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Written Answers

Volume 439: debated on Wednesday 9 July 1947

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday, 9th July, 1947

Television Service, Wales

1.

asked the Postmaster-General when he is arranging to establish television in Wales.

I regret I am unable to say when a television service will be established in Wales. The rate at which television can be extended beyond the London area depends on technical factors and the availability of labour and materials.

Telephone Service

Railway Stations

2.

asked the Postmaster-General what is the proportion of permanently unusable public telephones at the London main line railway stations.

Kiosks

5.

asked the Postmaster-General what is the contract price for the painting of individual Post Office red telephone kiosks; the number which can be painted in a day by two men; the number of cases in the last 12 months when the General Post Office have had cause to complain of the standard of painting owing to inferior workmanship; the number of kiosks which have had to be repainted again by the contractor; and whether these kiosks are painted primarily for preservation purposes or to draw attention to their position.

Contracts for the painting of telephone kiosks are placed locally and both the price and the time occupied in painting vary considerably according to the condition of the kiosks. Complaints of inferior workmanship are rare and there is no record of any case in which repainting has been necessary. Kiosks are painted both in order to preserve the fabric and to maintain their good appearance.

Plug-In Points

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that a number of telephone instruments would be made available by an increased issue of plug-in points; and whether these will now be more extensively provided.

Portable telephones which can be used from a number of plug-in points, are installed in suitable cases, but the arrangement is of limited application. I should perhaps add that delay in providing telephone service generally arises from shortage of exchange equipment or of wire in underground cables, rather than from shortage of telephone instruments.

Lost Letters (Compensation)

6.

asked the Postmaster-General why his Department refuses to pay compensation if a letter, posted in a pillar-box and subject to compulsory registration under Section 43 of the Inland Post Warrant, 1936, is lost.

Compensation is refused under the terms of Section 43 of the Inland Post Warrant, 1936, which states that no claim to compensation will be considered if the machinery of registration has not been used.

Royal Air Force

Married Quarters, Syerston

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Air the number of houses being erected as married quarters at R.A.F. station, Syerston; and how many of them will be allotted to officers

Sixty married quarters are being built at Syerston. These are all for airmen.

Hutted Camps, Berkshire

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Air how many hutted camps his Department still holds in Berkshire; and if all those not occupied by the R.A.F. are being offered for alternative use as hostels or private dwellings.

Fourteen hutted camps in Berkshire are still held by my Department. All the huts which are no longer occupied by the R.A.F. have either been offered, or handed over, to other Government Departments. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health considers, in consultation with the local authorities concerned, what huts, if any, can be used for housing.

Aircraft Accident (General Sikorski)

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Air, in view of the recent inquiry in Poland into the death of General Sikorski, if he will make a full statement of the circumstances in which the Liberator carrying General Sikorski crashed on 4th July, 1943.

I am not aware that any recent inquiry has been made in Poland into the death of General Sikorski. As the hon. and gallant Member is no doubt aware, a R.A.F. court of inquiry made a searching investigation into the causes of the accident. It was then established that the accident was due to the jamming of the elevator controls; that the security arrangements on the aerodrome were satisfactory, and that there was no question of sabotage.

War Criminals' Wives (Trials)

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will make representations to those responsible for the administration of the United States zone in order to discourage the trials of wives of war criminals.

No. I see no reason to intervene in a matter which is completely within the jurisdiction of the United States zone commander.

European Refugees' Dogs (Transport Ban)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that refugees from Europe, authorised to come to England, are being refused permission to bring with them their dogs; and whether, in view of the existence of adequate quarantine facilities in this country, he will arrange to introduce a greater measure of humanity into the conditions applying to such refugees, whose dogs are often the sole possession left to them.

As far as Germany is concerned, it is true that refugees coming to this country under the "Westward Ho" scheme are not allowed to bring their dogs with them. I regret that transport facilities are such that it is not possible to alter this decision.

Kenya Penal Code (Section 159)

31.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if, in view of the offence caused to African sentiment by Section 159 of the Kenya Penal Code, dealing with relations between European women and Africans, he will cause this section to be withdrawn.

I am considering this mattter with the Acting Governor and will write to the hon. Member later on.

Aden

New Hospital

36.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when it is expected that building will begin on the proposed new hospital for Aden.

I cannot yet give a definite date, but a site has been chosen and plans for construction of the new hospital are being expedited.

Dollar Allocation (Merchants)

37.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the total allocation of dollars to merchants in Aden for one year; and on what basis this total amount is divided among individual merchants.

No definite allocation for the year has been made, but exchange is being made available for the import of textiles and other classes of goods, mainly required for the entrepot trade. It is allocated amongst merchants in relation to their standing in each branch of the trade concerned, and to their ability to import promptly the goods which are urgently required.

Town Plans

38.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when it is ex- pected that town plans for Aden will be ready; how long these plans have taken so far to prepare; whether he is aware that licences to build are being withheld on the grounds that plans must be decided upon first; and how many licences for building work have been granted in Aden within the last 18 months. to whom and for what kind of work.

