Skip to main content

Commons Chamber

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 19 July 1949

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

House Of Commons

Tuesday, 19th July, 1949

The House met at Half-past Two o'Clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business

Huddersfield Corporation Bill Lords

As amended, considered; to be read the Third time.

Oral Answers To Questions

Scotland

Local Government (Manpower)

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why he refused the request of the District Councils Association in Scotland that the district councils should be represented on the special committee which is to investigate the question of local government manpower and other local government matters in Scotland.

The main purpose of the Local Government Manpower Committee is to seek economies in the use of manpower and to examine the possibility of relaxing departmental supervision of local authorities. It is unlikely, in view of their very limited functions, that district councils will have any real interest in the work of the Committee, but I have no doubt that the Association will be brought into consultation if necessary.

Herring Fishing (Gear)

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what reply has been given by the Home Department to the letter from the Scottish Herring Producers' Association of 12th July, requesting assistance for herring fishermen in obtaining fishing gear.

The Association have been informed that there are no powers under which the 50 per cent. subsidy they requested towards the cost of gear and coal for herring fishing can be paid, but, in case of need, grants up to one-third of the cost may be made to individual fishermen for the provision of gear. Costs of fishing gear and of fuel are taken into account when the maximum prices for herring are fixed by the Minister of Food, who is, I understand, considering whether any revision is justified in the light of the representations made by the Association.

In view of the latter part of the Minister's answer, which is important, does the right hon. Gentleman mean that, possibly, a special meeting might be arranged between his Department, the Ministry of Food and the fishermen to deal with this matter?

The Association has made representations, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Food is considering these. That being so, I think we had better await the negotiations.

Housing

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if his attention has been drawn to the proposals of the Corporation of Edinburgh to build houses in the Ravelston area of a type comparable with those already existing in that area; and if it is in accordance with the policy of the Government to use public money to build highly assessed houses at present.

No proposals have been submitted to me by the Corporation, and I cannot, therefore, express an opinion in this particular case.

Ministry Of Pensions

Widows

7.

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will now say what is the result of his consideration of the claim for pensions on behalf of widows who were married after their husbands were discharged from the Forces in the First World War, and who subsequently became widows before 2nd September, 1939; how many widows are affected; and what would be the annual cost of granting this claim.

As I promised in the Debate on 26th April last, I have circulated through the usual channels a full answer to this and a number of other points raised by a deputation from ex-Service organisations. The Government have not been able to alter the provisions of the Royal Warrant to give further retrospective effect to the change which they introduced in 1946 in this respect. The number of widows who might be able successfully to establish a claim if the date bar were removed is unknown. Consequently, no estimate of cost can be made.

As the number of widows affected is not likely to be very great, could not my right hon. Friend consider straightening out this bulge?

I have considered it very carefully and at great length with my advisory committee in every possible way, but I have come to the reluctant conclusion that the expenditure of manpower involved is too great to justify my making that change.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it reasonable, before rejecting a claim, at least to make sure how much it would be likely to cost, and will he not reconsider investigating the cost of it?

Disabled Ex-Service Men (Motor Cars)

8 and 9.

asked the Minister of Pensions (1) to how many disabled ex-Service men he sent a circular letter, reference MZ/272389, offering to provide the recipient with a motor car; and how many of these letters were sent to persons for whom he has now decided not to provide a motor car;

(2) how many motor cars have been provided by his Department for disabled ex-Service men; how many motor cars he now holds; how many are on order; and how many more he intends to order.

In July, 1948, I undertook to supply over a period of two years not more than 1,500 motor cars, in lieu of the tricycles they now have, to pensioners in three strictly defined categories. The whole of the 1,500 have been ordered and are being regularly delivered according to promise. Up to date 414 have been handed over to pensioners in one or other of the three categories. In view of the pressing needs of the export trade, the Government are not prepared to order more at the present time. I have, however, ordered 2,000 single-seater three-wheeled all-weather motor vehicles which I described to the House on Tuesday last. These will eventually replace the present open tricycle and be available to severely disabled pensioners, not supplied with a car, but who satisfy the criteria I also described on Tuesday.

In order to ascertain the numbers who would wish to have cars 1,714 letters were sent out. Among these, 102 were sent in error to men who were not in the three categories. I deeply regret and I have already apologised for these errors, which arose from failure to recognise the exact degree of disablement of each pensioner. I estimate that if I were to supply motor cars to all pensioners of a degree of disablement equivalent to that of those who received these letters, I would require 600 motor cars in addition to those already promised. For the reasons I have given, I cannot supply these pensioners with cars within the two years. They will, however, qualify for the covered three-wheeled vehicles, which are not required for export.

In view of the fact that the number of people who were promised these cars and are now being refused them is as small as 102, is the right hon. Gentleman really saying that the needs of the export trade would be seriously prejudiced if he ordered the extra 102 cars so as to enable him to implement the promise he made?

No, Sir. I am saying that it would be unfair to supply the 102 cars to people who were fortunate or unfortunate enought to receive a mistaken letter, when there are 600, at least, in the same category of disablement. I could not fairly supply the 102 unless I proceeded to supply the 600 and, within the two years, the needs of the export trade, especially at the present day, are so important that I feel I cannot do it.

Could my right hon. Friend say how many such cars were provided before 1945?

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with the safety of the three-wheeled vehicles? His predecessor does not seem to have been completely satisfied on that point?

My predecessor could not have known, because the prototype has only recently been thoroughly tried out. I explained this to the House a week ago, when I said that this vehicle has been exhaustively tested by disabled men and has been found to be satisfactory.

Does the Minister accept responsibility for the maintenance of cars even in suitable cases of those pensioners who already have them?

A pensioner who is in one of the three categories eligible to receive a car, and who has a car of his own, may, on application, receive a grant for the maintenance of that car.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the paraplegic home at Macclesfield there are ex-Service men who are paralysed from the waist downwards and who have been promised these cars? Does this mean that they are not going to get them?

Certainly not. It means they are going to get them. Four hundred and fourteen have already been delivered, and rapid calculation will show that we are acting strictly in accordance with the promise to give 1,500 in two years. They will get them before the two years are over, without doubt.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether a man who has had a motor-tricycle for 15 years, who is 100 per cent. disabled and whose tricycle is now worn out, will be given preference in either having that machine repaired or in receiving a new one?

