Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 440: debated on Thursday 24 July 1947

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answers To Questions

Thursday, 24th July, 1947

Trade And Commerce

Wool Tops (Supplies)

5.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the hosiery trade are unable to obtain their full U.C.M. quota of worsted yarns from spinners, owing to the fact that the selling limit of tops for utility specification is 10d. per lb. below the market price; and what action does he intend to take to ensure that manufacturers of knitwear are assured of adequate supplies.

I am aware that fluctuations in the prices of certain types of wool are making it difficult for some spinners to obtain tops made from these wools at prices within the maxima for the home trade. The Wool Control have taken special steps to assure their supplies during the current production period; the arrangements for subsequent periods will be decided in the light of the current wool prices.

Derequisitioned Hotels (Equipment)

6.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in cases where hotels whose equipment was requisitioned are unable to replace this from Government surplus stores, some kind of replacement certificate can he granted to enable them to replace from other sources such requisitioned items as are unobtainable in Government surplus stores, both for those items which now require some form of docket or permit and for those which, although docket free, are very difficult to obtain.

The Government have already given derequisitioned hotels and similar establishments a considerable amount of help with supplies of rationed equipment, including furniture, sheets, mattresses, curtain materials, etc., mainly under two schemes announced on 15th March and 5th December, 1946. Similar help is now being given to establishments derequisitioned too late to apply under the latter scheme. I am afraid that to apply the hon. Member's suggestion to unrationed goods, such as crockery, glassware, cutlery and carpets, would require the introduction of onerous measures of control over their distribution which would not be justified. I am satisfied, however, that hotels, etc., are in fact getting, at least their fair share of these comparatively scarce goods.

Laundry Machinery

7.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that laundry machinery is being imported from the U.S.A. to help in the production drive and that, at the same time, similar machinery is being exported to soft currency countries and if he will arrange, in future, that machinery essential to industry here is not exported when it involves similar machinery being bought with dollars for use here.

In a few cases only have machines of a type manufactured in this country been imported from the U.S.A. Present exports of laundry machinery, which represent only a very small proportion of total United Kingdom output, are necessary to enable British manufacturers to establish a basis for their long-term export business.

Oak (Imports From France)

12.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps are being taken to obtain oak from France.

An export quota has been secured and contracts have been placed by the Timber Control, but the quantity obtainable is limited by the internal needs of France.

Damaged Furniture And Clothing (Replacement)

13.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that residents in Harold Road, Upton, West Ham, and in other parts of West Ham have been flooded-out on two occasions; and whether he will consider granting dockets and clothing coupons, etc., to these people to replace their furniture, clothing, etc., where necessary.

Yes; dockets and coupons to replace furniture and clothing damaged through floods will be issued in the usual way in appropriate cases on a prescribed scale.

New Factories, Abertillery Division

10.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give particulars of the new factories to be built in the Abertillery Division, where situated and when it is proposed to commence their construction, together with the

A.—FACTORIES ON WHICH BUILDING WORK HAS ALREADY STARTED.
Labour Office Area.Industry.Area (Sq. ft.)Estimated additional employment.
M.F.Total.
1. NewbridgeHaberdashery5,7507878
2. BlainaRubber and Plastic Goods277,1605005001,000
3. BrynmawrFactory being built in advance of specific requirements.33,200130130
4. BrynmawrFactory being built in advance of specific requirements.33,200130130260
5. BrynmawrFactory being built in advance of specific requirements.33,200130130260
TOTAL8909681,856
B.—FACTORIES AND EXTENSION TO EXISTING FACTORIES ON WHICH BUILDING WORK HAS NOT YET STARTED.
Labour Office.Industry.Area (Sq. It.)Estimated additional employment.
M.F.Total
1. BlainaLeather Clothing and Gloves15,000 (extension)20130150
2. NewbridgeNew factory built in advance of specific requirements.33,200130130260
3. NewbridgeNew factory built in advance of specific requirements.33,200130130260
4. BrynmawrBoots and Shoes15,000 (extension)602080
Total 0340410750
In view of the shortage of steel and other building material, it is not possible at the present time to give any firm date on which building work on these factories and extensions will be started

Cotton Exports

15.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement regarding new developments in the system of export of cotton piece goods.