I regret that I cannot yet indicate when the town plans for Aden will be complete. The Civic Adviser arrived in Aden in September, 1945, and work in connection with the preparation of the plans then began. The progress made seems to me to be unsatisfactory and steps have already been taken to speed up the matter. When building licences have to be withheld pending completion of the plans, every effort is made to find alternative sites for legitimate urgent needs. Of 37 licences given for new permanent buildings, three were for industrial purposes, ten for business purposes, and 24 for dwelling houses. Thirteen licences have been given for the reconstruction of dwelling houses, and 32 permits for new temporary buildings. including 28 for business purposes, and four for dwelling houses.

Colonial Empire

Appointments (Ex-Servicemen)

42.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will give preference to ex-Servicemen in filling appointments under the various development schemes in the Colonial Empire which are being sponsored by his Department.

Appointments under the proposed new Colonial Development Corporation will be a matter for the board of that corporation when established As for posts under the Colonial Governments, the governing factor in selection is suitability for the work. Subject to this, every consideration is given to the applications of ex-Service candidates.

Basic English

54.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies the extent of the opportunities now being given to the inhabitants of Ceylon and other Colonies to learn Basic English; and what prospects are so far offered of the success of the experiment.

I invite the non. Member's attention to the written reply which I gave on 13th June last to the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker). With regard to Ceylon, educational policy is a matter falling entirely within the competence of the Government of the Island.

Food And Drink (Expenditure)

49.

asked the Minister of Food the total cost and the average amount per family per week spent on food and alcoholic beverages in 1938 and 1946.

Household expenditure on food as given in Cmd. 7099 was £1,181 million in 1938 and £1,494 million in 1946. On the assumption that the average family consists of 3·5 persons. the average family expenditure was about 1£ 14s od. in 1938 and £2 3s. 9d. in 1946. These figures do not include expenditure or food consumed in catering establishments. The total expenditure on alcoholic beverages in 1938 was £285 million and in 1946 £680 million. As everyone need not, and indeed does not, consume alcohol any average would be rather meaningless.

Food Supplies

Flour Milling (Payments)

asked the Minister of Food what total payments have been made for the milling of flour in respect of each year between 1939 and the latest date for which figures are available; and what amount has, in each year, represented the profit element under the terms of the agreement between his Department and the milling firms.

The total payments made to millers on account of flour milling, including an as yet undetermined element of profit, during each of the years ended 31st August, 1940, to 1946, are as follow: Year to 31st August, 1940, £17,700,000; 1941, £33,800,000; 1942. £20,100,000; 1943; £30,600,000; 1944, £37,500,000; 1945, £30,600,000. 1946, £39,000,000.

As the cost of wheat purchased and the subsidised selling price of flour are not under the control of the millers, payments on account are made to them by the Ministry to put them in funds to continue milling. As these payments are based on estimated average costs of production and distribution, the profit element cannot be ascertained until all millers' financial accounts, showing actual trading results, are received. These accounts, of course, bring into credit the payments on account received from the Mniistry. After the figures have been agreed, the profit element is established and final settlements are made. Although considerable progress has been made in agreeing these accounts, particularly for the early years of control, for various reasons it has not yet been possible to finalise the position in respect of any control year.

Cheese (Distribution)

asked the Minister of Food what is the approximate percentage distribution of cheese supplies as between hotels, catering establishments and canteens, and that for the individual ration; and what prospects there are of increasing the latter.

At present I see no prospect of increasing the individual ration of cheese. Approximately 78 per cent. of all rationed cheese going into civilian consumption is taken up by the normal ration. Another 12 per cent. is accounted for by the extra rations given to agricultural workers, underground miners and other groups of workers, and to classes such as diabetics and vegetarians. The remaining 10 per cent. is used in hotels, restaurants, canteens and other catering establishments in institutions such as hospitals and in meeting special authorities, particularly the seasonal allowances made to farm workers for whom canteen meals cannot be provided.

Royal Navy

Rum Ration

59.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty on what occasions in peace time is the rum ration issued in the Royal Navy; and whether insistence is laid on these occasions for an adequate supply of nonalcoholic beverages for those who prefer them.

The rum ration is issued daily. Men over 20 years of age are given the option of receiving grog money instead of the rum ration and can buy non-alcoholic drinks from the canteens which are usually open at the time of the rum issue. Men under 20 years of age are not entitled to the rum ration or to grog money. A rum ration is also issued to both officers and men to celebrate special occasions when the signal is made to "splice the main brace." At such times there is an issue of lemonade made with powder and sugar for officers and men under 20 and any others who may prefer it.

Hutments, Hampstead Norris

61.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what efforts his Department made to find a use for the W.A.A.F. hutments at Hampstead Norris, Berkshire; and if he is aware that this property has been so neglected that it is now unfit for habitation.

