kingdom in these discussions? Will it be a strong representation?
There will be representation, and I am sure that it will be of a strong character.
May I ask my hon. Friend to ensure that arrangements for trade btween this country and Japan will not be left in the same state of neglect as the arrangements which existed before the war?
The hon. Gentleman says "mid-July." Is anything going on at the present moment?
Not among the supreme Allies as such, but among the Commonwealth Governments.
17 and 26.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if, in accordance with his policy of not obliging aliens to return to countries in which they are likely to suffer political or religious persecution, he will give a general undertaking that Spanish refugees of whose opposition to the Franco régime the Spanish authorities can be shown to be aware, will not be deported to Spain;(2) if, in reviewing the case of Aquilino Diaz Molieda, a Spanish Republican refugee whose deportation was delayed on Easter Eve after he had been taken on board a ship about to sail for Spain, he will bear in mind that this man served for three years in the British Army, that his Spanish passport has been endorsed in this country with particulars of his political record, including his arrest for taking part in the Asturias rising in 1934, and that others who took part in this rising have recently been executed in Spain; and if he will cause this deportation order to be revoked.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will cancel the deportation order made against Aquilino Diaz, in view of the fact that Mr. Diaz's Spanish political activities are known to the Spanish Government, and that he would consequently be in danger if he returned to Spain.
Aquilino Diaz, who left Spain in 1936, joined the Royal Pioneer Corps when our Forces arrived in North Africa, and was discharged in this country in 1946. In March, 1948, he and two other Spaniards were charged with breaking and entering a shop, stealing property and having a a loaded fire-arm in their possession. He was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, and the court recommended that he should be deported. I have made a deportation order but I have postponed its enforcement in order to give him an opportunity to make his own arrangements to leave the country. In the exercise of my power to deport aliens I must have regard to the merits of each individual case, and I could not give the general undertaking asked for by my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg). But I would, of course, carefully consider any information of the nature indicated by him, and the fact that Diaz was arrested in Spain in 1934 will be taken into account if I have to consider the enforcement of the deportation order against him.
While fully aware of the bad history of this man since the war, may I ask my right hon. Friend if it is not the case that, in the somewhat comparable cases of E.V.W. s or other people from Eastern Europe who commit offences, they are not all repatriated to their countries of origin, for the reasons indicated in my first Question?
No, Sir. I would not say that. If any alien is found in this country engaged in robbery in association with armed persons, I should feel bound to deport him. I have enough of such criminals of native origin. I do have regard, however, to what is likely to happen to a person because of his political or religious beliefs in the country to which he is returning, but I cannot undertake to keep in this country people who engage in these practices.
I do not think that my right hon. Friend has quite understood or answered my question. Is it not the case that, although such people must be deported, they are not necessarily deported to their country of origin? For example, are not people from Eastern Europe commonly deported to Western Germany?
No, Sir. I would not say that that was a common practice. After all, the only place to which I can legally deport a person is his country of origin, but I try to help these people as far as I can by allowing them to get out under their own power, if they are willing to do so.
Can my right hon. Friend say whether he or his officials have seen the Spanish passport issued to this man?
I think I ought to have notice of that question.
European Volunteer Workers
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what maximum period he has laid down for the stay of European voluntary workers in this country; and if he has come to any decision as to where they will go when for any reason they cease doing the work to which they have been directed.
No time limit is imposed on the stay of European Volunteer Workers in the United Kingdom, but they are required to enter employment specified by the Ministry of Labour and not to change that employment without the Ministry's approval. If no longer needed in the work for which he was recruited, a European Volunteer Worker is found other work in an undermanned industry. Those who are unwilling to continue in the types of employment open to European Volunteer Workers are free to leave the country. A worker who persistently refuses to comply with the conditions on which he was brought to this country is liable to be deported.
When my right hon. Friend said that they are free to leave the country, does that mean that they are able to emigrate if they can comply with the usual requirements?
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what principles he applies in deciding on the claim to be a political refugee of an individual for whom an extradition order is sought.