Broadly the change is that, as already foreshadowed, the main part of the allocation will no longer be directed to individual markets. Particulars will be announced shortly.

16.

asked the President of the Board of Trade in view of the decision to increase exports of manufactured cotton

number of men and women, respectively, that will be provided with employment.

The following are the approved schemes for new factory buildings and extension (of 5,000 sq. ft. and over) located in the Abertillery Division (or at Brynmawr adjacent to the boundary of the Division):goods by what amount have the shipments of raw cotton for export been reduced.

Women's Dresses And Shoes (Imports)

14.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that ladies' shoes and dresses, made and purchased in the U.S.A., are being sold in this country; and whether, with a view to conserving our dollars he will prevent the importation of these articles in the future.

Certain women's dresses are being imported from the U.S.A. under the token import scheme which, as I indicated in my reply on 8th July to my hon. Friend the Member for Ince, is being continued though not extended. A limited programme of imports of women's shoes, including a proportion from the U.S.A., was arranged at the end of 1946 on grounds of consumer need, and some of these imports are still coming in. In arranging any future programme full account will of course be taken of the increased need for all possible economy of dollar expenditure.

Commercial Vehicle Tyres

17.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the increasing risk of the distribution of fruit and vegetables in this country being adversely affected by the shortage of tyres for the road vehicles used in connection with distribution and, in particular, the shortage of tyres 34 × 7; and what special priority he will give to filling the needs of the fruit and vegetable distribution trade in this connection.

There should be a steady improvement from now on in supplies of tyres including 34 × 7 for commercial vehicles, and I hope that this will avoid the inconveniences suggested.

Hosiery Trade (Foreign Firms)

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many foreign firms have been given permission to commence business in the hosiery trade in Great Britain since June, 1945; and how many are importing their own machines and from what countries.

No. The second part of the Question does not, therefore, arise, but I might mention that consideration is being given to an application from a firm of Czech origin for the establishment of a factory for the manufacture of stockings in Scotland.

Fuel And Power

Domestic Allocation

24.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the percentage of extra coal over and above official allocation, which is allowed to merchants to meet priority certificates, in the periods May-October and November-April.

Priority deliveries of coal do not in themselves involve any additional supply and I assume the hon. Member is referring not to these deliveries but to additional quantities licensed by local fuel overseers. When splitting up the available supplies of house coal between the regions and districts, account is taken of the volume of licences issued in previous periods.

Economy Pamphlets (Distribution)

27.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why he circularises all the inhabitants of villages where there are no supplies of gas or electricity with pamphlets from his Department indicating how gas and electric meters should be read; and whether such circulars are intended to indicate that such supplies will be available in these villages very shortly.

The distribution of these pamphlets was handled on a national basis by the General Post Office and it was not practicable to break down such distribution according to availability of fuel supplies. In order to make the leaflet applicable to all areas a section dealing with economy in the use of solid fuel was included. The answer to the second part of the Question is "No."

Dairy Farmers (Allocation)

28.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that the allocation of fuel to dairy farmers is insufficient to enable them to meet their requirements for milk-sterilising purposes; and if the allocation can be increased.

No separate allocation of fuel is made to farmers for milk sterilising purposes and I am unaware of any shortage of fuel for this purpose. If the hon. Member has knowledge of any particular cases of difficulty, however, and will let me have details I will have these investigated.

Paper Mills, West Marsh

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that Messrs. Peter Dixon's West Marsh paper mills were obliged to close down on 14th July owing to a complete breakdown in their fuel supply; and whether he will take steps to prevent a recurrence of this situation.

This firm uses washed slack and has received its fair share of the available supplies. Washed slack, however, is a quality which is in particularly short supply, and while action has been taken to ease the general supply position in the area, investigations are being made by my regional officers to see whether it would not be possible for Messrs. Dixon to use an alternative quality of coal which is more freely available.

Ex-Official's Speech

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether permission was obtained from his Department for Mr. Noel Newsome, Chief Recruitment Officer of his Department, to address the conference at Buscot Park, Berkshire, of the conference of foreign Socialists, organised by the Fabian International Bureau.