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the position of the 102 to whom he has referred is quite different from that of men of a similar degree of disability, inasmuch as they were entitled to rely upon the promise made by his Department? Is it not a question not merely of providing a motor car but of preserving the reputation and good faith of his Department?

I quite agree that these men have a grievance. I regret that, and I have apologised for it in the fullest possible manner.

British Army

Royal Military Academy

10.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many vacancies there will be at the Royal Military Academy at the beginning of the next term; how many of these vacancies will be filled by "R" and "E" Cadets, respectively; and what steps he proposes to make the Army career more attractive to potential officers and thus overcome the present shortage of volunteers.

There are 300 vacancies for the next term at the Royal Military Academy. For these vacancies there were 281 "R" candidates, of whom 126 were successful. As far as can be seen, at least 134 further vacancies will be filled by "E" candidates, but this number may increase as the selection board for next term has not yet completed its task. As regards the last part of the Question, I do not accept the suggestion that the Army career is not attractive.

Does not the difficulty which has been experienced in getting sufficient candidates for the Royal Military Academy disclose a very serious state of affairs indeed? May I ask the right hon. Gentleman for an assurance that he is bending every effort to improve the conditions of the Army, and that there is no intention of lowering the standards of entry?

The position is not quite as bad as the hon. and gallant Member suggests, because on 1st January this year the total number of accepted candidates was only 40 less than was required, and it is hoped that a smaller deficiency will occur next term. As to the general conditions, there is no doubt that they have been vastly improved.

When the Secretary of State says he is satisfied with the attractions of the Army, does that mean that he is satisfied with the present officer situation in the Army as a whole?

When I say I am satisfied about the conditions for officers in the Army, I do not mean that conditions are perfect. There is much that remains to be done, but we are addressing ourselves to the appropriate tasks.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman take a most serious view of the fact that there is a shortage of candidates for the Royal Military Academy, or is he trying to pretend that it does not matter in the least?

Of course, it does matter that there is a shortage, however slender or slight that shortage may be, but nevertheless we have taken account of the fact that there are variations from year to year.

No 1 Dress

11.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will now issue No. 1 dress to officer cadets at the Royal Military Academy.

Approval has been given for officer cadets at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, to wear No. 1 dress, and instructions will shortly be issued on the subject.

Does this herald the issue of the No. 1 dress to the Army as a whole, or does it mean the abandonment of the absurd rule that until the whole of the Army is issued with it, it will not be issued at all?

All that this reply indicates is that we have gone some way on the road.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Territorial Army will be issued with No. 1 dress?

Overseas Service (Training)

13.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that 22097647 Sapper R. Morrin, E.P.D., Mombasa, Kenya, was called up on 3rd December, 1948; had two months' training, spread over three different camps; after a fortnight's embarkation leave, was sent abroad on 8th March; and if he is satisfied that this short period of actual training at home, prior to being sent to a distant Colony, is adequate and in accordance with his instructions.

I understand that Sapper Motrin was called up on 4th November, 1948, and not 3rd December, as stated in the Question. When he embarked for the Middle East he had completed his basic training and trade training, and had just over four months' service.

In any case, why does the right hon. Gentleman continue to send out to distant parts of the Empire these raw young conscripts to fulfil tasks for which only Regulars are fitted?

In the particular case referred to in the Question the incident occurred before I decided to change the regulations. As the regulations are at present, we are not sending raw and untrained men out to any part of the world. In our opinion, they are being trained in all basic tasks.

Will the right hon. Gentleman have those who have already been sent out sent back?

Fever Outbreak (Mombasa)

14.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware of the fact that, since May last, a typhoid epidemic has been raging in the British Army Camp at McKinnon Road, Mombasa, Kenya, from which disease two British and five African soldiers have died, whilst some 85 other cases of infection have been reported; and if, in view of the danger to all the other men in the camp and the anxiety now being felt by their parents and many other citizens, he will either have them brought home or removed from the area of contact.

I have now received a full report on this unfortunate outbreak in East Africa. A total of 88 cases of typhoid and enteric group fevers were reported up to 8th July, of which 34 were British and 54 African. I regret to say that, in addition to the deaths of the two British soldiers which I mentioned on 24th May, four African soldiers have died. I would like to take this opportunity of expressing my sympathy with the relatives.

The outbreak originated amongst the African troops, but the source of infection cannot be definitely stated. The water supply was thoroughly investigated and it seems most unlikely that it was the cause. Everything possible has been done to ensure that the hygiene of the area is fully up to standard and to ensure that all troops and civilian employees are fully protected by inoculation. A good number of civilians in the area have also been inoculated. The outbreak is now under control, although the possibility of further cases occurring cannot be ruled out.

Is it a fact that before this outbreak the occupants of this camp had not been inoculated? Does it mean that these precautions have been taken only because of this outbreak?

Discharge By Purchase

15.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many soldiers of the Regular Army have been permitted to purchase their discharge from the Service during the past 12 months; and under what conditions is discharge by purchase now granted.

The number of soldiers who purchased their discharge during the year ended 31st May, 1949, was 4,110. This figure includes 700 who obtained their discharge free either on compassionate grounds or after 16 years' service.

The conditions governing discharge by purchase are laid down in Army Council Instruction 768 of 1948, a copy of which is in the Library of the House. These instructions are amended from time to time in accordance with manpower requirements, and for this reason it has recently been necessary to impose for the time being a ban on the purchase of discharge of all soldiers having more than three months' but less than three years' service.

Married Quarters (Private Houses)

16.

asked the Secretary of State for War what arrangements have been made for taking over private houses rented by officers or other ranks as military quarters; and how many officers and other ranks respectively, have taken advantage of these arrangements.

Arrangements have been made for the hiring of furnished houses on short lease for use as married officers' and married soldiers' quarters where the existing number of married quarters is below the scale of entitlement. These arrangements only apply to new hirings. Houses already rented by officers and soldiers privately will not be taken over, but they may be considered for hiring under this scheme when the private agreement expires. So far, 77 houses have been hired for officers and 10 for other ranks.

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the scales of rent paid are adequate, in proportion to the present size of rents, to ensure that proper advantage can be taken of this scheme?

We are providing a maximum of £250 annually, and, on the whole, that is a fair figure.

Would it not be far better to pay these sums of money to officers who cannot be allotted married quarters? Would it not save a great deal of work? Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the owners of private houses are naturally most reluctant to rent their houses to the War Department without being able to choose their tenants? Would he look into the whole question again?