The Extradition Act, 1870, requires that a fugitive criminal shall not be surrendered if the offence in respect of which his surrender is demanded is one of a political character, or if he proves to the satisfaction of the police magistrate or the court before whom he is brought on habeas corpus or the Secretary of State that the requisition for his surrender has in fact been made with a view to try or punish him for an offence of a political character. The Act does not use the term "political refugee" nor does it state what offences are of a political character. I have to consider each case on its merits, in the light of the decisions of the courts.
Is it not clear that the only accusation against this man Eisler, who has been arrested, is of a political character—the fact that for political reasons it was not possible for him to put his political beliefs on a document? What more could be asked than that?
I understood that this was a Question of a general nature. There are later Questions on the Paper dealing with Eisler.
Will my right hon. Friend consider whether, before a warrant is issued for the arrest of the person for whom an extradition order is sought, the Home Office should not be consulted, and that it should not be issued on the authority of a local magistrate?
That would involve an alteration of the law.
Gerhardt Eisler (Arrest)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the last occasion before 14th May, when Mr. Gerhardt Eisler was arrested on board the s.s. "Batory," when British police officers under his jurisdiction went aboard a foreign vessel in British territorial waters in order to arrest a passenger on behalf of a third country of which he was not a national; and what were the circumstances in the case.
The records of my Department show no case falling within the terms of the hon. Member's Question.
Are we to take it from that answer that under a Labour Government we are getting a precedent set that is in contradiction to all the traditions of this country? Might I also ask the Minister if he would not use his great powers to liberate this man and keep him out of the hands of enemies who have made it clear that they are determined to destroy him?
This action is not unprecedented—
To some of you Englishmen perhaps.
In November, 1938, the Polish police arrested a Bolivian citizen on board a British vessel in the Port of Gdynia. His Majesty's Government did not contest their right to do this, but it was stated at the time that they expected that the British Consular officer with jurisdiction in the port concerned should he notified before any such arrest took place. Polish police now search all British ships before sailing, and have arrested British seamen on 10 occasions since the war.
All the same, whatever other people may do, can my right hon. Friend say what this man is alleged to have done to justify his being hounded all over the world in this unprecedented way so far as this country is concerned?
I have not yet received the requisition from the Government of the United States asking for his extradition. When I receive that, I shall have to consider it in the light of the duties imposed on me and the powers conferred on me by the Act under which this action takes place.
When my right hon. Friend considers these facts, would he bear in mind that anxiety on this case is felt not only by Communists and Communist sympathisers, but is widely held throughout the country?
May I say that that anxiety is shared by myself. I have heavy duties imposed on me under the Act dealing with this matter, but I cannot proceed to deal with them until I receive the requisition which I am now awaiting.
Would not my right hon. Friend consider it better to follow the traditions of our own country rather than to refer us to those of countries which many people in this House have affected to despise? Will he also bear in mind that perjury in connection with a passport must have been committed by hundreds of thousands of political refugees in the days since Hitler aggression?
I must have regard to what the law of this country says, and no action so far has been taken in this case which is contrary to the law of this country. I have examined that point carefully and have taken the best advice I can get on it. As far as I am concerned, I shall be greatly relieved when I get the requisition so that I can reach a final determination on the points at issue.
But when the Home Secretary says that he, too, is anxious about this case, which the House no doubt will accept, is he not placing himself in an invidious position, for is it not the fact that the case cannot be proceeded with in court in view of the fact that the case has to be prepared by the United States Government? Therefore, it appears that the Home Secretary has to wait, hand and foot, for the Government of the United States to prepare their case, and hence his feeling of anxiety?
I do not have to wait for the United States Government to prepare their case. I have to wait until the United States Government serve a requisition on me. When I reach that stage, I shall have further information on which I shall be able to reach some decision, I hope.
I had not quite understood last week that the requisition had not been received. If the right hon. Gentleman has not yet received the requisition from the Government of the United States, can he tell us on what request from them or action by them he has acted so far?