No. Mr. Newsome ceased to be a member of the staff of my Department on 31st March last.

Metropolitan Police Food Service

41.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the profit or loss incurred in running Metropolitan Police Food Services during the year ended 31st August, 1939; if, in view of the average yearly loss of £100,000 at the present time and the low standard of food, he will consider putting it out to tender to commercial firms; and what notice has to be given to terminate the present arrangement.

In 1939, up to 31st August, the Canteen Board made a profit of £7, but conditions at that time were not comparable with those since 1st September, 1939, when the Metropolitan Police Food Service was set up to take over and extend the canteens and messes available to the force, and to operate under conditions which were necessarily unremunerative and unattractive to commercial firms. Measures taken since the end of the war have progressively reduced the annual deficit, and for the current year it is expected to be about £40,000. Termination of the present arrangement is not a matter for notice, and I do not accept the suggestion that the food supply is of a low standard.

Electricity Generating Cost

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the average cost per unit, including capital charges, of the generation of electricity; and the amount of this due to the cost of fuel.

Figures for the average cost of generating electricity including capital charges are not available. The latest figures for generation cost excluding capital charges, are as follows in pence per unit generated:

1943–4.1944–5.
Fuel0·250·29
Other generation costs0·050·05
Total (excluding capital charges).0·300·34

Machine-Cut Coal

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the approximate percentage of the total output of coal now cut by machinery.

In 1946, which is the latest date for which figures are available, 74 per cent. of the total output of deepmined coal was cut by machinery.

Approved Schools (Children's Maintenance)

70.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware of the hardship to working-class parents with children over school-leaving age in approved schools of having to contribute to the maintenance of those children; and if he will consider making financial responsibility terminate at the school-leaving age.

This is not a matter within my discretion. The provisions enacted by Parliament in the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, make no distinction between children who are of school age and children who are over that age. They lay a duty on the parent to contribute and give the court discretion to fix a weekly sum "having regard to the parents' means."

Meeting, Hackney (Police)

44.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police were on duty at the meeting of the British League of Ex-Servicemen at Ridley Road, Hackney, on Sunday, 13th July.

Twenty-five police officers were on duty throughout the meeting, and ten more were engaged for a short period after some disturbance had occurred.

Adolescent Girls (Report)

73.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has considered the report by a Joint Committee of the British Medical Association and the Magistrates' Association on the problem of the unstable adolescent girl; and if he proposes to give effect to any of the recommendations made in that report.

A copy of the report reached my Department last week. The recommendations made will receive consideration, but I cannot yet say what action may be taken on them.

Child Care (Maintenance Payments)

74.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of the delay in bringing forward the proposed Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill, he will, in the meantime, take power to provide State grants for the maintenance of girls found to be in need of care or protection or beyond control and placed in lodgings or under supervision by order of the Court, so as to enable such cases to be dealt with in the same way as those of girls who have committed offences.

I recognise the desirability of so amending the law as to enable payment to be made from public funds towards the maintenance of children and young persons who are subject to supervision orders containing a provision as to residence. I intend to propose this at the first suitable opportunity.

European Volunteer Workers

50.

asked the Minister of Labour how many female European volunteer workers have been brought to this country; and how many of them have been found work in hospitals and sanatoria, in industry and in domestic service, respectively.

Five thousand two hundred and eighty-three, of whom 2,694 have been placed in hospitals and sanatoria; 965 in other forms of domestic service (including staff for the National Service Hostels Corporation); and 956 in industry. In addition to the European volunteer workers more than 18,530 permits have been issued from May last year for the employment of foreign domestic workers in private households, hospitals and similar institutions.

51.

asked the Minister of Labour how many holding camps for European volunteer workers have been set up in this country; what is the number of persons accommodated; and how many are at present being employed.

A total of nine holding camps for European volunteer workers have been set up in this country; the number of persons who can be accommodated in them is approximately 10,000. Up to the present time, 9,500 European volunteer workers have been placed in employment.

55.

asked the Minister of Labour if he will make a statement as to the activities in social life, with particular attention to educational facilities for learning the English language, in the European volunteer workers' camps, Leicestershire.

