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Commons Chamber

Volume 466: debated on Tuesday 21 June 1949

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House Of Commons

Tuesday, 21st June, 1949

The House—after the Adjournment on 3rd June, 1949, for the Whitsun Recess—met at Half-past Two o'Clock.


[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business

City Of London (Various Powers) Bill

People's Dispensary For Sick Animals Bill

Lords Amendments considered, and agreed to.

Oldbury Corporation Bill Lords

Rochdale Canal Bill Lords

Read a Second time, and committed.

Glasgow Corporation Order Confirmation Bill

Considered; to be read the Third time to-morrow.

Edinburgh And Midlothian Water Order Confirmation Bill

"to confirm a Provisional Order under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1936, relating to Edinburgh and Midlothian Water," presented by Mr. Woodburn; read the First time, and ordered (under Section 9 of the Act) to be read a Second time upon Wednesday 29th June, and to be printed. [Bill 155.]

Royal Bank Of Scotland Officers' Widows' Fund Order Confirma Tion Bill

"to confirm a Provisional Order under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1936, relating to the Royal Bank of Scotland Officers' Widows' Fund," presented by Mr. Woodburn; and ordered (under Section 7 of the Act) to be considered tomorrow, and to be printed. [Bill 156.]

Alexander Scott's Hospital Order Confirmation Bill

"to confirm a Provisional Order under the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act, 1936, relating to Alexander Scott's Hospital (to be proceeded with under Section 7 of the Act)," presented by Mr. Woodburn; and ordered (under Section 7 of the Act) to be considered tomorrow, and to be printed. [Bill 154.]

Oral Answers To Questions

British Army

Transfer Expenses

1 and 2.

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) why travelling allowances are not permitted to personnel who are transferred to a new station to enable them to return to their old station to superintend removal of furniture, as is allowed in the Civil Service;

(2) if, in view of the excessive cost to personnel and their families of moving from one station to another, he will consider the granting of excess rent at new station over rent at old station as granted to the Civil Service.

As in the case of similar Questions addressed to me by the hon. Member on 31st May, I would refer him to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence on 13th April to a Question by the hon. Member for North Blackpool (Mr. Low).

Is not the Secretary of State for War aware of the grave concern felt by the personnel at the cost of moving stations, and is he really not going to do something to mitigate this expense, as has been done in the case of the Civil Service? Why cannot the Services have the same consideration shown to them as that shown to members of the Civil Service?

Because, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence said, and as I endorse, the conditions are not comparable.

Is it not the case that conditions are certainly not comparable because the moves of the Army are far more frequent and far less expected than those of other services, and is it not necessary that some consideration should be given to these people who have no settled homes and who are put to this unnecessary expense?

I am very glad to have the hon. and gallant Gentleman's endorsement of the principle I have enunciated.

Fylingdale Moor (Grazing Rights)


asked the Secretary of State for War the reason for the delay in settling the compensation for grazing rights on Fylingdale Moor.

Compensation on the original basis of assessment has been paid regularly and punctually. No doubt, the hon. Member is referring to claims for reassessment with effect from February, 1948, on the basis of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Act, 1948. A number of claims have been received through the Breeders Association, but action was deferred because it was thought desirable to await receipt of the bulk of all of those outstanding so that they could be dealt with together. It has, however, recently been suggested to the Secretary of the Association that it would be more convenient to leave the claims over for settlement when the financial terms for the purchase of the area by the Department are being settled. A reply is still awaited. We are, however, prepared to proceed to negotiate the claims at once if the Association so desire.

Is the Minister aware that the delay in settling these claims is causing great hardship to a group of very small sheep farmers, among whom great difficulty is created by this requisitioning, and will he do all he can to expedite the settlement of these claims?

We are doing all we can to expedite the settlement, and I regret if any inconvenience is caused by the delay, which I hope will be removed very shortly.

Special Campaign Pensions

asked the Secretary of State for War what was the number of Special Campaign Pensions in payment as at 31st March in the years 1939 and 1949, respectively; how many new applications for such pensions were granted in the 12 months ended 31st March, 1949; and if he will review the basis of qualification.

The numbers were approximately 13,500 and 5,000 respectively, and 54 new awards were made during the year ended 31st March, 1949. The answer to the last part of the Question is "No."

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a man cannot qualify for one of these pensions if his income exceeds 19s. a week, which means that no ex-Regular soldier over the age of 65 can qualify? Does not my right hon. Friend think that the matter should be reviewed in view of the greatly changed circumstances?

Families, Glen Parva Barracks


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has yet reached a decision in connection with wives and families of the 1st Leicestershire Regiment living in married quarters at Glen Parva Barracks, Leicestershire.

