A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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Wt 39944. 10M 11/43. W.R.R. & S. Ltd. GP 38. (14).

No. 186. 27th April, 1944

(Covering period from 18th to 25th April, 1944)


1. General

Once again, the second front is the public's chief, and almost exclusive, interest. The great majority appear to be even more tense and impatient than last week; many are said to be thoroughly “browned off” with waiting. People want invasion to start, to bring the end of the war nearer.

War weariness, tiredness and irritability are still widely mentioned, and there is a great longing for the war to end. Nevertheless, it is thought that as soon as the second front opens, this “dull patch” will disappear, together with the present industrial unrest. Despite the increased tension, reports from four Regions say that people are more cheerful than they were.

Discussion of the Italian front has much declined, though it is on the same lines.

Home Front : The industrial situation is widely discussed; criticism of strikers continues and the Government's new antistrike regulations are welcomed.

There has been very little speculation about this year's Budget.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 18)

2. The second front

“The same as last week - only more so” sums up the general feeling. The increase in anxious talk about expected casualties has been especially marked; people “dare not think of what will happen to the first 10,000 who land”.

“Any day now” has become, for the great majority, “any moment now”, though as various prophesied dates (e.g. St. George's Day) pass without invasion, prophets are commanding less belief. To the familiar list of signs that the second front is imminent are added the suspension of diplomatic rights, the ban on all foreign travel, and the censoring of home-based Forces' mail to other parts of the country. (The diplomatic restriction is entirely approved, particularly in Northern Ireland where it is thought by some to have been primarily directed against Eire.) A few think that no one will know the second front has started until it is an accomplished fact, even until at least a week afterwards.

There continues to be a substantial minority who think that, for one reason or another, invasion will never take place.

Though some people think further warnings against careless talk are needed, on the whole security measures are considered to have been very successful ... “let's hope that Hitler knows as little as we do”.

Expected repercussions in this country are the subject of increasing discussion. It is thought that the public has very little idea how it will be affected, but that, once the second front has begun, people will accept any hardships willingly.

Discussion chiefly centres round:

  1. Transport (Five Regions), Many envisage the sudden closing of the railways to civilians, and some are postponing their holidays for fear of being stranded. Some think all holidays will be cancelled.

  2. Food (Five Regions). Relief that the Minister of Food stated that supplies are adequate, but a few think we shall be “foodless” when invasion starts.

  3. The probability of heavy air attacks (Three Regions), possibly with gas.

  4. The possibility of compulsory evacuation (Two Regions), especially of coastal towns.

  5. Postal and telegraphic communication , which, it is thought, may be denied the public at first (One Region).

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 18, fourty-two P.D.Rs.)

2a. The coastal ban

Familiar comment, with continued complaints of the inconvenience resulting from lack of definite information, and irritation because police interpretation of the regulations varies, so that one traveller may be turned back and another on similar business allowed to proceed.

There is annoyance too in the Havant, Hants., area at the neighbouring city of Chichester being placed out of bounds, because this has become the shopping centre since so many Portsmouth shops were bombed.

From the Midland Region come tales of friends who have been able “to walk about unchallenged for a week in a banned area and can get in merely by saying they have a relative there who is ill”.

(5. 6. 7. 9. 12. 18 fourteen P.D.Rs.)

3. Allied air offensive

Satisfaction with our intensified attacks and those of the Americans is again general. They are increasingly considered to be integral to invasion - either as a preparatory “softening-up” process (Eight Regions) or as constituting, in effect, the actual beginning of the invasion (Five Regions). A few think they are our “second front” (Three Regions).

There is also much pleasure with the help the air offensive is giving Russia (Five Regions) - particularly the bombing of the Balkans from Italian bases.

Some doubts of the effectiveness of bombing continue, however, (Five Regions) - partly as the result of statements about the Luftwaffe's continued strength. Speculation continues as to the actual state of German morale.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 18 seventy-nine P.D.Rs.)

4. Russia

Military : Comment is the same as last week with the addition of:

  1. Speculation about how swift future Russian advances may be (Eight Regions).

  2. Some suggestion (Two Regions) that the Russians have been meeting less opposition than our armies in Italy.

Political : People continue to fear that Russia's greater efforts and sacrifices will enable her to dominate the peace talks. On the other hand, some “see no danger in this”, and feel “she deserves all the political advantages she can get through her successes”.

Finland : Some disappointment is reported that the Finns have finally turned down the Russian terms. People are said to be indifferent to Finland's fate now.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 18 seventy-one P.D.Rs.)

5. Italy

Military : Comment is again less; in the absence of any change, people are said to be losing interest. Anxiety and disappointment remain the chief reactions; for the rest, opinions, critical and hopeful, continue unchanged.

Political : Little interest is reported, but there is both satisfaction at the changes in the Italian Cabinet, and some mistrust (Two Regions each).

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 18 fifty-three P.D.Rs.)

6. Far East

Burma : Concern and misgiving over the situation in Burma and the Japanese advance are again reported (Nine Regions), although recent news has caused some slight increase in confidence (Three Regions). The uneasiness felt is largely attributed to reports of censorship of news by the S.E. Asia Command, and the conflicting British and American news. People fear bad news is being kept back, and ask ... “Why did the correspondents protest over the censorship? What we want are more reports and fewer conflicting statements.”

Pacific : Satisfaction with successes continues (Three Regions). People hope we shall soon be in a position to bomb Tokyo.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 18 fifty-eight P.D.Rs.)

7. Neutrals

People have welcomed the strong stand made by the Allies against neutrals who are helping Germany.

Turkey (Six Regions): There is general satisfaction that Turkey is substantially to reduce her exports of chrome to Germany. Some people, however, were surprised to hear that Turkey - “whose sympathies were supposed to be pro-Allied” - should have exported chrome to Germany in the first place.