Social activities on a considerable scale and classes in English have been organised at the hostel in question by the European volunteer workers themselves, assisted by the resident welfare officers, and by local voluntary helpers. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education has recently asked local education authorities to assist in making arrangements in all holding hostels for systematic instruction in English subjects, particularly the teaching of the English language, and to provide such textbooks and other material as may be necessary, the cost being reimbursed by my Department.

German Nationals (British Visas)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will authorise the British Passport Control Officer in Germany to grant short-term visas to German nationals who have a known record of active opposition to Nazism and have proved themselves friendly towards the allied cause or who have been the victims of racial, religious or political persecution, provided that friends or relatives in this country give a guarantee of accommodation and maintenance during their visit.

When a short-term visit is contemplated and not residence here for an indefinite period, it is my practice to authorise the Passport Control Officer in Germany in suitable cases to grant visas to German nationals for the purpose of journeys to this country. In such cases the Passport Control Officer advises the applicant as to the procedure for obtaining the necessary permission to leave and to return to Germany. The fact that an individual has been granted authority to visit the United Kingdom does not, however, necessarily entitle him to an exit permit to leave Germany, nor does it entitle him to transport at Government expense.

Marriage Guidance Council

78.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the recommendations of the Denning Committee, he will make a grant-in-aid to the work of the Marriage Guidance Council.

This matter is under consideration, but I regret I am not yet in a position to make a statement on the subject.

Civil Service

Ex-Service Association (Recognition)

61.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that, while the Association of Ex-Service Civil Servants holds a majority of ex-Service temporary clerks in membership, it is denied recognition for the grade of temporary clerk and is therefore unable to put forward the ex-Service point of view; that by withdrawing this recognition he is denying ex-Service civil servants the right of free association; and what action he proposes to take to remedy this state of affairs.

I have no evidence supporting the claim by this Association to majority membership among ex-Service temporary clerks. In any case it can no longer be recognised as representing temporary clerks because its members form only 4.8 per cent. of the total numbers in that grade. Ex-Service civil servants remain free to join the Association if they so desire.

62.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that the withdrawal of recognition of the Association of Ex-Service Civil Servants has meant the amalgamation of four non ex-Service unions, thus depriving the one association which caters for ex-Service civil servants of the right of recognition; and if he will reconsider the matter

The Civil Service Alliance, to which I think the hon. and gallant Member refers, has existed for some time and, I understand, has many ex-Service members. I am satisfied that the withdrawal of recognition from the Association of ex-Service Civil Servants was fully justified on the membership figures.

Discharges (Ex-Service Clerks)

63.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received that competent ex-Service clerks in the Civil Service are being discharged whilst married women with no dependants and conscientious objectors are being retained; and if he will take action to remedy this state of affairs.

Length of service and not individual circumstances settles the order of discharge under the relevant National Whitley Council agreement.

National Finance

Post-War Credits

64.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now consider the payment of post-war credits to men under 65 years of age who have been compelled to give up work on account of illness and who have been medically certified as being unfit for future employment.

No. I regret that my right hon. Friend cannot make any further payments of post-war credits this year.

Foreign Visitors (Tourist Cheques)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider the issue of tourist cheques to visitors from hard-currency countries, whereby they may purchase goods and services free of Purchase Tax and other restrictions.

No. This would lead to much additional administrative work, and I regret that I cannot see my way to adopt the hon. gembers's suggestion.

Films (Local Authorities)

79.

asked the Minister of Health if his attention has been drawn to the restriction and conditions which limit the exhibition of cinematograph films by local authorities; and whether he contemplates dealing with this matter by general legislation.

I am aware of these restrictions, but I have received no proposals on behalf of local authorities generally for their relaxation. I should be prepared to consider any such representations.

Housing

Amesbury

82.

asked the Minister of Health if, following his recent conference with the Ministers of Agriculture and Town and Country Planning at Amesbury, Wiltshire, a decision has been reached in regard to the building programme at Amesbury; what that decision is; or when such a decision will be made.

Yes. It has been decided that the site desired by the local authority shall be used for housing.

Squatters' Camp, Clifford

83.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the conditions in which squatters are living at The Moor, Clifford, Herefordshire; and what steps he proposes to take to have squatters removed.

