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Written Answers

Volume 462: debated on Tuesday 1 March 1949

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday, 1st March, 1949

British Army

Re-Enlistment

5.

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that a company sergeant-major with 13 years' service, including service in Palestine, Dunkirk and Germany, in response to his Department's appeal, volunteered to rejoin his unit, but was offered only the lowest rank, as indicated by the correspondence sent to him; and whether he will encourage ex-warrant officers and non-commissioned officers to rejoin their units by offering refresher courses, with a view to posting them as permanent staff instructors to the Territorial Army and thus releasing younger men, now occupying those posts, to the Regular Army.

Re-enlistment is subject to a man being up to entry standards and to the current manpower requirements; in fairness to others the period of absence from the Colours is also taken into account. A scheme already exists by which certain former warrant officers and non-commissioned officers may be granted a four-year engagement in the Regular Army as permanent staff instructors for Royal Artillery units of the Territorial Army. This scheme is being extended to the Royal Corps of Signals, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and Women's Royal Army Corps. I am looking into the particular case referred to by the hon. Member and will write to him.

Theatrical Shows, Germany

8.

asked the Secretary of State for War what provision is being made for the entertainment of the officers and men of the British Army on the Rhine during 1949; how many shows are being planned; at what cost; and from what funds the necessary financial provision is being made.

Plans are being made for 24 professional theatrical shows to be provided for officers and men of the Army and the Royal Air Force in Germany during the 12 months ending 31st March, 1950. It is estimated that the total cost will be about £55,000. The cost is to be met partly from admission receipts, partly from the sale of surplus stage properties, and partly by contributions from non-public funds.

Transport

9.

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give an assurance that sufficient of his Department's troop-carrying transport will be available this year for Territorial annual and week-end camps, and that there will be no need to employ hired civilian transport as was necessary last year.

I regret that I cannot give the assurance asked for by the hon. Member. My Department depends to a considerable extent on suitable hired civilian transport not only for the requirements of the Territorial Army, but for those of the active Army as well. War Department transport is inadequate to meet all the requirements of the Territorial Army during the summer months when camps are being held.

Telegrams And Airmail

13.

asked the Secretary of State for War why it is estimated that there will be a substantial increase in the cost of sending overseas telegrams and cables and Departmental airmail during 1949–50.

There will be an opportunity of discussing this matter when the House goes into Committee of Supply on Army Estimates.

Cadet Force

14.

asked the Secretary of State for War what grants are made from his Department funds to the Army Cadet Force to cover sport, club life and similar activities as well as pre-service training; and from what other sources are funds expected to come for these purposes.

As stated in my reply to a previous Question by the hon. Member on 25th January, Army assistance is confined to that necessary for efficient pre-service training. No grants from Army Funds are made towards the provision of facilities for recreation and social and physical training; for these, the Army Cadet Force is in the same position as any other voluntary youth organisations which can be assisted partly by grants under Section 53 of the Education Act, 1944, and partly by funds voluntarily raised. I should like to take this opportunity of reaffirming my appreciation of the voluntary effort which is being made on behalf of the boys in the Army Cadet Force.

Rural Housing (Sites)

17.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning whether he will indicate the extent to which officials of his Department overrule local authorities in the selection of suitable sites for houses in rural areas.

Now that county councils are planning authorities, it rests with them to advise the Ministry of Health where there is difficulty in approving a site selected by a district council for housing. My Department is concerned only where special planning difficulties arise. Formerly, under arrangements agreed with the other Government Departments concerned in use of land, officers of my Department were responsible for ascertaining whether there was any objection to a particular site being used for housing because, for example, of its value for agriculture, mineral working or other land use.

National Insurance

Family Allowances

19.

asked the Minister of National Insurance why inquiries in connection with family allowances are taking so long to settle in south-east London.

I am not aware of any undue delay in dealing with family allowances in south-east London generally. I am looking into the two cases about which my hon. Friend has written and will write to him about them as soon as possible.

Fund (Income And Expenditure)

asked the Minister of National Insurance to state the income of the Insurance Fund from 1st July to 31st December, 1948, and the expenditure separately in respect of the various benefits specified in the National Insurance Act, 1946, Section 10 (1), and in accordance with Section 37 (2).