Sweden (Two Regions) “should immediately stop supplying the enemy with ball bearings”.

Spain (Two Regions) continues to be distrusted.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 6. 7. 8. 9. 11. 13. 18 twenty-four P.D.Rs.)

9. War at sea

The release of the news of the “human torpedoes” has caused much interest; unbounded admiration for the men who ride them is reported (Seven Regions). While some criticise the Admiralty for keeping it secret for so long, others question the wisdom of revealing the particulars now (Two Regions each). The fantastic nature of the weapon is said to have stirred the imagination, but it is thought to have a limited value only.

A minority are said to consider it a “terrible weapon” (Two Regions).

(1. 3. 5. 6. 7. 12. 13. 18 nine P.D.Rs.)

10. Debate in the House on Imperial Unity (April 20)

Not much comment, but warm appreciation for the Prime Minister's speech - “worthy of its great theme” - and some praise for Mr. Shinwell's. Though the general trend of the debate evoked appreciative comment, young working-class people are said, in one report, to have made fun of the talk of “wonderful achievements”, and to have quoted the Indian political situation and the Bengal famine.

Mr. Churchill's references to Ireland were not received with complete satisfaction in Northern Ireland, “at any rate in Unionist circles”, according to the Northern Ireland report. “Although the Prime Minister used the word ‘lamentable’ in regard to Eire's refusal to come into the war, other phrases in his speech created an uneasy feeling that he was hinting at some new effort to placate Eire on the border question at Ulster's expense. The opinion was expressed in many quarters that Mr. Churchill appeared to be paving the way for the re-opening of the Ulster-Eire question in the postwar settlement. The Unionist attitude is that this question must on no account be re-opened, having regard to the important part which Ulster has taken in the war effort in contradistinction to Eire's neutrality.”

(2. 3. 4. 7. 8. 11. 13)

11. U.S.A.

Some fears for Anglo-American relations - both present and postwar - have been reported. It is felt that an unfriendly attitude towards us is being fostered, and people fear that American postwar plans are going to be very unfavourable to us ... “America is going to make us pay dearly after the war for the favours she has extended us.”

(1. 2. 3. 4. 6. 12. 13)

12. Broadcasting and presentation of news

Praise for B.B.C. news presentation this week (Three Regions).

General Forces Programme (Eight Regions): Unfavourable criticism continues, with “bittiness” again the main cause of complaint (Five Regions).

Praise for : “Desert Highway”, April 15 (Four Regions); ITMA (Three Regions); G.V. Keeling's Postscript, April 16 (Two Regions).

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 12. 13)



13. Miners and mining

Strikes : Comment has declined, though indignation and condemnation continue (Eight Regions). People are relieved the miners have gone back to work, and hope for a period of peace; some fear, however, that the present settlement is only temporary (Two Regions).

The Government is again criticised for its past “policy of appeasement” (Six Regions), and some think it is afraid of the miners and would have taken more drastic action with another industry. However, the new strike regulations are warmly welcomed (See Section 14).

Four Year Plan (Three Regions): Miners in Scotland and the Northern Region are sceptical and reticent; in the North Midland Region, they are said to welcome it.

American machinery is generally liked in the Lothians, safety measures such as enclosed machinery being warmly commended.

During the past four weeks , apart from subjects dealt with weekly, comment has mainly been about:

  1. The Bevin Boys and the ballot (Eight Regions): From two Regions there are reports that the boys are settling down in both pits and “digs”. Miners object because the boys are said to get as much pay or more than those who train them. Some volunteers and optants speak bitterly of the preferences given to the boys, who receive equipment etc. free. Some miners object, too, to the number of boys each man has to train - said to be nine. They think the boys are “a positive menace” and that one each is quite enough to train. They also feel care should be used in directing boys to mining, “for any showing signs of nervousness in an emergency might constitute a danger to themselves and others”. The boys themselves , particularly those with pre-Service training, or those who want to join one of the Services, remain critical, though some are surprised at the easy training. Some resentment is reported at conscription without any guarantee of a return to previous jobs after the war. The general public remain sympathetic with those who want to join the Services and (One Region) critical of conscription by ballot for private pits. They think, too, that the boys will not make much differences to production.

  2. The Porter Award (Seven Regions): Comment has been almost entirely adverse. Miners are reported to be confused and “still smarting under the knowledge that it has meant no advance to them”. They feel particular anger that deductions are made for coal allowance, that the skilled worker gets “no more than the raw recruit”, that local conditions are not considered, and that the Award was enforced before a general wages agreement was arrived at.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 18 twenty-seven P.D.Rs.)

14. Strikes (other than miners')

Widespread condemnation of strikes, particularly on the eve of the second front, continues (Seven Regions). Some again suggest strikers should be put in the Forces (Three Regions); though others believe unrest will disappear when invasion begins.

The Government's new strike regulations are widely commended (Nine Regions), though many wish they had been made long ago. Others doubt their effectiveness unless applied firmly. A few object to the regulations (Two Regions) because they “dislike the imposition of Government Orders without explanation or discussion”.

The London bus strike (Five Regions): Little comment except from London, where, despite some indignation, the majority accepted the strike “philosophically”, with little bitterness against the strikers. Everyone wanted to ride on “a soldier's bus”, and the variety imparted to the daily routine was welcomed.

Manchester gas strike (Three Regions): The majority in the North Western Region condemned the strike. However, it was alleged that Manchester Town Clerk had “persistently refused to ameliorate the condition of gas employees and that this, not the conditions of the Award, was the real cause of the strike”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 18 thirty-three P.D.Rs.)

15. Fuel

The heating ban (Eight Regions) has caused annoyance and complaints, especially in the North and North East - and among people in sedentary jobs. Annoyance is said to be due to the belief that (a) the ban is precipitate; (b) some people have gained exemption or are not complying with the ban; (c) people cannot stand cold as they did before the war, and sickness will result. People in the Northern Region maintain that the North East of England is colder than many parts of Scotland which are not yet affected by the Order, and do not understand why it has not been included with Scotland, as it was last year.

