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Commons Chamber

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 12 July 1949

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House Of Commons

Tuesday, 12th July, 1949

The House met at Half-past Two o'clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business

Ashdown Forest Bill

Read the Third time, and passed.

London County Council (General Powers) Bill King's Consent Signified

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

Oral Answers To Questions

Employment

Appointments Department

2.

asked the Minister of Labour how many persons were placed during 1948 by his Appointments Department and at what initial salary; what was the average cost, including overhead expenses, per person placed; how many of these placings were in Government service or nationalised industries; and whether such placings were competitive with private agencies.

Thirty thousand, nine hundred and seventy-four in 1948. The great majority of these were in private employment. Records are not maintained in such a way as to give the other statistical information asked for. There is no restriction on competition by private agencies in this field, and there is a substantial amount of co-operation with a number of them.

If there are no statistics available, how can one possibly gauge the efficiency of this service? Surely the Minister should be in a position to prove that the Appointments Department are at least as efficient as private agencies?

We do not keep a record of the exact wages paid to various people; we know that they range from about £400 to over £1,000. The other statistics as to the cost per individual cannot be accurately ascertained because this Department does other work in addition to actual appointments, such as careers advice, manpower surveys and the recruiting service for the nursing profession. All these are involved, and we cannot separate them.

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is nothing which the Appointments Department can do which private agencies cannot do more cheaply?

I do not admit that. I am satisfied that many of the 30,000 whom we have placed would not have been placed but for the services which we provided for them.

Ex-Service Men (Training)

3.

asked the Minister of Labour what arrangements are being made to help those who entered into Regular engagements to train, after their time in the Services, for the professions and business.

A scheme was recently started to provide training for those who wish to enter business. Full particulars are given in a leaflet (P.L. 309) a copy of which I am sending to the hon. Member. There are no similar arrangements for training for the professions.

In view of the statements which the Minister of Defence has made about the desirability of providing training for civilian life for ex-Regulars, would not the Minister of Labour expand his scheme to cover the professions as well as business?

We have examined that, but the point is that ex-Regular officers who leave after long service have usually reached an age when it is not easy for them to undertake a long course such as is required for the professions. We have not turned down the idea completely. We have been examining it in regard to younger men who leave after less extended service, and, as I say, we have not abandoned it as impracticable. We wish to see whether something can be done.

London Docks (Canadian Boats)

4.

asked the Minister of Labour how long have the Canadian boats, s.s. "Beaverbrae" and s.s. "Agramont" been in the London Port; and whether the Port of London Docks Board operated the full terms of the docks labour scheme from the time of the arrival of these two boats.

The "Beaverbrae" has been in the London Docks since 4th April last and the "Agramont" since 10th May. In reply to the second part of the Question I would refer the hon. Member to the statement which I made in reply to a Private Notice Question by the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) on 1st July.

In view of the length of time that these boats have been in the London Port and the fact that at no time prior to two or three weeks ago did the Port authorities insist that these boats should be unloaded by the dockers, could the right hon. Gentleman explain why the Port authorities took this provocative action, which led to the present dispute?

I have nothing to add to the reply which was previously given, and to which I have referred.

Is it not the case that there is a strike on these two boats carried on by a bona fide Canadian trade union—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—and that an American union is trying to destroy the Canadian union so that the Americans can get control of the Canadian seaboard?

Stornoway

5.

asked the Minister of Labour what is the number of unemployed persons on the Stornoway register at the most recent census; and what percentage this is of the local insurable population.

The number of unemployed persons on the register at 13th June was 660. This represents 13 per cent. of the number of employees to whom insurance cards were issued at July, 1948.

Scotland

Mastitis (Cure Claim)

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why a registered medical practitioner, who claims to have a cure for mastitis and has made offers to his Department, is not allowed to demonstrate this cure without submitting in advance information which might prejudice a fair examination of the claim; and if he will take steps to remedy this situation.

The medical practitioner referred to is free to demonstrate his alleged cure for mastitis, but it plainly cannot receive official backing until it has been thoroughly tested by impartial scientific experts. For this purpose details and methods of treatment require to be disclosed. I cannot accept the suggestion that disclosure of this information in advance might prejudice a fair examination of his claim.

The right hon. Gentleman will have in mind that Dr. Jenner had the same difficulty in impressing the value of his cure upon officialdom in his day?

Yes, Sir, except that today, of course, we have scientific methods of testing cures that were not in existence in those days.

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what action has been taken on the evidence submitted to the Milk Committee of Inquiry for Scotland, showing that the milk output might be increased by 15 per cent.; and if any investigation is being made of the validity of this evidence.

I assume that the evidence to which the hon. Member refers was that submitted to the Committee by the medical practitioner mentioned in the hon. Member's Question to which I have just replied, and was based on his claim to have found a cure for mastitis. I have accordingly nothing to add to what I have already said on this matter.

Is it not the case that this reputable medical practitioner is prepared to have experiments made at his own expense, if the Department do not insist on disclosing the formula in advance?

