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Parliamentary Reporter. WELLINGTON, this day. In an urgent question in the House of Representatives yesterday, Mr. Poison (Nat., Stratford) asked the Minister of Defence, Mr. Jones, whether he was aware that, while a large number of returning New Zealand troops had for weeks been held up at a Middle East port waiting for transport home, Canadian and South African forces in that theatre had been returned to their respective Dominions. Mr. Jones said the position of men waiting in the Middle East was fully understood and every possible step was being taken to have them despatched to New Zealand. The position was governed entirely by the availability of shipping and priority had been given to the return of ex-prisoners of war. A large troopship had been allocated to bring home the men referred to. An assurance that the erection of State houses at Birkenhead would proceed as soon as a contractor could be induced to undertake the work was given by the Minister of Works, Mr. Semple, when replying to a question by Mr. Morton (Nat., Waitemata). Mr. Morton had stated that not a single State house had ever been built in Birkenhead. The statement that the Government was considering proposals to give powers to local bodies to take over unoccupied houses for the benefit of the homeless was made by the Prime Minister, Mr. Fraser, in a written reply to a question asked by Miss M. Howard (Govt., Christchurch East), who said that it had been reported that similar measures were proposed by the British Government. Claims Against U.S. Servicemen Arrangements by which redress through New Zealand Courts might be obtained in respect of claims against members of the armed forces of the United States were detailed by the Minister of Justice, Mr. Mason, when replying to a question put by Mr. Webb (Nat., Kaipara). The Minister stated that in general claims were covered by the customary insurance taken out by the United States authorities. Claims not covered by insurance were dealt with by a commission set up by the United States authorities, and the commission now had power to settle locally claims up to 5000 dollars. Awards on claims in excess of 5000 dollars were referred to the United States for the approval of Congress to payment. In cases where the injured person was unable to obtain redress by these means, the Minister said, the New Zealand Government would assume the role of nominal defendant and the injured party might proceed by way of petition of right.

Replying to a request that he should amplify recent reports that there would be a considerable tightening in clothing restrictions, including the necessity of obtaining permits from the post office for the perchase of men's suits, the Minister of Supply, Mr. Sullivan, said that the subject was under negotiation with the Garment Advisory Council, with a view to ensuring the maximum availability of clothing up to the' full supplies of material that could be obtained. "The question of an investigation into the gaming legislation of New Zealand is'"receiving the consideration of the Government," said the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Perry, replying to a question by Mr. McKeen (Govt., Wellington South), who asked if the Minister would take immediate steps to facilitate the licensing of bookmakers. Paper supplies generally had recently improved sufficiently for controls to be relaxed considerably, said Mr. Sullivan, in reply to a question how, in view of the alleged shortage of paper for printing schoolbooks, supplies were being obtained for taking the census. The Minister said the reason for some local and temporary shortages of books was manpower shortage. Paper for the census was secured from Canada several months ago and had already arrived. The Prime Minister, replying to a question whether gratuities would be paid to members of the Women's Land Service, said that at the time of recruitment for the Women's Land Service the question of payment of gratuities to members of the armed forces had not arisen. Consequently no assurance could have been given to land girls in this connection. It was not considered that the payment of war gratuities would be wisely extended. Free Travel For War Widows The Minister of Defence, answering a question by Mr. Acland (Nat., Temuka), said arrangements would be made for free travel at some time within 12 months for wives and mothers of men killed overseas. Mr. Acland had pointed out that had a son or husband not been killed he would on return to the Dominion have had the privilege, accompanied by his wife or mother. "A comprehensive scheme for improvements at the Te Awamutu railway station was prepared some time ago, but cannot be given effect to yet owing to a lack of manpower and materials," said Mr. Semple, replying to a question by Mr. Broadfoot (Nat., Waitomo) and Mr. Goosman (Nat., Waikato), who had referred to a newspaper article stressing the urgent need for improvements at the Te Awamutu station. Mr. Semple said that the lack of machinery was the chief stumbling block. Much machinery had been sent overseas for the forces and, although attempts had been made to purchase machinery in America, there were many difficulties and sufficient. could not be obtained. Replying to a question concerning the disposal of biscuits to farmers for stock and poultry food, Mr. Sullivan stated that there were no further surplus supplies of Army biscuits available for disposal as stock and poultry food. The last quantity offered for sale by public tender was a quantity supplied to the United States forces. These biscuits were, some that were shipped to the then forward areas in the Pacific, but were left behind as operations moved north. After being in the islands for some time the biscuits were brought back to New Zealand and submitted to the Health Department for examination. They were declared unfit for human consumption. There might have been a small proportion in good condition, the Minister continued, but this was not apparent at the time the biscuits were examined and it would have been impracticable to have examined each tin before disposal.

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Bibliographic details

ANSWERS GIVEN, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 181, 2 August 1945

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ANSWERS GIVEN Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 181, 2 August 1945

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