There are 18 families in Glen Parva Barracks belonging to the 1st Battalion The Royal Leicestershire Regiment. Four of these families will be offered other married quarters in Northamptonshire and three will be offered alternative accommodation at married families hostels. As there is no other alternative accommodation to offer at the moment, the remaining 11 families will remain in their present quarters until alternative accommodation is made available.

Tank Training (Petrol Allowance)


asked the Secretary of State for War why the petrol consumption of an armoured unit in Tripoli is limited to 20 miles per armoured car per month; and whether he is satisfied that Regular and National Service men can receive proper training on this basis.

The mileage of armoured fighting vehicles in the Middle East has to be restricted to keep wear and tear and the need for repair and overhaul within the financial and manpower limits available, but the petrol allowed is sufficient for an average mileage of substantially more than 20 miles a month, and is considered adequate for training purposes. The unit to which I think the hon. Member refers, but which is in fact equipped with tanks, not armoured cars, has, I understand, exceeded its allotment of petrol earlier in the year and is now trying to economise.

Does the Minister think that it is in the interests of general efficiency that this unit should be deprived of petrol in future months? Will it not result in some national service men not receiving proper training? Cannot the right hon. Gentleman take some other action in such cases?

I think that the units are getting rather more petrol than the hon. Member suggested, although perhaps not sufficient. On the whole, however, we think it is adequate, having regard to the other resources made available. If we find that men cannot be trained because of inadequacy of petrol supplies we will look into the matter.

Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it was proved between the wars that there is no more false economy than to cut down the petrol or any other thing which is necessary to train troops properly?

That may well be, but there is no advantage in supplying petrol if we have not the manpower available for adequate training.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give further consideration to this matter, in view of representations which have been made to several of us, quite apart from those which have been made to my hon. Friend the Member for North Blackpool (Mr. Low), by people quite unconnected with the unit in question?

But as the noble Lord will, no doubt, have noted, the information which his hon. Friend received was not quite accurate.

Is it not desirable that some opportunity should be given for training men in the repair and maintenance of these vehicles? Therefore, should not opportunity be given for their further use?

Medals And Decorations


asked the Secretary of State for War how many officers and men are estimated to be entitled to campaign stars or medals for war service; and how many have now applied for these decorations.

It is estimated that approximately 4,012,000 male and female officers and other ranks are eligible to qualify for medals and campaign stars. Applications for these have been received from or on behalf of approximately 1,378,000.

Has the right hon. Gentleman formed any opinion as to what has happened to the other three million? Was there a bad estimate by his Department, or a reluctance on the part of those entitled to claim?

Could the right hon. Gentleman take steps to expedite the delivery of the medals on application?

We will certainly expedite the delivery of medals to those entitled if they claim them.

Austria (Milk Supplies)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that British infants in Austria are the only ones unsupplied with fresh milk, although the nutritional situation in the country has greatly improved since this self-denying measure was introduced; and whether he will consider the addition of fresh milk to British rations in Austria by purchasing it in sterling and thus continuing the policy of avoiding increases in occupation costs charged against the Austrian Government.

I will look into this matter in conjunction with the other departments concerned, but I am advised that from the nutritional point of view powdered or evaporated milk is equal to fresh milk and it has the advantage that there is no risk of contamination or problem of storage in hot weather.

While thanking the Minister for his reply, may I ask him to bear in mind that none of the people concerned in Austria shares his opinion about the preferability of powdered milk?

Officers (Political Comments)


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he authorised General Sir G. Ivor Thomas to inform Service men leaving for Hong Kong that if we hold Hong Kong it will another blow to Communism and an advance in the cold war; and to what extent the statement was based on Government policy.

The answer to the first part of the Question is "No." The second part does not, therefore, arise.

In view of the statement of Government policy which was made only a week or so ago by the Minister of Defence, that it was the desire of the Government to have friendly relations with the Government of China, whichever party was in power there, is it not the case that this senior officer has made a statement which is detrimental to this policy? What steps will the right hon. Gentleman take to prevent such further statements being made?

Perhaps it would be better if high ranking officers did not indulge in political comment.

Will the right hon. Gentleman issue a statement to the effect that when a senior officer makes a political speech, rank and file soldiers will be quite in order in telling the officer what they think of him and of his policy?

Will the right hon. Gentleman continue to allow the generals to explain to the troops the tasks ahead of them, and thus get better results?

All officers are entitled to explain to the troops under their command the tasks that lie ahead of them, but I deprecate any political comment which is subversive of Government general policy.

Are we seriously to understand from the right hon. Gentleman that the fact that a general warned the troops that there was Communism in Asia is to be taken as an expression of political opinion?

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that millions of British people who despised the Tory appeasement policy before the war, volunteered and fought for this country in 1939 and 1940 when we had a Conservative Government?

Surplus Huts, Cambridge


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will subdivide the camp site at Donkey's Common, Cambridge, and hand over those huts, which are surplus to military requirements, to the local authority for emergency housing purposes.