The Department has to be rather careful. There are a lot of people who think they are wonderful inventors. We have to be rather careful how far people can experiment without getting scientific approval.

Would the right hon. Gentleman suggest that the scientific dignity of the Department is more important than a cure for mastitis?

Is not the disclosure of the nature of a remedy the necessary hall-mark of a reputable medical practitioner?

Yes, Sir, and in some cases where private practitioners are involved the Department has to be rather careful.

Pier Scheme, Portnaguran

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether sanction has yet been given by the Scottish Department concerned to proceed with the proposed pier at Portnaguran; and when the work is likely to commence.

The scheme for a pier and boatslip at Portnaguran submitted by the county council in April has been examined by technical officers of the Scottish Home Department and the county council were asked on 8th June to consider some modifications.

Road, Isle Of Barra

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what the Department of Agriculture's plans are for the construction of an adequate road to serve the tenants of the Department's estate at Eoligarry, Isle of Barra; and when the work is to begin.

Investigations are at present being made in this matter, and I shall communicate with the hon. Member when I am in a position to do so.

Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind, particularly as this is one of the very oldest permanent estates for which the Department are completely responsible, that the work in question does not need to be held up for consultations with other authorities?

As the hon. Member knows, the territory in this part of the country is not such that it is easy to make roads without taking into account all the questions of drainage and access for the various people concerned, which are making it rather difficult to construct a road.

Will the right hon. Gentleman also remember, on the other hand, that this territory without roads is an extremely difficult territory in which to live, and will he therefore treat the matter as all the more urgent?

Alleged Salmon Poaching, Helmsdale

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that salmon are being captured illegally in Helmsdale by gill nets which blockade the river, where Boyd Brothers, fish merchants, are buying the stolen fish and consigning it to David King, Birmingham, as white fish, so that British Railways are transporting the fish for account of the Ministry of Food at the taxpayers' expense, particulars of which have been sent to him by the hon. Member for Streatham; and whether he will take action to prosecute those concerned and to ensure the enforcement of the law in future.

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask for your guidance with regard to this Question? Is it in Order to impute criminal acts to named persons, as this Question does, who have not been convicted, or even charged, without giving those persons an opportunity of defending themselves; and alternatively is the doing so, as is done in this Question, a breach of the traditions of this House?

No, not if an hon. Member thinks that some misdemeanour has been committed. He is entitled to bring it to the notice of the Minister concerned. An hon. Member is always responsible for the particulars which he puts in a Question. I have ascertained, in regard to this Question, that in matters of this kind there is some responsibility on the Secretary of State for Scotland, and therefore the Question is in Order.

Further to that point of Order. Where there are other ways and means whereby the alleged offence could be brought to the notice of the Lord Advocate in regard to Scotland or the Attorney-General in regard to England, would not that course be the better course to adopt, instead of making, as is here made, clear criminal charges of consigning salmon as white fish?

Oh, no; I remember in days past that any number of hon. Members raised Questions of this kind and asked the Government to prosecute. They are entitled to do so. They are responsible for statements in the Questions, but that is all. They are entitled to put the Questions.

Is it in Order to refer to a poached salmon as a "stolen" salmon? I always understood that poaching was quite an honest occupation.

Might not this be treated lightly and simply described as the normal course of private enterprise?

Further to that point of Order, and by way of explanation, may I say that I brought the facts of this case to the notice of the Secretary of State for Scotland a month ago. I waited for him to act; he did not do so; I went to Helmsdale myself, I saw the illegal nets blocking the river, and I was able to catch the receivers—

I would like to ask you, Mr. Speaker, if it is within the Rules of this House to make definite charges of breaking the law against certain people who are named, without giving them a chance to establish their innocence?

The reply to the Question is that I am aware that poaching of salmon is reported at Helmsdale. Inquiries are proceeding into the matters referred to in the Question, and I regret that I cannot at this stage make any further statement.

Is not that a most amazing answer? Why did the right hon. Gentleman discount the statement made by the Lord Lieutenant of Sutherland which I passed to him a month ago? Why did he mislead this House on 21st June by stating that these complaints were exaggerated? Is he aware that I caught this stolen consignment in boxes in the guard's van at Inverness?

First of all, the hon. Member raised allegations concerning practically the whole of the county, and did not specify Helmsdale as a single item in the last Question—

So far as the whole county was concerned, the allegations, it was reported to me, were exaggerated. I do not deny that such things can take place in the Highlands; it has been known in the past. The matter had to be considered. The hon. Gentleman has now reported a specific case and that must be investigated by the legal authorities. I think he will agree that once the case comes into the hands of the legal authorities, it would be improper for me to comment further.

May I ask whether this House would not have been saved a great deal of trouble if the questioner had made clear that it was the landlords who "pinched" the salmon rights first?

Whilst safeguarding the rights of legitimate poachers in this area, will the right hon. Gentleman take the most severe measures to ensure that political poachers do not come up to Caithness from Streatham?