The squatters in this camp have been offered alternative accommodation, and while some have accepted others have refused. The local authority have under consideration proceedings for the eviction of the latter.

Horncastle And Spilsby

90.

asked the Minister of Health by what percentage the Zonal Housing Conference, called by his orders, has reduced the number of houses proposed to be built by the Horncastle and Spilsby rural district councils.

Building Costs

91.

asked the Minister of Health if figures can be made available showing the comparative average costs of building a complete house, respectively, by direct labour and under contract with builders, from 1932 to the latest convenient date.

I regret that no figures are available but I am trying to collect some current figures which will show the comparison.

Public Health

Maternity Homes (Infectious Disease)

85.

asked the Minister of Health the number of maternity homes that have had to be closed in the past six months owing to an obscure infectious sickness among babies and mothers; and if, in view of the concern caused in some districts, he will make a statement.

I have been notified of the temporary closure of seven maternity homes or hospitals in the last six months because of outbreaks of gastro-enteritis which is, I assume, the sickness to which my hon. Friend refers. The causal agents of some of these outbreaks are known but there are still a type of diarrhœal disease in very young infants that has so far remained unsolved. Active research is being pursued in this field.

Canned Vegetables

87.

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the evidence of a pathologist at an inquest on Wednesday, 16th July, to the effect that his Department is opposed to the tinning of vegetables on the ground that it is dangerous; and whether, in view of the concern of the public in this matter, he will make an early and full statement on the subject, indicating, in particular, what is the latest scientific advice received on this subject.

I have seen Press reports indicating that the pathologist's statement, which misrepresented the Ministry's views, was later corrected by his own explanation that he was referring only to home-canned vegetables. The real position was stated in a note I issued to the Press immediately after the inquest. It is that there may be a risk of botulism from home-canned or home-bottled vegetables because the high steam pressure needed to ensure complete sterility during the canning process cannot ordinarily be applied in the home. Even this slight risk does not arise with home-canned or home-bottled fruit because of its acid content, or with beans preserved in salt. With commercially canned vegetables there has never been a reported case of botulism in this country and the risk is considered negligible.

Mental Defectives

92.

asked the Minister of Health how many children can be accommodated in the county of Lindsey under the provisions of Section 57 (3) of the Education Act, 1944; and how many are on the waiting list for accommodation.

The Lindsey County Council is a constituent member of the Lincolnshire Joint Board for the Mentally Defective which owns the Harmston Hall Colony. This colony has accommodation for 141 children, including those reported under Section 57 (3) of the Education Act, 1944. The Lindsey County Council have at present on their waiting list the names of 44 children, of whom 23 were so reported.

asked the Minister of Health how many persons who have been reported as mentally deficient are awaiting admission to an institution for treatment.

On the 1st January last, the latest date for which comprehensive statistics are available, the number was 3,898.

asked the Minister of Health how many children of school age have been reported as mentally deficient and are still awaiting admission to an institution for treatment.

During 1946 the number of children reported under Section 57 of the Education Act, 1944, was 4,209. I regret that information is not available as to the number now awiting admission to an institution.

asked the Minister at Health if he is aware that Maurice Ian Attenborough, Lowdham, Notts, was reported by the county school medical officer to be a mentally defective and epileptic child on 14th October, 1941; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure his early admission to an institution.

This case was reported in 1942, and the child was placed under statutory supervision. In 1944 a vacancy in a local institution was declined by the relatives. In view of recent changes in the home circumstances it is proposed to obtain an Order placing the child in the statutory guardianship of the parents, which will ensure financial assistance until a place in an institution can be found.

Nurses (Training Schools, Lancashire)

94.

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that, with the exception of Manchester and Liverpool, the remainder of the infectious diseases hospitals in Lancashire will not qualify as complete training schools; that such condition of recognition will cause the number of student nurses to seriously decline; that intervention by him in this matter is awaited and being urgently pressed from a number of quarters; and what action does he propose to take to influence the General Nursing Council not to enforce the regulation.

I understand that the General Nursing Council intend to discuss this matter with me before proceeding further.

Infantile Paralysis

95.

asked the Minister of Health how many cases of infantile paralysis have occurred in this country between 1st January and 30th June, 1947, and the comparable figures for the same period in 1939.