The income of the National Insurance Fund from 5th July, 1948, to 31st December, 1948, was approximately £257 million. The expenditure in respect of the various benefits specified in Section 10 (1) of the National Insurance Act, 1946, during the same period amounted to approximately £169 million, sub-divided as follows:

£million
Unemployment Benefit8
Sickness Benefit27
Maternity Benefit4
Widows' Benefits and Guardians' Allowances10
Retirement Pensions120
Death Grant (not payable before 5th July,1949)Nil.
Total169
Payments under Section 37 (2) of the Act made in respect of the same period amounted to approximately £18¼ million.

Employment

Cotton Industry (Wages System)

24.

asked the Minister of Labour if the mill tests with the cotton manufacturing Commission's recommended system of wages payment are completed; and when the details will be available.

I understand that the results of certain tests are under examination but I have no information as to when the details will be available.

Wage Increases

25.

asked the Minister of Labour if he is satisfied that the wage increases granted to 6,783,500 people since the statement on Personal Incomes, Costs and Prices was issued in February, 1948, were made in accordance with the statement.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave on 22nd February last.

Disabled Persons, Cardiff

23.

asked the Minister of Labour the number of disabled men who travel from Cardiff to the Treforest Remploy Factory and who have no assistance towards the payment of their travelling expenses.

Twenty-eight men travel daily from Cardiff to the Treforest Remploy Factory. All of them are paid travelling expenses in excess of sixpence per day by the Disabled Persons Employment Corporation.

Scotland

Farm Workers (Hire Rate)

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on what grounds the charge for male agricultural workers hired from the Department for general farm work has been raised from 101s. 9d. to 106s. per worker per week as from 28th February.

The former rate was 100s., and has been increased to 106s. with a view to lessening the gap between the outlays and revenue in respect of the service.

Registers And Records (Keepers)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many applications respectively were received for the appointments of Keeper of the Registers and Keeper of the Records; and how many of these applicants respectively were members of his Department.

In answer to the first part of the Question the figures are 22 and 12 respectively. Of these applications four and one respectively were from members of the staffs of the General Register House, Edinburgh.

Port Medical Officer, Glasgow

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the salary now being paid to the medical officer for the Port of Glasgow.

The post of port medical officer is held by the medical officer of health of Glasgow, and for his supervisory duties in this capacity he receives £50 per annum in addition to his salary on the scale of £1,700—£2,200.

Small Dwellings (Advances)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland which local authorities are operating the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act; how many houses have been bought in each place in 1945, 1946, 1947 and 1948; what is the total amount advanced; and at what rates of interest.

The following table shows the local authorities which made advances under the Small Dwellings Acquisition Acts and the number of dwellings covered by such advances in each of the years 1946 to 1948. The total amount advanced was £924,936. No advances were made in 1945.

Local Authority 1946 Number of Dwellings1947 Number of Dwellings 1948 Number of Dwellings
Counties
Kirkcudbright1
Midlothian
Ross and Cromarty1
Roxburgh1
Burghs
Airdrie31
Dumbarton1
Edinburgh857
Galashiels1
Kirkcaldy32
The rate of interest varies with the period of loan and the rate at which local authorities can themselves borrow for housing purposes. The present rates are—

Loans for not more than 5 years2¼ per cent.
Loans for more than 5 years but not more than 10 years2¾ per cent.
Loans for more than 15 years3¼ per cent.

Steel Ploughshares

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the difficulty in obtaining steel ploughshares, and that ploughs are being sold to farmers without shares; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure that a sufficiency of steel ploughshares is available to farmers.

I am not aware of any general difficulty in obtaining steel ploughshares in Scotland or of the sale of incomplete ploughs. If the hon. Member cares to let me have particulars of any cases he has in mind I should be glad to look into them.

Juvenile Delinquency

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he can give figures indicating the trend of juvenile delinquency in Scotland during and since the war and, in particular, the relative incidence in delinquency in 1947 and 1948; and what action he proposes to take.