Highlands Resettlement

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will consider making a grant to the Society of Clann Albhinn for the work they are doing in undertaking the resettlement of the Highlands on a practical basis.

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. May I draw your attention to the fact that I put down this Question to the Treasury as the only possible people who can answer, and that they have passed it on to the Secretary of State, who cannot possibly give an answer?

I have not received any application from the Society for a grant, and while I would be prepared to consider any representations they may wish to put before me, I can hold out no hope of a grant being made available for the general purpose indicated by the hon. Member. Might I add that the proper authority for the making of grants is the Secretary of State for Scotland and not the Treasury?

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, and drawing his attention, with great respect, to the fact that he gets no money except from the Treasury, may I ask whether, if we give £770,000 for a fun fair in Battersea, a very practical proposal such as that made by this society should not have a similar grant?

As members of this society acquired land in Wester Ross, would the Secretary of State see that the local authorities are consulted before any decision is taken to give a grant?

The society did send some people to Wester Ross, but that was not the responsibility of the Secretary of State. Land settlement in Scotland is within the province of the Secretary of State, but it is possible for people to do it privately, as the hon. Member is aware, without consulting either the county council or the Secretary of State. In that particular case I have seen the report in the Press that there was some resentment among the local people at this "invasion," as they called it, and that the people concerned have now retired.

Ministry Of Pensions

Disabled Persons (Tricycles)

12.

asked the Minister of Pensions the conditions under which a disabled person may qualify for an invalid tricycle.

A disabled pensioner may qualify for an invalid tricycle if he has suffered amputation of both legs, one amputation being above the knee, or is suffering from paraplegia or his disability results in total or almost total loss of the use of his legs, or he is so badly disabled as to need a machine in order to obtain or retain employment.

Can the Minister say how many applications for these tricycles have been received, how many have been granted, and how many tricycles have been issued up to date?

I should require notice of that question. The tricycles are available under the National Health Service as well as under this scheme for war pensioners.

In a case where a disabled person has applied for a motor car and that application has been refused, is he bound to apply a second time for a tricycle?

I should think that where a person has applied for a motor car and has been told that he is not eligible, at the same time he would be told whether he is eligible for a tricycle.

Is the Minister satisfied that these three-wheeled vehicles are as safe as motor cars? Is it not a fact that they turn over much more easily?

There is another Question on the Order Paper which, I think, will answer that point.

Are the conditions for the issue of self-propelled invalid chairs the same as those for the issue of tricycles?

Invalid chairs can be provided instead of tricycles, if preferred, or they can be provided subject to approval by my medical advisers where considered necessary.

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Might I call attention to a lady using opera glasses in the Gallery?

14.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will make a statement on the proposals of his Department for a new type of enclosed motor tricycle for disabled persons.

The new type of motor tricycle embodies a number of new features based on experience of the special needs of seriously disabled persons. Complete weather protection is provided. The tricycle has a hood which can be easily opened or closed by the seated driver. A very wide door makes it easy for the disabled man to get in and out. Special attention has been paid to the springing of the chassis and upholstery in order to give maximum insulation from road shocks and engine vibration. All the controls are hand operated, the throttle and brake controls being on the steering wheel, which is of the aircraft type. The machine is fitted with a self-starter. It has good hill climbing qualities. At the back there is an enclosed compartment containing a folding hand-propelled chair. The tricycle has been driven in the course of its tests by seriously disabled men who have testified to its comfort, and to the ease with which it can be driven.

While we appreciate the action of the Ministry in effecting these improvements in design, can my right hon. Friend say anything about the relative cost of one of these improved tricycles and one of the cars which his Ministry have issued? In view of the obviously great superiority of the motor car, can he not declare that it is his ultimate policy to extend the issue of cars to all categories of disabled persons who will qualify for the motor tricycle under the present plan?

No, Sir. The tricycles are provided now. They are being issued continuously. An improved version is being provided. In addition, I have been able to provide, as I have already said more than once, not more than 1,500 motor cars over a period of two years. Questions about what might happen at the end of that time might more appropriately be put within a few months of the expiry of those two years, and not now.

Would my right hon. Friend consider placing on view somewhere in the precincts of the Palace of Westminster one of these motor tricycles so that hon. Members can see what his Department are doing for the disabled ex-Service man?

When is it hoped to start the issue of the new type of motor tricycle?

I answered a Question on that point a week or two ago. Certainly by the end of the year: I hope before.

As I have written to the Minister on this question, is he not fully aware that many of these crippled men require constant attention, and would it not be desirable to provide small two-seater cars so that the wife or some friend can be with them continuously?

That is one of the reasons why 1,500 four-seater cars are being provided.

Parents' Pensions

13.

asked the Minister of Pensions how many pensions are paid to parents of sons and daughters killed during the last war; what is the average amount paid; and what is the highest pension paid.