During the 26 weeks ended 28th June, 1947,398 cases were notified in England and Wales: the comparable figure for 1939 is 239.

96.

asked the Minister of Health if the evidence in his possession shows that the recent outbreaks of infantile paralysis are in any way connected either with essential food deficiencies or food poisoning; and if he will issue a comprehensive up-to-date statement of the practical knowledge which his Department has obtained in regard to the causality and incidence of this disease.

The answer to the first part of the Question is, "No, Sir." An article on the disease prepared in the Ministry of Health is being published in this week's medical journals. I would also refer the hon. Member to my Chief Medical Officer's annual reports.

Floods, Hastings

98, 99 and 100.

asked the Minister of Health (1) whether he will inquire into the condition of the water which swamped certain houses in Station Road, Middle Street and Priory Street, Hastings, on 17th July to the extent of several feet; whether he is aware that similar conditions occur whenever there are severe local rainstorms; what is the reason for this condition; and what steps have been taken and will be taken to prevent it;(2) whether he will call for a report on the conditions of the houses registered at the Town Hall, Hastings, in consequence of the flooding on 17th July; and which of these houses does he consider to be fit for habitation;(3) why sewage matter several inches deep was allowed to remain under the floorboards of numbers 36 and 41 Priory Street, Hastings, from Thursday, 17th July, to Monday, 21st July, in spite of representations made to the local authority; and upon whom will the expenses for its removal fall.

Shelter Bunks, Brentford And Chiswick

asked the Minister of Supply whether he will now authorise the 970 steel bunks in possession of the Borough of Brentford and Chiswick to be sold as scrap metal, in view of the fact that they cannot be sold as bunks and that they are steadily deteriorating at the council's depots, at Corney Road, Ealing Road and Town Meadow, where they also cause obstruction.

I have been asked to reply. Authority to dispose of shelter bunks was given to local authorities in Circular 212/45 dated 4th December, 1945. I am informed that tenders for the sale of the bunks held by the Borough of Brentford and Chiswick are awaiting consideration by the Council. Any bunks which prove to be unsaleable as bunks may be disposed of as scrap.

Sewerage, Little Glemham

asked the Minister of Health if he will make inquiries concerning the unsatisfactory state of the water drainage and sewage arrangements for the village of Little Glemham, Suffolk, and take steps to have it immediately improved to a satisfactory standard of health requirements.

I understand that the Blyth Rural District Council are already taking some action to improve the sewerage arrangements at Little Glemham, but I am making further inquiries and will take whatever steps appear to be necessary.

Lymph

asked the Minister of Health how much money is paid to the Lister Institute for vaccine lymph supplied by the institute for the purpose of public vaccinations.

The payment is £10,000 a year for the supply of lymph up to a total of 500,000 doses annually, with a payment of twopence per dose for any supply additional to this.

asked the Minister of Health, why sheep are used in the manufacture of vaccine lymph at the Lister Institute instead of calves; and whether the process in the case of sheep is similar to that formerly used at the Government lymph institute in regard to calves.

I understand that the Lister Institute prefers sheep to calves because they are more readily obtainable, easier to keep clean, hardier, and not subject to tuberculosis disease, though post-mortem examination of every animal used eliminated the latter risk when calves were used. The answer to the last part of the Question is "Yes, Sir."

Durham County Mental Hospital (Sugar)

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been drawn to the report of the district auditor, dated 18th November, 1946, on the disappearance of sugar amounting in all to 1,209 lbs. from the stores of Durham County Mental Hospital; what disciplinary action has been taken; and whether the rations of the patients have been made good.

My attention was drawn to this matter and I am informed that following an inquiry by the visiting committee one of the officers concerned was reduced in rank and the other was dismissed. I am also informed that the patients did not suffer any reduction in their sugar ration.

Population (Cheltenham)

97.

asked the Minister of Health if he will indicate on what basis the Registrar-General arrived at a population of 62,000 for the borough of Cheltenham, in view of the fact that the local food committee puts the figure at 75,000.