I have made very careful inquiry, personally and otherwise, and I understand that the officers are very satisfied with this present arrangement.

Is there any possible objection to paying the sum of money which these arrangements cost the War Department, to the officers and other ranks to enable them to find their own married quarters? Would that not save work?

It is very much better to provide a quarter, whether an Army quarter or a private quarter, and for the War Office to pay for it, than to allow an officer cash so that he can obtain it himself. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why? "] Because the War Office can handle it much better.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the great difficulties of this scheme in an area such as Aldershot and Camberley where many officers and other ranks are wanting houses which are not obtainable at the amount which the War Office is prepared to pay?

Of course, if houses are not obtainable up to a maximum rent of £250 I am afraid we must seek some alternative.

Building, Stanmore

17.

asked the Secretary of State for War how many squatter families remain on land belonging to his Department at Kestrel Grove, Stanmore; how many huts there are in habitable condition; and when building of a permanent character on the site is expected to begin.

Two unauthorised families are occupying the two remaining habitable huts belonging to my Department at Kestrel Grove, Stanmore. Planning in connection with the building, of permanent accommodation is proceeding, but I am not yet able to say when it will begin.

18.

asked the Secretary of State for War what housing accommodation now requisitioned by his Department is expected to be released as the result of the buildings planned to be erected at Kestrel Grove, Stanmore.

The erection of permanent accommodation at Kestrel Grove, Stanmore, forms only part of a larger re-accommodation plan. When this part of the scheme is completed it will be possible for my Department to release two requisitioned properties.

Water Carting (Rural Areas)

19.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he has considered the request made to him by the hon. and gallant Member for Horncastle, to make available water carriers, or other vehicles suitable for carrying water, to local authorities to assist them in carting water for the uses of country people living in areas where wells are dried up and there is no water supply; and what answer he has made to this request.

There is a limited number of water trucks which could, if necessary, be made available at the request of the Ministry of Health for this purpose. I hope, however, that the recent break in the weather will obviate any such request.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that in many districts the break in the weather will not fill the wells? It will take some considerable time for that to happen. Would the right hon. Gentleman communicate with the hon. and gallant Member for Horn-castle so that he may know how his local authorities can get this service?

Of course, the Army cannot be expected to provide everything; we do our best in the limited circumstances.

Cadet Camps

21.

asked the Secretary of State for War, if he is aware that all arrangements were made for the annual camp for the cadets to take place at the Languard Camp, Felixstowe, many cadets, officers and others making arrangements to take their summer holidays in order to attend this camp, and now, at the last moment, they have been informed that the numbers are to be drastically reduced, the camp transferred to Walton, and the cadets to run this camp themselves; what was the reason for this; and what action he proposes to take to enable the cadets to have their camp, as originally arranged.

Owing to the recent calls upon the services of the Army, it will not be possible to provide all the military assistance for the cadet camps this year which would have been given. Consequently, the arrangements for these camps have had to be modified, and a few, which could not be manned, have had to be cancelled. Every effort has been made in those cases to make alternative arrangements for the same dates, but, unfortunately, these will not cover in this case all the cadets who were going to camp. I should like to express to the officers and cadets concerned my regret that circumstances outside my control have caused so much disappointment.

Can my right hon. Friend say why he did not allow the cadets to run the camp themselves, as they originally requested, particularly in view of the fact that I understand that, so far as Walton camp is concerned, they are going to man it themselves?

It is quite impossible in every case to allow the cadets to run the camps, because we have to provide catering arrangements which are not within the compass of the cadets' organisation.

North-East Development Area Plan

22.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he will make a statement on the recently published North-East Development Plan drawn up by Sir George Pepler and Mr. P. W. MacFarlane.

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

The plan for the North-East Development Area was prepared by the consultants at my request. Its primary function will be to assist the planning authorities in the North-East in surveying their areas and preparing development plans, as required by the Town and Country Planning Act. 1947. A limited number of copies of an interim edition of the plan have already been duplicated and distributed to the local authorities and Government departments concerned, to Members for local constituencies, and to the Press, and in due course a printed edition will be issued for sale to the public. Meanwhile my right hon. Friend has asked the local planning authorities to send him their comments when they have had an opportunity of examining the consultants' proposals.

In order that there may be no conflict between the overall plan and the individual plans required from each authority under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, would my hon. Friend ask his right hon. Friend to set up a joint planning authority to co-ordinate all the different plans?

Is there mention of Berwick-upon-Tweed and the north of Northumberland in this plan?

Do I understand that the Minister has approved or disapproved of this plan?

The Minister has not yet given any decision. The matter is under consideration. He is seeking the views of the local authorities, who now have a copy of the plan.

National Insurance

Local Advisory Committees

24.

asked the Minister of National Insurance if he is now in a position to state the number of local advisory committees he has decided to set up; the regions in which they will operate; the number of persons on each committee; and the names of the organisations or institutions which have been invited to submit the names of suitable persons for the newly-formed advisory committees.

My right hon. Friend is proposing to set up about 230 committees under the National Insurance Act—186 in England, 26 in Scotland and 18 in Wales. Membership will vary from area to area. It will generally be about 20, and will include persons appointed after consultation with organisations of employers and workers, local authorities, friendly societies and other bodies with special local knowledge and experience.

Why is it that this delay has taken place in setting up these advisory committees, upon whose decision depends the welfare of the old age pensioners, who, in the main, will be the people who will have to apply to the advisory committees? What has caused the delay?

I think my hon. Friend is confusing the committees to be set up under the National Insurance Act and the committees under the National Assistance Act. So far as the National Assistance Act is concerned, those committees are being reconstituted at the present time. As to the committees under the National Insurance Act, I am sure my hon. Friend will appreciate that we have had a tremendous job indeed in launching the new scheme. We are, of course, setting up the committees at the first opportunity.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that we were informed many months ago that there would be co-ordination between his Department and the National Assistance Board in speeding up the formation of these advisory committees? Will he tell us what has caused the delay?

So far as the National Insurance committees are concerned, we felt that it was necessary to have dual membership between them and the committees under the National Assistance Act, so that those committees would be acquainted with the work of the social services as a whole.

Area Officers (Instructions)

25.

asked the Minister of National Insurance if he will inform the House of the number of instructions sent out to area officers by the National Assistance Board; and if he will have copies of the same placed in the Library of this House for right hon. and hon. Members to see.