I regret that I am unable to release any of the hutting in the main camp at Donkey's Common, Cambridge. There are, however, some huts on the opposite side of the road to the main camp which are surplus to War Department requirements and these have, in accordance with the normal procedure, been notified as redundant to the Ministry of Works.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a former public footpath goes right across this camp and that 40 per cent. of the living huts are admitted by his own Department to be empty; and, as the path could be used as a dividing line, would he reconsider this decision and prevent somebody acting as a dog in the manger?

I understand that only a few of the huts are vacant at present. If we do not require them, we shall certainly hand them over to the appropriate Department.


asked the Secretary of State for War if he will hand over to the local authority for emergency housing purposes that part of the former United States Army Camp at Milton Road, Cambridge, which is now unoccupied.

I regret that I am unable to release any of the hutting in the former United States Army Camp at Milton Road, Cambridge.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that figures supplied by his own Department indicate that this camp, built originally to hold 850 on wartime scales and 700 on peacetime scales, now holds only 100 people?

I am aware of that, but the fact is that there are valuable stores in the neighbourhood and we require the huts in the same vicinity. In addition to that, there is a possibility of flooding in this area and we must have accommodation, if at some time we require the presence of soldiers.

Gun Salute, Edinburgh


asked the Secretary of State for War what were his reasons for the cancellation of the gun salute for his visit to Edinburgh.

Although King's Regulations provide that salutes will be fired for the Secretary of State for War at certain stations, I am advised that the practice of the last 40 years has been for these salutes to be dispensed with at stations at home, though they have on occasion been fired at stations abroad. There was accordingly no intention on the part of the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Scottish Command to have a salute fired, and neither he nor I knew anything of the matter until we saw the evening papers on Monday, 13th June. The announcement that the salute would be fired which was issued to the Press that day was due to a misunderstanding: the staff of Edinburgh Castle immediately concerned with ceremonial matters, acting in all good faith, issued the announcement in the belief that the salute would be fired as a matter of routine in accordance with King's Regulations. The matter was rectified when the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief returned to Edinburgh that night from Glasgow, where he had spent the day with me visiting units in the area.

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that these ancient and picturesque ceremonials, although characteristically allowed to fall into desuetude under Conservative Governments, would provide colour in these necessarily austere times? Is my right hon. Friend aware that he will be not unpopular in the title rôle of "Mannie get your gun"?

Is not the appropriate salute for the right hon. Gentleman "Two hoots"?

It is amazing to me that nobody in Scotland thought of that. If it had been for the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) it would have been a collection of rude noises.

May I ask the Minister if it is not the case that the cancellation was brought about through a suspicion that a Communist might get at one of the guns?

Territorial Army Recruitment


asked the Secretary of State for War what action is being taken to encourage troops to join the Territorial Army on demobilisation.

Apart from the general campaign to obtain recruits for the Territorial Army, which, of course, is addressed particularly to soldiers who have been released from the active Army, a special appeal is made in a leaflet enclosed with the final payment to all released personnel asking them to join the Territorial Army and advising them how to do it. In some cases Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Associations make a practice of contacting all men released from their county regiments with a view to persuading them to join the Territorial Army. Details of men likely to be suitable as instructors in the Territorial Army, on release from the active Army, are also sent to appropriate Associations so that the men may be approached on release.

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that greater effort is made at demobilisation centres to bring this matter to the notice of troops more effectively than is done at present merely by the inclusion of a leaflet in the final pay packet?

I shall be very grateful for any helpful suggestion, and certainly I will look into the matter to see if anything further can be done.

Town And Country Planning

New Towns (Front Gardens)


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning under what powers the development corporations of the new towns are dictating the lay-out of the front gardens of houses.

Any powers in this matter possessed by new towns development corporations would derive from their status as landlords. I am unaware that any corporation has exercised such powers in the way the hon. and gallant Member suggests.

Is it to be assumed from the right hon. Gentleman's reply that if anybody objects to an order by a development corporation to arrange his front garden in the way in which the corporation insists—that is, a uniform way—then he is at liberty to refuse?

Yes, unless it is a condition of tenancy, and I do not for a moment imagine that that situation will arise.

Development Value (Claims)


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning how many claims for loss of development value have now been received.

Is the Minister satisfied that by 30th June a substantial number of those entitled to claim will have done so? Will he ask the B.B.C. and the Press to remind the public about these important matters?

I am satisfied that the public generally are fully alive to the fact that 30th June is the last date.

What proportion of the £300 million do these 331,000 claims represent? What is the value of the claims?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the reconstruction areas of blitzed cities, where compulsory purchase orders have been announced, there are people who do not know whether claims should be made by the local authority which is acquiring or by the individual who owns the property? Will he make that point clear to the general public?

Can the Minister say whether the total of the claims has, in fact, exceeded the £300 million? He must at least know whether it is near it or not.