The Registrar-General's estimate of the resident civilian population of the borough of Cheltenham at 31st March, 1947, was 62,000 This is based on the population as enumerated for National Registration on 29th September, 1939 (namely, 57,357), adjusted for subsequent births and deaths, removals into and out of the area, and enlistments into and discharges from the Armed Forces and Mercantile Marine. A higher estimate submitted by the Town Council in October, 1946, contained non-civilians, and the Registrar-General after carefully considering it was unable to modify his own estimate.

Education

County Colleges

101.

asked the Minister of Education what progress is being made with the County College Scheme; and whether any date can now be given for its operation.

I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of Circular 139 from which he will see that local education authorities have been directed to estimate the immediate and prospective needs of their areas with respect to county colleges and to prepare and submit their plans for county college provision concurrently with their schemes of further education. Until these schemes have been submitted and approved it is impossible to give a date for the compulsory attendance of young persons at county colleges

Fleming Committee's Report (Scheme B)

102 and 104.

asked the Minister of Education (1) how many schools which have become associated schools under Scheme B of the Fleming Committee have abolished the system of private profits on the management of boarding houses;(2) how many boarding schools participating in Scheme B of the Fleming Committee have made places on their governing bodies for representatives of local education authorities; and how many have not.

Scheme B of the Fleming Committee's Report has not been put into operation.

Boarding Schools (Bursaries)

103.

asked the Minister of Education if he approved of the recent examination arranged by the Dorset Education Committee to select two boys for bursaries to Eton, having regard to the fact that the Fleming Committee recommended that there should be no competitive examinations for bursaries in boarding schools under Schemes A and B and expressed the view that the segregation of abler children to send to boarding schools was socially and educationally wrong.

My approval was not required. While it is reasonable that local education authorities and school authorities should wish to satisfy themselves as to the ability of pupils to profit by the education at particular boarding schools, I should deprecate the holding of special competitive examinations for that purpose.

Court Of Appeal (Additional Divisions)

105.

asked the Attorney-General whether he has considered the situation referred to by Lord Greene, Master of the Rolls, in the Court of Appeal, that under present Statute Law it is impossible to have a fourth division of tile court; and whether it is intended, at an early date, to amend the law so that where the Appeal List is in a congested state, additional divisions of the Court of Appeal may be constituted.

Yes. In view of the congestion of the legislative programme the necessary amendment of the law will not be possible at an early date.

Special Corsets (Cloth Supplies)

106.

asked the Minister of Supply if he is aware of the great difficulties experienced by the trade to obtain reasonable supplies of cloth to manufacture corsets that are ordered through a medical prescription; and if he will take the necessary steps to increase the necessary supplies.

The supply of cloth for the manufacture of these corsets has improved considerably and we are doing our utmost to see that this improvement is maintained.

Shipping

Oil Bunkers, Falmouth

107.

asked the Minister of Transport how many ships have recently been diverted from Falmouth Harbour on account of shortage of oil.

There have been no actual diversions of ships from Falmouth Harbour on account of shortage of oil. Of those ships which have given notice of intention to call for oil bunkers at Falmouth during July my right hon. Friend is informed that 15 were advised by the Petroleum Board to take supplies elsewhere. There is no shortage of oil at Falmouth for normal requirements but orders for the first half of July totalled 20,000 tons as compared with the average offtake of 5,000 tons per month and the Board were obliged to spread this abnormal demand over other United Kingdom ports.

Drifting Boats (Rescue)

108.

asked the Minister of Transport what steps he is taking, in view of the decision in the case of Holman v. Graff, given by Mr. Commissioner Patrick Devlin, K.C., in June, 1947, since this decision may discourage the rescue of all boats drifting at sea.

In the case to which my hon. Friend refers the court held that the dinghy in question was not adrift and was not in peril. My right hon. Friend does not consider that the court's decision will have the effect which my hon. Friend fears.

Roads

Speed Limit, Hertfordshire

asked the Minister of Transport when he proposes to give his approval to the imposition of a speed limit of 30 m.p.h. at Cottered, Hertfordshire, the application for approval having been sent to him by the Hertford County Council in August, 1946.

I regret the delay in dealing with this application. The length of road is only partly built-up and the traffic is light. During 1945 and 1946 no accident occurred on the road, and the only accident during the past six months was due to a vehicle skidding during icy conditions. I do not consider, therefore, that the imposition of a speed limit is justified and the county council is being informed accordingly.