The Board, in common with other departments with local staffs, provide their officers with a code of executive directions, which is extended or varied from time to time as circumstances require. It is not possible to state a particular number. As regards the second part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Randall) on 16th December last.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary not aware that some of the area officers, and particularly in his own country of Scotland, are now telling old people who come before them that they have had secret instructions from the National Assistance Board not to carry out the regulations; and is he further aware that when this House passes regulations it is the duty of the Department to carry them out, whether they are good, bad or indifferent?

In general, hon. Members and the organisations concerned have paid tribute to the work of the Assistance Board officers.

Therefore, what my hon. Friend says is rather contrary to the evidence we have at the present time. Instructions from the National Assistance Board to the officers can only be instructions on the manner and method of carrying out any regulations passed by this House. If my hon. Friend has any evidence of the facts of which he speaks, I think he ought to give it to me.

If, as the Minister said, I think a week or two ago, the decision of this House as to the scales of assistance is to be implemented, can the Parliamentary Secretary say why we should not be told the manner in which they are being implemented by means of instructions? That is all we are asking for.

As the answer will probably be very long, could it not be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT?

Could the Parliamentary Secretary say whether the instructions which vary from time to time do so at the behest of the Treasury?

The instructions are contained in a code of procedure which enables the officers of the Assistance Board to carry out the regulations laid down by this House. If my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown) has any evidence in his possession that Assistance Board officers are not complying with the wishes of this House, I think he ought to give it to us so that it may be investigated.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary not aware that this is a very important matter; that a paper published in his own country made a very bitter complaint about the attitude of area officers and the special instructions which they were carrying out; and will he see to it that his Department gets acquainted with what is being done in England, Scotland and Wales by the area officers?

Employment

Negotiating Machinery

27.

asked the Minister of Labour what steps he proposes to take to speed up the negotiating machinery in industry.

This is a matter for the two sides of industry who, I am sure, are aware of the need to avoid delay.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that about 75 per cent. of all the strikes which have taken place in the last few years have been attributed by the strike leaders and the men to the length of time taken by this negotiating machinery?

I do not accept that conclusion. The fact is that the machinery is there, and if worked properly there is no reason for delay.

Dock Workers

28.

asked the Minister of Labour which docks are subject to the terms of the Dock Labour Scheme; and how many docks involving how many men work under conditions different to the Dock Labour Scheme as applied to the London docks.

As the answer is long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether there is a larger number of dockers working under a system other than the London system?

I should say that a substantial part of the dock workers in this country come under the National Dock Labour Scheme, which is precisely the same as the London Port Scheme.

Following is the answer:

PORTS TO WHICH THE NATIONAL DOCK LABOUR SCHEME RELATES

A. Ayrshire ports:

The following ports:
  • (1) Ardrossan.
  • (2) Ayr.
  • (3) Irvine.
  • (4) Troon.
  • B. The Port of Barrow-in-Furness.

    C. Bristol and Severn ports:

    The following ports:
  • (1) Bristol.
  • (2) Sharpness.
  • (3) Gloucester.
  • D. Cornwall ports:

    The following ports:
  • (1) Charlestown.
  • (2) Falmouth.
  • (3) Fowey.
  • (4) Hayle.
  • (5) Mousehole.
  • (6) Newlyn.
  • (7) Par.
  • (8) Penryn.
  • (9) Penzance.
  • (10) Porthleven.
  • (11) Portreath.
  • (12) St. Ives.
  • (13) Truro.
  • E. Cumberland ports:

    The following ports:
  • (1) Maryport.
  • (2) Silloth.
  • (3) Whitehaven.
  • (4) Workington.
  • F. East Anglian ports:

    The following ports:
  • (1) Boston.
  • (2) Great Yarmouth.
  • (3) Kings Lynn.
  • (4) Lowestoft.
  • (5) Sutton Bridge.
  • (6) Wisbech.
  • G. East Coast of Scotland ports:

    The following ports:
  • (1) Aberdeen.
  • (2) Bo'ness.
  • (3) Burntisland.
  • (4) Dundee and Tayport.
  • (5) Grangemouth.
  • (6) Kirkcaldy.
  • (7) Leith and Granton.
  • (8) Methil.
  • H. The Port of Fleetwood.

    I. The Port of Glasgow.

    J. The Port of Greenock.

    K. The following ports:

  • (1) Grimsby.
  • (2) Immingham.
  • L. The following ports:

  • (1) Hull.
  • (2) Goole.
  • M. The Port of Ipswich.

    N. The Port of London.

    O. The Medway and Swale ports:

  • (1) The Medway Conservancy.
  • (2) Queenborough Harbour Authority.
  • (3) Milton Creek Conservancy.
  • (4) Faversham Navigation Commission.
  • (5) Whitstable.
  • P. The following ports:

  • (1) Birkenhead.
  • (2) Bromborough.
  • (3) Ellesmere Port.
  • (4) Garston.
  • (5) Liverpool.
  • (6) Manchester.
  • (7) Partington.
  • (8) Preston.
  • (9) Runcorn.
  • (10) Weston Point.
  • (11) Widnes.
  • Q. The following ports:

  • (1) Middlesbrough.
  • (2) The Hartlepools.
  • R. The Port of Plymouth.

    S. The following ports:

  • (1) Southampton.
  • (2) Poole and Hanworthy.
  • (3) Weymouth.
  • T. South Wales ports:

    The following ports:
  • (1) Barry.
  • (2) Cardiff and Penarth.
  • (3) Llanelly.
  • (4) Newport.
  • (5) Port Talbot.
  • (6) Swansea.
  • U. Tyne and Wear ports:

    The following ports:
  • (1) Newcastle.
  • (2) Gateshead.
  • (3) North Shields.
  • (4) South Shields.
  • (5) Sunderland.
  • (6) Blyth.
  • (7) Seaham Harbour.
  • (8) Dunstan.
  • The number of ports which are classified as ports for the purposes of the industrial agreements of the National Joint Council for the Port Transport Industry, and which are not included in the National Dock Labour Scheme is 34. No exact information is available as to the number of men employed on dock work in these ports, but they are all small ports.

    Following is the List:

    List of ports classified by the National Joint Council for the Port Transport Industry for its industrial agreements, but which are not included in the National Dock Labour Scheme.

    Greater Ports:

    Lancaster.Stockton.
    Portsmouth.