Tree-Felling, Hodders Combe


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he is aware that widespread tree-felling is taking place in Hodders Combe in the Quantock Hills; to what extent this is to continue; whether it is intended to replace the natural beech and oak with conifer plantations; and whether consideration has been given to the fact that this area is part of the proposed Exmoor National Park.


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he will take action to prevent the further felling of timber in Hodders Combe, a part of the Quantocks, scheduled as a national park, pending an inquiry into the possibility of a fund to preserve this land in its present state.

So far as I am aware the tree-felling in the area referred to is not at present on an extensive scale and the area is not likely to be cleared of timber in the near future. The area licensed for felling is Lady's Edge, Black Ball Wood and part of Bircham Wood, and forms part of a much larger area over which the Forestry Commission are negotiating a lease. Under the lease the subsequent regeneration of the woods would be undertaken by the Forestry Commission who would have full regard to amenity and to the desirability of some hardwood planting. At this stage it is not possible to say the species of trees which would be planted in specific areas. Further felling of the timber can be prevented only if a Tree Preservation Order is in operation. The Somerset County Council have submitted a draft order which I am now considering.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Forestry Commission have stated that they propose planting conifers in place of the oaks there now and that there is great indignation over the despoliation of this beauty spot, which is very rapid? Can he look further into the matter, as this reply does not appear to be quite in accordance with local knowledge?

This question of conifers and hardwood is a very debatable one and I would hesitate to embark upon a controversy with the Forestry Commission.

Will the Minister also bear in mind that this tree-felling is proceeding at a much greater speed than his answer suggests? Would he consider whether something cannot be done to save this very beautiful part of Britain?

I thought the hon. Member would be gratified to know that the Somerset County Council have intervened and that I propose to act very speedily.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the beeches and oaks are the glory of some of our countryside and can never be replaced by conifers?

I understand they do not grow everywhere and one has to have regard to the nature of the soil.

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that enough tree preservation orders are being made to preserve from devastation the remaining hardwood in this country?

This is a matter for the local planning authorities and I hope they will bear in mind the need for being vigilant and will act promptly.

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain what he means when he says he would hesitate to have a controversy with the Forestry Commission? The Forestry Commission are responsible to the Minister of Agriculture and it is, therefore, the Minister of Agriculture who must take responsibility in these matters. What does he mean when he talks about having no controversy with the Forestry Commission?

All I mean is a controversy on technical matters, such as the suitability of a particular soil for the growing of particular trees, but I am very conscious of the fact that we want to grow a fair proportion of hardwood as well as conifers.

Can the Minister state approximately how long it will take to consider the Tree Preservation Order and whether, meanwhile, this felling can be suspended?

I propose to act very quickly in the matter—as I always do—and I do not think much harm will come in the meantime.

Why cannot the right hon. Gentleman ask the Minister of Agriculture to give the necessary orders to the Forestry Commission? One of the objects of the Act that was passed was to provide precisely for this sort of event, and the Minister of Agriculture has powers today to issue the necessary orders to the Forestry Commission. If he were merely to make a request the whole thing could be stopped tomorrow.

The right hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension. It is not the Forestry Commission who are pulling down the trees, but the owner of the land, who is negotiating with the Forestry Corn-mission for the grant of the lease.

Housing (New Towns)


asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning if he will instruct the new towns development corporations to record applications made to them for housing accommodation from persons in congested areas in order that their needs may be considered after the claims of priority workers have been met.

Detailed plans for the movement of population from congested areas in London to new and expanded towns are under consideration and will shortly be discussed with the local authorities concerned. These plans will include provision for registering applications from private individuals for housing accommodation.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the policy of the development corporations varies, and that some corporations will accept applications made to them privately and register them, and that some will not do so? Does not My right hon. Friend agree that there ought to be some uniformity about this, and that when private persons do make private applications at least their applications ought to be recorded for future action if the occasion for it arises?

National Insurance

Married Women (Pensions)


asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he has considered the position of a married woman who has reached pensionable age since 5th July, 1948, but is not receiving a pension because her husband, who reached pensionable age before that date and is drawing a pension of 10s. a week, has not yet retired from employment; and whether he can make a statement on the subject.

Yes, Sir; we are amending the regulations to enable the retirement pension such a woman may receive when her husband retires or reaches the age of 70, or on his earlier death, to be increased by one shilling a week for every 12 months which have elapsed between her sixtieth birthday and the date when the pension becomes payable.

Is my hon. Friend aware that that answer will give satisfaction? Can he say whether these regulations will come before the House before the Summer Recess?



asked the Minister of National Insurance, in view of the fact that prisoners and their families lose the right of National Insurance benefits, including old age pension rights, whether he will arrange a token payment from those prisoners who cannot afford full contributions while they are in prison with the option of repaying arrears at a later date.