The number of charges proved against children and young persons in Scotland since 1938 is as follows: 1938, 15,379; 1939, 14,951; 1940, 18,592; 1941, 18,552; 1942, 19,174; 1943, 19,724; 1944, 19,450; 1945, 20,244; 1946, 17,050; 1947, 16,047; 1948, 18,614.The figures for 1948 are thus 15.9 per cent. higher than those for 1947. The increase was 17.4 per cent. in the case of children under 14 and 14.6 per cent. in the case of young persons between 14 and 17. The peak age for both boys and girls was 16.A National Convention on Juvenile Delinquency was held in Edinburgh in 1944 when the views of responsible bodies and persons were given on the best methods of combating juvenile delinquency. Since then such remedial action as is possible has been taken. I do not think that the calling of another conference would meanwhile serve any useful purpose but I am considering the position carefully.

National Finance

Medical Treatment (Foreign Exchange)

33.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the nature of the examination of all applications for foreign exchange on health grounds by the Exchange Control Medical Advisory Committee; and in how many cases applications from persons suffering from tuberculosis have been refused foreign exchange in order to be treated or cured in Switzerland.

Each application is considered by two members of the Committee, who consider the medical reports submitted by the patient's own doctor and, if they think this desirable, call for further evidence. If a difference of opinion emerges, the case is referred to the chairman. The answer to the second part of the Question in respect of tuberculosis applications for all countries is 101 in 14 months ended 14th February last. The figure for Switzerland is not separately available, but Switzerland probably accounts for 90 per cent. of the tuberculosis cases. The corresponding approvals over the same period were 1,009.

Purchase Tax

41.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the fact that the arrangements for exempting, under Part II of the Eighth Schedule to the Finance Act, 1948, certain drugs and medicines from Purchase Tax are intended to serve the public interest; what steps are taken to bring to public notice which medicines and drugs are now free of Purchase Tax and subject to Purchase Tax, respectively.

Full particulars of the exemption of drugs and medicines from Purchase Tax are published by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise in public notices, which are distributed to the trade, and to the national, provincial and trade Press. The hon. Member will recollect, however, that in many cases a remedy is or is not exempt from tax according to the conditions under which it is sold.

Income Tax

42.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is aware that it is easy for dentists to treat casual patients and to be paid in cash which is not returned to the Inland Revenue authorities; if he will have this matter investigated; and what steps does he propose to take to put a stop to the practice.

Cash transactions are, of course, common in many businesses and professions and the Inland Revenue authorities are fully alive to the possibilities of tax evasion, but I hope the hon. Member is not suggesting that it is the practice of dentists to omit cash receipts from their Income Tax returns.

47.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will allow men or women who were, through no falt of their own, under-charged for Income Tax while they were in the Services to pay back all or part of the moneys owed to the Exchequer out of their postwar credits.

Under a special arrangement, which was announced by my predecessor to the House on 29th October, 1946, arrears of tax outstanding at the end of the year 1945–46 in P.A.Y.E. cases are set off against the postwar credit for that year. This arrangement which was necessitated by the pressure of work in tax offices, applied to that particular year only and I am afraid I could not extend it.

Canadian Bacon (Erp Funds)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent changes have been made with regard to the sum of £2,625,000 originally allotted by Marshall Aid fund to buy Canadian meat for Britain.

I have been unable to identify the figure given by the hon. Member. A reduction was made in 1948 in the amount of E.R.P. funds authorised for the purchase of Canadian bacon. This reduction was made at our request when the full amount of Canadian bacon which we had originally hoped to buy, proved eventually not to be available. The funds resulting from this reduction are, of course, being used for the purchase of other commodities under the European Recovery Programme.

Cable And Wireless, Ltd (Compensation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how he proposes to satisfy the compensation awarded for Cable and Wireless Limited.