During the past four weeks comment has been chiefly about:

Domestic supplies (Eleven Regions): Complaints have been less widespread, though they persist, particularly in the North and North East, and have been on the following lines:

  1. Shortage of coal (Nine Regions). Some put this down to the allowance being inadequate (Five Regions), others to delayed deliveries (Four Regions). Cases are reported of houses, in towns as well as rural areas, which have been without coal for more than a fortnight. People complain, too, of losing a month's supply when the merchant does not deliver within the period and will not leave two months' supply the next month.

  2. Poor quality coal (Six Regions): “Five hundred weights of pre-war quality was worth double the present muck and dirt.”

  3. Shortage of coke (Three Regions).

  4. Poor quality oil (Two Regions), and shortage (One Region).

Those thought particularly hard hit are people with no alternative form of cooking or heating (Five Regions); those who do a lot of washing at home because the family is large or because of laundry difficulties (Two Regions); shift workers and those who could not lay in stocks (One Region each).

The miners are said to be “the only people who can keep a decent fire going” and this is resented, particularly by their non-mining neighbours, and by those who blame them for the supply situation (Three Regions).

The industrial fuel cut (Five Regions): Some uneasiness is reported as to how the cuts can be effected without reducing production.

Stocks and dumps of coal (Three Regions): People complain of “long unused” coal dumps deteriorating, and think they should be used in the present emergency.

Economy campaign (Three Regions): Very little comment. Some think most people are being economical because of the coal shortage; others that people are not doing all they can to economise in gas and electricity. The miners' strikes and Government's “failure” to deal with the situation are thought not to have encouraged people to “take kindly” to the restrictions.

See also Constant Topics, No. 5.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 18 ten P.D.Rs.)

16. Postwar

During the past four weeks there appears to have been less discussion of postwar matters (with the exception of housing); this is partly due, it is thought, to preoccupation with the second front. While there continue to be widespread concern and uneasiness about postwar prospects and considerable lack of faith in the Government's intentions, there are two schools of thought on the subject of planning now:

  1. An apparent majority who are anxious that plans should be made immediately to prevent “a repetition of the muddles after the last war”, and who criticise the Government for not producing definite clear-cut plans now.

  2. A growing minority (Eight Regions this month, six last) who advocate winning the war first. These people feel that too much time and energy are expended by the Government and others in considering postwar plans now ... “Arrange for houses to be built, but get on with the war”. A few ask “What can our Allies think of our concentrating on reorganisation of practically all our social services at the climax of the greatest war in history?”

There is continued uncertainty as to how all the money is to be found.

Most reported comment has been about:

(a) Housing (Twelve Regions). This still takes precedence over all other postwar preoccupations, in spite of a slight increase in confidence after the Prime Minister's broadcast. The Government's short-term housing programme seems to have excited little general comment. People ask for an “adequate long-term housing scheme with concrete proposals”, and say that housing plans should have come before health or any other schemes.

Aspects of postwar housing particularly discussed are:

(i) Prefabrication (Ten Regions). The public's ideas about prefabricated houses are very vague, but there is great interest in the possibility, and people are very curious to see them. The models displayed in Manchester, and press accounts of Coventry's prefabricated houses, aroused interested discussion, and people ask that one should be exhibited in every large town, or that a film be made showing what they are like.

Though the idea of prefabrication is not generally popular, it is said to be gaining increasing acceptance. People object on the grounds that these houses will continue in use long after they should have been replaced and will develop into slums, and that they are too poky ever to be real homes. People say they want houses, not hutments, to live in, though it is conceded that prefabricated houses might be “all right for retired couples”, or for young people who have not yet made up their minds what they want.

(ii) Housing and land development (Eight Regions). Complaint, some bitter, continues at the apparent shelving of the Uthwatt and Scott Reports. Local authorities are said to be impatient to start on their housing developments without delay - especially the preparing of sites by laying down sewers and gas - and dissatisfaction is reported on the grounds that they are without the necessary information to enable them to begin. There is particular complaint at the delay in sanctioning sites selected by the local authorities and in deciding on a policy regarding the purchase values of land required for building. It is thought that the rejection of the Hull Bill will retard local enterprise.

(iii) Rural housing (Two Regions). People in rural areas are keenly interested in the prospect of having piped water, improved sewerage, and electricity after the war. The Government's proposals about water supplies have been welcomed; though “nationalisation” is considered the ultimate remedy for present difficulties.

(b) Employment (Nine Regions). Fear of unemployment comes second now to the fear of having nowhere to live after the war. People are sceptical over the Government's plans to provide work after the war, and are anxious to know how work can be found for all the people on munitions or in the Forces. Fear of widespread unemployment are reported from the Northern Region, particularly among those in heavy industry and on Teesside, where many steel workers are now out of work.

(c) Industry and trade (Eight Regions). The changeover from war to peace industry is the subject of some speculation and anxiety, and there is comment on the future of certain areas, e.g.

  1. Teesside and Cleveland , where the decision of the Board of Trade to exclude these areas from the N.E. Development Board is said to have aroused intense indignation.

  2. Wales , where there is concern in some districts over the future of the tinplate trade.

  3. Midlands , where there is said to be much grumbling over a recent Government project to establish factories in South Wales and Scotland for the production of aluminium hollow-ware. “The industry has been developed over a number of years in the Midlands by local enterprise and it is felt to be unfair that the fruit of this endeavour should be dropped into the laps of South Wales industrialists and workers by the Government, to the detriment of Midland workers and employers.”