    Smaller Ports:

    Arbroath.Isle of Man ports.
    Aberystwyth.Lerwick.
    Banff.Montrose.
    Barnstaple.Newhaven.
    Berwick.Padstowe.
    Bridgwater.Peterhead.
    Briton Ferry.Ramsgate.
    Carlisle.Scilly Isles.
    Colchester.Stornoway.
    Cowes.Teignmouth.
    Dumfries.Torquay.
    Exeter.Whitby.
    Exmouth.Whitstable.
    Frazerburgh.Wick.
    Hayle.Wigtown.
    Inverness.

    29.

    asked the Minister of Labour how many men are now employed as registered dock workers; how does this figure compare with 1938, in both instances, including workers at all docks and harbours in the United Kingdom but excluding Northern Ireland; and what are the trades unions concerned with this type of labour.

    As the answer is long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

    Following is the reply:

    Figures supplied by the National Dock Labour Board show that 74,767 men were on the Dock Workers' Register as at 2nd July, 1949. Comparable figures are not available for 1938, but at the middle of that year the number of insured men aged 16–64 employed in the port transport industry as a whole was about 95,000.

    The trade unions concerned are:

    Transport and General Workers Union.

    National Union of General and Municipal Workers.

    National Amalgamated Stevedores and Dockers.

    Scottish Transport and General Workers Union, comprising the Workers' side of the National Joint Council for the Port Transport Industry.

    In addition, the Watermen, Lightermen, Tugmen, and Bargemen's Union represents the classes of workers described in that title.

    Football Pools Canvassers

    30.

    asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the Control of Engagement Order, how many canvassers employed by football pools organisations were engaged through the employment exchanges.

    The information is not available. Exchanges would only offer such employment in the absence of suitable vacancies on essential work.

    Are we to understand from that answer that the Ministry of Labour have no information as to the manner in which men and women are recruited to do their work as canvassers for these pools organisations; and is not the Ministry of Labour interested in the manner in which labour of this kind is being used in this country?

    I am afraid that my hon. Friend has come to the wrong conclusion. A large number of people who are employed by the pools are completely outside the Control of Engagement Order, so that naturally the Ministry cannot keep track of them.

    32.

    asked the Minister of Labour how many male and female football pools canvassers are now employed in England, Scotland and Wales by Littlewoods and Bonds Pools, Vernon Pools and Screen Pools, respectively.

    In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, and in order to give the Ministry of Labour some information which they ought already to possess, I beg to give notice that I shall try to raise this question on the Adjournment.

    Hostel, Staverton

    33.

    asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the hardship caused to residents at the National Service Hostel at Staverton, near Cheltenham, by the increase in the charge of 5s. per week; and if he will arrange for an investigation into its administration, with a view to seeing if economies can be effected, which will make the increase unnecessary.

    I cannot accept that the increase in charges at industrial hostels has caused any special hardship. Except for the reduction in charge at the sub-standard hostels, there is no differentiation in charge between different hostels.

    Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that this means an increase to these people in the cost of living of 5s. a week at a time when the Chancellor has asked that there shall be no increase in wages; and are not the Government interested in the administration of these hostels which have been subsidised at the rate of £1,800,000 per year?

    I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has not really got the point. The Government have been subsidising these hostels, and the charges in the hostels compare very favourably with the charges in private homes, but the Government ought not to be asked to go on subsidising this special set of workers, and they are now being asked to pay an economic price.

    I have asked not for an increase in the subsidy but for an inquiry into the administration. What is the objection to an inquiry into the administration?

    These men now pay 35s. a week, which is much less than they would have to pay in private homes in this country for the same facilities. In view of that, I do not think that an inquiry is really warranted.

    In view of the supplementary answers the right hon. Gentleman has given, is he aware that 35s. a week is already substantially in excess of the price a farmer in this country is allowed to charge per week for keeping a man; and how does he expect these men to keep a home in some other town and also pay 35s. a week to a hostel.

    I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman missed part of my main answer, which was that the substandard hostels have a much lower charge, and most of the sub-standard hostels are in the agricultural areas.

    The right hon. Gentleman said that 35s. is substantially less than the charge made in private homes. Is he not aware that farmers have private homes and that they are allowed to charge only 35s.?

    I was referring to charges in industrial hostels which are situated in industrial areas. I think that 35s. is less than the charge in the usual urban area.

    Is the Parliamentary Secretary not aware that the residents in these hostels get only two meals a day and three meals on Sundays; that they have to get extra meals outside for which they pay—1s. 4d. at midday, and 8d. for a snack at supper time—which brings their expenditure up to £2 7s. 8d. per week; and will my right hon. Friend inquire into that?

    I do not accept those conclusions. I have been round many of these hostels, and I must say that the State is giving the residents of these hostels a very good deal indeed.

    Air Charter Companies (Wages)

    31.

    asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that some air charter companies, of whom details have been sent to him, which are receiving contracts from a number of Government Departments are violating the provisions of Section 41 of the Civil Aviation Act, 1946, by paying wages below those of the standards of the Airways Corporations; and what action he proposes to take in the matter.

    I have seen the letter from my hon. Friend alleging that certain air charter companies are not complying with the requirements of Section 41 of the Civil Aviation Act, 1946, regarding terms and conditions of employment. The matter has not been reported to my right hon. Friend by the parties, but I am communicating with the Minister of Civil Aviation and will write my hon. Friend at a later date.

    Whilst thanking my right hon. Friend for that promise, may I ask him whether he will bear in mind that there is a second question in this Question to which he has not referred; that it is not only a question of the violation of Section 41 of the Act, but that the real point is that some Government Departments are conniving at this violation. Will he look into that as well?

    I cannot accept that conclusion. We must first of all investigate the position to see whether they are really violating the terms and conditions of employment. If that is so, then subsequent action will be taken.

    Because the British Airways Corporations and other nationalised industries are running at a loss, is it necessary to ensure that all private enterprise companies which compete should also run at a loss?

    Severn Barrage (Model)

    34.

    asked the Lord President of the Council, whether the new tidal model of the proposed Severn Barrage has now been completed; and whether he can now make a report on the matter.

    35.

    asked the Lord President of the Council, what progress has been made with the model of the estuary of the River Severn, which is being constructed in order to determine whether the proposal to harness the tidal powers of the Severn for the production of electricity by means of the construction of a barrage across the estuary is practicable.

