§ 5. Miss Elaine Burton
asked the Secretary of State for War if he has considered the use of the United States C-82A type of aeroplane, or the C-119, for the transportation of parcels to our troops in Korea.
§ Miss Burton
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman two questions arising out of that reply? Is he aware that the Question in the first place was put down to the Minister of Defence because in the last Parliament the Minister of Defence answered such queries, and it was transferred to him? Secondly, may I ask him if it is possible to get a definite answer to this question from B.O.A.C., because it was stated by the Ministers in the last Parliament that the present transport arrangements for taking parcels to Korea would not permit of larger numbers to go there?
§ Mr. Head
In answer to the first question, the transference of the Question to myself was made by the Ministry of Defence and I attempted to give the hon. Lady the best answer of which I was capable. It would be wrong for me to commit the Minister responsible for Civil 18 Aviation to giving a satisfactory answer, but I am quite certain in my own mind that a decision on this matter rests with him and not with myself.
§ 6. Miss Burton
asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that, taking the present postal rate for air parcels to Germany as a basis, the additional cost per annum of each man in Her Majesty's Forces overseas receiving one 2-lb. parcel per month would be approximately £1½ million; and if he will make arrangements for this rate to apply outside Germany for at least such a limited concession.
§ Mr. Head
For the reasons my hon. Friend gave in the Adjournment debate on 15th November last, I cannot in present circumstances contemplate adding £l½ million to the cost of the present postal concessions to the Forces, which already amounts to over £1½ million a year.
I should like to take this opportunity to point out that some complaints about the high cost of parcels sent to the Far East concern the despatch of such things as soap, writing paper, chocolate, etc. These, and many of the goods now being sent, can be bought from the N.A.A.F.I. or unit canteens: and those who wish to make gifts of this kind could do so under the scheme for sending out postal orders.
There are also complaints about the cost of sending newspapers by air, which may be made without knowledge of the arrangements by which the War Office sends out large numbers of the Sunday national newspapers to these theatres. In spite of the publicity that has been given to these and other facilities, I think that there is still some ignorance of them and it would be a great help if hon. Members who are approached on these subjects would do what they can to make these arrangements more widely known.
§ Miss Burton
I know the right hon. Gentleman wishes to help, but is he aware that these very long answers, which really are not on the point I have raised, get us no further? May I ask him if he does not feel that, as we shall not reach the target set for defence expenditure this year, it would be possible to include this £1½ million for these postal services? Lastly, does he believe it is right that the men who are serving in Korea should have 19 their families paying so much more for parcels than those who are serving in Germany or Egypt?
§ Mr. Head
I thank the hon. Lady for her long supplementary question, but I do not think it is right at this time of national economic difficulty to pay a subsidy of £1½ million. The number of parcels sent is not at the moment immense, and as I have said, although it may be irrelevant, a great many of them comprise goods which could be bought locally, which I believe would be a sensible method to adopt. I do not believe there is any prospect whatever of getting the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give the £1½ million.
Would the Secretary of State for War consider an arrangement whereby parents and relatives could send money to the N.A.A.F.I. for delivering to the troops the goods which he mentioned? It is not the same thing to send a postal order to a man in a trench.