The compensation payable to the various companies forming part of the Cable and Wireless (Holding) group under the award of the Tribunal announced on 26th February, 1949, is £32,195,000. The Cable and Wireless Act, 1946, provides for this compensation to be satisfied by the issue of such amount of Government stock as is, in the opinion of the Treasury, of a value equal on the date of issue to the amount of the compensation, together with interest for the period beginning with the appointed day (namely, 1st January, 1947, the day on which the shares of Cable and Wireless Limited were transferred to the Treasury) and ending immediately before the date of the stock issue.The Treasury has determined that the following amounts of stock are equal in value to the compensation of £32,195,000 on 1st March, 1949: 3 per cent. Savings Bonds, 1960–70, £15,676,202 1s. 5d., 3 per cent. Savings Bonds, 1965–75, £15,762,545 18s. Accordingly, as from 1st March these amounts of stock have been created and issued to the companies of the Cable and Wireless (Holding) group to whom the compensation is due. At the same time, a cash payment of £2,087,823 14s. has been made to the same companies, being interest on the £32,195,000 of compensation calculated at 3 per cent. for the period from 1st January, 1947, to 28th February, 1949.

Universities (Grants)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now make a statement regarding the grant to universities which he proposes to make in the forthcoming Budget.

Yes. I am providing £12,814,500 for recurrent grants to universities. This amount includes provision for the additional expenditure which universities will incur in bringing into operation the revised scales of payment for teachers in the medical and dental schools, to which I referred in my reply to the hon. Member for London University (Sir E. Graham-Little) on the 28th February. The progress of the universities' scheme for physical expansion necessitates an increase in the amount required for non-recurrent grants, and I am providing £4¾million for this purpose as against £2,600,000 this year.

Public Service (Treasury Lists)

48.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what purpose his Department is recruiting specialised labour in the City of London.

There has been no such recruitment. Misunderstanding has apparently arisen from action taken by the Treasury to revise the lists which it keeps regularly of persons who may be suitable and willing to undertake various types of public service.

Trade And Commerce

War Damage (Business Scheme)

54.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now say when he proposes to settle claims under War Damage Act, 1943, Part II; and if these claims will be paid out on the same basis as those already made for personal effects and total loss claims for buildings.

I would refer the hon. Member to the answers given to my hon. Friend the Member for Central Bristol (Mr. Awbery) on 7th December last and the hon. Member for Howdenshire (Mr. Odey) on 1st February, copies of which I am sending him.

64.

asked the President of the Board of Trade to state the cause of the delay in the payment of claims for war damage to traders' stocks; and what is being done to remedy this delay.

Stocks were insurable against war damage under Part II of the War Risks Insurance Act, 1939. All claims of this class, aggregating £117 million, have been paid.

Anglo-Soviet Agreement

57.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the position regarding the talks relating to the extension of the Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreement of 1947.

I have nothing to add to the answer given on 18th January to my hon. Friends the Members for West Leicester (Mr. Janner) and Stretford (Mr. Austin).

Germany

58.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress has now been made in the discussions with the Joint Export-Import Agency regarding British trade with the bizone of Germany; and when it is expected to conclude a bilateral trading agreement.

Detailed discussions with representatives of the Joint Export-Import Agency are now taking place and it is hoped to conclude them shortly.

Rhubarb (Export)

60.

asked the President of the Board of Trade why his Department refused the application of Mr. Selwyn Wade for a licence to export rhubarb to a hard currency country.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Food advised that in view of the inadequacy of present supplies he could not recommend the issue of an export licence for forced rhubarb.

Cotton Board (Market Research)

63.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps are being taken by the Cotton Board in the field of market research, including the promotion or undertaking of research into matters relating to consumption and use of cotton products.

The Cotton Board have a department which is responsible for market research and they maintain a colour design and style centre. They also arrange for suitable organisations, including the British Export Trade Research Organisation, to undertake specific inquiries into the consumption and use of cotton manufactures in various overseas countries. Advisory panels drawn from representatives of the industry collaborate in these inquiries.

Canada

62.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what are the reasons for the decline of export of cotton manufactures to the Canadian market in December.

Short-term fluctuations in particular exports are often difficult to account for. I am glad to say that, notwithstanding the disappointing figure for December, the monthly rate of export of cotton piece goods to Canada for the whole of the second half of 1948 was nearly double that of the first half, and so was that for January, 1949.

65.

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in view of the complaints that many British products fail to be offered at competitive prices on the Canadian market, he will publish a table showing how the prices at which such products could be offered by British manufacturers compare with Canadian market prices for the same products, and indicating the effect on the British manufacturers' prices of Excise and Customs duties.