  4. Camborne-Redruth area of Cornwall, where the future of the tin-mining industry continues a matter of anxious concern.

Interest is also reported in the future of small firms and shopkeepers, in the Government scheme for renewing apprenticeships interrupted by service in the Forces, and in the T.U.C.'s proposals for a 40 hour working week.

(d) Agriculture (Eight Regions). Continued uneasiness among the agricultural communities over the future of the farming industry. Farmers, though doing well now, are said to have little faith in the future when unrestricted supplies from abroad become available. Farmers are wondering how they are to go on paying their labourers at the present rate, unless present prices are maintained.

One suggestion for helping farmers after the war is the removal of death duties on privately owned farms.

(e) Demobilisation (Five Regions). “First in, first out” appears to have most support, though the points scheme and priority for essential workers both have their advocates. “Let it be soon” sums up all opinions, however.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 18 seven P.D.Rs.)

18. Housing

During the past four weeks , complaints of the housing situation have been reported from all Regions save Northern Ireland; and every week from Scotland and the North Midland, London and South Eastern, and Midland Regions. Dissatisfaction with present conditions appears to be aggravated by a feeling that the Government is not tackling the problem vigorously enough. “If the position is so serious now, what will happen at the end of the war? We shall be in rooms and lodgings for ever.” In London, houses available for requisitioning are said still to be empty “due to legislative loopholes, which the owners have been quick to exploit”.

Particular hardships mentioned this month are those of newlyweds having to share homes with their parents, and of discharged disabled soldiers who want to get married and cannot get decent accommodation within their means.

Though as strong and as widespread, recent comment has been less detailed than last month's; the chief complaints are still of:

  1. Shortage of accommodation of all kinds (Eleven Regions). This is said to be the cause of bitter discontent and, in some areas, of serious overcrowding. Again the problem is said to have been increased by evacuees from London.

  2. High rents and prices (Seven Regions). It is alleged that some houses are being offered at prices 400% above 1939 levels, and restriction of prices and further restriction of rents is asked for.

Agricultural cottages (Three Regions) : The Government cottages are still said to be unpopular; the rents are considered too high for the accommodation offered, and also for the farm labourers' wages. It is suggested that there should be some legislation to prevent farm-workers' cottages being bought up, over-improved and let at high rents to people who are not agricultural workers.

Prefabricated houses (See Section 17, PostWar ).

See also Constant Topics, No. 2.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12)

19. Education Bill

During the past four weeks interest in the Education Bill has been stimulated by the Government defeat and subsequent vote of confidence. As before, reactions have been mainly favourable, though some people ask anxiously “where all the money is coming from” and fear a rise in rates. Though interest is shown, people do not seem to be discussing the Bill in much detail and, except for the question of equal pay (see below), comment has been mainly on familiar lines:

  1. Raising the school-leaving age (Six Region). Opinion divided, but mainly favourable. Disappointment that no date has yet been irrevocably fixed has led a few to say that “now that victory is nearer, the Government is going back on its promises more and more”. On the other hand, a few say “keep the leaving age at 14, but improve the education”.

  2. Roman Catholics (Three Regions). Lack of sympathy with their point of view is reported, and some slight opposition to granting them loans at low interest.

  3. Teachers (Three Regions). People fear there will not be enough teachers. It is hoped that their pay will be improved, “to put the profession on its proper level and attract the right kind”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12)

20. Equal pay

During the past four weeks , as a result of the debate on clause 82 of the Education Bill, the principle of equal pay has been widely discussed - in some cases, with strong feeling. According to the Scottish report, women are less interested in the subject than men.

Opinion, though divided, is mainly in favour of equality. Some, while accepting the principle as fair - “if the work really is equal” - consider many adjustments would be necessary. People are glad to know the subject is to come up for further discussion, though a minority feel such controversial matters should be left till after the war.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13)

21. White Paper on a National Health Service

During the past four weeks the scheme has continued to meet with general approval (Five Regions), and only doctors are thought to be disapproving (Five Regions). There is, however, some fear that the standards of the National service will be lower than those of private practitioners, and that people who are able to pay may still get better treatment. Relief is reported from two Regions at the retention of the free choice of doctor.

(1. 3. 5. 7. 8. 10)

22. Service pay, allowances and pensions

The promised statement in the House was eagerly awaited, and increases were hoped for, but no reactions have yet been received to the Government's decision (April 26).

During the past four weeks there has been continued and widespread support for increased dependants' allowances (Eleven Regions) and - to a lesser extent - basic rates of pay.

Resentment is again reported at the disparity between United Kingdom servicemen's pay and (a) the pay of U.S., Dominion and Colonial troops; (b) war workers' wages.

There has also been some comment about:

  1. Pensions to men discharged on health grounds (Three Regions). People are said to consider that an adequate pension should be paid to any man or woman who was admitted to the Forces A.I., no matter on what grounds they are later pronounced medically unfit.

  2. War Service Grants (Two Regions). Dissatisfaction is again reported that these are reduced when the husband receives an increase in pay. “If grants are to decline as a soldier's proficiency pay increases, there is no encouragement to a man to be a better soldier.”

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 9. 10. 11. 12)

23. Industry and trade

During the past four weeks bewilderment and uneasiness among workers have again been frequently reported. This is thought to be because people cannot reconcile the imminence of the invasion and official appeals for maximum output with the slacking off they see at work or hear about.

Production : There have been many references to: (a) Reduced hours and abolition of overtime (Eleven Regions); (b) Enforced idleness and overstaffing (Nine Regions) - “Women workers find knitting useful for filling in the time, for which they are paid”; (c) Staff cuts, factories closing, and unemployment (Three Regions). However, the recent industrial fuel cut is thought by some to explain the changes (Five Regions), but others think this explanation “phoney” (Three Regions).