I have not acted at all so far. I explained quite carefully to the House last week that there are two ways in which this matter can be dealt with. Under Section 7 of the relevant Act I can be asked to issue a warrant. If that course had been followed, the responsibility would have been on me. In fact the Section 8 procedure was followed, the information was laid before a magistrate, and he issued the warrant. As soon as I get the requisition, I can decide whether the case is of a political character or not. If it is of a political character, it will then be my duty to see that further proceedings do not take place, but I cannot act on newspaper reports and similar unsworn statements as to what is the dispute between this man and the Government of the United States.
Further to the statement by the Home Secretary that he is not responsible; is it not the case that several officers from Scotland Yard were present, and are they not responsible to the Home Secretary even though the magistrate at Southampton may not be directly responsible; and in that case should not the right hon. Gentleman take responsibility now?
No, Sir. They are responsible for carrying into effect the warrant issued by the magistrate at Southampton.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what part in the proceedings on board the Polish vessel s.s. "Batory" was taken by the two American officials who accompanied the police on board.
I am informed that the American officials who boarded the s.s. "Batory" with the police officers were present at a discussion among the police officers who finally effected the arrest, Eisler, the captain and certain Polish officials, and gave information about a telegram stating that extradition proceedings were to be taken against Eisler and that proceedings would be taken against the captain under United States law if he did not surrender him. No American official was in any way concerned in Eisler' s apprehension which was carried out by British police officers.
In the first place, in what capacity did these American officials, one of whom was a Mr. Beck from the United States Embassy, attend with the British officers on the boat? Did they come over on the tender which took the police officers and did they get aboard the vessel with the police officers; were they, in fact, introduced as aliens to the captain of the ship, or were they assumed to be part of the entourage together with the other police officers? Further, may I ask the Home Secretar—[Interruption.] May I respectfully point out—
I am very anxious to answer all questions but when four or five supplementaries are mixed up together it is very difficult to do them justice.
In that case, I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I will rest my case at that and if I have a further opportunity of catching your eye, Mr. Speaker, I will do so.
The tender which was used on this occasion is in the ownership of the Alexandra Towing Company and was chartered by the agents for the Gdynia America Line on behalf of that line. Among those on board the tender when they went from the shore to the ship were the police officers, the American officials and two representatives of the Polish Embassy in London. They all went together; they all boarded the ship together, and an individual pass was issued to each member of the party by the charterers to enable them to go from the shore to the ship. British police, British immigration officers, American Embassy officers and Polish Embassy officers all went in the same tender and all boarded the ship together.
Would my right hon. Friend tell the House when and where these elaborate arrangements were made, and whether they were made before or after it was known whether the Southampton magistrate was going to grant the warrant or not?
This tender is the usual vessel that goes off from Southampton—
I am trying to give the House as full and detailed an account of what happened as possible and to explain all the circumstances. This tender is the usual vessel which proceeds from Southampton to a liner lying in Cowes Roads to take out passengers who desire to board the liner and to pick up and bring back those who wish to leave the liner in order to land. Therefore, no elaborate arrangement was made; the tender would have left in any event, whether these people had wanted to go or not. Each person had to apply individually to the persons who had chartered the tender for permission to go in the tender. I have here a copy of the pass actually issued to Detective-Inspector Bray and as far as I know there was nothing unusual about the matter. The tender has no connection at all with the warrant issued by the magistrate.
Does not my right hon. Friend appreciate that in order that there shall be two representatives from the Polish Embassy and two representatives from the American Embassy all present in Southampton at a particular time and place, with passes issued to them for that time and place, involves a considerable degree of prior consultation and arrangement; and I am asking my right hon. Friend whether these arrangements were made before or after the application was made for the warrant in Southampton?
What happened was this. It was known that the American Embassy were going to apply to the magistrate at Southampton for this warrant.
It was known to whom—to the right hon. Gentleman?
Yes, it was known to me.