The prices at which particular United Kingdom products are offered for sale abroad are a matter between buyer and seller. Canadian Excise and Customs duties affect the price at which United Kingdom goods can be sold, in some cases substantially, but I would point out that Excise duties only apply to a limited number of manufactures, and equally in those cases, to the home produced articles. Many United Kingdom goods, of course, enjoy a preferential rate of Customs duties in Canada.

Kitchen Waste (Collection)

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what extent and in what ways the cost of subsidies for the collection and processing of kitchen waste has increased during the last 12 months.

The tonnage subsidies to local authorities collecting and processing kitchen waste are estimated to amount to £416,000 for the year ending 31st March next as against £255,138 for the previous year. The rise is due to the increase in the subsidies in October, 1947, to meet increased costs.

Waste Paper (Collection)

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what extent the collection of waste paper has increased during the last 12 months; and in what ways and to what extent this has involved increased subsidy and bonus payments by his Department.

Collections of waste paper by local authorities amounted to 311,577 tons in 1948 as compared with 226,776 tons in 1947. Bonus payments to local authorities are estimated at £83,000 in 1948 as compared with £51,114 in 1947. Waste paper collections from all sources were 753,183 tons in 1948 as compared with 644,595 tons in 1947.

Clothing Coupons

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his regulations require that coupons should be surrendered for a suit dispatched from a tailor on 31st January last and received by the purchaser on 1st February.

If the suit was supplied on 31st January coupons should have been surrendered, but not if it was supplied on 1st February. The date when supply took place depends on the terms of the contract between the parties.

Official Car Service

66.

asked the Minister of Supply how many cars belonging to the official car service were ordered to be available for repayment duties on Sunday, 20th February; and what were their vehicle registration numbers.

No notification is required that a Minister who has an official car is going to use it on repayment. There was no demand on that date for a repayment journey by any other user entitled to this service.

Ministry Of Works

Office Buildings, London

asked the Minister of Works whether he will now give particulars of the requisitioned premises which he will be able to release when the 2,500,000 square feet of office accommodation in central London is made available under his present programme.

As I informed the hon. Member on 18th February, the allocation of the new buildings is not yet settled, and the information is, therefore, not available.

Industrial Building, Bristol

asked the Minister of Works the number of licences for industrial building requested from Bristol since 1945; and the number granted.

Records were not kept separately for industrial building before 1st December, 1947. Since that date the number of applications for new industrial building in Bristol amounts to 344, of which 299 have been granted.

Electricity Supplies (Line Erection, Catton)

69.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power when he will give his decision on the application of the North Eastern Electricity Board for his consent to the erection of a high voltage line to the village of Catton that was made on 15th December, 1948; and whether he is aware that the two months delay in giving his consent is hampering agricultural production.

We are awaiting confirmation that one of the local authorities concerned does not wish to be heard in regard to this application. I do not anticipate any difficulty and if such confirmation is received the consent can be issued forthwith.

Coal Industry (Production Figures)

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of the great production efforts of the miners of Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley, he will consider publishing the production figures for this area separately instead of included in the figure for the Manchester district, which is generally accepted as being the City of Manchester but which is 12 miles away.

The Ministry of Fuel and Power publish only the national and regional figures of production. The publication of detailed figures relating to particular districts, such as those referred to by my hon. Friend, is a matter for the divisional coal boards, who I am sure will not hesitate to give due publicity to achievements by individual collieries which are especially noteworthy.

Granite Production

70.

asked the Minister of Transport what was the total production during 1948 in England, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall of the granite group, as set out in British Standard Specification No. 63.

The information for which the hon. Member asks is not immediately available, but I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT as soon as possible.

Severn Bridge Scheme

asked the Minister of Transport if he will indicate when he will be able to begin the building of the Severn Bridge.

Preparatory work on the scheme is in progress, but I am not in a position to say when it will be possible for the constructional work to be undertaken.

Civil Aviation

Fairlop Aerodrome

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if a decision has yet been taken with regard to the future of Fairlop aerodrome.