    I have been asked to reply. Preliminary work is being done towards the building of the model of the estuary of the River Severn; the building itself will begin when the new hydraulic research station is ready. As my right hon. Friend told the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Peter Freeman) on 12th May, 1949, a site for the station has been chosen and negotiations for its acquisition are proceeding.

    Will my right hon. Friend say when this model is likely to be completed and when he will be in a position to give us a full report on the matter?

    It is hoped that the building of the station will start early in 1950, and it should be completed in two years. The construction of the Severn large model will take probably another year after that.

    Would my right hon. Friend not agree that if this project is carried through successfully it would be a great tribute to the enterprise and efficiency of the British engineering industry, and would he not ask my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council to push forward this project with that consideration in mind?

    National Finance

    War Debts (Anglo-Indian Talks)

    37.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how the debt of Britain to India of about £1,200,000,000 contracted during the war in the defence, inter alia, of the Commonwealth and Empire has been liquidated up to date; and if Great Britain alone by unrequited exports or otherwise has borne the cost of liquidation up to date.

    Financial talks with the Government of India are at present in progress and we expect to make a statement when they are concluded.

    Can the Economic Secretary say what is the proportion of this debt now liquidating, and whether it is true that out of the £1,200 million only some £200 million or £300 million now remains to be repaid?

    No, Sir, that is not true. My right hon. and learned Friend thought it best to give the full details when these negotiations were complete.

    When the right hon. Gentleman talks about talks going on, does he mean a permanent settlement of this problem, or another interim release of some of these balances?

    Are their accounts to be submitted on a contra account for services rendered during the same period? Have all these been taken into consideration?

    If the hon. Gentleman is speaking of counter claims by the United Kingdom, some of these were settled under the agreement made last year.

    Will my hon. Friend ask his right hon. and learned Friend to consider sending to the Indian Government a bill for this amount for saving them from the Japanese?

    In view of the hon. Gentleman's reply to the last supplementary question, is it not a fact that we have been told on many occasions that any counter claim we have against the Indian Government in connection with the war effort has been reserved for the final talks, and is it really correct when the hon. Gentleman says that such counter claims have already been settled in last year's talks?

    A most substantial counter claim on account of defence stores, pensions and other matters was settled in the agreement which was published in the White Paper last year.

    Is the Chancellor making no claim against this debt which has been incurred in the defence of India and for the effort we made in keeping India safe?

    Has any request been made to the Governments of India, Ceylon, Pakistan or any other Government to assist in liquidating this debt, instead of leaving the whole charge to fall upon the unfortunate British taxpayer?

    I think the second answer by the Economic Secretary to the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) was different to the one he gave to me. Are there still counter claims to be considered?

    Inland Revenue Staff, Cardiff

    38.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction at the Inland Revenue offices, Cardiff, due to the method pursued in selecting members of the staff for interviews by the Establishment Board; and what redress is open to those unestablished officers who feel that they have been unjustly treated.

    The answer to the first part of the Question is No, Sir. The method of selection of temporary staff in the Inland Revenue for establishment as clerical officers was agreed with the Staff Side of the Inland Revenue Departmental Whitley Council. The Board of Inland Revenue have received no representations either from individual members of the staff or from the recognised staff associations that the method adopted has proved unsatisfactory in practice.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have received two deputations in my constituency from these unestablished officers? If he is prepared to consider the correspondence, I will forward it to him and he will soon have abundant evidence of dissatisfaction.

    Certainly, I am always willing to consider anything which my hon. Friend cares to send to me, but I would point out that these individuals have a staff association which is very active on their behalf.

    Eggs (Purchase In Usa)

    39.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what expenditure of dollars was authorised for the purchase in the United States of hatching eggs by the Colonial Development Corporation for its poultry project in the Gambia; and why he did not insist that these eggs should be supplied from the United Kingdom.

    Fourteen thousand dollars. No quantity of suitable eggs or strain was available in the United Kingdom.

    Could the Financial Secretary specify this special strain of poultry that is available from America, and is it proposed to allow the Corporation to spend still further dollars in buying another batch of these eggs?

    I should want notice of the second part of that supplementary question. As to the first part, I personally could not judge, but the experts were of the opinion that these eggs had to be obtained from overseas.

    What type of expert is this who thinks we cannot produce the type of eggs to go to Gambia, especially from the county where are to be found the best poultry in the world? It is fantastic.

    I would suggest that the hon. and gallant Gentleman should look at a map, and he will see that Gambia is a tropical country. This country is not.

    Oeec Payments (Bullion)

    40.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what extent settlements in gold and dollars in connection with payments agreement with the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation countries were made in bullion; and at what price per fine ounce to each of the countries, Belgium, Switzerland and Bizone, in 1948 and first five months for 1949.

    All the gold payments in question were made in bullion; but I cannot give the hon. Member details of the proportions of gold and dollars in these settlements. All our monetary settlements involving the use of gold are normally made at rates agreed between central banks, based on the United States gold buying price of 35 dollars per fine ounce and the sterling-dollar parity of exchange.

    Is my hon. Friend aware that 2,500,000 ounces of gold were involved in these transactions, and if gold had been valued at the free market price of £22 10s. per fine ounce instead of the controlled price of £8 12s. 5d. per fine ounce, instead of losing 2,500,000 ounces we should only lose 800,000 ounces? What is he going to do about it?

    On a point of Order. I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter again, and again.

    War Damage Claim, Plymouth

    41.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will cause inquiries to be made into why the War Damage Commission have refused to accept the claim for compensation submitted on behalf of Mr. W. J. George, of 5, Stokes Lane, New Street, Barbicon, Plymouth, in view of the fact that the claim is solely concerned with the replacement by clear glass of the translucent glass used for the repair of windows when first aid repairs were done to this property by the local authority during the war and of the fact that there is no conflict of evidence on this point.

    I regret that my right hon. and learned Friend cannot undertake to answer Questions about individual war damage cases. I am told by the Commission that they have already informed my hon. Friend of the reasons for their decision.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the Debate on 18th March he made this statement:

    "… if the claims are and can be shown to be war damage claims, quite obviously under the law they should be accepted."?—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March, 1949; Vol. 462, c. 2523.]
    There is no doubt whatever that this is a legitimate war damage claim, and that is not denied by the War Damage Commission, If the Commission is not, therefore, prepared to recognise this claim, will the Treasury take the step of refunding to my constituent the war damage contributions which he made during the war?

    Unfortunately, the final decision must rest with the War Damage Commission. It is a statutory body, and an independent body at that. I can do no more than see that the War Damage Commission is made aware of what my hon. Friend has now said.

    Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether the same kind of principles are going to be applied in the case of insurance if it is nationalised?

    It is obvious that if the War Damage Commission is responsible for refusing the claim, the Treasury should reimburse my constituent for his war damage contribution, and under the circumstances I ask that that should be done.

    Overseas Countries (British Aid)

    42.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will state the combined totals of our aid to overseas countries and the redemption of sterling balances, since the end of the war.

    For the first part of his Question I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) on 24th May. For the second part of his Question I would refer him to the table published on page 11 of Cmd. 7648.

    Sugar (Brewing Trade)

    43.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the annual consumption of sugar by the brewing trade for each of the last four years.

    I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate this answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

    Not with my consent, Mr. Speaker. I want to ask my right hon. Friend whether these figures do not indicate that there is a slight reduction in the total amount of sugar allowed to the brewers, compared with pre-war usage. As there is a very large reduction in the domestic allowance of sugar, compared with pre-war usage, would my right hon. Friend say how the Chancellor of the Exchequer came to the decision that sugar for the domestic users must now be cut down whilst for the brewers it is left at the same level?

    My hon. Friend will, of course, see the complete figures in the OFFICIAL REPORT, but I can tell him that between 1947 and 1948 there has been a reduction in the sugar allocation of something like a quarter of a million hundredweights.

    May I ask whether my right hon. Friend is treating the soft-drink makers as liberally as he is treating the brewers?

    Is not the fall in the allocation of sugar to brewers due merely to the falling off there has been in the demand for beer, which falling off the Chancellor of the Exchequer is trying to put right by his Budget this year?

    Following is the answer:

    The estimated quantities of sugar, including the equivalent of syrup, glucose and saccharum consumed by the brewing trade for each of the last four years ended 30th September were:

    19451,784,064 cwts.
    19461,790,021 cwts.
    19471,601,186 cwts.
    19481,443,558 cwts.

    I should explain that "saccharum" is a form of sugar ("invert sugar"), not saccharin, the use of which is prohibited in brewing.

    National Savings (Political Propaganda)

    44.

    asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury what steps are taken to prevent the use of the machinery of the National Savings Movement for party political propaganda.

    The National Savings Committee attaches great importance to the non-political character of the National Savings Movement and does not tolerate any infringement of this principle.

    In view of his answer, will the right hon. Gentleman consider drawing the attention of that Committee to the statement made in a publication which the right hon. Gentleman would regard as reliable, "The Surrey County Clarion," about the case of a woman who uses her position as collector in the National Savings Movement to canvass for the Labour Party? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that publication suggests that other people do the same, and will he make it clear that this kind of thing will not be permitted?

    If the right hon. Gentleman will bring to my notice the facts that he has now indicated to the House, I will certainly get the National Savings Movement to look into the matter.

    Is my right hon. Friend not aware that party political propaganda by hon. Members opposite has tried to destroy the machinery of National Savings before now?

    American Stage Shows (Dollar Cost)

    47.

    asked the Secretary to the Treasury, how many American theatrical shows have been imported into this country during tine last 12 months; and at what cost in dollars.

    Information about the number of American theatrical shows imported into the United Kingdom is not available, but during the 12 months ended 31st May, 1949, remittances to the U.S.A. by entertainment artists, including those engaged in theatrical productions, amounted to £470,000.

    Is my right hon. Friend aware of one case in which no fewer than 8,000 dollars were permitted for the purpose of enabling two American artists to appear for one night in a show at Olympia?

    In view of the fact that there is some unemployment on the stage in this country, will my right hon. Friend examine very closely any applica- tion for American dollars in this respect? After all, we can provide our own entertainment for ourselves.

    Perhaps I might answer the question put by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brixton (Lieut.-Colonel Lipton). The trouble is that this country cannot discriminate in these matters. It would be tantamount to setting up a censorship, and it might also mean that other countries would differentiate between our people and theirs in the same way.

    is it not bad enough that we cannot buy books and pictures from other countries without being unable to have theatrical performances from other countries either?

    Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that British artistes are earning valuable dollars in the United States?

    Before my right hon. Friend answers that question, would he also bear in mind that, with the consent of the Opposition, we have introduced a policy which limits the amount of American films brought to this country? Is it not only reasonable that we should do the same in regard to live entertainment?

    Would my right hon. Friend say whether American artists who wish to be paid in ordinary sterling can be so paid, or whether they are forced to receive convertible sterling?

    Trade And Commerce

    French Wines (Imports)

    48.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether applications from private persons to import wine from France will now be favourably considered.

    Private individuals may be licensed to import two cases of wine as a bona fide unsolicited gift. Commercial imports by private individuals are not, in general, permitted.

    As we have just reduced the duty on wine in order to increase the revenue, may I ask why the Govern- ment puts difficulties in the way of the private importer who would like to benefit the Revenue in a big way by importing a cask or a barrique and doing his own bottling?

    We can import certain limited supplies but, for balance of payments reasons, we do not want to extend it too fully because of repercussions in other sections of the industry, and in industry generally.

    Flannel Trousers (Price)

    49.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the factors that justify the increase from 32s. last year to 69s. 1d. now in the price fixed for 209F men's utility grey flannel trousers.

    The retail ceiling price for men's utility trousers made of cloth 209F was increased from 62s. 6d.—not 32s.—to 69s. 1d. in July of last year. The increase in price was due to the removal of the subsidy on the cloth.

    Is the hon. Gentleman aware that utility flannel trousers could be bought for 32s. last year and that they now cost the price which I have mentioned?

    The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong if he supposes that trousers of this quality could have been bought last year for 32s. The lowest ceiling price for this quality—[Laughter]—I should say, of course, the controlled price—was 51s. 9d.

    Ussr (Grain Contract)

    53.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will announce the details of the Provisional Grain Contract that has been concluded with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and when the first cargoes of grain under the agreement are anticipated to arrive.

    We have reached agreement with the Soviet Government about coarse grains, but the contract is linked with the rest of the trade agreement on which negotiations are still proceeding. I would prefer to wait until they are concluded before announcing details about any particular part of the negotiation.

    Will this delay delay the increase in the foodstuffs ration that the agricultural industry requires?

    I am not talking about delay. I said that trade negotiations are still going on. This is only part of the negotiations. When the negotiations are complete, we can talk about whether it is an early settlement or a late one.

