HC Deb 07 December 1939 vol 355 cc794-6
68. Rear-Admiral Beamish

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the rise of 10 points in the cost of living since the outbreak of war and of the fact that householders have found the billeting allowance inadequate to feed a child properly, apart from the cost of linen, furniture, and cooking utensils, he will how increase the allowance of 8s. 6d. by not less than 1s. 6d.?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Elliot)

I am afraid I cannot add anything to the reply which I gave on 23rd November to my hon. Friend the Member for Denbigh (Sir H. Morris-Jones), of which I am sending my hon. and gallant Friend a copy.

72. Mr. White

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been drawn to the hardship inflicted on teachers in evacuated areas who have been billeted in unsuitable quarters, and from whom the billeting allowance of 5s. a week has been withdrawn when they have rented suitable billets for themselves; and whether he will reconsider the decision whereby the billeting allowance is only paid when there is a householder resident on the premises?

Mr. Elliot

Representations on this matter have been made to me by representatives of the teachers themselves, and will be considered in conjunction with the rate of billeting allowances, which is to form the subjecť of further consultation as soon as possible.

Mr. Ede

Can the right hon. Gentleman give any indication when an official pronouncement is likely to be made in this matter as people are getting very annoyed at the delay?

Mr. Elliot

I am afraid I cannoť give a date.

74. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the large number of education committees that have passed resolutions or made proposals respecting billeting charges for evacuated children; whether he is aware that the present scheme has led to many children being brought home; and whether he proposes to reconsider the financial aspect of the scheme and a revision of charges?

Mr. Elliot

I am aware that a number of education committees have passed resolutions in favour of postponing the operation of the scheme for the recovery of billeting charges until the end of the year. I have, however, no evidence that the scheme has been the sole or even the main cause of the recall of many children. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative. In all cases in which hardship might be involved it is inťended that assessing officers should make full use of the discretionary power conferred upon them.

Mr. Sorensen

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that if it applies to only a few cases it is better to retain the children in the countryside than to get a few shillings from their parents?

Mr. Elliot

It was generally accepted by the House that it was desirable that recovery charges should be made.

81. Mr. Edmund Harvey

asked the Minister of Health whether any decision has yet been reached as to improvements in the billeting allowances in respect of evacuated teachers; and whether it is proposed to allow any special railway facilities to such teachers, a large number of whom have had to move to a considerable distance from their homes, in order to enable them to revisit their families and friends without undue expense?

Mr. Elliot

Both these matters are under close consideration. I am afraid that I cannot say when a decision will be reached, but I can assure the hon. Member that there will be no avoidable delay.

Mr. Harvey

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some time ago the Government stated the matter was under consideration, and that there is grave dissatisfaction owing to the inequality between the positions of teachers and civil servants.

Mr. Elliot

That is the reason why it is a difficult matter, and that is what causes delay in the investigation.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

If any increase is granted will it be retrospective?

Mr. Elliot

I cannot say anything about that in advance of a decision.

Miss Rathbone

Could the right hon. Gentleman promise an answer before the Christmas period, especially in view of all the inconvenience of not knowing what the position will be?

Mr. Elliot

I will take note of the point of the hon. Member.

Sir A. Knox

If the right hon. Gentleman has any funds to spare, will he give them to the hosts of the children in the country?