Workers' attitude : There is some talk of apathy and slackness among workers (Five Regions) - “the spirit of Dunkirk is missing” - though it is felt that this is partly due to overstaffing, and to the fact that “this ‘all out for the second front’ idea has been pushed at the workers for about two years and they are all bored with it”. A marked feeling of tiredness among workers is also reported (Seven Regions).

Essential Work Order (Four Regions): This is said to annoy. Workers think employers use it as a means to pay inadequate wages and to retain men needlessly.

Small traders (Three Regions): Some feeling is reported that small traders, particularly shopkeepers, are unfairly treated by the Government and Ministry of Labour, whereas people would like them encouraged. A few feel that Co-operative Societies are “swallowing them up”.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 9. 10. 11. 12)

24. Income tax

P.A.Y.E. (Twelve Regions): The scheme is said to be running fairly smoothly and to be generally approved, particularly by black-coated workers. It is thought that many people will be properly assessed for the first time and that there will be a substantial increase in tax-payers.

There has been some grumbling, however, that it has “taken the gilt off pay packets”. Manual and casual workers seem to have taken less kindly to the scheme than anyone, though most criticism is based on bewilderment and misunderstanding.

Employers, including farmers, complain - some bitterly - of the extra work entailed (Eight Regions), especially in view of depleted clerical staffs.

Comment otherwise is mainly about:

(a) The effect on absenteeism and overtime (Seven Regions). Many feel P.A.Y.E. will encourage absenteeism and mean that workers will avoid overtime. It is said that “the working man is getting to know where he stands”, and that many, including farm labourers (Three Regions), are saying they will only work up to income tax point. Some women are already refusing to work full time any more.

Some people think overtime earnings should be exempt from taxation.

(b) Methods of assessment, etc (Seven Regions). Workers are said not to understand the coding system, nor how the deductions are arrived at. As a result, many think they are “being done” and that they will have to pay more under the new system. The fact that deductions vary from week to week adds to the confusion. Casual workers, those working in gangs, and those, including miners, whose wages are paid a full week in arrears, are particularly bewildered.

(c) Explanatory talks, the P.A.Y.E. booklet etc . (Five Regions). Appreciation of talks continues, though it is regretted that farm workers cannot have things explained to them in the same way as factory employees. More broadcast talks would be welcomed. The P.A.Y.E. booklet is “sought after” but found to be “full of mysteries”.

More explanation is wanted, especially about the discharge of tax which would normally be paid this year, as many do not understand why there will still be arrears to pay, nor why the proportion of arrears to be paid is not the same for everyone. Government employees feel hardly done by in this respect.

Postwar credits (Four Regions): Doubts about their value are again reported and it is said that they are still not understood, some thinking the period of remission of income tax will “swindle them” out of their postwar credits.

Farming subsidies (Three Regions): Farmers are said to think ploughing subsidies should not be taxed as “they are a capital item”. Non-farmers, however, think it is fair, “because other bonuses are taxable” (One Region).

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 18 twelve P.D.Rs.)

25. Wages

During the past four weeks comment has greatly decreased, though it has been on familiar lines:

(a) Disparities in pay (Seven Regions), especially between our servicemen and (i) U.S. troops, (ii) Dominion troops, and (iii) civilians; between miners and munition workers; between skilled and unskilled workers.

Resentment is also caused by the wages alleged to be paid to Irish workers (Three Regions). Irish navvies working on roads in Hampshire are paid 2/0½d an hour, which is more than the local rate; also, “because they are Irish, it is apparently free of income tax”. Irishmen working on the railways are also said to get extra allowances (Scotland).

(b) High wages (Three Regions), particularly of unskilled workers, young people and war workers. The wages paid to some young people are said to cause discontent to relatives of servicemen and to the young people's own parents - “How would you like it if your young girl were bringing home as much as yourself and you could hardly call your home your own?” Some think unskilled war workers' high wages are one of the chief causes of strikes.

(c) Losses of pay (Four Regions): Anxiety and discontent are reported at loss of wages where hours have been cut down or overtime stopped. Hardship caused to women who are directed to leave their jobs for others carrying smaller pay is reported; other women complain that they now only get 1/- an hour for the same job for which they got 2/6d last year.

See also Constant Topics, No. 12.

(1. 2. 3. 6. 7. 9. 11)

26. Food

During the past four weeks , satisfaction with the general food situation has continued (Seven Regions), with appreciation of the way the Government has organised the feeding of the nation through four and a half years of war. Other comment has been of:

Oranges and lemons (Twelve Regions): People have been very pleased with the supply (Eight Regions) - and some are hoping for more. On the other hand, complaints of unfair distribution still come from “the unlucky ones” (Six Regions). Housewives with jobs - who have no time to queue - are thought to have suffered particularly; ration books, it is suggested, should have been cut, not just marked in pencil which can easily be erased.

The cut in the cheese ration (Nine Regions - many more than once) continues to be much regretted, particularly by workers who need lunch sandwiches.

In the North Midland Region, “some miners who are told they can get supplies at their canteens point out that workers' buses will not wait while they call at the canteens for the food and so they have to break into family rations”. (See Appendix, British Institute of Public Opinion, III. The Cheese Ration.)

Green vegetables :

  1. High price (Nine Regions), particularly of (i) Lettuces and other salad ingredients; (ii) Cauliflowers. Retailers are thought to be making excessive profits: “A cauliflower costs 1/9d in shops, and yet the grower only thirty miles away gets 4d each for the best”.

  2. Shortage (Three Regions).

Fish (Nine Regions): Complaints continue of a shortage in some areas (Eight Regions), but pleasure at improved supplies is reported from others (Four Regions). Complaints of the high price come from the Northern Region, and of “nothing but cod and that not fresh” from the Midlands.

The lack of variety , (Six Regions) which is “irking” people. In the Northern Region, for example, they complain of “mutton reaching almost saturation point”, and in London and the South of “eternal pork”. On the other hand, oranges and lemons have added “colour and spice”, and fresh fruit and salads are looked forward to and, in London, ice cream is hoped for in the summer.