    Will not the result be that the coarse grains will not arrive in this country early enough to allow the feedingstuff ration to be increased?

    Timber Imports, Malaya

    54.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade to what extent he has now been able to increase the imports of hard and soft wood from Malaya.

    I am glad to say that imports of hardwood from Malaya were 137,000 cubic feet in the first six months of this year as against 86,000 cubic feet during the whole of 1948. There are no softwoods of commercial significance in Malaya, though some light hardwoods are locally termed softwoods.

    If there is likely to be a still further increase will the hon. Gentleman say how the price compares with the price for the purchase of similar hardwoods in other parts of the world?

    It is possible there may be an improvement, but on the question of price I cannot give an answer. If the hon. Gentleman will put a Question down I will endeavour to do so.

    Utility Clothing

    55.

    asked the President of the Board of Trade whether increased quantities of utility clothing have been available in the last six months, compared with the previous six months.

    Figures of supplies of utility garments are not, in general, collected, but I understand that there has been some improvement, particularly as regards men's clothing.

    Will my hon. Friend remind the President of the Board of Trade that when the matter of Purchase Tax on clothing was under consideration it was promised that supplies of tax-free utility clothing would be increased, and that this is now a matter of urgency?

    I cannot give precise figures, as we do not collect figures of clothing production. It is figures of cloth production to which I have referred my hon. Friend.

    Local Government Boundary Commission

    58.

    asked the Minister of Health what estimated expense has been incurred by the local authorities in pursuance of the provisions of the Local Government (Boundary Commission) Act.

    1945; and what purpose, in view of the pending repeal of the Act, this expense has served.

    It is not possible to frame any reliable estimate, but one of the general principles laid down by regulation for the guidance of the Commission in discharging their functions under the Act of 1945 required them to take all practicable steps to discourage local authorities and other persons from incurring unnecessary expense in connection with local inquiries and other business transacted under the Act.

    Will the Parliamentary Secretary say why the Minister did not make an earlier announcement of his intention to repeal this Act?

    The last part of the hon. Gentleman's Question hardly arises, because very little expense was incurred, so far as we are aware.

    Business Of The House

    Proceedings on Government Business exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House).—[ Mr. R. J. Taylor.]

    Orders Of The Day

    National Parks And Access To The Countryside Money (No 2)

    Resolution reported:

    "That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make provision for National Parks and for other matters, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of any increase in the sums payable out of such moneys which is attributable to provisions of the said Act of the present Session involving payments out of the Road Fund."

    Resolution agreed to.

    National Parks And Access To The Countryside Bill

    Order read for consideration, as amended (in the Standing Committee).

    Motion made, and Question proposed,

    "That the Bill be re-committed to a Committee of the whole House in respect of the Amendments to Clause 2, page 2, lines 19, 20 and 32 and Clause 7, page 5, line 11, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Mr. Silkin; in respect of Clause 9; in respect of the Amendments to Clause 12, page 9, lines 1 and 4, and Clause 13, page 10, line 14, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Mr. Silkin; in respect of Clause 14; in respect of the Amendments to Clause 22, page 15, line 29, Clause 27, page 18, line 3, Clause 28, page 18, line 12, Clause 33, page 25, line 16, Clause 40, page 30, lines 16 and 25, and Clause 42, page 32, line 26, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Mr. Silkin; in respect of Clause 47; and in respect of the Amendments to Clause 48, page 37, lines 32, 39 and 43, and page 38, lines 15, 20, 25, 27, 39 and 47, Clause 49, page 39, lines 16 and 20, Clause 59, page 46, lines 35 and 36, Clause 77, page 57, lines 37, 38 and 40, and page 58, lines 5 and 13, Clause 79, page 59, line 18, Clause 83, page 63, line 23, Clause 88, page 66, line 11, Clause 102, page 77, lines 9 and 23, and the new Clauses (General duties of Commission in relation to National Parks), (Power of drainage authorities to do work in nature reserves), (Liability for repair of public paths), (Private street works), (Ferries for purposes of long-distance routes), (Accommodation, meals and refreshments along long-distance routes), (Variation of approved proposals), (Penalty for displaying on footpaths notices deterring public use), (Exercise of powers under Section 13 as respects open country and waterways comprised in access orders), (Application to Isles of Scilly), standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Mr. Silkin.—[Mr. Silkin.]

    Amendment made: At end, add:

    "and in respect of the Amendment to Clause 83, page 63, line 30, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Mr. William Morrison."—[Mr. W. S. Morrison.]

    Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

    Bill immediately considered in Committee.

    [Major MILNER in the Chair]

    Clause 2—(Constitution Of Commission)

    3.32 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 2, line 20, after "duties," to insert:

    "(b) loss of remunerative time, or
    (c) additional expenses (other than as aforesaid) necessarily incurred by them for the purpose of enabling them to perform their duties, being expenses to which they would not otherwise have been subject."
    This Amendment will enable the members of the National Parks Commission to be paid for loss of time and for other expenses properly incurred in the course of their duties. As members of the Commission are to serve unpaid, it was thought reasonable that they should be entitled to receive payment for loss of remunerative time in the same way as members of local authorities are.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 2, line 32, at the end, to add:

    "(8) A member of the Commission, other than the chairman or deputy chairman, shall not by reason of his membership be rendered incapable of being elected, or of sitting and voting as, a member of the House of Commons."
    The effect of the last Amendment is that it may be held that membership of the National Parks Commission now becomes an office of profit under the Crown and that therefore Members of Parliament will be ineligible. On the Second Reading I expressed the hope that it would be found possible for Members of Parliament to serve on the Commission. The Amendment is therefore necessary in order that they shall not be disqualified.

    At the present time Members of Parliament have a fair share of work. I want to know what the Government policy is. Is it intended to encourage Members of Parliament to join this Commission or not? It is not a point on which there is a great matter of disagreement, but I think, and probably other people think, that at present it is not a good thing to encourage Members of Parliament to do this sort of thing. Occasionally we may have someone with particular knowledge whom we might want to act on the Commission, or somebody who has had experience, such as ex-Ministers, of whom there will be a lot in a short time. What is the general opinion of the right hon. Gentleman in this matter?

    I thought that if there was a Member of Parliament who was eminently qualified to serve on the Commission, it would be a pity if he were ineligible to do so. However, I would neither encourage nor discourage, and, other things being equal, I would certainly prefer someone who could give ample time to this work.