I must make this quite clear. I am taking complete personal responsibility for this. Before any of these actions were taken I was consulted and gave my consent. The Polish Embassy were informed so that if they wished to be represented they could be there. When the vessel anchored in Cowes Roads the application was made to the Southampton magistrate. Thereafter the police officers left Southampton for Cowes Roads to execute the warrant; the American Embassy officials went on the same tender and so did the representatives of the Polish Embassy.
We cannot prolong Question Time for this matter.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that large numbers of citizens have received a form, under the Representation of the People Act, dated 2nd May, compelling them under a penalty of £20 to furnish within five days a list of all adults resident in their house on 10th June; and how they are to comply with this demand.
This form, which is used for the preparation of the register of electors to be published on 15th October next, asks for particulars, not of all persons who may be actually staying in a house on 10th June, but of those who will be ordinarily resident there on that date. I do not think that most people will, in the light of the notes on the form, find any more difficulty this year in supplying this information before 10th June than they did before the war when a similar form was used annually.
If the information required is solely of people who are ordinarily resident, what purpose is served by somewhat confusing the issue by introducing the date of 10th June at all?
Because it is desire to get the information for the convenience of the people who have to compile the register at a reasonably early date.
How can a householder not given the gift of prophecy say who will be ordinarily resident in his house a month from now? He might now be in negotiation with a permanent tenant. Would it not be better to instruct local authorities to postpone sending out the form until five days before 10th June?
I do not think people had any difficulty in dealing with the matter before the war and I have no reason to think that they are less intelligent now.
Is it not the case that there are rapid movements these days and that a man may be some way away tomorrow although he was a Parliamentary Private Secretary yesterday?
So far that has not altered his place of residence.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made by the police in tracing the assailants of the two Dalston boys on the night of 30th April; why the police at Stoke Newington and Dalston assured the boy's club leader that the boys would be safe; and in view of the anxiety of parents in the neighbourhood of Ridley Road, what steps is he taking to prevent further such attacks.
I am informed that the extensive inquiries immediately instituted by the police into this attack are being vigorously pursued. The assurance in question was to the effect that the situation was generally quiet and was in accordance with the facts. The police are well aware of the possibility of trouble arising from the numerous political activities in the neighbourhood and do all they can to prevent it.
Is the Home Secretary aware that since 30th April there have been further assaults on boys and girls in the neighbourhood? Can he say whether he has taken measures to ensure that there are sufficient police in the neighbourhood to prevent these Fascist assaults taking place on these young people? Can he at the same time give the House an assurance that to ensure protection to the people of Hackney he will take measures at least as vigorous as those he took in ensuring the arrest of Herr Eisler?
I do not think the two cases are at all parallel. I am quite prepared to deal with Herr Eisler on the Question which concerns him. As far as the other part of the supplementary question is concerned, there have been one or two other assaults. I have no reason to think that they are connected with racial or political matters. I am assured that the most active steps are being taken by the police in an endeavour to trace the persons responsible for the outrages to which the hon. Member refers in his Question, and I shall see that they continue to take them.
Churchill Club (Police Action)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what disciplinary action has been taken on the police officers who incorrectly made out the charges against the Churchill Club, with the result that the charges were not proceeded with.
I am informed by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that this was a typist's error and that there was no case to warrant the framing of charges under the Police Discipline Code.
In that case does the Home Secretary withdraw the statement he made on 10th May that the officers who went to the Churchill Club were suffering from lavish entertainment and did not give a correct report, whereas their report was absolutely accurate and the address was correct as well?
No, Sir. I do not think I need withdraw that statement. I made no such accusation against the police as the hon. and gallant Gentleman insinuates. I made a humorous remark with reference to the numbers 116 and 160, and if there is any feeling that it was a reflection on the officers engaged, I quite readily withdraw any statement that I made.
Is the Home Secretary aware that I could make very many correct charges against the first part of the name of the club?
Municipal Elections (Ballot Papers)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in order to avoid confusion at municipal elections, he will introduce legislation to enable candidates who so desire to state their political party after their name on the ballot paper.
