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Volume 441: debated on Tuesday 29 July 1947

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Retired Teachers (Re-Employment)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, during the present acute need for trained teachers, he will suspend the rule whereby retired teachers returning to duty must lose their pensions.

The principle generally applicable to public servants who return to public employment after retirement is that the sum they draw from public funds as salary and pension should not exceed the amount of salary at the time of retirement. This usually involves suspension or reduction of the pension for the time being. I regret that I cannot make an exception in favour of teachers.

Will my right hon. Friend consult with his colleagues with a view to changing this rule, which was laid down at' a time when there was no acute shortage of teachers? Will he impress upon his colleagues the stupidity of preventing retired people who are still fit from serving in the schools by penalising them if they do so?

I do not think there is need for the consultation that is suggested, because the suggestion is based upon a misapprehension. I did point out in the. Debate on Scottish education that, through the emergency training scheme and normal channels of recruiting, a sufficient number of teachers to meet the full need of the schools is expected.

Rock Drifter Drills


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why the Government Purchasing Mission to the U.S.A. in March this year purchased 240 rock drifter drills for use in the Scottish hydro-electric schemes, when a substantial number of these machines could have been made in England.

The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, in pursuance of the Government decision that every effort must be made to increase the electricity generating capacity of the country, requested the Mission to acquire certain equipment, including the rock drifter drills which were urgently required during 1947. On the information then available the Board considered this the only prudent course to take in order to ensure timeous delivery. After discussion with the Advisory Committee on Contractors' Plant, it has been arranged that no further purchases for the hydro-electric schemes will be made outside the United Kingdom until the Committee has considered whether the plant can be provided in this country by the date required.

As I understand that the Secretary of State for Scotland has taken the responsibility for this Question, although the Question was originally addressed by me to the Minister of Supply, may I ask him why it was that he, as planner of this enterprise, failed to co ordinate the activities of his Department with those of the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Supply, so that the two firms in Cornwall that have made this sort of implement for many years were not even consulted as to their ability to deliver this order before the order was placed, with the result that a totally unnecessary expenditure of 170,000 dollars was incurred?

I am credited with many things so far as Scotland is concerned, but this is the first time I have been credited with being the planner of the hydro-electric scheme. I certainly do not accept that, but I accept responsibility for doing what was best in the circumstances, and I have now assured the House, on the facts at my disposal, that there will be no orders abroad until we have discovered whether we can obtain supplies from our own resources.



asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how the housing achievements of Perth compared with the housing achievements of other large Scots cities since the end of the war; if he is aware that the Perth first target figures are expected to be reached during this year; and if he will do anything to organise similar achievements in other cities.

I would refer the hon. Member to the appendix to the Housing Return published each month, which gives details of the progress made by individual housing authorities. I am sure that local authorities generally are anxious to expedite the completion of houses, and it is the aim of the 1947 programme formulated by the Government to assist them to complete the largest possible number this year.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider giving an answer to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) about the excellent work that is being done in housing in Perth, that great Tory strong hold in Scotland?

My difficulty, as one responsible for the working of all the local authorities in Scotland, is to see that I do not give too much praise to one for fear that I fall out with some of the others.


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether local authorities whose housing progress includes houses at first-floor level are prohibited from finishing these this winter; whether compensation will be paid for deterioration; and if he will make a statement.

I would refer to the answers given to similar questions by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir B. Neven-Spence) on 8th July, and the hon. Members for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) and Montrose Burghs (Mr. Maclay) on 15th July. Local authorities are not prohibited from finishing any houses, at whatever stage of construction, if labour and materials are available. It is the aim of the 1947 housing programme to complete the largest possible number of houses this year.

Does my right hon. Friend give preference to cities like Perth as against burghs like Coatbridge, where housing conditions are very much more appalling?

No. I can assure my hon. Friend that I have no "step-children." I do my best to see that fairness is done by all the local authorities in Scotland.

Is not the Minister aware that these local authorities were encouraged to go ahead with big housing programmes, and that those housing programmes were cut; will he not reconsider the question of meeting the financial losses which these local authorities have incurred as a consequence of having to maintain these expenses; and does he not know of resolutions which have been passed by many local authorities in regard to this matter?

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that the materials in short supply are issued in accordance with a priority which agrees with the date on which the original building licence was granted?

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that there are a number of buildings which have been built right up to the eaves by the Glasgow Corporation, but which have been stopped for lack of materials and are, therefore, bound to deteriorate; and are they to get no compensation for that deterioration?


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of houses completed in Scotland by local authorities in the inter-war years, and the number completed by private enterprise for sale and to let.

The number of houses completed in the inter-war years by local authorities was 227,295. The number completed by private enterprise was 109,878, of which 8,207 were built for letting with assistance under the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act, 1924. No precise information is available, but it is thought that the majority of the balance of private enterprise houses were built for sale.

In view of those figures and the constant reiteration by certain people that we should engage private enterprise again, will my right hon. Friend see that each Member of the Opposition has two copies of that reply?

I have always believed that if private enterprise had made a success of dealing with Scotland's housing problem, the Secretary of State for Scotland would not have half as many troubles as he has at the present time.

Will the right hon. Gentleman look again into the rating problem in Scotland in order that private enterprise may have a fair deal?

Regional Hospital Boards (Areas)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will give the assurance that, in delimiting the areas assigned to the regional hospital boards, care will be taken to ensure that each shall include a population proportional to the needs of the particular medical school as regards clinical material, and as regards hospital accommodation necessary to provide an adequate number of the resident appointments demanded by the new Health Service arrangements before registration as qualified independent practitioners.

The National Health Service (Scotland) (Determination of Areas of Regional Hospital Boards) Order 1947, fixing these areas was made on 25th June and laid before Parliament on 27th June. In settling the terms of that Order I had fully in mind the needs of clinical teaching, as represented to me by the universities. As I explained in a letter I wrote to the Acting Principal of Edinburgh University on 23rd July, of which the hon. Member has a copy, clinical teaching is not, in my opinion, prejudiced by the provisions of the Order.

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that there is no truth in a statement which I have seen that, of the two chief Scottish medical schools, with approximately equal numbers of students, one has been allocated a population of approximately three million and the other a population of approximately one million?

I can only give the assurance that, in looking into the whole problem associated with the new organisation necessary, I have at least given the fullest consideration to all the representations made to me. I have made my decisions having regard to what I think is in the best interests of Scotland, and without any prejudice to the clinical teaching of the respective universities.

Is the Minister aware that the success of any pubic health service, however carefully it may be planned, is, in the end, dependent entirely upon the training given in the medical schools?

Yes, Sir. I am in entire agreement with the point just made by the hon. Member.