My right hon. Friend is considering this point, and hopes to make arrangements to enable arrears of contributions to be paid within a reasonable time after a man is discharged from prison.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that will cause a considerable amount of satisfaction to those who are considering the rehabilitation of prisoners?

Widows (Contributions)


asked the Minister of National Insurance if he will give an estimate of the loss of revenue that would be involved by exempting from payment of National Insurance contribution under the 1946 Act, all widows who are over 50 years of age and have not yet attained 60 years of age and who are in receipt of widows' benefit under any previous Acts at the 10s, rate.

The loss of revenue is estimated to be about £1,500,000 a year at the present time, falling to about £500,000 in 10 years' time.

Does that estimate take into consideration the payments that are made by the Assistance Board, which, in turn, has to take into consideration these payments?

No, it applies only, as far as Class I people are concerned to insured persons' contributions, not to those of the employers; and it takes into account the whole contribution of Class II and Class III widows, but not payments by the Assistance Board.

Does that not mean that one department of the same Ministry is in many cases simply paying the contributions to another department?

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is very great hardship caused by these regulations, which take from a widow over 55 who has only 10s. a week, 3s. 8d. of her 10s.? Does he not think that something should be done very quickly for those widows between 55 and 60 years of age?

The position is, of course, that if a widow has an income of less than £104 per annum she may opt out, and is not required to pay the contributions.


Foundry Conditions


asked the Minister of Labour what progress has been made in carrying into effect the recommendations of the Joint Advisory Committee on Conditions in Iron-foundries.

This, as previously explained, is a matter for action in many matters of detail by employers and workers in the industry, so that the progress made cannot be briefly described. Structural alterations, and alterations in methods of working, are involved to a considerable extent, but it appears that considerable progress has been and is being made in spite of serious practical difficulties, and it is kept under review by the Joint Standing Committee on Foundry Conditions.

Is the Minister aware that while a good deal of progress is being made by some firms there is a number of other firms in whose premises practically no progress is being made at all? Will he endeavour to make sure that progress is attained in all sections of the industry?

Yes, Sir, the factory inspectors are keeping a constant watch on this matter. I should say that in the great majority of cases the employers are most actively co-operating in this matter.

Wages Disputes (Arbitrator)


asked the Minister of Labour which trades unions have protested at the appointment of Sir Luke Fawcett as an arbitrator on wages disputes; and, as he has declared his support for the Government's wage freeze policy, whether this appointment will be reconsidered.

None, Sir. The answer to the second part of the Question is in the negative.

As the newspapers report otherwise than as the Minister has replied, may I ask the Minister if it is not the case that the arbitration board is supposed to be an impartial body; and whether, if a person is put on the arbitration board who has already stated his general views in connection with wages, it is fair that he should decide on a matter which is to come before him in connection with an increase of wages?

Sir Luke Fawcett has the reputation of being an honest, conscientious man. I have every confidence in him, and, despite what any newspaper or anybody else says, I intend to retain him on this body.

Disabled Persons


asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to satisfy himself that the Disabled Persons' (Employment) Act, 1944, is not being evaded by organisers of sporting events employing other than registered disabled persons to operate their car parks; that police and service personnel are not so employed instead of registered disabled persons; and what supervision is carried out by the Department to see that the Act is being duly observed.

By an order made under this Act it is not permissible to engage for employment as a car park attendant any person other than a registered disabled person, unless a permit has been obtained. There is systematic inspection of employers' records to ensure compliance. The order does not prohibit part-time or casual employment on these duties of persons otherwise in the employment of the same employer, nor does it affect the service or duty of police or members of His Majesty's Forces.

Does that mean that a certain number of people are employed for part of their time on car parks and the rest of their time in other duties for their employers? That would not be very fair.

No, Sir, that is not the situation. What happens is that occasionally some small event crops up and an employer may appoint one of his ordinary employees to do this job. With one or two exceptions—one rather particular—most of these car park people are actively co-operating with us. We have known one or two cases of noncompliance. In most of the cases an observation from us has put the matter right.


Analgesia (Training)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many local health authorities in Scotland have submitted schemes under the National Health Act; how many of these schemes make provision for the training in analgesia of midwives at present on their roll; and how many make full provision for transport for analgesia equipment.

All Scottish authorities are operating under approved statutory proposals requiring them to make provision on both points mentioned in the Question.

Have the schemes which have been submitted already given full satisfaction in those areas? Can the right hon. Gentleman say how long, on the average, it will be before all the midwives at present on the rolls will be trained under the schemes?

I think, speaking from memory, it is about two years—it is less than the period specified in the Measure brought before Parliament—before all our midwives can be trained. There has been some delay because some of the local authorities and some of the medical authorities have different views on what type of analgesia should be used, and some have different ideas on the economy of the different systems.

Does my right hon. Friend consider it advisable, in view of the dreadful housing conditions in Scotland, to encourage domiciliary midwifery?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are many areas in Scotland where not a solitary midwife is trained at all, and that there are also many areas where there is no transport provided for any of the midwives?