No, Sir. Parliament took a contrary decision only last year, in enacting the provisions of the Representation of the People Act which prohibit the use of party labels on nomination papers and consequently on ballot papers.
Prisons And Borstal (Meat Ration)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the weekly meat ration for men undergoing penal servitude in His Majesty's prisons and youths in Borstal institutions, respectively.
Penal servitude was abolished on 18th April, 1949. All persons detained in prisons and Borstals receive the normal civilian meat ration.
While I thank the right hon. Gentleman for this information, may I ask him if he is aware that the ration is the same for farm workers who work 60 or 70 hours a week? Will he pass on that information to his colleague the Minister of Food and ask him to revise the ration for the farm workers?
Prisoners (Insurance Contributions)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what would be the cost of increasing the rate of remuneration for prisoners by an amount sufficient to enable them to maintain their contributions under the National Insurance Act.
The estimated cost of maintaining prisoners' contributions at rates appropriate to non-employed persons is approximately £250,000 a year.
Would not my right hon. Friend agree that it is a matter of some importance and urgency to provide this relatively small sum, because until it is provided it means that prisoners without sufficient resources to maintain themselves in benefit are virtually being punished twice, by fine and by incarceration?
I have been in communication with my right hon. Friend the Minister of National Insurance on this matter.
Police, London (Pay)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware of the feeling among members of the London police forces that the £10 London allowance recommended by the Oaksey Committee does not meet the additional cost of living in London; and if he will carry out further investigations before coming to any decision on this point.
I discussed the recommendations of the Committee with the Police Council yesterday, and am considering the representations made to me at the meeting.
Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is very desirable, in order to stimulate recruitment for the police in London and to keep men in the police force once they have joined, that this matter should be very thoroughly investigated and that there should be no difference of opinion as to what is the true value of the London allowance?
One of the difficulties is that the police forces throughout the country are not agreed that a differential allowance is desirable for any part, and they also tend to the belief that if a case can be established for London, it might be established for certain other centres. I have to give regard to all the factors which are thus raised.
When will the right hon. Gentleman be in a position to make a statement on the subject?
I had this meeting yesterday and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is meeting the Police Council for Scotland today. I hope that when he returns to London I shall be able to have consultations with him and to make an announcement at a very early date now.
Cruelty To Animals (Committee)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is yet in a position to announce the terms of reference of the committee to be set up to inquire into practices which may involve cruelty to animals.
Yes, Sir. The terms of reference will be as follow:
Is my right hon. Friend aware that his important and satisfactory answer will give great pleasure to all lovers of animals, who will hope that it will lead to the establishment of a code of humanitarian practice in this country which will be the admiration of the world?
May I also say that I hope the right hon. Gentleman realises that this point of view is shared by hon. Members in all sections of the House who desire to see the abolition of cruelty to animals? May I also ask whether there is any question of the right hon. Gentleman extending the terms of reference to cover other than mammals?
Is it too late to reinforce the penultimate part of my right hon. Friend's Question, and ask that the terms of reference should be altered, even now, to include all animals and not merely wild animals?
No, this matter arose I think on a quite specific issue that had been raised in the House. It is desirable that some decision should be reached at a reasonably early date, and to widen the terms of reference will prevent that being done.
While finding the terms of reference generally satisfactory, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether, among those exclusions, he includes animals brought to this country for experimental purposes—for war purposes?
No, I think it refers to vivisection.
Does the word "British" cover Great Britain, the whole of the United Kingdom, the British Colonies also, or what?
It covers that part of the country which is subject to the jurisdiction of this House.
May I ask the Secretary of State if the term "wild animals" would include the tame carted stag? May I have an answer?
Irish-Born Persons (British Nationality)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what procedure he has prescribed for persons who are British subjects by birth having been born in the area which subsequently became Eire, and who have not been resident there since 1922, to establish their status as British subjects.
A person born in Eire but not resident there since 1922 may or may not have been an Eire citizen on 1st January, 1949. If he was not an Eire citizen on that date, he automatically became a British subject under Section 12 (4) of the British Nationality Act, 1948. If he was an Eire citizen on that date, he may claim to remain a British subject on the grounds specified in Section 2 (1) of the British Nationality Act, 1948. No special claim form has been prescribed.