Approximately 48,000 pensions are being paid to parents in respect of deaths from the 1939–45 war. The average pension is £40 a year, and the highest pension paid is £120 a year.

Can my right hon. Friend say how these compare with similar pensions paid after the 1914–18 war?

Would my right hon. Friend say whether he has sent to parents a letter similar to that sent to ex-Service men so that they may know the benefits for which they can apply from time to time? If not, will he do so?

No, Sir. I have not sent out any such letter. These pensions are payable in cases of need. It would be impossible for me to circularise all parents all over the country, most of whom, fortunately, are not in need.

British Army

Far Eastern Drafts (Training)

15.

asked the Secretary of State for War the conditions of training and of service which have to be fulfilled before a National Service man is ordered to serve in the Far East; and, in particular, the length of unexpired service required prior to embarkation.

22.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give an assurance that no men will be sent to the Far East who have less than nine months' service to complete.

As I have stated on a number of previous occasions, a soldier must have completed 16 weeks' training and a total of 18 weeks' service before embarkation for the Far East. As regards the length of unexpired service required prior to embarkation for the Far East, the normal rule is that National Service men must have not less than nine months' unexpired service to complete on arrival in the theatre, that is about 10½ months on embarkation. There are, however, occasions when it is found necessary, owing to operational requirements, to reduce the minimum period of unexpired service on embarkation to about 7½ months. All the men may expect to return to the United Kingdom in time to be released with their age and service groups.

Will the right hon. Gentleman look at a case, if I send it to him, where a man has less than six months to serve before he is to return from Hong Kong?

If the hon. and gallant Member sends me a case which he wants me to look into, I certainly shall do so.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say for what percentage of the total number of men sent out to the Far East this year a period of less than nine months' unexpired service has been accepted by the Army authorities for operational reasons?

If I send details of a lad of 17½ who I understand is being sent to the Far East with very much less than 12 weeks' training, will my right hon. Friend look into the matter at pretty short notice?

There should be no cases, so far as I am aware—certainly, if there are such cases, they are contrary to the instructions I have issued—where men have been sent to the Far East recently without having had 18 weeks' service and a minimum of 16 weeks' training.

In addition to training at home, do men sent out go to a base camp and have further training before being sent up the line?

Special Campaign Pension

17.

asked the Secretary of State for War why Mr. W. F. Marriott, of 21 British Grove, Chiswick, W.4, has had his special campaign pension, which was granted to him for service during the Boer War, reduced by 5s.; and whether he will now reconsider the policy of applying a means test to such pensioners, in view of their age and loyal service, and of the hardship thus inflicted upon them.

When Mr. Marriott's old age pension was increased, he ceased to be eligible for special campaign pension under the normal rules, but so much of his special campaign pension has since been continued as is necessary to maintain his income at its former level. This amount was, on recent review, found to be 5s. a week only and his pension was, therefore, reduced to that rate from 1st June, 1949. The answer to the last part of the Question is "No."

May I ask my right hon. Friend two questions? First, was this reduction in this particular pension part of the general arrangement; and secondly, does he not realise that these men regard the reduction as rather mean and cheeseparing, particularly in view of the age of the people concerned and the services they have given to the country, and in those circumstances will he reconsider his plan?

If I say that this is part of a general arrangement which was agreed a long time ago, I think that would be the complete answer. The persons concerned will not suffer financially or he any worse off than they were before.

Is it not a fact that this is a means test of the most tyrannical character?

No, the fact is that the special campaign pension is itself based on a means test.

Officers, Malaya

19.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is satisfied that officers in Malaya who are required to undertake increased responsibilities in connection with the campaign against the guerillas are given promotion with increased pay.

Officers in Malaya are serving on standard field force establishments. The gradings of appointments are assessed on a responsibility basis.

Does that mean that where a post carries a higher responsibility than the substantive rank of the officer carrying out the job, a higher rank or temporary rank can be given?

If the post carries a higher responsibility, it is generally assumed that it carries a higher rank.

Overseas Service (Medical Categories)

21.

asked the Secretary of State for War which medical categories qualify soldiers for service at Hong Kong.

The fitness of soldiers for service overseas is assessed under the "Pulheems" system of medical classification which has replaced the former medical categories.

Would the right hon. Gentleman kindly answer the Question? Even under his new system, there must be some kind of description which can be given and may we have that description?

The description is all embodied in the term "Pulheems." It is rather complicated, but if the hon. Gentleman is anxious to have a full description and a complete definition of the words represented by the initials contained in the word "Pulheems," I will have it inserted in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Surely, all we want to know is how physically fit a man has to be before he goes to Hong Kong?

In order to ascertain whether a man is physically fit, he has to undergo several tests, all of which are contained in the medical classification embodied in the term "Pulheems."

Is it not true that the term "Pulheems" means that there are certain categories of the establishment? Are we to take it from the Minister that there are certain categories which mean that men can be sent to the Far East, and certain others which mean that they cannot? May we know which they are?