Comparisons (Six Regions) are made between:

  1. People living in the country and those in towns (Five Regions); the latter are “much better off with their canteens and British Restaurants”.

  2. Old people and children (Three Regions). It is said that while the Government has done much for the welfare of the children, nothing has been done for the old. Old people are often unable to obtain fish, fruit, etc. because they cannot queue; they are often not well enough to supplement their rations by visiting British Restaurants; they find it difficult to manage on the milk allowance.

The additional four points (Five Regions) for the present ration period, which are welcomed.

Tinned meats : Complaints of shortage come from four Regions.

Cakes, biscuits and confectionery : A shortage is reported from the Northern and South Western Regions. In the latter, supplies are believed to be “far more plentiful in the North”.

Breakfast cereals : Two Regions report a shortage.

Tinned fish : Satisfaction with the lowering of the points value, and complaints of shortage (One Region each).

British Restaurants (Midland Region): People want them to open in the evenings - particularly for the young.

See also Constant Topics, Nos. 6, 8, 14, 17.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 18 seventeen P.D.Rs.)

26a. Shopping difficulties

During the past four weeks complaints have continued of:

  1. Queues (Six Regions) - particularly for unrationed foods. Housewives who go out to work, and rural housewives with buses to catch, complain they have no time to queue and are therefore unable “to get their fair share”.

  2. Early and lunch-hour closing of shops (Three Regions).

  3. The “quota” system in shops (Two Regions).

See also Constant Topics. No. 10.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12)

27. Clothing

During the past four weeks comment has continued on familiar lines. Complaints are again chiefly of:

Coupon difficulties :

  1. Having to give up personal coupons for household linen (Twelve Regions). Housewives complain that the need for the replacement of linen is becoming increasingly acute and that they find it impossible to spare their personal coupons. A special allocation - particularly for towels - is felt to be needed.

  2. The inadequacy of coupons for the general public (Ten Regions), and for children (Eight Regions).

  3. Too high coupon value of some articles, particularly footwear (Six Regions) - especially children's (Three Regions); coats (Two Regions); Mackintoshes, women's suits, fully fashioned stockings, and curtains (One Region each).

There are complaints of trafficking in coupons - particularly in children's (Two Regions).

Footwear difficulties :

  1. Repairs (Eight Regions), particularly the long time taken.

  2. Poor quality (Seven Regions), particularly of children's (Six Regions).

  3. Shortage of children's footwear (Seven Regions).

Shortage of household linen and bedding (Ten Regions), particularly sheets (Six Regions).

Utility clothing : The poor quality of corsets (Six Regions), stockings (Five Regions) and socks (Two Regions), and the “skimpiness” of skirts (Two Regions) are alleged.

High prices of non-Utility clothing generally and household linen (Four Regions each), women's hats (Three Regions), shoes and children's clothes (Two Regions each).

Difficulties for workers in heavy industries : They feel that reconditioned battle dress should be made available for them (Two Regions).

See also Constant Topics, Nos. 4, 9, 11, 15, 18.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 18 six P.D.Rs.)

27a. Furniture

During the past four weeks complaints of the high price of furniture have continued (Five Regions), particularly the “exorbitant” prices charged by second-hand dealers.

Points scheme for utility furniture : There are complaints of the inadequacy of the points allowance for newly married couples, and of the delay before the furniture is available.

(1. 3. 4. 5. 8. 11. 12. 13)

28. Domestic help

During the past four weeks complaints of the difficulties arising from lack of domestic help have continued widespread. Those particularly affected are again said to be:

  1. Old people (Seven Regions).

  2. Invalids (Four Regions). Even in cases of serious illness it is said to be impossible to obtain help.

  3. Mothers with young children (Four Regions).

  4. Hospitals and nursing homes (Two Regions).

It is again complained that what help is available is not fairly shared but usually falls to the less needy.

See also Constant Topics, No. 7.

(1. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 11. 12)

29. Fireguards, Civil Defence, N.F.S. and Home Guard

During the past four weeks there has been comment about:

Fireguards (Five Regions):

  1. The Fireguard Order (Five Regions). Dissatisfaction and difficulties over the new Order have continued to be reported.

  2. Evasion of duties (Four Regions) especially by conscripts. It is complained that men who refuse to firewatch are not proceeded against; some factory workers think it unfair that they have to do more than workers living in the country.

  3. Lack of interest in fireguard duties (Three Regions), thought to be due to absence of raids in the areas concerned.

  4. Vagueness over general fireguard duties (Northern Region): Some fireguards are said not to know what to do or where to find equipment.

Civil Defence and N.F.S. (Three Regions): Comment continues slight. Although keener interest in duties has been reported in some places as a result of the London raids, it is thought in the Northern and North Midland Regions that an alert or two would be very beneficial to C.D. workers.

In the London Region, wardens are anxious that persons moving house, or having additional people to live with them, should notify the Wardens' Post; they would like the B.B.C. to “make constant reference to this”.

Home Guard (Three Regions): Complaints are reported - especially by heavy workers after night shifts and long hours of work - of the number of parades and duties which have to be done. Home Guards in the North Midland Region are said to be enjoying their unusual exercises, and expecting active work very soon.

Newcastle Enquiry : Comment in the Northern Region has died down, but the forthcoming report will, it is thought, rapidly revive public interest.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 7. 9)

30. Call-up

During the past four weeks there has been very little comment. Still a few complaints of young women not being called up; of unnecessary deferments; of girls being trained for factory work and afterwards no work being available; and of hardships caused in offices where “the few remaining personnel” are called up.