Hampstead Norris airfield is at present occupied by the Admiralty for storage purposes. The W.A.A.F. hutments though not immediately required for Admiralty purposes are included in the plan far the development of the use of the premises. They were used last summer for harvest camp accommodation, but on account of the damage sustained to the water services during the severe weather early this year, the war agricultural executive committee have not found it possible to make the same use of the site this year.

Education

Teachers (Secondment)

64.

asked the Minister of Education whether he has now completed arrangements for the seconding of teachers throughout the whole field of education at home and overseas, so that mobility and varied experience can be achieved, whether in approved schools, Service Departments, oversea appointments, the British Council or the Colonial Service.

Arrangements for the secondment of teachers for service overseas have for some time been under consideration by my Department in consultation with the Service Departments, the British Council, the Colonial Office and the Foreign Office. Agreement has now been reached on the principles of a scheme which it is proposed shortly to discuss with representatives of the local education authorities and the teachers. As regards the home service, secondment is being widely used to obtain staff for the Emergency Training Colleges. As a result of a recommendation in the Burnham Committee's Training College Report, arrangements are well advanced for establishing a register for interchange between permanent training colleges and schools.

Black-Listed Schools

asked the Minister of Education how many school buildings were declared in the black list, issued by the Board of Education in 1922, to be unsuitable for use as public elementary schools; how many of these buildings remain in use as primary schools; and what steps he proposes to take to put an early end to this state of things.

There was no black list in 1922. The 1925 black list comprised 2,827 school buildings of which 679 were deemed incapable of improvement. Of the latter 91 were still in use in April, 1947. Under the Education Act, 1944, local education authorities have to specify in their development plans the measures necessary to bring all school buildings up to the standard laid down in the building regulations, and by this means it is my intention to secure a progressive improvement of school accommodation generally.

Andaman Islands (Burmese Press References)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Burma what are His Majesty's Government's views on the claims by the Burmese that the Andaman Islands should belong to Burma.

His Majesty's Government have no comments to make on the recent references in the Burmese Press to these Islands.

Armed Forces (Enlistment Conditions)

asked the Minister of Defence if he is yet in a position to make a further statement on the removal of any restrictions on the enlistment into the Royal Navy and the Army of British subjects of non-European descent.

No. As I indicated in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) on 4th June, all the Services are now open to all British subjects on an equal basis and irrespective of descent.

Football Pools (Paper Allocation)

asked the President of the Board of Trade why the estimated number of 6,000,000 to 7,000,000 envelopes used weekly by the principal football pool organisations in sending out coupons has not hitherto been regarded as part of the paper allocation given to such organisations but has been in addition to such allocation; and at what date, and for what reasons, he decided that such envelopes ought properly to fall within the permitted amount of paper consumed by such football pool organisations.

The allocation of paper to the football pool promoters originally related to the plain paper licensed to them for coupons, and the like, but owing to the serious shortage of paper and of envelopes, discussions have been taking place for some time past with the promoters with a view to economising in particular in the use of envelopes. As a result the allocation of paper to the promoters now covers paper in all forms and however acquired.

Railways

"Devon Belle"

asked the Minister of Transport why it was found necessary at a time of severe cuts in train services for the public to inaugurate the "Devon Belle" and what is the comparable seating capacity between this special and the normal long-distance express of 14 coaches.

The shortage of standard type carriages is handicapping the railways in running weekend holiday trains, and pullman cars which were available have, therefore, been pressed into service to enable this extra train to run. It seats 378 passengers; if normal stock had been available, it would have seated about 600.

Forms

asked the Minister of Transport the numbers of forms in use as at 1st June, 1947, by the four main-line railways and the L.P.T.B., respectively, the figures to include all the forms under each serial number.

I regret that the collection of this information would entail much time and labour which I do not feel justified in asking the bodies concerned to undertake.

Old Age Pensions (Personal Case)

asked the Minister of National Insurance when a decision will be reached concerning the correction of an error in the issue of old age pension books to Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Robins, 16, Abbotstone Road, S.W.15, about which the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead) wrote to him on 19th May and again on 10th June.

The necessary adjustments of Mr. Robins' pension was effected by the issue to him of a postal draft for i6 1os. on 24th June and of a current pension order book on 8th July; the adjustment of Mrs. Robins' pension was made on 16th May. I regret the delay which occurred in making these adjustments. Inquiries are being made into the circumstances and I will write to the hon. Member upon their completion.

Official Posters (Display)

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will discontinue utilising L.P.T.B. vehicles for the display of production-drive posters, in view of the fact that, in the majority of such vehicles, the siting of such posters renders their value negligible; and whether, in the organisation of future production-drive publicity, he will ensure that adequate attention is given to the siting of posters generally.

I have been asked to reply. Space on these vehicles is not being used at present. My hon. Friend can be sure that adequate attention is given to the placing of official posters.

Halton Aircraft (Re-Introduction)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation when the Halton aircraft may be expected to be put back into service.

The Halton aircraft were brought back into service on 2nd June when they were re-introduced on the United Kingdom-Cairo route. On 1st and 2nd July they commenced to operate also on the United Kingdom-India and United Kingdom-West Africa routes respectively.