Mr Cyril Culverwell: The Minister has answered many questions which were never asked. Would he answer one which was asked by myself and the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith), namely, why does he not exercise his powers in respect of demurrage?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the long delay in settling claims for damage under the War Risks Insurance Act, 1939; and will he authorise payments on account pending the final settlement of such claims?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: While thanking my hon. and gallant Friend for his reply, and appreciating the pressure which is upon his Department owing to the claims which are made, may I have an assurance from him that the Department is utilising to the full the experienced staff of the insurance companies?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware of the continual increases in the price of coal to public utilities; and what steps he is taking to prevent further increases?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: Is the Minister aware that this progressive increase in the cost of coal to public utilities is increasing the cost of production and is affecting the cost of living all over the country, which is the best way of bringing on inflation? Does he not think it is time for some modification of the sliding scale governing miners' wages to be considered?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: Is the Minister taking no steps whatever to prevent this increase in the cost of coal, which affects industry and the cost of living and so leads to a progressive rise in both cases?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: I wish to draw the attention of the House to the serious coal shortage which has arisen in many parts of the country and which is largely due to inefficiency and a lack of foresight on the part of the Government. I want to describe the conditions which prevail in Bristol, not because that is the only city affected by the shortage, but because the position there is typical of that which...
Mr Cyril Culverwell: I suggested two or three grades of coal.
Mr Cyril Culverwell: My point was that output had gone down.
Mr Cyril Culverwell: asked the Home Secretary whether he has decided to reimburse to local authorities the whole of the approved expenditure in respect of contracts entered into for the erection of air-raid shelters after 19th October, 1940; and whether, as a measure of equity, he will reconsider the question with a view to reimbursing local authorities similar expenditure incurred prior to this date?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: Does my right hon. Friend not agree that the choice of this purely arbitrary date operates against those authorities which were first to provide protection against air raids, and unfairly favours those who neglected their duty?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: But, in view of the unfairness of this, will the Government reconsider their decision?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: asked the Secretary for Mines whether he has considered bringing suitable labour from other coalfields to Somerset in order to meet the demand for coal in the Bristol area so as to obviate the necessity for overloading the railway system with mineral traffic from distant coalfields?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: Will my hon. Friend consider a further increase in the demurrage rates in order to increase unloading?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that civilian chauffeurs are being employed to drive Army motor cars; what wages and allowances are they being paid; and will he, in the interests of economy, replace such drivers with soldiers?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: asked the Secretary of State for War why officers are not permitted to drive Army motor cars; and whether, in order to reduce the number of soldiers and civilians employed as chauffeurs, he will rescind this regulation?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that there is a considerable shortage of drivers in the Army and that for that reason civilians are often employed, at expensive rates, to drive officers? If officers were allowed to drive, would not that expense be saved?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: My right hon. and gallant Friend has not understood my suggestion. I did not say that officers should be employed as drivers, but that they should be allowed to drive the cars allotted to them.
Mr Cyril Culverwell: Is the Minister also aware that more than five weeks ago an arrangement was made between the Corporation of the City of Bristol and the railways for six extra trains to come to Bristol for this purpose, and that not one has come so far?
Mr Cyril Culverwell: Is the Minister aware that the position, instead of improving, is getting steadily worse?