Ferry Road, South Benfleet

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of the condition of Ferry Road, South Benfleet, Essex, and the grave risk to the public consequent upon there being no usable footpath attached to this road which is the only highway connecting Canvey Island with the mainland; and if he will take steps to ensure that the position is remedied as quickly as possible.

I am informed that Ferry Road has footpaths on either side, though these are inadequate for the volume of pedestrian traffic. I am prepared to consider for grant any scheme submitted by the highway authority for the improvement of this road.

Late Bus, Ipswich—Stowmarket

asked the Minister of Transport if he will arrange for the postponement of the time of the last omnibus from Ipswich to Stowmarket from 10 p.m. until 10.15 p.m. to enable those attending cinemas and similar entertainment to utilise this form of transport.

As my hon. Friend will be aware, the last bus from Ipswich to Stow-market was 9.15 p.m. until 6th July, when an additional bus was provided at 10 p.m. The company concerned have promised to consider the suggestion for re-timing it to 10.15 p.m.

British Army

Personal Case

asked the Secretary of State for War what is the reason for the continued delay in compensating Mr. W. Dawson, 732, Bradford Road, Birkenshaw, near Bradford, who still suffers from the effect of an accident in May, 1946, whilst working for his Department.

The further inquiries which I promised in reply to my hon. Friend's Question on 15th May have now been completed. It was necessary to have Mr. Dawson medically examined and I am satisfied that there has been no undue delay in reaching a decision. Instructions have been given for the issue of compensation and arrears.

Clothing Allowance

asked the Secretary of State for War what items of clothing and other necessaries a soldier is required to replace out of his clothing allowance of 10½d. a week; and what is the estimated annual expenditure on each item.

The items covered by clothing allowance are:

  • Kit bag.
  • Braces.
  • Cellular drawers.
  • Cotton drawers.
  • Knitted gloves.
  • Headdress.
  • Housewife
  • Pullover.
  • Clasp knives and lanyard.
  • Knife, fork and spoon.
  • Flannel shirts.
  • Canvas shoes.
  • Worsted socks.
  • Hand towels.
  • Tropical vests.
  • Hosetops (tropical stations only).
  • Cash element for provision of cleaning materials.
Expenditure on individual items varies according to whether the soldier is serving at home or overseas. The allowance has been calculated according to the known wastage rates of the items in question and the prices charged for replacement, and it is estimated that over a period an other rank will spend on an average 10½d. a week on such replacements. The allowance is reviewable annually in the light of variations in wastage rates and in the prices of the items covered by the allowance.

Post Office (Form A 3228)

asked the Postmaster-General whether he will revise and clarify the footnote explanation on Form A 3228, the statement of account sent to his clients, so that the latter may understand the symbols used as well as the account.

I am looking into this matter and will write to my hon. Friend when my inquiries are completed.

African Groundnut Production

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress has been made respecting plans for the development of groundnut production in West Africa; to what extent it is estimated that cheaper production in East Africa will adversely affect groundnut production in West Africa; and what steps will be taken to co-ordinate the development of this production between the two areas.

A mission has been visiting West Africa to study the possibility of increasing groundnut production for export. I expect their report in a few weeks' time. I understand that it is not possible to make any valid comparison between the cost of producing groundnuts by the mechanised methods which are being adopted in East Africa and the costs of the small-scale peasant farming methods at present employed in West Africa. Further, I cannot yet say whether mechanised production in West Africa would be more expensive than in East Africa. Should this prove to be the case, the present and prospective world shortage of vegetable oils is such that there will be room for the maximum output from all areas for a considerable time to come.

Raf (Meteorological Service Forecasts)

asked the Secretary of State for Air why aviation forecasts issued from out-stations are not checked with the subsequent actual conditions unless complaints are made or an accident occurs.

It is part of the duty of all forecasting officers in the Meteorological Service to compare their forecasts with the subsequent conditions, whether or not complaints are made. Moreover, they are encouraged to report to Headquarters all cases where the explanation of any discrepancy between what is forecast and what is actually experienced is technically obscure.