Perhaps, in order to satisfy the natural curiosity of hon. Members, I had better explain what the word "Pulheems" means. It starts, as is obvious, with P for physical capacity; U is for upper limbs; L for locomotion; H for hearing; EE for eyesight; M for mental capacity; and S for emotional stability. If a soldier passes this categorical test, he is sent to the Far East.

Would the problem not be solved by allowing only volunteers to go to Hong Kong?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what comes out at the end of this? Is it a soldier, or what?

It is obvious what comes out at the end. There comes out at the end a person who emerges having satisfied the full medical requirements of the Army.

Will the Secretary of State ask his right hon. Friends voluntarily to undergo this test?

This is really not a matter for me to consider, though if hon. Members generally wish to undergo this test, I will see what I can do.

Nurses (Conditions And Pay)

23.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is satisfied with the present strength of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Auxiliary Nursing Corps; and when he expects to make an announcement regarding the new conditions of service and pay of this corps.

The answer to the first part of the Question is "No." The Army, like the civil hospitals, is having considerable difficulty in securing the services of nurses. The strength of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps is more than 900 below establishment and civilian nurses are being employed as a temporary expedient. I hope that it will be possible for a statement on the new conditions of service to be made shortly.

Is the Secretary of State aware that an inquiry into the pay and conditions of service of these nurses was started in December, 1946, and that, in February of this year, he said he would expedite the matter? Is he also aware that this delay is having a most unfortunate effect on those in the service and on recruiting as a whole?

The first two parts of the hon. and gallant Member's supplementary question are accurate. With regard to the third, it is not having such an unfortunate effect as was anticipated, very largely because of the devotion to duty and loyalty of the nurses.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether civilian nurses are paid more or less than Army nurses?

As hon. Members are probably aware, there has been recently some suggested readjustment of pay and conditions of civilian nurses, and we are hoping for the best.

Is the Secretary of State aware that devotion to duty would be much assisted by better conditions of pay than they have at present?

Parade Regulations

25.

asked the Secretary of State for War what are his regulations dealing with the action to be taken when soldiers faint on parade.

There are no specific orders laid down. Such matters are left to the discretion of the officer commanding the particular parade. The normal practice is for the nearest non-commissioned officer to fall out and detail two other ranks to remove the individual to the rear, loosen the collar and belt, and arrange for medical attention.

As there are no specific regulations for dealing with these cases, will the right hon. Gentleman consider regulations preventing the recurrence of the incident which occurred at Shrewsbury last week, where a woman was left helpless on the ground and a photograph was taken of her?

So far as the photograph of the incident is concerned, I regard it as regrettable. It was of no advantage to anybody. As regards dealing with the soldier, or whatever rank is held by the unfortunate individual who suffers this discomfort, we must leave it to the discretion of the commanding officer, who is responsible.

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the photograph was a correct portrait of what actually took place, and that the "couldn't care less" expression on the faces of those around this poor girl has been very disturbing? May I further ask him whether any penalty attaches to a woman who goes to the rescue or assistance of another in such circumstances?

I must reject the suggestion that the comrades of this sergeant who suffered in this fashion were unconcerned. They were very much concerned about their colleague, but naturally fainting is usually unexpected and it is not very easy to decide what should be done.

Will my right hon. Friend refute or comment on the suggestion that any person in that condition cannot be dealt with until the review has ended?

This is a matter which must be left to the discretion of the commanding officer, and it is quite impossible for me to interfere in matters of this sort. All I wish to repeat is that I think it is deplorable that an incident of this kind should have been depicted in the Press in the way it was.

Reserve (Strength)

26.

asked the Secretary of State for War what were the strengths of sections A, B and D, respectively, of the Army Reserve on 1st January, 1938.

Four thousand, seven hundred and ninety-nine, 79,917 and 40,232 respectively.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if his Parliamentary Secretary had had the courtesy to answer the Question I asked him last week, I need not have bothered him for these figures?

I will not accept that at all. The Parliamentary Secretary is most courteous in his replies to Questions.

Town And Country Planning

Development Charge

28.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning what development charge will be paid by the British Electricity Authority to the Central Land Board on account of hydroelectric development in North Wales.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Town and Country Planning
(Mr. King)

As my right hon. Friend told the House on 28th June, the proposals will have to be submitted to Parliament in a Private Bill. Until the details of the scheme have been settled, the Central Land Board cannot determine what development charge will be payable.

Is it quite clear that a development charge will be paid to the Central Land Board?

Yes, I endeavoured to make that clear. A development charge is payable in these circumstances.

North Staffordshire (Survey)

29.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning what is holding up the publication of the survey of North Staffordshire expected by the end of last year; and when it will be available.

My right hon. Friend has not yet received the whole of the consultants' report. He is, however, arranging for advance copies of the planning proposals to be duplicated and sent to the planning authorities as soon as possible.

Is the Minister aware that on 25th May, 1948, his right hon. Friend said that he understood the work was proceeding steadily and that it was hoped to finish it by the end of October, but that we are still without the information?