(1. 3. 5)

31. Health

During the past four weeks the prevalence of tiredness, war weariness, nervous strain, and minor ill-health has continued to be reported (Twelve Regions). This is attributed to:

  1. Lack of good food (Seven Regions). To this is also attributed the difficulty of throwing off minor complaints.

  2. Long hours of work (Five Regions).

  3. Lack of holidays (Two Regions).

  4. Firewatching (Two Regions).

Official assurances of the good health of the nation continue to be doubted and to cause irritation (Three Regions). It is, however, thought that the health of babies and children is good (Two Regions).

Tuberculosis (Four Regions): The increased amount of tuberculosis, particularly among young girls, causes anxiety. A Government campaign to combat this increase is suggested.

Shortage of doctors (Two Regions): Workers complain that they now have to wait such a long time in doctors' surgeries that they do not visit them as often as they otherwise would.

Shortage of hospital accommodation (Two Regions): This continues to be a difficulty, especially for maternity cases.

See also Constant Topics, No. 1.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 18 twelve P.D.Rs.)

32. Transport

During the past four weeks transport difficulties have been reported from twelve Regions, the chief complaints being:

  1. Inadequate services generally (Eight Regions), particularly in rural areas (Five Regions).

  2. Overcrowding (Eight Regions). Workers complain of being crowded out at peak hours by women shoppers and children travelling short distances; country shoppers living in villages lying between bus termini find the buses overloaded on arrival.

  3. Curtailment of evening services (Three Regions). Complaints are made in one Region that people without permits to travel after 9 p.m. have to walk, while half empty buses pass them; and in another, that servicemen are not allowed on late workers' buses, even when these are the last buses for areas where the men have to report for duty.

  4. Incivility of transport employees - and drivers failing to stop at recognised points (Three Regions).

  5. Workers' buses running half empty (Two Regions). There is also some resentment against priority travel for workers ... “We are all in the front line now”.

  6. Inadequate Sunday services (Two Regions).

  7. Lack of co-ordination between different transport services (One Region).

See also Constant Topics, No. 3.

(1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12)

32a. Petrol

During the past four weeks comment has been reported on:

  1. Use of taxis for pleasure and shopping (Five Regions), with particular criticism of the large number of taxis taken by race-goers from London to Windsor on Easter Monday.

  2. Waste of petrol (Four Regions) by the Army, N.F.S. and Civil Defence Services.

  3. Misuse of official cars (Three Regions), which is described as “a ramp”.

  4. The number of private cars in use (Two Regions), “while petrol for bus services is thought to have been further curtailed”.

Some people continue to feel that petrol is not distributed fairly; businessmen think more could be spared.

See also Constant Topics, No. 13.

(2. 3. 4. 5. 7. 9. 12)

33. Holidays

Many people feel they need a change (Six Regions); some are afraid of being stranded when they are away if the second front opens, but others are going ahead with their plans.

(1. 5. 7. 10. 11. 12)

34. Agriculture

During the past four weeks , concern about the future (Six Regions) and resentment at the Minister's Tonbridge speech, March 16, (Four Regions) have continued. It is thought that he is out of touch with the practical difficulties, particularly of the small farmer.

Labour (Five Regions): Shortage of labour is felt to be a very serious problem, particularly for the smallholder, though one report refers to complaints of “too many men sheltering from call-up under the disguise of farming for the duration”.

In one Region it is hoped that seasonal labour demands can be met if adequate provision is made for camps and hostels. Clear details in the press concerning accommodation, pay, and districts where help is needed, are asked for.

There are complaints of:

  1. The amount of clerical work entailed in continual form filling (Two Regions).

  2. Too many young men employed by W.A.E.Cs. , and the “regimentation and inquisition” farmers have to suffer from these Committees (One Region each).

  3. The mining of open-cast coal in fields that have already been sown with wheat and turnips (Northern Region).

  4. The serving of “notices to quit” on allotment holders because land is required for building. The holders want to know if all is being done to ensure their not being penalised unless absolutely necessary, as it is thought other land is equally suitable for building (Northern Region).

Double summer time (Six Regions) is disliked in farming circles. Farm workers complain they cannot start work so early because of the heavy dews.

(1. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 11. 12)

34a. Water supply

During the past six weeks concern about the water shortage, especially among farmers, has again been reported (Seven Regions, North Midland continuously). Recent rain has been greatly welcomed, but it is feared that even in areas where heavy rain has fallen the problem may soon be serious again, as springs and wells have completely dried up. Difficulties due to labour shortage on farms are being increased by the lack of rain.

In the North Midland Region, people blame the shortage not only on the two years' drought, but on the excessive use of water in camps and by Civil Defence units for cleaning vehicles.

It is felt that “water should be laid on everywhere after the war”.

(1. 3. 4. 6. 7. 9. 12)

35. “Salute the Soldier” campaign

During the past four weeks interest and enthusiasm have been reported (Seven Regions), although there is some minority feeling (Four Regions) that people are getting tired of these special savings campaigns, and that “the National Savings Committee expects too much of the public”.

(1. 2. 3. 6. 7. 8. 10)

36. Salvage

During the past four weeks , complaints of inadequate collection have continued (Six Regions). Again this is cited as affecting people's response to the salvage campaign.

There have been some complaints of waste of paper - particularly in Government departments.

(3. 5. 7. 8. 9. 10. 12)


(Covering period from 28th March to 25th April, 1944)

All topics arising for the first time are included in the main Weekly Reports. The following have lost their novelty, while still retaining their importance for large sections of the public. They are arranged according to the frequency with which they have been reported.

No subject has been included to which fewer than nine references have been made during the past month.

1. Tiredness, ill-health and war weariness

6 April Regions 1. 3. 5. 6. 8. 9. 10. 12.
14 April Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 7. 10. 12.
20 April Regions 1. 4. 5. 6. 7. 9. 10. 11. 12.
27 April Regions 3. 4. 5. 6. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

2. Housing difficulties

(a) Shortage of accommodation

6 April Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 9. 10. 11. 12.
14 April Regions 3. 5. 9. 10. 11. 12.
20 April Regions 2. 3. 5. 6. 9. 10. 11. 12.
27 April Regions 2. 3. 5. 6. 9. 11. 12.