Is the Home Secretary aware that these matters are rather difficult for ordinary people to understand and that many of us are receiving numerous inquiries on this subject; and would it be possible for the right hon. Gentleman's Department to publish in simple terms the situation in relation to the various classes of people—for example, those born of British parents in what is still United Kingdom territory, and so forth—so that everybody who is interested may be able to know and to understand the position, because at present many inquiries are still being received?
I will see if something on those lines can be done.
National Health Service
asked the Minister of Health on what date Shugborough Park Hospital, Staffordshire, will be brought into use; and for what purposes.
I regret I cannot at present add to the reply which I made to my hon. Friend on 17th March.
Will the Minister give an assurance that the use of this hospital will not be sacrificed as the result of the financial cuts imposed upon the Birmingham Regional Hospital Board?
I have not yet received from the Birmingham Regional Hospital Board any suggestions as to what use should be made of this hospital. When I receive those recommendations I will, of course, bear in mind what my hon. Friend has said.
Maternity Home, Emsworth
asked the Minister of Health how much was spent upon equipping Northlands Maternity Home, Ems-worth; why it is not to be used for that purpose; and for what purpose it is intended to use it.
The sum of £2,085 was spent in equipping this Home. The Portsmouth Hospital Management Committee postponed the opening of the Home. The South-West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board hope to decide at their next meeting whether to confirm this action or to arrange for the immediate opening of the Home.
How did it come about that this hospital was equipped before a firm decision had been arrived at about how it had to be used?
I must await the report of the regional hospital board before making a decision.
asked the Minister of Health how many copies of the list of dentists who are taking part in the National Health Scheme are supplied to each post office; and what arrangements are made to replace them, if necessary.
One copy of the dental list is normally circulated to each post office, amendments being sent out periodically. Postmasters have been informed that if the list is removed further copies may be obtained from the local executive council.
Mental Cases (Care And Training)
asked the Minister of Health what authorities are responsible for the care and training for employment of border-line cases of mental illness, not requiring treatment in mental institutions, mental hospitals or at outpatient clinics.
If the persons in question are not in need of care and treatment either as in-patients or out-patients, it would not appear that either the regional hospital board or the local health authority have responsibility. The question of training for those who need it to enable them to take employment falls within the purview of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service.
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that training for appropriate employment would enable many of these people to lead normal and useful lives?
I think that is so and I think a great deal of training is already done.
asked the Minister of Health if his attention has been drawn to the result of the case of Blundell v. Royal Cancer Hospital; and if he will introduce amending legislation to clarify the position with regard to legacies to hospitals.
The question of appeal is under consideration.
Smallpdx Cases, (Ss "Mooltan")
asked the Minister of Health if he is now in a position to make a further statement on the s.s. "Mooltan."
Yes, Sir. I regret that my reply to the hon. Member's supplementary question on 5th instant has led to a misunderstanding. Passengers who disembarked from the "Mooltan" at Marseilles did so before smallpox was suspected and had to be traced. On the other hand, when the medical officer of the Port of London received from the "Mooltan" before she reached port a message that there was a case of chickenpox on board, he made preparations on the assumption that it might be smallpox. No one was allowed to land until all proper precautions had been taken. These included the offer of vaccination to all passengers, ascertaining where they were going in order to warn the medical officers of health of the districts concerned. I am glad to take this opportunity of acknowledging the prompt and efficient work of the health authorities in the Port of London and in the districts to which the passengers went.
In view of the fact that nobody was allowed to land until the body had been buried and the place fumigated, will the Minister say if he has power, or will he take powers to detain or quarantine known contacts who refuse vaccination? In view of the fact that smallpox is still spreading, is it not better for the individual to suffer rather than to allow the disease to spread and the consequent anguish to other people?
The hon. Member is asking for a change of the law and before that could be done I should have to consider very seriously the effect on the liberty of the individual caused by the suggestions he has made.