The work has proceeded; it is the publication and printing of the copies which sometimes takes time, but the survey should be in my hon. Friend's hands shortly.

Refuse Tipping, Ditton Common

30.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether his attention has been drawn to the proposal of Esher Urban District Council for controlled tipping of refuse on Ditton Common, Surrey; and whether, as this area is a natural and charming open space which will be spoilt if this proposal is carried out, he will intervene with the object of preserving it.

I have seen reference to the proposal in the Press. Any such proposal would, however, have to be submitted to the Surrey County Council as local planning authority, and I understand that that has not yet been done. Until that is done and the county council have had an opportunity of considering it, I can express no opinion. My right hon. Friend will keep in close touch with the county council about it.

Is there anything that my hon. Friend can do to persuade these Conservative-controlled local authorities to be more public-spirited when matters of this kind come before them?

Irrespective of the merits of this question, to turn Conservative into progressives is always very difficult, and sometimes impossible.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the hon. and gallant Member for Chertsey has already written to him and to the county council about this; and when it comes before him will he give a rather more definite and satisfactory answer than he has given now as to the action he will take?

It is not our function to answer such questions, but for the local authorities to take such action in the first instance, and we cannot interfere until they do so.

Will the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeffington-Lodge) consult with the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown) about asking questions concerning other Members' constituencies?

National Insurance (Old Age Pensioners)

31.

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether the National Assistance Board have now given consideration to a revision of the membership of the local advisory committees which will have to deal with the level of rents charged to old age pensioners, as steps in this direction were promised by the National Assistance Board on 22nd April, 1949, in a letter sent to the hon. Member for Ince, consequent upon a deputation which awaited upon the National Assistance Board on 30th March. 1949.

As my hon. Friend is aware, the membership of the Board's advisory committees is to be linked with that of the advisory committees which I am setting up under the National Insurance Act. Active steps are now being taken to reconstitute the Board's committees with this end in view and invitations to nominate suitable persons have been sent to local authorities and other bodies. As regards rent, the Board inform me that pending further advice from the committees their officers are exercising their discretionary powers to make additions where necessary in cases not covered by the present rules.

Can my right hon. Friend tell the House how many secret instructions have been issued by the National Assistance Board on this particular subject, and what those secret instructions contain? Furthermore, will he consider representations from the British Federation of Old Age Pensioners when setting up the local advisory committees?

I do not agree that there are any secret instructions. The rent rule which is operated by the Assistance Board is the rule devised by these committees. The Board agree that it is now time to revise these rules, and that is why they propose to ask these committees, as soon as they are constituted, to look at the rent rules they are now operating and to make any recommendations necessary.

With the first point I agree, but is my right hon. Friend aware that, pending the setting up of these advisory committees, secret instructions are being sent out by the Assistance Board informing area officers what they should do despite the regulations now existing?

The Board's duty is to carry out the regulations; any instructions they give must be instructions as to the carrying out of the regulations.

Can my right hon. Friend give any approximate date as to when the new machinery will be operating?

When these committees are set up, has my right hon. Friend any special method of advising the public about their existence, because that is a very important feature of the matter?

Yes, Sir. I hope the House will agree that, having regard to the close relationship between the National Insurance Act and the National Assistance Act, it is desirable that we should link up the two advisory committees, and if my hon. Friend will put down a Question, I will give him further details of how we propose to set up these committees and of the publicity we shall give to their work.

Festival Of Britain

33.

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will invite private firms to provide the fun-fair at Battersea Park for the Festival of Britain so as to avoid the expenditure of public money for this purpose at a time of financial stringency.

It is fully intended that most of the fun-fair features of the Festival Gardens in Battersea Park shall be provided by concessionaires who will pay rent for them.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the widespread feeling that, in proposing to embark upon this project, the Government are setting a deplorable example of the foolish spending of public money, and will not he abandon the whole scheme?

No, Sir. In relation to the whole project, this is not a great amount, and there will be revenue both directly and indirectly. The local authorities have been consulted, and, with great respect to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson), the Battersea and Chelsea Borough Councils and the London County Council are the authorities to whom we are entitled to listen about it.

Would not Battersea Park serve a much better purpose as a place of rest and recuperation for persons overstrained by excitements lower down the river?

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the widespread discontent that this announcement has created in Scotland in view of the housing shortage there and the parsimonious treatment given to the housing needs of the West of Scotland?

If Scotland is coming into the picture of how London is to enjoy itself, we are getting rather far. If I may say so, I think my hon. Friend's point is a rather petty one in relation to the bigness of this scheme.

Can the right hon. Gentleman arrange to make known to the public and the House the nature of the permanent changes to be made in the park before the work is started?

As far as I know, no permanent changes are envisaged. If the hon. and learned Gentleman can intimate that there are, I will look into them.

I had in mind the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman on the last occasion when he said that the London County Council might wish to retain as permanent certain alterations about to be made.