(b) High rents and prices

6 April Regions 1. 3. 5. 9.
14 April Regions 5. 9. 11. 12.
20 April Regions 3. 5. 9. 11.
27 April Regions 1. 3. 5. 8. 9. 11.

3. Transport difficulties

(a) General

6 April Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 8. 9. 10.
14 April Regions 1. 2. 3. 5. 6. 7. 10. 12.
20 April Regions 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 10. 11. 12.
27 April Regions 4. 5. 6. 7. 10. 11. 12.

(b) Rural

6 April Regions 3. 6.
14 April Regions 1. 2. 6. 12.
20 April Regions 2. 3. 6. 12.
27 April Regions 2. 3. 12.

4. Inadequacy of clothing coupons for :

(a) Renewing household goods

6 April Regions 1. 2. 3. 5. 6. 8. 9. 10. 12.
14 April Regions 2. 3. 4. 5. 7. 9. 10. 12.
20 April Regions 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 10. 11.
27 April Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 9. 11.

(b) General

6 April Regions 1. 2. 3. 5. 7. 9. 10.
14 April Regions 1. 2. 5. 9. 10. 12.
20 April Regions 2. 3. 4. 5. 9. 10. 12.
27 April Regions 1. 2. 4. 5. 6. 7. 9. 10. 12.

(c) Children

6 April Regions 3. 5. 6. 12.
14 April Regions 10. 12.
20 April Regions 2. 4. 6. 9. 12.
27 April Regions 3. 5. 9.

5. Coal supplies

(a) General shortage

6 April Regions 1. 2. 4. 6. 7.
14 April Regions 4. 6. 12.
20 April Regions 1. 2. 3. 6. 9. 11.
27 April Regions 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 9. 10. 11.

(b) Bad distribution and delayed deliveries

6 April Regions 1. 2. 3. 5.
14 April Regions 1. 2.
20 April Regions 1. 2. 3.
27 April Regions 1. 2. 3. 11.

(c) Inadequate allowance

6 April Regions 1. 2. 5. 9.
14 April Regions 1. 2.
20 April Regions 1. 2. 3.
27 April Regions 1. 2. 3.

(d) Poor quality

6 April Regions 3. 6. 7.
14 April Regions 1. 5. 9. 12.
20 April Regions 6. 9.
27 April Regions Nil

6. Cut in cheese ration

6 April Regions 3. 4. 6. 7. 12.
14 April Regions 4. 6. 12.
20 April Regions 1. 3. 5. 6. 7. 12.
27 April Regions 2. 3. 4. 6. 7. 11. 12.

7. Shortage of domestic help

6 April Regions 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
14 April Regions 6. 7. 11.
20 April Regions 1. 4. 7. 9. 11. 12.
27 April Regions 1. 3. 6. 7. 9.

8. High price of green vegetables, including lettuces

6 April Regions 3. 7.
14 April Regions 5.
20 April Regions 2. 3. 4. 5. 7.
27 April Regions 3. 4. 5. 7. 8. 10. 11. 12.

9. Footwear difficulties

(a) Poor quality of children's footwear

6 April Regions 5. 6.
14 April Regions 3. 4. 5. 6. 9.
20 April Regions 3. 4. 5. 9.
27 April Regions 1. 4. 5.

(b) Shortage of children's footwear

6 April Regions 2. 12.
14 April Regions 3. 6. 9. 10.
20 April Regions 1. 6. 10.
27 April Regions 1. 6. 9.

(c) Difficulty of getting shoes repaired

6 April Regions 3. 6. 7.
14 April Regions 1. 6. 9. 10.
20 April Regions 1. 6. 9.
27 April Regions 1. 6.

10. Shopping difficulties and food queues

6 April Regions 2. 5. 10. 12.
14 April Regions 1.
20 April Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 12.
27 April Regions 1. 3. 4.

11. Criticism of Utility clothing

6 April Regions 1. 3. 5.
14 April Regions 2. 4. 5. 6. 9.
20 April Regions 4. 5. 6. 12.
27 April Regions 4.

12. Disparities in pay

6 April Regions 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 12.
14 April Regions 3. 5.
20 April Regions 2. 9.
27 April Regions 3. 9. 12.

13. Waste and misuse of petrol

6 April Regions 3. 4. 9.
14 April Regions 2. 3. 5.
20 April Regions 2. 3. 5. 7. 12.
27 April Regions 1. 9.

14. Monotony of food

6 April Regions 1. 2. 3. 5.
14 April Regions 2. 3. 5.
20 April Regions 5. 6.
27 April Regions 5. 6. 11.


15. Shortage of household linen and bedding

6 April Regions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 8.
14 April Regions 2. 4. 5. 7. 12.
20 April Regions 1. 2. 7.
27 April Regions 1. 4. 7. 11.

16. Shortage and high price of crockery, glass and kitchenware

6 April Regions 1. 2. 4. 5. 6. 8. 10.
14 April Regions 5.
20 April Regions 1. 3. 10. 12.
27 April Regions 1. 2. 5.

17. Shortage of fish

6 April Regions 5. 6. 8. 9.
14 April Regions (See Weekly Report No. 184)
20 April Regions 1. 3. 6. 9.
27 April Regions 1. 4. 5. 6.

18. Shortage and poor quality of corsets

6 April Regions 5.
14 April Regions 4. 9.
20 April Regions 5. 6. 10. 12.
27 April Regions 3. 6. 12.

The following subjects, included in this list last month are now omitted as there have been fewer than nine references to them during the past month: (i) Shortage of matches (ii) Shortage of batteries (iii) Inadequacy of fat ration (iv) High wages .

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