I think I have explained to the hon. Gentleman before that that arises because in Scotland—in theory at least—every woman in confinement is entitled to the services of a doctor, and the doctor is in charge of her case and can utilise any method whatsoever to relieve her pain.

But is the right hon. Gentleman not quite well aware that, whatever the theory be, there are numbers of women in Scotland who do not have a doctor attending them in childbirth, and who are dependent on the services of midwives, and that a wholly inadequate service is provided in this regard?

I think the hon. Gentleman is quite mistaken. There is a greater and greater number of patients who are actually treated by doctors at the time of their confinement, and it is the practice of doctors wherever possible in Scotland to be personally present at the confinements.

Sight Treatment


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if any facilities are available for sight-without-spectacles treatment, as recommended by certain doctors and others in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Eye exercises for the correction of defects are used by ophthalmologists in suitable cases. If the hon. Member has something else in mind, perhaps he will let me have particulars.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at least one of my constituents—and there are probably many more—cannot get spectacles, and looks to the right hon. Gentleman to give him some substitute treatment until spectacles can be made available?

I hope that all the authorities concerned will avoid giving spectacles if the eye can be treated and cured in other ways.

Can I have the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that he will take steps to see that the provision of curative treatment rather than the provision of spectacles will have his attention?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, it would be quite improper for any politician to interfere with technicians on these matters.

Pig Producers


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many persons are registered as personal pig producers for the 1948–49 period.

The number of persons in Scotland receiving pig rations under the Self Suppliers Scheme is 2,536. In addition 40 pig clubs, with a total membership of 451 pig-keepers, receive pig rations.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these figures are very disappointing as compared with those for England; and will he take steps to see that personal pig production is encouraged in Scotland to a proper degree?

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman, as a practical farmer, will realise that the pig population is increasing very rapidly.

Could the right hon. Gentleman explain the difference between a personal and an impersonal pig?

Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will go and see "Whisky Galore."

Agricultural Grants (Piping)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why the Department of Agriculture are refusing to pay grants under the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Acts in respect of copper piping and insisting on the use of asbestos piping, although asbestos is not available.

In administering this scheme the use of copper piping is restricted as far as possible because it is too expensive for ordinary agricultural purposes. There are, I know, serious delays in the delivery of both asbestos and cast-iron pipes, and if the hon. Member has a particular case in mind I shall be pleased to look into it.

Does this not mean that the right hon. Gentleman is putting a ban on the use of copper piping, or alternatively that he is postponing necessary agricultural work which should be done at once?

I have no doubt that cast-iron pipes would be very efficient in this direction. We must consider the cost of this scheme, and if we were to permit the use of copper, which is imported for dollars, we should automatically be restricting the number of people who could be helped by the scheme.

Is the Secretary of State not aware that in many districts the water is of such a nature that cast iron pipes are entirely useless, and that those districts must be provided with copper pipes, in view of the fact that they cannot get asbestos piping?

These are matters which can be looked into, but the asbestos is there.

On what ground did the right hon. Gentleman make the statement that copper has to be imported for dollars?

Ministry Of Pensions

Crown Proceedings Act (Certificates)


asked the Minister of Pensions in how many cases he has issued certificates under Section 10 (1, b) of the Crown Proceedings Act, 1947; and in how many cases he has refused to issue such certificates and on what grounds.

Certificates have been issued in 15 cases and refused in one case on the ground that the injury was sustained during a brawl and could not properly be certified as attributable to service.

Will the Minister say whether the issue of these certificates is automatic if it is proved that the soldier, sailor or airman was on duty at the time of the accident?

If he is on duty I am obliged by the Statute to issue the necessary certificate.

Invalid Tricycles


asked the Minister of Pensions how many improved weather protected invalid tricycles have been ordered; what was the date of the first orders; and what have been the numbers issued to badly disabled war pensioners.

The prototype of a new all-weather tricycle has now undergone exacting road tests, and on 26th May my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works was asked to arrange to supply 2,000 of these tricycles. Deliveries to badly disabled war pensioners are expected to commence towards the end of the year.

Civil Service (Young Women)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that a girl of 15 years of age, who has just left school and qualified as an assistant in the Civil Service, has been refused any position in Newport or Cardiff, but has been offered a post in London; and, in view of the undesirability of asking young girls to leave the vicinity of their homes at such an age, if he will provide more suitable posts in all cases of this nature.

Girls qualifying as clerical assistants are offered local appointments so far as possible. Where, as in Wales, the number of successful candidates has exceeded the number of local vacancies, the only alternative has been to offer posts in London, which successful candidates can decline if they do not wish to leave their homes. Recruitment was suspended in Wales in March, except for applicants willing to consider posts in London.