That is not a question of permanent changes, but of retaining certain features. The London County Council are the parks authority for London, and their rights and discretion must be respected.

This is a little wide of the original Question which was, after all, whether private firms would be invited to do this work, and not a Question about general policy.

Is it not a fact that the scheme is very nearly self-liquidating, and that there is nothing to worry about?

National Finance

Unpaid Services (Expenses)

36.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his regulations permit private individuals performing unpaid services for the Government to deduct any expenses necessarily and exclusively incurred in the performance of these services from other sources of personal income.

No, Sir. I should add that individuals who undertake unpaid work for the Government can claim reimbursement of their out-of-pocket expenses in accordance with the scale laid down for unpaid members of Royal Commissions and Government Committees.

Are the right hon. and learned Gentleman's regulations adhered to in this matter?

54.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether members of the Committee on Resale Prices Maintenance will, for taxation purposes, be permitted to charge personal expenses incurred in connection with this Committee against other sources of income.

I cannot answer Questions relating to the tax liability of particular individuals.

Synthetic Oil Plants (Germany)

37.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an estimate of the number of dollars which could be saved to the sterling area were the synthetic oil plants in Germany worked to capacity instead of being dismantled and the output either sold in dollar territories or used to save dollar purchases.

Marshall Plan (Obligations)

38.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations have been received from the Chairman of the Council of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation expressing the view that Great Britain was not carrying out any of the undertakings on financial and monetary stabilisation to which the country has been pledged, consequent on the adherence by His Majesty's Government to the Marshall Plan; and what replies have been made.

is it not the duty of the Chairman of the Council of O.E.E.C., under proposal 1 of the principles and proposals of the plan of action, 1949–50, adopted by the council of O.E.E.C. in March, 1949, Annex C, to receive my right hon. Friend's report and then to discuss it with him; and is his failure to bring forward proposals for this discussion due to the fact that the Americans are apprehensive that we are in such a fix that Mr. Snyder himself is coming to this country to engage in this discussion?

Trade With Japan (Dollars)

39.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will guarantee that no dollar leakages have taken place as a result of the trade agreement with Japan.

It was agreed by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers that the sterling area should be reimbursed in dollars for any unprocessed goods sold to Japan which had cost dollars; and that except by special arrangement with us Japan would not resell goods obtained from the sterling area. There is no reason at all to suppose that these undertakings have not been fully carried out.

Has my right hon. and learned Friend any idea of the amount of dollars which have been leaking through this Japanese trade agreement?

The answer I have just given shows that my idea is that there is no leakage.

Fiduciary Issue

40.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why he has agreed to the increase of the fiduciary issue by the Bank of England by £50 million.

For the reason given in the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. D. Thomas) and my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) on 5th July.

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that he is adopting Soviet technique in this matter by saying one thing and doing the opposite? He is warning the country against inflation and then bringing in 50 million more bits of paper.

Sterling Balances (Palestine)

41.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the sterling balance of the former Palestine Government on 15th May, 1948; and how much of this balance had been earmarked for the successor Government of the area allotted by the United Nations resolution to the Arabs.

In so far as the hon. and gallant Member's Question relates to sterling balances in the accepted sense, I would refer him to the reply given to the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) on 27th May, 1948. These sterling balances are almost entirely the counterpart of liabilities, such as Palestine Currency Board notes and deposits in banks, the location of the owners of which is a matter of fact. No question of earmarking by territories therefore arises. On the other hand, the allocation of sterling assets of the former Mandatory Government of Palestine will be discussed with the Government of Israel in talks now proceeding at Tel Aviv and with any Arab successor Government.

Will the Chancellor give an assurance that, in the course of the negotiations now proceeding with the Government of Israel, he will not prejudice the position of any future Arab Government?

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman assure us that Jacob has not once more stolen his brother's birthright?

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman assure us that in any arrangement which is ultimately arrived at the acceptance of the assets will be coupled with a duty to discharge outstanding responsibilities?

Income Tax

42.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many employers, as at any recent date, were known to the Income Tax authorities to be holding money deducted by them from the wages and salaries of their employees under Pay-As-You-Earn more than six months previously; and what is the estimated amount involved.

On 27th September, 1947, the latest date for which precise information is at present available, the amount of tax deducted for 1946–47 and earlier years and reported by employers but not paid over by that date was £627,000. No information is available centrally either as to the number of employers involved or as to tax which may have been deducted but not reported by that date.

45.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why tax reclaimed by persons with incomes derived from England living in Jersey is still six months and more overdue in repayment.

If the hon. Member will give me particulars of the cases he has in mind, I will have inquiries made and communicate with him as soon as possible.

56.

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether his regulations permit a person denied compensation for war damage, due to a too late claim, to claim Income Tax relief on the amount paid in respect of war damage repairs to his property.