Stanstead Airport

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what future is intended for Stanstead aerodrome in Essex; and whether he has considered the proposal that this should become the main airfield for the use of charter companies.

My Department is proposing to take over Stanstead airport as the principal short-haul bad weather alternate to London Airport and Northolt, and if practicable, facilities will be made available there for charter operators.

Water Supply, Suffolk

asked the Minister of Health what measures he proposes to deal with the present drought in Suffolk villages which is likely to become increasingly serious during the coming summer months when drinking water will have to be carted considerable distances.

Similar conditions have existed for many years in Suffolk and can only be remedied by permanent comprehensive works. During the coming year work to the value of not much less than £1 million will, I hope, be started. The local authorities are responsible for the measures for dealing with shortages, but I am ready to consider any proposals they have for providing temporary relief and to give them every assistance in carrying out such measures as may be approved.

Public Health

Specialists' Remuneration (Awards Committee)

asked the Minister of Health what remuneration he has in mind for the chairman and members of the National Awards Committee set up on the recommendations of the Spens Report on the Remuneration of Consultants and Specialists.

The chairman of the Awards Committee is being paid a salary of 3,000 guineas for the first year, 2,500 guineas for the second, and 2,000 guineas for the third. Those members of the Committee who are retired receive a fee of seven guineas for each day given to the work of the Committee.

Diphtheria Immunisation

asked the Minister of Health what is the composition of the preparation now being injected into children for immunisation against diphtheria; and whether an assurance can be given that the inoculation will not, in any case, be followed by a reaction.

Different preparations are in use, but the basis of them all is diphtheria toxin treated with formalin and heat. I am advised that the possibility of reactions cannot entirely be ruled out, but they are very rare.

Ceylon (Radio Station)

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he is able to give the House any information about the future of the radio transmitting station built in Ceylon for the use of the Allied Armed Services and generally known as Radio SEAC.

Yes. I am glad to be able to inform the House that, as a result of negotiations with His Majesty's Government in Ceylon during the past year, the radio transmitting station formerly known as "Radio SEAC" and now known as "Radio Ceylon" has been transferred, with effect from today, to the ownership of the Ceylon Government. The House will, I know, welcome this transfer which is in keeping with the fully independent status of Ceylon.An experimental station for broadcasting to the Forces in Burma and India was set up in Ceylon in 1944 under the control of the War Office. The powerful transmitting station known as "Radio SEAC" which succeeded this experimental station was established in Ceylon on 1st May, 1946. Its operation has continued until now under the control of the War Office.In taking over the station the Ceylon Government have agreed to make facilities available to the United Kingdom Government to use the transmitting station for 8½ hours a day until the new short-wave station at Singapore is ready. Arrangements have been made for the B.B.C. to broadcast from Radio Ceylon during the daily period reserved for our use. These broadcasts will not be directed to Ceylon but elsewhere in South-East Asia and the Far East. They will include broadcasts in Asian languages as well as broadcasts for the United Kingdom Forces in those areas. The B.B.C. will be responsible for the actual costs of its transmissions and these costs will be met from the Grant-in-Aid for the Overseas Services of the B.B.C. No charge will therefore fall on the Ceylon Government for these programmes. Copies of letters exchanged yesterday between the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Ceylon and the Hon. Mr. D. S. Senanayake, the Ceylon Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs, effecting the transfer of the station, are being placed in the Library of the House so that hon. Members may see the details of the transfer.The B.B.C. have entered into a temporary Agreement with my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General to conduct their broadcasts from Radio Ceylon. This Agreement had to be arrived at before negotiations with the Ceylon Government were concluded, and it was therefore limited to a period of 12 months and expires next October. It will be replaced by a formal Agreement covering the whole period of intended operation. The latter agreement will be submitted as soon as possible to the House for approval.

Agriculture

Foot-And-Mouth Disease

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease has occurred at Scole and Leiston, Suffolk, involving the destruction of valuable pedigree animals; and whether the standstill order has been put in operation over the area; and what action he has taken to prevent the spread of the disease.

Outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease at Scole and Leiston were confirmed on 16th and 18th February, respectively, and it was unfortunately necessary to slaughter many valuable animals, including some pedigree cattle. Restrictions on the movement of animals within 15 miles of the infected farms were immediately imposed and the usual steps taken to prevent the spread of infection. Apart from the slaughter of all the stock on the premises on which the disease occurred, these steps include the regulation of entry into those premises, veterinary supervision over all adjacent stock and disinfection of infected places and things. There have so far been no further outbreaks in this area.

Allotment Holders (Tenure)

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will make representations to local authorities to ensure that bona fide allotment holders will be given reasonable security of tenure to enable them to cultivate their allotments and to dispel the fear that they may be dispossessed as the result of any pending steps.

I have made it clear to local authorities from time to time, the last occasion being as recently as 21st January, that I am anxious that allotment holders should have reasonable security of tenure.

Young Persons (Indictable Offences)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how the number of children and young persons found guilty of offences in 1948 compares with the number in 1947.

Provisional figures for the year 1948 for England and Wales show that 26,715 boys and girls under the age of 14, and 16,991 aged 14–17, were found guilty of indictable offences and dealt with in magistrates' courts. The corresponding figures for 1947 were 21,152 and 13,861. The increases in 1948 were thus 5,563 and 3,130, or 26 per cent. and 23 per cent.Provisional figures for those found guilty of indictable offences at all courts in England and Wales in 1948 per 100,000 of the population of their age group show 1,433 boys aged 8–14 and 1,907 aged 14–17, and 123 girls aged 8–14 and 212 aged 14–17. The corresponding figures for 1947 were 1,140, 1,515, 96 and 178. The peak age for these offenders in 1948 was for boys and girls alike 14–15, being 2,065 per 100,000 of the population of boys of that age group and 217 of girls. The corresponding figures for these age groups in 1947 were 1,490 and 171, but the peak ages in that year were 12–13 for boys and 16 for girls, the numbers being 1,634 and 193 per 100,000 of the population in the age group for boys and girls respectively.

Education

Primary Schools (Admissions)

asked the Minister of Education how many children of statutory school age in the bomb-damaged counties and boroughs cannot at present be admitted to primary schools by reason of shortage of accommodation; and in what counties or towns does this shortage apply.

Precise information is not available, but I have no evidence that any substantial number of children of statutory school age has failed to secure admission to primary schools.

asked the Minister of Education if he is aware that, in the county of Surrey, there are several areas where children of statutory school age have been refused admission to primary schools because of shortage of accommodation; and what action he intends to take to remedy this unsatisfactory state of affairs.

Yes. Proposals are in hand which will provide accommodation for the very limited number of children at present out of school.

Milk

asked the Minister of Education if he is aware that because many children of five years of age cannot be found accommodation in primary schools they also lose the right to participate in the scheme providing milk for infants free or at reduced prices; and what action he intends to take to rectify this anomaly.

Local education authorities have no power to include children who are not at school in the milk in schools scheme. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Food has agreed to allow a supplementary domestic ration of 1½ pints a week for children whose admission to school is delayed after their fifth birthday.

Malaya (Member's Letters)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when the hon. Member for Hornsey may expect to get a reply to his letter of 21st October, 1948, about military requisitioning in Malaya and his letter of 4th November, 1948, about the pay of co-operative officers in Malaya.

I am sorry that it has not yet been possible to send definite replies to the hon. Member's letters. As regards the letter of 4th November I am still in communication with the High Commissioner. I have now written to the hon. Member informing him of the reasons for the delay. Consultation between the Departments concerned on the complex matters raised in the letter of 21st October has not yet been completed.

African Colonies

Gold Coast (Revoked Regulations)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the regulation promulgated by the Government of the Gold Coast in March, 1948, under which persons may be detained without charges being preferred against them is still in force; what steps are being taken to implement the recommendations of the Watson Commission in this respect; and whether applications for habeas corpus may be made in cases of arrest.

The Emergency Regulations to which the hon. Member refers were revoked by the Government of the Gold Coast on 16th October last. The second and third parts of the Question do not therefore at present arise.

Victoria Falls Conference

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the proposal for the federation of Southern and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland under one Constitution.

The recent conference at Victoria Falls was an unofficial conference. I have not received a full official report of the proceedings and I am not in a position to make a statement.