While considering the question of the handicap on the liberty of the individual, will my right hon. Friend also consider the previous situation whereby vaccination was compulsory?
No, because that would not affect the position at all. Under the original law it was possible to obtain exemption and because so large a number of cases had applied for it and received it I came to the conclusion that it was no longer necessary to have compulsion.
I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter again on the Adjournment.
Water Supply, Wainfleet
asked the Minister of Health the date on which application was made to him by the Spilsby Rural District Council to provide a water supply which would supply Culvert Road, Wainfleet; and when he proposes to give permission for this work to commence.
The Council's proposals for a large number of main extensions were submitted in June, 1947, when labour and materials were not sufficient to enable the whole scheme to be approved. The more urgent sections have been completed, and permission has now been given for work to start in July on a section to supply Wainfleet.
I did not catch the last part of the right hon. Gentleman's reply. Does it mean that this particular work will be covered by his permission?
I said that sanction has now been given to the supply of Culvert Road, Wainfleet.
Allotments Advisory Committee (Report)
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the Allotments Advisory Committee's Report is now ready; and when he proposes to publish it.
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. and gallant Member for East Norfolk (Brigadier Medlicott) on 12th May.
When is it likely that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to activate this Committee into making a report, as half a million allotment holders are very dissatisfied?
I am afraid I could not prophesy when a report will be forthcoming.
River Boards (Proposed Areas)
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he has any statement to make on the setting up of the River Boards
Yes, Sir. Considerable progress has been made with the definition of river board areas which is the first stage required by the River Boards Act, 1948. The River Board Areas Consultative Committee has nearly completed its examination of suitable boundaries, in consultation with all the catchment boards, fishery boards and councils of counties and county boroughs concerned, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and I wish to take this opportunity to thank the Committee for the time and thought it has devoted to this important task. We have received a number of recommendations from the Committee and I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement showing 17 areas which will form the basis of draft orders. One draft order has been deposited and others will follow as soon as the necessary detailed surveys of boundaries have been made and the draft statutory maps prepared. The statutory procedure for defining areas, and thereafter for establishing boards and transferring functions to them, will take time, but these processes will be carried through as quickly as the circumstances of each area allow.
I gather that the Minister is circulating the names of the areas in the OFFICIAL REPORT. May I take the opportunity of asking whether among the areas there is the Cornish River Board?
Yes, Cornwall is referred to in a very long list.
Following is the statement:
Proposed River Board Area and Comments
Pig Production (Increase)
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he has considered the detailed proposals put to him by the National Farmers' Union for the immediate expansion of pig production so as to provide an extra three ounces of pork for the weekly meat ration by 1950–51; and what action the Government are taking to put such a programme into effect.
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is now in a position to arrange for increased supplies of imported feedingstuffs, including maize, to be available for livestock production and in particular to enable an increased programme of production of pork and bacon in this country.
In present circumstances it would be quite impracticable to obtain a supply of imported feeding-stuffs on the scale suggested by the National Farmers' Union; but, recognising that pigs afford the quickest means of increasing the home output of meat, and after reviewing the supply prospects for feedingstuffs for the next 12 months, the Government have decided to increase by about 50 per cent. the amount of rationed feedingstuffs to be distributed and used for commercial pig production. This is designed to stimulate the breeding and fattening of pigs for both the bacon and pork markets. The main increase will be to treble the present rate of bonus ration in respect of pigmeat sold in the previous four months. Details of this and other adjustments in rations will be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Whilst the House and producers in the country will be very grateful to the Government for at last being convinced of the necessity to increase the feedingstuffs' ration, does the right hon. Gentleman realise that a 50 per cent. increase will in no way make up for the extra three ounces of pork, for which I asked in my Question? Will he inform the House exactly what the 50 per cent. means in terms of coarse grains? Would it be correct to say that it is in the neighbourhood of 500,000 tons?