In the circumstances described in my hon. Friend's Question, the cost of the repairs may be included in a claim for relief under Rule 8 of No. V of Schedule A of the Income Tax Act, 1918, if the total expenditure on maintenance, repairs, etc., to the property, on the five years' average, exceeds the flat-rate repairs allowance.

Will my right hon. Friend then explain why, if these war damage repairs have not been accepted, ordinary repairs have been accepted in this way?

If my hon. Friend will send me the particulars of any case she has in mind, I will certainly have them looked into.

Houses (Sale Prices)

43.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware of the profiteering in the prices of houses for sale with vacant possession; and whether he will consider imposing a substantial Purchase Tax on such sales.

The Purchase Tax could not be used as an instrument for imposing a tax on the seller of a house.

Could not my right hon. and learned Friend find some other method of dealing with this exploitation?

I have answered the Question I was asked, which was whether we could use Purchase Tax for the purpose.

If Purchase Tax is not available for the purpose, should not the Chancellor of the Exchequer think in terms of some form of capital appreciation tax, because millions are slipping by in this and other connections at a time when he is scratching around for a million here and there.

Does not my right hon. and learned Friend think that this problem might at least be mitigated by some differential form of Stamp Duty? Is he aware that it has become a national scandal?

I am afraid I cannot answer questions that are not on the Order Paper.

Travellers' Cheques, France

44.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware of the difficulties experienced by British travellers in cashing travellers' cheques in France; and if he will make representations to the French Government with a view to a simplification of their exchange procedure.

I do not think that the difficulties reported in the Press have been on a large scale or are persisting. Willingness to cash any particular traveller's cheque is a matter for the bank concerned and there is no reason to make representations to the French Government.

Post-War Credits

46.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how far the Post-War Credits of the ex-Service men concerned will be reduced or extinguished by the remission of arrears of tax under the recently-made concession.

The amount of a Post-War Credit for any year is computed by reference to the tax borne for that year. Consequently, to the extent that tax is remitted for any year, the Post-War Credit for that year is less by that amount.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend say whether he took the post-war set-off into account in giving the Committee an estimate of the cost of this remission?

In the estimate of the cost, I do not think it had been taken into account.

War Damage (Late Claims)

47.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to state for the guidance of those persons still negotiating with the War Damage Commission, what factors are taken into consideration when deciding whether a late notification is due to most exceptional circumstances; and whether dangerous and nerve-straining rescue work with the Civil Defence service at the time of an incident is included in this category.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to a similar Question on 25th January, 1949.

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the undiplomatic and sometimes arbitrary behaviour of the War Damage Commission is causing great distress to many deserving people, and will he ask them to be a little more sympathetic in cases of this kind? Could he not, perhaps, himself give a more sympathetic answer?

I think they are extremely sympathetic. On many occasions I have looked into this matter and discussed it with various Members of the House of Commons.

Is not my right hon. and learned Friend aware that on both sides of the House there are many Members who can bear out from their personal experience the views which have been put to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. F. Noel-Baker)?

Bonus Share Issues

48.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many applications for permission to issue bonus shares have been received by the Capital Issues Committees since 6th April, 1949; how many have been sanctioned; how many refused; and what was the aggregate nominal value in each case.

Up to and including 6th July, 116 applications had been received to a nominal amount of £43,381,021; of these 115 had been sanctioned to a nominal amount of £43,231,021; one had been refused, nominal value £150,000.

Does not that reply show that there is really no proper control being exercised if 115 out of 116 have been allowed, with £43 million as the nominal value and undoubtedly twice that amount as the market value? Is it not time this racket stopped?

No, Sir. It shows that applications have been made only in proper cases.

Tax Forms (Welsh Language)

52.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will arrange for letters or notes of guidance as to Income Tax papers to be written in the Welsh language in Welsh-speaking areas.

I am advised that the use of English in Income Tax forms, notes for guidance, and correspondence does not give rise to special difficulties in Wales. Accordingly, I do not consider that the additional expenditure which would be involved would be justifiable. As my hon. Friend will be aware, the staff in appropriate tax offices in Wales includes Welsh-speaking officials and, if need be, correspondence can be conducted in Welsh.

Does not the Chancellor appreciate that it is very difficult for persons who primarily speak and write Welsh to follow these difficult matters? Could he give some estimate of the cost involved in sending out Welsh circulars in the Welsh-speaking areas?

No, Sir; I have not an accurate estimate. I am quite sure, however, that by having Welsh-speaking officers any difficulties can be overcome far better than by having Welsh documents.

Import, Export And Customs Powers Act, 1939

53.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when an Order in Council will be made declaring the date on which the emergency, that was the occasion of the passing of the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, came to an end; and why the said Act had been retained in force for an emergency of an entirely different character.

I cannot accept the implication in the Question that the emergency which was the occasion of the passing of this Act has come to an end. Accordingly, no question of making an Order in Council need arise at present.

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman distinguish between the emergency occasioned by the outbreak of war and the emergency occasioned by the outbreak of the fifth year of the Socialist Government?