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that nearly half a million young people left Wales during the last quarter of a century; and will he take steps to avoid a repetition of that?

I am afraid that we cannot organise our administration on the basis of creating more posts in Wales because there are more young women who want more jobs.

Is it not inevitable that under a Socialist Government there will be forced labour; and is not this case but another of many instances which are evidence that Soviet methods are coming to Britain?

National Finance

Capital (Tax Relief)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an estimate of the loss to revenue of a reduction to 10 per cent. in the allowed return on capital employed in the manufacture of price-controlled goods.

I am afraid that it is not possible to provide an estimate of this sort as information is not available to show the actual return at present on capital employed for all the concerns manufacturing price-controlled goods.

Israeli Sterling Balances


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what counter-claims were made by His Majesty's Government on the Israeli Government before His Majesty's Government agreed to releases of £7 million from Israeli blocked sterling balances.

None, Sir. Discussion of claims and counter-claims between the two Governments will begin in Tel-Aviv in a few weeks' time.

As in a Debate the Secretary of State for the Colonies said that no release would be made until the Israeli Government acknowledged all their liabilities to this country, can the Chancellor give an undertaking that that was done before this release was made?

It was considered convenient to deal with this immediate problem of the financing of the Israeli Government, and of their necessary sterling payments, before we could arrive at the complete settlement, and that is bound to take some months because of its complexity.

Does that mean that in effect this release has been made before the fulfilment of the undertaking of the Secretary of State, that the Israeli Government would acknowledge their obligation to this country?

I am afraid that I am not aware of the undertaking of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The facts are as I have stated.

In assessing the claims we shall make has the Chancellor borne in mind the immense cost of looking after the illegal immigrants who tried to go into Palestine but had to go to Cyprus before we surrendered the Mandate?

I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that we shall look after all the claims we have to make.

Will the Chancellor look at column 1248 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of 10th March, 1948, and in the light of the statement there made by the Secretary of State for the Colonies review any further release to the Israeli Government before the claims of this country are met?

It is not proposed to release any further claims until we have had the negotiations in Tel-Aviv in a few weeks' time.

Anglo-Indian Discussions


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has any statement to make on the recent Anglo-Indian financial discussions.

Discussions on the working of the financial agreement with India was recently initiated in New Delhi and are being continued in London. I hope to be able to make a statement in due course.

Since these balances have now been reduced by half, can the Chancellor give any undertaking that no further releases will be made until counter-claims have been made by His Majesty's Government and accepted by the Government of India?

If that is so, will the Chancellor make clear to the House that he stands with His Majesty's Government committed to this policy of making counter-claims? In the last three years there have been many opportunities for so doing, but none have been made, and will the Chancellor now make clear to this House when he thinks it will be possible for His Majesty's Government to make such a counter-claim?

In view of the very disastrous effect that the wrong use of these Indian balances has brought about on our unrequited exports, and in view of their vital importance at this moment to our export trade, will he take that into account in the further negotiations?

We always take into account how much unrequited exports are lost to us.

Do the present negotiations in fact cover the possibility of His Majesty's Government putting in counter-claims?

No. The present negotiations deal with the question of how much release of sterling and how much dollar requirements India as a member of the sterling area requires in the coming 12 months.

Then will the Chancellor now make it clear that in fact His Majesty's Government do not mean to make counter-claims?

Anglo-American Talks


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has any statement to make on the outcome of the recent Anglo-American financial talks in Washington.

No, Sir. In accordance with regular practice representatives of the Treasury recently paid a routine visit to consult with our own representatives in Washington. Any contacts with American officials were personal and informal.

Does that mean that His Majesty's Government have no statement to make about the present divergence of opinion over the Anglo-Argentine trade Agreement?

It means nothing of the sort. It means that that was why two officials visited America.

Double Taxation


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made in negotiations with the Belgian Government to end the system of double taxation which hinders freedom of trade between the two countries.

Progress has been temporarily interrupted while a revision of the taxation system is under consideration in Belgium. Discussions will be resumed as soon as possible.

Is the Chancellor aware that informed opinion in Belgium and British circles there believe it is the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Treasury that are preventing the removal of this great hampering of trade between the two countries, and will he give a better assurance than last year, when he said that good progress was being made?

Yes, Sir. It is not the Treasury nor the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I understand that the Belgians are considering a revision of their whole taxation system, and until they have done that it is impossible to continue to negotiate.

Is the Chancellor aware that he is wrong in that statement. The principle of getting rid of dual taxation does not depend on the incidence of taxation; that is clear from the differences there have been in American taxation where he has been able to make an agreement?

I do not think that anyone disagrees with the principle. The question is, working out the system.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made in negotiations with the French Government to end the system of double taxation between the two countries; and if he will give an assurance that His Majesty's Government are in favour of terminating this system.