The hon. Member is correct, the estimated increase of rations for pigs is approximately half a million tons and we estimate that if it is all used up and supplemented by home-grown supplies, it may give an extra 80,000 to 100,000 tons of pigmeat.
In view of that statement, will the right hon. Gentleman release the feedingstuffs at present in store in the country for the use of pig producers who contract to sell pigs to the Ministry of Food so that they can get on with the job?
It is our intention, of course, to draw on existing reserves for the purpose of this further distribution.
In view of his very satisfactory reply, may I ask my right hon. Friend if he will accept the thanks of the housewives of this country for the big increase in bacon and pork supplies which will result from these increased feedingstuffs?
Can the Minister say on what date these increased rations will become available to pig producers and whether they will apply to farrowing sows?
Yes. For the benefit of hon. Members who may be interested in a more detailed description of the new allocations, copies are available in the Vote Office at this moment.
From what date?
Will my right hon. Friend still further encourage pig clubs and give a guarantee that an equivalent amount of feedingstuffs will be given to pig clubs?
I am afraid that with the supplies available, I could not undertake that at the moment.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the adjustments he has mentioned will include permission for entry into the pig producing industry of new producers?
The new distribution will apply to new entrants.
Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that these additional rations will be able to be maintained, so that farmers who make use of them for the increase of pig production, will not have to sacrifice their breeding stock in the event of the additional ration having to be cut?
If the hon. Member expects me to become a prophet and determine how much feedingstuffs we can buy 12 months hence, I had better not enter that realm. I ought to correct my last supplementary answer. When I said new entrants, I meant those new entrants under the scheme started last year.
Does this increase apply to Scotland? If not, what arrangements are being made in regard to increased pig production there?
I cannot imagine any hon. Member thinking for one moment that Scotland could be left out.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the second of my two questions? What arrangements do the Government propose to make in regard to increased pig production in Scotland?
Arrangements identical with those made for England and Wales.
Will the Minister remind the Minister of Food that if the 18 million dollars spent on buying pig meat now in America had been spent on pig food last year, there would not be the present pig shortage.
Is the Minister confident that these young pigs will be available for the next General Election?
I shall be very disappointed if they are not.
Are we to understand from the Minister's further reply to my question that no new entrants into the pig industry are now to be permitted?
Only those who are capable of producing 50 per cent. of the food required for their animals.
Following are the details:
Except for farrowing sows, these increases in rations will take effect from 1st September, 1949, and those who wish to transfer from the basic to the extended scheme will be able to do so before that date.
Details of these amendments will be worked out and issued before 1st July.
The above changes apply to Great Britain. A separate announcement will be made regarding arrangements in Northern Ireland.
New Coal Seams, Lichfield
(by Private Notice) asked the Lord President of the Council whether there have been any results from the boring being made at Lichfield by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.
I am glad to say that valuable discoveries of economic importance have been obtained from a deep bore, which has been made at Whittington Heath near Lichfield by the Geological Survey of Great Britain, which is part of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. At a depth of about 3,000 feet good quality coal has been discovered. Seams eight, six and five feet thick have been found as well as smaller ones; boring is still continuing and it is believed that other seams may be found. At a minimum estimate the new coalfield should contain 400 million tons of good quality workable coal. When the field has been further explored the amount may be several times as great as this estimate.
May I, along with all other British citizens, congratulate this Department on the excellent results of their work? At the same time, may I ask the Lord President of the Council if he can indicate what incoming population may be necessary to work the new deposits, and when a survey will be made of the additional housing accommodation that may be needed?
The actual working of the coal will be some time ahead. I am afraid that I cannot answer specifically my hon. Friend's question, but she can be assured that there will be adequate time for the consideration of those problems which will arise.
May I further ask that families who may be looking at this district and who may be willing to work in the coalmining area should be encouraged by a rapid improvement in the conditions that are now being caused by mining subsidence? Otherwise we may lose recruits for this industry if they see the neglect of some of the present houses.
I will call the attention of the Minister of Fuel and Power to the point raised by my hon. Friend.
Can the Lord President say whether any coal from these new seams will be available before the next General Election?