As the same set of circumstances which the Chancellor has mentioned in the case of Belgium do not hold good in the case of France, will be not say that it is himself and the Treasury standing in the way, on some quite untenable grounds of balance of payments, and will he get on with it?

No, Sir. Those are not the circumstances. The circumstances are that discussions are now taking place with the French.

Customs And Excise, Scotland


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the annual amount, to the most recent convenient date, received in Scotland from Customs and Excise duties.

The net amount from Customs and Excise duties received in Scotland during the financial year ended 31st March, 1949, was about £123 million (Customs, £55 million, Excise, £68 million).

Can the Chancellor say the relation these payments to Scotland bear to the total payments to the United Kingdom?

I could not without notice, but it would not be very informative if I could, because these goods in many cases are not necessarily consumed in Scotland.

The Chancellor will be aware that they are manufactured in Scotland.

Dollar Sales, Foreign Countries


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made towards stopping the purchase, by countries outside the sterling bloc, of commodities which are subsequently resold for United States dollars.

I am pressing on with various remedial proposals and measures. I have, for example, been able to secure changes in some payments agreements which now provide that transferable account sterling may be used only for direct current transactions. I am consulting interested members of the sterling area on other proposals which would require their co-operation.

Is the Chancellor of the Exchequer aware that this robbing of the sterling area of tens of millions of dollars over the last six months to a year is creating great pressure on the dollar gap, and will he take very much wider and more drastic steps than those he has mentioned?

It is not possible to take very much wider or more drastic steps, except in association with other countries, both the countries whose nationals are engaging in these transactions and the countries in whose areas the goods are to be found. Steps are being taken with both of these countries to try and get a correction.

Has the Chancellor received satisfactory co-operation from the Governments of these nationals who have undoubtedly been assisting in this serious drain on our sterling resources?

I think that they are doing their best to help, but this is a very complicated matter, as anyone knows who has to deal with exchange problems.

When the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that he is dealing with these transferable areas, can he say what percentage is now covered by such agreements as he has mentioned?

Will the Chancellor bear in mind that he has already established a precedent by the embargo on the export of rubber to Siam? Having established that precedent, why does he not use it in a wider circle?

It is not always appropriate. It might not be appropriate to establish an embargo on the export of rubber to Europe.

Football Pools (Income Tax)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his regulations provide that the cost of the registered letters sent to every Member recently by the Football Pools Promoters Association should be treated as a business expense for purposes of Income tax.

Expenditure by traders for political purposes is not permitted to be deducted in computing profits for the purposes of Income Tax, and any claim to deduct the cost to which my hon. Friend refers would certainly be contested by the Inland Revenue.

In view of the uncertainty in the public mind as to what these pool promoters regard as expenses, especially as the rules about them are drawn up by the promoters themselves in the privacy of their own association, will my right hon. and learned Friend reply to any protests about taxation which he may receive by inviting or even challenging these pool promoters to publish balance-sheets, so that the general public can see how these expenses are calculated, what amount of profit is deducted and to what extent they are being led up the garden by this expensive propaganda?

I am afraid that that would not be relevant to this Question. It concerns how much Income Tax is charged, which is quite satisfactorily seen to by the Revenue authorities.

Dollar Earnings


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce an incentive to dollar earning by permitting United Kingdom taxpayers to retain the whole sterling equivalent of their dollar earnings tax free.

Does not the Chancellor agree that the prospect of getting back some part, if not all, of what one earns would be a great inducement in the earning of dollars, and will he quite seriously put this question to his experts?

This matter has been studied on many occasions, and it is quite impracticable to prefer one trader to another in this way.

Post-War Credits


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what sum of money is held by his Department as post-war credits; what are the present rules for the repayment of these credits in general or in particular classes; and what is the amount of the repayment in each of the last three years.

The total Post-war Credit originally created amounted to £800 million of which £58 million was repaid in 1946–47, £56 million in 1947–48 and £19 million in 1948–49, leaving a balance of £667 million outstanding at the commencement of the current year. It is estimated that a further £18 million will be repaid this year. The existing law provides for payment only to men over the age of 65 and women over the age of 60.

In view of the substantial drop in the repayments in the last two years, will the Chancellor consider easing the many hard cases about which Members on both sides are constantly hearing?

Gold (Price)


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much of the 40,000,000 ounces of gold purchased by the United States of America in 1948 came from the sterling area; and whether he will state the average price paid.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the present official price of gold is £8 12s. 3d. per fine ounce and the market price £22 10s., and that the Americans are underpaying to the tune of £560 million? Is it not a ridiculous situation arising out of the Bretton Woods Agreement?

I cannot agree to the figures. It depends on what my hon. Friend thinks is the proper price of gold.

Is the Chancellor aware that the free market price is £22 10s. and that the official so-called monetary price is only £8 12s. 3d.?

Is the Chancellor aware that the sterling area is losing thousands of millions of dollars? What is he going to do about it?